Higher Education Quick Takes
President Obama on Friday nominated Jim Yong Kim, president of Dartmouth College, as the next president of the World Bank. In a statement, Kim said: "When I assumed the presidency of Dartmouth, I did so with the full and deep belief that the mission of higher education is to prepare us for lives of leadership and service in our professions and communities. While President Obama's call is compelling, the prospect of leaving Dartmouth at this stage is very difficult. Nevertheless, should the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors elect me as the next president, I will embrace the responsibility." Kim is one of several nominees from which the World Bank's board may choose.
When Kim was selected as president of Dartmouth, his career had been focused on public health. He had been chair of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard University, and previously had led the World Health Organization's HIV/AIDS program. While Asian-American students and faculty members have made notable strides in American higher education, there are relatively few Asian-American presidents, and so Kim's selection by a college as prominent as Dartmouth was viewed as historic -- and cheered nationally by Asian-American activists.
About 25 presidents from state colleges and universities met with White House and Education Department officials Friday for another discussion of President Obama's plans to try to make college more affordable. The presidents, who were in Washington for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities' Council of State Representatives meeting, met with domestic policy director Cecilia Muñoz, Deputy Education Secretary Tony Miller and Office of Public Engagement Director Jon Carson, an administration official said. (President Obama, who spent more than an hour with college presidents in a similar meeting in December, was not present.)
Some public college officials had expressed concern about Obama's plans to lower college cost, which include using campus-based financial aid programs to award or punish colleges who raise tuition too much. The president has emphasized that state legislatures have to play a role in keeping college affordable, a concern the presidents discussed in the meeting, said Nasser Paydar, chancellor of Indiana University East.
"We talked about what kinds of things universities are doing and can do to overcome the financial support [issue] without really raising tuition to put a lot of people out of market," Paydar said, adding that he was impressed by the administration's focus on college issues. "Sometimes the actual words are not that important -- it’s the fact that there’s an emphasis on higher education."
Since November's hazing-related death of a student in Florida A&M University's marching band, university officials have said repeatedly that they never tolerated hazing. But an Associated Press/Tallahassee Democrat project found that university officials received repeated reports -- including numerous detailed letters from parents -- about hazing in the band. One letter said of the letter writer's son: "After one month at FAMU he is broken, indecisive, sad, confused and he wants to come home.... My son will not quit school, you will not break him, I will see to that but FAMU has lost a hell of a young man and after this semester he will not be back. I pray that GOD will give the administration wisdom and courage to stand up against the stupid idiotic practices that go on [at] this FAMU campus."
Seminole State College has expelled George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, setting off a debate over whether Florida has been too slow to charge Zimmerman in the shooting, WKMG News reported. College officials released a statement saying: "Due to the highly charged and high-profile controversy involving this student, Seminole State has taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw Mr. Zimmerman from enrollment. This decision is based solely on our responsibility to provide for the safety of our students on campus as well as for Mr. Zimmerman." Zimmerman was enrolled in an associate in arts degree in general studies.
Academics at RMIT University, in Australia, are protesting new requirements that employees be "positive" and "optimistic," as well as "resolute" and "passionate," The Australian reported. These qualities are part of a new "behavioral capability framework" that officials said would result in a more productive environment on campus. But many employees say that they are being coerced into adopting certain attitudes, and that telling people what to think is antithetical to an academic environment.
Sixty-eight percent of colleges allow students unlimited access to residential networks, and more than 62 percent do not monitor bandwidth consumption, according to the first annual survey of the issue by the Association for Information Communications Technology Professional in Higher Education. The survey also found that early 50 percent of IT departments do not recover the cost of supplying bandwidth to residential networks, and nearly 60 percent of institutions cite a total capacity below the 500 Mbps threshold.
The University of Maine System has suspended all discretionary pay increases amid criticism over raises awarded to 44 employees at the University of Southern Maine during a tight budget year, The Bangor Daily News reported. The system will conduct a review of salary increases at all campuses.
Kaeden Kass is angry that Miami University in Ohio will not let him work as a resident assistant in a men's dormitory, WLWT News reported. Kass identifies as a man, but he was born a woman. The university offered him a position as an R.A. in a women's suite, but he has rejected that, saying it reflects a bias against him as a transgendered student. A university spokeswoman declined to comment on Kass, citing confidentiality requirements. But the spokeswoman noted that the university does offer some gender-neutral housing for transgender students or others who may want the option.
Chicago State University can't find $3.8 million in equipment, including more than 900 computers that might contain confidential information, a state auditor has found, the Associated Press reported. Other problems identified by the audit include issues with the way scholarships were awarded, poor oversight of contracts and overspending of a federal grant. In recent years, the university has been widely criticized for its management, particularly under its former president. The university issued a statement pledging its continued work to fix problems, and noting that the number of issues identified by the auditor this year was 34, down from last year's 41.