In today’s Academic Minute, Professor Christopher Robbins of the State University of New York at Purchase explains how viewing problems from within the context of a different culture can bring about novel solutions. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Jack Conway, Kentucky's attorney general, on Tuesday filed a consumer protection lawsuit against National College of Kentucky, Inc., a for-profit, for allegedly misrepresenting job placement numbers. Conway is leading a 22-state investigation of potential abuses among for-profits. He has also sued Daymar College for allegedly misleading students about their textbooks and financial aid and joined a whistle-blower complaint against Education Management Corporation over allegations of illegal payments to student recruiters, and he is investigating five other for-profits operating in Kentucky. The suit against National claims the college publicly displayed "significantly higher" job placement rates than the rates it reported to an accrediting agency. National has attempted to block the investigation, and has appealed a judge's ruling that it could continue.
The compensation for top administrators at the wealthiest private colleges and universities in Massachusetts continues to rise, according to a report by the Center for Social Philanthropy at the Tellus Institute, located in Boston.
More than $157 million was paid to 339 top university officials in 2009, the latest data available, the report states. Twenty employees received more than $1 million, with the highest package exceeding $6 million at Harvard University. According to a press release from the center: "The financial crisis of 2008-09 appears to have done little to dampen the size of compensation packages received by the most highly paid college officials, even as colleges themselves have imposed cuts to programs and lower-level staff, often in response to sharp declines in the value of their endowments."
Officials at the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts declined to comment.
The University of Missouri at Columbia's medical school is reporting success with a program designed to send more medical students on to careers in rural health care. An article in the new issue of Academic Medicine describes a special track at the medical school in which students are exposed to rural health needs and issues throughout their time in medical school. Participants in the program were more than twice as likely as others to obtain residencies in family medicine, and 57 percent of participants started their medical practices in rural areas (compared to 9 percent of all M.D.s who work in rural areas).
While many colleges won't sell alcoholic energy drinks, the University of New Hampshire is considering a ban on non-alcoholic energy drinks such as Full Throttle and Red Bull, the Associated Press reported. In fact, the university announced a ban on the sale of such products Monday, but backtracked later in the day and said it would study the idea further before imposing a ban. (This updates an earlier version of this item, based on the reported ban.) "The University of New Hampshire is committed to making its campus the healthiest in the country," Rick MacDonald, assistant director of dining at the university, said when explaining the idea behind the ban.
The Delegate Assembly of the United University Professions, the faculty union of the State University of New York, has adopted a package of measures designed to promote the interests of non-tenure-track faculty members. The UUP, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, pledged to adopt a system in which adjuncts who go on and off payroll can remain members of the union. Further, each campus chapter will have an officer focused on contingent issues, and at least one spot on the statewide union's executive board will be held by someone off the tenure track.
Jane Sanders resigned Monday as president of Burlington College, citing unspecified differences with the college's board, The Burlington Free Press reported. Speculation about her departure has been rampant since the disclosure of a board agenda with an item labeled "removal of the president."
Almost half of undergraduate programs at public colleges and universities in Texas are in danger of being eliminated because they do not meet a new state requirement of graduating at least 25 students every five years, UPI reported. Many physics programs nationally do not graduate large numbers of undergraduates, but are considered vital nonetheless because of the role of the discipline in preparing students for a variety of science and engineering related fields, and because of the significance of research in physics. A delegation from the American Physical Society recently met with officials of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to discuss concerns about enforcing the rule with regard to physics. Raymund Paredes, the Texas commissioner of higher education, said he would not back exceptions to the rule. "In this budgetary environment, we can't afford the luxury of programs not producing graduates," he told UPI. "It's up to academic departments faced with closure of programs to salvage them."