Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin is leaving the chancellor's position at the University of Wisconsin at Madison for the presidency of Amherst College. Martin has been at Madison for three years, during which she had notable successes early on in building student support to pay more for improved undergraduate education. But in the last year, she has been a key player in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to gain significant independence for Madison from the university system. Martin argued that the changes were needed for Madison to compete with the best research universities nationwide, but other campuses said that the system would be hurt if Madison left. Martin, an advocate for low-income students and more diversity in higher education, noted in the announcement of her move to Amherst the extent to which the college has a strong commitment on those issues, as well as an outstanding academic reputation.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the state's controversial new law barring most collective bargaining by public employees -- including those at the University of Wisconsin -- could take effect, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Further legal challenges to the law are possible, but the Supreme Court's ruling represents a major victory for proponents of the law. A lower court had thrown out the law, based on the view that a legislative committee that reviewed it did so in violation of open meetings requirements. The Supreme Court found that was not the case.
The Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, is today releasing a report that is harshly critical of nonprofit colleges, charging that common practices (such as running programs at the same tuition levels, when some have much larger enrollments than others) create "profits" at nonprofit colleges. "Undergraduate education is a highly profitable business for nonprofit colleges and universities. They do not show profits on their books, but instead take their profits in the form of spending on some combination of research, graduate education, low-demand majors, low faculty teaching loads, excess compensation, and featherbedding. The industry’s high profits come at the expense of students and taxpayers," says the report, written by Vance H. Fried, the Riata Professor of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University.
Many attendees of large scholarly gatherings complain that sessions in which long papers are read aloud rarely excite the audience. One solution is the "precirculated paper," in which scholars give out the paper in advance and spend less time reading aloud at the actual meeting, and more time in discussion. The American Historical Association has been encouraging this option for its annual meeting, but announced this week that it was suspending the practice. Among the problems: those who signed up for the option didn't submit their papers on time, those papers that were circulated weren't read in advance, and not enough attendees understood the concept.
Britain is planning to cut the number of student visas it issues by 260,000 over the next five years, Times Higher Education reported. Government officials say that the changes are needed to end abuses of the system, but university officials said that the reductions would discourage enrollments from abroad, including the enrollment of full-paying students that the institutions want to attract in a period of steep budget cuts.
Claude Steele, who left Stanford University to become provost of Columbia University two years ago, is returning to the Farm. Steele will become dean of Stanford's influential School of Education. While at Stanford, Steele's work in social psychology led to positions as Lucie Stern Professor in the Social Sciences, director of the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, and director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.
Students who grow up in poverty are nearly four times likelier to enroll in for-profit colleges than are other students, and they are far likelier to attend those institutions than they were a decade ago, according to a study released today by the Institute for Higher Education Policy. The study finds that about half of students at all income levels enroll in community colleges as their first postsecondary institution. But of the rest, students who do not grow up in poverty are far likelier to attend four-year public or private institutions (37 percent), while those from poor backgrounds are as likely to attend for-profit institutions (19 percent) as public or private ones (21 percent).
Bethany University, an Assemblies of God institution in California, announced Monday that it is shutting down. Efforts will be made this summer to help students finish programs or find institutions to which they can transfer. This institution has been struggling financially in recent years, and last week announced a deal to be purchased (but to remain nonprofit), but the agreement -- details of which were never released -- fell through.