Higher Education Quick Takes
Anna Maria College last month withdrew an invitation to Victoria Kennedy, the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, to deliver a commencement speech, citing opposition from the local bishop, who said that some of Kennedy's views conflict with Roman Catholic teachings. Now it turns out that the bishop won't be attending commencement either. A spokesman for the Rev. Robert J. McManus, bishop of Worcester, told The Boston Globe that college officials "felt the bishop would be a distraction to the event,’’ and so asked him not to attend. "He was going to attend, but that’s not going to happen now," the spokesman said.
J. Paul Reddam, owner of Saturday's Kentucky Derby winner, I'll Have Another, was once a philosophy professor at California State University at Los Angeles. He left academe to found DiTech, a mortgage loan company, and his sale of that company gave him the resources to become a major player in horse racing, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. In an interview with the publication Thoroughbred Owners of California, Reddam gave this reason for leaving academe. "Money," he gave as the reason. "You know, I enjoyed the teaching, and certainly the hours were very flexible. But you can only make so much money at it, which isn’t very much, so I decided I needed to get a real job."
Both houses of Connecticut's legislature on Friday passed a bill that would require public colleges to embed remedial education in credit-bearing courses, with extra tutoring and assistance for students who need remedial help. The bill had worried some in the state, who felt that abolishing all remedial classes would be unworkable, considering the learning deficiencies of some students. However, the State Senate included an amendment that would allow for one semester of standalone remediation, assuaging some concerns about the bill, which now goes to the state's governor for his consideration.
The University of California at Berkeley on Friday fired Diane Leite, formerly an assistant vice chancellor, who was demoted previously but not fired when word surfaced that she had helped triple the pay of her lover, also a Berkeley employee, The San Jose Mercury News reported. When the scandal first broke, many Berkeley faculty members expressed shock that she wasn't fired immediately. Leite did not return calls and her lawyer declined to comment.
Rutgers University charges its students nearly $1,000 each a year -- more than the charges at any other university -- to finance football, Bloomberg reported. The total comes from an analysis by the news service based on student fees and direct university funding for the football program. Officials at Rutgers have said for years that investments in athletics would pay for themselves in the end, but many faculty and student groups have charged that the university spends too much on athletics.
Sweet Briar College, faced with financial difficulties caused by lower than desired enrollment levels, is shrinking its faculty, and eliminating two majors, The Lynchburg News & Advance reported. The college has 605 students, but has room on campus for 750-800. Sweet Briar plans to cut the equivalent of 11 full-time faculty positions (though some of the cuts will be of part-timers), bringing the faculty size down to the equivalent of 85 full-time positions. The majors that will be eliminated are German and engineering management. Sweet Briar has been struggling with attracting more students since 2009.
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Friday released a report detailing academic fraud in a scandal set off by a report about inappropriate treatment received by a football player, The Raleigh News & Observer reported. The fraud involved inappropriate incidents in 50 classes, ranging from faculty members who didn't show up to unauthorized grade changes for students. Many of the questioned classes were taught by Julius Nyang’oro, former chair of the African and Afro-American Studies Department. He resigned from the chair position in September. With the release of the report, the university announced that Nyang’oro is retiring on July 1. “Professor Nyang’oro offered to retire, and we agreed that was in the best interest of the department, the college and the university,” said Nancy Davis, associate vice chancellor for university relations.
Teacher education students at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, with the support of some faculty members, are refusing to participate in a pilot project in which Stanford University and the education company Pearson are analyzing whether the students have demonstrated proficiency in their student teaching, The New York Times reported. Because UMass is participating in the project, the students were directed to submit two 10-minute videos of themselves teaching, and to take a 40-page take-home test to submit to Pearson. Some states are already planning to use that process as a key part of the credentialing of new teachers. Stanford officials said Pearson has provided key support for the project, which comes at a time that many have questioned the systems currently used by states. At other universities participating in the pilot, there have been no protests, Stanford officials said.
But the students and some professors at UMass say that faculty review of students over a six-month period is a much better way to measure teaching ability, and that good reviews can't be done by people who have never seen the students in person. And so they are refusing to send Pearson the required materials. "This is something complex and we don’t like seeing it taken out of human hands," Barbara Madeloni, who runs the university high school teacher training program, told the Times. "We are putting a stick in the gears."
A majority of voting faculty members approved resolutions recently of no confidence in the presidents of Wilkes University and the University of Southern Maine. At Southern Maine, a vote of no confidence requires the backing of two-thirds of all faculty members to pass, and while the measure won the support of 194 faculty members (with 88 opposed), it needed 251 votes to officially pass.
- At Wilkes, faculty members voted no confidence, 81-19, in President Tim Gilmour, The Citizens Voice reported. Gilmour is planning to retire, but faculty members are angry over benefit cuts and a wage freeze he has proposed to deal with budget deficits, and his decision to accept a paid sabbatical upon retirement. Gilmour said he is making "difficult decisions," and so accepts that they will be controversial.
- At Southern Maine, faculty members have expressed frustration over budget decisions of President Selma Botman at a time she awarded large raises to some non-faculty employees, Maine Public Broadcasting reported. Botman has defended her decisions, but vowed to reach out to faculty members. James Page, chancellor of the University of Maine System, said he takes the vote "very seriously" and plans to meet with Botman to discuss it.
Michael Adams, who announced last week that he plans to retire as president of the University of Georgia, will receive $2.7 million in a five-year retirement package, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. About $600,000 is deferred compensation, tied in part to Adams having served for more than 15 years. State Representative Bill Hembree, who has criticized some spending decisions by public universities, said he was stunned by the package. "That seems like an outrageous amount of money," he said. "He’s done a good job, but these golden parachute deals … they just send the wrong message. This isn’t General Electric or IBM. This is the University of Georgia.”