Higher Education Quick Takes
The colleges in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I voted last week to uphold their ability to award multiyear scholarships to athletes, narrowly rejecting an effort by some of the division's members to block such grants. The multiyear scholarship rule was one of several that the NCAA's Division I Board of Directors approved in a burst of legislative activity last fall aimed at quelling concerns about rule breaking and about the association's treatment of athletes -- and one of two rules that significant numbers of Division I members sought to block because of concerns that they would favor wealthier programs and conflict with how most institutional financial aid is awarded, among other reasons. The NCAA's governance process provides a mechanism in which the division's members can formally vote to override decisions by the Division I board.
Last week's vote on the multiyear scholarship rule would have required a five-eighths majority of Division I members to block it from taking effect. But only 205 of the 330 participating colleges and conferences -- two short of the 207 needed -- opposed the scholarship plan. Twenty-five institutions and leagues did not vote. "I am pleased that student-athletes will continue to benefit from the ability of institutions to offer athletics aid for more than one year," said the NCAA's president, Mark Emmert. "But it's clear that there are significant portions of the membership with legitimate concerns. As we continue to examine implementation of the rule, we want to work with the membership to address those concerns."
Fifty-nine percent of faculty members at the University of California at Davis voted to approve a resolution that they have confidence in the leadership of Linda P.B. Katehi as chancellor, The Sacramento Bee reported. The same resolution also expressed criticism of the university's use of pepper spray against nonviolent student protesters last year -- a move that galvanized campus critics of the chancellor. By a wider margin (with 69 percent voting no), faculty members rejected a resolution of no confidence in Katehi. The Bee noted that some faculty views on Katehi are not based on the pepper spray incident. Generally, her decisions as chancellor are seen as benefiting those in the sciences, and she has stronger support there than in the humanities.
Maryland's higher education system is among the country's strongest in college attainment and productivity, but is leaving the state's minority and low-income populations behind, a report from a research center at the University of Pennsylvania states. The report, from Penn's Institute for Research on Higher Education, is the third in a series of five examining higher education performance and governance in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Texas and Washington.
Dozens of students at Kean University walked out of class Thursday and marched to protest the decision of the institution's board to keep Dawood Farahi as president even though several of his résumés contained inaccuracies, The Star-Ledger reported. Students said that they were outraged that the board did not see the issue as one over which a president should be dismissed. A board statement said that trustees were concerned, but that they saw the issue as an old one, and not sufficient to end what they consider to be a successful presidency.
Michael Reilly, who heads a council of Washington State's six public university presidents, was named Wednesday as the new executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. In his current role, Reilly represents the interests of the six universities before state leaders. He previously served in admissions and student affairs roles at California's Humboldt State University; Central Washington, Washington State and Seattle Universities in Washington; and Iowa State University. At AACRAO, where he'll begin work June 1, Reilly will succeed Jerry Sullivan.
American University adjuncts have voted to unionize and to be represented by the Service Employees International Union. A memo from the university's provost, Scott A. Bass, said that the vote to unionize was 379 to 284. The memo said that the university would respect the vote, and would not file any appeals of the election. The SEIU Local 500 website includes statements from numerous adjuncts about why they wanted a union.
The Education Department's advisory committee on accreditation is seeking comment on a draft of its final recommendations for Education Secretary Arne Duncan on how the system of higher education quality assurance might be revamped. The draft final report, which was published in Friday's Federal Register, was previewed in an article on Inside Higher Ed this month. The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity will solicit comment on the draft report and then hold an April 13 teleconference to discuss and possibly act on the report.
A new research paper from the American Sociological Association compares the job markets (primarily but not exclusively in academe) in social science disciplines. Looking at the most recent jobs data (based on postings with disciplinary associations), the association found that sociology appears to be experiencing the most robust recovery in job listings (up 28 percent), followed by political science (up 12 percent), history (up 10 percent) and economics (up less than 1 percent). Using the same data (which may be incomplete as many jobs are not posted with the disciplinary associations), the study also calculated a ratio of new Ph.D.s to open rank faculty positions for the four fields. Economics appears in this comparison to have the most favorable job market for new Ph.D.s, with 0.7 Ph.D.s per open rank position. The figures are 1.1 to 1 for political science, 1.3 to 1 for sociology, and 2.1 to 1 for history.
A group of U.S. senators on Thursday proposed legislation that would make it harder for for-profit colleges to enroll substantial numbers of veterans and active-duty members of the military without running afoul of federal financial aid rules. For-profits can collect up to 90 percent of their revenue from federal financial aid, but student payments from the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill and the Department of Defense's tuition benefit program do not count toward that amount. The new bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat from Delaware, would change the formula and count that revenue as federal dollars. Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House.
The proposed legislation follows a similar bill, introduced last month by Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, that would reduce to 85 percent the amount of federal aid revenue for-profits can receive, and also count military tuition aid toward the federal side of the equation. Both bills face long odds, due to Republican opposition and the legislative doldrums of a presidential election season.