Centre College on Tuesday announced a $250 million gift -- believed to be the largest ever to a liberal arts college -- that will support merit scholarships. Starting in the fall of 2014, 40 students a year will receive what the college is calling "full ride plus" scholarships, to cover tuition, room and board, all fees and additional money to support study abroad, research or internships. The funds will be available only to students majoring in the natural sciences, computational sciences and economics.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Kevin P. Reilly, president of the University of Wisconsin System, announced Tuesday that he plans to step down in January, following a nine-year tenure in the position. He has served as president during a period of deep budget cuts, a faculty unionization drive, a move by the governor to bar such unions and a battle over how much independence the flagship campus at Madison should have. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that Reilly was stepping down after a legislative session in which he had numerous clashes with legislators over reserve funds of the university. But Reilly said that his decision had been in the works well before the most recent legislative session.
The American Council on Education announced that Reilly would become a presidential advisor for leadership at the organization, working on programs to help presidents and other senior administrators. In an interview, Reilly said that he viewed it as crucial to higher education that future leaders be recruited and trained. He noted that in his current position, he has hired 31 chancellors or interim chancellors. One issue he said would like to address is the reluctance of an increasing number of provosts to consider presidencies. He said that he believes the right programs can help provosts see that "while it's not an easy job, it is a job they can do and that is so worth doing."
The Organization of American Historians has released a report on the historians who were part of a large study released by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce last year about faculty members off the tenure track. Among other things, the study found that historians were more likely than other adjuncts to view college teaching as their primary job, and to have hope of full-time or tenure-track work.
The board of the St. Louis Community College District -- after a 3-3 tie vote -- will not renew the contract of Chancellor Myrtle Dorsey, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Discussion of Dorsey took place in an executive session, so the rationale of board members was not clear. But Dorsey and the district have faced widespread criticism over the handling of an incident in which a female student was attacked in a restroom and her supporters say that the college failed to respond adequately, with campus police letting the suspect go. Dorsey was hired in 2011 and her current contract goes through June 2014.
Financial information for-profit colleges submit to the U.S. Department of Education is inconsistent and generally not helpful, according to an audit by the department's Office of Inspector General. For-profits provide financial statements to the department as a requirement of their participation in federal financial aid programs. But those statements lack transparency, the audit found, because the presentation about instruction and marketing costs is not consistent across institutions.
E. Gordon Gee, who stepped down as president of Ohio State University on July 1, will make $5.8 million over the next five years as part of a new contract with the university. According to the contract, Gee will serve as a tenured professor in Ohio State's law school and his responsibilities will include "completion of his research on 21st Century Education Policy and will include research, writing and national speaking as well as teaching or lecturing" in the law school, the school of public affairs and the college of education. Gee's annual base salary will be $410,000, and he will receive retirement contributions and a grant of $300,000 to fund his research. After the five years are up, Gee's salary will be equivalent to the highest-paid non-administrative faculty member in the law school.
The new contract waives any compensation Gee would have been entitled to under his previous contract with the university, which would have paid out approximately $6 million in supplemental and deferred compensation over the next four years.
After three top-tier universities backed away from it, three new universities have joined a partnership created by the company 2U to access a pool of for-credit online courses offered by other universities.
Baylor University, Southern Methodist University and Temple University will offer its students classes from the partnership, known as Semester Online. That will allow students at those three universities to take courses offered by Boston College, Brandeis University, Emory University, Northwestern University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, University of Notre Dame, and Washington University. Unlike those institutions, Baylor, SMU and Temple will not offer courses into the pool but only draw from it.
Earlier this year, the three top-tier universities - Duke University, the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University - backed away from Semester Online, citing a variety of concerns.
An Education Department proposal to expand the scope and reach of its central database for student aid would violate federal law and distort the database's purposes, a group of higher education associations argued in a letter sent to department officials Monday.
The letter, sent by the American Council on Education on behalf of seven other groups, responds to a request for comment published in the Federal Register in late June, in which the Education Department's Federal Student Aid office proposed to make a set of changes to information collected by the National Student Loan Data System.
The associations' letter argues that some of the department's goals are appropriately tied to the database's original purpose, but it questions a plan to modify legal provisions related to gainful employment programs to collect information about students who do not receive federal financial aid, among other things. "[W]e do not understand how the inclusion of information about unaided students in NSLDS can be justified," they wrote.
The groups also challenged the department's plan to expand the student loan database to collect consumer protection and program evaluation data, and the department's authority to make such changes in a Federal Register notice rather than through legislation. The proposals, they write, "exceed the boundaries of the law in ways that the courts have prohibited and that distort the purposes of NSLDS."
The letter also cites numerous ways in which the department's proposal falls short of its obligations under the Federal Privacy Act.