College and university governing boards must respect the central role of faculty and academic administrators in curricular and other academic matters, but trustees themselves are ultimately responsible for ensuring their institutions' educational quality, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges said in a statement released Monday. The document, released in conjunction with the group's annual meeting in Los Angeles, states: "While academic administrators and faculty members are responsible for setting learning goals, developing and offering academic courses and programs, and assessing the quality of those courses and programs, boards cannot delegate away their governance responsibilities for educational quality. The board’s responsibility in this area is to recognize and support faculty’s leadership in continuously improving academic programs and outcomes, while also holding them -- through institutional administrators -- accountable for educational quality."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Council of Graduate Schools is today releasing a report on steps taken by universities, academic departments and other groups to improve graduate education in the year since the release of the council's study "The Path Forward: The Future of Graduate Education in the United States." The new report suggests that many universities have become more strategic about graduate education in the wake of the earlier report.
China has restored the University of Calgary to the country's list of accredited universities, a list that many Chinese students rely upon when deciding where to enroll, The Calgary Herald reported. The university disappeared from the list last year, following a visit to the campus by the Dalai Lama.
Colleges that offer online programs to students in multiple states have been told that if they do not show a "good faith" effort to comply with various state rules governing higher ed by the beginning of July, they could lose their eligibility for federal student aid. But according to an update to an earlier report on online regulation by the consulting firm Eduventures, colleges are still uncertain about exactly what they need to do before then to avoid running afoul of state regulators or federal watchdogs. The firm says distance education officials at various institutions it surveyed were scrambling to undertake "extreme measures," such as acquiring licensing in every state where they enroll students or ceasing operations in all but their home states.
State officials, meanwhile, have been reticent to update or rework their online licensing requirements, despite the fact that in many states the existing rules are "unclear," "patchily enforced," and archaic in light of the new normal of online education, Eduventures says. Only 14 states have updated or reformulated their policies, it says. For reasons not primarily connected to online regulation, a coalition of higher ed officials, led by the American Council on Education, has lobbied to extend the July 1 deadline, which is when numerous federal rules are scheduled to take effect.
A regent of the University of Minnesota -- faced with a potential conflict of interest -- has opted to keep his position on the board and relinquish an $80,000-a-year job at the university's public policy school, The Star-Tribune of Minneapolis reported. Steve Sviggum, a former legislative leader in the state, joined the university's Board of Regents last month, soon after he took a post as a legislative fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. The dual posts drew charges of a possible conflict of interest for Sviggum, who disputed the existence of a conflict but said his service to the university as a regent outweighed his interest in the job.
The American Council of Learned Societies has started a new fellowship program that will place eight recent humanities Ph.D.s in paid positions (with health insurance) for two years in government agencies and nonprofit groups. The effort, funded with a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed "to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide application, both within and beyond the academy."
Rutgers University has raised some eyebrows by going to the practice of paying commencement speakers, and signing a deal to pay Toni Morrison, the Nobel laureate, $30,000 to appear this year. But now comes the news from The Star-Ledger that Rutgers paid $32,000 to Snooki, the reality star, for a question-and-answer session on the campus. During her talk, Snooki advised the students to "study hard, but party harder."
An American Bar Association committee, which met this weekend in Chicago to continue its review of law school accreditation standards, heard complaints from numerous legal experts who argue that some of the proposals being considered would significantly weaken legal education. Representatives from the Clinical Legal Education Association, the Society of American Law Teachers, the Association of Legal Writing Directors and the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) all testified Saturday before the ABA’s Standards Review Committee, primarily in protest of proposed provisions that would eliminate requirements that law schools have tenure systems and use the LSAT in admissions. The ABA Journal reported Saturday that, after reviewing a letter from AALS urging the committee to put its accreditation review on hold, Donald J. Polden, committee chair and dean of the Santa Clara University School of Law, said “he hadn’t heard anything that would persuade him the committee should stop what it’s doing."
Susan Prager, AALS executive director, told Inside Higher Ed that many individual law school faculty members testified before the committee at an open forum Saturday, offering personal anecdotes about why tenure is important to them. She also clarified that AALS does not want the Standards Review Committee to halt its review entirely, just that it wants the committee to take more time to consider the implications of the many changes it is considering. Though some proposals were approved, specific proposals regarding the more contentious items -- such as tenure and the LSAT -- were not voted on at this weekend's meeting, meaning that the committee will take more time to review them before making a formal recommendation to the broader ABA.
At Madison Area Technical College, full-time faculty members can earn more than twice as much as adjuncts for teaching the same course, according to an analysis by the Wisconsin State Journal. College officials at Madison Tech and elsewhere tend to dismiss such comparisons, noting that full-time faculty have non-teaching duties. But the newspaper said that its calculations were based on the percentage of time that full-time faculty members are supposed to teach.