Higher Education Quick Takes
The average compensation for a big-time college football coach is $1.47 million this year, up 55 percent over the last six seasons, USA Today reported. The newspaper's study found that the pay in the six conferences that make up the Bowl Championship Series, the increase was roughly the same percentage, but on a larger base. The average salary in those conferences for a head football coach is $2.125 million. The USA Today analysis found that 64 coaches are making more than $1 million, of which 32 are being paid more than $2 million and 9 are making more than $3 million.
Natalie Wisneski, the Fiesta Bowl's former chief operating officer, was indicted Wednesday on federal charges that she covered up illegal campaign contributions by bowl employees, The Arizona Republic reported. Among other things, she is alleged to have filed false financial records and making campaign contributions in another person's name. She is also charged with soliciting campaign contributions from bowl employees and then reimbursing them with revenue from the bowl. Wisneski was not available for comment but has previously denied wrongdoing.
Scott Koerwer resigned last week as president of Newberry College, after serving less than 18 months in office, The State reported. A statement cited "personal and family reasons," and he immediately moved out of the presidential home. In an e-mail to the newspaper, he said he was working on some consulting projects.
The California State University Board of Trustees on Wednesday approved a 9 percent tuition increase ($500) after having to close a public meeting due to protests that involved chanting and whistle-blowing that disrupted discussions, The Los Angeles Times reported. Protesting students said that the trustees were too quick to impose additional charges on students. A statement from the university said that four people were arrested, some police officers suffered injuries and the glass doors to the chancellor's office were shattered. The regents also asked state officials to add $333 million to the university system's budget for 2012-13.
Sixty-two percent of Californians believe that public higher education in the state is headed in the wrong direction, according to a survey being released today by the Public Policy Institute of California. Only 28 percent believe that public higher education is headed in the right direction.
The poll results suggest that while Californians are concerned about public higher education, and see the severe funding problems facing the state's colleges and universities, there is no consensus on what to do. Nearly three-quarters of Californians (including 58 percent of Republicans) said that higher education isn't receiving enough state funds. But 52 percent of Californians said that they were unwilling to pay higher taxes to support existing programs, while 45 percent said that they would support higher taxes.
Thirty-seven percent of community college students this fall were blocked from enrolling in at least one course they desired, according to a survey being released today by the Pearson Foundation. That is up from 32 percent who reported being unable to enroll in at least one course a year ago. The figures this fall were even higher for black students (42 percent) and Latino students (54 percent). Students enrolled part time and those enrolled in remedial courses were more likely to report difficulty in getting into sections of courses.
The foundation also surveyed community college students on distance education, and found that community college students appear to be embracing it. Fifty-seven percent of community college students reported having taken college courses online, 46 percent reported doing so this fall, and 74 percent of those who have taken online courses said that they were satisfied with the experience.
The Modern Language Association's Executive Council has issued a statement expressing concern about the impact of rising student debt, and calling on colleges and governments to take steps to minimize debt. "To reduce debt burdens in the future, we call on Congress, state legislatures, and institutions of higher education to calibrate educational costs and student aid in ways that will keep student debt within strict limits. We also call on them to hold in check tuition increases, which often far outpace inflation, and to ensure that degree programs allow for timely completion," says the statement.
An accompanying letter from Russell Berman, the MLA president and a professor of comparative literature and German studies at Stanford University, discussed the importance for advocates of the humanities speaking out on issues of college affordability and student debt. "College education has aspired to achieve more than the imparting of instrumental job training by instead building students’ creativity, argumentative rigor, and cognitive flexibility — capacities of the mind that might of course contribute to career success but that do not involve the mastery of specific job-related techniques or the attainment of preprofessional accreditation. This goal remains valid," Berman's letter says. "It is important to recognize, however, that the liberal arts celebration of an education not linked to professional preparation has existed alongside the promise that higher education would open the door to a fulfilling career. This gap between the appeal of the liberal arts, on the one hand, and the dismal job market, on the other, persists and puts pressure on the MLA’s mission: promoting the study of language and literature. As we rightly defend student opportunities to study the liberal arts, we face a moral obligation to address the career prospects of our students and the economic pressures they will face."
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is seeking comments on private student loans from students, families, colleges and loan providers to prepare a report for Congress on private student lending. In a notice published in today's Federal Register, the bureau said it was seeking information on how students use private loans, what types of comparison shopping tools are available, what best practices are for financial aid offices who counsel private borrowers, and other topics related to the private lending industry. The report must be submitted to Congress by July 21, 2012.
Part of the Occupy Wall Street movement is planning to announce on Monday a campaign to encourage people repaying student loans to stop doing so. The idea is that people will pledge to stop repaying their loans when 1 million people agree to do so. The hope is that such a volume of non-repayment would make it difficult to punish those who opt to stop paying. The repayments could continue, however, if certain conditions are met. Those conditions include making public higher education free to students. The campaign was described to Inside Higher Ed by Andrew Ross, a prominent humanities scholar at New York University, who has been involved with the efforts to start the drive.