Higher Education Quick Takes
A panel of the California State University Board of Trustees has endorsed a plan that it hopes will halt intense criticism of the board's moves to increase pay for campus presidents at a time of deep budget cuts. The plan would freeze state-funded pay for campus presidents, but allow foundations to provide new presidents with additional pay up to 10 percent more than that received by their predecessors, The Los Angeles Times reported. So far, critics aren't dropping their concerns. "They are trying to run it like a for-profit business, but we're a public university, so it's the citizens that are really paying," said Liz Cara, a professor of occupational therapy at San Jose State University.
State grant programs for college students should move beyond their traditional dichotomy between “need based” and “merit based” aid and instead target students with financial need but set expectations and support for college success, says a report published Tuesday by a Brookings Institution panel. The report, which was discussed at an event at Brookings Tuesday and outlined in an essay on Inside Higher Ed, argues that the grants must be made more effective given their increasing performance as tuition costs rise and other state support for higher education erodes.
The University of Pittsburgh is joining the ranks of public universities responding to budget constraints by restructuring how it administers its campuses. The university announced Monday that it would have two of its (five) regional campuses report to a single president, and centralize numerous administrative functions for the campuses. Under the arrangement, the president of Pitt's Bradford campus, Livingston Alexander, will oversee the university's Titusville campus as well, with Titusville's current provost becoming a campus dean (responsible for day-to-day oversight) and reporting to Alexander. The announcement did not estimate how much the realignment might save.
The University System of Georgia is proceeding with a plan to merge several sets of campuses, and the State University of New York System has pushed (with mixed success) to consolidate the leadership over pairs of its campuses as well.
The Evansville Courier & Press reported that a highlight of this year's University of Evansville commencement was a line from President Thomas A. Kazee -- and the line seemed to be most popular in the sections for attendees who are family members of graduates. He won applause for telling students: "Move away from home and get a job as soon as possible. Your parents love you, but enough is enough."
Eastern Michigan University is apologizing after sending an expulsion notice intended for about 100 students to many more who were not in fact being expelled, the Associated Press reported. The university isn't sure how many people received the notice, but the group includes some recent graduates.
Ohio State University has spent more than $800,000 on President Gordon Gee's travel expenses since 2007, including more than $550,000 in the last two years, The Dayton Daily News reported. Ohio State officials noted the value of Gee's travel, in reaching donors and others, and in spreading the word about Ohio State across the world. But the newspaper noted that Gee's travel expenses exceeded not only those of two Ohio governors, but also of the presidents of other big public universities with global ambitions and intense fund-raising efforts -- the Universities of Michigan, North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Virginia.
The Education Department is increasingly relying on collection agencies to obtain funds from those who have defaulted on student loans, but the department is failing to monitor complaints about these agencies, says a new report from the National Consumer Law Center. The center "found that contractors do not maintain accessible complaint systems and some agencies ignore the department’s minimum requirements for handling borrower grievances," the report says. "Overall, the complaint systems used by some collectors display a haphazard approach to resolving borrower disputes. The department also has failed to inform borrowers of the resources available through the agency to address complaints."
Chester College employees overwhelmingly passed a critical report on President Robert Baines on Monday, saying the institution’s dire financial situation is due to mismanagement at the highest levels. (Separately, the institution's board affirmed its confidence in Baines in a unanimous vote.)
Every non-adjunct faculty member and all but one staff member signed the 15-point vote of no confidence that said the college’s $750,000 deficit and possible closure “were preventable had the president fulfilled his responsibilities and had the board of trustees held him accountable.”
Baines said the anger is understandable, but that he's confident he handled a difficult situation as best he could while enrollment fell and infrastructure crumbled.
The 119-student arts college in New Hampshire must find hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to stay open next fall. Initial fund-raising efforts had yielded $87,000 as of Sunday, encouraging faculty and student leaders but leaving them far short of their ultimate goal.
Among the criticisms of Baines were his failure to raise funds and his slow speed in alerting employees and students to the magnitude of the financial situation. The petition accuses him of saying, “You cannot fund-raise for a sinking ship.”
He disputes ever saying "sinking ship," but said the concept is accurate enough. "It’s very difficult to go out and raise money with the financial situation we’re in," he said. Efforts to find a partner to take over the campus fell through because many of the college's facilities are in disrepair, Baines said.
The no-confidence vote concedes that Chester’s closure is a possibility, and the document outlines employee efforts to help students transition to a new college should that become necessary. But the document expresses hope Chester can be saved – alluding to pledges of $600,000 in donations over the next six years -- and asks that Baines step aside should the college survive.
The national accrediting agency for Career Education Corp. on Monday decided not to pursue penalties against 71 campuses that had been under review over reported problems with job placement rates. Four campuses, however, were placed on probation. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools had asked the for-profit higher education provider to demonstrate that its job-placement reporting was adequate after a recent review by an outside law firm found that some campuses lacked sufficient documentation. Career Education's president and CEO, Gary E. McCullough, resigned shortly after that news broke. Steven H. Lesnik, the new CEO, said in a news release that the company "had made great strides" but would continue to improve student job placement results.