David Coleman, one of the chief architects of and advocates for the common core curricular standards under consideration by states nationwide, will become the next president of the College Board, The New York Times reported. The College Board is best known for the SAT and the Advanced Placement program, but Coleman said that he sees a broader mission for the organization, telling the Times that "the College Board is not just about measuring and testing, but designing high-quality curriculum.”
Higher Education Quick Takes
The election of François Hollande as France's president also marks a breakthrough in French higher education, Le Monde reported. Hollande is the first alumnus of HEC (a business-focused university) to become president, and he's the first French president to have attended a business school. (More typical educational backgrounds have been at the nation's elite military or civil service-oriented institutions.) Le Monde noted that "the HEC phenomenon" is evident in a range of powerful people in French society who are its graduates. They include business leaders, as is to be expected, but also Pascal Lamy, director general of the World Trade Organization; Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former managing director of the International Monetary Fund; Rémy Pflimlin, president of France Télévisions; and Louis Dreyfus, chairman of the executive board of Le Monde Group. The rise of these HEC-educated officials represents "profound change in the French elites."
With regents appointed by Texas Governor Rick Perry reportedly interested in ousting Bill Powers as president of the University of Texas at Austin, reporters asked Perry about Powers on Tuesday. The Associated Press reported that Perry declined to talk about the subject, saying only "I got a state to run," and adding that he doesn't focus on any one campus. Perry did say that the move by the University of Texas Board of Regents to freeze tuition (over the objections of Powers) sent a "good message" about controlling college costs. And Perry praised the $10,000 degrees several universities have started at his urging. (Many experts question whether these programs are sustainable and some see costs being shifted to other students.)
The National Collegiate Athletic Association has cleared the University of Missouri at Kansas City of wrongdoing after a former adjunct instructor accused the college of inflating an athlete's grade over his objections.
In a letter UMKC provided Inside Higher Ed Tuesday, an NCAA investigator writes that no violations occurred, saying that the changing of the athlete's grade was done through a legitimate appeals process and without athletic department involvement. The grade change didn't affect the athlete's eligibility, the letter said. UMKC had denied wrongdoing from the start and said at the time that it would welcome an investigation.
In a written statement, UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton praised the NCAA investigation and criticized the news media for reporting on the "unsubstantiated allegations made by a single disgruntled part-time instructor."
"The fact that it took the organization only four working days to investigate the matter and come to this conclusion speaks volumes about the utter lack of substance to these baseless allegations," Morton wrote.
Faculty members and librarians at Kean University voted no confidence in the university's Board of Trustees this week, with 94 percent of responding faculty members saying they had lost faith in the board. Professors have clashed with the university's president, Dawood Farahi, for several years. Tensions came to a head early this year when the faculty accused Farahi of including false information on his résumé. After an investigation in which lawyers hired by the board found that Farahi had falsified some of the statements on earlier résumés, the board voted seven to four to keep Farahi in place, a decision that further angered faculty members. Professors voted no confidence in Farahi in 2010.
Ada Morell, chair of the board, said in a statement that she was not surprised by the outcome of the vote, particularly because the faculty union is negotiating a new contract with the state. "Such votes are a common tool employed by labor leaders and part of the democratic process," she said.
The vote of no confidence in the trustees comes after outside groups have continued to find problems with the university. In spring 2011, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education found that the university failed to comply with two of its standards: measuring student learning outcomes and institutional effectiveness. Since the board voted to keep Farahi in place, the commission found that the university is failing to comply with two additional standards: general education and institutional integrity, or adherence to ethical standards and stated policies. A report by the NCAA questioned the institution's control over its athletics department, particularly its women's basketball program.
The University of Texas at Austin's athletics department brought in upwards of $150 million in revenue in 2010-11, more than any other institution and nearly $19 million more than its closest competitor, Ohio State University. The latest annual update to USA Today’s mammoth database on revenue and expenses at institutions in Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association notes that just 22 athletic departments are operating in the black. Spending across the 227 public universities for which USA Today could gather data rose by $267 million from a year earlier. (Athletic success at Texas will have some payoff for the institution's academic side, which for the next five years will collect half the profits from its 24-hour cable channel, the Longhorn Network. Last year that amounted to $6 million.) Other top revenue-generating programs include the Universities of Alabama ($124.5 million), Florida ($123.5 million) and Michigan ($122.7 million), as well as Pennsylvania State University ($116.1 million), the Universities of Tennessee ($104.4 million) and Oklahoma ($104.3 million), Auburn University ($104 million) and the University of Wisconsin ($96.3 million).
"Degrees of Debt," a series of articles in The New York Times this week, explores the impact of rising student debt with compelling stories of individual borrowers and their families. The series has generated considerable discussion among higher education leaders, many of whom don't dispute the central premise that some students are borrowing more than is appropriate. But some are objecting to a key statistic and the choice of examples in the series. The series opens with an example of a woman who borrowed $120,000 for an undergraduate degree, and goes on to say that "nearly everyone pursuing a bachelor’s degree is borrowing." Then it says that 94 percent of students borrow for an undergraduate education.
Molly Broad, president of the American Council on Education, has written to the Times, pointing out that the 94 percent figure is incorrect, and questioning just how typical some of the borrowers in the series are. "While an alarmist tone and extreme examples might make for good stories, they don’t make for an accurate or meaningful portrayal of the experience of millions of students who borrow to finance their college education. To the contrary, the Times presents a seriously distorted and misleading picture," Broad writes. "The Times is wrong when it says that 94 percent of students who earn a bachelor’s degree borrow to pay for higher education. In fact, about 60 percent of students borrow and their average indebtedness is about $25,000, according to the U.S. Department of Education, the Project on Student Debt and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. While the Times highlighted at length students graduating with six-figure debts, very few borrowers actually owe that much."
Legislation in Illinois would bar public universities from using state funds, tuition revenue or student fees for search firms, The News-Gazette reported. The University of Illinois has spent almost $6 million on search firms over the last nine years, including funds on some searches that did not work out well. Critics question whether the spending is necessary, while board members say that search firms have recruited top talent.
Georgian Court University is planning to announce today that it will become a completely coeducational institution. The Roman Catholic university in New Jersey currently admits men to its evening and graduate programs, but its residential undergraduate college has been for women only. Men will be able to enroll in undergraduate courses in the fall. In the fall of 2013, men will be able to live on campus. At that point, the university will also add men's athletic teams in cross country, soccer, basketball, and track and field.