Higher Education Quick Takes
Rebecca M. Blank, acting U.S. secretary of commerce, was named Monday as the next chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, pending formal approval by the Board of Regents. Blank's career as an economist has included positions in government and academe. From 1999-2008, she was dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan. David Ward, a former chancellor, has been serving as interim chancellor at Madison since July 2011. At that time, Carolyn A. (Biddy) Martin ended a three-year term -- which included controversy over her proposals to give Madison more autonomy from the state -- to become president of Amherst College.
A former student found shot to death in his dormitory room at the University of Central Florida killed himself after abandoning a plan to attack the campus, The Orlando Sentinel reported. Authorities said that James Oliver Seevakumaran had failed to register for spring classes but had remained in the dorm. They said he had multiple weapons and explosives and had reportedly pulled a fire alarm early Sunday morning, with the aim of shooting students as they sought to leave the dorm. But he apparently altered his plan, returned to his room, and shot himself in the head.
Going to college can provide students with the opportunity to abuse alcohol, but new research from Pennsylvania State University finds that, long term, going to college does not increase and may decrease the chances that in adulthood someone will regularly abuse alcohol. The research -- being published in the journal Structural Equation Modeling -- looks at characteristics of various cohorts of adults and then compares those who did and did not go to college.
The University of Texas Board of Regents, already accused of micromanaging the president of the University of Texas at Austin, has ordered him not to delete any e-mails, The Austin American-Statesman reported. Some regents have been gathering information on Bill Powers, the president, and are widely believed to want to force him out of office. Powers has backing from the faculty, student and alumni leaders. A spokesman for Powers said he was complying with the request. But State Senator Kirk Watson called the regents' order "extraordinarily disappointing," adding that "its breadth under the guise of a specific review begs the question for the motivation of the request. What’s the purpose? Why the global reach?”
In the middle of 2011, the regional accrediting agency for California threatened to yank approval from Trident University International unless the online for-profit institution could reassure the accreditor that it had overcome serious problems involving transfer students that raised questions about its integrity. Last month, the senior college commission of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges said it had been largely persuaded that Trident had turned the situation around. In a letter to the institution's president, Lucille Sansing, Ralph Wolff, president of the Western agency, said that after dropping TUI from "show cause" status (in which institutions are required to prove why their accreditation should not be stripped) in March 2012, the commission had taken the university off of probation last month, citing "significant progress" on a range of problem areas.
Trident, which was Touro University's online arm before being sold to a private equity firm in 2007, fell into disfavor with WASC after it failed to ensure that students transferring in had fulfilled their general education requirements and, more importantly, failed to tell the accreditor about the problem.
A new analysis from California Watch suggests that California's cash-strapped community colleges could save millions of dollars by sharing administrators. "More than half of the state’s community college districts are within 20 miles of another district. And the vast majority of those districts have a single college," says the report. Some of those quoted in the report say that such colleges should be combined into new districts at the same time, saving time and money on governing boards as well.
Columbia University on Monday announced two winners of the Bancroft Prize for books about history. The winners are:
- W. Jeffrey Bolster, associate professor of history at the University of New Hampshire, for The Mortal Sea: Fishing the Atlantic in the Age of Sail (Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012).
- John Fabian Witt, Allen H. Duffy Class of 1960 Professor of Law at Yale University, for Lincoln’s Code: The Laws of War in American History (Free Press, 2012).
The U.S. Justice Department has announced a settlement with the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey over complaints that its medical school and osteopathic medical school discriminated against students with Hepatitis B. The medical schools revoked the acceptance of students with Hepatitis B, and the Justice Department found this to be illegal discrimination based on disability because no requirements of the medical school programs would have created any dangers by the participation of students with Hepatitis B. The university's action "contradicts" guidance on the issue from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Justice Department statement said. The university has agreed to admit the students and to compensate them for what happened.
In order to make good on an earlier pledge to freeze tuition for at least two years, Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, formerly Indiana's Republican governor, announced in a letter Monday that the university would be looking for at least $40 million in savings over the biennium. "It has been too easy in higher education for institutions to decide first what they would like to spend, and then raise student bills to produce the desired funds," Daniels wrote. "That approach has run its course. At Purdue, we will make our first goal affordability, accommodating our spending to students’ budgets and not the other way around."
As a first step toward accomplishing those savings, Daniels announced that he would eliminate merit pay raises for all senior administrators, deans and administrative and professional staff with salaries of more than $50,000 for the next two years, a move projected to save $5 million. The freeze would not apply to faculty members. He also said in a Faculty Senate meeting Monday to expect additional announcements later this month.