A new law in Washington State has created WGU Washington, a new division of Western Governors University that will offer WGU's competency-based online programs in the state. The new university -- part of an expansion of WGU -- will not receive state funds, and officials believe it will help many students obtain degrees more speedily than they might otherwise. The new branch of WGU is similar to an arrangement started last year in Indiana. In Washington State, some faculty members have objected to the new approach.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The vast majority of colleges and universities line up outside speakers for commencement ceremonies, setting off annual debates over the selections. California State University at Monterey Bay will this year skip the outside speaker for the first time, The Monterey Herald reported. The decision isn't related to the devastating budget cuts facing the California State system, officials said, noting that the university has never paid an honorarium. "It's a decision to try a different approach and try to put the focus on the students and their accomplishments as much as possible," said a spokesman.
The City of Boston has formally asked nonprofit organizations to pay up to 25 percent of the property tax bills they would face if they were not tax-exempt, The Boston Globe reported. Many nonprofits already make "payments in lieu of taxes" in recognition of the demands their students and faculty members place on city services, so some nonprofit leaders (including some of those in higher education) are not concerned by the formal request from the city. Others, however, see the potential for such demands to erode their nonprofit tax status.
The colleges and universities already making voluntary payments -- according to a Globe analysis -- would generally have a ways to go to meet the level demanded by the city. Harvard University currently pays $2.1 million to Boston, but the city wants $5.8 million. Boston University pays $5.1 million now, but the city wants $6.8 million. Northeastern University currently pays a little more than $30,000, but the city wants $4.3 million.
For several days last month, an earringed, mustachioed employee named Pete Weston did a range of jobs (with mixed success) at the University of California at Riverside. Only weeks later did campus employees find out that Weston had actually been Chancellor Timothy P. White, who on May 1 will become the first higher education leader to appear on CBS's "Undercover Boss," which puts corporate (and now campus) chief executive officers in disguise to see how their organizations work from the ground up. White said he learned much about the campus and was "moved and changed as a person" by participating in the hugely popular, if critically unacclaimed, show and seeing the "level of dedication of our students, staff and faculty."
The National Research Council on Thursday released the corrected versions of its rankings of doctoral programs, including factors that had been recalculated based on various errors or omissions. The NRC website features links to the new and old versions. Most of the changes involve the subcategories being corrected, with relatively modest shifts in the overall categories. This article details the changes released on Thursday and this one details the generally skeptical reaction with which the NRC methodology has been greeted. The corrections released Thursday do not address the larger methodological issues cited by many critics.
Peru State College has rescinded an invitation to Greg Mortenson to appear on the Nebraska campus in September, citing allegations that portions of his book Three Cups of Tea are false, and that management of his charity has been questionable, The Lincoln Journal Star reported. The allegations, in a "60 Minutes" report, have stunned many colleges, where Mortenson is a popular speaker and his book is frequently assigned. "In light of the uncertainty surrounding Mortenson, we cannot set him out as an example for our students or southeast Nebraskans at this time, nor can we expect donors to continue to support his appearance," Peru State said in a statement.
Facing criticism from local politicians and conservative groups, the County College of Morris board this week reversed a policy on undocumented students that was adopted only two months ago, The Star-Ledger reported. The New Jersey community college had voted to permit such students to pay in-state tuition rates if they graduated from high school in the United States and entered the country before the age of 16. But this week, the board voted to charge such students out-of-state tuition rates. For a full-time student, the shift increases tuition for a year from $3,450 to $9,780. The Daily Record reported that several board members were influenced by the threat of a lawsuit over the policy granting in-state tuition rates.
David G. Carter, the former chancellor of the Connecticut State University System, has agreed to pay a $2,000 fine for not reporting a conflict of interest when his office approved the hiring of his wife, who had retired as a dean, as a temporary retiree rehire, The Hartford Courant reported. The rehire created a "double dipping" situation in which she was simultaneously receiving a pension and pay, and authorizing that should have been reported as a conflict, authorities said.
Antonio Calvo, a Spanish lecturer at Princeton University, killed himself this month, a few days after being told he was losing his job, setting off many questions over how he was treated, The New York Times reported. Many of his students have raised questions about how he was treated, questioning why the university no longer wanted him to teach there. The Times reported, however, that some graduate students whom he had supervised urged the university not to renew his appointment. They complained about his management style and harsh comments he made about them.