The president of the University of Wisconsin System, along with the president and vice president of the Board of Regents, on Tuesday sent Biddy Martin, chancellor of the Madison campus, a public rebuke for promoting a plan that they say would separate Madison from the rest of the system. The regents also called an emergency meeting for Friday to discuss the issue. Martin has been pushing (in public, and generally with support from the system) for more autonomy for Madison from various state regulations. But she also has been discussing with Governor Scott Walker, a Republican, a plan that would create more formal independence from the system, the letter said. "[A] stand-alone public authority, wholly separate from the other UW System campuses, is a radical departure from earlier statements about administrative flexibility and efficiency," the letter to Martin said. The letter also questioned the appropriateness of these discussions between Martin and Walker. "In contrast with our commitment to transparency and shared governance, the Board of Regents and other university governance groups have been excluded from conversations about a major sea change in the structure of public higher education," the letter said. Martin was asked to release the letter, which she did, with her own note in which she said, "I do not agree that the public authority model under discussion would be a 'radical departure from earlier statements about flexibility.' At every point in this process, I have argued for what I believe is in the best interests of our great students, faculty, staff, alumni and partners at a time when the need for change in higher education, particularly at research institutions, is urgent, and when the state most needs its great research institutions."
Higher Education Quick Takes
Several American colleges and study abroad programs reported Tuesday that their students in New Zealand were accounted for and safe -- despite the devastating earthquake that hit the country. Among the institutions issuing statements about their students: The Institute for Study Abroad, at Butler University, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Washington State University, Wheaton College (in Massachusetts) and Winona State University.
European universities, once seen as entirely supported by their governments, are already relying on diversified funding sources -- but want more flexibility to raise still more money from non-government sources. That is the conclusion of a report being released today by the European University Association. According to the report, public funding accounts for only 73 percent of university budgets, on average, and a majority of universities in Europe already receive more than 10 percent of revenue from sources other than their governments or tuition. While many universities want to raise more money from business contracts and philanthropy, they report that government regulations are often a barrier to doing so, the report says.
The London School of Economics and Political Science has cut its ties to the Libyan government, Times Higher Education reported. Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, the son of Muammar Gaddafi, who has spoken out in favor of his father's rule, earned a Ph.D. at the university and donated £1.5 million (more than $2.4 million) in 2009, and gave a lecture at the university. The university has, in turn, given executive education programs in Libya. Given the government crackdown on protests there, the institution has "reconsidered" its links, according to a statement.
Republican legislators in Minnesota, newly in the majority, elected former colleagues to two seats on the University of Minnesota Board of Regents and in the process ended a tradition of having organized labor represented in one seat on the board, The Pioneer Press reported. The Republicans said that the former legislators they selected will be outstanding regents. For 73 of the last 78 years, organized labor has had a representative on the board. In recent years, that person was Steven Hunter, secretary-treasurer of the Minnesota AFL-CIO. Democrats and labor leaders have said that the tradition was an appropriate balance to the business leaders typically selected for university boards. "It's just plain wrong that working Minnesotans will no longer have a say in how the university is run," said Shar Knutson, president of the state AFL-CIO.
Barry H. Corey, president of Biola University, addressed some 3,000 students, faculty members and prospective students at a campus gathering Monday -- and decided to illustrate his point about running "the race of life" with a real race, against Natasha Miller, 8-time NAIA champion and 17-time NAIA All-American for indoor and outdoor track and field at Biola. Corey succeeded at illustrating his point, if not at winning the race.
California courts have cleared the way for a suit to go forward against Point Loma Nazarene University for allegedly placing a ministry student with a family nearly 30 years ago without telling the parents that the student had been convicted of child molestation, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. According to the suit, the ministry student had told the university of his conviction -- and he then went on to molest the family's 6-year-old daughter and 2-½-year-old son. The university has not commented on the allegations, but tried without success to get the suit dismissed on statute of limitation grounds.
Complete College America, a foundation-supported group seeking to improve graduation and completion rates of college students, is today launching a new program to encourage states to focus on these issues. The group is creating a grant program that will award 10 states grants of $1 million each to advance their efforts. In a Views essay at Inside Higher Ed today, Hilary Pennington, director of education, postsecondary success and special initiatives for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, outlines the thinking behind the new program.
A state legislator in Iowa has stopped pushing to advance his bill to force the University of Iowa to sell one of the masterpieces of modern art, Jackson Pollock's "Mural," The Des Moines Register reported. Arts advocates condemned the plan, even though it might have raised $150 million for scholarships. In recent days, the idea has also been rejected by the state's governor and prominent donors to the university. The work was donated to Iowa by Peggy Guggenheim, the noted art collector, who had many ties to Iowa's arts faculty in the 1940s and 1950s.