Higher Education Quick Takes
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is reviewing the role played by Governor Rick Scott in the decision of the University of Florida board to convince Bernie Machen to put off retirement and stay on as president, The Miami Herald reported. When Machen and the board announced he was staying, it was immediately clear that the governor was involved in the discussions, but a SACS official said at the time that there was nothing wrong with that, since it appeared that the board had played the key role. But SACS is investigating because Governor Scott has confirmed that he met with a potential candidate to replace Machen before asking asking Machen to stay. SACS officials are investigating whether the governor in that meeting overstepped his role. SACS principles call for college and university boards to have protect the independence of institutions.
Many colleges impose fees on students who park in campus lots. At Worcester State University, even those who don't drive must pay. That's because, as The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported, the university charges a mandatory "parking pedestrian access fee." Students don't like it, but university officials said that they need the money to keep sidewalks repaired.
Ahmed Al-Khabaz was expelled by Dawson College in Montreal shortly after he found a network security flaw that may have endangered the privacy of more than 250,000 students in Quebec's general and vocational colleges, The National Post reported. Al-Khabaz said that he was initially thanked for identifying the problem but was expelled after he tested the system to see if the problem had been fixed. Dawson administrators declined to discuss the case.
Somali universities, which suffered enrollment declines during civil war, are getting back to normal, without the threats of violence that deterred many students from enrolling. But The Guardian reported that students have a new fear: tuition levels that, for some, are difficult or impossible to pay.
Cornell University opened classes this week at its new technology master's program in New York City, which the university is operating in partnership with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, The New York Times reported. Eight students are in the first class, but the program projects 2,000 students by 2037. Cornell and the Technion jointly won a contest sponsored by New York City to create the program, which has an emphasis on training students who will work with or start their own tech companies.
Ghostwriting of term papers is so common in Russia that those who do the work openly advertise their services, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty reported. A woman based in Tatarstan told the news service: "Theses start from 5,000 rubles [$165]. But it depends on how much the person can pay; the price is agreed individually. I don't copy anything from the Internet and I do my research in libraries. I care about my professional reputation; I don't want to lose clients."
Governor Jerry Brown, a California Democrat, is proposing to expand various reforms to assure speedier completion of programs at California community colleges, The Los Angeles Times reported. Brown wants students who exceed 90 credits of work to pay for the full cost of instruction, arguing that this would free up space in the crowded system. But some students say that this would punish those with double majors or who don't immediately find the field that they want to pursue.
Bowling Green State University announced Friday that it will cut the size of its faculty by 11 percent, eliminating 100 full-time faculty jobs, The Toledo Blade reported. The reduction will be made by not filling positions of those who resign or retire, and also by not renewing many one-year teaching contracts. Officials said that more than $5 million would be saved, and that the funds would be invested in other priorities. In addition, administrators said that there would be no impact on the quality of instruction students receive.
David Jackson, president of the faculty union, said faculty members were not told of the plan in advance. He also said that the quality of instruction would be hurt, and that the student-to-faculty ratio would go up. "These are not aimless cuts that will not have an effect on students," he said. "It is unconceivable that this will not have a negative effect on the quality of education here at BGSU."