A bill that would have barred public colleges in Utah from awarding tenure to professors beginning in July died in a legislative committee Wednesday, the Deseret News reported. College administrators in the state opposed the legislation, which its sponsor said was needed because tenure locked the state into long-term liabilities that it could not afford in economically difficult times.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A broad coalition of higher education associations, expressing "grave" concerns, has urged Education Secretary Arne Duncan to withdraw a federal regulation that would, for the first time, create a federal definition of "credit hour" that the groups argue "federalized a basic academic concept and, at the same time, developed a complex, ambiguous and unworkable definition." The letter, signed by the president of the American Council on Education, Molly Corbett Broad, on behalf of more than 70 college associations and accrediting groups, says that the Education Department has ignored concerns that the groups expressed at various stages of the regulatory process, and that incorporating a definition of the credit hour in the federal regulatory code will "allow the Department of Education [through its accreditation advisory committee] to micro-manage campus academic programs."
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."
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.
It appeared last year that the fight over the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" team name was over, with the university working out a deal to remove the name, which is seen as offensive by many Native Americans in ways that set off a conflict with the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But the fight was revived this week with a vote by the North Dakota House of Representatives to require the university to keep the name, and to request that the state sue the NCAA, the Associated Press reported. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Students at Dalhousie University, in Nova Scotia, have penned "The Student Poverty Song," as a protest over proposed tuition increases. Students in the video, attracting considerable attention in the province, are shown singing about their financial woes, trying to pay tuition bills in decidedly nontraditional currency, subsisting on hot dogs and suffering through cold showers to cut costs.
Students at Southern University in Baton Rouge are mourning the murders of two students in separate incidents in a week, WAFB News reported. One student was shot and killed outside his apartment building. The other student was found beaten and partly burned in her home.
Some faculty members at Texas Tech University are upset about a $500,000-a-year raise, to $2 million a year, for Tommy Tuberville, the head football coach, at a time when they are being told their salaries are frozen, The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported. University officials have said that the $1.5 million annual salary Tuberville has been paid is below market rates, but that's not swaying some professors. “If that was me, I would have turned it down,” said Julian Spallholz, a faculty senator and human sciences professor, of the coach's raise. “I would have been embarrassed."
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.