The ratings outlook for nonprofit higher education's 2011 remains mixed, according to a report issued Monday by Standard & Poor's. In 2011, "operating results and demand will likely be uneven, and institutions with high debt and limited liquidity could experience severe stress," according to the report. However, "many institutions will perform favorably over the next year," and, in the long-term, the credit profile remains stable. Standard & Poor's does not expect public colleges as a whole to face more serious difficulties than private colleges -- despite state funding cuts. But the credit-rating agency projects that public four-year colleges will experience increased competition from both private and community colleges.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The Lincy Foundation, which supports scientific research, education, health and other projects, will transfer its $200 million in assets to the University of California at Los Angeles Foundation, the university announced Monday. A new "Dream Fund" will support academic research at UCLA and a range of projects around the United States.
Students at California State University at Northridge are being hit by worsening personal economic conditions, higher tuition rates and greater difficulty getting into courses, according to a report, "Squeezed From All Sides," being released today by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles. Researchers surveyed more than 2,000 students at Northridge, which like most of the Cal State campuses is ethnically diverse and includes many first generation college students. Among the findings:
- Students' families have taken hard hits. More than 10 percent of students reported that at least one parent had lost a job since 2008, and 21 percent reported that at least one parent had lost income or hours of work.
- Paying for college has become more difficult. Among students enrolled for at least two years, 57 percent said that paying had become "a little more difficult" and another 28 percent said that it had become "a lot more difficult."
- Getting into courses has become more difficult, with 77 percent of students reporting that the inability to get into classes will result in longer time to degree.
The renovation of the student center at the University of Colorado at Boulder was finished this fall, adding more comfortable seating and a fireplace, among other amenities. The Boulder Daily Camera reported that the new facility and the particularly cold winter have drawn homeless people to the center in greater numbers than in the past. Some students have raised concerns, but officials say that as long as the homeless people don't break rules, they cannot be kicked out of a public building.
Utah State Representative Chris Herrod introduced a bill Monday to require the state's public colleges and universities to stop offering tenure to faculty members, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Higher education leaders are speaking out against the bill, saying it would make it difficult to attract top academic talent to the state. (Currently tenured faculty members would not have their tenure revoked.) Herrod said that the bill would be good for higher education. In tight budget times, he said, “I would hate to have to cut a young, energetic Ph.D." to preserve a position for a tenured professor who is "barely there."
Last week, the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa was debating the use of a racial slur and the campus reaction to it -- and over the weekend racial incidents at other campuses became known:
- At Georgetown College, in Kentucky, local police were summoned to the campus after a series of incidents, including the use of a racial slur, an offensive statement made in a classroom setting, and graffiti and symbols that appeared on parts of the campus, LEX18 News reported. Officials have condemned the incidents, but not provided details on what was said. A national fraternity, the Kappa Alpha Order, announced Saturday that it had suspended its Georgetown College chapter, pending investigations into whether its was involved in the use of racial slurs directed at a minority student, The Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
- At the University of Missouri at Columbia, authorities discovered a racial slur on a sculpture outside a dormitory, and a suspect has been arrested, KMOX News reported. The incident came a year after students at Missouri were angered by a scattering of cotton balls -- seen by many as a reference to slavery -- in front of the Black Culture Center.
An economics professor at Loyola University Maryland, Thomas DiLorenzo, was criticized at a U.S. House of Representatives hearing where he testified last week because he previously gave a lecture at a meeting of the League of the South, a group that calls for the secession of Southern states from the United States, The Baltimore Sun reported. Representative William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.) raised questions (in a hearing about the Federal Reserve) about DiLorenzo's testimony because "you work for a Southern nationalist organization that espouses very radical notions about American history and the federal government." DiLorenzo said that the talk was years ago, and did not mean that he backed the group. He told the Sun: "I don't endorse what they say and do any more than I endorse what Congress says and does because I spoke at a hearing on Wednesday."
New Hampshire's Public Employee Labor Relations Board has ruled that a majority of adjuncts in the Community College System of New Hampshire have signed authorization cards to have the State Employees' Association represent them for collective bargaining. As a result, the board declared that the association, an affiliate of the Service Employees International Union, now represents the adjuncts. The association already represents full-time professors, as well as clerical and maintenance employees, in the community college system.
Faculty members at Idaho State University have voted no confidence in President Arthur Vailas, according to Boise Weekly. A faculty report details what professors consider to be numerous problems with Vailas, raising issues about the accuracy of his statements, his leadership abilities and the way he has responded to budget challenges, among other issues. A statement from the president's office stated that he "enjoys widespread support from other constituencies."