John R. Silber, whose 25-year reign atop Boston University remade the institution in ways that enthralled supporters and often enraged critics, died Thursday, the university announced. Silber came to B.U. in 1971 after a career as a philosopher and dean at the University of Texas at Austin; his deanship there ended in dismissal when he battled regents over a plan to split up the College of Arts and Sciences. At Boston, he was expansionistic and at times imperialistic, greatly strengthening the quality of the university's faculty and its financial standing while simultaneously doing battle with his many critics, who took offense at his unguarded style of speaking and his pay, unmatched by other presidents' at the time.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Gov. Jerry Brown of California signed legislation Thursday designed to give college students free digital access to textbooks in 50 popular lower-division courses offered by the state's public universities and colleges, and another bill Wednesday that requires significantly greater reporting of information by for-profit colleges in the state. The textbook legislation will, according to the Los Angeles Times, also make print copies of the key textbooks available for no more than $20.
WASHINGTON -- Education Secretary Arne Duncan will stay for a second term if President Obama is re-elected -- "unless the president gets sick of me," he told National Journal Thursday. According to the political publication, Duncan made his statement after a K-12 event here, and signaled that he would focus (as President Obama has in speeches and on the campaign trail this year) on trying to drive down college tuitions. “We need to crack the nut on higher education," Duncan said Thursday, according to National Journal. "Middle-class families think college is not for them.”
Texas Southern University has suspended its marching band, pending an investigation of a report about hazing by one section of the band, the Associated Press reported. The band did not perform Thursday at a football game between Texas Southern and Sam Houston State University.
The American Institutes of Research, the new home of the Delta Cost Project, released a report Tuesday detailing trends in college and university revenues from 2000-2010, the first of a series of four weekly reports about where colleges get money and how they spend it.
Because the data the reports are based on are two years old, many of the trends described in Wednesday's report will be familiar. Among the noteworthy findings in the report were that state appropriations have continued to decline over the decade; that per-student revenue at community colleges in 2010 was less than it was a decade ago; that net tuition revenue -- the amount colleges make from tuition after aid is subtracted -- at private institutions did not grow significantly between 2009 and 2010; and that tuition revenue exceeded state appropriations at public doctoral and masters institutions. The report also found that, in contrast to previous years, sticker prices at four-year public universities increased faster than gross tuition revenue. "This suggests that the practice of using other tuition revenue -- in particular from out-of-state students -- to mitigate tuition price increases for in-state students was no longer tenable in 2010," the report states.
The MasterCard Foundation on Wednesday pledged $500 million for scholarships for African students over the next 10 years. Many of the students will enroll at institutions that are partners in the program. Among them are the American University of Beirut, Arizona State University, Ashesi University, Duke University, EARTH University, Michigan State University, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and Wellesley College. Details on the new program may be found here.
Holden Thorp, the chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, says that in his last year in the position, major reforms will be announced for athletics at the institution, placing "academics first," The News & Observer reported. Thorp, after facing numerous scandals involving athletic programs, recently announced plans to step down. And he told the newspaper that one reason he did so was that the changes ahead would be so difficult. He said that admissions standards for athletes would be toughened, and that the number of exceptions to admissions standards would be reduced. In the last five years, 53 football players at UNC have been admitted under such exceptions.
Almost one in five households owed student loan debt in 2010, according to a new analysis from the Pew Research Center. The 19 percent total represents a significant increase from the level just three years prior (and before the start of the recession), when the figure was 15 percent. As recently as 1989, the figure was only 9 percent. Among households headed by someone younger than 35 in 2010, the rate was 40 percent.