Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 22, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Mike Wheatland of the University of Sydney explains the gravity-defying physics of a falling Slinky. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 22, 2013

A key state legislator told reporters Thursday that one way North Carolina lawmakers may deal with budget cuts would be to consolidate campuses of the University of North Carolina System. "I think our members definitely envision that there could be some consolidation between campuses, and we might need to go from 16 down to 15, 14, something like that," said Senator Pete Brunstetter, co-chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, WRAL News reported. On Wednesday, Governor Pat McCrory, a Republican, called for a $135 million cut in funding for the UNC system, a reduction that would follow several large cuts in recent years.

 

March 22, 2013

A former student at California State University-San Marcos on Thursday admitted to federal charges of wire fraud, access device fraud and unauthorized use of a computer, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported. The student had stolen the passwords of 745 students to vote for himself for student body president. After the fraud was discovered, a new election was scheduled.

March 22, 2013

Nationally, teacher education programs are boasting about tougher admissions standards. But in Mississippi, the state's higher education board is being criticized for not raising standards for entering teacher education. Governor Phil Bryant, a Republican, criticized the board for not backing his proposal to require college students entering teacher education to score 21 or higher on the ACT and to have a 3.0 grade-point average on college work prior to starting the major, the Associated Press reported. Currently, the average for teacher ed majors is 20.8 on the ACT. College officials said that if they adopted the governor's plan, half of their students would no longer be eligible.

 

 

March 22, 2013

In a press call coinciding with the kickoff of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s men’s basketball tournament, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said college presidents, trustees and coaches need to take up a “different set of values” and worry more about graduation and less about on-court victories. Citing the large gap in graduation rates between white and black male athletes (up to 30 percentage points on some basketball teams) and the 11:1 difference in value of contractual coach bonuses for athletic success vs. academic success, Duncan called for a “better, healthier balance.”

“It will take courageous leadership by governing boards and college presidents and willingness to engage,” Duncan said, “and challenge the status quo.” Duncan suggested more financial incentives for better, more equal graduation rates – or disincentives for failure to produce such a result – could improve athletes’ academic performance.

March 22, 2013

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities said Thursday that the Rev. Michael J. Sheeran, the former president of Regis University, will become the group's new president. Father Sheeran, who was president of Regis for 20 years, oversaw the development of the college's online programs. The Rev. Gregory Lucey, the previous president of the group, which represents the nation's 28 Jesuit colleges, will return to Spring Hill College as chancellor. Father Lucey had led Spring Hill before he became president of the Jesuit college group in 2011.

March 22, 2013

The Oregon Senate on Thursday joined the House in approving a bill that would grant in-state tuition rates to undocumented students who graduated from high schools in the state, The Oregonian reported. Governor John Kitzhaber has said he will sign the legislation. The success for the bill follows several failed attempts in recent years.

 

March 21, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, Howard Lasker of the State University of New York at Buffalo explores how coral reefs respond to natural and man-made damage. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

March 21, 2013

Suzanne Miles has resigned as interim chancellor of Pima Community College, following harsh criticism from the college's accreditor of senior management under Miles and under the last chancellor, Roy Flores, The Arizona Daily Star reported. Investigators from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools questioned hiring practices, contracting and a "culture of fear and retribution" for which the accreditor largely blamed top administrators. In a statement, Miles said: "Pima Community College is a wonderful, vibrant institution that will surely overcome our present difficulties. However, it has now become clear that my continued service as Interim Chancellor could be viewed as an obstacle to moving forward."

Miles had recently been named as a finalist to become president of Mt. Hood Community College, and this week she withdrew from consideration for that post.

 

March 21, 2013

Colleges and universities could educate more students or cut costs considerably if they asked professors to teach more courses, says a report issued Wednesday by Education Sector and the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. The report uses information from Education Department surveys on the teaching loads of tenured and tenure-track faculty members to argue that there has been a serious erosion in the average number of courses taught by faculty members. "From 1987-1988 to 2003-2004, the average number of courses tenured and tenure-track faculty taught per term ... declined 25 percent. It is hard to overstate how dramatic this decline has been. For example, liberal arts colleges tend to specialize in teaching, and yet professors at liberal arts colleges taught less in 2003-2004 than professors at research universities did in 1987-1988," the report says. "All of this matters because low teaching loads are extremely costly. At four-year universities, the decline in teaching loads has increased costs by $2,598 per student."

The report notes limitations on the data, particularly that this particular survey has not been conducted since 2003-4.

Faculty leaders questioned the findings and methodology. Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors, noted that the report starts by stating that faculty salaries often make up a majority of college budgets. He noted Education Department data showing that faculty salaries make up less than 30 percent of costs at community colleges, and less than 20 percent at four-year colleges. Fichtenbaum said that the calculations of student savings were thus based on a false assumption about the role of faculty salaries in college budgets. Further, he noted that the salaries of full-time faculty members have been declining as a share of all instructional expenses.

Craig Smith of the American Federation of Teachers said via e-mail that the report "uses outdated data and a simplistic argument to blame faculty for the rising cost of college." Smith noted that colleges have shifted more and more instruction to non-tenure-track faculty members, who tend to be paid only for teaching and on a course-by-course basis. "This report appears to willfully ignore the increasing reliance on underpaid and under-supported contingent faculty and the resulting increased demands on the shrinking number of tenure-track faculty to handle responsibilities outside of the classroom," he said.

 

Pages

Back to Top