Western Michigan University on Tuesday announced a $100 million gift -- its largest ever -- to create a new medical school. While the university is public, it plans to rely on private funds for the new medical school. The donor is anonymous.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The American Bar Association has been engaged in a long process of updating accreditation standards for law schools, and the latest draft features tougher reporting requirements on job placement, The National Law Journal reported. Under the new draft, law schools would disclose the percentage of students whose employment status is unknown after nine months, the percentage in jobs funded by the law school, the percentage in jobs requiring passage of a bar exam and the percentage in non-legal jobs. The inclusion of those changes reflects criticisms of current, minimalist reporting requirements that critics say hide the extent of unemployment of law school graduates. The new draft also maintains controversial provisions from earlier versions that would eliminate requirements that law schools have tenure systems and use the LSAT in admissions.
Canadian higher education leaders on Tuesday praised their federal government's budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, which, unlike those put forward by its counterparts in the United States and Britain, would significantly increase spending on higher education and research. The 2011 budget would spend tens of millions of new dollars to create research chairs and invest in brain research, and provide additional funds for student financial aid and study abroad. "[T]oday’s budgetary commitments to higher education are in line with a growing consensus among Canadians that Canada’s research universities play an integral role in advancing our economy and improving the social and economic well-being of all Canadians,” said Stephen Toope, president of the University of British Columbia. “These investments are all the more notable when we are seeing significant budgetary cuts to higher education sectors in other countries."
Budget and other pressures are prompting legislators in several states to consider the normally unthinkable: merging or closing public campuses. Ten days after regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education voted to table a plan to close or merge four of its eight campuses, saying doing so would be too disruptive to students and communities, members of a Nevada legislative subcommittee directed the system to study the idea anew, the Associated Press reported. The lawmakers acted after higher education officials presented a list of possible budget cuts that did not approach the $162 million in reductions to the system's operating budget that Governor Brian Sandoval's fiscal plan would require, the wire service reported. In Maryland, meanwhile, a legislative panel directed the University System of Maryland to consider combining the system's flagship campus, the University of Maryland at College Park, with the University of Maryland at Baltimore, which houses several professional schools. System officials said they would study the idea, which they said might be a smart strategic decision but is not expected to save the system money.
In 2009, the Association of Research Libraries urged its members to stop agreeing to nondisclosure agreements on pricing of journal packages, finding that these pacts were undercutting the ability of universities to negotiate fair deals. The Cornell University Library has now taken a public stand consistent with the ARL recommendation. A statement posted on the library website explains: "Occasionally in licenses governing electronic resources, publishers will request that the Cornell University Library (CUL) treat the subscription price as confidential information and not disclose it to third parties. In the past, some libraries have tolerated these clauses in the belief that they might result in a lower cost. This, however, is a position that CUL can no longer accept. It has become apparent to the library community that the anticompetitive conduct engaged in by some publishing firms is in part a result of the inclusion of nondisclosure agreements in contracts."
California's three public college systems cannot educate the state's citizens without more help from their private nonprofit and for-profit peers -- and state politicians and regulators should acknowledge the role of the latter, a new report argues. The report, produced by two researchers at the University of Southern California's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis and funded by the National University System, argues that "the three public higher education systems in California cannot, by themselves, respond to increased demand for higher education," and that "they, and the two private higher education systems, need to be re-engineered to function as five parts of one coherent system, collectively growing in capacity to keep pace with the state’s demand for an educated work force." Among the ideas put forward by the authors, which are certain to face pushback from public college and university leaders at times of state funding cutbacks: allowing "state funding for students to take classes offered by private institutions, especially in high-demand majors such as nursing, science, engineering and math," creating a common course numbering system to allow for easy transfer among colleges of all types, offering "state incentives for nonprofit private institutions to increase student enrollment by up to 10 percent," and changing "the 'quasi-cartel' licensing requirements used to keep some out-of-state programs from competing in California."
Two Alabama community colleges -- Bevill State and Northwest Shoals Community Colleges -- have announced that they will deal with state budget cuts in part by shutting down athletic departments, The Huntsville Times reported. Bevill State has men and women's basketball, softball, baseball and track teams. Northwest Shoals has teams in baseball, men and women's basketball, softball, women's volleyball and cheerleading.
WASHINGTON -- Vice President Biden will today urge every state's governor to produce a plan to increase college completion, and announce a set of resources (though no new money) designed to help them do that. The announcement, which will come at an education summit here, includes the release of a new “college completion toolkit,” which lays out for states and governors a set of "no-cost or low-cost" programs that some of their peers have used to improve student persistence, increase the productivity of public colleges, or otherwise help states contribute to President Obama's much-touted goal of giving the U.S. the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020. The vice president's announcement also discusses a new grant program within the current budget of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education and two proposed programs that are contained in the Obama administration's 2012 budget, all of which are designed to reward institutions that increase completion rates. The Department of Education also announced a state-by-state outline of how much each state has to increase its graduation rate to further the administration’s goals. For most states, that will mean increasing their graduation rates by about 50 percent by 2020. “Right now we’ve got an education system that works like a funnel when we need it to work like a pipeline,” Biden said in a press release. “We have to make the same commitment to getting folks across the graduation stage that we did to getting them into the registrar’s office.”
More than 150 prominent academics from the United States, Britain and elsewhere have signed a petition calling on École Normale Supérieure, in Paris, to lift a ban on a debate on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, The Guardian reported. A pro-Palestinian student group attempted to organize the event and was blocked from doing so by the university's administrators. The petition calls for the institution to restore "its long history of free speech and political expression."