Higher Education Quick Takes
In a conference call with his major donors on Wednesday, Governor Mitt Romney attributed his presidential campaign loss in part to President Obama's "gifts" to various voting groups, including students, The New York Times reported. Romney cited the administration's positions on student loans and some provisions in the health care legislation. "With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest, was a big gift," Romney said. "Free contraceptives were very big with young college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008."
Timothy P. White, who will become chancellor of the California State University System at the end of the year, has asked for and received a cut in pay. White was to have been paid $421,500 from state funds plus $30,000 from the CSU Foundation (the same compensation as received by the outgoing chancellor, Charles Reed). But the state portion of White's salary will now be cut to $380,000. "[A]s I join the faculty, staff and students who have experienced cuts, salary freezes, and increased fees, I too must do my part," White said in a statement. "This is the basis of my request to reduce my own compensation to contribute to the rebuilding of this great university."
Ronald Mason Jr., president of the Southern University System, is promoting a series of efforts designed to improve the low educational attainment levels of black men in Louisiana and nationally, The Times-Picayune reported. A key part of the campaign is a "hidden stars" program in which the historically black university system seeks to identify black men who have low ACT scores and who earned low grades in high school, but still have academic talent. The university wants to admit and nurture these students. Further, the university is launching new research programs to promote improved educational access for black men.
The University of Virginia announced Tuesday several changes to its institutional governance policies made in the wake of the university's tumultuous summer in which members of the institution's governing board forced the resignation of President Teresa Sullivan only to reappoint her two weeks later after significant campus pushback. The changes were noted in a memo to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Colleges Commission on Colleges, which has been reviewing the university's policies since this summer. The changes are:
1) The board must hold a public meeting and a vote of the full board before making changes to a president's employment status. There was no vote about Sullivan's resignation and board members who supported Sullivan were surprised to learn others felt the same way.
2) The board instituted a quarterly presidential evaluation meetings to "review progress on goals and established benchmarks, and to advise the president on current priorities of the board," according to the memo. One of the issues raised this summer was whether there was sufficient agreement between the president and board about the university's direction and whether Sullivan was aware of board members' concerns.
3) The rector (the board chair) will, in consultation with the president, appoint one non-voting faculty member to each standing committee that doesn't have faculty representation. The university's faculty members, who were cut out of much of the resignation and reappointment discussion this summer, have been pushing for a larger role in governance.
Just about every November features controversies in which photographs surface on Facebook or other social media sites featuring students in blackface Halloween costumes. This week, however, Duke University is apologizing for a such a photograph -- showing members of the women's lacrosse team, one in blackface -- that appeared on the university's official athletics site, The News & Observer reported. On Monday, the photograph was removed. A statement from the head coach, Kerstin Kimel, said: "The Duke women’s lacrosse program celebrates Halloween with an annual gathering. This year, some of our costume choices were insensitive and entirely inappropriate. No offense was intended, but that does not matter because we should have realized how these choices would be viewed by those outside of our program."
North Lake College held a training program last month on how to deal with a shooter if the Texas community college ever faced such a situation. But as WFAA News reported, students weren't told that a drill was going to be taking place, and many faculty members didn't read the e-mail telling them about the drill (and encouraging them to tell students). As a result, many students believed a real shooter was on the loose, and made frantic calls to 911.
Ohio State University is planning a huge and highly focused faculty hiring campaign, The Columbus Dispatch reported. Over the next decade, the university plans to add 500 top scholars in three fields: health, energy and the environment, and food production and safety. The fields were chosen as areas where the university already has research strength. When the hiring is done (at which point some existing faculty members will have retired), the university projects that the size of its tenured and tenure-track faculty ranks will be 8-10 percent larger than it is today.
Much of the post-election discussion in the last week has focused on such topics as the "ground game" to get out the vote, and the Obama and Romney campaigns' ability to reach certain voting groups. An article in The New York Times reports on an unofficial, unpaid team of prominent social scientists who advised the Obama campaign. These professors were known as the Consortium of Behavioral Scientists. They provided data-driven advice on such topics as how to counter false rumors about the president, and how to characterize Romney in advertisements.