Some land grant universities are selling their cow herds, attempting to bring down costs, the Associated Press reported. The University of Vermont, for example, plans to sell its 255 Holsteins and have faculty conduct research on private farms.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A joint faculty-alumni committee charged with investigating complaints about athletic budgets (and deficits) at the University of California at Berkeley has confirmed many of them. An "explosion of controllable and semi-controllable costs" in athletics, the committee's report says, "makes it clear that intercollegiate athletics has been playing by a very different set of budgetary rules from the rest of the campus." The report contrasts staffing cuts that have had severe impact on academics with the growth in staffing and program spending in athletics. "The culture of what has appeared to be unconstrained spending must change," the report says. The report also notes many contributions from athletics -- and from a big-time athletics program -- for Berkeley, but calls for the elimination of current budget patterns.
The Oregon State Board of Higher Education voted last week to ask state officials to give the Oregon University System more autonomy in return for certain accountability measures, The Oregonian reported. Under the plan, the universities would get more control over tuition, purchasing rules and budgets generally. But at the same time, the universities would have to commit to specific goals in enrollment, graduation rates, research and other measures.
A possible gift to the State University of New York at Stony Brook is yet another factor in the ongoing debate over giving SUNY and the City University of New York new flexibility on tuition rates and more control over the use of funds raised with tuition, The New York Times reported. Gov. David Paterson, with strong backing from the university systems, is pushing the legislation, which is facing legislative skepticism. Now word is circulating that James Simons, a former mathematics professor at Stony Brook and already a major donor, may give as much as $150 million, but only if the tuition bill passes, the Times reported. Simons agrees with the governor that more control over tuition policy is essential for the state's universities to improve. Some legislators are not happy about the linkage between the gift and the bill. Deborah J. Glick, an assemblywoman who opposes the legislation, told the Times: “I don’t think it’s out of bounds for someone to say, ‘I want to make a really strong commitment.' But we’re not supposed to be considering legislation on the basis of what could be viewed as some quid pro quo.”
For-profit colleges were embarrassed recently by reports about some institutions recruiting students in homeless shelters, attracting students with little chance of finishing a program once they had borrowed money and paid the colleges. ProPublica reported that some of the reporting on these incidents was pushed by an investment firm, which may have encouraged homeless shelter directors to blow the whistle on the practice. According to the article, the motive may be that some investors have "sold short" on for-profit education stocks, suggesting that they would gain if the companies' stock value dropped.
Don't even think about calling Western Kentucky University "Western" in athletic discussions -- even if many loyal alumni and students have done so for years. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that the university is among a number that are taking athletic branding more seriously than in the past. In Western Kentucky's case, the university wants to be known by its acronym, WKU. The University of Louisiana at Monroe has started a move to be called only ULM, not Monroe or UL Monroe. Similarly, the University of North Carolina at Asheville no longer wants any references to North Carolina-Asheville to include a hyphen.
Philadelphia's Moore College of Art has its first male students, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. For the last 162 years, the college has enrolled only women, and that is still the case for its undergraduate programs, but the college recently started some graduate programs and they will be open to all. So far, two men are enrolled.
The University of Washington police department authorized an undercover officer to attend and participate in planning meetings of a student activist group that was organizing on behalf of employees at the university, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported. University officials acknowledged that the monitoring took place, and said that it was not consistent with university policy and had been stopped.
The University of Idaho has reached a settlement with more than 250 of its retirees, who sued the university over changes in their medical and life insurance benefits, KLEW News reported. The retirees claimed in their suit that the university had agreed not to change the benefits, but a judge rejected that view, saying that the university did have the right to make changes. Under the settlement, the retirees are assured that their health insurance premiums will not increase by more than 10 percent in any year for the rest of their lives.
A Colombian journalist has been denied a visa to come to the United States for a Nieman Foundation fellowship at Harvard University, the Associated Press reported. U.S. officials declined to comment, citing privacy laws. Bob Giles, curator of the Nieman program, is trying to get the decision reversed. "We were very surprised. This has never happened before," he said.