State spending on higher education increased by $10.5 billion in absolute terms from 1990 to 2010, but considering changes in enrollments and inflation, funding per public full-time equivalent student dropped by 26.1 percent from 1990-1991 to 2009-2010, according to a report released Monday by the think tank Demos. During the same period, the report documents, tuition at public institution has seen large increases in many states. While many of those states have also increased aid budgets, a large share of those funds has gone to programs that are not based on financial need. The report notes that household income has not generally increased to match the tuition increases, and that the volume of outstanding student debt has grown by a factor of 4.5 since 1999.
Higher Education Quick Takes
- Elizabeth Ambos, assistant vice chancellor for research at the California State University System, has been selected as executive officer of the Council on Undergraduate Research, in Washington, D.C.
- Thomas Chiles, a professor of biology at Boston College, has been named the Dr. Michael E. and Dr. Salvatore A. DeLuca professor of biology there.
- Brian P. Darmody, associate vice president of research and economic development at the University of Maryland at College Park, has been given the additional title of director of corporate relations.
- Sandra Lagana, head women’s soccer coach and assistant sports information director at Ferrum College, in Virginia, has been appointed as head women’s soccer coach at McDaniel College, in Maryland.
- Tim Regan-Porter, president and CEO of Paste Media Group, has been chosen as director of the Center for Collaborative Journalism at Mercer University, in Georgia.
The Cornish College of Arts announced Friday that it was withdrawing invitations to Mike Daisey to give the commencement address and receive an honorary degree, The Seattle Times reported. Daisey, a playwright, has admitted that parts of his play about Steve Jobs, as performed on "This American Life," were inaccurate. Nancy Uscher, president of the college, issued a statement explaining the decision. "Mr. Daisey has acknowledged that he personally did not witness all the events that he said he did, and he exaggerated the level of his own experiences to journalists," she said. "Since its founding by Nellie Cornish in 1914, Cornish College of the Arts has educated and prepared students to contribute to society as artists, citizens, and innovators. One essential principle of that education is the importance of professional integrity. Because of that foundational value, Cornish will not award an honorary degree to Mr. Daisey. Cornish and Mr. Daisey have mutually agreed he will withdraw from commencement."
A government report suggests that many Indian universities have enough room on their campuses to double enrollments in the next five years, Mint reported. "The 43 central universities, except a few like Delhi University, are functioning with disproportionately low student enrollment compared to the campus area," the report said. "A 100 percent increase in intake is feasible in 30 of these university campuses." The report suggests that a new measure of university efficiency be students-per-acre of campus.
Deepak Pental, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Delhi, called the proposal "ridiculous," adding that "authorities should not equate number with quality, though we understand that a service economy needs to get enough human capital to sustain the growth rate."
Gay students and gay issues have become unusually visible at Brigham Young University, an institutions that bars students from sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that gay students last week released a video in the "It Gets Better" series talking about being gay at the university. Also last week, estimates are that up to 600 students attended a meeting in a room with seating for 260 to hear four students talk about balancing their gay identities with life at the university, which is affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "We’re trying to live it and create new spaces for us to be gay and Mormon and be active in the church," said Adam White, who was on the the panel and appeared in the YouTube video. The university says that gay students do not face punishments from the university as long as they don't have physical intimacy with members of the same sex.
A lengthy Bloomberg article outlines a series of incidents that have alarmed security officials and some university leaders who fear that some countries are attempting to use American universities' foreign connections for the purpose of spying. The article notes numerous incidents, including an American researcher who was invited to give a talk abroad. Then someone there asked for a copy of her paper, inserted a thumb drive into her laptop, and downloaded every document she had. In another instance, Michigan State University was approached by a Dubai-based company about providing funds and students for the university's Dubai campus, which was struggling financially. Lou Anna K. Simon, president at Michigan State, contacted the Central Intelligence Agency because she was afraid the company might be a front for Iran. When the CIA couldn't confirm the company's legitimacy, Simon passed on the deal and shut down the Dubai campus.
The article also quoted from a 2011 Pentagon report that said that attempts by East Asian countries to obtain classified or proprietary information through "academic solicitation" (requesting to see academic papers or discuss work with professors), jumped eightfold in 2010.
The University of Oregon has filed objections to a proposed union of faculty members organized jointly by the American Association of University Professors and the American Federation of Teachers. Potentially the most significant challenge is to the idea of having in the same bargaining unit tenure-track faculty members, adjuncts, postdocs and others. The university filing with the state labor board states that there is not "a sufficient community of interest" in these various groups. Union organizers criticized the university's action. "The university administration appears to be headed down a long and contentious path of using every legal mechanism and a lot of public money to deny us the basic right to decide our union future for ourselves,” said Michael Dreiling, associate professor of sociology.
Old Dominion University has ended a policy adopted in 1977 that students had to pass a writing examination to graduate, The Virginian-Pilot reported. The university came to the conclusion that the test wasn't working. The percentage of students who failed the first time they took the test (they were allowed to retake it) stayed the same, at about 25 percent. And professors continued to complain about poor student writing skills. University officials said they were now focusing on embedding writing requirements within the curriculum, an approach they believe may have more impact than a single three-hour test.
The Record has exposed more cases of New Jersey colleges reporting incomplete information on SAT scores to U.S. News & World Report to inflate rankings. Ramapo College has been excluding about 22 percent of its new students (generally the most disadvantaged students) when reporting average SAT scores to U.S. News & World Report. As a result, the SAT average reported by Ramapo was more than 50 points higher than it should have been. New Jersey City University has also been inflating its SAT scores, the Record reported. Ramapo, shortly after the article was published Friday, said it would start reporting the averages for all students. New Jersey City University officials said that they were unaware of the practice.