A new group, Students for Academic Choice, is trying to become a voice in policy debates, saying that it represents students in for-profit higher education. But an Associated Press article notes its close links to the main lobby for the for-profit institutions, which leads some to question the student group's independence. The Career College Association, the institutional lobby, helped the students establish a website, draft bylaws and hold an election of officers. "I'm skeptical of the organic nature of the group given that it is completely toeing the association's line," Christine Lindstrom, higher education program director at the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, told the AP. But Harris Miller, president of the CCA, said: "This will be, I think, as this organization grows and gets legs, an effective antidote to those people who hang on a few disgruntled students or former students and somehow think it's typical of the student reality."
Higher Education Quick Takes
The House of Representatives education committee said Thursday that it would hold a hearing next week to examine how regional accrediting agencies define the "credit hour" as they judge the academic quality and rigor of the institutions they accredit. The issue was raised in audits of three accrediting agencies that the Education Department's Office of Inspector General released in the last six months, amid concerns that the agencies are setting too lax a standard for the amount of time students spend on course work to earn academic credit. No details were available on the hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee, other than that it would be held on June 17.
Rutgers University is calling off raises scheduled to go into effect over the next few weeks for just about all employees, The Star-Ledger reported. The university is citing looming budget cuts from the state, and invoking a provision in its union contracts that says that the university isn't obligated to pay raises if there is not money available to cover payroll. Rutgers is heavily unionized and union leaders are talking about challenging the decision. They note that the budget cuts are not surprises and argue that the university can find ways to meet its contract obligations.
Educause has released the results of its latest survey of CIOs on top technology issues, with finance issues on top of the list, as was the case a year ago. Here is the top 10 list:
1. Funding IT
2. Administrative/ERP/information systems
4. Teaching and learning with technology
5. Identity/access management
6. (tie). Disaster recovery / business continuity
6. (tie). Governance, organization and leadership
7. Agility, adaptability and responsiveness
8. Learning management systems
9. Strategic planning
10. Infrastructure / cyberinfrastructure
Academics remain reluctant to allow their journal articles to be deposited in open-access repositories, according to the Oxford University Press. The press announced Thursday that the percentage of Oxford Press articles authorized for re-publication in its open-access repository decreased overall from 6.7 to 5.9 percent between 2008 and 2009. Officials attributed the decrease to a relatively low rate of opt-ins from 11 new journals to which the option was extended in 2009; putting those new titles aside, the proportion of authors allowing their work to be made freely available stayed roughly the same. Still, the stagnation of that rate indicates that researchers are still wary of endorsing an open-access model, Oxford officials said in a release. Humanities scholars were the least willing to participate in Oxford Open, the press's open-access initiative, opting in at a rate of 2.5 percent. Life sciences scholars were the most generous with their work, with 11.4 percent allowing their papers to be freely accessible.
Monsignor Stuart Swetland, a professor of Christian ethics at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Maryland and the only finalist remaining for the presidency of Seton Hall University, has withdrawn from the search amid leaks alleging that he was making significant salary demands, The Star-Ledger reported. Unnamed university officials told the newspaper that the would-be president proposed a salary of nearly $300,000 and a three-year severance package. Monsignor Robert Sheeran, the outgoing president, earns about $31,000 -- typical of the low pay historically awarded to Roman Catholic clergy serving as presidents. Monsignor Swetland, while not providing details, disputed the figures quoted by the newspaper.
Moody’s issued a new analysis Thursday that said the debt rating agency continued to stand by its "negative outlook" for private colleges, despite generally stable enrollments at most institutions thus far during the economic downturn. Key problems identified include "weakened balance sheets and reduced institutional
wealth," and "the likelihood of weakened net tuition revenue for private colleges in fall 2010."
The National Federation of the Blind is expanding its challenge to the Law School Admissions Council's online system for law school admissions, with a suit against the council and four California law schools that use its applications. The suit charges that the system is not accessible to blind applicants, and thus violates both state and federal anti-bias laws. The Law School Admissions Council has said in the past that its members do not discriminate against blind applicants and want the admissions system to be as functional as possible for all groups, but that some of the changes sought by the blind advocacy group are complicated to carry out.
Dr. Pamela M. Jolicoeur, president of Concordia College in Minnesota, died Wednesday after suffering a stroke. She was 65, and had led the college since 2004, following a 32-year career at California Lutheran University. At Concordia, she helped to complete a $100 million capital campaign, and encouraged new programs in the sciences, business and global education. A university statement about her accomplishments may be found here.
Teach for America may be far less successful than its publicity suggests, according to a policy brief from the Education and the Public Interest Center and the Education Policy Research Unit. The report reviews evidence about the effectiveness of Teach for America teachers -- generally graduates of elite colleges who have received some training, but nothing resembling formal teacher education. The study found that the Teach for America teachers do better than other uncredentialed teachers (in terms of the impact on their students' test scores), but that they don't do better than teachers who have been credentialed. Teach for America teachers improve if they stay in the field long enough to earn credentials, but that's not the norm, the report says.