Of his 16 years as president at Berea College, Larry Shinn has found the last year to be the most contentious, challenging, and potentially transformative. While grappling with budget deficits, Shinn has fended off student critics who say he makes too much money and taken shots from faculty members for a controversial plan that would dismantle existing departments.
To top it all off, Shinn’s former provost is calling on his old boss to resign.
“We went through a very messy process,” Shinn says.
In the past year, many faculty members and students who never paid much attention to the concept of "endowment payout rates" and their rolling averages have had reason to learn about them. In short, the idea is that colleges and universities shouldn't decide each year what share of their endowments to spend, but should have a standing philosophy on the appropriate payout rate, and should average that rate out over several years to avoid spending too much or too little based on a particularly good or bad financial year.
Samuel L. Stanley Jr. has learned the hard way that it’s tough to keep bad news quiet. The recently minted president of the State University of New York’s Stony Brook campus whispered the details of a controversial plan to lawmakers Tuesday, only to find the discussions picked up by media within hours. That left Stanley and his staff scrambling Wednesday morning, trying to explain why and how Stony Brook’s Southampton location will be largely shuttered by fall.
“It was really disturbing that a meeting we felt we had in confidence was let out,” Stanley said.
DENVER -- State support for higher education tends to be cyclical -- a fact that's been comforting to many who study or teach at public colleges and universities that have been facing budget cuts these past two years.
At a time when tenure track jobs are drying up and faculty pay is mostly stagnant, some fear the latest threat to the professoriate will actually be realized years from now. As budgets tighten in states across the country, a number of legislatures are re-evaluating the popular pension plans that have been a key benefit for faculty.