Behind the News
SUSTAINABILITY RATING OR RANKING SYSTEMS often judge schools by performance or set guidelines. The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education is working with higher ed institutions to test a new tracking system this calendar year. More than 90 colleges and university campuses are piloting STARS (Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, and Rating System), which covers sustainability in three broad areas-education and research, operations, and administration and finance.
IHEs are assigned points for meeting the stated items in each area. For example, dining operations with both local and organic-certified foods, and fair trade coffee would be given the most possible points in that subcategory. Though modeled after some aspects of the LEED (Leadership in Energy Environmental Design) green rating system, STARS guidelines will apply to an entire campus, rather than facilities.
Input from pilot participants-who differ in their experience with sustainability-will be used to modify the tool's format. "We wanted to see how different schools can perform," says Julian Dautremont- Smith, AASHE associate director.
STARS v1.0 is planned for a spring 2009 release, and a database for campus leaders to share information about sustainability will also be created. Learn more at www.aashe.org/stars. <em>-Michele Herrmann</em>
THERE ARE MANY REASONS WHY A university president might resign, but flowers are not usually one of them. According to <em>The Reflector</em>, <b>Mississippi State University</b>'s student newspaper, a combination of questions over academic freedom and the uprooting of daffodils on campus contributed to President Robert "Doc" Foglesong's announcing his resignation on March 7, which is effective June 30.
Foglesong is a former four-star general who has led the institution since 2006. The official release announcing his resignation outlines the many positive changes that have taken place on his watch-including increased enrollment, higher ACT scores, more faculty, and more funding for research. It concludes, "Now it's time for somebody else to make the next round of changes and set a new standard."
Published reports seem to agree that Foglesong has accomplished a great deal during his tenure, but some reports call the search that found Foglesong "secretive," and the student paper reports that on the day his resignation was announced the faculty senate voted unanimously to "form a standing committee to assist in the transition and the presidential search process that the university will be facing." That makes one wonder: Was the deck stacked against this nontraditional president from day one, or were communication issues affecting more than just flowers?
As for those daffodils, efforts to improve landscaping on campus were interpreted as an attempt to exterminate the flowers, leading to a passionate outcry on campus. A "Save the MSU Daffodils!" group on Facebook had 1,189 members in mid-March (the opposing group, "MSU Students with Better Things to Do Than Complain about Flowers," had only 119 members)
"The level of passion reached a level we hadn't expected," says Maridith Geuder, director of University Relations. Perhaps trying to find the bright side, she added, "But that's part of the educational mission-to inspire students."
After the student paper reported on the daffodil situation, Geuder released an official report outlining the landscaping changes taking place. She confirmed there are still daffodils blooming on campus and that the bulbs that were dug up are being sheltered in anticipation of replanting in the fall. "I would question how many universities get impassioned about landscaping," Geuder reflected. "And maybe we do need to be more proactive in communicating landscaping changes."
The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs public IHEs in Mississippi. At press time, spokeswoman Annie Mitchell said no discussion of Foglesong's replacement had yet taken place. The next regularly scheduled board meeting was March 20. <em>-Ann McClure</em>
IT IS NO SECRET THAT AMERICA IS FALLING BEHIND in math and science. On the 2006 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) administered to 15-year-olds in 57 countries, the United States ranked 21st among 30 participating countries in science and 25th in math.
One way this decline at the younger ages is manifest is through a decrease in undergraduate engineering degrees awarded. Between 1986 and 2006, there was a 3 percent decrease in engineering graduates. "The decline comes at a time when the number of students receiving bachelor's degrees in the United States has increased more than 50 percent," says Greg Schuckman, assistant vice president of University Relations at the <b>University of Central Florida</b>, who analyzed data from the American Association of Engineering Societies.
For comparison, Schuckman points out that the United States graduates 72,000 engineers per year, while India is graduating 300,000 and China 600,000. He suggests a number of factors contributing to the U.S. decline, ranging from students finding math and science too difficult at the middle and high school levels, to students not pursuing engineering degrees because they don't understand what engineers do.
"Engineering schools have to do a better job of retaining the students they have," urges Bob Black, deputy executive director of the American Society for Engineering Education, adding that between 45 to 50 percent of students drop out every year. Black says higher ed leaders can help reverse the engineering slide by increasing diversity in programs by recruiting more women and minorities as well as by working more closely with middle and high schools to better prepare students in math and science.
UCF is in part addressing the issue through participation in For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST, www.usfirst.org), which challenges students to build robots, among other activities. "Engineers are essential to an innovative economy," says Schuckman. "States need to rethink their strategy for attracting and graduating engineers." <em>- A.M.</em>
LIKE LAPTOPS, MOBILE DEVICES are now seen by college and university leaders as learning tools. First it was iPods, and now initiatives using Apple iPhones are joining the campus mix. This fall, <b>Abilene Christian University</b> (Texas) will begin a pilot program in which incoming freshmen will be issued either an Apple iPhone or the iPod touch for daily use. They will get to choose which device they prefer.
With more than 15 web applications developed for use on these types of devices, students can perform tasks such as receiving homework alerts, responding to surveys and quizzes, checking meal and account balances, and creating a campus map.
Officials selected these devices because they provide web browsers, according to Chief Information Officer Kevin Roberts. They also consulted with colleagues at <b>Duke University</b> (N.C.), which started a similar program involving iPods in 2004.
"We're looking to learn right away if this is something that's feasible," says Roberts. Funding for the program's first phase will come from existing resources. Depending on the number of devices needed, ACU officials anticipate spending approximately $300,000 to $400,000 over a two-year period. They expect a two-year use for each device and are still determining how to extend the plan and handle gray areas such as loss, theft, or student transfers.
Applying mobile devices to learning isn't new for ACU. In 2006, it launched ACU WorldWide, an online master's degree program utilizing Apple's iPod.
<b>Oklahoma Christian University</b>, too, will offer freshmen the choice of an iPhone or iPod touch, but it plans to go a step further. This summer, all OCU faculty and new students will receive an Apple MacBook, and current students will be able to trade in their university-issued PC laptop for a MacBook. OCU launched a mobile computing initiative in 2001. <em>-M.H.</em>
MOLLY CORBETT BROAD WILL BECOME THE American Council on Education's twelfth president on May 1, but she takes the lead as the first woman to head the 90-year-old organization.
"It's not only a great honor but a special privilege to serve an organization like ACE," says Broad, who has served in a number of administrative and executive positions at various universities.
She was president of the <b>University of North Carolina</b> system from 1997 to 2006, during a period in which minority enrollment grew at more than double the rate of the student body. Broad encouraged the creation of a need-based financial aid program for in-state undergraduates and the expansion of distance-education offerings.
In 2000, she helped spearhead the passage of a $3.1 billion bond issue to finance $2.5 billion in capital construction and renovation on UNC campuses, along with $600 million for the state's community colleges. At the time, this was the largest bond referendum ever in U.S. higher education.
Prior to UNC, Broad, an economist, served as senior vice chancellor for administration/finance and then as executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer for the <b>California State University</b> system. She was chief executive officer for Arizona's three-campus university system from 1985 to 1992. In 1976, she took a yearlong absence from her budgeting and planning office position at <b>Syracuse University</b> to become the deputy director of the New York State Commission on the Future of Postsecondary Education. Currently she is a professor in the School of Government at <b>The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill</b>. <em>-M.H.</em>
THERE ARE MANY WAYS TO GROW ENROLLMENT. ACADEMICS ARE important, but some students might be attracted to art, while others prefer sports. Of course, adding new sports can be tricky because of Title IX, the 1972 federal law that requires equal treatment of men's and women's sports in K-12 and higher education. A recent study by the College Sports Council showed that nearly three in four of the 75 co-ed historically black colleges and universities are out of compliance with the proportionality standard part of the law, which requires that opportunities and funding are proportional to enrollment.
"HBCUs are a microcosm of the wider problem of the disparity in genders," says CSC Chairman Eric Pearson. "The disparity is most severe in the African-American and Hispanic communities." A 2004 report from the Dellums Commission showed that black males accounted for 2.8 percent of undergraduate enrollment nationwide. Pearson argues that one way HBCUs could boost male enrollment is by adding more sports teams, a tactic prevented by the proportionality standard. <b>Howard University</b> (D.C.) is often used as an example of the difficulty presented by proportionality. In 2002, Howard administrators cut baseball and wrestling and added women's bowling, but now six years later they are out of compliance again.
Schools can demonstrate compliance with the law through proportionality, providing evidence of improving opportunities, or by gauging interest through surveys. Although the law allows IHEs to use surveys to prove student demand is being met, the NCAA discourages it. Pearson says gender equality advocates also frown on surveys. "Many schools won't talk about surveys if they are using them," he adds. "Our goal is to educate people about the problem with proportionality standards. And we hope the NCAA allows all the options, including surveys." <em>-A.M.</em>
HIGHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS ARE facing challenging times that require strong leadership and data-driven decision making. With issues such as pricing, affordability, marketing/communication to prospective students, and volatility in the student loan industry, strategic and creative thinking is critical in meeting institutional enrollment goals. This conference, hosted by UB "Money Matters" columnists James Scannell and Kathy Kurz, will focus on these topics and more from various perspectives, including case studies of institutions that have successfully achieved their goals.
Who should attend? Chief enrollment officers, chief financial officers, chief academic officers, presidents, and admissions and financial aid directors will all benefit from these sessions. The conference takes place June 9-11, 2008, at the Woodcliff Hotel & Spa in Fairport, N.Y. For more information or to register, visit www.scannellkurzevents.com.
<b>The University Against Itself: The NYU Strike and the Future of the Academic Workplace</b>
<em>Edited by Monika Krause, Mary Nolan, Michael Palm, and Andrew Ross;</em>
Temple University Press, 2008; 272 pp.; $25.95.
FOR MANY OF US LIVING OR WORKING near New York, the long-running labor dispute between <b>New York University</b> and its graduate teaching assistants had over the years faded into the background noise of daily life. It seemed to always be there, occasionally rising to the surface with the latest pronouncement from administrators, student organizers, or labor mediators, and culminating in a 10-month strike that began in the fall of 2005. <em>The University Against Itself</em> reminds us of the significance of those events, not just at NYU but also on the larger academic stage. It is a balanced look at the dispute through the eyes of those whose lives were impacted by the events of those years. The book features a series of essays from graduate students, faculty, and organizers, as well as labor experts who warn that the lessons of NYU should be heeded at other private institutions feeling the pressure to adopt corporate sensibilities. <em>-Tim Goral</em>
IT'S PROBABLY THE ONLY TIME a building has been designed around a dive tank. For the four-acre Kearny Mesa campus of <b>National University</b>-one of seven San Diego-area locations, all serving mainly adult learners through evening classes-a new facility was built to accommodate program needs.
FUNCTION: Classrooms, labs, and equipment for NPCS, which offers associate's degree and certificate programs related to commercial diving and marine technology, and hyperbaric medical technology.
CHALLENGE: The original site included a two-story diving tank and a single-story classroom and office building located approximately 46 feet (and a flight of stairs) from the 18-foot-tall, 15-foot diameter tank. "We had a building and we made it work," says Director of Facilities Stu Markey, adding that it was too small and not specifically designed to support the program. About six years old, the diving tank would remain.
SOLUTION: Besides locating the building and tank closer together on the site, the project team incorporated the tank's compressed air/mixed gas system-which serves the needs of the college's hyperbaric medical program as well-into the design to locate it directly beneath the dive tank platform. "This building was tailored to the purpose of the university," notes Markey, adding that student and faculty response has been fantastic. According to Alan Nations, project architect and manager at the firm Architects | Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker, the new building's machine, welding, and diesel repair classrooms help train students in other skills required to complete the diving curriculum.
During construction, students met in classrooms and labs at an NU site two miles away and continued using the diving tank for training. Now that the building is complete, says Nations, the commute between the two areas is just 24 feet and simply a matter of walking across a second-level pedestrian bridge.
COST: $2.1 million
TIMELINE: Building in use since July 2007; three other new NPCS buildings on site to be completed by July 2008.
PROJECT TEAM: Architects | Delawie Wilkes Rodrigues Barker; ROEL Construction, general contractor. <em>-Melissa Ezarik</em>
COLLEGE TUITION IS ON THE RISE, and with it, student debt. Between the intense focus on the student lending industry last year and the mortgage industry meltdown this year, the importance of financial literacy is certainly a hot topic.
With efforts ranging from information pamphlets to seminars, a number of higher ed institutions have been helping students to become more financially savvy. At the intensive end of the scale is the Student Money Management Services (SMMS) program launched at <b>Bowling Green State University</b> (Ohio) last July. In 2006 Bowling Green's student body collectively borrowed $129 million to attend the institution, says program director Duane Whitmire.
SMMS was initiated after an editorial published in the student paper last April asked the university to address the issue of financial literacy. Based on a program in place at <b>Texas Tech University</b> for seven years and the <b>University of North Texas</b> for four years, the SMMS office includes a full-time financial educator and six upperclass student assistants, all of whom are there to assist students who need help in identifying financial education needs, developing a plan to meet those needs, creating a personal budget, or a combination of the three. Surveys have shown that some students want to talk to a professional, while others prefer talking to someone who understands their situation. All sessions are confidential.
To avoid liability issues, administrators are careful about the services offered. "We don't give financial advice," explains Whitmire. "We give students options and let them decide the best one to follow."
Students can choose from individual planning sessions, group seminars, or online resources at www.bgsu.edu/smms. That website received 4,130 hits from its January 7 launch through March 13.
"The most important goal is to help them track their expenses," Whitmire says. "In some cases they are just swiping their charge card and moving on." Although the focus this year is on students, administrators have big dreams for the service. Faculty and staff are already asking for sessions, and the program might eventually be available to the community. Considering that new state legislation requires money management lessons at the high school level in 2010, Bowling Green is ahead of the curve. <em>-A.M.</em>
In the article "Sense of Security" in the February issue of <em>University Business</em>, one source was inadvertently left out of the Resources box on page 47. Robert Huber, campus card consultant, can be reached at www.AllCampusCard.com.
In the March issue, the article "Keeping an Eye on the Network" mentioned the wrong product on page 57 near the end of the Temple University (Pa.) case study. Temple is migrating and updating to Symantec Network Access Control 11.0. Under the Endpoint Software-Based NAC heading on the same page, Symantec Sygate Enterprise Protection is mentioned as an example of this approach to NAC. Symantec NAC is the correct product name here, as well.