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Beyond the News

03/2007
02/2007

The state that was home to a high-profile affirmative action triumph in 2003 is now home to a ban against race- and gender-based preferences.

01/2007

A University of Kansas professor who drew national protest over a proposed religion course says he was forced to step down as chairman of the Department of Religious Studies, adding more fuel to an already emotionally fired story.

"The university penalized me and denied me my constitutionally protected right to speak and express my mind," Paul Mirecki said in a written statement.

12/2006

When trustees for the University of Louisville (Ky.) voted in July to make it the state's first public university to extend health-insurance benefits to unmarried domestic partners, including gays and lesbians, they no doubt believed they were doing a noble thing. After all, at least 300 higher education institutions currently offer health benefits for domestic partners. At the time Louisville President James Ramsey praised the trustees on their action. "That probably wasn't an easy vote for some trustees," he said, noting that extending benefits was "the right thing to do."

The University of Kentucky has also supported the idea of domestic partner benefits and expects to decide on a course of action early next year. In both cases the proposals were largely seen in a practical light, allowing the schools to offer competitive benefits packages that could help recruit and keep the best employees.

Not everyone, however, sees it that way. State Rep. Stan Lee (R-District 45) introduced a bill last month to stop the move. Lee's bill would prohibit any post-secondary institution from providing benefits to unmarried couples-whether they are of the same sex or the opposite sex.

By his reasoning, Kentucky voters rejected the idea of domestic partner benefits when they passed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

A similar fight is under way at Michigan State University, where opponents say the school violates a state constitutional amendment by offering benefits. The 2004 amendment defined marriage "or any similar union for any purpose" as the union of a man and a woman, but at least seven other Michigan institutions currently provide benefits to same-sex couples.

And in Wisconsin, where the University of Wisconsin System has been seeking domestic partner benefits, voters approved a constitutional amendment last month that not only defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, but also bars the state from granting legal status similar to marriage to unmarried individuals. Despite that, the UW System Board of Regents will likely ask lawmakers to provide domestic partner benefits for its workers. UW-Madison is the only Big 10 university that currently does not offer the benefits.

In all three cases, although the legality of the benefits programs has been challenged, few expect the schools to discontinue the packages, especially since similar benefits are becoming more common in the corporate world. Christine Gilgor, executive director of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, believes the anti-benefits groups don't have the support to carry through on their challenge.

-Tim Goral

SOUND BITE

 

I  wonder what role Harry Potter may have played in this.

 

-John Bruss, of Sewanee University (Tenn.), on the rise in Greek and Latin language studies.  

 

For unprepared parents, a college's sticker shock can be pretty brutal. But "when it comes to paying for college, the good news is that you have 18 years to plan, there are tax-advantaged solutions, and you don't have to go it alone," says Jennifer DeLong, director of College Savings Plans at AllianceBernstein Investments. Unfortunately, she says, "most parents are about as prepared to meet college costs as freshmen are to do their own laundry."

A study conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates, Inc. for AllianceBernstein found a huge disconnect between the real cost of college and how much parents think it costs.

On average, surveyed parents with children ages 14-to-17 say they plan to have $12,000 saved when their child reaches college age. Considering that the projected cost of a 17-year-old's college education can be in the tens of thousands for a public IHE and even higher for a private IHE, that $12,000 won't go very far.

Part of the confusion stems from parents' expectations that colleges will help cover costs by offering scholarships, grants, and financial aid. Eighty-seven percent of parents are counting on their children to receive scholarship or grant money and more than two-thirds believe colleges will offer reasonably affordable financial aid. But the reality is that scholarship and grant dollars are less available now than in the past.

Sixty-seven percent also believe their children will graduate with debt and 63 percent view debt as a "part of life." Despite good intentions, many are clueless about the real cost of college. Instead of saving appropriately, the study found they tend to spend unwisely, depend on debt, and have unrealistic expectations of the financial aid process.

-Alana Klein

The MIT Press, 2006; 272pp.; $27.95; www.mitpress.mit.edu

It is hard to be a pioneer, but when the environment is going to hell in an SUV cup holder, the hassle is worth it. That is one of the lessons David Orr learned while trying to build the Adam Joseph Lewis Center at Oberlin College (Ohio), the first substantially green building on a college campus.

The Lewis Center is green with a capital G, including everything from solar arrays to produce energy, to a wastewater reclamation system called "Living Machine" that utilizes wetlands plants, to regionally appropriate landscaping. Orr includes enough information in his book about the planning and design process, as well as the political intrigue encountered, to be interesting and provide useful information, but not enough to bog the story down. The project is shown, warts and all, as when Orr presents a variety of reasons the building isn't as energy efficient as it should be. Along the way he talks of bureaucratic foot-dragging demoralization of the design team, and design mistakes that hampered the mechanical systems. He also includes a history of Ecological Design, and meditations on mankind's relationship to buildings and the process of institutional change.

With sustainability currently in vogue, current projects shouldn't find the same resistance Orr encountered, but the book would be a resource on what to include and pitfalls to avoid on other projects.

-Ann McClure

The term "study abroad" usually brings to mind images of European cities, not the ski resorts in Utah, but Westminster College is changing that with its three-year-old Winter at Westminster program. For an extra $2,995 above normal tuition and fees, students receive a season pass to two resorts and specially arranged winter recreation activities, ranging from backcountry skiing and yurt camping to bobsledding at the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics. Dedicated advisors ensure the students' schedules are arranged so they can make the most use of their season passes, and that their course credits will transfer back to their home institutions.

"The program is much more than just a season pass," explains Sarah West, director of Winter at Westminster. Students of any major can attend, and they take a full course load of standard classes, so graduation isn't delayed. Students can also do internships; this opportunity led to one alumni being hired by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. Westminster is onto something. Although only 15 students have participated to date, more than 1,000 inquiries have been received this year, so enrollment will be capped at 40 students. -A.M.

SOUND BITE

They don't need to feel defensive.

-U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, in reference to higher ed's reaction to the proposed accountability database, charges of high tuition prices, inaccessibility, and other points made in the report issued by the U.S. Commission on the Future of Higher Education.

 

Just before they were about to be tried for murder, two former roommates from Seton Hall University (N.J.) pleaded guilty to starting a deadly dorm fire nearly seven years ago which killed three students. Joseph LePore and Sean Ryan have confessed to setting fire to a banner in a lounge in celebration of a basketball victory.

Investigators determined early on that the fire was caused by arson, but LePore and Ryan weren't charged with the crime until 2003. The two denied their involvement for years. Further, the defense team claimed the university didn't have appropriate prevention systems in place at the time of the fire. Not true, insists Thomas White, the assistant VP for public relations and marketing. SHU's dormitories complied with fire safety codes at the time of the blaze, he told the media. In exchange for their plea, LePore and Ryan will each spend five years in jail, as opposed to the 30-year sentences they were facing had they been convicted of murder. -Jean Marie Angelo

In recent months a rash of institutions announced capital campaigns with multibillion dollar goals. Which makes one wonder, is there that much money in the world? John Lippincott, president of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, says there is. According to a study by Boston College professor Paul G. Schervish, during the first half of this century baby boomers will probably inherit between $41 trillion and $136 trillion. Since 1980 annual giving to higher education has doubled every year. Lippincott predicts that if that trend continues, "we could see [total giving] close to $100 billion by 2020." And that won't be because of the dozen multibillion-dollar campaigns alone; thousands of smaller campaigns are also being conducted, but overlooked by the media. Lippincott says most IHEs with an established fundraising team are either currently conducting a campaign, finishing one up, or planning a new one.

What happens to all that money? Cornell University plans to use its $4 billion for student aid, recruiting and retaining faculty, and improving infrastructure. Columbia, Stanford and the University of Virginia have similar goals, with K-12 education thrown in for good measure, while Yale is also going to spend some on the arts.

CASE suggests campaigns not exceed seven years, but that institutions not make it too short either; to raise $1 billion in one year would take bringing in $2,739,726.03 per day. Let's put these staggering numbers into perspective. Aside from state-of-the-art research labs, what will those eye-popping amounts get you?

With $1 billion you could buy 3.3 fast food hamburgers for every person in the country, based on a U.S. population of 300,177,750.

With $1 billion you could buy four Boeing 777-300ER airplanes, or 5,041 of the 2006?Lamborghini?Gallardo?SEs.

With $1 billion you could buy 5,000 tickets to become an astronaut on Virgin Galactic at $200,000 each.

With $1 billion you could buy 12,820 Lexus LS 07 cars, which park themselves.

Looking at it another way, it cost $1.7 billion to build the Space Shuttle Endeavour. The Hubble Space Telescope initially cost $1.5 billion to build and launch. A $900 million stack of $1 bills would be 20 feet tall, 50 feet long, and 31.25 feet wide, or about half as long as a conventional tennis court (www.crunchweb.net/87billion). -A.M.

Don't ask President Patricia McGuire of Trinity

Washington University (D.C.) about U.S. News & World Reports' college rankings. Not unless you want to hear charges that it's just a "beauty contest" and an admission that surveys sent to her get "ripped up" when they arrive.

"I am referring to the portion of the survey that asks [presidents] to rate [one to five] the institutions in your area," she told a recent panel on the subject of rankings. "It has no integrity."

There was no need for panel moderator Paul Glastris, editor-in-chief of The Washington Monthly, to urge frankness among the seven panelists brought together by Education Sector, a nonprofit organization, in October to discuss the new research report, "College Rankings Reformed," which was broadcast on C-Span. As soon as McGuire, leader of a small liberal arts religious college in the nation's capital, interrupted the preliminary softball questions with her statement, "I don't mean to be out of order" before launching into her objections to the popular rankings, it was clear this C-Span broadcast was going to have some drama. One target was Charles Miller, also a panelist, and chairman of the federal Commission on the Future of Higher Education.

Suffice to say that McGuire wasn't buying Miller and U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings's argument that there is not enough comparable data in higher education, something they say will be remedied with a national database. TWU has plenty of outcome data, said McGuire, who views providing it as an ethical obligation to the lower-income students she serves. Other schools, like Alverno College (Wis.)-a small IHE often cited as a model in higher ed-do too. Problem is, no one is paying attention to them because all the focus is on Harvard, Princeton, and Yale, she complained.

"Mr. Miller is a financial expert, not an expert in student learning," she charged gingerly. "Many administrators have devoted their lives to education. The bashing of college and university administrators is part of what is wrong with this discussion."

Miller's retort: "I'm not bashing anyone, but the system is dysfunctional." Hear the discussion at www.educationsector.org/events. -J.M.A.

As the pundits continue to analyze what the post-election results mean for education, one outcome clearly has a direct impact. Michigan voters passed Proposal 2, a ballot issue that would ban affirmative action. The proposal, which was passed by a margin of 58 percent to 42 percent, culminates three years of contentious debate in the state after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2003 that the University of Michigan's law school could consider race a factor in admissions. (The court ruled, though, that the undergraduate admissions practices had to be altered when regarding race.)

Ward Connerly, a former regent at the University of California, spurred on the fight against affirmative action in Michigan, as he has done in the states of California and Washington. Proposal 2 says that race and gender cannot be considered factors in admissions practices.

Jennifer Gratz, who led the recent ballot drive in Michigan, was clearly pleased with the outcome. She is one of the two women law students who sued the University of Michigan after her application was declined in 1997.

UMich President Mary Sue Coleman retorted two days after the November 7 elections that the university will legally challenge the outcome of the elections. "I am deeply disappointed that the voters of our state have rejected affirmative action. ...We will not be deterred in the all-important work of creating a diverse, welcoming campus." -J.M.A.

The college affordability crisis has inspired a new movement of student activism. Outraged by soaring college costs, a rise in loan interest rates, and cuts to federal college aid programs, students have taken it upon themselves to advocate for change. The young voter turnout on November 7's midterm elections attests to this. More than two million 18-to-29 year-old Americans voted this year than in the 2002 elections, according to early exit poll analyses."A new generation of voters has arrived as a force in politics," says Heather Smith, director of Young Voter Strategies (www.youngvoterstrategies.com).

"Today's young adults proved that they're a critical voting bloc for both political parties to court-at 42 million strong, this generation will only grow in importance as more and more vote in each election." Many national and student-run organizations helped mobilize student voters in the months before the elections. Some of these include The Campaign for America's Future, the United States Student Association, Young Voter Strategies, Campus Progress, USAction, and The American Democracy Project.

Grassroots efforts took place at the University of Colorado at Denver, which staged "a party at the polls" featuring local bands in front of a campus polling station. At College of the Holy Cross (Mass.),x Republican and Democratic students teamed up to organize an absentee voter drive to increase the number of voters. -A.K.

A growing number of college and university endowment investment portfolios include hedge funds these days. So it helps for institutional leaders to have at least some knowledge of them. University Business contributing writer Ann C. Logue, who wrote the November 2005 article "Hedging Your Endowment Bets," is author of the new book Hedge Funds for Dummies (Wiley Publishing). Besides providing general information about the basics of hedge funds and setting up investment strategies, the book includes some explanation of endowments and the fiduciary responsibilities of endowment managers who invest in hedge funds. Unfarallon, the Yale student and faculty group formed to protest the institution's investment in hedge funds, also gets mention here. For more information, visit www.dummies.com. -Melissa Ezarik

SOUND BITE

It appears to be an open secret.

- Don Joe, an attorney and activist who runs Asian-American Politics, an internet site, on the claim that qualified Asian students are being rejected by Princeton and other elite universities.

An ever-growing number of colleges and universities are putting special emphasis on environmental concerns such as global warming, water conservation, and finding alternatives to fossil fuels. Sustainability is a field that has been identified as one of the "future jobs" which will require specially trained individuals to tackle the complex problems facing our planet. Toward that end, Arizona State University has launched a universitywide effort to educate these future environmental protectors with the establishment the world's first School of Sustainability.

Located in Arizona's Sonoran Desert, the School of Sustainability encompasses such diverse fields as science, technology, public policy, economics, education, and urban planning. The school has the advantage of using Phoenix as a kind of living laboratory because a recent population boom threatens the area's environmental balance.

"Phoenix has doubled its population in the last 20 years to become the fifth-largest city in the United States. Our population-and our urban infrastructure-will double again in the next 20 years," says ASU President Michael Crow. "Because this is the region doing so much building, we are the ones who have to figure out how to do it properly, and ASU has committed itself to being at the forefront of that effort."

The School of Sustainability will begin enrolling students next month, and will offer bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in sustainability. The innovative curriculum builds upon an existing base at ASU that includes 300 courses, 80 degree programs, and 170 research projects that involve sustainability. -T.G.

11/2006

Will 2006 be the tipping point for the end of early admissions? This fall, a trio of elite institutions-Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia-opted to end their binding early decision or nonbinding early action programs.

The University of Delaware also stopped early admissions this year, while the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill put the kibosh on early decision in 2002.

Elite institutions aren't the only ones with spotlights on them. Many universities offer rolling admissions options to accept applications even before the start of the senior year. Members of the National Association for College Admissions Counseling voted in October to ban programs that offer admissions decisions before the middle of September, and to stop colleges from setting application deadlines before October 15.

"This was a very under-the-radar move that ultimately I believe our members hope will help provide the kind of clarity and transparency in the admissions process that will allow people to keep it simple," says David Hawkins, director of public policy for NACAC. Still, many officers plan to stick to their current application structures.

University of Pennsylvania's President Amy Gutmann detailed her institution's stance in a Washington Post piece titled "Early Admissions Aren't the Problem." The debate over early admissions, Gutmann wrote, "is a distraction from a far more important matter: the urgent need of all but a handful of colleges and universities to improve financial aid for students from low-income and middle-income families."

But what of proof that early applicants do not typically apply for financial aid or come from low-income backgrounds? In UVa's current freshman class, for instance, of the 172 students considered to be low-income only one enrolled through early decision. "What we've found in two years is that we've had very few students enroll through the early decision process and at the low-income level," says John Blackburn, dean of admission at UVa.

Andrew Fairbanks found similar statistics through his research for The Early Admissions Game (Harvard University Press, 2003). With co-authors Christopher Avery and Richard Zeckhauser, Fairbanks sifted through databases for 14 of the country's 20 most selective IHEs. The results? At every school, the decision to apply early had a significant effect on outcome. Despite that evidence Fairbanks believes most institutions will keep early admissions to maintain enrollment yields. "I am not overly optimistic that this is going to lead to a widespread change."

-Caryn Meyers Fliegler


Sound Bite

We talk to students about our new dorms and our new gym. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing a time-share sales pitch and all I need are balloons to complete the effect.


-Bruce J. Poch, VP and dean of admissions, Pomona College (Calif.), on college marketing.

Noel-Levitz has released a second E-Expectations report on what college-bound students are looking for when they visit college websites. Executive Consultant Stephanie Geyer says students have turned into "secret shoppers" who find out everything about a college from its website. As a result, students' first contact at many colleges is coming in the form of completed applications. All the more reason that college and university websites have to be up to snuff.

Students' top expectations for websites are: self-service tools for exploration; authentic or "real" content; and fast and easy ways to connect when they are ready.

The top four activities students want to perform on websites haven't changed from last year: complete a financial aid estimator (88%); use a tuition calculator (83%); find an admission application (81%); and request a campus visit (81%). The fifth most important activity this year is instant messaging an admissions counselor (72%), up from eighth last year. The ability to personalize a website jumped from 42 percent last year to 62 percent this year. Also of note, this year 59 percent of students would accept a call on their cell phone; only 41 percent would last year.

See the complete report at www.noel-levitz.com.

-Ann McClure


DATA POINT

$1.4 billion-The amount the United States spends annually on remedial education for high school graduates

-The Alliance for Excellent Education.

Education.

By C.K. Gunsalus

Harvard University Press, 2006; 244 pp.; $21.95; www.hup.harvard.edu

Stepping into leadership in higher ed is a special challenge. Those new to leading departments have often proven themselves brilliant in the lecture hall or the research lab, but may find their IQs drop 20 points the minute they have to organize anything beyond a seminar, notes this author.

"It is a major transition to move from a professorship where one largely controls one's own intellectual agenda to a position in which one can be nibbled to death by administrivia: the tyranny of the in-box, telephone, drop-in visitors, e-mail," writes C.K. Gunsalus, a former associate provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and now a special counsel and faculty member there.

With chapters such as "Embrace your fate" and "Bullies," the author reveals a down-to-earth style. Gunsalus says budgets and curriculum planning are a piece of cake when compared to people management. During her years in university administration she has had to investigate myriad problems, including sexual harassment and financial improprieties. The upside of confronting such "yucky problems" is her book, which reflects her hands-on experience with reworked procedures and managerial training.

-Jean Marie Angelo

Chicago's Columbia College may help introduce the next Tina Fey or John Belushi through an innovative program that will teach the art of comedy.

The Comedy Studies Program, which begins in January, will give 16 students the chance to study and work with members of the famous Second City improvisational troupe in Chicago, which helped launch numerous comedy careers, including those of Robert Klein, Joan Rivers, Bill Murray, Amy Sedaris, and Steve Carrell.

Sheldon Patinkin, chairman of Columbia's theater department and one of Second City's founders, says the program will be more intense than Second City's own training center.

"It's involved in far more aspects of comedy than any program in the Training Center," says Patinkin. "Courses have been created specifically for this program, including a history of comedy that I'll be teaching with Anne Libera."

Patinkin says the 16-credit course is serious work, and includes sections on Writing Comic Scenes; History and Analysis of Modern Comedy; and Physical and Vocal Training for Comedy, culminating in an end-of-semester showcase.

Getting into the program is no joke either, says Patinkin. "There are several prerequisites for consideration in the program, including improv training or experience, as well as an essay and some letter of recommendation."

Patinkin says the school will offer the program in both the fall and spring semesters every year.

-Tim Goral

DATA POINT

191,321-Number of college students who studied abroad during the 2004-2005 academic year.

             -Year of Study Abroad (www.yearofstudyabroad.org).

Add personal life coaches to the list of student services some colleges are offering.

"Retention and attrition have been an issue on campuses for decades," says Cindy Skaruppa, vice president of Enrollment Management at Our Lady of the Lake University (Texas). University administrators were looking for a comprehensive solution when they contracted with InsideTrack.

The coaches don't offer academic advice; they focus on life skills such as transitioning from high school, balancing family life, and learning time management. Skaruppa firmly dismisses the idea the service is touchy-feely. "We're talking about what students bring to the table and executing a strategy," she says. The programs are based on the services usually reserved for high-powered business executives, she notes.

-Ann McClure

The applications for The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education's first annual Campus Sustainability Leadership Awards proved just how deep a commitment IHEs today are making to sustainability-in governance, academics, operations, and community outreach. The following schools, categorized by size, were announced as winners during

AASHE's annual conference in October 2006:

University of British Columbia,

Vancouver, B.C.

UBC's sustainability strategy, with 68 targets and actions for achieving nine major goals, leaves no base uncovered. The institution recently completed the largest efficiency upgrade to ever take place on a Canadian campus. Its sustainability office is funded entirely by savings from its energy reduction programs. More than 300 academic courses deal with sustainability.

Berea College (Ky.)

The Ecovillage, a sustainability-oriented residential and learning complex, is a model for high efficiency. More than $100 million is being invested in "green" renovations across this campus. A full-time sustainability coordinator and four other related positions, as well as several dozen student positions, get the sustainability job done here.

Warren Wilson College (N.C.)

WWC's mission to educate for environmental sustainability is accomplished through academics, work, and service. Recent sustainability distinctions include the purchase of wind energy for 100 percent of its electricity consumption, LEED Gold certification for the new Orr Cottage, and recognition as the 2006 "Outstanding Conservation Farm Family" for Western North Carolina; the college garden provides organic produce for campus dining services.

Lane Community College (Ore.)

The goal: Become carbon-neutral by 2050. The college is already purchasing 10 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. All new facilities will be built with LEED-certified standards. Faculty interested in integrating sustainability concepts into their work can obtain institutional funding. Lane is an active participant in the City of Eugene's Sustainable Business Initiative, and it's one of the only community colleges in the nation to employ a full-time sustainability coordinator.

The association's award applications are posted online at www.aashe.org/resources/profiles/profiles.php.

-Melissa Ezarik

DATA POINT

51.2%- the percentage of college classrooms that are now wireless.

-The Campus Computing Project, which notes an increase from 42.7% in 2005.

A little friendly competition never hurt anyone, especially when the environment benefits. In October, New York University announced it would purchase 118 million KWh of wind power, making it the largest green power purchaser among U.S. colleges and universities, unseating the University of Pennsylvania. It also hurtles NYU's athletic conference from number 14 to number one in the EPA's green power challenge standings.

"We're a Division III school; it looks like it took the purchase of green energy to get us into Division I competition," NYU spokesman John Beckman said, when he stopped laughing. He encouraged other universities to follow suit. Actually, the standings were not part of NYU's decision, which is an effort to consolidate environmental activities into one initiative. NYU receives one- quarter of its power from a cogeneration plant on campus, while the wind power will offset the energy received from the local utility. Penn took the news in stride.

"At this point we are very comfortable with our position in the wind energy market," spokesman Mike Coleman said. "I think it's great; there are no losers with regards to this issue, only winners. Our goal was always to do our part and encourage and/or support this evolving market." For more on the EPA higher ed standings, visit www.epa.gov/greenpower/.

-A.M.

The mission to revamp higher education was officially launched in late September when U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gave a speech to the National Press Club. Her much anticipated remarks covered the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, which has been meeting throughout the year. Spellings' speech, which outlined the commission's findings, was long on catch phrases and bold ideas, but short on how-to steps.

Her call for "accessibility, affordability, and accountability" in higher education involves everything from improving high school courses and college readiness, to revamping financial aid, to developing ways to measure learning outcomes.

She boiled down the commission's recommendations to five points:

1. Hold high schools accountable.

2. Streamline the financial aid process.

3. Create a database that will be a "higher education information center."

4. Provide matching funds to colleges, universities, and states that collect data and report on learning outcomes.

5. Convene members of the accrediting community in November to help create measures that emphasize learning.

Higher education associations were guarded in their responses. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators issued a statement on the commission's proposal to cut financial aid application waiting time in half, giving students and families qualification information earlier in the spring of senior year. This offers hope for a more efficient system, "however, the lack of details provided is cause for concern," read the statement.

David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, and the only member of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education who did not sign the final report, later expressed disappointment that more was not outlined on how to link accreditation and accountability.

The national database, too, is going to be a problem, he said. Already organizations are raising privacy concerns. While the database will be used to view overall student performance, and not focus on individuals, the organizers will have to allay fears that student identities and specific course grades cannot be traced.

Ward noted that ACE and five other higher education organizations were already at work on the issues raised. "We took a proactive approach," says Ward, referring to the "gathering storm" of higher education issues. Several days before Spellings spoke to the National Press Club, the six major organizations issued a letter titled, "Addressing the Challenges Facing American Undergraduate Education," outlining work already in place to keep college affordable and improve outcomes. One key promise: to work with Congress to increase the Pell Grant.

-J.M.A.

SOUND BITE

Colleges need to get out of the business of doing high school and concentrate on higher education.

-Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, explaining that high schools
must do a better job preparing students for college.

Few top administrators are likely jealous of Lee

Bollinger these days. The president of Columbia University has seen two major free speech incidents explode at his school this fall.

In early October, students physically disrupted a speech by Jim Gilchrest, founder of the Minuteman Project, which is known for anti-immigration activities. The students stormed a stage and overturned a table at the event sponsored by the College Republicans, chanting "Minutemen, Nazis, KKK! Racists, fascists, go away!"

Bollinger hustled to issue a statement noting that the incident was being investigated. "This is not complicated," he said. "Students and faculty have rights to invite speakers to campus. Others have rights to hear them. Those who wish to protest have rights to do so. No one, however, shall have the right or the power to use the cover of protest to silence speakers."

A couple of weeks earlier, Columbia was mired in another free speech debacle when it retracted a speaking invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bollinger explained that Columbia had not been able to establish a conversation with the Iranian Embassy that would ensure Ahmadinejad's speech "would reflect the academic values" that are the hallmark of a university event.

The Ahmadinejad invitation had been made by Lisa Anderson, dean of the School of International and Public Affairs. Anderson had the right to invite speakers, Bollinger noted, adding that the event would have been in keeping with the open exchange that universities should protect.

-C.M.F.

Any recruitment campaign that generates 200,000 website hits in its first week can legitimately be dubbed successful. Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, got that many hits with its "Yale Shmale" campaign, which features that slogan and a picture of President George W. Bush, a 1968 Yale alumni. Visitors to the site, www.yaleshmale.com, are advised "The smart choice is a university that's right for you." About 90,000 visitors have clicked through to the university's website, "which is pretty damn good," says Director of Communications Eleanor S. Abaya. "We've been inundated with e-mails, phone calls, and letters" from around the world, she says. People either love the ads or hate them; there is no middle ground. "We've achieved our awareness goals in spades." Abaya laughed at the idea Lakehead was trying to compare itself to Yale; still, they don't intend to expand the campaign to include other Ivy League schools.

-A.M.

In the seventh, and final, year of the University of California, San Diego's "Imagine What's Next" fundraising campaign, officials are looking inward for help in reaching their ambitious $1 billion goal.

Informal surveys had revealed a lack of awareness among faculty and staff about the campaign's effects on them, says Rebecca Newman, associate vice chancellor for development. While asking faculty and staff for contributions, as other institutions have done, was always the intention, until this summer they weren't targeted specifically, she adds.

With more than $900 million raised so far, "we wanted [employees to] understand and feel the tremendous community support that they have in making the institution more prominent," Newman explains. Through live kick-offs, a new website, and a brochure that informs and challenges staff to "help take us over the top," recognition and appreciation are the goals. "The pressure is not on giving-the emphasis is on learning what's happening, creating awareness, and building a sense of community," Newman says, adding that a dollar figure goal has purposely not been set.

Two new donor initiatives have been introduced:

The UCSD Faculty-Staff Undergraduate Scholarship Endowment, which supports children of employees and will receive up to $50,000 in matching funds (offered by former recreation department staffer Darcy Bingham and her husband)

The Staff Development Fund, which provides support for staff to participate in conferences and other career training opportunities

The campaign has included some more specific targets-including hospital employees, whose enterprise by nature is separate from academic areas, and emeriti staff members, who tend to have strong emotional ties to UCSD. "We have an extraordinary faculty and staff component here, and we wanted them to feel very much part of the success, by identification or actually contributing," Newman says.

-M.E. Ezarik

Here's evidence that higher ed leaders are embracing flexibility: One in five institutions eligible for the Alfred P. Sloan Awards for Faculty Career Flexibility applied. After all, recruitment and retention of faculty, particularly women and underrepresented minorities, may depend on these programs.

The awards, which recognize research universities for supporting career flexibility for tenured and tenure-track faculty, were conducted by the American Council on Education, with support from the Families and Work Institute. Each winning institution received a $250,000 accelerator grant to continue its work.

Duke University (N.C.) will establish a Flexible Work Arrangements Policy, a Pre-Retirement Planning/Post-Retirement Work Program, and a Dual Career Recruitment/Retention Program.

Lehigh University (Pa.) will create the Integrated Faculty Career Transition Program to provide funds and support for boosting research productivity and conference attendance, as well as assisting faculty working less than full time.

University of California, Berkeley and Davis will initiate a systemwide educational campaign to promote equitable use of existing flexible career policies. Berkeley leaders will create a family-friendly tool kit for department heads, while Davis leaders will launch an advisor program for faculty who are family planning.

University of Florida will introduce a Presidential Council on Diversity and the Status of Women, a dual-career services program, and other initiatives to help establish policies, stimulate cross-campus discussions, standardize practices, and encourage flexible career choices.

University of Washington will launch "Eight by '08," a multipart program that will expand leadership development workshops, implement a pilot paid parental leave policy for faculty, create a tracking mechanism for policy use and faculty career options, create a support group for "new mom" faculty, and increase infant and toddler childcare slots available to faculty.

Also recognized, with $25,000, were Iowa State University (for its benefits-tracking system) and the University of Wisconsin, Madison (for support given to faculty who encounter critical junctures in their careers that affect their research and personal lives).

-M.E.

Earlier this fall a new book hit the higher education scene, and few Admissions offices have stopped buzzing about it since. The Price of Admission (Crown, 2006) alleges that America's richest and most powerful families receive unacceptable access to the country's elite colleges and universities. After lighting a fuse with the book, author Daniel Golden answers a few questions from University Business.

How were you able to get administrators to reveal such inside information?

Many current and former college and high school administrators provide information to me because they believe that college admissions should be fair and meritocratic and they're deeply troubled by preferences for children of alumni and donors and other privileged groups.

What has been the response?

Since actions speak louder than words, the greatest tribute my book has received came a week after its publication when Harvard eliminated early admissions. I'd like to think-and have reason to believe-that the timing of that announcement was a response to my book.

What would you most like administrators to take from the book?

I would like college administrators to realize that it's time for them to be more transparent about their admissions process. Colleges often try to stonewall journalists like me by pretending that they maintain a firewall between fundraising and admissions, or that legacy preference is only about tradition, not money.

For the complete Q&A, visit www.universitybusiness.com/exclusives.

-C.M.F.

10/2006

The state of Michigan is at the center of a heated affirmative action debate again, except this time the judges are state residents, not black-robed jurists on the U.S. Supreme Court.

09/2006
08/2006

<i>Program could potentially track students from grade school to workforce.</i>

A slew of higher ed competitions allow students and pros to hack networks.

The recent student competition at Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.) could be viewed as a high-tech version of an old childhood challenge.

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