Behind the News

Behind the News

From 1975 to 1983, during California Gov. Jerry Brown's first two terms, state funding for higher ed more than doubled. Now it faces $1.4 billion in cuts.

The recession has left states bogged down by daunting deficits. With budget deadlines nearing, higher ed leaders in money-crunched states have been actively trying to persuade against cuts that could be detrimental to their institutions.

In the famously broke California, where the budget deficit has reached $25.4 billion, higher education is facing a proposed $1.4 billion cut by newly elected Gov. Jerry Brown. The California State University and University of California systems would each lose $500 million in state support and the state's community colleges would lose $400 million. Robert Turnage, vice chancellor for budget at CSU, says the proposed budget would bring the institution's state funding to a level that is 23 percent lower than it was in the 2007-2008 fiscal year, or a decline of $680 million.

"Chancellor [Charles Reed] and I met with Jerry Brown as he was putting his administration together and preparing for the transition," explains Turnage. "I don't think we were under illusions of the nature of the state's fiscal problems when we met with him, but I think we've done our best to make him understand that there are consequences if there are cuts. We are going to have to look at a lot of things that people will find painful," such as cutting programs and limiting enrollment.

In Nevada, Gov. Brian Sandoval hasn't said how much he would reduce state spending for higher education, but Daniel Klaich, chancellor of the Nevada System of Higher Education, says he's expecting "very substantial double-digit reductions."

"We have tried to point out very clearly that investing in higher education produces a tangible return to the state that shouldn't be overlooked," he says.

The Nevada system suffered significantly in the past three years, losing 20 percent in general fund appropriations. During the first round of cuts, the system deferred maintenance, tightened up on administrative positions, and enacted a salary freeze. Klaich says that by the most recent round of cuts, the system was forced to close several research centers and terminate programs and professors, including, in some situations, tenured professors.

"We want to first let everyone know that the system is in service to the state and for the state," says Klaich. "We want people to know that the cuts, to this point, have been impactful, have changed the institutions, have changed lives, and have changed the abilities of students to naturally progress toward degrees."

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a graduate of The Ohio State University, isn't ruling out reducing higher ed spending to help with the state's $8 billion budget deficit. Ohio State CFO Geoff Chatas says the $400 million in state funding each year - less than 10 percent of the university's total budget - is "incredibly important" for helping the university grow, and his arguments against reduced spending mirror those of higher ed leaders in other states.

"The university is an economic growth engine for the state of Ohio," he says. "We are one of the largest creators of jobs in the state, we're one of the largest employers, and we touch every part of the state with students from every county."

Beyond pointing out the economic boosts higher ed provides, Washington's Council of Presidents - a coalition of the six four-year baccalaureate degree-granting institutions in the state - is teaming up to present a consistent message to Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislators.

"I think even in these times of very difficult budget discussions with the state, we are trying to say that it's important to get a higher education," says Phyllis Wise, interim president of the University of Washington. Her state is facing a 4.2 percent reduction in higher education spending, as well as salary cuts and pension limits where making up the difference to employees will prove costly to institutions.

-Kristen Domonell

 

Which widely recognized institutions of higher learning come to mind when you think "Big Business"? One may think of world class research universities and nationally ranked business schools like those at Harvard, Stanford, Baylor University (Texas), Babson College (Mass.), or the University of Chicago. Conversely, global economists, political thought leaders, and higher ed futurists are now looking to "small business" as the core accelerator in the emergent global economy.

Did you realize that small businesses represent the preponderance of all business firms in the United States? Indeed, small businesses create three out of four new jobs, and generate more than half of our nation's private, non-agricultural gross domestic product.

So, we offer these several illustrative examples of a new breed of business school - schools focused on the teaching and learning of 21st-century entrepreneurial, small business leadership skills.

Walsh College (Mich.) has transformed the educational attainment and career preparation needs of metropolitan Detroit - despite a cataclysmic decline in the city's biggest business, the automotive industry.

Uniquely, Walsh was born out of the automotive boom, preparing upper and middle management personnel for careers within the automotive industry. In fact, president and CEO Stephanie Bergeron was once a finance executive at General Motors and Chrysler.

Today, Walsh offers small business programs focused on creating and running family businesses and early stage startups, providing educational programs aimed at fostering small and middle business entrepreneurial leadership skills. Walsh's Adams Entrepreneurial Fellowship program pairs students with small and middle business mentors.

One of America's remaining freestanding business colleges, Nichols College (Mass.) has earned its distinctive reputation for over a century by producing small business and middle business entrepreneurs. In the past decade, Nichols has focused particular attention on women and was host to the "Celebrating Women in Business 2010" conference.

Last yet not least, consider Kennesaw State University's (Ga.) Coles College of Business, known for providing students with applied business courses focused in part on small business firms and the succession of family businesses through innovative, small business leadership programs, community-based business outreach, and small business incubation.

It should come as no surprise that business colleges with a special mission in small business entrepreneurship are now preparing the next generation of small business leaders. Institutions like Walsh, Nichols, and Kennesaw State remind us that in our fast-changing economy, business programs focused on small business skills will drive the next generation of entrepreneurs - creating new jobs and new windows of investment, managed risk, and reward.

James Martin and James E. Samels, Future Shock columnists, are authors of Turnaround: Leading Stressed Colleges and Universities to Excellence (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). Martin is a professor of English at Mount Ida College (Mass.), and Samels is president and CEO of The Education Alliance.

The majority of U.S. states have adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The K-12 English and mathematics standards, released in June 2010 by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers, establish clear goals for learning to prepare children for success in college and work. For most states, full implementation is several years away, according to a new Center for Education Policy report. States also lack solid plans to coordinate with higher education on linking admissions requirements or curriculum to the standards.

 

It's not as if the major changes to assessments, curriculum materials, professional development, and teacher evaluation needed for CCSS adoption could be accomplished overnight. For 23 of the 31 states planning to require school districts to implement the standards, full implementation will be in 2013 or later. Yet just seven states have in their plans alignment of first-year undergraduate core curriculum with the standards. And 24 states did not know if undergraduate admissions requirements would be aligned to the standards.

Higher ed policy and practice changes that more states are focused on involve teacher preparation. Seventeen report planning to align academic content of teacher preparation programs with the standards, and 15 report planning to modify pedagogical content of teacher preparation programs.

The hope is the "standards will encourage a seamless system of education from elementary school through college ... is far from being realized," notes Jack Jennings, CEP's president/CEO.

The full report is available online at www.cep-dc.org. -Melissa Ezarik

Anthony P. Monaco

Anthony P. Monaco, a neuroscientist who identified the first gene specifically involved in human speech and language and has utilized human genetics in cancer and autism research, will lead Tufts University (Mass.) beginning this summer. As pro-vice chancellor for planning and resources at the University of Oxford (UK), which he has held since 2007, Monaco oversees academic, capital, and enrollment planning, and budgeting and resource allocation for the institution's 38 colleges. Susan Herbst will put her experience as executive vice chancellor and chief academic affairs officer for the University System of Georgia to use when she takes over as the 15th president, and first female one, of the University of Connecticut in July. Herbst currently leads 15 university presidents and oversees the academic missions for all 35 public universities. After helping put Unity College (Maine) on the map for its focus on sustainability and the environment, Mitchell Thomashow will step down from the president's post held since 2006. He will pursue jobs in the environmental field. Paul Mazur gained the top post at Sussex County Community College (N.J.). Mazur formerly served as vice president for academic and student affairs at SUNY Adirondack Community College (N.Y.) and dean of liberal arts at North Hennepin Community College (Minn.). The Reverend Kevin P. Quinn, executive director of the Ignation Center for Jesuit Education and a professor of law at Santa Clara University (Calif.), has been named president of The University of Scranton (Pa.), to begin in July. Nancy Uscher, provost of the California Institute of the Arts and a classically trained violinist, will lead Cornish College of the Arts (Wash.) as of August. Ralph Hexter, former president of Hampshire College (Mass.), is now provost/executive vice chancellor at the University of California, Davis. Angela L. Walker Franklin will lead Des Moines University (Iowa) beginning in March. Portia Shields has been named Tennessee State University's interim president. She replaces Melvin Johnson who retired on January 1. K.D.

 

Providing support to law students by helping them cope with nonacademics, get involved in activities, and thrive socially is important to students and their success, but law schools could do better in these areas, according to findings from the 2010 Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE). The annual survey, cosponsored by the Association of American Law Schools and The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, measures the time students devote to educationally purposeful activities, perceptions of the law school's learning climate, student satisfaction, and development in personal and professional dimensions.

Students who felt their law schools provided substantial nonacademic support were significantly more likely to report greater gains in the development of a personal code of values and ethics, the ability to work effectively with others, and the acquisition of work- or job-related skills. Less than one-quarter of students believed they had received needed support from their law schools in terms of developing a sense of professional identity and ethics. Links were found between faculty and administrator interaction and gains in these areas - regardless of whether the interactions focused on assignments, classroom experiences, career plans, or unrelated issues. One recommendation is that schools cultivate an atmosphere that facilitates meaningful interaction between students and faculty and administrators. Student-faculty committees and legal research projects with faculty are two examples of interactions in which participating third-year law students reported substantial ethical gains.

Seventy-seven law schools (out of approximately 200 American Bar Association-recognized schools) participated in the 2010 LSSSE. Survey results are available at www.lssse.iub.edu. -M.E.

Built in 1971, the Highland Mall was the first real mall in Austin, Texas. Since then, newer malls with shinier versions of the same stores have opened in more affluent neighborhoods in the city, creating a major decline for the once popular Highland Mall. That's where Austin Community College came in to turn demise into opportunity.

 

Less than a week into 2011, the college announced it had purchased Macy's, one of the last remaining anchor stores in the mall. "It's not a great location for a retail mall anymore, but it's a great location for us," explains Ben Ferrell, executive VP for finance and administration at ACC.

For $5 million, ACC has expanded its property ownership by 13 acres, including 12 acres of parking. In May 2010, the college purchased a Dillard's at the mall for $4 million. Without Macy's, the mall will be 71 percent vacant. Many of the remaining stores in the shopping center are involved in lawsuits trying to break their leases and it could only be a matter of time before ACC owns all the space. "If the price is right and we weren't buying a lot of trouble, then yes, we would be interested in considering additional facilities there," says Ferrell.

The purchase fits into a districtwide facilities master planning effort that has been in the works since 2007.

"The plan in part of that was to do land banking for near- and long-term purposes," says Ferrell. "We kind of keep a scan going on constantly for opportunities because the district has been growing rapidly for a long time."

ACC had 44,000 credit students and about 10,000 continuing ed students enrolled last fall in eight campuses throughout the city.

It will be two to three years before ACC does anything with the Highland Mall buildings, but Ferrell says the college envisions using the space to enhance continuing education and consolidate district administration offices. If the entire property falls into the college's hands, it will be redeveloped into a mixed urban use area, providing a boost for both the college and the community. -K.D.

As colleges and universities promote all aspects of a healthy campus, becoming tobacco free is a logical step. But it's not always easy to get policies in place because of the passion on both sides of the issue. Why not have your efforts officially recognized?

Adrian Shepard, Winona State University's coordinator of integrated wellness, shows off the certification plaque inside Winona State University's new wellness building.

This is the second year The BACCHUS network, a nonprofit that focuses on health and safety issues for college students, has offered the Certification for Tobacco-Free Campus Policy. Five schools applied in the inaugural year, but only two were certified. Interest has grown for this second year, says Ann Quinn-Zobeck, director of education and training. "We've had a lot more inquiries." One issue that may be holding back applicants is policies that exist but aren't documented. Another is exceptions to policies such as designated smoking areas.

Oklahoma State University was certified gold and Winona State University (Minn.) was certified silver last year. Diamond certification is also available.

As with most certification programs, most benefits came from going through the process, says Karen Johnson, dean of students and chair of WSU's tobacco-free committee. Her team met with many departments on campus to gather the information needed for the application, which helped everyone better understand the policies. "And it's credibility, we can say what we're doing is legitimate," she adds. Admissions is using the certification in recruiting. "We weren't sure at first whether being tobacco free would discourage students, but we've found that it's very attractive to many," she says.

Both women agree a broad base of support is needed to go tobacco free. "People have to understand it's not an attack on smokers; it's about health," advises Quinn-Zobeck. "Most people want to quit and these policies help them quit."

Being respectful of both sides when establishing policies will help make the process easier, says Johnson. "This isn't something we're doing to people, it's something we're doing for the entire campus."

Applications are accepted year round, with the annual deadline early in the calendar year. More information is available at www.tobaccofreeU.org. -Ann McClure

By Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa; University of Chicago Press, 2011; 260 pp; $25

 

We probably could have predicted this. Early results are in from the College Learning Assessment and they are not good. The tool, launched in 2009 to test students at the beginning of their freshman year and again at the end of the sophomore year, measures progress in critical thinking skills, complex reasoning, and writing. Sadly, the results revealed little real growth in any of these areas.

The authors of Academically Adrift say the findings are not surprising given that, at least in these two formative years, learning takes a back seat to socializing. But more disturbing is that it exposes what education researcher George Kuh calls a "disengagement compact." That's when faculty let students get by with minimum effort. The research shows that this complaint, often leveled at K-12 teachers, persists in higher education. The result is limited learning by students, and institutions that have drifted away from their primary mission. The authors propose a series of reforms that they believe can help reverse the tide. -Tim Goral

A survey assessing the use and necessity of criminal histories in the admissions process has resulted in a report that states the role of such information should be reconsidered and not used in admissions decisions. The report is based on a comprehensive 59-question survey sent to 273 institutions by the Center for Community Alternatives, in collaboration with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported that their admissions applications require students to disclose their criminal histories.

There has been no concrete link established between having a criminal record and posing a safety threat on campus, and there is an inherent racial discrimination involved in requiring students to provide information on criminal records, the report notes. "What we hope comes from this report is for administrators to recognize the huge disproportionate level of criminal records falling on the African American population," says co-author Alan Rosenthal, who is co-director of justice strategies for the Center for Community Alternatives. Typical deans are not criminologists or sociologists. "They're not expected to have this disparity on the forefront of their minds so it has all these unintended consequences of undermining commitments to diversity," Rosenthal says.

About 20 percent of colleges and universities perform background checks, usually through a private company. Other universities do not require disclosure or only require students seeking admissions to certain programs such as health-related degrees to provide this information.

For institutions that elect to continue using criminal histories on applications, the report highlights a need to modify the way in which this information is ascertained and utilized. Twp suggestions include:

  • removing the criminal justice information disclosure
  • limiting the type of disclosure to felonies within five years of seeking admissions to a college or university and only if the applicant was over age 19.

The researchers found the majority of responding institutions did not have written parameters in place for assessing applicants who have indicated they have a criminal history; 40 percent have trained staff to appropriately evaluate the meaning of the information provided. In addition, only 55 percent of institutions that use this information in the admissions process provide support or supervision for students with criminal records once admitted.

Rosenthal suggests that safety is behind institutions looking into applicants' criminal histories. "One can only suppose their purpose is to make campuses safer," he says. "What they're doing is undermining an overall societal safety. Education does work; the more educated you are, the more likely you are to be employed," she says. And preventing people who have committed crimes from attending college, he adds, creates "a less safe society."

For the full report, visit www.communityalternatives.org. -KeriLee Horan


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