Increased scrutiny for higher ed

By Gene Budig and Alan Heaps

As another academic year draws to a close, higher education is facing increasing criticism and scrutiny.

Seemingly, little progress has been made in long-standing areas of concern.

— Higher education is unaffordable for many. Over the last 20 years, average tuition and fees have increased by 170 percent at private universities and by 296 percent at public universities.

— Too few who enroll finish. Six-year graduation rates are 58 percent for public four-year colleges and 65 percent for private four-year colleges.

— For many, quality of education is not what it should be. Only 36 percent of the public and only one third of business leaders believe that college graduates are prepared for workplace success at their businesses.

And over the last several years, new serious criticisms have arisen, two of which have received much media coverage and public attention.

One involves sexual assault and harassment, an epidemic too often ignored or mishandled. A recent survey reports that one in five young women in college says they have been sexually violated.

The other involves race. Racial incidents, administrative responses and accusations of institutions turning a blind eye to their histories have rocked campuses. In turn, these have led to further clashes about political correctness and freedom of speech.

These criticisms — both old and new — need effective responses that go beyond rhetoric and public relations. The problems must be confronted, then solved in a timely and efficient manner.

Bottom line is that higher education needs to get its act together. But it is important that we not demonize its institutions or its people.

The anger and frustration caused by America’s deep political and cultural rifts too often lead to gross oversimplifications and generalizations. Immigrants are criminals. Muslims are terrorists. Corporations only benefit the rich. Government is incompetent. Conservatives are indifferent to the poor. Liberals believe in a welfare state.

The criticisms of higher education are legitimate, but it, like the larger world, cannot be labeled as simply good or bad.

Much great work is taking place in higher education. Colleges and universities are also engines of equality, bearer of high standards and centers of intellectual and artistic excellence and innovation.

Twenty million students are in higher education; three million graduate every year; the number of students of all races and income levels has increased significantly; more than a million foreign students come to study here every year; 35 of the world’s top 50 universities are American; and the diversity of our system gives opportunities to students of all kinds.

So what must higher education do as it moves into the future?

The answers are complex because of the variety of institutions, but some basic rules can be set.

Higher education must more publicly acknowledge its weaknesses and take a more visible role in suggesting and implementing solutions.

Higher education must develop stronger ties to other institutions that are working to solve society’s problems.

Higher education must define its goals and willingly be held accountable.

Higher education must adjust in providing more specialty elementary and secondary teachers to rural America.

Higher education must have more creative and cooperative programs with progressive community colleges. And there are others.

It is time for all of our great institutions to acknowledge their responsibilities and join in swift action.

Gene A. Budig — chairman of The News-Gazette Inc.’s board — is the former president of Illinois State and West Virginia universities and former chancellor of the University of Kansas. He was also past president of baseball’s American League. Alan Heaps is a former vice president of the College Board in New York City.

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Increased scrutiny for higher ed

Saint Xavier University cites uncertain Illinois funding in closing Gilbert campus

GILBERT, AZ – A Chicago-based Catholic university says uncertainty with state funding for higher education aid is responsible for its decision to phase out its operation in the southeast Valley.

Karla Thomas, Executive Director of Media Relations for Saint Xavier University, said 1,600 of the 4,000 total students enrolled require funding through the state of Illinois’ Monetary Assistance Program , which gives financial aid to Illinois residents for postsecondary education. 

In a letter the university sent to those attending classes through the campus near N. Gilbert and W. Elliot roads, interim Provost Kathleen Alaimo said the decision to close the Arizona location was made because of the school’s "responsibility to the entire Saint Xavier community."

The email also said programs scheduled for the summer and fall of 2016 would continue as scheduled. The school’s associate provost for advising and dean of graduate and continuing education will travel to campus for meetings with students on May 31 and June 1, according to the email.

Students taking Saint Xavier classes online would not be impacted by the decision to close, Thomas said. An online breakdown on the university’s website did not specify how many of its total students attended through the Gilbert location.

Higher education funding is one of several issues under heated debate as Illinois lawmakers work to meet an August deadline to pass a state budget. Last month, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a bill authorizing an emergency $600 million  in short-term funding for postsecondary education.

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Saint Xavier University cites uncertain Illinois funding in closing Gilbert campus

Program offers courses, college credit to Illinois inmates

(AP) — A college-in-prison program through the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is offering academic … business and history that can be transferred to four-year schools when students are released. College credits have been obtained by more …

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Program offers courses, college credit to Illinois inmates

New U of Illinois contract gives non-tenured faculty raises

URBANA, Ill. — A new labor contract between the University of Illinois and faculty members who aren’t on a tenure track provides retroactive merit raises, higher minimum salaries and academic freedom protections.

The union and the university announced the agreement in April, after members held two short strikes.

The (Champaign) News-Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1TLtnVw ) the minimum salary will increase from $40,000 to $43,000 in 2017 for a full-time, non-visiting specialized faculty member with a nine month appointment. That amount will rise to $45,000 in 2018.

Members also will be eligible for merit-based raises provided in a 2.5 percent campus salary program announced in 2014. Departments decide the size of the raises.

The contract is the first for the union, which has about 500 instructors, researchers and other faculty who typically work on one-year contracts.

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New U of Illinois contract gives non-tenured faculty raises

UI’s entrepreneurship degree may be first in country – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

UI’s entrepreneurship degree may be first in country
Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette
Even if he winds up at a large corporation, Stoehr said it will help him understand the entire operation, from research to product testing to marketing. "If you just sit behind a computer the whole day, you’re not going to have good communication skills.

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UI’s entrepreneurship degree may be first in country – Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette

Illinois Community College VP Named New Walters State Community College President – Greeneville Sun


Greeneville Sun

Illinois Community College VP Named New Walters State Community College President
Greeneville Sun
Miksa earned a doctorate of education degree in Community College Leadership from National Louis University in Chicago, a master’s degree in mathematics at University of Northern Iowa, a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Mount Mercy College, and …

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Illinois Community College VP Named New Walters State Community College President – Greeneville Sun