Monday, November 29, 2010

Restructuring at UCLA

Bob Samuels has an interesting post up on the Changing Universities blog about the key components of the restructuring plan at UCLA. Some of it will sound familiar to well-informed people at the U. There's not much for students to like in the plan, leading Samuels to conclude: "Currently, undergraduate students subsidize virtually everything universities do, and it is time for schools to recognize this by making sure that vital undergraduate programs are supported."

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Kaler on Midday

Kaler appeared on Midday on November 24. For those who attended the public forum, there's not much new in the interview, but he fielded a lot of questions, so definitely worth a listen.

Big bucks for the new prez

At the public forum a couple of weeks ago, Dr. Kaler announced that he would endeavor to shift money from administration to instruction. His first act as president-to-be, accepting a salary of $610K, does not bode well for accomplishing this goal. At a time of belt-tightening at the U, he could have sent a positive signal by putting his money where his mouth is, thereby earning the respect and admiration of many students, staff, and faculty. (Note: this amounts to an increase of more than $150K over President Bruininks's salary, and he is one of the highest-paid public university presidents in the nation.) Students interviewed by KSTP were astonished. Apparently the reporter couldn't find any faculty willing to comment. Kaler defended the salary, calling it "appropriate" for the job.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Video from Kaler's visit... now up on the U's website. You can view the public forum and the interview with the Regents.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

More coverage of Kaler

From the Pioneer Press, MPR's On Campus blog, the STRIB, MPR's Minn Econ blog, and MPR's Tim Post. Today's public forum was well attended.

Protests at UC Regents meeting

Things got ugly today...lots of footage of campus cops pepper spraying students.

A Faustian Bargain

A scientist smacks down the prez of SUNY-Albany. Petsko's letter is long, but since it is also bold, clever, and funny, worth taking the time to read.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's official...

...Stanley Fish is an idiot. He fully embraces the argument made by a couple of raving lunatics--economists/administrators from William & Mary--that new technologies in the classroom are to blame for skyrocketing tuition.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Some background on Kaler's tenure at SUNY/Stony Brook

Eric Kaler is the lone finalist for the presidential post at the University of Minnesota. Before we knew that Kaler was the candidate, FRPE prepared a list of questions, published in the Minnesota Post on Friday. Now that we know Kaler is the finalist, we think that it might be useful to have a bit of context about developments at Stony Brook during Kaler's tenure as Provost. We think that this information might prove useful in generating additional questions for Kaler at next week's public forum.

1. The Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act (PHEEIA): SUNY has low tuition rates and tuition is set by the state legislature. The state has on occasion raided SUNY to balance the state's budget. PHEEIA is an attempt to give SUNY more autonomy from the stage legislature. Campuses would set tuition and revenues generated by SUNY would remain in SUNY. Campuses could raise tuition 6-10% per year and could institute variable tuition across majors. PHEEIA would facilitate "public-private partnerships" by untying the hands of campus administrators to do things like lease land and form joint ventures without approval of the legislature (but subject to approval by a newly chartered State University Asset Maximization Review Board). PHEEIA was not passed by the the state legislature this year. The Faculty Senate passed a qualified resolution supporting PHEEIA, and undergraduate and graduate student organizations also supported it. The union, however, opposed PHEEIA, noting that it would result in the privatization of SUNY, reduce access, and result in educational apartheid (because poor students would attend campuses and degree programs with lower tuition--these would be the less prestigious campuses and programs with lower earning potential). "President Stanley, Chancellor Zimpher, and Provost Kaler have all been lobbying tirelessly in support of PHEEIA."

2. Closing of the Southampton campus: Stony Brook acquired the Southampton campus in 2005, purchasing it for $35m. Since then, $43m was invested in the campus. Facing drastic budget cuts, the new President of Stony Brook decided to close the campus earlier this year without consultation with students (and apparently faculty) and in violation of state education law. The rationale for closing the campus was that it was losing money. Critics of the campus closure dispute this claim, arguing that the main campus wanted to cannibalize Southampton's state allocation and use the scenic campus to pursue lucrative revenue generating opportunities with the private sector (in anticipation of the passage of PHEEIA). Kaler co-chairs the committee tasked with “re-purposing” the Southampton campus. Even assuming that the closure of the campus was necessary for budgetary purposes, the closure of the campus raises two troubling issues. The first is the lack of consultation with those affected by the closure and failure to follow state law. The second is flushing $78m down the toilet in five years. The purchase of Southampton occurred before Kaler arrived at Stony Brook, but it's scandalous that the University invested that much money only to walk away a few years later. It would be good to know what Kaler has learned from this fiasco, specifically: 1) what factors would he take into account in making decisions about major new investments that add to recurring costs (in times of very tight fiscal constraints in which major new investments may require cuts in existing programs), and 2) the role of members of the university community in making difficult decisions about restructuring.

3. The Office of the Provost webpage at Stony Brook provides very little information about his activities as Provost. The links for reports are broken and there aren't any statements that indicate his priorities or vision as Provost. (For example, there's nothing like Sullivan's "academic update" there--we made fun of this update, but the virtue of having these documents is that we have a record of what the Provost stands for.) In other words, based on Kaler's public statements and the available documentation on the Stony Brook website, it's hard to tease out what motivates him and what his vision for Minnesota might be. We urge people to make inquiries to colleagues at Stony Brook and to share useful information with us.

4. Administrator salaries: Kaler earned $347,395 in 2009. What is his stance about administrative bloat and high salaries for administrators? (The Prez at Stony Brook has a total compensation package of $650K.)

Some questions for Dr. Kaler

This week FRPE published a letter containing 10 questions for the presidential finalists in the Minnesota Post. Check it out here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

*The* finalist

As we anticipated, the Regents have named a single finalist for the presidential post at the University of Minnesota. The finalist is Eric W. Kaler, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Vice President for Brookhaven Affairs at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, New York. The university community will therefore not have the opportunity to vet an array of candidates presenting distinct visions for our institution. A public forum will be held on Wednesday, November 17, 2010, 4:00 - 5:15 p.m, in Coffman Memorial Union Theater. Although it looks like a fait accompli, we encourage people to participate in the process. The Daily has a good story on the search and Kaler talked to MPR this afternoon. (He pledged his devotion to athletics and while backing away from the top three pipe dream, he voiced aspirations for Minnesota to rival Michigan, UVA, and UNC in the rankings.) You can also hear his thoughts about innovations in education here. Cuts at SUNY have been brutal, even deeper than at Minnesota. We're trying to find out more about Kaler...if you have colleagues at Stony Brook, please make inquiries and let us know what you find out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Big bucks for MNSCU administrators

MNSCU is laying off people and freezing salaries but there's still enough dough to hand out over $400K in bonuses to administrators. Reality check?

FSU layoffs of tenured faculty rescinded by arbitrator

Two things worth noting in this story. First, the union contract forced arbitration. Second, the firing of non-tenured faculty was not rescinded. Also see Inside Higher Ed's coverage here.