Colleges Column

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Colleges and universities, like schools, have been struggling in recent years with what a new report calls "the ever-increasing role of outside agencies in campus matters."

That situation "is gradually wearing down internal governance structures," says the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, which developed the report. As internal leadership is diminished, the foundation warns, power and initiative in directing the academic enterprise "flow even more rapidly to bureaucracies outside" educational institutions.

One villain, according to the report, is accreditation. The process of evaluating the quality of collegiate programs has lost credibility, says the foundation, because standards are not objective and because specialized agencies accrediting professional training activities are used "not to protect the public and promote excellence but to gain leverage in the competition for limited resources."

The report also argues that the most important governance issue of the future will be "the connection of higher education to the corporate world.

Copies of the report, The Control of the Campus, will be available in November from the Princeton University Press, 3175 Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville, N.J. 08648. The cost is $6.95.

On a recent Sunday, 20 college and university presidents held a highly unusual meeting in Washington to draft a proposal to tighten the academic-standards rules governing the participation of students in intercollegiate athletics.

The chief executives, representing most of the ranking "football powers" in the nation, agreed on tighter eligibility requirements for freshmen and stricter standards for the "academic progress" of student athletes. The presidents, who have often expressed embarrassment over the negative publicity generated by practices in big-time college sports programs, also want to have a stronger voice in the policymaking of the powerful National Collegiate Athletic Association.

A private publisher has announced it will take on a job the federal Education Department failed to obtain funds for this year: a directory of colleges and universities.

The Office of Management and Budget rejected the request of the National Center for Education Statistics to compile the annual listing, which has in the past included institutions' names, addresses, phone numbers, accreditation, enrollment, tuition rates, and administrators' names.

Higher Education Publications, the newly formed corporation that plans to undertake the job, will send out questionnaires to update the information in the government's most recent directory, for 1981-82. A spokesman said the new volume should be ready January 1. It will be about 500 pages long and cost $20.

An nces. official said the agency's other higher-education surveys will be carried out as usual this year.

The University of Pennsylvania plans to close its School of Public and Urban Policy because of declining enrollment and financial problems, President Sheldon Hackney has announced.

He said the 160 students currently enrolled would be able to complete their programs and the seven faculty members employed in the school would be transferred to other academic departments.

A small private college in Florida that last January announced it would lower tuition for this year by 10 percent says it has nearly twice as many freshmen this fall as it had a year ago. The total enrollment at Biscayne College, its officials report, is up 52 percent, to 1,175 students. And tuition revenue, they say, is up by 8 percent, despite the lowering of last year's $3,700 cost.

More faculty members are choosing early retirement, according to Thomas Edwards, chairman of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Assocation, the nonprofit pension plan to which many college faculty members belong. In a speech late this summer to the National Association of College and University Business Officers, he cited the following statistics:

"In 1981, some 10,000 [faculty members] over age 55 started their annuity incomes. About half of them [47 percent] started at ages 64 to 66. And 30 percent started their incomes before age 64. This leaves only 23 percent starting benefits at the older ages; down from 28 percent five years ago."

Several higher-education professional groups have collaborated to produce the most comprehensive assessment since 1970 of the quality of doctoral programs leading to careers in research at colleges and universities across the country. To be published in five volumes, the analysis covers 2,700 graduate programs in 32 disciplines at 228 universities--a group that collectively trains 90 percent of the Ph.D. candidates in those fields each year. The assessments involve 16 different measures, including program size, characteristics of graduates, library size, research support, and publication records, according to the sponsors.

The studies have provoked debate in the academic community. Some participants at the annual meeting of the Association of Graduate Schools this month said the measures of a program's "reputation" were flawed; others contended that any analysis of the kind could be charged with weaknesses and that the work represents the best available assessment techniques.

The first volume, on mathematics and physical sciences, is finished and may be purchased from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W., Washington, D.C., for $10.50. Supported by several foundations, the studies are the work of the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Council on Education, the National Research Council, and the Social Science Research Council.--mm

Vol. 02, Issue 07

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