Colleges Column

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The 2,500 colleges and universities surveyed by the College Board for its 1982-83 handbook reported that they accepted an average of 75 percent of those who applied for admission last year.

Private colleges, traditionally reputed to be more selective than public ones, said they accepted over 60 percent of their applicants, on the average.

Over half of the freshmen accepted by the schools surveyed were in two-year colleges. Over 90 percent of the freshmen in public institutions are in-state students and nearly three out of four live off campus, according to the College Board.

In findings that echo some themes of "effective-schools" research, scholars who are completing a 10-year study of the morale of college and university faculty members say institutions' "leadership style" and the involvement of faculty members in governance matters are more important in keeping their morale high than are salaries or the schools' financial status.

The study, conducted by the Institute of Higher Education at Columbia University's Teachers College, involved surveys of more 5,000 faculty members at 93 institutions, and financial reports from those institutions, covering the decade between 1970 and 1980. While the full analysis of the study's findings will not be available until next spring, preliminary results were reported this month in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

The purchasing power of faculty salaries at the schools surveyed declined 20 percent over the decade, the study found, but faculty morale was less affected by that than by planning and policy changes. And some schools that appeared to be in worse financial shape at the end of the decade also had better staff morale, while some with growing budgets and enrollments showed a decline in morale between 1970 and 1980.

The study also found that:

Faculty members, in general, feel less involved now in policy decisions than they did a decade ago; but at institutions where faculty have been involved, morale is significantly higher.

Faculty morale is especially low at community colleges now; the number of faculty members describing their morale as high has dropped from 65 percent to 41 percent, the largest drop among all faculty members surveyed.

Curriculum changes are increasingly likely to be made on financial, rather than academic, grounds, and innovation is less common now than a decade ago.

While colleges are more sensitive now to the needs of undergraduates and their surrounding communities, they are less likely now to involve students in decisions affecting them.

The commitment of colleges and their students to improving the larger society has declined slightly, in the view of faculty members surveyed.

College seniors face the worst job-hunting conditions in many years, according to experts in the placement field.

The College Placement Council, which annually surveys the campus recruiting activities of businesses, estimates that there will be 9 percent fewer jobs open for liberal-arts graduates, 4 percent fewer for business majors, and a surprising 12 percent fewer for engineering majors--the first decline in entry-level engineering positions since the mid-1970's.

Science and mathematics majors appar-ently will be luckier; the council expects the number of jobs available for them to grow by 3 percent this year.

According to placement officials at several large universities, recruiting visits by companies are down from last year's levels. And salaries offered to those who do land positions, the officials predict, will be up only slightly this year.

Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., is trying to convince its local city council not to impose a tuition tax of $120 on each of its students. The tax, which backers say would be the first such per-capita tax on college students, was proposed by an alderman who argues that the university gets police, fire, and other city services, but pays nothing in return.

Such "town-gown" tensions have arisen in many college communities over the years. Generally, academic officials contend that their surrounding communities gain far more in jobs, economic support, and cultural stimulation because of the presence of the institution than they lose in tax revenues and providing services for it.

But the issue remains a contentious one, and some universities have long since decided to show concern for their communities by making payments "in lieu of taxes" to local governments. Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for instance, last year paid the town of Cambridge, Mass., $500,000 and $670,000, respectively.

The Evanston city council is expected to decide this week whether to send the proposal on to its budget committee.

In Washington State, where both schools and colleges have suffered state budget cuts, the flagship university of the state system has announced it will eliminate 24 degree programs and reduce its enrollment by 5,000 over the next three years.

President William P. Gerberding of the 33,000-student University of Washington said the school must reduce its size and scope permanently.

The university was also reacting to the immediate prospect of a 7-percent cut in state support

About 30 tenured posts will be cut, and faculty members in those jobs will be reassigned or offered early retirement. Among the programs to be eliminated are urban planning, Near Eastern languages, kinesiology, nutrition, children's drama, textiles, art and music education, business education, and dance.

The quality of graduate programs in nine disciplines in the humanities has been rated in the second of five volumes that will cover 26 different scholarly fields overall. The analysis, conducted by a high-level consortium of research groups, ranked Ivy League schools and some major state universities as consistently above average in their programs in modern and classical languages, philosophy, art history, and music.

Among the humanities high-scorers are the University of California at Berkeley, Princeton, Yale, the University of Michigan, Columbia, Cornell, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The report, An Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States: Humanities, is available for $10.50 from the National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036.

Vol. 02, Issue 11

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