It’s U.S. News rankings time again

U.S. News & WoCover of U.S. News College Rankings guiderld Report released its annual compendium of rankings of undergraduate colleges and universities across the nation last week.  This is usually an eagerly-awaited event at many institutions around the country, and one with which most of us in leadership positions have a love-hate relationship.  On the one hand, we all decry how the process attempts to reduce what are in most cases large, complex, and multi-mission institutions into a single number.  On the other, we all recognize the attention it generates and the potential impact it can have on the decisions of millions of college-going students.

I’ll cut to the chase and the news everyone is most interested in – USF maintained its top 100 position from the prior year, dropping just one spot from tied for #96 last year to tied for #97.  But like the proverbial duck on the surface of the water, this small change masks a lot what is happening below the surface.

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Senator Warren’s college financing proposals

The 2020 campaign for president is already heating up, and the Democratic field includes almost two dozen candidates.  One of them, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, recently unleashed a widely-covered proposal offering “free college” and elimination of student debt for millions of Americans.  In an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, I analyzed why Warren’s proposal is not in the best interests of the nation.

The reasons behind tuition increases

Like many universities, during the spring semester USF announces its tuition and fee rates for the following academic year and sends the announcement to continuing students (as well as the parents of undergraduate students). This year, we received a lot of pushback from students because we had not included information about why tuition was going up next year. A grassroots group of students formed and mounted a protest during our Board of Trustees meeting earlier this month. Our student newspaper, The San Francisco Foghorn, published an op-ed and staff editorial complaining about the lack of transparency. Continue reading “The reasons behind tuition increases”

On Charlottesville, and Squirrel Hill, and . . .

Grave of Rose Mallinger, may her memory be a blessing (NY Times)
Grave of Rose Mallinger, may her memory be a blessing (NY Times)

As so often happens in the digital age, the news came first via an alert on my cell phone. “Shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue, fatalities reported.” I was in Connecticut that Saturday morning, sitting in a hotel room with my wife, getting ready to celebrate my mother’s 97th birthday with my family. The name Tree of Life Synagogue sounded familiar, so I asked my wife if she remembered if that was the synagogue where we had attended the Bat Mitzvahs of the daughters of very close friends of ours some years earlier.
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Public support for higher education is in trouble again (part 1)

This week the Pew Research Center issued a report on the public’s view of higher education in the United States, and the news is not good. The Pew report builds on a similar survey conducted last year, which also found a lack of support for the nation’s colleges and universities.
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More on the Sandusky and Nassar scandals

As a follow-up to my piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education, I was recently a guest on the Navigating Change podcast, where I talked more lessons for college and university leaders from the Sandusky scandal at Penn State University and the Nassar scandal at Michigan State University.

Sandusky, Nassar, and our responsibility as university leaders

I spent much time the last couple of weeks following the sentencing hearing of former Michigan State University professor and doctor Larry Nassar.  I was watching from the perspective of having been associated with now a second university embroiled in a sexual abuse scandal, having worked at Michigan State before coming to USF, and before that, at Penn State University when the Sandusky scandal broke there.  This week I wrote an op-ed in The Chronicle of Higher Education about my experience at these two institutions, and what it tells us about the responsibility of university leaders.

Tax reform that harms graduate students and university employees

The competing House and Senate tax reform bills are large, complex, and often difficult to understand.  The Senate bill, for example, is a 479-page document that was passed early in the morning last Saturday and that included last-minute, hand-written passages as shown to the right.  There are numerous parts of each bill that have a large impact on colleges and universities in the country, as well as their students.  One estimate calculated after the House bill was passed is that if enacted into law, it would cost students and their families $71 billion over the next ten years.  Now that both chambers have passed bills, a conference committee will try to hash out the differences and agree on one bill to be passed by both the House and Senate and sent on to President Trump to be signed into law. Continue reading “Tax reform that harms graduate students and university employees”

Why holding an orientation for black students is the right thing to do

In the heavily-politicized and racially-charged environment in which our nation finds itself today, I suppose it is not surprising that some observers would seize upon a program like the University of San Francisco’s Black Student Orientation and criticize it as promoting segregation, or providing a benefit from which other students are excluded.

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Why DACA matters to USF and the nation

Photo of Attorney General Jeff Sessions
Screen grab from nytimes.com

Earlier this week, under the direction of President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program.  Under his order the approximately 800,000 registered DACA individuals will see their legalized status in this country end in six months, subjecting them to deportation and other administrative actions.  The president encouraged Congress to pass legislation that would provide a permanent legalization of the status of DACA registrants, but only if it did so as part of a comprehensive immigration reform plan – something Congress, whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans, has been unable to do for decades.

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