Universities’ business model rapidly evolving
What happened this month at the University of Virginia sent shock waves through academia.
Believing the university should be more aggressive about online instruction, the Virginia boards rector and vice rector – the equivalent of a chair and vice chair – privately approached other board members, saying University President Teresa Sullivan wasnt moving aggressively enough to online education.
Without ever discussing the issue in a public board meeting, the rector asked Sullivan to resign, and she complied.
Outrage followed, both about the decision and the process that led to it. As the controversy grew, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell first said he was staying out of it, then later criticized the boards secrecy, then finally told the board either to resolve the controversy or he would ask them to resign.
Sixteen days after forcing Sullivans resignation, the board hired her back.
The controversy caused some academics to question a general lack of real understanding about universities among the boards of trustees heavily populated by businesspeople and other alumni. Others, though, think the board is right to push for significant changes.
The intense interest in the case shows how much anxiety surrounds the future of higher education – especially the question of whether university leaders are moving too slowly to position their schools for a rapidly changing world, Jeff Selingo, editorial director of The Chronicle for Higher Education, wrote in a column for the New York Times.
There is good reason for the anxiety. Setting aside the specifics of the Virginia drama, university leaders desperately need to transform how colleges do business.
Development carries day for council
The Fort Wayne City Council accepted a dentists offer to trade annexing the planned new location for his practice for a property tax abatement. But dont expect the decision to set a precedent.
Councilmen Tom Smith and Russ Jehl opposed the deal, questioning whether a dentists office is appropriate for a tax break designed to lure jobs and voicing concern that dentist David Painter offered the trade only after the county turned him down for a tax abatement. Mitch Harper supported the annexation but not the abatement, saying property should be in the city before council members start giving tax breaks.
But Tom Didiers plea prevailed: Dont oppose development.