30 October 2001

Copyright © 2001 World Expertise LLC – All rights reserved

A periodic electronic newsletter for engineering education leaders,

edited by Russel C. Jones, PhD., P.E.


International developments

A British agency set up to review university programs, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, has been heavily criticized by educational institutions there, according to an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by David Cohen. Created in 1997, the QAA has a goal of reviewing the quality of colleges and individual departments – as an outside, independent government body. University officials have complained about the bureaucratic burden placed on them by the agency in terms of time, paperwork, and manpower demands required of those being inspected. They also complain that the highly centralized team of inspectors of QAA takes no account of the different types of institutions. Criticism of the agency and efforts to curb its power have reached such a pitch that it’s  chief executive resigned in August. See

The European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) conducted a workshop in Paris in early October on the impact of the Bologna Declaration on Engineering Education. Introductory presentations outlined the general context of the Bologna Declaration and its implementation towards engineering education. Then three workshops were conducted: facilitating the mutual recognition of diplomas; facilitating the mobility of engineering students in the European area; and encouraging cooperation between engineering education institutions. The workshop program, speeches, and conclusions are available at

The Central European University, a graduate institution in Budapest created 10 years ago by Hungarian-born philanthropist George Soros, is receiving an additional $250-million endowment from him. According to an article in the Chronicle by Burton Bollag, the gift is the largest ever to a European institution of higher learning. In announcing the gift, Soros said that there was an urgent need for a permanent institution to educate new generations of leaders to guide the emerging democracies of the world. In addition to the newly pledged $250-million, Soros has spent an equal amount running the university for the last 10 years. See

The US Department of Education is supporting two projects to benefit Pacific Rim countries in the use of technology in education, according to an article by Dan Carnevale in the Chronicle. One project is to create an online bank of ‘best practices’ information for using technology in education. The other is to support a program that will help educators use the Internet to teach students a second language, with initial emphasis on English, Chinese, and Spanish. The US Education Department will spend $600,000 on the projects, with the remainder of the $2-million total cost expected to come from other APEC countries and computer companies. See

Russian nuclear scientists may soon find themselves writing commercial software in an effort to keep their weapons expertise from falling into the wrong hands, according to an article by Robert Koenig in the 12 October 2001 issue of Science. The arrangement, to be funded by a $500,000 grant from the US Department of Energy’s Initiatives for Proliferation Prevention program, may herald other initiatives aimed at blocking weapons proliferation in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks. A partnership of Russian and US companies will take the lead in retraining the scientists. See

Overseas workers are being employed by US institutions to help put texts online, according to an article in the Chronicle by Elizabeth Farrell and Florence Olsen. Large digitizing projects by libraries in the US have saved substantial money by using companies that subcontract the bulk of their labor-intensive work to vendors in countries such as Barbados, India and Mexico. The work involves using scanning devices and optical character recognition software, then checking texts against originals to correct errors. Most librarians support sending digitizing jobs overseas because it lowers their costs and thus allows them to put more scholarly texts on line. But some critics are concerned that the same fair labor issues that have confronted overseas apparel manufacturers may be of concern here too. See

Emigration of academics from African universities is one of the greatest obstacles to the continent’s development, according to a report prepared to help plan the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in September 2002. As reported in the Chronicle by Wachira Kigotho, the report states that Africa has lost one-third of its skilled professionals in recent decades. About 23,000 qualified academic professionals leave the continent each year, with Egypt, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa losing the most. That brain drain has strangled and delayed economic growth and nurtured poverty. Some professors leave due to persecution because of their views, while others leave because of lack of support for them and for their institutions. See

The editor of this Digest has just returned from East Africa, where he served as a resource person to a regional meeting designed to assist local engineering educators in improving their education and research programs. The regional meeting, held in Tanzania and sponsored by the research arm of the Swedish international development agency – Sida/SAREC, included engineering school leaders and faculty from Mozambique, Uganda, and Zimbabwe as well as from the host country of Tanzania. The three-day meeting focused on developing cooperative research among the engineering schools in the region, with the promise that substantial funding will be provided by Sida/SAREC. Such research will assist the engineering schools in the region in developing and sustaining their own graduate programs, lessening the need to send students abroad for graduate education.

US developments

As part of the war on terrorism, legislation giving authorities more power to view student’s personal records has worked its way through Congress. According to articles in the Chronicle by Sara Hebel and Ron Southwick, college lobbyists have succeeded in getting earlier draft legislation modified to better protect student privacy rights. The new provisions limit those who can request confidential student records, require those officials to get a judge’s permission to view the records, and add legal protections for institutions who turn over the records. See and

Congress has enacted, and the President has signed, the ‘Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001’. A summary of the provisions of that Act that impact higher education has been prepared for the American Council on Education by the law firm of Hogan and Hartson LLP. Provisions of the Act amend earlier privacy of student records legislation, call for more monitoring of foreign students, require selected disclosure of electronic communications and records, allow Internet and other electronic surveillance, and provide penalties for mishandling of biological agents and toxins. The Hogan and Hartson summary can be viewed at the ACE web site:

Dissenters on US college campuses are finding less tolerance of discord following the 11 September terrorist attacks, according to an article in the 30 October 2001 Washington Post by Michael Fletcher. A growing number of professors and other college staff members  are facing censure for making controversial comments or taking visibly symbolic positions in either strong support or opposition to US policy in the sensitive atmosphere that has prevailed since the attacks. The tradeoffs between academic freedom, the role of faculty in stimulating broad student discussion, and appropriate classroom comportment are being stressed. See

President Bush has announced his choice for the Department of Education’s top higher education policymaking post, according to an article by Stephen Burd in the Chronicle. Sally Stroup, a former Republican Congressional aide with expertise in financial aid for students, has been selected to be the department’s assistant secretary for postsecondary education. Ms. Stroup, currently the chief Washington lobbyist for the University of Phoenix, has been hailed by higher education officials as having the right background and analytical skills to do the job. See

The National Science Foundation has appointed a new Acting Director for the Engineering Directorate, as of 15 September 2001. Dr. Esin Gulari was formerly head of the Engineering Directorate’s Chemical and Transport Systems Division, and previously served as Department Chair of Chemical Engineering at Wayne State University. Dr Gulari earned her Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1966. The previous acting director of the Engineering Directorate, Dr. Louis Martin-Vega, has moved to the University of South Florida as Dean of Engineering. See “ASEE Action” electronic newsletter, November 2001.

House Science Chairman Boehlert has announced that he will introduce a cyber-terrorism bill aimed at improving government coordination, redirecting research and development lines, and determining how much spending is needed. Boehlert has asked National Academy of Engineering President William Wulf to lead a group of academic and private sector experts to give advice on computer security and needed R&D funding levels. Wulf recently appeared before the Science Committee, testifying that long-term research and development on computer security is sorely lacking. For more information see

A ‘Tech Talent Bill’ originally scheduled for introduction on 11 September has now been introduced in both the House and the Senate. The bill aims to address the need for more science, engineering and technology program graduates through a competitive grant program at the National Science Foundation. It is intended to reward colleges and universities, which pledge to increase the number of US citizens and permanent residents obtaining degrees in science, mathematics, engineering and technology fields. The pilot program would award three-year grants, with initial funding of $25-million in FY 2002. See “ASEE Action” electronic newsletter, November 2001.

Cal Tech will receive $600-million from Gordon Moore, co-founder of the Intel Corporation, and his wife. According to an article in the 29 October 2001 Wall Street Journal by David Bank, the donation is the largest ever given to a university. Half of the funds will be contributed by the Moores directly, with no restrictions placed on their use. The other half will flow from a new foundation established by the Moores, with direction that the funds be utilized to support improvements in science education for minority students and instruction in information technology, among other initiatives. See

Distance education

The University of Ulster has created an online portal that makes all of its e-learning courses broadly available, according to a note by Doug Payne in the Chronicle. The portal, called Campus One, was developed in association with academic partners in the US and in Hong Kong. The program currently has 1100 students enrolled, and it hopes to add at least 1000 US students in the near future – starting with nursing and allied-health students. See

The Chinese government is offering to sell a software package for online education that was developed by Hunan University, according to a note in the Chronicle by Jen Lin-Liu. The multimedia software package was created for China’s first online university project in 1998, and is now being used by as many as 45 universities in China, serving more than 50,000 students. Asking price for the software package is $9.67-million. See

Cornell University’s for profit distance education company, eCornell, is ramping up for a November 1st grand opening of its online courses – initially from the School of Industrial and Labor Relations. First offerings will be six courses in a program leading to a certificate in human resources management. Expectations for profit are high, because initial offerings are in a niche where the School currently earns $20-millon annually in certification courses. The eCornell efforts will concentrate on noncredit courses for the next few years and the program will then decide whether to also supply for-credit courses. See

Major telecourse providers in the US have announced that they plan to deliver some of their course videos over the Internet starting in January 2002, according to an article by Jeffrey Young in the Chronicle. The streaming-telecourse project will involve three non-profit groups that produce documentary type telecourses: Coast Learning Systems, Dallas TeleLearning, and Intelecom. The groups plan to have 31 telecourses ready to offer online by January, in time for the spring semester. Students will need broadband Internet connections (cable modems, DSL or high-speed corporate or academic networks) to view the courses; dial-up modems are not fast enough to handle the high-resolution video. See

Information technology

Colleges are struggling to provide network bandwidth demanded by faculty and students, according to an article in the Chronicle by Florence Olsen. Campus computing officials see demand rising sharply with no end in sight. Some colleges have sufficient current bandwidth on their campus networks to allow students to download such items as 20-megabyte lecture videos. Bandwidth consumption in dormitories has become an expensive problem on some campuses, prompting some institutions to consider ways to charge students for what administrators consider excessive use of the network. Some administrators whose systems have a top speed 1-gigabit Ethernet today see that a year from now they will be expected to provide the next standard – a 10-gigabit Ethernet. See Also see a companion article by Michael Arnone on how colleges are trying to keep bandwidth costs under control, at

The National Science Foundation has awarded high performance network connections to 22 additional institutions, bringing to 221 the number of institutions with NSF awarded connections to high-speed networks. According to a note in the Chronicle by Michael Blasenstein, the awards average $150,000 each, and will be matched by funds from the institutions. See for a list of the new institutions. For more information on the advanced networking efforts of NSF see

The three top providers of course-management software – Blackboard, eCollege, and WebCT – will see their first profits next year, according to a note in the Chronicle by Michael Arnone. Consolidation in the industry – where many companies have either merged or folded completely – has led to profitability for a few top companies that have a critical mass of market share. See

Colleges are experimenting with routing on-campus calls over the Internet, according to an article by Florence Olsen in the Chronicle. Bandwidth demands for phone calls are not high, but colleges do worry about downtime – where they would lose both e-mail and phone service if the IP network goes down. At institutions that offer IP phone service, it usually is confined to the campus. Phone service is different from file sharing and web surfing, which are not time sensitive; delayed or missing packets of information degrade the sound quality. See

Students, faculty, education

The November 2001 issue of ASEE Prism includes a major article by Nancy Shute on the MIT effort at opening its courses up to the world by posting them on a web site. The ‘OpenCourseWare’ experiment in education will make its course information available to engineering educators and engineers around the world. It is not distance education, so people will not be able to take courses or earn MIT degrees over the Internet. The first materials will go online in a year, with the entire project estimated to take a decade. See

Also in the November 2001 issue of ASEE Prism is an interesting article by Margaret Mannix on dual-career academic couples. The dilemma of dual-career couples has grown in recent years – where one spouse gets a job offer at a distant institution, but the other does not. Fortunately, a growing number of colleges are addressing the dual-career couple issue.  In a recent survey, 80% of colleges said that they would do something to assist a new hire’s spouse or partner in finding employment. About a quarter of the 360 deans surveyed said that their institutions had a written policy on the matter. Academic institutions have become more sensitive to this issue through enlightened self-interest – the stimulus being recruitment and retention of the best faculty. See

More colleges are offering orientation programs for new department chairs, according to an article by Piper Fogg in the Chronicle. Universities are recognizing that in order to succeed, faculty members who are becoming chairs need to know what they are getting into – and to be trained to cope with the responsibilities. A chair must be a manager and a leader as well as a scholar and teacher – and in particular must distribute resources in an equitable and effective way. Training sessions for new chairs may cover legal issues, budgeting, relationships with faculty members, promotion and tenure policies, faculty evaluations, and strategies for conflict resolution. See

A recent study indicates that colleges have cut the percentage of full-time faculty members, according to a note in the Chronicle by Piper Fogg. The study, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics of the US Department of Education, indicates that part-time faculty members made up 43% of the faculties of colleges and universities in 1998 – a 1% rise from the previous year. But over a longer period, the shift from full-time to part-time faculty is more pronounced, with 40% of all institutions reducing the full-time portion over the period 1993 to 1998. According to the study, part-time faculty taught 27% of undergraduate courses during those years. See

The academic community in the US has been undergoing dramatic changes in its demography in recent years, according to an article in the October 2001 issue of AAHE Bulletin by Martin Finkelstein and Jack Schuster. One measure of the change is that full one-third of full time faculty were in their first seven years in 1992, and that in 1998 the proportion of new entrants was 22.4%. Another measure is diversity – where the percentage of native-born white males in full-time faculty positions has dropped from 43% in 1992 to 36% in 1998. Another important statistic is the percentage of full-time faculty holding ‘regular’ tenure or tenure-track appointments – down from 83% in 1992 to 67% in 1998. With a substantial portion of currently employed faculty members nearing retirement, with the pervasive growth of instructional technology, and changing accreditation standards, dramatic changes in the faculty are expected to continue, See

Tuition increases at public and private colleges are the largest in years, according to a survey reported in the Chronicle by Andrew Brownstein. Triggered by an economic downturn that has squeezed state support for higher education, public colleges raised tuition this year at the highest rates since 1993. Private colleges sustained more moderate increases, but typically further above the rate of inflation than in recent years. Private college tuitions are up 5.5%, while public college tuitions are up 7.7% -- nearly triple the rate of inflation. At the same time, financial aid patterns are unfavorable for students – loans constitute 58% of all student aid this year, compared with 41% in 1980. See

The SAT is under attack due to social, legal and demographic forces, according to a major article in the Chronicle  by Ben Gose and Jeffrey Selingo. Critics argue that the test discriminates against female and minority students. They also argue that it measures intelligence, not a mastery of learning – and as such is not a good predictor of success in mastering a college curriculum. Many colleges are downplaying the weight that SAT scores play in admission processes, or discarding the test entirely. At this time, however, alternate measures are embryonic, too expensive, or lacking in political support – so the SAT continues to thrive. The SAT test has two parts, verbal and mathematics. Some educators feel that the SAT II test (in writing, math, and a subject of the student’s choice) is a better predictor of how well high school graduates will do in college. See and a companion article on the SAT II test by Dana Mulhauser at


Rita Colwell, director of the National Science Foundation, sees equity and access as major technology issues, according to an interview by Dan Carnevale in the Chronicle. Under her leadership, NSF is focused on using new technologies to enrich courses and update curricula – and to remove barriers for women, minorities, and people with disabilities. NSF is developing a National Digital Library as a national Internet-based learning tool for students. That project links students, teachers, and faculty in virtual learning communities – including providing databases that students can explore on their own. NSF tries to be a paradigm setter, developing models which schools can scale up. See

A study of New England colleges finds no lowering of standards to increase minority enrollments, according to an article in the Chronicle by Peter Schmidt. A report commissioned by the Nellie Mae Educational Foundation says that its findings lend support to the use of affirmative action in college admissions in two ways: they debunk the perception that colleges lower the bar in admitting minority students to diversify campus enrollments, and they show that colleges that admit minority students at higher rates than similarly qualified white students are not alone in such efforts. The evidence shows that colleges in New England have a commitment to enroll diverse student bodies, and that they are not lowering their standards to meet those goals. See

Female college presidents earn less and face more challenges that male peers, according to a report described by Julianne Basinger in the Chronicle. The report by the American Council on Education states that women presidents face boards unaccustomed to dealing with women in power, and community expectations for presidential spouses, that men in such jobs do not face. Nearly 20% of the nation’s college presidents are women, with their numbers having doubled in the past decade. Still problems persist – often starting in the search process, where a board generally has a women in the finalist pool, but often passes her over in the final cut. If a woman is hired, members of boards and communities must think about issues regarding gender that they have not had to consider before. See . Copies of the report are available for $15 by calling (202) 939 – 9390.


The September 2001 issue of the European Journal of Engineering Education contains several papers on Recognition and Accreditation of Higher Engineering Education, in a section edited by Giuliano Augusti. Papers describe accreditation systems in Europe, in Canada, in Turkey and in Japan. The issue also contains several unrelated papers. See

The Fall 2001 issue of Issues in Science and Technology features a section on “What’s New About the New Economy”. Papers on that theme cover US economic growth in the information age, talent and US competitiveness, and the Advanced Technology Program. There are also several unrelated papers, including one on striking a new deal on climate change. See

The November 2001 issue of World Press Review is devoted entirely to “After September 11: A New Worldview”. It contains some 40 press clippings on the events of September 11th from newspapers around the world, providing initial reactions from a variety of political positions. The issue also contains some 30 ‘Reflections on a Day of Terror’ from newspapers around the world, providing more thoughtful perspectives after the initial shock of the events of September 11th had sunk in. See

Positions of possible interest

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Ø      California State University at Northridge, Dean of Engineering and Computer Science, 10/12/01

Ø      San Diego State University, Dean of Engineering, 10/16/01

Ø      Georgia Institute of Technology, Dean of Engineering, 10/22/01

Ø      Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Head, Department of Civil Engineering, 10/26/01

Ø      Northern Illinois University, Chair, Electrical Engineering, 10/12/01

Ø      Bucknell University, Dean of Engineering, 10/12/01

Ø      Pennsylvania State University at University Park, Department Head, Civil and Environmental Engineering, 10/19/01

Ø      University of Virginia, Department Head, Civil Engineering, 10/16/01

Ø      University of Maine System, Chancellor, 10/12/01

Ø      University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Chancellor, 10/5/01

Ø      Adelaide University, Australia, Vice Chancellor and President, 10/12/01

Ø      Florida Institute of Technology, President, 10/2/01

Ø      University of Louisiana at Monroe, President, 9/14/01

Ø      CUNY Queens College, President, 10/12/01

Ø      DeVry Institute of Technology, President, 10/12/01

Ø      Texas A&M University at Kingsville, President, 10/12/01

Ø      Washington and Lee University, President, 10/5/01

Ø      Arkansas Technical University, VPAA, 10/19/01

Ø      University of Maryland at College Park, VP Research and Dean of the Graduate School, 10/19/01

Ø      University of Massachusetts at Boston, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 10/26/01

Ø      University of Nebraska, Executive VP and Provost, 10/12/01

Ø      Temple University, VP for Research and Dean of the Graduate School, 10/19/01

Ø      Marquette University, Provost, 10/23/01

Ø      University of Wisconsin at Superior, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, 10/19/01


From the November 2001 issue of ASEE Prism:

Ø      Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Head, Department of Civil Engineering

Ø      Loyola Marymount University, Chair, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Ø      University of Idaho, Chair, Department of Civil Engineering

Ø      Montana State University, Bozeman, Head, Department of Civil Engineering

Ø      Rochester Institute of Technology, Dean, College of Computing and Information Sciences



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