U.S. Higher Education News for September 16, 2015

 

Bramson, Kate. “Life-Sciences Firm Nabsys Closes, Says Stockholder; DNA-Sequencing Firm Was Seen as Star Startup in State.” Providence Journal [RI] 16 Sep. 2015: A, 8.

. . . Nabsys founder and former CEO Dr. Barrett W. Bready on Tuesday would neither confirm nor deny whether the company has closed, but said “a lot” of the employees with average salaries of more than $100,000 “have already found jobs elsewhere.” . . .

Nabsys has been hailed by political and business leaders as a star in the state’s emerging startup industry. Two small firms that began in the early 2000s within Brown University’s chemistry, physics and computer science departments merged into Nabsys. The firm was working to build semiconductor-based devices to read DNA molecules electronically. . . .

Early-stage funding of nearly $1 million for those two small firms came from the Slater Technology Fund, then a state-backed economic-development fund, said Slater managing director Richard G. Horan, who held a seat on the Nabsys board back then. He left the board in 2009 when Point Judith Capital, led then by Gina Raimondo before she ran for state treasurer, led a group of investors who put $4 million into Nabsys.

Raimondo, now Rhode Island governor, placed her Point Judith holdings into a blind trust. Point Judith again invested in Nabsys in 2013 when San Francisco-based venture-capital firm Bay City Capital led a $20-million investment round.

Nabsys was located in the city’s Jewelry District, near the vacant, former highway land that’s one of the state’s most promising areas to encourage more companies working at the intersection of higher education and business. Bready, who hosted a winter fundraiser for Raimondo, is the only member of the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission whom Raimondo retained from the Chafee administration. . . .

 

Editorial Board. “Mr. Sanders’s Generosity.” Washington Post 16 Sep. 2015: A, 18.

SEN. BERNIE Sanders (I-Vt.) delivered a forceful message in a speech at Liberty University on Monday: Inequality is too high, the wealth gap is immoral and rich people have rigged the economy.

Though hyperbolic, this message appears to be resonating . . .

Beyond the hyperbole, however, must be real policy. And on that score, this self-described socialist from New England is less progressive– in the real effect of his proposals–than he sounds. . . .

For example: Mr. Sanders wants to make public college free for everyone. “We have in this country sufficient amounts of money to put more people in jail than any other country on earth,” Mr. Sanders said Monday. “But apparently we do not have enough money to provide jobs and education to our young people. I believe that’s wrong.” . . .

Of course, there’s only so much money that the government can realistically remove from the prison system. But say Mr. Sanders could take out $47 billion, the cost of the higher education bill he unveiled in May. Or say he found the money somewhere else–he proposed a financial transactions tax in the bill. Why would Mr. Sanders want to give any of those funds to the wealthy? Eliminating public college tuition makes it free for everyone, poor or rich, leaving less of that $47 billion to help low-income people who really struggle to pay for college, day care and other basic needs.

Mr. Sanders makes a similar misstep on the student debt “crisis.” . . .

 

Fanlund, Paul. “Editor’s Column: Trump’s Tax Talk Has Walker, Rest of GOP Reeling.” Capital Times [Madison, WI] 16 Sep. 2015: 4.

For progressives, this summer of Donald Trump has been a guilty pleasure, one in sync with the Urban Dictionary’s definition of the term: “Something that you shouldn’t like, but like anyway.”

Oh, we tut-tut as we talk about the cartoonish real estate mogul and express righteous outrage at his unfiltered nativism, misogyny, bullying, egotism and superficiality. And, to be clear, it is outrageous, all of it. But as suggested by the ancient proverb “the enemy of my enemy is my friend,” we progressives delight that Trump has brought into full public view, without the euphemisms and dog whistles favored by other Republican presidential candidates, what today’s Republican Party really stands for. And that, primarily, is to serve the interests of plutocrats and give comfort to the simmering resentments of extreme social conservatives.

Yes, Gov. Scott Walker boasted last week that as president he would “wreak havoc” on Washington, D.C., part of his latest tone-deaf attempt at positioning himself as the political outsider. (Walker and his brain trust have apparently settled on this gambit even though Walker is an all-his-adult-life politician, but never mind that.) In reality, it is Trump wreaking havoc, not Wisconsin’s flailing, out-of-his-league governor. When it comes to Trump, Walker and other GOP candidates have been surprised, undercut and at a collective loss on how to respond. . . .

The tax vision of a candidate like Walker will certainly align with Frum’s description of a “pro-plutocratic agenda,” the kind Walker has pursued in Wisconsin since taking office in 2011. After all, the Koch brothers and other wealthy contributors provided lavish campaign funding, and Walker has dutifully repaid the investment with his war on working people and public education.

Walker recently told John Harwood, chief Washington correspondent for CNBC, that he would outline his modern-day version of a Reagan agenda on taxes in October. Rest assured there will be nothing Trump-like or unpredictable about Walker’s vision. It will certainly have tax cuts skewed towards the wealthy–excuse me, “job creators”–and cut spending on government programs aimed at helping the needy or the middle class.

In Wisconsin, that approach has meant cuts to higher education, general school aids and natural resources and oppressive spending controls on local governments. (Isn’t it richly hypocritical how Walker wants decisions made at the state level, not in Washington, D.C., but then, at every opportunity, undercuts local government control?) Walker’s playbook borrows excessively for infrastructure spending so he can retain his no-tax-increase political image, and in so doing punish future taxpayers.

By comparison, Trump sounds like FDR.

 

Gordon, Larry. “Report: Not All Asians Ace College; Data Show Disparity in Achievement at UC and Cal State among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.” Los Angeles Times 16 Sep. 2015: B, 4.

Although Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders often are portrayed as higher education success stories, a new report shows there is great disparity in college achievement among California students who belong to that community.

Those who identify as being from Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Vietnamese or Korean families tend to have significantly higher graduation rates at the UC and Cal State systems than do native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders and students from Laos, according to the study released Tuesday by the Campaign for College Opportunity, in partnership with Asian Americans Advancing Justice — Los Angeles.

At Cal State, for example, 66% of Chinese American students who entered in 2008 finished their degrees in six years, compared with 60% for Vietnamese and Japanese, 39% for Laotians and Guamanians, and 28% for Samoans.

Similarly wide differences were found among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at the state’s community colleges.

In terms of completing associate degrees and certificates or transferring to four-year schools, 73% of Chinese Americans did so within six years, as did 68% of Indians, 37% of Laotians and 29% of Samoans, the study found.

 

“In Case You Missed It.” Capital Times [Madison, WI] 16 Sep. 2015: 2.

UW Prof Jumps Ship

Jesse Stommel is living proof that UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank isn’t just blowing smoke when she warns of an exodus of talent in response to Republican attacks on higher education. Stommel, an assistant professor in the Division of Continuing Studies and founder of the academic journal Hybrid Pedagogy, is leaving. In his blog, Stommel bemoaned the elimination of tenure and shared governance from the state statutes. But in addition, painful budget cuts hit him in the pocketbook. His husband, a spousal hire, was laid off. “Wisconsin has gone from being the only state to protect tenure and shared governance in state law to being the only state to limit tenure and shared governance in state law,” Stommel wrote. “I’ve been less disheartened by the fact of this and more by the lack of response from University of Wisconsin leadership, in spite of nationwide calls for active resistance.” Stommel leaves in October for a job at University of Mary Washington. . . .

 

Local News.” Herald-Sun [Durham, NC] 16 Sep. 2015: 3.

DURHAM – The White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics announced Tuesday that it had selected The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students, a North Carolina scholarship fund, to be recognized as a “Bright Spot in Hispanic Education.”

The Tomorrow Fund was created in 2009 by Diane Evia-Lanevi, a Durham resident and Cuban immigrant.

The fund has an Advisory board comprised of prominent business and civic leaders.

The fund will be included in a national online catalog that will include 230 programs that invest in key education priorities for Hispanics. The announcement was made by Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the Initiative at the launch of Hispanic Heritage Month and in honor of the Initiative’s 25th anniversary in Washington, D.C.

“There has been notable progress in Hispanic educational achievement, and it is due to the efforts of these Bright Spots in Hispanic Education, programs and organizations working throughout the country to help Hispanic students reach their full potential,” said Ceja.

The Tomorrow Fund for Hispanic Students has awarded more than $670,000 since it first began awarding scholarships in 2010. It awarded $128,000 this past June to 18 students across North Carolina. Students must have graduated from a North Carolina high school and attend a North Carolina post-secondary institution.

 

‘These Are Not Immature, Hot-Headed Youths.’” Buffalo News [NY] 16 Sep. 2015: B, 10.

Eight men have been shot and killed on Buffalo’s streets in the last 17 days, and city police have found an unusual pattern in the dramatic rise in homicides.

None of the victims has been in his teens or even early 20s. Instead, all seven victims have been between 25 and 40 years old.

And nobody has a clear explanation why.

“In most cases, there is no common denominator,” Buffalo Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said Tuesday. “Some are gang-related, others are over minor incidents involving young shooters, and one or two are alcohol involved.”

Until the recent escalation in killings began Aug. 30, the city had registered a decade-low number of homicides for the first two-thirds of the year, city officials have said. Since then, at least 13 people have been shot, eight of them fatally–the most recent, a 31-year-old Amherst man fatally shot in the 600 block of Northumberland Avenue about 5 p.m. Tuesday. . . .

Pridgen warned that these killings are the result of multiple problems in our community.

“If we continue to concentrate on the homicides, but not the root causes, we will continue to have prayer vigils after murders,” he said. “In my opinion, we must shift the focus from the result – which is the homicides – to the beginning of the process, which is the education of our children.”

There clearly is a correlation, he added, between educated youths who later gravitate toward higher education and undereducated youths who move into the criminal-justice system.

But a quick sound bite from anyone in the community can’t fully explain what’s happening.

As Pridgen said, “There is no simple answer for a complex situation.”

 

Vargas, Claudia. “Kenney: Students Need Better Job Prep.” Philadelphia Inquirer 16 Sep. 2015: B, 2.

Democratic mayoral nominee Jim Kenney wants to reduce the city’s high rate of poverty by ensuring that Philadelphia’s community college and adult learning institutions better prepare students for the job markets.

“I think in order to strengthen Philadelphia both socially and economically, we have to have a workforce that is trained and making a living wage in the 21st century,” Kenney said during the Peirce College Thomas May Peirce Leadership Award breakfast Tuesday, where he was the award recipient. “While that obviously requires investing more in our public schools … we need to invest in our adult learners.”

Kenney, who faces Republican Melissa Murray Bailey in the November general election, highlighted two policy proposals regarding job training during the event, attended by more than 100 people from the business, higher education, and public sectors.

If he is elected mayor, Kenney said, he will create a task force to identify the skills, certifications, and training sought by Philadelphia businesses. He would then give the report to postsecondary institutions such as Peirce College and Philadelphia Community College so they can appropriately tailor their curricula. . . .

Kenney also wants to increase the number of summer internships and apprenticeships offered by businesses and nonprofits in the city from 10,000 to 16,000.

_________________________

And here are two items from the United Kingdom and India that may also be of interest:

 

Blackman, Tim. To Break Class Barriers, Students Must End Up in Unexpected Places; Universities Pay Lip Service to Equality, Yet the System Functions as a Huge Social Filter. Real Fairness Will Take a Radical Rethink.” Guardian [UK] 16 Sep. 2015.

We are repeatedly told that higher education can advance social mobility. Universities are rewarded with extra funding for recruiting students from areas with low participation rates, and there are various schemes to help bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds get to the “top” universities, the super-selectives.

But these initiatives operate within a sector that drives inequality through selection. Prior attainment is correlated with social class, so differentiated academic entry requirements immediately filter young people into a class hierarchy of institutions. This is compounded by companies that offer highly paid jobs recruiting only from the top of this hierarchy. Higher education should be about realising potential with great teaching, not unfair selection into privileged networks. We often say we value diversity but continue with a system that judges institutions according to their social class make-up. It is time for a radical rethink.

Don’t use entry requirements to restrict access . . .

Offer incentives to attend former polytechnics . . .

Use better teaching to break the cycle . . .

 

Sinha, Kounteya. “In a First, Two Indian Institutes Make It to World’s Top 200 Universities.” Economic Times 16 Sep. 2015:

LONDON: Two Indian institutes have for the first time made it to the top 200 list of the world’s best universities.

The Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru, has taken the top spot among its Indian counterparts, bagging the 147th rank. The only other Indian institute to make it to the top 200 is Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, ranked 179th this year. It has made great progress from last year when it was ranked 235th in the world.

According to the QS World University Rankings 2015, there are 14 Indian institutions in the World University Rankings and half of them are among the global 400. The bad news is that the University of Delhi and the University of Mumbai have lost ground. . . .

 

 

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