U.S. Higher Education News for September 22, 2015, Part 1

 

Edwards, Mary Morgan. “State Puts Greater Emphasis on College Advisers; Schools with Best Results Get Bigger Piece of Funding.” Dayton Daily News 22 Sep. 2015: B, 2.

The heat is on state colleges and universities to make sure more students succeed, and that makes academic advisers a key part of schools’ strategies.

The past few state budgets have come with new strings attached for higher-education institutions. Lawmakers want state funding to favor schools that show the best results, rather than simply the ones with the most students.

Under “performance-based funding,” colleges and universities get a bigger piece of the funding pie when more students graduate with degrees or, in the case of community colleges, complete more courses and earn more certificates and two-year degrees.

Schools have been encouraged to put more emphasis on academic advising to start students on the right track and keep them there until they’ve succeeded, said Jeff Robinson, spokesman for the Ohio Board of Regents, which coordinates higher-education funding and policy for the state. . . .

 

Long, Julian. “SLU Should Follow Pope’s Example on Social Justice.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch 22 Sep. 2015: A, 13.

America welcomes Pope Francis this week at a pivotal moment for the country, and many in St. Louis will be tuned in to his visit. He’s been dubbed the people’s pope because his words and deeds have inspired people across race, class, religion and ideology.

As the first Jesuit pope, when Francis speaks about justice for working people, he calls up the long tradition of Jesuit commitment to social justice to remind the rest of us that we should stand for justice, too.

I participated in a “Fast for Faculty” this month on campus at St. Louis University. Faculty and students came together to honor the values that Pope Francis regularly lifts up because they are especially needed on our campus and others, both Catholic and non-Catholic.

Here’s an example. Nationally, part-time or adjunct “professors” are now nearly a majority of all teaching faculty in colleges and universities. Generally they face low levels of compensation, few or no benefits, lack of institutional support for research and scholarship, and exclusion from the governance of their institutions. Jesuit schools, including St. Louis University, are not immune from these trends. Nearly half of SLU faculty are off the tenure track, and the standard rate of adjunct compensation at SLU is $3,000 per three-hour course, without benefits.

I am an adjunct, though not a typical one. I teach one class, a senior seminar. As a retiree I do not need benefits or to make my living by teaching. However, I know many young adjuncts who teach upward of 18 classes a year at several universities and colleges but still do not earn a living wage in spite of their busy lives. Many people are struggling in an economy that’s out of balance in this country. Adjunct faculty are struggling because they are part of a system of academic peonage that is being forced upon higher education. But Jesuit universities should do more than reflect the values of that system.

Pope Francis’ visit to the United States is an opportunity not only to hear him, but to shine a light on issues that matter to working people, adjuncts among them, across the country and in our specific workplaces. . . .

 

“Pacific Lutheran U., Wash., Downgraded to BBB-Minus by S&P.” Bond Buyer 22 Sep. 2015.

Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said it lowered to BBB-minus from BBB its underlying rating on Washington Higher Education Facilities Authority’s series 2006 bonds, issued for Pacific Lutheran University.

At the same time, it lowered to BBB-minus from BBB the long-term rating on the authority’s series 2014 revenue bonds, issued for PLU. The outlook is negative.

“The downgrade reflects our view of PLU’s weakened overall financial profile, characterized by continued operating deficits on a generally accepted accounting principle basis, as well as a decrease in financial resource ratios, particularly expendable resources relative to debt,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Margaret McNamara. “The downgrade also reflects several years of enrollment and demand pressure, shown by decreasing headcount and freshman applications.” . . .

 

Perez-Pena, Richard. “1 in 4 Women Experience Sex Assault on Campus.” New York Times 22 Sep. 2015: A, 17.

In four years of college, more than one-fourth of undergraduate women at a large group of leading universities said they had been sexually assaulted by force or when they were incapacitated, according to one of the largest studies of its kind, released Monday.

Responding to a survey commissioned by the Association of American Universities, 27.2 percent of female college seniors reported that, since entering college, they had experienced some kind of unwanted sexual contact–anything from touching to rape–carried out by incapacitation, usually due to alcohol or drugs, or by force. Nearly half of those, 13.5 percent, had experienced penetration, attempted penetration, or oral sex.

The survey bolstered findings from previous studies but stands out for its sheer size–150,000 students at 27 colleges and universities took part last spring–and for the prominence of the institutions involved, which include many of the nation’s elite campuses, including all of the Ivy League except Princeton. . . .

Previous studies have estimated that about one in five women are sexually assaulted while at college, though comparisons are difficult because the studies use varying definitions of sexual assault.

The new study cautioned that only 19 percent of students responded to the survey, far below the rates of some previous studies. . . .

 

Romano, John. “Scott Will Take Credit, but Dodges the Burden.” Tampa Bay Times 22 Sep. 2015: B, 1.

My property taxes are apparently going up, and for that I’m grateful.

It means more money is going to be devoted to education throughout Florida, and I can think of few investments more worthwhile.

Some of you might agree. You might think it’s shameful that the latest Census figures put Florida 41st in the nation in per-pupil spending.

Some of you might disagree. You might think the school system is already bloated and inefficient, and not worthy of additional money.

What’s interesting is that’s not the argument they’re having in Tallahassee today. Instead, it is a debate about who gets to take the credit for providing extras in our classrooms, and who winds up having to deliver the bill.

The state Board of Education wants to increase funding to record levels next year, with an additional $476 million in spending. The caveat is that the state is on the hook for only about 10 percent of that funding, which means the rest is going to be up to local school boards to extract from property taxes. . . .

The reason this will eventually produce slings and arrows in Tallahassee is the governor seems to want all the accolades for a historic education investment without having the actual tax increase attached to his name.

The same thing happened with education funding last year, although the percentages were not quite as dramatic. Even so, Gov. Rick Scott ran around the state proclaiming how much he was saving every single Floridian by whacking auto registration fees and yet all of those savings were surpassed by mandated property tax boosts at the local level. . . .

 

Stuckey, Alex. “Nixon Proposes $55.7m Increase for Colleges.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch 22 Sep. 2015: A, 3. 

JEFFERSON CITY–Gov. Jay Nixon on Monday proposed a $55.7 million increase in higher education funding.

If the Legislature agrees, that will mean more scholarships at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, the university chancellor said. The increase “is just a proposal, this is the first stage of this, but I’m optimistic,” Chancellor Thomas George said.

Even without additional scholarship money, the increase could help make college education slightly more affordable by allowing public higher education institutions to freeze tuition next year – the fourth time for such a freeze since Nixon took office in 2009. . . .

The proposed increase would be funneled to four-year and two-year public higher education institutions based on performance. Each institution’s board would have to agree to the tuition freeze and lawmakers have to sign off on Nixon’s proposal during the 2016 legislative session that starts in January before it can become a reality for students.

As part of the proposal, institutions agreed that at least $9.2 million of that increase would be dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, a concentration of fields known as STEM.

Nixon signed the performance funding model into law in 2014, requiring public higher education institutions to use five performance criteria to determine how much extra money they would receive when the state increases funding.

Higher education institutions also must implement criteria for job placement statistics related to a student’s degree or pursuit of a graduate degree under the law. However, job placement statistics as a performance measure may not be used during years when the state unemployment rate is higher than the previous calendar year’s rate.

This model of funding has been controversial, with some concerned that the criteria are too easily met. . . .

 

UM System Sees Better Financial Picture, Plans 194 Position Cuts.” Bangor Daily News [Maine] 22 Sep. 2015.

PRESQUE ISLE — University of Maine System Chief Financial Officer Ryan Low provided the Board of Trustees with an updated financial projection indicating Maine’s universities have reduced the projected 2020 structural gap by $37 million from the $89.6 million figure that was forecast in November 2014.

Meeting in Presque Isle this past weekend, UMS trustees learned the one-year, 41 percent reduction in the projected gap is largely attributed to savings achieved in the 2016 fiscal year budget, increases in out-of-state enrollment, and an increase in state aid for public higher education.

Locally, that means an equivalent reduction of about 10 positions for the University of Maine at Presque Isle. The UMS 2016 budget includes the reduction of 194 positions across the campuses, with an addition of 36. UMPI is the only campus not slated to see any additions. The University of Southern Maine is projected to see the largest number of positions cut at 119.

The elimination of those positions is slated to save the system $21.4 million, with other savings of $5.5 million in campus initiatives and approximately $5 million in administrative costs. Also forecast are increases of $636,000 in additional student revenue and $2.9 million in additional state appropriations.

“We are achieving savings and finding new revenues as we continue to make strong progress toward our goal of uniting Maine’s seven mission-differentiated campuses as One University,” said UMS Board Chair Sam Collins. “The results of our hard work strengthen our resolve to ensure that Maine’s universities remain pathways to opportunities and advancement for our students and the people of Maine.”

 

Williamson, Richard. “Texas A&M to Build McAllen Campus in South Texas.” Bond Buyer 22 Sep. 2015.

DALLAS – Texas A&M University System plans to build a 100-acre campus in McAllen, challenging the rival University of Texas System’s growing presence in the Lower Rio Grande Valley.

The city of McAllen and Hidalgo County will provide the land and $10 million for construction of the campus and another $8 million for utilities and related infrastructure. TAMUS, which already has a medical facility in the area, will offer engineering technology, biomedical sciences, agriculture and life sciences courses at the new campus. . . .

TAMUS has a variety of financial tools at its service, including revenue bonds, debt backed by the state’s Permanent University Fund, and about $680 million of tuition revenue bonds approved by the 2015 Texas Legislature. TAMUS did not identify any projects in the Lower Rio Grande Valley in the TRB authorization, however.

The TAMUS announcement comes closely on the heels of the rival University of Texas System’s plans to merge its two campuses in Harlingen and Brownsville and to build the first medical school in South Texas. . . .

The goal is to open the facility by 2017 with 100 students, but expand to 750 students over five years. . . .

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Posts in This Daily Series from the Last Seven Days:

September 15, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/17/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-15-2015/

September 16, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/18/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-16-2015/

September 17, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/19/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-17-2015/

September 18, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/20/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-18-2015/

September 19, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-19-2015/

September 20, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/21/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-20-2015/

September 21, 2015: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/22/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015/

 

 

11 thoughts on “U.S. Higher Education News for September 22, 2015, Part 1

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