U.S. Higher Education News for September 23, 2015, Part 1

 

Berry, Bill. “GOP Doesn’t Get That Higher Ed Is a Sound investment.” Capital Times [Madison, WI] 23 Sep. 2015: 42.

UW-Fox Valley was a beehive of activity when business took this columnist to the campus in Menasha last spring. One of 13 freshman-sophomore campuses in the UW System, UW-Fox Valley plays a crucial role in the lives of almost 2,000 young people from Fox Valley. On that day, everyone seemed busy, hustling from one class to another, hurrying through lunch or gathering in groups to study.

This all occurred at a time when politicians in Madison were figuring out new ways to screw higher education. The politicians and their agendas seemed far removed from the Menasha campus, where the young folks were busy learning. Two-year campuses fit the needs of many students who might not otherwise get a chance at higher education. They are less expensive and meet the needs of students who benefit from close interaction with faculty.

Meanwhile, my local four-year university just set a record for first-year student enrollment. UW-Stevens Point welcomed a class of 1,800 this fall. A remarkable 49 percent were first-generation students. Yes, one of every two came from a family where the student is the first to attend college. This is a stunning statistic, one that somehow gets lost as politicians who themselves benefited from a college education seek to dilute the experience for others by continuing the decades-long trend of slicing state funding for the UW System.

While Democrats and Republicans alike have conspired for years to redirect funding for higher education to other “priorities,” such as prisons, the current majority in Madison seems to take special pleasure in the act. . . .

But this is the same group that crows about the marketplace and the need to be more businesslike. So, if an institution like UW-Stevens Point has record first-year enrollment in a time when higher education has been taking a public beating, doesn’t this represent high market demand? What doesn’t the current legislative majority get about this? . . .

 

Devlin, Ron. “Enrollment Declines Again at Kutztown University.” Reading Eagle [PA] 23 Sep. 2015.

For the fifth straight year enrollment has declined at Kutztown University.

Statistics released Tuesday by the university put its fall enrollment at 9,000, down about 16 percent from a peak of 10,707 in 2010.

The 2.4 percent decline between 2014 and 2015, however, is the smallest year-to-year drop in the five years since the decline started.

Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, KU’s new president, characterized the downturn as relatively small given the tenor of the times in higher education.

“I am pleased that we are holding our own during tough times,” said Hawkinson, who became president in July. “This is encouraging in light of the challenges we face with demographics related to high school graduates, lingering effects from the recession and declining support from government sources.”

Kutztown’s enrollment decline mirrors an anticipated drop in overall enrollment in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or PASSHE, which oversees the 14 state-owned universities.

Kenn Marshall, PASSHE spokesman, said a final report on enrollment will be given when the system’s board of governors meet Oct. 7 in Harrisburg.

“Overall, we’re anticipating a systemwide decline in enrollment,” he said.

The state system’s enrollment was 110,000 last year, down about 7.5 percent from a high of 119,000 in 2010.

Declining high school graduation rates, Marshall said, have had a significant impact.

State Department of Education statistics show that 96,231, or 73.9 percent, of high school graduates went on to higher education in 2010-11. By contract, 89,372, or 69.8 percent, went on to higher education in 2013-14. . . .

 

Fontaine, Tim. “Obama’s College List Isn’t Complete.” Pittsburgh Tribune-Review [PA] 23 Sep. 2015.

President Obama introduced a website this month that he said provides data about “every institution of higher learning,” but more than a dozen four-year schools–including Western Pennsylvania’s Grove City College–aren’t included because they don’t participate in federal student loan programs.

Hundreds of community colleges and other two-year schools are excluded from the Education Department’s College Scorecard because they award more certificates than degrees.

“We are concerned that Grove City’s absence from the scorecard will confuse or disserve families seeking out higher education institutions with our record of success,” President Paul J. McNulty said. McNulty said the website should include a disclaimer indicating that the College Scorecard “is not comprehensive or reflective of all colleges and universities.”

An Education Department spokeswoman didn’t say if the agency would do so.

Schools excluded from the Scorecard include conservative and religious colleges, including Christian seminaries, Bible colleges and at least one Jewish Talmudical seminary. Some reject federal aid because they don’t want to be bound by federal mandates, but critics of the schools’ omission say the government could be putting them at a competitive disadvantage. . . .

But Education Department spokeswoman Denise Horn said Tuesday: “As of now, institutions that do not participate in Title IV federal financial aid (programs) are not included on the site because they are not required to send us data.” . . .

Likewise, only schools that “award predominantly two- or four-year degrees” are included, Horn said. Hill found at least 700 two-year schools, including at least 250 public community colleges, are excluded from the Scorecard because they award more certificates than associate’s degrees. . . .

 

Gordon, Larry. “It’s 50 Three Times Over.” Los Angeles Times 23 Sep. 2015: B, 1.

The simultaneous 50th anniversaries of three major public universities in California are setting off a flurry of celebrations, reflections on how the three diverse campuses have grown in half a century — but also some worries that today’s and future students may not be as well served.

The anniversaries are being marked this month and next at UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine and Cal State San Bernardino, all of which began classes in 1965 — in some cases when their campuses were mainly open fields or patches of woodlands. They were established as part of a master plan for higher education pushed by then-Gov. Pat Brown, UC President Clark Kerr and others to ensure baby boomers had access to quality and low-cost instruction.

At UC Santa Cruz, chancellor George Blumenthal will lead this weekend’s reunions and anniversary events commemorating the growth of what was a tiny, experimental UC in the redwoods to an institution enrolling 17,000 students now, with major credentials in the sciences and humanities.

On Oct. 3, UC Irvine is hosting a public “Festival of Discovery,” with music, food, athletics and scientific displays to mark the arrival of students half a century ago at an unfinished, and highly modernistic, campus on ranchland in Orange County. UC Irvine chancellor Howard Gillman, a political scientist, said the event “is a chance to think about what the university meant for the development of the region” and to acknowledge how California’s leaders in the ’60s created “a balance of excellence and access unequaled in American higher education.”

Cal State San Bernardino, which enrolls about 19,000 students, more than half of them Latino, started celebrating with a convocation on Monday.

All those events statewide bolster respect for the past expansion of public universities in California–as well as fears that such achievements will never be repeated, analysts say.

The campuses show that “a huge amount was accomplished in a relatively short period of time,” according to Jane Wellman, a senior advisor for the College Futures Foundation, a San Francisco-based organization that seeks to help low-income and minority students.

The anniversaries, she added, are a time to express concerns that public colleges today turn away too many students. . . .

 

Harrison, Bobby. “Higher Education Leaders Fear Possible Cuts.” Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal [Tupelo, MS] 23 Sep. 2015.

Sept. 23–JACKSON — University and community college officials, upon questioning from members of the Legislative Budget Committee, said their schools could face dire consequences if citizen-sponsored Initiative 42 is approved by voters in the November general election. . . .

Supporters of Initiative 42 have repeatedly said if the proposal to enhance the state’s commitment to public education in the Mississippi Constitution passes that full funding of public education would not have to be immediate. They have said, for instance, that full funding could be phased-in over a seven-year period using revenue growth.

In a prepared statement, Jonathan Compretta and Michael Rejebian, co-chairs of 42 For Better Schools, asked, “Why didn’t these same politicians hold budget hearings and try to scare Mississippians eight months ago when they voted to cut revenue by $1.7 billion by scrapping the state income tax? . . .

“If they didn’t have to slash services and fire people then, why are they threatening to do it now? This is just inept politics based on the equation that if you strong-arm agency heads into believing they won’t be funded, you can use them as a mouthpiece to defeat supporters of public education.”

Local school districts have been underfunded $1.7 billion since 2008 and are underfunded $200 million for the current school year. . . .

Boyce said that a 7.8-percent cut would result in a reduction of $58 million and the elimination of 700 employees in the university system. Community college officials said a 7.8-percent cut could result in tuition increases of as much as 45 percent and hundreds of layoffs. . . .

 

Kapsidelis, Karen. “Panel Sets Priorities for Challenges in Higher Education.” Richmond Times Dispatch [Virginia] 23 Sep. 2015: B, 1.

ETTRICK – State higher-education officials are set to embark on small, private meetings to begin addressing serious financial and enrollment troubles confronting Virginia’s colleges and universities.

A day after hearing from college presidents about the challenges ahead, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia approved six initiatives Tuesday for implementing its new strategic plan–priorities that include seeking legislative changes to require stable public funding for the colleges, such as through a constitutional amendment or dedicated revenue source. . . .

Each of the council’s 13 political appointees will team up to work on specific initiatives in support of the goals for the Virginia Plan for Higher Education.

The initiatives approved by SCHEV include developing programs that align resources from pre-kindergarten through college to ensure affordable higher-education pathways for students in all parts of the state; measuring the quality of undergraduate education as it relates to civic engagement and workforce demand; and promoting economic development that supports and enhances the commercialization of higher-ed research.

The council also will review the need for “further restructuring and shared services that enhance institutional and administrative flexibility and improve quality and efficiency.”

SCHEV’s work coincides with a General Assembly study by a joint legislative subcommittee that is examining the future competitiveness of Virginia higher education, including pressures on the sustainability of individual institutions. . . .

Virginia ranks 43rd nationally in state and local appropriations per student and 14th in the amount of tuition and fee revenue collected from families, according to SCHEV. . . .

 

McNutt, K. S. “State Sees Success with Degree-Completion Goal.” Daily Oklahoman [Oklahoma City, OK] 23 Sep. 2015: 6.

Oklahoma’s 12-year plan to graduate 20,400 more students from college and CareerTech exceeded its annual goal for a third consecutive year, Gov. Mary Fallin announced Tuesday. Fallin launched the state’s Complete College America initiative four years ago with a goal of increasing the number of degrees and certificates earned by 1,700 each year.

It was an “ambitious goal,” Fallin told a gathering of higher education officials. The state surpassed the goal in 2012 with 2,945 additional degrees and certificates, in 2013 with 3,577 and in 2014–Fallin revealed Tuesday. . . .

The goal is about more than increasing the number of certificates and degrees by 67 percent over 12 years. The classes, certificates and degrees must be relevant to Oklahoma’s workforce needs to attract new jobs and expand jobs already here, Fallin said.

Today there are 68,000 job openings in the state because businesses and industries can’t find workers with the skills they need, she said. Some jobs require two-year or four-year college degrees or more. For others, workers need technical certificates. . . .

The governor said only 54 percent of the population has an education beyond high school, but 77 percent of the jobs in five years will require more. . . .

 

Mendoza, Jessica. “How Sustainable Food Movement Is Shaping College Dining–And Vice Versa; Between 2013 And 2014, Campuses Saw a 60 Percent Increase in Regional and Local Food Initiatives, As More Students Place a Premium on Sustainably Grown and Humanely Raised Food.” Christian Science Monitor 23 Sep. 2015.

When Boston University began its sustainable dining initiative in 2007, it started small: hire someone to coordinate the program. Focus on sorting and reducing kitchen waste. Start a compost scheme.

Today, not only does the university recycle, repurpose, or compost about 75 percent of waste from its kitchens, it also sources 22 percent of its food from sustainable suppliers. All eggs served on campus, for instance – about 4 million a year – are cage-free and independently certified as humane. The 23 tons of ground beef, hamburgers, and hot dogs that make it to the university’s three dining halls are sourced from 100 percent grass-fed Maine cows.

The story is echoed in the dining halls of colleges across the country. Driven by a broader movement toward sustainable practices–as well as a desire to attract students who increasingly place a premium on locally sourced and humanely raised food–higher-education institutions have increasingly committed to buying more local and organic products from vendors who engage in fair, transparent methods of supplying food.

The result is that universities are growing more aware of what works and what doesn’t when it comes to serving fresh, healthy, and environmentally sound meals to students–and of the impact their efforts can have on attitudes and local economies. . . .

More than 600 US schools now participate in the sustainability tracking program run by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE)–one of a number of organizations that help colleges assess their sustainable practices. Between 2013 and 2014, campuses saw a 60 percent rise in regional and local food initiatives, the group’s latest report found. . . .

 

Porter, Eduardo. “Education Gap Widens between Rich and Poor.” New York Times 23 Sep. 2015: B, 1.

. . . The civil rights movement, school desegregation, and the War on Poverty helped bring a measure of equity to the playing field. Today, despite some setbacks along the way, racial disparities in education have narrowed significantly. By 2012, the test-score deficit of black 9-, 13- and 17-year-olds in reading and math had been reduced as much as 50 percent compared with what it was 30 to 40 years before.

Achievements like these breathe hope into our belief in the Land of Opportunity. They build trust in education as a leveling force powering economic mobility. . . .

[But] for all the progress in improving educational outcomes among African-American children, the achievement gaps between more affluent and less privileged children is wider than ever, notes Sean Reardon of the Center for Education Policy Analysis at Stanford. Racial disparities are still a stain on American society, but they are no longer the main divider. Today the biggest threat to the American dream is class.

Education is today more critical than ever. College has become virtually a precondition for upward mobility. Men with only a high school diploma earn about a fifth less than they did 35 years ago. The gap between the earnings of students with a college degree and those without one is bigger than ever.

And yet American higher education is increasingly the preserve of the elite. The sons and daughters of college-educated parents are more than twice as likely to go to college as the children of high school graduates and seven times as likely as those of high school dropouts.

Only 5 percent of Americans ages 25 to 34 whose parents didn’t finish high school have a college degree. By comparison, the average across 20 rich countries in an analysis by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is almost 20 percent. . . .

 

Riopell, Mike. “Deals like at COD Halted Bill: ‘This Is a Step in the Right Direction’ Bill: Villa Park Senator Calls Law ‘A Step In Right Direction.’” Chicago Daily Herald 23 Sep. 2015: 1.

Severance packages for community college administrators will be capped in the future under a law signed Tuesday by Gov. Bruce Rauner, creating one legacy of the $763,000 deal given to former College of DuPage President Robert Breuder earlier this year.

The new law limits future community college severance packages to one year of pay and benefits and restricts the length of some contracts in the future.

The cap was a direct result of the financial package given to Breuder in January and is the highest-profile change in law that followed the COD controversy.

“Abuses of taxpayers that arose at the College of DuPage are now being transformed into serious reforms statewide,” COD board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton said in a statement.

The COD board, led by a new majority elected in April, voided Breuder’s contract just last week. . . .

Winning its approval was no easy task for state Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, who faced resistance from lawmakers of both parties who argued college officials around the state shouldn’t have their hands tied because College of DuPage trustees gave out a controversial benefit. . . .

 

Schneider, Pat. “Radomski: Why No Press Release On Uw-Madison’s Low Ranking On Economic Diversity?” Capital Times [Madison, WI] 23 Sep. 2015: 20.

The University of Wisconsin Madison ranked pretty far down the list–116th of 179–on the New York Times College Access index, which seeks to measure economic diversity at top U.S. colleges.

But don’t look for a university press release on this college ranking, said Noel Radomski, director of UW-Madison’s WISCAPE, a think tank on educational policy.

The university trumpeted the campus’ 11th-best ranking on the U.S. News and World Report annual roundup, which some critics say favors colleges that “spend the most money, exclude the most students and impress a small circle of elites,” Radomski wrote on his blog last Thursday.

Yet UW-Madison is last among “peer group” campuses that fit criteria for the Times’ study, which looked at share of students receiving Pell grants to low-income families, graduation rate of Pell grant students and net cost after financial aid to low- and middle-income students, he said.

The ranking matters because it shows the campus is moving away from its mission statement “to attract and serve students from diverse social, economic and ethnic backgrounds and to be sensitive and responsive to those groups which have been under-served by higher education,” Radomski said. . . .

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Posts in This Daily Series from the Last Seven Days:

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/

September 22, Part 1: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/25/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015-part-1/

September 22, Part 2: https://academeblog.org/2015/09/25/u-s-higher-education-news-for-september-21-2015-part-2/

 

 

9 thoughts on “U.S. Higher Education News for September 23, 2015, Part 1

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