First- to second-year retention rates are edging up at community colleges, and down at four-year colleges, according to an analysis released Thursday by ACT. The rate at community colleges is now 56 percent, a record high for the sector, up from 53 percent in 2005. At four-year institutions, the rate is now 72 percent, down from 75 percent in 2005.
Higher Education Quick Takes
The University of Connecticut is calling off all official events associated with weekend parties just before finals, and is barring guests from the dormitories that weekend, the Associated Press reported. The move follows years of controversy over the parties (many of which are organized independently of the university). A junior died last year after being punched during the weekend.
The Republican Study Committee -- a G.O.P. caucus focused on cutting federal spending -- on Thursday unveiled its plans to cut the deficit, and a number of programs of importance to scholars would be eliminated under the proposal. Among them are: the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, Woodrow Wilson Center, and applied research supported by the Department of Energy. In addition, the bill would cut all the programs proposed (unsuccessfully) for elimination last year in the "Priorities in Education Spending Act." That bill would have eliminated many fellowship and scholarship programs for specific fields of study, as well as grant programs in such areas as veterinary medicine, and the education in math and science of Alaska Natives or Native Hawaiians.
Past and future budget cuts have been the focus of this week's meetings of the University of California Board of Regents. But The San Francisco Chronicle noted that amid discussion of cuts and even an inability to admit all eligible students, the regents approved $4 million in incentive pay and raises, including 10 percent raises for three executives earning more than $200,000. A spokesman said: "Whether a budget crisis or not, the university still has to be able to pay competitive salaries and incentives consistent with industry standards."
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has announced a $150 million grant from the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Charity Foundation for genetic research, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. The funds will pay for a new building and endowed professorships, among other purposes.
With most college students still opting for printed textbooks in lieu of electronic ones, publishers are taking aim at an unlikely demographic in order to make e-books look cool: slackers. CourseSmart, a consortium aimed at marketing and selling e-books on behalf of the four top textbook companies, has teamed up with the website CollegeHumor.com to hold an essay contest in which participants are asked to boast of their slacker bona fides. “We’re looking for the smartest slacker,” explains a spokesman for CollegeHumor — a popular destination for procrastinating students — in a promotional video on the site. “We want to hear your story of the smartest, cleverest, most creative academic shortcut you’ve ever taken, short of cheating.” The winner of the contest will get $1,000 and a year’s worth of e-book access from CourseSmart, as well as the privilege to have his or her story immortalized in a short, animated video on CollegeHumor.com. CollegeHumor.com, started by two college freshmen in 1999, has seen its brand blossom in recent years. It now publishes original content and hosts 3.3 million unique page views each month.
Pensacola State College on Tuesday fired a tenured professor, Robert Ardis, over allegations that he used a sabbatical to obtain a master's degree from a diploma mill and then presented that degree to obtain a promotion and higher salary, The Pensacola News Journal reported. Ardis did not attend the meeting at which he was fired. A union representative who was at the meeting on his behalf said that he was still reviewing documents that might be the basis of a possible appeal and that Ardis "looks forward to his day in court."
The team of big movers advocating the use of technology to advance the national college completion agenda just got some more muscle. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has joined forces with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on the Next Generation Learning Challenges, or NGLC — a series of grants for technology-based, completion-oriented projects. Hewlett will be contributing $1.4 million to the program, adding to the $20 million Gates has already committed. NGLC, which is co-sponsored by Educause, is currently reviewing hundreds of proposals submitted in the first round of grants, which focus on higher education. Despite its comparatively small funding stake, Hewlett is expected to be deeply involved in various strategic aspects of NGLC, which it has advised for several months.