Academe's own version of the inflation rate, the Higher Education Price Index, fell to 2.3 percent in 2009, down sharply from the 5 percent rate in 2008, the Commonfund Institute announced today. The price index is designed to be a more accurate reflection of colleges' and universities' costs than is the broad Consumer Price Index, because it uses products and services that are more typical of what postsecondary institutions purchase in a given year. The Commonfund Institute added two features to the index this year, aligning HEPI with the July to June fiscal year that most colleges use and for the first time providing regional figures, which ranged from 3.4 percent in the New England region to 2.0 percent in the East South Central and South Atlantic regions.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Two former members of the Texas Tech University Board of Regents say Gov. Rick Perry pressured them to quit after they endorsed Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison's Republican primary challenge to his re-election, The Austin American-Statesman reported. One of the regents did quit. The other -- who didn't -- wasn't reappointed when her term ended. The governor's office said it was unaware of any pressure being placed on regents.
For the first time, Delgado Community College is being forced to turn away students for lack of space. The reason, an article in The Times-Picayune reported, is that repairs to some buildings damaged in Hurricane Katrina have still yet to be repaired. Federal relief funds have been far short of the college's estimates of the damages that it suffered.
The University of Houston is using Wii to attract more students to physical education courses, The Houston Chronicle reported. Wii, which is popular with students, is used to have those in the courses follow and copy the action on the screen to work up a sweat -- and earn elective credit.
Pennsylvania State University is trying a new strategy to raise funds for student aid. The Associated Press reported that the university is sending an appeal to the parents of students who were admitted to the honors college (who get a $3,500 merit scholarship) and who didn't apply for need-based aid. The appeal notes that the bad economy has increased demand for need-based aid, and asks parents to donate back the merit scholarship. So far, Penn State officials have raised $228,000 through the appeal.
Hundreds of students at Howard University, along with unionized workers, held a rally Friday to protest problems with campus housing and delays in financial aid grants being awarded, The Washington Post reported. Students -- who said that the delays are making it impossible to pay their bills -- at one point threatened a sit-in but pulled back from that idea. A Howard spokeswoman said that university leaders would meet with student leaders this week in an attempt to deal with the problems.
A Spelman College sophomore was shot and killed by a stray bullet during a conflict late Wednesday between a group of students and non-students on the campus of nearby Clark Atlanta University, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The two colleges are part of the Atlanta University Center, which also includes Morehouse College and the Morehouse School of Medicine. Another student from Clark Atlanta was also wounded by an errant gunshot. Spelman's president, Beverly Daniel Tatum, said in a statement on the college's Web site Thursday that "words cannot express the sadness I feel about the tragic loss" of Jasmine Lynn, "the result of senseless violence." Also Thursday, police officers arrested three men who were involved in an incident that resulted in the shooting of a student at California's Skyline College, the San Jose Mercury News reported. The men who were arrested were not responsible for shooting the student; they were reportedly allies of the student who was shot, and two of the three men were enrolled at Skyline. Police are still hunting for the men responsible for the shooting.
Harvard University this week unveiled its open database of faculty research, with more than a third of its arts and sciences faculty members participating so far. Since the faculty of the main undergraduate college voted in February 2008 to support the system known as Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard, in which professors' scholarly works are automatically included in the online repository unless they specifically opt for them not to be, Harvard's law, government and education schools have also agreed to participate.
The Board of Trustees at Montgomery College voted late Thursday to end the presidency of Brian K. Johnson, amid faculty discontent over his alleged misspending and reports that he faces prison time in Arizona for non-payment of child support. The faculty at the two-year institution in Washington's Maryland suburbs voted no confidence in Johnson last week, citing evidence they'd accumulated that he had spent tens of thousands of dollars on questionable expenses. And Thursday, The Washington Times reported that police officers in Arizona have a warrant out for his arrest that would land him in jail if he returned to the state. In a statement, the chairman of the college's board said it had decided not to renew Johnson's contract and had placed him on administrative leave immediately. Johnson came to Montgomery College from the Community College of Allegheny County just two years ago.
Alabama's Stillman College canceled its home football opener scheduled this weekend because players had flu-like symptoms and officials did not want to risk spreading the illness further, The Tuscaloosa News reported. “I believe it would be irresponsible to ignore the possibility of putting our team, fans and the general public at risk,” Curtis Campbell, Stillman’s director of athletics, told the newspaper. Guidelines issued for campuses by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that colleges consider calling off large events if they are seeing significant numbers of cases of the H1N1 virus, and some sports officials have begun crafting contingency plans.