David W. Oxtoby announced this week that he will step down as president of Pomona College next year. Oxtoby has been president since 2003. In his announcement to the campus, Oxtoby stressed that he would push ahead on key projects in the next year.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a student protest group have reached an agreement that will end a sit-in that has been going on in the administration building since October. The students want MIT's endowment to sell off holdings in fossil fuel companies, and the university still declines to do so. But MIT committed to take additional steps toward carbon neutrality on campus, and to work on benchmarks and guidelines for MIT's engagement with climate change off campus, including its ties to government and businesses.
The University Innovation Alliance this week announced a three-percentage-point collective increase in the proportion of degrees earned by low-income students at its 11 research university members. The improvement occurred in the less than two years since the group formed, with goals of producing more graduates, graduating more students across the socioeconomic spectrum, sharing data and jointly working on completion-related innovations.
The group's members also decreased their gap in graduation rates between low-income students and their wealthier peers. And six of the universities each increased their number of low-income graduates by more than 19 percent. The UIA also announced new funding by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation and USA Funds. Its members are Arizona State, Georgia State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oregon State and Purdue Universities, and the Universities of California at Riverside, Central Florida, Kansas and Texas at Austin.
“This growth reflects the commitment of our campus leaders to graduate more students across the socioeconomic spectrum, setting a powerful example for others,” said Bridget Burns, the UIA's executive director. “When the power of predictive analytics and other best practices are implemented broadly across Alliance campuses, we expect the gains to be even greater. If all other four-year public colleges and universities in the U.S. increased their graduation rates at the UIA’s pace over the next decade, we would add 1.3 million college graduates to the workforce.”
In an attempt to trim its athletic department's budget, St. Cloud State University, in Minnesota, will eliminate six of its athletic programs and reduce the size of its football roster, the university announced Wednesday. Men's and women's tennis, women's Nordic skiing, men's cross country, and indoor and outdoor men's track and field will be cut, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. The university said the cuts will save the athletic department about $250,000 and that it will honor the 80 affected athletes' scholarships for four years.
Several members of the University of Louisville Board of Trustees on Tuesday attempted to have a vote of no confidence against President James Ramsey, but other board members made procedural objections to block the vote, The Courier-Journal reported. The vote may well take place at a future board meeting and suggests that Ramsey has lost, amid a series of scandals, what was once seen as strong backing from his board.
Newly released results of a survey of community college students found that almost 50 percent of those surveyed had a current or recent mental health problem. The Wisconsin HOPE Lab, a research organization, surveyed 4,000 students at 10 community colleges across seven states. The resulting report found that 36 percent of respondents suffered from depression, and 29 percent had struggled with anxiety. Those rates are higher than those among students at four-year institutions, the lab reported. And mental health conditions also were more common among younger students at community colleges.
Fewer than half of the community college students with a mental health condition were receiving treatment, the report found. Roughly 88 percent of community colleges do not have a psychiatrist or other licensed prescriber on staff or contracted to provide services, according to the lab. And 57 percent do not provide suicide prevention resources.
Valparaiso University Law School is offering buyouts to tenured faculty members and those with multiyear contracts due to a sharp decline in student applications and enrollment since 2010. “To put the law school and our students in the best position to succeed, we are taking steps to meet the challenges facing legal education,” Nicole Niemi, university spokeswoman, said in a statement. “The purpose is to align the size of the faculty with the expected future law school enrollment.”
The university attributes its numbers to broader issues facing law schools, including mounting student debt, the shifting job market for those with law degrees, increased competition among law schools for highly qualified applicants and declining bar passage rates. Valparaiso has 21 tenured law professors and six contract law professors, and an incoming fall law class of 133 students, the Post-Tribunereported. Previously incoming classes numbered about 150 or 160 students, according to the Post-Tribune. Buyouts will be finalized by the end of the month.