11 Research U's Improve Low-Income Graduation Rates

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.”

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Can a new president succeed after damaging remarks are informally shared? (essay)

Can a new institutional leader succeed after making damaging remarks that are informally shared? Barbara McFadden Allen, Ruth Watkins and Robin Kaler investigate.

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St. Cloud State Cuts 6 Sports

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.

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New presidents or provosts: Allegheny ASU-Beebe Harford Kishwaukee Ottawa Park Parkside VSU

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  • Makola M. Abdullah, provost and senior vice president at Bethune-Cookman University, in Florida, has been appointed president of Virginia State University.
  • Laurie Borowicz, vice president of student services at Northcentral Technical College, in Wisconsin, has been selected as president of Kishwaukee College, in Illinois.

Division Among Trustees Over U of Louisville President

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.

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Survey: Half of Community College Students Report Mental Health Problems

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 Law Offering Buyouts to Faculty

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-Tribune reported. Previously incoming classes numbered about 150 or 160 students, according to the Post-Tribune. Buyouts will be finalized by the end of the month.

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U of Houston Releases Draft Campus Carry Policy

Concealed-handgun license holders may carry guns into classrooms and faculty and administrative offices at the University of Houston, according to a draft policy released Tuesday by an on-campus working group. The policy prohibits guns in most residence halls, sporting venues, disciplinary hearings, and health and mental health facilities. The University of Texas at Austin’s campus carry policy, released last month, also allows guns into classrooms, despite many faculty members’ concerns about in-class safety. Houston’s policy is striking, given that its Faculty Senate last month circulated recommendations about how to teach under campus carry that many said had serious implications for academic freedom and free speech. But the policy isn’t surprising, given that Texas’s new law allowing for concealed weapons in campus buildings is clear that guns can’t be banned outright from most areas.

The law takes effect this summer for public universities and next summer for public colleges. Private institutions may opt out of the law, and virtually all have. Students for Concealed Carry, a national advocacy group, said in a statement that it largely approved of Houston's draft policy but took issue with the establishment of exclusion zones in areas used for day cares and school activities, "including areas frequently used by minor children." The task force "seems to have operated under the assumption that licensed concealed carry cannot be allowed anywhere children are likely to be present," the group said. "This was clearly never the intent of the Texas Legislature, which saw fit to allow licensed concealed carry in movie theaters, shopping malls, churches, grocery stores, restaurants, all state museums, all public libraries and even the Texas Capitol."

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UC Davis Chancellor's Short Stint on DeVry's Board

Linda Katehi, chancellor of the University of California at Davis, resigned Monday from the corporate board of the DeVry Education Group, which operates DeVry University. The company just last week announced that she and Ann Weaver Hart, president of the University of Arizona, had joined the board.

Katehi made the decision to quit after facing sharp criticism from consumer groups and a powerful California lawmaker, The Sacramento Bee reported. Some of the pushback revolved around news last month that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission is suing DeVry over allegations that the company made false claims about its job placement rates and its graduates' earnings. A spokesman for UC Davis said DeVry approached Katehi before the FTC lawsuit went public.

“I initially chose to accept the appointment because I believed I could contribute to improving the educational experiences of the students attending DeVry institutions, but in light of a variety of other issues that have come to the fore, I have determined that I am unable to serve,” Katehi said in her resignation letter, according to the Bee.

Ivy League Considers Banning Tackling During Practice

The eight head football coaches in the Ivy League voted last week to no longer allow tackling during regular season practices. The institutions' presidents and athletic directors still have to approve the change before it is formally adopted. Dartmouth College, a member of the league, already eliminated tackling during practices in 2010, and the following year the league reduced the number of full-contact practices that teams could hold.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association does not have rules on how many full-contact practices football teams may have, though its guidelines recommend allowing no more than two per week during the season and no more than four during the preseason.

According to a report released last year by the Institute of Medicine, most concussions in college sports occur during practice, not during games. The study examined the 262 concussions recorded by the NCAA's Injury Surveillance Program during the 2012 and 2013 seasons. The researchers found that 57.6 percent of those concussions happened during practice.

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