Essex County College Fires President, Lawyer

Essex County College's board on Wednesday fired Gale Gibson, the president, and Rashidah Hasan, general counsel and vice president for human resources, reported. Board officials have declined to say exactly why the two were suspended last month and have now been fired. But board members have indicated that Gibson and Hasan were accused of raiding employee hard drives and preventing employees from lodging complaints with board members. A lawyer for the former president said, "Dr. Gibson's name has been wrongly dragged through the mud and she has been relieved from her employment by persons with a political agenda."

Massachusetts promotes financial rebates to incentivize two-year completion and transfer

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Massachusetts is offering money to community college students who enroll full time, finish on time and transfer.

San Francisco Mulls Free Community College

Following the Los Angeles mayor's announcement that the city will begin offering one year of free community college tuition to high school graduates, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is looking to do the same for that city's residents.

Supervisor Jane Kim introduced a proposal to eliminate tuition for City College of San Francisco students and to help them cover the cost of books, transportation and child care.

The Free City College Proposal would eliminate enrollment fees for all San Francisco residents and workers who work at least part time in the city. Students whose fees are already covered by financial aid would still be eligible for up to $1,000 in grants for textbooks, transportation and child care. Currently, California community college enrollment fees are $46 per unit. Students who attend full time for a year pay about $1,100 annually. Out-of-state and international students would not qualify for the plan.

"San Francisco is one of the most expensive cities in the word -- the cost of living has increased exponentially. When students have to make the choice between paying rent or paying tuition, buying groceries or buying textbooks, we have to act," Kim said in a news release. "Higher education isn't a luxury. It's a fundamental necessity if we want San Franciscans to be able to compete in the 21st-century workplace. We have a plan that can fully fund this proposal to help over 20,000 students from all walks of life, of all ages, to pursue their dreams."

The plan estimates that 80 percent of CCSF students have San Francisco zip codes. The plan could cost the city $12.8 million a year and would be implemented no later than 2017, if passed, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

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Study: Wealthy Students Still Much More Likely to Earn Bachelor's Degree

While diversity in American higher education has improved substantially in recent decades, wealthier students still earn the bulk of the bachelor's degrees awarded in this country, according to new data from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education and the University of Pennsylvania Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy.

A newly released study from the two groups found that the distribution of bachelor's degree attainment between family levels has remained relatively constant since 1970. The top two family income quartiles accounted for 72 percent of the total number of bachelor's degrees earned that year -- and 77 percent of bachelor's degrees earned in 2014. "The bottom two quartiles accounted for 28 percent in 1970 and 23 percent in 2014," the study found, "a decline of five percentage points over this period."

Kentucky Budget Includes Free Community College Plan

Kentucky lawmakers reached a budget agreement last week that includes a plan for free community college.

The budget includes $25 million for the "Work Ready" scholarships that would provide up to two years of free community college to the state's high school graduates, reported The Courier-Journal. The scholarship would provide so-called last-dollar aid for up to six semesters to newly enrolled students in the two-year system. Last-dollar aid means the scholarship would cover any tuition and fees that federal and state grants or assistance programs do not.

However, the state's community colleges and universities also will see a 4.5 percent cut in funding.

Republican Governor Matt Bevin has until April 27 to act on the budget bill.

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Community colleges look globally for programs to entice and retain students

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Small community colleges consider study abroad programs to retain students and offer something different.

Los Angeles to Offer Year of Free Community College

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti last week said the city would help finance a newly announced program to offer one year of free community college to graduates of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The announcement, which Garcetti made Thursday during his 2016 State of the City address, includes a $1.5 million fund-raising commitment from the city, the Los Angeles Times reported. The program's initial cost will be $3 million, and the K-12 district will pick up the other half of that amount. (Closing the price gap in California is fairly affordable, given the two-year system's low tuition prices.)

"Los Angeles will become the largest city in the nation to commit ourselves to a new goal: every hardworking student who graduates from LAUSD will receive one free year of community college," Garcetti said in the written version of his speech.

Lake Michigan College Suspends President

Lake Michigan College, a community college in Michigan, has suspended and may soon fire its new president, The South Bend Tribune reported. Board members have indicated that the new president, Jennifer Spielvogel, purchased a ceremonial medallion for her inauguration, renovated her office and made other purchases without authorization. Spielvogel's lawyer said she made those decisions with the assumption that they were within her rights as president.

SUNY Broome Community College's MOOC a rarity in higher education

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The steep investment is preventing two-year institutions from creating massive open online courses, but SUNY Broome Community College found a way -- and a purpose for one.

AERA papers explore adjunct faculty workforce, research at liberal arts colleges and more

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Papers at AERA meeting analyze the adjunct instructor workforce, research output at liberal arts colleges and the impact of financial aid programs aimed at making community college free.


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