Submitted by Paul Fain on January 8, 2016 - 3:00am
California Governor Jerry Brown on Monday proposed $1 billion in new funding for the state's public institutions, an increase of 3.4 percent. (Roughly $590 million of that amount would come from the state's general fund.) The total of $30 billion in state support for higher education would be an increase of 30 percent since 2012, when California emerged from years of deep, recession-driven budget cuts. Brown warned, however, that the salad days tend not to last long.
"The state’s short periods of balanced budgets have been followed by massive budget shortfalls. In fact, the sum of all the deficits during this period is seven times greater than the sum of all the surpluses," the budget proposal said.
The budget is structured so the University of California and California State University systems could keep their tuition levels flat for another year. Last year Brown struck a deal with UC to prevent tuition hikes.
UC, which is the most selective of the state's three systems, would receive the largest increase under the proposal -- $174 million, or 5.4 percent. Cal State would get $152 million, or 4.6 percent, in new funding. The state's community colleges would see an increase of $376 million, or 4.4 percent.
Brice Harris, the community college system's chancellor, said the proposed money would increase access to community college for almost 50,000 new students.
"The governor’s plan also includes a commitment to improve and expand our efforts to build a stronger workforce to meet the demands of our state’s economy, improve remedial education and help close achievement gaps," he said, in a written statement.
The National Center for Education Statistics released a new way to track completion data for students attending two-year colleges and has found increases in graduation rates.
NCES extended the time period for when students were tracked for program completion from 100 percent of normal time to 200 percent, or four years of normal time for an associate degree. Under the extended time, graduation rates for full-time, first-time undergraduates in 2010 increased from 18 percent to 36 percent at two-year institutions. Rates also increased for students at fewer-than-two-year institutions -- from 38 percent to 67 percent.
Most college graduates take a longer time to earn a degree than what is considered the traditional amount of time. An NCES report from 2010 found that 17 percent of students earning an associate degree completed in the traditional two years while 43 percent completed in two to three years and another 40 percent finished in three to six years.
Administrators at City College of San Francisco, where cuts to academic programs remain controversial, have been spending significant sums on travel and other expenses without documentation about the purpose of such spending, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. For example, records obtained by the newspaper show that the college paid for travel by President Virginia Parras to China, Taiwan and Vietnam without required records about the purpose of the trip. College officials said the trip was to recruit foreign students but couldn't say whether any enrolled as a result. College officials also couldn't provide information on why they paid for spending by Parras at Best Buy ($1,759 and $1,377) and at Amazon Marketplace ($735).
Rafael Mandelman, president of the City College Board of Trustees, told the San Francisco Chronicle that the district started an investigation after the newspaper started looking into the issue. The expenses may "be perfectly explainable," he said, but the lack of appropriate documentation pointed to continuing problems that need fixing with regard to "internal fiscal controls."
Alabama plans to consolidate seven community colleges into two -- the kind of move that in other states would have seen much protest. But these changes went through without much public opposition. That doesn't mean there isn't any opposition.
Leslie McClellon announced that she is stepping down as president of Rochester Community and Technical College, in Minnesota, The Star Tribune reported. In an email to the campus, she said that leaving the position she has held for 18 months is "in the best interest of the college." Student and faculty leaders have been pushing for McClellon's ouster, complaining about spending they consider lavish, hiring decisions they question and what critics call poor communication.
Also on Thursday, Nancy Carriuolo announced she would resign as president of Rhode Island College, a position she has held for more than seven years, NBC 10 News reported. Many faculty members have been pushing for her to leave, saying that she treats them and others unprofessionally and fails to consult others at the college about key decisions. While supporters said that the president improved the school, her resignation statement noted that the college is "divided" in ways that are not healthy for the institution, leading to her decision.
Improved transfer pathways from community colleges to four-year institutions may be the best answer to America's college completion woes, say three influential groups that will prod states and colleges on transfer.
The board of the Alabama Community College System voted Thursday to consolidate seven community colleges into two, AL.com reported. While merger proposals are frequently controversial, there was no opposition to (or discussion of) the proposal at the board meeting. The plan still requires other approvals, including from the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges, the accreditor of the institutions.
The plan would consolidate three community colleges under Faulkner State Community College. They are Jefferson Davis Community College, Southern Community College and Reid State Technical College. Two other community colleges -- Southern Union State Community College and Chattahoochee Valley Community College -- would be merged into Central Alabama Community College.