Anthem Inc., a national health care company, announced Tuesday that its 55,000 employees can pursue a no-cost associate or bachelor's degree at College for America, a competency-based subsidiary of Southern New Hampshire University. The new benefit is available to any Anthem employee who works 20 hours or more per week and has been employed there for at least six months. The company's tuition reimbursement plan will cover the full price of the online degrees.
Southern New Hampshire is the first of six institutions to have received approval from the U.S. Department of Education and regional accreditors for direct-assessment academic programs, a form of competency-based education that does not rely on the credit-hour standard. Students can move at their own pace in direct-assessment degree tracks -- taking as much or as little time they need to master the required competencies.
“Anthem is committed to offering its associates a robust benefits package that goes beyond salary and health benefits,” Jose Tomas, chief human resources officer at Anthem, said in a written statement. “Our partnership with College for America has proven successful for our associates who participated in the pilot program in New Hampshire, and we want to build on that success by providing opportunities for education, development and career advancement to all our associates.”
Paul LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire's president, said thousands of Anthem employees will benefit from the partnership.
“As an employer, Anthem is building talent and the skills needed for promotion in its workforce while associates earn an accredited degree that will help them get ahead in their life and career without taking on debt,” LeBlanc said in a written statement.
The hit television show The Big Bang Theory is about young scientists, and the real co-creator of the show, along with many cast and crew members, has created a scholarship for science students at the University of California at Los Angeles. Already $4 million has been raised from the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation and actors such as Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Simon Helberg, Kunal Nayyar and Mayim Bialik. The show has many ties to UCLA -- Bialik, who portrays Amy Farrah Fowler, earned a doctorate in neuroscience at the university, and the program’s science consultant is David Saltzberg, a professor of physics and astronomy at UCLA.
Duquesne University announced Wednesday that it is increasing its minimum wage to $16 an hour, far above the $7.25 required by federal and state law. Last year, the university set its minimum wage at $15 an hour. In addition to the extra dollar an hour, the university announced that it will give employees whose salaries are below $34,000 a 0.5 percent raise. Further, the university is making a $500 contribution to employees' dependent-care flexible spending accounts.
The College of Saint Rose on Monday announced that it would eliminate 40 administrative and staff positions, 17 of them vacant, in a push to cut costs, The Albany Times-Union reported. The college's enrollment of 4,500 is down by about 800 since 2008. The college is also changing the way it covers employee health insurance. The college has covered 90 percent of costs and is maintaining that for those earning less than $30,000 a year. But those earning more will have to pay for a larger share of the costs.
The University of California at Los Angeles on Wednesday announced a $100 million gift for its business school -- the largest ever for the business school. The donation is from Marion Anderson. The UCLA Anderson School of Management is named for her late husband, John E. Anderson, in recognition of an earlier gift by the couple. UCLA will use $60 million from the new gift for financial aid, fellowships and research funding. The remaining $40 million will be seed funding for a new building.
Many states are moderately restoring higher education funding, but major cuts during the 2008 recession have made for an uphill battle.
In 47 states, per-student public funding for higher education remains well below prerecession levels, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That's in spite of the fact that 37 states increased higher education funding last year by an average of nearly 4 percent. The average state is spending $1,805 per student, or 20 percent less than before the 2008 recession. In severe cases -- like in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and South Carolina -- funding has been reduced by 35 percent.
“Deep state funding cuts have had major consequences for public colleges and universities. States (and to a lesser extent localities) provide roughly 53 percent of the revenue that can be used to support instruction at these schools,” stated the report.
Yale University on Monday announced a $150 million gift to renovate several historic facilities and to create a campus hub for student life with a mix of educational, cultural and social functions. The gift is from Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone founder and a Yale alumnus.
Norfolk State University announced Friday that it will eliminate 97 jobs -- some of them currently vacant -- to deal with a $16.7 million deficit in the budget for the next academic year, The Virginian-Pilotreported. Norfolk State is a historically black college that is struggling with enrollment and, as a result, with finances. Enrollment for the fall is expected to be about 5,100 -- a drop of 900 in a year. Of particular concern is that only 500 freshmen are expected.