Quick Takes: Calif. Community College Chancellor Resigns, $100M to Eliminate Loans at Chicago, High Graduation Rates With Low-Income Students, Impact of Debt on Students, Lenders' Code of Conduct, Apple Unveils iTunes U., Textbook Report Previewed

May 31, 2007
  • Marshall (Mark) Drummond, chancellor of the California Community Colleges system, said Wednesday that he would resign this summer to return to the job he held previously, as chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District. Drummond, who was appointed chancellor of the state's unwieldy confederation of two-year colleges in late 2003, said in an e-mail message to its employees that "[f]or a variety of reasons, I have made the difficult decision to leave the System Office and accept the position of chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District." He did not elaborate, but the statewide chancellor's job is widely seen as a relatively powerless one. Drummond, who was chancellor of the Los Angeles district for four and a half years before leading the statewide college system, will replace Darroch (Rocky) Young, who is retiring.
  • The University of Chicago has received a pledge of $100 million to allow the institution to provide full scholarships, eliminating the need for loans, to students from families with incomes less than $60,000, the Chicago Tribune reported. The gift, from an anonymous donor, will cover the costs of the additional scholarships for 15 years and the university hopes to raise $300 million to endow the effort permanently.
  • Public universities can attract large numbers of low-income students without seeing graduation rates fall, according to a new report from the Pell Institute for the Study of Opportunity in Higher Education. The report analyzed public universities that enroll high percentages of low-income students, who typically have lower than average graduation rates. But the report found that universities that use certain strategies -- examples being reducing class size, creating a sense of community on campus, emphasizing the teaching role of faculty members -- do not see any drop in graduation rates.
  • The proportion of black athletic administrators has increased minimally since 1995-6, according to a report released Wednesday by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Black gains were more notable for associate athletic directors and for Division II positions, but the proportion in head coaching positions has been flat.
  • Students with more debt are more likely to focus on preparing for high salary jobs and are likely to make smaller donations to their alma mater after graduation, according to new research published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.
  • The Consumer Bankers Association released its own code of conduct Wednesday to guide lenders' relationships with student loan borrowers and with colleges. The trade group, whose members include some of the biggest lenders in the federal guaranteed student loan program, aims to ensure that borrowers have their choice of lender and that banks do not offer "anything of value" to colleges or their employees in exchange for any commitment of federal loan volume or "take any action which causes an employee of a school to have a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict."
  • Apple introduced iTunes U, a new section within its music software where universities can publish lecture audio, promotional videos and other downloadable media for current and prospective students. Top downloads on Wednesday included a "What Is Existentialism?" lecture from the University of California at Berkeley and another called "Technical Aspects of Biofuel Development" at Stanford University. Unlike traditional podcasts, not just anyone can post material to iTunes U -- universities control the content, and institutions can sign up to publish their own media relatively easily, according to Chris Bell, Apple's director of worldwide marketing for iTunes. The new initiative to bring content from institutions of higher learning together into a unified interface stemmed in part from a program that began with Stanford in 2005, in which colleges could offer course content available only to their students. iTunes U was developed in collaboration with many of those colleges and universities, Bell added. "It’s free to the university, it’s free to the end user, and we think it’s a great way to take the assets that universities have and really serve the public," he said.
  • In a full report due Friday, a nonpartisan federal panel that advises Congress on issues of access to higher education outlines perceived problems in the textbook market and says that a number of steps are needed to lessen the rising costs for college students. The Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance conducted its research at the request of Howard P. (Buck) McKeon (R-Calif.), then-chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Education and Labor, and Rep. David Wu (D-Ore.), another committee member. The advisory group repeats a common argument that the textbook market is driven by supply rather than demand -- that while publishers have a large influence, the end customers have little, if any, say over the book price. (An initial press release about the report does not speak to consumer choice or the faculty role in selecting the pricey books, which the publisher groups often point out.) The report recommends that the federal government ensure that grant aid is available for needy students, and it encourages states and colleges to voluntarily adopt practices -- some already in place -- such as creating online marketplaces or clearinghouses that provide pricing and product information. Legislative action and regulatory measures would be counterproductive, the group says.
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