Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Adults aged 18 to 34 are overwhelmingly concerned about the cost of college and levels of student debt, regardless of whether they attended college, and oppose cuts to federal student aid programs, according to survey results announced Wednesday by the Institute for College Access and Success, Young Invincibles and Demos: Ideas and Action, three advocacy groups. The survey found that 73 percent of respondents believe college students graduate with too much debt, while only 21 percent described the average debt as "manageable."

Respondents also said they oppose cutting back on federal student aid programs, including Pell Grants and the in-school interest subsidy for low-income borrowers. Majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independent voters said they opposed cutting Pell Grants: 75 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of Independents and 76 percent of Republicans who were given a short description of the grants said they opposed cuts for deficit reduction. They disagreed at similar rates with a proposal to cut the in-school interest subsidy for some student loans.

The survey was conducted by Lake Research Partners (a primarily Democratic polling firm) and Bellwether Research and Consulting (which describes itself as "center-right").

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 4:40am

The suicides of two undergraduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall have shaken the university and prompted a review of all aspects of student life and student services, The Boston Globe reported. While MIT has had suicides before, these two have been particularly upsetting to many on the campus because of the youth of the students, both of whom were 18.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Mark David Milliron, who recently announced his resignation from a high-profile position with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been named chancellor of Western Governors University Texas. Milliron was deputy director for postsecondary improvement at Gates. He is among several foundation officials who worked on higher education to depart in recent months. WGU Texas is an online, nonprofit university that was created in August in partnership with the state's government. A former president and CEO of the League for Innovation in the Community Colleges, Milliron was a member of WGU's Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2010.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 3:00am

The U.S. Education Department announced Wednesday that it will investigate whether Pennsylvania State University may have violated the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act in regard to allegations against a former coach who has been charged with sexually abusing several young boys over several years, including incidents on campus. Under the Clery Act, colleges must disclose the number of criminal offenses on campus that are reported each year. In addition, colleges must issue a timely warning if a reported crime represents a threat to those on campus. A statement from Education Secretary Arne Duncan said: "If these allegations of sexual abuse are true then this is a horrible tragedy for those young boys. If it turns out that some people at the school knew of the abuse and did nothing or covered it up, that makes it even worse. Schools and school officials have a legal and moral responsibility to protect children and young people from violence and abuse."

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Andy Anderson of Michigan State University explores the root causes of why most students fail to achieve a sufficient level of scientific literacy. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 4:31am

The Los Angeles Community College District has fired a third contractor used in its controversial multi-billion dollar construction campaign, The Los Angeles Times reported. The dismissals follow a series of articles in the Times about delays, flaws and cost over-runs in the construction program. The latest contractor to be fired was involved in a $123 million budget shortfall that led to the abandonment of plans for four building projects.

 

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 3:00am

As more and more colleges provide gender-neutral dorms and bathrooms, Grinnell College has become one of the few to include a locker room in its offerings. A handful of other colleges, such as the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Washington State University, have similar facilities available for transgender students, those with families or others who prefer a gender-neutral option. Several other institutions, including the Universities of Cincinnati and Massachusetts at Amherst, have built private, single-use changing rooms, while others have promised to do so when any new facilities are built. Still, Grinnell’s decision is generating buzz – and not all of it is positive.

Thursday, November 10, 2011 - 4:33am

A faculty strike has ended at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. While faculty union leaders did not release full details of the status of negotiations, they said that they had made significant progress that they said would protect faculty rights, including tenure.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 3:00am

Jack Conway, Kentucky's attorney general, was easily re-elected Tuesday. Conway, a Democrat who is leading a 22-state joint investigation of for-profit colleges, has become a pariah to some Kentucky for-profits, whose administrators had donated to the campaign of his challenger, Todd P'Pool. Conway received a late endorsement from Howard Dean, and withstood Sarah Palin's recent backing of his opponent. The former Senate candidate has pledged to continue his pursuit of bad actors among for-profits, which includes two active lawsuits, five open investigations and the multi-state group of attorneys general.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011 - 3:00am

The Oregon University System will not fight the state appeals court decision that overturned its system-wide gun ban and in effect legalized concealed carry, the system announced Tuesday. The court ruled in September that the ban, which prohibited guns and other weapons from Oregon’s seven public campuses, was illegal because only the state legislature has the authority to make such a rule. The system had said at the time it would consider an appeal. “While we feel strongly that the court decision is not in the best interests of our students and campus communities, we do not want to go through a long and costly process that may produce the same outcome,” George Pernsteiner, the system’s chancellor, said in a statement Tuesday. “Instead, we have started work on internal processes that are already in place or that we can put in place that will maintain a reasonable and satisfactory level of campus safety and security. ” Those include internal conduct codes, contracts and other policies that could be expanded to “reduce the likelihood of firearms on campus to the extent legally possible,” the statement said. It is still a felony under state law to carry a firearm in a public building or adjacent grounds without a valid concealed weapons permit.

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