Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 9, 2012

State grant programs for college students should move beyond their traditional dichotomy between “need based” and “merit based” aid and instead target students with financial need but set expectations and support for college success, says a report published Tuesday by a Brookings Institution panel. The report, which was discussed at an event at Brookings Tuesday and outlined in an essay on Inside Higher Ed, argues that the grants must be made more effective given their increasing performance as tuition costs rise and other state support for higher education erodes.

 

May 9, 2012

University of Utah faculty members are willing to move class locations on days that night football games will be played on campus, but they issued a plan Monday designed to demonstrate that there is no need to call off classes, as was done last season, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Faculty leaders said that it was important to make a statement about the values of the institution by not calling off classes just because of a weeknight football game. "Do we want to send a message that the education of our students is secondary to other interests? We have made a commitment as an institution to accommodate what we do for a living, and that’s education," said Patricia Hanna, a professor of linguistics.

May 9, 2012

Major League Baseball and the National Collegiate Athletic Association are in the early stages of discussion of a potential partnership in which the professional league could fund scholarships and otherwise support the sport at the collegiate level, the Associated Press and CBSsports.com reported. The AP quoted Walt Harrison, president of the University of Hartford and a leader in NCAA governance, said he was "cautious" about whether the partnership would come about, but that he could envision similar arrangements occurring in golf and other sports.

May 9, 2012

Hebrew College has abandoned plans to sell its campus to pay off its debt, The Boston Globe reported. The college had planned to move into leased space. But 18 months after announcing plans to sell the campus, the college has managed to reduce its spending on administrative functions, and to attract enough new backing to stay put.

 

May 9, 2012

The University of Michigan is today unveiling a new way to encourage faculty research innovation. In a $15 million program called MCubed, faculty members will receive a token for $20,000. When three faculty members decide to "cube" their tokens and work together on a project, they will receive -- on a first-come, first-served basis -- $60,000 to hire one graduate student, undergraduate student, or postdoctoral researcher to begin work on the idea. Thirty faculty members could cube together and get funds for 10 such positions. The idea is to let researchers quickly move toward testing their projects, rather than going through the long peer review process to receive an initial planning grant. Michigan officials hope these "cubed" grants will let researchers move quickly into position to apply for much larger outside grants.

“The world has changed and yet higher education’s funding model is the same. With the speed at which people communicate and share information today, we see an opportunity to do things in a very different way. This is a totally new model that could turn things upside down,” said Mark Burns, professor and chair of chemical engineering. Burns developed the idea with Alec Gallimore and Thomas Zurbuchen, both associate deans in the College of Engineering.

May 9, 2012

The University of Miami is preparing to lay off as many as 800 employees, roughly 8 percent of its work force, amid cutbacks in state and federal funds and payments by insurers, The Miami Herald reported. Although Miami is a private institution that often operates out of public view, it signaled its plans on a state website Tuesday because of a Florida law that requires employers to warn of layoffs that would affect 500 or more workers.

May 8, 2012

Chester College employees overwhelmingly passed a critical report on President Robert Baines on Monday, saying the institution’s dire financial situation is due to mismanagement at the highest levels. (Separately, the institution's board affirmed its confidence in Baines in a unanimous vote.)

Every non-adjunct faculty member and all but one staff member signed the 15-point vote of no confidence that said the college’s $750,000 deficit and possible closure “were preventable had the president fulfilled his responsibilities and had the board of trustees held him accountable.”

Baines said the anger is understandable, but that he's confident he handled a difficult situation as best he could while enrollment fell and infrastructure crumbled.

The 119-student arts college in New Hampshire must find hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to stay open next fall. Initial fund-raising efforts had yielded $87,000 as of Sunday, encouraging faculty and student leaders but leaving them far short of their ultimate goal.

Among the criticisms of Baines were his failure to raise funds and his slow speed in alerting employees and students to the magnitude of the financial situation. The petition accuses him of saying, “You cannot fund-raise for a sinking ship.”

He disputes ever saying "sinking ship," but said the concept is accurate enough. "It’s very difficult to go out and raise money with the financial situation we’re in," he said. Efforts to find a partner to take over the campus fell through because many of the college's facilities are in disrepair, Baines said.

The no-confidence vote concedes that Chester’s closure is a possibility, and the document outlines employee efforts to help students transition to a new college should that become necessary. But the document expresses hope Chester can be saved – alluding to pledges of $600,000 in donations over the next six years -- and asks that Baines step aside should the college survive.
 

May 8, 2012

The national accrediting agency for Career Education Corp. on Monday decided not to pursue penalties against 71 campuses that had been under review over reported problems with job placement rates. Four campuses, however, were placed on probation. The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools had asked the for-profit higher education provider to demonstrate that its job-placement reporting was adequate after a recent review by an outside law firm found that some campuses lacked sufficient documentation. Career Education's president and CEO, Gary E. McCullough, resigned shortly after that news broke. Steven H. Lesnik, the new CEO, said in a news release that the company "had made great strides" but would continue to improve student job placement results.

May 8, 2012

In today’s Academic Minute, Amina Eladdadi of the College of Saint Rose explains how mathematical models can help physicians predict the growth of cancerous tumors. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 8, 2012

Anthony Tricoli has quit as president of Georgia Perimeter College, which is facing a $16 million budget shortfall, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. The college is planning to suspend contracts, cut travel and delay hiring, among other steps to deal with the shortfall.

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