Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Amid signs that some public universities are ending a period of restraint on presidential pay, political leaders and higher education employees are criticizing salary levels in three states this week:

  • In California, Governor Jerry Brown told The Los Angeles Times that public university systems were selecting "hired guns" from across the country to lead campuses, instead of nurturing local talent that would take on the jobs for lower salaries. Brown's comments come amid continued criticism of the $400,000 salary for the new president of San Diego State University, $100,000 more than his predecessor earned. "I believe on the campuses now there are many people who don't make near that salary that should have been groomed for leadership," Brown said.
  • In Indiana, an editorial in The Journal Gazette questioned a 12 percent raise for Indiana University President Michael McRobbie (bringing pay to $533,000), and a campus union called for his raise not to exceed the 1.5 percent raises that its members are receiving. University board members say that they want McRobbie's pay level to be at least in the middle of those offered by Big 10 institutions. The Journal Gazette's reply: "[B]onuses and six-figure salaries are disheartening to taxpayers facing smaller paychecks or, worse yet, no paycheck at all. The argument that a public official has cut costs, raised capital or could be lured by higher pay elsewhere is a tough one to make when so many workers are grateful to have even a low-paying job."
  • In Vermont, faculty leaders at the University of Vermont are criticizing the salary ($27,000 a month) that Daniel Fogel will receive on the 17 month leave he is taking as he departs the presidency, Vermont Public Radio reported. Board leaders have said that the pay is justified, given Fogel's successes as president. Faculty leaders said that the compensation level is inappropriate in a time of tight budgets.
Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The government of Brazil on Tuesday announced a program that will offer 75,000 scholarships and fellowships for Brazilian students and researchers abroad -- with funding of just over $2 billion. The funds will support students and researchers in science and technology fields, and include funds for undergraduates, doctoral students, and scientists starting their careers in Brazil and for researchers from other countries interested in working in Brazil or with scholars from the country.

 

 

 

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- In a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday morning, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated the Obama administration's commitment to keeping the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550 in fiscal year 2012, although the grants are the main reason the Education Department's requested budget has increased 20 percent since 2010. "We desperately want to preserve that maximum Pell Grant," Duncan said, adding that the administration has made "tough calls," including ending year-round Pell Grants and proposing the end of interest subsidies on graduate student loans, in order to make that possible.

Senator Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican member of the subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, responded that the department would have to prioritize. "How are we going to pay for this? That's the bottom line," Shelby said. "What are your priorities in the Department of Education? ... You're going to have to make some decisions."

Although much of the hearing was devoted to elementary and secondary education programs, Duncan also responded to Senator Dick Durbin, a frequent critic of for-profit education who called proprietary colleges a "Ponzi scheme" that made him less willing to vote for federal financial aid programs. "We've tried to move in the right direction, and seen significant changes in behavior," Duncan said of the department's program integrity rules. "I think this is going the right way, and I feel much more comfortable in our investments in grants and loans -- more comfortable today than before we did our regulation."

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

A full quarter of colleges students would rather wear a chastity belt than a backpack. This according to research commissioned by Kno, Inc., a software company that sells e-textbooks optimized for mobile devices. Absent any evidence that students want e-textbooks instead the printed kind, Kno's study focused on what students don't want: backpacks full of heavy print volumes that can be easily lost. In a survey of 506 students at four-year institutions, conducted by the marketing research firm Kelton Research, the company says that 25 percent give up sex for year to alleviate the burden of hauling their textbooks around for four years. More than a third said they would stay home on Saturday night for a whole semester. "The findings of the study show a shift in perception from college students and lend new light to the future of digital learning," the company declared in its press release.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

WASHINGTON -- In a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday morning, Education Secretary Arne Duncan reiterated the Obama administration's commitment to keeping the maximum Pell Grant at $5,550 in fiscal year 2012, although the grants are the main reason the Education Department's requested budget has increased 20 percent since 2010. "We desperately want to preserve that maximum Pell Grant," Duncan said, adding that the administration has made "tough calls," including ending year-round Pell Grants and proposing the end of interest subsidies on graduate student loans, to make that possible.

Senator Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies, responded that the department would have to prioritize. "How are we going to pay for this? That's the bottom line," Shelby said. "What are your priorities in the Department of Education?... You're going to have to make some decisions." Although much of the hearing was devoted to elementary and secondary education programs, Duncan also responded to Senator Richard Durbin, a frequent critic of for-profit education who called proprietary colleges a "Ponzi scheme" that made him less willing to support federal financial aid programs. "We've tried to move in the right direction, and seen significant changes in behavior," Duncan said of the department's program integrity rules. "I think this is going the right way, and I feel much more comfortable in our investments in grants and loans -- more comfortable today than before we did our regulation."

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The American Association of Community Colleges has released a report on community college students and Pell Grants. Among the findings:

  • Nearly 80 percent of Pell Grant recipients attending community colleges in 2009–10 had family incomes of less than 150 percent of the federal poverty threshold, and 60.7 percent were below the poverty threshold for a family of four ($20,000).
  • In 2009–10, 98.3 percent of Pell recipients at community colleges had allowable costs associated with attending college in excess of $6,000, and 91.9 percent had allowable costs in excess of $9,000.
  • Whereas only 40 percent of community college students enroll full time, nearly double that percentage of community college students receiving a Pell Grant were enrolled full time in 2009–10.
Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

The new edition of The Pulse podcast features a conversation with Donald Doane, CEO of ConnectYard Inc., which integrates social media features with learning management systems. Find out more about The Pulse here.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

Kentucky's attorney general, Jack Conway, on Wednesday sued Daymar College, charging the for-profit institution with overcharging students for textbooks, misleading students about financial aid and failing to offer accurate information about the ability of students to transfer credit to other institutions, The Louisville Courier-Journal reported. Conway has been leading an inquiry into the practices of for-profit colleges in the state. A Daymar spokesman said the college denies allegations, and plans to defend itself in court.

Thursday, July 28, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Mount Holyoke College's Elizabeth Markovits explains a striking similarity between the plot elements that define Greek tragedy and the democratic process. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - 3:00am

Florida Governor Rick Scott has started talking to appointees to college and university boards about embracing the controversial ideas being pushed in Texas to reform higher education, WCTV News reported. Governor Scott is a fan of Texas Governor Rick Perry, a fellow Republican whose allies are behind many of the reforms. Many of the Texas changes focus on measuring faculty work, and Governor Scott said that was a priority. "One of the things I really like about what he has in there is the fact that we should be measuring our professors," Scott told the News Service of Florida on Tuesday. "I believe students ought to be measuring the effectiveness of our professors because ultimately, it is the families' money paying for this. We really ought to have a measurement system [that is] student-centered."

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