Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 31, 2017

Students who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or queer or who are questioning their sexuality are more likely to use their school’s counseling services, but that population also reported more mental health issues, a new study has found.

In 2013, the RAND Corporation, a policy think tank, surveyed more than 33,000 students at two- and four-year public universities in California about mental health problems. About 7 percent indicated they were LGBQQ (queer and questioning).

The results of that study were released Tuesday. It was published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

LGBQQ students reported higher rates of psychological distress compared to their heterosexual counterparts -- about 26 percent said they were suffering from psychological problems compared to 18 percent of the heterosexual population.

About 63 percent of LGBQQ students reported high levels of stress within the month they were surveyed, versus 55 percent of heterosexual students.

Nearly 31 percent of LGBQQ students said they used some sort of therapeutic service, with a little less than 16 percent using on-campus counseling. Only about 18 percent of heterosexual students used some sort of therapy, and about 9 percent used the college and university services.

“Our study underscores the need for additional actions to increase access to and use of mental health services among all students,” Bradley Stein, one of the co-authors of the study and a RAND physician scientist, said in a statement Tuesday. “It also highlights the need for efforts to ensure that campuses’ mental health services are sensitive and responsive to the needs of sexual minority students, enabling all students to address their mental health needs and maximize their chances for success in college and beyond.”


May 31, 2017

Central European University announced Tuesday that it will remain in Budapest for the 2017-18 academic year, amid hope that it will be able to do so for the long run as well.

The university, founded in 1991, has American and Hungarian accreditation and offers graduate education in the social sciences and various professional fields. The university has won international praise for the quality of its academic programs. But a law passed in Hungary in April has endangered the university by requiring that it offer programs in New York State, where it is chartered but does not offer programs. The law has been condemned by academics worldwide as an attack on the university. Above right is one of the symbols of a social media campaign on behalf of the university. (While the exact motives are unclear, many say that the Hungarian government is trying to attack George Soros, the financier and philanthropist who founded the university.)

Tuesday's announcement follows word that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has authorized negotiations with the Hungarian government on ways that the university might be able to comply with the law through some arrangement with New York State, while maintaining its mission of operating in Hungary.

“We need a solution in place in order to recruit new students for academic year 2018-19,” said a statement from the university's president and rector, Michael Ignatieff. “We want the negotiations in New York to come to a speedy and successful conclusion that removes the obstacles to our remaining in Budapest.”

May 31, 2017

The University of Northern Iowa’s faculty union says it will manage to preserve many of its contractual benefits, despite a new state law that severely limits collective bargaining rights for professors at public institutions. United Faculty, which is affiliated with the American Association of University Professors, issued a joint statement with the university vowing a “collaborative process” to ensure current contract terms are maintained after the master agreement expires at the end of June.

The mechanism is a new faculty handbook, and it’s nearing completion ahead of that deadline, according to The Courier. “We really give a lot of credit to President [Mark] Nook, because he realized right away that it was important to preserve all the parts of the contract that allow United Faculty and others to preserve proper working conditions for faculty, so the process of collaboration on this was really great,” Joe Gorton, union president and professor of criminology, told the newspaper.

May 31, 2017

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Tuesday a new tuition-free college program for low-income students in Boston. Boston Bridge would be available for 2017 high school graduates who live in the city.

The state and the city would provide a last-dollar scholarship to cover students' tuition and fees, after federal Pell Grants are taken into account.

Students can qualify for the program if they meet federal aid standards and enroll full-time at Bunker Hill Community College, Roxbury Community College or Mass Bay Community College. Students would be required to complete their associate's degrees within two and a half years before transferring to a state college or university.

May 31, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, David Festinger, professor in the department of psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, looks into options for handling the opioid crisis. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

May 30, 2017

Sierra Nevada College has notified all faculty members, who normally receive contracts for the next academic year in May, that no contracts are being awarded this month. The college says that some faculty members will in August receive contracts for the next academic year. A letter to faculty members, obtained by Inside Higher Ed, says that the college needs more time "to better gauge the most likely level of enrollment that can be expected for the 2017-18 academic year and the college's ability to develop a balanced budget."

Via email, Alan Walker, the president, confirmed the accuracy of the letter. He said that the need for more time to determine enrollment levels for next year is because "a significant portion of the entering class has historically come in later than other institutions (beyond the traditional May-early June period)."

May 30, 2017

An article in the San Francisco Chronicle detailing spending on lavish parties by the University of California Board of Regents is resulting in criticism of the spending. For example, in January, on the night before voting to increase tuition rates, the board held a party for 65 people at a total cost of $17,600, or $270 per person. In May, the board had a $258-per-person party for 59 people. A spokeswoman for the university said that the events are a longstanding tradition, paid for with private funds.

May 30, 2017

Sister Joel Read (right), former president of Alverno College, died Thursday at the age of 91. She was named president of Alverno -- a Roman Catholic women's college in Wisconsin -- in 1968, and she served in that position for 35 years. While president, she pioneered a program in which the curriculum was organized around abilities students needed for various degrees, and assessment programs were created for those abilities and the broader impact of the Alverno education. The assessment efforts at Alverno were adopted many years before such practices became common -- and influenced many other colleges.

May 30, 2017

Salem College, which faced protests this year from minority students, has dismissed the head of its Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. The college says that it is upgrading the office and will seek to hire a vice president to lead it. But minority students are criticizing the plan, saying that the current office and director provide important support.

May 30, 2017

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has vetoed legislation that would have barred colleges from asking about a prospective student’s criminal history on applications. The Republican governor wrote in a letter explaining his veto of the two bills from both chambers of the state’s Legislature that he felt student safety would be jeopardized.

“This could lead to situations where a school unknowingly admits a student with a violent past or feels it must accept a student with a criminal history for fear of running afoul of the law,” Hogan wrote.

Hogan noted in his letter that the legislation did not differentiate between a felony crime -- like a sexual assault -- and a misdemeanor.

The bills did allow institutions to include a question about criminal history on applications through a third party, if the institution posted a notice on its website that criminal history does not disqualify an applicant from being admitted.

“While individuals of all criminal backgrounds should be given educational, employment and growth opportunities, colleges and universities must have the ability to know who they are accepting onto their campuses. We should not encourage schools to turn a blind eye to a prospective student’s potentially violent criminal background,” Hogan wrote.


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