Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

January 14, 2022

The Iowa Board of Regents voted this week to become test optional in admissions at the state’s three public universities: Iowa State University, the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa Capital Dispatch reported.

“Our findings continued to indicate that the tests do have some value on predicting first-year GPA (grade point average) but ultimately had a limited relationship to the likelihood of graduation,” Chief Academic Officer Rachel Boon said.

January 14, 2022

M. Elizabeth Magill, executive vice president and provost of the University of Virginia, has been nominated to serve as the ninth president of the University of Pennsylvania. The Board of Trustees will vote on her nomination March 4.

If confirmed, Magill will assume the Penn presidency on July 1, 2022. She would succeed Amy Gutmann, who announced last year that she would step down after serving in that role since 2004.

January 14, 2022

Today on the Academic Minute: Joanne M. Dickson, associate professor of psychology at Edith Cowan University, explores how to set goals in ways that increase the chances of reaching them. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 13, 2022

Dartmouth College announced an anonymous $40 million gift that will enable the college to offer need-blind admissions to international students. That brings to six the number of colleges with the policy: Amherst College, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard, Princeton and Yale Universities.

“In a time when many of humankind’s most difficult challenges know no borders, we are proud to be a magnet for undergraduate talent regardless of citizenship and regardless of a student’s ability to pay,” said President Philip J. Hanlon.

January 13, 2022

The largest private college in Michigan is a nonprofit that spends more on marketing than on financial aid and graduates fewer than a quarter of its students, according to a joint investigation from the Detroit Free Press and ProPublica that was published Wednesday.

Federal data shows that Baker College’s graduation rate is well below the national average for private four-year schools and is the third lowest among 26 private four-year schools in Michigan. Ten years after enrolling at Baker, fewer than half of former students made more than $28,000 a year.

Baker has an unusual oversight structure in which the university president also serves on the Board of Trustees, the Free Press and ProPublica reported. A retired Baker president served as the board chair until recently, earning more than $1 million a year for part-time work, the investigation showed. Boards are typically used to counterbalance university administrations and check their power, making the Baker arrangement highly unusual.

Baker officials told the Free Press and ProPublica that its open enrollment policy, under which it accepts most applicants with a high school degree or GED, is to blame for its low graduation rate. Baker has stressed its commitment to improving student outcomes and reducing debt but has not said how it does so, the Free Press and ProPublica reported.

Baker spent $9.7 million on marketing in the 2019–20 school year, which its president, Bart Daig, has previously said was justified because many of the programs Baker offers are not well-known.

January 13, 2022

Today on the Academic Minute: Oliver Civelli, professor of neuropharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, determines a possible solution to helping curb the opioid epidemic. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

January 12, 2022

The Black Cultural Center at the University of Utah received a bomb threat Tuesday morning.

University of Utah police are investigating the threat with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Interim Police Chief Jason Hinojosa told KUTV 2News. No bomb was found after a search of the building.

Hinojosa called the threat “very sad and infuriating.”

“This is meant to harass,” he said. “This is meant to torment, to stoke up fear, and it’s something we take very, very seriously.”

The bomb threat, which was made in a call to a crisis center call line in California, comes after a rash of similar threats at historically Black colleges and universities last week.

“The University of Utah is not a haven for this kind of hateful and biased thinking and attacks, and university leaders have committed to completing a thorough review with actionable steps to be implemented during the spring semester,” the university tweeted. “This assault on the security of our Black students, faculty and staff requires sensitivity, compassion and timely action.”

January 12, 2022

The University of Louisville told professors there is “no wiggle room” on its policy against remote teaching, despite the rise of the Omicron variant, the Courier Journal reported. David Owens, interim dean of arts and sciences, also reportedly told department chairs that moving designated in-person courses online during the COVID-19 case surge “may result in discipline.” Some 500 professors, staff members and students have signed a petition against the in-person-only policy, with professors generally seeking flexibility to hold class sessions online if they so choose.

John Karman, university spokesperson, reportedly told the Journal, “Because the science shows that classroom learning is safe and more effective, we feel it is vital to provide the best educational experience possible for our students.” Interim president Lori Stewart Gonzalez previously emailed faculty members and students to say that “in-person instruction and normal business operations” will proceed this semester because “severe illness to fully vaccinated individuals from contracting COVID remains very low.”

January 12, 2022

California governor Gavin Newsom’s proposed 2022–23 state budget promises hefty funding increases for the state’s higher education systems. The total $39.6 billion higher education budget includes a 5 percent annual increase in base funding for five straight years for the University of California and California State University systems, as well as $1.6 billion in new funding for the state’s 116 community colleges.

Over all, UC would gain $307.3 million in ongoing funding and CSU $304.1 million.

However, the money is contingent upon the institutions meeting certain targets—including closing the achievement gap among underserved students, increasing graduation rates, lowering student costs and boosting enrollment by California residents.

To that end, the budget proposes increasing funding to add 9,434 California students at Cal State and 7,132 at UC campuses—including 902 seats at UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC San Diego currently reserved for nonresident students. The budget allocates $31 million to those three campuses to compensate for the higher out-of-state tuition nonresidents pay, the Los Angeles Times noted.

January 12, 2022

The higher education technology company Ellucian announced Tuesday it will acquire CampusLogic, a company that helps students apply for financial aid more easily. Nearly 800 higher education institutions use CampusLogic on behalf of more than five million students.

The acquisition is the first investment by Ellucian since it was acquired by Blackstone/Vista Equity Partners in September. Lindsay Stanley, a spokeswoman for Ellucian, said in an email that the investment in CampusLogic “reinforces the company’s strategy of growth tied to the acceleration of digital transformation in higher ed.”

Stanley said that with CampusLogic in its portfolio, Ellucian will be better positioned to support students in discovering, applying and securing resources needed for enrolling and ultimately receiving their degrees.

Ellucian is a technology solutions provider for more than 2,700 higher education institutions around the world. CampusLogic seeks to simplify the financial aid application process for students while also helping them to discover grants, scholarships and other forms of funding.

Laura Ipsen, CEO of Ellucian, said in a statement that 86 percent of students in the United States now receive financial aid and that institutions are confronting an uptick in financial aid staff departures, creating an increasing workload. She said Ellucian’s track record enabling the digital transformation of higher ed and CampusLogic’s software-as-a-service (SaaS) financial aid product will combine to increase interactivity and speed with which students can get help meeting their financial needs.

“Integrating CampusLogic’s capabilities across Ellucian’s comprehensive SaaS offerings creates new opportunities for innovation beyond student financial success to address the issue of student well-being,” Ipsen said.

Gregg Scoresby, founder and CEO of CampusLogic, will join Ellucian in a new role focused on student success and well-being.

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