Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 7, 2016

Many university presses operate as largely stand-alone businesses, but some -- about 20 percent, according to the Educopia Institute -- are situated within or report directly to university libraries. Twenty-three such pairings in May met to discuss the benefits and challenges of that arrangement during the P2L Summit, a conference hosted at Temple University with support from the Association of American University Presses, the Association of Research Libraries and the Coalition for Networked Information.

On Tuesday, the organizations released a white paper with recommendations on how to tie libraries and university presses together. Many of the recommendations revolve around taking advantage of each organization's strengths -- for example, integrating staff and services, working together on promoting digital scholarship and open educational resources, and educating undergraduate and graduate students about publishing. The organizers plan to release details about a follow-up summit next year.

December 7, 2016

Today on the Academic Minute, Joshua Reiss, reader in the school of electronic engineering and computer science at Queen Mary University of London, says the auto-tune technique came from an unlikely place. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 6, 2016

The Debt Collective, an activist group and offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, is calling on the Obama administration to provide debt relief for student loan borrowers who say they were defrauded by for-profit institutions before President Obama leaves office next year.

The organization posted a video Monday of Pam Hunt, a debt striker and former Corinthian Colleges student, who appealed to Obama directly to forgive the debt of former students alleging fraud by shuttered for-profits Corinthian, ITT Technical Institute and The Art Institutes. Hunt and other debt strikers say their best chance of debt relief is in the next two months -- before the administration of Republican Donald Trump takes over in January.

"We’re appealing to you this one last time. This is, like, our last chance to get the justice we deserve," she said. "Please forgive these debts before you leave office."

In September, the Debt Collective announced it was organizing a debt strike by former students of ITT, who learned the week before that their campuses would be closing.

Later that month, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to Education Secretary John B. King Jr. saying his department was not doing enough to assist former Corinthian students. Warren's letter said nearly 80,000 former Corinthian students were eligible for debt relief but were in some form of debt collection. But King said it was not clear that fraud had occurred at every Corinthian campus and the department believed students must personally attest that they were defrauded as part of the debt relief process.

December 6, 2016

Through Dec. 1 (an application deadline for some institutions), the Common Application has received 1,077,900 applications for various early-decision programs. That covers all kinds of early decision -- including nonbinding. While it is hard to compare year-to-year interest because the Common Application accepts some new member colleges each year, that total is 17 percent higher than it was a year ago.

Officials of the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success and the Universal College Application -- two competitors of the Common Application -- declined to release figures.

December 6, 2016

A student at the University of Akron has been charged with stabbing his roommate while both were in an intoxicated fight over fast food, The Akron Beacon Journal reported. The student who was stabbed subsequently died in the hospital. The university released this statement: "The University of Akron community is deeply saddened by this tragedy. University officials, including UA President Matthew Wilson, have been with his family and friends since the incident became known. UA has offered its full support to the family and to his fellow students. Grief counselors are being made available to those who find themselves in need of those services."

December 6, 2016

Students in a history research class at the College of New Jersey used archives in the Trenton Free Public Library to study the city's history -- and they made a startling discovery. As Phillly.com reported, they found that Paul Loser, former superintendent of the city’s public schools from 1932 to 1955, had fought to segregate middle school students by race. Today, Loser's name is on a prominent campus building that houses the admissions office. The students who did the research are now campaigning to change the name of the building. Administrators have said they will meet with the students to discuss their concerns.

December 6, 2016

Today in the Academic Minute, William Chopik, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, asks if a happy spouse makes for a healthier you. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

December 5, 2016

Students were among those attending a concert/party Friday night in an Oakland, Calif., warehouse when a deadly fire broke out -- and some students who may have attended are missing. More than 33 bodies have been removed from the warehouse, but most have not been identified and authorities believe that many other bodies remain inside. San Francisco State University confirmed that one of its graduate students in education is believed to have been at the event and has been reported missing. The university has mobilized its counseling and psychological services team.

Similar efforts are taking place at the University of California, Berkeley, where two or three students are reported to be missing, although this number cannot be confirmed. Berkeley officials said that they couldn't comment on a number. But Nicholas Dirks, chancellor at Berkeley, released a statement that said, "It is with profound concern and regret that I write to inform you that members of the Berkeley campus community are among those who remain missing in the wake of the devastating fire that consumed an event space in Oakland late Friday night."

December 5, 2016

Overall national college completion rates are rising after a two-year slide, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which tracks 97 percent of all college enrollments.

For college students who first enrolled in 2010, the overall six-year graduation rate was 54.8 percent, an increase of 1.9 percentage points from the previous year's students. The new rate is similar to that of students who first enrolled in 2008, but is lower than the 56.1 percent rate for the pre-recession 2007 group.

“We can expect this nationwide recovery in college completion rates to continue in upcoming years,” said Doug Shapiro, the center's executive director.

The recession led to a nationwide surge in college enrollments, the center said, particularly among adult and part-time students. That bump was followed by declining completion rates, which have now partially reversed.

"Dramatic increases in enrollments appear to have leveled off and completion rates are recovering some ground," the report said. "For two-year institutions that could point to overcrowded classrooms to help explain lower completion rates in the previous years, the higher rates for this year’s smaller cohort were perhaps to be expected. For four-year public and nonprofit institutions, however, the rebounding completions rates accomplished with continuing increases in enrollment are a surprising result."

December 5, 2016

The nominations are now in for the 2016 #IHEreaderschoice contest for the best university press book for a holiday gift for someone in academe. Use the hashtag on Twitter or Facebook and you'll see all the nominees. Winners will be determined by the number of likes (or like equivalents).

Full details on the contest are available here.

The deadline for voting is 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Dec. 9.

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