Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 16, 2018

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education has acquired the Voluntary Support of Education survey from the Council for Aid to Education and is using the annual survey to help build a clearinghouse for global advancement data.

CAE has conducted the Voluntary Support of Education survey since 1957. It decided to divest of the survey in order to focus on core assessment and learning efforts.

The survey’s director, Ann Kaplan, is joining CASE as part of the transaction. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. CASE is a longtime sponsor of the survey.

The new clearinghouse for advancement data is called AMAtlas and was announced Sunday. It is intended to bring together data from the Voluntary Support of Education survey, which is one of the key sources of data on giving to educational institutions in the United States, with data from more than 20 surveys CASE conducts around the world.

“CASE has done and continues to do a number of important surveys globally each year which relate to fund-raising, which relate to alumni relations, which relate to marketing across universities, colleges and schools,” said Sue Cunningham, president and CEO of CASE, in an interview. “And therefore the view was that we would create a hub, as it were, a sort of key resource.”

July 16, 2018

The Department of Defense announced Friday that service members who have been in the military for more than 16 years will no longer be able to transfer GI Bill benefits to their dependents, Military Times reports.

Currently, military members who have served at least six years are eligible to transfer their benefits to a spouse or a child if they agree to serve at least four more years. Members who are unable to serve an additional four years, due to mandatory retirement, medical issues or high-year tenure, are no longer eligible for transfer. The Pentagon is changing the policy “to more closely align the transferability benefit with its purpose as a recruiting and retention incentive,” they said in a statement.

The 16-year cap will be effective in one year.

"By giving them a one-year window, we believe it will give them ample time to gather information and make decisions," Jessica Maxwell, spokeswoman for the DoD, told Military Times. She also said that the policy change will affect about 9 percent of active-duty service members, National Guard members and reservists.

The American Legion has expressed concern about the cap, saying that the "transfer or lose" rule disadvantages veterans from fully using their earned benefits.

July 16, 2018

Baylor University has reached an undisclosed settlement with a female former student who reported being gang-raped by up to eight Baylor football players in 2012, ESPN reported.

In a lawsuit filed in May 2017, she accused the university of mishandling her complaint. The suit was one in a wave of sexual assault lawsuits against Baylor since 2011, and was part of an investigation by law firm Pepper Hamilton into the mishandling of sexual assault cases at Baylor, which resulted in the firing of football coach Art Briles, the suspension and later resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw, and the departure of university president Kenneth Starr.

The lawsuit claimed that several Baylor employees were informed about the rape and failed to act, and that the woman was subject to retaliation from the players, which later caused her to transfer. The woman and the her assailants have never been publicly identified. Baylor has previously settled two other lawsuits, one in November 2016 and another in September 2017, in which female students reported being gang-raped by football players.

July 16, 2018

A new report by the American Federation of Teachers shows that 41 states spend less money per higher education student today than they did before the 2008 recession. The report, titled "A Decade of Neglect: Public Education Funding in the Aftermath of the Great Recession," details the effects of austerity measures taken in the last 10 years.

"While state support has declined, the overall average cost of attending college has risen. Tuition costs for two-year colleges are up by an average 36 percent, and for four-year colleges, they are up by an average 40 percent, even after adjusting for inflation," the report says.

The findings also show that the decrease in public spending on higher education has lead to an increase in enrollment at for-profit colleges.

Extending beyond higher education, the report revealed that K-12 education is underfunded by $19 billion across 25 states. In 38 states, the average teacher salary is lower today than it was in 2009, and the student-to-teacher ratio is worse than it was in 2008.

The report points to states with Republican low-tax policies as the worst offenders. In addition, Congress is already using the tax cuts enacted by the Trump administration in December, which will cost $1.9 trillion, to call for greater disinvestment in public education. The tax cuts, coupled with the increase in voucher programs and charter schools, have put pressure on schools to cut services like counseling, libraries and special education.

"But blaming our current fiscal situation on the recession alone ignores the fact that states, mostly those controlled by Republican governors and state legislators, made things worse by pushing tax cuts for the wealthy," the report read. "These tax cuts for the very rich have drained state budgets of the resources needed to support our nation’s schools."

July 16, 2018

Worried about "preaching to the choir" on her Twitter account, Isabelle Côté, a professor of marine ecology and conservation at Simon Fraser University, analyzed the Twitter followings of over 100 ecology and evolutionary biology faculty at 85 institutions in 11 different countries.

She and collaborator Emily Darling categorized each follower as "inreach" if they were academics, scientists, conservation agencies or donors, or "outreach" if they were science educators, journalists, the general public, politicians or government agencies. They found that accounts with fewer than 1,000 followers primarily reached "inreach" followers, while accounts with over 1,000 followers had a greater mix of "inreach" and "outreach" followers.

But even with a greater diversity of followers, Côté said that there is no guarantee tweets are read or understood.

"There's clearly a lot of room for scientists to build a social media presence and increase their scientific outreach," she said in a press release. "Our results provide scientists with clear evidence that social media can be used as a first step to disseminate scientific messages well beyond the ivory tower."

July 16, 2018

Today on the Academic Minute, Carlos Mendes de Leon, professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan, examines wealth shock and its effects on your health. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

July 13, 2018

The University of Wyoming announced Thursday that it will stick with a planned marketing campaign with the theme "The World Needs More Cowboys." Some faculty members and others have suggested that the theme is sexist and that cowboys are not necessarily viewed favorably by Native Americans and others.

But university officials said that the campaign's ideas had been tested with various groups, and that the message was intended to be inclusive. “Drawing upon Wyoming’s proud heritage, this campaign redefines what it means to be a cowboy in this day and age, distilling it down to the inner spirit of curiosity and boldness that all who call themselves cowboys and cowgirls can identify with -- no matter their race or gender, or whether they’re students, employees, alumni or other supporters,” said a statement by President Laurie Nichols.

July 13, 2018

The Federal Bureau of Investigation this week released details of a fraud scheme that bilked more than $24 million in Post-9/11 GI Bill funds, affecting more than 2,500 student veterans.

The scam, which the FBI called a "basic bait-and-switch," involved officials with Ed4Mil, an online correspondence course provider, and a now former dean of Caldwell University, a private institution located in New Jersey. The for-profit Ed4Mil recruited veterans and service members to enroll in what they thought were Caldwell courses. Instead the students were taking unaccredited correspondence courses.

The co-conspirators would charge up to $20,000 for correspondence courses that cost less than $1,000, the FBI said, while pocketing the difference. The scheme continued for about four years.

David Alvey, Ed4Mil's founder and president, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and was sentenced last month to five years in prison. One of his employees also pleaded guilty and was sentenced to probation.

Lisa DiBisceglie, a former associate dean and associate vice president of academic affairs at Caldwell, pleaded guilty and was sentenced last month to six years of probation, Jersey Shore Online reported.

Caldwell has said current university officials had no knowledge of the fraud, and the FBI said the university cooperated fully in the investigation.

July 13, 2018

Roughly one-quarter of current college students think it will be difficult to finish their degree programs, according to the results of a new survey from Civitas Learning, a student success company, and the Center for Generational Kinetics, a research firm focused on young people.

The survey was conducted in April and May and received responses from 1,545 undergraduates who were enrolled in four-year institutions or community colleges. Leading the list among students' greatest perceived challenges to getting to graduation were time management (36 percent), anxiety (35 percent), being overwhelmed managing responsibilities (31 percent), study skills (25 percent) and working too many hours (24 percent). Respondents also cited housing security (12 percent) and food insecurity (8 percent).

Students reported feeling most confident turning to an academic adviser for help, compared to friends, family or other college staff. Yet roughly a quarter of respondents said it had been six months or longer since they met with an adviser, and 3 percent reported never having met with one.

July 13, 2018

A New York jury convicted the founder and former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute of steering development contracts to help companies owned by supporters of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Newsday reported. Alain Kaloyeros resigned in 2016 from the State University of New York institution after the corruption allegations surfaced. A statement from a SUNY spokeswoman Thursday said, "The verdict confirms that Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, former president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, breached the public trust. This is unacceptable of any public servant, but especially one who was trusted with leading a world-class public institution."

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