Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Robert Kelchen, a professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, discusses research on ways to improve the efficiency of getting into colleges. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 4:20am

Many nonprofit hospitals comply with the city of Boston's request for twice-yearly payments from nonprofit organizations with more than $15 million in tax-exempt property in the city. But an analysis by The Boston Globe finds that many private colleges don't come close to the totals the city requests to cover their share of costs, such as snow removal and police and fire department protection. Of the 19 colleges that the city asked for funds, 13 gave less than requested in 2015. A Globe analysis of the eight colleges with the highest-value tax-exempt holdings in the city gave these figures for the share of the funds that the city asks that they actually gave:

  • Northeastern University and Emmanuel College: 13 percent
  • Emerson College: 19 percent
  • Boston College: 23 percent
  • Harvard University: 44 percent
  • Wentworth Institute of Technology: 50 percent
  • Suffolk University: 50 percent
Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 4:30am

With Jon Stewart about to leave The Daily Show, President Obama returned to the show for a final interview on the program. Stewart raised the issue of a lack of "shared sacrifice" in the country, and suggested that college become three years, followed by a year of national service. President Obama didn't endorse the program as policy, but praised the concept. "The best education I got," President Obama said, was working "in low-income neighborhoods." He said he learned that "I wanted to commit myself to something bigger than just me."

Obama went on to say that young people are more idealistic than people think. "This notion that young people have lost their idealism, or that they are too cynical or ironic, that's not true," he said. "But we have to give them pathways." Obama said that this is why "we've tried to expand AmeriCorps."

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 3:00am

For the first time since it began providing a single outlook for all of higher education in 2013, Moody's Investors Service has given the enterprise a "stable" rather than "negative" assessment, the ratings agency announced Tuesday. The outlook, which projects the business conditions over the next 12-18 months for the 500-plus colleges and universities that the agency rates, projects that there will be no "material worsening or improving of business conditions" over that period, Edith Behr, one of the authors of the report, said in an interview. "We don't expect another shoe to drop."

The "stable" level at which economic conditions for higher education seem to be settling isn't a great one; operating revenue growth will sit just above the rate of inflation, at about 3 percent, Moody's says. But colleges and universities over all have done a good enough job containing costs, which along with solid investment returns, slightly growing spending by states and stabilizing net tuition revenue should be enough to help most colleges get through the period reasonably well.

Moody's is clear, though, that about 20 percent of the institutions it rates will struggle more than others, as it said in another report last week. And because Moody's only examines the institutions it rates, many of the most vulnerable small independent colleges are not fully captured in its analyses.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 3:00am

The Dallas Morning News on Monday published information about the letters sent by numerous powerful individuals seeking to influence the admissions process at the University of Texas at Austin. Word of the letters (and the letter writers) is setting off new scrutiny of admissions at the university, with many of the powerful saying that they didn't necessarily follow up or seeking to punish the university for disregarding requests. Some letter writers were quite honest that they didn't know much about the applicant on whose behalf they wrote. W. A. Moncrief, an oil executive who has given at least $25 million to UT, wrote on behalf of one applicant: “I do not know this young man or anything about his qualifications, but I do know [the student’s] parents and I know his grandparents very well.” Moncrief added that the student “is certainly from a very fine and highly respected family.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 3:00am

The number of low-income students who meet key college-readiness benchmarks remained flat among 2014 high school graduates who took the ACT, according to a new report from ACT and the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships. That number has stagnated for the past five years, the report said.

About one-quarter of 2014 high school graduates who took the ACT reported an annual family income of less than $36,000. While 96 percent of this group said they planned to attend college, more than the overall group of test takers, roughly half of the low-income students did not meet any of ACT's four key readiness indicators. The report found that 31 percent of all students who took the ACT also do not meet those readiness benchmarks. For example, only 25 percent of low-income students (who took the recommended core course work) were deemed ready in math, compared to 43 percent of all students.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 3:00am

Michigan State University this month opened the Center for Legal Services Innovation, an initiative within the university's College of Law that plans to use data to improve the legal profession. The interdisciplinary center, known as LegalRnD, will host "hackathons" to improve the delivery of legal services and -- as the name suggests -- engage in research and development. Courses offered by the center will be taught by faculty members in Michigan State's other colleges, and this fall's lineup of courses includes offerings on information security and quantitative analysis.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 3:00am

Larry Schall, president of Oglethorpe University, is spending an unusual few weeks for a university president. He's working as an Uber driver, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He said he wanted to learn more about how Americans work these days. The idea was inspired by John Coleman, a Haverford College president who in 1974 wrote a book, Blue Collar Journal, in which he described a secret sabbatical working in blue-collar jobs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 3:00am

The Illinois Labor Relations Board on Friday certified union pledge cards filed by a majority of Kishwaukee College adjunct faculty members. As a result, the 100-plus adjuncts will now be represented by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which also represents full-time faculty members at the community college.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, William Parker, associate professor of surgery at Duke University Medical Center, considers whether we are more stressed than our ancestors. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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