Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 3:00am

Matt Bambrough, Utah Valley University's director of creative services, has done over one of its staircases. In part, the project aims to encourage people to think about whether they need to text at all times and to watch where they are going while texting. In part, it's an art project that some will ignore while going up the stairs.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 3:00am

The new president of the University of Texas at Austin said Tuesday that he would commission an independent review of the academic services the Longhorn sports programs provide to athletes, in the wake of a highly critical news report alleging that players received improper academic help. The "top-to-bottom" review, as President Gregory Fenves called it, will be conducted by Gene Marsh, a former law professor who spent many years involved in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's enforcement system. It was prompted by an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) charging that Texas has "let academically deficient players push the limits of its policy on academic integrity as it has sought to improve its teams' academic records."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 4:26am

Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback whose reputation has been damaged by a football deflation scandal, made a rare public appearance following a report that was critical of him and his team, speaking at Salem State University. The Boston Globe reported that the university's foundation paid him $170,000 for the appearance. The university said that no public funds were used, and that the speaker series in which Brady participated raises money for scholarships.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 4:23am

Federal authorities have charged Munther Omar Saleh, a college student, with conspiring to help the Islamic State carry out attacks in New York City, The New York Times reported. Officials said that Saleh was seeking to learn how to make explosive devices. The criminal complaint against Saleh says that in January, he enrolled “at a college specializing in aeronautics located in Queens, New York, and began course work and laboratory work in electrical circuitry.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 3:00am

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a new study today that shows more than 60 percent of students who earned an associate degree when they were 20 years old or younger went on to earn a bachelor's within six years. For all students who earned an associate degree, 41 percent finished a bachelor's degree within six years.

The research backs claims that a degree from a two-year institution will help pave a path toward a bachelor's degree. The study also found that it took on average 2.8 years for students with an associate degree to earn a bachelor's.

"Measuring the extent to which certificates and associates degrees serve as stepping-stones to higher educational awards is critical to understanding today's educational pathways," said Doug Shapiro, executive research director of the center, in a news release. "These first credentials are increasingly the entry points of choice for disadvantaged and first-generation college students, making them important to questions of equity in postsecondary degree attainment."

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 4:21am

Legislative leaders in New York State have agreed on a deal to require public and private colleges to have “affirmative consent” policies, The New York Times reported. Under such policies, both students must explicitly consent to a sexual act. California has such a law, and a number of New York's public and private colleges and universities have such policies, but the legislation will require all campuses in the state to adopt a core definition for consent and specific language for amnesty and other policies. The legislation has been a major goal of Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, although the version that was enacted differs from what the governor proposed. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version.)

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 3:00am

Massachusetts' nine public universities will have some of their state support tied to a funding formula based on the number of students they graduate. The state board of higher education on Tuesday voted to approve the formula and will apply $5.6 million to it in the coming fiscal year.

The board described its approach to performance funding in a news release: "It is based on a complex formula of metrics and weights developed by NCHEMS, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. An institution’s share of the funding will be determined in part by its five-year graduation rates, annual head count, full-time enrollment, year-over-year increases in degrees awarded, the numbers of students who reach 30 and 60 credit hours each year (with additional points awarded for low-income students who qualify for federal Pell Grants), as well as numbers and types of degrees awarded (with additional points awarded for degrees in 'priority fields' such as STEM, health, business and education). Campuses are also awarded points for 'degree productivity,' the cost of producing a degree per $100,000 in total revenue."

Community colleges in Massachusetts have received some performance funding since 2013. While the formulas are different, the board said both seek to close achievement gaps and to improve the graduation rates of underrepresented minority and low-income students.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 3:00am

Excelencia in Education today released a report that lists the 25 colleges that graduate the most Latino students in science, technology, engineering and math. Using data from 2013, the nonprofit group found that 2 percent of all U.S. institutions graduate one-third of Latinos who earn STEM credentials. While the number of Latinos earning these credentials has increased, they still account for just 9 percent of STEM credentials earned. Latinos working in STEM also are concentrated in lower-paying jobs, with a higher representation in service fields than in professional occupations.

“The report shines a light on what many of us know to be true: that diversification within STEM postsecondary education, particularly among Hispanics/Latinos over the last decade, has been largely in the area of certificate/associate levels and diminishes at each successive level,” Gabriel Montaño, a research scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and president of the Society for Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, said in a written statement. “The result is an increasing discrepancy in positions of leadership within the STEM workforce.”

The lists of top colleges for the production of Latino STEM graduates follows:

Certificates Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. Instituto de Banca y Comercio Inc., Puerto Rico
  2. South Texas College
  3. Miami Dade College
  4. Wyotech-Long Beach, Calif.
  5. United Education Institute-Huntington Park, Calif.

Associate Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. South Texas College
  2. San Jacinto Community College, Texas
  3. University of Phoenix-Online
  4. El Paso Community College, Texas
  5. Instituto Tecnologico de Puerto Rico-Recinto de Guayama

Bachelor Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
  2. Florida International University
  3. The University of Texas at El Paso
  4. Texas A&M University at College Station
  5. University of Texas-Pan American

Master's Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. Universidad Politecnica de Puerto Rico
  2. Florida International University
  3. University of Texas at El Paso
  4. University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez
  5. University of Southern California

Doctoral Degrees Awarded to Latinos in STEM Fields

  1. Stanford University
  2. University of California at Berkeley
  3. University of Texas at El Paso
  4. University of California at Davis
  5. University of California at Irvine
Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 3:00am

Bloomberg Philanthropies, the philanthropic arm of Michael Bloomberg's business interests, is giving $100 million to Cornell University for its new technology campus in New York City. While mayor of New York City, Bloomberg championed a competition won by Cornell to build a new campus on Roosevelt Island. The first academic building on the new campus will be called Bloomberg Center.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Lisa Chasan-Taber, professor of epidemiology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, discusses her research on gestational diabetes and how it manifests itself later in life. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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