Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

May 12, 2015

Yale University on Monday announced a $150 million gift to renovate several historic facilities and to create a campus hub for student life with a mix of educational, cultural and social functions. The gift is from Stephen A. Schwarzman, the Blackstone founder and a Yale alumnus.

May 12, 2015

In today's Academic Minute, Ryan Schact, postdoctoral research fellow at University of Utah, explains work on our reproductive goals in relation to availability. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

 

May 11, 2015

Norfolk State University announced Friday that it will eliminate 97 jobs -- some of them currently vacant -- to deal with a $16.7 million deficit in the budget for the next academic year, The Virginian-Pilot reported. Norfolk State is a historically black college that is struggling with enrollment and, as a result, with finances. Enrollment for the fall is expected to be about 5,100 -- a drop of 900 in a year. Of particular concern is that only 500 freshmen are expected.

May 11, 2015

The co-owners of the Charleston School of Law said last week that they might not enroll a new class of students in the fall, according to The Post and Courier and other news outlets. The for-profit law school in South Carolina last year was in discussions with InfiLaw System, a for-profit chain, about a possible sale. But state regulators voted down that plan. Last week the school's owners said it was losing money and would struggle to keep its license.

May 11, 2015

Tufts University students announced Saturday that they were ending a hunger strike they launched to protest the university's outsourcing of some janitorial services, a move that current janitors and students say will result in many janitors losing their jobs. The four students who were the first to start their hunger strike had been fasting for five days. Tufts made no concessions and has said that the changes will save money, which is essential to minimize tuition increases.

“Janitors and students alike were concerned about the welfare of our peers,” said a statement from one of the student organizers, Nicole Joseph. “Given that the administration refused to meet with us over the weekend and pushed off a meeting until Monday, we felt this was the best decision in order to ensure the well-being of the strikers.”

May 11, 2015

An article in The New York Times explores the way Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican running for president, has supported and been supported by Norman Braman, a billionaire auto dealer and a major donor. Some of those intersections have involved universities. After Rubio left his position in the Florida House of Representatives but before he ran for Senate, he taught at Florida International University, assuring the university he would raise money to pay for his position. Braman donated $100,000. While he was in the Legislature, Rubio played a key role in helping the University of Miami land an $80 million grant for a genomics institute that was a priority of Braman, then vice chair of Miami's board.

May 11, 2015

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the pharmaceutical company GSK (GlaxoSmithKline) are today announcing an unusually close collaboration in an effort to find a cure for HIV. The company will provide $4 million a year for five years to support a new research center focused on developing a cure for HIV. In addition, the company will locate some researchers at Chapel Hill for the project. UNC and the company will also create a new company, Qura Therapeutics, that will manage intellectual property and commercialization of any discoveries from the collaboration.

 

May 11, 2015

A study (abstract available here) released this morning by the National Bureau of Economic Research finds gains in college graduation rates associated with achieving scores on Advanced Placement exams that lead to the granting of college credit. For each exam on which a student earns a credit-granting score, the probability that a student will graduate from college within four years goes up by 1 to 2 percentage points.

May 11, 2015

President Obama on Friday showered attention on community colleges and his plan for free community college. As graduation speaker at Lake Area Technical Institute, in South Dakota, he said he picked the institution to highlight its success in graduation rates and job placement rates, and related those statistics to the care of the faculty, quoting students about the support and guidance they receive. And President Obama plugged his proposal for free community college, arguing that Congress could easily endorse the concept and pay for it.

"If folks in Congress decided to make this a priority, we could do the next best thing and make community college free for an entire generation of young Americans, as long as they’re willing to work, keep their grades up, be responsible, graduate on time," President Obama said. "And we could pay for it by closing just one loophole for millionaires and billionaires. Just one. Just one tax loophole enjoyed almost entirely by very few at the top, we could offer a quality education to millions of middle-class Americans. It’s in everybody’s interest." The full text of the president's remarks may be found here.

Also on Friday, the White House released an email from the actor Tom Hanks, a community college graduate and already a supporter of the president's plan, describing how Chabot College changed his life, crediting specific faculty members and endorsing the free community college plan.

"I produced the HBO miniseries John Adams with an outline format I learned from a pipe-smoking historian, James Coovelis, whose lectures were riveting," wrote Hanks. "Mary Lou Fitzgerald's Studies in Shakespeare taught me how the five-act structures of Richard III, The Tempest and Othello focused their themes. In Herb Kennedy's Drama in Performance, I read plays like The Hot L Baltimore and Desire Under the Elms, then saw their productions. I got to see the plays he taught, through student rush tickets at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco and the Berkeley Repertory Theater. Those plays filled my head with expanded dreams…. Here's my bottom line, and it's simple: More kids (and adults, for that matter) should have this chance."

May 11, 2015

Many private colleges and universities make voluntary payments to localities to reflect their use of local services without paying property taxes. A study released Monday morning by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests that there are clear patterns in the levels at which colleges and other nonprofits pay. Using data from Massachusetts, researchers found that payments are higher in localities where property taxes are higher. “These patterns are consistent with voluntary PILOTs [payments in lieu of taxes] acting in a manner similar to low-rate, compulsory real estate taxes,” says the abstract of the paper.

 

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