Higher Education Quick Takes

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Stanford University announced Monday that it raised $6.2 billion between October 2006 and Dec. 31, 2011, shattering the record for the largest university fund-raising campaign in history and exceeding the university's original goal of $4.3 billion. Before Stanford's announcement, Yale held the record for the largest fund-raising campaign on record, raising $3.881 billion between 2004 and July 2011. Stanford's announcement even exceeds the largest announced goal, $6 billion, which the University of Southern California announced in August.

The $6.2 billion will go to fund cross-disciplinary initiatives in every area of the university, including more than 130 new endowed faculty appointments and 360 new fellowships for graduate students. Many large campaigns include gifts that are paid out over time, so it's particularly noteworthy that more than 80 percent of campaign commitments have already been fulfilled. The university has set up a website detailing what the money will be used for.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 3:00am

During 2011, a record 800,000 people took the GRE, an increase of 13 percent, the Educational Testing Service announced today. ETS officials noted that this increase came in the year that the test featured numerous redesigned features. While not all GRE test-takers end up applying to graduate programs, increases in volume on the test are usually reflected in subsequent applications to graduate schools. If these figures do predict subsequent trends, look for major increases from outside the United States. The increase in the United States was 10 percent, while test-taking in other countries was up by nearly 25 percent. The two largest providers of foreign students to the United States both saw substantial gains, with the numbers from China up 28 percent, and the figures from India up 43 percent.

 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 3:00am

A majority of more than 800 bankruptcy lawyers in a survey say they have seen an increase in clients with student loans over the past few years and that most of those debtors are unlikely to be able to discharge their loans due to "undue hardship." The survey, published by the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, found that 62 percent of the lawyers have seen bankruptcy cases involving student loans increase at least 25 percent since 2008. A paper published with the survey warns of a "Student Loan ‘Debt Bomb,' " and calls for restoring the ability to discharge student loans in bankruptcy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Blackboard today unveiled a “more modern” look for its industry-leading learning management system, Blackboard Learn, which has been criticized in some quarters for being hard to use and unappealing to look at. The new interface is meant to “surface” some of the system’s features — especially its real-time assessment tools — in the hope that instructors will use them more frequently. The new design also puts an emphasis on customization: a “course entry wizard” guides instructors through the process of setting up courses “based on different pedagogical models and content models,” according to Brad Koch, director of product development. Afterward, instructors can manually rearrange items on their course pages and select from a buffet of design themes (“pizzazz,” “coral,” “mosaic,” etc.). Notably, the new interface will be capable of assuming the form of the LMS interfaces for WebCT and Angel Learning, which Blackboard bought years ago — a possible attempt to keep those clients as the company begins to stop supporting the legacy versions of the WebCT and Angel LMS products.

In recent months, competitors have attempted to cast Blackboard as aesthetically retrograde and more concerned with the needs of high-level administrators than those of individual instructors. During a demo of the new interface last week, Ray Henderson, the president of Blackboard Learn, said the company was aware of the knocks against its interface. And while he insisted that back-end integrations with campus information systems were still Blackboard’s trump card against more lightweight entrants to the LMS marketplace, “We think design and user experience [will only get] more important,” Henderson said.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 3:00am

Moody's Investors Service said this week that a class action filed against 12 law schools last week could endanger those schools' financial positions, since they rely overwhelmingly on tuition revenue, and a lawsuit alleging that a school inflated graduation and employment statistics is not a strong selling point for attracting students. "The lawsuits are credit negative for the law schools given the potential for reputational damage leading to application and enrollment declines that would pressure tuition revenue," Moody's analyst Emily Schwarz wrote in the ratings agency's weekly credit outlook.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 3:00am

Monday was the 101st anniversary of Ronald Reagan's birth -- and Young America's Foundation marked the occasion with release of a national poll suggesting that professors have yet to give the Gipper his rightful place in history. "Americans rate Ronald Reagan as the greatest president, but try telling that to professors on our nation’s campuses. In a recent survey, 60 percent of college professors did not even rank President Reagan among the top ten presidents," said a press release on the poll results. Further, not one of the 284 faculty members surveyed named Reagan as the top president. (President Lincoln had the most support for that spot.) At the same time, the foundation noted that 61 percent of professors said Reagan had been successful, a level of praise that the foundation said was significant give that "the leftist tilt of college professors is well known."

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 3:00am

A student at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside has confessed to writing the racial threats (including a hit list of students) that terrified the campus last week, TMJ4 News reported. The student had discovered a grouping of rubber bands that she took to be a noose and reported that discovery. The student told authorities that she was not satisfied with the investigation of the reported noose, so she made the threatening notes. Those notes prompted heightened security and several meetings on the campus.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 4:21am

The National Endowment for the Humanities on Monday named Wendell Berry -- a poet, novelist and essayist with a focus on conservation issues -- as the 2012 Jefferson Lecturer. Berry will deliver the lecture on April 23 in Washington. The lecture, "It All Turns on Affection," will discuss human interaction with nature, as depicted in history, philosophy, and literature.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 3:00am
  • Paul M. Bobrowski, associate professor and former dean of the College of Business at Auburn University, in Alabama, has been named dean of the School of Business Administration at the University of Dayton, in Ohio.
  • Jack Cline, assistant vice president for federal relations at the University of Massachusetts System, has been chosen as director of federal relations at the University of Kansas.
  • Thomas W. Durso, senior director of marketing and communications at Holy Family University, in Pennsylvania, has been appointed as associate vice president for college relations and marketing at Albright College, also in Pennsylvania.
  • Tracie MacMahon, vice president for marketing and client relations at the National Student Clearinghouse, in Virginia, has been promoted to chief operating officer there.
  • Chip Paucek, president and chief operating officer at 2tor Inc., in New York, has been named chief executive officer there.
  • Robert J. Pietrykowski, assistant vice president for human resources and chief negotiator at Cleveland State University, in Ohio, has been selected as vice president of human resources at Nova Southeastern University, in Florida.

The appointments above are drawn from Inside Higher Ed's job changes database. To submit news about job changes and promotions, please click here.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, Elizabeth Gershoff of the University of Texas at Austin examines long-term outcomes among children subjected to spanking. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

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