Higher Education Quick Takes
Public historically black colleges are playing a key role in educating black and non-black students, but are "under siege" by many state policies, according to a new report from the Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. The report finds that many states are adopting funding mechanisms that disadvantage black colleges. The report focuses on Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina.
U.S. Department of Justice officials will visit about a dozen colleges this week and next to speak with administrators, police, students and others “about how best practices and lessons learned are plying out in areas such as prevention, public awareness and peer support,” the office announced Monday. The 11 colleges are recipients of the DOJ Office on Violence Against Women’s grant program “to Reduce Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking on Campus.” The grant money is used for prevention programming and training, education, and creating “a coordinate community response to enhance victim assistance and safety while holding offenders accountable.”
The 11-campus tour starts Wednesday at North Carolina Central University and ends May 1 at California State Polytechnic University. Also next week, Obama administration officials are expected to comment publicly on the findings of a task force charged with recommending ways to better handle sexual violence on campuses. The report should provide a glimpse into forthcoming federal legislation.
Also on Monday, the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) released a letter that she and a handful of lawmakers (from both sides of the aisle) sent last week to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. The senators suggest requiring that colleges conduct annual, anonymous surveys about sexual violence; that the U.S. Education Department appoint one person to oversee all national policy on sexual misconduct on campuses; and that the department’s Office for Civil Rights be more transparent about ongoing campus investigations by issuing updates and creating a searchable database.
In 2012 the proportion of American adults who held a college degree crept up 0.7 percentage points, to 39.4 percent, according to the Lumina Foundation's fifth annual progress report on the national college completion agenda. The small jump was the largest of the last five years, the foundation said today, and the rate of increase is accelerating.
Lumina also released data on racial and ethnic achievement gaps. While the college-going rates for blacks and Hispanics are increasing, the report found that degree attainment levels for both groups lag far behind those of whites and Asians. For example, only 20 percent of Hispanics adults hold a degree compared to 44 percent of whites.
A new poll by Gallup has found that paying for college or paying student loans is the top financial problem for adults who are 18-29 years old, with 21 percent citing the issue. That issue beats out lack of money/low wages (15 percent) and housing costs (14 percent). Paying for college or students was also the top issue cited by those 30 to 49 years old, but the percentage citing the issue was smaller (14 percent).
A new study in Education Next argues that the primary impact of the "10 percent" plan in Texas -- under which those in the top 10 percent of high school graduating classes are assured admission to the public university of their choice in Texas -- has been more on where students enroll, not whether they enroll. The study looks at students in a large urban district, comparing those who just made it into the top 10 percent and those who didn't. The student found those in the top 10 percent are much more likely than the other group to enroll in a flagship university, but they do so at the expense of enrolling at private colleges, and were likely headed to college either way.
San Jose State University has been taking a number of steps in the wake of the shock and anger over last fall's incident in which a black student was tormented for months by his suitemates. A special panel was charged with recommending ideas on how to promote a more racially inclusive and non-discriminatory environment and last week it issued its final list of ideas. Among them: create a new office of diversity engagement and inclusive excellence, conduct a campus climate survey every other year, study why graduation rates are low for black and Latino male students and develop a plan to reverse the trend, and require all students to take a diversity and ethnic studies course.
Northern Kentucky University fired Scott Eaton as athletic director last year for a series of inappropriate relationships with university employees and one student. Since he was fired, an investigation uncovered new allegations that he admitted in court last week. Eaton pleaded guilty to theft in which he used his university credit card to buy more than $300,000 in gift cards for his personal use, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. He agreed to a 10-year jail term. His lawyer said that "he's not happy about the situation, obviously, but he's happy to begin the process of healing.... He regrets his actions."
An article in The Wall Street Journal explores the rise of collegiate table tennis (calling it ping pong apparently offends those who are serious about the sport). Texas Wesleyan has built up a powerhouse team that dominates American college competitions, but Mississippi College -- with recruits from China -- is emerging as a challenger.