The Lumina Foundation on Wednesday announced the first 20 cities that it will team with on localized college completion strategies. In January Lumina announced a shift in its approach, with a plan to spend $300 million over the next four years on rethinking financial aid, new delivery models of higher education and mobilizing key constituencies to boost completion rates. The foundation also said it would team up with cities, with this group being the first batch. Each local area will receive up to $200,000 from Lumina, and foundation officials said more cities would be selected to participate in the next year.
Higher Education Quick Takes
It's a new month, and therefore time for a new edition of Inside Higher Ed's Cartoon Caption Contest -- the last of 2013.
Suggest a caption for this month's cartoon -- get those creative juices flowing.
Vote for your favorite among the three captions culled by our panel of experts from among the dozens suggested by readers for last month's cartoon -- the top vote getter will be next month's winner.
And read more about the winner of October's contest, Brian Halloran. He doesn't work in higher education, but the recent college graduate reads Inside Higher Ed, he says, because "the site is a great tool for information to better educate myself about my career and the challenging issues young adults similar to me are facing."
An assistant professor of English at Indiana University Northwest has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights accusing the institution of denying her tenure because she is a woman and because she is a lesbian. Anne Balay, who learned she was denied tenure in April, filed her complaint this week, the Windy City Times reported, alleging that students criticized her in evaluations not because she was a poor teacher but because she was openly gay. Those ratings contributed to her losing her bid for tenure, she says. "If you've never had an out professor before, and a professor says that they're a lesbian, you hear nothing else all semester," she told the Times, noting that some students had accused her of talking about sexuality too frequently -- something she denies. "Those are the only words that you retain."
Balay's fellow professors recommended her for tenure, but were overruled by the department chair, she says. At the next level of evaluation, she says a committee of College of Arts and Sciences professors recommended her for tenure but the dean vetoed that recommendation. Balay's faculty appeals board hearing was held Wednesday. In an email, she said the results were still unknown. A university spokeswoman declined to comment on Balay's case for the Times. Balay also has filed a similar complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Some for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean that are ineligible for federal student aid programs have been encouraging their students to access those funds by simultaneously enrolling in U.S.-based online programs, Bloomberg reported.
The medical students take out federal loans by virtue of their enrollment in the U.S. online programs and then use the money to support themselves in the Caribbean, the article says. The institutions defended the practice to Bloomberg, saying that the online programs are valuable to students and give them a better shot at landing a residency in the U.S. But critics of the arrangement argued it’s a loophole that Congress should close. A previous Bloomberg investigation of for-profit medical schools in the Caribbean that revealed the relatively higher loan debt that their students carry prompted scrutiny from U.S. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, a Democrat.
The Obama administration on Wednesday unveiled a new web portal aimed at the people who help students and families prepare for college.
The site aggregates a range of Education Department resources and promotional material meant to encourage students to attend college and take advantage of federal student aid programs. Guidance counselors and other mentors are able to search a database containing infographics, fact sheets, videos, and other presentation materials relating to the financial aid process.
The new effort comes as the administration is increasingly using its bully pulpit to promote college access. First Lady Michelle Obama has recently begun speaking out on higher education. And, after hosting a series of meetings with college presidents over the past several months about boosting low-income students’ access to higher education, the White House plans to hold a symposium on the topic December 11. It’s not yet clear if administration officials will announce any new policy proposals at that event, which is set to feature business leaders, philanthropists and college presidents.
The most frequently awarded grade for undergraduates at Harvard University is an A, and the median grade is A-. University officials released those facts Tuesday at a meeting of arts and sciences faculty members, and a Harvard spokesman confirmed the information Tuesday night. The spokesman cautioned in an email against too much emphasis on the grade data. "We believe that learning is the most important thing that happens in our classrooms and throughout our system of residential education. The faculty are focused on creating positive and lasting learning outcomes for our undergraduates," he said. "We watch and review trends in grading across Harvard College, but we are most interested in helping our students learn and learn well."
Some Harvard faculty members are concerned, however, about grade inflation. Harvey Mansfield, who has repeatedly raised the issue, was the one who brought it up with questions at Tuesday's meeting. He told The Boston Globe that he thought grading patterns were "really indefensible."
Instructors at Princeton University discussed developing a homegrown massive open online course platform during a faculty meeting on Monday, The Daily Princetonian reported.
The university joined Coursera's consortium in April 2012. By building their own platform, some faculty members argued they would eliminate the question of intellectual property rights. Other faculty members were reportedly less interested in the endeavor, however, with President Christopher Eisgruber saying, “I must say that developing our own proprietary platform gives me nightmares.” Faculty members also discussed creating a new Faculty Advisory Council on Teaching and Learning, which would evaluate online courses.
Students who complete algebra II while they are in high school are more likely to succeed in college, according to a new study. But those benefits are less pronounced once students enter the job market. The new study, which was written by researchers at Pearson's Center for College and Career Success and from the University of Michigan, used two national datasets in its exploration of differences between college readiness and career readiness.
Students during the 2011-12 academic year paid, on average, higher immediate out-of-pocket costs to attend public and private colleges than their counterparts in 2007-8, according to a new federal report released Tuesday.
The average out-of-pocket net price -- a college’s sticker price minus all forms of financial aid -- increased by $800 at both private not-for-profit and public four-year universities, after adjusting for inflation. At community colleges, the same figure rose by $400.
The for-profit sector was the only one to see a decrease between 2011-12 and 2007-8. Across all for-profit institutions, the average out-of-pocket net price fell from $11,500 to $9,900 in inflation-adjusted dollars. Still, the average out-of-pocket net price at two-year for-profit institutions ($12,400) was more than double the figure at two-year public institutions ($6,000) in 2011-12.
The out-of-pocket net price essentially represents the amount of money a student has to pay up front while attending college. It doesn’t include the value of loans that have to be repaid or the long-term cost of such debt. The data come from the Education Department’s latest National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, which is completed every four years.
A national poll of four-year college students has found that they are more likely to blame colleges than other institutions for the rising levels of student debt. The poll, by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, found that 68 percent of those polled viewed student debt for young people as a major problem, while 21 percent viewed it as a minor problem. Asked who was "most responsible" for rising levels of student debt, students cited the following:
- Colleges: 42 percent
- Federal government: 30 percent
- State governments: 9 percent
- Students: 8 percent
- Other: 4 percent
- Refused to answer: 7 percent