The push for open educational resources (OER) in the Virginia Community College System is expanding. The system on Monday announced a $200,000 grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, which will be used to pilot degree programs using free textbooks and other materials at 15 community colleges. The pilot is estimated to save 50,000 students about $100 each -- or more than $5 million in total -- in its first year, according to a press release.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A new paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research explores the impact that Chinese graduate students had on the productivity of American professors when a change in China's policies in 1978 led to a sudden surge in the number of Chinese graduate students in the United States. The paper (abstract available here) uses databases that track the research output of American mathematics professors and that identify the graduate students working with individual American professors. The study finds that Chinese students were disproportionately likely to have Chinese-American faculty advisors, and that these advisors saw a notable increase in research productivity. Other American faculty members at these universities saw a decline in the numbers of students they mentored, and these professors saw a decline in their productivity.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.