South Carolina State University's board on Wednesday declared financial exigency, potentially making it easier for the university to eliminate jobs of employees, including faculty members, the Associated Press reported. The university is $20 million in debt. The university received some good financial news Wednesday when a state board gave the university a five-year delay in repaying a $6 million loan. State leaders have repeatedly criticized the financial management of the historically black university. But its defenders have pointed to years of underfunding.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Department chairs at Northwestern Michigan College have voted to unionize and to affiliate with the Michigan Education Association, which is part of the National Education Association. The vote to unionize was 4-0, The Traverse City Record-Eagle reported. Full-time faculty members voted earlier this year to unionize with the Michigan Education Association.
Matt Bambrough, Utah Valley University's director of creative services, has done over one of its staircases. In part, the project aims to encourage people to think about whether they need to text at all times and to watch where they are going while texting. In part, it's an art project that some will ignore while going up the stairs.
The new president of the University of Texas at Austin said Tuesday that he would commission an independent review of the academic services the Longhorn sports programs provide to athletes, in the wake of a highly critical news report alleging that players received improper academic help. The "top-to-bottom" review, as President Gregory Fenves called it, will be conducted by Gene Marsh, a former law professor who spent many years involved in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's enforcement system. It was prompted by an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required) charging that Texas has "let academically deficient players push the limits of its policy on academic integrity as it has sought to improve its teams' academic records."
Tom Brady, the New England Patriots quarterback whose reputation has been damaged by a football deflation scandal, made a rare public appearance following a report that was critical of him and his team, speaking at Salem State University. The Boston Globe reported that the university's foundation paid him $170,000 for the appearance. The university said that no public funds were used, and that the speaker series in which Brady participated raises money for scholarships.
Federal authorities have charged Munther Omar Saleh, a college student, with conspiring to help the Islamic State carry out attacks in New York City, The New York Times reported. Officials said that Saleh was seeking to learn how to make explosive devices. The criminal complaint against Saleh says that in January, he enrolled “at a college specializing in aeronautics located in Queens, New York, and began course work and laboratory work in electrical circuitry.”
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a new study today that shows more than 60 percent of students who earned an associate degree when they were 20 years old or younger went on to earn a bachelor's within six years. For all students who earned an associate degree, 41 percent finished a bachelor's degree within six years.
The research backs claims that a degree from a two-year institution will help pave a path toward a bachelor's degree. The study also found that it took on average 2.8 years for students with an associate degree to earn a bachelor's.
"Measuring the extent to which certificates and associates degrees serve as stepping-stones to higher educational awards is critical to understanding today's educational pathways," said Doug Shapiro, executive research director of the center, in a news release. "These first credentials are increasingly the entry points of choice for disadvantaged and first-generation college students, making them important to questions of equity in postsecondary degree attainment."
Legislative leaders in New York State have agreed on a deal to require public and private colleges to have “affirmative consent” policies, The New York Times reported. Under such policies, both students must explicitly consent to a sexual act. California has such a law, and a number of New York's public and private colleges and universities have such policies, but the legislation will require all campuses in the state to adopt a core definition for consent and specific language for amnesty and other policies. The legislation has been a major goal of Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, although the version that was enacted differs from what the governor proposed. (Note: This item has been updated from an earlier version.)
Massachusetts' nine public universities will have some of their state support tied to a funding formula based on the number of students they graduate. The state board of higher education on Tuesday voted to approve the formula and will apply $5.6 million to it in the coming fiscal year.
The board described its approach to performance funding in a news release: "It is based on a complex formula of metrics and weights developed by NCHEMS, the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. An institution’s share of the funding will be determined in part by its five-year graduation rates, annual head count, full-time enrollment, year-over-year increases in degrees awarded, the numbers of students who reach 30 and 60 credit hours each year (with additional points awarded for low-income students who qualify for federal Pell Grants), as well as numbers and types of degrees awarded (with additional points awarded for degrees in 'priority fields' such as STEM, health, business and education). Campuses are also awarded points for 'degree productivity,' the cost of producing a degree per $100,000 in total revenue."
Community colleges in Massachusetts have received some performance funding since 2013. While the formulas are different, the board said both seek to close achievement gaps and to improve the graduation rates of underrepresented minority and low-income students.