Higher Education Quick Takes
Harvard University recently announced an 11.3 percent return on its endowment, which was valued at $32.7 billion on June 30. That's the largest endowment in higher education. The university also recently announced a $6.5 billion fund-raising campaign -- the largest ever in higher education. But an interview released by the university Friday with its chief financial officer, Dan Shore, he focused on financial pressures on the university. He said that the university has a $34 million deficit. And while that's small in the context of the university's $4.2 billion budget, he said that "the path toward our ability to thrive in the future requires that we not wait until the deficit gets even bigger before we start to act, because then it will require us to be in a much more reactive position." He also noted uncertainty about federal support, on which Harvard relies for research.
In language that is similar to that used at many less wealthy colleges, Shore also said that Harvard can't simply add expenses. "The campaign helps, but, fundamentally, we can no longer live in a world where things continue simply to be additive," Shore said. "The next new and exciting thing that we think it’s important to do can’t simply be layered on top of all of the other things that we’ve been doing. It’s just not a sustainable model. And I think the entire higher education industry is feeling the need to move away from that way of doing business."
More than one million veterans, service members and their families have received tuition assistance and other benefits from the post-9/11 GI bill, Jill Biden announced Friday. The post-9/11 GI bill began in August 2009 and the Department of Veterans Affairs has since spent more than $30 billion in tuition and benefits for veterans, service members and their families. "The post-9/11 GI bill is one way to help make the transition into civilian life a successful one," said Biden, wife of the vice president, in a teleconference Friday.
The millionth beneficiary of the bill, Steven Ferraro, is studying communications at Middlesex County College in New Jersey. Ferraro served in the Army from 2003 to 2013 and was deployed to Iraq in 2008. “Going back to school after serving in the military is a very big challenge, especially trying to manage school with a family,” he said.
edTPA, the new "performance-based" assessment tool and career-entry test that measures teacher preparation, is "fully operational" and ready for nationwide use after a two-year field test in about two dozen states, American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education officials said Friday. The assessment, which has drawn criticism from some educators who say it could override authority of teacher programs and faculty, uses new and purportedly more valid tools, including videotapes and and evidence of student work and learning to determine whether a teacher is prepared to run a classroom from day one. Currently, preparation is measured in part via a multiple-choice test of basic skills and subject matterisn't it also now measured by student teaching that is supervised? -sj *** this is what AACTE said; I guess to show the differences in approach -ag. Only about 58 percent of the 12,000 prospective teachers who attempted edTPA during the field test would have passed. AACTE notes in a report that factors including a lack of consequence for test-takers and lack of support systems or appropriate coursework among teacher programs, which will presumably improve as more institutions use the assessment.
At an event last week, two Bay Area members of the U.S. House of Representatives were aggressively critical of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges for its treatment of City College of San Francisco, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, both Democrats, said they hope the three lawsuits filed by supporters of City College will prevent the college from losing its accreditation next year.
The massive open online course provider edX announced a new open-source platform on Friday: Edraak, an online education platform for Arabic-speaking students. The Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development, which promotes efforts to strengthen education in Jordan, will use Open edX, the MOOC provider's open-source platform, to feature select courses translated into Arabic. As the platform grows, faculty members in Arabic-speaking countries will contribute their own courses. The creation of Edraak follows expansion initiatives in France and China.
Note: This article has been updated to clarify that Edraak is an independent platform, not an edX consortium.
Many medical schools are trying to grow, but Vanderbilt University has announced it is shrinking its medical school admissions and Ph.D. admissions at its medical center by 10 percent, The Tennessean reported. Jeffrey Balser, chief of the university's medical center, said that "our priority must be quality, not quantity."
Evan Dobelle has announced his retirement as president of Westfield State University, The Republican reported. For the past few months, Dobelle has been under fire by Massachusetts officials over reports of his big spending on travel and entertainment. Westfield State's board suspended Dobelle with pay last month, and he then sued the board, saying it had acted illegally.
In a statement, Dobelle said: "[T]he unnecessary and unfortunate distractions of the last several months have led me to conclude that the only appropriate path for the University is one which will allow it to move forward unencumbered by such diversions. This path will provide a means by which the university can emerge, before the spring semester begins, from the recent torrent of gratuitous media attention and can get back to focusing its efforts and energies where they are best put to use -- for the benefit of the students, faculty, and a decidedly bright future."
Some students at Washington University in St. Louis are condemning a Halloween costume, photos of which have circulated online, showing students as U.S. soldiers standing over a student who is playing a Muslim, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The student playing the Muslim has a fake beard and turban, and critics say the image perpetuates stereotypes.
President Obama on Thursday nominated Ericka M. Miller, vice president for operations and strategic leadership at the Education Trust, to be assistant secretary for postsecondary education. If Miller is confirmed by the Senate, she would largely complete the team of political leaders who will guide the Education Department's higher ed agenda in the president's second term.
Miller has spent six years at Education Trust, which advocates for educational equity at all levels, particularly on behalf of students from low-income backgrounds. Much of Miller's work at Ed Trust and previously has focused on elementary and secondary education. Before her current position, she led the K-12 practice at the executivfe search firm Isaacson Miller, ran an education consulting firm, and worked as a legislative assistant for then-U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey, a Nebraska Democrat.
Earlier in her career she was an assistant professor of English at Mills College, an independent women's college in California. (She started her career in journalism, at Washingtonian magazine.)
Miller, who is not well-known in Washington higher ed policy circles, would join an Education Department team that would include Ted Mitchell, the New Schools Venture Fund chief who President Obama nominated last month as under secretary of education, and Jamienne Studley, who was named deputy under secretary of education this fall.