Higher Education Quick Takes
The New York Legislature on Thursday passed a plan supported by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo that will cut retirement benefits for future state and local government workers, The New York Times reported. The cuts would affect new employees at public institutions such as the State University of New York and the City University of New York. According to the Times, the measure would save $80 billion for state and local governments over the next 30 years, even though one of the more contentious proposals in the measure -- a plan that would let new workers opt out of a traditional pension and let them choose something similar to a 401(k) --– would now be open only to new non-unionized workers who earn $75,000 or more, under a concession made by Cuomo.
Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, a union representing 20,000 faculty members and staff at CUNY, said the plan -- also referred to as Tier 6 -- flowed from an ideological agenda of protecting the rich. “Tier 6 will hit CUNY especially hard; it will undermine CUNY’s ability to attract and retain the best faculty in national searches. I remember being told more than 20 years ago when I came to CUNY that one thing CUNY was able to offer was good benefits, including a decent pension,” Bowen said.
“We were hoping it would be defeated but that is not the way it turned out,” said Denyce Duncan Lacey, Director of Communications for the United University Professions, a union representing 35,000 faculty members and professional staff at state-operated SUNY campuses.
Santa Monica College's plans for two-tiered tuition rates (higher prices for high demand courses) have drawn criticism from those who view it as going against the traditional values of community colleges. But a local couple is responding to the news by donating $250,000 to pay for scholarships for those who can't afford the higher prices, The Los Angeles Times reported. Daniel Greenberg, who is giving the money with his wife Susan Steinhauser, told the Times that he admired the college's president, Chui Tsang, for proposing an innovative solution to the college's financial and capacity problems. "He has not dealt with this by avoiding the issues but by confronting them and hopefully has found a really good way of tackling them," Greenberg said.
Students and other experts on spring break (bartenders in spring break locales) report that students have become tamer, even "prudish" while on the vacations once known for every kind of excess, The New York Times reported. The reason? With video cameras everywhere, students fear that their exploits will be posted online in ways that will embarrass them. One piece of evidence for this trend: Only one bar in Key West is featuring a wet T-shirt contest, and it takes place only once a week.
State and local funding for higher education remained almost constant in 2011, according to a State Higher Education Executive Officers Association study released today.
Instead of the marked decreases in state and local support for colleges seen the previous two years, overall funding saw a slight uptick from $87.2 billion in 2010 to $87.5 billion in 2011.
But that’s not cause for celebration, said Andrew Carlson, the association’s policy analyst. For one, that number is still considerably lower than the $88.8 billion awarded to colleges in 2008. And even though overall funding remained basically steady last year, enrollment grew. Having more students on campus means fewer government dollars per student and an increased reliance on tuition to pay university bills.
Nationally, state and local funding per full-time student fell $242 last year while net tuition revenue per full-time student increased $225. That exaggerates a long-term trend in which tuition went from supporting 23.2 percent of educational revenues in 1986 to 43.3 percent last year.
Complicating matters, Carlson said, is that next year’s numbers are projected to be worse. Enrollment is again expected to grow, while state funding dropped.
Smith College will be the chief academic planning partner with a group creating a women's university in Malaysia, tentatively called the Asian Women's Leadership University. The new institution is being founded as a nonprofit by three Smith alumnae. Starting in 1916, Smith supported a then young women's institution in China, Ginling College.
A jury on Wednesday sided with the parents of two students killed in the 2007 shootings at Virginia Tech, finding the university negligent for waiting to inform the campus about the gunman, the Associated Press reported. After deliberating for three and a half hours, jurors awarded $4 million each to the families of two women who were among the 33 dead. Lawyers for the state -- who had argued that university officials did all they could in the face of an unprecedented tragedy -- immediately filed to reduce the size of the verdict, the AP reported.
Tablet ownership is increasing among college students and high school seniors, according to a survey released by the Pearson Foundation. Among college students, ownership is now 25 percent, up from 7 percent a year ago. Among high school seniors, the figure is now 17 percent, up from 4 percent. A majority of college students (63 percent) and high school seniors (69 percent) believe that tablets will effectively replace textbooks within five years. The survey was conducted in January by Harris Interactive. More than 1,200 college students and 200 college-bound high school seniors responded.
A team of lawyers continued their barrage of legal actions challenging the accuracy and legitimacy of law school placement rates, threatening class actions against 20 more schools. David Anziska, the lawyer leading the group, said that the 20 schools -- like the 14 previously sued -- had misrepresented their post-graduate employment rates. He also warned that "at the end of this process, nearly every law school in the country will be sued.” The schools cited in this round include some more-visible names than the prior targets. The 20 schools are American University Washington College of Law, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Catholic University of America's Columbus School of Law, Chapman University School of Law, Loyola Marymount University Law School, Loyola University Chicago School of Law, New England School of Law, Pace University School of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law, Roger Williams University School of Law, St. Louis University School of Law, St. John’s University School of Law, Seattle University School of Law, Stetson University College of Law, Syracuse University College of Law, University of Miami School of Law; University of St. Thomas School of Law, Valparaiso University School of Law, Western New England University School of Law, and Whittier Law School.