Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

July 1, 2013

Last week's Supreme Court decision raises questions about whether colleges have explored race-neutral alternatives to the consideration of race in admissions decisions. An article in The Los Angles Times notes that the University of California at Berkeley and the University of California at Los Angeles have had to explore race-neutral alternatives ever since the state in 1996 barred them from considering race. Both campuses have created and expanded various outreach efforts.

But black and Latino enrollments have still not recovered. At UCLA, black students made up 7.1 percent of the class admitted the year before consideration of race was banned. Last fall, they made up 3.6 percent of freshmen. At Berkeley, the fall was from 6.3 percent to 3.4 percent. Latino enrollments are also down, and although the drops are smaller, the state saw large increases during this time period in the share of Latinos in state high schools. Still, at UCLA, the percentage of Latinos dropped from 21.5 percent while consideration of race and ethnicity was allowed to 18.1 percent. At Berkeley, the drop was 15.5 percent to 13 percent.

June 28, 2013

Public higher education and states need a "new compact" to promote the needs of states and colleges, according to a new report by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. The report urges public colleges and universities to adopt accountability measures, deal with concerns about college affordability, link priorities to state needs and report on institutional outcomes. But the report stresses that these commitments will be difficult to make without consistent state financial support.


June 28, 2013

The website of Renmin University, in China, has experienced unprecedented traffic (and has crashed as a result) because of a photograph of an attractive woman who recently graduated, The South China Morning Post reported. While the photograph is not the least bit risqué by American standards, it is quite unusual for a Chinese university's website. The photograph has prompted considerable debate in China, with some praising it and others wondering if it is shifting attention away from academic issues.


June 28, 2013

After a 19-month suspension, the marching band at Florida A&M University will perform again, the university's interim president Larry Robinson said Thursday. The November 2011 death of drum major Robert Champion, who was brutally hazed in a post-football game ritual, led to the university putting the famed Marching 100 on hiatus and attempting to reform a well-established hazing culture. Robinson said that after taking measures including revising Florida A&M's anti-hazing policies and hiring a staff member to monitor and prevent the practice, the “right conditions” were in place to bring back the band, though he did not say when it will start performing again.

June 28, 2013

Jack R. Ohle announced Thursday that he will retire as president of Gustavus Adolphus College after the next academic year. The announcement referenced the completion of a strategic plan, fund-raising successes and other accomplishments. But faculty members and students have been pushing for some time for Ohle to leave. They question his financial decisions and say that he has largely cut many on the campus out of any meaningful participation in governance. The campaign against him has featured an anonymous website, GustieLeaks, that has featured numerous documents about the college and its leadership.


June 28, 2013

California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed his own idea on Thursday to make the University of California and California State University systems spend $10 million each on education technology.

The new money was designed to allow the two systems to increase the number of online courses available to undergraduate students. Instead, under the budget Brown made law Thursday, the two universities will get to keep the money and spend it any way they want. Brown used his line-item veto power to take the strings off the money, although both UC and Cal State say they will go ahead with plans to buy technology with the funds. "Eliminating these earmarks will give the university greater flexibility to manage its resources to meet its obligations, operate its instructional programs more effectively, and avoid tuition and fee increases," his veto message said.

Even though they don't have to, both systems said they plan to spend the money on technology. “We’ve made a commitment to provide the $10 million, so it’s not going to affect our plans,” said Steve Montiel, a spokesman for the UC president's office.

Michael Uhlenkamp, spokesman for Cal State Chancellor Timothy White, said the system thinks technology can help address a critical need and that it can use the money to alleviate bottlenecks.

"So while there is no legislative mandate in the budget to accomplish this, we’ll still continue to work along those lines," he said in an email.

An earmark that gives nearly $17 million to the California community college system and mandates the system spend the money specifically on ed tech remained in the budget Brown signed Thursday.

Dean Florez, the head of the pro-online education 20 Million Minds Foundation and former majority leader in the California Senate, said Brown's veto should make colleges think about spending more on online education rather than less.

"Governor Brown vetoing his own earmark for online education in the CSU and UC, emphasizes that funding for said programs should not be limited in any way,” he said in a statement. “The California Community Colleges, who serve 2.4 million students and already have approximately 17 percent of their courses online, will still receive $16.9 million in dedicated funds for expansion of online access. In light of the advances made in the CCC system, we hope that the other two segments will follow through with their assurances of online program advancement to alleviate system-wide bottlenecks.”

June 28, 2013

In today’s Academic Minute, James Cavanagh of Brown University reveals how our brain and behavior can be influenced by our evolutionary past. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 28, 2013

The U.S. Senate on Thursday passed, 68-32, an immigration reform bill with several provisions sought by higher education leaders. The bill would create a path to citizenship for those who are in the United States without documentation to permit them to reside in the country, and provisions would be of particular help to students who were brought to the United States as children. Many colleges have pushed for such a change, saying that these students never sought to break a law, and that they have completed high school in the United States, only to face difficulty being admitted to or receiving aid for higher education. Other provisions would ease the visa process for some international students and make it easier for American colleges and universities to hire some professors from abroad. President Obama praised the legislation, but Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have vowed not to allow a vote in that chamber on the bill. Rather the Republican leaders have said that they would draft their own bill, and it is unclear how the provisions of importance to colleges would fare in that version.


June 27, 2013

Building on research earlier this year that showed colleges are failing to reach high-achieving, low-income students, two researchers on Wednesday called for a nationwide expansion of a pilot program that sends information packets to those students. In a discussion paper for the Hamilton Project, part of the Brookings Institution, the researchers, Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University and Sarah Turner of the University of Virginia, renewed a call from their earlier work for sending high-achieving poor students information about their college options in a partnership with the College Board or ACT.

June 27, 2013

Arizona has sued the Maricopa Community College District, seeking to block it from granting in-state tuition rates to students who lack the legal authority to live permanently in the United States who qualify under President Obama's executive order for work permits, the Associated Press reported. The suit claims that the district is violating Arizona law barring any benefits for immigrants who are not legally entitled to stay in the United States. But Maricopa officials said that President Obama's executive order in fact does give these immigrants legal status.



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