Higher Education Quick Takes
Almost half of undergraduate programs at public colleges and universities in Texas are in danger of being eliminated because they do not meet a new state requirement of graduating at least 25 students every five years, UPI reported. Many physics programs nationally do not graduate large numbers of undergraduates, but are considered vital nonetheless because of the role of the discipline in preparing students for a variety of science and engineering related fields, and because of the significance of research in physics. A delegation from the American Physical Society recently met with officials of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to discuss concerns about enforcing the rule with regard to physics. Raymund Paredes, the Texas commissioner of higher education, said he would not back exceptions to the rule. "In this budgetary environment, we can't afford the luxury of programs not producing graduates," he told UPI. "It's up to academic departments faced with closure of programs to salvage them."
Spain on Monday opened its first and Europe's second university focused on the culinary arts, AFP reported. For its first year, 74 students were admitted to a four-year program, out of 380 who applied.
Rhode Island's Board of Governors for Higher Education on Monday approved a policy allowing some students without legal documentation to live in the United States to pay in-state tuition rates at the state's public colleges and universities, the Associated Press reported. To be eligible under the new policy, students must have attended a high school in the state for at least three years and graduated, and must pledge to seek legal status as soon as they are eligible to do so.
Achieving the Dream today added 23 community colleges to its list of 52 "leader colleges." Colleges get the nod for improved graduation rates, closed achievement gaps and "changing lives," according to the nonprofit group, which works with 160 institutions on "evidence-based, student-centered" reforms in the community college sector. Phillips Community College of the University of Arkansas was one of the colleges to earn the leader college distinction, due in part to bulked up remedial education coursework that increased the college's three-year graduation or certificate completion rate to 24 percent from 10 percent over a four-year period.
While many colleges won't sell alcoholic energy drinks, the University of New Hampshire is considering a ban on non-alcoholic energy drinks such as Full Throttle and Red Bull, the Associated Press reported. In fact, the university announced a ban on the sale of such products Monday, but backtracked later in the day and said it would study the idea further before imposing a ban. (This updates an earlier version of this item, based on the reported ban.) "The University of New Hampshire is committed to making its campus the healthiest in the country," Rick MacDonald, assistant director of dining at the university, said when explaining the idea behind the ban.
The Delegate Assembly of the United University Professions, the faculty union of the State University of New York, has adopted a package of measures designed to promote the interests of non-tenure-track faculty members. The UUP, affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers and the American Association of University Professors, pledged to adopt a system in which adjuncts who go on and off payroll can remain members of the union. Further, each campus chapter will have an officer focused on contingent issues, and at least one spot on the statewide union's executive board will be held by someone off the tenure track.
Jane Sanders resigned Monday as president of Burlington College, citing unspecified differences with the college's board, The Burlington Free Press reported. Speculation about her departure has been rampant since the disclosure of a board agenda with an item labeled "removal of the president."
Baylor and Brandeis Universities, both universities that have faced faculty-president conflicts and struggled to find the right balance for their religious ties, have turned corners, according to separate articles. The New York Times examines Kenneth Starr's performance at Baylor, where he is being called a "unifier." The Forward says that Frederick Lawrence has achieved "near rock star status" at Brandeis.
The White House and the U.S. Department of Labor are expected to announce the recipients of what is supposed to be the first round of grants -- worth a total of $500 million -- from the Trade Act Assistance Community College Career Training Program. The program, originally created in lieu of the American Graduation Initiative as part of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2010, was unveiled by the Obama administration in January and heralded as "the largest investment in two-year institutions since the G.I. Bill." It is supposed to provide a total of $2 billion over four years.
The grants to be announced today are expected to be of between $2.5 million and $5 million for individual institutions and $2.5 million to $20 million for consortiums of colleges (the consortiums can include four-year institutions, but the lead partner must be a college that offers degrees or certificates of two years or less).