Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

February 10, 2014

A multimillion-dollar donation by a University of Virginia board member will help low-income students affected by the university's decision to scale back a popular financial aid program. U.Va. Trustee John Griffin gave the university a $4 million challenge grant last week, which he and the university hope will be at least matched by other donors. The money will help provide $500,000 in need-based aid to students over the next four years, as well as help fund an endowment set aside for financial aid.

Last year, the university altered its AccessUVa need-based aid program in an effort to curb costs. Starting this fall for incoming students, U.Va. is going to make some low-income students borrow up to $28,000 instead of guaranteeing them a debt-free graduation as it had in the past. Some said that with the new donation, the university was effectively reversing its decision, which has prompted significant opposition. It's unclear, however, to what extent the philanthropy will be used by the university to cover the bases AccessUVa has. 

A university spokesman, McGregor McCance, said the university does not known how many students will receive assistance from the endowment or the value of those scholarships. Nor is it clear how many students will be helped by the $500,000 per year of grants over the next four years. "For some students, this could partially or fully eliminate loans or work study components of financial aid packages," he said.

The university had said it would turn to donors to try to help low-income students even as it was cutting its no-loan guarantee. The cost curbing to AccessUVa will eventually save about $6 million a year.

A current university board member and the student newspaper have both criticized U.Va. for relying on philanthropy to help its poorest students. 

Still, fans of AccessUVa were pleased. "This announcement is effectively a reversal because before they were cutting grant aid to the poorest students, and now they’re investing a sizable infusion of funds directly back into those students," Mary Nguyen Barry, a graduate who received the no-loan version of AccessUVa, said in an email.

February 10, 2014

University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst announced Friday that she is making several institutional changes to better address sexual violence on campus, two months after the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights announced it would investigate a Title IX complaint from students alleging the university isn’t doing enough.

The changes are recommendations from a task force Herbst appointed last summer to “deter and address” sexual violence. Herbst presented the group’s report on campus Friday, and announced she’d immediately enact several recommendations, including designating one office as a point of contact to help victims navigate campus policies and resources. Herbst said the university would also expand educational programming, and add support and resources that specifically target sexual violence (such as bystander intervention training), among other things.

In addition to filing the Title IX complaint, a group of students sued the institution and said Connecticut has shown “institutional indifference” toward sexual assault, a charge that Herbst denied.

February 10, 2014

McGraw-Hill Education on Friday announced it had acquired the adaptive learning company Area9, 13 months after the academic publisher purchased a 20 percent stake. The two companies have partnered to provide adaptive learning technology since 2007, for example through the publisher's LearnSmart series. In 2013, McGraw-Hill also acquired the ALEKS Corporation, another adaptive learning company.

February 10, 2014

Incorrect tax reporting by Harvard University -- suggesting that employees earned millions more than they really did -- has cost those employees considerable sums in overpaid taxes, The Boston Globe reported. Harvard acknowledged the errors on Friday and said that it would either reimburse employees or help them file amended tax returns to receive refunds. But the university acted only after two law professors circulated a letter saying that earlier communication from Harvard has been "misleading as to both the scope of the problem and the university’s responsibility to make some 11,000 employees whole for a monumental mistake by the central administration."

 

February 7, 2014

If they want to be paid, college athletes might be better off declaring themselves interns and seeking compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act than they will be in seeking unionization, a Bloomberg Businessweek article suggests. Unpaid interns who work in similar conditions have been successful in lawsuits when they’ve shown that their employer derived “immediate advantage” from the intern’s work, that they didn’t benefit from the experience, and that they displaced regular employees.

The Northwestern football players who petitioned to form the College Athletes Players Association last month say they are not immediately seeking compensation, just full coverage for sports-related medical expenses and more rights regarding safety and other issues. But a push for more money could come in the future.

February 7, 2014

Fund raisers at American colleges and schools estimate that giving to their institutions grew by 5.1 percent in 2013 in will grow by 5.2 percent this year, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education said its twice-year survey had found.

The figures for higher education alone were flipped, at 5.2 percent for 2013 and 5.1 percent for 2014. And public colleges and universities were more upbeat than their private college counterparts, estimating donations to their institutions at 5.7 percent and 5.6 percent, respectively, compared to 4.8 percent for both years for private colleges.

February 7, 2014

National Associations

American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine

American Association of University Professors

American Council on Education

American Psychological Association

Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC)

Association of American Universities

Association of Community College Trustees

Association of Public and Land-grant Universities

Association of Specialized and Professional Accreditors

Council for Christian Colleges & Universities

National Association for College Admission Counseling

National Association of Financial Aid Administrators

National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

State Higher Education Executive Officers Association

Veterans groups

Regional Associations

Association of Independent Colleges & Universities in Massachusetts

Association of Vermont Independent Colleges

Kansas Independent College Association

Minnesota Private College Council

Public and private, nonprofit colleges & universities in Wisconsin

Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education

Advocacy Groups/Think Tanks

American Institutes for Research

Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success

College Educational Quality

Institute for Higher Education Policy

National Center for Learning Disabilities

New America Foundation

OneGoal

Postsecondary Analytics

Student Press Law Center

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program

The Institute for College Access & Success

Young Invincibles

Businesses

ACT, Inc.

Equifax Workforce Solutions

Higher One, Inc.

The College Board

University Systems

California Community College system

California State University System

State University of New York

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

University of California system

University of North Carolina system

Individual Institutions

Adrian College

Arkansas State University-Beebe

Athens State University

Athens State University

Brown University

Chesnut Hill College

Clemson University

Columbia College of Missouri

Cornell University

DeVry Education Group

Duke University

East Arkansas Community College

Empire State College

Fisher College

Forsyth Technical Community College

Furman University

Gordon College

Higher Education Consortia at the University of Delaware

Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation

Kaplan Inc.

Lasell College

Le Moyne College

Lebanon Valley College

LeTourneau University

Metropolitan State University of Denver

Mount Aloysius College

Newman University

Northeastern University

Ohio Wesleyan University

Pace University

Roosevelt University

Saint Leo University

Saint Louis University

Santa Clara University

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Shaw University

Southern Adventist University

Southern Methodist University

Stanford University

The Cleveland Institute of Art

The Ohio State University

Tri-County Technical College

University of Alaska

University of California, Berkeley

University of Colorado Boulder

University of Pennsylvania

University of Washington

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Washington State University

Webster University

Wheelock College

Widener University

Williams College

February 7, 2014

A year ago, Bob Jones University hired GRACE (Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment), a Virginia firm, to investigate whether the university had properly handled any abuse allegations it received over the years. With GRACE wrapping up its investigation and preparing to write its report, the university fired the firm, The Greenville News reported. A university statement said that "we grew concerned about how GRACE was pursuing our objectives.” A statement from GRACE said that organization was taken by surprise and was concerned about the impact of its firing on those who came forward during the investigation. “We grieve with those whose hopes will be crushed should this independent process remain incomplete," said the GRACE statement.

 

February 7, 2014

It's Friday -- so take a few moments for a bit of lightheartedness by participating in this month's Cartoon Caption Contest. Get your creative juices flowing and submit your ideas for a caption for this month's cartoon. The winner receives an Amazon gift certificate and a signed original of the cartoon.

If that's not your style, at least vote on your favorite from among the three favorites chosen by our judges from among the submissions for last month's cartoon; cast your vote here.

And congratulations to the winner of December's contest: J. Timothy O'Neill, associate professor of pediatrics, physiology and neuroscience at Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. His caption, "Since the final exam here in Transfiguration 102 was to turn yourself into an animal and back again, Mr. Wilson will only receive half credit," was selected by your votes from among three finalists. And thanks to all our readers for participating.

February 7, 2014

Legislative leaders in South Carolina have proposed and are backing a bill to merge the College of Charleston with the Medical University of South Carolina, with the idea of creating a new research university for the state, The Post and Courier reported. But some at the two institutions have raised questions about the wisdom of the idea, noting that the college -- a public liberal arts institution -- and the medical university both have strong reputations, but have little in common except being located in the same city.

 

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