Higher Education Quick Takes
Sterling College, a Christian liberal arts institution in Kansas, has announced an unusual gift. Someone left a boulder with a sword's handle sticking out of it outside a campus building. There was no note, but the boulder is engraved with "SC Warriors" on one side. (The college's athletic teams are known as the Warriors.) A statement from Scott Rich, vice president and chief financial officer, said, "The gift is professionally done, and it is clear that a lot of time and effort have gone into the project. We would like to know more information about the gift to properly thank those who donated it."
Organizers have failed in their attempt to gather enough petition signatures to force a vote in California on whether to repeal the state's Dream Act, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. The drive needed about 500,000 signatures and was about 57,000 short. California's Dream Act allows -- in certain circumstances -- students who lack the legal documentation to live in the United States to receive state financial aid.
The annual meeting of the Modern Language Association has long been the site of hook-ups (and gossip about hook-ups, real, exaggerated and fictional). Craigslist personals for Seattle (the meeting location) provide an insight into the current status of the genre of the MLA pick-up line. (Historians and economists also held annual meetings last week, but only one related personal, from a historian, could be found from their meetings on Craigslist for Chicago, where both groups convened.) Among the MLA members posting on Craigslist, one wrote "Drop me a line and let's see what extra credit work we can come up with." Another listed his qualifications this way: "I'm attractive and a literary genius from the wrong side of the tracks." Yet another asked those replying to "include either the word 'De Man' or 'Derrida' in your subject line."
The American Economic Association responded to criticism that some economists were too close to businesses or the government by issuing a new set of guidelines last week at its annual meeting in Chicago, aiming to get scholars to disclose the supporters of their research when they publish in AEA journals. The new guidelines were approved at an executive committee meeting Thursday. “Every submitted article should state the sources of financial support for the particular research it describes. If none, that fact should be stated,” says one of the new principles. Another principle asks authors to “identify each interested party from whom he or she has received significant financial support, summing to at least $10,000 in the past three years, in the form of consultant fees, retainers, grants and the like. The disclosure requirement also includes in-kind support, such as providing access to data.” The additions come after years of introspection by economists, following the financial meltdown of 2008.
Law students who switch law schools do well academically at their new institutions, despite generally having lower academic credentials than those who enrolled as first-year law students. That's a major finding of this year's Law School Survey of Student Engagement. The survey also finds that these students may not be fully integrated into their new institutions.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon announced that he has dropped the idea of having the state borrow money from university reserve funds, the Associated Press reported. The idea he floated would have used the borrowed money to avoid deep cuts in state appropriations. But many legislators questioned whether this approach was sound fiscal policy and worried that the state universities might never get their money back.
Twenty-one men from Haiti have sued Fairfield University over the sex abuse they suffered when they were children cared for at a charity in Haiti, The Hartford Courant reported. Fairfield is a target because, the suits allege, the university supported the charity (founded by an alumnus since accused of being a pedophile) and should have known about the abuse. A lawyer for the university said that the suit is incorrect in blaming Fairfield. The university did not have any supervisory authority over the charity, which was not affiliated with Fairfield, the lawyer said.
The French government has backed away from a proposed tightening of student visa rules that would have made it difficult for foreign students to stay in France after graduation, The Washington Post reported. The proposal had been strongly criticized by university leaders, who said that the restrictions would have been inconsistent with the country's values, and would have hurt the institutions' standing around the world.
While most colleges predict an increase in net tuition revenue for the 2012 fiscal year, a small group are pessimistic about their chances to grow revenue greater than financial aid, according to a survey released Wednesday by Moody's Investors Service. According to the study, 18 percent of private and 17 percent of public universities expect a decrease in net tuition revenue next year. Those numbers are similar to expectations last year, though only 13 percent of privates and 8 percent of publics actually experienced a decline. Lower-rated private colleges (Baa and below), which tend to have smaller enrollments, a more regional draw, smaller endowments, and competition from lower-cost public options, were the most likely to say they would see a decrease in net tuition revenue next year. No institution rated Moody's highest (Aaa) expected a decline in net tuition revenue.
Since the outlook is weak for other revenue sources, such as state funding, private gifts, and research grants, Moody's analysts say colleges need to pay particular attention to growing tuition revenue if they want to maintain in strong financial position.