Higher Education Quick Takes
The Illinois prepaid tuition program is short by about 30 percent -- or nearly $560 million -- to meet the obligations it has made to families, The Chicago Tribune reported. The article is based on a new report by actuarial accountants. The state stopped selling new contracts in the program in September, but has yet to figure out how to meet the commitments the program has already made.
Two of the men who say that they were molested as boys by Bernie Fine while he was associate head coach of the basketball team at Syracuse University on Tuesday announced a suit against the university and Jim Boeheim, the team's head coach, The Syracuse Post-Standard reported. The suit is not over the abuse, but for defamation, based on statements Boeheim made after the allegations became public in which the head coach expressed doubt about the reliability and motives of those coming forward. While Boeheim has since apologized, the men say that they were defamed. They are being represented by Gloria Allred, who is known for her advocacy for victims of sex crimes.
A University of Oklahoma professor has been placed on paid administrative leave following his arrest on two charges of rape and one of lewd acts with a child, The Oklahoman reported. The faculty member, Dwain Pellebon, teaches social work and has been active in local groups that work with children in the juvenile justice system. He has not yet been formally charged in court. A lawyer for Pellebon told a local reporter that he denies all charges.
Jerry Sandusky, whose alleged molestation of boys has created a mammoth scandal at Pennsylvania State University, applied and was rejected for a volunteer football coaching job at Juniata College in 2010, the Associated Press reported. The rejection followed a background check that turned up an investigation into his conduct at a high school where he had volunteered. All this occurred after he left his Penn State job, but before the allegations about him became public. Juniata officials said that, even after he was rejected, he showed up at football events, and that the athletics director had to tell all football officials that Sandusky could not play any role with the football program.
Chicago's community college system will join with industry experts to revamp occupational training to meet the skills gap in fast-growing sectors. The program, announced Monday by Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's mayor, will involve a curriculum redesign and the creation of new certificate programs by the City Colleges of Chicago. Jobs in health care, transportation and distribution and logistics will be the initial focus, but the partnership may later expand into other high-demand fields. Industry representatives will work as teacher-practitioners at the colleges, according to a news release, to "deliver a real-world perspective in City Colleges' classrooms."
The State University of New York at Stony Brook is today announcing a $150 million gift from James and Marilyn Simons and the Simons Foundation. The gift is the largest ever to Stony Brook or any SUNY campus, and comes from donors who have already been generous to the university. James Simons has been a strong advocate for giving the SUNY system's research universities more autonomy and more control over their funds, and has said in the past that he would be motivated to give more if he saw movement in that direction. Shifts in the last year gave more authority over tuition revenue to the SUNY system. The $150 million gift will support medical research, new endowed professorships, and funds to recruit top undergraduate and graduate students.
When the time comes for a freshman to move on to sophomore year, the odds that the college retains him might hinge on whether it retained his friends. Relationships are more important than a student’s academic ability, financial aid, ethnicity or socioeconomic status in determining whether he will complete the transition to a second year, according to a new study published in Social Psychology of Education. Researchers at Rhodes College, a small liberal arts institution in Tennessee, and Welch Consulting in Washington analyzed the social networks of the institution’s entire class of 2012, examining the social and academic connections between things such as course registrations, team and club rosters, and residence hall records. Unsurprisingly, James Eckles and Eric Stradley found that students “on the outside of the social network” are more at risk for attrition. But they also found that whether a student’s friends stick around makes a difference -- every friend who left made a student five times more likely to leave, and every friend who stayed made a student 2.25 times more likely to stay.
Congressional negotiators are close to reaching agreement on a $1 trillion budget for the federal government in 2012, with a vote expected by the end of the week. The measure would draw from competing House and Senate budget plans to pay for the Pell Grant Program, enacting changes to both the grant program itself and to subsidized undergraduate student loans.
The six-month grace period on subsidized student loans, in which the government currently pays the interest after a borrower leaves college, would be eliminated, saving about $400 million for the fiscal year. The length of time over which a student can be eligible for a Pell Grant would reportedly also be cut to 12 semesters from the current 18, which would affect about 62,000 students, according to a lobbyist with a higher education association. Students without a high school diploma or equivalent credential will also reportedly be barred from receiving Pell Grants, and the family income at which the government would expect a recipient of federal financial aid to contribute nothing to the cost of his or her education would drop from $30,000 to $20,000 per year.
Senate Democrats had proposed the change to the interest rate subsidy; the other cuts were drawn from a House Republican budget plan. But other proposed cuts in the House plan would not be enacted, including a proposed change to the income protection allowance that the American Council on Education estimated could affect up to 400,000 students.
Full details on the final bill are expected today.