Michigan State University this month opened the Center for Legal Services Innovation, an initiative within the university's College of Law that plans to use data to improve the legal profession. The interdisciplinary center, known as LegalRnD, will host "hackathons" to improve the delivery of legal services and -- as the name suggests -- engage in research and development. Courses offered by the center will be taught by faculty members in Michigan State's other colleges, and this fall's lineup of courses includes offerings on information security and quantitative analysis.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Larry Schall, president of Oglethorpe University, is spending an unusual few weeks for a university president. He's working as an Uber driver, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He said he wanted to learn more about how Americans work these days. The idea was inspired by John Coleman, a Haverford College president who in 1974 wrote a book, Blue Collar Journal, in which he described a secret sabbatical working in blue-collar jobs.
The Illinois Labor Relations Board on Friday certified union pledge cards filed by a majority of Kishwaukee College adjunct faculty members. As a result, the 100-plus adjuncts will now be represented by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which also represents full-time faculty members at the community college.
Families are spending more on college, but parents are less concerned about that investment paying off, according to the results of a new survey from Sallie Mae, the student lender.
The study is based on phone interviews with 800 traditional-aged undergraduates and 800 parents of traditional-aged students. It is the eight installment of the survey. Results show that spending on college was up across the board this year, but that a 25 percent increase by high-income families was responsible for the bulk of the increase. Parents' out-of-pocket spending exceeded scholarships and grants for the first time since 2010.
However, fewer parents reported being "extremely worried" that their college-student children won't find a job after college -- 13 percent said this in 2015 compared to 27 percent the previous year. In addition, fewer parents were worried about student loan interest rates. Overall, six of 10 families did not borrow money to pay for college.
A study based on Texas data finds that minority students -- and in particular Latino students -- show somewhat different patterns of selecting colleges to which to apply than do white students. The study, released today by the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined where Texas students went to college in 2008 and 2009. Minority students were more likely than white students, even when controlling for college readiness, high school quality and other factors, to apply to colleges that were closer to their homes, that enrolled large numbers of minority students and that students from their high school had attended and succeeded at in the past. These factors resulted in some students "under-matching" or applying to colleges that were not as strong academically as they might have been able to be admitted to. An abstract of the study is available here.
The defunct Corinthian Colleges, a controversial for-profit chain, donated $27,600 in contributions over five years to various political operations related to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and presidential hopeful, Bloomberg reported. The article said $15,000 of the donations went to Rubio's Reclaim America PAC. Corinthian also gave money to Rubio when he was running for the Senate.
Oregon's governor, Kate Brown, a Democrat, on Friday signed a bill to create a free community college grant, several news outlets reported. Oregon follows Tennessee as the second state to fund a statewide free community college program. The legislation includes $10 million for qualifying students, who will each receive at least a $1,000 grant. The state also will spend $7 million on related student success and completion programs.
The news earned a celebratory tweet from President Obama:
Congrats to Oregon on passing two years of free community college! Every hardworking student deserves access to higher education.— President Obama (@POTUS) July 17, 2015
Clemson University's board on Friday issued its second statement this year on Benjamin Tillman (right), a racist 19th-century politician for whom a prominent campus building is named. Students and faculty members have been pushing for years to change the name of Tillman Hall. In February, the board rejected the idea, saying, "Every great institution is built by imperfect craftsmen. Stone by stone they add to the foundation so that over many, many generations, we get a variety of stones. And so it is with Clemson. Some of our historical stones are rough and even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours and denying them as part of our history does not make them any less so."
Friday's statement -- in the form of a board resolution -- did not make any promises about the building name. But it used much stronger language to describe Tillman. "Benjamin Tillman played a key role in the founding and early success of Clemson," the resolution said. "Benjamin Tillman was also known to be by his own admission an ardent racist and led a campaign of terror against African-Americans in South Carolina that included intimidation and violence of which he boasted about publicly; and for some members of our university family Benjamin Tillman’s legacy included not only contributions to Clemson University but also oppression, terror and hate."
The board also announced that it would create a task force "charged with creating a comprehensive plan to include, but not limited to, any recommendations regarding curating our historic buildings and memorials, developing better ways to acknowledge and teach the history of Clemson University, and exploring appropriate recognition of historical figures."
The White House on Sunday announced the death of George Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In his career, Cooper was on the faculty of several historically black colleges, and was president of one, South Carolina State University. He was named to the post in 2013, amid concerns that the White House had moved too slowly to fill the position after John Silvanus Wilson Jr. departed to become president of Morehouse College. "George’s passing is a great loss for my administration, the HBCU and higher education communities, and for everyone that knew him," said the statement from President Obama.