In today's Academic Minute, Susan Schneider, a philosophy professor at the University of Connecticut, has some deeper theories about first contact. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.
Higher Education Quick Takes
Among those killed Tuesday when a New York City-bound Amtrak train derailed north of Philadelphia were a college dean, the CEO of an ed-tech start-up, and a sophomore.
Derrick Griffith, dean of student affairs and enrollment management for Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, was one of the victims. A CUNY statement noted that he had been involved in numerous efforts to help low-income students obtain higher education.
Rachel Jacobs, CEO of the Philadelphia-based ed-tech start-up ApprenNet, was also among the victims. Emily F. Williams, co-founder and chief operating officer, confirmed the news Wednesday evening. Jacobs, a graduate of Swarthmore College and Columbia Business School, became CEO of ApprenNet in March, according to Philadelphia magazine.
Also killed was Justin Zemser, a sophomore at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Craig Boardman, an associate professor at the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at Ohio State University, is facing charges of aggravated menacing for allegedly telling a human resources officer that he had a gun and planned to kill his dean and then himself, TV 10 News reported. Authorities report that when they went to Boardman's house after hearing about what he had said, Boardman wasn't there. He was arrested a short time later, after he was in a car crash, on charges of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Boardman did not respond to calls but his lawyer told the television station that Boardman never had a gun.
Forty-nine percent of students who graduated college in 2013 and 2014 consider themselves underemployed, according to an Accenture college graduate employment survey released Wednesday.
Other statistics of interest: 41 percent of 2013 and 2014 graduates earn less than $25,000, 64 percent are working in their chosen field, and 64 percent feel their education prepared them well for the workforce. Meanwhile expectations for students graduating this spring are much higher: 85 percent expect to earn more than $25,000 a year and 80 percent believe their education prepared them well for the workforce, according to the Accenture survey.
Many states are moderately restoring higher education funding, but major cuts during the 2008 recession have made for an uphill battle.
In 47 states, per-student public funding for higher education remains well below prerecession levels, according to a report released Wednesday by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. That's in spite of the fact that 37 states increased higher education funding last year by an average of nearly 4 percent. The average state is spending $1,805 per student, or 20 percent less than before the 2008 recession. In severe cases -- like in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and South Carolina -- funding has been reduced by 35 percent.
“Deep state funding cuts have had major consequences for public colleges and universities. States (and to a lesser extent localities) provide roughly 53 percent of the revenue that can be used to support instruction at these schools,” stated the report.
The data in the report are based on the latest edition of an annual report on state appropriations for higher education by the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University and the State Higher Education Executive Officers.
Massive open online course provider edX and chip maker Qualcomm are working together to improve access to courses hosted on the platform on mobile devices, the two companies announced on Wednesday. Qualcomm Education, a subsidiary, will make parts of its software development kit available for licensing through Open edX, the MOOC provider's open courseware development platform.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Thursday that it has launched a “public inquiry” into the practices of companies that collect and manage student loan payments.
Officials from the bureau are soliciting public feedback on a range of issues relating to student loan servicers, including whether the federal government should more tightly regulate the companies. They are also seeking input on whether the federal government should pay the servicers for federal loans differently in order to provide more incentives for them to help struggling borrowers avoid default.
The Education Department has previously defended its current loan-serving model, which involves hiring four main companies to manage payments of federal student loan borrowers. Consumer advocates and some Senate Democrats have criticized the department’s oversight of those loan servicers.
The CFPB supervises large student loan servicing companies, including the four main federal loan servicers.
The public comments are “meant to find ways to put the ‘service’ back into the student loan servicing market and help people avoid unnecessary defaults,” CFPB Director Richard Cordray was to say at a student debt hearing in Wisconsin Thursday, according to prepared remarks.
The feedback will also, officials said, inform a joint report with the Education and Treasury Departments about loan servicing. That review was ordered by President Obama earlier this year as part of several executive actions his administration dubbed a Student Aid Bill of Rights.
Faculty members at Green River College, a community college in Washington State, rallied Wednesday to demand the ouster of President Eileen Ely, The Seattle Times reported. Professors are angry over the proposed elimination of several trades programs, and say that faculty members are being left out of important decisions. Ely was not on campus Wednesday, but a spokesperson said that some cuts were needed to reflect enrollment shifts.
The University of California at Los Angeles on Wednesday announced a $100 million gift for its business school -- the largest ever for the business school. The donation is from Marion Anderson. The UCLA Anderson School of Management is named for her late husband, John E. Anderson, in recognition of an earlier gift by the couple. UCLA will use $60 million from the new gift for financial aid, fellowships and research funding. The remaining $40 million will be seed funding for a new building.