Higher Education Quick Takes

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Friday, February 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Business schools have changed their programs and need to consider further changes as a result of globalization, according to a report issued Thursday by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The report outlines ideas for the kinds of changes business schools need to consider while reviewing some of the notable changes already made.

Friday, February 11, 2011 - 3:00am

College leaders heartened by Wednesday's announcement from House Republican leaders that proposed budget cuts would spare many higher education programs had their hearts sink Thursday. Those very same House leaders -- responding to criticism from Tea Party pressure within their own party -- announced Thursday that they would cut much deeper from the budget for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year, requiring them to find another $26 billion in reductions. As House appropriators strive to meet the Pledge to America goal of slicing $100 billion in non-military discretionary spending in the year that ends September 30, it is hard to fathom that those additional cuts will not do damage to some student financial aid and other college-related programs that seemed to have been spared in the earlier review. "Our intent is to make deep but manageable cuts in nearly every area of government, leaving no stone unturned and allowing no agency or program to be held sacred," said Representative Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), the panel's chairman. Details are expected soon.

Friday, February 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Governor Rick Perry wants public colleges and universities in Texas to develop bachelor's degrees that would cost students only $10,000 in total, including the cost of textbooks, KXAN News reported. Perry, a Republican, didn't offer details on how colleges could do this, and some Democrats are questioning the realism of the idea, given that $10,000 would be a small fraction of costs today (which vary among institutions). In the State of the State address in which he issued the call, Perry said that online education and "innovative teaching techniques" could make the degrees possible.

Friday, February 11, 2011 - 3:00am

Last year, when students at the University of Iowa wanted to screen "Disco Dolls in Hot Skin (in 3D!)," a 1970s pornographic film, the university barred the showing at a campus movie theater. But this year, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported, the university is not objecting to a screening this weekend to celebrate Valentine's Day. What prompted the change of heart? University officials said that a review of the law suggested that, as a public institution, Iowa couldn't ban the film without violating First Amendment rights.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Colleges' “green revolving-funds” -- money set aside to provide up-front capital for investments that reduce environmental impact, such as light bulb replacement -- have quadrupled in number since 2008 and are generating considerable investment returns, a survey by the Sustainable Endowments Institute has found. The report, “Greening the Bottom Line,” is the first survey of green revolving-funds ever conducted. It included data from 52 universities from 25 U.S. states and two Canadian provinces. It found a 32 percent median annual return on green revolving-fund investments, with median total project payback of four years. Funds surveyed ranged in size from $5,000 at the College of Wooster to $12 million at Harvard University, with an average size of $1.4 million. “The trend is clear both in terms of money saved and reduced energy consumption,” said Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Eleven community colleges in Illinois are considering a plan to join forces on health insurance so that their larger pool creates savings, The Chicago Tribune reported. Institutions could end up saving 5 percent on health insurance costs.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:00am

The predictive value of the tests that most community colleges use to decide which students should need developmental courses before doing college-level work is "not as strong as many would assume," and the institutions might be better off using multiple -- and different sorts of -- measures to assess which students need remediation, two researchers say in a new study. The study is one of several in the "Assessment of Evidence" series published by the Community College Research Center.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy on Wednesday proposed an overhaul of governance of higher education. He would create a single board to replace those that oversee the state's community colleges and the Connecticut State University System, as well as the coordinating board. The only free-standing board that would remain would be for the University of Connecticut. He said the new system would help the state educate a larger share of its citizens.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:00am

When the University of Kentucky announced that its new basketball dormitory would be named, at the request of donors with ties to the coal industry, the Wildcat Coal Lodge, some of the campus objected to such an honor for an industry associated by many with environmentally harmful practices. The Lexington Herald-Leader obtained the full gift agreement and it turns out to not only have "coal" as part of the name, but to require the creation of "an exhibit in the primary entrance lobby which presents in print, photographic, sound, video, DVD and/or other format, a discussion of and tribute to the importance of the coal industry to the Commonwealth of Kentucky." Further, the exhibit "shall be reasonably acceptable" to Joseph W. Craft III, who heads Alliance Coal and who organized the contributions.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 3:00am

Blackboard has made its name on selling Blackboard Learn, its industry-leading learning management system (LMS), to universities. But professors will soon be able to use the platform for free even if their institutions do not have a contract with Blackboard, the company plans to announce today. Blackboard CourseSites, a cloud-based version of the company's LMS product, will allow instructors to use most of the features available through the normal learning-management system, minus those that require full integration with campus information systems. The idea is to give faculty members at non-Blackboard colleges, as well as those that have not upgraded to the latest versions “more options for experimentation” with the platform’s newest capabilities. Blackboard tells Inside Higher Ed that it does not plan to sell advertising or otherwise make money from CourseSites, so presumably the company is betting that this experiment will inspire instructors to press their bosses to invest in the campus-wide version that institutions must purchase. Blackboard Learn remains the most popular learning-managment system among nonprofit colleges, but it has lost some market share in recent years to Moodle, the open-source platform that has evolved into a viable campus-wide solution after making early inroads at the level of individual instructors.

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