Higher Education Quick Takes
The percentage of new California high school graduates who enroll in the University of California and California State University Systems has dropped from 22 percent in 2007 to less than 18 percent in 2010, according to a report issued Wednesday night by the Public Policy Institute of California. Further, the enrollment of California high school graduates who have completed courses required for admission to the university systems has dropped from 67 percent to 55 percent. The declines are the apparent result of population growth at a time of deep budget cuts that have limited enrollment and led to tuition increases at many of the state's universities. The enrollment drop has been steepest among black students. While there has been a slight increase in the enrollment rates at community colleges, that has not offset the other declines. The report says that it appears that more California high school graduates than in the past are enrolling at four-year institutions outside the state.
Hebrew College has abandoned plans to sell its campus to pay off its debt, The Boston Globe reported. The college had planned to move into leased space. But 18 months after announcing plans to sell the campus, the college has managed to reduce its spending on administrative functions, and to attract enough new backing to stay put.
The University of Michigan is today unveiling a new way to encourage faculty research innovation. In a $15 million program called MCubed, faculty members will receive a token for $20,000. When three faculty members decide to "cube" their tokens and work together on a project, they will receive -- on a first-come, first-served basis -- $60,000 to hire one graduate student, undergraduate student, or postdoctoral researcher to begin work on the idea. Thirty faculty members could cube together and get funds for 10 such positions. The idea is to let researchers quickly move toward testing their projects, rather than going through the long peer review process to receive an initial planning grant. Michigan officials hope these "cubed" grants will let researchers move quickly into position to apply for much larger outside grants.
“The world has changed and yet higher education’s funding model is the same. With the speed at which people communicate and share information today, we see an opportunity to do things in a very different way. This is a totally new model that could turn things upside down,” said Mark Burns, professor and chair of chemical engineering. Burns developed the idea with Alec Gallimore and Thomas Zurbuchen, both associate deans in the College of Engineering.
The University of Miami is preparing to lay off as many as 800 employees, roughly 8 percent of its work force, amid cutbacks in state and federal funds and payments by insurers, The Miami Herald reported. Although Miami is a private institution that often operates out of public view, it signaled its plans on a state website Tuesday because of a Florida law that requires employers to warn of layoffs that would affect 500 or more workers.
The faculty union of the University of Rhode Island has filed an unfair labor practice charge after the state's Board of Governors for Higher Education rejected a three-year contract that had been negotiated with the union, The Providence Journal reported. The board also rejected contracts for other public colleges, and for graduate students at the university. Board members said that they didn't have enough information on the financial implications of the contracts. A statement from the American Association of University Professors, which represents the faculty members and grad students at the university, blasted the move, saying that "board negotiators represented to us that they were authorized to reach agreement with us."
A bill to keep the interest rate on subsidized student loans at 3.4 percent for another year failed to pass a key procedural hurdle in the Senate on Tuesday, setting up more conflict over how to stop the interest rate from doubling July 1. Democrats and Republicans have agreed on the need to keep the interest rate at its current, historic low for at least another year, but can't find common ground on how to pay for the extension. House Republicans passed a bill last week to take the needed $6 billion from a preventive care fund in the health care reform law, while Senate Democrats support changing tax laws to require high-earning stockholders in certain types of corporations to contribute to payroll taxes.
The Senate voted 52-45 in favor of allowing debate on the bill, but failed to reach the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster.
Shaun Green, men's soccer coach at Central Connecticut State University, is facing criticism after he acknowledged taking stacks of the student newspaper and throwing them in the trash, the Associated Press reported. He was upset over an article about his team's inability to meet academic requirements to participate in next season's National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.
Northeastern University on Tuesday officially unveiled plans to open a Seattle graduate campus in September. The Boston-based university last year launched a graduate campus in Charlotte, N.C., and plans to start other campuses in Austin, Minneapolis and Silicon Valley. The Seattle branch will feature 16 degree programs, including cybersecurity and engineering, which will be geared to the city's technology sector. Tayloe Washburn, a local business leader, will be the campus's dean and executive officer.