Higher Education Quick Takes

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Thursday, June 30, 2011 - 3:00am

Two blind students — backed by the National Federation of the Blind -- on Wednesday sued Florida State University over the use of technology that they maintain denies equal access to the blind. The suit mentions mathematics courses in which the students allege the university required the students to use an inaccessible Web-based application to complete homework and exams, and required the use of clickers that cannot be used by a blind person to respond to in-class questions and obtain bonus credit. The suit is the latest in a series by blind students over educational technology tools.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

In today’s Academic Minute, the State University of New York at Plattsburgh's Gary Brannigan examines why there is a limited window of opportunity to teach reading comprehension. Find out more about the Academic Minute here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

The new edition of The Pulse podcast features an interview with Mark Nestor of University of the Sciences, in Philadelphia, about Panapto Lecture Capture. Find out more about The Pulse here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

A new report by the North Carolina state legislature proposes merging several of the state's smaller community colleges with larger ones to save $5 million. The report has the state's community college system, which is made up of 58 individual institutions, up in arms and looking for other ways to cut costs.

Under the proposal, 22 small colleges (defined as institutions with 3,000 full-time students or less) would become satellites of larger colleges nearby. Boards of trustees and advisors would be merged, allowing the state to save money on administration and staff.

System president Scott Ralls says those mergers would hurt colleges' ability to provide programs uniquely suited to their community . Part of the strength of the system, he said, is the relationship each college has with local leadership and business owners, allowing them to tailor their services to the needs of students.

"They're not just places where classes occur," said Ralls. "They're hubs of local leadership."

Ralls said the legislature often brings up proposals to consolidate colleges in the system when the economy is down, but "not to this extent." He says he is taking the proposal seriously and is looking into other ways to cut costs. For now, he is hopeful that new measures to streamline the college's remedial and technical education programs, which go into effect next fall, will provide significant savings. But he's confident he can find $5 million in cuts if he needs to -- last year, the system worked with legislators to make $115 million in reductions.

"In those discussions, there was never talk of consolidating 22 colleges," he said. "We would look for other places to make that reduction if we had to."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

California legislators are set to begin voting today on compromise budget legislation that would require enormous cuts to the state's public colleges and universities -- hundreds of millions of dollars more than they had been expecting as recently as last week. On Monday, after finding himself unable to reach a deal with Republican legislators that would have raised taxes to avert some cutbacks, Governor Jerry Brown announced that he had reached agreement with Democratic legislators on a state budget that can be passed without Republican support, the Los Angeles Times reported. It counts on rosy revenue estimates valued at several billion dollars more than the state has been expecting -- but still would cut $150 million more each from the University of California and California State University systems, on top of the $500 million reductions on which they had already been expecting.

Leaders of the university systems blasted the deal. "Because cuts of this magnitude inevitably will drive up tuition for public university students and their families, we cannot stand silent," said Mark G. Yudof, president of the University of California. "While we recognize the enormity of the fiscal challenge facing the state, we continue to oppose further cuts, and support any efforts that will restore long-term stability to state funding of higher education."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

A new report by the North Carolina state legislative researchers proposes merging several of the state's smaller community colleges with larger ones to save $5 million. The report, written by the legislature's non-partisan Program Evaluation Division, has the state's community college system up in arms and looking for other ways to cut costs.

Under the proposal, 22 small colleges (defined as institutions with 3,000 full-time students or less) would become satellites of larger colleges nearby. Boards of trustees and advisors would be merged, allowing the state to save money on administration and staff. No campuses would be closed in the consolidations.

System president Scott Ralls says those mergers would hurt colleges' ability to provide programs uniquely suited to their communities . Part of the strength of the system, he said, is the relationship each college has with local leadership and business owners, allowing them to tailor their services to the needs of students.

"They're not just places where classes occur," said Ralls. "They're hubs of local leadership."

Ralls said the legislature often brings up proposals to consolidate colleges in the system when the economy is down, but "not to this extent." He says he is taking the proposal seriously and is looking into other ways to cut costs. For now, he is hopeful that new measures to streamline the college's remedial and technical education programs, which go into effect next fall, will provide significant savings. But he's confident he can find $5 million in cuts if he needs to -- last year, the system worked with legislators to make $115 million in reductions.

"In those discussions, there was never talk of consolidating 22 colleges," he said. "We would look for other places to make that reduction if we had to."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

The new edition of The Pulse podcast features an interview with Mark Nestor of University of the Sciences, in Philadelphia, about Panopto Lecture Capture. Find out more about The Pulse here.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

A new report by the research arm of the North Carolina General Assembly suggests merging several of the state's smaller community colleges with larger ones to save $5 million. The report, written by the legislature's non-partisan Program Evaluation Division, has the state's community college system up in arms, and looking for other ways to cut costs.

Under the proposal, 22 small colleges (defined as institutions with enrollments under 3,000 full-time students) would become satellites of larger colleges nearby. Boards of trustees and advisors would be merged, allowing the state to save money on administration and staff. No campuses would be closed in the consolidations.

Scott Ralls, president of the state's community college system, says mergers would hurt colleges' ability to provide programs uniquely suited to their communities. Part of the strength of the system, he said, is the relationship each college has with local leadership and business owners, allowing them to tailor their services to the needs of students. "They're not just places where classes occur," said Ralls. "They're hubs of local leadership."

Ralls said the legislature often brings up proposals to consolidate colleges in the system when the economy is down, but "not to this extent." He says he is taking the proposal seriously, and is looking into other ways to cut costs. For now, he is hopeful that new measures to streamline the college's remedial and technical education programs, which go into effect next fall, will provide significant savings. But he's confident he can find $5 million in cuts if he needs. Last year, the system worked with legislators to make $115 million in reductions.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

In an era when many scholars worry about lack of attention and funds for the humanities, Duke and Stanford Universities on Tuesday announced separate, foundation-supported efforts in the humanities. Duke announced a five-year, $6 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the "Humanities Writ Large" initiative, which will support visiting scholars and new faculty appointments, undergraduate research, humanities labs, and support for interdisciplinary collaborations across departments and institutions. Stanford announced a $4 million endowment -- half of the funds from the family of an alumnus and the other half from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation -- to support top humanities graduate students.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 - 3:00am

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will provide a one-time grant of $3.16 million to help fill a gap left by cuts in federal funds for foreign doctoral study, the Institute for International Education announced Tuesday. IIE, which will administer the program, said the funds would aid about 80 humanities graduate students whose ability to conduct research overseas had been cut off by a reduction for the Education Department's Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Program.

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