Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

December 14, 2018

In the spring, the College of St. Joseph, in Vermont, announced that it might not have enough money to stay open, and then quickly announced that it would stay open. The college had been on probation from its accreditor, but officials announced that the New England Commission of Higher Education now says that St. Joseph must make major improvements in its finances by April 1 or it will lose accreditation at the end of August, The Rutland Herald reported. Further, the commission said that if accreditation ends in August, the college should stop instruction at the end of the spring semester and use the summer months only to help students transfer or finish programs. Without accreditation, the college's students aren't eligible for student aid.

College officials told the Herald that they were still pushing to stay alive, but have a plan in place for students to transfer to Castleton University if accreditation is lifted.

December 14, 2018

Newbury College, in Massachusetts, announced today that it will shut down at the end of the spring 2019 semester.

A statement from Joseph L. Chillo, the president, said in part: It is no secret that weighty financial challenges are pressing on liberal arts colleges throughout the country. Newbury College is no exception. These financial challenges, the product of major changes in demographics and costs, are the driving factors behind our decision to close at the end of this academic year. The decision was not arrived at lightly because we know how much Newbury College means to so many. Our decision to close comes only after a tireless pursuit of multiple options to remain open and continue serving our students as a beacon of opportunity and hope to achieve the dreams of a college education.

Newbury is located outside of Boston. It's fall 2018 enrollment was 627.

A full article on the closure will appear on Monday.

 

December 14, 2018

The Education Department said Thursday that it would carry out part of the Obama administration's 2016 borrower-defense rule, automatically canceling the student loan debt of 15,000 borrowers whose colleges closed between November 2013 and December 2018.

The department will cancel about $150 million in student loan debt over all, including about $80 million owed by borrowers who attended Corinthian Colleges.

The move comes after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos lost a legal battle in federal court this fall over the enforcement of the 2016 rule. One of the provisions provides for automatic loan discharge for student borrowers whose college closed three years ago and who never enrolled at another institution.

December 14, 2018

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors on Friday rejected a plan to build a new history center on campus to house Silent Sam, a Confederate monument widely seen on the campus as a symbol of white supremacy.

Chapel Hill's campus board and its chancellor, Carol Folt, proposed spending $5 million on a history center that would house the monument and also tell the story of race at the university. Folt has said she would prefer for the statue to be moved off campus but that North Carolina law generally bars moving such monuments off campus. Protesters toppled the statue in August, and many fear that restoring it to its old location would simply lead to more attempts to bring it down. Student and faculty groups have demanded that the statue be kept off campus, and some teaching assistants have held a grading strike to protest the plan to bring the statue back, even in a history center. There were also protests outside Friday's meeting. Many have also questioned spending money to house and protect the statue.

But some politicians and at least one Board of Governors member have called for the statue to go back to its place on campus, outside.

The UNC system board, which acted Friday, appointed a committee to come up with a new plan for Silent Sam, to be considered by March 15. Here is a tweet from Chapel Hill:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 14, 2018

Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., is mourning the loss of D’Angelo Bratton-Bland, a senior elementary education major and president of the student government association who was killed by a gunshot wound Tuesday night. The university held a vigil in Bratton-Bland’s memory Wednesday and released the following statement about his passing.

“The Lincoln University family is saddened by the loss of Student Government Association President D’Angelo Bratton-Bland. A true student leader in every sense of the word, D’Angelo touched many lives, which has been evident in the outpouring of grief and love following the news of his passing. His spirit of service was evident in his future goals to become an educator, majoring in elementary education with an anticipated graduation date of May 2019," the statement read. "Dr. Marrix Seymore, Dean of the School of Education, served as a mentor for Bratton-Bland. Seymore said his potential and purpose were evident, particularly during a trip to Washington, D.C. during a site visit to an inner city school. ‘D’Angelo said he had his AHA moment, and became diligent about his post-graduation plan. It was this lightbulb moment that changed his course to pursue teaching in an inner city school one day.' An active student, he also served as the former SGA Vice President, a member of Collegiate 100, Infantry Scholars’ Program, the Academy of Men of Color in Education and as ROAR Agent, as well as serving as a Residential Advisor. He was a native of Chicago, Illinois.”

December 14, 2018

The Department of Education this week launched efforts to reach the roughly 20,000 students affected by the sudden closure of for-profit college chain Education Corporation of America.

The company operated Virginia College as well as Brightwood College and Brightwood Career Institutes. The goal of the effort is to let students know about the options they have to either transfer credits elsewhere or have their loans forgiven through a process called closed-school discharge.

The department held transfer fairs this week for ECA students in California and Virginia. Next week it will run a series of 11 webinars for students about transfer or loan forgiveness options. It began notifying students via email about those sessions on Thursday.

If a college closes while a student is enrolled or shortly after they withdraw, they are eligible to have their federal student loans forgiven. But the official closure date must be within 120 days of a student’s withdrawal.

That means that students who were enrolled at the roughly 40 ECA campuses that closed on Dec. 7 are eligible for the benefit if they withdrew on or after Aug. 9. The department will designate the cutoff dates for closed-school discharge at other campuses as it receives updates about additional closures this month. It's posted a spreadsheet listing specific campus information on its closed-school webpage and information on student options on a separate page for ECA students.

The department may provide students with information about colleges accepting transfer credit from ECA campuses. But an official said those details will depend on the area, campus and specific program attended by the student.

December 14, 2018

The $867 billion farm bill passed by Congress this week includes important wins for land-grant institutions, especially historically black colleges.

The bill, which is set to go to President Trump's desk, would eliminate a provision of the law that for decades required 1890 land-grant universities, including 19 HBCUs, to spend most of their federal extension funding in a calendar year. The change means tuition-dependent colleges will have more flexibility to use that funding for long-term projects, said David Sheppard, senior vice president at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

“We’re no longer in a ‘use it or lose it’ situation,” he said.

The bill would also require that states tell Congress whether they are fulfilling obligations to make a one-to-one match of federal funding for 1890 land-grant institutions. States have continually fallen short of that requirement. But state funds to predominantly white 1862 land-grant institutions have often exceeded federal matching requirements. HBCU supporters hope the new transparency requirement will put more pressure on states to provide equitable funding for those institutions.

The farm bill would also provide $50 million to establish centers for excellence at three historically black colleges to be designated by the agriculture secretary. And it would add $80 million in scholarship funds for HBCU students studying disciplines like farming and agribusiness.

The bill would also make an additional $630 million in funds available for research into food production, safety and security.

"The education, research, and extension work of our land-grant universities improves and saves lives, strengthens communities, and ensures that the next generation will carry that mission forward. The Farm Bill supports all of those efforts," said Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, in a statement.

December 14, 2018

Hall of Fame rock band Metallica is donating $1 million to 10 community colleges across the country as part of a partnership with the American Association of Community Colleges.

The band's All Within My Hands Foundation is donating the money to support students who are entering a traditional trade or work-force program. These students will be part of the Metallica Scholars Initiative to improve career opportunities for students at two-year colleges. The foundation was formed in 2017 to help alleviate hunger and poverty and support work-force education initiatives in communities that have supported the band.

Lars Ulrich, one of the band members, said the foundation chose work-force education as part of its mission because "All of us in the band feel fortunate that music has provided us the opportunity to be successful doing something we are passionate about. We want to share our success with others so that they can find a job where they can do the same."

The colleges that were selected will each receive $100,000 and are based in and around stops on Metallica's 2017-2019 WorldWired Tour:

  • Central Piedmont Community College in Charlotte, N.C.
  • Clackamas Community College in Oregon City
  • College of Lake County in Grayslake, Ill.
  • Community College of Baltimore County
  • Gateway Technical College in Kenosha, Wis.
  • Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan
  • Lone Star College in The Woodlands, Texas
  • North Idaho College
  • Spokane Community College
  • Wichita State University Campus of Applied Sciences and Technology in Kansas

"We welcome Metallica as a partner in the career and technical education work of the nation's community colleges," AACC president Walter Bumphus said in a news release. "Colleges across the country provide pathways to well-paying jobs through programs, services and training that lead to in-demand skills, certificates and degrees for students … For Metallica to see the benefit of these programs and invest in the communities that have supported them is a testament to the power of education and we are proud to do this work with them."

December 14, 2018

Australian university officials are urging caution regarding a proposal by the New South Wales government to offer incentives to encourage international students to study in regional areas of the state outside Sydney so as to relieve population pressures in the capital city, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. An advisory panel recently found that 98.8 percent of students in New South Wales attend higher education institutions in Sydney, while just 1.2 percent study elsewhere in the state.

The New South Wales premier, Gladys Berejiklian, has not elaborated on what form incentives could take. Universities Australia’s chief executive, Catriona Jackson, said New South Wales universities would need to see a "very careful assessment of any proposals and their likely impact."

“International education is a $32 billion industry for Australia and generates $11.3 billion for NSW -- the lion’s share of any state or territory,” Jackson said.

“The last thing governments or universities want is to harm our ability to attract international students.”

December 14, 2018

A Russian national who pleaded guilty Thursday to acting as a foreign agent in the U.S. entered the country in 2016 on a student visa and completed a master’s degree at American University.

The New York Times reported that in pleading guilty to a single charge of conspiring to act as a foreign agent, Maria Butina admitted to participating in a scheme, backed by Russian officials, to cultivate positive attitudes toward Russia among influential Americans in the National Rifle Association and the Republican Party. Prosecutors said in court filings that Butina genuinely wanted a graduate degree and was not merely posing as a student in order to live in the U.S.

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