Higher Ed Press Clips July 2012

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July 1-2, 2012

Denver Post:
Metro State officially changes name to Metropolitan State University –
Metropolitan State College's name is now Metropolitan State University of Denver.  The name change went into effect Sunday and officials said they expect all signs, emails and letterheads to be changed within a year.  The new name was approved in late February after officials expressed concern that the university was being confused with a two-year community college.  "If you go onto the website today, it's all switched over," said Cathy Lucas , a spokeswoman for the university . "By August 1, everyone on campus will have a msudenver.edu email."

CU researchers think early human had a chimpanzee like diet –
Distinguishing itself from virtually all other hominids that have so far been studied, an ancient human relative that roamed South Africa about 2 million years ago may have preferred a chimpanzee like diet of fruits, bushes and even bark, according to new research involving scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Other human ancestors appear to have had a diet more similar to a cow than a chimpanzee, preferring to graze on grasses and sedges rather than eat harder foods.
CU doctoral student Paul Sandberg and his adviser, CU anthropologist Matt Sponheimer, used lasers to free carbon gases from the teeth of Australopithecus sediba, a species of hominid discovered just a few years ago at the Malapa site in South Africa.

Inside Higher Ed:
U.S. Judge Invalidates Federal Rule Governing College Vocational Programs –
A day before the federal government's controversial new rules governing vocational programs were set to take effect, a federal judge on Saturday invalidated one of its key elements, blocking enforcement of much of the regulatory framework.  The ruling by Judge Rudolph Contreras, which came just days after the Education Department released its first set of data produced by the new regulations, largely upheld the Education Department's legal right to craft new regulations aimed at ensuring that vocational programs prepare students for "gainful employment," saying that the agency had "set out to address a serious policy problem, regulating pursuant to a reasonable interpretation of its statutory authority."  The judge's decision also supports many aspects of the department's decision making process, rejecting assertions in a 2011 lawsuit by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities that the agency had overstepped its bounds in regulating in this area and chosen arbitrary measures to hold for-profit and other vocational programs accountable. The association is the primary trade group for for-profit colleges, which were the primary targets (and victims, as they perceived it) of the new rules.

NY Times:
Judge Strikes a For-Profit College Regulation –
A federal judge in Washington has overturned a main component of the federal Department of Education’s “gainful employment” rules, which were applied to career-training programs and were hotly contested by for-profit colleges, saying that regulation was arbitrary.   The ruling by Judge Rudolph Contreras of Federal District Court was released on Saturday.   The gainful-employment regulations, which were issued last year and were scheduled to go into effect on Sunday, were devised to prevent for-profit colleges, which get the bulk of their revenues from federal student aid, from leaving students with huge debt loads and credentials that provided little help in landing them a job.

July 3, 2012

Denver Post:
Career test for kindergarteners in the works –
A new digital tool to test academic and behavioral skills will target students starting in kindergarten.  ACT, the organization that developed the ACT college-entrance exam, will start testing the tool in the fall. It will be available to schools starting in 2014.The tool tracks students' career interests, academic performance and progress toward goals. It's designed to follow students from kindergarten through high school.

The Trinidad Times:
The Future of Colorado; Hickenlooper, cabinet meet with citizens –
Colorado faces many challenges as it moves into an uncertain future, with the threat of fires, environmental concerns and economic problems muddying the state’s waters. A recent conference hosted by the Mt. Carmel Center brought local leaders together with members of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Cabinet for a lively discussion concerning the state’s future…  Lieutenant Governor Joe Garcia, who is also executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, talked about how southern Colorado could more fully integrate its economy into that of the state as a whole. He said there’s a tendency in northern Colorado to ignore this part of the state. He said southern Colorado needed to work on opening doors that would help it thrive economically.

Inside Higher Ed:
For-Profit Grads’ Wage Disadvantage –
In analyzing the salary gains associated with various kinds of academic programs, advocates of for-profit higher education have noted that the sector's students tend to be less prepared for postsecondary work than are students in other sectors. A study released Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research agrees with that generalization. But it finds that, even when controlling for such factors, there is an advantage for the nonprofit sectors in boosting salaries, over the for-profit sector.  The study arrives at a time of continued debate between for-profit advocates and critics on the extent to which for-profit programs advance students economically.

The Gridiron Payoff?—
A win on the football field gives both fans and administrators a reason to celebrate, according to a new report that found football success increases a college’s alumni donations -- especially to athletics programs -- along with its academic reputation and the quality and quantity of applicants.  The working paper -- "The Benefits of College Athletic Success: An Application of the Propensity Score Design with Instrumental Variables" -- was published by the National Bureau for Economic Research, which has published before about the relationship between academic success and alumni giving.


July 4-6, 2012

Denver Post:
New CSU veterinary dean hopes to cash in on his business background –
Mark Stetter admits that, on the surface, he wasn't exactly the typical candidate to become the dean of Colorado State University's College of Veterinary Medicine.  For the previous 15 years, Stetter wasn't working in academia but for the Walt Disney Co., where an emergency phone call in the middle of the night was more likely to come from a corporate partner such as ESPN, rather than someone needing assistance with a distressed animal.

Hank Brown, Mike Rosen to help lead CU-Boulder’s search for visiting conservative scholar –
The University of Colorado's Boulder campus -- which long has been perceived as a liberal hotbed -- on Tuesday tapped former CU President Hank Brown and Denver talk-show host Mike Rosen to help lead a nationwide search for a visiting scholar of conservative thought.  CU already has raised $1 million in donations to fund its Visiting Scholar in Conservative Thought and Policy, a position that is funded for at least three years. The scholar doesn't necessarily need to be right-leaning, but must be an expert in conservative thought and policy.

Boulder Daily Camera:
CU-Boulder forecast: Job growth to continue in Colorado –
Colorado's economy -- which is growing at a modest pace, with nearly all sectors hiring more people this year -- is among the healthiest in the nation, according to an analysis released Thursday by the University of Colorado's business school.  The state's tourism industry is still faring well, despite a mild winter that decreased ski resort visits by 10 to 12 percent. Those warmer winter months gave the construction industry a jumpstart as companies could pull permits earlier in the year and get crews working on projects in January, February and March, according to Richard Wobbekind, who heads the Leeds School's Business Research Division.

Inside Higher Ed:
Here’s to hope –
It doesn’t seem surprising that someone who can set goals, visualize paths to achieve them, and summon the motivation to start down those paths would be more likely to succeed than someone who can’t do those things. But measuring the potential effect of those characteristics – which together compose the characteristic of “hope” – is starting to become more clear. A growing (but still small) body of research is finding that students with high levels of hope get better grades and graduate at higher rates than those with lower levels, and that the presence of hope in a student is a better predictor of grades and class ranking than standardized test scores.
In one study at a Mid, hopeful students graduated at rates 16 percent higher than non-hopeful students. Another, at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, found that the presence of hope in first-semester law students there better predicted academic success than did ACT or LSAT scores. One study found that high-hope people experience less anxiety in general and in specific relation to test-taking situations. A longitudinal study of more than 100 students at two British universities found that hope was a better predictor of academic success than intelligence, personality or previous scholarly achievement.

Ed Week:
(Blog): Students Celebrate Loan-Interest Win, but Brace for Other Changes –
In a White House ceremony this afternoon, President Obama will make permanent the law keeping federally subsidized student-loan interest rates at 3.4 percent for the next year. Congress reached a compromise last Friday, and the legislation was signed by the president—but only temporarily. Today's event will allow the administration to seize the political moment and photo opportunity to remind young voters of the win on their behalf.  Student advocates are praising the long-awaited action, but many acknowledge it's only a temporary fix and a small victory in the fight for college affordability. The measure came at an expense to borrowers. To cover part of the $6 billion needed to keep interest rates low, eligibility for a federally subsidized loan for undergraduates will be capped to 150 percent of a program's standard completion time. So, a student at a four-year college will no longer be able to receive a loan with an interest subsidy after six years or a community college after three.

NY Times:
(Opinion): Honor Code –
Henry V is one of Shakespeare’s most appealing characters. He was rambunctious when young and courageous when older. But suppose Henry went to an American school.  By about the third week of nursery school, Henry’s teacher would be sending notes home saying that Henry “had another hard day today.” He was disruptive during circle time. By midyear, there’d be sly little hints dropped that maybe Henry’s parents should think about medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Many of the other boys are on it, and they find school much easier. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/opinion/honor-code.html?_r=1&ref=education

July 7-11, 2012

Denver Post:
Guest Commentary: Lobato decision should be overturned –
Earlier this year, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General John Suthers appealed a district court opinion in the school finance lawsuit Lobato vs. State of Colorado.  The court’s opinion, by Denver District Court Judge Sheila Rappaport, does not include all aspects of the obligations of passing a budget by the legislature, and I agree that it should be overturned by the Supreme Court for several reasons.  First, look at the history of education in this state. The very first laws were written when Colorado was still a territory. The state superintendent was to see that the schools were in “uniform” operation. When the constitution was written in 1876, it followed the same basic concepts. In fact, a resolution was offered in January 1876 by a Boulder representative that stated the state should “provide for the establishment and maintenance of a thorough and efficient system of free schools.”

Colorado State University pushes to engage its Denver alumni –
People who think that Colorado State University's push to increase its profile in Denver is being spurred by the efforts to build a new, on-campus football stadium, would be right.  And they'd be wrong.  The connection was certainly heightened in March, when the Rams held their spring football game in Glendale. And, to be sure, if the pro-stadium faction gets its way, and the 42,000-seat structure is built, Denver will play a crucial role, from being mined for lucrative corporate partnerships to filling stands every Saturday home game.

Colorado universities court research funding in Washington –
As streams of cash to the University of Colorado and Colorado State University dwindle, campus leaders see a clear way to keep research programs at the state's research institutions afloat: court Washington bureaucrats.  In the old days, the state supported higher education much more robustly than it does now. Last year, for example, CU got only about 5.6 percent of its overall budget from the state.  In those same old days, it was legal for members of Congress to secure lines of funding for projects in or near their districts.  In other words, CSU president Tony Frank could have invited, say, Democratic Rep. Ed Perlmutter to visit the Fort Collins campus when he was in town, and Perlmutter then could have sought an earmark from, say, the Department of Energy or the National Institutes of Health to continue funding a research project.

Inside Higher Ed:
Roiled Over Raises –
Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington State is considered a friend of public higher education, someone who has backed universities during tough fiscal times.  But in the last month, she found herself frustrated by one of those universities. So much so that the Democratic governor recently wrote a strongly-worded letter to Bruce Shepard, president of Western Washington University, criticizing a decision by the university to give raises to faculty members as part of a new contract. It was clear from the governor’s letter that she expected small or no raises this year for state employees, including those at public universities, and the Western announcement had caught her by surprise.  “In the worst economic times in 80 years, I am surprised that Western has entered into a collective bargaining agreement that provides for a salary increase of 5.25 percent effective in 2012-2013, a 4.25 percent salary increase each year during the 2013-2015 biennium, a 10 percent increase for faculty and instructors who are promoted, and an additional 15 percent increase in stipends for department chairs,” she wrote.

Ed Week:
Data Partnership Will Help High Schools Track Graduates –
The emphasis on college readiness and completion has school districts eager to find out how their students are faring after graduation.  On Monday, the nonprofit National Student Clearinghouse and private education company Hobsons announced a partnership that will combine their research and reporting efforts to help streamline how schools get performance information on students after high school.  The clearinghouse currently offers StudentTracker reports to high schools on college enrollment and outcomes of their students. The new venture will integrate that information with Hobsons' services, allowing schools to directly access StudentTracker reports through Naviance, Hobsons' K-12 college- and career-readiness platform.

July 12-13, 2012

Denver Post:
Colorado to foreign college students: we want you –
College students from other countries bring a lot to Colorado campuses: cultural diversity, the opportunity for homegrown students to learn about competing in a global economy. And, of course, out-of-state-tuition payments.  For those reasons and others, the state's higher-education, business and government leaders united Thursday to create StudyColorado, an effort to attract foreign college students.  StudyColorado, housed in the state Department of Higher Education, will be run by a board that includes representatives of colleges and universities, and business and economic development. Its mission will be to promote the state's college campuses as a single brand around the world.  During the 2010-11 school year, more than 7,000 students from 100 countries studied on Colorado campuses. That sounds like a lot, but according to the executive order creating StudyColorado, it's not on par with other states.

Ed News:
Briefs: Graduate numbers inch up –
Stats released today by the U.S. Department of Education show 43.3 percent of Coloradans aged 24 to 35 had some sort of college degree or certificate in 2010, up from 41.9 percent in 2009. The respective national figures were 39.3 and 38.8 percent.  The state-by-state list, based on U.S. census data, was released in advance of a Friday appearance by Education Secretary Arne Duncan at a National Governors’ Association meeting in Williamsburg, Va. According to a news release, Duncan will compliment the governors for rising completion rates but also challenge them to increase higher education support and keep a lid on tuition hikes. State support has dropped steadily and tuition keeps rising in Colorado.

9 News:
StudyColorado hopes to bring more international students –
A new program promoting Colorado as an education destination could add hundreds of millions of dollars to the state's economy.   "International students brought over $350 million to the state of Colorado [last year]," said George Kacenga, director of International Enrollment at the University of Colorado Denver. "That includes their dependents. It includes tuition, but also includes going shopping."  Lt. Governor Joe Garcia launched StudyColorado on the University of Denver campus Thursday afternoon. It is a collaborative effort between public and private colleges and businesses to launch a unifed marketing plan to try to increase the already 8,000 international students who study in Colorado every year.   "First, we have to figure out how to market Colorado, how to make people aware that Colorado exists, that it's a desirable place to study and to live," said Lt. Gov. Garcia.

Water World holds belly flop showdown –
On Thursday, Hyland Hills Water World held the 16th annual Water World Belly Flop Showdown.  Sponsored by Water World and College in Colorado, currently enrolled college students had the chance to show their skills and earn help with their college finances.

Denver Business Journal:
‘StudyColorado’ seeks to add international students –
Colorado hopes to attract more international students to its colleges and universities through a new initiative called “StudyColorado,” a partnership involving the state, the schools and the business community.  Gov. John Hickenlooper signed an executive order on Thursday to establish StudyColorado, which will be based in the Department of Higher Education. More than 7,00 international students from more than 100 countries studied in Colorado during the 2010-11 academic year.  "It's an idea that's been out there for several years among the institutions," said Lt. Gov. Joe Garcia, who also heads up the Colorado Commission on Higher Education. "All of the institutions have had their own international recruitment efforts, and we've talked about how the state can participate."  Garcia said that the governor also has recruited members of his Trade and Tourism Ambassador Program to talk up Colorado, including its higher-ed schools, as they do business overseas. "The governor said we know all these individuals who are having business meetings around the world," Garcia said. "While they’re out there, we want them to talk about Colorado."  Garcia added that organizers asked each higher-ed school in the state, "Do you want to be a member and will you contribute?" There has been almost 100 percent compliance from public and nonprofit private schools.

CSU-Global online campus repays loan ahead of schedule –
Approved in 2007, Colorado State University’s online-only campus has repaid a start-up loan from the system’s governing board a year ahead of schedule.  CSU-Global on June 27 paid $12 million to the CSU System Board of Governors for a loan issued to launch the university system’s online program. Enrollment kicked off in 2008 and continues to grow with the demand for online learning, a campus leader said.  “Industry experts are fairly aligned that online education will grow to over $50 billion by 2014 and that it will continue to gain momentum as the younger generations who have grown up with technology and with the ability to customize just about all they encounter,” CSU-Global President Becky Takeda-Tinker said in an email to the Coloradoan.

Boulder Daily Camera:
CU regents to consider weighing in on Lobato v. Colorado –
The University of Colorado's Board of Regents will hold a special meeting Friday to decide whether the university should get involved in the Lobato v. Colorado case, in which a judge last year struck down Colorado's K-12 school funding system, calling it "irrational and inadequate."  CU has been asked by the defendants -- the Colorado Attorney General's Office and Gov. John Hickenlooper's office -- to file a brief in support of their appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court, according to Ken McConnellogue, a CU system spokesman.  The regents meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Friday at the CU system administration office, 1800 Grant St. in Denver, according to a notice sent out Wednesday evening.

July 14-17, 2012

Denver Post:
Audit: Colo. tuition up, state stipend decrease –
Colorado college students are paying more for tuition with the decrease of a lawmaker-approved stipend program to fund students instead of institutions, according to an audit released Monday.   The audit said the last recession "created some barriers" to the implementation of the College Opportunity Fund program, which took effect in 2006. The program's goal was not to decrease tuition costs, but it changed the state's funding mechanism so students attending in-state schools got a stipend when they enrolled at a school, rather than those funds going to colleges.  Since 2006, stipend amounts for students have decreased as the state has struggled to balance budgets during the bad economy, the audit found. At the same time, enrollment has grown and the stipend amounts have not kept up with inflation.

Ed News:
Audit: College stipend goals not realized –
A state audit released Monday found what everybody in higher education already knows – the College Opportunity Fund program of student stipends doesn’t work as intended.  The first-ever performance audit of how state colleges and universities are funded was presented to the Legislature Audit Committee by representatives of the Sacramento, Calif.-based firm Sjoberg Evanshenk, which did the review on contract with the state auditor.
It concluded, “The shift in the funding mechanism for higher education has not been fully implemented.”  The program doesn’t work as intended because of tight state budgets in recent years, auditors found, not because the Department of Higher Education or campus administrators haven’t administered it properly.

State pension plan weathers tough year –
The state’s public pension system last year paid out more than it took in, auditors and system officials told the Legislative Audit Committee on Monday.
The value of all funds administered by the Public Employees’ Retirement Association, known as PERA, declined $1.2 billion, or 2.8 percent, to about $39.9 billion, according to the pension system’s annual report, which was presented to the committee. PERA’s annual report and audit come before the committee every July.
The 483,467-member system covers all Colorado teachers and several thousand higher education employees. PERA’s financial health and its costs also are closely watched by the state’s school districts, whose pension contributions are scheduled to rise to about 20 percent of payrolls by 2018.

Inside Higher Ed:
Blog: Why do we want international students? –
Last week the Overseas Association for College Admission Counseling (OACAC), an affiliate of the National Association of College Admissions Counseling (NACAC) held its annual meeting in Denver. It is not surprising that attendees were caught up in the ongoing debate over the use of agents. Confusion reigns.  The agent debate seems to focus on whether it is appropriate to pay agents a commission if they refer appropriate candidates to a university willing to pay them a commission. According to a recent article in Times Higher Education, British universities paid out nearly USD 90 million in commissions to agents last year.  That’s a lot of money!  This information is not available for the US so one can only speculate about what US universities have paid out in commission.  The underlying question that seems directly tied to this is — Why do universities want foreign students? If institutions are willing to pay a commission for them, then it feels a lot like a business transaction with the expectation of a good ROI (return on investment) — pay a commission and expect an ROI in the form of full tuition and fees.

NY Times:
Universities Reshaping Education on the Web—
As part of a seismic shift in online learning that is reshaping higher education, Coursera, a year-old company founded by two Stanford University computer scientists, will announce on Tuesday that a dozen major research universities are joining the venture. In the fall, Coursera will offer 100 or more free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, that are expected to draw millions of students and adult learners globally.
Even before the expansion, Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng, the founders of Coursera, said it had registered 680,000 students in 43 courses with its original partners, Michigan, Princeton, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania.

July 18, 2012

Fox 31:
Nearly 100 undocumented students apply for new rate at Metro State –
Nearly 100 students, including many undocumented immigrants, have applied to Metro State University of Denver since the school’s Board of Trustees approved a lower tuition rate for non-residents who aren’t legal U.S. citizens, FOX31 Denver has learned.  And despite the threat of litigation and an opinion from Colorado Attorney General John Suthers questioning the legality of the Board’s decision, the school is moving ahead and reviewing those applications for the fall 2012 semester.  The affidavit filed for legal standing by close to 100 prospective students is among the required documents that must be submitted to qualify for the new rate, which is being offered to undocumented students who attended a Colorado high school for at least three years and graduated with a diploma or G.E.D.  Following a June 19 informational hearing before the Joint Budget Committee at the state Capitol, Metro State President Stephen Jordan told reporters the school would reconsider the board’s vote in light of Suthers’ opinion and the recent Obama administration order to stop deportations on non-citizens whose parents brought them to the country illegally.  But a week later one June 25, the school issued a statement that it was moving ahead with the new rate.

Glenwood Springs Post Independent:
CSU prez calling for a ‘conversation’ on funding of higher ed –
Colorado State University President Tony Frank has plenty to boast about: CSU is enjoying a fourth straight year of record enrollment, an eighth year of record research funding and $700 million in campus construction projects over the past decade.  One quarter of the university's students are the first in their families to attend college, and the university topped its $500 million goal in a recent campaign to raise funds for scholarships and program development.  The Fort Collins university enrolls more Colorado high school graduates than any other university, and awarded more than 6,000 degrees in the 2010-11 academic year.  But what's on Tony Frank's mind as he makes a tour this month through communities in western, southern and eastern Colorado, including a stop in Glenwood Springs on Tuesday, is the policy decision of how Colorado funds its overall higher education system.  State funding formulas are complex, but Frank points the finger at rising health care costs for state government, which he said will “eat up the rest of the budget pie.”

Boulder Daily Camera:
CU-Boulder student works with ancient filtering system to treat water in developing countries –
Using principles from a 4,000-year-old technique of filtering water through charcoal, a University of Colorado doctoral student is close to being able to provide safe drinking water free of pesticides to those living in developing countries.  The same pesticides and chemicals that are strictly banned in the United States are not well regulated in rural, developing areas, said engineering student Josh Kearns. The drinking water -- contaminated with fuel products, industrial chemicals and pesticides -- can cause a host of human health problems, including cancer, birth defects, reproductive complications and neurological problems.
In 2006, Kearns was working an internship in Thailand and began exploring the potential of "biochar."  The idea is to use gasification methods to turn local, abundant products -- such as bamboo or corn cobs -- into biochar, which is then capable of purifying drinking water.

Family Learning Center program introduces students to CU-Boulder –
About 25 local middle and high school students are spending a chunk of their summer in classrooms at the Norlin Library on the University of Colorado campus, learning about income and class issues. They're also getting a taste of campus life, with a goal of pushing them to pursue a college education.  "I feel like I'm here now, so I could be here later," said Rosa Reyes, who will be a sophomore at New Vista High School. "It just makes it that much more possible."  The Family Learning Center is offering a six-and-a-half-week, pre-collegiate summer program for the second year, with a focus on culture and identity.  "We have too many kids getting stuck in this psychological piece of underachievement," said Family Learning Center Executive Director Brenda Lyle. "They have to figure out who they are and they'll achieve better."  About 25 middle school students, all new to the program, take a first-level class at the Family Learning Center that includes a robotics session and African-American, American Indian and Mexican-American history lessons.

NY Times:
Help for the Not So Needy –
Middle-income parents are being squeezed more than ever these days — higher property taxes and cost of living, lower home equity, frozen salaries. Many no longer have enough savings and borrowing power to keep up with rising education costs. Consider this run-through of the federal financial-aid form: a family making $75,000 a year might have to pay about $10,000 a year toward the cost of college before qualifying for need-based aid. With income of $150,000, the expected family contribution is $35,000 to $40,000. Student loans loom.  “We certainly have found that with the recession in recent years, many middle-income families and even some higher-income families are looking for more aid,” says Earl D. Retif, vice president for enrollment management at Tulane University in New Orleans.  Rather than lose bright students to less-expensive public colleges, universities like Tulane offer sizable amounts of aid based mainly on academic promise.  While there are no national statistics post-recession, an Education Department study released last fall showed that the percentage of students receiving merit aid grew so rapidly from 1995 to 2008 that it rivaled the number of students receiving need-based aid.

Inside Higher Ed:
A Rare Agreement: Proposed House budget would preserve funding for financial aid –
Advocates for federal financial aid are greeting the House of Representatives' proposed budget for fiscal year 2013, scheduled to be formally considered today, with something unusual: a sigh of relief.
The Republicans’ proposal for funding the Education Department and other agencies in the upcoming fiscal year is just the opening salvo in a budget battle that most expect will last until after the election. But it is remarkably similar to a Democratic bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee last month.  Both bills would increase the maximum Pell Grant next year to $5,635; provide flat funding for federal work study, supplemental grants and other aid programs; and keep the budget for the National Institutes of Health, a priority for many research universities, at $30.6 billion for another year. (The Senate version of the bill would provide a $100 million increase for health research.)  The Republican proposal, though, would block funding for the Education Department’s program integrity rules for for-profit colleges, including the “gainful employment” rule, which evaluates programs’ eligibility for federal financial aid for their students through measures of loan defaults, payment rates and debt-to-income ratios. The House of Representatives voted last year to defund the measure, but the proposal wasn’t taken up by the Democrat-controlled Senate. The rules have also faced legal hurdles in recent weeks: a federal judge invalidated a key element in a July 1 decision.  Still, the proposed budget is a stark contrast with other Republican proposals in recent years, some of which would have made deep cuts to Pell Grants -- either by changing eligibility criteria or cutting the maximum grant across the board. In March, House Republicans called for limiting or reversing the growth of the Pell Grant Program, but made no proposal to do so in the budget proposed Tuesday.

Grad Student Diversity at Risk?:  New study explores impact of affirmative action bans on graduate enrollments –
Graduate professional enrollments of black, Latino and Native American students could drop significantly if the Supreme Court bars colleges from considering race in admissions, warns a new report. The fall could be particularly significant in engineering, where these enrollments are notably small.  The study – released by the Civil Rights Project at the University of California at Los Angeles – arrives as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to consider in its next term whether colleges can consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.  The case before the U.S. Supreme Court involves undergraduate admissions, and the landmark cases involving affirmative action in higher education to date have involved undergraduate, law and medical school admissions. The new UCLA report aims to focus attention on graduate enrollments outside of professional fields -- in the graduate programs that likewise produce societal leaders and, in some cases, academics.

Higher Ed’s Other Immigrants: U.S. study examines college experience of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants –
President Obama's announcement last month of a new policy that would allow most students who lack the documentation to reside legally in the United States to avoid deportation was the latest high-profile development regarding what is by most accounts a very small segment of the college population.  The political and cultural flashpoints over illegal immigration tend to distract attention from the much larger number of immigrant students who study on American college campuses. A study released Tuesday by the Education Department's National Center for Education Statistics aims to remedy that a bit, mining longitudinal student databases to examine the higher education experiences of first- and second-generation college students.

July 19-20, 2012

Boulder Daily Camera:
CU regents warned of state funding disaster –
University of Colorado regents were warned Thursday of a state funding disaster, with the possibility of revenue significantly drying up within the next five years.
Newly appointed financial chief Todd Saliman told the board that K-12 education has been cut by about $1 billion and essentially Amendment 23 -- a state constitutional measure for K-12 funding that passed in 2000 -- won't allow that area to be cut by more than $1.5 billion. That puts higher education at risk for deep, quick cuts if there isn't additional state revenue available to support continued enrollment growth, he said.  "They'll have to cut other areas of the budget because K-12 will be off the table," Saliman said.  The regents opened their three-day retreat Thursday at CU President Bruce Benson's mountain ranch near Kremmling.  It's possible CU could run out of funding in three to five years, Benson said.   An earlier study from the University of Denver predicted that funding for higher education would be gone in about a decade, which prompted Stephen Ludwig, D-Denver, to question whether CU should take a lead in trying to find alternative funding.   "If we're out of money, that changes everything," Ludwig said. "The board needs to decide if we should take the approach of either asking for a tax increase of rethinking our dedicated revenue stream."

Durango Herald:
Skyhawks earn new wings –
if this bird is half as good as the last one, Fort Lewis College will be in good talons.  A new “Skyhawk” and a new logo for FLC athletics were unveiled Thursday at a Power Point pep rally and fashion show in the Student Union.  “It’s an exciting day for Fort Lewis College athletics ... exciting for all of Fort Lewis,” president and head cheerleader Dene K. Thomas said in unveiling the new designs before a spirited crowd.

NY Times:
Drop Out, Start Up – The Thiel Fellowship Aids Young Entrepreneurs with Grants –
TAYLOR WILSON has big dreams: to build nuclear fusion reactors that will solve the world’s energy crisis. “I’ve got some technology that will really change the world, so college right now is not the best option for me,” said Mr. Wilson, who is just 18 but built his first working reactor at 14. He plans to start a company, aided by a $100,000 grant as the recipient of a “20 Under 20” Thiel Fellowship. Before tackling a new form of energy, he will address slightly more modest tasks: detecting nuclear weapons and diagnosing cancer with his technology.
The two-year fellowship, for applicants under age 20, was started last year by Peter Thiel, the Silicon Valley investor who believes more young people should be chasing breakthrough technologies instead of wasting their time and money in college. Mr. Wilson is in the second group of grant recipients, announced last month. He joins 43 other fellows — 39 men and 4 women — working on projects like developing unmanned aerial vehicles and building electric car motors with rare earth magnets.

(Op-Ed) The Trouble with Online Education –
“AH, you’re a professor. You must learn so much from your students.”  This line, which I’ve heard in various forms, always makes me cringe. Do people think that lawyers learn a lot about the law from their clients? That patients teach doctors much of what they know about medicine? Yet latent in the sentiment that our students are our teachers is an important truth. We do in fact need to learn from them, but not about the history of the Roman Empire or the politics of “Paradise Lost.” Understanding what it is that students have to teach teachers can help us to deal with one of the most vexing issues now facing colleges and universities: online education. At my school, the University of Virginia, that issue did more than vex us; it came close to tearing the university apart.

Wall Street Journal:
Some Schools Cut Student, Scholarships –
After loosening their coffers to help families cope during the recession, some colleges now are cutting back on grants and scholarships, aid that students don't have to pay back.   The move—prompted in part by the colleges' own financial troubles—is prompting students and their families to borrow more to close the gap, raising the already-heavy debt load many graduates will face.  Grants and scholarships fell 15% during the just-completed academic year, according to a study to be released Monday by student-loan provider Sallie Mae.  On average, U.S. undergraduates received $6,077 in grants and scholarships in the 2011-2012 academic year, down from $7,124 a year earlier, according to the study, which polled 1,601 undergraduates and their parents.

July 21-24, 2012

Durango Herald:
University leaders give their warnings –
Top higher education officials on Friday said drastic cuts in public funding have left the state’s institutions with dire shortfalls – and students paying far more in tuition.
Colorado State University President Tony Frank, who met with The Durango Herald editorial board as part of a statewide tour, said he is concerned that higher education is on its way to privatization.  “I’m afraid we’re going to hit 2025 and have privatized higher education without ever having the conversation,” he said.
Fort Lewis College President Dene Kay Thomas agreed and expressed concern that the public does not seem to have an awareness or concern for higher education.
Newly appointed Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger asked the higher education officials what programs their schools have in place for dual enrollment, which allows high school students to take college courses for credit.  Both Thomas and Frank said community colleges have had more success with dual enrollment because they have been able to offer the classes at a lower price than FLC or CSU.

Inside Higher Ed:
Financial Aid’s Future – Predicting the decade ahead in financial aid –
The landscape for federal financial aid has been so turbulent in the past two years, as Congress has voted seemingly every few months to change the rules on Pell Grants and student loans, that many who care about helping low-income students aren't looking any further than the next Congress -- or the possibility of sequestration in January -- for the future of financial aid.  But at the annual meeting of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators here Monday, four financial aid directors or regulatory experts from nonprofit, for-profit and public colleges tried to look much further ahead, outlining how they think current trends will develop over the next decade.  In many cases, their outlook was ominous, or at least complex. The aid directors predicted the end to several financial aid programs and said the challenges presented by nontraditional approaches, such as massive open online courses or prior learning assessments, could make awarding aid in the future more challenging than it is today.

Forks in the Road – Large number of students transfer to community colleges from four-year institutions –
Large numbers of students at four-year institutions are transferring to community colleges, according to a new study from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Most of them don’t come back, but that isn’t always a bad thing. Roughly 14 percent of first-time students who enrolled at a four-year institution in the fall of 2005 had transferred to a community college by 2011, the study found -- excluding students who merely took summer classes at a community college.
Of the transfer group, about 17 percent eventually returned to their original four-year institution. A larger group, about 28 percent, went on to a different four-year. The other 55 percent either stuck it out at community colleges or dropped out, with that group split right down the middle.

Ed Week:
Standard College Aid Award Letter Designed to Help Consumers –
Colleges are being encouraged to voluntarily use a standard financial aid letter or "shopping sheet" released today by the U.S. Department of Education Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  In June, higher education leaders met with administration officials at the White House to discuss college costs and the concept of having a common format for award letters. Ten college presidents and heads of state systems agreed to use the model letter and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a conference call yesterday that he hopes others will follow. "This is one piece of the puzzle" to make college costs more transparent, he said. "We think it is a critically important part of the puzzle that has been missing for too long."  A sample shopping sheet was posted on the CFPB website in the fall to attract feedback from potential users. Rather than a burden, Duncan says he thinks the one-page shopping sheet could ultimately be a cost savings to institutions. "Every university is already sending information to students each year, just not in a clear way that is understandable," he said. Education officials say these obscurities can make the task of comparison-shopping for the most affordable and appropriate college difficult, prompting a need for a standardized format letter.

Wall Street Journal:
Tough Times for Colleges – and College Towns –
The finances of many of the nation's institutions of higher education are starting to wobble. If they continue to deteriorate, the fallout won't be confined to college campuses.  Decades of heavy spending by colleges and universities has left many of them with high debt. That profligacy, along with declining state aid and weak returns on endowments, has the balance sheets of one-third of U.S. schools looking significantly weaker than they did before the recession, according to a new report that surveyed 1,692 private and public schools from consulting company Bain & Co. and Sterling Partners, a private-equity firm.  Schools have been trying to plug the gap by jacking up tuition at rates that aren't sustainable. The result is a fiscal hurdle that dozens of second- and third-tier public and private schools won't be able to clear. Hundreds of schools—including some of the most prestigious institutions in the country—have tightened their belts. That is bad news not just for the schools and their students but for the communities that depend on them for jobs.

NY Times:
Largest School Districts See Steady Drop in Enrollment –
Enrollment in nearly half of the nation’s largest school districts has dropped steadily over the last five years, triggering school closings that have destabilized neighborhoods, caused layoffs of essential staff and concerns in many cities that the students who remain are some of the neediest and most difficult to educate.  While the losses have been especially steep in long-battered cities like Cleveland and Detroit, enrollment has also fallen significantly in places suffering through the recent economic downturn, like Broward County, Fla., San Bernardino, Calif., and Tucson, according to the latest available data from the Department of Education, analyzed for The New York Times. Urban districts like Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio, are facing an exodus even as the school-age population has increased.

July 25, 2012

Denver Business Journal:
(Blog): Colorado could do wonders, if we only had the money –
More money for roads and bridges, more preschools, and expanded full day kindergarten.  In-home nursing care for the elderly poor and disabled; managed health care for Medicaid patients.  Constitutional changes, like eliminating most of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights and getting rid of the Gallagher Amendment, which shifts the property tax burden toward commercial property and away from homes.  Oh, and let’s not forget longer school days, extended school calendars, mandatory physical education, and merit pay for teachers. Healthy food, clean water and air, too.

Durango Herald:
Governor receives summits feedback –
The Coloradans want home-based care for the elderly and disabled, better access to preschool, decent roads and, possibly, an income-tax increase.  That’s according to the latest results from TBD Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper’s outreach effort to determine a grand plan for the state.  Leaders of the effort presented some of their findings to Hickenlooper on Tuesday morning. But the governor is not ready to take the results and turn it into his own agenda.  TBD Colorado invited people to 64 meetings around the state in April, with follow-up regional summits in May. About 1,250 people went to the meetings, where they talked about their priorities for the state.

Ed News:
Narrowing the state’s priority list –
Early childhood education is near the top of the list as TBD Colorado, the statewide effort to engage citizens in planning the state’s future, starts focusing on a handful of key priorities.  It’s the only education-related issue in the five policy areas that the TBD process is now concentrating on as the group starts working on a final report for release in November.

Ed Week:
(Blog): When Students Transfer from Four-Year Colleges to Two-Year Schools –
When it comes to college transfers, the talk is often about students moving from a two-year to a four-year college. But a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse looks at what happens to "reverse transfer" students — those who go to a community college as a second choice.  Transfer and Mobility: A National View of Pre-Degree Student Movement in Postsecondary Institutions followed first-year college students who started at four-year schools in the fall of 2005 and tracked their enrollment for six years.


July 26, 2012

Inside Higher Ed:
Graduate First, transfer later: WGU pushes transfer students to graduate community college first –
Western Governors University is a favorite of the college completion crowd, with a competency-based approach that offers an attractive path to a degree for adult students. But now WGU is nudging its students toward graduation even before they enroll.  For example, WGU Texas is offering a 5 percent tuition discount and other perks to students who transfer in from the state’s two-year colleges, but only if they complete their associate degrees first.  “It’s the idea of finishing what you started,” said Mark David Milliron, WGU Texas’s chancellor.  And it’s not just WGU Texas. The parent university, which offers bachelor's and graduate degrees, has begun a national push to encourage students to complete their associate degree before enrolling. And it's seeing results. Two years ago, 35 percent of the university’s incoming students held an associate or bachelor's degree. Now roughly half do, said Pat Partridge, Western Governor’s chief marketing officer, who oversees marketing and admissions.

Washington Post:
(Blog): No ‘magic solution; to college affordability –
The numbers are alarming. The real cost of a college education in the United States has grown more than 100 percent over the last three decades, a rate that is exponentially higher than the wage increases and cost of living adjustments of most Americans.  The latest figures from the College Board put the average cost for 2011-2012, including tuition, fees, room and board, at $17,131 for four-year public colleges (a 6 percent increase over the previous year) and $38,589 for private, nonprofit institutions (a 4.4 percent increase over the previous year). At this rate, it is estimated that a private, four-year undergraduate education will cost $280,000 or more when today’s preschoolers enter higher education in 2026.  Perception, for the most part, has driven the national dialogue about the rising price of college. One view, held among elected officials, the media and even the general public, is that gold-plated amenities, prestige games among colleges and universities and bloated administrations are chiefly responsible for escalating costs that take an increasing share of middle-class incomes and price the less-privileged out of a college education. 

Ed Week:
(Blog) Lawmakers Explore Impact of Automatic Cuts on Education –
A set of sweeping, across-the-board trigger cuts set to go into effect in January would be "devastating" to education programs, particularly if Congress decides to spare only defense programs while allowing K-12 cuts to go through, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Democratic lawmakers said at a hearing today.
Right now, domestic spending programs—like education—and defense programs are supposed to share the pain of the trigger cuts equally, with all programs facing a cut of up about 7.8 percent on January 2, according to the Congressional Budget Office.  But, if Congress reaches some sort of deal that exempts only defense, the cuts to domestic programs would be much steeper, Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, the chairman of the subcommittee that oversees education spending, said at hearing today on the impact of the cuts. They could be as high as 17.6 percent, across-the-board, he estimated.

July 30, 2012

Denver Post:
Colorado’s two largest universities break fundraising records –
The University of Colorado and Colorado State University on Thursday both announced record-breaking totals in fundraising for the recently completed fiscal year.
CU said it raised $228.6 million across its system, up more than $15 million from last year's record-setting figure.  CSU raised $111.6 million, up 31 percent from a year ago, which was the previous school record. CSU said its figures represent only donations made to the Fort Collins campus.  Thursday's CSU announcement also marked the conclusion of its Campaign for Colorado State University. The school hoped to raise $500 million over the seven-year effort. It topped that mark six months early, finishing with $537.3 million. The money, which came from 95,000 donors, is earmarked for scholarships and academic programs.

(Guest Commentary) Community colleges focus on remedial education –
The Colorado Community College System's priority is to educate all of our students so they can successfully complete a higher-education credential, allowing them to improve their lives, the lives of their families, and contribute to their communities and the state of Colorado as productive members of a thriving workforce. Without a strong higher-education system, economic development cannot be sustained. In many circumstances, the goal of completing a higher-education credential cannot be realized if students are not able to successfully complete remedial courses. In order to meet the state's goal to increase the number of degrees and certificates awarded, we must address the needs of students who require remedial courses.  Remedial education has been the focus of much discussion among Colorado educators and policymakers in recent years, and is one of the statutory missions of the community colleges. Each year, 42 percent of the 162,000 community college students require remedial courses, and remedial course enrollments have increased nearly 65 percent over the last four years.

Inside Higher Ed:
Harkin releases critical report on for-profits –
A U.S. Senate committee released an unflattering report on the for-profit college sector on Sunday, concluding a two-year investigation led by Sen. Tom Harkin, an Iowa Democrat. While the report is ambitious in scope, and scathingly critical on many points, it appears unlikely to lead to a substantial legislative crackdown on the industry -- at least not during this election year.  Issued by staff from the Democratic majority of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the report follows six congressional hearings, three previous reports and broad document requests. The final result is voluminous, weighing in at 249 pages and accompanied by in-depth profiles of 30 for-profits. It questions whether federal investment through aid and loans is worthwhile in many of the examined colleges.   The investigation found that large numbers of students at for-profits fail to earn credentials, citing a 64 percent dropout rate in associate degree programs, for example. It also links those high dropout rates to the relatively small amount of money for-profits spend on instruction.

NY Times:
Harkin Report Condemns For-Profit Colleges –
Wrapping up a two-year investigation of for-profit colleges, Senator Tom Harkin will issue a final report on Monday — a voluminous, hard-hitting indictment of almost every aspect of the industry, filled with troubling statistics and anecdotes drawn from internal documents of the 30 companies investigated.  According to the report, which was posted online in advance, taxpayers spent $32 billion in the most recent year on companies that operate for-profit colleges, but the majority of students they enroll leave without a degree, half of those within four months.  “In this report, you will find overwhelming documentation of exorbitant tuition, aggressive recruiting practices, abysmal student outcomes, taxpayer dollars spent on marketing and pocketed as profit, and regulatory evasion and manipulation,” Mr. Harkin, an Iowa Democrat who is chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement on Sunday. “These practices are not the exception — they are the norm. They are systemic throughout the industry, with very few individual exceptions.”

July 31, 2012

Denver Post:
Federal judge allows legal challenge to Colorado’s TABOR to go forward –
In another defeat for the state, a federal judge Monday allowed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Colorado's Taxpayer's Bill of Rights to move forward, rejecting arguments from Attorney General John Suthers that plaintiffs in the lawsuit did not have the right to sue.  U.S. District Judge William J. Martínez's ruling was the most recent blow to the state's effort to derail a lawsuit challenging TABOR, with the judge already having rejected a central pillar of the state's defense of TABOR during a court hearing in February. The TABOR amendment, passed by voters in 1992, limits state spending and bars lawmakers from raising taxes without a vote of the people.

Ed Week:
(Blog) Survey Finds Economy Shaping Choices in Higher Ed –
Despite the glum economy, business officers at colleges are fairly optimistic about the financial health of their institutions and anticipate little change in the overall way they operate. Yet, families are concerned about the rising cost of higher education and are making adjustments to cope.  These were the messages in two recent surveys looking into attitudes toward college costs.   A new national study, How America Pays for College, from Sallie Mae and Ipsos Public Affairs, found 69 percent of families eliminated college choices because of costs, the highest level in the five years since the study began. To save money, 51 percent of students lived at home, 50 percent added a roommate, 29 percent attended a community college, and 50 percent of parents and 66 percent of students reduced their spending.

Inside Higher Ed:
Backing Off on State Authorization – Education Department won’t enforce state authorization for distance education programs –
In a reversal of one of the most sweeping and controversial portions of its program integrity rules, the Education Department said Friday that it will no longer enforce a requirement that distance education programs obtain permission to operate in every state in which they enroll at least one student.  The change was announced quietly — on the third page of a five-page attachment to a "Dear Colleague" letter that the Education Department sent to institutions Friday — but will likely be cheered by many in higher education. Colleges have fought the state authorization rule both in Congress and in the courts since it was first put forward in October 2010, arguing that archaic authorization rules create too much red tape and financial burden for online programs.  The decision not to enforce the policy comes in the wake of a court setback in June, when an appeals court upheld a lower court's decision to overturn the rule.  The court threw out the rule on procedural grounds, saying the department had the authority to create such a rule but overstepped the bounds of the negotiated rule-making process. It was considered a minor victory for the for-profit colleges that brought the lawsuit — with effects for nonprofit and public institutions with an online presence.