BEHIND the NEWS
HIGHER ED OFFICIALS IN California aren't the only ones worried about how Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed $1 billion cut will impact the state's three-tiered college system educationally and financially. Students have big concerns as well-and they have taken them to the streets.
On May 19, students from <b>California State University, the University of California,</b> and <b>California Community Colleges</b> held the second of two planned "A Day of Action" protests by conducting "study-ins" outside the capitol and district offices across the state. The first rally occurred in April, with more than 2,000 students participating in events at their respective institutions. In San Diego, students marched from San Diego City College to City Hall, while in Riverside, a protest rally and open mike session was held at Riverside City College. In Los Angeles, students headed to Schwarzenegger's office at the Reagan State Building. It's all in an effort to have their voices heard before the state budget comes to a vote on June 15.
Furthering this effort, student associations have united through Students for California's Future (www.studentsforcalifornia.org), a grassroots coalition.
"I think we definitely have been able to shift the debate by getting a lot of student involvement," says Jennifer Knox, organizing and communications director for the UC Student Association, about the protests. "It's certainly good that we have gotten this message through."
The 3.2 million students in California's higher ed system have been hit hard by recent increases in student fees. For UC students, fees have risen 96 percent since 2001, according to Knox, while CSU student fees have nearly doubled in the same period.
Officials have mounted a joint effort to approach lawmakers about this issue as well. California Community Colleges Chancellor Diane Woodruff, CSU Chancellor Charles Reed, and UC Provost Rory Hume recently visited the state capitol to urge policymakers to resist budget cuts.
A recent study commissioned by the Campaign for College Opportunity analyzed the potential institutional impact of the cuts. Among its findings, community colleges would need to increase class sizes, diminish course offerings, and reduce various support services to students over the course of the next several years. UC and CSU might have to halt their existing student enrollment at current levels, which will directly affect high school students. More about the study is available at www.collegecampaign.org/budget. -Michele Herrmann
FIRST CONGRESS STARTED INQUIRING about how endowments at higher ed institutions are managed and about the relationship between those endowments, tuition, and fees. Now the state legislature in Massachusetts has approved a study to investigate applying a 2.5 percent tax to all endowments in the state that are valued at more than $1 billion.
Nine higher ed institutions would be subject to the tax if it came to pass. They are (in order from highest to lowest endowment amount):
In published reports, representatives from those institutions are pointing out the detrimental effect the tax would have on their ability to support financial aid and other programs.
Depending on how the Massachusetts study goes, California higher ed leaders might want to pay close attention. Their state is also cash strapped and according to the 2007 Endowment Study from The National Association of College and University Business Officers (www.nacubo.org, click on "Research"), there are five IHEs in California that would qualify. -Ann McClure
STUDENT ASSEMBLIES HAVE had partial involvement with endowments, such as voicing opinions on how and where to invest and spend. Students at <b>Wesleyan University</b> (Conn.) have taken a step further by establishing their own endowment, perhaps the first college student government in the country to do so.
It's hoped that the endowment will wipe out the need for the $270 activity fee, which funds the Wesleyan Student Assembly. The fees add up to about $750,000 annually and are allocated to various student groups.
Three administrators will counsel the student assembly on managing the endowment and will handle financial transactions, according to John Meerts, vice president for finance and administration and one of the advisors. "We hope to identify good investment strategies with the students and the selection of funds or investment vehicles that the students think are appropriate," says Meerts.
Once the endowment grows to more than $100,000, some of its investment income will be used to offset increases in the activity fee, adds Meerts.
The assembly's byline laws were modified to reflect this new plan. As a safeguard, the endowment will be set up so that the assembly cannot touch the fund's principle, only the 4 percent turned back in for next year's budget, explains senior Matthew Ball, assembly president.
Though it will take some time for the endowment to eliminate the student fee, Ball says, in the short term, it will stop any increases from taking effect. -M.H.
<em>By Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow, Hyperion, 2008; 206 pp.; $21.95</em>
SHORTLY AFTER RANDY PAUSCH DELIVERED his "last lecture" at <b>Carnegie Mellon University</b> (Pa.) in September 2007, his talk became an instant online sensation. Now it has been turned into a best seller. <em>The Last Lecture</em> tells the story behind Pausch's lecture, given around the time Pausch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told he had only a few months to live. Pausch, a computer science professor, decided that the lecture, "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," would reflect on the lessons he learned along his life journey.
Using slides, Pausch discussed the importance of overcoming obstacles and how he accomplished his childhood dreams in adulthood-including designing rides for Disney, walking in zero gravity, and writing a World Book Encyclopedia entry. He spoke of professional successes such as the development of Alice, a Carnegie Mellon 3-D animation software project. He talked about his family. While growing up, he explained, his parents encouraged him in ways such as letting him paint his bedroom (his domain), without worrying about ruining resale potential. Near the end of his talk, he brought out a cake for his wife, whose birthday was the day before the lecture. He concluded his lecture with a family photo, saying the talk was for his three young children.
Zaslow, a Carnegie Mellon graduate, covered the lecture for the <em>Wall Street Journal,</em> where he is a columnist. -M.H.
THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AT <b>Marylhurst University</b> (Ore.) didn't have to look far for a successor to Nancy Wilgenbusch, who is retiring after almost a quarter century as president. In fact, their selection lives so close to the institution, she even walks her dogs there.
That person is Judith Johansen, who will take up her new role on July 1. Like a growing number of IHE presidents, Johansen gained her leadership experience outside of academia. She has held various executive roles in the energy utility industry during the last 16 years, most recently as president and CEO of PacifiCorp, a six-state electric utility.
In citing that Johansen is known and respected by her peers throughout the Northwest,board chair Ruth Beyer explains, "Her proven skills as an organizational leader and strategic thinker will serve Marylhurst well."
Johansen comes in at a time of transition for the university. The Marylhurst Renaissance Campaign is set to finish this June to coincide with the end of Wilgenbusch's tenure. Started in 2001, the capital campaign has received more than $18.5 million of its $20 million goal, with funds used for projects such as developing seven "smart" classrooms.
Johansen has served on the board of trustees for <b>Lewis and Clark College,</b> also in Oregon, since 2004 and was elected board chair in 2007. She earned her J.D. from the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark and a B.S. in political science from <b>Colorado State University.</b> She has resided in Portland for much of her career. -M.H.
AN IMPEDIMENT TO INITIATIVES FOR EATING LOCAL AT HIGHER ED institutions is often credibility, something Paul Wigsten, the newly minted farm liaison at the <b>Culinary Institute of America</b> (N.Y.), doesn't have to worry about since he's a farmer himself. In addition to meeting with area farmers prior to the growing season to discuss the institution's needs, such as three and a half tons of mesclun, Wigsten is helping organize a farmers' Cooperative, which is good for town/gown relations. "The business principle of going local makes sense," says Wigsten, who has been the CIA's produce buyer since 2004. He points out that local produce isn't more expensive if you consider the cost of throwing away produce that might spoil while being shipped in from out of state.
Wigsten has some advice for administrators at schools that haven't yet made local food a priority on their campuses. "You're going to find that students are going to start demanding it. When they start hollering, the administrators had better listen." Of course, CIA students are not only eating the food, but preparing it and serving it to the public, so their expectations of what is an acceptable tomato might be a little different. If not, Wigsten is there to help them figure it out. -A.M.
AT&T IS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR THE BEST new mobile applications that enhance academic performance, build campus community, or help to improve campus security operations. Where better to look for creative application developers than on campus?
The Big Mobile on Campus Challenge is open to all full-time students and full- or part-time staff at four-year public or private accredited, nonprofit colleges and universities in the United States. Teams of up to four individuals may enter by sending a business case (including distribution concepts and plans) and supporting documents as well as a screenshot of the application on a mobile device. The deadline is August 31, and the winner will receive a $10,000 scholarship (or cash, if the winner is a staff member) and a device of choice at the EduCause Annual Conference in October in Orlando.
Two runners-up will each receive a $5,000 scholarship and a mobile device. For more information, visit www.att.com/higherEDcontest. -Melissa Ezarik
ALTHOUGH A NEW SURVEY SAYS A GROWING NUMBER OF COLLEGES and universities have signed on to Voice-over-IP technology, it continues to see limited use on the average campus. The survey, by ACUTA, the Association for Communications Technology Professionals in Higher Education, showed that 66 percent of ACUTA member schools are using VoIP (compared with 43 percent two years ago). However, four out of five ACUTA members surveyed (82 percent) said their VoIP network still covers 25 percent or less of their campus. Just 9 percent said their schools' coverage exceeded 50 percent.
The good news is that 62 percent of the schools responding to the survey said they plan to expand their VoIP networks within the next 18 months, while another 14 percent had longer-term plans.
When it comes to VoIP's challenges, 52 percent of ACUTA members surveyed cited staffing issues as their top concern, while 38 percent pointed to quality of service and emergency 911 issues, and said implementing VoIP has been more complex than they anticipated. While just a fraction of those surveyed expressed any concern about VoIP security, this year's survey represented an interesting contrast with the 2006 survey, when security was the biggest worry, cited by 77 percent of surveyed members. The survey also asked those ACUTA members that did not use VoIP why they had made that decision. Perhaps not surprising, in the current economy, 55 percent said that the decision came down to budgets. Seventy-three percent of the VoIP-less respondents also said that they were happy with their current telecommunications system. -T.G.
EFFORTS TO INCREASE DIVERSITY on campus are as varied as the institutions that run them.
Officials at <b>Georgetown College</b> (Ky.), a small, co-ed liberal arts institution with a current minority enrollment of 7 percent, have come up with a new tactic: adopting the alumni of Bishop College, a historically black college in Texas that closed in 1988. Georgetown is providing scholarships to their qualified descendants or students they recommend. Children and grandchildren can qualify as Bishop Legacy Scholars receiving at least $10,000 per year; other candidates can be Bishop Scholars receiving at least $5,000. The program developed out of conversations Georgetown President William Crouch had with representatives of the four National Black Baptist Conventions and is funded by donations from Bishop alumni. Georgetown administrators are continuing efforts to win the hearts of all Bishop alumni. "This partnership is something new and different and will take time to flourish," says Brian Evans, director of the Office of Diversity. -A.M.
QUESTION: WHAT IS A MAROON?
a. It's a color somewhere between red and brown.
b. It's one-fifth of a popular recording act.
c. It's the name given to 18th-century slaves who escaped to the West Indies.
d. It's what Bugs Bunny often called Elmer Fudd.
e. It's the nickname for the athletic teams at <b>Roanoke College</b> (Va.).
Whatever answer you chose is correct-and that's the problem. Roanoke College has never had a proper mascot, partly because it's so hard to nail down a definition of the word. "People keep asking, 'What is a Maroon?'" says Teresa Geraux, director of public relations. "It's a color, but that's a bit of a challenge to illustrate." So Roanoke is conducting a contest to find the right mascot. The top five entries after the October 1 deadline will get $100 gift certificates and be entered into a drawing for an iPod.
Officials are open to all ideas-within reason. What they <em>don't</em> want are entries like the prosodically challenged "Roanoke Rapper," the masked "Roanoke Rassler," or "Agatha, Princess of the Night" (don't ask). The entries-good, bad, and just plain weird-are online at ClassicCollege.com.
"It might be a person. It might be an animal. It might be a concept," says Geraux. "I hope it's not an insect. We already have a critical mass of winged, stinging insects in our athletic conference." -Tim Goral
WITH 60 PERCENT OF COLLEGE finance officers reporting that they spent more time in the past year compared to the previous one thinking about affordability and accessibility, and the vast majority expecting tuition rate increases to continue outpacing inflation, it's no surprise that these institutional leaders have thought about what specifically might be done to keep costs down.
These were findings of a survey conducted by Independent 529 Plan of finance officers in its participating colleges and universities. They were asked which of several cost containment strategies proposed by The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, would be appropriate for their own institutions. About one-third of the 100 respondents were interested in four of the proposals (but not necessarily the same one-third for each), which involve reducing community college transfer barriers, using interactive computerized learning and online classes, and using buildings for non-institutional uses.
Nancy Farmer, president and CEO of Independent 529 Plan, points out that 80 percent of respondents said that at least one of the 11 cost-cutting recommendations could work. "It's just that the institutions are so diverse that no single recommendation commanded the support of the majority."
Other topics on the minds of these administrators more this year than last are facilities and infrastructure, sustainability, planning and forecasting, investments and endowments, and admissions. In addition, increasing numbers of private colleges and universities are developing metrics to assess institutional performance, according to the survey, indicating a focus on institutional accountability and value of the tuition dollar.
A report on survey findings can be found at www.i529.org/survey. -M.E.