Behind the News

Behind the News

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Annual trend reports put the spotlight on pricing and student aid.

WHILE THE GENERAL PUBLIC might think college tuition is growing by leaps and bounds, the College Board’s annual “Trends in College Pricing” report (www.collegeboard.com/html/costs/pricing) puts some actual numbers on that growth. They range from one-year increases of 4.7 percent at public two-year institutions to 6.4 percent at public four-year institutions for in-state students, while out-of-state students saw a 5.2 percent increase and those attending private four-year institutions had to adapt to a 5.9 percent increase. The percentages translate to dollar amounts between $108 and $1,389, which could be the difference between buying a textbook or bringing a new tablet PC to campus.

As higher ed leaders have pointed out, these figures are in line with years past. “The data ? show that the rate of increase in college tuitions remained relatively stable for much of the last decade,” American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad said in a statement. She added that the increases are in line with the Consumer Price Index and, in some sectors, below inflation.

David Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (NAICU), also pointed to the inflation-adjusted rate of 0.3 percent as a sign private institutions are holding the line.

It’s true that when adjusted for inflation the numbers change radically to a 0.8 percent decrease at public-two year institutions and only a 0.7 percent increase at public four-year institutions, but numbers can be deceiving.

“The reason the inflation-adjusted increase is so much lower than in past years is because inflation was so much higher [last year]. The Consumer Price Index went up 5.6 percent,” says Sandy Baum, a senior policy analyst at the College Board. “It doesn’t make it easier to buy things because everything else is so expensive.”

With lenders withdrawing from the student loan market, many institutions are attempting to maintain or increase financial aid levels to enable students to persist. Yet NAICU surveyed member schools in September and found that students are taking time off or dropping to part-time status because of lack of funds. Warren noted that the survey, available at www.naicu.edu/studentloanreport, shows there wasn’t a widespread crisis in the first half of the semester. However, he adds, “the full-blown effect of the credit crunch and the nation’s economic struggles are as yet unknown.”

Baum points out that colleges can’t cut tuition because they would probably also have to cut financial aid. “Colleges need to do better with need-based aid. They could give less to the ones who can afford it and more to those who can’t.”

Broad points to recent cuts in state appropriations as putting another strain on college finances. According to the Community College League of California, recently proposed cuts in that state could result in about 250,000 students being turned away, roughly equivalent to closing the University of California. Broad predicts that, despite efforts to control spending, tuition increases are likely to happen. “I know that colleges will do their part,” she said. “But I am also a realist, and I think colleges and universities are entering into very difficult financial times?and access and quality are likely to remain at great risk.” ?Ann McClure

FACILITIES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO and the University of Cincinnati were recently honored for design excellence by the American Institute of Architects’ Chicago chapter in its 53rd annual competition. Forty-two winners were selected from 379 entries representing projects in various industries. Cincinnati’s George & Helen Smith Athletics Museum was recognized for its “Celebration Walk” design concept, expressing the “duality and tension between athletics and academics,” with the space organized into a red and black scheme throughout all five stories of an atrium. The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business’s Winter Garden, a glass atrium around which the building is organized, features a vault roof with four main structural columns that flare outward as they rise, resembling tree branches that shade the space. ?Melissa Ezarik

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOUR INSTITUTION’S MISSION is to prepare the business leaders of tomorrow?and then the bottom falls out of the market?

With Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch gone, and other firms reducing staff, the employment picture isn’t particularly encouraging for business school graduates. Some experts predict Wall Street will lose more than 45,000 jobs in the downturn. Fifty-two percent of respondents to a poll by the National Association of Colleges and Employers expect they will hire fewer graduates in 2009 than in 2008. Only 14 percent of respondents said they planned to hire the same amount as they did in 2005.

So is a business degree?once the key to opening many doors?now worthless? Not necessarily. There are companies that are still hiring. At a recent college job fair, Iowa-based accounting firm RSM McGladrey was ready to fill 175 intern and full-time positions in 16 offices across six states. That’s about 20 more positions than last year, a spokesman said.

Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA career center at Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration (Mass.), says there are aspects of the investment industry where there are still jobs. But students should pursue other opportunities that use their knowledge.

“Corporate finance now becomes a much more attractive option,” Sarikas says, adding that, in particular, “large companies have extensive corporate finance functions and a huge need for MBA talent. Most of these organizations are global in nature so the opportunities span the globe. I would expect competition for these positions to increase as more students shy away from investment positions.”

B-school grads who have been laid off should consider going back to school for skills that will better position them for opportunities in the future, she notes.

The bleak job picture has also changed the way some approach their course of study. For example, at Lehigh University’s College of Business and Economics (Pa.), there is growing interest in the master’s program?not the MBA, but the MS variety. The reason? The Master of Science programs allow students to apply immediately after undergraduate study, unlike the MBA programs, which require a minimum two years of work experience.

Still, the job picture hasn’t stopped many schools from using the economic crisis as a “teachable moment.” Students at The University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management are getting investment practice with $7 million in funds provided by the Regents Endowment Fund and New Mexico State Investment Council. Any profits from the program go back into the endowment fund. ?Tim Goral

WHEN CASSANDRA MANUELITO-KERKVLIET WAS INAUGURATED as president of Antioch University Seattle in October, she not only became the first Native American woman to become president of an accredited university outside the tribal college system, but she also adhered to the wishes of her great-great-grandfather, Navajo Chief Manuelito.

“When he signed the Navajo Treaty of 1868, he said, ‘Education is the ladder to success. Tell my grandchildren to climb that ladder,’” she explains. “Here I am in the 21st century doing what he said.”

Although Manuelito-Kerkvliet admits it is humbling to think of the sacrifices her ancestors made that allowed her to reach her position, she is excited by the changes she sees coming in higher education leadership. Through involvement with ACE’s Women of Color Administrators, she enjoys meeting young women who are not taking the traditional faculty-to-dean path to leadership positions. Manuelito-Kerkvliet held various minority affairs and student services positions at Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, The University of New Mexico, and the University of Wyoming before becoming president of Din? College (Ariz.), the first tribally controlled community college in the nation.

“The population is changing, the minority will be the majority, and students need to see people like themselves in positions of authority,” she asserts. She says President-elect Barack Obama’s message of the change we need is something that can apply to leadership in higher ed. “I believe we are positioning ourselves for that change, whether we want it or not.”

In applying this vision to Antioch, she says she wants to see the inclusiveness mentioned in the university’s core values reflected in the student population. She has questioned the wisdom of using international students to increase diversity when qualified students can be found locally who might just need tuition assistance. She is also interested in addressing “hidden diversity,” such as single mothers, as well as increasing diversity among the faculty and staff. ?A.M.

MILLENNIALS ARE HOPEFUL about Barack Obama’s platform of change, according to a survey taken just before November 4. But when asked about the two presidential candidates, they were uncertain about whether either could alleviate the effects of the economic collapse.

Nearly all of the 785 students who took the survey online at the college search website CampusCompare are currently in college. The survey measured how the current economy is impacting them and their voting behavior.

A report based on that survey indicates that although 44 percent of college students believed an Obama administration could improve the nation’s current situation, just as many (42 percent) thought that a turnaround in the economy could not be accomplished by an administration run by either of the main candidates. Only 14 percent said they had faith in McCain.

In their survey responses, 89.2 percent said the crisis factored either a little or a lot, but when asked whether their initial choice for president had changed since the crisis happened, 93 percent said no.

Almost three-quarters of respondents reported being worried about continuing to pay for college, with 33 percent being “very worried.” One-third had no tuition money saved, and of those who did, 55 percent reported a loss in value in their college savings.

This worry has translated into some lifestyle changes:

--33 percent of students have had to take on either a part-time or second job in addition to studies.

--13 percent have had to drop some courses.

--5 percent have moved back in with their parents.

--2 percent have decided either to postpone college or temporarily drop out.

“What we discovered through this survey was a heightened concern around getting more financial aid and finding a job in a market that has suddenly become drastically more competitive,” says Maxine Grossman, senior vice president of business development for CampusCompare.

Despite these woes, students are betting on higher education, with 87 percent feeling college is the best investment they can make. The survey results can be viewed at www.campuscompare.com. ?Michele Herrmann

THE 10 WEST STREET RESIDENCE HALL AT Suffolk University in Boston?which earned a runner-up designation in the University Business Dorms of Distinction competition this year?has now been awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Suffolk acquired the historic, partially renovated property in the Downtown Crossing neighborhood after a developer’s condominium project failed. Sustainable highlights of 10 West Street include:

--A location in a high-density urban area that’s readily accessible via public transportation.

--Reuse of an existing building to prevent demolition waste and reduce the amount of new building materials required.

--More than 80 percent of the regularly occupied spaces designed to take advantage of daylighting.

--An HVAC design with direct digital controls for centralized monitoring, adjustment, and alarms for each piece of equipment.

--Low-emitting carpets, paints and coatings, adhesives and sealants, wood, and furnishings to protect indoor air quality.

--Local and regional building materials and furnishings.

--A green housekeeping program.

CBT Architects transformed the fixed individual condo configurations with minimal demolition into a residence that now houses a far larger number of people per unit and per floor than the condos would have. The hall was designed to hold nearly 270 students.

To learn more about the other residence halls named Dorms of Distinction, see the August 2008 issue of University Business (also available online www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=1115 ). ?M.E.

ASSISTANCE FOR NEW TEACHING ASSISTANTS can vary from a handbook to a few days of training. Tapping into the wisdom of more experienced TAs can also help, especially after classes are under way. This is now easier to do, thanks to a wiki, http://uscta.wikidot.com, created over the course of two years by TAs at the University of Southern California’s Center for Excellence in Teaching. The living document allows users to collaborate as they revise and improve the information provided.

Covering topics ranging from the basics (“know your class schedule”) to the more complicated (“how to grade fairly”), the wiki includes a grading scale, so users can offer their assessment of each section’s usefulness. “Created by TAs for TAs, there is no other like it in the nation,” says Lawford Anderson, director of the USC center. He hopes other universities will use the wiki as a source of information. With about 1,500 graduate student TAs at USC during any given year, and more than 400 of them new to teaching, Anderson anticipates the wiki will be very popular on his own campus. ?A.M.

By John Maguire, Lawrence Butler, and their colleagues at Maguire Associates; Trafford Publishing, 2008; 152 pp.; $19.95

NO, WE'RE NOT TALKING ABOUT MASS-ENERGY equivalence, but the formula offered by enrollment management consultant John Maguire (president of Maguire Associates) suggests a new way to look at the forces driving college choice. In the formula, EM is enrollment management, and C2 stands for “community of communities.” “Communities” in this case are the various sources, from social networks like MySpace and Facebook to the annual college ranking lists, from which students derive much of their information about colleges. Understanding and cultivating the synergism between these communities, the students, and the institution can help enrollment managers leverage the marketing message. Taking a cue from their own description, the authors have added an online component to their book, www.thecommunitysquare.com, where readers can discuss and evolve the ideas in the book. One criticism: although humorous, the book is loaded with puns and quasi-scientific terminology that sometimes obscure the message beneath. ?T.G.

CAMPUS IT DEPARTMENTS MADE GREAT STRIDES IN IMPROVING emergency notification systems between fall 2007 and fall 2008, according to the 2008 Campus Computing Survey. The number of colleges and universities reporting no operational emergency notification system fell to 5.5 percent in fall 2008; last year one-quarter did not have one. Community colleges are least likely to have a system, with 13 percent of them reporting not having one. All public universities participating in the survey reported having systems in place.

The use of delivery methods for these systems also increased, with text messaging rising by more than 75 percent, voicemail to campus phones and off-campus phones increasing by about 50 percent, and e-mail notification growing by nearly a third. “Campus officials have come to recognize that technology is an essential component” in managing campus crisis strategies, says Kenneth C. Green, Campus Computing Project’s founding director.

For the first time, the survey included Software as a Service (SaaS) and Open Source administrative applications. Respondents were asked if their schools would migrate to either by 2013. About a fourth reported a high likelihood of choosing an Open Source Learning Management System, and nearly 13 percent reported likely migration to an Open Source ePortfolio application. Less than 5 percent predicted moving to Open Source ERP applications. About one-quarter said they might migrate to a SaaS-based LMS; others anticipated an SaaS-based content management (12.2 percent) or ePortfolio (11.1 percent) system.

With e-mail, about 40 percent of institutions have migrated or are about to migrate to an outsourced student e-mail service; three in 10 are reviewing it. Just 14.8 percent have migrated to outside services for faculty.

As for the effects of the economic downturn, more than two-fifths of public colleges and universities reported cuts in their central IT budgets for fall 2008. One-quarter of private universities, private four-year colleges, and community colleges reported cuts.

The survey reports the responses of IT officials at 531 two- and four-year institutions. It can be purchased from www.campuscomputing.net. ?M.H.

IN LIGHT OF RECENT MELTDOWN ON Wall Street, if job availability after graduation is a determining factor when students select a major, those enrolled in the masters of science in forensic studies program at Stevenson University (Md.) shouldn’t have a problem. The program, launched in 2004, trains students to investigate white-collar crimes and serve as expert witnesses for fraud cases.

All students in the program take a group of core courses, then move to specialized tracks such as accounting or IT, explains Joyce Becker, dean of graduate and professional studies. In addition to classes, all students participate in a mock trial, which brings them together in an interdisciplinary setting. “They pool their knowledge and work together as a team,” she explains.

When an online option for the program launched in 2006, enrollment surged. Two hundred students are currently enrolled (Stevenson currently has an undergraduate and graduate enrollment of about 3,000.) “It’s meeting the demands of employers,” Becker says of the program’s popularity. “It’s addressing workforce issues, particularly in today’s climate.” Potential employers range from local and state law enforcement to accounting firms. Pointing to Enron, WorldCom, and the mortgage crisis, she adds, “Employers are putting systems in place to detect and prevent fraud.” ?A.M.


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