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Clockwise from top left: Lisa Daniels (Excelsior College), Vince Kellen (University of Kentucky), Thomas Blum (Sarah Lawrence College) and Elaine Lewis (Washburn University).

To get a picture of who is responsible for predictive analytics on campuses and what their jobs look like, University Business interviewed four campus “data czars” to learn more about their work, how it impacts their institutions and how they make it all happen.

The Consumer Financial ProtectionBureau’s forthcoming “Payback Playbook” intends to simplify the student loan repayment process by presenting clear, customized repayment options.

In April, the agency offered a sneak peek. The initiative will provide borrowers with simple repayment plan options any time they log into their student loan account. The Playbook summary will also be included with their monthly loan bills or in regular emails from their student loan servicers.

Graduates of The Citadel are encouraged to use their ePortfolios when applying for grad school or a job.

Just as websites morphed from digital brochures into versatile multimedia portals, electronic portfolios have evolved from information repositories to robust tools for showcasing student learning. Now, “ePortfolios,” house completed assignments, reflections on learning, photos, creative work and journal entries.

Portfolio providers: What are some uses for ePortfolios that you believe aren’t as common at colleges as they should be?

“We’d like to see more colleges using ePortfolios with guided learning pathways through a program or institution to assess learning at key points. The full potential for ePortfolios to encourage more integrative, deeper learning won’t be realized without a deliberate plan, ongoing assessment and higher stakes (such as program completion or graduation).”

—Webster Thompson, president, Taskstream

It has been demonstrated amply that financial aid leveraging can, under the right circumstances, increase enrollment and net tuition revenue. For some, however, that isn’t the case.

Enrollment leaders must therefore assess other aspects of recruitment to determine how effectively they are working to build larger, more committed applicant and admit pools, especially when increases in aid are not conducive or possible.

In the 2014-15 academic year, the number of international students at U.S. colleges and universities grew at the highest rate in 35 years, increasing by 10 percent to more than 970,000 students. (Image: Thinkstock.com/Rawpixel Ltd)

Because students from other countries, or simply from areas far from their desired college, can’t attend in-person interviews, admissions professionals are turning to virtual interviews as a way to evaluate candidates—helping ensure the selection of those who will make the most valuable contributions on campus.

Virtual interview platforms. (Click to enlarge)

Determining the return on investment for virtual admissions interviews involves understanding the resources and when the technology will be used.

At the University of Rochester, the commitment is bigger than most. One full-time employee and eight senior students have been hired and trained just to conduct Skype interviews during this admissions cycle, says Jonathan Burdick, dean of college admission and vice provost for enrollment initiatives.

The WaterHub reduces by 146 million gallons the annual amount that Emory University drains off the Atlanta municipal water system.

The landmark WaterHub at Emory University in Atlanta is an eco-friendly water recycling plant that cleanses 400,000 gallons per day of wastewater for purposes other than drinking.

Harnessing biomimicry processes, WaterHub uses beneficial bacteria, microorganisms, plants and hydroponic technology to treat black water, gray water and stormwater for later use in steam and chiller plants, as well as for toilet flushing in a number of residence halls.

Kelly Walsh, CIO of The College of Westchester in New York, is a UBTech conference speaker. He writes the “Emerging Ed Tech” blog.

The growing availability of custom and commercial software applications allows colleges and universities to transform classroom laboratory experiences into virtual equivalents that offer advantages over their physical precursors.

Vocation. This is a word with deep and important significance. Liberal Arts. This is an ideal of education with an equally deep set of meanings. Liberal arts colleges already do a great job developing a diverse group of socially responsible, critical thinkers, but they must start guiding students to their true vocation. For liberal arts colleges, the idea of knowledge for knowledge sake can no longer be your primary focus. That idea died with the onset of the Internet.

Administrators, faculty members and campus staff have been ordering all sorts of supplies from Amazon.com for years, but it was only recently that the e-tailing colossus jumped formally into the higher ed and business-to-business procurement market. And some in the procurement world see benefits ahead.

This fall, travel funded by the student government at Whitman College in Washington state will be taxed based on emissions generated in getting to and from the destination.

Passed in February as a two-year pilot program, the rule is likely the first of its kind imposed by a student government at a U.S. college.

Students traveling as part of a ski club or flying to New York City for a journalism conference, for example, will calculate the cost of their emissions, but not be charged directly.

David Seelow is the founding director of the Center for Game and Simulation-based Learning at Excelsior College.

Watching preschoolers play on touchscreen devices makes it clear that the future college students of America are the connected generation. Higher ed must embrace game-like learning just as progressive Silicon Valley companies have, or risk bored, disengaged, unprepared students in the classroom and in the workplace.

Celebrating while educating: At Manhattan College, the student group Fuerza Latina performs to share Latin American and Caribbean culture with others.

Three federal grant programs support colleges that qualify as Hispanic-Serving Institutions, or HSIs. The funding covers student support services and other initiatives—such as professional development to train administrators, faculty and staff to work more effectively with students whose first language may not be English.

Anxiety has replaced depression as the most common reason students seek counseling on campus. (Photo: Thinkstock.com/Max-kegfire)

New research finds mental health treatment of students pays off medically and financially. With those students now pressing administrators to increase mental health services, some colleges and universities are expanding their counseling staffs and other services.

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