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Articles: UB Archive

With comprehensive fees for a residential liberal arts education reaching or surpassing $50,000 per year, more and more people are asking the question: Is it really worth that much money to educate anybody, anywhere, at any time? Are the minds of ambitious, intellectually driven young people worth it?

The early days of the school year are more relaxing for students because facilities staff and others from across campus work hard at summer?s end to ensure every room is move-in ready.

As a successful wood-cut artist, Sheila Pitt taught at the University of Arizona for roughly 20 years when tragedy struck. In February of 2008, the experienced horsewoman became a quadriplegic after breaking her neck in a riding accident.

But her physical condition didn't stop her from doing what she loved best: teaching and creating art. The university provided her with two assistants - one to help her demonstrate art techniques in the classroom and another to work in her home studio so she could continue researching art techniques, producing art, and exhibiting her work.

It is no secret. Most state budgets are in terrible shape. Estimates from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities are that budget gaps for all states, combining fiscal years 2010 and 2011, will total approximately $375 billion. These budget woes have already begun to affect states' spending on higher education. Leading up to the 2009-2010 academic year, many states were considering or implementing plans to cut financial aid to college students. Some were in the news more than others.

When Gil Morales and his crew got the call about a loose dog, they sprung into action. An adult Webster University (Mo.) student had stopped by campus to buy a book with her dog, a rescue who had been abused by a previous owner, in tow. As her car door opened, the dog took off. "I think she called Public Safety, and they called us," says Morales, facilities operations manager. After a search and much to the distraught woman's relief, the dog was found safe, hiding under a car. The next day, she arrived at their office with a cake to show her appreciation.

"Women's Ways of Knowing," by Mary Field Belenky et al. (Basic Books, 1986, 1997), captured the challenges women face not just at home, but in classroom settings, and importantly, suggested how educators can help women develop their authentic voices if they emphasize connection over separation, and collaboration over debate.

Ask most campus constituents about driving and parking on campus and they'll probably have a horror story to tell. "People would drive around for hours and be in tears" because they couldn't find a parking spot, says Don Walter, parking department head at the University of Georgia, which has 388 buildings on its 615-acre main campus. A new system for distributing parking permits has led to a safer, happier, and healthier campus, he notes.


Not having articulation agreements isn't the only thing holding students back when transferring from a two-year to a four-year institution. Most of these students still have the life issues that prompted them to attend a community college initially. An education model that can help them overcome these challenges is a university center, which combines the degree completion opportunities of four-year schools with the local convenience of a community college campus. "Busy adults can't travel and not everyone can learn online," notes Cary Israel, president of Collin College (Texas).

Seizing opportunity in a time of crisis can be risky, but in the depths of the recent recession, Muhlenberg College (Pa.) made a bold move, launching three very ambitious construction projects with the potential to strengthen the college's competitive position swiftly and dramatically. The project's an addition to our student union, a music/dance rehearsal space, and a multipurpose addition to our Hillel House that included new offices for our sociology/anthropology department - totaled more than $27 million.

Health legislation having passed, it's difficult to ascertain its specific effects. Winners could include college students. But this can only occur if universities act to fulfill their fiduciary obligations and avoid suspect school health plan practices benefiting the school over the student.

The information in the Public Agenda's latest report "Squeeze Play 2010: Continues Public Anxiety on Cost, Harsher Judgments on How Colleges Are Run" should really cause a shiver to run down the collective backbones of college presidents and administrators. That is assuming they have a backbone. A topic for another discussion I am sure.

Virginia Tech. Columbine. Northern Illinois University. Today, the names of these schools are recognized across the country for the wrong reasons. They are now headlines seared into the national conscience like the names of early battles in a war that academic board-members and senior administrators have never been trained to address. The harsh reality is that - in one form or another - targeted violence is now happening with rising frequency in our schools (as well as our workplaces, public locations and private residences) every single day.

College admission is not on the same life-or-death scale as the Detroit underwear bomber, but it sometimes seems like it. Most recently, The University of Chicago's admission dean, James Nondorf, set off a mini-firestorm in December when he e-mailed an applicant's response to the "Why Chicago?" essay question to students nationwide.

“Never in my life would I have expected community colleges to be called potential saviors of the economy,” says George Boggs, president of the American Association of Community Colleges. “When the downturn started and people were being laid off, community colleges sent teams into companies to talk to workers about their options,” he explains. The importance of community colleges progressed from there.