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Articles: Campus Life

IT officials at any institution considering outsourcing help desk support will need to weigh the pros and cons to determine whether budget and IT operations mesh with an external provider

The IT department at Widener University in Chester, Pa., was at a crisis point. Unexpected IT staff turnover and high demand for more technology resources intersected, leaving the university grappling with how to provide help desk support. The school had walk-in centers that were open into the evenings, but overall, coverage wasn’t keeping up with demand.

Hampshire College librarian Jennifer King, student Sarah Jayne Klucken and science librarian Thea Atwood look through the seed catalog.

In western Massachusetts, Hampshire College students are “checking out” packets of fruit and vegetable seeds from the library to grow in pots on their patios and in community gardens. They will harvest new seeds from their plants to replenish the library’s collection.

The University of Wisconsin’s all-you-can-learn, competency-based flex program—designed for adult students—started in January. Students can pay $2,250 for a three-month, all-you-can-learn subscription, or just $900 to work on a single set of competencies, says Vice Chancellor Aaron Brower, the interim provost of the UW Extension School.

Tuition covers assessments and faculty mentoring, and students’ get help organizing their studies from an academic coach—a new role that combines duties of an advisor and tutor. All work is graded by University of Wisconsin faculty.

Gene Wade is CEO of University Now, parent company of Patten University.

Since last June, students at the for-profit Patten University have been able to take all-you-can-learn, competency-based programs online and at the institution’s campus in Oakland, Calif.

Undergraduate tuition is $1,316 for a four-month term or $350 for a month. Students can take as many classes as they can fit into their schedule. The average student takes three classes per term, says Gene Wade, CEO of Patten’s parent company, UniversityNow.

Kristen Lombardi was lead journalist on the report, "Sexual Assault on Campus: A Frustrating Search for Justice.”

In January, President Obama launched the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault to help colleges and universities combat what he called “the prevalence of rape and sexual assault at our nation’s institutions of higher education.” The announcement came as a growing number of young women have filed federal complaints against colleges around the country over the mishandling of sexual assault cases.

A 2013 Noel-Levitz E-Expectations Report of incoming college students found that 78 percent have regular access to a mobile device. And while that number has probably crept higher for 2014, what about the approximately one in five college students who don’t have that access?

For many low-income and first-generation college students, owning a smart phone, tablet or laptop is simply not a reality. What is a reality is that this situation creates educational barriers for these students.

When Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in January, many people also noted a simultaneous jump—nearly 30 percent—in out-of-state student applications to the University of Colorado, Boulder. The reason, says Director of Admissions Kevin MacLennan, was not the pursuit of “higher education” but merely the fact that the state also began allowing the Common Application.

Inmates in a study session at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility, a medium-security facility outside Ellenville, N.Y.

Bard College doesn’t judge the success of its prison initiative by the number of students who stay out of jail. Recidivism is an extremely low bar, says Executive Director Max Kenner. “We judge by how many people are becoming middle-class taxpayers, how many people are involved in deeply meaningful ways in their communities. We think by those measures we are thriving.”

Meg Mott is a professor of political theory at Marlboro College in Marlboro, Vt.

Recently, the White House Council on Women and Girls issued a report pledging to “make our campuses safer” from sexual assault.

According to their research, “1 in 5 women has been sexually assaulted while she’s in college,” a troubling statistic which the authors explain by “the dynamics of college life.” Female undergraduates, we are told, are abused while intoxicated by men whom they know in passing.

The risks of brain trauma and sports-related medical expenses are two concerns of the Northwestern U athletes. (Photo: Northwestern Athletics)

College football players from Northwestern University in Illinois, along with the National College Players Association, have petitioned to unionize in an effort to bring attention to athletes’ brain trauma risks, sports-related medical expenses, scholarships and academic success.

But do they have a case? And what would unionizing mean for college athletics?

The top trend in college performance spaces today is the flexibility being built into them. From adjustable walls and seating that can accommodate a variety of performance types to acoustics that adapt to handle everything from African drums to an orchestra, theaters are expected to match specific events.

“We see more and more educational users asking for fully flexible ‘black box’ type spaces, where the stage and seating can be rearranged for each production,” says Robert Shook, founding partner at Schuler Shook, a Chicago-based theater planning consultancy.

Located in the heart of campus at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont, the 40,000-square-foot Dion Family Student Center offers a centralized space, housing a variety of student services. Nearly half the student population can access the center right from their dorms.


Students had used the Alliot Student Center, built to serve less than 900 students, since 1961. Full-time enrollment is now approaching 2,000. Alliot also didn’t provide much beyond a dining hall and bookstore.

The Loyola platform is a one-stop shop for tracking and spending points.

“Engage with the career center” sounds a bit like “eat your vegetables” to a college student. Students know they should access career planning resources, but other options from the campus activities buffet beckon.

In surveys, graduating students from Loyola University Maryland’s Sellinger School of Business and Management raved about the faculty and facility, but not the career center, says Dean Karyl Leggio.

In the epic Hunger Games trilogy, Katniss learns that to survive, it is not enough to know where to be—it is just as important to know where not to be. For higher education, this means knowing what programs to curtail, and what markets to stay out of.

Many institutions need to reduce their reliance on the 18- to 22-year-old domestic student population, and focus instead on adult learners and international student populations as the traditional age U.S. student demographic shrinks.

Stephen Madigosky is a professor of environmental science at Widener University in Chester, Pa.

I live in a world of lectures, faculty meetings and final exams. For my environmental science students and me at Widener University in Chester, Pa., however, it’s also a world of hands-on research on a butterfly farm in Costa Rica, or experiential learning in the rainforests of Peru.

This world didn’t include university food service contracts, price points, or product launches until my chance meeting with an alumnus who shared a passion for environmental sustainability. That meeting led to a simple, delicious cup of coffee.