Behind the News

National spotlight on campus gender accommodations

As more people realize self-identification is not a fad, more institutions may change policies

The University of Vermont allows its students to identify their own gender around campus, even if it’s no gender at all.

Though the policy has existed for nearly five years, it wasn’t until a February New York Times article that UVM received significant attention, says Dot Brauer, director of the LGBTQA Center@UVM.

“Nothing prepared us for this level of excitement,” says Brauer, who received several requests for interviews and advice from other higher ed institutions. “The feedback has been nothing but positive and encouraging.”

Community colleges moving further into baccalaureate territory

California may join 21 other states whose community colleges are permitted to offer baccalaureate degrees

Fifteen California community colleges received initial approval in January to offer four-year degrees in a limited number of specialties as soon as next year.

If approved, the plan could—at a fraction of the cost of four-year schools—produce thousands of new workers in a state that needs more employees in areas such as healthcare and the automotive industries.

Campus groundbreakings: Infinity Hall at the University of Florida

William Jessup University opens 40,000-square-foot residence hall

Infinity Hall at the University of Florida

This $15.9 million residence hall—billed as the nation’s first entrepreneurial-based academic residential community—is being privately developed by Signet Development (Jacksonville, Fla.) in partnership with the university’s Department of Housing and Residence Education.

Its 90,000 square feet will include four floors of suites, team meeting rooms, an entertainment room, flexible spaces to support the school’s entrepreneurship programs, a resident apartment and a maintenance shop.

Ivies change alcohol policies to curb dangerous behavior

Crafting a comprehensive plan is key when creating a safer campus environment

Dartmouth College has launched a new campaign to combat harmful student behavior, including sexual assault and high-risk drinking.

Under the “Moving Dartmouth Forward” plan, the Ivy League school will no longer serve hard alcohol (30 proof or higher) on campus and will increase penalties for underage students found in possession of hard alcohol. Also in the works:

Which college presidents published the most op-eds in 2014?

Leaders tackle big-picture pieces and hot-button issues

There were big-picture pieces on race relations, immigration, climate change, incarceration, veterans, gender issues and the proliferation of firearms.

And there were hot-button campus issues such as sexual assaults, alcohol, college access, free speech, college cost and debt, emotionally unstable students, and abuses in sports programs.

Outbreak forces review of college vaccination mandates

Many states not requiring immunizations for college students

Recent campus outbreaks of easily spread but preventable diseases have forced administrators across the nation to review their institutions’ immunization policies.

Immunization policy on potentially deadly illnesses—including measles, meningitis, rubella and mumps—has a rather dense structure that varies by state (and often, by university or system). And these policies are becoming ever more important to clarify, define and enforce on campus.

Higher ed taps deeper into endowments

Average rate of return for endowments rises for second straight year

U.S. colleges and universities last year paid for operations with bigger chunks of their endowments to compensate for declines in key sources of revenue, particularly tuition and public funding.

The good news is that the average rate of return rose for the second straight year, from 11.7 percent in FY2013 to 15.5 percent in 2014, according to the “NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments,” released in January.

Jointly funded town-gown program draws wider interest

Community-driven strategies provide quality student housing while also maintaining neighborhood quality.

From dealing with an increase in student housing to managing off-campus student conduct, Colorado State University and the city of Fort Collins have a more than decade-long partnership that’s become a model for other higher ed institutions and their hometowns.

Georgia leads college consolidation movement

Around the country, institutions are merging at a slower pace, with some proposals facing local backlash

The University System of Georgia has worked to combine several more of its higher education institutions this year in what is likely the nation’s most aggressive and high-profile campus consolidation program.

Around the country, institutions are merging at a slower pace, with some proposed consolidations collapsing under backlash from students and other community members.

And rankings for all: Questioning national college rating framework

Obama administration's system based on access, affordability and outcome

College ranking systems are typically viewed as unreliable metrics, often accused of practicing favoritism based on questionable criteria that varies by publisher.

In an attempt to provide an unbiased and informed resource for prospective students and their families, the Obama administration has formulated its own version of a college ranking system.

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