Behind the News

Hispanic Student Success

As the Supreme Court revisits the idea of affirmative action in college admissions, new reports have been released looking at the success of Hispanic students in higher education.

“Advancing to Completion: Increasing degree attainment by improving graduation rates and closing gaps for Hispanic students,” a report from The Education Trust, shows improvements in six-year graduation rates for students at studied schools. Another report looks at success of African American students and updates previous briefs on these populations.

Free Textbooks for California

If funded, open-source digital textbooks coming to public higher ed

In a step toward improving college access and affordability, California Gov. Jerry Brown has signed into law two bills that will provide students with free access to digital textbooks.

Bills 1052 and 1053, passed in late September, call for creating free, open source digital textbooks for 50 of the most widely taken introductory courses among the University of California, The California State University, and California Community Colleges systems, and creating a state digital open source library to house the texts.

Food Trucks Pull Into Campus

The food truck craze that’s hit cities large and small across the nation has made its way to college and university campuses, offering up new dining options in new spots with more hours. Bringing a food truck to campus isn’t as easy as throwing in an oven and hoping students are hungry, though. It takes serious planning, but it’s worth it, shares John Cummins, general manager of residential dining for Parkhurst Dining, who brainstormed The Flying Bison food truck at Bucknell University (Pa.) for more than two years before the converted laundry truck became operational this spring.

Grading Trends Get Attention

An infographic by OnlineColleges.net analyzes today’s students’ study habits, as well as grade inflation, to suggest that college grading may be getting easier. Whatever the case, grading methods have certainly changed over the years.

James Wollack, director of University of Wisconsin-Madison testing and evaluation services and an expert in educational measurement, says grading used to be dominated by test scores: fail a final and you’d flunk the course.

Retirement Communities Revisited

Before the economic downturn, there was a growing interest in higher ed in integrating active adult communities with campus life. Residents would benefit from the amenities provided by a college town, while campus constituents would benefit from the perspective another generation could offer, and possible revenue through rents or membership fees. Interest sagged along with the real estate market—but is starting to tick up again.

Candidates Battle Over Higher Education

Campaigns highlight differences on financial aid.

With the 2012 election only weeks away, Pres. Barack Obama and Gov. Mitt Romney are furiously campaigning for that segment of undecided voters that could make or break their efforts.

At the top of nearly every list of voter concerns this year, of course, is the economy. And because one of the keys to growing the economy is an educated workforce, voters are anxious to hear where each candidate stands on higher education. For the most part, the discussion centers on two issues—affordability and accountability—and the differences are stark.

Getting a Handle on Textbook Costs

Textbooks are a big ticket purchase for college students, but that cost has declined slightly over the past five years. That’s not to say students are buying fewer books—or that textbook prices have gone down—but that they have found ways to bring the cost down, often with the help of campus bookstores.

People Watch

James Maguire, former associate vice president for Campus Planning and Facilities at Boise State University (Idaho), is now vice chancellor for Administrative Services and chief architect for the University of North Texas System. He began his duties, which include overseeing the system’s design and staff members and collaborating with campus presidents and their senior staff, on July 30. He also previously served as director of Capital Program Implementation for the University of California System and an architect in private practice.

Seniors Stay for Furry Friends

Half of Saint Mary’s College (Ind.) seniors typically decide to live off campus, and officials predicted even fewer numbers would remain on campus this year, due to class size. But thanks in part to a new pet policy, 75 percent of seniors this year will stay in residence halls. “Students were choosing to move off campus because they were allowed to have a pet [there],” says Janielle Tchakerian, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of residence life and community standards. “We looked at how we could accommodate that.”

Recruiting for Profit

At the end of July, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee released “For Profit Higher Education: The Failure to Safeguard the Federal Investment and Ensure Student Success.”

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