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Behind the News

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.

Infinity Hall at the University of Florida is billed as the nation’s first entrepreneurial-based academic residential community.

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.

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:

College and university presidents had nearly 600 op-ed pieces published in print and online in 2014, according to a report.

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.

A December 2014 measles outbreak, which began in California’s Disneyland and has now spread to 14 states, brought national attention to the University of California system’s policy that requires vaccination only against hepatitis B

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.

The latest NACUBO-Commonfund Study of Endowments shows college increasing spending from their endowments. (Click to enlarge)

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.

Promos such as these remind off-campus residents to be neighborly in Fort Collins. Sophomores transitioning from on-campus housing attend a “Where I Live” workshop covering living expenses and rental agreements. Each August, staff, residents, and campus and city police hit the streets to distribute information on city residence codes and laws. And during a fall community cleanup, students offer to rake leaves and wash windows for their neighbors.

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.

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.

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.

With a design to do things their own way, Generation Z, or people ages 16 to 19, could change higher ed.