Behind the News

New law helps prepare NY students for fires

The Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act requires NY schools to give every student written information about fire safety in residence halls and off-campus housing

New York public and private colleges are now required to give every student written information about fire safety in residence halls and off-campus housing. Known as the Kerry Rose Fire Sprinkler Notification Act, it was named after one of three victims of the deadly fire that burned through a privately owned housing unit near the campus of Marist College in January 2012.

Student loan legislation may help colleges explain aid

Interest rates will be in line with market

There’s been much buzz about what the new student loan legislation means for students. It lowered interest rates and made borrowing more affordable in the short term, but how will it affect colleges and universities?

Signed into law by President Obama on Aug. 9 after a summer of negotiations, the bill allows undergraduates to borrow at a 3.9 percent rate for subsidized and unsubsidized federal loans.

Brown named new president of Monmouth University

Higher ed leadership news

Paul R. Brown began his new role as president of Monmouth University (N.J.) on Aug. 1. Previously, he served as dean of the College of Business and Economics at Lehigh University (Pa.), where he raised more than $40 million for endowed faculty chairs and in unrestricted funds. Under Brown’s leadership, the school completed a transformative strategic plan. He also managed historically high levels of enrollment in both undergraduate and graduate programs. At Monmouth, Brown succeeded Paul G. Gaffney II, who retired on July 31 after 10 years of leadership.

A seal of approval for quality mental health care

Nonprofit JedCampus publicly recognizes higher ed institutions with comprehensive mental health programs.

Supporting the emotional health of students should be a priority on all campuses, and the nonprofit Jed Foundation is helping to make that happen. Colleges and universities can evaluate the care they provide with JedCampus, a program launched in May.

“Efforts should be made to promote connectedness and reduced isolation,” says John MacPhee, executive director of the program. “Mental health improves the more a student feels like a member of a community.”

Access and success addressed at NASFAA’s annual conference

Exploring critical financial aid and program funding issues and solutions

Casual observers of the 2013 National Association of Student Aid Administrators conference in Las Vegas this summer may have felt as if they were seeing double, with all the talk of “prior-prior year” income tax.

Help wanted: Risk-taking community college presidents

In a new study, researchers defined the top five traits shared by community college presidents whose institutions have high student success numbers.

A “willingness to take significant risks to advance student success” is a quality often overlooked by hiring boards in the search for community college leaders, says Josh Wyner, executive director of the Aspen Institute College Excellence program.

Colleges investing in tablets to help student athletes

After pilot program with basketball teams, University of Akron hopes to give iPads to all 30,000 students in the future

With days spent on buses and planes, it’s easy for student athletes to fall behind in class. That’s why The University of Akron (Ohio) is giving them iPads.

Fully funded by donors, the program was piloted last year, with all members of the men’s and women’s basketball teams receiving tablets at a cost of $500 each. Along with improving academic performance, the tablets are meant to make it easier for coaches to communicate with players.

Bill would make it easier for STEM grads, PhDs to get green cards

DREAM Act provision would create an expedited 5-year pathway to citizenship for those who attend a U.S. university or who serve in the military

The Senate-approved approach to immigration reform could improve the country’s competitiveness by allowing green cards for STEM master’s graduates, and it would also create a pathway to citizenship for students brought to this country illegally as children.

And though the Republican controlled House is likely to produce its own, narrower immigration reform bill, the Senate bill is seen as a symbolic step forward in the higher ed community.

Bugs control pests at Union College (N.Y.) and beyond

Ladybugs and preying mantises allow campuses to reduce use of pesticides

There’s not a tree that grows in the northeast that can’t be found on the campus of Union College in upstate New York, the manager of the institution’s grounds says.

But ladybugs and praying mantises—not insecticides—are the main tools the small college in Schenectady uses to protect a lush arboreal asset that some say helps prospective students pick Union over competing institutions.

Two-year college students face more money stress

Two-year students typically work more hours than four-year students and may have families to provide for

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