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Beyond the News


University Business, Jul 2009

WITH THE POST-9/11 GI BILL TAKING effect in August, colleges and universities are preparing for an anticipated influx of veterans by creating special services to help with their transition.

Ideas have come from talks with veterans about what they would need, says Jim Selbe, assistant vice president of Lifelong Learning for the American Council on Education. ACE held a summit last summer on barriers veterans face as they transition from the military to college. About 200 higher ed administrators and 50 student veterans attended.

Suggestions from student veterans for aiding this adjustment range from starting peer organizations for fellow vets, to expanding options for campus housing, to putting policies in place that don’t penalize veterans when tuition payments are late due to a delay in receiving funds.

At Saint Leo University (Fla.) and elsewhere, staff get training to stay current on GI bill requirements.

Understanding what vets have gone through is key. For example, Selbe points to Montgomery College (Md.), which participates in “Combat2College,” an innovative program that provides training for faculty and staff. It resulted from a collaborative effort between the college, the National Rehabilitation Hospital, and the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center.

Starting an office for handling veterans affairs also helps. Youngstown State University (Ohio) opened an office in January that’s managed by an alumnus who is a Vietnam War veteran. The office assists with smoothing steps for admissions, financial aid, and academic advising. Application and orientation fees for veterans and military students have been waived.

Coordinator Jim Olive estimates he gets 10 calls a day with inquiries. He believes institutions that don’t place a great focus on veterans “are going to miss a great opportunity to educate the next generation.”

Saint Leo University (Fla.) has had an infrastructure in place for educating military students for more than 30 years, says Associate Registrar Lori Lavery-Broda. About 2,700 students per semester are receiving veterans’ benefits. Officials are training employees to be up to speed with the new GI bill requirements.

As of press time, more than 1,000 institutions have signed on to the Yellow Ribbon GI Education Enhancement Program, a provision of the post-9/11 bill. The program allows schools to enter into matching agreements with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to pay for tuition and other expenses for eligible students. VA spokesperson Jim Benson says the department projects a 20 to 25 percent increase in participants in its education programs.

A former marine, Selbe says more veterans are seeing they have an opportunity to go to college with these programs. Generally, this group has felt that affording college just isn’t possible. But as more institutions put programs in place to help this population, both enrollment and retention of these students will be not just an option but reality. ?Michele Herrmann

WHY WAIT UNTIL STUDENTS ARE ON CAMPUS to begin teaching them how to live in an environmentally sustainable manner? After many students at St. Lawrence University (N.Y.) scored poorly on voluntary green living audits, sustainability coordinator Louise Gava developed a back-to-school shopping guide to help them start their college career in a green way.

“We realized it wasn’t fair to tell them about it after they are here,” explains Macreena Doyle, associate director of university communications. “We should give them guidance ahead of time.” The list includes simple tips, including recommendations to check with your roommate before buying supplies and get an Energy star-rated mini-fridge.

While St. Lawrence freshmen are learning the tricks, upperclassmen are old hands at leaving items in the reuse trailer instead of the dumpster during move-out week. The items are sold at low prices during the next move-in week, offsetting the program’s costs. The three-year-old program has been so popular, a residence hall basement has been converted into the “re-cellar,” open year-round.

“These programs are good for the environment and the wallet,” sums up Doyle. ?Ann McClure

Edited by John Aber, Tom Kelly, and Brue Mallory; University Press of New Hampshire, 2009; 288 pp; $29.95

WHILE MANY INSTITUTIONS HAVE RECENTLY signed on to national efforts toward sustainability, there are some that have been following this path for many years. The University of New Hampshire, for one, made sustainability part of its mission back in 1997. Among other things, UNH taps landfill gas to power its buildings, uses organic farming techniques to teach and feed students, and is active in driving public policy. For institutions embarking on this same path, The Sustainable Learning Community is a valuable guidebook written by the trailblazers themselves. The book includes essays and case studies by more than 60 UNH faculty and administration, from all campus areas, including operations, academics, and engagement. Their experience provides a unique window on how UNH achieved its goals, and how others can too. “Most of the challenges of achieving truly sustainable practices stem from the risks of change, a tendency to cling to the familiarity of day-to-day routines, and the fear that the new will be more costly to operate than the status quo,” advises UNH Director of Campus Planning Douglas Bencks. ?Tim Goral

WITH WORRIES OF FINDING A SUMMER JOB?and paying for school?on the minds of college students, at least one institution is trying to lessen fears through temp work.

Saint John’s University (Minn.) has created 80 new short-term positions on campus to provide employment and extra income for its all-male student population. These positions include tasks such as toiling at the university’s arboretum and working as an office or research aide.

Students will be paid hourly and can expect to make around $4,000 this summer, says spokesperson Michael Hemmesch. The program has a budget of $350,000, funded through development office efforts.

Saint John's Arboretum student employees prepare to carry a trail bridge to a campus lake.

The temps have Interim President Dan Whalen to thank for their hiring. He initiated an increase in on-campus summer jobs out of concern for students being able to have the financial means to come back in the fall. Prior to this summer, the campus offered about 220 student summer jobs.

The jobs program is also a win for Saint John’s. “Many departments on campus are able to accomplish tasks this summer that might have been delayed if it were not for these new positions,” says Hemmesch.

Juniata College (Pa.) has also created additional student jobs to assist students in need. Thirty new work study positions were created in the spring semester, and student employees had the option to continue them through the summer, according to Director of Media Relations John Wall. About six students chose to do so. In addition, administrators came up with summer projects for which two students were hired as temps. Also in Pennsylvania, Messiah College has been helping out unpaid interns through an internship service fund. Preference has been given to those interning in fields such as government or economic deployment, and ten students have been helped by the program so far. ?M.H.

Anthony Frank

ANTHONY FRANK HAS BECOME A PERMANENT fixture at Colorado State University’s Fort Collins campus, after having served as interim president since November 2008. The 16-year veteran at the institution is losing the “interim” title to become president. Frank had served four years as provost and senior vice president prior to taking his current post. He was on the faculty at Oregon State University before joining Colorado State in 1993. ... Mark Rutland has been elected the third president of Oral Roberts University (Okla.). The first person to lead the school without the surname Roberts, he will start July 1. ? Two long-serving presidents have announced their retirements. Florida State University’s T.K. Wetherell plans to remain in office until a new president can be named, while the University of Virginia’s John T. Casteen III will step down on August 1, 2010, at the end of his 20th year. ? M.R.C. Greenwood, chancellor emerita of the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been named president of the University of Hawaii System. Greenwood’s appointment is expected to begin in August. ? Bernadette Gray-Little will not just be the 17th chancellor at the University of Kansas but will also be the first woman and first African-American. She will begin her chancellorship on August 15. ? The Regents of the Nevada System of Higher Education approved Daniel J. Klaich as the system’s new chancellor, effective July 1. Klaich previously served as the system’s executive vice chancellor. ? In June, Dean Van Galen joined the University of Wisconsin-River Falls as its 18th chancellor. Prior to his selection, Van Galen was vice president of advancement at the University of West Florida for six years, where he led alumni relations, development, and marketing communications as well as its foundation. ? Thomas L. Krepel became the new president of Fairmont State University (W.Va.) on July 1 after serving as assistant to the president at Northern Illinois University since 2005. ... Karen L. Gould will become the first woman president of Brooklyn College (N.Y.). She is currently provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Long Beach. ... Paul Rowland, dean of the College of Education at the University of Idaho, will assume the role of executive director for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education on August 1. ? Carole M. Berotte Joseph, president of Massachusetts Bay Community College, has been elected president of the National Association of Community College Teacher Education Programs. Her one-year term will commence July 1. ... Carlow University (Pa.) has named Heather Wilson as its new vice president for Student Affairs. ?M.H.

A TANTALIZING PIECE OF CHERRY PIE, the tip of an iceberg in the Antarctic, a Hollywood icon, the cell of a human eye?these attention-grabbing images are a far cry from the black-and-white yearbook photos sitting in your parents’ attic. These days almost everyone with a cell phone has a built-in digital camera. That said, a new wave of elite schools such as the Hallmark Institute of Photography (Mass.), Rochester Institute of Technology (N.Y.), Brooks Institute (Calif.), and the Art Center College of Design (Calif.) are broadening our understanding of the world of professional photography.

Early on in our research, we learned from Hallmark’s President George J. Rosa III that becoming a successful photographer comes down to the depth of a student’s commitment in pursuing a career in professional photography. Hallmark’s unique approach to education revolves around its world-class practitioner-scholar faculty and innovative curriculum?a program of study and experiential learning in which sales, marketing, and management skills are taught concurrently with photographic, artistic, and imaging techniques?in an immersive, practical, hands-on 10-month program.

As the multimedia age and global credit crisis impact both advertising and technology, new skill sets, careers, opportunities, and creative challenges face aspiring photography students. Importantly, the institutions that train these students will help them develop resourcefulness, ingenuity, and passion?traits that characterize the greatest photographers of our century.

For more on how institutions are educating future photographers, see the full version of this column at

?James Martin and James E. Samels, Future Shock columnists, are authors of Turnaround: Leading Stressed Colleges and Universities to Excellence (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). Martin is a professor of English at Mount Ida College (Mass.), and Samels is president and CEO of The Education Alliance.

“VAMPIRES ARE COOL,” SAYS Donovan Gwinner, assistant professor of English at Aurora University (Ill.). That belief, and constantly hearing students talking about the bestselling Twilight novels, was a motivation for creating the seminar course “Got Blood? Vampires in Literature, Film, and Popular Culture.” The general elective ran as part of the recent May term, a three-week intensive session during which students can take classes “different from the normal offerings,” Gwinner explains.

Although the popularity of vampires comes and goes, “There are relatively few years when you don’t have some kind of vampire text available,” he says. By studying vampire narratives throughout history, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to present-day stories, students practiced critical thinking skills while learning about the genre conventions that have persisted throughout the years and the different functions vampires serve in popular culture. The literary vampire’s ability to personify a wide variety of themes probably contributes to his persistence. “The vampire can do it all,” Gwinner says. “Everything is up for grabs?your body, soul, and sanity.” Hopefully the students came away a little less eager to bare their throats to the first undead who wanders by. ?A.M.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES USUALLY SEE A SURGE in enrollment in tough economic times. The current downturn is no different, but its effects are as varied as the institutions.

Newspapers have incorrectly reported that Miami Dade College leaders are capping enrollment because there isn’t enough room for students. “We’re not capping enrollment. We’re still an open door admissions policy,” clarifies Registrar Dulce Beltran. Yet there might not be enough seats for admitted students due to a combination of increased enrollment and a yearlong hiring freeze. Although online classes can help ease the demands on physical space, there aren’t enough faculty members to teach all the required courses.

Beltran says that although students in previous years were accustomed to getting the classes they need even a week before the semester started, they are aware of the space crunch this year. “We’ve already registered over 37,000 students since June 17 for the fall semester,” she reported in late June, adding 25 percent of classes were already closed. So many students tried to register on the first day, the system crashed.

She says President Eduardo Padron has done a good job of allocating funds to best benefit students, but there isn’t enough money to go around. MDC leaders have been asking the state to fund enrollment growth for the past two years, says Victoria Hernandez, director of government affairs. A recent referendum to increase the local sales tax by a half-cent was not approved by the state legislature. “Right now we are preparing to see how we strategize to go back to the Legislature for the authority to help our own,” she says.

Maricopa Community Colleges (Ariz.) are in a better situation than the public universities, but not by much. “Our largest source of income is property tax, the second is tuition, and the third is state money?but that has been decreasing and is now less than 10 percent,” explains Tom Gariepy, district director of marketing and communications. Because of this, state budget cuts have had more of an effect on the universities, Gariepy says, adding the chancellor ordered cuts in anticipation of the decreased funding from the state. Yet there is a two-year lag in the figures used for calculating the property tax funding, and the next calculation will be on post-mortgage meltdown valuations. “It’s impossible to say with certainty what will happen at that point, but it’s safe to say next year will be challenging,” he says.

As for dealing with the 5 percent increase in system wide enrollment, Gariepy says a 2004 bond allowed for renovating and building to increase the physical plant, so there should be enough space.

Faculty to teach the extra students is also covered. “Typically we increase the load of existing adjuncts on staff or add additional adjuncts,” he says, but funds have been allocated to hire 10 full-time faculty members. He is also holding out hope that federal stimulus dollars will come their way. ?A.M.

BICYCLES ARE A COMMON SIGHT around campus. But how about a bicycle cab with a mounted digital camera capturing the scenery?

In mid-June, a bicyclist with such a camera rode around the University of Pennsylvania shooting places for Google’s Street View feature, which provides street-level views of map locations.

Pedaling for campus shots

“We tried to choose areas that were iconic to the university,” says Chris Bradie, associate vice president of business services at Penn. Shots of the Locust Walk, a student residence hall’s interior, and a garden were taken. Giving Google this special access, Bradie says, “allows folks at the site to [get] a different perspective of the campus.”

University personnel accompanied the rider on a pre-planned route for the two-day shoot, which was scheduled after commencement. A direct link to the Street View images on the university’s website is planned.

Bradie notes the resulting imagery will enable prospective students and families of current international students to virtually visit the university and let alumni explore the campus in a different light.

Google spokesperson Elaine Filadelfo says the company heard of interest from consumers in gathering images of universities for Street View, so it partnered with campuses to make it happen. The images should be made public within a few months.

Response from higher ed participants has been enthusiastic, says Filadelfo. “We’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from college students in particular about Street View, so we think they’ll be excited about the chance of seeing their campus and [will] find the imagery useful.”

Other universities Google has worked with so far on Street View include Penn State and the University of San Diego. ?M.H.

JANICE ABRAHAM REFERS TO THE RESULTS OF a recent risk management study as a wakeup call for higher ed leaders. “They need to make enterprise risk management a priority right now,” says Abraham, CEO of the education insurance company United Educators, which co-sponsored the study with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

“There seems to be, across higher education, an understanding of the importance of enterprise risk management,” explains Richard Legon, AGB president. Yet of the 600 respondents?mainly presidents, chief financial officers, and governing board members but also including provosts and risk managers?only one-quarter conduct a comprehensive risk assessment on an annual basis.

In fact, 60.1 percent of respondents report that they do not identify major risks to the success of their institution’s mission through comprehensive strategic assessments. Instead, they are likely to evaluate risks on an ad hoc basis, with respondents citing events such as a campus incident, an audit, or the aftermath of another institution’s tragedy (such as Virginia Tech’s) as prompting action.

Less than half of respondents “mostly agreed” that their institutions adhere to the following recommended attitudes:

? An institution’s appetite and tolerance for risk need to be understood and be part of the institution’s decision-making culture.

? Risk tolerance ought to guide strategic and operational decisions.

As for who is making those decisions, discussion and consideration of institutional risks take place most often in finance and audit committee meetings, as opposed to meetings of the full board, as is recommended in the report. And although in the current recession financial risks are bound to be top-of-mind, the report reminds officials that operational, legal and regulatory, and political and reputational risks are also significant and merit routine discussion during board meetings.

The report explains that the discussion about risk should include how to move risk identification deeper into the institution each year and includes this key reminder: “Many serious risks are first spotted by employees without fancy titles.” ?Melissa Ezarik

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