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Beyond the News

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a key part of safety systems.  Image courtesy of Siemens.

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.

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.

Paul Brown, president of Monmouth University (N.J.)

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Members of Akron's men's and women's basketball teams received iPads to keep them connected to classes while traveling.

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 S.744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, passed in the Senate in late June with bipartisan support

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.

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

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