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On campus to walk: Graduates of Southern New Hampshire University’s online College for America program are invited to participate in the graduation ceremonies at the institution’s Manchester campus.

After years of quiet evolution, the competency-based education movement is now poised for explosive growth, with several hundred colleges and universities developing programs that fundamentally redefine the college degree.

Fans at a University of New Haven football game might notice an odd sideline sight: medical personnel with their heads hunched over smartphones. But these athletic trainers are not checking text messages or updating their Facebook status. Rather, they are monitoring real-time data about the force of their players’ on-field collisions.

Source: “Self-Reported Concussion among NCAA Student-Athletes,” NCAA, February 2014 (Click to enlarge)

Wrestling, ice hockey and football have the highest concussion rates among men's sports. Ice hockey, field hockey and lacrosse top the list for women.

Adding green and sustainable elements to facilities during new construction and renovations is no longer an option for colleges and universities—it’s the expectation.

Today’s progressive student success initiatives start even before first semester classes convene. The colleges and universities honored in the second round of UB’s national Models of Excellence awards program have found that easing students’ transition from high school to higher ed increases the likelihood they will remain enrolled and graduate.

Salisbury University alum Carey Haddock, here in front of Manokin Hall, was once an RA herself. Now she’s the trainer and supervisor for RAs at the school.

Parents and students expect RAs to solve roommate problems and ensure dorms are conducive to study and sleep. But with an amplified national discourse on sexual assault, gun violence and mental illness, today’s resident assistants are on the front lines of a whole host of issues related to safety and overall wellness.

Today's RAs receive enhanced training on a range of issues, from sex assault to homesickness. (Click to enlarge)

Even if an incident doesn’t happen in a residence hall, RAs must know what to expect during a potential crisis on campus, and how to better help their students, says David L. Perry, president of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

Just as campus officials across the nation are engaged in active shooter response training because of tragedies like at Virginia Tech, RAs need to master the proper response procedures, including building lockdowns. They might be the only authority figures in the residence halls during a potential threat.

The setting: AAA Four Diamond Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando, a 230-acre Spanish Revival resort. The conversation: technological innovation and leadership as well as institutional and student success, with UBTech’s attendees learning management insights, getting technology updates and networking with each other.

Faculty and students at Bridgewater College in Virginia complained increasingly in recent years about the unavailability of textbooks at the campus bookstore. To control inventory, the store stocked only a percentage of materials required if everyone purchased what was expected.

Campus business officers also noted a rapid decline in textbook revenue and related commissions, as students pursued lower-cost alternatives to purchasing books from the store.

Despite the economic and demographic factors that indicate challenging times ahead for higher ed, campuses across the country are busy building, according to a survey of college and university leaders by UB. With student enrollment growth being a big motivational factor for new buildings and renovations, it’s not surprising that academic buildings and residence halls are the top project types.

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