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2014 December 19 - 05:31 am

News Briefs

A summary listing of higher-ed-related news from around the nation


Graduation Rates Fell Since Onset of Recession

College enrollment has gone up since the beginning of the Great Recession, but college and university graduation rates have declined, according to a new report.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that while enrollment has gone up since 2008, the proportion of students who graduated has gone down.

Fifty-five percent of students who started college in 2008 had finished their fouryear degrees six years later, the clearinghouse said. That’s down from 56.1 percent graduation rate for students who started college in 2007.

The proportion of students who started at two-year community colleges and managed to earn a bachelor’s degree within six years also fell slightly, to about 39 percent, from 39.8 percent for the earlier cohort.

Graduation rates declined the most for adult learners and non-traditionally aged students. The rates for traditionally-aged students declined by 0.5 percent.

The results come from data provided to the clearinghouse by most universities and colleges.

“Getting more students to enroll is only the first step to increasing the number of Americans with a postsecondary credential,” said Doug Shapiro, the clearinghouse’s executive research director. “We also need to do more to help them stay enrolled to the finish line.”

The report acknowledged that some of the students who never graduated may not have ever intended to, but took courses during the recession solely to improve their job prospects.

Miss. Gov. Backs Free College

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant is pushing a $3 million plan to pay for community college for students who earn a technical diploma in high school.

The Republican says Mississippi needs to increase the number of skilled manufacturing workers in the state.

The details of the proposal are still being worked out. The Bryant administration isn’t sure yet whether it would require the graduates to take technical classes in community colleges, or allow them to pursue a traditional academic path as well.

The proposal looks somewhat like efforts in Mississippi and elsewhere to make community college free for many recent high school graduates. Local governments and private donors are already paying tuition in 26 of Mississippi’s 82 counties. A bill to make that program statewide failed in 2014’s Legislature.

No Wyo. Tuition Hikes in 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Students attending Wyoming’s seven community colleges will not see their tuition increased next year. The Wyoming Community College Commission voted 6-1 to keep the current tuition rates for 2015.

Commissioner Sherri Lovercheck said it was important to students that community colleges be as affordable as possible.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/1xbw0yD) that commissioner Charlene Bodine voted against the measure.

Bodine says it would be better to keep raising tuition slowly by small amounts than to have a large increase later.

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees last week voted to raise tuition by 5 percent next year.

Ground Broken for New La. College Campus

ST. MARTINVILLE, La. (AP) — South Louisiana Community College’s new $9.2 million campus in St. Martinville could be open by next fall.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1xkfelZ ) a crowd of state legislators, local leaders and education officials braved chilly weather to officially break ground at an old sugar cane field off Louisiana Highway 31 in St. Martinville, the site of SLCC’s planned 36,000-squarefoot Evangeline Campus.

“I’m going to venture to say this is the most money spent on a state project in this parish, ever,” St. Martin Parish President Guy Cormier said.

SLCC Chancellor Natalie Harder said the new campus should be open by the fall of 2015 or the spring of 2016.

She said enrollment is already up at the existing St. Martinville campus, a rise she attributes to excitement about the new facility.

“There are jobs waiting to be filled by graduates of SLCC from St. Martin Parish,” Harder said.

The Evangeline Campus will offer general education programs as well as specialized training in nursing, automotive repair and welding.

Mich. College Mulls Campus

DETROIT (AP)—Wayne County Community College District officials say they are talking with the developers of the former state fairgrounds about creating a campus presence there.

Developers are marketing the $200 million fairgrounds construction project as creating a community that will transform the vacant 160-acre site.

District vice chancellor George Swan tells columnist Laura Berman of The Detroit News (http://bit.ly/1xn3nlW ) the school has a “serious interest” in using the site for training and workforce development programs or classes. He says the location is easy for students to access.

The lead developer says he envisions the community college occupying between six and 10 acres of the site, probably with higher education partners. He says other tenants will be announced in coming months.

Michigan native and ex-NBA star Magic Johnson is a development partner.

Ark. Community College Discusses Merger

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. (AP) — The Board of Trustees at Mid-South Community College in West Memphis has agreed to discuss a possible merger with the Arkansas State University System.

Board Chair Mary Meux Toney said a merger could help the college do more for the city, county and region.

College President Glen Fenter said ASU would benefit from Mid-South’s workforce training programs and the college would benefit from Arkansas State’s support for funding workforce training programs.

Fenter said Mid-South Community College would retain autonomy if a merger occurs.

The name of the college would likely become Arkansas State University Mid-South. ASU’s flagship campus is in Jonesboro with other campuses in Beebe, Mountain Home, Newport, Searcy, Marked Tree, Heber Springs, Paragould and the Little Rock Air Force Base.

College Plans Drone Pavilion

CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio college plans to build an indoor flying pavilion that will be used by students to fly and test drones.

Sinclair Community College officials in Dayton say the 40-foot-high flying pavilion resembling an aircraft hangar will be built adjacent to a building that already houses some of the college’s unmanned aerial systems and aviation education and training programs.

Officials say the pavilion’s construction is part of a $5 million project that also includes renovation of the adjacent building.

The pavilion will allow students hands-on flying experience without having to deal with weather issues or federal restrictions on flying drones outdoors.

Congress has directed the FAA to integrate drones into civilian manned airspace by next fall. The agency now only allows unmanned aircraft to be flown under very controlled conditions.

Island Buildings Near Completion

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (AP) — New Hawaii Community College buildings are expected to be finished in Kailua-Kona next year.

University of Hawaii officials are calling the $25 million Palamanui complex a gateway center, West Hawaii Today (http://bit.ly/1zNgbUV) reported. Students may use it to take courses from across the university system, many by teleconference.

Retired professor Sandra Scarr told a community forum that twice as many high school graduates from East Hawaii enter the University of Hawaii system than students from the Big Island’s west side.

The great distance to college and university facilities discourages many in West Hawaii, she said.

Scarr called for Palamanui to develop its own unique programs and become autonomous from Hawaii Community College in Hilo.

Programs that could be symbiotic with West Hawaii businesses include hospitality management, marine science, aquaculture technology and marine technology, where boat and engine repair could be learned, she said.

Report Seeks Aid For Parents

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A report that evaluates the welfare of children in Tennessee says more needs to be done to help parenting students.

The report was released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Kids Count project.

It recommends policies that link community colleges, as well as job training and employment programs, with programs focused on early childhood development. Access to benefits and child care to help parenting students continue their education.

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