A summary listing of higher-ed-related news from around the nation
Report Says Ill. College Chiefs Get Lavish Perks
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A report from Illinois lawmakers has found that state university and community college presidents have enjoyed lavish perks, some worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, that aren’t always disclosed to taxpayers.
According to a copy of the report obtained by the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/1ISX8eU ), some of those perks include a $32,000 housing allowance for the president of Harper College, a $450,000 retention bonus for a former University of Illinois at Chicago chancellor and $30,000 toward two retirement plans in addition to state pension contributions for the Elgin Community College president.
The report also calls out public universities and community colleges statewide for providing “excessive fringe benefits” and lucrative exit deals for top administrators, including a $480,418 severance package to the former Illinois State University president after less than a year on the job.
“This has led to a culture of arrogance and a sense of entitlement reflected in many of these executive compensation plans, with an apparent disregard for middle-class families whose taxes and tuition dollars are funding these exorbitant salaries and excessive fringe benefits,” according to the report.
The newspaper reports that colleges long have defended the benefits as a way to attract and retain talented administrators. They also maintain that certain perks, like club memberships, provide administrators opportunities to meet and entertain donors and other community members.
Calif. Moves To Aid Corinthian College Students
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — The state Assembly is advancing legislation to help about 13,000 California students affected by the sudden closure of Corinthian Colleges.
AB573 would waive fees at community colleges for affected students and provide money to the colleges to help students transfer and enroll in new programs.
The college chain abruptly closed 28 campuses across the country last month after the U.S. Department of Education announced $30 million in fines for misrepresentation.
The bipartisan bill passed out of the Assembly with a unanimous 71-0 vote.
The bill also would offer $100 for legal aid to students seeking to have their student loans forgiven, restore $10 million in Cal Grant eligibility for Heald College students and help some students recover tuition and loans.
More Than 10,700 Apply for Free Tuition
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — More than 10,700 adults have applied for a state grant that would send them to technical college for free.
The Tennessean reports (http://tnne.ws/1IKMMhk ) the number of applicants for the Tennessee Reconnect grant has exceeded initial estimates by more than 2,000.
The grant offers eligible adults the chance to receive training in nursing, cosmetology, early childcare, manufacturing and other programs from a Tennessee College of Applied Technology. It is part of Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 plan to ensure 55 percent of Tennesseans have a college education by 2025.
It will take a few weeks for colleges to know how many applicants ultimately will enroll in classes.
The state will pay only tuition and fees that aren’t covered by existing grants and scholarships.
Gov. Swears In New Ala. College System Board
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Gov. Robert Bentley swore in members of Alabama’s newly created two-year college system board that will govern the state’s 25 community colleges and technical schools.
After the first meeting, Bentley said the board will improve the system by bringing regional representation to the schools. Members were appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Alabama Senate.
“This may go down in history as one of the greatest things we’ve done for this state in a long time, so what we’ve done today is important,” Bentley said.
Alabama’s community colleges and technical schools were previ ousl under the oversight of the Alabama State Board of Education.
State school board members opposing the board called it a legislative power grab for state and federal dollars, and in March unanimously approved a resolution against the legislation.
Bentley and Republican lawmakers who backed the law said a separate board for two-year schools will improve workforce training.
Va. College Offers Craft Brewing Program
(AP) — Piedmont Virginia Community College has started offering students the opportunity to earn a certificate in the growing industry of craft brewing.
The Daily Progress reports (http://bit.ly/1cUN3C6) the Charlottesville school has been offering classes on craft brewing for six years, but this is the first year students can earn a certificate in the field.
Levi Duncan and Hunter Smith, two of the school’s first students to take the classes, now teach the majority of the courses and run Champion Brewing Company in Charlottesville. Smith owns the three-year-old brewery and is head brewer, while Duncan is the lead brewer.
Smith says the certificate program will helped students decide whether they should make the leap into professional brewing.
Williams Named President of Ky. College
OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — The next president of Owensboro Community and Technical College has been announced.
He is Scott Williams, who has been vice president of academic affairs and chief academic officer at the western Kentucky school since 2008. Williams has been with the school since 2000.
The school’s board of directors considered Williams and two other candidates before unanimously recommending Williams for the post. Kentucky Community and Technical College System President Jay Box announced his appointment.
Williams begins July 1. He succeeds James Klauber, who was named president of Calhoun Community College in Alabama in December.
Omaha College Receives $30,000 NEA Grant
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Metropolitan Community College’s
Great Plains Theatre Conference has been awarded a $30,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant for its 2016 PlayFest, a free annual community theater festival.
PlayFest, held every year in the spring, explores how theater can be produced in a nontraditional way and seeks to deepen the connection between community and the arts. Performances are held in uncommon spaces with a connection to the play being performed.
The award is one of 1,023 totaling $74.3 million the NEA will grant this year.
Tenn. Regents Mull Reinstating Free Classes
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Board of Regents is taking a look at how students are charged for classes.
Nashville Public Radio (http://bit.ly/1zSv3Tu ) reports the board wants to encourage students to take more credit hours without reversing a 2009 decision.
Six years ago, any additional classes past 12 credit hours, or about four classes, were offered free to students. After deciding that wasn’t fair to part-time students, the board began charging for the extra classes.
Officials say because of the change, many students have stopped taking more than 12 credit hours per semester. The board’s chancellor, John Morgan, says this means they’re taking longer to graduate.
In addition, TBR officials have cited research in previous meetings showing that the longer students stay in college, the greater chance that they will drop out.
The board is considering make the fifth class free again, shifting some of the cost back to part-time students.
Morgan says the proposal is still in early discussions and a decision isn’t likely this year.
The Tennessee Board of Regents system includes six universities and the state’s community and technical colleges.
Calif. Awards $250M To Career Prep Programs
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — California is betting big that connecting high school studies to specific careers will get more students to graduate, go on to college and find well-paying jobs.
The state distributed nearly $250 million in grants to dozens of so-called “career pathways” — programs that combine academic and technical coursework at the high school and community college level with hands-on training supplied by employers.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson says the recipients represent high-demand fields such as health care, agriculture, information technology and advanced manufacturing facing a shortage of skilled workers.
Neb. Students To Get Glimpse of Transit Careers
GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (AP) — The Central Community College-Grand Island has decided to use a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to introduce students to transportation careers.
The Grand Island Independent (http://bit.ly/1cfBkgV ) reports the $40,000 National Summer Transportation Institute grant will be used to hold a camp this summer focusing on female, minority high school students. This demographic is considered to be underrepresented in transportation engineering careers.
Charlie Gregory, associate dean of extended learning services at the Grand Island campus, says the camp from July 6-16 will focus on all aspects of engineering related to transportation.