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2015 November 4 - 02:50 pm

News Briefs

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

Mass. Default Rates Plummet 

BOSTON (AP) — New federal data show that the percentage of Massachusetts community college students in default on their student loans has dropped significantly for the first time in three years.

The Boston Globe (http://bit.ly/1Ly3L56 ) reports that default rates have been high for students who graduated during or shortly after the recession, but experts think the rate is dropping because the economy has improved and because colleges better educating students about debt.

The latest data represent students who began repaying their loans in 2012 and defaulted in 2012, 2013, or 2014.

The schools that saw the largest improvement were Greenfield Community College, where the default rate declined from 22 percent to 15 percent, and Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner, where the default rate dropped from 18 percent to 11 percent.

NC College Suspends Sports

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. (AP) — The College of The Albemarle’s governing board has indefinitely suspended the school’s baseball and softball programs but left the possibility for their return if money becomes available.

The Daily Advance of Elizabeth City reports (http://bit.ly/1jO2sYu ) the college’s trustees voted unanimously last week. Chairman Marion Harris then appointed a committee to study funding for athletics.

The indefinite suspension follows trustees’ decision in April to suspend the programs for a year.

Trustees have previously said the community college was spending roughly $90,000 yearly on baseball and softball but would need more money to field another women’s team to comply with federal rules. Trustees have also said the teams need a permanent field and reliable transportation.

RI Council Calls For Tuition Freeze

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Students are getting a break at Rhode Island’s three public colleges, with tuition increases halted for the next budget year.

The Council on Postsecondary Education voted to freeze tuition at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and Community College of Rhode Island.

The Providence Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1LPCCJT ) that the council unanimously passed and is seeking $24 million more from the state to run the colleges without tuition increases.

Gov. Gina Raimondo called on the council to oppose higher tuition or fees at the three schools. Officials say the state’s public colleges have the sixth highest net tuition in the country.

The fall of 2015 marked the first time in three years that tuition and mandatory fees rose at URI, RIC and CCRI.

Wis. Bill Would Allow Guns in College Buildings

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Two Republican state legislators have introduced a bill that would allow concealed carry gun owners to bring weapons into public university and college buildings in Wisconsin.

The proposed legislation from Rep. Jesse Kremer and Sen. Devin LeMahieu comes less than two weeks after a gunman killed nine people at a community college in Oregon.

Under current law, license holders can carry guns on the grounds of public colleges and universities. But the schools are allowed to ban weapons inside campus buildings. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is one school that has posted signs banning weapons at entrances to every building on campus.

Democratic Rep. Melissa Sargent tells the State Journal (http://bit.ly/1Ls9QmV ) she questions the wisdom of allowing more guns on campus where drinking alcohol is common.

Tidewater CC Gets Driver Training Grant

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Tidewater Community College has received nearly $200,000 in federal funds to help train military veterans as truck and bus drivers.

The college says it received the grant from the U.S. U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. It provides for 40 students at the college in its Truck Driver Training Program, administered through the Center for Military and Veterans Education.

According to the college, a recent report from the American Trucking Association found the U.S. will experience a shortage of nearly 50,000 truck drivers by the end of 2015.

Last year, Tidewater received $107,000 for the same program.

Mont. College Cuts Jobs after Enrollment Dip

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Dawson Community College is cutting faculty jobs and eliminating classes to deal with the budget cuts that come with decreased enrollment.

The two-year school in Glendive has the equivalent of 221 fulltime students this fall, compared to 437 in the fall of 2006. The reduced enrollment is often blamed on the boom in job opportunities in the Bakken oil field.

The Billings Gazette reports (http://bit.ly/1RD7NgM) interim President Vince Nix has cut six tenured instructors and half of the college’s 120 classes to address a $315,000 budget shortfall. He plans to add adjunct professors and offer online classes.

The school had mostly focused on students who lived on campus and planned to transfer to a fouryear university, but Nix says that only accounted for about 20 percent of students.

The school is expanding its career and technical education.

$2.1M Grant Will Bolster Advising At Neb. College

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Metropolitan Community College in Omaha has received a $2.1 million, five-year federal grant to help enhance the college’s academic advising services.

The grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Title III Strengthening Institutions program will be used to hire additional advising staff, coordinate professional development and design and implement a comprehensive new student experience program.

The program will serve students across the community college’s service area, but will eventually be housed at its academic skills center, currently under construction and scheduled to open at the Fort Omaha Campus in the fall of 2017.

Grants To Fund Ky. Broadband Training Center

SOMERSET, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky officials have announced $1 million in grant funding to help build a training center to promote broadband education and training.

Gov. Steve Beshear and U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers say the grants will support construction of a $4.5 million training facility to house the Broadband and Technology Education Center.

The center will be at the Pikeville campus of the Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

Beshear committed $500,000 in a Community Development Block Grant for the project.

Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Earl Gohl pledged another $500,000 through an ARC grant.

Officials say the training center will help meet demand for certified technicians in telecommunications installation and maintenance.

Developing the training center comes amid efforts to expand the high-speed, highcapacity broadband network in eastern Kentucky.

Ohio Launches Plan To Fight Sexual Assault

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Public and private colleges in Ohio are releasing a plan to fight sexual assault on campus.

The Changing Campus Culture initiative has recommendations for all Ohio campuses, including two- and four-year public and private colleges and universities.

The Ohio Department of Higher Education announced the plan at the Statehouse with educators from Rio Grande Community College, Otterbein University and Ohio State University.

Recommendations include conducting annual campus surveys about sexual assault, and creating a culture of shared respect and responsibility.

Nearly a quarter of undergraduate women surveyed at more than two dozen universities say they experienced unwanted sexual contact sometime during college, according to a report by the Association of American Universities released last month.

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