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A Summary of Education in the News

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    Despite recent fluctuations in world financial markets, college and university endowments yielded an average return of 18.2 percent in fiscal 1998, the fourth year with an average return above 10 percent and the sixth year of double digit returns since 1990, reports Academe Today. The figures were released last month by the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

    Because of the dramatic rise in endowment values in this decade, many college officials say the recent turmoil in world financial markets will not change their long term investment strategies, reports Community College Week.

    Meanwhile, Harvard University announced that it will increase the amount of endowment earnings that it puts toward its annual operating budget from $400 million this year to $500 million next year. The increase will put Harvard's annual spending rate at 4.5 percent in fiscal 2000, up from 3.7 percent in the last fiscal year, reports The Washington Post. Harvard officials point out that because the strong stock market has boosted earnings, the proportion of dollars spent relative to total endowment dollars has decreased in recent years.

    Other fund-raising news:

    • Endowed chairs are becoming increasingly common as colleges and universities search for ways to attract top professors, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Endowing a professorship offers donors several benefits that other gifts do not, including the ability to benefit a particular field of study and the luxury of having one's name publicized every time the professor is mentioned in the news, according to the report.

    • Historically black colleges and universities are closely watching Hampton University's fund-raising campaign, which has a goal of $200 million -- the largest ever by an HBCU. Not even the wealthiest HBCUs have the financial capabilities or the access to wealthy alumni of most predominantly white institutions, making it especially important for them to take advantage of the healthy economy and giving-friendly environment, reports The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    • A recent New York Times report took a behind-the-scenes look at the efforts and factors behind Middlebury College's $200 million capital campaign. The article, printed in a special "Giving" section of the Times, chronicled the steps taken by Middlebury President John M. McCardell, Jr. and his fund-raising staff to meet their financial goal by 2001.

    (Sources: The New York Times, 11/18/98; The Chronicle of Higher Education, 11/20/98; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/27/98; Community College Week, 11/30/98; Academe Today; 12/3/98; The Washington Post, 12/3/98.)

    The New York Times last month reported on recent racial tensions at two New Hampshire institutions. At Dartmouth College, white students at a "ghetto party" dressed as gangsta rap artists, and at the University of New Hampshire, black students protested against the underrepresentation of minorities in the faculty.

    Administrators at both institutions are examining how they might better foster racial diversity and respect for differences, according to the Times. The ghetto party at Dartmouth was sponsored by a fraternity and a sorority, both of which apologized for the event. After the party, hundreds of Dartmouth students demonstrated and held meetings at which they discussed respect for others.

    At the University of New Hampshire, where only 3.4 percent of students and 4.5 percent of tenured and tenure-track faculty are minorities, students protested with a sit-in at President Joan Leitzel's office. Leitzel promised to double the number of black faculty and quadruple the number of black students by 2006.

    (Source: The New York Times, 11/30/98.)

    The war of words that preceded the Dec. 1 strike by University of California teaching assistants quickly escalated in the ensuing days as UC officials and striking assistants sharply disputed the number of people on the picket lines. The Student Association of Graduate Employees, which represents 9,000 teaching assistants, readers, and tutors in the UC system, organized the protest in an effort to gain union representation.

    UC officials claimed that there were no more than two dozen picketers on any single campus, and that final exams, which had begun on many UC campuses around the time of the strike, were going smoothly. Association members, however, claimed that thousands of people had marched during the first few days of the strike, disrupting most undergraduate classes.

    On Dec. 6, strikers agreed to a 45-day cessation, during which union leaders and campus officials will try to resolve their differences.

    (Sources: Los Angeles Times, 11/30/98 and 12/7/98; Academe Today, 12/2/98, 12/4/98, and 12/8/98.)

    In response to the growing numbers of college freshmen enrolled in remedial courses, higher education officials in Virginia are proposing that the state's school systems issue a "warranty" on their high school graduates and pay the cost of remedial courses that the students take as college freshmen.

    One-fourth of the freshmen at Virginia's public colleges who graduated from one of the state's public high schools take a remedial class during their freshman year, reports The Washington Post. The total cost for these courses is $40 million a year, nearly two-thirds of which is payed by state taxpayers. Proponents of the plan say they hope that shifting those costs to local school districts will encourage schools to better prepare students for college.

    Many local school officials say higher numbers of students are taking remedial courses because more students are attending college than ever before. They argue that colleges should be more selective in admitting students.

    Meanwhile, a new report by the Institute for Higher Education Policy reveals that the cost of remediation is in fact modest. The report cites national estimates placing the cost of rermedial work at $1 billion out of a total public higher education budget of $115 billion, reports The New York Times. The report also concludes that while high schools are often blamed for the poor preparation of their graduates, many remedial students are not recent high school graduates.

    (Source: The Washington Post, 11/23/98; Academe Today, 12/2/98; The New York Times, 12/2/98.)

    Adjunct and part-time professors now constitute nearly half of all professors at U.S. colleges and universities, and American higher education is suffering as a result, according to a recent essay in The New Republic. John Hickman, a Washington, D.C.-based writer, asserts that part-time faculty "have no time for their own intellectual development," causing them to "fall behind in their fields" and thereby impacting what they teach.

    Part-timers also receive less institutional support than their full-time colleagues in areas such as e-mail accounts, secretarial and computer services, and peer review, Hickman writes. In addition, part-time faculty are usually overworked, he says.

    Hickman acknowledges that adjuncts are prolific publishers and can make good teachers because they worry less than full-time faculty about curriculum planning and research. Also, he says, studies show that students rate adjunct professors as highly as they rate full-time professors.

    (Source: The New Republic, 12/7/98.)

  • ALTERNATIVE ADMISSIONS STIR CONTROVERSY Admission to certain Florida public colleges and universities is growing increasingly difficult and causing a growing number of students, educators, and lawmakers to question the state's long-standing policy of admitting students who do not meet the state's minimum standards for admission.

    One in eight Florida freshmen last year was an alternative admission, and two-thirds of that group were minorities. Defenders of alternative admissions say the policy has made student bodies more diverse. But with highly qualified students having a harder time than ever getting accepted to institutions such as the University of Florida, some officials are proposing a change. University System Chancellor Adam Herbert recently considered limiting alternative admissions, citing criticism by some state lawmakers that current numbers are too high.

    (Source: St. Petersburg Times, 12/6/98.)


    A smaller number of Canadians donated more dollars to charitable causes in 1997 than the year before, according to Statistics Canada. Nearly 5.3 million taxpayers filed charitable deductions on their 1997 personal income-tax returns, a drop of 3.1 percent from the previous year. But those donors gave $4.3 billion, an increase of 6.0 percent over 1996.

    Quebecers, who showed the steepest decline in number of donors among all 10 provinces and two territories, gave 3.3 percent fewer dollars. Nearly 30 percent of Manitobans reported charitable donations -- the largest proportion of any province. Newfoundland reported the highest median donation ($270) despite having the lowest median income ($27,900).

    Thirty-seven percent of Canadian taxpayers over age 65 reported charitable donations in 1997 totaling $1.4 billion, compared to 18.8 percent of those aged 25 to 34, who gave $310 million.

    (Source: The Daily, Statistics Canada Website, 12/03/98.)

    The organization that represents CEOs at British universities is considering a reorganization that would open its membership to college principals, thereby creating a single body of higher education leaders. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP) currently includes the CEOs of Britain's universities, including the former polytechnics. The CVCP does not include the CEOs of colleges, which are linked to local universities and do not award their own degrees. The reorganization could also result in the creation of a federal structure that would represent the interests of all higher education institutions in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

    (Source: The Times Higher Education Supplement, 11/20/98.)

    Recent tension between the U.S. and Chinese governments hasn't stopped American universities from pursuing joint ventures in China, reports The New York Times. Despite the stirring of emotions over China's continuing crackdown on democracy advocates, several American institutions, including the University of Buffalo, Temple University, and Yale University, support academic programs or affiliates in China. American education officials say they are fulfilling China's need to train a generation of students who have been raised in isolation from the rest of the world. Chinese officials, worried about overdependence on the West, are reserved about the joint ventures but acknowledge their value in helping students learn about life outside China.

    (Source: The New York Times, 12/2/98.)

    The plight of Indonesian students continues to receive major media coverage in the United States. Newsweek ran a story late last month chronicling student protests against the post-Suharto regime. Student demands for government reform in Indonesia reached a climax last month as protesters beat up soldiers, eliciting live gunfire in return. An estimated 50,000 students marched on Parliament, calling for the Army commander's death.

    (Source: Newsweek, 11/23/98.)


    Increases in federal Pell Grants have not kept pace with increases in tuition, meaning that Pell Grants pay for a much smaller proportion of college costs today than they did 20 years ago, according to a recent study. In 1976-77, the maximum Pell Grant of $1,400 covered 72 percent of the average cost of a four-year public education and 35 percent of tuition, room, and board at a four-year private institution. In 1996-97, the maximum Pell Grant of $2,470 covered 34 percent of costs at a public institution and 13 percent of costs at a private institution.

    The study, prepared by the Education Resources Institute and the Institute for Higher Education Policy, also found that growing numbers of students are turning to distance learning and to two-year institutions, because they cannot afford a traditional four-year education, reports The Washington Post.

    (Sources: Academe Today, 11/18/98; The Washington Post, 11/18/98.)

    A study of students in Cleveland has found that those using vouchers to attend established private schools slightly outperformed their peers at public schools in language skills and science, but the two groups performed about equally well in reading, math, and social studies. The report also found that students attending private schools that were created specifically to serve the voucher program performed worse in all subjects than their peers in both public schools and other private schools.

    Researchers from Indiana University studied the 3-year-old Cleveland voucher program, which provides vouchers worth from $2,250 to $4,000 to low-income students. Other school choice researchers criticized the report, saying the results could be a function of the characteristics of the students or the quality of the schools they attend.

    (Source: Education Week, 12/2/98.)

    A recent study of the effectiveness of college admission test-preparation courses has spawned a debate between the College Board, which conducted the study, and two large test-preparation companies: Kaplan Educational Centers and the Princeton Review. Kaplan and the Princeton Review say that independent studies show marked improvements by students who take their courses. Kaplan says its students increase their scores by an average of 120 points between the PSAT and the SAT. The Princeton Review claims to improve scores by an average of 140 points.

    The study, however, found that students who enrolled in preparation courses raised their scores by an average of only 19 to 38 points more than those who did not take a preparation course.

    Meanwhile, debate continues over whether the SAT itself is fair to various types of students, such as women, ethnic minorities, and low-income students. The San Antonio Express-News reports that the debate continues to rage over whether the SAT and the ACT are accurate predictors of college preparedness and success. Test-makers such as the College Board claim that the exams are as objective as they can be considering the varied backgrounds of students.

    (Sources: The New York Times, 11/24/98; Academe Today, 11/25/98; The Washington Post, 11/25/98; San Antonio Express-News, 11/29/98.)

    New York State has increased spending on prisons in the last decade by nearly as much as it has cut spending on higher education, according to a study conducted by the Justice Policy Institute and the Correctional Association of New York. Since 1988, spending for city and state universities fell by $615 billion, while funding for the Department of Correctional Services rose by $761 billion. The state spent $1.48 billion on universities and $1.76 billion on corrections in its 1998 budget.

    Trends are similar nationwide. States spent 30 percent more on prison budgets and 18 percent less on higher education in 1995 than in 1987, reports The Washington Post.

    (Source: The Washington Post, 12/1/98.)

    States will spend $3.4 billion more on higher education in fiscal 1999 than they spent in fiscal 1998, an increase of 6.7 percent, according to an annual survey by the Center for Higher Education at Illinois State University. This year's expenditures are 13.3 percent, or $6.2 billion, more than the levels two years ago. Total state spending on college and university operations and student aid reached a record $52.8 billion for fiscal 1999.

    Higher education spending in California has increased a remarkable 26.2 percent over the past two years. Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Virginia are also among the states with the biggest spending increases. Only three states -- Alaska, Hawaii, and South Carolina -- appropriated less for higher education this year than two years ago.

    (Source: Academe Today, 11/23/98.)


    The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that a growing number of colleges and universities are setting up Web sites specifically for alumni, complete with chat rooms, bulletin boards, résumé databases, and other services. The sites give institutions a new way to communicate with alumni and raise money from them. Companies specializing in Web site development can set up and maintain a site for a college or university. Alumni usage varies by university, but it usually takes about six months to register 10 percent of an institution's alumni, a company official told The Chronicle of Higher Education. Some college officials have reservations about the potential for fund raising on alumni Web sites because of the impersonal nature of online communications.

    (Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, 12/4/98.)

    With the amount of information available on the World Wide Web growing at light speed, textbooks appear to be next in line to enter the digital age. Several colleges and universities already offer courses with textbooks that are only available online. Some institutions, such as Virginia Commonwealth University, make texts available directly on the Web. Others, including Kent State University, will soon issue students hand-held electronic devices that are loaded with course texts. The devices are said to resemble latter-day Etch-a-Sketches, and the technology behind them is quickly advancing. Two types of electronic books already on the market sell for between $300 and $500. A third model will be available next year for $1,000 to $1,500.

    (Source: The New York Times, 12/1/98.)


    Title IX, the 25-year-old federal law that required universities to provide equal athletics resources for men and women, continues to change the athletics landscape at U.S. institutions, reports the Los Angeles Times. The average number of women's teams at colleges and universities rose from 5.61 in 1978 to 7.71 this year. Education officials expect that number to keep rising in view of the dramatic increase in the number of girls playing high school sports. Meanwhile, officials expect the number of sports offered to men to decrease as women's sports consume a growing share of athletics budgets.

    (Source: Los Angeles Times, 11/30/98.)

    After a decade of losing more than a quarter of its work force because of budget cuts, the Central Intelligence Agency is now hiring again. The agency is in the middle of its largest recruiting campaign since the end of the Cold War, and its favorite targets include graduating college students. CIA recruiters are appearing at college job fairs and looking for students who have skills such as imagery analysis, engineering, computer science, or language proficiency in Farsi, Arabic, Korean, Chinese, or Japanese. The recruitment program is intended to rival the best such efforts in private industry.

    (Source: The Washington Post, 11/27/98.)

    Penn State President Graham Spanier believes reading a newspaper is essential for the informed and educated citizen. So he has made a pile of newspapers free to students every day. Special racks holding The New York Times, the Centre Daily Times, the Daily Collegian, and USA Today stand at various locations throughout campus. Since the newspaper program began last year, the proportion of students who say they regularly read a paper has jumped from 15 percent to 73 percent. The program does not raise what students pay for their education, since the cost of the newspapers is included in existing fees.

    (Source: Chicago Tribune, 12/1/98.)

    CASE is proud to be in its third year producing Flash Points, the education issues bulletin. Flash Points is normally published twice a month and is available FREE to CASE members, associates, and affiliates, and journalists. CASE values your comments, suggestions, and questions. Please direct your queries to Steven Weiss, telephone 202- 478-5680, or Sarah Hardesty Bray, vice president, communications, telephone 202-478-5683.

    - END -

    SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
    Dec. 11, 1998
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