Behind the News

Forgiven Debt Plan: Curb Your Enthusiasm

Student loan program revisions

Student loan debt has been steadily rising for a number of years and has recently passed the $1 trillion mark, making it more than credit card debt. The issue has had attention all along, but there is more of a focus on it as recent graduates are having a hard time finding jobs that would enable them to repay those loans.

Report: Actions for Completion

The oft-noted statistics are grim: only about half of college students complete any degree or certificate within six years, according to the Information Center for Higher Education Policy Making and Analysis. In the fall of 2010, public policy firm HCM Strategists and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a series of conversations for institutional leaders dedicated to increasing success for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. HCM staff also conducted interviews with 30 campus leaders.

Filling a Vegan Need in Texas

Think that a vegan diet is an oxymoron in cattle country? Not so at the University of North Texas, which has made following a plant-based diet very much a reality by building the Mean Greens dining hall. The idea for the vegan-only hall was developed out of student demand, and served an average of 4,500 students a day in the first week after opening August 22, shares Ken Botts, director of special programs for UNT Dining Services. “Students vote with their feet,” he says. “By showing they really, really liked it, we knew we made the right decision.”

New Best Workplace Report

In August, Glassdoor.com, an anonymous workforce review site, created a "Best Universities to Work For" report based on user-submitted information. The University of Kansas came out on top with a score of 4.2 (very satisfied) and a president approval rating of 100 percent. Iowa State, Brigham Young (Utah) and Georgia Tech were all hot on Kansas' heels with scores of 4.1.

When food can kill

Next steps for food allergy awareness and emergency preparedness

In the event of a severe allergic reaction, a delay of even a few minutes in getting an epinephrine injection can make a scary situation deadly. That appears to be what happened to Kennesaw State University (Ga.) student Tyler Cody Davis, who, on August 18, ate at the campus dining hall, later returned there in distress to seek emergency assistance, and not long after was pronounced dead at a local hospital, according to a KSU statement.

Presidential Brand Power

The presidential primary calendar is kicking off in just a couple months, and this is good news for those colleges and universities able to leverage the momentum of the presidential election process every four years to help gain visibility.

Degree Matters: Promoting the Payoff

As students returned to campus this year, administrators had the chance to motivate them to succeed in school with findings of the most recent study on how college degrees are critical to economic opportunity. Conducted by The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, with support from the Lumina Foundation, the study found that those with a bachelor's degree now make 84 percent more over a lifetime than those with only a high school diploma, up from 75 percent in 1999.

Magic is Hard Work

Most people go to Disney to relax and have fun. For the past three years, David Zanolla, a communication instructor at Western Illinois University, has taken students in his Disney World Communication Culture course to see the principles they learn about in class in action. "The people who needed the most convincing were the parents," he says, adding that the spring break timeframe is usually thought of as party time. But with a daily schedule of 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., students have a full plate.

Transparency for South Carolina

The South Carolina Higher Education Efficiency and Administrative Policies Act, signed into law on August 3 by Gov. Nikki Haley, is a big step for transparency in South Carolina's public institutions. The twofold law requires them to post all purchasing transactions online and eliminates portions of the timely and costly process for having new facilities or major purchases approved.

People Watch

University of California, San Diego Chancellor Mary Anne Fox has announced she will step down in June 2012 after nearly eight years of service. The 2010 recipient of the National Medal of Science, Fox will return to the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry to teach and conduct research. During Fox's tenure, UC San Diego successfully completed a $1 billion-dollar capital campaign, celebrated the campus' 50th anniversary, and expanded at an unprecedented pace to accommodate increasing numbers of students and a billion-dollar research enterprise.

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