Thursday, September 29, 2016

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The Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education (TACHE) 

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Conference Agenda at a Glance

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East Tennessee State University's
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Johnson City, TN  37614-1707
423-439-8084 (local)
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

U.S. Education Secretary John King visits

Pellissippi State to learn about Tennessee Promise first hand. Leaves impressed, it appears. Across the state, though, Promise hasn't appeared to boost community college enrollments much. I was surprised. From The Atlantic.

Free College Is Not a Fantasy
Last year, President Obama visited this campus to unveil his proposal for tuition-free community college. The location was no accident. A couple of years ago, Tennessee launched the Tennessee Promise, which covers tuition and fees for two-year degrees and credentials for the state’s high-school graduates after Pell grants and a series of other funds and scholarships are exhausted. It is based on a Knoxville plan that had grown to include several other counties in the state. A bipartisan initiative supported by a Republican governor, the idea is to help fill a growing workforce need. 
And it seems to be working. There had been concern that as more students who previously might not have considered college took advantage of the program, college retention might decline. But average retention from the fall to spring semester last school year was above 80 percent, slightly higher than it was before the rollout. And Pellissippi president Anthony Wise said during King’s visit that the college’s Promise students—2,705 of about 10,244 students total—are faring even better academically than many of their non-Promise peers. 
“We want to build on what’s happening here,” King said during a roundtable with students, noting that more than 30 similar programs have cropped up across the country in the last couple of years, including a recently announced plan in Los Angeles. 
Yet not everyone is convinced the strategy can be scaled successfully, or that expanding it to cover four-year degrees, as Clinton’s plan would, makes sense. Robert Boyd, a professor at Pellissippi who brought students in his African American literature class to hear King speak, said he and some of his fellow professors have struggled with how to teach students who arrive on campus unprepared for college-level work. He worries that expanding access to college for more students could exacerbate that problem. “It’s a great idea,” Boyd said of free college, “but the gap is too wide.”

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tennessee places two cities on this list

Of America's ten most affordable cities. Nashville at seven and Memphis at ten. I'm a little surprised Nashville made the list. Louisville tops the list and Lexington comes in at four. From The Financial Word.

10 Most Affordable Cities In America
7) Nashville, TN 
Nashville is one of the more popular cities on this list. Arguably the best music city in the country, with stellar restaurants featuring an array of cuisines, Nashville has everything you want in a city. 
The median household income is around $53,000, with a housing market that provides affordable rentals and housing prices with a median of about $172,000. While this ratio is a little high for this list, Nashville is still amazingly affordable. Tennessee is one of the few states that does not have an income tax, and aside from the tourist areas, most cost of living such as groceries, household items, gas and coffee are below the national average. 
Nashville is one of those great places in the country where you can celebrity watch as if you were in Hollywood, grab a bite to eat at a snazzy joint and have a few drinks while watching an up and coming new band. You can brag later that you saw them before they were famous.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Most beautiful campus?

Rhodes College comes out on top in The Princeton Review's list. Hmmm. Vanderbilt comes in at 11. From The Princeton Review.

Most Beautiful Campus
1. Rhodes College
Memphis, TN
2,046 Enrolled
From the School: Rhodes College is a national, residential liberal arts and sciences college located in historic Memphis, ...

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Tennessee helping ITT Tech students

After it closes its campuses in Nashville, Knoxville, Chattanooga, Cordova and Johnson City. Cordova? The Tennessee Higher Education Commission is trying to help ITT Tech students continue their postsecondary education. Since ITT Tech was not regionally accredited, its students will find it hard to transfer to more reputable institutions. It's more than a "bureaucratic complication." I hope their only option isn't another for-profit. From The Tennessean.

After ITT Tech closure, Tennessee rolls out student supports
During the closure process, the commission will be collecting transcripts for ITT students and building out an email distribution list to keep those students up to date as federal guidance continues to develop. Federal education officials have indicated that some ITT students might be eligible for student loan forgiveness, and Krause said the commission would link students with those resources when possible. 
The commission also is working with state colleges to develop clear transfer options that would allow ITT students to maintain their momentum and switch to other institutions. But bureaucratic complications — ITT had a national accreditation while most Tennessee schools have a different regional accreditation — likely mean that process could take months, not weeks, to iron out.​
Tennessee's commission has received positive attention for its speedy response to the ITT closure. Kim Hunter Reed, a deputy under secretary at the U.S. Department of Education, praised Krause and the commission on Twitter. 
"Grateful to leaders across the country working to assist students with academic transitions," she wrote.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

We have over 400 staff affected

By the new overtime rules. But I've been proud of how we've treated the folks moving from exempt to non-exempt. Those who find their status changed will continue to earn two vacation days; their replacements (and all other non-exempt hires after December 1) will earn one, like all other non-exempt employees. And we won't pay much overtime but will use comp time instead. What will really be interesting is the impact on admission counselors. If they have a distant college fair on a Monday morning and have to drive Sunday night--they're on the clock. But if there are several in the car, only the one driving is being paid. I think. From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Colleges are worried about how to cover the costs of overtime pay that dozens of coaches, counselors, and other employees may soon become entitled to under a new federal rule designed to ensure they're paid equitably. 
The new law, a change to the Fair Labor Standards Act that takes effect in December, makes more full-time salaried employees eligible for overtime pay. Those employees who earn up to $47,000 per year will be eligible for extra pay for work over 40 hours a week; now only those who earn up to $23,000 per year are. 
Colleges are scrambling to sort out who on their campuses will become eligible for overtime pay and how to budget for the increased costs. Any employee whose primary responsibility can be defined as teaching is exempt, but determining that can be complicated. Many of the people likely to fall under the new threshold have a lot of contact with students and work long, often sporadic hours: student-life coordinators, residence-hall directors, athletics staff members, admissions counselors. Administrators are grappling with how to effectively serve students if they need to reduce the hours of some employees who help them. 
Administrators agree that an update to the rule was overdue. While living costs have risen, the salary threshold hadn’t been changed since 2004. But many observers expected a gradual increase. "Doubling it in one step shocked a lot of people," says Scott M. Fitzgerald, director of human resources at Otterbein University.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The South has cut public higher education much more

Than the North. And Tennessee is one of the guilty parties. As others have noted, a few years ago, the state paid two-thirds of the cost of higher education and the student paid one-third. Now it's reversed. Now public institutions operate like they're private colleges with large state grants. From The Hechinger Report.

The new North-South divide: public higher education
Southern states have been disproportionately cutting spending on public higher education, forcing tuition increases that make their colleges and universities among the least affordable for the poorest families — who already face some of the nation’s highest poverty rates — a slew of recent data show. 
This contributes to falling enrollment in states already struggling with some of the nation’s lowest percentages of residents with college educations.
 It’s “a vicious circle,” said Dave Spence, president of the Atlanta-based Southern Regional Education Board, or SREB. “You’ve got a region that’s poor. Why? Because it’s undereducated.” Yet budget cuts keep pushing university and college degrees out of the reach of many. 
Three of the five states that have most reduced their funding per public college and university student from 2008 to 2016  are southern, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan research institute. Louisiana led the way among these southern states with a 39 percent decrease, followed by South Carolina and Alabama. 
It’s “a vicious circle. You’ve got a region that’s poor. Why? Because it’s undereducated.” 
Seven of the 20 states with the deepest cuts in higher-education spending are in the South, another report measuring funding decreases from 2010 to 2015 found. The State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, or SHEEO, said Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina, Alabama and Virginia each decreased spending on public colleges and universities by at least 10 percent. 
That means most of the states with the highest cost of college for families earning less than $30,000 a year are now also in the South, according to a new report from the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Research on Higher Education. In many of those states, about a quarter of the population earns that much or less.