Thursday, April 30, 2009

You know its a bad recession when

They sell the president's house.

KNOXVILLE — The University of Tennessee may sell the Georgian mansion that has been the official home of university presidents and chancellors since 1960.

Two UT trustee committees will meet next week in Nashville to consider putting the 11,000-square-foot, four-story house in Knoxville's toney Sequoyah Hills up for sale.

UT spokeswoman Gina Stafford says the timing is right for the university. UT is between presidents and is trying to save money. Resigned President John Petersen will have to be out by the end of May.

The house was last appraised at $90,000 in 1960. Former Presidents Wade Gilley and John Shumaker spent more than $1.3 million on it from 2001 to 2003.

Stafford says the next UT president will probably get a housing allowance.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Georgia Adult Education Association

Annual Meeting next month is free! This is the first case I've seen where an organization is waiving the registration fee for its annual meeting. I know from attending this conference in the past that they have built a good financial reserve, but this is an interesting step. They do a wonderful job fundraising with a silent auction, and use the revenue primarily scholarships. I wonder if other organizations will follow suit with free registration, or will they be forced to charge for budgetary reasons?

From the GAEA website at

It's Conference Time!

Greetings GAEA!

It's spring in Georgia and that means it's almost time for another GAEA Annual Meeting! This year the meeting is scheduled for May 12, 2009. Central Georgia Technical College will host what we believe will be our first ever drive-in, one day conference. Given recent events and their impact on all programs we felt that it was more important than ever to gather and discuss the timely and important issues facing continuing education in Georgia. But, with cuts to travel budgets and heavier
workloads, a lengthy conference just wasn’t possible.

So this year, in support of our membership, we are pleased to announce a one-day meeting, free to our members, where we highlight and discuss the topics burning in the minds of Georgia’s CE leaders. Appropriately, our theme is HOT! HOT! HOT!

Yes, I said "Free"!

In our recent survey many members indicated that travel and conference fees just weren’t in the budget. But students aren’t the only ones who should update their skills and knowledge. Educators and program planners must also expand their expertise. Our program planners rallied their arguments and convinced the board that GAEA should foot the bill for this gathering. A paid 2009 membership to GAEA this year will include all conference fees.

Who should plan to attend this conference? Anybody who wants to discuss exciting
trends, pitfalls to avoid, and potential growth opportunities for lifelong learning should register. In a single day we’ll discuss a wide range of topics, none of which you’ll want to miss. Watch our website for announcements and please make plans to attend. The strength of GAEA is based in representation from all BOR and TCES schools. We’ve gone the extra mile to make it easy and hope you’ll join us in Macon.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Park University

Receives grant to work with veterans. ACHE is a partner in Park's grant; look for more news in upcoming Five Minutes with ACHE.

20 Colleges Receive Grants for Military Veterans

The Wal-Mart Foundation and the American Council on Education today identified 20 colleges as recipients of Success for Vets Grants, meant to help them develop innovative ways to help veterans make the transition from military service to college.

Each winner can use its $100,000 award to “accelerate the development of programs they already had in place,” said James Selbe, assistant vice president for lifelong learning at the council.

Many of the winning proposals include plans to enhance veteran-support services, train faculty members to be aware of veterans’ needs, and create orientation programs about useful resources on and near the campus. Oregon’s Clackamas Community College, for example, plans to “develop standards for awarding credit for
military training and experience,” an issue that has long been raised by veterans seeking college degrees. Colorado State University plans to establish a national honor society for student veterans.

Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation, said colleges need to embrace “an influx of veterans next year and the following year.” The 20 colleges serve about 25,000 veterans this year and will probably see at least 30,000 next year, once new GI benefits go into effect.

Eliminating off-campus centers

at Northern Arizona. And hindering access, as well.

Northern Arizona University will lay off 45 employees and close four satellite campuses because of state funding cuts, the Arizona Republic reports. Most of the positions are in the distance learning and enrollment departments. They do not include any faculty members. The layoffs are in addition to 100 positions that have been left unfilled.

The four satellite campuses are in Nogales, Payson, Globe, and Holbrook, and officials also are closing dorm computer labs and suspending plans for occupational therapy and physician-assistant programs. Further layoffs are possible, as are universitywide furloughs next year.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Continuing higher education

At community colleges may thrive with the passage of this legislation. It needs our support.

Unemployed and need to learn new skills to get hired again, but can't afford the tuition to go back to school? Help may be on the way. Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania is pushing for a new law that aims to pay community colleges nationwide $1,000 per student to retrain laid-off workers. Casey's bill would set up the Unemployment Tuition Assistance Program as part of the Department of Labor (DOL). People filing for unemployment benefits would be notified that tuition assistance may be available to them, and colleges that volunteer to participate would register with DOL for reimbursement, which Casey says would come from existing funds already allocated to job retraining in the department's budget.

Read the whole story at Tuition Help for the Unemployed Gains Traction

The best new terminology I discovered

while traveling to the ACHE Midyear Board Meeting. They came from Delta Sky magazine, of all places.

Blackberry Jam \BLAK-ber-ee jam\ noun: Delay caused by a person walking slowly, nose glued to PDA.

Brickberry \BRIK-ber-ee\ noun: The old clunker of a phone you're using while your iPhone is being repaired.

Brodown \BRO-doun\ noun: Boys' night out.

ShyPod \SHI-pod\ noun: Someone who won't share his or her iPod for fear of being exposed as a disco/country/Neil Diamond lover. [In the spirit of full disclosure, I have the Village People, Shania Twain, and Neil Diamond all on my iPhone. And--sigh--Michael Buble']

Textrovert \TEX-trow-vert\ noun: Someone who's comfortable revealing emotion via his or her thumbs.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Scenes from the ACHE

Midyear Board Meeting. The meeting was held on the campus of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. It was a good meeting, although it could have been chaired better. OU was a wonderful host.

Monday, April 20, 2009

And Arizona State wouldn't give President Obama

An honorary doctorate. I'm glad UT can help balance out the injustice in the universe of honorary degrees. As far as I'm concerned, Dolly is deserving. By the way, the photograph is Dolly's bedroom in her old touring bus. I waited in line a half hour to take a look at Dollywood last year. From the

Dolly Parton fans hoping to catch a glimpse of the entertainer receiving an honorary doctorate during University of Tennessee commencement ceremonies May 8 will have to see her elsewhere, unless they're a graduate or a graduate's official guest.

The commencement for the College of Arts and Sciences is at Thompson-Boling Arena, and it "will be at full capacity" due to high interest in Parton's appearance, UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said Thursday in a memo to UT faculty, staff and students. For full story, click here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

My alma mater

Is number 9! And one of my sons is attending number 7. And we finally have a quantifiable bikini criterion. Endless drunken arguments can be laid to rest. From

Playboy magazine on Friday named the University of Miami as the top party school in the United States based on five criteria that included a nod to brainpower.

The adult magazine, which has only occasionally published the party college list in the past but will now turn it into an annual feature, ranked the schools on campus life, sports, sex and academics, or "brains," as Playboy put it.

As a last criteria, Playboy included "bikini" which combined weather, guy-to-girl ratio and cheerleaders.

But absent from the credentials were college bars and parties that exist on the fringe of campus life.

"In order to make the list, you had to be a school where fun happens, so we threw that out and went to other criteria," said Playboy Assistant Editor Rocky Rakovic.

Rakovic also said it was hard to quantify just exactly what made a good bar scene from campus to campus, because each location had its specific attributes.

"You can't say keg party at Arizona State is much better than bar crawl at (University of) Wisconsin," he explained.

On the subject of brainpower, Rakovic said that criteria was important because, after all, "you are in college for a reason, to get an education."

Judging the intelligence of U.S. university students turned into a rather scientific equation, too, using things like grade point averages, freshman retention and Princeton academic reviews, then giving them a numerical weight and averaging results.

The one surprise, Rakovic said, could be the No. 6 school University of Wisconsin because the "bikini" ranking favored schools with warm weather climates.

Playboy began ranking party colleges 20 years ago. The full list is in
the magazine's May issue and on the Internet at http://www.playboydigitalcom/.

The top 10 party schools are below in order of rank:

1) University of Miami
2) University of Texas (Austin)
3) San Diego State University
4) University of Florida
5) University of Arizona
6) University of Wisconsin (Madison)
7) University of Georgia
8) Louisiana State University
9) University of Iowa
10) West Virginia University

Be glad you don't draw a paycheck

From this Tennessee institution. Because you wouldn't be. From the

Lambuth University officials announced Tuesday that the Jackson, Tenn., school will not be able to make its regularly scheduled payroll today.

The business office was informed Monday that an anticipated line of credit would not be available as previously thought, according to a news release from the university.

Jerry Israel, interim president of Lambuth, broke the news to the faculty and staff at a meeting in the R.E. Womack Chapel Tuesday afternoon.

Israel said Tuesday evening that he did not know how soon the university would be able to pay employees.

"It might be a day, it may be two," Israel said. "It may be relatively short-lived, but we won't know until it is over."

The university's financial difficulty is directly related to the credit crunch that has spread from Wall Street to communities throughout the country, Israel said.

"The banks don't have the flexibility, and it is much more difficult to get credit," Israel said.

He said the university's endowment investments were also directly impacted by the recent drop in the stock market, restricting the university's collateral and options.

"We were having a tight year, so this was a double whammy," Israel said. "But we have a plan A, B, C, D, E and F right now."

Israel said he could not provide specific information but he was confident that one of the plans would allow the university to make the payroll.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Missed this one

Last Sunday on Easter. Swedish Easter Witches...

Many of the things you don't know about Easter have to do with odd, intensely national Holy Week traditions. So why not start off with the most unexpected one — the Easter Witch. In Sweden and parts of Finland, a mini-Halloween takes place on either the Thursday or Saturday before Easter. Little girls dress up in rags and old clothes, too-big skirts and shawls and go door to door with a copper kettle looking for treats.

The tradition is said to come from the old belief that witches would fly to a German mountain the Thursday before Easter to cavort with Satan. On their way back, Swedes would light fires to scare them away, a practice honored today by the bonfires and fireworks across the land in the days leading up to Sunday.

Lottery sales are up

in Tennessee, but not everywhere. Tennessee Lottery sales during February set a record that surpasses every other month since its inception more than five years ago. “Not only is this great news for the education programs we fund, but also for the thousands who are winning prizes and having fun,” said Rebecca Hargrove, President and CEO of the Tennessee Lottery. Sales during February were $108,735,847, which breaks the previous record of $104,451,421 set during February 2006.

By Andrea Stone, USA TODAY

State lotteries are down on their luck as players cut back on games of chance.

From California, where sales for the past year are down 5%, to Florida, where sales slipped 7%, fewer people are gambling on scratch-off tickets and numbers games.

"The economy probably has affected lottery sales the way it's affected all discretionary spending," says David Gale of the North American Association of State and Provincial Lotteries.

About half of Americans buy lottery tickets, according to a 2008 Gallup Poll. Profits from the $60 billion spent provided nearly $18 billion for education, transit and other state services. As tax revenue declines, those proceeds are needed.

Some lotteries are flush. In Minnesota, sales for the last quarter were up 6% from 2008. That may be because casino revenues have fallen, says William Eadington, director of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada-Reno. "People are substituting cheaper gambling," he says.

The American Distance Education Consortium

website lists some useful assumptions and principles for distance education. You've probably seen similar "best practices," but these are good to have in your arsenal when you have to defend non-traditional instruction. Or your budgets.

ADEC Guiding Principles for Distance Teaching and Learning

Basic Assumptions

The principles that lend themselves to quality face-to-face learning environments are often similar to those found in web-based learning environments.

With all forms of media converging to a digital platform, advanced educational technology may include a variety of learning environments and information appliances.

While rapidly emerging technologies offer unlimited potential for virtual learning environments for both face-to-face as well as distance learners, practical application of existing technologies may often prove highly effective for various audiences and objectives.


The learning experience must have a clear purpose with tightly focused outcomes and objectives.

The learner is actively engaged.

The learning environment makes appropriate use of a variety of media.

Learning environments must include problem-based as well as knowledge-based learning.

Learning experiences should support interaction and the development of communities of interest.

The practice of distance learning contributes to the larger social mission of education and training in a democratic society.
ADEC Guiding Principles for Distance Teaching and Learning

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A free University Business

Web Seminar.

Engage and Inspire Them: How to Harness Lecture-Capture Technology to Improve Student Retention, Satisfaction and Grades

Wednesday, May 13, 2009 at 2pm, ET

Many of today's students juggle the demands of work, family, and study. Economic conditions, time, and geographical limitations impede their ability to access education and complete their selected programs. "Lecture capture" technology has proven to be an invaluable resource for bridging this gap. But can a lecture capture system really improve student retention, satisfaction and grades? Can it impact student engagement and increase participation in the classroom? Does the ability to review lectures multiple times, in part or in whole, from any location at anytime, using a browser, iPod or cell phone truly enhance students' ability to learn and grasp concepts? More
Brought to you by Tegrity

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I hope my level

Is still off somewhere in the future. The Peter Principle is reissued today in a 40th Anniversary Edition. Remember the terms Hierarchiology, Level of Incompetence, Percussive Sublimation ("being kicked upstairs: a pseudo promotion") and Peter's Circumambulation ("a detour around a super-incumbent," who is "a person above you who, having reached his level of incompetence, blocks your path to promotion.")?

The following excerpt comes from the new preface by Bob Sutton, a Stanford management professor.

A new look at "The Peter Principle"

Dr. Peter observed that one reason so many employees are incompetent is that that the skills required to get a job often have nothing to do with what is required do the job itself. The skills required to run a great political campaign have little to do with the skills required to govern. There is nothing about being a great surgeon that prepares a doctor to run a hospital. Learning to be a great litigator in no way prepares a lawyer to run a law firm. Many organizations, from hospitals to law firms, use such standards to select new leaders—yet devote little or no attention to their management skills. They often end up with lousy leaders and lose their best individual performers. These observations remain just as true in 2009 as they did in 1969.

Or consider Dr. Peter's counterintuitive claim that "in most hierarchies, super-competence is more objectionable than incompetence." He warned that extremely skilled and productive employees often face criticism, and are fired if they don't start performing worse. Their presence "disrupts and therefore violates the first commandment of hierarchical life: the hierarchy must be preserved." Unfortunately, this pattern persists in many modern organizations. Several fantastic teachers that I know at prestigious universities have been pressured by peers and leaders to do a worse job of teaching because "you are making everyone else look bad." One of these professors insists that he received tenure partly because he worked to earn teaching evaluations that were no better than those of the professors who evaluated his case.

The green door

closes. Former Ivory Snow model and Personal Choice Party Vice President candidate Marilyn Chambers died on Monday.

The sad news is that Chambers, to quote the title from a 1974 movie she did not appear in, is 99 and 44/100% dead. The actress was discovered last night in her mobile home in Santa Clarita, near Los Angeles, by her teenage daughter McKenna Taylor, from the last of Chambers' three marriages. An autopsy will be performed; foul play is not suspected.
She lived in a trailer?

A Tennessee university

announces three-year degrees. Meh. By attending in the summer, students can complete a degree two semesters sooner. They're still enrolled for a total of eight semesters; however, the same amount as if they had attended for four years without summers. Unless I'm missing something, I don't see how you save money if you live the same number of semesters on campus (perhaps summer room and board is priced differently), but you do start earning a salary as a college graduate earlier. So you can start paying back those student loans sooner.

Lipscomb to offer 3-year degree programs

Lipscomb University announced today it would offer three-year bachelor’s degree programs as part of an initiative aimed at giving greater access to community college students and veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The program would allow students in 54 majors to complete their studies in three calendar years, including two summer semesters. Students could save more than $10,000 in tuition, room and board through the compact schedule, according to school estimates.

Private colleges and universities would have to take a lead role in increasing educational access for students to avoid greater government regulation, Lipscomb President Randy Lowry said.

“This is a very vital and important segment of education, and this segment needs to be responsive, as it has been, to the students that can benefit from what we do,” Lowry said.

Sen. Lamar Alexander, who attended the announcement today, vehemently opposed the Higher Education Act reauthorization that was signed into law last August, saying it placed too many federal demands on states and schools. “The federal government, whenever it gets involved, has a bad habit of creating piles of rules and regulations you have to administer and fill out for nobody to read,” Alexander said.

Visitor from the Land

Down Under. I spent a delightful morning with David Foote, who works in the Vocational Education and Training area of Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE. It's located in the Northeast area of Victoria, Australia. His area of expertise is Agriculture but because of his role, he has a broad interest in Adult Education. From what I could gather, his organization operates in a fashion similar to our university extension service. David and I share in-laws, which makes us sort of family. He's a great guy, and now we have a standing offer of a place to stay if we visit Australia.

Eduventures survey

Recession Has Changed Views Among Prospective Adult Students, Study Finds

Nearly half of adult students believe the value of education has increased over the last year due to the economic crisis, according to a survey released this week by Eduventures Inc., an education-consulting firm.

Twenty-five percent of respondents said the value had not changed significantly. And only 20 percent said the value of additional education had decreased, meaning that they believed it was less likely to earn them a raise or better job.

At the same time, the survey found that the economy had affected the plans of prospective adult students in different ways. Thirty-six percent of respondents said the economy had caused them to "slow down or delay" plans to pursue education, while 31 percent said the economy had had little or no effect. Meanwhile, 18 percent said the economy had prompted them to think about furthering their education although it had not previously been a priority, and 12 percent said the economy had led them to pursue educational goals sooner than they had planned.

"It's a complex fabric of things," said Sean Gallagher, a program director and senior analyst at Eduventures. "The foundation for all the assumptions about enrollment indicators has really been disrupted by the economy."

Speed, Flexibility, and Career Focus

The survey reflected those disruptions. Many prospective adult students said they were more likely than before to pursue a course or program with more flexible scheduling (59 percent); to complete a course or degree quickly (52 percent); to enroll in a course with a career focus (47 percent); or to enroll in an online course or program (42 percent).

More prospective adult learners would also focus more than before on cost and financial assistance, the survey found. Sixty-one percent said they were more likely to look for a scholarship, and 59 percent said they were more likely to enroll in a less-expensive course or program. Respondents were divided on the subject of taking on debt: Thirty-one percent said they were more likely to take out a student loan, while 29 percent said they were less likely to do so.

Finally, many students said they were worried about their ability to continue their education once they started, a concern that could influence their enrollment decisions. Forty-three percent said they were worried that they would have to drop out if they lost their jobs, and 37 percent were concerned about the time away from their job that pursuing an education would require.

"Consumer confidence is really the key thing here," Mr. Gallagher said. "There are some real potential changes in students' behavior that could impact enrollments and the viability of programs at certain institutions."

The survey was of 1,500 adults who had indicated that they planned to enroll in a course or program within the next two years. Eighty-three percent of the respondents were employed at the time of the survey, which was conducted in February. The average age of the respondents was 38.

Copies of the report are available only to Eduventures clients.

To help the economy

We just bought the Wii Fit. I'm sad to report that my avatar is overweight. I don't don't what's wrong with the lazy s.o.b. Maybe I can leave the unit on, so he can exercise while I'm at work.

Writing that cover letter has some good advice on writing a cover letter for a community college job. In fact, it's good advice for almost any academic cover letter. Here a sample:

Explicitly match the description of your skills to the requirements of the job as it is posted.

Since the subject of your letter is way you’ll fit the institution, show yourself to be professionally active and intellectually engaged.

Offer generous specific examples from your teaching or other relevant experience in order to provide the audience with information they’ll find helpful.

Show your interest not only in the topic, your fit for the college, but connect with the audience evoked in all teaching, the students.

Avoid the salutation “To Whom It May Concern."

Read the rest at Writing a Cover Letter for a Community College Job

Monday, April 13, 2009

I may have mentioned that

iPhone downloads appear to be popular. As in over one billion served, popular.

Apple expects to move the 1 billionth download of an iPhone App over the next few days, and is running a countdown on its site to honor the big moment.

To whet your whistle, Apple is staging a contest for downloaders. Prizes include a $10,000 iTunes gift card, Macbook Pro and iPod Touch. On the page, Apple also offers a chart of the top 20 best-selling Apps ever. Here's the top 5 in the free and paid categories:

1. Facebook
2. Google Earth
3. Pandora
4. Tap Tap Revenge
5. Shazam

1. Crash Bandicott Nitro
2. Koi Pond
3. Enigmo
4. Bejeweled 2
5. IBeer

ACHE South

and LACHE 2009 Annual Conference

Hilton Capitol Center
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
April 27-29, 2009

NEW: a Tuesday-only Day rate
of $115.00 and a Grad student rate of $75.00

For the Conference Program, Click Here
To register for the conference, visit

For more information, contact:
Thad Laiche
LSU Continuing Education

The winner of the 186th annual

Peters Hollow Egg Fight, held each Easter. From the Johnson City Press:

Egg fight historians say the first fight began in 1823. It’s believed to be one of the oldest continuing competitions in the country. Every Easter Sunday crowds of people flock to the backyard of Norman Peters’ home for a time of
fellowship, competition and fun.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What to do this month in Tennessee

April's Festivals & Fairs.
They're expecting 40,000 visitors to South Pittsburg, Tennessee? I don't even know where that is! Anyway, I can hardly wait for the 14th Annual RC and Moon Pie Festival in Bell Buckle. And don't call it Belt Buckle.

April 16 -April 18, 2009
Rivers & Spires Festival
Clarksville, Tennessee
Showcases heritage, tells history, honors our military heroes, culivates the arts,tourism, 5 stages, free
Estimated attendees-30,000

April 17 -April 18, 2009
Old Time Bluegrass and Fiddler's Jamboree
Holladay, Tennessee
Estimated attendees-1000

April 18 -April 19, 2009
Home Grown & Hand Made
Pikeville, Tennessee
2nd Annual Tennessee Volunteer Gourd Society's Annual Gourd/Craft Show
Estimated attendees-1000

April 24 -April 25, 2009
Brimstock Bluegrass Festival
Moss, Tennessee
Free Camping - Fun Dog Show - Corn Toss - Family Fun Weekend
Estimated attendees-1000

April 25 -April 26, 2009
National Cornbread Festival
South Pittsburg, Tennessee
National Cornbread Cook-off, live entertainment,arts & crafts, and food vendors
Estimated attendees-40,000

April 25 -April 25, 2008
Earth Day
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Free family-friendly event at the Civic Center. Music, exhibits, lectures, activities, food
Estimated attendees-7000

Friday, April 10, 2009

College freshmen

And the recession. Intuitively, we could expect more students to live at home and commute to school, more students to attend community colleges, and more students to attend in-state. As far as adult students go, cost and location have always been crucial and cost has certainly moved to the forefront.

A recent survey found that the recession is forcing more than 70 percent of prospective college students to alter their plans for the upcoming school year, sometimes in drastic ways. When asked how their college plans might change, 53 percent of students said they are considering attending a less expensive college, and 47 percent said they are planning to work as freshmen. Many incoming freshmen are also likely to rely more heavily on financial aid counseling (43 percent) and to borrow more heavily (38 percent).

The survey, which drew responses from 1,030 households representing a wide range of incomes in all 50 states, reveals the heightened anxiety of the 2009 freshman class. Only 28 percent of the respondents said the recession has no influence on their college enrollment plans. Longmire & Co., the educational consulting firm that conducted the survey, says there is also a great deal of parental confusion about financial aid. Only 17 percent of surveyed parents said that they are "extremely amiliar" with aid available to them.

While cost has not become the "overriding factor" in choosing a college, 16 percent of families in the study said it will most likely dictate their decision this year, compared with past years' average of 12 percent. New England has the largest proportion of students (64 percent) who are considering attending a less expensive college; the West has the largest share of students (14 percent) who said they will probably forgo attending a four-year college and instead enroll in a community college, where tuition is typically lower.

Nationwide, 24 percent of surveyed students who were considering enrolling in a private college say they are now likely to attend a public one. They also plan to save money by attending a college that's close to home (38 percent) or by living at home while attending college (21 percent). The margin of error in the survey is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

In Suddenly Last Supper

Jeremy Barker posts 50 pop culture parodies of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.

Here's the iPhone Last Supper.

From Five Minutes with ACHE

This is a reprint of my recent column from Five Minutes...

Continuing Higher Education and the President’s Priorities

It didn’t take him long. Before he finished his first 50 days in office, President Barack Obama identified higher education as one of his governing priorities. And although we weren’t specifically named, our continuing higher education community has a major role to play.

In his address to a joint session of Congress last month, the President called for every American to pursue some form of education beyond high school. His goal is to have the world’s highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. It’s a lofty goal. Currently, the United States ranks 10th, with 39% of 25-34 year olds holding an associate degree or higher. Our neighbor, Canada, ranks significantly higher.

Following his address, President Obama released the broad outlines of his first budget, a budget that contains—using the language of American Council on Education’s president, Molly Corbett Broad—“unprecedented commitment to student access." Obama’s budget supports a $5,550 Pell Grant maximum award in 2010-2011, and its funding will automatically increase each year to keep pace with inflation. The budget seeks to stabilize the federal student loan program and expand the Perkins Loan Program to make its funds available to more students at more colleges and universities. The President’s budget will make permanent the $2,500 tuition tax credit for college spending that was a part of the stimulus package. The budget includes a $2.5 billion Access and Completion Incentive Fund for states to help low-income students complete college. The budget also includes support for the effective implementation of the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

What does this mean for continuing higher education? It means a lot. After all, we are all about access. ACHE’s roots are in college evening programs, programs designed to increase access to higher education for working adults and nontraditional students. In fact, we were originally known as the Association of University Evening Colleges. We have a history of serving the underserved, although our efforts have been hampered by tight economic times. While many take Obama’s remarks to be directed at traditional-aged students, they’re equally applicable to older students. Our accelerated degree programs, online programs, evening and off-campus programs, military education programs, capstone programs—all can help meet this goal. While we can do more, some of our most innovative programs target traditionally underserved populations, a vital group to reach to increase college participation and completion. Our non-credit and workforce education programs can put unemployed and under-employed folks back on stable footing. And many of the President’s priorities will strengthen the traditional sides of our technical schools, colleges and universities, thereby enabling continuing education to grow and blossom.

Still, it would be nice to be a face at the table. For all of his talk about higher education, the President did not mention adult education, continuing education or lifelong learning. This is, of course, our constant struggle. We’re often little recognized in our own institutions, our own states—let alone on the national stage. But we’re not completely ignored. In a new report that parallels Obama’s interest in increasing college attainment, the Lumina Foundation for Education’s, A Stronger Nation Through Higher Education: How and Why Americans Must Meet a “Big Goal” for College Attainment, throws the first pitch directly to continuing higher education:

Still, the challenge is far from insurmountable, in part because we’re not starting from scratch. In every state, there are significant numbers of the working-age population who have already earned some college credit. If we focus first on these residents — those who have some college but have not yet earned a degree — we can begin to turn the tide fairly quickly.

We are ready to help. We need to let President Obama and the Congress know that we have, as we say here in ACHE South, a dog in this hunt. And it’s a bigger dog than most folks realize.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Call for proposals

for the Adult Higher Education Alliance's 29th annual conference.
Call for Proposals
We invite you to submit a proposal for presenting at our annual conference in Chicago. We invite proposals that are organized in the best spirit of adult learning; they will provoke active participation and questioning, they will enhance our work as scholars-practitioners, and allow for a range of ideas and points of view to be expressed. We value presentations that are grounded in solid research as well as those that provide creative approaches to stimulating adult learning that are based in practice. Review the AHEA 2009 Call for Proposals (PDF/112KB) criteria and guidelines. Our emphasis is on interactive sessions which engage conference attendees. Complete and submit an AHEA Proposal Form (Word/31KB) by the deadline of May 15, 2009.

I may have mentioned that

I love my iPhone. So does Matt Selman. I think, he does, anyway. Here's his iPhone Terms of Service Agreement

1) I agree that whenever I have my iPhone on my person, I will never be fully mentally present. If I am at work, I will be thinking about my iPhone. If I am with my wife, I will be thinking about my iPhone. If I am awake and near my iPhone, I will be thinking about my iPhone.

2) I agree that I will not check my email ten times a day on the computer. I will check my email 10,000 times a day on my iPhone.

3) I agree that I will let my kids take endless blurry photos of the dog with the iPhone camera. At work, I will painstakingly erase these photos instead of working.

4) I agree that I will immediately shut off the AT&T 3G network, as it is still slow as Hell and drains the batteries fast as Hell and doesn't really seem much faster.

5) I agree I will never use any of the apps I install – except “LOSE IT!” –which I will enter my daily food intake with the obsessiveness of a lifelong anorexic.

6) I agree I will not feel jealousy as I watch my friends with Blackberries write email and text in actual typing speed, instead of super-slow and careful typo-ridden iPhone speed.

7) I agree I will not install any game apps on my iPhone. Seriously, that would be the end of me. Seriously.

8 ) I agree I will not enter my “Lose It!” information while driving. Or at least, I will look around to make sure no cops are looking while I input "tangerine - medium - 50 calories."

9) I agree I will stop telling my wife, “No, really – this thing is better than Star Trek! Could Spock go jogging and then go online and see his exact route around the neighborhood with how fast he was going? Could he? Could Spock do that???”

10) I agree to stroke the thick, heavy, magic-seeming, temperature-cool glass surface of the touch screen with a sensuality I have never bestowed upon a human being.

Monday, April 6, 2009

What's wrong with

Just serving Two Buck Chuck?

The University of California at San Francisco has told medical faculty members that they cannot spend more than $75 in university money on a bottle of wine at a recruitment dinner or other official event, The San Francisco Chronicle reported. A by-the-glass limit of $15 was also set. A spokesman said that most professors understand the need to limit such spending, but that there have been periodic incidents that prompted the new rules. He noted one recently rejected expense voucher for a dinner for six people where half the bill was for wine.
Medical Faculty Told to Limit Wine Spending to $75 a Bottle

Distance education community college enrollments

keep growing according to a report released at the American Association of Community Colleges annual meeting. From

A national survey of colleges by the Instructional Technology Council, an affiliate of the community college group, found that distance enrollments grew 11.3 percent from fall 2006 to fall 2007, the most recent period for which full data are available. Last year, the survey found an increase of 18 percent over the previous year. Given several recent years of significant gains in distance enrollments, such increases "could not be sustained indefinitely," says the report. It also notes that the administrators who provided answers for the survey said that they faced resource constraints on expanding distance programs.

Indeed the top three challenges listed by distance education administrators in the survey, identical to last year's results, all related to resources needed to expand distance programs while keeping them at high quality: support staff for training and technical assistance, student services for distance students, and operating and equipment budgets.

Even if the rate of growth has slowed, the report notes that distance enrollments are increasing at a faster rate than are other enrollments. And in a further sign that distance enrollments are not likely to plateau any time soon, the study notes that 70 percent of respondents said that student demand for distance options at their institutions exceeds current offerings.

See the whole story at Rise in Distance Enrollments.

Greetings from

Hedgesville, West Virginia and the ACHE Mid-Atlantic regional meeting. Here I am with the new Mid-Atlantic Chair, Jim Duffy.

Early bird registration

ends soon for the National Institute on the Assessment of Adult Learning 2009: The Next Generation conference.

June 10 - 12
Princeton. N.J.

The National Institute on the Assessment of Adult Learning provides an intensive learning experience for professionals in education who are involved, or have recently become involved in the assessment of adult learning. Assessing adult learning encompasses many areas, such as:
Prior Learning Assessment (PLA)
Authentication of adult learners
Assessing adult learning in all kinds of distance education settings
Assessment methodologies for distance education settings

The main goals of the National Institute are to address issues of interest to novices and experienced professionals alike, such as the development and growth of assessment programs (including a PLA program), student advising, faculty development, research, quality assurance, and current issues and trends. The National Institute also serves as a venue to share experiences in a casual environment and to network with colleagues. The National Institute is sponsored annually by Thomas Edison State College, in cooperation with the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning.

For more information, contact Joyce Archer (609) 984-1130, ext. 3205, or

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Welcome to

The big city.
I know I'm a small town boy, but I got my first exposure to Boston culture at Logan International Airport. Once you arrive, to get a taxi, you get in line and an airport employee identifies the cab that you are supposed to hire. I asked her "Do they all take plastic" and she told me no but gave me no other information. Then she points me to my taxi. I ask the driver if he takes a credit card and he says no so the gatekeeper motions me to stand next to her. In the meantime, she's pointing folks to taxis and yelling at them for going to the wrong one. She must have said something to me because the next thing I know she's snapping her fingers in my face and telling me to go to the taxi pulling up ahead. It must be comforting to know that you have a job in the afterlife--traffic cop in hell.
As I'm getting ready to check out of the Marriott Copley Place, I ask the concierge about reserving me a taxi. He refused, saying they were one of the biggest hotels in Boston, and taxis were always lined up. Okay. I'd never had a concierge refuse to help me before, but at least he had kept his hands out of my face.
When I do leave the hotel, there are exactly two taxis lined up. Neither take plastic. I have enough cash, but it's the principle of the thing with me. The driver, trying to be nice (go figure), tries to explain to me why it doesn't make economic sense for taxis to take credit cards. "Look," I said, "this is the 21st Century. I can pay my mortgage from my phone. You need to take a credit card." It was a quiet trip to the airport. And of course, being a southern gentleman, I tipped him.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Please come to Boston

for the springtime.

I'm on the road to represent ACHE at the UCEA Conference in Boston, MA. Looking forward to it. I haven't been to Boston in years, since I dropped my father-in-law at the airport when we were visiting New Hampshire. It's good to get out of my comfort zone and experience a conference from an outsider's point of view. I haven't been to a UCEA conference in a long time, and while I expect to know quite a few folks there, it's still a new environment and a new learning experience.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I may have mentioned that

That I love my iPhone, iVanna. Now if it can only find me a Red Sox bar here in Boston this week...

New iPhone app finds nearby sports bars

As March Madness enters the Sweet 16 and Major League Baseball prepares for Opening Day, you might be thinking about where to meet your pals to watch a game.

Well, technology can lend a hand. I’ve been testing a cool (and free) iPhone app, FanFinder Mobile (right), to find sports bars. The best part is that you can sort bars by team loyalties.

So, for example, if you’re a Michigan State alumnus, you can find Chicago bars that cater to Spartan fans. If you root for Purdue, you can search for the bars that welcome Boilermakers. If you’re a road warrior on a trip during a can’t-miss game, this is a great tool to find a place filled with like-minded fans.

Eric Benderoff in at

A fool

By any other name.

Each country celebrates April Fool’s differently. In France, the April Fool’s is called "April Fish" (Poisson d'Avril). The French fool their friends by taping a paper fish to their friends’ backs and when some discovers a this trick, they yell "Poisson d’Avril"!

In England, tricks can be played only in the morning. If a trick is played on you, you are a "noodle". In Scotland, April Fools Day is 48 hours long and you are called an "April Gowk", which is another name for a cuckoo bird. The second day in Scotland’s April Fool's is called Taily Day and is dedicated to pranks involving the buttocks. Taily Day's gift to posterior posterity is the still-hilarious "Kick Me" sign.

In Portugal, April Fool's is celebrated on the Sunday and Monday before Lent. The traditional trick there is to throw flour at your friends.

Happy All Fools Day