Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The long game

And return on investment.  Roger Williams’ president, Donald Farish, shares his thoughts on the critics of higher education in University Business.

Higher ed is a tough world, but it’s a world we made
The problem is that looking at first-year salaries is a terrible predictor of lifetime earnings, especially with a liberal arts graduate. In the first year many of them are earning very little money, so it looks as if spending all that money on college was a terrible waste. 
But 10 years out there’s a very different picture in place. You have to look at career earnings, or earnings at age 40—something other than just that first job. In the great majority of cases, they end up with a job they enjoy and a salary they find adequate for their needs, and earn about as much as graduates in professional programs. 
To say it’s all about getting a job is throwing in the towel on all the things liberal arts have always aspired to. Many faculty in the liberal arts are horrified about the idea that we’ve been turned into a jobs training program.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Memphis is number four

Our poorest cities.  From CBS Money Watch.

America's 11 poorest cities
4. Memphis, Tennessee
  • Percentage of incomes under $25,000: 34.9%
  • Percentage of population with bachelor's degree: 23.7%
  • Percentage of incomes over $150,000: 4.8% (#30, tied with Columbus)
  • Total population: 650,932
One of the worst unemployment rates for a major American city -- along with a shrinking tax base, urban blight and a high violent crime rate -- all attest to Memphis' economic problems. 
A report by Elena Delavega at the University of Memphis noted the majority of Memphis' poor are black or Hispanic. The city's poverty rates for minorities are higher across every age category, compared to non-Hispanic whites. And she said nearly half of the city's children live below the poverty line. 
"We need to support mothers," she told CBS affiliate WREG last year. "We need child care that is affordable. We need better public transportation." 
Many of the poor in Memphis rely on public transportation to get them to jobs that, due to Tennessee's lack of a minimum wage, are 11 percent below the national average in minimum wage pay.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Know your audience

Good advice for writing.  Good advice for social media marketing. American Express Open Forum.
Some interesting demographic information from

Creating an Effective Social Media Marketing Strategy
Know the Demographics 
Knowing where your target audience hangs out can help you decide which social media channels are more likely to pay dividends for your efforts. There's a wealth of regularly updated research to show a busy small-business owner the audience make-up of the various social media sites. Two sources are Pew Research Internet Project and Business Intelligence. 
Here's the latest we know about the demographics for the most popular social media sites: 
Facebook: Facebook continues to get the giant share of users, with 71 percent of Internet users now using the site. Fully 70 percent visit the site daily, and almost 50 percent engage with the site more than once a day. Thirty-one percent of all seniors aged 65 and over are also spending time here. 
Pinterest: Females dominate Pinterest. Forty-two percent of online women use the site, compared to just 13 percent of online men. 
LinkedIn: This platform attracts 28 percent of all Internet users. A larger proportion of those enrolled in it have a college education. 
Instagram: More than 50 percent of all online young adults, aged 18-29, use Instagram. 
Twitter: Twenty-three percent of online adults use Twitter, and the largest demographic here is those aged 18 to 29. Currently, more men than women are Twitter users. 
Google+: A survey conducted by Forrester shows that approximately 22 percent of the U.S. adult online population visit Google+ each month.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Release the hounds

We're considering adopting an RCM model.  It's appealing in theory, but it requires entrepreneurial and business-minded deans in order to be successful.  Continuing educators, who are often self-supporting, have long operated in this fashion.  But I've heard there's often a big turnover with deans when the model takes over.  Not everyone is a fan.  From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Colleges 'Unleash the Deans' With Decentralized Budgets
The decentralized budget model adopted by Oregon has a long history at some elite institutions and often goes by a jargony name: Responsibility Center Management, or RCM. But it's likely to be increasingly familiar. In recent years, as institutions have struggled with financial pressures amid declining sources of revenue, many more administrators have pushed RCM to "unleash the deans," as the budget model’s advocates like to put it: to give deans and the professors under them a financial incentive to cut costs, find new sources of revenue, and think more strategically about where the college is headed. 
Since 2000, the responsibility-center approach has spread across sectors. Iowa State, Ohio, Rutgers, and Texas Tech Universities have adopted it; so have the Universities of Florida, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Northeastern and Syracuse Universities are among private institutions to have made the move. 
In theory, Responsibility Center Management has an elegant simplicity: A university calculates its revenues and expenses, allocating them to its various colleges and other divisions. Each unit brings in money—through tuition, grants, philanthropy, and other means—and pays "taxes" to the central administration to cover shared services, like the facilities Mr. Foley started tracking at Oregon, plus admissions, student affairs, and so on. 
If a college draws in students or otherwise rakes in money, it gets to keep that for expansion or strategic investments. Colleges with few students or high costs remain poor. For almost two centuries, Harvard University has exemplified this approach, which requires "every tub to stand on its own bottom," as a president put it in the 1800s, adapting a line from The Pilgrim’s Progress
It's a budget model that seems to fit the spirit of the times, given the focus on enterprise amid economic decline. "At a time of lean budgets and difficult decisions, people think of RCM as a way to make clear why they get money when they get money," says David Attis, senior director of academic research at the Education Advisory Board, who studies the model. It has become a popular topic of discussion among institutions, he says, something of a "religion" in higher education, attracting converts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Promises, promises

Free community college works in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Students there succeed at higher rates.  From Inside Higher Education.

Free Community College: It Works
The goal was to “change the conversation about the value of community college” by using a clear message about free tuition, Brookey said. “There is no excuse in our community not to go to college.” 
Each year since the program began, roughly 1,500 local students have accepted that offer and taken on the extra responsibilities that come with it. Roughly one in five graduating high school seniors in Tulsa County participates in Tulsa Achieves, according to the college.
Enrollment numbers are up as a result. And Tulsa Achieves students top their peers in measures of academic performance. They have higher GPAs and retention and graduation rates, and are more likely to complete gateway courses. 
For example, fully half of the first group of students, which first enrolled in 2007, had earned a bachelor's degree, associate degree or certificate by 2014 -- with 48 percent earning degrees (see chart). Only 32 percent of non-Tulsa Achieves students who entered that year earned a credential in the same period. 
The free tuition program's numbers are better than completion rates for community college students nationwide. And subsequent classes of incoming students in Tulsa Achieves are on course for similar completion rates
High numbers of students in Tulsa Achieves transfer to four-year institutions. About 44 percent of the first class transferred, compared to 32 percent of their peers. And 22 percent of the first 1,500 students had earned a bachelor's degree by last fall.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Blue light special

That Kmart reference probably dates me.  Here's Virginia's concept of a bare-bones degree. Should this come to pass, it would a good job for a continuing educator to implement.  We're used to working with multiple institutions to help a student to complete a degree.  From The Washington Post.

Virginia House: State should offer a bachelor’s degree for $16,000
Virginia’s House of Delegates envisions the state offering a bachelor’s degree for the bargain price of $16,000. 
The House unanimously approved a bill by Del. Ben Cline (R-Rockbridge) that would require the state to develop options for a “cooperative” four-year degree priced at about $4,000 a year. The bill envisions students amassing credits through online education, community colleges and four-year colleges. 
“This new offering would help Virginia families access a college education who may have otherwise found it unaffordable. We’re proud of Virginia’s universities that regularly rank among the best in the nation, and this legislation will help more Virginians access that world-class education,” Cline said in a statement.

The idea echoes proposals for a $10,000 bachelor’s degree that emerged a few years ago in Texas, Florida and other states. 
Tuition and fees at the public University of Virginia for state residents total about $13,000 for the current academic year. The comparable annual price at the private University of Richmond and Washington & Lee University is more than $45,000. Those prices don’t include room and board.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Even flagships suffer budget cuts

Cost-cutting measures at the University of Tennessee. The idea below of revoking tenure stirred up UT faculty.  Rightfully so.  Even though higher education may see improvements in state funding, we're still way behind, as Dr. DiPietro points out. From The Tennessean.

UT president: System headed toward $377M funding gap
But it doesn't mitigate the urgency at UT. 
"We're not even back to the state appropriations that we received before the recession," DiPietro said. "The reality is we have to be ready." 
Although chancellors at different UT locations will get the chance to tailor their approaches, DiPietro laid out strategies that could fill the chancellors' "toolboxes" as they look for ways to cut expenses and boost revenues. 
DiPietro said chancellors would be allowed to boost out-of-state enrollments up to 25 percent of the student body. Out-of-state students would bring in significantly more tuition revenue, although DiPietro said schools would continue to enroll the same number of in-state students. Out-of-state students make up about 12 percent of the system's enrollment. 
As part of the cost-saving effort, UT will review the processes of giving and revoking tenure. System administrators will also examine tuition waivers and discounts that aren't funded by the state. Those discounts cost UT an estimated $7.4 million annually. 
DiPietro told the trustees he hoped to avoid filling the funding gap with steep tuition increases. He said the UT system hoped to keep this year's tuition increases within a 0 to 4 percent window.
Trustees were supportive of DiPietro's plan. Some of them noted that tough cuts could encourage state leaders to beef up their support for UT in the future.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Speaking of coffee

Another study discovers possible health benefits to coffee.  Of course, correlation is not causation.  Or so I've heard.  From Time.

Drinking three to five cups of coffee per day may help to reduce signs of blocked arteries, says a new study out of South Korea. 
Published Monday in the medical journal Heart, the study involved more than 25,000 male and female workers, who previously showed no signs of heart disease, looking for calcium buildups indicating plaque growth that can cause heart attacks and strokes. 
The results showed that those who drank the least amount of coffee, and the most, had a larger amount of calcium in their arteries than those who consumed a moderate amount.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Morning has broken

My starting ritual involves coffee. Lots of coffee. Here are some tips to improve your morning productivity from Barking Up the Wrong Tree.

The Morning Routine Experts Recommend For Peak Productivity
Here’s what we can put together from listening to all the experts: 
Stop reacting. Get up before the world starts making demands so you can figure out what’s important to you. 
Decide what matters today. You won’t get everything done, so what will move the needle? What will let you end the day feeling like you accomplished something? No more than 3 goals. 
Use your “magic hours” for those three things. Your peak productivity time is probably an hour or two after you wake up. If you know your best hours are at another time, fine. Protect your “magic hours.” 
Have a starting ritual. Go to the place where you get stuff done. Get your coffee. Anything that tells your brain it’s time to rock. 
When things go sideways, use “positive procrastination.” If you can’t tackle the super scary thing, do the pretty scary thing. Designating a super scary thing in advance as a decoy can make that pretty scary thing much easier. 
We’re all trying to achieve work-life balance. You’re not going to get everything done. But start the day right and you can definitely accomplish what matters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
You can do anything once you stop trying to do everything.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Promises, promises...

Let's hope Tennessee Promise is successful in getting students like Amanda into college.  While Tennessee universities will have to step up their game, more associate degree holders with little student debt will be a good thing.  From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Amanda Raven Smith wants to go to college. But she doesn’t want to have the same experience as her father, who spent decades paying off student loans for a degree he couldn’t afford to finish. 
"I had been planning on it," she said, "but didn’t have a way to do the funding." 
So on a Thursday evening in January, Ms. Smith, a senior at Columbia Central High School, in Maury County, Tenn., was one of some 600 students who attended a meeting at the school. The objective: to learn about the Tennessee Promise, the program guaranteeing that the state will cover tuition and required fees for two years of community or technical college for Ms. Smith and every other graduating high-school senior in the state. 
The meeting here in Columbia, the seat of Maury County, was one of more than 300 events held last month to explain the ins and outs of a program that has become a phenomenon across the state. Nearly 90 percent of high-school seniors in Tennessee applied, and more than 9,000 adults have volunteered to serve as mentors for those applicants.
It’s a large-scale experiment, and higher-education experts and policy makers across the nation will be watching to see if the lure of tuition-free college attracts students—and keeps them in college long enough to complete a degree or vocational program. 
The early results are encouraging, but they’re far from a guarantee of success. While two-year colleges are bracing for enrollment increases, more students in classrooms won’t necessarily translate into an increase in college completions—the real goal of the Promise.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Promise and the small privates

Just a rumor but I've heard some small private colleges will start offering associate degrees to take advantage of Tennessee Promise--although I'm not sure if that's even possible under the legislation.  But competition is tough out there.  However, despite the title below, I'm not sure this is an unexpected fear.  From The Hechinger Report.

When the governor of Tennessee proposed letting students in that state go to community college for free — almost a year before President Barack Obama started pushing the idea nationally — a surprising worry flashed into Kina Mallard’s mind. 
“My first reaction was: another curve ball,” she recalled grimly. “Here’s another curve ball for higher education.” 
Mallard is executive vice president and provost at Carson-Newman University, a Baptist liberal arts school in Jefferson City, Tennessee with about 2,300 students, and the kind of small private, nonprofit higher-education institution already fending off challenges to its continued enrollment — and particularly vulnerable to more. 
Competing for students is a very real bottom-line issue for us,” said Mallard. 
And it’s getting much, much tougher. . . .
And now universities and colleges — especially small private nonprofit ones — have an unexpected new problem: competing with free community college, which the president wants to roll out nationwide. And while the Obama plan so far has no timetable and it is widely considered a longshot to pass the Republican Congress, Tennessee will make community college free this fall, and several other states are considering it. 
“You step back 50 feet and these trends do have a potential for adversely affecting some of the nonprofit, not very selective institutions,” said Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges. 
Or, as Claude Pressnell, Jr., president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, put it: “It’s difficult to compete with free.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The dilemma of the regional public university

Regionals face pressure from community colleges--everyone's darlings right now--on the one hand and flagship universities on the other. Why should students attend?  The answer to that question in the key to survival. From The Washington Post.

Regional public colleges — the ‘middle children’ of higher ed — struggle to survive
Unlike their flagship counterparts, regional public universities can’t as easily rely on private donations, big research grants, or higher-paying out-of-state students to make up for what the state cut in funding. In the Northeast and Midwest, declining numbers of high-school graduates means that many regional schools can’t even fill their classes. And now, President Obama’s proposal to make community college free further threatens to drain federal and state dollars from the coffers of regional public institutions. 
For regional public universities to survive, a handful states in the Northeast and Midwest need fewer of them. But it’s often impossible to merge or close these colleges because they have strong political support in state legislatures given the schools are often the largest local employer.
In absence of that option, these colleges need to pare back the graduate programs they added during the past two decades to better compete with the flagship universities — programs that are really mediocre at best and swallow up precious resources. For example, since 1990, 100 regional public universities added a graduate degree in parks, recreation, and fitness, according to Fryar at the University of Oklahoma. More than 50 schools added graduate degrees in business, education, and public administration.
Instead, these regional public colleges should differentiate themselves from the bigger public flagships with lower-cost bachelor’s degrees and focus on improving undergraduate education by responding to local workforce needs. These regional colleges might not get all the attention of elite private colleges or flagship public universities, but they serve an important middle market for students and their families who need such basic choices as the cost of college spirals ever upward.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Save the date

National Association of Branch Campus Administrators

15-18 April 2015
Quad Cities
(Illinois & Iowa)

Western Illinois University
Quad Cities Campus

Hotel Blackhawk
Figge Art Museum
Guys in Ties

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Save the date

Please plan to join the TACHE East group
For the 2015 Regional Meeting
May 15th, 2015
Pellissippi State Community College,
Strawberry Plains Campus
Located off I-40 at 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike in Knox County.
$20 Lunch included

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pygmalion effect

The self-fulfilling prophecy of teacher expectations.  From The New York Times.

Beginning in 2002, the researchers studied three groups of Israeli students from sixth grade through the end of high school. The students were given two exams, one graded by outsiders who did not know their identities and another by teachers who knew their names. 
In math, the girls outscored the boys in the exam graded anonymously, but the boys outscored the girls when graded by teachers who knew their names. The effect was not the same for tests on other subjects, like English and Hebrew. The researchers concluded that in math and science, the teachers overestimated the boys’ abilities and underestimated the girls’, and that this had long-term effects on students’ attitudes toward the subjects. 
For example, when the same students reached junior high and high school, the economists analyzed their performance on national exams. The boys who had been encouraged when they were younger performed significantly better. 
They also tracked the advanced math and science courses that students chose to take in high school. After controlling for other factors that might affect their choices, they concluded that the girls who had been discouraged by their elementary schoolteachers were much less likely than the boys to take advanced courses.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

One of our off-campus poster children

briansimsNever Too Late

Sevierville resident Brian Sims only completed one year of college and spent 14 years working in restaurant management.  In 2000 he quit the business and began working as a special education teacher’s assistant within the Sevier County school system, and later, he began driving a school bus route for special education students.

He admits that he let his age be an excuse for not going back to college to earn a degree.

“I told people I was too old to go to college,” said Sims, a special education teacher at Seymour High School.  “But I remember someone saying to me, ‘Brian, you are going to turn 40, and you can do it with a degree or not, but you are going to turn 40 either way.’

“So, why not, I thought.”

In 2001, Sims, then in his mid-30s, began his journey toward a college degree and enrolled at East Tennessee State University in the special education program. His passion for teaching students with special needs came from his heart. Not only did he work as a teaching assistant, but his son Nick, now 25, was diagnosed with Autism just a few months shy of his third birthday.  Sims also has a daughter, Brittany, 27.

“I went back to school and haven’t stopped,” laughed Sims, now 50, who this past Saturday received his doctorate in education degree from ETSU.  “My son has had some excellent teachers, and my goal has been to take the things I have learned from them and put that into one person.”

When Sims went back to school in 2001, he was among an inaugural group of students to enroll in a new baccalaureate completion program in special education offered by ETSU in Sevierville.  He also finished his master’s and doctoral programs through cohort programs, and because his classes were taught in Sevierville or online, he was not required to travel to Johnson City.

“A lot of people encouraged me to get my degree and they have been very supportive all this time,” said Sims, who praised his wife and children along with special education supervisor Dr. Sandy Enloe, who told Sims about the ETSU cohort and encouraged him to apply, and school system director Dr. Jack Parton, who helped start the cohort.

Nine­­­­­­­­­ years later, Sims continues to start his day driving a school bus.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Free tuition doesn't mean more degree completion

A thoughtful essay by Michael Bernick in Time.

Today in California, the majority of community college students, and nearly all low-income students, pay few, if any fees. As business columnist Kathleen Pender has detailed, almost half of the state’s community college students receive a waiver on all fees. Federal Pell grants and the American Opportunity Tax Credit, for which low- and even middle-income students are eligible, are additional financial supports. Tuition is not a significant obstacle to enrollment for Californians at all incomes, and hasn’t been for some years. 
Instead, at the top of concerns for community college administrators is the low student completion level. The majority of community college students leave without a degree or certificate. A 2010 study by the Institute for Higher Education Leadership & Policy at California State University Sacramento concluded that within six years of enrollment, only 30 percent of California community students earn an associate or bachelor’s degree. This study finding is consistent with national completion rates, which several estimates have put in the range of 30 to 40 percent. 
That low completion rate is rooted in the high number of students who enter community colleges with low math and reading levels. A series of reports over the past decade have found that roughly two-thirds of students enter California community colleges with math and reading levels below those needed to complete college level classes. This gap in basic skills is the main reason students leave without a degree or certificate.