Monday, August 31, 2015

The law of inverse agenda length

After my most recent series of meetings, I've coined a new term: The Law of Inverse Agenda Length.  The shorter the agenda, the longer the meeting. It's probably not original with me, but I'll let others Google it. My theory is that when people are faced with a long agenda, they hurry through things since they know what's left. With a short agenda, people feel more free to comment and vent.

On the other hand, longer agendas don't necessarily mean shorter meetings. But it happens.  You go in expecting a longer meeting so it doesn't seem as long. Relatively speaking.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Promises, promises

This article in Inside Higher Education summarizes the apparent impact of Tennessee Promise on community colleges.  Apparent because enrollment is not official until the 14th day of classes--also known as census. Northeast State is prominently featured in the piece, with President Gilliam reporting a freshman increase of around 250 new students. The article also notes how private four-year colleges are gaming the system by offering associate degrees.

Responding to Free
Community colleges across Tennessee are starting their academic year with many students who may have never thought they would attend an institution of higher learning, but who are taking advantage of the Tennessee Promise program, which offers them a free two-year college education. 
Although official numbers won't be available until after the 14th day of enrollment, Tennessee Promise has 22,534 college freshmen as of the last August deadline to remain in the program, said Mike Krause, executive director of Tennessee Promise, the signature program of Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican. 
Those numbers are well above the 13,000 students projected for the program a year ago, he said. Last fall, there were about 17,000 new freshmen enrolled in the state's community colleges and in 2013 about 11,400 incoming freshmen entered the community colleges straight after high school, according to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. It is that latter group of freshmen -- those who are immediate high school graduates -- that have been the target for Tennessee Promise, so the large participation numbers this fall show the state's initiative has had a considerable impact on them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Another thing for my age cohort to worry about

If you think about it too hard, you'd never retire.  From The Street.

Are You Really Ready to Retire?
Chances are, you're not ready to retire. 
For many people, even the experts can't fully tell you if you're in the clear to pull the retirement trigger. 
Why? Because no one knows the future of health care costs, which could be one of your biggest expenses during retirement.
"There are people who are ready to retire, but a lot of people who retire are assuming we're not going to have runaway health care costs and hyperinflation," said Rick Salus, senior vice president and investment officer at St. Louis-based Wells Fargo Advisors. "If you're paying $600 a month, who knows what it will cost in five years?" 
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said spending on health care costs from 2014 to 2024 will see an average annual increase of 5.8%. And while Salus points to other inflationary expenses like food, health care seems to be the greatest unknown.  
"Even the projections [on health care costs in the future] are still a guess," he said. 
After all, the older you get, the more health care you're going to need. 
"If you're in your early 50s, you're going to live a fairly long time," Salus added. "People who aren't realistic in their cost projections during retirement are kidding themselves."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

They're happy, happy, happy at Vanderbilt

The Princeton Review releases its best 380 colleges.  Below are some of the individual honors.  Put honors in finger quotes.

Best 380 Colleges Press Release

  • "Students Most Engaged in Community Service" (new list this year) – Brandeis University (MA)
  • "Most Beautiful Campus" – Rollins College (FL)
  • "Best College Library" – Yale University (CT)
  • "Best Campus Food" – Bowdoin College (ME)
  • "Best College Dorms" – Bennington College (VT)
  • "Best Health Services" – University of California—Davis (CA)
  • "Happiest Students" – Vanderbilt University (TN)
  • "Most Conservative Students" – Thomas Aquinas College (CA)
  • "Most Liberal Students" – Marlboro College (VT)
  • "LGBTQ-Friendliest" – Emerson College (MA)
  • "Students Pack the Stadiums" – Clemson University (SC)
  • "Party Schools" – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (IL)
  • "Stone-Cold Sober Schools" – Brigham Young University (UT)
  • "Best Athletic Facilities" – Kenyon College (OH)

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Staying healthy in college

Sniffles? has some tips on staying healthy while away at college.

College students who are heading out on their own for the first time face a lot of exciting and challenging new responsibilities, from building a social life to tackling tough academics to managing their finances. It's also a time when young adults have to start taking responsibility for their own health care. 
Many quickly discover that college life is full of temptations to indulge in bad habits and set healthy ones aside. 
"Choosing what to eat, how much to sleep and how to protect themselves are the most important health responsibilities college-age people face," Dr. Angie Johansson, DO, a pediatrician in Surprise, Arizona, told CBS News. 
She and other experts offer these tips for staying healthy in the dorm and beyond...

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education Conference

TACHE 47th Annual Conference
Gatlinburg, TN
November 11-13, 2015
$195 for TACHE members.  For more information or to register for the conference, go here.  Make your room reservations here. The conference rate of $104 is available until October 11 and may be extended through the weekend on a space available basis. Plan to attend the fabulous opening reception Wednesday night at the Aquarium of the Smokies!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tennessee just joined SARA

So now ETSU is a member.  We're still trying to figure out exactly what that means, since all of our previous agreements are void. From

A new process of state oversight of postsecondary distance education has been created to redress these problems. It relies on state-level reciprocity, the same concept that keeps us from having to obtain multiple driver’s licenses. The State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) is an agreement among its member states and U.S. districts and territories that establishes comparable national standards and policies for interstate offering of postsecondary distance-education courses and programs. (Participation in SARA is voluntary for both states and  institutions.) Developed over a several-year period by representatives of postsecondary institutions, state agencies of higher education, state higher education regulators, accrediting bodies, and various higher education interest groups, SARA relies on a common set of expectations, standards, and procedures designed to facilitate the expansion of distance education, support quality, and provide responsive consumer protection. U.S. states, districts, and territories may voluntarily join the initiative (similar to their recognizing one another’s drivers’ licenses). 
SARA covers many aspects of distance education, but it doesn’t solve all issues. While a certain degree of experiential learning accompanying online learning is covered, extensive experiential programs may not be. In particular, programs that prepare students for licensure in fields such as nursing, psychology, teaching, and other areas still require the approval of licensing boards in distant states. And if an institution wants to establish a campus or an administrative site in another state, it will have to go through whatever review and approval processes that state requires. For particular information on these complex issues, consult the FAQs and the Policies and Standards sections of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) website,

Monday, August 17, 2015

Promises, promises

It will be interesting to see the final analysis of Tennessee Promise for this enrollment cycle. Tennessee community colleges start on August 24. I hope the end result is more students in higher education--students who would not have otherwise enrolled.  From what I understand, it doesn't appear that promise is simply shifting enrollment from universities to community colleges.  Surprisingly, universities don't seem to be taking big hits in enrollment.  Some question if programs like Promise are serving the right students.  A recent piece in The Atlantic takes a look at that debate.

Michael Horn, the executive director of education at the Clayton Christensen Institute, a think tank that focuses on using “disruptive innovation” to develop solutions for the world’s problems, said his concern with the idea of free community college is that the people who will take advantage of the offer are not the students who most need financial assistance. He’d like to see studies done on other approaches to expanding college access—such as income-sharing, in which a company or other entity pays for a student’s tuition and the graduate pays a percentage of his or her income for a set number of years in exchange, instead. 
Mamie Voight, the director of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, which focuses on ways to expand access to college to underserved students, shares Horn’s concern. Instead of initiatives that make funding available to students who would attend college regardless of the programs, she’d like to see funds directed specifically to low-income students. The programs work by helping fill the gap left after Pell and other grants kick in, and Voight is concerned that someone with a higher income who isn’t eligible for those grants could ultimately receive more money. 
But to Krause, the Tennessee program’s director, that mindset “completely fails to account for the catalyzing effect financial aid has.” First-generation college students, he explained, aren’t necessarily familiar with the FAFSA or Pell Grants, or how to get them. Tennessee Promise’s makes it clear that college is an option for everyone, he said, and that there’s a spelled-out pathway for how to achieve it.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

I once registered students at a prison

It was a correspondence degree program (This was before the Internet, kids.). It went fine until the prisoners rioted and burned the education facility down.  Talk about voting with your feet. As a side note, I will always remember that feeling then the prison doors shut behind me. It was intimidating, even though I knew I was getting back out. Backstory aside, I think outreach efforts at prisons are a good thing. From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

What the Experts Say About Offering Pell Grants to Prisoners
The Obama administration’s unveiling of a pilot program to make some prisoners eligible for Pell Grants has been long awaited by advocates who have worked to bring higher education into prisons over the past two decades. But many are still waiting for details about what the program will look like and what it will mean for their broader efforts nationwide. 
The pilot program was formally announced on Friday here at the Maryland Correctional Institution-Jessup by the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, and the attorney general, Loretta Lynch. Mr. Duncan and Ms. Lynch, who were joined by other administration officials and members of Congress, spoke with students enrolled in the Goucher Prison Education Partnership, a program that offers inmates at two prisons in Maryland for-credit courses through Goucher College. 
Under the pilot program, a small but still unknown number of colleges will work with prisons to offer eligible inmates Pell Grants, even though a law, passed by Congress in 1994, has barred state and federal inmates from receiving that aid. Priority will be given to prisoners who are likely to be released within five years. Colleges will have until September to apply to be part of the experiment.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Princeton Review names ETSU as a 2016 ‘Best in the Southeast’

East Tennessee State University has been named a 2016 “Best in the Southeast” by The Princeton Review, an education services company known for test preparation programs and college and graduate school guides.

The 140 institutions named as “Best in the Southeast” may be found in “2016 Best Colleges: Region by Region” on the company’s website at 

Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s senior vice president and publisher, says, “Our 649 ‘regional best’ colleges are a select group, indeed. They constitute only 25 percent of the nation’s four-year colleges. From hundreds of institutions we considered in each region, we selected these schools primarily for their excellent academics.”

Schools were examined in the categories of Academics, Admissions Selectivity, Financial Aid, Fire Safety, Quality of Life, Green, Professors Interesting and Professors Accessibility.

Princeton Review does not rank the colleges in “2016 Best Colleges: Region by Region.”

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Does complying with federal regulations really cost $11,000 per student?

The answer is unquestionably no. Vanderbilt's figures include research costs. But regional accreditation is expensive.  And all that add to the cost of higher education.

Vanderbilt University Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos earlier this year testified before a U.S. Senate committee and cited a rather compelling, if somewhat surprising, fact: the cost of complying with federal regulations “equates to approximately $11,000 in additional tuition per year” for students. 
The math was simple: $146 million in compliance costs in 2013 divided by some 12,800 students equals about $11,000 per student. 
Yet perhaps it was too simple, as the figure snowballed into an arguably misleading message about the cost of compliance, which is being debated as lawmakers in Washington consider renewing the Higher Education Act and possibly loosening regulations to ease the perceived cost burden on colleges and universities. 
Though the issue has been a hotly contested one, there is little concrete data regarding how much universities actually spend to comply with regulations. Vanderbilt's figure, derived from a 2014 study by the Boston Consulting Group, is one of the only modern accountings of an individual institution’s comprehensive compliance costs.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Promise surges a bit at the finish line...

That's about 10% more eligible students than were predicted last month. From The Tennessean.

Director: TN Promise eligibility numbers surpass hopes
More than 22,500 students completed the volunteer work they needed to remain eligible for the Tennessee Promise scholarship program, presenting the clearest picture yet of its ultimate reach. 
That’s about 71 percent of the 31,500 students who were still eligible for the program in April and about 40 percent of the original applicant pool. The thousands of students who did not log eight hours of community service by the Aug. 1 deadline are no longer eligible for the scholarship, which offers high school graduates a full-tuition scholarship at the state's community and technical colleges. 
Service was the most time-consuming hurdle students had to clear before getting to college in the fall, and officials across the state launched a statewide campaign urging them to finish. Only one in four eligible students had submitted eight hours a month before the deadline.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

I guess this old English major

Is the exception that proves the rule.  From The Atlantic.

...Once financial concerns have been covered by their parents, children have more latitude to study less pragmatic things in school. Kim Weeden, a sociologist at Cornell, looked at National Center for Education Statistics data for me after I asked her about this phenomenon, and her analysis revealed that, yes, the amount of money a college student’s parents make does correlate with what that person studies. Kids from lower-income families tend toward “useful” majors, such as computer science, math, and physics. Those whose parents make more money flock to history, English, and performing arts. 
The explanation is fairly intuitive. “It’s … consistent with the claim that kids from higher-earning families can afford to choose less vocational or instrumental majors, because they have more of a buffer against the risk of un- or under-employment,” Weeden says. With average earnings for different types of degrees as well-publicized as they are—the difference in lifetime earnings among majors can be more than $3 million, one widely covered study found—it’s not hard to imagine a student deciding his or her academic path based on its expected payout. And it’s especially not hard to imagine poorer kids making this calculation out of necessity, while richer kids forgo that means-to-an-end thinking.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

There's one great college to work for in Tennessee

Austin Peay State University. Hmmmmm. But my friends at Murray State University got some love. Or is it, gave some love? From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

For the list, go here:

Great Colleges to Work For 2015

For more information, go here:

How Great Colleges Distinguish Themselves
Back in 2008, The Chronicle of Higher Education and ModernThink LLC partnered to create the Great Colleges to Work For program. The top goal was to conduct research that would help leaders understand and leverage the key success factors that differentiate great places to work in academe. In 2015 the program attracted 281 institutional applicants from across the country. 
Out of all of the applicants this year, 86 colleges and universities were highlighted in one or more of 12 recognition categories. Each category represents a key driver of workplace quality (e.g., Collaborative Governance, Senior Leadership, Job Satisfaction, etc.). Forty-two of those 86 recognized colleges received accolades in multiple categories, thereby distinguishing themselves as the best of the best and earning a spot on the Honor Roll. 
While it is true that even great colleges cannot please all of their people all of the time, the Honor Roll institutions have won the hearts, loyalties, and discretionary efforts of the vast majority of their faculty and staff members. Here we examine what distinguishes the recognized colleges, especially those on the Honor Roll, from the other 195 institutions.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

If I had known this...

I'd have worked harder in high school!  Talk about your permanent record. From Time.

Your School Grades Affect Your Risk of Dementia
In a presentation at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference, scientists report that getting good grades in school is among the important factors that can protect against dementia later in life. 
Experts have known that people with so-called cognitive reserve, or the ability to compensate for the failing parts of the brain in degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s, can help to slow down or stave off some symptoms of memory loss, confusion and disorientation. But it wasn’t clear when the buildup of these reserves should begin.

In a study involving 7,574 people who were at least 65 years old and followed for 21 years, Serhiy Dekhytar, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Karolinska Institute, and his colleagues found that the chance of developing dementia was strongly linked to how well the people in the study did in school during childhood. Those with grades in the lowest 20% showed the highest risk of developing dementia later on, an effect that remained strong even if the volunteers went on to attain more education and had intellectually demanding jobs. In other words, says Dekhytar, “Your early life baseline cognitive abilities play a role in later dementia risk, which we didn’t know before because we didn’t have data. Now we have the data that show there is a component of early cognitive abilities that seems to still [have an effect] 50 or 60 years later.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Those zany Millennials

Zeynep Ilgaz's advice on getting the most from Millennials includes changing it up, creating a diverse workplace, and investing in their continued education and growth. From Fortune.

Armed with a new set of perspectives, skills and motivations, the millennial generation is gearing up to take the modern business world by storm. In fact, people between the ages of 18 and 31 this year have recently surpassed Gen X to comprise the largest share of the U.S. workforce. 
Contrary to popular belief, Gen Yers are some of the most productive people around, priding themselves on working smarter, not harder—far from the lazy, self-absorbed bunch older generations often peg them as.  
As an employer, you need to harness the unique millennial skill set to survive and flourish in today’s business landscape. Here are some fundamental ways to keep this generation engaged and invested in your company’s future...