Colo. gov wants to restore $89M for education

Colorado schools and colleges got an early Christmas gift Tuesday as state economists revealed that proposed budget cuts can be eliminated because revenues are higher than originally thought, Bloomberg Businessweek reports. The higher revenues prompted Gov. John Hickenlooper to propose restoring the $89 million K-12 education he previously said needed to be cut to balance next year’s budget. He is also recommending that state colleges and universities take a smaller hit than he originally proposed — $30 million instead of $60 million. About $25 million of the funding proposed to be restored to higher education would go to student financial aid. Hickenlooper’s economic team said that’s possible because of employment gains, growth in manufacturing and the oil and gas industries as well as increases in capital-gains taxes and sales taxes mean the state will take in $231 million more revenue than its economists had predicted back in September — a 3.2 percent increase.

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College political leaders, social media prove to be dangerous combination

Experts say student politicians should treat tweets like press conferences.

After a tweet and a viral video ended the campus political careers of two Texas college students, higher-education politicos have advice for their brethren: Adopt an official social media policy, and be more careful about what you post on Facebook and Twitter.

Concern over how up-and-coming campus political activists are using social media comes after a high-ranking Texas college Republican was caught on video using a gay slur, and two University of Texas (UT) Republican officials dispatched a message on Twitter about assassinating President Obama and another deemed racist by campus Republicans and Democrats alike.

Cassandra Wright, president of the UT Republicans, was the latest college political leader to draw national ire when on Dec. 18 she posted on Twitter, “My president is black, he snorts a lot of crack. Holla! #2012.”

“I don’t really see anything wrong with it,” Wright said shortly after her tweet was posted, according to media reports. “It’s just a personal comment, not representative of any group. Just freedom of speech, you know?”

Wright became president of the UT Republican group after former president Lauren Pierce posted a controversial tweet the same day a man fired several shots at the White House.

“Y’all as tempting as it may be, don’t shoot Obama. We need him to go down in history as the WORST president we’ve EVER had! #2012,” Pierce tweeted Nov. 16.

Politicos from campuses across the country said the regrettable tweets show the need for a thought-out social media policy among campus political organizations, including a designated person to monitor all Facebook and Twitter messages before they are made public.

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Higher education standards: improving course evaluation

How can we start to place students at the heart of the system? The HE white paper called on universities to be more accountable to students on matters of teaching quality, and many in academia have embraced this concept and are forging two-way communication with their students, reports the Higher Education Network. However this best practice is by no means uniform across the sector, and others are still struggling with the nuances of closing the ‘feedback loop’ – ensuring lines of communication between student and university are robust and transparent. Only in an environment where all parties can provide and learn from the other will students feel empowered as stakeholders in their own education and universities can improve their practices…

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Opinion: Can the public Ivies be saved?

Higher education leaders have dreamed up two big, radical ideas that could potentially rescue the nation’s top public universities from the brink of fiscal oblivion, says Daniel de Vise, columnist for the Washington Post reports. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the University of Michigan, thinks they probably won’t work. First, a bit of context: I spoke to her Tuesday about her open letter to President Obama, in which she thanks the president for calling an unusual White House meeting this month to discuss affordability in higher education—and she asks him to take the lead in the battle to keep her own university, and others, affordable.

“The onus is now on all of us—elected officials, university presidents, business leaders, philanthropists and parents—to collaborate on effective answers,” she wrote. It seemed a polite way of saying that the onus is on him. Coleman wants the president to take a leadership role “in elevating the issue and stimulating the conversation” about keeping college affordable—especially public colleges, and particularly for the students who can least afford to attend…

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Are college students declaring majors too early?

Like many other new high school graduates, I entered college without a fully realized vision of what I would do once I left, says Adam Turay, a sophomore at the University of Virginia, for the Washington Post. That’s not to say I was clueless; I imagined I would travel, possibly go to grad school, and eventually start a career. I had a few ideas as to what that career would entail, but nothing concrete. Much to the chagrin of my family, I was content to take a variety of courses and let my interests guide me. As far as I was concerned, this was the way it should be. I knew this was not a universal approach. I expected most people to have career trajectories that were more developed than my rough plans. But when I matriculated at the University of Virginia in the fall of last year, it was truly surprising how many freshmen I met that knew exactly what they wanted to do. I noticed in particular that many of the students who hadn’t enrolled with a certain major (like the School of Engineering or the School of Nursing) described themselves as “pre-comm,” which meant that they were planning to apply for the business major at the end of sophomore year…

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Cornell alumnus is behind $350 million gift to build science school in city

The donor whose $350 million gift will be critical in building Cornell University’s new high-tech graduate school on Roosevelt Island is Atlantic Philanthropies, whose founder, Charles F. Feeney, is a Cornell alumnus who made billions of dollars through the Duty Free Shoppers Group, the New York Times reports. Mr. Feeney, 80, has spent much of the last three decades giving away his fortune, with large gifts to universities all over the world and an unusual degree of anonymity. Cornell officials revealed in 2007 that he had given some $600 million to the university over the years, yet nothing on its Ithaca campus—where he graduated from the School of Hotel Management in 1956—bears Mr. Feeney’s name…

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College admissions officials turn to iPad to streamline applications

The ratio of applicants to enrollments has dropped every year since 2003.

What once took a week to collect, organize, and collate has been reduced to a few clicks on an Apple iPad in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s admissions office.

Matchbox, a startup company launched by former and current college admissions officials, announced Dec. 19 that MIT’s Sloan School of Management and the MBA program at the UCLA Anderson School of Management are among the first schools to use an Apple iPad application that stores reams of student information usually kept on paper in filing cabinets.

Using the cloud-based Matchbox iPad app could save admissions offices up to 75 percent of the time it takes to collect, review, and process student application forms, which are often more than 30 pages.

Stephen Marcus, founder and CEO of Matchbox, said higher-education admissions departments ”live by the 70-30 rules,” with 70 percent of the office’s time spent on the onerous logistics of application reviews, and 30 percent spent on recruiting prospective students.

“One of the hopes is definitely that we’ll recruit more students,” said Jennifer Barba, associate director of admissions at MIT, where 35 admissions officers have used the Matchbox iPad app since last year. “If we’re able to see an increase, we’ll know that it worked.”

The Matchbox app has allowed MIT’s admissions office employees store student information electronically that could only be kept on paper before iPads were distributed in a 2010 pilot program.

Barba said summary notes of applicants’ information were jotted on paper and stored away in filing cabinets. Only numeric scores assigned to prospective students were kept online.

“The idea was to create an app that completely mimicked the handwritten process,” Barba said. “It’s really streamlined the process.”

The dramatic move from paper to a cloud-based iPad app made for the UCLA School of Management’s largest-ever pre-Christmas admittance batch. The school sent out 125 acceptance letters this month, about 50 more than usual.

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Opinion: What James Franco NYU grade lawsuit tells us about universities

A former professor at New York University is suing the college and states the university fired him because he gave his student, actor James Franco, a “D,” according to Fox News, says L. Vincent Poupard for Yahoo! News. As a political/business consultant, this story has less to do with Franco and more to do with the corruption and inequality that can be exposed at universities. It is sad when money can have a stronger impact on grades than the application of what was learned. Jose Angel Santana, Franco’s former professor, states in the lawsuit that other professors gave the actor good grades even though he skipped classes on a regular basis. Santana claims the reason why he almost failed the actor was due to his skipping 14 of the 16 scheduled classes. He believes the university and staff gave Franco a lenient grading curve because he was a big name that could bring attention to the campus and due to his hiring of one of the professors to write and direct a movie for him…

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Apple and Google independently developing wearable, reality augmenting smartphones

Some of us are quite attached to our mobile devices, much to the chagrin of anything and anyone that isn’t a smartphone screen. Apple and Google are reportedly looking to change that, Digital Trends reports. They want to integrate our smartphones into daily life better by developing wearable mobile devices that act more like a window to the real world, rather than a screen. According to the New York Times Bits blog, Apple has been secretly working on a wearable computer, much like the wrist worn iPod Nano, which will integrate Siri. The NYT sources say that a small number of Apple employees have been rounded up for “conceptualizing and even prototyping some wearable devices.” One device the company is toying with was described as a wrist worn “curved-glass iPod…”

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