WEEKLY NEWS DIGEST (February 14-20, 2011)

EDUCATION

FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS & COLLEGES

Recruiter’s Experience at one For-Profit University Suggests Reform Efforts Will Face Hurdles.” By Sharona Coutts. ProPublica.com. February 14, 2011. New federal measures to rein in certain recruitment practices are scheduled to take effect this summer, but it may be difficult for some schools to change their long-standing sales culture. Inset: Brian Mueller, CEO of Grand Canyon University, said the school would make changes to comply with new regulations on student recruitment. When Ryan Richardson took a job as a recruiter at Grand Canyon University last summer, he was no novice to the business of for-profit colleges. He had worked as an enrollment counselor at the University of Phoenix, the biggest school in the sector, for years before leaving to pursue his dream of playing professional baseball. Richardson had heard that Grand Canyon was a good place to work: that it treated employees well and that—as a Christian university—it did not use the high-pressure sales tactics that had made him uncomfortable working at the University of Phoenix. But within days of starting at the school, Richardson said, he had a growing sense of disillusionment at the techniques the university was using to recruit students. “I remember calling my Dad and telling him it was just like the University of Phoenix, except they’d implemented God into the mix,” Richardson said. Richardson says he became so dismayed that he decided to record meetings, training sessions and conversations with Grand Canyon managers and other staff during the four months he stayed on the job, ending when he quit last October. The recordings, as well as other documents and internal e-mails that Richardson provided to ProPublica, give an unflattering inside view of how one team of recruiters at the school was seeking to bring in students. For-profit schools’ recruitment methods have been the subject of intense scrutiny over the last year, as government investigators [1], lawmakers [2] and regulators [3] have taken aim at tactics deemed abusive or deceptive.

HIGHER EDUCATION

Returning to Machu Picchu; After almost a century of conflict, the dispute between Yale and Peru over artifacts from Machu Picchu is ending.” By Sarah Nutman. Yale Daily News. February 14, 2011. The corner of Room 188 in building A21 on Yale University’s West Campus is filled with crates marked “fragile” and destined for Peru. Over the next weeks and months, between now and the end of 2012, thousands of objects excavated from Machu Picchu nearly a century ago will be carefully packed. In March, the first set of objects will be shipped by plane to Lima. By July 24, the 100th anniversary of Hiram Bingham’s III 1898 arrival at Machu Picchu they will be in Cusco, capital of the former Inca empire, and the waypoint for travelers headed to the great citadel. By the end of 2012, Yale plans to send thousands of artifacts originally from Machu Picchu back to Peru. On Friday, University President Richard Levin and Víctor Aguilar, the president of the Peruvian university to which the objects will go, signed an agreement of collaboration. The document formalizes a research partnership and creates the framework for the center that will house the objects and be jointly governed by the two universities. But most of all, it marks a pivotal step required for more than 5,000 pieces that Peru says were wrongfully kept, to finally return. Since Yale and Peruvian officials signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining the return of the objects last November, both sides have been eager to underscore the goodwill between the two parties. The document, they say, allows Peru and Yale to move beyond the mistrust that has often characterized their interactions over the century-long struggle — it has eliminated any underlying disagreement.
Related stories:
Digging into Peru deliberations: For archeologists, even small pottery fragments from Machu Picchu can be important in helping develop a more complete idea of ancient Incan culture.” Yale Daily News. February 15, 2011.
Unpacking artifacts’ future in Peru: Although many Peruvian officials are enthusiastic about the artifacts’ return, some have admitted that they “don’t have access to the authorities” and therefore know little about the details of Yale’s agreement.” Yale Daily News. February 16, 2011.

Stanford Law tuition spikes.” By Nikita Lalwani. Yale Daily News. February 15, 2011. Last week, Stanford Law School announced that its tuition, currently $44,880, will increase by 5.75 percent for the next academic year. This increase, announced simultaneously with a universitywide tuition rise of 3.5 percent, will allow Stanford to pay faculty more and reinstate positions that were lost during the recession, Board of Trustees President Leslie Hume told The Stanford Daily. Yale Law School Director of Public Affairs Janet Conroy said Yale Law’s tuition for next year has not yet been set, and declined to comment on the possibility of a raise. Students at Stanford found out about the increase from their campus newspaper, not the school itself. Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer sent an e-mail out to students last Friday apologizing for failing to inform the students directly before word spread. The increase comes after months of media attention over the growing cost and decreasing returns of law school. The media frenzy reached its peak with an article in The New York Times titled, “Is Law School a Losing Game?,” which portrayed an increasingly bleak employment landscape for law graduates. Hume said Stanford Law School will experience a steeper tuition increase than the university’s other schools because it has been “under-pricing” itself in comparison to its law school peers. Financial aid will increase as well, The Stanford Daily reported, reaching $122 million by 2012.

Renovations could change names on Hillhouse.” By Drew Henderson. Yale Daily News. February 16, 2011. The historic mansions on Hillhouse Avenue, which Charles Dickens once famously described as the “most beautiful street in America,” are full of character — but many of their names are not.Only 10 of the 23 buildings on the two-block street, which is home to various academic departments, the School of Management and administrators’ houses, have names, while the rest are known by their addresses. These nameless treasures include the Yale Collection of Musical Instruments, “15 Hillhouse,” and the department of anthropology, “51 Hillhouse.” But as these buildings age and require renovation, University President Richard Levin said Yale may seek gifts to support their restoration, and naming them for donors in the process. “When we renovate, it would be a great time to interest a donor to name [the building] in recognition,” Vice President for Development Inge Reichenbach said. Because rehabilitating the grand buildings is costly, Levin said administrators prefer tying the projects to significant gifts, and this often leads to the renaming of the building. In 2003, when the University wanted to move the Provost’s Office to a new location, Levin said administrators identified 1 Hillhouse as a good candidate. After seeking a donation to anchor the construction, administrators landed the support of Douglas A. Warner, Jr. ’41, Douglas A. Warner III ’68 and Michael D. Warner ’04 to support the project. The building is now named “Warner House.” “Programmatic need drove the solicitation of a gift,” Levin said.

Yale redistributes financial aid.” By Emily Wanger. Yale Daily News. February 18, 2011. Beginning with the class of 2015, low-income families will receive more financial aid, while those on the higher end of the income spectrum will receive less. Families that earn between $130,000 and $200,000 annually will pay a greater share of tuition than they have in the past, Director of Financial Aid Caesar Storlazzi said, with the “parent contribution” rising from an average of 12 percent of annual income to 15 percent. This change accompanies the University’s decision to waive parent contributions for families that make less than $65,000 each year — a more generous cutoff than the previous $60,000 figure announced in December. “Looking at the total picture, there are three big factors at play here: the drop in endowment, our desire to help more folks on the lower end, and our belief that making moderate adjustments on the higher end will still enable complete economic diversity,” Storlazzi said. Even with the new formula, Storlazzi said, Yale is ahead of many other universities which charge 17 percent of annual income for this group of families as a parent contribution. The changes to the parent contribution on the upper and lower ends of the income scale will amount to an estimated $9 million increase in the overall financial aid budget and will help preserve financial aid during a time of economic strain, he said. Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of two websites focused on college financial aid (FinAid.org and Fastweb.com), said Yale’s decision to shift funds from wealthier students to less wealthy students is part of a greater trend in higher education. Still, he said, Yale’s changes are too small to make a major difference in the University’s financial aid program because “we’re talking a few thousand dollars.” Yale joins Dartmouth and Williams colleges in reducing financial aid for wealthier families in recent years.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS

Tax credits for private-school scholarships shot down by Virginia Senate committee.” Washington Post. February 15, 2011. [For story, go to Law & Public Policy].

A College That’s Pleased With Its Drop in Applicants.” By Jacques Steinberg. New York Times. February 15, 2011. In an era in which universities are expected to draw more and more applicants each year — as if they were Fortune 500 companies being forced to show annual profits — Ursinus College, a liberal arts institution outside Philadelphia, would seem to have little reason to celebrate. Applicants for this fall’s freshman class have plunged by 1,700 — or nearly a third — when compared with last year at this time. And yet, Richard DiFeliciantonio, the university’s vice president for enrollment, said on Monday that the drop was not only welcome but deliberate, after a five-year period in which Ursinus saw its applications nearly triple. “Those numbers aren’t real,” Mr. DiFeliciantonio said from the school’s campus in Collegeville, Pa. “People count anything that moves as an application. Everyone is going up 10 percent every year for 20 years. It’s absurd.” “At some point,” he added, “the credibility of those numbers is questionable.” Mr. DiFeliciantonio readily admits that Ursinus, until this year, was happy to let itself be swept up in the admissions race. In fact, Ursinus decided in 2005 that it needed to get bigger. Specifically, the college wanted to increase its freshman class by about 100 — to just under 550 — in part to bring in students to fill classes in new disciplines like biochemistry and environmental studies. Mr. DiFeliciantonio hired a direct-marketing firm from Virginia, Royall & Company, and its initial recommendations were that Ursinus waive the $50 application fee and essay requirement. In one year, from 2005 to 2006, applications to Ursinus more than doubled, to 4,413 from 1,725. Two years later, they grew by another 40 percent, to 6,179. While emphasizing that Royall did exactly what Ursinus had asked it to do, Mr. DiFeliciantonio said he had become increasingly uneasy. His main concern was that every year Ursinus received more applications and offered admission to more applicants, but that the percentage who accepted the offer, known as the yield, went down steadily.

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