Friday, November 16, 2007

New scholarship fund aims to help veterans obtain an education

I found this story about a new scholarship fund to help veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan pay for college on the Chronicle of Education news blog. The scholarship is intended to help fill the gap between benefits veterans receive from the GI Bill and how much it actually costs to go to college these days.

The first 11 scholarship winners were announced yesterday, and in another month or so at least one veteran from every state and the District of Columbia will receive scholarships in varying amounts.

The scholarships are appropriated by Scholarship America, whose mission statement is: “To mobilize America, through scholarships and educational support, to make postsecondary education possible for all students.”

A man named Jerome Kohlberg, who served in World War II and went to Swarthmore College and Harvard Business School under the GI Bill, has put up $4 million for the initial funding. The scholarship fund aims to cover veterans’ needs until Congress passes the new GI bill which will cover the costs of modern college tuition.

This fund is a great way to help veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan help get their lives back on track after coming back from war. Many young men and women, especially those from the inner city, join the armed forces after high school because they have no way to pay for college and have no other options. Higher education is one of the most important goals a person can strive to achieve in life, and this should help those people get the educations they need to be successful.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So this is where my tuition is going…

I read this article on The Boston Globe’s website today about how former Northeastern president Richard Freeland is the highest paid private college president, according to the latest survey done by the Chronicle of Higher Education on the salaries of college presidents. Freeland received $2.3 million from Northeastern after stepping down last year.

Several specialists explained to the Globe that the survey result is misleading, because the money Freeland received refers to a decade of delayed benefits now being lumped into one large sum of money. Though the $2.3 million wasn’t just a gift from the university for Freeland, consider this quote from the Globe article on how much the university was paying him in the first place:

In 2006, Freeland received a $514,500 annual salary and a $107,295 expense account, according to the Chronicle survey, which was released yesterday. The survey found that in 2006, 81 presidents of private colleges earned $500,000 or more, compared with just three a decade ago.

So this is where my tuition money is going. I realize that universities need to shell out some dough for qualified professionals to take on the job as president, but over a half a million a year? Colleges do need to be competitive, but that’s just absolutely ridiculous. As is the $8.9 million home Northeastern bought for new president Joseph Aoun last year.

I’ve been getting fed up lately with Northeastern’s obsession with the U.S. News and World Report rankings. All that business with Aoun’s inauguration last year was absurd and cost the university over $300,000. All of the banners they hung up and the lights on the Krentzman Quad, which looked nice at night, but were just ugly pieces of equipment sitting there during the day, where completely unnecessary.

I don’t know how other colleges spend their tuition and endowment, but I don’t like what Northeastern has been up to over my three years here. Aside from the lucky few on full scholarships, Northeastern students are paying a huge sum of money, either from financial aid, loans or their family’s pockets, to go here, and it seems as though the university is throwing it away on bloated salaries instead of using it to better the academic and social experience of its students.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

"To Tase" wins second place in Word of the Year contest

In a follow-up to the whole Andrew Meyer tasering scandal that came out of the University of Florida in September, the word “to tase” won second place for the Word of the Year contest to be added to the Oxford dictionary. The word that won was, “locavore,” (which I’ve never heard of before). It means “a movement that encourages consumers to buy from farmers’ markets or even to grow or pick their own food.” I found this article on the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog.

It’s interesting that the simple phrase, “Don’t tase me, Bro!” uttered by Meyers in the heat of the moment could have garnered so much attention. Now there are shirts being sold online with that slogan and some have called it a “cultural landmark of our generation.” I don’t know about that, but it’s funny nonetheless.

Monday, November 12, 2007

University of Iowa plans to offer more Friday classes to help curb "Thirsty Thursdays"

A contributor to the Chronicle of Higher Education news blog posted a story today about a new initiative to combat “Thirsty Thursdays” at the University of Iowa. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences announced that it will pay departments to switch classes to Fridays in order to help curb late-night drinking and partying on Thursdays. The departments will get $20 for every student who enrolls in a new Friday class.

I liked this story firstly because of the way it was written by the author, Elyse Ashburn. It’s short enough that I can post the whole thing here:

Students at the University of Iowa who party all night Thursday won’t be sleeping all day Friday anymore. At least not if the university has its way.
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences has decided to pay departments for switching classes to Friday, reports the Iowa City Press-Citizen. Departments that move at least two classes to Friday will get $20 for each student who enrolls in a switched class.
The incentive program is designed to cut down on the number of students who load up on classes earlier in the week and then get loaded on Thursday night, the Press-Citizen reported.
Has the university hit on a way to curb “Thirsty Thursdays” or just a recipe for empty classes?

The way she wrote it was concise and playful enough for a story like this, without going overboard.

As for the actual story itself, I like what Iowa is trying to do, but I don’t know if it will work. With the typical class schedule here at Northeastern, MWTh, MW, MTh or TF, I’ve know a lot of people who try to avoid taking Friday classes solely for the reason that they don’t want to get up on Fridays after having been out late the night before.

If students are stuck with having to take a class on a Friday, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will stop going out late on Thursday nights. They just either won’t go to class the next day, or somehow suffer through it. Either way doesn't bode well for the student's education.

I don't think it's acceptable to just not offer classes on Fridays, because it is a five-day week and should be treated that way. The only way I see student drinking being curbed on school nights is a societal shift in our attitude toward alcohol, which would take a lot more than starting to offer more classes on Fridays. I think Iowa has the beginnings of a good idea here, but don’t think it’s going to be as effective at curbing late-night partying as they would like.