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News Editorial Other Voices Interview

The Credit Crisis Goes to College
Upheaval in the student-loan business leaves students and parents scrambling

  In This Issue
 

(Photo by Doug Wilson, Black Star for CrossTalk)

University of Washington official JR Fulton was stuck with 8,000 incandescent bulbs when the campus switched to more efficient fluorescent lighting. This is part of the university’s efforts to become a “green” campus.
( more)

News
The Credit Crisis goes to College
Upheaval in the student-loan business leaves students and parents stumbling

The Engaged University
Northern Kentucky University is building closer links to its community

Basic Skills Education
Pasadena City College's Teaching and Learning Center

"Going Green"
Environmental stewardship is a top priority at the Unversity of Washington

News From The Center

Editorial
Patrick M. Callan

Other Voices
Should You Be Worried?
College financial aid and the credit crisis

Tyranny of the Enlightened
Teaching students ro listen to one another in time of divisiveness

A Dismal Record
The United States remains inhosptable to many academic guests from abroad

By Susan C. Thomson

Shayna Murphy was completing summer studies in England when a friend e-mailed her the news: The Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority had just announced that it didn’t have the money to make private, or “alternative,” student loans—the kind that students turn to after tapping out on federal ones. This was MEFA dropping the second shoe, the first one being its exit from the federal loan market in the spring. Suddenly, the agency was effectively out of the business for which it was created.

And 25,000 would-be borrowers—mostly Massachusetts residents or students attending school there—were left with just a couple of weeks to scramble for new private lenders before their fall semester bills came due. Those stranded included about 2,200 students—about one in ten undergraduates—at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Murphy, a junior there, was expecting to apply to MEFA for a private loan of $1,800 to $2,000 when she returned and, based on previous experience, get her money in time to pay for fall classes. “It took a while for it to set in for me that this was going to be a big problem,” she said.

While friends easily made new arrangements, the three lenders Murphy applied to turned her down for her lack of a cosigner and credit record. To make camends meet, she doubled up on work, adding a job in a campus kitchen to her existing work-study assignment. Putting in 30 hours a week while taking a full load of classes “makes it difficult,” she said, “but I should be able to pull it together.”

 
Shayna Murphy, a junior at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, had to double her work schedule after an expected student loan failed to come through.
(Photo by MJ Maloney, Black Star, for CrossTalk)
 
Murphy and the Massachusetts students were caught up in a particular, and spreading, credit crisis that began well before the current global one became a topic of everyday conversation. Beginning in late 2007, student lenders started playing hard-to-get. By spring 2008, almost every day seemed to bring word of yet another student-loan source scaling back, deciding either to serve fewer schools, or make fewer loans or none at all. The list of the totally or partially disabled swelled to include every type of provider—banks, student-loan companies and non-profit state student-lending agencies. (continue)

 

The Engaged University
Northern Kentucky University is building closer links to its community

 
   
By Jon Marcus
Highland Heights, Kentucky

The Introductions have been made, the speeches finished, the endless litany of benefactors thanked when the blast of an unseen and unmuffled engine suddenly revs to life, shaking the arena and the polite crowd gathered in it with an ear-blasting, methanol-fueled roar.

James Votruba smiles. “It’s the faculty senate,” he jokes.

Nothing could ruin this day. Wielding a giant pair of scissors, Votruba is about to cut the ceremonial ribbon on the new $69 million, 10,000-seat Bank of Kentucky Center at Northern Kentucky University, where he is the president. In addition to the university’s NCAA Division II men’s and women’s basketball teams, the arena is designed to host events including Cirque du Soleil, performers such as Carrie Underwood, and the Monster Truck Tour (which accounts for the interruption from the monster truck concealed from the audience behind a curtain).

The week before, Votruba had presided at the opening of a sleek new $37 million student union with a Starbucks, a sushi bar and plasma-screen TVs. They show, in continuous loops, the progress of the nearly $300 million worth of building projects on his campus, which, just 40 years before that, was a farm where cows grazed on 400 acres of empty, rolling fields seven miles southeast of Cincinnati.

The youngest of Kentucky’s eight state universities, NKU began as a community college that didn’t formally become a university until 1976, but has since seen growth that seems methanol fueled itself, racing to an enrollment of 15,000—up 50 percent in just the last ten years. And it plans to add about as many undergraduates in the next 12 years as it did in its first 25, toward a goal of 26,000 by 2020.

 
President James Votruba of Northern Kentucky University has vigorously promoted ties between the university and the surrounding region.
(Photo by Robin Nelson, Black Star, for CrossTalk)
 
What has put this once-provincial campus on the higher education map is its seemingly single-minded push to improve the lot of its surrounding region. It’s not some vague pledge. (Nor is it purely altruistic; if the public university helps the community, this perfectly reasonable strategy goes, the community will stand behind it.) A lynchpin of a regional development plan Votruba and others at the school coauthored, NKU has promised to help create some 50,000 new, high-paying jobs by 2015 and also help to double the number of Kentuckians with bachelor’s degrees to 800,000, as a means of supplanting the state’s traditional economic mainstays of coal-mining, horse-breeding, bourbon and tobacco, with advanced manufacturing, finance, healthcare, business services, and technology. That’s the reason for the push to boost enrollment—and the attraction, it seems, for rising numbers of arriving students. (continue)

 
     

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