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Thanksgiving Break News Roundup

Published:  November 27, 2006

Activist Outlines Plan to End Affirmative Action

Former California Regent Ward Connerly is predicting the end of affirmative action and race-based preferences. Connerly contends that an "anti-affirmative action wave [is] washing over America" following the victory of Michigans Proposition 2 banning the consideration of race and gender in public education and hiring. Connerly is planning on supporting other "civil rights initiatives" similar to Michigans in one or more states, including Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Missouri or South Dakota. According to Connerly, if an anti-affirmative action proposal can pass in a largely Democratic state such as Michigan, it can pass anywhere.

Student Lenders Look to Develop Democratic Connections

Student lenders, scared of being shut out of Congressional decisions on student loans, are moving to open communication lines with Democrats. Democrats are planning on cutting student loan interest rates, and lenders are worried that the money to pay for those cuts will come from their federal subsidies. The student loan industry has invested heavily in and benefited from Republican control of Congress. Now, student lenders appear to be increasing their outreach efforts to Democrats, including inviting George Miller to address a student-loan trade meeting this week.

Nelnet Plan May Give CEOs Large Bonuses in 2007

Nelnet is planning on giving its co-CEOs a generous bonus plan next year, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Mike Dunlap and Stephen Butterfield will each earn $500,000 for every $1 per share the company makes in 2007, a deal that would mean bigger bonuses than they have received in the past. If the plan had been in effect this year, they each would receive a $1.15 million bonus. Of course, a chunk of Nelnets earnings are the result of its exploitation of a federal subsidy guaranteeing lenders a 9.5% return on certain student loans. The Education Departments Inspector General thinks Nelnet is required to return $1.2 billion worth of improperly claimed 9.5% loan subsidies. A final decision is expected by the Secretary of Education any day.

Part-Time Community College Students Show Low Engagement Levels

A survey of student engagement at community colleges has found that part-time students are not as actively engaged with their institutions of higher education as full-time students. Part-time students are less likely to talk about career plans with advisers or discuss grades and assignments with faculty. The majority of students at two-year institutions (61%) are part-time, and while the number of part-time students has increased over time, the gap in engagement between part-time and full-time students has remained steady. The survey found that community college students rate academic advising as one the most important institutional services, but only 55% reported consulting an academic advisor "sometimes or often."

CEO of Accenture Calls for Community College Improvements

The CEO of Accenture has issued a call to strengthen community colleges in a Boston Globe op-ed. William D. Green believes that community colleges are the key to American competitiveness and a strong economy. A graduate of a community college himself, Green details the challenges that community colleges are now facing, including declining state support and decreasing affordability. He views community colleges as a critical stepping stone to four-year colleges, and feels that articulation agreements and transfer options between two-year and four-year institutions need to be improved.

Two Universities in Chicago Plan to Keep Early Admissions

The University of Chicago and Northwestern University have announced plans to continue their early admissions processes. Both universities believe that their early admissions options do not disadvantage low-income applicants. The associate provost at Northwestern said that Northwestern is "not disadvantaging students as it appears those three schools in the East are," in reference to the decisions of Harvard, Princeton, and the University of Virginia to eliminate early admissions. The University of Chicago said that it found almost no difference between the racial and socio-economic profile of the early and regular applicant pools. The University of Chicagos process does not bind early applicants to enroll at the university, while Northwestern does require early applicants to attend.

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