Summer 2006 Journal: Urban Scholars

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BOSTON— The Summer 2006 issue of Connection: The Journal of the New England Board of Higher Education features key articles on college readiness, campus diversity efforts and the impact of student loan debt, as well as a look at graduation rates at New England’s community colleges.

Now in its 20th year, Connection is the journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe)—and America’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy.

The Summer 2006 Connection features the following articles:

Preparing Urban Scholars for College • A whopping 98 percent of the low-income, first-generation Boston students who complete the UMass Boston-based Urban Scholars program are accepted into one or more colleges. Nellie Mae Education Foundation President and CEO Blenda J. Wilson explores how this “best practice” in college readiness is preparing city students for leadership positions.

Inclusive Excellence • Standard indicators of excellence such as SAT scores are at an all-time high across the University of Connecticut’s entering class and so is enrollment of historically underrepresented African-American and Latino students. UConn Assistant Provost for Multicultural and International Affairs Damon A. Williams explains how the land-grant university is building capacity for diversity and change.

Smooth TransferFrancesca Purcell, associate director for academic policy at the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education, explains how the once-mundane administrative matter of transfer between community colleges and four-year institutions is re-emerging as a key tool for equity.

Community College Graduation Rates • New England’s 43 community and technical colleges enroll nearly 200,000 students, many of them high school dropouts, GED-earners, underprepared high school graduates, low-wage workers and adult learners seeking “retraining.” But could these gateways do a better job graduating the students for whom they open up opportunity? Connection reveals the New England community colleges with the highest and lowest graduation rates.

CC Leader • Ask one community college leader if hiring individuals who have not come through the ranks makes sense, and he will say absolutely not, the cultural adjustment is too difficult. Ask another, and she will say that with the right guidance and orientation, “outsiders” make excellent hires. Barbara Viniar, executive director of the Institute for Community College Development at Cornell University and former president of Berkshire Community College, explains why community colleges will increasingly go outside to fill the hundreds of presidencies and other key posts expected to open up over the next few years due to a wave of retirements.

Student Debt: Earnings Premium or Opportunity Cost? • Former nebhe staff writer Chuck O’Toole examines the impact of growing student loan debt on lifestyle and career choices. “The notion that not every degree brings more money, and that some risks may not pay off, is nearly heresy,” writes O’Toole.

A Summary of STEM Legislation • The United States and New England are not producing enough graduates in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to meet the demand for workers with these skills, and U.S. women and minorities remain significantly underrepresented in STEM fields. New England Council President James T. Brett offers a look at competing bills on Capitol Hill to beef up STEM education.

Athletic IQ • More than 7 million high school students—half the nation’s total—participated in high school athletics in the 2004-2005 school year. But this pipeline narrows precipitously at the college level where a comparatively meager 375,000 student athletes participate in NCAA sports. Bryan E. Carlson describes a new venture aimed at matching students to intercollegiate athletics.

A Regional Plan for College Readiness • New England’s colleges and universities may be gateways to opportunity, but too many urban and rural youths and adults retooling for a new workplace cannot get in the door, according to nebhe President and CEO Evan S. Dobelle. Dobelle explains how nebhe’s College Ready New England initiative will build a regional network of policymakers and educators to share successful methods of ensuring college readiness and success and develop marketing campaigns to impress upon hard-to-reach students and parents the value of a college degree in today’s job market. “Too many New Englanders think that college is a perk, an extra,” concludes Dobelle. “It isn’t. More and more, it’s what allows you to sustain a vibrant life.”

Nourishing Regional Relationships • nebhe Chair Mary R. Cathcart outlines two key challenges facing New England higher education: college readiness and civic engagement. “We will need to expand the dialogue about how we educate our children so they have what it takes to be accepted into college and persist through to graduation,” writes the former four-term Maine state senator, now with the University of Maine’s Margaret Chase Smith Policy Center. “Success,” she observes, “will depend on the relationships we are able to build within our communities, around our states and across New England.”

Editor’s Memo • Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney marks Connection’s 20th anniversary with an appreciation for the journal’s gadfly contributors ranging from Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz to Kaileigh Tara, former welfare mom-turned-mayor of Lewiston, Maine.

Books • Former Bentley College President Joseph M. Cronin reviews interim Harvard President Derek Bok’s Our Underachieving Colleges.


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