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Weekly Update

Monday, August 09, 2010  
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Feds scrutinize higher education more closely
By Robert Head, Ph.D., President        

Dear students, faculty and staff:
Higher education continues to be the target of national debate. We are all aware of the critical public discussions on the need to better assess student learning, increase student persistence and graduation rates, and rein in tuition increases.

More recently, the for-profit sector has captured the majority of the focus. In addition to the debates mentioned above, Congress is also concerned about the rapid increase in federal student aid (Title IV) benefitting for-profit colleges and universities. These institutions provide education to 10 percent of college students nationally, but are the beneficiaries of 25 percent of all the Title IV money. Students of for-profits have an average student loan debt that is nearly 50 percent higher than students from private non-profit institutions. The loan default rate of for-profit students is three times higher than non-profit students. Additionally, one large for-profit university with over 400,000 students has a six-year graduation rate of 16 percent as reported by the National Center for Educational Statistics. Given this background, there is little doubt why Congress has intensified its review of for-profit higher education.

Last week, there were a number of reports of an investigation of 15 for-profits conducted by the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The outcome of the investigation was that for-profits encouraged fraud and the use of deceptive marketing practices. Details were shared through testimony to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The GAO’s report indicated that all 15 institutions made deceptive statements to investigators and four encouraged fraudulent practices including telling applicants to not list certain assets so that they could be eligible for more federal aid. In response to the news, one for-profit (Kaplan College) suspended student enrollment at two of its campuses.

HELP is by no means done. The investigation will continue and broaden in scope. Thirty additional for-profits have been asked for information on their recruitment practices, graduation rates and loan default rates. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) believes that the practices of public and non-profit institutions must also be reviewed. 

I anticipate that the public call for transparency will become louder and the level of government involvement in higher education practices will deepen.  Nevertheless, I am very confident that practices of Rockford College and other non-profit institutions will withstand the forthcoming scrutiny. I am less sure of the outcome for the for-profits.
Have a great week!

Robert L. Head, Ph.D.
President



College again named one of the ‘best in the Midwest’
For the seventh year in a row, Rockford College has been named one of the best colleges in the Midwest by the Princeton Review, a New York-based firm that specializes in resources on colleges for prospective students.

The prestigious program divides the U.S. into four regions and identifies 623 colleges nationally, 152 of them in the 12-state Midwest region that editors feel stand out as academically excellent schools of higher education. Only 25 percent (or one of four) of the nation’s 2,500 four-year colleges are represented in the regional "best colleges” category. Rockford College is one of only 19 colleges in Illinois included. 

The Princeton Review made its selections based on institutional data received from colleges across the U.S., visits to colleges over the years, and opinions of high school and independent advisors. The Review also polled the colleges’ students on various aspects of college life using an 80-question survey.

Among the special distinctions noted for Rockford College is its civic engagement, involving students in community-based nonprofit organizations and projects. As a result, the college has previously been named a "College with a Conscience” by the Review. 

For a complete look at The Princeton Review’s "Best Colleges Region by Region,” see www.PrincetonReview.com.   



Knowledge makes RC ‘Rock’
The marketing department is running a campaign to remind the campus community and the public just how much Rockford College "Rocks.” We are all doing amazing work and the stories should be shared! Each week, look forward to a new letter of "R.O.C.K.S.” as it will represent an area in which we excel. Find out more at www.rockford.edu/?RCRocks. Should you have submissions, please contact Cassie Swanson at casswanson@rockford.edu. Here is this week's story: 

K: Knowledge.
Several new programs have been added to our esteemed list of majors, minors and concentrations. Graphic design is a new concentration in the art/art history program; performing arts is offering a new track in the BFA with acting/directing; the education department is now offering both an undergraduate and graduate program in early childhood; and the MBA now has two additional tracks in project management and entrepreneurship.



Where’s Robert?
August 9 – August 15, 2010 
August 11: Rockford Area Economic Development Council’s Education Solutions meeting
August 12: Rockford Chamber of Commerce’s Mayor’s Business Luncheon   
August 12: Dedication ceremony at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Rockford



From the Wellness Committee: Boost your immunity
A good night’s sleep may be one way to fight off a cold. In one study, adults who slept less than seven hours a night had triple the risk of catching a cold compared to those who slept more than eight hours. Researchers interviewed participants in the study about their sleeping habits, and then dosed them with nasal drops containing one of the viruses responsible for the common cold. The virus took hold more readily in those who were less rested, suggesting that lack of sleep may have weakened their immune systems.

Source: Archives of Internal Medicine



Out and about
Events of interest to the Rockford College community and their families.

Boone County Fair, general hours are 10 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday at the Boone County Fairgrounds, 8791 Illinois 76, Belvidere; Livestock shows, antique tractor displays, tractor pulls, entertainment, carnival, food; country music star Rodney Atkins will perform on Friday on the Grandstand stage at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for Rodney’s performance range from $10 to $15; general admission is $4 Aug. 10, $5 on Aug. 11-15; free for 10 and younger. For information, admission and schedule of events, visit www.boonecountyfair.com.

Friday Night Flix: "Iron Man,” 7 p.m. at Davis Park, 320 S. Wyman St., Rockford. Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority presents free family movies. Free popcorn. Drinks and food available for purchase. Free rides on Rockford Mass Transit District trolley from 3:30 to 11:25 p.m. throughout downtown.

A Night at the Museum: A Benefit Under the Stars, at Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford. Meet the night watchman and discover the mischief the village’s inhabitants have created as you tour the grounds. Help the watchman set everything right before the night is over. Socialize, have hors d’oeuvres and desserts, win prizes. Cash bar. Held rain or shine. Proceeds benefit the museum’s education department. Tickets are $60. For more information, call 815-397-9112 or visit www.midwayvillage.com.



In the news
Prof. Fred Rezazadeh, economics, was interviewed by Channel 17 last Thursday about the state sales tax holiday for back-to-school items and clothing. 

RC student Vince Chiarelli was profiled in the "Get to Know Me” feature in the Rockford Register Star yesterday. You can read it here.

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