higher education

Here's what I remember about the beginning of the night: I'd planned to stay up late, for work. Later than usual, to watch President Obama's State of the Union address.

It was cold outside, January in D.C. A snowstorm was coming, and the digital antenna for my TV wasn't behaving. I was getting up often to adjust it.

I also remember the president had a lot of energy. It was 2014 and the economy was finally in shape. He wanted to make sure we knew.

About an hour into the speech, he got to the part about education, and said something that changed my life:

Seifler, Wikimedia Commons

When the boards of Kentucky’s public universities became too laden with Republican Party members in 2007, former Attorney General Greg Stumbo found a “clear violation” of the law and took the extraordinary step of filing suit against the person who made the appointments — former Gov. Ernie Fletcher.

Fletcher lost his re-election bid that year, and the man who defeated him, current Gov. Steve Beshear, settled the case. Beshear agreed to follow laws requiring the state’s collegiate boards to reflect the ratio of registered Democrats and Republicans in Kentucky.

Eight years later, under Beshear, the boards of Kentucky’s three biggest colleges are even more politically out of whack.


  The leaders of Kentucky’s higher education institutions are meeting next Monday to continue shaping their strategy ahead of the upcoming General Assembly session.

There's plenty of anxiety in the U.S. over getting into a top college. But a new Gallup poll suggests that, later in life, it doesn't matter nearly as much as we think. In fact, when you ask college graduates whether they're "engaged" with their work or "thriving" in all aspects of their lives, their responses don't vary one bit whether they went to a prestigious college or not.

A small number of universities are starting to go against the grain, reducing amenities and frills in favor of keeping the costs relatively low.

Neil Theobald is the president of Temple University, which recently began offering students $4,000 per year in grants — if they promise to limit the number of hours they work during the school year and graduate on time.

At some schools, the admissions process itself can work against low-income students, according to Georgia Nugent, former president of Kenyon College and a senior fellow at the Council of Independent Colleges.

Nugent says during her tenure at Kenyon, there were low-income students at the bottom of the admissions list who sometimes weren't accepted so the school could make room for more affluent students.

Murray State University

Murray State University’s Dr. Brian Van Horn is the newest President of the Association for Continuing Higher Education. The group elected him at its annual conference earlier this month in Lexington.  Van Horn currently serves as the dean of MSU’s Center for Continuing Education and Academic Outreach.  

The University of Louisville has announced it will hire a firm to look into the school’s financial management.

The board’s decision Thursday is a response to allegations by the IRS that a high-level employee wrote himself checks in excess of $2 million.

U of L spokesman Mark Hebert says the firm will review all internal audits for the past several years, review personnel with financial responsibilities and recommend whether more oversight is needed.


Despite rising tuition costs, higher education is still worthwhile because college-degree holders have higher incomes and better opportunities for employment, according to a report released Friday by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

Employers are increasingly requiring bachelor’s degrees as part of their hiring processes, the report said. In the next eight years, the report says, more than half of Kentucky jobs will require some sort of higher education.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says he plans no major changes to the state's public higher education system next legislative session. Haslam also says he has yet to decide if he will push for a bill to create a school vouchers program in Tennessee.