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What’s Hot in Higher Ed 2/1/19

February 1, 2019 by Erik Gross

Hampshire College Struggles to Stay Open

Hampshire College, a small liberal arts college in Amherst, Massachusetts, recently announced that it will be seeking a merger with a larger institution in order to remain in operation, and may not admit an incoming class for fall 2019. Hampshire College was founded in 1970 during a wave of experimentation in higher education, and offers an alternative structure in which each student designs his or her major, and receives oral evaluations in lieu of grades. Small colleges and alternative institutions have struggled financially in recent years, as a tough job market pushes students toward schools that offer stronger credentials. While Hampshire’s structure does not meet many of ACTA’s standards for a robust liberal arts education, American higher education is strengthened by its wide diversity of approaches to learning.

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College Endowment Growth is Slowing

Growth in college endowments slowed from 12% in 2017 to 8% in 2018, largely due to a struggling stock market. Many colleges are feeling financially strained due to decreasing enrollments, and low yields on endowments will only add to the pressure that they face. The slowdown in endowment growth was also felt most by less wealthy institutions. Schools with larger endowments were able to take on riskier investments, often with higher returns. Less well-off schools, however, had to settle for more stable investments, often with lower yields. This could add to a troubling trend in which the status quo is maintained and less prominent universities struggle to stay open.

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University of Missouri Guilty of Academic Fraud  

The NCAA has concluded that a former tutor at the University of Missouri–Columbia completed coursework for dozens of athletes, including the entirety of three online courses. NCAA’s Division I Committee on Infractions has imposed harsh sanctions on the University, including a ban on postseason competition for the football program next year. Missouri’s Chancellor Alexander Cartwright called the sanctions “harsh and inconsistent” and has stated that the University will seek to appeal them.

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Check here every Friday for the most important higher education news. Using over 24 years of expertise, ACTA will provide commentary on the pressing issues facing our nation’s colleges and universities.


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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