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Cost to study, live at Babson College to rise 3.4 percent to $59k for 2014-15

February 25, 2014 10:00 AM

The annual cost to study and live at Babson College will rise by about 3.4 percent to $59,614 next fall, campus officials said.

That figure includes $45,120 for full-time undergraduate tuition, which is about 3.7 percent higher than the current $43,520. The figure also includes $9,354 a year on average for housing and $5,140 for a meal plan, which are each about 2.5 percent higher than the current rates for room and board.

The figure does not include estimated additional costs, which the college estimates will run students another $4,200 a year to pay for health insurance, books, supplies, loan fees and other personal expenses.

“We remain committed to keeping Babson affordable by providing financial aid to as many students as possible,” said Babson spokesman Michael Chmura. “Next year, we will award nearly $32 million in undergraduate grants and scholarships, with a significant majority of these funds allocated to students with demonstrated financial need. We also are continuing our policy of permitting students in many circumstances to enroll in up to 20 credits while paying the same flat-rate tuition.”

“A Babson degree has never been more valuable,” he added, pointing out that the college, known as a leading institution for entrepreneurship, ranked 5th for midcareer earnings and 25th for 30-year return on investment, according to a survey this year of more than 1,000 schools nationwide.

Few other area colleges and universities have released their pricing for the 2014-15 academic year. Most will announce their rates over the next few months.

Amherst College, which costs $61,443 a year currently, is the state’s most expensive school, according to a Globe review of tuition, room, board and mandatory fee rates charged by higher education institutions in Massachusetts.

Full-time students living on campus at several other private Massachusetts schools – including Brandeis and Harvard universities, MIT, and Babson, Wellesley and Williams colleges – pay in the mid- to high-$50,000s, and estimated personal and travel expenses can push their total bill above the $60,000 mark.

Many other local private schools cost more than $50,000.

Officials at such pricy schools often point out that their institutions offer generous financial aid package that can drastically lower the actual price charged to students and their families.

The Associated Press reported recently that figures from the College Board show tuition and fees at four-year public colleges rose 27 percent in the past five years and tuition and fees at four-year private schools went up 14 percent.

An increasing number of schools are offering some students a guarantee that they will pay a single rate for the length of their college careers, according to the Associated Press.

And, the Globe reported recently that a number of private institutions across the country, including locally, are freezing tuition, guaranteeing graduation in four years, increasing aid or matching aid offers at competing institutions.

Though many schools tout their financial aid offerings, some experts say that potential students, particularly those from low-income backgrounds, see the so-called “sticker price” and are quickly scared off before applying because they don’t realize, or are perhaps confused by, what aid options are available.

Lesley University in Cambridge recently announced it will restructure its pricing to essentially build financial aid into base tuition and fee costs, lowering the school’s “sticker price” and potentially lowering the odds that prospective students will be scared off or confused by the actual cost.

Expensive, elite schools have been particularly criticized for not doing more to recruit and admit low-income students.

Harvard recently announced it will launch an outreach and awareness campaign to try to encourage more low-income students to apply.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Wheaton College names new president

February 24, 2014 10:32 AM

Wheaton College announced it has picked Dennis Hanno to be its next president.

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Hanno, provost and senior vice president at Babson College, will be the eight president in Wheaton’s 180-year history when he officially takes over on July 15, officials said.

“Dennis is not only equipped to ensure a successful future for Wheaton, he embodies the values on which this school was built,” said a statement from Thomas J. Hollister, chair of Norton-based school’s trustee board which voted unanimously Saturday to appoint Hanno.

“So much of Dennis’ work speaks to the values, integrated coursework, and experiential learning that make Wheaton graduates uniquely qualified to enter the 21st century workforce,” he added.

Hanno, 58, said he was “extremely honored” to be chosen lead liberal arts and sciences college, where about 1,600 students are enrolled.

“Throughout my career, I have focused on the importance of diversity, a student-centered approach, and broadening the scope of what students study – from the arts and humanities to the social sciences and the sciences,” said Hanno. “Wheaton College is grounded in values that have inspired my life’s work, and I see tremendous possibilities ahead for this vibrant seat of higher learning.”

Wheaton’s current president, Ronald Crutcher, has announced that he plans to step down in June after 10 years leading the college.

Since 2006, Hanno has held several senior leadership positions at Babson College, helping to increase the focus on liberal arts learning and to integrate entrepreneurial though and socially responsible management into the curriculum there.

He also founded and has led education and development programs in Africa, including the Babson-Rwanda Entrepreneurship Center in Rwanda and the Babson Entrepreneurial Leadership Academy, which works in Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana and Rwanda.

Hanno worked previously as an accounting professor at Boston College and then the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The Glenfield, N.Y. native earned a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Notre Dame, a master’s in accounting from Western New England College and a doctorate in management from UMass Amherst.

Harvard Business School professor and former president of Babson, Leonard A. Schlesinger, applauded Wheaton for selecting his former colleague.

“He is simply one of the most genuinely engaged academic leaders I have ever known. He knows everybody around the college and everything that is going on; is equally comfortable at a faculty curriculum meeting, a student athletic or social event, a budgeting session or with community leaders on one of his regular Africa trips with students, staff and alumni,” he said in a statement.

"The Wheaton College community has made an inspired choice," added Schlesinger. "Working along with Dennis the college will reach heights and aspirations it has yet to imagine.”

Babson President Kerry Healey thanked Hanno for his work there, congratulated him on his new job and wished him success.

"During his years at Babson, Dennis has been an outstanding leader, teacher, mentor and friend to so many of our students, staff, faculty and alumni," she wrote to the campus community.

"Dennis has left an indelible mark on Babson by living our mission to educate entrepreneurial leaders who create social and economic value everywhere," she added. "Whether on campus or in Rwanda—in class, as dean and as provost—Dennis never missed an opportunity to connect learning with life experience. He inspired our students and community members to look at the world differently, and to take action to change it for the better."

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

UMass official Katherine Craven named Babson College chief administrative officer

February 7, 2014 12:00 PM

Babson College today named Katherine Craven, a high-ranking official for the University of Massachusetts, as its new chief administrative officer.

In her new leadership position, Katherine Craven will supervise Babson's critical operations including campus and community affairs, human resources, facilities, finance, information technology, risk management, summer programs, and sustainability, campus officials announced. She is scheduled to start Feb. 25.

“Katherine Craven’s 20-year track record in government and higher education, and her highly regarded approach to team building and community engagement, makes her an exceptional fit to lead our administrative and business operations during this critical time,” Babson President Kerry Healey said in a statement.

Craven will leave her role as executive director of the UMass Building Authority and assistant vice president for capital finance for the University of Massachusetts.

“Katherine has provided outstanding leadership of the UMass Building Authority, helping to create and oversee a $3.8 billion, five-year capital plan that will allow us to continue the dramatic physical transformation of our five campuses,” UMass president Robert L. Caret said in a statement. “Her stewardship has brought impressive credit ratings and strong demand for UMass bonds that have allowed us to maintain the momentum created in recent years and that provide our students faculty and staff with facilities that enable them to achieve at the highest level.”

Philip W. Johnston, a member of the UMass Board of Trustees and chairman of the UMass Building Authority, praised Craven’s work at UMass.

“Katherine has been a tremendous leader of the UMass Building Authority who brought impeccable credentials to the position and whose knowledge of construction financing has served the university incredibly well,” he said. “She leaves an indelible mark on UMass.”

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Reports of sexual assaults rise on Boston-area college campuses

February 3, 2014 11:00 AM

Reports of sexual assaults at Boston-area colleges have risen over the past five years, a Globe review of federally reported data has found.

Campus safety experts say the rise in reporting of sexual assaults suggests that many colleges – pushed by government agencies, victims, and new federal guidelines – are improving efforts to address the problem by expanding education and outreach and by more thoroughly reporting the widely underreported crime.

“When we see sexual assault numbers increase, that hopefully means the barriers to reporting are finally beginning to be addressed, which means you are beginning the steps to solve the problem,” said S. Daniel Carter, director of the 32 National Campus Safety Initiative who has spent more than two decades studying campus safety.

An estimated 88 percent of college victims do not formally report sexual assaults, according to a federal study.

Across 22 of the largest campuses in and around Boston, reports of “forcible sex offenses” rose by nearly 40 percent between 2008 and 2012, according to the most recent data supplied by colleges as required under the federal Clery Act.

The total of 113 sexual assaults reported in 2012 at the Boston-area colleges reviewed for this report is the highest level in a decade, and mirror trends at campuses nationwide. Meanwhile, reports of other serious type of crime at area schools – murder, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, motor vehicle theft, and arson – have declined or barely increased, according to the federal data.

The Clery reports cover allegations of crimes that occurred on campus, including dorms and other public property; at property owned by but separated from the main campus; and fraternities and sororities. They exclude other off-campus housing.

Below are examples from some of the schools’ with data that stood out:

Harvard

Over the past five years, Harvard University has consistently reported more sexual assaults per year, and more incidents per enrolled student, than any other campus in the Boston area. In 2012, 38 cases were reported, up from 19 in 2008.

Harvard officials said the university has been active in recent years in trying to address the issue, including creating in 2002 a centralized office with victim-support services and resources to help students learn about sexual assault prevention and response.

“We firmly believe that more robust reporting of sexual assaults by victims is an important component of our efforts to prevent these crimes and ensure that victims get the support that they need,” said Harvard spokesman Kevin Galvin.

UMass Boston

UMass Boston reported the second-highest number of alleged assaults in 2012, at 13, up from 0 five years earlier.

Crystal Valencia, a spokeswoman for the school, said none of the 2012 incidents involved a student from the university and only one of the 2012 reported incidents occurred on campus. The others happened at off-campus property the university either owns, leases, or controls.

“UMass Boston is committed to maintaining the highest standards for the safety and security of every person on campus,” Valencia said.

BU, Northeastern

Over the past five years, Harvard has led all local schools reporting on average about 10 sexual assaults each year for every 10,000 students. Still, those rates are still well-below estimates of actual annual rape rates. For instance, a 2007 Department of Justice-funded study estimated that about 5.2 percent of college women, or 520 in every 10,000, are sexually assaulted each year; the study did not calculate a rate for men or men and women together.

Other large local schools have reported significantly fewer sexual assaults each year. Over the past five years, Boston University and Northeastern University have each reported on average about two sexual assaults each year for every 10,000 students.

Alison Kiss, executive director of the Clery Center for Security On Campus, a Pennsylvania-based nonprofit that trains colleges and universities to comply with the Clery Act, said she’s usually most alarmed by Clery reports with low sexual assault figures.

“We constantly tell parents and students that higher sexual assault numbers aren’t necessarily a bad thing,” she said. “It often means students know where to go to report and that they’re comfortable doing so.”

“I’m typically more concerned when I see a school reporting zeroes across the board,” Kiss added.

Yet, “All too-often it’s the colleges with the higher statistics that get labeled as being dangerous when in fact they’re usually the ones who are doing a better job reporting,” Carter said.

Madeleine Estabrook, associate vice president for student affairs at Northeastern, said the university is “very diligent” in reporting its Clery data.

She said the school’s low sexual assault reporting may be due to a wide range of variables that could impact the data, including the school’s geographic location and configuration, the number of students living on campus and the university’s efforts around sexual assault prevention and response.

“The work that is done to make the campus safe in secure is a very important variable to consider,” Estabrook said.

She said that five years ago, with help from a grant from the Department of Justice, the university revamped its violence support, response and education programming. That effort included building a collaboration among existing services on the campus, uniting programs around sexual assault, alcohol use and other campus safety issues.

Estabrook said the university's programming around campus safety is regarded as "cutting edge not only in Boston but also nationally."

BU created a campus crisis center in 2012 to focus on rape and sexual assault prevention and support for victims of such acts as well as other forms of physical abuse, such as hazing.

Colin Riley, a spokesman for BU, said the university is thorough and accurate in its reporting of Clery data.

And, "We also recognize it’s very important that students feel comfortable reporting," he said.

Riley said the university works to ensure students are aware of the issue.

"This is a topic that is frequently discussed on campus," he said.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Congress, experts call on federal officials, campuses to improve campus sexual assault data collection efforts

February 3, 2014 11:00 AM

More than three dozen members of Congress have written to the federal office in charge of enforcing the Clery Act, calling on it to do a better job of collecting data on campus sexual assaults.

Advocacy groups and researchers have been calling for better, more transparent data collection for years. The Globe’s review of Clery data -- federally mandated reports on campus crime -- found that the number of assaults reported by most, if not all, campuses – both locally and nationally – over the past decade have been much lower than estimates of numerous studies.

Even with a spike in reported campus sexual assaults over the past five years, the rates schools are reporting come nowhere close to figures in a 2007 Department of Justice-funded study which estimated that about 5.2 percent of college women are sexually assaulted each year.

Experts say such low numbers tend to mean schools either need to do more to make students feel comfortable reporting the crime or schools need to do a more thorough, honest job in their methods for collecting and reporting the data, or a combination of the two. Stronger federal oversight could be a key driver for this, too, experts say.

Campuses urged to monitor prevalence, not just reported cases

One part of the letter signed by 39 members of Congress called on the US Education Department's Office for Civil Rights to require colleges and universities to conduct anonymous surveys of students to more accurately report how prevalent sexual assault is on each campus – not simply how often it is reported.

An estimated 88 percent of victims do not formally report the crime, according to a 2007 study funded by the Department of Justice.

David Lisak, a clinical psychologist who has spent the past three decades researching campus sexual assault, said the fact that few, if any, schools study how prevalent the crime actually is on their campuses “underscores one of the major shortcomings in how higher education has been handling sexual assault.”

Lisak, who recently retired from teaching at UMass Boston, has advised US military officials on how to prevent and respond to sexual assault cases at service academies.

He said that changes made by the Department of Defense in just the past several years has led military academies to implement better methods of collecting meaningful data about sexual assaults than higher education has managed over the past two-and-a-half decades since the Clery Act was signed into law in 1990.

The country’s three military academies not only compile annual statistics on sexual assaults reported to authorities, but also conduct an anonymous survey of cadets and midshipmen every two years to get a more accurate picture of how many sexual assaults actually occur.

For example, during the 2011-12 academic year, 58 sexual assaults were reported at the service academies, according to a report from the Department of Defense to Congress. But an anonymous survey estimated the actual number of sexual assaults at the academies that year was about 526.

“We’ve really been focusing our efforts on trying to increase reporting so victims can get the help they need,” said Department of Defense spokeswoman Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson.

Asked why few, if any, higher education institutions anonymously survey students regularly about sexual assault, Lisak said: “Because then the numbers are out there.”

“There’s still a lot of resistance,” he added. “All universities have mechanisms already in place [to conduct such a survey]. This would not be technically challenging really at any level. We really just need the will.”

The Jan. 29 letter from members of Congress also urges the education department office to: be more transparent about its investigations and enforcement actions around campus sexual assault and harassment; create a central, public database about laws and guidelines schools are expected to follow around the issue of sexual assault; and to require campuses to be more transparent in disclosing what each is doing to prevent and respond to sexual assault, including making available information about crime statistics, enforcement actions, and students’ rights under Title IX.

When asked for a response to the letter, Education Department press secretary Dorie Nolt said in a statement: “We have received the letter and will respond to it. We agree that this is a very important issue, which is why we have prioritized civil rights enforcement and are working to galvanize a national effort to help prevent sexual assaults and to better support survivors of sexual violence. In fact, last week, President Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum to establish the ‘White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault.’”

Federal department unsure why some Clery figures seem off

The figures that the Globe reviewed for its story on campus sexual assault came directly from an online database run by the federal Education Department.

Every higher education institution in the US that receives federal financial aid is required by law to submit he data to the department. The department then posts those figures to the website, www.ope.ed.gov/security.

The data dates back to as early as 2001, but some of the crime figures, particularly between 2001 and 2003 seem unbelievably high.

Jane Glickman, a spokeswoman for the federal Education Department, also doubted the validity of some of the data between 2001 and 2003 but said she had no idea why the numbers were likely wrong and said she did not know of anyone in the department would could provide an explanation for the apparent inconsistencies.

She said the department simply collects the data from schools and posts the numbers online. She said the department tries to check back with schools if certain numbers seem off, but otherwise the department does not analyze the data it collects.

Glickman also declined to comment on, and said she did not know anyone in the department who could comment on, why the Globe’s review found that the number of sexual assaults has risen in recent years while other crime types have gone down or held relatively steady.

“The law calls on the department to collect campus crime data and ensure that institutions are complying with the law’s provisions,” Glickman wrote in an email. “We do not analyze the data or do research into why certain crime categories are going up or down.”

However, the department is the only agency in charge of enforcing the Clery Act and its data reporting rules.

In the 15 years between 1997 and 2012, the department completed a total of 59 investigations into schools suspected of not being in full compliance with the Clery Act, according to a list of the finished reports on the education department’s website that the spokeswoman referred the Globe to. Of those, 34 investigations were completed in the four years between 2009 and 2012.

She said the department does not disclose investigations that are ongoing.

The department conducts such reviews if: a complaint is filed; “a media event raises certain concerns;” the school’s independent audit “identifies serious non-compliance;” or through a “review selection process,” the website says.

Glickman said the department takes all complaints and reviews seriously but noted that some reviews take several years and said that the department has limited resources to conduct such investigations.

A 2002 study funded by the Department of Justice found that about only 36.5 percent of schools reported “crime statistics in a manner that was fully consistent with the Clery Act.”

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights also investigates allegations of colleges and universities violating Title IX, the federal civil rights law protecting students from general discrimination.

Over the past several years, the number of such complaints related specifically to campus sexual violence has risen, according to data provided by department spokesman Jim Bradshaw.

In the both the 2009 and 2010 fiscal year there were 11 such complaints. There were 18 complaints in 2011 and 17 the following year before the number of complaints spiked to 30 during 2013.

In the department’s current fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, there have already been 13 such complaints.

The office said it currently has 39 pending Title IX investigations involving allegations of sexual violence at post-secondary institutions.

Still, experts say more needs to be done to hold schools accountable.

“The Office for Civil Rights is broken,” said Colby Bruno, an attorney at the Victim Rights Law Center in Boston, who runs training programs about the education rights of sexual assault victims and helps some students file federal complaints against their schools.

“The law isn’t really lacking. Where we’re lacking is enforcement,” she added.

Getting Clery data from the Education Department website, especially for years prior to 2005, can be confusing and cumbersome.

Even after the data is found, it’s can be difficult to interpret, in part because schools are given leeway in how they interpret certain aspects of the law and thus how they report. For instance, Glickman said schools “have latitude” in how they determine what areas around their campus to include when they report Clery data.

“To me the data is vitally important because there’s a sense of accountability and I think schools need that,” said Bruno. “Reliable data is also important because we want to see if programming and prevention efforts are working.”

Other past, ongoing efforts to improve Clery

The letter from members of Congress was led by Democrat US Representatives Jackie Speier, of California, and Carolyn Maloney, of New York. The letter also said the office should provide campuses with better guidance about how to respond to same-sex violence and gender identity discrimination.

In recent years, some efforts have been made to improve the effectiveness of the Clery Act.

In a “Dear Colleague Letter” issued April 4, 2011, the federal education department outlined a series of guidelines for how colleges should respond to sexual harassment and violence.

Last year, Congress passed and President Barack Obama signed an updated version of the Violence Against Women Act, which added a section called the Campus Sexual Violence Elimination Act, a law setting new standards for how campuses report sex offenses. Schools will need to comply with those new regulations for the first time when they submit Clery reports this coming fall.

And, last week, to go along with the release of a White House report on the prevalence and devastating effects of sexual assault on college campuses, Obama created a task force of senior administration officials who, with input from campus officials, students, advocacy groups and law enforcement, will try to find ways to protect students from rape and sexual assault.

Obama said he the group’s first body of work is due in 90 days.

Advocates for sexual-assault victims say that, to go along with changes at the federal level, they have seen a surge in activism around the issue from students, campus organizations, and alumni.

Particularly, “We’re seeing a lot more victims willing to step forward and publicly talk about what happened to them and using that as a pressure for change,” said Scott Berkowitz, president of the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, a Washington, D.C.-based anti-sexual violence organization.

“Hopefully that will put some pressure on colleges about how they deal with it,” he added.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

Suspicious object found at Babson last week was pesticide equipment

January 30, 2014 04:07 PM

The suspicious device found at Babson College last Friday that was destroyed in a controlled detonation turned out to be pesticide equipment unintentionally left behind by a crew the night before, according to the State Fire Marshal's office.

The pesticide device, which distributes chemicals into cracks and crevices, was used by exterminators to ward off dust mites and bed bugs, said Jennifer Mieth, spokeswoman for the State Fire Marshal's office.

Babson spokesman Michael Chmura said that the extermination crew was performing routine pesticide maintenance at the college's Executive Conference Center on the night before the incident.

Mieth said the crew accidentally left the device behind, adding that it was "not a hoax device."

The device was found Friday around 7 a.m. near the conference center, and was destroyed by State Police bomb technicians about four hours later out of “an abundance of caution," college officials previously told the Globe.

Wellesley Deputy Police Chief Jack Pilecki told the Globe by telephone on Friday that the object was “what appears to be a pipe with a piece of small copper tubing coming out of the top and what looks like to be a rubber base to it.’’

A portion of the center was evacuated after the device was found. Wellesley police and firefighters and State Police all responded to the incident.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Obama pledges stand against college sexual assaults

January 22, 2014 02:30 PM

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Surviving in Numbers

The numbers are small and large. They symbolize days, months, and years. They describe conversations had and not had. They represent attackers and attacks, scars and bruises, nightmares and suicide attempts.

But most importantly, the numbers illustrate resilience in the face of sexual assault--legal cases won, fears abated, and messages spread.

They inform the sexual assault awareness campaign "Surviving in Numbers," a Tumblr of posters submitted by victims and an exhibit at Massachusetts colleges and universities.

"The numbers are powerful because they give freedom for someone to express their story in the numbers they choose," said Ali Safran, the creator of "Surviving in Number and a Mount Holyoke senior, in November. "They also make it easier from people who are not survivors to understand because numbers are an easy concept."

Here are two striking ones: One in five women has been sexually assaulted at college, a new White House report found, and only 12 percent of student victims report the assault.

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday an initiative to combat sexual assaults, particularly those on college campuses. Obama assigned a newly formed task force of college administrators 90 days to formulate a list of recommendations on preventing and responding to college sexual assaults, reported The Associated Press.

The White House Council on Women and Girls report, entitled "Rape and Sexual Assault: A Renewed Call to Action," found that 22 million American woman and 1.6 million men have been victims of sexual assaults. The criminal justice response is often lacking, the report said, due to police bias and inadequate training.

‘‘No one is more at risk of being raped or sexually assaulted than women at our nation’s colleges and universities,’’ said the report.

According to a Boston.com study of 2013 Clery Act reports, there were 101 reports of forcible sex offenses and one report of a non-forcible sex offense at local colleges and universities.

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Forcible sex offenses on Boston-area campuses predominantly occurred in residential buildings.

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Reports of sexual assaults on campuses have increased in recent years. In 2010, 68 forcible sex offenses were reported, according to Boston-area colleges' Clery Act reports. At Harvard University, the number of reports nearly doubled between 2011 and 2012.

Harvard University Police Department spokesman Steven Catalano told Boston.com in September that because rapes are under-reported, he hopes the increase in reported cases means more victims are coming forward and not that more crimes are occurring on campus.

Decreasing the number of cases and making reporting them easier is the goal of Obama's task force.

"The president is committed to solving this problem, not just as president of the United States, but as a father of two girls," senior advisor Valerie Jarrett told the AP.

Safran said her own sexual assault came the year before college. "Surviving in Numbers" was inspired by her recollections of that time.

"I thought about the number of people who I had told my story to with no result," said Safran. "Then, I focused more on the number of things I've done since the assault."

Since it launched in October 2012, "Surviving in Numbers" has received more than 250 anonymous poster submissions. Safran has worked with students at Boston University, Tufts University, and Mount Holyoke College, displaying the signs on campus and offering time and supplies for victims to make one of their own.

Safran said she hopes the Obama administration will elicit survivor input in addressing the prevalence of sexual assaults.

"It’s a great step," she said, of the initiative. "And college campuses are a great place to start."

Online college courses still popular, but rate of growth has slowed, says Babson study

January 15, 2014 03:31 PM

Enrollment in online college courses continues to remain popular, even as yearly growth stagnates and the importance of such courses garners mixed reviews from academic leaders nationwide, according to an independent study released Wednesday.

The Babson-affiliated survey that studies the nature and extent of online education found that about 7.1 million people took at least one online course in 2013, which is 6 percent more than last year.

However, that 6 percent increase is the lowest surge recorded by the survey in about a decade, survey authors said. The largest swell in online enrollment was 36.5 percent in the fall of 2005, according to the study.

Some academic leaders are also growing wary of online learning’s place at their institutions: 74 percent of officials thought the online courses were the same or superior to face-to-face classes, a drop from last year’s 77 percent. And the number of leaders who said they see virtual learning as part of their long-term plan fell from 69 percent to 65 percent.

Study authors, however, argued that online learning was becoming generally more accepted -- and popular -- among the colleges they surveyed.

For example, last year’s 69 percent of institutions considering online learning as key to their long-term strategy was up from less than 50 percent in 2002.

The report, released Wednesday, also said that an all-time high of 33 percent of higher education students take at least one course online – compared to 2002, when about 9 percent took one. The vast majority of academic leaders – 90 percent – also said they think it’s likely that students will take at least one online class in the next five years.

“The 2013 survey findings reinforce the first-hand experience of our members, who continue to demonstrate that online learning has become a fundamental component of today’s higher education environment,” said Joel Hartman, Sloan Consortium board president and vice provost and CIO of the University of Central Florida.

And although the growth in online learning has stagnated, study authors said the surge still beats general college enrollment numbers.

“While the rate of growth in online enrollments has moderated over the past several years, it still greatly exceeds the growth in overall higher education enrollments,” said study co-author I. Elaine Allen, co-director of the Babson Survey Research Group.

The study also notes that colleges offering free massive open online courses, or MOOCs, increased from 2.6 percent to 5 percent, but noted that still shows a vast minority are embracing the approach. About 10 percent said they are in the planning stages to offer MOOCs.

Currently, the Cambridge-based edX, a renowned MOOC site run by Harvard and MIT, offers courses from 30 different universities around the country and world, including UC Berkeley, Cornell, Georgetown, and Boston University.

But most institutions - 53 percent - report they are still undecided about offering MOOCs, and 33 percent say they have no plans to offer one. Only 23 percent of academic leaders believe that MOOCs are sustainable for offering online courses, down from 28 percent in 2012.

The survey interviewed 2,800 colleges in the US. The Babson Survey Research Group administered the survey, and the College Board helped with data collection.

The report has been able to remain independent through the support of Pearson and the Sloan Consortium.

“Our goal is to equip our partners with the services and solutions they need to help more students graduate and become workforce ready,” said Todd Hitchcock of Pearson Online Learning Services.

For more on the study, visit the survey's website.

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Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com

Younger voters slip away from Obama amid health care missteps, spying disclosures, gridlock

January 12, 2014 09:54 AM

An electric atmosphere took over the University of New Hampshire last Election Day. Students covered sidewalks with messages in chalk, urging students to vote — and to vote for President Obama. Buses and minivans circled campus, shuttling students to the polls.

The efforts paid off: Obama carried Durham, N.H., by a two-to-one vote, on his way to winning the crucial swing state.

A little more than a year later, the mood has changed — alarmingly, for Democratic Party leaders — in a shift that also is reflected in national polls. Students are increasingly turned off by politics, and by the Democratic Party. Even those who were enthusiastic about Obama say they are jaded by gridlock in Washington, disillusioned by a president they thought would be transformational.

“The public has seen that it wasn’t magic,” said Tyler Gullbrand, president of the UNH College Democrats.

Globe subscribers can read the entire story here.

Babson extends application deadline due to extreme weather

January 7, 2014 01:17 PM

In an act of warmth, Babson College has extended its application deadline for prospective students by about a week and a half because of the extreme weather conditions that have hit much of the country.

The college's director of admissions wrote on the school's website that the original deadline of Jan. 3 for "regular decision" applicants has been pushed back to Jan. 15.

Matt Rocheleau can be reached at matthew.rocheleau@globe.com. Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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