Archive for Friday, February 24, 2012

Heard on the Hill: Tuition compact idea spreading to other schools; physics professor finds extinctions could be related to radioactive isotope; KJHK radio station nominated for mtvU award

February 24, 2012


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U.S. News and World Report reports that tuition compact programs similar to KU's are taking hold at other places across the country.

They're in place at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania and Capitol College in Maryland, to name two.

I’ve written about the compact before, and KU always reports that parents absolutely love this program. I don’t think they’re lying, either. Everything I’ve heard and seen suggests that. It also began as a student initiative.

I’ve always thought, though, that KU got something out of this compact, too. See, I’ve always looked at it this way: If you average out tuition increases over four years — and KU is pretty honest that this is not a tuition savings plan but a budgeting tool — it stands to reason that you’ll be paying more than you would otherwise in years one and two and less than you would otherwise in years three and four.

It sounds pretty spiffy, too. Graduate in four years, and you know what you’ll pay.

The first year this was in place was the fall of 2007, and the compact locked Kansas residents into annual tuition costs of about $3,408 for a 15-hour semester.

That class saw almost 21 percent of its students drop out by the first year. So those students all paid more tuition than they would have otherwise.

And we also know how many of the incoming freshmen in 2007 graduated in four years, too: just under 36 percent. So those were the ones who took full advantage of the program.

Almost 30 percent came back for a fifth year. That means they were the first to see their previous tuition — set at $211 per credit hour in 2007 — take a big jump to the “standard” rate, to just more than $253, a 20 percent increase.

Then-Provost Richard Lariviere told the Kansas Board of Regents in 2007 that parents stood and applauded when this plan was announced.

It would be interesting to know how those folks feel about the idea today.

• Might the Earth have some sort of pulse?

Adrian Melott, a KU physics professor, thinks it might, according to research published in The Journal of Geology.

He and his colleagues noticed a radioactive isotope — strontium-87, to be precise — more heavily present in marine fossils that corresponded with low points in marine biodiversity that happened every 60 million years or so, according to the blog io9.

The isotope could come from radioactive decay of the element rubidium, common in the rocks of the earth’s crust. Melott and his colleagues posit that rubidium could have been released in massive erosion events caused by something called “continental uplift,” where the elevation of a region increases.

That process could have caused the continental shelf, where most marine life is found, to rise, too, decreasing the available space for marine life.

• KU’s student-run radio station, KJHK, is up for an mtvU Woodie award, which is given to one college radio station each year.

KJHK has already survived one round of voting and is now one of 25 semi-finalists.

Online voters are apparently key (and there seem to be quite a few of these sorts of things these days), and you can vote here.

The list will be pared down to 10 finalists, and then one winner.

• I’ll keep on bringing Heard on the Hill to you, even if the elevation here starts increasing without warning. I’ll need your tips to do it, though, so keep sending them to


Andreas Moeller 2 years, 9 months ago

"physics professor finds extinctions could be related to radioactive isotope". This headline is misleading, it reads like the isotope is the cause, whereas is it just the tool that indicates what is the cause behind the extinctions (they say). The main text catches is better.

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