Public Purpose Magazine, Fall 2010
Public Purpose Cover Fall 2010

Success for Adult StudentsLooking at the demographics of today’s student body, nontraditional is the new traditional. How can public universities best serve today’s older student population? By Stephen G. Pelletier
News stories just before Labor Day always capture the back- to-college ritual of young first-year students moving in a frenzy into dorms. There’s something comfortable and familiar in those accounts. Trouble is, they’re not a very accurate depiction of college life today.
As everyone who helps lead a university knows, the stereotypical student is but a sliver of today’s college- going population. Data reported by the consulting firm Stamats suggests that as few as 16 percent of college students today fit the so-called traditional mold: 18- to 22-years-old, financially dependent on parents, in college full time, living on campus.
The National Center for Education Statistics defines nontraditional students as meeting one of seven characteristics: delayed enrollment into postsecondary education; attends college part-time; works full time; is financially independent for financial aid purposes; has dependents other than a spouse; is a single parent; or does not have a high school diploma. Those criteria fit a wide swath of today’s college students.

Standing on Tradition:On-Campus Culture Thrives Despite Non-Traditional TrendsBy Virginia Myers
Once upon a time, college was a sequestered sort of experience. The ivory tower was anything but a disparaging term, and the elite of society went off unapologetically, gathering together to consider lofty ideals and ponder great thoughts in a heady and exclusive fraternity of scholars.
Today, college campuses go to great lengths to portray themselves as anything but elite. They strive to be inclusive and diverse, reach out to first generation students, and design programs that intentionally immerse students in “real world” experience, rather than protect them from the din of uneducated rabble.
But as established as the new approach to higher education has become, a healthy remnant of old-school collegial culture persists. It may not be as cloistered as it once was, but an on-campus concentration of young scholars learning and living together—the traditional undergraduate experience—remains popular and, some say, it is still the most effective approach to higher learning.

Highlighting the Needs of Veteran Students on College and University CampusesA Look at the Current Climate and Tomorrow’s Goals for Veterans on CampusBy Lee Erica Elder
Colleges and universities are recognizing and prioritizing the specific needs of veteran students on college and university campuses, and meeting these demands in a way that respects the challenges and barriers veteran students face as non-traditional learners. Today’s veteran students are aided in completing higher education by the biggest investment in veterans education since the original GI Bill, the Post-9/11 GI Bill. The core Post- 9/11 benefit pays for up to the highest amount of in-state undergraduate tuition and fees at a public educational institution in the state depending on a veteran student’s eligibility. Other associated benefits for eligible students include housing and book stipends. The optional Yellow Ribbon Program allows institutions to contribute toward veteran students’ tuition and fee costs that are higher than the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit (such as out-of-state charges); the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs then matches that contribution. “Given the generous nature of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, veterans now have the opportunity to attend almost any institution to which they can gain admittance,” says Ted Timmerman, associate director of the Office of Veterans Programs at Penn State University.

Presidents & Practices:Litigation MitigationBy Richard Rafes

Early in my career, I served as the general counsel to a distinguished and principled president. During a particularly frustrating moment when we could have settled a clearly frivolous lawsuit for a nominal amount, the president recited the famous misquote from the Quasi War: “Millions for defense, sir, but not one cent for tribute.” The result? Nine years and three lawsuits later, we successfully closed the dispute with the plaintiff. I doubt we spent millions (at that time the attorney general represented us at no cost), but in terms of time, negative publicity and stress, we experienced the agony of litigation.
Regardless of whether you are a plaintiff or a defendant, litigation is agony. The only real winners are the lawyers, who are compensated based on their time or on a contingency fee basis. Those of you who have been fortunate enough to avoid litigation may be unaware of the potential effects of lawsuits upon staff morale; the time commitment required to respond to discovery requests and depositions, as well as attending hearings and a trial; the harassment of being cross examined by a repugnant opposing counsel; and the stress of worrying about whether the judge and jury will understand the case and decide in the college/university’s favor. Consider yourself fortunate if you have never experienced the heart- wrenching moment just before a jury returns its verdict.
Here are 10 tips to help you avoid experiencing litigation.


Endsights:For Economic Development, Higher Ed Must Be Open for BusinessBy John R. Broderick

Colleges and universities typically have arm’s-length relationships with businesses and industries. Because of this, ideas and solutions generated by faculty experts and researchers sometimes
find their way to the marketplace, but sometimes not—depending too often on what my friends in mathematics might call randomness.
But today, the budget realities of our institutions of higher education and the economic slumps felt by many regions of the country lead some to argue for a new, hands-on model of collaboration between higher education and business/industry. Higher ed must be open for business.