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Commentary on Kentucky – September 2011

By wmadministrator

Kentucky No. 1 in the Nation for Improved Higher Education Metrics
Over the past decade, Kentucky has improved faster than any state in the nation on key higher education performance measures, according to a new report by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems of Boulder, Colo.
“Realizing Kentucky’s Educational Attainment Goal: A Look in the Rear View Mirror and Down the Road Ahead” measures Kentucky’s rate of improvement on key metrics from 2000 to 2009.

Kentucky topped all states in three areas: improvement in the percent of working-age adults with college degrees; six-year graduation rates at four-year colleges; and undergraduate credentials awarded relative to the population with no college degree.

Kentucky ranked second in the nation in the rate of improvement of younger adults, ages 25 to 44, with college degrees, as well as improvement in the three-year graduation rates at two-year institutions. Total undergraduate credentials earned here increased at a rate that surpassed all but four states.

“This progress validates the vision of HB1 (Kentucky Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997), which created a new set of expectations for postsecondary education tied to higher levels of degree production, economic growth and greater opportunity for all citizens,” said Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

Current CPE Chair Paul Patton, who signed HB1 into law as governor, was present for a news conference announcing report results. While rightly celebrating the state’s progress, the officials present also stressed Kentucky must press on to better connect higher education with the state’s economic needs.
Among the report’s key findings:

• Since 2000, Kentucky’s college attainment rate for associate degrees and higher among adults age 25 to 64 improved from 24.5 to 30.5 percent. The percentage change was the largest of any state in the nation.

• The percentage of college degree-holders among younger adults improved from 27.3 to 33.7 percent. This moved Kentucky’s ranking from 44th in 2000 to 36th in 2009, more positions than any state.

• Six-year graduation rates at four-year institutions, public and private, improved nearly nine percentage points from 2000 to 2009, the most of any state. Kentucky moved from 44th to 35th.

• The three-year graduation rates at two-year institutions increased by roughly the same amount, the third highest percentage point change in the nation. Kentucky moved from 38th to 16th.

• Kentucky had the fifth highest percentage point change in total undergraduate credential and degree production (one year or more in length) of any state. Even more impressive considering the states ahead of Kentucky (Arkansas, Florida, Nevada and Virginia) benefited on this measure largely because of shifting demographics.

• The percentage change in the number of undergraduate credentials awarded per 1,000 adults with no college degree is the largest in nation. This measures market penetration and how well states are addressing populations in need. Kentucky jumped from 45th among states in 2000 to 36th in 2009.

Those results reflect the work of our state’s dedicated education establishment the past 14 years and represent a strong down payment toward a better quality of life for all Kentuckians. Let’s build on this positive momentum.

Siku Joins the Lou Zoo
The Louisville Zoo will soon have two polar bear cubs who call Glacier Run home. Siku, a 2-year-old male polar bear cub from the Toledo Zoo will join Qannik, the 7-month-old rescued Alaskan cub, and Arki, an adult female polar bear, along with the grizzly family of Inga, Otis and Rita. Chosen by schoolchildren on Alaska’s North Slope, Siku’s name means “ice” and Qannik’s name means “snowflake” in the Iñupiaq language. After arrival in Louisville, Siku will be off exhibit in a private den with an adjacent pool and play area for a standard 30-day quarantine before he enters exhibit rotation with Qannik and Arki. Polar bears are solitary in the wild so there is no plan exhibit them together. LouisvilleZoo.org offers viewing status updates on the Arctic natives.

Murray State Studying Links to Chinese University

Five Murray State University administration and faculty members spent the first week of September at Qingdao Agricultural University on China’s east coast, sharing expertise on equine, mass communication and MBA programs.

Catering to a rapidly growing Chinese interest in equestrian, QAU has one of its country’s first equine programs, which it modeled after the Murray curriculum.
A formal relationship between Qingdao and Murray State could have a significant impact on the horse business in Kentucky as QAU strives to become pre-eminent in China’s education efforts in the equine industry.

Murray State officials on the trip were Jay Morgan, associate provost for graduate education and research; Jim Carter, vice president for institutional advancement; Alyx Shultz, assistant professor of equine science; Bob Lochte, chair of the journalism mass communication program; and Tim Todd, dean of the college of business.

Li Hanwen, managing director of the Kentucky China Trade Center, also participated in the China visit.

During October, in another possible benefit to Kentucky, Bill Goodman, host of KET’s “One To One” program, is traveling to Beijing, China, with a Kentucky Chamber of Commerce group to discuss the possibility of broadcasting Kentucky Educational Television programming there.

America’s Best Car Gets Better

Toyota’s Camry is still the best selling passenger car in the United States. The new 2012 Camry goes on sale Oct. 3 – at a lower price than last year – and was previewed Aug. 23 at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing facility in Georgetown, Ky., where it is made.

Camry has been America’s bestselling car for nine consecutive years and 13 of the last 14 years. The October 2011 issue of Car and Driver magazine offered a drivelines review of the new Camry (caranddriver.com). Here are a few quotes from the Camry’s review.

“Toyota has renewed this car like clockwork every five years, and the Camry has achieved an enviable position as the default mainstream sedan of choice – quiet, smooth, comfortable, reliable and affordably priced. This new, seventh-generation 2012 model is designed to maintain these virtues while offering more fuel efficiency and value.

“The base four-cylinder is now rated at 25 mpg city and 35 highway – up 3 mpg each. The V-6 is up 1 mpg each to 21/30. And the new hybrid LE leaps from 31/35 to 43/39 mpg, bettering the (Ford) Fusion’s 41/36 ratings.

“Toyota achieved these improvements without direct fuel injection, downsized engines or turbocharging. Instead, the company relied on basics such as a 155-pound diet, lower-rolling-resistance tires, sleeker sheet metal, taller gearing, more-aggressive torque-converter lockup and electric power steering.

“The (Camry) SE would be our choice among the many models available.
“The new hybrid is an excellent choice, as it provides all of the comfort and utility of the other models with close to 40 mpg in real-world driving.

“With its improved interior materials, higher mileage and lower prices, this Camry ought to retain its sales crown.”

Automotive News, meanwhile, says Toyota is proceeding cautiously with its new Camry. Here are a few quotes from its Aug. 29 issue:

“Toyota is playing it safe with the redesigned 2012 Camry.

“Perhaps Toyota’s biggest change is making the Camry simpler to build. Without counting interior/exterior color combinations, the outgoing Camry could be produced in 1,246 variations. The new Camry has just 36 build combinations.

“Notable features: Weight reduction was crucial to improving fuel economy.
About 150 pounds were shed from the LE model and 220 pounds from the hybrid, said Yukihiro Okane, the Camry’s chief engineer.

“Engineers redesigned the rear floorpan and side member, using a higher ratio of high-strength steel for the main structure and reducing the fuel tank capacity by one gallon.

“Despite the weight reduction, noise damping was increased in the pillars, floors and doors to help keep the cabin quiet.

“Standard features on all models include 16-inch wheels, intermittent wipers, air conditioning, cruise control, electric power steering, tilt-telescoping steering wheel, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/CD player with six speakers and iPod connectivity, and power door locks, mirrors and windows.

“Standard safety features include 10 airbags, traction control, stability control, antilock brakes with electronic brake force distribution and four-wheel disc brakes that are larger than those on the outgoing model.

“The suspension on the SE model has been substantially stiffened compared with the standard Camry. It also has larger wheels and has added paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

“The skinny: The Camry leads a charge of redesigns in the mid-sized segment. Over the next 12 months, there also will be a new Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Malibu and Volkswagen Passat. Toyota may have its hands full if the competition comes out with bolder designs and new technologies that eclipse those of the Camry.”

The Lane Report anticipates Toyota’s Camry will continue its sales leadership in 2012. We think Americans would prefer to own a new Camry – with enhancements in quality, technology, interior finishes and fuel efficiency – at a lower cost!