Report: College education becoming more important, less affordable Friday, Dec 8 2017 

College education is becoming ever more important — and ever less affordable for Louisvillians, according to a new report from 55,000 Degrees. The nonprofit, which is focused on increasing the share of Louisvillians with education after high school, found that costs had risen so dramatically that even students from relatively wealthy families cannot afford to […]

Jay Whitacre awarded LouisvilleKY renewable energy prize Wednesday, Dec 6 2017 

LOUISVILLE, Ky., /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — An international pioneer in sustainable energy technology who specializes in ultra-low-cost, water-based energy storage solutions has been awarded the 2017 Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy from the University of Louisville.

Jay Whitacre, PhD, director of Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation, will give a public talk at UofL and receive the Conn Prize medal and $50,000 award in March. The biannual award recognizes outstanding renewable energy ideas and achievements that have had a proven global impact.

Whitacre’s sodium-ion batteries, which use only water-based chemicals, are an economical way to incorporate renewable energy into the grid. Whitacre has received 16 United States patents and multiple international patents. The company he founded, Aquion Energy, is now rapidly growing after being acquired in the summer of 2017.

“Dr. Whitacre is a world-class scientist and entrepreneur dedicated to the viability of low-cost energy storage,” said Greg Postel, interim UofL president. “The University of Louisville celebrates his research and its positive influence. In a changing world of energy use, he is an outstanding winner of the Leigh Ann Conn Prize.”

Jay Whitacre

The prize, which is administered by UofL’s Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research at the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, is named for the late daughter of Hank and Rebecca Conn, who are center supporters and prize benefactors.

“This revolutionary battery technology and Jay’s resilient entrepreneurial spirit demonstrate a vitality that resonates. It’s what we all need,” Hank Conn said. “It is exciting to recognize his innovations and their translation into impactful technology.”

The inaugural Conn Prize was won in 2013 by Dr. Michael Graetzel, developer of the dye-sensitized solar cell. The 2015 prize was awarded to Dr. Dan Nocera for the development of the Artificial Leaf and large-scale flow battery.

Nominations for the 2019 Leigh Ann Conn Prize competition run Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2018; visit

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UofL is no longer on probation Tuesday, Dec 5 2017 

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has removed the University of Louisville from probationary status, the university said Tuesday. The accrediting agency, which covers higher education institutions in 11 states, had placed the university on probation last December because Gov. Matt Bevin in summer of 2016 signed executive orders abolishing and […]

Robert Sternberg wins LouisvilleKY Grawemeyer Award for Psychology Tuesday, Dec 5 2017 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — What makes us most likely to succeed? Cornell University psychologist Robert Sternberg has won the 2018 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for his concept of “successful intelligence.”

Sternberg, a professor of human development, was selected for the prize for his view that intelligence encompasses several components that help people succeed in different ways in their own environments. Those components include analytical-reasoning skills, creative-thinking skills, common-sense practical skills and wisdom-based and ethical skills. A command of all those skills helps people adapt to a fast-changing world, capitalize on their strengths and compensate for or correct their weaknesses.

As the current educational system tends to favor traditional learners who excel at memory and analytical reasoning, Sternberg asserts that the system needs better ways to reach, teach and test learners with practical or creative skills. Although the usual measurements of “smartness” rely on the more narrowly defined IQ (intelligence quotient) and college entrance exams such as the SAT and ACT, Sternberg contends that intelligence is complex and should not be evaluated in a single way. For example, college admission processes could be modified to include better predictors of student and future success.

Robert Sternberg

“Sternberg’s work has resulted in changes in college admission processes that have leveled the playing field for individuals from diverse backgrounds and, thus, has increased student diversity,” said Professor Woody Petry, award director and a faculty member of UofL’s department of psychological and brain sciences. “His ideas, which have been applied globally in developed and developing nations, emphasize the importance of cultural context in the assessment of successful intelligence.”

A Cornell faculty member since 2014, Sternberg previously taught at and was an administrator for Oklahoma State, Tufts and Yale universities. He has more than 1,700 research publications and his many honors include the Association for Psychological Science’s top awards for both basic and for applied science and 13 honorary doctorates. Sternberg is an honorary professor at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science as well as many other professional organizations.

All 2018 Grawemeyer Award winners were announced this week, pending formal approval by the university’s board of trustees. The University of Louisville presents the prizes annually for outstanding works in music composition, ideas improving world order, psychology and education, and it gives a religion prize jointly with Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The 2018 winners will present free lectures about their award-winning ideas when they visit Louisville in April to accept their $100,000 prizes.

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JCPS gets nine applications for superintendent Monday, Dec 4 2017 

Jefferson County Public Schools have received nine applications for superintendent, the district said Monday morning. Until Tuesday morning, the district had had only two applications, though a board member told Insider that at least two local school officials —Acting Superintendent Marty Pollio and Chief Operations Officer Michael Raisor — planned to apply, and that the […]

Professor wins 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for idea of ‘successful intelligence’ Saturday, Dec 2 2017 

The final 2018 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award has been announced. Professor Robert Sternberg of Cornell University has been awarded the Grawemeyer Award for Psychology for his work in creating the concept of “successful intelligence.” Sternberg is a professor of human development and has previously taught at Yale, Tufts and Oklahoma State. His work focuses […]

ICYMI: A Saturday roundup of Insider’s top stories Saturday, Dec 2 2017 

From an analyst’s speculation on which company might be positioned to take over Humana to the Prospect mayor raising concerns about low-income housing, here are Insider’s top stories this week. Analyst: Humana possible takeover target of Cigna Ana Gupte, a health care industry analyst with Leerink Partners, said a recent filing by Humana suggested that […]

JCPS stakeholders worry that state audit intensity is fueled by politics Friday, Dec 1 2017 

Correction appended. Three Louisville education stakeholders told Insider that they worried about how much of the state’s regulatory scrutiny on Jefferson County Public Schools was driven by politics — though the state’s top education official said the pending audit had nothing to do with politics. And two Louisville-based Democratic state legislators said that many of […]

Financial aid scholar-activist wins UofL 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Education Thursday, Nov 30 2017 

Temple University professor Sara Goldrick-Rab has won the University of Louisville’s 2018 Grawemeyer Award for Education for her research into the ever-expanding struggle modern students experience to afford college education. Her findings were published in an award-winning 2016 book “Paying the Price: College Costs, Financial Aid and the Betrayal of the American Dream.” Goldrick-Rab was […]

Grawemeyer Winner Sara Goldrick-Rab Champions College Affordability Wednesday, Nov 29 2017 

Sara Goldrick-Rab is the winner of the Grawemeyer Award for education. Goldrick-Rab is a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University. Her 2016 book, “Paying the Price,” is about the struggle to pay for a college education in the United States. Her research included tracking 3,000 students over six years who entered college in Wisconsin.

Goldrick-Rab’s work has earned her an appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.” She was also named one of Politico’s Top 50 Thinkers in 2016 for her research on college affordability.

I spoke with Goldrick-Rab about the relationship between access to college and food, as well as how a college education affects future generations. Listen to our conversation in the player above.  

On the relationship between access to college and access to food:

“If you’re in college and your financial aid leaves you short it’s actually incredibly hard to get affordable food and affordable housing. The food in college cafeterias is getting really, really expensive. Students used to go on food stamps more often if they needed to. But now you can’t get on to SNAP — which is the modern day food stamps — unless you either have a child or you work at least 20 hours a week. And work might sound reasonable until you find out that college doesn’t count as work. So you’re asking a student to juggle at least 20 hours of week of employment on top of college. This almost never goes well.

“There are so many policies that work against people’s realistic understanding that college is important. And leave them without what they really need to finish their degrees.”

On expanding the national food program to college:

“We need some fairly common sense stuff here. You know, these are big problems but they don’t need to be fancy solutions and my point is a very simple one. My team has proposed that all we do is take the program that already exists to serve school children, you know, milk in the morning and lunch, and provide a backpack for the weekend so they don’t go hungry on Saturday and Sunday and just expand that to include colleges and universities, and particularly community colleges.

“Now maybe that’s the ideal way to do it, or maybe a better way to do it is to do a sort of voucher program where we just create vouchers that students can then use to buy lunch on their campuses. Whatever way we do it, we need to make it easier to ensure that people eat before they go to class. And that’s not because we’re a social service agency. That’s not what colleges are; they’re not social service agencies. But colleges are in charge of learning. And people can’t learn if they haven’t eaten.”

On the effects of college education on future generations:

“We know from very good research that the effects of going to college, they don’t just accrue to the individual people. They’re not just about your odds of getting a job and your odds in making a lot of money.

“What we can see is that moms who go to college have kids who go to college. And kids who go to college have kids who go to college. We also see that people who go to college are healthier, they live longer, they’re more likely to be able to create and maintain stable families, in part because they can afford to have those families. They’re also more likely to vote, they’re also more likely to volunteer.

“There’s a whole variety of things that happen across generations when people get an education. And that’s why we’ve broadened access to elementary school, and it’s why we’ve broadened access to high school and it’s why we encourage people now to go to college.”

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