Kirk Carapezza

Kirk is a reporter for the NPR member station in Boston, WGBH, where he covers higher education, connecting the dots between post-secondary education and the economy, national security, jobs and global competitiveness. Kirk has been a reporter with Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis.; a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad. Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway. You can follow Kirk on Twitter @KirkCarapezza.

 

Right in the heart of the University of Vermont, Burlington campus, there's a big dormitory going up, with room enough for 700 students next fall.

The dorm is being set aside for students like Azilee Curl, a first-year studying neuroscience who has taken a pledge — of sorts — to live out her college career at UVM with her health in mind.

She's part of a growing group on campus who all live together in a clean-living residence hall, have fitness and nutrition coaches at the in-house gym, and can access free violin lessons, yoga and mindfulness training.

There's an experiment underway at a few top universities around the world to make some master's degrees out there more affordable.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for example, says the class of 2018 can get a master's degree in supply chain management with tens of thousands in savings. The university's normal price runs upwards of $67,000 for the current academic year.

There's no way to avoid it. As the cost of college grows, research shows that so does the number of hungry and homeless students at colleges and universities across the country.

Still, many say the problem is invisible to the public.

"It's invisible even to me and I'm looking," says Wick Sloan. He came to Bunker Hill Community College in Boston more than a decade ago to teach English full time. He says it felt like he quickly became a part-time social worker, too.

Two years ago, William McNeil lost his retail job at Sears and was looking to improve his life. Around the same time, he got a bunch of emails promising a path to a new career from ITT Technical Institute, the for-profit college chain.

So, McNeil, who's 55, signed up online to get more information about the school and got several calls from an ITT recruiter. Desperate to get back on track, he decided it was worth the $20,000 in government-backed loans to pursue an associate's degree in networking technology at the school.

This could be the beginning of the end for the organization that accredited the now bankrupt for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Education took a step toward shutting down the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools by recommending it not be renewed as an accrediting body later this summer. Founded in 1912, ACICS is one of the country's oldest and largest college accreditors.

It was 1993 when Massachusetts Gov. William Weld declared: "A good education in a safe environment is the magic wand that brings opportunity." The Republican was signing into law a landmark overhaul of the state's school funding system. "It's up to us to make sure that wand is waved over every cradle," he added.

With that, Massachusetts poured state money into districts that educated lots of low-income kids, many of which also struggled to raise funds through local property taxes.

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Student activists are demonstrating in Harvard Yard, demanding that the world's wealthiest university sell its shares in big oil and coal companies. From member station WGBH, Kirk Carapezza reports.

In a striking move, part-time faculty at Northeastern University voted to unionize Thursday, making it the third Boston-area college in the past seven months to do so. Kirk Carapezza and Mallory Noe-Payne report at our On Campus blog.

When students at the University of Vermont resume classes on the snow-covered Burlington campus Monday, something will be missing: bottled water. UVM is the latest university to ban on-campus sales of bottled water.

At one of UVM's recently retrofitted refill stations, students fill up their reusable bottles with tap water. For many of the 14,000 students and staff on this campus, topping off their refillable bottles is an old habit.

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And now, let's turn to today's business bottom line. As more people buy smartphones and other devices that run on rechargeable batteries - this will come as no surprise - sales of single-use, disposable batteries are dropping; and that is not without consequences. Energizer announced this month that the company will close three plants because of decreased demand. That is a 10 percent cut of its global workforce. Vermont Public Radio's Kirk Carapezza reports on one community that is feeling the pain.

Cities and towns facing tight budgets have often neglected their cemeteries, an oversight that has left many of them in disrepair with broken fencing, crumbling gravestones, overgrown grass and persistent weeds.

But this summer, the Vermont town of Charlotte implemented a new strategy to both save money and keep grass in the town's graveyards under control, and it's a decidedly traditional way of doing it: Let goats and sheep do the work.