By Scott Jaschik

The University of Memphis has been mostly silent in the last month as conservative bloggers and publications have criticized Zandria Robinson, until recently an assistant professor of sociology at the university.

But on Tuesday afternoon, the university posted an 11-word comment on Twitter: “Zandria Robinson is no longer employed by the University of Memphis.” The university declined to say anything more, such as whether she had been fired and, if so, why.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Robinson’s defenders took to social media to denounce her apparent firing. After a few hours, Robinson shared a post with some friends saying that she had not been fired, but had accepted a job elsewhere a few weeks ago. Faculty members at Memphis confirmed this.

But while Robinson has found a new employer, she has become a new cause in a culture war going on about the online comments of black women in academe, and specifically in sociology. To conservative critics, the issue is statements that they consider outlandish and racist (specifically, anti-white). To many sociologists, of a variety of races and ethnicities, black women who challenge white dominance are having their words and ideas taken out of context, are being flooded with hateful email — and are at risk of having their careers disrupted.

Robinson’s case is being compared to that of Saida Grundy, a new assistant professor of sociology at Boston University who was widely criticized in May for comments on Twitter in which she said, among other things, “Why is white America so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?” She expressed regret over her choice of words, but the university’s president criticized her language before she had even moved to Boston. Many sociologists saw nothing wrong with anything Grundy said.

There have been two waves of criticism of Robinson. In early June, the website Campus Reform pulled comments from her social media accounts (all since made private) in which she wrote critically of how white students in college view black students’ chances of getting into graduate school. “It is graduate school application season again and it has come to my attention — again — that some white students believe that students of color will simply get into graduate programs because they are racial or ethnic minorities,” Robinson wrote. She called this view a “lie.”

She said, “Students of color applying to graduate schools are always already exceptional because of the various structural hurdles they leapt to get out of college, take the GRE and apply, etc.” She added that white students aren’t exceptional for applying to graduate school “because they have white privilege.” She said she would not tolerate white students who are “perpetuating these racist lies again. Not even in your head.”

Peter Hasson, the author of the Campus Reform post, went on Twitter and asked M. David Rudd, the university’s president, what he was going to do about a professor who in Hasson’s view was expressing views that discriminate against white people. Rudd replied via Twitter: “I appreciate you forwarding this to my attention. I have forwarded to our EEO office to investigate IAW U of M policies.”

Then there was a new wave of criticism in the last few days over Twitter comments Robinson made related to the dispute over the Confederate flag. Two quotes highlighted by The Daily Caller: “The Confederate flag is more than a symbol of white racial superiority. It is the ultimate symbol of white heteropatriarchal capitalism” and “White folks think that if they are nice to you they are above a critique of whiteness, white supremacy or structural racism.”

And then as these quotes were spreading, along with calls on Twitter for her dismissal, the notice appeared on the University of Memphis Twitter account.

That prompted many online to assume she had been fired and to criticize such an action for someone participating in an intense national debate about race in the wake of the Charleston murders. After a few hours, word spread that she hadn’t been fired.

But does the furor say something?

Eric Anthony Grollman, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Richmond, runs the blog Conditionally Accepted, which he calls “a space for scholars on the margins of academia.”

Via email, he shared his reactions: “I find University of Memphis’s ambiguous tweet troubling. If it was vague by intent, I have to wonder what message was being sent. Was this a hint that the conservative journalists who are now attacking Robinson for the second time had succeeded in having her removed from her position? That they were successful in silencing her in the public and within the academy? That, with the right amount of conservative news coverage, universities cave and no longer protect our free speech? If it was unintentional, I still question why a private personnel matter was discussed on Twitter. This seems sloppy and unprofessional, at best.”

Grollman added: “I am disappointed that we are so accustomed to attacks on public scholars these days — especially women of color — that we readily assumed the worst when news broke that she is no longer at Memphis.”

Robinson did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday. But she did respond to an email request for comment in early June, when she was first being criticized for her comments on Twitter.

She said then: “This is clearly an attack on academic freedom and moreover part of a larger coordinated attack against young women of color, who are amongst the most vulnerable everywhere, the academy included. Whether it’s a Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction or random, innocuous tweets, black women are harassed and strung up to be made examples of in our society. Unfortunately, but perhaps unsurprisingly, our institutions often allow this; they cannot protect us from attacks in our own departments or universities, so expecting them to defend us unequivocally from outside hate groups is naïve. Inside attacks push black women out of the academy just like those from the outside…. It’s time for institutions to be courageous and do the things that our society has repeatedly failed to do: protect black women and the freedom of people of color to be critical of injustice.”

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Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Scott Jaschik

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to consider a case that could effectively make union membership dues optional for public employees. The vast majority of faculty members who are represented by unions are in public higher education, and such a shift could be devastating to the financing of their unions.

Currently the norm for faculty unions is that if they win a vote to represent a bargaining unit, all members of that unit must pay for the costs of collective bargaining in the form of dues. Members of a unit who object to political stances of a union may get a refund for those expenses, but are still required to pay what is known as a “fair share” of union costs that are related to bargaining and representation. That requirement could go away, depending on how the Supreme Court rules.

“If the Supreme Court rules that ‘fair share’ violates the First Amendment rights of public employees, they would transform the entire public sector into right to work, more appropriately named ‘right to freeload,’” said Rudy Fichtenbaum, a professor of economics at Wright State University and national president of the American Association of University Professors, which acts as a union on some of the campuses where it has chapters (but not at others).

The case accepted by the Supreme Court is Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, which was brought by high school teachers who believe that they should not have to pay the “agency fee” for being represented by a union. They argue that unions engage in activities that inherently are forms of speech, and that employees should not be required to pay the unions anything. Such requirements compel the teachers to support activities with which they disagree and thus violate their First Amendment rights, the teachers say. The legal theory they have put forward has been one that many conservative legal groups have embraced, hoping for a case like this.

Since 1977, when the Supreme Court found that there was a right for unions to charge an agency fee, the legal right to do so has been clear. The new case explicitly asks the Supreme Court to reverse the 1977 ruling.

While union leaders believe that they provide valuable services for their members and win them better contracts, many predict that some unknown but potentially significant number of union members would simply opt not to pay any membership dues. Federal labor law requires the unions to represent the interests of all employees in a bargaining unit, so a union would remain bound to, for example, handle a grievance of or provide advice to a faculty member who paid nothing.

Dues vary from campus to campus and union to union. Fichtenbaum said that most AAUP collective bargaining dues are from 0.7 to 1.2 percent of salary.

Frederick E. Kowal, president of United University Professions, the faculty union at the State University of New York, said that dues there are about 1 percent of salary. His union is affiliated with both the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

He said the lawsuit was “an insidious way to bankrupt unions.”

Union supporters note that the organizations are elected to represent employees, and that employees have the right in elections to vote out the leaders if they don’t like the way the union is being run and can even vote to end collective bargaining. So they argue that there are many options for those who may disagree with a union’s position or strategy.

William A. Herbert, executive director of the National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College of the City University of New York, said he saw the case as extremely significant for faculty unions. But he stressed that many unions have strong ties to members and with additional outreach could encourage many members to continue to pay dues. This shift “could rekindle internal organizing,” he said.

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Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Carl Straumsheim

The more students who witness cyberbullying in an online setting — for example, in an online course — the less likely those students are to take a stand against it, a new study suggests.

The report, published in this quarter’s edition of Communication Monographs, explores how witnesses choose to act — or not act — in response to cyberbullying. Its findings suggest college students’ ability to intervene in cyberbullying changes depending on the number of other students witnessing the bullying, their perception of their own anonymity and how close they feel to the victim, among other factors.

While the study doesn’t focus specifically on cyberbullying in online education, author Nicholas Brody, assistant professor of communication at the University of Puget Sound, acknowledged in an interview that many of the findings apply to that setting.

In particular, Brody said, the findings suggest cyberbullying may be more likely to occur in massive open online courses and other settings where large numbers of students who don’t know one another outside of class gather.

Examples of that kind of behavior can be seen in cases such as a MOOC offered last year by the University of Copenhagen, where a plan to let students self-moderate quickly devolved into forum bans and stricter moderation. And outside of instruction, colleges routinely struggle to curb abusive behavior on anonymous websites and apps such as Yik Yak.

“Once online identity is disconnected from offline identity, it can sometimes lead to antisocial online communication,” Brody said. “When witnesses perceive themselves as not visible, they lessen their sense of personal responsibility for taking action and helping.”

Brody and his co-author, Anita L. Vangelisti, Jesse H. Jones Centennial Professor of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin, conducted two studies to examine how the bystander effect, a phenomenon that explains why individuals sometimes fail to help others in the presence of a crowd, manifests itself online.

In the first study, which involved 265 undergraduate students enrolled in a communication course at a large university in the Southwest, Brody and Vangelisti asked students to explain in detail a recent cyberbullying episode they witnessed on Facebook. They also prompted the students to reflect on variables such as their relationship with the victim, how many other Facebook users witnessed the bullying and whether or not they helped.

A follow-up study of 379 undergrads also enrolled in a communication course at a large Southwestern university asked students about those same variables, but used a controlled scenario. The students all read a made-up case of cyberbullying about a Facebook user whose account was hacked and used to post embarrassing pictures and status updates, however, the students were told that the user was either an “acquaintance” or a “good friend,” that he or she had more than a thousand or fewer than 200 Facebook friends, and whether students were listed as visible to the victim.

Both studies produced similar results. Students were more likely to act if the victim was a close friend, if the cyberbullying took place in a smaller group setting or if they could not hide behind the cover of anonymity.

“It comes down to friendship and closeness,” Brody said. “People are going to help out their friends. People are going to help out the people they feel closest to.”

While students may be less inclined to stand up for classmates online than in person, faculty members may feel less prepared to crack down on such behavior, Brody suggested. “Many educators feel comfortable managing those types of situations in the classroom, but how do you manage [it] in an online environment — particularly when you’re trying to manage so many students?” he said.

Brody’s comments reflect one of the main qualms many faculty members have with online education, namely that they feel online courses don’t offer students as many opportunities to interact with one another and their instructors as face-to-face courses do.

Several surveys (including one by Inside Higher Ed) has found instructors expressing concern that teaching online means they won’t be able to answer questions satisfactorily or devote extra attention to students who need more help than others.

“There is a fear that online communication in general isn’t authentic,” Brody said.

Extrapolating the findings from the two studies, Brody said faculty members can design their online courses to discourage cyberbullying by putting students in small groups and encouraging them to interact outside required group work.

“What this research ultimately is trying to figure out is how to train people to be aware of when online harassment and cyberbullying is occurring and help them understand what factors might be detrimental to their sense of responsibility for intervening,” Brody said. “Once people are aware of what those factors are, they might be more likely to help out down the road.”

Teaching and Learning
Teaching With Technology
Technology
Online Learning
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Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Jacqueline Thomsen

After a racially motivated shooting in Charleston earlier this month left nine black people dead, a nationwide conversation about the Confederate flag began. Politicians jumped on the bandwagon, major corporations removed merchandise displaying the flag from their shelves and the topic pervaded social media and news coverage.

At the University of Texas at Austin, students are lobbying to remove a statue of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president. But for some colleges, it’s not just a statue under scrutiny, but the institution — there are colleges named for people like Davis and John C. Calhoun.

The debate isn’t just in the South. New discussion of the name of Yale University’s Calhoun College — a residence hall that has housed more than 400 undergraduates annually since 1933 — has emerged since the Charleston murders. But the conversation began even before then, when an alumna published a piece on the university’s alumni magazine website in March, questioning why the name has remained on the building for so long.

Calhoun was a congressman, senator and vice president during the early 19th century, and is well known for speaking in favor of slavery, describing it once as a “positive good.” He wasn’t just one of the many members of Congress from the South who backed slavery — he was a fierce and effective advocate, widely credited with promoting a political philosophy that eventually led to secession.

“The university welcomes engagement and discussion on this important topic: the tragedy in Charleston, on top of countless preceding tragedies in our country’s history, has elevated public opinion and discourse on difficult subjects that have too long been avoided,” Karen Peart, a Yale spokeswoman, said in an email.

Jonathan Holloway, the dean of Yale College at Yale University who has served as the master of Calhoun College since 2005, has in the past defended the name, saying it was important to maintain to understand its place in history and removing it would erase Yale’s decision to name the college for Calhoun in the first place. But in a recent article in Salon, he slightly reversed his position, saying the events of the past 18 months have “rattled” him.

“Yes, the historian in me still sees with alarm our national propensity to forget ugliness for the convenience of the modern moment, but the citizen in me just keeps seeing example after example of an inability to imagine that African-Americans have a humanity that ought to be respected,” he wrote.

While the name has stirred up a debate, some have said they wouldn’t want to change the name, saying that it’s important not to gloss over one of the most contentious periods of American history.

A similar conversation took place at Clemson University earlier this year when students lobbied for one of the main buildings on campus, Tillman Hall, to be renamed. Its namesake, Benjamin Tillman, was a well-known white supremacist who often spoke in favor of lynching and other acts of violence toward black people during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Also featured on Clemson’s campus? The former home of Calhoun — converted into a museum — and the Calhoun Honors College.

A. D. Carson, a graduate student at Clemson who helped to lead the movement to rename Tillman Hall, said the conversation on campus, where roughly 83 percent of the students are white, does not tend to focus on the names because students are unaware of the namesakes and their legacies.

He said once students are aware, they’re generally surprised that such figures are honored on campus.

Cathy Sams, a spokeswoman for Clemson, said the university was built on land that once belonged to Calhoun but was passed along to the founder of the university, Thomas Green Clemson, when Clemson married Calhoun’s daughter.

“Like many universities, Clemson is connected to certain historical figures who held views or expressed opinions that conflict with our current values,” Sams said in an email. “How to reconcile the two is a topic of discussion at institutions across the country, not just at Clemson. The horrific shootings in Charleston are likely to rekindle those discussions.”

After the shootings in Charleston, Clemson officials honored the victims by placing wreaths on campus — in front of Tillman Hall, a move that has stirred up further commentary online. The university’s Instagram post of the wreaths is no longer on its account.

Carson said he encourages members of the Clemson community to refer to Tillman Hall as “Main Hall,” the former name for the building, as a way to remove the power of the name — a strategy he said would also work for Clemson’s honors college.

“It was named to honor Calhoun, so to not give it the respect and honor that was bestowed upon it because we don’t honor or respect it — if we do that, it makes it much easier over time,” he said.

Chenjerai Kumanyika, an assistant professor of communication studies at Clemson, said when people choose to honor those with racist histories by naming a hall or a monument after that person, they are not respecting history but rather honoring what some consider to be an offensive period of history.

Kumanyika said while Clemson is working on diversity on campus, including a diversity initiative, the existing large population of international graduate students can sometimes find themselves in a hostile and racist environment.

“If we had to be admitted when Calhoun were around, I probably imagine that they’d let them in but treat them as second-class citizens, that’s what would have happened,” Kumanyika said. “In a way, it’s living up to his legacy.”

The Clemson Board of Trustees also voted in support of removing the Confederate flag from the South Carolina State House in Columbia on Monday, but refused to change the name of Tillman Hall earlier this year, even after both students and faculty voted in favor of a change.

Students at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have also lobbied officials to change the names of buildings named after white supremacists.

In Alabama, both Calhoun Community College and Jefferson Davis Community College bear the names of controversial figures, one of whom was the president of the Confederacy during the Civil War.

William Blow, who is serving as interim president at Jefferson Davis, said he has not seen any pushback against the name during his six months at the college, nor does he recall the topic coming up during his 20-plus years working at the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, including two years as executive director.

At Calhoun Community College, President James Klauber said other aspects of Calhoun’s legacy, including his time as a senator and secretary of war, and his work in expanding the land owned by the U.S., made him worthy of having a college named after him.

“I think our students are educated and broad-minded enough to see more than one kind of sliver of a person’s life,” Klauber said.

Klauber has previously served two terms as a state representative in his native South Carolina and said it was a past vote in favor of removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds that ended his political career.

And Ernest Williams, the chair of the mathematics at Calhoun Community College and one of the sponsors of the college’s Black Student Alliance, said that even though he was raised in Selma, Ala., during the height of the civil rights movement, the meaning of the name of the college never crossed his mind while he was applying to become a faculty member.

He said students seem to be focused more on their classes than on the name, although he has confronted a few students for having items emblazoned with the Confederate flag.

He said those students explained to him that they didn’t think of the flag as a racist symbol, but rather as a part of their history — some of their relatives had fought in the Civil War.

“You have to understand that you have some historical figures in the South, whether they’re on one side or the other. A lot of that has died down — you may seem some names or signs but they mean different to different people,” Williams said. “I think now, with students coming, looking for a decent education, they spend more time concerned about passing the courses than what the school’s name is.”

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Calhoun Community College

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Matt Reed

An economics and history lesson.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Katie Shives

What to do when your scientific project hits a roadblock.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Elizabeth Lewis Pardoe

Pushing ahead amid tragedies.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Joshua Kim

Some questions about how we choose our books.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Liz Reisberg

We are glossing over the more difficult quandaries of international forays much too readily

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Margaret Andrews

I teach courses and executive programs in leadership and management and I tell my students these skills are among the most important keys to lifelong career success.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Todd Finley

Rob Puckett adjusts his 3D printer.
Photo Credit: Todd Finley
Todd Finley
Learn what 3D printing is, what students like to create with this technology, and the low-cost, high-impact potential of improving the world through creative fabrication.

Source: Edutopia

    

By Rebecca Alber

Rebecca Alber
While planning this summer, ask yourself, what does a classroom that promotes students’ lived experiences look like?

Source: Edutopia

    

By Beth Holland

Photo Credit: Edutopia
Beth Holland
By collecting their learning artifacts and compiling them into portfolios, students should have an opportunity to reflect upon their experiences and see their own growth.

Source: Edutopia

    

By Carl Straumsheim

The University of Texas System employs more than 15,000 faculty members. Why are they so difficult to find online?

The university system believes it has solved that problem with Influuent, a searchable database of facilities and researchers. The website, which launched last month, centralizes what used to be 15 separate sites listing the faculty experts working at the nine universities and six medical centers in the system.

Influuent (the university says the name is a combination of “influence” and “influunt,” the Latin word for “flow”) is being developed as more than just a faculty directory. For the private sector, administrators say, the database could serve as a starting point for commercial partnerships; for faculty members, a “matchmaking” site for research projects; and for journalists, a catalog of experts available to comment.

The Texas system is the most recent to reconsider how it can use websites such as Influuent to communicate the work taking place on its campuses to the world outside academe. Faculty members in the system have produced nearly 110,000 publications in the last five years alone, and with a new platform in place, system leaders see an opportunity to publicize that research and demonstrate the value of higher education.

During Rick Perry’s time as governor, the system was forced to defend itself against what some critics called a “faculty productivity gap” — that some “star” faculty members were bringing in research dollars while others were simply “coasting” along. To combat that assumption, the system will maintain a social media presence for Influuent, promoting new research on platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter.

“As a system office, we don’t have the day-to-day issues of running a university,” said Stephanie A. Bond Huie, vice chancellor for the Office of Strategic Initiatives. “We have an opportunity to showcase the amazing work that our faculty do.”

But Influuent is as much — if not more — about bringing resources into the university as it is about sending information out. With Congress likely to keep flat or slash funding for grant-making agencies, many universities are looking elsewhere to bolster their research budgets.

Federal funding makes up nearly half — 49.7 percent — of the roughly $2.5 billion the Texas system spends on research and development a year, Huie said. Private sector investments total less than a quarter, or about 21 percent, but the system hopes to increase that share by making it easier for faculty members and industry to connect.

“Universities are having to change the way we do business,” Huie said. “The University of Texas System said, ‘We need to put ourselves out there. We’re not going to wait for companies to come to us anymore. We’re open for business.’”

Before Influuent, individual universities and medical centers in the system were in charge of their own faculty expert websites. That decentralized approach led to fragmentation, Huie said. For example, a pharmaceutical company interested in finding researchers and a lab to test a new drug might have searched the MD Anderson Cancer Center’s website for potential partners, but in the process overlooked researchers at the Simmons Cancer Center and the UTMB Cancer Center.

A search for “cancer” on the Influuent website, by comparison, brings up researchers across the system. Clicking on a name pulls up a profile of research interests, publications and co-authors, and users can quickly pin multiple researchers at different institutions and send them an email through a single contact form.

Influuent keeps the website up-to-date by pulling data every week from Scopus, the citation database owned by Elsevier. That means faculty members don’t have to worry about updating their profiles, Huie said.

“There’s no work on the faculty’s part,” Huie said. “Faculty members don’t necessarily have time to go out, meet with companies, do deals and say, ‘This is what I do.’”

Copies of the emails sent to researchers through Influuent go to the system office, which plans to follow up with researchers to track if the emails lead to partnerships and funding. In the future, the system hopes to expand Influuent with grants, patents and badges for faculty to indicate which stage of the research process they are in.

The Texas system consulted university leaders in Michigan and North Carolina as they were developing Influuent, Huie said. In Michigan, six public universities in 2011 banded together to form the Michigan Corporate Relations Network, or MCRN, in response to a challenge from the former University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman to “partner or perish” (a play on the academic adage “publish or perish”).

The six universities received about $35,000 to help set up business engagement offices at their campuses. The initiative has also spawned a series of programs to help small- and medium-sized businesses and keep college graduates from leaving the state in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Stella Wixom, executive director of the office at the University of Michigan, said the first grant to the MCRN created 116 new jobs through co-funding research projects and internships, and more than $500,000 in financial benefits for the companies that participated. The network is in its second grant cycle and will seek a third, she said.

Influuent strongly resembles the MCRN’s Expertise and Resource Portal, which also pulls data from Elsevier. By compiling faculty experts across institutions in one database, Wixom said, business engagement offices can now more easily refer inquiring companies to researchers at other universities, should there be a better match there.

“Typically we’re very competitive with each other,” Wixom said about Michigan and the other universities in the state. “What we realized is that’s OK on the football field… but as a state, we needed to work together.”

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University of Texas System

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Doug Lederman

  • Jimmie Bruce, vice president of academic success at Northwest Vista College, in Texas, has been chosen as president of Eastern Gateway Community College, in Ohio.
  • Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts and university professor in the New York University’s Department of Art and Public Policy, has been appointed president of Spelman College, in Georgia.
  • Carlos Campo, former president of Regent University, in Virginia, has been selected as president of Ashland University, in Ohio.
  • Paula Phillips Carson, assistant vice president for institutional planning and effectiveness at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, has been chosen as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Missouri Southern State University.
  • Barbara A. Chesler, dean of the College of Education and Health Professions at Columbus State University, in Georgia, has been appointed vice president for academic affairs at Caldwell University, in New Jersey.
  • Ronald Johnson, dean of Texas Southern University’s business school, as been named president of Clark Atlanta University, in Georgia.
  • Tarun B. Patel, professor in the Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Therapeutics at Loyola University Chicago, has been named provost and vice president of academic affairs of Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, in New York.
  • Michael Quick, interim provost and professor of biological sciences at the University of Southern California, has been selected as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs there.
  • Charles D. Sands, dean of the College of Allied Health and professor of public health at California Baptist University, has been promoted to provost and vice president for academic affairs there.
  • Timothy Law Snyder, former vice president for academic affairs at Loyola University Maryland, has been appointed president of Loyola Marymount University, in California.

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Kristine Maloney

Very few major gift stories appeal to journalists quite like Harvard’s recent $400 million donation, but you can make a media splash with gift news — even when the sums are smaller.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Elizabeth Redden

Foreign students’ applications to American graduate schools climbed by 2 percent this year, driven in part by continued growth in applications from India, according to survey results released today by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Applications from India increased by 12 percent over the previous year, the third straight year of such double-digit increases.

Meanwhile, the number of applications from China continued its modest decline — another trend that’s three years running — dropping by 2 percent. These two country-specific trends — China down, India up — should be understood against the fact these two countries are the two largest sources of international students at U.S. graduate schools by far, together accounting for about 67 percent of all international applications received.

“China has been investing pretty heavily in its higher education capacity for both graduate education and research,” said Jeff Allum, the author of the report and the council’s director of research and policy analysis. “I suspect that might be one reason why the number of applications from China appears to be going down, but there may be other reasons that quite frankly we’re not fully able to explain yet.”

The picture is also mixed across the top fields of study. International applications in engineering — the most popular field of study for non-American students — increased by 4 percent. The number of international applications also increased by 14 percent for the physical and earth sciences, a category that includes mathematics and computer science programs. Fully half of all international applications to U.S. graduate programs are for engineering and mathematics and computer science programs.

At the same time, the number of international applications for the next most popular field of study for international students, business, dropped by 2 percent — the first decline for the field since the council began collecting data on this topic in 2004.

Percent Change in International Applications to U.S. Graduate Schools

Final Number of Applications, 2011-12 Final Number of Applications, 2012-13 Final Number of Applications, 2013-14 Preliminary Number of Applications, 2014-15
International Total 9% 2% 10% 2%
Field of Study
Arts and Humanities 7% 4% 5% 1%
Business 7% 1% 7% -2%
Education 18% -2% 4% 16%
Engineering 14% 5% 12% 4%
Life Sciences -1% -7% -1% 16%
Physical and Earth Sciences 8% 3% 18% 14%
Social Sciences and Psychology 11% -2% 2% -2%
Other 9% 5% 4% 22%
Countries of Origin
Brazil 9% 25% 61% 4%
Canada 7% -5% 1% 2%
China 19% -3% -1% -2%
India 3% 22% 33% 12%
Mexico 10% -8% 1% 8%
South Korea -1% -15% -5% 4%
Taiwan -2% -13% 0% 0%
Regions of Origin
Africa -3% 4% 9% ***
Europe 7% -2% 3% -1%
Middle East 11% 2% 8% ***
Sub-Saharan Africa and Middle East *** *** *** 6%

***Changes not calculated because of changes in the definitions of regions.

For the first time this year, the CGS report breaks down international student applications according to degree level. Over all, about 63 percent of international applications were to master’s and certificate programs, while the rest were for doctoral programs — though there are big variations across countries and regions in this regard.

For example, about 84 percent of all graduate applications from India, and 64 percent of graduate applications from China, are for master’s or certificate programs.

By contrast, applications from South Korea, the third-largest sending country, are skewed heavily (70 percent) toward doctoral programs. A large majority of graduate applications from Europe (65 percent) and the Middle East and North Africa (62 percent) were also for doctoral programs.

Also for the first time this year, the CGS report disaggregates the application data according to institutions’ Carnegie classifications — a breakdown that reveals variations in application trends across institutional types. Despite the overall 2 percent gain in international applications across all universities, only those institutions classified as having “very high research activity” reported growth (4 percent), while less research-intensive institutions reported declines (though the following chart shows especially large swings for private nonprofit institutions, the report stresses those results should be interpreted with caution because of the relatively small number of private institutions in the sample. Allum, the author of the study, also noted that private nonprofit universities tend to have smaller international enrollments than their public counterparts).

Percent Change in International Graduate Applications by Institution Type from 2014 to 2015

Public Private Nonprofit Total
All Institutions 1% 5% 2%
Research Universities (very high research activity) 2% 9% 4%

Research Universities (high research activity)

-5% -5% -5%
Doctoral/Research Universities -5% -22% -18%
Master’s-Focused Universities 8 -10% -2%

A total of 377 universities — 244 public and 133 private — participated in the survey, for a 48 percent response rate. The Council of Graduate Schools estimates that the responding institutions account for about 70 percent of graduate degrees awarded to international students in the U.S.

This year marks the tenth consecutive year the council has documented increases in the number of international applications to U.S. graduate schools. Though the 2 percent increase represents a slower rate of growth compared to the 10 percent gain recorded last year, Allum said he is not concerned. “We saw 2 percent growth two years ago, and then we learned that did not impact the overall growth in the offers of admission and first-time enrollment,” he said.

Allum noted that the report released today tracks numbers of applications, not applicants, as a single student might apply to many institutions. The application numbers included in today’s report are preliminary, and the council will release survey data on final application numbers, offers of admission and new international enrollments later this year.

Year-to-Year Percent Change in International Applications to U.S. Graduate Schools

Year

Percent Change

2005 to 2006 12%
2006 to 2007 9%
2007 to 2008 6%
2008 to 2009 4%
2009 to 2010 9%
2010 to 2011 11%
2011 to 2012 9%
2012 to 2013 2%
2013 to 2014 10%
2014 to 2015 2%
Global
Foreign Students

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Jake New

Campus hearings, even when they’re regarding an activity as serious as sexual assault, are not courtrooms.

It’s a distinction that the U.S. Department of Education has embraced, requiring colleges to conduct their own investigations into claims of sexual assault, and to adjudicate those cases under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Colleges use “preponderance of evidence” instead of “beyond reasonable doubt” as the standard of proof. If a student is found in violation of campus rules, he or she is “responsible” for the misconduct, not “guilty” of a crime. The potential punishments are writing assignments, suspension or expulsion — not prison.

In the past, there were no lawyers or judges, just panels of faculty, students and administrators. But that’s beginning to change at some colleges, where outside judges — typically retired state judges — are being hired to oversee hearings. The hearings are still held under college rules, not state rules for courts.

Critics worried that campus sexual assault hearings are nothing but a kangaroo court that ignores the accused’s due process rights are praising the change. Some victims’ advocates, however, worry that turning a campus hearing into a courtroom could replicate the same perceived pitfalls of the legal system that have led many victims of sexual assault to turn to Title IX in the first place.

“There is a distinct subset of people in schools that are of the opinion that external adjudicators are the way to go,” Peter Lake, a law professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University, said. “I think people are experimenting with a variety of different models, and there are some who think that working with highly professionalized external adjudicators is the right pathway, especially in complex or high-profile cases. It’s uncharted territory. We’re essentially creating a college court system.”

Colleges that opt to use outside adjudicators, Lake said, don’t often advertise that fact, so it’s difficult to get a read on how common the practice currently is.

Brett Sokolow, president and CEO of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management, said he couldn’t comment on which colleges use outside adjudicators, but noted that a few of NCHERM’s clients do use judges now. It’s not a system he recommends, though.

“I am hearing about it more,” Sokolow said. “Generally I don’t think judges are a good idea, as it makes the process more legalistic and held to higher standards in terms of later legal challenges.”

In 2013, Swarthmore College hired former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Jane Greenspan to adjudicate cases of sexual assault there. Like most colleges, cases of sexual assault at Swarthmore were previously brought before a panel of students and faculty members. Under the previous system, Swarthmore faced lawsuits from both victims and accused students over how it handled sexual assault allegations.

In December, Florida State University hired retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding to adjudicate the hearing of Jameis Winston, the university’s star quarterback. FSU faced intense scrutiny over its handling of allegations that Winston raped a female student. The university was aware of the allegations for two years before scheduling the hearing.

By hiring Harding — a seemingly impartial party with no stake in the performance of the university’s football team — FSU hoped to avoid any further accusations that it was shielding Winston from being punished. John Banzhaf, a law professor at George Washington University, has long argued that colleges should use outside adjudicators to remain impartial. Banzhaf has also suggested creating regional consortiums independent of any one college that could be brought in to decide cases of sexual assault.

“Retired judges and others trained to evaluate evidence could better and more fairly, free from any possible biases, determine the truth, much better than professors of computer science or geology who today often make up the disciplinary panels on many campuses,” Banzhaf said.

Having experience as a criminal judge doesn’t always equate to having experience with campus administrative procedures, however, and the differences between the two can muddy the process. A transcript of Winston’s hearing in December revealed that Harding, the former Florida Supreme Court justice, and some of the lawyers acting as advisers to the students in the case were sometimes unaware of how the hearing was supposed to proceed, including whether lawyers were permitted to listen in on the hearing and who was meant to speak and when.

The university attempted to bring Harding and the advisers up to speed with a briefing about the process, according to the transcript, but the session wasn’t completed before the hearing began. Harding ruled that both students’ versions of the events were equally probable, thus the evidence was “insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof.”

“There is a challenge in getting somebody who is extremely talented as a jurist or an investigator, but isn’t perhaps specialized in Title IX training or campus culture,” Lake said. “That’s a little harder to pick up unless those folks are especially trained in it. There’s no question that we’re moving from a more amateur system to a more professionalized one, and if that’s happening we’re going to need to build a culture of professional individuals who are highly trained in both internal and external processes.”

Another way the campus model is becoming professionalized, Lake said, is the increasingly involved role of lawyers. In the past, accusers and the accused have been allowed to consult with lawyers, but only in an advisory role. That’s changing, too.

Inspired by fears that the federal government’s pressure on colleges to better investigate and adjudicate cases of campus sexual assault is leading administrators to trample on the due process rights of accused students, North Dakota and South Carolina are both considering legislation that would allow attorneys to more fully participate in campus proceedings on behalf of accused students.

North Carolina already passed a similar bill last year, and students in Arkansas now have the right to an attorney when appealing “nonacademic” suspensions or expulsions.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education called the North Dakota legislation “sorely needed,” saying that the bill would provide students with “a powerful new tool to ensure that their rights won’t be trampled on.” In a letter sent to state legislators in February, NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education disagreed, saying that the “approach ignores the balance set by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the scope of accused students’ due process rights” under the Constitution.

Laura Dunn, executive director of SurvJustice, a victims’ advocacy group, said that that the involvement of legal professionals in Title IX hearings is a good thing, but that lawyers should not participate in the actual hearing. They should remain in an advisory role, said Dunn, who is herself a lawyer who attends campus hearings on behalf of victims.

Rather than shoehorning lawyers and judges into the campus model, she said, colleges should instead focus on making sure their employees are appropriately trained in legal and campus procedures.

“We’re not in a court, we’re in a hearing about a school’s code, and I think there is a value to not making it like a courtroom,” Dunn said. “This is not a criminal court or a civil court, it’s an administrative hearing. In some ways it makes sense to have outside investigators and to make sure Title IX coordinators are actual lawyers and make sure they’re complying with law, but those people don’t inherently need to be an actual judge.”

Students and Violence
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Wikimedia Commons

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Matt Reed

The report whose findings don’t look good.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Joshua Kim

3 thoughts.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher

Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher
Here are 17 tips, both technical and pedagogical, to help you navigate your first year of incorporating a 3D printer into your classroom projects.

Source: Edutopia

    

By Elena Aguilar

Elena Aguilar
A school team’s emotional intelligence might be the most important predictor of what it will to do together, what conversations will sound like, and how members will feel about going to meetings.

Source: Edutopia

    

By Scott Jaschik

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to review the constitutionality of the consideration of race and ethnicity in college admissions cases.

The case involves the admissions practices at the University of Texas at Austin. It is possible that the Supreme Court could rule in a narrow way about UT. But the case also gives the justices, several of whom are dubious of the consideration of race by schools and colleges, a chance to limit or ban the consideration of race in college admissions. The case will now be heard in the fall, with a decision likely in early 2016. The issues in this case are likely to be debated in the 2016 presidential race.

As is the norm in cases it agrees to hear, the Supreme Court did not issue any explanation. But the notification that the justices would take the case confirmed, as expected, that Associate Justice Elena Kagan would recuse herself from consideration of the case. Kagan was solicitor general in the Obama administration before being appointed to the court, and presumably worked on the case in that capacity.

The Supreme Court on Affirmative Action in Higher Education

  • 1978: In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the court ruled that the medical school at the University of California at Davis could not reserve some slots with separate admissions standards for minority applicants. But the court also ruled that colleges could consider race and ethnicity in admissions decisions in ways that did not create quotas.
  • 2005: In Gratz v. Bollinger, the court ruled that the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor had unconstitutionally used an undergraduate admissions system in which underrepresented minority applicants received points on the basis of their ethnic or racial background.
  • 2005: In Grutter v. Bollinger, the court ruled that the University of Michigan’s law school was within its constitutional rights in considering applicants’ race and ethnicity because it did so through a “holistic” review and not by simply awarding points based on race and ethnicity.
  • 2013: In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the court ruled that lower courts needed to apply “strict scrutiny” and not give colleges deference in reviews of challenges to the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions.

The Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling is in the same case that has now returned to the justices.

Ruling 7 to 1, the court in 2013 found that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had erred in not applying “strict scrutiny” to the policies of UT Austin. The case is Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, in which Abigail Fisher, a white woman rejected for admission by the university, said that her rights were violated by UT-Austin’s consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions decisions. Fisher’s lawyers argued that the University of Texas need not consider race because it has found another way to assure diversity in the student body. That is the “10 percent plan,” under which those in the top 10 percent of Texas high schools are assured admission to the public college or university of their choice.

The 2013 ruling essentially raised the bar for colleges in terms of how they had to justify the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions, but did not bar its use.

In July 2014, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit upheld, 2 to 1, the UT admissions plan. And it is an appeal of that ruling that the U.S. Supreme Court has again agreed to consider.

The majority decision from the appeals court said that just because Texas could get some diversity based on the percent plan alone, does not mean it can’t do more than that. “An emphasis on numbers in a mechanical admissions process is the most pernicious of discriminatory acts because it looks to race alone, treating minority students as fungible commodities that represent a single minority viewpoint,” the judges wrote. “Critical mass, the tipping point of diversity, has no fixed upper bound of universal application, nor is it the minimum threshold at which minority students do not feel isolated or like spokespersons for their race.”

Further, the appeals court said that the University of Texas is correct not to rely solely on the percent plan, which in turn works because of segregation. The plaintiff’s “claim can proceed only if Texas must accept this weakness of the top 10 percent plan and live with its inability to look beyond class rank and focus upon individuals,” the decision says. “Perversely, to do so would put in place a quota system pretextually race neutral. While the top 10 percent plan boosts minority enrollment by skimming from the tops of Texas high schools, it does so against this backdrop of increasing resegregation in Texas public schools, where over half of Hispanic students and 40 percent of black students attend a school with 90 [to] 100 percent minority enrollment.”

The dissent argued that the majority decision did not comply with the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision. “At best, the university’s attempted articulations of ‘critical mass’ before this court are subjective, circular or tautological,” the dissent says. “The university explains only that its ‘concept of critical mass is defined by reference to the educational benefits that diversity is designed to produce.’ And, in attempting to address when it is likely to achieve critical mass, the university explains only that it will ‘cease its consideration of race when it determines… that the educational benefits of diversity can be achieved at UT through a race-neutral policy….’

“These articulations are insufficient. Under the rigors of strict scrutiny, the judiciary must ‘verify that it is necessary for a university to use race to achieve the educational benefits of diversity.’ It is not possible to perform this function when the university’s objective is unknown, unmeasurable or unclear.”

What the Supreme Court says about these issues could be crucial to colleges nationwide. Many of them cite the idea of a “critical mass” as part of their explanation for a range of policies that consider race and ethnicity.

Another key issue for many colleges other than UT is the question of how much deference to give to colleges generally on matters related to their desire for diverse student bodies. The 2013 Supreme Court ruling said that no deference should be given to colleges just for being colleges as opposed to other kinds of organizations. And that significantly increased the burden for colleges because many courts have said, historically, that they are hesitant to question decisions on such policies as admissions.

The appeal filed by Fisher’s lawyers, urging the Supreme Court to take the case, said that the appeals court had not in fact applied the required “strict scrutiny” to the university’s actions.

“At every turn, the majority was ‘persuaded’ by UT’s circular legal arguments, post hoc rationalizations for its decision to reintroduce racial preferences and unsupported factual assertions,” the brief says, adding that the Supreme Court “has a special interest in ensuring that courts on remand follow the letter and spirit of [its] mandates…. That institutional interest is triggered here as the Fifth Circuit applied strict scrutiny in name only.”

In its reply brief, the University of Texas said that the appeals court had indeed applied the Supreme Court’s standards for reviewing the consideration of race in admissions. The Texas brief said Fisher’s lawyers are in reality just trying to eliminate the right of colleges to consider race in any circumstance. “As is evident from their desire to eliminate racial preferences in education altogether, the real problem for petitioner and her amici is this court’s decisions… [that] establish that universities may consider race — when narrowly tailored to their compelling interest in student body diversity.”

Fisher was a high school senior when she first sued UT Austin in 2008. She enrolled at and graduated from Louisiana State University after she was rejected by UT, but has continued the legal case over her rejection.

Affirmative Action

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Joshua Block

Photo Credit: Joshua Block
Joshua Block
Spontaneity can flourish to students’ advantage in a curriculum steeped in ritual and repetition that regularly introduces fresh new ideas and activities.

Source: Edutopia

    

By Scott Jaschik

The board of Northwest Nazarene University announced Friday that it is standing behind a decision to end the job of a theologian whose students, former students and colleagues view as a model teacher and an important thinker.

Officially the elimination of Thomas Jay Oord’s job was a layoff that the university said was necessary for financial reasons. But professors and others doubt that reason, and say that universities don’t generally eliminate the jobs of their best known and most loved faculty members — especially those with tenure. Many of Oord’s supporters believe his job was eliminated because his views on evolution clash with some Nazarene traditionalists.

After the uproar over the elimination of Oord’s job at the end of March, the faculty voted “no confidence” in President David Alexander, who promised a review of the decision. That promise, followed in May by Alexander’s resignation, led many of Oord’s supporters to hope his job might be saved.

But in its statement, the board said it backed and would carry out the March decision, except that in an agreement with Oord, it would let him teach full time for one year and part-time for two additional years, after which he will no longer be employed. The statement said that the board acknowledged that “the process of decision-making related to the administrative action raises legitimate concerns,” and pledged to address those concerns. But the statement insisted that the decision to eliminate Oord’s job was correct.

At the same time, the board statement said that trustees directed the administration to start measures that would “show clear progress” in three areas: “To study and better understand the concept of shared governance across the university,” “to explore and clarify all policies and procedures related to tenure in the context of the university,” and ” to engage in a thoughtful discussion about academic freedom in a Christian university context and its implications for teaching, scholarship, and publication in traditional print and digital media (including social media).”

For many of Oord’s colleagues and former students, however, the bottom line was that a beloved professor was still being forced out of a job. And they point to numerous signs that the university is not in a financial crisis of the type that would justify eliminating the job of any tenured professor.

And there are signs that the board’s statement will not satisfy Oord’s defenders. On a Facebook page organized to back Oord, one participant wrote Friday: “It would much better if NNU’s BoT just said this: ‘We are in charge. Ultimately, tenure at this institution is pure and total artifice. We will let anyone go, at any time, for any reason.’ Months of duplicitousness, however, make it very clear that saying true things is not the culture of the BoT, even if some individuals on the Board may themselves be honest and good people.”

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Thomas Jay Oord

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Matt Reed

Two American leaders at their best.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs

    

By Ashley A. Smith

Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana’s statewide two-year institution, has a reputation for supplying students to the workforce. But recently the college has been questioned about the success of its students and the effectiveness of training dollars it receives from the state.

The community college system is facing questions from state lawmakers and its workforce council over low graduation rates. The workforce council has set minimum state completion rates for short- and long-term programs. And based on graduation data, Ivy Tech isn’t meeting those minimums. Not meeting those standards threatens the federal job-training dollars the college receives.

But Ivy Tech argues, like many community colleges across the country, that graduation rates don’t tell the entire story.

“What we have here is apples talking to oranges,” President Tom Snyder said, adding that transfers aren’t included in graduation rates. “The good thing is we’re closing the gap between what is being done in the college and what’s needed in the workforce.”

The council set graduation standards for all 260 of its training providers, including Ivy Tech, after federal directives were changed last year to require states to track what happens to students in workforce training programs. Indiana’s new standards are a 28 percent minimum graduation rate threshold for two-year degree programs and a 60 percent rate for career-technical programs or nondegree programs, said Joe Frank, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The state receives about $60 million a year in workforce innovation dollars that it passes on to the providers, with Ivy Tech receiving about $6.5 million, Frank said. Ivy Tech is the largest of the state’s providers.

Using graduation information from the Indiana Commission of Higher Education, Ivy Tech’s total completion rate is at 5.2 percent for full-time students who completed within two years and 27.7 percent for students who completed an associate degree or certificate within six years. For part-time students those numbers change to 2.1 percent within two years and 20.8 percent within six.

Based on those measurements, the college isn’t meeting the workforce requirement.

But the college points to other measurements that they feel are more reflective of what happens on campuses.

For instance, using 2014 data from the National Community College Benchmark Project, Ivy Tech ranked in the top 30 percent in the country for first-time, part-time students to complete or transfer within six years — at nearly 40 percent.

And the majority of Ivy Tech’s students aren’t first-time students who are seeking to complete in two years, said Jeff Fanter, the college’s senior vice president for student experience, communications and marketing.

“Only 6.6 percent of them are taking enough credits to graduate in two years, 28.3 percent are on a three-year track and over 65 percent are on a six-year track,” he said.

Mary Alice McCarthy, a senior policy analyst in the education policy program at New America, said graduation rates weren’t meant to be used with the new workforce law.

“This is showing the dangers of mixing up data sources for accountability purposes,” said McCarthy, who previously worked for both the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Labor. “Credential attainment is important, but completion and earnings are the big measures in workforce development.”

Ivy Tech’s graduates earn an average of about $37,700 in annual salary the first year after graduation, $43,100 annually after five years and nearly $50,000 per year after 10 years, according to the state higher education commission.

Ivy Tech said the state’s workforce development program is holding off on cutting any funding while updated data are being provided.

“We view it as they have the most robust program in the state and they’re the largest with the most robust infrastructure,” Frank said. “We will continue to work with them to make sure they’re in compliance, and they’ve been a great partner in the past.”

Snyder is optimistic that the disconnect will be resolved over the next couple of months.

“We’ll give them more appropriate data points,” he said.

Community Colleges
Finances
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IvyTech.edu
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Welding at Ivy Tech

Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Doug Lederman

Both congressional appropriations committees approved legislation last week that would set spending levels for the nation’s health, education and workforce programs, setting up likely showdowns with the Obama administration over budgets for some programs and policy initiatives that congressional Republicans want to stop.

The policy battles could trump any deliberations over the spending levels, as the Obama administration is likely to go to the mat over its efforts — now backed by two federal courts — to require vocational programs at for-profit and other colleges to prove that they provide “gainful employment” to their graduates.

The spending bills passed by both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees last week would block the gainful employment rule and a series of other regulatory efforts that the Obama Education Department has undertaken, but the administration has invested so much time and energy in the gainful rule that it is almost certain to fight any attempt to undermine it.

Whatever potential battles emerge over policy issues will not preclude shorter-term negotiations and debates over spending levels for various programs, as the competing House and Senate bills differ significantly on numerous fronts from the Obama administration’s preferred budget levels and, to a lesser extent, from each other, as seen in the table below.

To the satisfaction of higher education groups, both spending bills would increase spending on the National Institutes of Health beyond the $1 billion increase requested by President Obama, with the Senate adding a full billion dollars on top of that.

College leaders are much less happy about a proposal to use $300 million (in the Senate bill) and $370 million (in the House bill) in surplus funds from the Pell Grant program for other purposes, even though the maximum Pell Grant would rise to $5,915 under both bills.

The table below shows proposed spending levels for many key federal programs for higher education, based on the recently passed House and Senate bills for the Departments of Labor, Education, Health and Human Services, and related agencies.

2016 Spending Plans for Education, Health and Labor Programs

2015
Final
2016
Obama Request
2016 House
Committee

2016
Senate Committee

LABOR DEPARTMENT
State Job Training Grants / Adults $776,736 $815,556 $776,736 $737,000
EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
Student Financial Assistance
Maximum Pell Grant $5,715 5,915 5,915 5,915
Cut to Pell Grant Surplus -370,000 -300,000
Supplemental Ed Opportunity Grant 733,130 733,130 733,130 704,000
Work Study 989,728 989,728 989,728 950,000
Support for Institutions
Strengthening Institutions 80,462 80,462 82,071 78,048
Hispanic-Serving Institutions 100,231 100,231 102,236 97,224
Promoting Postbacc Opportunities for Hispanic Americans 8,992 10,565 9,172 8,722
Strengthening Historically Black Colleges 227,524 227,524 232,074 220,698
Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institutions 58,840 58,840 60,017 57,075
Strengthening Predominantly Black Institutions 9,244 9,244 9,429 8,967
Asian-American/Pacific Islander 3,113 3,113 3,175 3,020
Strengthening Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving 12,833 12,833 13,090 12,448
Strengthening Native American-Serving Nontribal 3,113 3,113 3,175 3,020
Strengthening Tribal Colleges 25,662 25,662 30,000 24,892
Tribally Controlled Postsec Voc/Tech Institutions 7,705 7,705 8,705 7,705
Howard U 221,821 221,821 221,821 219,500
Gallaudet U 120,275 120,275 121,275 120,275
National Technical Institute for the Deaf 67,016 67,016 68,016 69,016
HBCU Capital Financing 19,430 19,436 19,430 19,430
Other Education Programs
International Education and Foreign Language 72,164 76,164 72,164 46,945
Fund for the Improvement of Postsec Ed 67,775 200,000 0 0
Postsec Program for Students with Intellectual Disabilities 11,800 11,800 11,800 10,384
Minority Science and Engineering Improvement 8,971 8,971 8,971 8,971
Federal TRIO Programs 839,752 859,752 900,000 839,752
GEAR UP 301,639 301,639 322,754 301,639
Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need 29,293 29,293 25,075 20,000
Teacher Quality Partnerships 40,592 0 0 34,000
Child Care Access Means Parents in School 15,134 15,134 15,134 0
Education Research 179,860 202,273 93,144 177,860
Education Statistics 103,060 124,744 103,060 102,060
Office for Civil Rights 100,000 130,000 100,000 100,000
Career Training State Grants 1,117,598 1,317,598 1,117,598 1,117,598
Adult Education 582,667 588,667 579,195 547,712
Health Programs
National Institutes of Health 30,084,000 31,084,000 31,184,000 32,084,000
Health Workforce Training 751,600 856,820 742,670 720,970
Other Programs
AmeriCorps 335,430 425,105 318,046 270,000
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Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Jacqueline Thomsen

One women’s college is making sure that all students who want a degree can earn one.

Alverno College, an all-women’s institution in Wisconsin, is phasing out its once popular weekend courses in favor of a hybrid option for students, a move the college’s president said will allow the student body to better balance personal and professional demands while still pursuing a degree.

President Mary Meehan said when the weekend program at Alverno began more than 40 years ago, the institution would see women travel from as far as Colorado to attend the courses. But over the years, students found working full-time during the week and giving up weekends to be too demanding. Enrollment numbers fell from about 1,000 a decade ago to roughly 100 now, and the college started exploring other options.

The roughly 100 students in the weekend classes can continue in their programs, but no new students will be accepted. Instead, students can study business, communication or liberal studies with a weekly night session and online lessons supplemented by outside group work.

Seventy-five percent of Alverno’s student body are first-generation students, and the college has recently experienced a significant increase in enrollment, primarily in graduate studies, while other institutions throughout the country have struggled to keep their numbers up.

“The fact that kept coming up again and again was the students were saying, ‘we need a more flexible time frame,’” Meehan said. “And with the demands people have in their lives personally and professionally, to give up Friday night, Saturday and Sunday morning and then head right back to work, they would rather have the flexibility of going in one night and doing more of it online.”

She said that the typical student at Alverno works more than 30 hours a week — including students who come to the college straight out of high school — and this hybrid program gives them an opportunity to earn a living and a degree at the same time.

The online course work, which was created in-house at Alverno, means that — barring the in-class sessions — students don’t have to worry about being in a certain place at a certain time to cover class material, a restriction that hurt those juggling multiple responsibilities.

Meehan said officials at the college first struggled on how to reconcile the college’s ability-based curriculum, which grades students based on how they perform in simulations, with the online courses, but determined that those assessments will take place during the in-person classes.

She added that the college has also stayed in touch with roughly 500 students who left the college, and after introducing them to the new program, officials received a “positive” response.

“We invite students back, so it’s really important to us that we help them graduate in whatever way we can,” Meehan said. “So this is another way to help those students to degree completion.”

Matthew Chingos, the research director of the Brookings Institute’s Brown Center on Education Policy, who has done studies on the effectiveness of hybrid programs, said he has found that the alternatives help students to learn the same amount of material in a hybrid statistics course as they would in a traditional classroom, but in a shorter amount of time.

He was quick to note that his research was only on certain kinds of courses and the effectiveness of a hybrid course depends on a number of factors, including the subject of the class.

He added that caution should be used with hybrid courses because unmotivated students will simply use the online lessons and not show up to the in-person class time, or a student will miss too much of the online course work and be too embarrassed to attend the other session.

“It helps with engagement, it helps with accountability,” Chingos said of the in-person sessions.

Kim Bobby, the director of the American Council on Education’s Inclusive Excellence Group, said she was impressed with Alverno’s efforts to reach more populations of women, not just traditional students who could make it to campus to take classes during the day.

She said the topics Alverno was covering in its hybrid programs can help the women who are already working or hope to join the workforce learn skills that will apply directly to their career aspirations.

“I think looking at the student body and then looking at what the workforce is looking at, a lot of it is focused on leadership,” Bobby said. “We need good leaders across all sectors, and in these three sectors women leaders are currently underrepresented, and this is helping to close some of those gaps.”

Lotte Bailyn, a professor of management emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has done extensive research on the role of women in higher education, said because over all there are higher percentages of women pursuing bachelor’s degrees than men, higher ed is already more customized for women than men.

She said when looking at Alverno’s program, the college didn’t have to just consider women, but working women or mothers who would be the best fit for a hybrid course.

“I think what’s important is the particular group this college is attracting. I don’t think it’s the normal education,” Bailyn said.

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Source: Inside Higher Ed

    

By Joshua Kim

3 suggestions for our tuition dependent, enrollment and retention challenged, and endowment shrinking institution.

Source: Inside Higher Ed Blogs