Many in academe were shocked last month when it was revealed that the new president of Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland had told faculty members they needed to view struggling students as bunnies to be drowned. The exact quote: “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”
The president, Simon Newman, originally wouldn’t confirm the quote. But the board has now said the president used an “inappropriate metaphor.” The board, however, also has defended Newman’s plan, which involves identifying new students who might not succeed and encouraging them to leave the university in the first few weeks of their initial semester.
Many have wondered if Newman’s presidency could survive the controversy. Now it appears the person losing his job is the provost, David Rehm, who leaked emails reveal is the senior official at the university who told Newman to hold off on his approach to retention, and that the system might not be fair to students. The system relied on giving freshmen a survey, telling them there were no wrong answers and then using the results to help identify those who might not succeed.
On Friday, Newman sent an email to faculty members — obtained by Inside Higher Ed — telling them he had asked for and received Rehm’s resignation, effective immediately.
“When a new president is elected in any higher education institution, it is a common practice for him or her to change some of the senior leadership team. It’s all a part of moving forward, bringing in new ideas and continuously improving. I have effected such a change today by requesting and accepting the resignation of Mount St. Mary’s University Provost David Rehm.”
As faculty members have noted, while it is indeed common for new presidents to change provosts, this is not typically done in a single day, particularly in replacing a provost who is well respected by faculty members.
Several professors, seeking anonymity as they fear for their jobs, said they viewed the sudden change as a sign not to oppose the president’s plan. Adding to the concern, one faculty member said, at a faculty meeting on Wednesday, the provost indicated he planned to volunteer to the president to take over management of the retention program so that it could avoid the problems many see with the effort. The provost told professors he would discuss this idea with the president on Friday, the day it turned out he was fired from his position. (He retains a faculty position.)
Rehm did not respond to an email seeking comment. The university did not respond to an email request about whether the dismissal was related to the provost’s offer to take over the retention program. The university did send a copy of the email announcing the provost’s replacement.
One professor said it was important to remember that the president is proceeding — against the views of many faculty members and the now former provost — with his plan. And while the university is trying to portray the incident as just a public-relations problem, the professor said the concern is about the plan and its lack of commitment to every student admitted, not just the poor choice of metaphor. “He apologized for the language, but not the plan,” said the professor.
Many faculty members believe that if the university admits students, it should focus on helping them succeed and not on culling them in the first weeks of the semester. In emails that have leaked, Newman is quoted as saying that early withdrawals — before the university reports enrollment numbers — could quickly increase the reported graduation rate.
Adding to the concern about the provost’s ouster is the person whom President Newman named as interim provost.
His email announced the choice: “We are fortunate to have secured the services of Jennie Hunter-Cevera as our interim provost, effective immediately. Jennie is the former president of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and most recently served as the state of Maryland’s acting secretary of higher education and member of Governor Hogan’s cabinet. In addition to her strong credentials as a higher education administrator, she also has deep academic, research and private sector experience as an applied microbiologist. I look forward to her ideas and contributions as a senior member of the administration, and her advice, taking into account the input of the faculty, on the choice of our next provost.”
Newman’s email did not note that legislators in Maryland blocked Hunter-Cevera’s nomination to lead the higher education commission in the state by first delaying votes on her nomination and then refusing to schedule a vote. (Democrats control the General Assembly in Maryland, while the governor is a Republican.)
Professors fear Newman is shifting the university away from its traditional strength as a rigorous liberal arts institution, devoted to a traditional curriculum. Rehm is a philosophy professor. The institute Hunter-Cevera led at Maryland was designed to promote biotechnology research and had close ties to industry.
Further, legislators blocked her nomination after receiving word from faculty members about a 2009 vote of no confidence in her by the faculty of the institute. Professors said she made decisions without consulting them and that efforts were hurt by high turnover among administrators, The Washington Post reported. Hunter-Cevera at the time blamed “disgruntled” employees who disagreed with her decisions.
Faculty members at Mount St. Mary’s said they didn’t know the details of what happened at the biotechnology center. But they said they wondered why a president would bring in an interim provost — at a time when many faculty members are frustrated by a lack of say in the direction of the institution — who was in the past criticized for not giving faculty members an appropriate role at that institution.
“This is the person you are bringing in? Someone who had problems with shared governance?” said one faculty member.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Paul Fain
College completion rates have stagnated, and lower-income students in particular face long odds of getting to graduation. Two new studies, however, show that low-income students can graduate at high rates when they receive financial and academic supports from external groups.
The research looked at success rates for students who were participants in the Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society and, separately, in the Dell Scholars program. Graduation rates were substantially better for both groups than for their peers.
For example, one study followed 11,000 students who were members of Phi Theta Kappa, which is a large honors and scholarship program for high-achieving community college students. Students were tracked after first joining the honors group in 2008-9. (That recognition is made as early as possible, often during students’ first year of enrollment).
Fully 85 percent of Phi Theta Kappa students earned either an associate or bachelor’s degree within six years, according to the study. And another 7 percent were still enrolled at a four-year institution and working toward a degree — making for an overall “success” rate of 92 percent.
Likewise, recipients of the Dell scholarship outperformed their peers.
The program provides financial support and individualized advising to low-income students who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees. Recipients were about 25 percent more likely than other students to earn a bachelor’s on time — and also 25 percent more likely to earn one within six years, according to an independent study released this month.
Phi Theta Kappa and two graduate student researchers from Mississippi State University conducted the study of high-achieving community college students. George Boggs, the former president of the American Association of Community Colleges, also was a co-author. The data came in part from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which allowed the researchers to track students as they moved across institutions and state borders.
Lynn Tincher-Ladner, Phi Theta Kappa’s president and CEO, said even high-achieving community college students are at risk for not completing. And the reasons often are not academic.
“Even a very smart student may have a fragile support system,” she said.
As a result, it might surprise some that Phi Theta Kappa students in the study outperformed students who first enrolled at four-year institutions in earning bachelor’s degrees — and the Phi Theta Kappa students had to transfer first.
The six-year bachelor’s completion rate for the study’s group of students was 68 percent. The national six-year rate for students who first enrolled at four-year institutions was 63 percent. While the Phi Theta Kappa students may have had a bit more time, depending on when they joined the honor society, the group of students easily beat the dismal odds of earning a bachelor’s degree community college students face.
Nationwide, about 80 percent of community college students say they eventually want to earn a bachelor’s degree. But recently released data showed that just 38 percent of students who first enrolled at a two-year college earned a degree — associate or bachelor’s — within six years. And that rate is declining.
Not Just High Achievers
Even so, an expert on community colleges and transfer issues said the study’s findings weren’t particularly surprising, given that Phi Theta Kappa students need to apply to the honor society and are accepted based in part on their grade point averages.
“So what does that mean for community colleges? That they should console themselves because some students do well even though overall outcomes are subpar?” said Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Columbia University’s Teachers College.
CCRC recently partnered with Public Agenda and the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program to study the logjam that occurs for many students in the transfer process. Policies at the institutional and program level can be improved, the groups said, to help more students navigate transfer and get to graduation.
“I’m more interested in high-achieving community colleges: colleges that, in partnership with universities, do a better job than expected in enabling students who aren’t well prepared and haven’t done well in school to transfer and earn bachelor’s degrees,” Jenkins said. “We need to identify those colleges and find out how they can serve both high- and low-achieving students.”
The authors of the new completion study, however, said there are lessons to be learned about what works for Phi Theta Kappa members. Those students are more than three times more likely to complete an associate degree within three years than their community-college-student peers, and twice as likely to complete over six years.
The group requires a 3.5 GPA and course loads of at least 12 credits. When the study’s group of students was compared to a control group of students who fit the same criteria, they still were significantly more likely to earn a degree.
Benefits of membership in the honor society include various activities to encourage student engagement, the study said. Those include leadership opportunities, soft-skills professional development and transfer readiness.
The group introduces students to “friends who are going places,” Tincher-Ladner said.
Phi Theta Kappa membership also comes with scholarship money. Students can receive $500 to go toward transfer, with more award money available later.
“When you give a student a financial benefit,” Tincher-Ladner said, “their completion rate goes through the roof.”
Financial aid is also an important part of the Dell Scholars program. The 300 low-income students who receive the award each year, most of whom are first-generation college students, must earn a 2.4 GPA, attend college full time and be eligible to receive a federal Pell Grant during their first year of college.
If selected, Dell recipients get $20,000 in financial support from the program over six years, as well as a laptop, textbook credits, mentoring and access to a private networking group.
“Compared to other scholarship programs, the Dell effort is relatively unique in that it also provides ongoing outreach, close monitoring and assistance to scholars, even though they are geographically dispersed to postsecondary institutions across the U.S.,” wrote the study’s authors, Lindsay Page, an assistant professor of research methodology at the University of Pittsburgh; Benjamin Castleman, an assistant professor of education and public policy at the University of Virginia; and Gumilang Sahadewo, a researcher and graduate student at Pitt.
That sort of intervention isn’t cheap, the three wrote. And it would be expensive to provide to large numbers of students.
However, the Dell Scholars program appears to be a fiscally sound investment, the study found. Its authors conducted a fairly simple cost-benefit analysis, and found that the financial benefits — both in the enhanced earnings of recipients and their tax payments — tops the program’s costs after 12 years of postcollege earnings.
“While recognizing the many assumptions that we have made,” the authors wrote, “these calculations nevertheless suggest a positive rate of return for the Dell investment in their Dell Scholars program.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Josh Logue
In recent weeks, three different college campuses have seen instances of meningitis — one which resulted in the death of a university employee — but only one of those instances qualified as an outbreak prompting widespread vaccinations of the student body.
Bacterial meningitis is a rare but dangerous infectious disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. It can cause neurological damage, necessitate amputation or lead to death in some cases. It’s relatively rare on college campuses, being more prone to affect adolescents, but there have been a number of outbreaks on campus in the last year, at the University of Oregon, for example, and Princeton University, and almost 30 reported infections on campuses between 2013 and 2015, according to data from the National Meningitis Association.
In the most recent outbreak, at Santa Clara University, three students had been infected as of Friday, two with meningitis and one with a bloodstream infection caused by the same bacteria. One of the students has been discharged from the hospital, and the other two are in fair condition, according to a university spokeswoman.
In response the university has set up a free vaccination clinic and is encouraging all its students to visit. As of Friday morning, 1,496 of its 9,000 students had been vaccinated, and another 200 who had come in close contact with the infected students had been treated with antibiotics.
While appropriate in Santa Clara’s case, widespread vaccination for the category of meningococcal infection reported there — known as serogroup B — is not recommended for college students and universities, even ones with recent case of meningitis, said Craig Roberts, a past chair of the Emerging Public Health Threats & Emergency Response Coalition for the American College Health Association and an epidemiologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Health Service.
Strains of the bacteria in serogroup B have become more common after an effective vaccine for the other four groups — A, C, Y and W, against all of which most college students are already vaccinated — was released about a decade ago. But a vaccination for B group strains was only approved by U.S. Food and Drug Administration last year, Roberts said, and even that has some significant limitations. Group B strains are prone to mutation, so new types that the vaccine hasn’t been tested against pop up from time to time, and the vaccine itself doesn’t appear to have a very long duration.
“From talking to other experts, it doesn’t appear that the protection will be sustained” beyond “a year or two,” he said. It might not last that long, either. No one really knows yet.
And, while it is a “devastating disease,” Roberts said, it’s also “very, very rare,” particularly for college students, because the bacteria is more prone to target adolescents.
Colleges also possess risk factors, though. The disease is spread through “respiratory and throat secretions … during close or lengthy contact,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “especially if living in the same household.” Places where large numbers of people gather together also increase risk, so the CDC recommends all students living in dorms be vaccinated for the A, C, Y and W groups.
Even though the B group vaccine’s short duration doesn’t make it worth recommending all 18 million college students be vaccinated against that strain, it’s still “great for outbreaks,” Roberts said.
Qualifying as an outbreak, according CDC, can require as little as two infections from bacteria in the same group if the community or institution is small enough. But just one probably wouldn’t be enough to warrant widespread use of an expensive vaccination with limited protective ability.
At Argosy University in Alameda, Calif., a for-profit university owned by Education Management Corporation, an employee died from meningitis in late January. Officials there have said several times that there is no indication of any connection to the Santa Clara outbreak, and the college is handling the aftermath differently, although it is keeping details close to the vest.
The response at Argosy has been to treat staff and students who came into contact with the employee, but a university spokeswoman declined to explain how many had been treated, in what way or for what strain of meningitis.
“We are very tight-lipped about every aspect of a communicable disease,” she said, “unless we need the public to take a specific action,” which was not the case here.
Another spokeswoman did clarify that the employee was not a professor, as several media organizations have reported, but she would not go into detail about his position, citing Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act regulations.
Muskingum University in Ohio, the third to report a case of meningitis in the last few days, is also treating people who came into direct contact with the infected student, who “is recovering and doing very well,” according to a press release from the county health department. It goes on to note, “You need to be within three feet of the infected person for a total of eight hours to be considered as a direct contact.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
When Goucher College announced it was starting a new admissions option — in which applicants would be evaluated primarily on the basis of a two-minute video, with no transcripts or test scores required — the move attracted considerable attention and considerable skepticism. While many admissions experts debate whether standardized tests are necessary, there is a wide consensus that the high school transcript is the single most valuable tool for predicting college success. So many doubted the wisdom of admitting students without the transcript.
Now the results are in — first-semester grades of the first cohort of students who were admitted via two-minute videos. And Goucher is proclaiming success. According to statistics released today, the grade point average of students admitted via video was 3.15 for the first semester; it was 3.11 for everyone else.
While Goucher is pleased with the results, there is one problem: not many students actually enrolled this way. Goucher’s freshman class consists of 389 students admitted with transcripts and an application, etc. (the college has long been test optional on admissions), and 15 students who took the video route.
Goucher admitted 51 applicants who applied with videos, and 23 of them placed a deposit. But five deferred for a year, so have no freshmen grades available. And three of them were, in the end, admitted through traditional means, although they started off with the videos. That leaves 15.
José Antonio Bowen, president of Goucher and the chief proponent of admissions by video, acknowledged in an interview that the small sample of students is a genuine limitation on the findings. He said Goucher is continuing to offer the alternative this year and will eventually have larger samples of students — along with the ability to measure academic success beyond the first semester.
Still, he said, “I’m very excited. I do think we’ve discovered a new way to identify talent, and it works.”
Bowen said it was important to share results of academic performance in college. “I think this means the naysayers, who said we would be lowering standards, were wrong,” he said.
If a two-minute video can work, should colleges reconsider traditional admissions methods? Bowen said he wasn’t calling for the elimination of traditional measures. But he said colleges should think seriously about whether their current systems, which create stress for students and families, can be changed.
“What we did worked just as well, and it was less stressful,” Bowen said. “The doors to innovation should be open. The traditional way is too expensive and too stressful.”
Whether the naysayers will be convinced remains to be seen. When Inside Higher Ed surveyed admissions directors in 2015 and asked them if it was ever appropriate to admit students without requiring the high school transcript, only 31 percent of admissions directors at public institutions and 20 percent at private institutions said it was.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Wheaton College in Illinois announced Saturday night that it has reached an agreement to “part ways” with Larycia Hawkins, an associate professor of political science whom it has been trying to fire.
The announcement may not end a controversy about whether Wheaton had grounds to take action against Hawkins. Many faculty members at Wheaton, a prominent college in Christian higher education, say that any agreement should have kept her teaching at the institution. The announcement — made jointly with Hawkins — did not provide details of the settlement.
But the announcement did include mutual praise. Philip Graham Ryken, Wheaton’s president, is quoted saying of Hawkins: “We are grateful for her passionate teaching, scholarship, community service and mentorship of our students.” She is quoted as saying, “I appreciate and have great respect for the Christian liberal arts and the ways that Wheaton College exudes that in its mission, programs, and in the caliber of its employees and students.”
The statement also says that “both parties share a commitment to care for the oppressed and the marginalized, including those who are marginalized because of their religious beliefs, and to respectful dialogue with people of other faiths or no faith.”
Supporters of Hawkins say that it was just that commitment that landed her in trouble, and that led Wheaton to argue she was violating the Statement of Faith all faculty members at the college must support.
In December, Hawkins announced that she would wear a hijab during Advent to show solidarity with Muslims at a time when some politicians were using anti-Muslim rhetoric. The college has said that the act of wearing the hijab was not the issue. Rather it was a statement by Hawkins that Muslims “worship the same God” as do Christians. Theologians are divided on that point, and many supporters of Wheaton disagree with her statement. In a December statement, Wheaton rejected the idea that Christians and Muslims worship the same God.
“While Islam and Christianity are both monotheistic, we believe there are fundamental differences between the two faiths, including what they teach about God’s revelation to humanity, the nature of God, the path to salvation and the life of prayer,” said the statement. “As an institution of distinctively evangelical Christian identity, the core of our faith, as expressed in our Statement of Faith, is our belief that ‘the Lord Jesus Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, as a representative and substitutionary sacrifice, triumphing over all evil; and that all who believe in him are justified by his shed blood and forgiven of all their sins.’ We affirm that salvation is through Christ alone.”
Hawkins was placed on leave late last year, and the college said it reached an impasse with Hawkins after Wheaton requested clarification of her views. She has denied saying or doing anything that is inconsistent with Wheaton’s commitment to Christian thinking.
In early January, the college announced it would move to fire Hawkins in a process involving a faculty committee review, under Wheaton’s rules for dismissing a tenured faculty member.
That move led to widespread criticism of the college from academic groups, even as some evangelical leaders continued to back its position. Among those writing to Wheaton to question its treatment of Hawkins were the American Political Science Association and the Middle East Studies Association of America. On Twitter, the #supportdochawk hashtag attracted many advocates for Hawkins. Wheaton alumni, students and faculty members elsewhere have been posting “solidarity selfies” expressing support for Hawkins (see photo at right).
Many of those criticizing Wheaton were academics who don’t have to affirm Statements of Faith at their own institutions. What created more of a problem for the college was that many of its own faculty members — people who take the college’s Statement of Faith seriously and who have affirmed it — said that Hawkins had done nothing to violate it. Many said that a college shouldn’t be able to interpret such a statement to cover issues (such as Christians and Muslims worshipping the same God) if those issues were never stated in the first place as subjects on which everyone must share an opinion.
Seventy-eight current and former Wheaton faculty members released a statement this month in which they said Hawkins had not violated Wheaton’s codes and should be reinstated.
On Saturday night, Wheaton’s provost, Stanton Jones, sent faculty members an email announcing that he was turning over the Hawkins case, which he has handled, to Ryken, the college’s president. Many professors were celebrating this news, The Chicago Tribune reported, assuming this was a first step toward reinstating Hawkins. But then two hours later, another email announced the decision of the college and Hawkins to “part ways.” Many of those who had been celebrating said that they were no longer doing so.
The statement announcing the settlement said that Wheaton and Hawkins would not be commenting until they hold a joint press conference Wednesday.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Students marched and rallied Friday (right), as snow fell in Boston, outside the building where Suffolk University’s board was meeting to decide the fate of Margaret McKenna.
The students strongly back McKenna, Suffolk’s fifth president in five years, and were rallying against a plan by board leaders to fire her. The person who should be forced out, according to both students and faculty leaders, was the board chair.
The students got some of what they wanted. McKenna wasn’t fired, but will leave no later than the beginning of the 2017-18 academic year. Board leaders have been pushing for her to leave, but students, faculty membefs and alumni have rallied to keep her, saying that she has reached out and listened to them, while making tough decisions about how to advance the university around an agenda of public service focused on the Boston area.
Andrew Meyer, the board chair, will finish his current term in May and not seek re-election. Many student and faculty leaders blame him for leaks that they consider inaccurate that appeared in Boston news media outlets in recent weeks criticizing McKenna.
Further, the university announced that “the board has agreed to adopt new bylaws that reflect best practices in higher education by May 2016.”
Many students and faculty members took to social media late Friday to express disappointment. They wanted McKenna for the long run.
In an interview with Inside Higher Ed after the board meeting’s results were announced, McKenna said she understood the students’ disappointment. But she said she approached the board meeting with two top goals — both of which she achieved.
One was that the board’s bylaws and policies change to reflect good practice in higher education. Without those changes, she said, any future president would be hindered. The other was that any transition be an orderly one, involving a national search, and that Suffolk not have yet another interim leader.
“If there had to be a transition, there didn’t have to be instability,” she said.
Asked if this meant that she entered the meeting knowing she wouldn’t be president for the long run, McKenna said that she was trying to avoid an up-and-down vote on her presidency that could have hurt the institution.
“I don’t know what that vote would have been, but no matter what the vote would have been I think it would have been a loss to the university and it would have been very divisive,” McKenna said. “Even if I quote-unquote won, it would still have been divisive” and the needed reforms to board policies might not have been adopted.
She said that current board bylaws don’t have “basic features” for a college board, such as a set quorum, an academic affairs committee or clear duties of trustees and their committees. “Very basic things didn’t exist, let alone best practices,” she said.
Some of McKenna’s supporters said they were particularly angered by the way some trustees criticized her, anonymously, in the press. After initially being vague about why board members wanted McKenna out, trustees said, among other things, that she may be too “abrasive” or may not be “a good cultural fit.” To many, this was code for McKenna being a strong woman (who happened to have a strong record as a successful president at nearby Lesley University, which she led from 1985 to 2007.
Shirley Leung, in a column for The Boston Globe, described a pattern of women getting brought in to lead institutions that faced tough challenges, and then being told that they weren’t deferring to others. The situation, she wrote, “has many women in this town watching in horror.”
In the interview, McKenna was quick to say that she viewed the comments that have alarmed so many women as not coming from all board members, and as not representing all board members “and not representing Suffolk.”
She said that the language used, however, was “incredibly unfortunate” and surprised her. She said she didn’t want to speculate on the motivations of those who made the comments, but that she was “taken aback.”
“I have been me for a long long time, and I haven’t heard those comments in my life,” she said.
Many on campus were dismayed that McKenna will not be staying as long as they would have hoped.
Here is the student body president’s tweet:
— Colin F. Loiselle (@colinloiselle) February 5, 2016
Many others said that the board members should quit and let McKenna stay.
— Jibran Malek (@JibranMalek) February 5, 2016
The Faculty Senate held a special meeting late Friday and then issued this statement:
“Throughout this difficult period of time in our University, the Faculty Senate has consistently sought to bring about fundamental reforms in our university governance and will continue to do so. We note that the trustees recognized the need for the current chair to leave the Board. We are also pleased that the board recognized that the current bylaws are grossly inadequate and is committed to promptly replacing them with new bylaws consistent with best practices. However, the joint statement issued by the university leaves many critical questions unanswered. The university community deserves to be apprised of the full contents of the agreement. We applaud the dedication of the students, alumni, staff and faculty to this institution and will continue to cooperate with them as this unfinished process evolves. While we are relieved that the immediate crisis has passed, the Faculty Senate will continue to insist on attainment of meaningful and urgent reform.”
Many who have been watching events unfold over the last week told Inside Higher Ed that if the board fired McKenna, no sane person would apply for the job.
McKenna said she disagreed. She noted that a number of board members have terms that are expiring and who are likely to be replaced. She said that the changes in bylaws will make a big difference.
And she pointed to the protests of the last week, which united students, faculty members and alumni, all vocally expressing their commitment to Suffolk and willingness to work on its behalf. She noted that presidents all over the country have faced protests calling for their ouster, while she had students backing her all the way. That should impress potential candidates. “Six months from now, I think this is going to be a sought-after job.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Josh Logue
The president-elect of the Association for Student Conduct Administration published an open letter on Twitter Wednesday evening, the first night of the organization’s annual conference, in which she says she was sexually assaulted by its former president-elect and that the ASCA “has not had my back” in the incident’s aftermath.
In the letter, Jill Creighton, assistant director of global community standards at New York University, said Jason Casares, who had stepped down a day earlier, “took advantage of me after I had had too much to drink” at the Association of Fraternity/Sorority Advisors December convention in Fort Worth, Tex. “I did not consent to sexual contact with Jason.”
Afterward, Creighton wrote, she filed a criminal complaint with the police in Texas and asked the ASCA to impeach Casares, who is also associate dean of students and deputy Title IX coordinator at Indiana University at Bloomington.
“We cannot claim national leadership in addressing sexual misconduct, only to fail miserably in our first test within our own association,” she wrote. “In the process to resolve the impeachment, Jason had all the rights, and I was placed on involuntary suspension. I was repeatedly told that this isn’t a Title IX matter, and while I understand that, I am speaking my truth to make sure that our association takes a hard look in the mirror before it claims national leadership on sexual misconduct.”
Casares “categorically denies the false accusations of sexual misconduct leveled against him by a colleague on the board of the Association for Student Conduct Administration,” said a press release issued Thursday by his lawyer, who did not elaborate. “The claims made by Mr. Casares’s accuser, NYU employee Jill Creighton, were the subject of a comprehensive investigation by an outside law firm hired by the ASCA for that purpose. The outside investigators found no evidence of misconduct by Mr. Casares, and determined that Ms. Creighton’s claims were not valid.”
After Creighton filed the complaint, the ASCA initiated an inquiry that found no wrongdoing, but Casares resigned Tuesday, shortly after the investigation concluded. The ASCA released a statement Thursday that said a “vigorous investigation” by an independent investigator found “Ms. Creighton’s claims could not be substantiated.”
Upon learning about the criminal complaint Wednesday night, a spokesperson for Indiana University said, Casares was placed on administrative leave and the university is investigating the situation.
Casares’s lawyer, Tony Paganelli, stressed that Casares resigned only after the investigation found no wrongdoing. Moving forward, Paganelli said, his primary goal “is to investigate whether statements Creighton made on social media and in person at the conference give rise to any lawsuit against her for defamation, and we’re currently analyzing that situation now.”
“When Jason resigned, I was shocked to learn that he was still planning to attend the conference, and was still planning to present his sessions on Title IX,” Creighton wrote in her letter. “I needed a safe space, and to be able to attend this conference free of the hostile environment that his presence creates for me. ASCA has failed to protect me.”
Although Casares has resigned as president-elect, ASCA noted in its response to Creighton’s letter, “he remains a member of ASCA and maintains the same rights as other members to attend and present at ASCA events. ASCA is working to accommodate the needs of both Ms. Creighton and Mr. Casares during this difficult time, taking into account safety and privacy precautions …. The complaint resolution process has come to a close for the association and we are focused on the future and moving forward.”
“When board members take office, each of us is required to sign agreements ensuring that we will maintain confidentiality and that we will fulfill our duties, which include exhibiting care and loyalty to the association in our decisions,” the statement continues. “We remain committed to these principles as individuals and as a collective board, and we will continue to make decisions that we believe are in the best interest of the association and its members.”
Casares, who has since disabled his Twitter account, could not be reached for comment.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
New data from the American Historical Association add to the bad news for academic job seekers in the humanities.
The number of job postings the AHA received in 2014-15 was down 8 percent from the prior year. This is the third straight year for which the association is reporting a decline. Job listings are down 45 percent from the 1,064 that the association reported in 2011-12.
Not all faculty jobs are listed with disciplinary associations, but many are, and most experts on the academic job market believe that the ups and downs of disciplinary association listings are a reliable barometer of the market as a whole. This year, the jobs news has not been good in the humanities. In December, for example, the Modern Language Association reported declines in the number of jobs in English and foreign languages.
In history, the situation may be especially challenging for new Ph.D.s, because their numbers have continued to grow as the market has become so tight.
“Notably, for the first time in 41 years, the number of jobs advertised with the AHA fell below half the number of Ph.D.s conferred in the previous year. Approximately 1,183 new Ph.D.s were conferred in history in the 2013-14 academic year,” says the report on the jobs data, written by Robert B. Townsend, who oversees the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Humanities Indicators Project, and Julia Brookins, special projects coordinator at the AHA.
And if that’s not bad enough news, there are also issues related to a mismatch between the specialties of new Ph.D.s and those of the available positions.
For jobs that specified an area of focus, 21.8 percent specified an expert on the history of North America. But 36.5 percent of the latest cohort of new Ph.D.s have that as their area of focus — suggesting a particularly tough time getting jobs in the field. The odds also are difficult for those in European history, which is the preferred subject of 14.8 percent of positions but the specialty of 19.4 percent of new Ph.D. recipients.
The proportions of jobs and of new Ph.D. specialties are closer (and the numbers are small) in Latin American and Middle Eastern history.
Areas where there are proportionately more jobs than are reflected in the new Ph.D. pool are Asian history (9 percent of listings and 6.6 percent of new Ph.D.s) and African history (4.4 percent of listings and 2.7 percent of new Ph.D.s).
Some job listings include qualities aside from geographic focus. The largest nongeographical specialty sought was the history of religion (3.6 percent of listings). Work with digital history was also listed as the prime focus of 2.6 percent of jobs and as a desirable quality in 5.5 percent of jobs.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
Social science suggests that stigmatized groups compete for social standing. And a new book that’s part qualitative study, part autobiography, suggests that that trend is evident in higher education among black academics.
“The drawing of ethnic boundaries around a group and the naming of its shared ‘culture’ regularly occurs against the backdrop of a pervasive suspicion or accusation of the group’s inferiority and answers this suspicion or accusation with an exaggeration of the group’s differences from some more validly stigmatized groups,” reads Stigma and Culture: Last-Place Anxiety in Black America (University of Chicago Press). “Ethnic self-fashioning also tends to exaggerate the speaker’s group’s similarities to an ethnically unmarked dominant group.”
J. Lorand Matory (right), the book’s author, is the Lawrence Richardson Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and director of Duke’s Sacred Arts of the Black Atlantic Project. He calls this “competitive and hierarchical dimension” of self-identification “‘ethnological schadenfreude’ because its partisans take comfort and bolster their own self-esteem by assuring themselves of the deeper inferiority of some other racial group.”
Matory employs ethnographic methods, such as conversations with Howard University alumni and students, and draws on social science research, especially Erving Goffman’s work on social stigma. He also interweaves his own personal history attending and teaching at elite institutions, including Harvard University and Duke, arguing that black people in the U.S. often differentiate among themselves based on their cultural backgrounds. The goal? To avoid being associated with negative stereotypes of African-Americans, who historically have been the most stigmatized group in the U.S.
“Any group that can prove it’s not black is guaranteed equal rights” in the U.S., Matory said in an interview. “The fourth quintile is desperate to prove to the third quintile that it’s better than the fifth.”
Such “covering,” through dress, diction and other means, happens in academe in subtle ways for similar reasons, Matory says. He tells the story of a black Harvard professor from Mississippi who was chided for retaining a British accent decades after he returned from the University of Oxford, for example.
Blacks of Caribbean or African immigrant origin tend to highlight how their backgrounds differ from those of African-Americans, Matory adds, and sometimes reject the term “African-American” as a descriptor. And blacks of Gullah/Geechee origin (in the Lowcountry Creole areas of Georgia and South Carolina), Louisiana Creoles and Native Americans of partly African ancestry may be quick to reinforce their particular heritage, too, Matory says.
Matory described Stigma and Culture as an historical and auto-ethnography. The book doesn’t focus exclusively on academics, and takes such interesting turns as a tour through the Howard alumni network of New Orleans Creoles, reflections on Matory’s trip to Nigeria as a young man, and the frightening experience of having his young son mistaken for an intruder by neighbors shortly after the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. But the book suggests that self-stratification may be particularly acute among black academics because universities — especially elite ones — bring out people’s insecurities.
The majority of students and even faculty members suffer from “impostor syndrome,” Matory said, and are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from those traditionally in “last place.” Universities are also based on largely white European ideals.
Universities play “an ambivalent role in this ethnogenesis,” reads Stigma and Culture. “They defend the discreditable group but establish its legitimacy in the terms dictated by the ethnoracially unmarked dominant group, which also provide an opportunity for the assimilated native spokesperson to establish his or her superiority to his or her co-ethnic fellows.”
Matory said he was inspired to write the book because he grew up in Washington, the son of Howard-educated parents (one of whom was a professor of medicine there) during the civil rights movement. While he always was aware of the cultural differences between himself and some of the other black kids in the neighborhood whose parents were from different countries, he said, they all tended to unite around their shared historical marginalization.
Then, in the 1990s, national conversations about achievement began to focus on the myth of model immigrant, tenuously suggesting that African and Caribbean immigrant children had better educational and life outcomes because they were somehow culturally superior to African-Americans. Matory began to investigate this myth though various means, leading him to his theory of ethnological schadenfreude.
He first presented his work in lectures, the most notable of which was the Lewis Henry Morgan Lecture at the University of Rochester in 2008. Stigma and Culture builds on those comments, mixing academic arguments with an intimate look into someone’s lifelong endeavor to understand how ethnicity shapes the world and his own life.
Matory said sometimes people criticize him for talking in such frank terms about race and ethnicity. But for him, he said, the most “dignified” way to talk about his lifelong subjects — blacks on both sides of the Atlantic — is to show they’re human beings with flaws.
So does Stigma and Culture have any implications for the current dialogues on race on campus, in which black academics are sometimes treated as a homogeneous group? Matory said he wrote the book as an anthropologist describing a certain phenomenon, not with an eye toward policy. But he said higher education absolutely needs more black faculty members, and by being “consciously aware of the class dynamics and ethnicity dynamics on feeder populations, and how they’re reinforced on university campuses, we can make more thoughtful decisions about how to cultivate diversity.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
“Sweater Day” events are designed to encourage people to wear sweaters in colder months, and to set slightly lower thermostat levels than might otherwise be needed for comfort.
At Simon Fraser University, a video posted by the university to promote the day stunned faculty members with its sexism. While the origins of the video are under investigation, it was posted to the website of the Canadian university and promoted to faculty members — leaving many wondering how such a thing could have happened.
The video starts with the university’s logo and then shows a thermostat being lowered. Then it shows a fictional female faculty member in her office pulling on a pink sweater. A male student walks by, stops and says, “Miss Pinkham?” She says, “Yes, Chad.” And he says, “Nice sweater,” prompting the professor to smile and laugh to herself. The video ends with the tagline “saving energy is sexy.”
The video was apparently made for a previous sweater day but was sent around this year — and the response was immediate.
Elise Chenier, a gender studies scholar who is professor of history at Simon Fraser, used a blog post to summarize many of the objections. “[A] female teacher is in her office — she is supposed to depict an instructor but is addressed as ‘Miss Pinkham,’ not doctor or professor — and a young male student stops to compliment her in a sexually suggestive manner. She is flattered, and flustered. Really. No, really. Saving energy is, apparently, a huge turn-on for white heterosexuals, and don’t take my word for it, that’s what the video actually says.”
The university took the video down the same day it was distributed and has vowed to investigate why it was placed on the website and promoted.
“As the video was produced by an external vendor, I had not seen it. When I did watch it, I immediately agreed with the feedback we had received that the video is inappropriate, sexist and not in keeping with our equity commitments. We took steps to remove the video as quickly as possible and have followed up with the group who produced and distributed the video to ensure it will no longer be used,” said a statement from Joanne Curry, the university’s vice president of external relations. “We plan to investigate how this video was posted and plan to put into place additional procedures to ensure that this will not happen again.”
Chenier, in her blog post, said the video poses questions about how something like this wouldn’t have raised flags.
“When the very place you work promotes the kind of sexism that your intellectual work seeks to contest and ultimately, destroy, you feel like you are being eaten from the inside out. There was once a time when I would have seen the video is simply outdated, idiotic and, yes, offensive, but now I see it much differently. Now I feel the harm it does, and not just to Miss Pinkham, but also to her male student, who is encouraged to relate to half the population on such a limited level, and who himself then is defined by his heterosexual desire for women,” Chenier wrote.
She concluded: “The collective outrage of female faculty resulted in the video being removed from the SFU website, and that is a very good thing. But how do we get to a place where such a thing never gets up there to begin with?”
Source: Inside Higher Ed
By Ellen Wexler
“We are one of the largest university systems in the nation.”
“We study the mind while nourishing the soul.”
“Say we’ve got grit, and we’ll take it as a compliment.”
It’s hard to sell education during the Super Bowl. But year after year, in a television event where flashy skits and irreverent humor trump substance, universities pay to air their ads alongside the world’s biggest brands.
They rarely have an audience comparable to that of Doritos or Coca-Cola. More than 100 million people watch the Super Bowl, and securing ad space can cost millions of dollars. But in local markets, colleges can reach large audiences for much less.
“Super Bowl advertising is immensely symbolic,” said Tim Calkins, marketing professor at Northwestern University and creator of the Super Bowl Advertising Review. “If a college is going on the Super Bowl, it’s doing so because it really needs to make a statement.”
Kent State University will run an ad for the first time this year. The commercial, a trimmed-down version of a two-minute video introducing the university’s branding campaign, will air in Cleveland and Erie, Pa., and it will cost a total of $58,500.
President Beverly Warren decided against a national ad, but she hopes the local spot will attract interest nearby. Already, 80 percent of her students come from the region. And if the Super Bowl viewership numbers are anything like last year’s, the 30-second commercial will be seen by more than a million households.
“There are going to be viewers from all walks of life,” Warren said. “We like the breadth of the Super Bowl viewing. We want to reach as many families and as many individuals as we possibly can.”
Super Bowl ads typically try to appeal to as broad an audience as possible. For colleges, which market to targeted audiences throughout the year, designing a 30-second spot that appeals to everyone and that sells education alongside more traditional Super Bowl fare is a new kind of challenge.
“It’s not the place where you do tactical marketing aimed at a specific class of incoming students,” Calkins said. “People only go on the Super Bowl if they really want to reach a huge number of people.”
Kent State’s full-length ad begins with a football montage, and eventually becomes a compilation of students doing things: a student approaches a microphone. A student examines an X-ray. A student waters a potted plant.
“Incredible things can happen in a place where you can be anyone or anything,” the narrator says. “Where it’s OK to be an original, and it’s OK to be conventional.”
More often than not, colleges run Super Bowl ads that focus on the feel of the institution: the strong community, the passionate instructors, the sense of possibility. They are uplifting and fast moving; they want to show that their college is a place where students can thrive, whether they enjoy sports or engineering or gardening or fashion design. Kent State’s message, that you can be “anyone or anything” you want to be, could appeal to anyone.
‘We Have Arrived’
Super Bowl ads are expensive to stage and limited in length, but they’re unlike anything else in traditional marketing. They are, as Warren says, “the opportunity to reach a million households in one moment.”
“For most brands — especially smaller brands — advertising in the Super Bowl has a little bit of a prestige factor,” said Vassilis Dalakas, marketing professor at California State University at San Marcos and sports marketing expert. “It’s kind of like, ‘We have arrived.’”
Dalakas said universities’ Super Bowl ads can foster pride among students and instructors. And if a university can do that, those students and instructors may be more likely to communicate the message themselves.
The timing also works in the universities’ favor, Calkins said. The Super Bowl airs around the time when prospective students are considering their options and beginning to make decisions about where they want to go.
Even so, only a few universities spend their advertising budgets on the Super Bowl. Temple University ran an ad last year. So did the University of Iowa College of Dentistry. The University of Akron ran local ads for more than 15 years until this year’s game.
“A Super Bowl is a great way to get a particular message out in sort of a one-shot, 30-second vehicle,” said Larry Burns, the University of Akron’s vice president for advancement. “But if you’re really trying to create an ongoing top-of-mind presence, we just feel that continuing, ongoing messaging is a better value for us.”
And even for universities that have the budget, there’s the danger that a Super Bowl ad will do more harm than good.
“Traditionally, university promotions tend to be terribly standard,” Dalakas said. While a university marketing video may have a pleasant vibe, “it doesn’t fit the expectations that viewers have for Super Bowl commercials.”
That puts colleges in a bind: even though it’s the Super Bowl, Dalakas said, universities should stay true to their brand. An ad that feels like a Doritos commercial might fit in better, but it wouldn’t be true to the university’s message.
And unlike major brands, colleges and universities are nonprofits. What if donors question why their alma mater is spending so much money on 30 seconds of local airtime?
“The Super Bowl is so different from any other marketing vehicle,” Calkins said. “Nobody knows what a typical ad costs. Everybody knows that a Super Bowl ad is expensive.”
But at Kent State, the timing was too perfect not to try. The university just unveiled a new marketing campaign, which wasn’t planned to coincide with the Super Bowl. And now, all at once, the university is hoping to reach everyone: prospective students, parents, alumni. “We think many of them will be glued to their televisions on Super Bowl Sunday,” Warren said.
Source: Inside Higher Ed
In the quest for more collaboration and partnerships between colleges, not every idea works out.
This is the case for the Maryland-based Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education, which officials announced will cease operating at the end of the spring semester.
Carroll, Frederick and Howard Community Colleges worked together to open the center in 2012. The three Maryland community colleges plan to continue offering the health care classes that were prominent at the center — and to maintain their consortium — on their respective campuses.
“Relocating the programs to our individual campuses will reduce overall operating costs long-term,” said Sylvia Blair, director of communications and media relations for Carroll, adding that the partnership and the center were both unique for the community colleges.
Collaborations between colleges aren’t new, but consortia are difficult to form and partnerships for an academic center are relatively rare. However, these collaborations can serve students in new ways that are cost-effective for both students and colleges.
The Mount Airy center cost $4.3 million to renovate, of which $3 million came from the three colleges and another $1.3 million from federal grants. The consortium leased the space.
“Each college was spending $200,000 to $250,000 on the center’s operations, so we anticipate there will be a savings,” said Elizabeth Homan, executive director of public relations and marketing for Howard Community College. “Understandably, we’ll be moving the programs back to their campuses, so we know there will be a cost savings.”
The center operated as a centrally located hub for health programs that only one of each of the colleges provided. For example, a student who attended Howard could participate in Frederick’s respiratory care program at the center. With the center closing, that Howard student may have to travel farther to continue the respiratory care class on Frederick’s campus, but the student will continue to have the benefit of paying an in-county tuition rate for Frederick.
Since the center first opened four years ago, about 2,000 students have passed through its doors, Blair said.
But, ultimately, changes in enrollment doomed the center.
Like at most community colleges, student demand for the center increased at the height of the recession. But as the economy recovers, those enrollments have leveled off, Homan said.
In 2014, for example, the center had 1,554 duplicated enrollments (meaning total course enrollments, which can count students multiple times) in 133 credit and noncredit courses, but that figure decreased in 2015 to 1,392 duplicated enrollments in 131 courses, Homan said, adding that the three colleges are projecting enrollments will be lower this year in comparison to last year.
“The three partner community colleges invested in the students who attended the Mount Airy College Center for Health Care Education,” said Homan, in an email. “After the spring semester, the programs will continue and students will continue to be served at our home campuses. Returning to our home campuses is a fiscally prudent decision in the long term.”
Fred Baus is former chief executive officer of the University Center of Greenville and an expert on institutional collaboration. He said it’s rare to find physical centers take shape as part of a collaboration of colleges. The Greenville university center is composed of six universities — the University of South Carolina, the University of South Carolina Upstate, Anderson University, Clemson University, Furman University and South Carolina State University.
Baus said jointly run physical centers typically exist when those colleges are dealing with instruments or labs that are too expensive for them to handle on their own.
“But part of what drives these cooperations are population trends,” Baus said. “Then there are population shifts, and that changes the formula.”
Claire Ramsbottom, the executive director of the Association for Collaborative Leadership, said most college consortia aren’t tied to offering specific academic programs or an academic center. Her association develops leadership skills and advances institutional collaboration. However, ACL isn’t involved with community colleges.
Getting colleges to collaborate isn’t always easy. But Ramsbottom points to her own group, Colleges of the Fenway, as an example. The five public and private colleges in the Boston area share resources collectively across a number of locations, she said. “It’s very different from a consortium like this that combines resources to offer academic programs.”
Source: Inside Higher Ed