Higher Education News

Programs have success helping low-income students graduate

Inside HigherEd - 19 hours 2 min ago

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.

Money Helps

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.”

Editorial Tags: Financial aidCommunity colleges

Provost who opposed Mount St. Mary's president's plan to cull students loses his job

Inside HigherEd - 19 hours 2 min ago

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.

Editorial Tags: College administrationImage Caption: David Rehm, ex-provost at Mount St. Mary's

Meningitis on three campuses leads to one outbreak and one death

Inside HigherEd - 19 hours 2 min ago

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.”

Editorial Tags: Health

Goucher reports that students admitted via video did better academically than other students

Inside HigherEd - 19 hours 2 min ago

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.

AdmissionsEditorial Tags: AdmissionsImage Caption: Goucher's image of a transcript being torn up

Wheaton in Illinois and professor it moved to fire reach agreement for her to resign

Inside HigherEd - 19 hours 2 min ago

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 they were no longer doing so.

The statement announcing the settlement said Wheaton and Hawkins would not be commenting until they hold a joint press conference Wednesday.

Making Statements With Attire

Hawkins, in wearing a hijab during Advent, is not the only academic at Wheaton who sees the value of making statements of solidarity with attire.

William Struthers (right), a professor of psychology at Wheaton, said in an email interview with Inside Higher Ed Sunday morning that he and several other faculty members have been teaching in their academic regalia this semester to stress the academic importance of protecting Hawkins. "[Her] wearing of the hijab was designed to be an expression of one of the Christian faith’s fundamental tenets -- love of neighbor. As it is with many aspects of a devout faith, her actions were misunderstood," Struthers said. "This is why I (and several other faculty) have been teaching in our regalia since the beginning of the semester -- an embodied sign of solidarity with Dr. Hawkins’s devout faith and as a sign of support of her as a scholar and colleague."

He said that the failure of Wheaton to welcome Hawkins back is causing great pain to many there, and that he plans to wear black in class.

"I’m wearing black as a sign of lament. I’m not sure who else among the faculty will, but it doesn’t matter if they don’t," he said. "I lament because it didn’t have to be this way. There are many of us -- students, staff and faculty -- who will miss Dr. Hawkins desperately. She occupied a safe place in the lives of many of us on campus. Her absence has left many who are vulnerable at even greater risk. As Dr. Hawkins has continually stated since the beginning of this process, reconciliation is at the core of the Christian Gospel. I struggle to see how this was the best we could do. And she is more than Dr. Hawkins to us; she is Larycia -- our beautiful friend -- and she will be missed desperately. She is the Wheaton College I know. So we ache for our friend and we lament."

Academic FreedomEditorial Tags: Academic freedomImage Caption: Larycia Hawkins with a student

Suffolk president will stay until start of 2017-18 year

Inside HigherEd - 19 hours 2 min ago

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, is 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 members 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.

Sexist Attacks?

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 might be too "abrasive" or might 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 being 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.

Campus Reaction

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:

Let me be clear. This is NOT a solution. We will fight it. #SaveOurSuffolk #SUStandsWithMcKenna

— Colin F. Loiselle (@colinloiselle) February 5, 2016

Many others said that the board members should quit and let McKenna stay.

Does the incompetent @Suffolk_U board believe in "this great institution" or their wallets? Shameful display. #SUStandsWithMcKenna

— 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 are likely to be replaced. She said 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."

Editorial Tags: College administrationImage Caption: Margaret McKenna

Sexual assault allegation shakes student conduct group

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 08:00

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 conducted an investigation that found no wrongdoing, but Casares resigned Tuesday, shortly after the investigation concluded. The ASCA released a statement Thursday that said a “rigorous investigation” by an independent investigator found “Ms. Creighton's claims could not be substantiated.” (The quote had been updated to correct one word that was in error.)

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.

Editorial Tags: Sexual assault

New book discusses self-stratification among black academics

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 08:00

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.”

ResearchEditorial Tags: Diversity

Faculty members ask why university posted sexist video on website

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 08:00

"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?"

UPDATE: Chenier has posted a new blog post in which she praised the speedy response and Curry's words in which she called the video sexist. But Chenier also noted concerns about the way some have reacted.

"Remarkably, grumblings were heard among some male faculty members that those of us discussing the matter were wasting our time and we should get back to our 'real' work," she wrote. "Such grumblings illuminate why so many of us reacted so strongly to what may seem to some an innocuous video. The video is a symptom of the toxic environment in which women work. Male privilege, like white privilege (from which white women also benefit) makes it possible to 'just get back to work.' Why? Because their working environment is not toxic. (Insert nod to the many men and non-gender binary individuals on campus who are very keen to be alert to and contribute to eliminating such toxins.) Sexism poisons our environment, and this makes it harder to 'work.' Indeed, only someone who benefits from sexism could fail to see how calling sexism out is our work ...  the best job we never wanted."

 

DiversityEditorial Tags: Women

Report finds poor job market for history Ph.D.s

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 08:00

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.

Editorial Tags: History

Colleges air local-market Super Bowl commercials

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/05/2016 - 08:00

During the Super Bowl, they air between the soda and the cars and the beer. Animated pandas build a website and Amy Schumer opens a Bud Light, and in the middle of all that, there they are:

“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.

Editorial Tags: MarketingImage Caption: Kent State ad

Washington State extension professor says she's being forced out over unrealistic research standards

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:00

Is Washington State University trying to fire an extension professor for not living up to research -- and attendant external funding -- expectations that were never stated upon hire? That’s what Linda Chalker-Scott, an associate professor and extension specialist in horticulture there, says is happening to her. Her many fans in the gardening world, meanwhile, are worried they're about to lose a valuable guide -- and they are advocating for the university to keep her.

“I’ve done beyond what’s included in my job description in that I have an applied research program and do primary research and publish it,” Chalker-Scott said in an interview after receiving notice that she was being investigated for incompetence. “All of it has immediate impact in a practical form.”

Lots of public and especially land-grant institutions have extension programs dedicated to translating and sharing research with the general public. Many extension faculty members don't focus on grants or basic research. But they’ve traditionally been employed to serve the public good, not to be cash cows, doing outreach and otherwise making the university enterprise accessible to taxpayers.

It was under that pretense that Chalker-Scott says she was hired by Washington State, with tenure, in 2004. The original job description says it is a 100 percent extension appointment, with the following responsibilities: providing educational programming in environmental horticulture throughout the state, functioning as an “integral member” of the department of horticulture and landscape architecture, and serving the university’s Master Gardener program (the well-known university-based community educator program originated at Washington State).

Chalker-Scott said things went well for several years after she was hired, in that she continued to speak and present around the state, read and translate horticultural research into popular articles and books, and grow her small original research project focusing on mulch. The latter enterprise was funded by small grants here and there, and wasn’t required according to her job description, but she liked it, she said. She and several colleagues also started a blog for urban horticulturalists on Facebook, “The Garden Professors,” which now has more than 4,900 followers.

But then things changed. Chalker-Scott declined to provide explicit details, citing concerns about a possible legal case against the university, but she said original research began to be a bigger and bigger focus in her annual posttenure reviews. Chalker-Scott explained that large external grants are rare in her field, since it doesn’t relate to food or other commodity crops, and that she doesn’t have a lab to pursue research intensively. Plus, she said, her work is largely outreach based, as outlined in her job description. (Her contract includes no additional responsibilities.)

But the criticism kept coming. Three years ago, Chalker-Scott received her first subpar annual review. Then she received two more. In December, she received notice that she’s being formally investigated by the university for concerns about her job performance. Allegations include lacking an “adequately developed” applied research program; repeatedly failing to obtain adequate grant funding, impeding research activity; and failing to assess and document the outcomes and impacts of the program, especially by publishing a “reasonable number” of peer-reviewed articles. The notice also cites “attendance issues” and failing to execute an applied research program funded by the extension program.

Chalker-Scott called the attendance concerns a “red herring,” saying she is often on the road giving seminars. But when she’s not traveling, she’s at the university’s satellite campus in Puyallup, across the state in Western Washington, where she also leads a state Garden Team. “I could hardly not be here and have it work,” she said.

Regarding the extension-funded research program, Chalker-Scott said she was given $5,000 to start a project on trees in 2011. The project is ongoing, she said, and she’s used the installation to train Master Gardeners on how to plant trees.

According to information provided by Chalker-Scott, in 2015 alone she spoke at 26 seminars, published two refereed journal articles, got a third refereed article accepted for publication, wrote and obtained a publisher for book titled Gardening With Northwest Native Plants, created a curricular module for Master Naturalist certification, wrote articles for and was a contributing editor at Fine Gardening, and was associate editor for the peer-reviewed journal Horticulture. She said she also brought in nearly $90,000 in grant, donation and contract money and submitted three more grants totaling more than $130,000.

A popular horticulture blog, Garden Rant, recently profiled Chalker-Scott's case, criticizing the university for seeking to dethrone a prominent figure in the gardening world.

Suggesting that financial and possibly personal concerns -- not academic ones -- were informing Washington State's investigation, Garden Rant's Susan Harris wrote, "It surprises me not one whit that Linda might have pissed off her employer in her 12 years in the job. After all, when it comes to advocating for evidence-based gardening information, she can be tough. She fact-checks anyone and everyone, including Martha Stewart and even her friends. (I know because she once corrected me, and in blunt terms, something that needed to be done.) But this is why academic freedom at universities exists: to express one’s informed views openly and without fear of retaliation."

Commenters on the story expressed their dismay, as well.

"As a former instructor and coordinator of the Gardening Department in continuing ed at the [New York Botanical Garden], I have high standards when it comes to horticultural education," wrote Ellen Zachos. "There are few people whom I recommend without hesitation; Dr. Chalker-Scott is one such person. If I see her name on a program, I attend that program. If I see her name on a book, I recommend that book. I hope that upon re-examination you realize that without Dr. Chalker-Scott, the department may be known more for letting her go than for any actual achievement."

The American Association of University Professors reached out to Washington State on behalf of Chalker-Scott in 2013 regarding the university’s absence of a policy provision for an appeal to a faculty grievance committee over posttenure reviews. AAUP recommends that faculty members be entitled to such appeals. The university said Chalker-Scott should take her appeal to the Faculty Senate’s Faculty Status Committee. Anita Levy, associate secretary of the AAUP, advised that Chalker-Scott file her grievance with that committee, even though the Faculty Manual doesn’t explicitly provide for such appeals. Chalker-Scott said she never filed, however, because she thought it would be a waste of time, and her colleagues thought the same.

But there’s a bigger question at play. According to widely followed policy recommended by AAUP, institutions must lay out performance expectations for faculty members at the point of hire. The association's Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, for example, says that “the precise terms and conditions of every appointment should be stated in writing and be in the possession of both institution and teacher before the appointment is consummated.” AAUP's Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure similarly says that the faculty member “will be advised, at the time of initial appointment, of the substantive standards and procedures generally employed in decisions affecting renewal and tenure. Any spe­cial standards adopted by the faculty member’s department or school will also be transmitted.”

Chalker-Scott’s department chair, B. W. Poovaiah, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Washington State has seen budget challenges in recent years. Chalker-Scott said many of her extension colleagues who've retired haven't been replaced. In fact, the total number of extension faculty at Washington State has declined about 20 percent over the past eight years, due to flat or declining budgets, according to information from the university. Other campuses have seen similar cuts.

Robert Strenge, a university spokesman, said he couldn’t comment on a private personnel matter, specifically, but said that the university has no plans to phase out extension completely. He said it would be a “mistake to suggest that there is any direct relationship between [the university’s] financial or cost-reduction goals" around the time of the recession and the university’s current goals.

Concerning expectations for extension faculty, Strenge said via email that such professors work for the university and are therefore “expected to engage in research and to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals.” That ensures they remain lifelong learners and contribute to the body of knowledge within their discipline, he added. And with extension faculty “there is an additional expectation that they will translate and disseminate research-based information to clientele within the state of Washington and elsewhere.”

David Demers, director of the American Center for Civil Liberties and a former professor of communication at Washington State, said that even if Chalker-Scott was somehow failing to perform adequately, the university was still violating AAUP guidelines and possibly her contract.

Demers accused the university of “academic bullying.” But he called Chalker-Scott “tough.”

“She has put up with a lot from [university] administrators,” he said via email. “She won't leave without a fight.”

Editorial Tags: TenureImage Caption: Linda Chalker-Scott, bottom left, teaches a Master Gardener class at Washington State U.

Penn administrator, after claiming Ph.D. he didn't have, loses job

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:00

An administrator working for the University of Pennsylvania’s Office for Fraternity and Sorority Life lost his job in January after a student-run blog cast doubt on his academic credentials.

Onward State, a blog run by Pennsylvania State University students, published and then retracted a post about a talk at Penn State on being gay and black in Greek life by Kenny Jones, who was at the time associate director for community development at Penn. According to the retraction, Jones contacted Onward State and asked the blog to remove from the article references to his Ph.D. and affiliation with the historically black fraternity Phi Beta Sigma.

“Because the misrepresentations are so vast as to render the entire presentation questionable, and because Jones accused the fraternity of hazing, we are retracting the article in full,” the retraction reads, in part. It also cites an anonymous source claiming Jones never received a Ph.D. from Morgan State University, and an email from the administrator of member records for Phi Beta Sigma, who said there was no record of Jones ever being a candidate for the fraternity.

“When presented with these inconsistencies,” the retraction continues, “Jones admitted that he never received his Ph.D. He still claimed to be a member of the fraternity -- ‘just not through that chapter’ -- and claimed he joined the fraternity after receiving his bachelor’s degree from Jackson State. This contradicts Jones’s speech yesterday, which centered around his fraternity experience as an undergraduate at Jackson State.”

A statement from Penn’s Division of the Vice Provost for University Life sent via email to Inside Higher Ed reads, in full: “As of Jan. 21, 2016, Kenny Jones was no longer employed by the University of Pennsylvania. The human resources vetting process, including a background check, was done at the time of hire. The individual in question began using the Ph.D. credential after he was hired.”

Jones was enrolled for a time in a doctoral program at Morgan State, but he did not complete the program, according to a Morgan State spokesman. "He was not awarded a Ph.D.," the spokesman said, "[because] he had not completed all the requirements for graduation." He was enrolled from 2011 to 2015, working toward a Ph.D. in higher education.

He passed his proposal and dissertation defense, said Marybeth Gasman, director of the University of Pennsylvania Center for Minority-Serving Institutions and an outside faculty member on his dissertation committee at Morgan State. "He did an excellent job presenting the research during his defense and appeared to be doing very well," she said. " I do think Penn acted appropriately in terminating him when they learned that he did not have a Ph.D. but had represented himself as such. Fabricating a degree is a serious action."

The executive director of Phi Beta Sigma declined to comment for this story. Jones himself did not return a request for comment.

Jones's staff biography has since been removed from the university’s website, though several references to "Dr. Kenny Jones," like this 2015 organizational chart for the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life, are still floating around.

Elsewhere on the Internet, Jones’s Twitter account and personal website have also disappeared, but bios and references to his academic background on other websites can still be found. This one, for example, describes Jones as “a proud member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. for over 10 years,” where he served in a number of roles.

Editorial Tags: Student life

Three Maryland community colleges close health education facility amid rising costs

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:00

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 six 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."

Community CollegesFinancesEditorial Tags: Community collegesMarylandImage Source: mtairycollegecenter.comImage Caption: Mount Airy College Center

Study identifies challenges on political science faculty job market

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:00

Over the last five years, more doctoral students in political science have started their job searches before finishing their Ph.D.s -- and the result appears to be a decline in the percentage of new placements who are landing faculty jobs (on or off the tenure track).

That is a key finding of preliminary analysis of a new placement survey by the American Political Science Association. Unlike many disciplinary studies of the academic job market, which are based on job listings, the APSA analysis is based on jobs obtained by graduate students who go on the job market to look for their first academic or post-Ph.D. jobs. The data from the new study are from those who did searches in the 2014-15 academic year. The APSA collects the information from graduate departments.

There are modest declines over the last five years in the percentage of ABDs and Ph.D.s obtaining both tenure-track and non-tenure-track jobs. And there is a significant gain over the five years in the percentage of job candidates who report that they were not placed, and an overall decline in the share of candidates who ended up in faculty jobs.

But the declines in faculty job placements and increases in the proportion not being placed are largely trends that affect those who are ABD. The experience for Ph.D.s is more stable.

Placement by Degree Status in Political Science

  Tenure Track Non-Tenure Track Postdoc Nonacademic Not Placed 2009-10           -- All 41.8% 21.1% 16.1% 10.3% 9.2% -- Ph.D. 43.6% 21.4% 15.6% 11.1% 6.7% -- ABD 24.7% 18.8% 21.3% 2.2% 33.7% 2010-11           -- All 37.4% 23.1% 14.2% 8.6% 13.5% -- Ph.D. 40.8% 24.5% 13.0% 10.3% 8.6% -- ABD 30.0% 19.1% 18.0% 4.9% 26.2% 2011-12           -- All 38.3% 20.8% 10.1% 10.0% 17.8% -- Ph.D. 38.5% 21.4% 10.4% 11.1% 14.0% -- ABD 38.2% 18.8% 8.5% 7.8% 26.6% 2012-13           -- All 34.7% 20.7% 14.4% 10.0% 15.4% -- Ph.D. 40.7% 19.6% 14.5% 11.0% 9.7% -- ABD 20.1% 23.7% 14.8% 7.2% 30.9% 2013-14           -- All 34.2% 21.8% 13.6% 9.9% 17.1% -- Ph.D. 38.8% 19.5% 13.8% 12.4% 11.9% -- ABD 22.3% 27.7% 13.5% 3.6% 30.3% 2014-15           -- All 33.1% 18.2% 17.0% 12.1% 16.8% -- Ph.D. 39.0% 19.8% 14.8% 13.7% 9.6% -- ABD 22.0% 15.5% 22.0% 9.0% 31.6%


As the above numbers show, Ph.D.s have always had a better shot than ABDs at landing faculty jobs. But the reason the shifts in the "all" category are so significant is that the percentage of the overall pool of those on the job market now includes many more ABDs. In 2009-10, ABDs made up 9.4 percent of the market, while in the most recent analysis, they make up 33.1 percent of the total.

For all placement categories except for non-tenure-track faculty, the largest area of specialization was comparative politics. For non-tenure-track positions, the largest area of specialty was American politics.

In terms of the demographics of the candidate pool, the survey results suggest that colleges and universities may have a difficult time finding nonwhite candidates in political science. From 2009-10 to 2014-15, the percentage of the candidates on the market who were white increased from 57.0 to 63.3 percent. The percentage who were African-American fell from 3.2 percent to 1.8 percent. The share for Asians and Latinos was up modestly. But the share from outside the United States dropped, from 29.6 to 22.6 percent.

Editorial Tags: Political science

English universities increase their recruiting of European Union students

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 02/04/2016 - 08:00

A number of English universities, including some in the Russell Group, have increased their recruitment of European Union students by more than 40 percent after the removal of controls on undergraduate places.

The increases were part of a record 11 percent increase in E.U. numbers across the U.K. sector in 2015-16.

Universities said the rise came after they chose to step up recruitment on the Continent and was aimed at increasing diversity in their intake.

But funding for E.U. students, who are entitled to public-backed loans for tuition fees, has been criticized by British officials skeptical of the countries’ European ties. Continental graduates who return home are less likely to be repaying their loans than graduates who remain in Britain, an issue that could come to the surface again ahead of the forthcoming referendum on the U.K.’s E.U. membership.

The Higher Education Policy Institute had predicted in a 2014 report that there would be “clearer incentives for institutions to recruit E.U. students” once the government removed enrollment controls in 2015, including “increasing income” and “mitigating the effect of demographic change” given the declining population of 18-year-olds in the U.K.

A report from UCAS, which tracks admissions data, suggests that this did prove to be the case. “E.U.-domiciled acceptances form around 5-6 percent of all acceptances, and have increased in each cycle since 2006, apart from 2012. In 2015, acceptances from other countries in the E.U. increased by 2,900 (11.1 percent) to a record 29,300, the highest increase in a single year across the reported period,” it says.

Figures for individual institutions recently published by UCAS show which universities increased E.U. recruitment the most in 2015.

Leading the list in terms of English institutions (applying a minimum bar of 100 E.U. students recruited in 2015) was University College Birmingham, where total E.U. acceptances rose from 165 the previous year to 285, a 72.7 percent increase.

It was followed by the University of Northampton (up from 95 to 140, a 47.4 percent increase), the University of East Anglia (up from 165 to 240, a 45.5 percent increase), Newcastle University (also up from 165 to 240) and the University of Southampton (up from 290 to 415, a 43.1 percent increase).

It was not just English institutions that increased recruitment from the E.U. Abertay University, in Scotland, went from 60 E.U. students to 130 (a 116.7 percent rise) and Swansea University, in Wales, went from 120 to 195 (a 63 percent increase). However, 10 of the 12 biggest risers were English institutions.

A Newcastle spokesman said, “The removal of student number controls has certainly given universities more flexibility to accept E.U. students. This, together with a deliberate strategy to recruit high-quality E.U. students in order to further promote diversity in our student body, has contributed to our rise in E.U. student intake.”

A Southampton spokesman said, “Achieving a broad diversity in our recruitment has long been part of our ongoing plans, and E.U. students are a part of that.”

He added, “We have increased our recruitment activity in the E.U., with a full-time E.U. recruitment officer in the international office now that the student number controls cap has come off. It is a definite part of our international strategy.”

According to the most recently published Student Loans Company data on E.U. borrowers with income-contingent loans who studied in England, 10 percent were resident overseas under the category “no details of income provided so placed in arrears.” Another 16 percent were under the category “not currently repaying, further information being sought.”

Peter Lilley, a Conservative MP and so-called Euroskeptic, who has previously criticized funding for E.U. students, said, “I am all in favor of E.U. students studying at U.K. universities. But they should not be subsidized by the British taxpayer. Since they are entitled to U.K. student loans, we should insist that the governments of E.U. countries from which they come underwrite their loans, since there is a very high level of default by E.U. students and no way the British government can enforce loan repayment in their countries,” he said.

José Manuel Barroso, former president of the European Commission, told Times Higher Education last year that Europe was now the “most advanced” single higher education region in the world, “even more than the U.S., in terms of student and faculty mobility.” He also argued that Britain derived soft power and financial benefits from increased student mobility via E.U. membership.

GlobalEditorial Tags: Britain

Why did UC Riverside Fire a Tenured Professor?

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:00

In an extremely rare move, the University of California System Board of Regents last month fired a tenured faculty member -- over alleged violations of the university's sexual harassment and drug and alcohol use policies. While the exact details of the professor’s transgressions are confidential for now, the case has spilled over into the public sphere. Rob Latham, former professor of English at the system’s Riverside campus, says shared governance and his academic freedom have been violated and that he intends to sue, while some of his former colleagues are defending the university’s decision.

“This is a case in which the system worked,” Deborah Willis, the former chair of English at Riverside, said in an interview. “People are saying this is an attack on tenure, but I don’t think tenure should be used as a shield for faculty misconduct. That’s not what it was invented for.”

Willis’s comments echo a statement approved by Riverside's English department, saying, “We stand with our graduate students, and those who came forward, filed complaints and supported each other through this difficult process. We are committed to moving forward with our students, and to working together to repair any and all harm done to our community and to our campus.”

While members of the department said they wanted to move on from the Latham case out of the public eye, they said they were drawn into a back-and-forth with Latham last week after his comments to the Board of Regents were posted with his permission to the American Association of University Professors’ “Academeblog. The post attracted significant attention because of Latham's claims related to academic freedom and shared governance and also due to his standing as a well-known scholar of science fiction.

Latham declined an interview or to provide documents related to his case, citing legal concerns, and his lawyer, Alec Rose, said it would be inappropriate to comment before he files a formal request for a judge to review the university’s decision. But in the comments he shared in “Academe,” Latham argues that irregularities of process, false claims and bias led to his dismissal.

A Public Appeal

“I can’t believe that this case, which began with false charges of sexual harassment brought by a disgruntled graduate student and his girlfriend, has been allowed to reach the Board of Regents,” he said, alleging that a comment he’d made about riding a graduate student “too hard” had been interpreted in a sexual way because Latham is gay. If a straight man had made such a comment, it would never had been questioned, he said.

Latham said the matter should have been mediated, but Riverside never attempted any such “good faith” effort. “I was never even invited to respond to the charges or to submit exculpatory evidence,” he said. “Instead, the administration adopted an adversarial posture from the outset, as if the original allegations -- the vast majority of which we now know to be untrue -- had already been proven.”

Regarding the drug-related charges, Latham said he’d made “a serious error of judgment in relation to substance abuse, for which I sought treatment one full year before any charges were filed against me. The [Academic] Senate, for whatever reason, gave me no credit for that effort at self-correction, and now [Riverside] Chancellor Kim Wilcox is asking you to dismiss me for the recurrence of a psychological illness.”

Latham said “political pressures and rank homophobia” had “deformed the disciplinary process, including acts of official misconduct that are currently being investigated by the senate.” Latham alleges that the graduate student union pressured Riverside’s administration to dismiss him by threatening to “go public” with students’ charges against him. Other irregularities include administrative manipulation and corruption of an investigation under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based discrimination, Latham said, along with coaching student witnesses and suppressing favorable evidence.

The graduate student union, which is affiliated with the United Auto Workers, said in a statement that it “has the responsibility to represent our members when we believe our contract has been violated, and to call on our employer, the University of California, to take appropriate steps to prevent continued violations and/or crimes against our members. We stand by those who came forward at Riverside, and we remain committed to ending sexual harassment and assault at all [university system] campuses.”

Latham said the Academic Senate's Hearing Committee of the Committee on Privilege and Tenure, which reviewed his case before it went to the board, found that the complainants’ sexual harassment charges hadn’t been proven to a clear and convincing standard.

“Here is the kind of language the committee uses to describe the students’ allegations: ‘not credible,’ ‘inconsistent with contemporaneous evidence,’ the full record ‘argues strongly against a finding of sexual harassment’; contrary to Complainant No. 1’s assertions that he found my communications unwelcome, ‘the evidence is that he enthusiastically participated in these exchanges’; and so on,” he said. “The administration could have -- and should have -- admitted the mendacity of their two protagonists early in this process, if they had been remotely concerned with justice or the truth. But that is not the path they chose to take.”

Dismissed by the Board

The University of California has fired only a handful of tenured professors since the late 1950s, when the system strengthened protections for faculty. The board voted in 2012 to dismiss Sarkis Joseph Khoury, a professor of finance at Riverside, for allegedly violating university policies against earning outside income while on sabbatical. But the move was largely symbolic, Khoury said in public statements, since he'd already resigned. In 2000, Sergio Stone, then a professor of medicine at the Irvine campus, was fired after being linked to a fertility clinic scandal there. A faculty panel recommended that he be demoted but the board -- which ultimately has authority in such cases -- moved to dismiss him. Saying the case against him was less serious than that against Stone, Latham asked the board to honor the sanction the faculty hearing committee recommended after reviewing his case: demotion in rank and two years of unpaid leave. (He still called that punishment disproportionate in relation to other system professors accused of similar acts of misconduct, citing Geoff Marcy, the former professor of astronomy at the system’s Berkeley campus who was found to have sexually harassed female students over many years. In that case, which came to light this fall, Marcy was warned not to repeat the behavior or risk dismissal going forward. He eventually stepped down amid public pressure, but Latham said Marcy had been treated differently because he was heterosexual, despite being a “predator.”)

Despite Latham's pleading, the regents voted Jan. 20 to dismiss him, 15 to 5. A memo released by the board gives no reason, but Rebecca Trounson, a spokesperson for the system’s office of the president, said the board had acted based on violations of the Faculty Code of Conduct, specifically its substance abuse and sexual harassment policies. She declined to provide additional details, citing confidentiality concerns.

More to the Story?

While the faculty hearing committee found the sexual harassment charges insufficiently supported by evidence, several professors and students familiar with the case against Latham said the charges against him went well beyond the details he’d shared in his statement. They also noted that the faculty hearing committee uses a “clear and convincing” standard of proof, which is higher than the preponderance of evidence standard used in Title IX investigations. (Latham addresses this in his statement, saying that not only did the hearing committee not find sufficient evidence, it found at least some allegations not credible.) These sources, who did not want to be named due to confidentiality and legal concerns, also said that Latham had been known to share and do drugs, specifically cocaine, with his graduate students. Latham's statement references one allegation of sharing drugs with graduate students, but he said he was “demonstrably not present” during the alleged incident.

Jose Wudka, professor of physics and chair of the Riverside division of the Academic Senate, referred questions about the hearing committee's role in the case to the university.

Regarding the sex discrimination-based claims, Latham via email reiterated that the Title IX investigation was procedurally flawed. He did not respond to the allegation of drug use.

Latham’s comments on “Academe” attracted many sympathetic comments, as well as expressions of support from former graduate students attesting to his strength as a mentor. Some of the posts came from students from his past job at the University of Iowa, where he was a professor until 2008, when Riverside hired him in part as a liaison to the massive Eaton Collection of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

But there were also some detractors, accusing Latham of being emotionally manipulative -- a charge that came up in the Title IX report.

Responding to that accusation via email, Latham said six of his current advisees offered testimony on his behalf at the hearing, “including forcefully rebutting claims of harassment brought by the complainants, and a dozen of my former advisees supplied letters.” One past advisee, Jeff Hicks -- now an instructor of liberal studies at California State University at Los Angeles -- said via email that he worked "very closely with Rob and a number of the students he was mentoring at the time of the charges against him, and I can say definitively that he never took advantage of his relationship as a mentor. Instead, he offered assistance and guidance to any graduate student who asked." 

But another former mentee who did not want to be named, citing legal concerns, said in an interview that "One of the things people like about him is that he is very friendly with students, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing when there are boundaries, but he took it too far and took a lot of pleasure out of manipulating students emotionally."

Willis eventually weighed in on “Academe,” sharing the English department’s statement and saying that Latham had misrepresented her position in his comments.

“Rob takes my words out of context and gives the false impression that I was prevented from speaking on his behalf at the hearing,” Willis wrote. “It is true that I had a high regard for Rob’s teaching and scholarship before this case began, and I supported him in many ways while I was chair. I liked him as a person and as a colleague. However, by the time of the hearing, I had come to believe that Rob had profoundly betrayed my trust. In my opinion, Rob has harmed our students, damaged our program and betrayed his colleagues and friends.”

Willis said she was involved in Latham’s case from the beginning and believed that all university policies and processes were followed carefully. “Rob had every opportunity to tell his side of the story and advance his theory of the case. He thinks what he has done is trivial. It is not.”

Jennifer Doyle, another professor of English, said this “entire forum is treating our lives as click bait. It is Latham, and the AAUP, who had forced us onto this forum by publishing this document. For his victims, this forum is on a continuum with the harassment that has characterized the experience of working and studying with him -- just dragged out into the public sphere. We all want that harassment to stop.”

Similarly to Willis, Doyle added that “conversation about the necessary, important and principled defense of tenure should be staged as far from this case as possible.”

Latham, of course, disagrees. He said there are former colleagues and a number of graduate students at Riverside who are “invested in a false narrative of this case, because they refuse to believe that they were misled by the two complainants. But they were, and the full dimensions of the students' mendacity will only become clear once we file” a legal request for review.

Editorial Tags: Academic freedomImage Source: U of CaliforniaImage Caption: Rob Latham

Senator Ted Cruz’s views on higher education and scientific research

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:00

Senator Ted Cruz’s victory in the Iowa caucuses this week elevates the candidacy of the presidential contender who is perhaps most at odds with colleges and universities on many policy issues.

The Texas Republican has pushed for the kind of austerity in the federal budget that typically does not bode well for scientific research and federal student aid programs. And he played a key role in the 2013 government shutdown, which interrupted some federally supported academic research.

In particular, though, he’s clashed with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration over its support for earth science research, including studies relating to climate change. As chair of the Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness, Cruz last year said that NASA should be focused more squarely on space exploration rather than earth science, which he dismissed as not a “hard science.”

The remarks by Cruz, who disputes the scientific consensus on climate change, were met with alarm by scientific groups like the American Geophysical Union.

Cruz’s criticisms of NASA are part of what many in the scientific community see as a broader assault on federal research agencies by congressional Republicans over the past several years.

Student Loans and Grants

Unlike his Democratic counterparts -- as well as some of his fellow Republican challengers -- Cruz has not formally outlined any specific policy proposals relating to higher education.

However, Cruz has repeatedly promised he would get rid of the U.S. Department of Education as part of an effort to drastically shrink the size of the federal government. He said during his 2012 run for Senate that he would not completely eliminate federal student aid but would instead have individual states distribute that money.

Cruz has addressed on several occasions student loan debt, including his own experience borrowing money to pay for college and law school. Launching his campaign at Liberty University last year, he described owing “over $100,000 in school loans,” which he said he “paid off a few years ago.”

He has said, in general terms, that improving the economy would help students saddled with debt from college.

“Economic growth is critical to young people, because if we want this generation to be able to pay off their loans and develop the skills to live the American dream, we’ve got to return to an environment where small businesses are growing and flourishing, and creating jobs and opportunities,” he told The Skimm.

Immigration and Affirmative Action

Like many Republicans, Cruz is campaigning on taking a tougher line on federal immigration policy. He’s said he wants to reverse President Obama’s executive orders on immigration, including the reprieve from deportation offered to young immigrants, many of them students, who were brought to the United States as children by parents who entered the country illegally.

In addition, Cruz, who graduated from Princeton University and Harvard Law School, has been sharply critical of the consideration of race in college admissions. “I can tell you one of the downsides of affirmative action, being a Hispanic man, is over and over again you have people, often supercilious liberals, who would suggest you’re only here because of affirmative action,” he told BuzzFeed last year.

He added that colleges should focus on academic merit and not race. Some leading universities today are enforcing “negative quotas” against Asian applicants much the way they once did for Jewish applicants. “We see it now with colleges in California … negative quotas against Asian students because academically they’re excelling,” he said.

2016 ElectionEditorial Tags: Federal policyImage Source: Getty Images

Young Republican voters flock to Ted Cruz and Donald Trump

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:00

Young voters, in some ways, performed as many expected in the Iowa caucuses Monday. They overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton, for example.

But what young Republican voters would end up doing was a little more of a mystery.

Ted Cruz, whose outreach to younger voters has been limited, won with more support from voters between the ages of 18 and 29 than any of the other GOP candidates, according to entrance polling analysis by the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). With support from 26 percent of young caucusgoers, Cruz beat Marco Rubio’s 23 percent, Donald Trump’s 20 percent and Rand Paul’s 14 percent.

That represents a fairly significant shift. Two months ago, a Harvard Institute of Politics poll had Trump and Ben Carson ahead with likely young Republican voters and Cruz lagging in the single digits.

Recent data on the political views of college students, rather than youth in general or millennials (which some organizations have defined as anyone younger than 35), are pretty rare. But support for a specific candidate by students and people under 29 “doesn’t vary much,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of CIRCLE. Because college access has expanded in recent decades, she said, “The college student population is more similar to general youth than it was in the past.”

A record number of young Republicans -- 22,415, or 12 percent of caucusgoers -- turned up in Iowa on Monday.

“That’s a really positive indicator,” Kawashima-Ginsberg said. “When they are welcomed, young people respond.”

By reaching out, she said, candidates “can inspire young people, but they have to do that work thoughtfully and not write them off as people that don’t vote, because I think today’s election shows they really do come out.”

But Why Cruz?

Over the last several months Cruz has emerged as a top candidate nationally. Monday’s caucuses also took place in Iowa, with its mostly white and heavily evangelical population. “If any state’s youth would elect Ted Cruz, this would be one of them,” said Kawashima-Ginsberg of Monday’s results. It’s important to remember, she said, that unlike the general election, primaries, particularly in Iowa and New Hampshire, are “more up close and personal,” more idiosyncratic by state and by county.

“Ted Cruz has also done some outreach” to young voters, Kawashima-Ginsberg said. But it’s been “less in person, more on social media,” where Cruz has been “really good” at shaping a strong, active personality online.

Cruz’s efforts have lagged behind those of Rubio and Paul, who both have made concerted efforts to engage young voters and college students in person and on campuses, which is a vital element of connecting with that audience. (Paul suspended his campaign on Wednesday.)

Those inroads proved successful in some instances. “I was surprised at the amount of Rubio support,” said Janelle Smithson, chair of the University of Iowa College Republicans, of her caucusing experience. After Rubio, who swept the night in Smithson's Iowa City precinct, which includes the University of Iowa, Paul and Trump had the most support.

Visible pro-Cruz students, however, seem to be few and far in between on campus. “I know one or two [Cruz] supporters,” Smithson said. “They’re not that organized, so you don’t hear a lot from them.” Rand Paul and Marco Rubio have done the most, by far, to reach out college students, she said, citing Paul in particular. “Senator Paul definitely takes the cake on that one.”

The Kentucky senator didn’t cause quite the furor his father, former U.S. Representative Ron Paul, did in the 2012 Iowa caucuses, however, when 48 percent of young voters went with the elder Paul.

Trump’s 20 Percent of the Young Republican Vote

In October, the only support Trump appeared have on college campuses was that of amused students running satirical pro-Trump Facebook pages. No longer.

One of those joke pages, AU Students for Trump, has since closed down because “Donald Trump is no longer a joke, so it feels wrong to keep this page where he's treated like one,” its founder wrote in a December post. “The problem he poses has become more serious, and as a result our response to him must be equally serious.”

A very much real group has taken its place. Founded in October by Ryan Fournier, a freshman at Campbell University in North Carolina, Students for Trump now has a presence on more than 30 campuses, about 300 members and a Twitter account with 24,000 followers.

“I think that a lot of people are afraid to come out and support Donald Trump even if they agree with a lot of what he has to say,” Fournier wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed. “I have met a lot of people that said they were voting for him, but also said they did not tell anyone else about it. Many students I have spoken with think it is refreshing to see someone with so much love and compassion for his country, especially when he has given up so much for this election (Macy's Deal, Pageants, etc) [sic]. A lot of the students that are with us now were looking for some sort of group to get involved in at the time, but they did not find one until we came along.”

Fournier explained his own support for Trump via an extended comparison to the short story “A&P” by John Updike. He explained that the three girls walking into the store wearing only their bikinis was a rebellious, Trumpesque act at a time when bikini-clad shopping was very taboo. Eventually, the protagonist quits, because “he did not want to conform to the society that was put before him by his family, his boss, etc.”

“To me,” he said, “Donald Trump is that positive and new change that is needed back in Washington.”

At the University of Iowa last week, several members of the football and wrestling teams appeared on stage with Trump, endorsed him and gave him an Iowa football jersey with his name on it. (The university later released a statement saying the students spoke only for themselves, not the university, and that they had not broken National Collegiate Athletic Association rules.)

Trump's message seems to resonate for a wide variety of Republican-leaning students, according to Fournier. “Surprisingly it is very random on who supports Donald Trump,” he said. “The typical outcry supporter in the minds of many are white males. However we have found that to be not true at all. We have came across a plethora of supporters from other ethnic backgrounds.”

That notion tracks with some recent research out of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. According to a national poll of 1,800 voters conducted by Matthew MacWilliams, president of a political communications firm and a Ph.D. candidate at the university, age is not a statistically significant predictor of Trump support. Nor is race, income or education level.

The only two variables that can reliably predict support for Trump: authoritarianism and fear of terrorism. And the former far more than the latter, MacWilliams said. “All these variables, which should matter when it comes to Trump support, really don’t matter, statistically.”

2016 ElectionEditorial Tags: Student lifeImage Caption: Students at Trump campaign event in Columbus, Ohio

Pearson to leave learning management system market by 2018

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 02/03/2016 - 08:00

Pearson, after spending hundreds of millions of dollars on learning management systems, is leaving the market as the company seeks to restructure itself and boost its profits.

The company, whose operations touch nearly every segment of K-12 and higher education, last fall said it will stop supporting OpenClass, one of its learning management systems, on Jan. 1, 2018. Recently the company told colleges using LearningStudio that it, too, will meet the same fate, leaving Pearson without a traditional learning management system in its portfolio. The news was first reported by the blog e-Literate.

“While the LMS will endure as an important piece of academic infrastructure, we believe our learning applications and services are truly ‘where the learning happens,’” the OpenClass website reads. “In short, withdrawing from the crowded LMS market allows us to concentrate on areas where we can make the biggest measurable impact on student learning outcomes.”

The news follows an announcement last month that Pearson would cut 4,000 jobs worldwide in an effort to simplify what the company does, but Curtiss Barnes, managing director for higher education technology products, said the plan to leave the market predates the restructuring.

“We realized that we need to make some specific decisions around what we want to attach our brand to, where we can create value for customers and where we can compete effectively,” Barnes said in an interview. That means Pearson is less interested in administrative software, he said, and more likely to pour resources into course materials and other products that have a “direct impact” on students and faculty members. Courseware is also the product category where Pearson generates most of its revenue, Barnes said.

Pearson’s restructuring efforts so far show the company divesting itself of products unrelated to education. Last fall, it sold the media company that owns the Financial Times and its stake in The Economist, worth about $2 billion in total.

In higher education, Pearson will likely find savings by eliminating redundancies. The company’s operations are a patchwork of products and services that -- because of previous acquisitions -- in some cases overlap.

Take LearningStudio, for example. The platform, which launched in 2009, is a product of two acquisitions, eCollege (acquired in 2007 for $477 million) and Fronter. But eCollege also powers OpenClass, the platform Pearson unveiled two years later. To further complicate matters, eCollege originally launched to help colleges take their programs online. Pearson in 2012 then spent $650 million to acquire another company, EmbanetCompass, for that purpose.

Barnes described the eCollege acquisition as a success, but said “over time it’s become increasingly difficult to compete in the market.” Compared to companies that focus on learning management systems, Pearson “just felt like we couldn’t maintain the level of customer satisfaction,” he said.

Kenneth C. Green, who tracks learning management system trends as part of the Campus Computing Project, said Pearson never successfully pivoted eCollege from selling a service to selling an application. The company, formerly known as Real Education, began with a simple sales pitch to colleges: given $60,000 and 60 days, it would take 20 face-to-face courses online.

“They were successful with that,” Green said in an interview. “They were never able to capture where the big market was, which was essentially selling the app.”

OpenClass and its promise of a free learning management system generated a great deal of buzz in 2011, but nearly five years later, data show Pearson has failed to gain traction in the market.

According to data gathered by the learning management system blog Edutechnica, Pearson is the choice of only about 5 percent of colleges with more than 700 full-time students (though some of those colleges may be for-profit institutions with several campuses). Pearson also controls about 9 percent of the market of colleges with 500 to 700 full-time students.

The numbers mean Pearson is lumped into Edutechnica’s “Other” category, well behind more popular systems offered by Blackboard, D2L, Instructure and Moodle.

The learning management system market has not stood still since LearningStudio and OpenClass joined the fray, however. Among other developments, Blackboard has lost market share in the U.S., while Instructure, which was founded in 2008, has captured between 15 and 20 percent of the market.

George Kroner, who runs Edutechnica, said he was not surprised by Pearson’s decision to get out of the market.

“When you consider that a fair number of Pearson LearningStudio customers are large for-profit institutions (who are shrinking rapidly or going out of business altogether) or smaller colleges who just needed an ‘online program in a box’ style solution, they are being squeezed financially on both ends,” Kroner, an enterprise solutions architect at the University of Maryland University College, said in an email.

In light of those reasons, as well as Pearson’s declining revenue, the decision to phase out LearningStudio and OpenClass “makes sense,” but Kroner added that it also puts the company at a disadvantage. As both a textbook publisher and a learning management system provider, Pearson could use its platforms to push students, teachers and faculty members toward its own titles. Now, the company has to ensure its course materials are compatible and easy to use with its former competitors’ systems.

“It puts them completely at the mercy of the LMS vendors with whom they will need to play nicer,” Kroner wrote. “They really are in a pickle, and I don't think that they can afford to just buy [Blackboard] to get out of their situation.” (Blackboard is reportedly up for sale.)

Pearson will help LearningStudio and OpenClass customers transition to other learning management systems, but the company is not endorsing a specific product, Barnes said. He declined to say if phasing out the systems will lead to job cuts.

Teaching With TechnologyEditorial Tags: Technology
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