Higher Education News

Youngstown State adjuncts 'celebrate' 25 years without a raise

Inside HigherEd - 4 hours 55 min ago

You only turn 25 years without a raise once. That was the idea behind a tongue-in-cheek party adjunct instructors at Youngstown State University threw for themselves this month, to mark a quarter-century without any increase in pay. 

Yes, there was cake. 

“My contribution to the event was a ‘then and now’ picture display of what some of the adjunct faculty looked like 25 years ago and what we look like now,” said Katherine Durrell, who has been teaching physics as an adjunct at Youngstown State since 2004. “The pictures of the 30-year-old adjuncts are really striking since they were five when we last got a raise.”

Youngstown State pays non-tenure-line instructors per credit hour and based on their level of education. Those with master’s degrees make $800 per credit hour, or $2,400 per three-credit course. Those with Ph.D.s get $1,050 per credit hour, or $3,150 per-three credit course.

Ron Cole, university spokesperson, said adjuncts also get free parking, sick leave and tuition remission, among other benefits (but not health insurance). He confirmed that it’s been between 20 and 25 years since adjuncts received a raise. 

It’s “fair to say that our president and provost recognize that that's a problem and, while we are facing some difficult budget challenges like most in higher ed, [we’re] committed to trying to rectify that situation,” Cole said. He noted that Martin Abraham, provost, formed a committee this fall to address adjunct faculty concerns, including pay. 

Durrell is on the committee and said it has been meeting regularly. So far, though, it hasn’t resulted in a raise.

“All I can say is that I have my fingers crossed,” she added.

Nationwide, adjunct salaries vary widely and data on them are hard to gather. A 2012 Coalition on the Academic Workforce report put the median per-course pay at $2,700, but that’s across disciplines, levels of experience, degrees, regions and institution types. 

Some adjuncts, especially those in major metropolitan areas with union organizing drives, have had luck in recent years winning pay raises and other improvements to their working conditions. Instructors at Tufts University, who are affiliated with Service Employees International Union, for example, in 2014 negotiated a first contract that increased their pay significantly, to at least $7,300 per course. Additional pay for non-classroom time, such as that spent meeting individually with students, was also included in the agreement.

Another contract agreement, reached last week between United Auto Workers-affiliated adjuncts at Barnard College, puts minimum per-course pay at $7,000 for this fall, and $10,000 by the fall of 2021. Both the union and the college said would be among the highest in New York City or elsewhere for those off the tenure track. Full-time, non-tenure track faculty members also are assured a minimum $60,000 salary, effective in fall 2017. That would rise to $70,000 by 2021.

Of course, Tufts and Barnard are relatively well-off, and both Boston and New York are pricier than Eastern Ohio. And while adjuncts at Youngstown State talked about forming a union several years ago, they have not. Yet many campuses -- with or without unions -- still offer adjuncts semi-regular bumps in pay related to changes in the cost of living or even years of service. 

Malini Cadambi Daniel, director for higher education at SEIU, called the Youngstown State situation “remarkable and sad.”

“I hope it's an outlier," she said. "I've not come across a story in our organizing that rivals this in terms of time.”

Maria Maisto, the Ohio-based president of the New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct advocacy organization, said she was familiar with the situation at Youngstown State, which may not be an outlier after all.

“Anecdotally, I can say that it's not uncommon, especially in places like Ohio,” she said, “where there are significant obstacles to unionizing and no interest or effort by colleges and universities to pay fair wages for work that is at the core of the mission.” 

Maisto noted that members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce recently asked the Government Accountability Office to gather more information on adjuncts' working conditions, to paint a more complete national picture.

 

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Consensus forms on loan policies among conservative thinkers

Inside HigherEd - 4 hours 55 min ago

For much of the new year, Jason Delisle has taken every available opportunity to argue against a return to the bank-based federal student loan system that existed before 2010.

On panels, in policy papers and in guest columns and op-eds, the American Enterprise Institute resident fellow has made the case that returning to a bank-based system from the current set-up where the government originates all federal student loans -- a plank of the GOP platform -- is misguided policy. 

“I’m [generally] inclined to believe that if the market is involved, the product will be better," Delisle says. "This was a case where that wasn’t true."

With Republicans controlling the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade, questions about how they will approach federal student aid, and how far they will veer from the path on loan policy staked out by Obama, are abundant.

Conversations with Delisle and other conservative policy analysts -- those seemingly likeliest to seed ideas for a party with renewed power -- suggest that the change might not be radical. Not surprisingly, they generally favor a bigger role for private capital in the student loan system, but they seem disinclined to undo the transformation wrought by the Obama administration. That's not because they love federal direct lending but because they don't think the previous bank-based system was truly market-driven either. Their other major goal -- simplifying the student financial aid system -- is shared by many across the political spectrum. 

The question is how to get there. And while denizens of the think tank world agree on some policy steps to reach those objectives, it’s not yet clear how effectively those ideas are reaching policy makers in the administration or Congress.

The Flaws in FFEL

Republican politicians, including President Trump, have argued for returning to lending done by private banks after more than half a decade in which student loans were made directly by the federal government. But there’s broad opposition to such a move on both the right and the left. 

Under the old system, the Federal Family Education Loan Program, banks made subsidized loans to student borrowers that were guaranteed by the federal government, with the rates set by Congress. Critics say the FFEL program was a giveaway to banks that didn’t improve loan performance or create any real competition among lenders.

“There’s this argument that it’s inserting private market competition, which it isn’t -- that’s not true,” said Alexander Holt, a policy analyst at New America’s Education Policy Program.

Just because market-oriented analysts don't want to blow up the direct loan program for undergraduates doesn't mean they're happy with the status quo. That the federal government originates more than 90 percent of student loans is a frequent lament on the right. But instead of a return to FFEL, they propose curtailing that government role by eliminating the Grad PLUS and Parent PLUS loan programs, two uncapped federal lending programs. 

Delisle is as vocal an opponent of the PLUS loan programs, which he says is “essentially crowding out the private market,” as he is of a return to bank-based student lending.

While the graduate loan program has high repayment and low default rates, Delisle and other PLUS opponents say, those students could get financing for graduate education from the private loan market. And they say the Parent PLUS loan saddles parents with loans they cannot repay. Headlines pulled from GAO reports about elderly borrowers having their Social Security benefits garnished to pay for loans have added fuel to calls for scrutinizing or eliminating the program outright. 

“We should roll back as much federal direct lending as possible,” said Lindsey Burke of the Heritage Foundation. “The path for doing that should start by eliminating the PLUS program altogether.” 

Groups like Heritage argue that the availability of government financing for higher education through programs like PLUS is actually driving increases in college tuition -- an example of the so-called Bennett hypothesis. Private lenders, Burke said, would also be able to differentiate interest rates depending on a student’s planned major or course of study if the law was changed to permit that. The U.S. could better keep student lending under control if private lenders could set the terms of a loan based on a students' educational achievements and plan of study for their next degree, they argue.

Conservative policy analysts are also agreed on the idea of simplifying the myriad choices for student loans and grants to something resembling a “one grant, one loan” approach.

There’s, again, some support on the right and the left for a simplifying the loan and grant options on offer to students. And prominent lawmakers like Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, have in the past proposed legislation to streamline the number of those options. 

“There’s this big mess of information that basically makes it difficult for students to know what options are affordable to them,” said Beth Akers, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. 

Simplifying the number of aid programs available to students would also make possible a more coherent conversation about the costs of subsidizing higher education, she said. The existing complex financial aid system is less transparent because of its complexity; having fewer channels of aid would make it easier to understand how much the government is spending and who the money is going to, Akers said.  

It's not only on the front end of the higher education process, when students apply for loans and grants to finance their education, that complexity has taken hold. To manage their student loan payments after leaving school student borrowers can also choose from an assortment of income-driven repayment plans, which grew in number under Obama.  

“There is a recognition that we’ve been adding and adding layer upon layer and it’s gone too far. So you’ve got to do something about that,” Holt said. 

And there is growing support for expanding the role of novel financial products like income-share agreements to fund students’ postsecondary education and training. In contrast with a student loan, ISAs would require that students pay back a percentage of their income over a set number of years. That would be a better deal than a loan for graduates who earn low incomes but would be costlier for those who end up earning higher than expected incomes.

That would be the easiest change for policy makers to pursue because it wouldn’t require an ambitious new federal program -- Congress could simplify clarify the law to make clear what would be allowed under such agreements. There is some momentum for campus-based ISA agreements already but policy analysts say adding more clarity would lead to more involvement from the private market. 

While the Republican dominance in the federal government -- the GOP holds majorities in both houses of Congress and the White House for the first time in a decade -- is unusual, there would likely be big hurdles to carrying out much of this policy agenda. 

Progressive policy groups, organizations advocating for student access and higher ed institutions themselves would oppose proposals to eliminate PLUS loans entirely, even if they would be open to reevaluating the programs. 

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said there’s an ideological assumption that the private loan market can better address the needs met by the PLUS loan programs now. But NASFAA and other advocacy groups argue that the PLUS loan programs provide subsidies to low-income and minority students to attend college and graduate programs who wouldn't otherwise. Removing those programs would cut out a critical source of financing for many students that wouldn't necessarily be filled by the private market, they say. 

“In a perfect world, I understand why that seems feasible. But we don’t live in a perfect world and the education space is an imperfect market,” Draeger said. “You’re just going to exacerbate inequality and achievement gaps.”

Draeger said NASFAA would be open to examining changes to PLUS, including assessing the ability of some parents to pay back loans. But seeking to eliminate the program entirely would unite a number of stakeholder groups in opposition, he said.

Graduate PLUS loans help offset the cost of other federal student loan programs, according to the Congressional Budget Office -- a finding that will provide ammunition to its defenders. Graduate borrowers are a better financial bet as they repay loans at a higher rate and default at a lower level. And under current Congressional budgeting rules, the Grad PLUS loans make money back for the federal government.

And recent attempts to modify how Parent PLUS loans are awarded have not fared well for federal policy makers. When the Department of Education under President Obama made it more difficult to take out Parent PLUS loans in 2011, the changes affected colleges of all sorts that serving large numbers of low-income students. But historically black colleges and universities were hit particularly hard by the changes and many leaders of those institutions were furious at the administration. The relationship between Obama and HBCUs never seemed to recover. 

Holt said the proposal may also draw opposition from the for-profit college industry, a sector that takes in a growing amount of revenue from federal federal aid attached to graduate enrollment. That could set up a clash between for-profits and lending companies that hope to play a bigger role in the graduate market, he said.

Progress on simplifying current student loan offerings could also run up against the reality that some aid programs that don’t appear significant in the aggregate can disproportionately benefit certain sectors or institutions, said Ben Miller,  senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress. 

“Simplification sounds awesome. Everybody wants it,” Miller said. “When you start to deal with money -- who it flows to and how much -- things get a lot more complicated.” 

Holt said while there’s broad consensus on simplification as a goal, there’s not much agreement on what that actually means. Delisle said that if policy makers are serious about the idea, they could set up an account-based system where students draw down a balance for loans or grants as they make progress toward their degree. 

There’s also acknowledgment in conservative policy circles that agreement between think tanks and policy shops might not amount to much on Capitol Hill.

“The question is: is that consensus meaningful at all?” Holt said. “Does it translate at all into what the GOP or the Trump administration would be listening to or thinking about?”

And unlike typical Republican administrations -- or even typical GOP candidates -- the current White House does not have deep ties to D.C. policy shops. Delisle, for example, served as an informal policy adviser on higher education for the Jeb Bush presidential campaign. Another former Republican presidential candidate, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, has frequently consulted with organizations with Washington-based think tanks on higher education legislation. 

Trump had no such connections to organizations that study higher ed policy issues, either from government service, advocacy or from crafting campaign platforms. And since winning the Republican nomination, his team of education advisers was assembled basically on the fly. 

But even with an outsider president, Delisle said policy analysts like himself can definitely still make their case. 

“If anything, I think it’s easier,” he said. “Ten years ago, a blog was a pretty new thing. There’s more opportunities to get information out and do analysis and research and communicate it to folks.” 

And the dynamics on Capitol Hill have largely stayed the same, even if the objectives of the administration remain a mystery at this point. Alexander, Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the HELP panel's senior Democrat, and Virginia Foxx, the chair of the House education committee, are known quantities for policy advocates. 

But Akers said Republicans for the past eight years have filled an opposition role, pushing back against policies that socialized higher education.

“My feeling is the GOP just did not anticipate being in a leadership position on any of these policy areas,” she said. “I think people are scrambling for ideas.”

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Q&A with author of book on rise of for-profits in a new economy

Inside HigherEd - 4 hours 55 min ago

For at least the past 10 years, traditional colleges have been closely watching the rise and fall of the for-profit sector. 

Some experts point to minimal regulation, heavy recruitment and a lack of student knowledge about college choices to explain why the for-profit sector became so popular and saw a boom in student enrollment in the mid-2000's. Others point to the Obama administration's increased regulation and students' knowledge of the higher education system as reasons for the for-profit sector's decline. But in Tressie McMillan Cottom's new book, Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy (The New Press), she points to another factor -- credentialism. 

Tressie McMillan Cottom, who is assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and is an active voice in the higher ed Twitter universe, formerly worked as a recruiter for two for-profit colleges. She responded to questions about the book and how the current economy could lead to a new, but troubling, era for for-profit education. 

Q: You connect for-profits with rising inequality. How does the sector benefit from inequality more so than the traditional or not-for-profit institutions? 

A: According to the sector itself, its business model relies almost entirely on there being more people who need a credential for work and mobility than there are opportunities for them to earn a credential or job training. Who can and cannot access that kind of path to mobility is a consequence of numerous inequalities: unequal access to high quality K-12 schools, wealth inequalities among families and communities, income inequalities between "good jobs" versus "bad jobs" and who has practical access to jobs that offer mobility without constant, expensive retraining. Because for-profit colleges are narrowly focused on job training, their business model is only practical if these inequalities continue. 

Q: You describe that part of this inequality is tied to the way our economy focuses on "risky" credentials. How has this made people vulnerable and has the completion agenda played a role in over credentialing and equity issues? 

A: Yes, the completion agenda has contributed to the ideology that we are all supposed to have a credential for quality work. But, the ideology predates the completion agenda. The completion agenda merely expands on an idea that is really a historical peculiarity, which is the idea individual workers should shoulder all the costs of job training. The employment sector (both public and private, by the way) leverages its market position in an economy with fairly high underemployment rates to tell workers that this is the case. To be competitive we are all told that we have to pursue and pay for credentials over our entire working careers. This is an especially pernicious risk shift from the employment sector to minority workers, who are already more likely to be unemployed and underemployed than are white workers. And, most minorities have less wealth than do white workers. The compounded effects are especially brutal for women of color who not only have negligible wealth but also care for extended networks on incomes that are, on average, less than that of white workers and all women workers.  For these reasons, the risk shift of job training, or credentialing, directly undermines equity agendas. I cannot see a way that any completion agenda that does not directly address how for-profit colleges have become the primary vehicle for higher education access among women of color can achieve any of its stated goals.

Q: For-profit advocates have argued that they have been the only institutions to offer a higher education to minority, low-income and non-traditional students. What options are there for this group of students, especially those who have been dissatisfied with the for-profit experience, but are left with debt and no degree?

A: They are correct. In the book, I am clear that for-profit colleges have a point about traditional not-for-profit higher education has not adjusted enough to accommodate non-traditional students. But, I am also clear that their take on that is disingenuous and cynical. Not-for-profit colleges aren't merely elitist. The institutions most likely to serve non-traditional students are also the most starved for political and economic capital. It is expensive to serve non-traditional students well, something for-profit colleges know is true. Our Catch-22 is that public money that supports public higher education flows instead to for-profit colleges, undermining not-for-profits ability to develop their capacity to serve non-traditional students. Then, those institutions are charged with being non-responsive. A new working paper by Stephanie Cellini, Rajeev Darolia, and Leslie J. Turner suggests that when for-profit colleges lose access to federal aid, those students instead go to community colleges. When they go, their resources go with them. By not admitting this, the for-profit college sector is being selective in its depiction of not-for-profit higher education.

But what are students' options? There are more flexible not-for-profit college options now than there were 20 years ago. To some extent, the rhetoric of the stodgy traditional not-for-profit college sector that won't change is outstripped by reality. Still, it is true that there aren't enough on-demand higher education options for all who would like them. However, I argue that this isn't a failure of higher education. It is a labor market failure and a social policy failure. Local workforce development, on-the-job-training, and union-sponsored education should have a more expansive role in job training. These are all better options for public investment than are for-profit colleges which provide negligible social benefits to the public and very poor individual returns to students. 

Q: One solution you point to is changing politics that weed out inequality. How do you see that happening given today's political climate and under a Trump presidency?

A: This is not a hopeful time for those of us who believe in a more fair social contract. All indications are that the Trump administration will either directly or indirectly support greater financialization of education, K-16. Among my colleagues in policy circles, there is a lot of discussion about how to position gains made during the Obama administration. That discussion is on-going.

I suspect the best hope is for external pressure from below, meaning local and state government as well as student and worker organizing. 
 

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Racial incidents upset students at several campuses

Inside HigherEd - 4 hours 55 min ago

In the weeks after the election of President Trump, many campuses experienced racial and anti-immigrant incidents. While the incidents quieted at the end of last semester and the beginning of this one, a new flurry is hitting campuses now.

Numerous colleges -- including Hebrew Union College, the University of Florida, and the University of Minnesota -- have seen incidents involving swastikas in recent weeks. A neo-Nazi website has also been hacking into printers at prominent universities and printing out anti-Semitic fliers.

This week, Old Dominion University has been shaken by a video (designed to appear to be made by someone affiliated with the university) full of racist comments. Spring Arbor University is debating whether campus administrators should be revealing how they punished a woman who posed in blackface with racially offensive captions. And the University of Texas at Austin is planning a meeting after anti-immigrant posters appeared on campus.

When Inside Higher Ed reports on such incidents, some comments suggest that the incidents are "fake news." While some facts are indeed unclear about these incidents, they are all situations in which the universities have verified the basic facts, and many students have felt hurt or unwelcome because of what happened. In one case, a student has been found responsible. In another, a hate group has claimed responsibility.

A Video Spreads at Old Dominion

At Old Dominion, students were stunned when a video on YouTube circulated Monday night and Tuesday morning. It showed a woman (her head covered or obscured) first dancing in a university shirt and then in a "My President Is White" T-shirt featuring a Trump image. YouTube pulled the video for violating its standards, but not before many at the university viewed it. In the video, the woman uses racial slurs, encourages the killing of black people, holds what appears to be a gun at one point, and puts out a cigarette on a "Black Lives Matter" napkin. The person who posted the video indicated that she was an Old Dominion student, but neither the university nor authorities have figured out who she is.

Even after YouTube removed the video, snippets and photos have appeared all over social media.

The university and local police are investigating.

The university's president, John R. Broderick, and student government president, Rachael Edmonds, issued a joint statement. "This morning, the university community learned of an extremely offensive video circulating online that features a person wearing an Old Dominion University branded shirt. This is an outrageous act of hate and intolerance and we are sickened by this vile video. There is no place on this campus for hate and divisiveness," the statement said.

Blackface at Spring Arbor

At Spring Arbor University, in Michigan, students have been discussing social media posts showing a woman (at right) who the institution has confirmed is a student, in blackface, along with captions about cotton picking.

The university has confirmed that it has punished the student in some way, but will not say how it has done so. A full statement issued by an outside public relations firm said: "Spring Arbor University is committed to fostering a diverse learning environment that values the dignity of every human being. SAU takes seriously the nurturing of our Christian community so that all students regardless of their background are respected. The university is aware of a recent racially insensitive post on social media connected to an SAU student. This posting is upsetting and is not aligned with our core values. Due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, we cannot comment about specific disciplinary actions. We do not condone this behavior. We take this matter seriously and are addressing this situation with the student."

On social media, some students are asking whether the punishment was serious and why more cannot be shared about the university's response.

Last month, Oklahoma State University had two incidents involving students posing in blackface in a single week.

Anti-Muslim Posters at UT Austin

At the University of Texas at Austin, President Gregory L. Fenves has announced a special town hall meeting today to discuss anti-immigrant posters that appeared on campus last week. The posters had tag lines such as "Imagine a Muslim-Free America."

A white supremacist group has claimed responsibility:

@UTAustin got a visit from the American Vanguard last night.#AmericanVanguard #MakeAmericaWhiteAgain pic.twitter.com/1I5iIhNaZq

— Vanguard Texas (@vanguard_texas) February 13, 2017

The university removed the posters quickly, noting rules that limit non-university affiliated groups from posting on campus.

In his statement to the campus, Fenves stressed that the university remains committed to free exchange of ideas, but within limits, such as on who can post where (regardless of the content).

"Last week, an organization unaffiliated with UT posted signs that directly targeted immigrants and minorities. The words and ideas contained within these posters were hateful, divisive and deeply offensive to me and to many members of our community. Their message runs counter to the values of our university and our commitment to diversity and inclusion," Fenves said. "The nation and world have seen an increase in emotional — and too often ugly and contentious — discussions about immigration, race, religion and gender-identity. The discourse has frequently been most vigorous on university campuses, where students, faculty members and staff members of diverse backgrounds come together in the pursuit of knowledge."

He added: "Free speech is critical to the exchange of ideas that must happen at a university. We don't learn by quieting voices. We learn by listening to one another and, when we disagree, by engaging in thoughtful dialogue. Protecting free speech means protecting the rights of every perspective, even if that perspective is objectionable. Sometimes, our collective dialogue has its limits, especially when it involves outside groups. Posters from non-UT organizations, including the ones we saw last week, are not allowed under our rules and will be taken down. They have no place on the Forty Acres. As a university community, it is up to all of us to define a culture that protects the right to free speech and supports our right to learn, teach and work in an inclusive environment."

In inviting students and others to the town hall, Fenves wrote: "The best response to offensive speech is enlightened dialogue."

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AP Program results show more students taking classes and succeeding

Inside HigherEd - 4 hours 55 min ago

As access to Advanced Placement courses continues to grow, student success rates are also improving, according to the 2016 AP Program results for the class of 2016. 

“The Advanced Placement Program has radically expanded access without compromising quality,” said David Coleman, president and CEO of College Board, which oversees the AP Program. “I think it’s transformed from what was once an elite program for some to what’s an available program for all.”

The 2016 results, which came out today, show that since 2006, participation in the AP Program has nearly doubled, from 645,000 to 1.1 million students. During that same 10-year period, the portion of American public high school graduates who took and passed their AP exams -- earning a score of 3 or higher -- rose from 14.3 percent to 21.9 percent. The College Board said it did not have data on those who took the AP exams and did not achieve at least a 3.

At the state level, the highest performing students come from Massachusetts, Maryland and Connecticut, where AP exam success rates reach or exceed 30 percent. Meanwhile, the lowest achieving states include Mississippi (5.9 percent), Louisiana (7.8 percent) and North Dakota (9.6 percent). 

Coleman said that AP courses are reaching a broader, more diverse group of students than they ever have before. However, it's unclear how each racial and ethnic group performed on AP exams. Last year, the College Board adjusted its collection and reporting methods for data on race and ethnicity to better align with the U.S. Department of Education standards, which makes it difficult to compare data collected this year to that of previous years. Historically, African American and Hispanic students have scored lower on average on AP exams.

Trevor Packer, senior vice president of the AP Program, said that in the last 17 years, with the help of federal funding, the number of low-income students taking AP courses has increased ten-fold.

Last fall, the College Board also began offering a new AP course in computer science. During the current academic year, over 2,500 schools are signed up to offer the computer science class -- the largest launch in the history of the AP Program.

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Michigan State will ban whiteboards from dormitory doors

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:11

The dormitory room door whiteboard, long a form of communication among students, will not be permitted after this semester at Michigan State University.

Officials told local reporters that the whiteboards have become a tool for bullying, some of it racist or sexist.

“In any given month, there are several incidents like this. There was no one incident that was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Kat Cooper, director of university residential services communications, told The Detroit News. “Sometimes these things are racial, sometimes they’re sexual in nature. There are all sorts of things that happen.”

Cooper also said that whiteboards are no longer as central to student life as some may remember. “I know that when I was in school, whiteboards were an essential form of communication with other students,” Cooper told the News. “It used to be that their (appropriate) usage outweighed their abuse, and that’s just not the case anymore.”

While Cooper also said that there was no one incident that prompted the change, on the Facebook page of the Lansing NAACP, a posting noted a recent incident and suggested a connection to the ban.

The post said:"We had an incident at MSU where a young African-American honors student had 'The N Word' written on her dorm room whiteboard. It's been a while but MSU Police have informed us that ALL dormitory white boards will be removed asap. Victory!!!"

Michigan State officials told various media outlets that the ban would not be in place until next semester as current contracts with dormitory residents do not include provisions on whiteboards on doors. The whiteboards will still be permitted inside rooms.

Of the many incidents of bigotry being reported on campuses these days, a number do involve dormitory room whiteboards, where many campuses have seen incidents reported of someone writing racial slurs or swastikas or other offensive things. Of course many of these whiteboards have basic innocuous things written on them such as "studying in the library."

On social media, students and others were criticizing the ban, saying that it would not eliminate racist or sexist bullying, but would deny students a form of communication.

On the Lansing NAACP website, one person commented, "If someone writes on the door, will they remove everyone's dorm room door?" Another wrote, "How is this a victory when every dorm resident will be punished because of one racist idiot? What does this accomplish exactly? It seems to me you're giving more power to the racist. Should we have limited skyscrapers to only 10 stories after 9/11 in an effort to end terrorism? Help me to understand the reasoning and logic."

 

 

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Liberal arts students' fears about the job market upon graduation are increasingly informing what they choose to study, even as electives

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:00

Liberal arts colleges promise students a well-rounded education in core disciplines that will prepare them for a variety of careers and lifelong learning — not just a first job. Increasingly, though, even attending a liberal arts institution doesn’t inoculate students from anxieties about the job market that may push them toward the math and the sciences, at the expense of arts and humanities. 

“What liberal arts colleges historically have said to students is, ‘Do what you love, and the rest will take care of itself,'” said Sarah Bolton, president of the College of Wooster. Increasingly, though, that message isn’t resonating with students, who instead think they’ll be best served later on by taking as many quantitative courses as possible — including as electives, she said. So it’s statistics instead of theater, for example, or another science course over one in literature.

As a physicist, Bolton doesn’t object to more science — until it compromises a student’s overall experience. “I firmly believe that the sciences are part of the liberal arts, but I also believe that the arts are part of the liberal arts, as well,” she said.

Bolton said the challenge for colleges like hers going forward will be to encourage students to make the most of the curriculum based on what they want to do when they graduate, while not limiting themselves or sacrificing what they really want to study. Wooster is currently reviewing its curricular requirements to encourage students to do just that. It’s also gathering long-term data on enrollment and major choices. There’s already anecdotal evidence to suggest that some students are skimping on the arts and humanities courses they came to liberal arts institution to try out. 

At Wellesley College, that’s definitely the case. The college surveyed recent graduates and asked which of the 12 degree components they wished they’d taken more or less of. About half of respondents said they wouldn’t change anything. But about half said they would, with the most “wish I’d taken more” comments relating to the arts, languages and non-Western cultures. The most “wish I’d taken fewer” comments were about courses in math and the physical sciences. 

“I wouldn’t say it was students’ biggest regret, but when they looked at their academic programs, they wished they had done more arts and humanities,” said Ann Velenchik, dean of academic affairs at Wellesley and an associate professor of economics. 

Between 2008 and 2016, for example, there was a 14 percent decline in enrollments in the humanities and an 8 percent decline in enrollments in the social sciences. At the same time, there was a 29 percent increase in enrollments in math and the sciences, especially computer science and neuroscience. Interdisciplinary courses are also on the rise, with an 18 percent jump in enrollments.

In terms of majors, 27 percent of Wellesley graduates majored in the arts and humanities in 2008. In 2016, it was 23 percent. Social sciences, historically Wellesley’s most popular area, saw a smaller decline, from 44 percent 42 percent. Majors in math and the sciences jumped, meanwhile, from 18 percent to 23 percent. 

“There’s definitely been a movement from the humanities to the sciences,” Velenchik said. Yet she noted that enrollments in particular are more “balanced” than they used to be — meaning that they’re more evenly represented now across the arts and sciences.  

Is that good or bad? Velenchik was somewhat neutral, saying that at Wellesley, at least, students tend to “overfulfill” their distribution requirements, regardless of major. Those requirements include three courses in the humanities, three in the social sciences, three in math and the physical sciences, two years of a foreign language and a first-year writing course. 

William Deresiewicz, author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life and current National Endowment for the Humanities-Hannah Arendt Center Visiting Distinguished Fellow at Bard College, was less neutral about national trends away from the humanities. 

“It's a terrible thing, and it bespeaks the destructive attitude that is ubiquitous in education today, which is that the sole purpose of education is to set you up for job and career and that you should therefore study something practical, understood in the narrowest terms,” he said.

Deresiewicz said he’s studied major — not enrollment — data at top-20 colleges and universities, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report, and noticed an “enormous shift” toward economics, even more so at liberal arts colleges than at research institutions. In 1995, for example, English was the most popular major at 9 of the top 20 liberal arts colleges, compared to just one in 2013. Economics and the other social sciences — namely political science — surged from the most popular majors at four colleges to 13 over the same period.

Because liberal arts institutions usually don’t offer the kinds of “explicitly vocational majors that most schools do (communications, education, business — the last of which accounts for between a fifth and a quarter of all majors across the country), students at fancy schools tend to choose one of the next best things: biology, engineering, computer science, and for those not inclined to the sciences, economics,” Deresiewicz added via email.

What Can Be Done? 

Part of Bolton’s thinking is informed by having served as dean until recently at Williams College. That campus has seen a decline the number of majors in a few humanities and arts fields — namely studio art and art history. But that's been coupled with a sharp increase in the number of students who choose to double major (currently 42 percent of students), with at least one major in the sciences, technology, math or engineering (STEM), according to information from Williams. So even as the sciences have surged, the net impact on the humanities has been minimal. 

Beyond encouraging students to double-major, George Shuffleton, associate dean and professor of English at Carleton College, advised talking to students about what they want to learn. “We work really hard to dispel the notion” that students have to fine-tune their studies to particular career aspiration, he said. “Students  come to a place like Carleton because they really are committed to getting a liberal arts education, and sometimes it’s a question of reminding them that if they’d wanted to pursue a narrowly professional education, there are other places they could have gone to instead. The mission is reminding them why they made that choice in the first place.” 

Carleton has seen slight declines in some non-physical science fields within the last decade. English accounted for 9 percent of majors in 2006, for example, compared to 6 percent in 2016; social sciences and history shrank from 31 percent to 26 percent of majors over the same period. But surges in STEM fields were centralized, seen in just math and computer science (the latter was 2 percent of majors in 2006, and now it's about 10 percent). 

To that point, Shuffleton said there was probably a something a bit more nuanced going on than a much-lamented decline of the humanities: gender. At Carleton and nationwide, more women are enrolling in disciplines in which they've historically been underrepresented, he said. “In fields like math and computer science, we see that as a success.”

Velenchik, at Wellesley, said trends toward the sciences probably also reflect her institution’s efforts to enroll more first-generation students — many of whom have a different, perhaps more practical idea of what college is and should accomplish than do students whose parents and grandparents attended liberal arts institutions. 

Silvia L. López, David and Marian Adams Bryn-Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor of the Humanities and director of the Humanities Center at Carleton, said via email that numbers alone don’t do the conversation justice. “Our curriculum design requires students to learn a second language and ensures that the students take classes distributed in all areas of knowledge and artistic practice offered,” she said, while about 75 percent of students go abroad. “Carleton's liberal arts education is exactly that: an education. It can't be measured by the number of majors in the hard sciences, but must be understood through the transformative experiences that students have in and out of the classroom that teach them that a rich and full life can only be one if lived in an examined and generous way.”

It’s true that many liberal arts colleges have distribution requirements that ensure students are learning within a variety of disciplines, regardless of their majors. Some colleges have also layered thematic requirements on disciplinary requirements. Barnard College, for example, this year debuted new curriculum called “Foundations,” which promoted six “modes of thinking” — technologically and digitally; quantitatively and empirically; social difference; global inquiry; locally (New York); and historical perspective — in addition to requirements in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. (Computer science enrollments and majors are up significantly at Barnard.)

Extracurricular opportunities — typically plentiful on liberal arts campuses — only enrich those studies. Some campuses also have added courses, majors and programs that ensure students are studying the liberal arts even when they’re not taking courses within the traditional liberal arts disciplines.

Carol Quillen, president of Davidson College, said her campus has moved increasingly toward problem-centered learning in recent years, such as by adding programs like digital studies. The minor emphasizes digital creativity, culture and methodology through coursework in design, ethics, quantitative literacy and other elements of the liberal arts. Health and human values is another popular program. 

“These are the kinds of questions that are inspiring faculty and students, and our curriculum is becoming and less departmentally focused,” she said. “We’re thinking about a liberal arts curriculum that looks much more transdisciplinary and pulls courses and faculty members from across the disciplines together.”

Liberal arts colleges, with their typically small faculties, are uniquely suited for collaboration and being nimble to students’ needs and interests, Quillen said. She noted that a group of faculty members had responded to waning interest in a four-semester Western traditions humanities sequence by cutting the time commitment and adding a global focus, for example. 

Surely such updates will draw criticism from those who advocate for a traditional liberal arts core, and who blame any decline of the humanities on new, more critical approaches. But Quillen said she had no patience for arguments that change inevitably waters down the liberal arts, and suggested that the key to maintaining educational quality is rigor, not stasis. 

The notion that adding Zora Neale Hurston, for example, to a course in Western literature — which traditionally would have been dominated by white male authors — somehow means sacrificing rigor “is ridiculous,” she added. “Plus we live in a world where fields of inquiry are constantly expanding.”

Carleton isn’t the only college adding new programs. Williams, for instance, has added a concentration in public health and new majors in Arabic, environmental studies and statistics in the past decade.

The Association of American Colleges and Universities, which promotes liberal education, advocates inquiry-based, integrative learning and high-impact teaching practices over core curricula and stringent distribution requirements, “where students’ proficiencies are practiced and demonstrated across all learning experiences,” said Lynn Pasquerella, president. 

General education now also requires “signature work,” in which students “integrate and apply their learning to questions that matter, she said. “Signature work prepares students to grapple with complex, unscripted problems for which the answers are yet unknown and to use strategies of inquiry, analysis and collaboration to construct a course of action and take responsibility for the results.”

Over all, the association’s vision for ged ed “is grounded in guided preparation for students to identify and build capacity for addressing significant questions and challenges that matter to the student and to the broader society,” Pasquerella said. Disciplinary work “remains foundational, but students are provided with practice connecting their discipline with others, with the co-curriculum, and with the needs of society — in preparation for work, citizenship and life.”

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Financial insecurity could keep some community college students from completing

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:00

Food, housing and other forms of financial insecurity are a major reason behind students’ inability to complete community college.

A new report from the Center for Community College Student Engagement released during the 2017 Achieving the Dream conference today revealed that nearly half of community college students reported that a lack of finances could cause them to withdraw from their institutions.

“We can have all kinds of academic supports in place, but if we don’t come alongside them in this way also and help support them … it won’t matter how much else we do to prop them,” said Evelyn Waiwaiole, director of the center.

The annual CCCSE report surveyed nearly 100,000 community college students from 177 institutions and found nearly 4 in 10 receive federal Pell Grants. National data showed that nearly 61 percent of Pell recipients live below the poverty line. And of those who reported receiving Pell Grants, 40 percent say they rely on student loans, which may not be needed for tuition, to make ends meet.

Many of the students surveyed revealed they are living paycheck to paycheck, especially if they have dependent children.

The report also found:

  • Six in 10 students reported they would have trouble getting $500 in cash or credit in order to meet an unexpected need within the next month.
  • Those students receiving Pell Grants are more likely that those who don’t to aspire to an associate degree than a bachelor’s degree.
  • Nine out of 10 surveyed students said they need information about financial assistance.
  • Twenty-seven percent said the financial information they received from their college was inadequate.
  • More than three-quarters of students report that they have the skills to manage their own finances, however, more than half report struggling to keep up with bills.

“This doesn’t look surprising given what we know about current trends in higher education,” said Katharine Broton, a researcher at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and doctoral candidate in sociology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. “This comes to the larger issue of college affordability … what we call the purchasing power of need-based financial aid has fall.”

The HOPE Lab is working with the Association of Community College Trustees to measure food and housing security in 75 community colleges.

In the 1970's, the typical Pell Grant covered the total cost of attendance, including tuition and living expenses, at community colleges across the country, Broton said, but that’s no longer the case as students are forced to find money elsewhere or cut back on expenses.

“Another part of this is that we know college students have limited access to the publicly-funded safety net,” she said. “They have to fit the criteria to be eligible for [food benefits] … finances are so tight for students we see them sacrificing adequate food or shelter while pursuing goals.”

The CCCSE study also revealed that 30 percent of students choose to stay enrolled in college in order to receive the financial aid.

“We have a lot of conversations that students are just trying to get the financial aid paycheck,” Waiwaiole said. “We talk about that as if it’s a terrible thing.”

If students have that high of need that they’re staying enrolled to receive the money, they must really need it, she said.

“There’s also a lot of embarrassment,” Waiwaiole said. “No one wants to say, ‘I’m needy.’ It’s a delicate conversation. It’s one that as institutions we need to identify these students and how do we come alongside them and help them to where a stigma is not associated with it.”

But many of these students reported that despite struggling to make ends meet, they can manage their own finances.

Waiwaiole said institutions have to be cognizant of how complex and “murky” the issue can be for students.

Broton said there are some things colleges can do in the short-term to help students who are struggling financially like by using emergency grant aid.

“That’s making a big difference in the lives of students, but it’s a short-term fix,” she said. “We need to be thinking about the total cost of attendance, not just tuition and fees. There’s been a lot of awareness and evidence that tuition and fees have been rising over time, but we need to be increasing awareness that the cost of living, transportation, child care costs and other things have been rising significantly over time as well and that’s a large share of the cost of college.”

 

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Q&A with the author of new book on 'how to fix' college sports

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:00

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has "placed commercial success above its responsibilities to protect the academic development, health and well-being of college athletes," a new book argues, and has let college sports fall into an "educational, ethical and economic crisis." The book, Unwinding Madness: What Went Wrong with College Sports and How to Fix It (Brookings Institution Press) was written by three college sports reformers -- Gerald Gurney, Donna Lopiano and Andrew Zimbalist -- who propose several ways to "fix" college sports, while arguing that the NCAA may not be up to the task.

Zimbalist, a sports economist and professor at Smith College, responded to questions about the book and the state of college athletics.

Q: The subtitle of this book is "what went wrong with college sports and how to fix it," so let's start with that question. What went wrong with college sports?

A: In a few words, college sports today is: One, financially unsustainable for all but a handful of schools. Two, materially exploitative of the leading athletes in high-profile sports, most of whom happen to be African-Americans. Three, ethically bankrupt. Four, deleterious to the educational process. And five, legally under assault. There will be significant change. The question is whether the system moves further toward a complete embrace of market forces and commercialism or toward a recommitment to its educational origins.

Q: You and your co-authors discuss how college sports has, in some ways, always been a commercial enterprise. The first college sports contest, a rowing match between Harvard and Yale, was organized by a railroad company. Is the current state of big-time college sports just the logical progression of how things began?

A: The commercialization of college sports is an evolutionary story, beginning in 1852 [when Harvard and Yale competed in their first rowing match] and proceeding step by step to where it is 2017. There were, however, a few key events along the way that were decisive in moving the NCAA toward the sharpening plutocracy that it is today.

Q: What would you say some of those key events were?

A: One of those events was the 1984 Supreme Court decision that declared the NCAA’s television monopoly over college football constituted an illegal restraint of trade. The result was that universities and conferences were free to set their own television contracts. This, in turn, led conferences to re-align away from their historically-driven geographical and educational affinities and toward a revenue-maximizing strategy to cover as many households across the country as possible. The upshot was growing inequality across conferences and schools, heightened incentives to build winning teams, and decreased attention to the professed educational goals of universities.

Q: As noted in the book, the NCAA moved to a model of presidential control two decades ago. You argue that this has had little to no effect in slowing the arms race in Division I's men's basketball and football and in improving the related issues. Why hasn't this worked? 

A: The “presidential control” model was promoted as a reassertion of the primacy of education over athletics. In fact, the 1996 reform promoted unbridled commercialization and, if anything, diminished the role of presidents in controlling college sports. Arguably, the notion of presidential control was put forward as a smoke screen for the real purpose of the reform which was to free up Division I to follow the mandate of commercialization. The 1996 reform ended the association-wide “one school/one vote” model in favor of divisional autonomy. Within Division I, the former subdivision IA (now the Football Bowl Subdivision) was given operational control and, eventually, within FBS, the Power Conferences came to dominate decision-making.

University presidents have always had the ability to control the NCAA. They have never chosen to exercise it. Presidents have a great deal on their plates -- fund raising, physical plant, alumnae relations, town-gown relations, building a strong faculty and staff, attracting and retaining worthy students -- before taking on the contradictions of college sports. Those presidents who have raised their voices about the urgent need to reform intercollegiate athletics have been criticized and not reappointed by their governing boards, and, moreover, they have had no lasting success.

Thus, with few exceptions, college presidents have abdicated athletic reform and have left sports governance to the athletic director and the coaches. The NCAA, in turn, has come to function as a trade association of the athletic directors, coaches and conference commissioners. The 1996 model of divisional autonomy has only reinforced this pattern.

Q: How does this get fixed?

A: There are a variety of conceivable fixes for college sports. The specific one we endorse in Unwinding Madness is for Congress to give the NCAA a conditional and limited antitrust exemption. This exemption would allow the NCAA to pass certain desirable policies, such as imposing limits on coaches’ salaries, who today are paid for the value produced by the players they recruit -- money the players are not allowed to receive. It would also allow the NCAA to impost limits on the length of season, the days of competition and the number of scholarships, without fear of antitrust prosecution. The NCAA would only receive this antitrust immunity if it met new standards of educational integrity and rigor, as well as new conditions to maintain athlete welfare.

Recognizing the complexity of the issues and political entanglements, however, [the book's authors] also support a bill introduced by Representative Charlie Dent, a Republican from Pennsylvania, during the last Congress, that calls for the creation of a presidential commission to study the problems of intercollegiate athletics and to propose remedies.

Q: Creating a presidential commission was an idea that found some traction in the past couple of years. Do you have a sense of whether the momentum has changed with a new White House and Congress?

A: Charlie Dent intends to reintroduce his bill in the new congress. He has more supporters in the House than he did last year. We have spoken to some senators who also show a keen interest. I think at the moment people in DC are overwhelmed by the manifold issues surrounding the Trump transition, so that it will take a while for the dust to settle and legislation attention to less urgent matters rekindles.

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International educators grapple with changed political and social landscape

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 08:00

WASHINGTON -- Attendees gathered here for the annual meeting of the Association of International Education Administrators annual conference grappled Monday with what Susan Buck Sutton, a senior advisor for international initiatives at Bryn Mawr College, described as a “chaotic mix of beliefs that challenge the work of international educators.” Those beliefs, she said in introducing a roundtable discussion on the U.S. presidential election results, “have entered into widespread discussion and politicized in new ways the work that we do.”

The beliefs she was referring to include the blaming of globalization for the loss of jobs, outright racism and xenophobia, and the singling out of China, Mexico, and Muslim-majority nations as problematic. Other beliefs include the idea that international relations is a “zero-sum game” with winners and losers and the conviction that an “inevitable violent clash of civilizations is headed our way.” Sutton mentioned as well an antipathy toward a broad category of “elites” – a group of “strange bedfellows” as she described them, which lumps together everyone from Wall Street financiers to academics and journalists, among others – and narrow ideas of who “real,” or “true,” Americans are.

The election of Donald Trump, and the anti-globalist, “America First” sentiment he rode to victory, has presented a broad challenge to American higher education and some of its key values like internationalism and multiculturalism. That challenge became more acute after Trump signed an executive order Jan. 27 barring entry into the U.S. by refugees and nationals of seven Muslim-majority countries. Enforcement of the entry ban has since been halted by federal judges, but the Trump administration has indicated it will issue a new order -- which the president has justified on the grounds of keeping terrorists out of the U.S. -- at some point this week. 

International educators in attendance for the packed roundtable discussion on Monday described a need for wider engagement with the public. At the same time, one attendee noted that universities shouldn't assume that "we don’t have significant numbers of Trump supporters in our student populations -- and what about them too?"

Other themes discussed included the impact of the election and visa policies on current international students -- an administrator reported that his students are feeling afraid -- and on future, would-be ones. 

“My university, we lose our international students, it becomes an existential issue," said one attendee.

Immediately after the presidential election AIEA put out a statement encouraging “international educators to stay abreast of developments that impact international education, to advocate for policies that support the education and preparation of students to live in our interdependent society, and to engage in positive, ethical, and respectful discussion and debate with those within and beyond our campus communities as we continue to provide leadership that brings those from different backgrounds together in support of our diverse students.”

AIEA also released a statement after Trump issued his executive order barring entry by most types of visa-holders from the seven Muslim-majority countries. The order directly affected U.S. higher education institutions, some of which had students and scholars from the affected countries who were outside the U.S. at the time the order was signed and found themselves temporarily unable to return.  Under the terms of the original, now halted-order, affected individuals already in the U.S. were not compelled to leave the country, but they would be unable to return if they left.

“We believe that international educators cannot be neutral in this case; we call for our colleagues to continue to advocate for the flow of people and exchange as vital to the continued advancement of knowledge and discovery, as well as greater human security and cultural understanding," AIEA said in its statement on the order.

"In this room, international educators, with ourselves and the people we work with, we have the capacity to give different frames for what global connectivity is all about,” Sutton said.

That doesn’t mean, she said, that international educators shouldn’t talk about the negative aspects of globalization. “I’m an anthropologist -- you know that I have railed against the bad aspects of globalization," she said. "But we also see the possibility for connectivity and mutual growth and benefit that are available to us through other forms of global connectivity."

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President of Trinity Washington is outspoken in criticism of Trump administration, including alumna Kellyanne Conway

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 08:00

Many college presidents avoid talking or writing about anything remotely political. They cite "institutional neutrality" and speak out only on a narrow set of policy issues, such as student aid, that directly relate to their institutions. Many presidents also demur if asked to criticize an alumnus, more so if that alumnus happens to be a donor.

But Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University since 1989, does not pull her punches. She is widely credited for shifting the university away from a traditional role of educating wealthy white women -- a market it was losing -- and toward a mission of educating low-income Washington women, including many black, Latino and immigrant students. Many alumnae were not initially sold on the shift, and McGuire had to fight for this vision of the college, one that is now widely praised.

In the early days of the Trump administration, McGuire has had much to say on Twitter about moves by the new president and his team that she finds dangerous and inconsistent with American values. But it was a blog post last week that now has people in higher education talking.

First McGuire used typically strong language to discuss concerns about truth and falsehoods in public life today.

"We Americans study the history of tyranny and exclaim, 'That’s terrible, but it would not happen here!' as we congratulate ourselves on the robust state of our democracy. The experience of the last few months now exposes this once-confident boast as terribly naive and perhaps even dangerous as a new administration indulges in a remarkable torrent of false and misleading statements as a basis for policy and action," she wrote. "The gravest lie we are grappling with at the present moment is the Trump Administration’s cruel and unreasonable war on immigrants -- mostly people who are black and brown, and Muslim -- Mexicans and refugees from central America, Syrian refugees, people from certain countries in the Middle East and Africa including Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Somalia."

Further down in the piece, she criticized Kellyanne Conway, a top Trump aide and a Trinity alumna.

"Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway, Trinity Class of 1989, has played a large role in facilitating the manipulation of facts and encouraging the grave injustice being perpetrated by the Trump Administration’s war on immigrants among many other issues," McGruire wrote. "She is one of President Trump’s primary spokespersons, an almost daily figure on cable news shows. Some people admire her staunch advocacy for her client’s positions, and others applaud the fact that she was the first woman to manage a successful presidential campaign. But in fact, as is true of many of President Trump’s statements, her advocacy on his behalf is often at variance with the truth.

"Ms. Conway invented the now-infamous phrase 'alternative facts' to defend Trump’s claims about the size of crowds at his inauguration, a thinly veiled autocratic scheme to try to claim that the Trump inauguration drew the biggest crowd in history when, in fact, it was on the smaller side. Ms. Conway has been part of a team that thinks nothing of shaping and spreading a skein of lies as a means to secure power. Perhaps the 'Bowling Green Massacre' comment was truly a mistake, as she claims, but she repeated that canard on three different occasions as an explanation for why the travel ban, an executive order that clearly discriminates against Muslims, was necessary."

When The Washington Post called Conway to discuss the matter, she didn't pull her punches either.

“It’s a disappointment to have the president of the university lift up other Trinity graduates who have a casual relationship with the truth,” she said. (As an example, she cited Nancy Pelosi, Democratic leader in the House of Representatives.) She also noted that McGuire had never called her to ask her to explain her comments.

McGuire never hesitated to call her to ask for donations to Trinity, Conway added. She and her husband donated $50,000 to a 1999-2002 fund-raising campaign. "My money was good," Conway said. “I get better treatment from Robby Mook [Hillary Clinton's campaign manager] than I do from the president of the university I attended.”

Others quoted by the Post were also critical of McGuire. “To me, university leadership has felt enormously partisan…” Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, told the newspaper. “That factors into seeing this as cheap partisan thuggery rather than any serious commitment to robust civic debate.”

That comment prompted a series of tweets by Kevin Carey, who directs the education policy program at New America.

That @AEI would accuse a small women's college of "thuggery" is hard to swallow, even in these dissonance-drenched times.

— Kevin Carey (@kevincarey1) February 18, 2017

In subsequent tweets, he urged Hess and others to consider "the history of Catholic women's orders and social justice," and the role of the sisters who founded and for many years led Trinity. (Carey has written with admiration of Trinity in the past, such as in this article in The Washington Monthly.)

Just how strongly presidents should speak out on Trump administration actions has been heatedly debated. There is no consensus among college presidents, but the majority are far from where McGuire is. One exception is Macalester College's president, Brian Rosenberg, who went much further than other presidents in criticizing President Trump's executive order (currently being revised after courts blocked it) barring travel to the United States for people from seven Muslim-majority nations. Rosenberg called the order "cowardly and cruel." Many presidents have spoken out against that executive order, and some have used strong language, but many have not. Both Rosenberg and McGuire also have been presidents at their institutions longer than many of their counterparts elsewhere.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, McGuire said she wished more presidents spoke out with more force on a range of issues, although she acknowledged that this is difficult for some in public higher education.

Like other presidents, McGuire has criticized the Trump executive order. She said she viewed that as part of a president's role of "protecting my students."

She also said she cared deeply about all students at Trinity feeling free to disagree with her. Polling on campus during the campaign suggested that hardly anyone there backed Trump, but McGuire said all views were welcome. "We do have conservative alums, some of whom have written in recent days," McGuire said. But far more alumnae have been asking (prior to the blog post) why she wasn't speaking out about Conway. Many have noted the value of Trinity's honor code and its commitment to truthfulness. McGuire wrote in her blog post:

"The Honor Code says we must not look away from lies, that we must confront them and tell the truth as a matter of justice for the community. The truth of the present moment in our country is that the authoritarian impulse will prevail unless people of courage and integrity confront the outright lies and shady manipulation of facts. Social justice says that our first and most important duty is to be of service to those who are suffering and in need, to be our sister’s keeper, to stand in solidarity with all those who need our support and capacity to stand up to injustice. Justice demands that we be advocates for the truth."

As to Conway's suggestion that McGuire should have reached in personally before voicing concerns in public, McGuire said that Conway is a public figure, sharing views about other people on television on a daily basis, and so is subject to criticism in public.

Where McGuire said that the discussion on social media about her comments has been incorrect was in suggesting that she was engaged with political issues that somehow don't relate to her role as an academic leader. She also said that she differs with Pelosi on the Democratic leader's support for abortion rights, which runs counter to the Roman Catholic teachings embraced by Trinity.

Of her dispute with Conway, she said, "This is not a political cat fight," but is about "a core value" of higher education -- the truth.

"The issue with truth and truth-telling is central in all we do. If we academics don't stand for truth, what's the purpose of what we do?" McGuire asked. "I don't think it's outside our responsibility to stand up for truth and freedom. Fundamental democratic values are at stake. Academic freedom is at stake."

Asked if she would speak out in the same way if leading a college with a different study body, say wealthier and more conservative, McGuire said she couldn't really know. "I'm not sure I would ever be picked to be the president of that kind of college, nor would I seek it."

 

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Study suggests university presses publish fewer humanities books

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 08:00

The market for original humanities monographs may be shrinking, according to a report on the output of university presses.

After remaining stable from 2009 to 2011, the number of original works in the humanities published by university presses fell both in 2012 and 2013, according to estimates made by Joseph Esposito and Karen Barch, the two publishing consultants who wrote the report. Their numbers suggest presses on average published an estimated 70 such books a year between 2009-13, then 64 in 2012 and 55 in 2013.

The report, which was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is an attempt to quantify how many books university presses publish a year. The authors surveyed 106 presses and received responses from 65 of them, a sample from which they extrapolated that the presses published about 76,000 books between 2009-13, or about 15,000 books a year. About 3,000 of them are primary humanities monographs.

The findings come with some significant qualifiers, Esposito said in an interview. For one, the authors do not feel comfortable concluding that the market is in decline based on two years’ worth of data. Additionally, reporting issues may have skewed the results. One major university press showed “remarkable falloff” in the data it submitted for 2012 and 2013, which Esposito said could have been an error on the press’ part.

“If you look at the data over five years, you see a modest decline,” Esposito said. “The issue there is that is five years enough time to make a generalization like that?”

If the market is in decline, it could be a sign that the university presses that publish those monographs are struggling -- and indeed many presses have closed or scaled back their operations in recent years. Earlier this month, for example, Duquesne University Press said it would close later this year. The press specializes in fields such as Continental philosophy, humanistic psychology and medieval and Renaissance literature studies.

But it could also hint at changes taking place in tenure and promotion processes in the humanities. While many scholarly associations have urged departments to expand beyond the monograph as the measure for tenure worthiness, many junior scholars report little change in attitudes, great pressure to publish monographs and a tough time doing so.

Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of American University Presses, said in a statement that the organization hasn’t heard anything from its members to suggest the market is shrinking. He said more data are needed before any conclusion about publication trends can be drawn.

Roger C. Schonfeld, director of the libraries and scholarly communication program at Ithaka S+R, a research and consulting group, echoed that sentiment. He said in an email that he did not wish to speculate about whether the decline in publishing output has continued beyond the authors’ data cutoff point.

“With relatively few years of data, it is hard to draw strong conclusions about any possible ‘decline’ in the market, especially given that there are other publishers of humanities works beyond the university presses studied in this project,” Schonfeld wrote, adding that he has not seen data that either corroborates or counters the white paper’s findings. “Even so, these figures can serve as an opportunity for reflection and assessment by the university press community, where many strong leaders have for some time been developing new models in support of humanistic scholarship.”

The Mellon foundation, for example, is one of the forces supporting digital scholarship in the humanities, and has for years funded projects in that space. Open-access book publishing is only one example -- other projects have explored more radical ways of rethinking what form digital-first research in the humanities should take.

Alan Harvey, director of the Stanford University Press, was also hesitant to describe the white paper’s findings as evidence of a shrinking market for humanities monographs, but said a potential decline could be attributed to strategic shifts.

Harvey said in an email that a potential decrease in output in humanities publishing could be the combination of several factors, including a shift away from limited-sale monographs, an expansion of discipline coverage and a growing interest in trade publishing.

“[W]e now work extremely closely with all our authors to ensure the broadest possible readership for their book,” Harvey wrote. “There is no dumbing-down, but instead an editorial effort to aid the author in structuring their argument in a style accessible to an intelligent, inter-disciplinary audience. The result of this is almost certainly that fewer books are being classified as ‘monographs.’”

Looking to the years ahead, Harvey said he expects to see a “blended market” with physical and digital books co-existing.

“Recall that 10 years ago we were convinced ebooks would dominate, but instead today we see a blended print and ebook market,” Harvey wrote. “I think monographic research in 10 years will similarly have a range of concurrent models for distribution. Our mission as a university press is to aid in this transition.”

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Study: Tuition increases are not entirely explained by state disinvestment

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 08:00

State disinvestment isn’t the whole story behind rising tuition levels.

Neal McCluskey, director of the Cato Institute’s Center for Educational Freedom, makes that argument in a new study seeking to explain increases in college and university tuition levels. It’s in some ways a middle-of-the-road finding for a libertarian think tank weighing into a debate whose different sides have long been dug in behind their favorite narratives. But it is also a distinct attempt to shift the focus at a time when some believe state funding has received too much attention in the debate over college costs and tuition levels.

Many campus leaders and higher ed analysts argue that public colleges and universities have had to raise tuition to keep their budgets balanced amid a long-term trend of decreasing state funding per student. Others reject that narrative, instead arguing that tuition hikes go to pay for increasing and often unnecessary spending -- say, for posh new benefits for students, administrative bloat or inflated faculty salaries.

“I’ve heard what many times sounded to me like people saying inflation is explained by cuts in state funding,” McCluskey said in an interview. “And I just don’t think that’s an adequate explanation. I think that’s probably part of it, but it certainly doesn’t explain all of it.”

McCluskey ends his study with a more libertarian argument, though. He proceeds to suggest that colleges and universities also raise tuition because they’re always seeking more resources. If that’s the case, he reasons, federal student aid enables additional tuition increases by making more tuition money available to colleges and universities.

The availability of federal aid could then also inspire states to curtail higher education appropriations. State lawmakers know that federal aid is available and believe it will cushion students from tuition increases that stem from appropriations cuts, according to McCluskey.

That’s a more controversial argument -- and it’s one McCluskey does not make in the study empirically. It does, however, stem from an evidence-based conclusion McCluskey draws about the relationship between state appropriations and tuition levels at public colleges and universities.

He starts by examining 25 years of data from the State Higher Education Executive Officers association. The data, showing public appropriations to higher education and tuition and fee revenue, is adjusted for inflation using the Higher Education Cost Adjustment. Some have criticized that adjustment, saying it is too heavily weighted toward employment costs and overstates inflation compared to the more widely known Consumer Price Index, which is more reflective of inflation students feel.

But McCluskey believes HECA is appropriate for his purposes because if it does overstate inflation, it would show a worst-case scenario for public colleges by overstating how much state funding has declined over time. His point is stronger if it can be proven even when considering that worst-case scenario.

The key parts of McCluskey’s study analyze per-student data instead of total state appropriation and tuition-and-fee levels. It’s an important distinction to draw because more students are enrolled in public higher education institutions today than were enrolled 25 years ago. Therefore, total funding levels do not demonstrate how much is actually being spent on every student. Any analyses that look at total state funding levels without taking into account the enrollment growth that most states have seen are unlikely to capture the degree of underfunding colleges say they experience. 

Net tuition and fee revenue has been increasing faster than state and local appropriations have been declining, McCluskey found.

Nationwide, tuition and fee revenue rose by about $107 per full-time-equivalent student per year over the last 25 years. State and local appropriations fell by about $73 per student per year. In other words, only 68 percent of the increase in tuition and fee revenue can be explained as covering losses in state and local funding.

Conditions in individual states varied significantly, however. More than half of states, 31, experienced tuition and fee increases outpacing appropriation declines per student. Another 11 were home to tuition and fees that did not rise fast enough to offset drops in appropriations. Meanwhile, six states experienced increases in both tuition and fees and appropriations, and two states had declining tuition and fees coupled with increasing appropriations.

McCluskey also compared the average appropriation changes and tuition and fee changes at the state level -- a slightly different metric than looking at the total changes of those measures across the country. He found the average state could explain only 57 percent of its increased tuition and fee revenue as covering losses in state and local funding.

“What all this strongly suggests is that yes, public institutions on a per-pupil basis have likely raised prices in part to make up for lost direct subsidies,” he wrote. “But even on a per student basis, they took in much more revenue than what was needed just to make up for lost appropriation dollars. In the aggregate, schools appear to have seen very large net revenue increases.”

The study goes on to say that other explanations likely contribute to the increase in tuition. One is William Baumol’s “cost disease” theory that higher education is labor-intensive and must pay its workers more to keep them from moving to other, better-paying industries. Another is William Bennett’s well-known “Bennett Hypothesis” that colleges will raise tuition when financial aid increases. A third explanation is that colleges and universities will take in as much revenue as possible as they seek to start new programs, build new buildings or do other work they see as valuable.

McCluskey continues by arguing that a key check on high prices is neutralized in higher education -- students do not foot the entire cost of their education, so they are less likely to resist high prices. Over time, that has allowed colleges to take more money in tuition. It’s also affected the choices of state policy makers who know federal aid will make up the difference in tuition changes that come about because of state appropriation cuts, he argues. Policymakers may be more willing to cut higher ed than they are other programs or entities that have no other revenue streams besides state funding. 

Mixed Reviews

Several analysts supported McCluskey’s reasoning, while others took issue with it. Representatives of the State Higher Education Executive Officers association -- which gathered the data on which McCluskey’s analysis is based -- took a nuanced view.

“I think there is obviously a direct relationship between per-student state funding and tuition increases, but it is certainly not the only reason that tuition goes up,” said Andy Carlson, SHEEO principal policy analyst. “It is very complicated. I’d be really cautious on anything that belittles the impact of state funding on tuition.”

Carlson, who was previously budget and financial aid director at the Colorado Department of Higher Education, has particular insight into the specific reasons institutions and educational systems raise tuition. They have to maintain certain levels of operations from year to year even though they don’t know how much money politicians will give them in the future -- or exactly which students will come to campus. Students pay different amounts of net tuition depending on how much financial aid a college awards them.

Some states limit tuition increases. That can incentivize colleges to take any increase available to insulate themselves against future financial shocks.

“There might be a 3 percent limit the next year, or a 5 percent limit, but there’s talk of a downturn coming up,” Carlson said. “What’s the incentive not to raise tuition if you don’t know what the next year is going to bring?”

The SHEEO data do not allow one to make an empirical argument that federal aid enables higher tuition levels, said David Tandberg, SHEEO's principal policy analyst. McCluskey has laid out an argument using logic, but it is an argument that is a point of debate.

“It seems like the best research argues that if it has an effect, it’s a small one,” Tandberg said. “But there are people who disagree with that.”

Some also disagree with what they see as McCluskey’s minimization of state funding levels as a driver of tuition increases.

Iris Palmer is a senior policy analyst in the Education Policy Program at New America. She pointed out that the Cato study uses two different calculations finding either 57 percent or 68 percent of annual tuition increases can be explained by drops in state and local appropriations.

“They sort of treat it as a not-high percentage,” Palmer said. “It seems to me, if state disinvestments are driving over 50 percent of public tuition increases, that’s a pretty big explanation.”

Palmer co-wrote a November paper that projected how a future recession would affect higher education finances. Only a handful of states would be able to keep per-student tuition below the current national average of about $6,000 if a recession hits within the next five years, it found.

Preston Cooper, an education data analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, said in an email that the study is a valid rebuttal to the idea that colleges are raising tuition simply to compensate for state budget cuts.

But the study also has limits, according to Cooper.

“What it does not say definitively is how much of the increase in tuition is due to budget cuts, since we don’t know the counterfactual scenario in which per-pupil appropriations remain constant,” Cooper wrote. “Arguably this is the more interesting question.”

It’s also important to emphasize that state appropriations, tuition dollars and enrollment all fluctuate in different ways depending on economic conditions, according to Art Hauptman, an independent public policy consultant specializing in higher education finance. Those conditions changed multiple times over the 25-year period.

For instance, state higher ed funding per full time equivalent dropped by 25 percent during the economic turmoil between 2008 and 2013 as enrollments increased by 15 percent. About half of the decline in state spending per student during that time frame is attributable to enrollment increases, Hauptman said.

On the other hand, tuition and fees at public institutions were flat per full-time-equivalent student in the second half of the 1990s, when state appropriations per student generally increased.

Hauptman concludes that economic conditions have a major effect on state funding for higher education. State funding falls in bad times and rises in good times, he said. But tuition rises in good and bad times alike. It just rises faster in bad times.

“The disinvestment argument is phony,” he said. “It’s a myth, and I think it’s perpetuated by folks who want the states to provide more money.”

Analysts also pointed out other limitations in the debate. The Cato study’s 25-year period starts in 1990. But there is nothing to say whether state funding for higher education was at an appropriate level then. McCluskey says his study does not make an argument about what an appropriate level of funding would be.

Nor can it be said that the optimal balance between state funding and tuition funding is the same today as it was 25 years ago. The student population has expanded and changed.

“When you have a large share of state appropriations, we find that those dollars tend to flow toward areas of student support and academic services,” said Tandberg, SHEEO’s principal policy analyst. “High tuition rates tend to restrict access. The mix, it actually does matter.”

Tandberg does not want to be seen as an apologist for higher education institutions. In many cases, colleges and universities can spend money more efficiently than they are today, he said.

Yet he also points out that broad policy analyses can obscure individual situations. In many states, flagship research universities have been able to greatly increase tuition, but smaller state institutions have not. That leaves flagships with more overall funding per student than smaller institutions, which are more reliant on state allocations and can struggle.

Over all, Tandberg would like to see a more measured discussion of tuition and state funding in the future.

 “I just really, really hope it isn’t the same black-and-white debate and narrative we saw before the recession,” he said. “I hope it’s more nuanced and reflects the realities of diversity in revenue sources across institutions.”

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Quinnipiac drops logo opposed by students for lack of capital letters in "university"

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 08:00

Uppercase letters are back at Quinnipiac University.

In September, the university introduced a new way that its name would appear (above left). Students quickly noted and mocked the use of only lowercase letters to spell university.

Hundreds signed a petition demanding the return of uppercase. "The outrageous decision not to capitalize the 'U' in university (a proper noun), reflects poorly on everyone affiliated with this institution of higher learning. We feel that the most basic components of English grammar must be recognized in all settings, regardless of stylistic intentions," said the petition.

The university said at the time that it was not looking to make any changes, with a vice president telling WTNH News: “We have no intentions of looking back, only forward as we work to improve Quinnipiac’s stature and visibility in the higher education community."

But on Friday, uppercase letters were restored -- and not only to the U but to all the letters in university (above right).

The university statement on the shift said the following: "As part this process, we achieved additional design knowledge as we applied the new design elements across hundreds of different applications. As a result, we determined that our secondary and full wordmark 'Quinnipiac University' appears substantively different from our primary wordmark by giving too much weight to the word 'university' at a time when our goal is to shift attention to the 'Quinnipiac' brandmark. Therefore, today we are announcing a redesigned 'Quinnipiac University' full wordmark that achieves significantly better alignment with our primary wordmark, which simply uses 'Quinnipiac.' This new wordmark design structure is also more closely aligned to higher education industry convention -- namely how other prestigious institutions apply the word 'university' to their primary wordmarks."

Asked about the role of the students in protesting the September version of the name, Keith Rhodes, vice president for brand strategy and integrated communications at Quinnipiac, said via email, said that "to comment on the case of letters in a wordmark seems arbitrary given the level of disruption that higher education will experience over the next 10 years." Asked again about the student role in criticizing the earlier design, Rhodes said that the statement "doesn't say anything about lower or uppercase letters."

Brett D. Segelman, the student who organized the petition, said via email that the university "will never admit it," but students created pressure to change the September design.

On the petition website, he posted this note: "For those that have been close to me this past semester, you know that this has been a passionate cause of mine, out of a love for our school. Today, Quinnipiac revealed a new logo that achieves everything our petition of 1,200 signatures from September requested. If you signed, thank you. We did this together! Capitalize the U!"

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Trump list of programs to kill includes AmeriCorps, NEH and NEA

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 02/20/2017 - 08:00

The Trump administration is circulating a list of programs to eliminate -- and it includes the Corporation for National and Community Service, the agency that finances AmeriCorps, which places young people in service positions in which they earn money for student aid or to repay student loans.

The list, revealed by The New York Times, also includes the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, previously reported to be targets for elimination in the first Trump budget. Both the NEH and the NEA support campus programs, and their advocates in higher education are already seeking support to save the agencies.

The Times article noted that the list indicates that final decisions haven't been made, but all of the programs on the list have for years had conservative critics who want to end them.

In the case of AmeriCorps, the program was a major initiative of President Clinton, and has long been associated with him. Hillary Clinton, in her campaign, vowed to expand the program. While many have praised the program for promoting service among young people and providing them with money for college, the program has been stymied by tight budgets and has never become as large or influential as President Clinton envisioned. (Here is a background article from 2014 about the program on its 20th anniversary.)

AmeriCorps has been a meaningful source of money for college for its participants. For a year of service, students can receive a grant equivalent to the maximum Pell Grant to use for future college costs or to repay student loans, and students may receive up two of these educational awards. (The maximum Pell Grant for 2015-16 was $5,775.)

Since 1994, about 1 million people who were AmeriCorps participants have received education grants that total more than $2.4 billion. The value of the grants is even larger at the many colleges and universities that match AmeriCorps education awards.

The programs on the list obtained by the Times are all relatively small, but the article suggested that the administration wants to find any savings possible in domestic spending and to eliminate programs when  possible.

As word spread Friday night of AmeriCorps as a target, its program participants and alumni took to social media to talk about what they had done in the program.

 

I served 3 terms in AmeriCorps with a program that taught underserved children how to read. https://t.co/VJPBE48U9J

— Sara Galactica (@saraGalactica) February 18, 2017

 

 

@TUSK81 I'm an AmeriCorps alum. I mentored Appalachian children in the foster care system.

— Amber L Adams (@THEamberadams) February 18, 2017

 

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Study challenges cost and price myths of online education

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 08:00

The myth that online education courses cost less to produce and therefore save students money on tuition doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, a survey of distance education providers found.

The survey, conducted by the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET), found that most colleges charge students the same or more to study online. And when additional fees are included, more than half of distance education students pay more than do those in brick-and-mortar classrooms.

The higher prices -- what students pay -- are connected to higher production costs, the survey found. Researchers asked respondents to think about 21 components of an online course, such as faculty development, instructional design and student assessment, and how the cost of those components compares to a similar face-to-face course. The respondents -- administrators in charge of distance education at 197 colleges -- said nine of the components cost more in an online course than in a face-to-face course, while 12 cost about the same.

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In other words, virtually every administrator surveyed said online courses are more expensive to produce.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise, according to Russell Poulin and Terri Taylor Straut, the authors of the study. Producing an online course means licensing software, engaging instructional designers, training faculty members and offering around-the-clock student support, among other added costs, they point out in the report.

“And all this is supposed to cost less?” the report reads. “In the open-ended comments addressing leaders who criticize their work, you can feel their pain. As one person succinctly responded to those critics: ‘Nuts.’”

In an interview, Straut, senior research analyst at WCET, said the myth about the lower cost and price of online education persists because of a lack of knowledge about the work that goes into creating the courses. Rather than building online courses from scratch, many colleges have used a “bolt-on” approach that starts off with taking the face-to-face course and adding the tools needed to offer it online, which drives up costs, she said.

“If you start with all the pieces in the classroom and then add on technology, how could that possibly be cheaper?” said Straut, who previously helped found CU Online, at the University of Colorado, and Western Governors University.

Additionally, Straut said, colleges have mainly focused on online education as a way to further their missions of increasing access to education, not lowering costs.

Some of the costs associated with creating online courses are passed on to students in the form of technology fees, a bundle that may include access to course materials, tutoring services and other resources. But there are fees that online students don’t pay, for example charges that grant access to campus health centers, parking lots and recreational facilities.

The differences in which fees students pay may help explain why only 5.9 percent of respondents said students who study online pay less for tuition than do those who study in person, compared to the 19 percent who said the total price -- tuition and fees -- is lower for online students.

But the difference is greater on the other end of the scale. Looking at tuition alone, 18.9 percent of respondents said those rates are higher for online students, but that share jumped to 54.2 percent when fees were added.

The added technology costs mean that many students in online three-credit courses pay up to $100 (32.9 percent) or between $101 and $250 (12 percent) more in fees than students do in similar face-to-face courses.

Colleges -- particularly public institutions -- generally have more control over the fees they charge than over tuition rates. More than twice as many respondents said the state Legislature is involved in the approval process for setting tuition rates (17 percent) than fee rates (8.1 percent).

The University of Florida, which is referenced in the report, is one example. State legislators in 2013 mandated that the university could charge online students no more than 75 percent of on-campus tuition rates. In-state online students at UF pay $17.26 in fees per credit hour (including a financial aid fee, technology fee and capital improvement fee). Out-of-state students are charged an additional $35.36 non-Florida resident financial aid fee per credit hour.

The authors said they hope the study will inspire conversations among college officials and politicians about the cost and price of higher education.

"If the goal is to cut costs while maintaining quality and access, we must think differently at a structural level so that quality, affordable options for students are assured," the report reads. "Goal setting and rethinking existing structures are key."

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Study suggests that college isn't the great equalizer many believe

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 08:00

College is the great equalizer. That's the message proudly proclaimed by many in higher education, not to mention many parents trying to urge children who may not have trust funds to prepare for college.

But a new study says that the economic impact of college -- in postgraduation wages -- is very much tied to the income of students' families growing up, with students from wealthier families earning more than others. Some might assume that this difference is due to enrollment patterns, in that wealthier high school students are more likely than their less well-off counterparts to enroll at highly competitive colleges whose graduates are more likely to earn more in their careers. But the study found this impact even after controlling for a number of factors, such as competitiveness of college attended.

The study is by Dirk Witteveen, a doctoral candidate in sociology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, and Paul Attewell, a distinguished professor in sociology at the Graduate Center. Their work has just been published in the journal Social Forces (abstract available here). Their study differs with a recent, much publicized study finding that college is in fact the great equalizer, but the professors behind that study question some of the methodology in this new work.

Their findings are based on an analysis of the national Baccalaureate & Beyond Longitudinal Study of 1993, which collected extensive information about people earning bachelor's degrees and their career paths after. The analysis excludes those who were unemployed 10 years out or who dropped out of college. The researchers then collected salary information about the 1993 graduates and controlled for such factors as selectivity of college, major and academic performance. In this way, the fact that wealthier students are more likely to end up at wealthier colleges should not skew the results.

They then used as a base the earnings of those who came from family incomes in the seventh decile from the bottom, 10 years out of graduating in 1993. They found a mean salary of $57,000. Those who were in the bottom decile and next to the bottom decile -- when controlling for the factors noted above -- earned 12.9 percent and 12.7 percent less, respectively than those in the seventh decile from the bottom. Those in the top two deciles earned 2 and 2.4 percent more than those in the third decile from the top.

While the study does not account for race, Witteveen said the impact is greater on black and Latino graduates, and is greater on women, than on white graduates and men.

So what does this mean?

Witteveen said in an interview that the findings do not mean low-income students don't benefit from going to college. Many studies, he said, have shown that students from any socioeconomic group will likely earn more with a bachelor's degree than a high school diploma. "You see big earnings differentials," he said.

As to the differing impact of a college degree on people from different levels of family wealth, Witteveen said he believes the advantages of wealthier families pay off in job searches of their offspring. "Their parents are better connected, they may set their children up in cities with jobs. They may be people like those doing the hiring. These are all circumstantial class-related resources," he said. The paper refers to these advantages as "parental bridging."

Colleges may not be by themselves able to provide similar advantages to their graduates from low-income families. But some do appear to focus on this issue.

The Carolina Covenant, a program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that offers generous scholarship aid to low-income students, also offers them training in financial literacy and budget planning, business etiquette dinners, and seminars on public speaking.

Told about the program, Witteveen said that this was the kind of thing colleges need to do to narrow the advantage of wealthier students.

Mark S. Schneider, vice president and fellow at the American Institutes for Research, does research on earnings and career outcomes of college graduates. Via email, he said, "This paper confirms what we have known -- that social class mobility is far more limited than we hoped and that higher education is not eliminating all the differences in wage outcomes that can be traced back to social class."

Schneider said he worried the findings would discourage low-income students. "While being born into the right family clearly gives a student a major advantage in the postcompletion money chase, this should not mean that students enrolling in a college should see engraved on the entrance hall the same thing that Dante envisioned at the entrance to hell: 'Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.'"

A recent study reached very different findings, largely concluding that colleges are in fact equalizers. (That study focused on the idea that some colleges are better than others at promoting economic advancement, but the study stressed that colleges are in fact tools of such advancement.)

John N. Friedman, associate professor of economics and international and public affairs at Brown University and one of the authors of that study, questioned the new research by the CUNY Graduate Center team. Friedman said he remained confident that his group's study was more accurate. Specifically, he faulted the new study for having bands of college selectivity based on Barron's Profile of American Colleges, which Friedman said grouped together colleges too broadly.

Via email, he said that "by adjusting only for broad selectivity bins, and not for exact college, these authors are implicitly comparing the many lower-earning poor kids at [the University of California, Los Angeles] with the many higher-earning rich kids at Princeton [University] and arguing that it is the differences in parent incomes, rather than the school, that explains it. Our work instead compares rich kids at Princeton only to poor kids at Princeton, which (as you might expect) generates considerably smaller differences by parent income."

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Professor's anti-immigration comments on social media fuel a day of action on campus

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 08:00

In what seems like the latest installment of the academe edition of the post-Trump culture wars, students and faculty members at the University of Minnesota at Morris are planning a teach-in Monday, following a professor’s harsh criticism of immigrants and refugees on social media. The professor says he wrote about an issue of concern on a private Facebook page and is being punished for being out of step with the politics of his colleagues.

“Illegal immigrants lower the confidence in the rule of law and add people and workers and students we don’t need,” Dan Demetriou, associate professor of philosophy, recently wrote on Facebook, according to screenshots that have been made public. “They on average have IQs lower than natives and low skills. They are harmful to an economy about to automate, especially when it is a welfare state.”

Refugees, meanwhile, are “way worse,” Demetriou wrote, “as most adhere to a religious-political cult with repulsive values at war with the West from its inception. No country who has taken the current crop of refugees has made it work.”

The campus branch of Students for a Democratic Society was already organizing activities as part of national day of action against Trump administration policies on immigration when it was approached by faculty members interested in speaking out on similar issues, according to information from the group. Those include the recent comments of their colleague.

Here is Demetriou’s full initial post:

The words caused a stir at Morris, with some printing them out and posting them around campus. Chancellor Michelle Behr responded to the controversy earlier this week, saying in a campuswide email that while “democracy should and does rightfully tolerate expression of differences of opinion, some members of our community have found these communications both personally and professionally distressing.” She “strongly reaffirmed” Morris’s “vision that we celebrate and support the multicultural and international inclusiveness of our community. Differences are our strength, and our community values and respects diversity of all kinds.”

Behr said there will continue to be “differences of opinion and perspective,” and that it’s “imperative that we all make every effort to express these differences in a respectful way.” She cited the University of Minnesota Board of Regents’ Guiding Principles, including that the institution “strives to sustain an open exchange of ideas in an environment that embodies the values of academic freedom, responsibility, integrity and cooperation” and “provides an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism and other forms of prejudice and intolerance.”

Demetriou, who is now on sabbatical in Sweden, responded to the controversy in a second Facebook post, which says, in part, “Maybe you can imagine being me, hearing most of my colleagues advocate for policies that, as far as I can tell, are failing spectacularly overseas and in many communities at home. No one much cares for how their expressions may discourage, alienate, frustrate or sadden someone who, like me, sincerely believes that his children -- our children -- will be put in grave risk by leftist immigration policies. Nor should they care, because my feelings don't determine facts. That someone is upset by a claim is wholly irrelevant to its truth.”

The whole “benefit of freedom of speech and intellectual freedom is that they allow unpopular ideas to be judged on their merits instead of silenced,” he said. “It would be much easier for me personally just to censor myself. I am sacrificing a great deal of social capital, and probably putting my career or at least career ambitions in jeopardy because I feel I must say something, if not publicly, at least inside my social circle. I use social media to workshop ideas among my smart friends, who often give me great objections. But if some of my thoughts leak out, maybe that's for the best: Mill taught that unchallenged ideas tend to become ‘dead dogmas.’ By providing some resistance -- by standing up and presenting real opposition as opposed to a straw man -- I am doing [the university] a service. Universities are often accused of being ideological monocultures. The intellectual diversity I bring [will] help it avoid that criticism.”

Undergraduate Mitchell Hancock, with Students for a Democratic Society, said his group is planning a rally, student-led teach-ins and a panel discussion about community responses to the threat of deportations and registries for immigrants. He supports a recent resolution by the student body that Morris become a sanctuary campus and called Demetriou’s comments “disgusting.”

Playing “devil's advocate is not only extremely counterproductive to protecting vulnerable communities, but also a huge abuse of privilege,” he said.

Heather Peters, a professor of psychology at Morris specializing in cultural psychology, is participating in the teach-in and told City Pages that she’d already worked Demetriou’s comments -- anonymously -- into her lectures on immigration. She later had students fact-check the professor’s arguments, she said, and they found peer-reviewed research challenging his blanket assertions about IQ and immigrants’ effect on society. Indeed, IQ in relation to nationality is a vexed corner of study, both because intelligence is such a complex topic and because neither Americans nor immigrants are monolithic groups.

“This wasn’t about [Demetriou]. It was about the thoughts that are out there,” she told the local newspaper. “Hopefully we can pull together as a community and refute these outright lies.”

Peters declined an interview request Thursday, referring questions to a dean. He referred questions to Behr’s email.

Demetriou told Inside Higher Ed via email that his post was written when the Trump “travel ban was dominating the news and social media,” and, “like many of my academic friends, I ranted.” Unlike most all of them, though, he said, “I ranted to the right as opposed to the left.”

As to the content of his arguments, Demetriou said that no “short post on such a complex topic, let alone a rant, could survive much scrutiny. But this post, read with the least charity possible, and isolated from other things I have said on the topic in discussion afterward, has been seized upon in order to further a political agenda and punish a dissenting voice.”

Demetriou said he doesn’t share his expressed views in class and doesn’t even cover immigration in his courses. And although he’s “ideologically right in a very ideologically left world,” he said, he’s not involved in any political groups on campus. Rather, he said, “I expressed my mind in a hot state on my private Facebook page.”

As to where, if anywhere, his free speech rights overlap with his responsibilities as a member of his campus community, he asked what might be said of “professors who on their social media advocate for ‘punching Nazis’ or overthrowing an elected government via the ‘deep state’? I don't see such outbursts as immoral, inappropriate or even ill advised in the context of Facebook. People need a space to vent with their friends, frenemies and acquaintances. Conversation usually sees us moderate or clarify our positions.”

Professors elsewhere have landed in hot water with their administrations for making comments about groups of people on social media -- even after their administrations initially backed their right to free speech. Steven Salaita lost a promised job at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for the tone of his anti-Israel comments on Twitter, and Oberlin College dismissed Joy Karega for posting anti-Semitic and other demonstrably false statements about world events on her Facebook page, for example. Boston University also eventually distanced itself from Saida Grundy, a sociology professor who made controversial comments about white people.

In a reverse example, Drexel University condemned George Ciccariello-Maher, who over the winter holidays tweeted that his wish list consisted of "white genocide." It later backed the professor's right to academic freedom, after scholars criticized the university and pointed out that the tweet was sarcastic and grounded in Ciccariello-Maher's academic work.

DiversityEditorial Tags: Diversity MattersImmigrationImage Caption: Dan DemetriouIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 3

Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 08:00
  • Bucknell University: Fareed Zakaria, host of CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS and author of In Defense of a Liberal Education.
  • Elizabethtown College: Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.
  • MCPHS University: Karyn Polito, lieutenant governor of Massachusetts.
  • Northwestern University: Billie Jean King, the tennis player and advocate for gender equity.
  • Robert Morris University: Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers head coach; and J. Keith Motley, chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
  • Scripps College: Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code.
  • University of Mary Washington: John Burrow, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy; and Edward Ayers, professor of humanities and former president of the University of Richmond.
  • University of Rochester: Judge Jimmie V. Reyna of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.
Editorial Tags: Commencement speakersIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0

Texas bill could force campus police to play role in immigration matters

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 02/17/2017 - 08:00

Opponents on campuses have been steeling themselves to keep battling a proposed anti-sanctuary bill since the Texas Senate passed the controversial measure last week.

The bill seeks to compel state government officials, local government leaders and campus law enforcement officers to cooperate in the enforcement of federal immigration laws. Colleges' police forces would not be able to prevent officers from asking about arrestees' immigration status or keep them from communicating with immigration officials. Campus police would also have to comply if a federal official asked them to hold a person while officials determined whether that person was in the United States without legal authorization. This shift could significantly curtail colleges' ability to avoid helping federal authorities with deportations.

The fact that the bill would cover campus police hits home for students, said Vanessa Rodriguez, a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin.

“It puts this sense of urgency on us,” Rodriguez said. “It’s no longer just our parents, but it’s us, too, and future students who are planning to enter college.”

The bill is moving through the Legislature at a time when campuses across the country are facing questions of how they will handle increased emphasis on immigration law in light of President Trump’s hard-line stances. The questions escalated this week after a 23-year-old immigrant in Seattle sued the government after being detained despite holding a permit under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which was created by President Obama to protect many students who were brought to the United States as children by their parents without going through the proper channels. Many students covered under the DACA policy attend college.

Republican Senators passed a strengthened version of the Texas bill Feb. 8 on a party-line vote. The state’s majority-Republican House of Representatives must now consider it. Many believe its passage is likely after Governor Greg Abbott declared a sanctuary ban an emergency item during his State of the State address in January.

Specifically, the bill would withhold state grant money from cities, counties, state criminal justice agencies and campus police departments that take a soft stance on immigration. Grant funding could be withheld if those entities prohibit or discourage immigration-law enforcement.

Campus officers could not be prohibited or discouraged from asking about the immigration status of those they have arrested or from coordinating with immigration officers. Entities would be subject to fines starting at $1,000 and escalating to as much as $25,500 per violation.

The bill carries other penalties for municipalities and local leaders. Leaders who violate its terms would be subject to a class A misdemeanor. Governments releasing immigrants that federal officials have requested held would be open to lawsuit if those released immigrants went on to commit a felony in the state within 10 years.

The measure’s backers argue that it prevents local officials from selectively enforcing the law and undermining its integrity. Its author, Senator Charles Perry, a Republican from Lubbock, has said it needs to cover colleges and universities amid a push for sanctuary campuses.

"Our legislation is simple -- government entities cannot undermine the rule of law by ignoring our immigration laws,” Perry said in a December news release. “If colleges and universities intend to follow the example of sanctuary cities, we must ensure that our legislation specifically includes them.”

Many colleges have pledged not to help federal authorities identify people without legal status in the United States. Students, faculty and alumni have also pushed campuses in Texas to declare sanctuary status. But no institution in Texas was known to have made that declaration as of Thursday.

Perry made a similar case for his legislation when the bill passed, saying that government is supposed to punish evil, provide a base for social stability and offer a basis for social order. Standards cannot be “dependent upon an individual,” he said, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

Democrats have argued that the bill will cause racial profiling and distrust between immigrants and police. More than 500 people testified against it in a hearing at the beginning of February that reportedly lasted 16 hours.

One of those people was Rodriguez, the freshman at UT Austin. She takes part in the University Leadership Initiative, an organization that advocates for undocumented immigrants.

Rodriguez is an undocumented immigrant who is a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy the Obama administration put in place. Now 18, she has been in Texas since she was 6 years old, when her family came from near Mexico City.

Opponents of the bill are now trying to identify moderate Republican representatives who might hear them out, Rodriguez said. They hope to convince such representatives that the bill will not do what its backers say it will.

“It’s not attacking simply criminals,” she said. “It’s attacking a general population of immigrants, whether they’re students getting their education or parents who are just working for their family.”

The bill that the Senate passed specifically says that law enforcement agencies can perform outreach to tell the public that they “may not inquire into the immigration status of a detained person” in some instances. It goes on to spell out instances including if someone is a victim of a crime or witnesses one and if they are the victim of family violence or sexual assault. It also prevents officers from searching a motor vehicle, home or business solely to enforce immigration law -- unless they are cooperating with federal officials.

But Rodriguez rejected the idea that immigrants could avoid being affected by the bill by not committing crimes.

“It won’t be that way,” she said. “My father was once detained from a minor traffic offense, and that was in a time period when SB 4 wasn’t even on the horizon.”

The debate over the Senate bill’s effect on campuses has been overshadowed in some ways by a louder discussion about sanctuary cities. Travis County Sheriff Sally Hernandez has become the face of that debate after she promised to limit federal immigration enforcement cooperation in her jurisdiction, which includes the city of Austin. In response, Abbott, the state’s governor, said he would withhold $1.5 million in state criminal justice funding.

It’s also not clear exactly how many students would be affected by campus police changing their policies. Many Texas public higher education institutions shy away from commenting on pending legislation because they cannot lobby for or against bills.

The University of Houston System will work within the law, said Mike Rosen, a spokesman, in an email.

“We are the second most diverse public university in the country,” he said. “We will continue to use the legal tools at our disposal to protect the constitutional rights of our students, and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and follow all state and federal laws.”

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board does estimate the number of students who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents but who are classified as Texas residents for higher education purposes. That population comprises about 1.5 percent of all students enrolled in Texas public institutions as of the 2015 fiscal year, about 25,000 people. That estimate likely includes some individuals in Texas on visas, however.

Texas is not the only state where legislators have targeted sanctuary campuses. On Tuesday Alabama's House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow that state's attorney general to pull state funds from campuses that are not complying with immigration law.

Editorial Tags: ImmigrationState policyImage Caption: Texas State Senator Charles PerryIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 0
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