Higher Education News

Study: Editors of major political science journals demonstrate no systematic bias against female authors

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 07:00

A major political science study from last year explored publication patterns across 10 prominent journals, finding a significant gap in publication rates for men and women. The gap couldn’t be explained away by a low overall share of women in the field, the article said, prompting soul-searching among editors about whether they were biased against female authors.

A new PS: Political Science & Politics report involving self-audits at five major journals suggests that editorial practices are not, in fact, biased against women. While positive, the findings are also disconcerting, since it remains unclear as to why women are underrepresented as authors in esteemed journals in the discipline.

“Even though the journals differ in terms of substantive focus, management/ownership, as well editorial structure and process, none found evidence of systematic gender bias in editorial decisions,” symposium co-chairs Nadia Brown, associate professor of political science and African-American studies at Purdue University, and David Samuels, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, wrote in their introduction to the PS report.

“These findings raise additional questions about where gender bias may occur and why,” they said. “We urge a continued conversation and examination of why women remain underrepresented as authors in political science journals, particularly top-ranked journals.”

If not gender bias, Brown and Samuels wrote, other factors may be at play. For example, they said, the American Political Science Association in 2017 surveyed members as to where and why they prefer to submit manuscripts. The suspicion is that women may be self-selecting out of submitting to the kinds of journals that grease tenure and promotion wheels and otherwise benefit their careers.

“It is very, very difficult to earn tenure at, let’s say, the top 50 departments without publishing in one of the top journals” studied in the 2017 report on gender and publication rates, said Maya Sen, an associate professor of political science at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government who has studied gender in the discipline. “It really screams at you, we need to understand why and where this is happening.”

Possible alternative explanations, she said, include “pipeline” issues regarding potential future political scientists who are women, possible underconfidence among women and overconfidence among men seeking to publish, and the subtopics most studied by women.

A Place to Start

The PS symposium was inspired by an article published last year in the journal, called "Gender in the Journals: Publication Patterns in Political Science." For their study, Dawn Langan Teele, Janice and Julian Bers Assistant Professor in the Social Sciences at the University of Pennsylvania, and Kathleen Thelen, Ford Professor of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and president of the political science association, counted all authors, by gender, who published in 10 of the field’s best known journals over 15 years. While women made up 31 percent of members of the APSA, they wrote, women made up just 18 percent of authors in the American Journal of Political Science over the period studied and 23 percent in the American Political Science Review, which is widely considered the field's premier research journal. Publication rates for other journals were similarly slanted toward men, save two. Political Theory and Perspectives on Politics saw women writing about one-third of articles.

Beyond a general gender gap, Teele and Thelen also found that women remain underrepresented in terms of co-authorship. While single male authors still represented the biggest share of all bylines (about 41 percent), the second most common byline type was all-male teams (24 percent). Mixed-gender teams were about 15 percent of the sample. All-female teams and single female authors were 2 percent and 17 percent of the sample, respectively.

A possible explanation is political science’s qualitative-quantitative divide, they said, in that female authors wrote more of the published qualitative articles in the study. Flagship journals, meanwhile, tend to publish more quantitative studies.

“Here’s the general pattern we observed: The journals that publish a larger share of qualitative work also publish a larger share of female authors,” Teele and Thelen wrote in a related op-ed for The Washington Post. “Conversely, the more a journal focuses on statistical work, the lower its share of female authors.”

Examining Journals' Biases

Teele and Thelen’s study didn’t accuse journals of outright gender bias in selecting articles for publication. But it did give some editors pause as to whether they were contributing to the publication gap. While most journals use some level of blind review, social science research is often shared at conferences, in working papers and on social media before it’s submitted for publication -- meaning sometimes editors and reviewers know who wrote an article that is stripped of identifying information. Sen, of Harvard, also said that work on gender and politics is very likely to be by a female author.

Samuels, at Minnesota, editor of Comparative Political Studies, was among those concerned editors. He ran an internal audit to see whether there were any unknown biases within the editorial process and showed a copy to Thelen. She invited him to join a task force to expand the work. Samuels said recently that he invited a group other editors to participate in the symposium, some of whom he knew were already engaged in similar projects. Together with Comparative Political Studies, they represent five journals: American Political Science Review, Political Behavior, World Politics and International Studies Quarterly.

Samuels wrote in his self-study that Comparative Political Studies does “fairly ‘well’ in terms of gender balance, at least compared to other journals in political science,” based on Teele and Thelen’s research. The journal employs a “quasi-triple blind review process,” he said, in which submissions are blind reviewed internally and editors decide to send the paper out for blind peer review or not. Editors learn the author’s name, rank and institutional affiliation after the initial read.

Based on 2,134 papers submitted between 2013 and 2016, gender did not systematically predict a manuscript’s success at any stage of the editorial process. More important factors, meanwhile, included rank, co-authorship and methodological approach. At the internal review stage, for example, solo-authored papers were less likely to be sent out for peer review than co-authored papers, regardless of the authors’ genders. Qualitative papers were less likely to be sent out than quantitative and mixed-method papers. About two-thirds of all submissions were quantitative, compared to one-fourth that were purely qualitative. Qualitative papers faired worst at the internal review stage, Samuels wrote, with just 25 percent of these sent out for review. Just about 20 percent of those (26 out of 128) were eventually accepted.

As for gender, Samuels wrote, “women simply submit relatively fewer papers, whether on their own or in collaboration with other scholars, male or female.”

American Political Science Review’s editors, Thomas König and Guido Ropers, both political scientists at the University of Mannheim in Germany, wrote in their self-study that the general-interest journal rejects 95 percent of all submissions via a double-blind review process. They noted that the journal introduced a bilateral decision-making process between lead editor and responsible association editors in 2016, in part to reduce potential editor bias in particular subfields. Looking at 10 years’ worth of publication data, or more than 8,000 submissions and 18,000 reviews, König and Ropers found no evidence of gender bias in the editorial process -- solo male authors dominated submissions and actually had the highest desk rejection rate.

Addressing the qualitative-quantitative divide, the editors noted that the share of female authors among quantitative submissions was 26 percent in 2016-17, compared to 24 percent among nonquantitative submissions over the same period. So there is "no indication that the higher desk rejection rate for nonquantitative submissions penalizes female authors, as hypothesized by Teele and Thelen."

Over all, König and Ropers wrote, “our analysis points much more to the problem of a systematically low submission rate of female authors as explanation for the underrepresentation of women” in published articles.

The results for the remaining journals were the same: no evidence of gender bias in the review process could be found.

David A. M. Peterson, a professor of political science at Iowa State University and editor of Political Behavior, wrote in his report that “the skew of publications” seems to be due to the male-dominated submission pool. “This is still disappointing,” he wrote. “When I became editor, one of my goals was to solicit more manuscripts from women. It appears I have not been successful at these efforts.”

Peterson said last week that the journal, which historically focuses on U.S. presidential elections, was in “great shape” when he took over as editor several years ago. Yet he wanted to “diversify who was submitting. The review process takes care of itself at some point, so I wanted to make the journal more welcoming for a diverse set of research questions” and researchers.

And Political Behavior has improved on that front, he said. Yet across all the journals studied, it appears there’s more work to do. (He noted that while the journals included in the symposium represent a range of processes, he wished it had included one with single-blind review, to round out the sample.)

Some Answers, More Questions

Brown, symposium co-author, said she’s tried to do the same as co-editor of Politics, Groups and Identities (which was not involved in the study). That means defying journals’ traditional gatekeeper status, including by working with potential authors to help them frame their arguments in ways that give them the best chance at publication.

The lack of systematic gender bias in the editorial process doesn’t mean academic publishing is free of gender bias, Brown cautioned. She’s involved in the APSA’s current study examining possible bias in the submission process, for example.

“There’s a big gender gap within these publications and the data we have raise more questions than answers,” Brown said.

Teele, the co-author of the 2017 study that inspired the symposium, said she’s currently working on a manuscript with Samuels that suggests underrepresentation of women authors in university press books, not just journal articles.

She said one “call to arms” on the data available thus far is that women need to be welcomed onto collaborative teams early in their careers.

“Bring women into labs and put them on papers,” she said.

Teele said the data also point to bigger, largely ignored questions about academic work, such as what meaningful productivity and scholarly output looks like.

“Our discipline needs to have conversations about productivity and how much anybody can write or read about these things,” she said.

Interestingly, APSR's editors address the question of quality over quantity, saying, "If we assume that editors are able to objectively judge the quality of manuscripts at the desk rejection stage of the editorial process without discriminating against gender, it speaks in favor of a lower average quality of solo male submissions. It would hint to concerns that male and female authors have different quality standards when submitting their work in the first place."

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Guild Education creates business as broker for employer-financed college degrees

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 07:00

When Walmart announced recently that it would offer debt-free college education to its 1.4 million U.S. employees, the retail giant created an opportunity to address two of its perennial problems -- bad PR and high employee turnover.

For a corporation routinely criticized for its low pay and anti-unionization efforts, announcing the new employee perk had the added benefit of making Walmart appear civic-minded by helping to educate a historically undereducated and low-skilled work force.

Starting this fall, part-time and full-time employees who have worked at Walmart for at least 90 days will be eligible to study online and earn associate or bachelor’s degrees in business administration or supply chain management, with almost all learning costs covered by the company. The workers will be required to make a $365 annual contribution toward tuition, the equivalent of $1 per day.

Walmart will pay for its employees to study at three nonprofit universities: Bellevue University, Brandman University and the University of Florida Online.

But Walmart didn’t pick these universities on its own. Rather than forge relationships with the institutions directly, as it has done in the past with the American Public University System, a private, for-profit online learning institution, Walmart is working with a third party called Guild Education. This for-profit company, which often refers to itself as just Guild, has an online employee benefits program through which employees at select companies can work toward credentials that are approved and subsidized by their employer.

Kory Lundberg, a spokesman for Walmart, said that the company believes that working with Guild is "the right fit for our associates’ personal and professional growth." He added, "We want our associates to start a program that fits their goals, feel successful as they grow, and complete a degree program."

Guild Education has raised more than $30 million in funding since 2015 and acts as a bridge between big employers looking to upskill and retain their work force, working adults who want to earn credentials, and colleges looking to grow their enrollment online.

It is not the first company to help large employers manage education benefit programs. Companies such as EdAssist and GP Strategies also offer similar services. But Rachel Carlson, CEO and co-founder of Guild, said what sets her company apart is that it has created a "win-win-win" ecosystem for employees, employers and universities.

Through the Guild platform, students have access to advisers who direct them toward appropriate credentials from a “carefully curated” group of university and education partners, said Carlson. These advisers also act as success coaches, helping students to balance their studies and work duties.

Carlson said internal research found employees "often look to their employer for guidance" on where and what they should be studying to advance their career, but employers often aren't equipped to guide them to the right program. That's where Guild can step in and guide students to "strong, nonprofit universities," said Carlson.

Rather than charge a transaction fee per student to the employer, Guild takes a cut of the tuition revenue from the universities it works with. This revenue-share model is an "elegant" solution for institutions that want to grow their enrollment online but don't want to spend more on marketing, said Carlson. It's also an attractive proposition for employers, who don't have to pay any additional charges on top of the contribution they make to their employees' tuition. The tuition fees are not discounted for the employers and will be charged at in-state or out-of-state rates depending on the location of the student. Neither Guild nor the three universities involved in the Walmart offer would disclose what percentage of tuition revenue Guild will take.

Guild said it currently works with over 80 education providers, including high schools and companies such as for-profit StraighterLine and nonprofit edX. These providers include six regionally accredited nonprofit universities, chosen because of their experience with adult learners and their low student debt default rates, said Carlson. In addition to Bellevue University, Brandman University and the University of Florida Online, Guild also works with the University of Denver, Western Governors University and Wilmington University. Through the Guild platform, employees at participating companies can go from earning a GED to a master’s degree, but not all courses are offered by third parties. Guild has also developed its own general education courses, for which it keeps all of the tuition revenue.

Guild is working with employers such as the Denver Public School System, Chipotle, Lyft, Taco Bell and others, some of which have not been publicly disclosed. Added together, these employers account for 2.7 million American workers, said Carlson. Of course, not every employee will take advantage of their education benefits, but even if just 5 percent do, it's a potential pool of 135,000 students.

The first batch of college graduates to complete their degrees via Guild graduated this spring, the company said, but it did not disclose how many. While some Guild partners, such as Chipotle, have chosen to release some results from their partnership publicly, most have not.

Chipotle reported that 3,500 employees had accessed its education benefits since the company introduced them in 2015. The company reported that students enrolled in education programs through Guild were “twice as likely to be promoted at Chipotle, as compared to their peers.” Employees who accessed their benefits, which provide up to $5,250 annually in tuition assistance toward any degree at any institution in the Guild network, also stayed at the company almost twice as long as their peers. Chipotle said that 89 percent of employees who enrolled in the program stayed at least nine months after signing up.

On its website, Guild calculated that each of the employers it partners with had seen a return on investment of $208 for every dollar spent, based on methodology for calculating ROI developed by the Lumina Foundation that places a monetary value on factors such as employee productivity, engagement and loyalty. Guild said that 98 percent of employees who enroll in an education program are still employed at the 90-day mark, versus a baseline of 71 percent.

The opportunities available to students through Guild vary significantly by employer, according to Guild. Lowe’s Track to the Trades program, for example, is limited to specific pre-apprenticeship programs, but Chipotle employees can study whatever subject they wish with Guild’s partners.

In 2010 Walmart started a partnership with American Public University System, offering employees 15 percent off any degree or certificate offered there. Lundberg, the Walmart spokesman, said that this partnership will be phased out over the next year as the company transfers to the new system with Guild. The new benefits, though offered through three universities instead of one, and with more of the tuition cost covered, offer more limited options to employees, as they can only study business administration or supply chain management. Previously, employees and close family members could get tuition assistance to study any subject.

Beth Doyle, vice president of higher education services at the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning, said that employers like Walmart that limit what can be studied as part of their tuition assistance programs are often trying to solve a management pipeline issue. Though there is less choice for employees, Doyle said that aligning employee education benefits to company need can be a good thing.

"Of course, it would be great if companies would offer open tuition assistance to everyone no matter what they study, but aligning it to business goals generally protects the program from cuts," she said.

For companies such as Starbucks -- which partnered with Arizona State University in 2014, launching a wave of similar partnerships -- that assist their employees to study any subject, the focus is more on retaining employees while they study and building brand loyalty so that they return as customers once they leave, said Doyle. While Walmart employees can only study toward business-related degrees, employees at Starbucks can choose from more than 60 undergraduate degrees and move on to other careers.

Carlson noted that high turnover was a huge problem for many employers in the wake of the recession.

While Walmart's announcement was met with a largely positive public response, groups that are campaigning for better working conditions for Walmart employees said that they would not have prioritized these benefits over higher pay.

Cynthia Murray, a longtime Walmart employee who works as a fitting room associate, is a member of a nonprofit campaign group called the Organization for United Respect at Walmart, or OUR Walmart. Murray said even though tuition reimbursement is a "nice gesture," it is not one that many employees would be able to take advantage of due to Walmart's "refusal to offer a predictable schedule."

Randy Parraz, director of Making Change at Walmart, a campaign group led by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, said that he "remains skeptical as to which, if any, workers will benefit from this announcement."

"Instead of providing all associates a living wage and schedules that work so they have the freedom to pursue education on their own terms, Walmart is controlling its work force and creating further dependence on a company that does little to promote self-sufficiency and financial freedom," said Parraz.

Nicole Smith, a research professor and chief economist at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, said the Walmart announcement sounds like a good thing on its face but has some "major shortcomings." Online learning offers students flexibility, but it doesn't have the same results as face-to-face or hybrid programs, said Smith.

"Completion rates there still leave a lot to be desired," she said. Additionally, she said, the program may only benefit employees from a higher socioeconomic bracket -- those who have access to a computer and the internet, and the time to study online.

Smith said the Guild model isn't likely to completely replace individual company partnerships with institutions for tuition reimbursement programs, but could be "quite competitive." A 2015 report from researchers at Georgetown found that American employers spend $177 billion on formal education for their employees annually, an increase of 26 percent since 1994.

Louis Soares, vice president of strategy, research and advancement at the American Council on Education, said that the Guild model “addresses a number of pain points” that companies experience when establishing partnerships with educational institutions -- such as identifying universities or colleges that are a good fit and managing these relationships. By working with regionally accredited nonprofit institutions, Guild guides students toward institutions that are a good value and have good academic standing. By coaching students, Guild helps to ensure they actually complete what they start. And by encouraging students to convert their work-based training to college credit (a service ACE offers), Guild is helping students complete their studies faster and at less expense to employers.

Though Soares and Doyle think the Guild model has potential to scale, and particularly praised its focus on prior learning, they both said that determining whether Guild’s approach works will require careful assessment. Soares said he was pleased to see that the Lumina Foundation has already pledged to research the outcomes of the Walmart-Guild partnership.

Peter Cappelli, George W. Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, and director of Wharton's Center for Human Resources, said employers like working with vendors that can take over outside relationships and promise cost reductions.

"It's very common that relationships with education providers will end up being handled by vendor management departments that focus mainly on driving down costs," he said. "It's easy to get bad outcomes as a result."

The universities that partner with Guild will also be monitoring progress closely. Evangeline Cummings, assistant provost and director of the University of Florida Online, said she was particularly curious to see how Guild’s coaching -- which will be supplementary to the institutions’ own academic advising -- would affect student success.

Asked for details of their financial arrangement with Guild, Brandman University, Bellevue University and UF Online all said they were not able to disclose the terms of their revenue share.

Both Cummings and Gary Brahm, chancellor and CEO of Brandman University, said they didn’t know how many students would likely study with them as a result of the Walmart-Guild partnership, but they were preparing to offer their programs at scale. Cummings said while her institution looks forward to welcoming “lots of new Gators,” it will continue to run a selective admissions process and is not expecting to admit tens of thousands of students.

As for Guild, Carlson said several new partnerships with frontline employers are already in the pipeline. This week, Discover Financial announced an employee tuition benefit program that sounds a lot like Walmart's offering. Discover Financial will work with Guild to deliver the program through Brandman University, UF Online and Wilmington University.

There are some 64 million working adults in the U.S. without a college education, said Carlson, but employers are finally starting to grasp the importance of upskilling their work force. By targeting Fortune 1000 companies, Carlson hopes Guild can scale up to help 31 million employees gain access to education opportunities. 

Ryan Craig, managing director of University Ventures, an investment firm, said that Guild is well placed to develop new, low-cost pathways to education for working adults. He added there is a “real need” for intermediaries in this space.

“No single college or university is capable of managing the requisite number of relationships with employers. And no employer is interested in doing so,” he said. “This many-to-many problem begs for intermediaries to bridge that gap.”

Although Guild currently has a unique value proposition, Craig predicts that other companies with similar models may emerge. Although Guild has found success connecting existing employees to “select low-cost degrees,” and “wrapping those degree programs with additional support,” Craig said the real test for Guild will be ensuring students complete their degrees -- “otherwise it’s mostly a waste for employees and employers.”

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Justice Department opposes University of Michigan bullying policy

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 06/12/2018 - 07:00

The U.S. Justice Department on Monday filed a brief backing a lawsuit that challenges an anti-bullying policy at the University of Michigan. The department said the policy limited the free speech rights of students and others. But the same day, Michigan announced that it had clarified its policy, explicitly pledging support for First Amendment rights and adopting definitions of bullying and harassment based on state law.

Whether the university's clarifications will resolve the Justice Department's concerns is unclear.

The Justice Department announcement said that it found the university's code of student conduct to be "unconstitutional because it offers no clear, objective definitions of the violations" for bullying or harassing. "Instead, the statement refers students to a wide array of 'examples of various interpretations that exist for the terms,' many of which depend on a listener’s subjective reaction to speech."

Acting Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio issued this statement: “Freedom of speech and expression on the American campus are under attack. This Justice Department, under the leadership of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is committed to promoting and defending Americans’ first freedom at public universities."

The Justice Department also challenged the constitutionality of the university's Bias Response Team, which the department said "consists of university administrators and law enforcement officers" and, the department says, "has the authority to subject students to discipline and sanction."

With regard to the team, the university is saying that the Justice Department is overstating the power of the team. A spokesman for the university told The Detroit News, "Contrary to the department’s statement, the university’s Bias Response Team does not 'ha[ve] the authority to subject students to discipline and sanction.' Rather, it provides support to students on a voluntary basis."

While the university did not say that its previous policies on bullying and harassment were problematic, the revised policies released Monday appear to speak to some of the Trump administration's concerns. The university said that it eliminated general definitions of bullying and harassment and left only definitions from Michigan law. Further, the revisions state that First Amendment protections apply to activities at the university.

The new definitions of bullying and harassment follow.

Bullying: Any written, verbal or physical act, or any electronic communication, directed toward a person that is intended to cause or that a reasonable person would know is likely to cause, and that actually causes, physical harm or substantial emotional distress and thereby adversely affects the ability of another person to participate in or benefit from the university’s educational programs or activities. Bullying does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.

Harassing: Conduct directed toward a person that includes repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable individual to suffer substantial emotional distress and that actually causes the person to suffer substantial emotional distress. Harassing does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.

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New data analysis from National Academy of Arts and Sciences says humanities Ph.D.s may not earn a lot but are satisfied over all

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 07:00

Humanities Indicators, a project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, on Sunday released new data on the career outcomes of graduate degree recipients.

The information, which comes from the National Science Foundation-sponsored National Survey of College Graduates and the Survey of Earned Doctorates, sheds new light on job satisfaction, earnings and first jobs for Ph.D. and terminal master’s degree holders.

Perhaps most strikingly, humanities Ph.D. recipients in 2015 had relatively high job satisfaction over all: 88 percent said they were “very” or “somewhat” satisfied with their employment. But there was an 11-percentage-point satisfaction gap between humanities Ph.D.s working in academic positions and those working outside academe (91 percent versus 80 percent).

Job Satisfaction Among Ph.D.s (percent)

Robert Townsend, director of the academy’s Washington office, said that was “more than a little disappointing, as someone who believes in the efforts to promote career diversity.” Because of the sample size of the survey, he said, he and colleagues couldn’t isolate the reasons for the gap. Yet it was “all the more striking” because it wasn’t evident among other academic fields. (Townsend reiterated that the data are a snapshot of Ph.D.s employed in 2015, the most recent year for which data were available. And numerous disciplines and institutions have indeed ramped up career diversity initiatives since then.)

Other key findings include that 56 percent of employed humanities Ph.D.s were teaching at the college or university level as their principal occupations in 2015. By way of comparison, just 29 percent of all Ph.D.s in all fields listed postsecondary teaching as their primary occupation. Of course, many who earn Ph.D.s in the sciences plan all along for jobs in industry.

That’s not to say that teaching is particularly lucrative, however. Humanities Ph.D.s reported having the lowest median annual earnings -- $77,000 -- of all Ph.D. recipients surveyed (excluding arts Ph.D.s, whose median income could not be gleaned due to the small sample size). The median income for Ph.D. holders across fields was $99,000.

Annual Earnings Among Ph.D.s

New humanities Ph.D.s were also the least likely to have a definite job or postdoctoral position lined up upon graduation, at 52 percent compared to 62 percent of all new Ph.D.s. That was the lowest level in at least two decades, according to the academy’s analysis.

From 1996 to 2006, the share of new humanities Ph.D.s with a job in hand increased to nearly 60 percent, but the percentage then fell sharply over the next decade, to 41 percent, according to the report. A relatively small but growing share of humanities Ph.D.s went on to postdoctoral studies in 2016 -- 11 percent, up from 4 percent 20 years prior.

New humanities Ph.D.s with definite employment commitments were much more likely to be working in academe than their counterparts in the natural sciences, technology, engineering and math. Some 76 percent of humanities doctoral degree recipients with a commitment in the U.S. said they’d be working in academe, either full- or part-time teaching or administrative positions. In the behavioral and social sciences, the share entering academia in 2016 was 54 percent. Among new engineering Ph.D.s, the share was 14 percent, the smallest proportion among the fields examined.

Where Humanities Ph.D.s Work

Looking at the overall picture for humanities Ph.D.s, Townsend said he remained “fascinated by the disparity” between them and their counterparts in other fields in terms of how many end up teaching.

The data “reinforce the idea that the humanities are unusually focused on academia as a career outcome,” he said, guessing that the lower median earnings reflect that fact. Yet higher job satisfaction levels for humanities Ph.D.s who remain in academe “suggest that less tangible benefits” help compensate, he said.

As for humanists with terminal master’s degree, about 88 percent of workers said they were satisfied in 2015. That was higher than business degree holders but slightly lower (within a few percentage points) than in every other field. Location, opportunities for advancement and contribution to society seemed to account for job satisfaction among these humanists, even if pay and benefits did not.

Among terminal master’s degree holders in the humanities, 37 percent were employed in teaching occupations. Outside of teaching, the largest share of humanities master’s degree recipients, 11 percent, worked in management. Their median full-time income was $58,000. That’s higher than arts and education degree holders but $17,000 below the annual median income for terminal master’s degree holders across fields.

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University presses consider whether to cancel book contracts of harassers

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 07:00

On Saturday, attendees at the meeting of the Southern Association for Women Historians tweeted about statements participants made there.

The director of the University of Georgia Press just stood and told the room to report repeat harassers: “Because I will cancel a harasser’s book contract.”

— SHA Graduate Council (@SHAGradCouncil) June 9, 2018

Support for the university press director's stance spread online. It turns out that this press director may not be alone in vowing to cancel book contracts of those who harass.

Lisa Bayer, director of the University of Georgia Press, confirmed that she had indeed made the statement, and that she would "cancel a contract if charges proved true" against one of her press's authors or potential authors.

Bayer noted that she has been discussing the issue with fellow members of the Association of University Presses.

Many women who have been subject to sexual harassment in academe report frustration that their harassers continue to be seen as academic stars, leading conferences and scholarly associations, publishing books, and achieving acclaim. As the Me Too movement has gained momentum in academe, some charges have surfaced against prominent professors who have never been investigated by their institutions. Some charges involve alleged incidents from many years ago, making investigations and punishments difficult.

Could scholarly publishing be one tool in the fight against harassment?

Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of University Presses, said via email that the association is looking at the issue of sexual harassment, "including the question of how to treat authors who have engaged in harassing behavior."

He said the association conducted an "informal survey" this year on the issue. The findings were that "press directors determined their responses on a case-by-case basis" and "they’d welcome more guidance on dealing with these issues."

"The case-by-case determinations reflected a desire to avoid a rush to judgment; where harassment was clear, presses were prepared to act decisively," Berkery said. "While I cannot quantify it, I can tell you that university presses have canceled contracts -- or declined to enter into them -- with authors known to have engaged in harassing behavior."

He added that he believed university presses have the power to make a difference on these issues. He said that decisions would have to be made by individual presses, not the association, on whom to publish.

"Speaking for myself, I do believe that the loss of a book deal has the potential to influence behavior; there’s no question it’s a consequence with teeth. But the real reason a university press would take such an action is more fundamental than meting out punishment: it’s simply the right thing to do, consistent with our community’s values. No harasser should continue to enjoy the benefits of a system he or she has abused," he added.

There are challenges for university presses or others that seek to punish harassers, particularly in the cases (many of which have become public in the last year) where many people believe harassment went on for years, without an official finding against an individual.

Berkery said that his association's board plans to discuss "next steps" on developing policies during the AUP's annual meeting next week in San Francisco. "I think it probable they will appoint a task force charged with cataloging how sexual harassment can arise in the context of university press publishing and recommending appropriate responses and, ideally, even preventatives," he said.

University presses are not the first entities that support research and scholarship to consider a role in fighting sexual harassment.

In February, the National Science Foundation announced new rules under which institutions will have to tell the agency when a principal investigator, co-PI or any other grant “personnel” are found to have committed sexual misconduct or harassment of any kind -- or when the allegations against a PI or co-PI are severe enough to warrant suspension during a campus investigation.

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Accreditor restored by DeVos falls short of federal standards, report says

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 07:00

The Trump administration on Friday released an internal staff report showing numerous failures at an accrediting body of mostly for-profit colleges whose federal recognition was restored by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos earlier this year.

That accreditor, the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Schools, is seeking to permanently win back federal recognition after having it yanked by the Obama administration in 2016 following the collapse of two large for-profit college chains it oversaw. That recognition is critical to maintaining access to Title IV funds for colleges ACICS oversees, many of which have struggled to find approval elsewhere.

The release of the report was the subject of a months-long open-records battle involving advocacy groups, the department and ACICS. The Trump administration says the findings won’t factor into a final review of the 2016 decision, but accreditation observers say the report makes clear that ACICS is ineffective as an oversight body.

Antoinette Flores, associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said if allowed to continue as an oversight body ACICS would undermine accreditation writ large as a reliable authority of college quality.

“I don’t see how the department can decide to do anything other than find them noncompliant and deny them recognition,” she said.

Michelle Edwards, president and CEO of ACICS, said the organization had submitted information to the department correcting “numerous inaccuracies” in the report -- although she did not mention specifics -- and demonstrating compliance with federal standards.

“We stand by the information we have presented to the department and we look forward to completing the review process in an efficient and constructive manner,” she said.

The failures cited in the analysis overlap with many issues raised in previous staff findings in 2016. Among the most serious issues: department staff found no evidence that ACICS effectively evaluates recruitment practices by institutions -- a key issue involved in investigations of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain, which documents showed paid recruiters incentives based on numbers of students enrolled.

The report showed ACICS policies were not widely accepted among other accreditors or state agencies. And it found that the accreditor couldn’t prove it had put in place two of the biggest reforms it had promised over the last year: graduation rate benchmarks for institutions and job placement verification. ACICS also failed to clear a standard dealing with conflict of interest policies involving staff and contractors -- an issue where department officials had previously lauded the agency's efforts.

"This report makes clear that ACICS is a wholly unfit and unreliable evaluator of higher education institutions: its decisions are not recognized by educators, schools or employers across the United States, and it has shown zero evidence that it can make decisions that protect students and consumers,” said Bob Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation. “Betsy DeVos may be content with ignoring the overwhelming outside consensus on ACICS’s performance, but she cannot deny the expert opinions of her own staff.”

View the report here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.

The report was released with a long-term decision on the accreditor expected within months. A federal court in March ruled that the Obama administration had improperly failed to consider thousands of pages of documents submitted by the accreditor in making its final decision. The decision kicked the case back to the secretary of education for a final review considering the additional evidence.

The Obama administration took the rare step of terminating the accreditor in 2016 after a lengthy review and heavy scrutiny of its oversight of Corinthian Colleges by figures like Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat. Corinthian collapsed in 2015 amid numerous state investigations and consumer complaints. As the performance of ACICS was under the microscope, ITT Tech, another for-profit chain overseen by the organization, closed the next year.

ACICS sued in federal court to block the termination decision but in September of last year applied for recognition from the department, saying it had fundamentally changed as an organization. That process, called “initial recognition,” required that the department review be wider in scope, judging them on all 93 federal criteria.

The completed staff report was sent to ACICS in March. Shortly thereafter, the ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton sent the 2016 case back to the department. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos weeks later said in a signed order that she would restore federal recognition of the accreditor pending a final decision.

The analysis of numerous failings by the accreditor was complete well before the decision by DeVos to restore federal recognition to ACICS. But Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the department, said the secretary did not have a choice other than restoring recognition.

“A judge ruled that the previous administration failed to consider 36,000 pages of relevant evidence before making its decision to withdraw ACICS's recognition as an accreditor and remanded the case back to the secretary,” Hill said in a statement. “This department can’t operate on or enforce a decision that was found invalid by the court.”

And Hill said the draft report wouldn’t figure into a final review of the accreditor because it was completed as part of the 2017 application process that was “rendered moot” by the court order.

But while Walton found the department’s review flawed, he declined to weigh the merits of the accreditor’s case for reinstatement. And the order did not direct the department to restore recognition to ACICS.

“It was a choice to reinstate ACICS while they consider other information,” Flores said.

She and other accreditation observers also said the department has already asked ACICS to submit additional materials beyond those already filed for its 2016 review, even as it insists it won't consider new information revealed in its staff report. Flores said the report makes clear that the accreditor was severely noncompliant with federal standards a full 18 months after that 2016 review.

"Regardless of what new information the department considers," she said, "the original 2016 decision was the right one."

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Syracuse suspends fraternity students after racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic videos surface

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 06/11/2018 - 07:00

Syracuse University announced last week that it has suspended 15 members of the Theta Tau fraternity after videos surfaced in April showing pledges using racial and anti-Semitic slurs, mocking gay sex, and simulating the sexual assault of disabled people.

Dean of Students Robert Hradsky issued a brief statement about the sanctions Friday.

“The student conduct process for the students involved in the Theta Tau videos has been ongoing since the alleged behavior first came to light in April,” the statement read. “I am writing today to report that the hearing and deliberations, overseen by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities, have concluded, and the students were notified of their respective outcomes and subsequent sanctions.”

In total, 18 students faced charges under the university's code of conduct, three of whom accepted university-proposed sanctions after an informal resolution process. The remaining 15 underwent a formal student conduct investigation process. Syracuse could not comment on how long the suspensions would last, however CBS New York reported that the suspensions could last for one to two years. The students will be given an opportunity to appeal, which could take several weeks. Prior to individual student sanctions, the university suspended and then expelled the Theta Tau chapter in late April.

The university is facing pressure from both students and free speech advocates about its handling of the incident.

The editorial board of Syracuse’s student-run newspaper The Daily Orange called on the recently elected student body president and vice president to hold administrators accountable and better advocate for marginalized communities on campus in the wake of the videos.

“[Student president] Salih and [vice president] Rosenblum can’t be afraid to stand up to administrators to amplify the voices and needs of communities who feel excluded from conversations among high-ranking [Syracuse University] officials,” they wrote.

The faculty of the Syracuse School of Education also penned a letter in The Daily Orange asking the campus to work harder to dismantle "all forms of violence, hatred and systems of domination."

"The recent video is just one more indication and reminder of the interconnected ways that white supremacy is advanced at Syracuse University and in our communities through racist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist, sexist and anti-Semitic practices," they wrote.

The education faculty also called Syracuse's emphasis on diversity and inclusion and implicit bias training "an insufficient response" to hate and violence on campus. Recognize Us, a student advocacy group that formed after the videos were released, also put forward a list of demands to the Syracuse administration and asked them to respond by Sept. 3.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education -- better known as FIRE -- a free speech watchdog group, is also criticizing Syracuse, saying that the university is violating the suspended students' First Amendment rights and calling the videos a "satirical fraternity roast."

“When a university expels students for a private roast consisting of completely protected speech, it has no business pretending that it cares about free expression,” Ari Kohn, director of the Individual Rights Defense Program at FIRE, said in a press release. “Despite objections that these students were being tried as a group, by a biased committee, and ‘represented’ by an agent of the university, Syracuse has the gall to maintain that justice was served.”

Syracuse is a private university, and therefore students are not necessarily protected under the First Amendment. But private universities can be criticized for failing to follow their own free speech policies, which FIRE believes is the case at Syracuse.

Syracuse's Statement of Student Rights and Responsibilities maintains that "students have the right to express themselves freely on any subject provided they do so in a manner that does not violate the Code of Student Conduct." However, the Code of Student Conduct prohibits "harassment, whether physical, verbal or electronic, oral, written or video, which is beyond the bounds of protected free speech, directed at a specific individual, easily construed as 'fighting words,' and likely to cause an immediate breach of the peace."

Syracuse responded to FIRE's criticisms with the following statement.

"The videos showed extremely troubling, offensive and deeply disturbing behavior and conduct. They included words and behaviors that are extremely racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, and hostile to people with disabilities. The conduct displayed in the videos is deeply harmful and contrary to the values and community standards we expect of our students. There is absolutely no place at Syracuse University for behavior or language that degrades any individual or group’s race, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identify, disability or religious beliefs. Syracuse University’s student conduct process respects the rights of all students, and is designed to lead to fair outcomes in difficult cases. The university strives to maintain a fully inclusive learning environment, and must respond to incidents when alleged conduct creates a hostile environment on the university’s campus or in its programs."

Below are the two videos from the Theta Tau initiation ceremony that have been shared online and that sparked debate over what should be done about the students involved.

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Nonprofit colleges signal potential support for more federal data on student outcomes

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:00

Proponents for better data on whether and how college pays off for students saw a victory, if a small one, Thursday as the primary lobbying group for private nonprofit colleges inched closer to backing a new federal system that would give important information to students and policy makers.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities signaled a shift in its position on the federal government’s role in gathering data on outcomes for college students. David Warren, the group’s president, said NAICU was open to exploring legislation that would require colleges to collect and provide more student data to the federal government.

However, that bill, known as the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, isn’t the preferred option of most other college groups and student advocates seeking more data on student outcomes. And NAICU made clear it still opposes a federal system of student-level data -- the policy outcome that transparency proponents say is essential to answering questions about why students persist and drop out of college.

"For the past decade, there has been a protracted debate between privacy advocates and those who support the creation of a federal student-level tracking system for purposes of educational evaluation. A solution that protects student privacy while also providing more detailed insights into certain policy questions seemed elusive, at best," Warren said. "The Student Right to Know Before You Go Act has the potential to make the assessments policy makers desire, but would do so without creating a permanent federal data repository on each individual student."

Most major higher ed organizations have thrown their support behind the College Transparency Act, a bipartisan bill that would overturn a federal ban on collecting individual student-level data for outcomes like graduation and employment. NAICU backs the alternative legislation in large part because the group says it leaves that ban in place. And it has opposed the CTA bill, leading the American Council on Education, the chief lobbying group for higher ed, to avoid taking a position on the proposed legislation.

Supporters of a student-level data system nonetheless say that the statement from the private college group is a positive development as they build momentum behind more comprehensive student data.

“There’s been a serious bipartisan effort over the past several years to answer these questions and they’ve been an obstinate holdout,” said Amy Laitinen, director of the postsecondary education program at New America. “So this to me does seem significant and it seems like welcome news.”

As talks over an update to the Higher Education Act have unfolded over the past year, policy makers have often found experts repeating the same refrain when asked about major policy questions involving student loan debt, college accountability or innovation: we need better data.

Part of the challenge identified by those experts is the ban on student-unit records in place for the past decade.

And shortcomings in federal data collection mean much of the college-going population, like transfer students, goes uncounted entirely. That makes for a less clear understanding of whether and how institutions are serving students well.

Lawmakers for several years have made bipartisan attempts to remove the ban and establish a new federal data system through previous iterations of Student Right to Know Before You Go. But NAICU has been one of the most consistent critics of those efforts, citing concerns about student privacy protections.

While ACE has kept out of the student-data fight, NAICU's position on student data had otherwise become increasingly isolated within the last year as a critical mass of higher ed organizations endorsed the College Transparency Act. That legislation would task the Department of Education with linking various data sets already maintained at different federal agencies.

It would also house the new student-level data system at the National Center for Education Statistics, one of a handful of government statistical agencies whose mission is to secure and protect data. (NCES would also oversee the data system proposed in the 2017 Student Right to Know Before You Go Act.)

But Sarah Flanagan, vice president for government relations and policy development at NAICU, said the CTA bill “does not provide a baseline of protections for student privacy.”

The latest version of the Student Right to Know Before You Go Act, when compared to earlier legislative proposals, included far more specific language about privacy protections. NAICU said this version of the bill, released in November, addresses shortcomings in the CTA by prescribing technology requirements for how student data is handled.

“This provides a pathway to start having real conversations about how we can use modern technology to get additional information on public policy questions,” Flanagan said.

Supporters of the College Transparency Act say the bill would allow for the same technology prescribed in the Student Right to Know Before You Go legislation, if that was identified as the best option.

And they say the most sensitive student data is already in the hands of the federal government. Craig Lindwarm, assistant vice president for congressional and governmental affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, said NAICU’s opposition to the CTA bill is based on mischaracterizations of what the bill would do.

“The standards in the CTA wouldn’t produce a big federal database of student information,” he said. “It’s a collection of limited pieces of information for limited purposes.”

No organization has been more central than APLU in building support for the College Transparency Act. So the groups have found themselves on opposite sides of the student-data issue. But Lindwarm said the new statement from NAICU is an important step.

“We’re always open to keeping that conversation going,” he said. “We’re closer together today than we were yesterday.”

Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, said NAICU’s statement adds to a wave of support for better data and increased transparency. She noted that much of that support has translated to endorsements of the CTA.

“More than 130 organizations, including higher education associations, have already signaled their support for better data and increased transparency by fully endorsing the College Transparency Act,” she said. “Students and families deserve quality information to inform their college decisions.”

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Pakistani scholars barred from Asian studies conference in India

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:00

Pakistani scholars won’t be able to attend the Association for Asian Studies’ upcoming conference in India.

The AAS is moving ahead with the July conference despite the Indian government’s explicit restrictions on Pakistani participants, outlined in a February letter sent by India’s Ministry of External Affairs to the university co-organizing the conference, Ashoka University.

The letter states that the ministry "has no objection from [a] political angle for the proposed event with foreign participants … (except participants from Pakistan)" (emphasis per the original text). It further states that the ministry "does not recommend participation from Pakistan in the proposed event."

In a joint statement, AAS, which is based in Ann Arbor, Mich., and Ashoka said that planning for the conference had been underway for several years before organizers learned of the Indian government's decision. Proposals for conference panels were due in November, and the conference -- one of a series of regional conferences in Asia that AAS organizes in addition to its annual conference in North America -- is scheduled for July 5-8 in New Delhi.

"The fact that the Ministry of External Affairs of the Government of India has decided to deny visas to Pakistani scholars (including scholars of Pakistani origin who are citizens of other countries) to attend the AAS-in-Asia conference in Delhi is not in tune with the open exchange of ideas and knowledge that is the very purpose of the conference,” the joint statement said. “However, neither the Association for Asian Studies nor Ashoka University has the authority to tell the Government of India, a sovereign nation, to whom it may and may not grant visas, and nor have we been able to influence the Government of India to reverse its decision in this case.”

"We deeply regret the governmental decision preventing Pakistani scholars from physically attending the conference. The affected delegates were informed in March, and since then, we have refunded registration fees for them and have made efforts to facilitate their participation by arranging for them to present their papers via Skype."

The statement was posted on the conference website Thursday after news of the restrictions on Pakistani participants was first reported in an India-based publication, The Wire. The letter from the Ministry of External Affairs had previously been posted on the conference website as a hyperlinked document under a section on visa information.

"It’s a weak response," Farhat Haq, the president of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies and a professor of political science at Monmouth College, said of the statement. The institute withdrew as a sponsor of the conference after the Wire article was published.

Haq said she wouldn't want to see the conference scrapped at this point, but she would have liked to see a stronger response from AAS saying it would not hold conferences in India in the future if such a blanket ban were to continue.

"The Indian government should realize that there’s a price to be paid for this kind of general ban of a whole nationality in a conference that is supposed to be an Asian studies conference," Haq said.

Indo-Pak relations reached a new low — No more academic visas for Pakistanis.
This letter from Indian ministry of external affairs read: Ministry doesn’t recommend participation from Pakistan.
I am one of the Pakistanis who r supposed to be attending AAS-in-Asia-2018. pic.twitter.com/jifqRiv4po

— Qurratulain Zaman (@Natrani) June 6, 2018

The organisers reached out to me and informed : “We regret to inform you that the Indian Embassy most likely will not sanction the visa for you to attend the conference, as such you are eligible for a full refund of the conference fees.” #Aas18 cc: @DevirupaM pic.twitter.com/Ug1zPDsoAp

— Qurratulain Zaman (@Natrani) June 6, 2018

One would-be participant from Pakistan, Annie Zaman, an independent researcher and journalist, was scheduled to speak about political narratives from Balochistan, an area of Pakistan that's home to a violent secessionist movement, and also was to participate in a session titled "Framing Spaces: Encountering Affective Geographies in South Asia." Zaman said she learned via an email from conference organizers on May 1 that she was unlikely to get a visa and was eligible for a full refund of registration fees, but she didn't learn of the ministry's letter until earlier this week. (Of the fact that Zaman received notice in May, not March, it appears from the context of the full email exchange that there was confusion on the part of conference organizers about her registration status and that there may have been an earlier attempt to contact her.)

"What’s emerged is a severe limitation on the principles of academic freedom," said Mira Mohsini, a visiting assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Akron, one of two co-organizers of a session at which Zaman was to speak. "The whole point of academic conferences is to have open dialogue, as much as possible open and free dialogue with exchange of ideas. What this directive and what in my opinion implicitly AAS is saying is this is not a space for that. It does call to question: As a conference, ethically, what are we all doing here if we are deliberately excluding voices from Pakistan, if we are deliberately excluding the Pakistani perspective? This is not to say that Pakistani topics are not going to be addressed in the conference. I’m sure there are excellent scholars who are addressing Pakistan, but we’re not hearing voices from Pakistan. We’re not hearing voices of Pakistani nationals. This is a huge exclusion."

“I’m sure if AAS had been more transparent about this directive, that they had received this letter, I am sure that many people might have chosen not to attend," Mohsini said.

"I didn’t expect anything better from the government. But I did expect better from AAS," said Sinjini Mukherjee, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at the University of Heidelberg and the co-chair, with Mohsini, of the session at which Zaman was scheduled to present. "They’re supposed to be one of us; they’re supposed to be on the side that resists these measures and these sort of fascist tendencies of states to curtail freedom, but instead of being transparent -- fine, I understand there’s a lot of financials involved in all of this and I get it -- but you could have at least made a statement and informed us so it didn’t hit us so late in the day."

"With this lack of transparency things have been set in motion in a particular way. Now the decision is not just whether Mira and I back out [of the conference]; there are so many people involved in our panel who have made plans," Mukherjee said. "That’s why I’m even more angry with the AAS that it took away our right to protest in the way we wanted to. If we’d had this information earlier, things might have been planned completely differently."

The president of AAS, Anne Feldhaus, the Foundation Professor of Religious Studies at Arizona State University, declined to comment beyond the joint written statement. The press office at the Indian embassy in Washington did not respond to an emailed request Thursday seeking information about the reasons for the prohibition on scholars from Pakistan, a country with which India has tense relations.

Some scholars have initiated boycotts of U.S.-based academic conferences in the wake of President Trump's travel ban, which restricts entry into the U.S. for citizens from a group of mostly Muslim-majority countries. Many have promoted the idea of moving international conferences outside the U.S., but the circumstances surrounding the AAS conference in India are a reminder that concerns about restrictions on scholar travel are not unique to the United States.

Haq, of the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, described "a sense of helplessness that this kind of blanket prohibition [on] a whole set of people can happen by our governments and there’s not much we can do about it."

"It's an oversight both on the part of AAS and of Ashoka University not to have had a guarantee in advance that scholars of any national origin would be admitted to the conference," said James Scott, a professor of political science and anthropology at Yale University and the keynote speaker at the AAS-in-Asia conference, which he still plans to attend.

"In a sense, the meeting ought never have been held until those guarantees were secured, and I suppose the first order of business at the meeting will be to have a petition that I think most everyone will sign condemning the Ministry of External Affairs or I suppose the [Narendra] Modi government, for that matter," said Scott, a past president of AAS.

"At this point it’s a question of protesting at the conference itself," Scott said, "but if the information that a conference is going to be restricted in this way is received well in advance, then the conference should be canceled."

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What freshmen are reading this summer

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:00

Alongside housing assignments and financial aid packages, freshmen across the country are receiving their summer reading assignments, or common books, as many programs call them. For most colleges and universities, the purpose of summer reading is to provide a common thread for new students and foster a sense of community. While the ultimate goal is the same for many colleges, book selections this summer vary widely.

A popular choice this season is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. Hiram, Colorado and Siena Colleges have all assigned the book, albeit very different versions. Emory University, Washington University in St. Louis and Gustavus Adolphus College assigned the book last year.

Siena College chose a graphic novel adaptation by Gris Grimly, hoping that the modern take on a classic will show students how Frankenstein is still relevant today.

“We hope that through the book students will start to see our Franciscan tradition with its values on diversity and social justice as an antidote to the isolation, fear and violence that Frankenstein experienced because of the way he looked,” Meg Woolbright, first-year seminar director and professor of English, said via email.

Colorado College is using Frankenstein to spark discussion about science and technology ethics. The college assigned the original text edited and amended by Charles E. Robinson, a popular authority on the text, who included essays in the volume about the social and ethical aspects of creativity in science.

“In our era of synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and climate engineering, this edition of Frankenstein will resonate forcefully for readers with a background or interest in science and engineering, and anyone intrigued by the fundamental questions of creativity and responsibility,” the Colorado College website stated.

Washington State University also focused on science and technology with its selection: Soonish, by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith. Washington State traditionally assigns nonfiction texts, and it is beginning its second of two years on the theme of “Frontiers of Technology, Health and Society.” The book outlines 10 emerging technologies that could either help or harm society in years to come.

Provost Daniel Bernardo selected Soonish after reviewing three options put forward by a faculty committee.

“As the committee noted, this book is topical, easy to read and forward looking,” he said. “The content of the book is very interesting and thought provoking, and the cartoons are simply a bonus and add a little levity to the discussions.”

Common reading co-chair Karen Weathermon added that the book might help incoming students focus on their own goals when heading to campus for the first time this fall.

“We also think that the book has a strong connection to the student-development goals we address in a variety of ways with our students, especially our first-year students,” she wrote in an email. “What are their own 'soonish' goals, what activities and opportunities available on campus would help them achieve those goals, and what would be the impact for them of achieving them?”

Other popular books this summer include Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, assigned at Providence College and Northlake College, as well as Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson, assigned at Goucher College, the University of South Alabama and Middle Tennessee State University. Both remain top picks after appearing on many reading lists last summer.

Some colleges assigned region-specific reads. The University of Wisconsin Madison, perched on an isthmus between Lake Mendota and Lake Monona in a state that borders two of the Great Lakes, Superior and Michigan, chose The Death and Life of the Great Lakes by Dan Egan, a nonfiction novel detailing the Great Lakes’ ecological crisis and concern for their future preservation.

“This book should appeal to our students, particularly given the rapid growth in classes that address environmental issues,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a press release. “Plus over 80 percent of our fall 2017 incoming freshmen come from states that border the Great Lakes, so for them this is personal.”

California State University Chico and Butte College also picked a book close to home. They jointly assigned All They Will Call You, a story by Tim Hernandez about the January 1948 plane crash in California's Central Valley that killed 32 people, 28 of whom were Mexican farm workers being deported by the U.S.

All They Will Call You tells a 70-year-old story with themes of immigration and labor that still resonate deeply in California,” Butte College president Samia Yaqub said. “This is a book that speaks to our time and place.”

Some other selections this summer include:

  • Hamilton: The Musical (Original Broadway Cast Recording) by Lin-Manuel Miranda, assigned at Saint Michael's College
  • The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen, assigned at Gustavus Adolphus College
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, assigned at the University of Houston-Downtown
  • Tigerland by Wil Haygood, assigned at Miami University in Ohio
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward, assigned at Duke University
  • Lab Girl by Hope Jahren, assigned at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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Fairleigh Dickinson professor accused of discriminating against pregnant student

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:00

A doctoral student at Fairleigh Dickinson University who complained to administrators about being penalized by a professor for missing classes while on maternity leave plans to file a formal gender-discrimination complaint against the university. The student says the professor refused to accommodate her request to miss class so she could give birth, a denial that would be a violation of federal law.

Gayla Toledano, a student in the university's graduate psychology program, requested the time off in writing from her professor, Jennifer Cleveland, who told Toledano she could not miss class without it affecting her final grade. Toledano emailed Cleveland in January, after classes had already begun, to explain the arrangement she made with the director of the psychology program allowing her to miss the first two weeks of classes and then Skype in for four more weeks. Three out of four of Toledano’s professors accommodated those absences, but Cleveland told Toledano in an email that she should have contacted her before the class started to make such arrangements, in which case she would have suggested another option.

"I would have recommended that anyone in your position wait to take the course next spring," Cleveland wrote in a detailed response to Toledano. "Having said that, I would consider allowing you to stay in the course with the condition that your grade may reflect your absences."

Class participation makes up 20 percent of the grade in Cleveland's class.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that specifies pregnant students are a protected class, prohibits gender discrimination in education and stipulates that absences related to pregnancy should not interfere with a student’s ability to participate in class. According to a National Women's Law Center Title IX fact sheet for pregnant and parenting students, "Schools must reschedule exams missed due to pregnancy or childbirth. When you return, your college must allow you to return to the same academic and extracurricular status you had before you left. The college must also give you a chance to make up missed work."

The Fairleigh Dickinson University nondiscrimination and antiharassment policy states similar protocol.

“In accordance with federal and state law, the University prohibits any member of the faculty, staff, administration, student body, volunteers or visitors to campus, whether they be guests, patrons, independent contractors or clients, from harassing and/or discriminating against … pregnancy status,” Fairleigh Dickinson University's policy reads. The policy also specifies that pregnancy should not interfere with “a student’s or admission applicant’s ability to participate in, access, or benefit from educational programs, services, or activities.”

Toledano contacted Rose D’Ambrosio, the university's Title IX coordinator, about the situation in May, but D’Ambrosio responded that she did not believe Cleveland violated Title IX.

"I am not seeing that Professor Cleveland was in violation of Title IX in both her initial response to your accommodation request, as well as with her final participation grade," she wrote in an email.

After Toledano was made aware that she should have been protected under Title IX, she reached out again to D'Ambrosio.

"I had not been informed of my Title IX rights by my professors, academic advisor, or school administration," she wrote in an email on May 15. "[Cleveland's] statements were a prima facia [sic] violation of the protections afforded to individuals under Title IX. It is the schools [sic] responsibility to educate professors about excused absences and medical leave."

It's not clear if Toledano, who declined to discuss her complaint in detail, heard back from D'Ambrosio.

Toledano has not filed a formal complaint, but if she does, it would be valid, said Elizabeth Tang, a legal fellow at the National Women's Law Center.

“Title IX requires schools to allow students to make up any work that they missed because of a pregnancy-related reason, so it’s a pretty black-and-white scenario here,” Tang said. “All absences must be excused, even if the school has a policy of not excusing other types of absences.”

Cleveland and D’Ambrosio did not respond to requests for comment, but Fairleigh Dickinson University issued a statement saying that administrators are aware of the issue but would not comment on the specific case.

"The University is aware that student Gayla Tolendano [sic] is contemplating filing a claim of discrimination and has been in contact with the University's Title IX Coordinator, but she has not formally submitted one yet," the statement read. "These matters are extremely sensitive, and because we do not want to deter our community from reporting them, as well as for considerations related to student privacy laws, the University does not comment on individual student's [sic] cases."

Toledano's case was made public by the anti-abortion group Students for Life of America, which a relative suggested could give her legal advice. The group's Pregnant on Campus Initiative aims to “create a culture on campus that is accepting of pregnant and parenting students, and works with them to help them both parent and complete their education,” Kristan Hawkins, the group's president, said in a press release. A New Jersey newspaper wrote about the situation, and Inside Higher Ed also received materials about the case from the group.

Toledano said Thursday that she did not intend for her dispute to become public and stressed that she does not blame Cleveland for what happened to her. She said it is the responsibility of the university to train its faculty and staff about Title IX and how to adhere to the law.

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New presidents or provosts: Buena Vista CalArts Chandler-Gilbert Ga. Southwestern Glendale Idaho State Keene Lewis-Clark Millersville

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 06/08/2018 - 07:00
  • Tracie Costantino, interim provost at Rhode Island School of Design, has been chosen as provost at California Institute of the Arts.
  • Nancy Fey-Yensan, dean of the College of Health and Human Services at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, has been selected as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Keene State College, in New Hampshire.
  • Brian Lenzmeier, interim vice president of academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Buena Vista University, in Iowa, has been promoted to provost and vice president for academic affairs there.
  • Teresa Leyba-Ruiz, interim president at Glendale Community College, part of the Maricopa Community College District in Arizona, has been named president there on a permanent basis.
  • Greg Peterson, acting vice president of instruction at Golden West College, in California, has been chosen as president of Chandler-Gilbert Community College, part of the Maricopa Community College District in Arizona.
  • Cynthia Pemberton, vice president for academic affairs at Colorado Mesa University, in Colorado, has been named president of Lewis-Clark State College, in Idaho.
  • Kevin Satterlee, chief operating officer at Boise State University, has been selected as president of Idaho State University.
  • Suzanne R. Smith, director of academic planning and special assistant to the vice chancellor at Washington State University Vancouver, has been named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southwestern State University.
  • Daniel A. Wubah, former provost and senior adviser to the president of Washington and Lee University, in Virginia, has been chosen as president of Millersville University of Pennsylvania.
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Southern Illinois U appears prepared to oust system president

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 07:00

The board of the Southern Illinois University System has scheduled a special meeting of its Executive Committee for Friday.

The agenda states that the committee will meet in closed session, followed by an open session. The agenda for the open meeting includes only two items: "administrative leave of president" and "appointment of acting president."

Randy Dunn, the president, is listed in the document as among those who would receive the agenda. He told the Chicago Tribune that he had no plans for a leave, saying that the meeting “was not called in consultation with me or with my knowledge ahead of time.” He added that he would be "talking to my representation and seeing what I can find out."

Dunn has faced several controversies while leading the system, but support for him has deteriorated since an email he wrote to senior administrators was revealed to be urging them to help him “shut up the bitchers from Carbondale.”

The tensions with Carbondale, the larger of the two main campuses in the SIU system, come from a plan by Dunn and others to shift more than $5 million from its annual state appropriation to the smaller but growing Edwardsville campus.

Dunn's email was revealed last month by Kathleen Chwalisz, a professor of psychology at Carbondale who is co-chair of the Faculty Senate Budget Committee. She obtained the email through an open-records request and published it in an essay in The Southern Illinoisan, a local newspaper.

The essay argues that the budget proposal would be damaging to the campus and is based on "a lie" that Dunn has pushed about the historic split between funds for the two campuses. Supporters of Carbondale note that all of public higher education has been facing tight budgets for years now, but have asked why their campus should be hurt to help Edwardsville.

Even among those open to some budget adjustments, many said that the language in Dunn's email showed a lack of respect for faculty concerns at Carbondale.

"Randy Dunn’s email reveals his contempt for the Carbondale campus and community, as he denigrates us for questioning the rationale, process and timing of the proposed reallocation move," wrote Chwalisz.

Some legislators called for Dunn's resignation. On the floor of the State House of Representatives, one lawmaker, noting the mascot of SIU Carbondale, said of Dunn, “On behalf of all Salukis, you go to hell, sir.”

Some faculty members have been settling T-shirts on Etsy (above) for those who wish to boast of being "Carbondale bitchers."

Dunn published a response in the newspaper taking issue with Chwalisz's budget analysis, but he apologized for insulting the faculty.

"I want to take an opportunity to address what was a mistake on my part in referring to individuals in the Carbondale area who have questioned, as it is their right to do, this process regarding campus budget reallocations with a less than complementary [sic] term," he wrote. "I was wrong to characterize them in that way. Many are friends and colleagues and to them, I apologize for how I characterized those who reflexively refused to discuss the issue or engage in a dialogue about it."

Many Carbondale faculty members had doubts about Dunn prior to the most recent controversy.

In January, many faculty members and others criticized Dunn for his approval of an arrangement under which the new chancellor at Carbondale, Carlo Montemagno, was told that he could hire his daughter and son-in-law for university jobs. Many colleges help find positions for spouses of faculty members and administrators. Such "dual-career hires" are important for recruiting, experts say. But hiring children is not common. While Carbondale hired the son-in-law for an existing opening, the daughter was hired into a position created for her. Some of the anger over the hiring of a chancellor's relatives related to ongoing deep budget cuts at the university.

In an interview in January, Dunn said that he "wrestled" with the decision to enable this "atypical" request for the chancellor, and that he was aware of the optics of such hires amid funding woes. “I’m not trying to wash my hands of it, because I was part and parcel of this discussion,” Dunn said. “I gave it consideration, and ultimately decided I was comfortable enough with it.”

The first controversy of Dunn's tenure concerned his hiring as president -- Southern Illinois hired him in 2014 as he was seven months into the presidency of Youngstown State University.

While there is no consensus on what a minimum time is that a president should stay in a position before considering jobs elsewhere, seven months is almost universally seen as inadequate.

Defenders of Dunn's move noted that he is a native of Illinois, taught at SIU early in his career and had served as the state schools superintendent. Critics said that the costs of presidential searches, and the time spent by a new president learning the issues and meeting constituents, made his departure after such a short tenure unprofessional.

"After seven months, you would think you owe the institution the commitment you made when you accepted the position,” a search consultant told Inside Higher Ed at the time.

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Lawmakers discuss national security concerns and Chinese students

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 07:00

A Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday afternoon originally bore the title “A Thousand Talents: China’s Campaign to Infiltrate and Exploit U.S. Academia.”

Although the name of the hearing was changed to “Student Visa Integrity: Protecting Educational Opportunity and National Security,” Democratic lawmakers nevertheless raised concerns that Chinese students and scholars are being broadly tarred as threats to national security and potential intellectual property thieves. Fueling this concern is a recently reported policy change, going into effect June 11 and confirmed in broad strokes during the hearing by a State Department official, which will restrict the length of visas for certain Chinese nationals who are participating in some types of sensitive research.

In a sign of how tense the debate has come, normal congressional courtesies appear to have been ignored. Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Border Security and Immigration, sought to invite Representative Judy Chu, of California, the chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, to testify at Wednesday’s subcommittee hearing. Representative Chu’s office said Durbin’s request was declined by the committee chair, Senator John Cornyn of Texas, a Republican.

Senator Durbin described this as the first time in more than two decades on the committee that this had happened. He submitted for the record Representative Chu’s written testimony in which she described Wednesday’s hearing as “part of an effort to build a specific case against law-abiding visa holders and to fuel the dangerous narrative that students from China should be viewed with more scrutiny than those from other countries.”

“I want to speak out against some potentially dangerous generalizations that would paint all Chinese students and scholars as spies for China,” Chu said in an interview. “It started with [Federal Bureau of Investigation] Director [Christopher] Wray saying that Chinese students are a national security threat that require a whole-of-society response” -- remarks Wray made in February at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

“I found that to be dangerous, because what does this mean? Does it mean that every Chinese student should be subject to surveillance just because they are Chinese?” Chu asked. Chinese nationals account for almost a third of all international students at American colleges and universities.

Senator Cornyn’s office did not respond to a request for comment. In his opening remarks at the hearing, Senator Cornyn cited Wray’s remarks about the security risks posed by Chinese students and scholars. He noted that Wray’s remarks “were brief and because of the sensitive and classified nature of some parts of this issue, he could not provide the full context or breadth of the concerns in an open setting.”

“Most students and visiting scholars come to the United States for legitimate reasons. They’re here to learn, to share their culture, to learn more about ours, and to contribute their talents to America. Indeed, I’ve come to believe that America’s higher education community is really the crown jewels of what we have to offer as Americans to the world and indeed represent an important element of our soft power,” Senator Cornyn said.

“But as a member of the Intelligence Committee and the Judiciary Committee, I can assure you that the threats that Director Wray talked about were real … and they’re not limited to one country. There are countries, including state sponsors of terrorism, like Iran, who are actively working to steal U.S. technical information or products, to bypass expensive U.S. research and development, and exploit the student visa program to gain information that will benefit their countries.”

“Protecting our national security while maintaining a free and open academic environment is a difficult challenge,” Joseph G. Morosco, the assistant director of the Office of the National Manager for Counterintelligence in the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said in his testimony before the subcommittee. “Although there are many benefits that international students bring to the United States, we must be clear-eyed about the potential risks. There are many foreign academics and researchers currently attending U.S. institutions from nations that are strategic competitors, including Iran, Russia and the People’s Republic of China. We are particularly concerned about China because it is among the United States’ most formidable economic competitors.”

"Let me be clear," Morosco said in response to a question from Senator Cornyn at a later point in the hearing. "Our counterintelligence concern with respect to China is not driven by race or ethnicity of the students that are in the United States. Our counterintelligence concern is driven by the fact that China has a publicly stated policy goal of acquiring sensitive information and technology around the world, to include here in the United States, and that they seek [to] access and recruit global experts regardless of their nationality to meet their science and technology aims."

E. W. Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI's Counterintelligence Division, added that for some of the reasons Morosco mentioned, a "disproportionate number" of the economic espionage cases the FBI sees involve Chinese nationals.

Also speaking at the hearing, government witnesses from the Departments of State and Homeland Security presented on processes they have in place to vet applicants for student visas and monitor their activities once in the U.S. For example, Louis Rodi, the deputy assistant director of the National Security Investigations Division within Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), described a partnership HSI has with the National Counterterrorism Center "to routinely screen nonimmigrant students who are lawfully present in the United States against known derogatory information."

“In addition,” Rodi said, “HSI developed a program to address a potential vulnerability with nonimmigrant students who entered the United States to study in a nonsensitive field of study and subsequently transferred to a sensitive field of study.”

Senator Durbin questioned why the hearing focused on the risks posed by international students in particular: “I would say of all the possible ways of compromising the economic integrity and even the national security integrity of the United States, this is a small category,” he said.

Senator Durbin also sought to pin down Edward J. Ramotowski, the deputy assistant secretary for visa services in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs, on the reported change that will limit the duration of visa lengths just for Chinese nationals.

"News reports have stated under a new policy to take effect on June 11, Chinese graduate students would be limited to one-year visas if they’re studying in certain fields such as robotics, aviation and high-tech manufacturing. Is that true?" Durbin asked.

"Senator, we have issued some additional screening instructions to U.S. embassies and consulates to deal with certain individuals from China studying in certain sensitive fields," Ramotowski responded. "It would not be appropriate to discuss the details of those internal instructions in an open hearing, but what I can tell you is that these are screening measures. They don’t in and of themselves prohibit the entry of anyone into the United States or restrict access to our country."

"Do they limit, is it a one-year limit?” Senator Durbin asked.

"In some cases the visa, if approved, might be limited to one year, multiple entries, with the option to renew," Ramotowski replied.

"It’s my understanding this just applies to certain Chinese graduate students, is that correct?" Durbin asked.

"It applies to certain Chinese nationals, yes, sir," Ramotowski said.

Later, Durbin returned to the question, phrasing it in a different way. “June 11, new standard: if you are a Chinese graduate student, you are limited to a one-year visa in certain fields. I mentioned several: robotics, aviation, high-tech manufacturing. True or false?"

"Senator, yes, we do have new guidance on that, that applies enhanced screening to Chinese citizens in certain highly sensitive fields that have been recommended to us by other government agencies," Ramotowski responded.

"That particular June 11 new standard, strictly for Chinese graduate students?” Senator Durbin asked.

"And certain other individuals of Chinese nationality that might be engaged in similar study or work."

Pledges of Vigilance

Also testifying at the hearing were representatives from the higher education world. They stressed that universities are ready partners with the government and that they already comply with existing laws and rules governing sensitive technologies.

"Universities are increasingly vigilant about securing research programs and ensuring compliance with rules relating to export controls, controlled unclassified information and classified information," said Kevin Gamache, the chief research security officer at the Texas A&M University System. "The A&M system has taken a leadership role in this area. We established the Academic Security Conference in 2017 as a forum for academic institutions participating in the National Industrial Security Program [a program dealing with the protection of classified information]. We also managed a Listserv with 120 universities for academic security professionals to collaborate daily. Finally, we established the Academic Counter-Exploitation Program, a secure portal on DHS's Homeland Security Information Network, to allow academic institutions to share controlled, unclassified threat information unique to academia."

Gamache said that "many others within the academic community also work diligently to protect our nation's high-value research, but more can be done. We recommend establishing an academic counterexploitation working group to work with the FBI, DHS and other agencies to help inform policy solutions to counter the foreign threat to sensitive academic research. This group could also establish a national initiative to educate faculty and university administration on threats to our research and innovation base."

"Secondly," Gamache continued, "fund federal research robustly. Our adversaries' efforts would be less effective if U.S. faculty and students were resourced more fully. If the U.S. government matched funding levels and provided a focus equal to what the Chinese government is contributing to their talent recruitment programs, it would diminish many of these security issues considerably."

"University and college officials take threats to national security, academic freedom and economic security very seriously," said Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy for NAFSA: Association of International Educators. "NAFSA, along with other higher education associations, stands ready to partner with you in these efforts."

Welch cautioned, however, against "the potential unintended consequences associated with overly broad action. "Let us remember that we are in fact in a global competition for talent and it is through open collaboration, the influx of international perspectives and the free exchange of ideas that the United States will prosper in the global economy."

Welch said, "It’s exceedingly important that the majority of Chinese students and scholars understand that we are not talking about them today. It’s exceedingly important because there are many choices of where talented people can go, and our research programs in the United States, particularly at the graduate level, are incredibly dependent on this kind of talent in order to offer the spaces in our classrooms to American students as well."

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Compton College comes back from losing accreditation

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 07:00

COMPTON, Calif. -- The athletic field at Compton College is a freshly manicured, lush green with new stadium lights hovering above.

It’s late spring in California, and as the community college’s soccer team practices, the sun is shining on a field that carries the maroon and silver lettering of the Compton Tartars. This is typical for any college, especially one with a team that nearly won its conference championship last year.

But it’s an achievement at Compton -- the first public college in California to ever lose its accreditation.

For nearly 12 years, the college that was one of the first two-year institutions in the state could not continue to operate on its own. Beleaguered by a corrupt board and financial insolvency, Compton was stripped of its accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges in 2005, and the state Legislature subsequently stripped the Board of Trustees of power. To maintain programs for the college’s students, control of Compton’s operations and services were taken over by neighboring El Camino College, and Compton became El Camino College Compton Center.

”From 1997 to 2004, I thought, ‘This place has problems,’” said Paul Flor, a professor of political science at Compton College and former Academic Senate president, who started working at the institution in 1997. “Was I one of those people who thought it’d be better remaining under El Camino? At one time, yes, I thought that. But that was the easy route.”

But over those 12 years, Compton has gradually been rebuilding its brand and sweeping out the problems that led to the accreditation loss. Some changes, such as tuition-free agreements with local high schools to enroll their graduates and also improve enrollment at Compton, have been monumental. And others have been small, like keeping the Compton name on the college’s buildings, fields and apparel.

Then last year the college’s administration, staff and students saw their efforts pay off -- ACCJC granted Compton its accreditation for seven years.

”When we had our accreditation visit last March, I felt good about the report, but some of our employees cried,” said Keith Curry, president of the college. “Some people have more history here than I do. You could see the validation that we did something good … people thought we were dead.”

‘It’s a Love Story’

Faculty members and community members point to Keith Curry as one of the main reasons behind Compton’s comeback.

Now president, Curry prior to the restored accreditation last year was the campus’s provost under the El Camino partnership.

Compton didn’t choose Curry, but he chose the college, Flor said, adding that it’s an important distinction to how he describes a “transformational leader.”

“It’s a love story,” Curry said, describing his relationship with the college. “As an educational leader, I’m never afraid, and I have good faculty and staff who care about student success. I’m from here. I’ve been approached with other job offers, but at the end of the day this is where I’m from.”

Under Curry’s leadership -- and without accreditation -- the college successfully got local voters to approve a $100 million facilities referendum in 2014 to improve the campus’s 1950s-era buildings and started new programs in cosmetology, heating ventilation and air-conditioning, as well as a transfer program for honor students. Compton also started early-college partnerships with local high schools, added new athletic programs and created a program to help formerly incarcerated students.

And over the course of seven years the college reduced the number of audit irregularities, from 26 in 2010 to zero in 2017.

More recently, beyond the accreditation achievement and the Board of Trustees’ power being restored last year, Moody’s upgraded the college’s credit rating.

When it comes to student outcomes, in the last five years the number of students receiving a degree or certificate has doubled, despite declining enrollment -- in 2013, the college awarded 380 degrees and certificates, while in 2017 the college awarded 574 degrees and certificates. The college still has a long way to go in improving completion, however, with a 12 percent federal graduation rate.

“Compton College is an important institution to the community,” said Nicole Jones, the current board president, who was appointed to her position in 2016, adding that there was strong support from the community to keep the college going. “Bonds were passed … that speaks volumes of the community’s support for Compton. That the property owners were willing to vote and say yes to fund and support activities in Compton.”

Jones was appointed to the board when the college was still under a special trustee and the elected board had no power. She’ll face her first election this year.

“This is the first time this had happened for a college, to lose accreditation and control and come back,” she said. “I think people thought it was never coming back, but people in the community were very much fighting for it and still do.”

But that support wasn’t ubiquitous.

“No other community college in the state of California has been treated like Compton college has,” said State Assemblyman Mike Gipson, a Democrat in the state Legislature, who represents Compton, Carson and Gardena. Gipson has been one of the area lawmakers voicing support for Compton over the years and helping to secure $11.3 million in state funding to help the college rebuild its enrollment.

Flor, the political science professor, said one of the problems the college has had to contend with is the misperceptions of the city of Compton in general, particularly how they play in the media, and how that has reflected on the college during the accreditation crisis.

When City Colleges of San Francisco faced the potential of losing its accreditation, eyeballs turned to what had happened in Compton. And observers and supporters in Compton couldn’t help comparing the reaction to the much larger CCSF potentially losing accreditation to what had occurred years earlier.

“We focused on our recovery and stayed out of the CCSF situation,” Curry said. “But I was in disbelief of people in support of CCSF who didn’t stand up for Compton. People thought that our institution was corrupt and thought what happened to Compton should have happened to Compton.”

Curry said he remained focused on getting Compton back in good standing with ACCJC, even as faculty groups, the state’s unions and even members of Congress like Representative Nancy Pelosi questioned the commission’s stance on the San Francisco college.

“They created a whole new designation for CCSF, but for us, we were revoked,” he said.

If Compton had another name or another location, there may have been more support for the college, Flor said. Some of the arguments against CCSF losing accreditation were connected to its significantly larger size, as well. The San Francisco college enrolled about 90,000 students in 2012.

”Everyone came out in support of San Francisco,” he said. “If we were in North Long Beach or called Dominguez Hills Community College or a different community college, we would’ve had almost unanimous support. But this misconception is fueled by other sources that Compton is Compton. Straight Outta Compton. If we can get rid of the baby and the bathwater, that’s fine.”

That perception also impacted the relationship between El Camino and Compton when it first began.

A Unique Partnership

At about 12,000 students enrolled, Compton is a relatively small college south of Los Angeles, compared to its neighbors at El Camino, Long Beach City, Cerritos or East Los Angeles Colleges. More than 85 percent of students are black and/or Hispanic, and most of them are under the age of 24.

Despite being less than eight miles apart, Compton and El Camino couldn’t be more different: El Camino, with about 32,000 students, has a 67 percent black and Latino population.

”Look at our demographics, and it is night and day,” Flor said. “We were considered the inferior campus, just the Center. In every respect, we were considered the stepchild.”

Although the college lost its accreditation for financial and governance issues by its leadership, the loss impacted the perception of academic quality and instruction at the college.

“The community heard Compton lost accreditation, and people made assumptions that it was because of the quality of instruction,” Flor said, adding that it was the faculty that initially alerted ACCJC to the college’s problems.

But many of the innovations and reforms that are just now taking place at two-year colleges across the country, like guided pathways and math academies, were being developed by Compton faculty before the accreditation was revoked, Flor said.

There was also some resentment from faculty about El Camino taking over the college’s operations. Faculty members during that time had to reapply for their positions, and some programs were eliminated because they didn’t match the ones El Camino offered.

Flor said some faculty members did leave and others were forced out. He also remembers being called about potentially being laid off from his position.

“We could’ve gone anywhere else, but there is a certain care and a certain type of attention our students need,” he said. “We’re not there to find the bigger paycheck. Other institutions can pay more, but we’re there to make a difference.”

Challenges Ahead

Next year Compton will have completely separated from El Camino College and will, once again, stand on its own as a separate institution.

But the challenges the college is facing will only intensify.

For instance, enrollment is expected to decline once Compton and El Camino separate, partially because of the misperceptions that continue to surround the college’s brand.

“A lot of students are petitioning for graduation this year and wondering if next year we’ll still be El Camino College, because they still want a diploma that says El Camino College,” Flor said. “They don’t want a diploma that says Compton College. We still have to rebrand. We have to get a reputation out there that says Compton College diplomas are just as respected and equal as others.”

Then there is the state’s move to performance funding, which the California Legislature is in final negotiations over. Sixty percent of state funding to colleges would be based on total enrollment. Compton, however, would be held harmless for five years to encourage the college to become more self-sustaining in the aftermath of the accreditation crisis.

“The only reason Compton is one of the smallest [community colleges in the district] is because of enrollment,” said Gipson, the state lawmaker. “We have an opportunity right now to boost it back up and to a point where it won’t have to be the smallest. We’ll be able to compete with all the other colleges.”

But the new performance-funding formula may benefit the college, too, and it has Curry’s support in acknowledging that some students face higher barriers than others. Under the new formula, 40 percent of state support would be based on student success measures and enrolling low-income students.

The college also wants to tackle poverty head-on with current proposals to construct a 540-bed residential hall on campus, an issue Curry said he’s been pushing for at least the past seven months. A survey commissioned by the Los Angeles Community College District’s Board of Trustees found one in every five of the district’s 230,000 students is homeless, and nearly two-thirds are food insecure.

“We’re in a push to make changes for our students, and I want to be part of the change in California Community Colleges by improving Compton,” Curry said.

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Malaysia reconsiders role of branch campuses

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 07:00

For almost 30 years, branch campuses set up by foreign universities have been a central part of Malaysia’s higher education strategy, and it now hosts outposts of 12 overseas institutions.

It is an approach that has helped to establish the country as a leading international education hub, boosted by its proximity to Southeast Asia’s star education performer, Singapore. The strategy has also been aided by Malaysia’s relative political stability.

However, this approach is under scrutiny after the defeat last month of the dominant Barisan Nasional coalition for the first time in 60 years and the ousting of Najib Razak, the leader of the coalition’s dominant party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO). He has been replaced by former UMNO leader Mahathir Mohamad, who now heads the Pakatan Harapan coalition.

Najib had been a firm backer of the branch campus strategy as prime minister and in previous government roles. As an alumnus of the University of Nottingham, as education minister he likely played a key role in its establishing a base in Malaysia in the 1990s.

Morshidi Sirat, senior research fellow at Malaysia’s National Higher Education Research Institute, based at the Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang, said that Najib may have been the “primary mover” in supporting new branch campuses as prime minister but that the strategy was always much wider than one politician and it had been scaled back in recent times anyway.

Referring to the original motivation for the strategy, he said that “while Malaysia has several good public universities, almost all … were not successful in attracting international students at the undergraduate level as these institutions use Malay language as the medium of instruction.”

Although there were private institutions that used English, there were sometimes issues around their governance, quality and standards, so branch campuses were seen “as an excellent strategy to bring quality education to Malaysia and, more importantly, to attract international students.”

As time has gone on, the branch campuses have also increasingly served domestic students, too, especially those from Malaysia’s ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who found it difficult to access the public university system. In part, this was because of a quota system introduced in the past as part of “affirmative action” aimed at getting more students from Malaysia’s indigenous Bumiputera population into the system, Morshidi said.

Although a more merit-based system was introduced into public universities in the early part of this century, “the capacity of the public system was rather limited, so here lies the role of [branch campuses], to cater for excellent students who are unable to enter public universities,” he added.

However, as branch campuses have attracted more domestic students -- increasingly including those from middle-class Bumiputera communities, too -- this has also indicated “that they have not been able to attract substantial numbers of international students.”

It adds to an impression that Malaysia has reached saturation point for branch campuses, and even under Najib’s government there had been moves to limit further expansion.

A “moratorium” on new higher education institutions had begun in 2012, Morshidi said, and although this did not cover the EduCity Iskandar development near the Singapore border, even this location was becoming full.

“I do not think that there is any more potential for new [branch campuses] in Malaysia,” Morshidi said. “However, having said that, I would not be surprised [if] new [branch campuses] from Asia, [the] U.K. or Australia may spring up elsewhere in Malaysia, as the new government may have their own justifications for not subscribing to the moratorium set by the old regime.”

Whether the new government completely rips up the blueprint for higher education or carries on as before is also key to the future of existing branch campuses in the country.

Ka Ho Mok, vice president and Lam Man Tsan Chair Professor of Comparative Policy at Lingnan University Hong Kong, said that one possibility is the opening up of the public system to more students from the Indian and Chinese communities in Malaysia, which could lead to “keen competition” with the branch campuses.

But potentially more important, he said, would be the new government’s attitude over how to meet the demands of Malaysia’s labor market.

“If the labor market favors locally groomed graduates, those who graduate from the branch campus may be [in a] disadvantaged position,” Mok said.

Certainly, with the political situation still in flux, and Malaysia having already gone some way toward reaching its goal of being a major higher education hub for the region, it seems that further branch campuses are unlikely.

And for his part, the head of Nottingham’s Malaysia campus, Graham Kendall, believes that there should be a period of reflection.

“I think that there should be a halt while Malaysia takes stock of what it has and where it wants to go,” he said. “It is arguable whether we have reached saturation point -- but a stocktaking period would be useful.”

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 06/07/2018 - 07:00
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Is philosophy really ignoring important questions about transgender identity, specifically what it means to be a woman?

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 07:00

As last year’s Hypatia debate revealed, writing philosophy about being transgender is tricky. There are outstanding debates about which questions actually matter and who is best situated to philosophize about transgender identity, along with pitfalls to avoid -- arguably facile comparisons among them. (As you may recall, Hypatia’s editors and associate editorial board split over an essay comparing being transgender to being transracial).

In a new, talked-about series of essays, Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, in Britain, brings another set of tricky question to the fore: If there are inherent differences in interests between cisgender women and trans women, why aren’t academics debating them?

“Something is afoot in academic philosophy,” Stock wrote in one essay she published on Medium. “Beyond the academy, there’s a huge and impassioned discussion going on, around the apparent conflict between women-who-are-not-transwomen’s rights and interests, and transwomen’s rights and interests. And yet nearly all academic philosophers -- including, surprisingly, feminist philosophers -- are ignoring it.”

Stock’s occasion for writing is proposed changes to Britain’s Gender Recognition Act, which would make it easier for trans people to gain recognition for their identities through self-declaration. While many British feminists support the changes without hesitation, others -- especially radical feminists -- believe being born with a vagina is meaningfully different from being born without one. There are concerns about whether trans women might come to dominate women’s issues in politics, for example.

The debate has, in some instances, led to clashes between protesters in Britain. And yet, as Stock says, academics aren’t really talking about it.

Where Is the Gender-Critical Perspective?

Stock suggests that part of the problem may be fear of being labeled transphobic for asserting that there are important differences between cisgender women and trans women -- what is called the “gender-critical” position. (The “metaphysical” position, she says, is that there is no meaningful difference between cisgender women and trans women.) Yet another part of the problem is that academics may not want to add fuel to anti-trans bigotry.

Arguing for civil, academic debate on these different perspectives, Stock says that “seeing the validity of these points should not depend on accepting the [gender-critical] position. It is perfectly possible to think the [gender-critical] position fundamentally flawed without acting like there is a bad smell in the room when anyone raises it, and that its proponent must be a moral degenerate.”

Gender-critical feminists outside the academy “are doing strong and interesting work on their own, and arguably don’t need our help in any case,” she added, “but it would be nice if the political climate allowed like-minded philosophers to contribute freely where they could.”

Stock soon posted anonymized responses to her essays, with most agreeing that there’s an “eery” silence around the gender-critical position in a field that’s produced so much work on the silencing of marginalized groups. Some responses called such silencing a new strain of misogyny.

Other philosophers have responded publicly. Amy Olberding, President’s Associates Presidential Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma, wrote on the Feminist Philosophers blog that “there are of course many domains in philosophy in which people express this kind of fear -- a reluctance to speak for worry of heated, denunciatory disapprobation.”

Yet seeing it transpire within feminist philosophy “is perhaps especially painful,” she said, as “some of us do (again, naïvely) want feminist spaces to have exemplary conversational norms. Because if lots of feminists step out of issues of public controversy, those controversies won’t profit from what they might add.”

Jenny Saul, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sheffield in Britain and a moderator of Feminist Philosophers, borrowed a comment Audrey Yap had posted about another article on "trans-exclusionary radical feminists," or TERFs, as cisgender women who don’t count trans women among their ranks are sometimes called. Saul said Yap, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of Victoria in Canada, did a “great job of explaining why many of us [are] very hesitant to have these discussions.”

'Identity and Lived Experience'

Here’s what Yap said: “What I do have a serious problem with are people who are happy to speculate about gender identity, and whether trans women are really women, as though it were an abstract philosophical puzzle to be solved, and not something that is about actual living people. When taking one side of an argument involves the invalidation of a lot of people’s identity and lived experience I think it’s right that we be extremely hesitant to take it.”

Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina and moderator of the Daily Nous philosophy blog, asked Talia Mae Bettcher, chair of philosophy at California State University at Los Angeles, to write a guest post on the issue. The response to Stock thus far seemed to be that she was cutting through a “Stalinesque, anti-philosophical, PC ban on raising ‘common sense’ questions about transgender persons,” he wrote to Bettcher, or general disagreement or appreciative curiosity from nonspecialists. What’s missing was “informed, substantive, and sincere engagement with Stock.”

After somewhat reluctantly agreeing to offer that kind of engagement, Bettcher wrote on Daily Nous that Stock seemed unaware of decades' worth of literature on trans issues and the gender-critical perspective in particular. Beyond that, she said, “Stock invites trans women to prove that we’re women. She sees this as a ‘metaphysical’ issue distinct from the moral issue of whether trans people should be treated in accordance with our identities.”

Unfortunately, Bettcher said, “I’m unclear what I’m supposed to be proving. It’s hard to hit the target when there are multiple targets to choose from!” Why? “Once we ask the question of what a woman is, things immediately become more complicated philosophically.”

Bettcher surmised that Stock isn’t, in fact, interested in “engaging with us philosophers in the first place.” Instead, she said, Stock may only be taking issue “with the mainstream trans discourse that seems to her dogmatic, political, and unquestioned, and the trans activists who promote it.”

Bettcher also accused Stock of pitting the interests of trans and cisgender women “against each other, claiming that there is much to be lost by non-trans women in the legal recognition of trans women as women.” A better, more feminist approach would be to recognize “our common interests as feminists,” she said, in part by taking seriously the interests of trans men (who Stock also says are too often left out of such discussions).

As for why Stock’s posts caught so much attention, Bettcher guessed that intellectual laziness was at work, along with a painful -- and false -- assumption that “trans issues (and perhaps gender issues more generally) are philosophically ‘light weight’ [sic].”

Stock responded to Bettcher in an another essay, saying she couldn’t muster a thank-you to her colleague, as is custom. She defended her original argument, saying that she was highlighting the current lack of gender-critical perspectives in philosophy on transgender identity, not the historical one. (Though the fact that the gender-critical perspective is well represented in earlier feminist philosophy makes the current void more disappointing, she said.)

Questioning what Bettcher’s “political point” was, Stock said, “I can’t help thinking it is to get me to shut up and go away. This is not an unfamiliar response by now.”

Better Questions

As they did in the earlier Hypatia debate, some will inevitably view clashing feminist viewpoints on being transgender in a cynical light. Others say that the moment highlights the need for more scholarship on transgender identity, in terms of quality and quantity.

Rachel Williams, an independent scholar of philosophy and a trans woman, said there are so many worthwhile questions beyond “What does it mean to be trans?” While it’s not a bad question, she said, it’s “telling when cis scholars jump right on that” because it's “exotic” or “interesting,” trying to “psycho-analyze our identities and define who we are when we are quite capable of defining the boundaries of our own existence.”

“If your first entry into trans scholarship is ‘Are trans women women?’ then you are probably doing it wrong,” Williams said. “Do more scholarship, ask deeper questions and, above all, listen to trans people when they tell you the dangers of pursuing that question -- especially when your first entrance into trans studies comes through the so-called gender-critical perspective.” That perspective, while philosophically significant, “has a long and distorted ideological history which is often dangerous, bigoted and filled with hatred for trans women disguised as feminism,” she added.

Bettcher said via email that she sees trans philosophy as similar to queer theory or feminist philosophy, in that there are “certain presuppositions that are built into the starting points.” For example, she said, “it would be odd if the question whether homosexuality was immoral were a ‘hot topic’ in queer theory. It would be bizarre to see the question whether women ought or ought not be subjected to the rule of men as the central area of discussion in feminist philosophy.” 

Similarly, she said, “the question whether trans people are who we say we are should not be central in trans philosophy. This is not say that it shouldn’t be discussed. But it will be certainly be discussed in very distinctive ways.” 

Bettcher said her own philosophical topics of interest include the nature of transphobic violence against trans people, what transphobic violence against trans people shows about how gender works in general, and how transgender identity illuminates “personhood itself.”

Over all, Williams said, echoing Yap, “Trans lives are not just some academic puzzle. We live real lives, with real experiences and real problems.”

Stock wrote in her response to Bettcher that some of what she presented carries “the conceptual resources to argue powerfully and positively for a female-oriented conception of ‘woman’ that excludes male-bodied people in some social and institutional contexts.”

Stock also assumes that “in the current climate, there would be serious obstacles to the publication of any such view, no matter how tightly argued or empirically informed.” And if “I’m wrong about that,” she wrote, “well, all to the good! Let my lapse be instructive, and let the radical feminists get writing for journals and academic websites again, and not just for blogs and counterculture magazines.”

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Apple to launch student ID cards for iPhone

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 07:00

On many campuses, students must carry ID cards to access their residence halls, take out library books, go to the gym and pay for lunch in the dining hall.

But this practice could soon be a thing of the past, with the launch of digital student ID cards on Apple Watches and iPhones.

Using Near-Field Communications technology, students will be able to access a multitude of services on campus just by waving their phone or watch near compatible readers.

Six universities have been working with Apple and Blackboard on the initiative, including Duke, Johns Hopkins, Santa Clara and Temple Universities and the Universities of Alabama and Oklahoma.

Rather than an app, the digital student ID cards will be part of Apple Wallet and linked to Apple Pay. The service is expected to go live at the six collaborating universities this fall. Contacted by Inside Higher Ed, none of the universities expanded on details such as what model of iPhone or Apple Watch students would need to have to use the technology, nor whether they are planning an Android equivalent of the system. Presumably, the technology will supplement (rather than replace) existing student ID card systems, as not all students own Apple technology.

Joshua Kim, director of digital learning initiatives at Dartmouth College's Center for the Advancement of Learning (who also blogs for Inside Higher Ed), said he is interested to see whether this initiative could be the “gateway drug” for other mobile educational experiences from Apple -- particularly on the Apple Watch.

“Student IDs are an interesting start, but what is more fun is to think about other ways that Apple Watch could address some higher ed challenge,” said Kim. The fact that the announcement was made by Apple’s vice president of technology, Kevin Lynch, is a promising sign, said Kim.

Speaking at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference Monday, Lynch described the digital Student ID feature as an “exciting” development that will “expand to more campuses over time.”

At the end of 2017, Apple began a partnership with Ohio State University, which involves the joint development of apps for use on campus -- a development that some observers said indicated a renewed focus from Apple on higher education.

Eric Stoller, a higher education thought leader and Inside Higher Ed blogger, said the Student ID announcement is a “big deal” that will provide Apple with “another useful entry point into higher education,” as well as good PR for Blackboard and the universities involved in testing the technology.

A spokesperson for Blackboard confirmed that the company was working with Apple to develop the student IDs, adding that Blackboard would be providing the compatible reader devices. The spokesperson said that the digital student IDs would offer students “heightened security and extraordinary convenience” on campus. Though not mentioned in the Apple announcement, CR80News reported that each of the institutions involved in the initiative is a Blackboard Transact client. Blackboard Transact is a subsidiary of Blackboard that manages campus ID systems.

A spokesperson for Santa Clara University said the university was “looking forward” to bringing its campus ACCESS Card to the Apple Wallet, adding that the technology would be available to students, faculty and staff to use on and around campus by the end of this calendar year. The University of Oklahoma echoed this statement, saying that its Sooner Card would also be available to students, faculty and staff.

In a tweet, Tracy Futhey, chief information officer at Duke University, said that the initiative would enable students to access buildings and make payments across campus in an “even easier way.” She added her institution is “continually looking for technologies that can improve student experience,” adding that working with Apple was a “natural fit.”

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Facebook partners with community colleges to help students with digital literacy

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 06/06/2018 - 07:00

Across the country, a growing number of small business owners are finding that either their own digital literacy skills are lacking or their employees don't have those skills.

And that's a problem for those who rely on digital advertising, marketing and social media to drive their business.

Facebook -- and the community colleges it has been building partnerships with -- believes it has found the solution. The company is visiting more than 30 cities across the country as part of its Facebook Community Boost program to help small businesses and job seekers with their digital skills. The social media company announced the first community college partnership in April. Two more colleges were announced this week, and more are expected by the end of this week. The partnerships involve Facebook providing its curriculum to colleges and educational providers, and in some cases scholarships for students to attend those programs.

And that includes partnering with two-year institutions such as Des Moines Area Community College, which was announced this week, Greenville Technical College, which was announced last week, and Central New Mexico Community College, which was announced last month.

Central New Mexico's "partnership with Facebook is helping us develop a cutting-edge digital marketing program that will equip our students with the digital skills that are so important to not only businesses in the Albuquerque area, but businesses across the globe," said Katharine Winograd, president of the college, in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. "We know that these skills are in high demand and graduates of this program will connect quickly with good jobs. At the same time, we'll be serving our local economy by skilling up our digital marketing and digital media work force."

Facebook conducted a survey of Albuquerque's business owners and employees and found that 86 percent of small-business managers recognized that digital advertising was an important skill for growing their businesses, however, only 21 percent of managers rated themselves as excellent in that area. The survey also revealed that 94 percent of job seekers said digital skills are important when looking for employment, but only 10 percent rated their digital skills as excellent.

And filling that digital skills gap is where the education companies and colleges come in.

Facebook is working with the community colleges to develop the curriculum, such as the new digital marketing certificate program at Central New Mexico, but the company also works as a bit of a middleman to help institutions see what the employment needs of small-business owners are, said Amy Brooks, Facebook's director of business education. Des Moines Area Community College's partnership with Facebook is also for the digital marketing certificate program.

Donna Diller, the dean of the school of business and information technology at Central New Mexico, said the college is aligning its core curriculum with the one Facebook is providing to offer the new certificate. The college, along with others, is also partnering with Entangled Solutions, a company that focuses on innovation in higher education, to create its digital storytelling class. Entangled Solutions helped connect CNM to Facebook.

"We're looking at anywhere from six to 10 classes, but also talking about developing and delivering in a boot camp and offering credit and non-credit opportunities," Diller said. "It will most likely, eventually, be embedded in degree pathways in our digital media associate of applied science degree."

Facebook is also partnering with Central New Mexico on its 10-week coding boot camp by providing 32 scholarships for students to attend. That program will help students move into entry-level jobs with an average starting salary of about $45,000 a year, said Brad Moore, director of communications for the college. The company is also building a new data center south of Albuquerque.

"Students and existing employees are looking for additional training beyond the traditional classroom," Diller said. "We're exploring entrepreneurial modalities to meet students where they are. Some of our Deep Dive Coding students say they like it and they want to get a degree or they go right into the work force … In traditional higher education, we have to be able to change and innovate to reach new markets and new students."

It's also important to point out that Facebook's specialized and online learning program, called Blueprint, has been available since 2015, and it's free. The company isn't trying to make money off colleges by sending the curriculum, said Jermaine Whirl, vice president of learning and work force at Greenville Technical College.

Advertising is also key to Facebook's business. The company, which also owns Instagram, made nearly $40 billion in advertising revenue last year, according to NBC News.

In South Carolina, Greenville Technical is also using Facebook's digital skills curriculum to help students improve the online skills small-business employers say they lack.

Facebook's survey of job seekers in Greenville found that 94 percent rated digital skills as important in looking for a job, but only 16 percent said their skills were excellent. Meanwhile, two out of three Greenville job seekers said social media skills were important for a job, but less than one in three rated their social media skills as excellent.

Greenville's Facebook partnership is due to its relationship with the Carolina Code School. The college and the code school had been working on a partnership prior to Facebook coming into Greenville. Whirl said Greenville was interested in scaling up the code school's 12-week program.

The college now awards up to 12 Prior Learning Assessment credits to students who complete the code school and come to Greenville to continue improving their digital skills. Facebook is also offering 25 scholarships for Greenville residents to attend the code school.

"Facebook wants partnerships and collaborations, and they like to see companies and organizations work collaboratively to meet work-force demands," Whirl said. "Nationally you see a lot of code schools pop up and they have a nice niche market. So, for us in higher education, do we fight against them or work with them hand in hand?"

Whirl said the college is just now starting to examine the Facebook curriculum and that officials will spend the summer integrating it into the college's programs.

"We currently don't have a social media concentration, but it's definitely giving us a competitive advantage to have something substantial, branded and nationally recognized," he said. "Almost every company out there has a Facebook page, and nearly all small businesses have a Facebook page."

Brooks said these partnerships aren't about building an employee pipeline from college to Facebook alone, but it's about building a digital skill set for students and graduates to use anywhere.

"We don't want to say this is a Facebook school or program," Whirl said. "We have Twitter, Instagram and others. Facebook has done a great job packing content for small-business people. They put a lot of thought into it based on internal research to be able to provide the information to our entrepreneurs. And that's extremely beneficial, because many want to go on and start their own barbershops or plumbing repair shops."

More announcements of Facebook partnering with education companies and community colleges are expected soon.

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