In addition to displaying RSS feeds, we offer this OPML file which lists all RSS feeds collected here.
In addition to displaying RSS feeds, we offer this OPML file which lists all RSS feeds collected here.
Registered Users & Guests Online
There are currently 0 users and 0 guests online.
Higher Education News
Inside Higher Ed is full of articles on colleges and universities debating budget cuts and financial questions, issues that dominate the lives of many administrators. But what about vision?
Mark William Roche is trying to make vision and values more central in discussions about the future of higher education, nationally and at individual colleges. Roche is a professor of German language and literature at the University of Notre Dame and also served for 11 years as dean of the College of Arts and Letters there, so he has firsthand experience on the administrative side. His ideas about higher education are the basis of his new book, Realizing the Distinctive University: Vision and Values, Strategy and Culture (University of Notre Dame Press).
Q: Your book makes clear that you never gave up your faculty identity, even during more than a decade serving as dean. These days there are many administrators who have risen through the ranks outside the faculty. How important is it for the values your book promotes to have administrators who have spent real time on the faculty and who identify with that role?
A: Remaining active as a scholar ensured that I would always be viewed as a faculty administrator. After settling into the role, I taught a course every year. Teaching gave me a common topic with faculty members and a window onto our current students. It was also good for my soul. No less important, remaining active as a faculty member gave me the freedom to make difficult decisions based on what I thought was right. I did not need to worry about keeping my job, since I would have always been happy to return to the faculty.
I couldn’t possibly have done my work as dean without deep experience as a faculty member. Administrators constantly make decisions that presuppose intimate knowledge of academic matters. A nonfaculty administrator is likely to struggle articulating a nuanced academic vision and making layered assessments of academic quality. Moving away from faculty governance is also not the best way to foster a shared sense of community. An institution that elevates nonfaculty members for leadership positions presumably sees advantages in such appointments, but the institution’s values would certainly be affected. My book implicitly makes the case that universities do not need to shift to corporate governance models or nonfaculty leaders in order to ensure ambitious and effective administration and that indeed such moves can easily be counterproductive. Nonfaculty support persons, however, are indispensable.
Q: Your book stresses the role of vision. Obviously American higher education includes different kinds of institutions with different visions -- what kind of vision should cross sectors and missions? What do you mean by vision?
A: The diversity of American higher education is one of its greatest strengths. This diversity is linked with the sense of competition that has helped ensure the vibrancy of American higher education. Because institutional identities differ and research aspirations vary across institutions, the one aspect of vision that remains common for all of higher education involves quality of student learning, an area in which institutions can learn from one another irrespective of mission.
By vision I mean an ambitious but realistic ideal that determines priorities and motivates a community. Notre Dame’s distinctive vision emerged from what I called our triadic identity: a residential liberal arts college with a traditional emphasis on student learning; an increasingly dynamic and ambitious research university; and a Catholic institution of international standing. Our vision involved enhancing and synergistically interweaving all three aspects of our identity so as to make us distinctive in the twofold sense of excellent and different. Of course beyond the overarching vision, one needs to sort out priorities, set goals, assess progress and address obstacles, but the idea is always to be animated by the vision. A compelling vision attracts students and faculty; forms the community of current faculty, staff and students; and inspires graduates, donors and other supporters.
Identifying a vision has an obvious normative moment. What has such intrinsic value or value for society that we should make it our primary obligation? A vision should stretch an institution, but the vision should also be tempered by realism. A vision that does not tap into existing strengths or is not backed with requisite resources breeds cynicism.
Q: Your career has been at an institution with more resources than is the case at most institutions. How much more difficult is it to promote vision when administrators may be consumed by budget shortfalls?
A: Because a vision must be to some extent doable, vision and resources need to be linked. I once participated in a curriculum review at Ohio State University that was animated by a profound vision of what a liberally educated person in the 21st century should know and be able to do and what courses would lead to that outcome. I expended political capital getting my colleagues on board, and then after we had devoted countless hours to developing the new curriculum, the university decided for lack of budgetary resources to abandon extensive parts of the already approved reform, including the language and culture component on which we had been working. The lesson I took from this travesty was clear: vision and budget must always work in tandem. Although some reforms can be accomplished without any adjustments in resources, budget is one of the best ways to advance a vision. With severe budget shortfalls, administrators have to scale back or recast their vision.
Q: Your roots are in the liberal arts, and a previous book was about the liberal arts. Do you think your book is applicable to professionally oriented institutions?
A: Yes. While much of the book is about vision, and in particular a vision shaped by the value of the liberal arts, it is no less about generic strategies that can help any institution realize its vision. Every vision must be linked to its embodiment in rhetoric, support structures and community. Every vision encounters obstacles. No vision succeeds without an administrator thinking through how to make appropriate use of incentives, flexibility, accountability and other such categories. Most of the topics I explore apply not only across the higher education landscape; they are relevant up and down the academic ladder. The kinds of puzzles faced by chairpersons, deans, provosts and presidents have remarkable similarities, and while their specific content will differ, the formal tools for solving them are for the most part analogous. The best practices I introduce along with the personal missteps I discuss can be a source of learning for all kinds of administrators.
Q: Are there institutions today (aside from Notre Dame) where you are impressed with the vision from the top?
A: One of the presuppositions of the book is that all institutions are at some level distinctive, though along a spectrum, with some more interchangeable and others more distinct. To give a few examples across types of institutions, I have been impressed by former Vassar President Catharine Hill, who moved dramatically and successfully to enroll a relatively high percentage of students from lower-income families. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, has introduced support structures, including extra advising and mentoring, that have helped ensure student success across disciplines and also raised student ambitions. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, stands out for her advancement of the Penn Compact, which, by way of three core ideas, has transformed many aspects of the university. But one could name visionary leaders at many colleges and universities, and not only at the level of president.
Q: You note the increasing reliance of many colleges on non-tenure-track professors. How damaging is the reliance on a nonpermanent faculty, without job security, to the goals you outline?
A: For many reasons full-time faculty are best suited to advance vision. If a university has many nonpermanent or part-time faculty members, the best ways to get them on board would seem to be, first, to develop a vision with such intrinsic appeal that they want to contribute and, second, to offer support structures and a welcoming intellectual environment such that they are more likely to identify with the community.
Unfortunately, the reliance on temporary faculty has much to do with the elevation of business principles at the expense of academic vision. It is surely more efficient to have part-time teachers, just as it is more efficient to order fewer books for the library, assign faculty heavier teaching loads, expand class sizes and refrain from teaching subjects with smaller enrollments, such as advanced seminars in foreign language departments. But such efficiencies come at the cost of higher values, and so are incompatible with an intelligent accountability. Accountability always presupposes assessing action in accordance with an ideal. Pure efficiency can violate all kinds of ideals, which is why business practices in a university setting, as important as they are, are always subordinate to academic vision.Books and PublishingEditorial Tags: BooksIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Leigh-Ellen Keating, who directs international services for Brock University, in Ontario, just attended a student recruiting fair in Mexico. “The table was flooded with people, which is not historically what I have seen with the Mexican market,” she said. “They just want to go to Canada, and historically I think a lot of them would go to the States.”
“It didn’t hurt,” Keating continued, that the recruitment fair coincided with an anti-Trump rally in front of the hotel where the fair was held. She suspects some of the rally participants might have popped over to check out college options in Canada. President Trump is highly unpopular in Mexico. He kicked off his campaign by depicting some Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists and has pledged to deport millions of immigrants who are in the country illegally and build a border wall.
“Mr. Trump, he’s not bad for our recruitment strategy,” Keating said.
At a time when many American universities are reporting declines in applications from international students, some universities north of the border are seeing increases on the magnitude of 20 percent or more. At the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, undergraduate international applications are up by 25 percent and graduate international applications have increased by 41 percent. At McMaster University, also in Ontario, international applications have increased by 34.4 percent compared to the same time last year.
At the University of Toronto, applications from international undergraduate students increased by slightly more than 20 percent this year over last year. Driving the growth are big increases in applications from the U.S. (up 80 percent), India (up 59 percent), Turkey (up 68 percent) and Mexico (up 63 percent, but from a small base). Richard Levin, Toronto’s executive director of enrollment services and the university registrar, attributed the gains in part to the “generalized effect of global events drawing attention to Canada and Toronto in particular as a kind of safe, inclusive, stable space.”
“It’s speculative at this point, and we’ll of course have to wait and see what happens in terms of enrollment, but there’s a lot of change in the world, and when there’s a lot of change, people will look for places that they would feel safe in and included,” Levin said.
Meanwhile, 39 percent of U.S. universities that responded to a recent survey conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and several other higher education groups reported declines in international applications for the fall. Enrollment professionals who responded to the survey reported “a great deal of concern” from prospective students and their families about feared changes to visa rules, the possibility that Trump’s executive order barring entry to nationals of six Muslim-majority countries -- temporarily blocked by the courts -- could be expanded to include other countries, and the “perception that the climate in the U.S. is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries.”
Canada, as one of the countries that competes with the U.S. for its share of the world’s internationally mobile students, could stand to gain if even a small fraction of U.S.-bound students choose to go elsewhere -- or, in the case of students coming from the six countries affected by the travel ban (Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen), if they're forced to. U.S. politics aside, many Canadian universities crack the upper echelons of international rankings, and the country's prominence as a study destination is increasing -- not least because of the opportunities it provides for former international students to immigrate. In November, Canada amended its points-based Express Entry immigration system to award extra points to graduates of Canadian universities when they apply for permanent residency.
The application increases Canadian universities are reporting for this coming fall come in the context of years of steady and significant growth in Canadian universities’ international enrollments, which increased by 92 percent from 2008 to 2015, according to data from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada published in a report by the Canadian Bureau for International Education. Canada had 353,570 international students in fall 2015, while, for comparison's sake, American colleges and universities collectively enrolled more than a million.
Some of the more than a dozen Canadian universities contacted by Inside Higher Ed for this story stressed the context of recent growth in international enrollments and said the application increases they’re seeing this year are on par with recent growth rates. Others say they are seeing a “surge” or “spike” and suggest there might be evidence of a “Trump effect,” at least when it comes to the increase in applications they’re seeing from certain countries -- including from the U.S.
Especially notable given the numbers of students involved, many Canadian universities are also reporting substantial gains in applications from India, which sends more students to the U.S. and to Canada than any country other than China. A shift in the number of Indian students choosing Canada over the U.S. could put a strain on U.S. universities, many of which have counted on increasing numbers of international students to balance their budgets.
At the University of British Columbia, international undergraduate applications are up by 15 percent this year, but Damara Klaassen, the senior director of the university’s international student initiative, stressed that was on par with prior year increases. “Apart from more and more people talking about it and wondering whether there is an effect, I’m not seeing any trends that I would attribute to political happenings in the U.S.,” Klaassen said. “I don’t want to downplay the importance of anything that happens in any one country by any means, but I do think in general this type of conversation underestimates the thoughtful and multiyear approach that international students put into searching for the best fit for their higher education.”
Ryerson University, in Toronto, is seeing a 25 percent increase in international undergraduate applications compared to this time last year, which comes on top of a 34 percent increase in international applications the year before that. The university has stepped up its recruitment resources, having "invested considerable resources in 2015 specifically toward increasing our international enrollment in undergraduate programs," according to Marisa Modeski, Ryerson's assistant director for student recruitment.
“I think it’s a little bit early to point to a particular influencer in terms of the contribution to application numbers,” Modeski said. “We’re often asked about 'the Trump effect,’ for example: are we seeing an increase because of that or because of Brexit,” a reference to the United Kingdom’s vote last year to exit the European Union. “Those can certainly be influencers, but I don’t think you can point to those as exclusive reasons for the increase in applications. I think you have to holistically look at all the positive things that Canadian universities have to offer.”
Some Canadian universities, however, report that the increase in applicants they’re seeing this year stands out even against the recent context of international applicant and student growth. At the University of Alberta, international undergraduate applications are up by 28 percent this year. Some of the increases for particular countries are even more striking: applications are up 118 percent from India, 51 percent from the U.S., 35 percent from the United Arab Emirates, 22 percent from Nigeria, 96 percent from Bangladesh and 82 percent from Pakistan. Applications from China also increased, but by a smaller percentage (12 percent).
"This is a surge," said Britta Baron, the vice provost and associate vice president for international at Alberta. Baron cited three possible reasons for the surge, with the caution that this is speculation. "One is the political developments in the United States and in the United Kingdom, and two is the fact that the Canadian dollar is weak." The Canadian dollar is currently worth 75 cents U.S., and the relative weakness of Canada's currency makes its universities a better bargain for many international students.
"Three," Baron, said, "is the fact that Canadian universities over time have stepped up their efforts to recruit."
Alberta has also seen a surge this year in applications from Iran: undergraduate applications from the country increased from 12 last year to 68 this year, while graduate applications rose from 263 last year to 740 this year -- "and counting," Baron said. Alberta, like a number of other Canadian universities, waived application fees for citizens from countries affected by Trump's original travel ban, including Iran.
Memorial University, in Newfoundland, also waived application fees for students from the countries affected by the travel ban -- and for applicants from the U.S. “We wanted to show the students in the United States that Canada was an open, inclusive and welcoming place, and that they should think about turning their eyes northward when they were thinking about their educational possibilities,” said Aimée Surprenant, the dean of Memorial's School of Graduate Studies. Memorial's applications from the U.S. have increased by 47 percent, and its applications from Iran -- among the countries affected by the travel ban, the one that sends the largest numbers of students abroad -- have increased by 80 percent. Other Canadian universities have also posted increases in American and Iranian applicants: Concordia University, in Montreal, for example, reports a 77 percent increase in American applicants to its graduate programs, and a 219 percent increase in Iranian graduate applicants.
"Certainly I think that international students like to come to North America," said Memorial's Surprenant. "They think it's a place where they can get a really great education and something that has a lot of prestige back where they come from, and the U.S. has always been the number-one choice for that. But I think that this travel ban has made them look just a little bit farther and cast their net a little bit wider."
As for American students, several Canadian universities reported surges in inquiries and interest from the U.S. after the presidential election -- though, for context, it's worth noting that the number of American students who study in Canada has historically been low and is less than half the number of Canadian students who come to U.S. universities. The University of Saskatchewan reports that traffic from the U.S. to its prospective undergraduate student website increased by 392 percent on Nov. 9, the day after the election, compared to the week prior, while its prospective graduate student website had a 191 percent traffic increase. Lionel Walsh, the assistant vice president for North American recruitment at the University of Windsor, which is located just across the border from Detroit, said the university has nearly doubled its number of applications from the U.S. Windsor's American students pay a special "U.S. neighbour" tuition rate -- "we put a 'u' in neighbor," Walsh said -- that is lower than the standard international rate.
At McGill University, in Montreal, which has long attracted large numbers of American students, applications from the U.S. have increased by 22 percent, from 4,409 applications for fall 2016 to 5,397 for fall 2017 (the latter figure is as of Feb. 22). McGill also has experienced a big increase in applications from India (up 54 percent) and a smaller but still healthy 18.5 percent increase in the number of applications from China.
Paul Davidson, the president of Universities Canada, said that he's been hearing of application increases across the country. Davidson said “local circumstances” in the U.S. and the U.K. are “making it a little more compelling to consider Canada.”
“I think it is an opportunity for Canada,” he said. “It’s part of a broader context where The Economist magazine did a list of the top five cities in the world to live in, and three of them were in Canada. The New York Times identified Canada as the destination for 2017; The Economist put Canada on the cover as being a country that is open and dynamic and diverse. Canadian university presidents would take stacks of copies of The Economist with Canada on the cover as they traveled through India and to other Asian countries.”
“It's not unrelated,” Davidson added, “to the work of our new prime minister [Justin Trudeau], who's been out talking about diversity as a strength and Canada as a place that's open to investment, open to trade and open to people.”
Trump, by contrast, has spoken against free trade agreements, attempted to restrict entry for citizens of multiple Muslim-majority counties, and generally propagated an "America first" message. The U.K. has also taken an insular turn with its Brexit vote.
“I do think Canada is having a moment,” Keating, of Brock University, said. “Some of it I think we’re having on our own, and some of it I think we’re having as a result of other people having less cheerful moments. The U.K. and the U.S. are not currently in the best position to be recruiting.”AdmissionsGlobalForeign StudentsInternational Higher EducationEditorial Tags: CanadaInternational higher educationForeign Students in U.S.Image Source: WikipediaImage Caption: McGill UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Colleges and universities periodically debate issues of cultural appropriation, which is when a privileged group adopts part of the culture of an oppressed group and in so doing is perceived to erase the role of the oppressed group, or to denigrate it.
A call for white women at Pitzer College to stop wearing hoop earrings attracted national attention last week. That discussion was nonviolent, although the Latina women who called for white women to stop wearing the earrings have received threats via email.
On Friday, a Hampshire College student was in a Massachusetts court to face charges that she assaulted a member of the women's basketball team of Central Maine Community College when, at a January game at Hampshire, the woman refused to take out braids that she had in her hair -- braids that Carmen Figueroa, the Hampshire student facing charges, and an unidentified additional Hampshire student demanded be removed because they are an example of cultural appropriation.
The Daily Hampshire Gazette obtained court records in the case, and described the police report on what happened after the Maine athletes declined to remove their braids: "When the players did not comply and began to leave the building, Figueroa allegedly initiated a fight towards one of the players. At the same time, another unknown Hampshire College student pulled the hair of a visiting women’s basketball player, causing her to fall to the ground, according to court documents. While the player was on the ground, police allege that Figueroa kicked and stepped on the player, causing injury.
"Another Maine player attempted to protect her fallen teammate, but Figueroa 'grabbed her by the head and threw her to the ground,' according to court documents. The second player suffered scratches and other marks. As coaches broke up the fight, Figueroa attempted to punch at the Maine students and 'was screaming swears and racial slurs,' according to court documents."
Figueroa pleaded not guilty on Friday to charges of disorderly conduct, assault and battery, and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon. She could not be reached for comment.
This is not the first time that cultural appropriation has been an issue at Hampshire. In 2013, a student group that organized a Halloween party for the college withdrew an invitation (but still paid) a band made up of white people who played "Afrobeat" music, amid debate over whether the band was engaged in cultural appropriation. A statement from the college at the time said: "The decision by student planners not to have the band perform was not based on the band's racial identity. It was based on the intensity and tone that arose on the event's planning site on social media, including comments from off campus that became increasingly aggressive, moving from responses to individual student voices to rude, and at times unsettling, remarks."
Central Maine officials did not respond to email messages seeking response.
A spokesman for Hampshire said that he could not comment on anything to do with the case because of student privacy regulations.
Hampshire has a politically engaged, left-leaning student body, and officials there have been stressing the importance of civil debate. President Jonathan Lash in January sent a letter to students in which he cited "principles of discourse" at the college adopted in 1990. They include that "that we refuse to reduce disagreement to personal attacks or attacks on groups or classes of individuals" and that "we value civility, even in disagreement."
And in a letter to students last month, Lash wrote in part, "Constructive conflict and creative discomfort can be a part of learning, but only if they move us toward understanding rather than fear, build relationships rather than isolate, motivate us to create rather than destroy. We make these possible when we live as a community in love and respect, cherishing the skills of listening as well as speaking, supporting as well as opposing, challenging each other while offering compassion, disagreeing without seeking to silence other voices."
On many campuses, issues of cultural appropriation are discussed in the context of symbols that many say promote stereotypes about certain minority groups. This has been part of the discussion over the move by the National Collegiate Athletic Association to ban most of its members from using team names or mascots based on Native Americans or their tribes. Likewise, the issue comes up every Halloween when some students (typically white students) host "ghetto parties," or Cinco de Mayo parties where students and others (generally white people) embrace various stereotypes of Mexicans.
In 2015, the then president of the University of Louisville and his staff members posed in sombreros (below right), prompting widespread criticism (and then an apology from the university).
Some of the current debates -- such as the discussion of hoop earrings at Pitzer College -- go beyond what most people agree are stereotypes. Many condemn ghetto parties, but the Pitzer students who have criticized white women who wear hoop earrings have been subject to widespread criticism from those who say that this is a personal fashion choice that doesn't stereotype anyone. Others, meanwhile, defend the Pitzer students.
Issues of cultural appropriation were also raised in many of the minority student protests during the 2015-16 academic year. The instance that attracted the most attention was the complaint by some Asian students at Oberlin College that Asian food offerings served in college cafeterias were not authentic and amounted to cultural appropriation.
And the allegations about the Hampshire student are not the first time hairstyles have been an issue. At San Francisco State University last year, students debated a confrontation (caught on video, above) in which a black student accused a white student in dreadlocks of cultural appropriation. The white student later responded with a video defending his right to wear his hair in that style.
'Dynamic of Power'
Akil Houston, associate professor of cultural and media studies at Ohio University, writes extensively on hip-hop music and also on issues of cultural appropriation. He said that people frequently misunderstand critiques of cultural appropriation as being about fashion or music and not about "the dynamic of power" that is central to the reactions of "marginalized students."
He said that from these students' perspective, "here I am and I don't have political and economic power, but one of the few places where I do have power is a cultural tradition, and now that's being taken as well." Further, Houston said, there is a pattern of minority people being mocked for their fashion choices, only to have white people who make the same choices be hailed as "trendsetters" or "exotic."
Focusing on earrings or hair misses the point, he said, "that the dynamic of power is the underlying issue."
Kimberly A. Griffin, associate professor of education at the University of Maryland at College Park, studies race relations in higher education. Via email, she said she believes student concerns about cultural appropriation reflect the tense campus environment on racial issues generally -- an environment in which many minority students feel that racism is on the rise.
"My sense is that students are generally frustrated with cultural appropriation, and that the current climate makes it worse and more frustrating," Griffin said. "While they have long experienced marginalization, Latino, black and Native American students are living in campus communities that are perhaps more openly hostile than they once were. They are also managing and navigating political rhetoric and policies that are at often at best marginalizing, and at worst, racist. Living in these times can make cultural appropriation sting more; students may feel like white students want to pick and choose parts of their culture but not stand up for them as people, see themselves as part of a common struggle or support their humanity."DiversityEditorial Tags: DiscriminationDiversity MattersImage Caption: An image used by those who oppose cultural appropriationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 3Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, March 21, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Two graduate students at Ohio University are suing the institution -- including a former department chair -- for allegedly allowing another professor to serially harass female graduate students for over a decade. Although the plaintiffs allege they were harassed and groped at a class party in 2015, a related university investigation found that the professor in question had harassed students going back to 2003.
The case comes at a time when many colleges and universities are rethinking their approaches to enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender discrimination in education -- including timelines for taking disciplinary action against those accused.
Ohio has already moved to fire the tenured full professor and says its processes ensure that all complaints are “investigated thoroughly and handled appropriately.” At the same time, it’s launching what it calls a “comprehensive training strategy to enhance the campus community’s understanding of the shared responsibility to report all forms of sexual misconduct and to work to stop sexual misconduct from occurring.” Training will be mandatory for all faculty and staff members.
The accused harasser, Andrew Escobedo, says he’d like to comment on the allegations but can't, in light of pending litigation. He's previously denied them, however. Escobedo has been on administrative leave since March 2016, awaiting the outcome of a university investigation against him and disciplinary proceedings.
And the former department chair accused of sitting on students’ complaints about his colleague? Joseph McLaughlin, an associate professor who is now president of the Faculty Senate, said he’s “confident the judicial process will determine the facts.”
Michael Fradin, the plaintiff’s attorney, pushed back, saying that Ohio “has for many years maintained a ‘boys-will-be-boys’ attitude towards sexual misconduct,” and that unless that changes, “female students will not have an equal opportunity to succeed there.” The “nationwide academic community should keep a very close eye on the university's response to this suit,” he added.
Dozens of other professors in the English department have already taken some matters into their own hands, writing in a letter to graduate students last week that their “hope lies in a future that looks and feels very different from our present, and in coming together as a community and moving toward a brighter future.” The English professors said they'll honor the outcome of internal processes with respect to Escobedo, but they're also committed to ongoing training from the institution's Survivor Advocacy Program and Title IX training.
“Humans sometimes fail each other, and they err, sometimes out of illness, sometimes out of malice, but often out of blindness, willful or otherwise,” Marilyn Atlas, a professor of English who signed the letter, said via email. “As much as possible, we members of the English department want to think about the past, the present, and make things more right going forward.”
Students “deserve a safe, respectful education, the best education our faculty has the strength, insight and means to provide,” she added.
Allegations, Old and New, Emerge
According to the lawsuit, Escobedo made unwanted sexual advances toward the plaintiffs -- both current graduate students in English -- at an end-of-semester celebration in late 2015. Escobedo invited the students in one of his courses to a night out at a pub. He allegedly bought students numerous drinks throughout the night and touched one on her back, her thighs, her buttocks inside her jeans and her groin over her pants. She says she physically signaled that she did not consent to the contact, including by moving seats and placing coats and other objects between herself and Escobedo. But because she had learned earlier in the evening that the professor had not yet submitted grades for the class, she says, she worried that doing more would impact her mark.
“As her current professor, Escobedo had a position of power over [the plaintiff] such that any sexual impositions by Escobedo involved an inherent quid pro quo,” the complaint asserts.
Escobedo allegedly forcibly kissed the student on the mouth during a walk back to campus, when another student stopped to use the restroom. She told him to stop, but he continued to hold her and rub his erection against her body, according to the complaint. Escobedo allegedly told her not to tell anyone about the incident.
The second plaintiff’s allegations are similar to the first’s. She says the professor groped her vagina and breasts over her clothes several times throughout the same evening and told her, “Careful, I still haven’t submitted your grade.” The complaint says she was so uncomfortable that she left the event early, but that Escobedo stopped to give her a hug on her way out the door and intentionally touched her chest.
The students say they both thought about leaving the university after the incident, given their close working conditions with Escobedo and fear of retribution for reporting him. One says her work space was so close to Escobedo’s that she held office hours in another location to avoid him. Escobedo’s wife also is on the department’s faculty, and the plaintiffs say they’ve been encouraged by unnamed parties within the department to forgive the professor because he has various personal problems and responsibilities.
Both students want Escobedo terminated and barred from campus, and for the university to address its allegedly hostile culture for women, along with emotional and other damages. To simply terminate Escobedo would be a "bandage" on a bigger wound, the lawsuit says.
The suit alleges that Escobedo was enabled by departmental and institutional permissiveness toward sexual relationships with students, and that his “proclivity” for young female graduate students was well-known. The university’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights Compliance and McLaughlin, for example, were allegedly informed in 2006 by another faculty member that Escobedo was having an inappropriate relationship with a student. But instead of investigating, the office allegedly conducted a departmental climate survey.
According to university documents submitted with the students’ lawsuit, at least one other professor in the department “felt that the 2006 report was not treated with the seriousness that it deserved, and there were no restraints or sense of consequences for [Escobedo].”
Regarding McLaughlin, the department chair at the time, the lawsuit alleges that he was a personal friend of Escobedo’s and especially “deliberately indifferent to the allegations of sexual [misconduct] against Escobedo, even though the allegations were severe, widely known and likely factual.”
A 2016 university investigation into Escobedo sparked by the plaintiffs’ report uncovered allegations of harassment of four other potential victims from 2003 onward. Ohio determined that Escobedo had more likely than not harassed two additional women beyond the two he allegedly harassed in 2015. It found insufficient evidence of the two other claims, however. Escobedo denied the allegations during the investigation, including by saying that the second complainant from 2015 had fabricated her report out of a sense of "social justice."
As universities assess their policies and procedures surrounding Title IX, advocates have encouraged institutions to shore up their timelines for addressing reports of sexual harassment and assault. Part of the idea is to minimize the damage that alleged serial harassers can do by investigating claims thoroughly but swiftly. The University of California system, for example, recently approved new code of conduct guidelines for faculty members, saying that campuses have three years to the day of a report of harassment to a department chair or above to take any disciplinary action. The system has met much criticism for perceived “slaps on the wrist” to alleged serial harassers in recent years.
Escobedo, who was told on March 2 of Ohio’s intention to dismiss him based on the findings of last year's investigation, received his Ph.D. from the Berkeley campus in 1997.FacultyEditorial Tags: FacultyGraduate studentsTitle IXImage Caption: Andrew EscobedoIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
The White House budget proposal released last week would have devastating effects on science and technology in the United States as well as the education of the next generation of researchers, say organizations representing scientists and research institutions.
The budget document from the Trump administration -- a broad outline of the full budget due later this spring -- calls for reducing the funding of the National Institutes of Health by $5.8 billion, or nearly 20 percent. And it calls for eliminating or slashing spending on other research programs at many other federal agencies. No specific numbers were released for the National Science Foundation.
Science advocates hope Congress will reject the proposals to scale back the NIH, an agency whose work typically attracts bipartisan support. Few were expecting a great budget year for the NIH or other science agencies. But the size of the proposed cut stunned and angered many.
"When we saw the number, we were gobsmacked," said Jennifer Zeitzer, director of legislative relations at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. "That is a devastating cut to NIH."
Such a reduction in federal funding would be counter to recent appropriations trends for the agency, which received a $2 billion boost in 2015.
It would also follow a serious blow dealt to the agency from 2013 sequestration cuts. At that time, the NIH budget was cut by 5 percent, a fraction of what's being proposed by the Trump administration but enough to seriously impact grant awards made by the agency. Complicating any plans to absorb potential budget cuts is the fact that NIH awards multiyear grants, meaning a major budget cut would severely limit the institutes' ability to make new grants. Sequestration cuts led NIH to issue 700 fewer competitive research grants in fiscal year 2013.
Eighty percent of the agency's funding goes to universities and medical centers throughout the country, said Joanne Carney, director of government relations at the American Association for the Advancement of Science -- most of that through grant awards. Such reductions would directly affect whether undergraduate and graduate students in STEM fields at U.S. institutions persist in those careers, she said.
"When you see such drastic reductions in federal spending, it discourages students from completing or pursuing STEM degrees," Carney said. "Those who have already completed their Ph.D.s and are trying to get their first research grants may look overseas. Other countries are going to look more desirable."
The Trump budget would include "a major reorganization of NIH's institutes and centers to help focus resources on the highest-priority research and training activities," according to the blueprint released last week. That reorganization would include eliminating entirely the $70 million Fogarty International Center, which focuses on global health by supporting research on the topic and by training researchers to work in developing countries. Researchers say that work is important because many of the serious health threats faced in the United States originate elsewhere. Advocates say there's no way a funding cut as large as the one proposed in the Trump blueprint couldn't be felt across the rest of NIH.
Cuts to federal research programs in the White House budget blueprint went well beyond the NIH. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration research office saw a proposed cut of more than 50 percent; the Department of Energy's Office of Science would be cut by 17 percent; and the Environmental Protection Agency's R&D office would see a 48 percent cut.
Those offices make grant awards or even operate research facilities on the campuses of research universities.
Even before the dramatic proposals in the White House budget document, advocates for university-based research said long-term trends in federal appropriations had endangered the role of the U.S. In a March 10 letter, Association of American Universities President Mary Sue Coleman called on President Trump and Republican and Democratic leaders of the House and Senate to use the budget process to "revitalize the federal government's scientific research and higher education investment strategy."
"By placing much of the focus of deficit reduction on nondefense discretionary spending, the federal government has hampered its research and higher education investments that foster innovation and create new jobs, improve health, strengthen national security and enhance the knowledge and skills of the U.S. work force," Coleman wrote. "If these trends continue, the U.S. risks creating an innovation deficit and losing its status as the global innovation leader."
Some Possible Cuts Unclear
While advocates saw alarming proposed cuts to science funding, the prospects of social science research in the full Trump budget are not clear. The document did not include specific numbers for the National Science Foundation, which is a key supporter of research in the physical sciences, computer science and the social sciences. The NSF is among "other agencies" noted in the budget document that, together, face a cut of 9.8 percent, said Wendy Naus, the executive director of the Consortium of Social Science Associations.
"We don't know if that's going to be taken from specific directorates or across the board," Naus said. In the past, Republicans in Congress have been highly critical of spending on social science research.
While funding for the Census Bureau would receive a rare bump -- 7 percent -- in the Trump budget, other statistical agencies located across the federal government would be negatively impacted, Naus said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's statistical capabilities, for example, would be reduced while the administration maintains "core departmental analytical functions, such as the funding necessary to complete the Census of Agriculture," the document states.
"By undermining these surveys, you're undermining the quality and credibility of the data," Naus said.
More immediate are concerns over areas like the Department of Energy's Office of Science, which would lose $900 million of its $5 billion budget. The Office of Science supports research at 300 universities as well as national labs.
Research advocates say they are encouraged by the mixed reviews or even outright criticism of the budget proposal from the president's own party. Republican Hal Rogers, the former chairman of the House appropriations committee, said after the budget document's release last week that many of the cuts outlined were "draconian, careless and counterproductive." And Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, last week identified national laboratories supported by the Energy Department and the National Institutes of Health as two of his priorities as a member of the appropriations committee.
Congress has until the end of April, when the continuing resolution ends, to complete a deal on a fiscal 2017 appropriations bill before it passes a 2018 budget. That gives science organizations multiple opportunities to make clear why the work of research is so important.
"The only reason we're not in bed under the covers today is because getting the proposal through Congress is going to be, I think, extremely difficult, particularly on the NIH cut," Zeitzer said.Editorial Tags: Sciences/Tech/Engineering/MathTrump administrationImage Source: NIHIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Software vendors in the competency-based education market are pursuing different strategies as their role in the industry is growing more slowly than some had anticipated.
The company reached that decision based on market research and feedback from colleges, said Toby Williams, chief product and strategy officer at Ellucian.
Last year, Ellucian partnered with the consulting and research firm Eduventures and the American Council on Education to survey 251 colleges on their competency-based education strategies. The survey identified one major reason why the competency-based education market may be a tricky one for vendors to build a profitable business model in: most colleges aren’t ready to go all in yet.
The study found that only 7 percent of the colleges surveyed said they delivered most of their education using a competency-based model. Many more colleges said they were at the point of testing competency-based education in individual programs (18 percent) or courses (37 percent).
Additionally, Ellucian’s own customers told the company that they were not prioritizing spending money on platforms specifically for competency-based education when they could use their existing learning management systems for those experiments, Williams said.
“They didn’t need a system,” Williams said. “While they believe that [competency-based education] will continue to develop over time as a means of serving a certain segment of nontraditional students, it’s not their highest priority from an investment and resource perspective.”
Ellucian ended support for Brainstorm on Feb. 10. The company continues to support colleges experimenting with competency-based education in other ways, for example by investing in its lineup of administrative software, Williams said.
The factors that influenced Ellucian's decision are being felt at other small and large companies in the space. While competency-based education continues to be a much-buzzed-about term in higher education, it has not been a gold mine for vendors looking to support an emerging market.
The same is true from the perspective of colleges and universities. A report released last year by the rpkGROUP, a consulting firm, found that colleges need to enroll thousands of students in order to reach the point where per-student revenues exceed expenditures in competency-based education. At this stage, however, most competency-based education programs are much smaller than that.
Sagence Learning has operated in the competency-based education market since 2015 and works with institutions such as Brandman University and Walden University. In an interview, Jade Roth, chief executive officer, declined to say how many colleges the company works with, but added that it has signed four new contracts over the past four months.
“The rate of acceleration … has perhaps not been as fast as people would have liked,” Roth said about the competency-based education market. That's not necessarily a bad thing, she added -- taking things slow can be more beneficial in the long run.
Sagence has raised $35.7 million from investors, according to CrunchBase. While Roth said funding is “always a challenge,” she added that the company is focused on accelerating the growth of competency-based education and other alternative ways of delivering education that don’t rely on seat time.
“We see opportunity in CBE, but not in CBE alone,” Roth said.
Southern New Hampshire University built its own platform, Motivis Learning, to support its competency-based education programs. The company spun off from the university in 2014. Today, about 10,000 students at dozen schools and colleges use the Motivis platform. The company is also exploring an expansion into the corporate education market, CEO Brian Peddle said in an interview.
Motivis has used colleges’ tendency to conduct small-scale experiments with competency-based education as a market strategy, Peddle said. “Get it at the beachhead, then go wide after that,” he said about the company’s approach. “Sneak in the side door with a CBE program, and then expand our reach.”
And once inside, Motivis can then make the pitch to a college that it should ditch its existing learning management system for the company’s platform, Peddle said.
D2L is taking the reverse approach. The company is already well established in the learning management system market -- its platform, Brightspace, is used by hundreds of colleges. That user base gives the company more of cushion as it actively works with “dozens” of colleges on competency-based learning, President and CEO John Baker said in an interview.
“The way that we’ve always approached competency-based education … is we look at it as one component of the learning experience,” Baker said. “What we’re hoping is you’ll see more and more courses, programs, universities and colleges making a complete transition to that model of learning. But we recognize that that transformation takes time.”TechnologyEditorial Tags: Competency-based learningIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
The document outlining the Trump administration's first budget, released in a bare-bones outline Thursday, states that the White House plan "safeguards" the Pell Grant program and would leave the key financial aid source for needy students on "sound financial footing for the next decade."
But many advocates for low-income students say the opposite is true. By taking about a third of the program's multi-billion-dollar surplus and cutting other college access programs, they assert, the new administration would jeopardize Pell's long-term sustainability and harm the prospects of low-income students.
What the White House is calling its "skinny budget" -- a broad outline of the detailed 2018 fiscal proposal due from the administration later this spring -- seeks an overall cut of 13 percent of the Department of Education's funding from the current year. To offset steep proposed increases in military spending, the budget blueprint seeks $54 billion in cuts across the board to nondefense spending.
Trump wrote in his budget message that the administration's blueprint makes tough choices to reinvest in the country's military without adding to the federal deficit. "In these dangerous times, this public safety and national security budget is a message to the world -- a message of American strength, security and resolve," he said.
Worries About Work-Study
Higher education aid programs absorbed much of the brunt of those cuts to education funding. The proposed budget must be approved by Congress and possibly may not be passed in any form resembling the outline submitted by the administration. But it serves as a guide to the White House's priorities.
The budget preserves current levels of funding for the federal Pell Grant program by taking $3.9 billion from the program's $10.6 billion surplus -- a cushion that advocates had hoped to see preserved, if not used to strengthen the grant or restore year-round Pell.
It eliminates entirely support for the SEOG program -- which serves students with household incomes similar to Pell recipients -- while calling for "drastic" cuts to the Federal Work-Study program.
The proposal also seeks heavy cuts to two other college-access programs that direct funding to institutions and nonprofit organizations that help low-income students prepare for and enroll in college. The TRIO program would be allocated $808 million, a 10 percent cut from current funding levels. The GEAR UP program's annual budget would be reduced by a third in the proposed budget, to $219 million. GEAR UP's 2018 funding would also exclude any new grant awards to local partners.
"This is a budget that beats plowshares into swords," said Terry Hartle, senior vice president of government and public affairs at the American Council on Education. "It very clearly moves money from the domestic agencies into the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security."
Representatives of college and university groups as well as college-access advocates focused much of their ire on the cuts to Pell, saying the program would be worse off the next time it experiences serious demand.
"Taking money out of a discretionary program that operates like an entitlement program is never a good idea," said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators.
The budget document doesn't specify whether the White House will propose maintaining the maximum yearly Pell Grant at $5,920. While advocates have called for increasing the maximum value of the grant to improve the purchasing power of low-income students, overall demand for the grants has slackened recently as the economy has improved and fewer individuals have returned to college. But funding for the program doesn't automatically rise with demand.
"If we get a recession and demand for the Pell Grant spikes, we're going to get a shortfall really fast," said Ben Miller, senior director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.
President Trump and congressional Republicans garnered headlines and praise recently from some leaders of minority-serving institutions for meeting with presidents of historically black colleges and universities in Washington. But the new executive order on the White House HBCU initiative signed by the president last month did little more than move the initiative from the Department of Education into the White House. And the budget plan doesn't include new money for HBCUs or deliver on Pell increases sought by the leaders of those institutions.
The budget proposes holding Title III and Title V support for HBCUs and minority-serving institutions steady at $492 million, although an analysis from New America found that's a drop-off of $85 million from current funding levels.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and a key player in discussions between the White House and HBCU representatives, said despite criticism of those meetings from corners of historically black colleges, they were justified. While money was taken from the Pell surplus, Taylor argued that in the context of a 13 percent reduction for the department, the Pell Grant proposal could have been much worse.
"I would make the case that the meeting with the White House was important, because if we hadn't gotten a commitment from the president advocating for HBCUs, we could have seen cuts to our Title III funding," he said.
The budget proposal said that funding to TRIO programs would be cut "in areas that have limited evidence on the overall effectiveness in improving student outcomes." Exactly where those cuts would occur won't be known until the full budget proposal is released in the spring. But Taylor said he is confident in the case to be made for the effectiveness of TRIO programs serving students at HBCU campuses.
"If they are objectively not working and you can't measure their success, then that's fair game," he said.
Alma Adams, co-chair of the congressional Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, said claims from the White House that the Trump administration would prioritize support for historically black colleges "ring hollow" after the release of the budget outline.
Other key Democrats in Congress blasted the proposal for breaking promises to workers and the middle class.
"Deep cuts to funding and eligibility for campus-based aid, college access programs, and a significant raid of Pell Grant funds would harm low- and middle-income families and their ability to access and succeed in higher education," said Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the Senate education committee. "I will continue to fight to protect students' access to affordable higher education, and I hope Republicans join me and reject this anti-education Trump budget."
Representative Bobby Scott of Virginia, ranking Democrat on the House education committee, said the proposal would "endanger public education, make college less affordable and reduce the availability of work force training."
Some Republicans cautioned that Congress, not the president, has ultimate authority to enact appropriations bills, while generally holding back on offering criticism of the budget outline. But Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Senate education committee, warned that the federal budget won't be balanced with cuts to discretionary spending.
"Runaway entitlement spending -- more than 60 percent of spending -- is the real cause of the $20 trillion federal debt," Alexander said.
North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx, chairwoman of the House education committee, said the document shows that Trump plans to deliver on his promise "to begin getting our nation's fiscal house in order."
"No one will agree with every proposal outlined in this budget, and it is up to Congress to carefully review the details," Foxx said in a statement. "That is precisely what we will do in the coming weeks. We look forward to working with the president to implement fiscally responsible policies that promote economic prosperity, keep workers safe and help ensure all Americans have access to an excellent education."
The White House blueprint isn't a binding document or even a guide to what Congress might do in the appropriations process. But Draeger, of NASFAA, said it couldn't simply be dismissed out of hand.
"The administration has offered up a menu of acceptable cuts to Congress," he said.
The proposed cuts affecting higher education go far beyond the Department of Education. The budget proposal zeroes out funding entirely for multiple programs involving the arts and research across several federal agencies. It would eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
As expected, the White House is seeking to eliminate funding for the National Sea Grant College Program, a network of 33 college and university programs conducting research and focusing on conservation to serve the needs of local communities and industries. The proposed Sea Grant cuts come amid major reductions in other environmental programs. The Environmental Protection Agency's budget would be slashed by 31 percent -- more than the reductions sought in any other federal agency.
And the skinny budget seeks a 20 percent overall cut to the National Institutes of Health. University groups say those cuts would damage the research mission of universities.
"It puts us a step back instead of moving our country forward in ensuring we will be at the forefront of the next big discoveries," said Jennifer Poulakidas, vice president of congressional and government affairs at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. "This budget would nearly ensure an innovation deficit."
Supporters of higher ed funding said now much of the action on the budget will shift to Capitol Hill, even as universities and other observers await the full White House budget in the spring.
Former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. called on Congress to reject the administration's proposal outright.
"If this proposal were enacted, all students, particularly students of color and low-income students, throughout the entire continuum of our education system would suffer, as would the nation's businesses, who desperately need a skilled work force to be successful," said King, who joined the Education Trust last month as its president and CEO.
Hartle, of the American Council on Education, said the proposal is the start of a long and complicated process for passage of a budget.
"Do we like what's in here? No," Hartle said. "Is this going to be the last word? Absolutely not."Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Trump administrationFinancial aidIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Emily Rutledge spends 16 hours a week in the University of North Georgia’s university relations office for her federal work-study job, tracking times the press mentions the university, helping to coordinate logistics for events like commencement and assisting graphic designers.
It’s the first year Rutledge, a 19-year-old sophomore, has taken part in a work-study job. She qualified for the program last year but had already landed other work before coming to campus -- she worked two jobs as a freshman, as a waitress and in retail, to earn money she needs to pay for college.
Rutledge has yet to lock in her major, but she thinks her current job will prepare her for a future career more than the ones she worked last year. She doesn’t plan on working in retail or restaurants, and she feels she’s gaining more experience and skills tackling different tasks in an office setting. Plus, her current managers on campus allow her to strike a better balance between being a student and an employee than did her managers last year.
Overall, Rutledge supports work-study, she said.
“If you don’t work for it, you don’t get it,” she said. “I think it’s really beneficial, because it shows you have to work to earn the money. It’s not just a handout.”
Now, however, Rutledge and other students in the federal work-study program are entering a period of uncertainty after President Trump released his budget proposal Thursday. Trump’s budget plan calls for substantial changes and cuts to the federal work-study program.
The president’s broad budget outline calls for reducing Federal Work-Study “significantly” and reforming it to direct funds to “undergraduate students who would benefit most.” It does not contain specific amounts for how much the program, which spends about $1 billion annually on hundreds of thousands of student jobs, would be cut. Nor does it spell out how remaining work-study funds would be reallocated.
The proposal from Trump, who consistently talked about jobs on the campaign trail and in the Oval Office, surprised many supporters of Federal Work-Study. Few forms of student aid would seem more politically aligned with that message than one in which students work for the funds they receive.
Some liberal backers worried that the budget discussions could redirect an ongoing debate about the program away from who receives its funding to whether it should be cut. Federal Work-Study has been criticized for disproportionately sending money to elite campuses and middle-class students instead of institutions that serve low-income students, they noted. Still, some conservatives cheered the proposal as a step toward getting the federal government out of a student aid business in which they believe it should not participate.
Those who work in student employment were surprised by the proposal. Janna McDonald is the director of the office of student employment at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the president of the National Student Employment Association. The association’s email Listserv was very quiet Thursday morning after Trump’s budget proposal was unveiled, she said. Members were likely digesting the news and processing it.
“All through the campaign it was working, working, working,” McDonald said. “To go and have this be one of the things they want to cut, it doesn’t measure in congruence with everything that has been said.”
Federal work-study jobs are supposed to be connected to students’ field of study or help them build skills for the work force, McDonald said. Those students often turn out to be more competitive for jobs once they graduate and enter the work force. They also tend to be more likely to graduate than students who would work even if they were not a part of the work-study program -- and research has indicated work-study recipients who are from low-income families and who attend public institutions receive more of a boost than work-study recipients with high incomes and those at private institutions.
Work-study jobs can also be a major boost to campuses that aren’t located near a large number of appropriate entry-level jobs for students to hold while attending class, McDonald said. Some states, like Indiana, have their own work-study programs, but the loss of the federal program could mean a budget gap that prevents some institutions from offering students on-campus jobs. The federal program generally funds 75 percent of a student’s wage, while institutions contribute the rest.
“This will actually hurt the educational numbers, because those students who depend on work-study money for rent and food and gas money to get to and from college won’t be able to find those opportunities elsewhere,” McDonald said. “Some of those students will be unemployed.”
A Program With Issues
Still, many agree the federal work-study program has its issues. The program cost the federal government slightly less than $1 billion in each of the last several years. About 671,000 students received aid from it in 2013-14, and the average award amount came in at $1,669, according to the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. But just 46 percent of dependent undergraduate recipients came from families with incomes of less than $42,000.
Critics argue the program skews too heavily away from low-income students and gives too much money to students from families with higher incomes. Only 8.2 percent of the dollars that went to dependent undergraduates in 2013-14 went to students from families with incomes below $6,000, according to NASFAA. More than a third, 35.2 percent, went to those from families with incomes of $60,000 or more.
It should be noted students with family incomes of more than $60,000 can have difficulty paying their bills at many private colleges. Still, the way the aid breaks down by income bracket is controversial. That breakdown is due to the way the work-study program disburses funds and its legislative history. The program, started in 1964, disburses funding to colleges and universities instead of directly to students. Those colleges and universities then break up the funding they receive and award it to students, exercising broad discretion.
The overall funding level for the program has changed little in recent years, and it uses a two-formula funding mechanism that results in it sending more money to established institutions that generally attract wealthier students. That’s because a large chunk of federal work-study money is sent to institutions using a “base guarantee” designed to protect college and university budgets from year-to-year funding shocks. That guarantee benefits institutions that have been in the program for a long time -- for many institutions, it’s linked to participation in the program in the 1970s. The remaining money goes to a “fair share allowance” formula that sends money to institutions based on the unmet financial need of their students.
Many agree that the net effect of this structure is that Federal Work-Study sends more money to wealthier institutions that have higher sticker prices and have taken part in the program for a longer time. The institutions’ high sticker prices mean they can offer work-study funding to middle-income students, because those students are still judged to have financial need. On the other hand, colleges and universities that have grown recently and tend to serve lower-income populations receive less funding.
Research from 2015 by Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, found that the 322 most selective private colleges in the country receive 4 percent of Pell Grant funds, which would indicate they enroll a low number of low-income students. Those institutions received 22 percent of Federal Work-Study funds, Kelchen found.
A March research brief from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment included similar data. A third of dependent undergraduates at private four-year institutions took part in Federal Work-Study jobs, it said. Only 2 percent of dependent undergraduates at public two-year colleges and 7 percent at public four-year colleges did the same.
Depending on how they are structured, cuts to the Federal Work-Study program could skew it even more toward institutions that enroll few low-income students. Cut the program in half, and it would receive less than $500 million. Last year, the base guarantee funding formula accounted for about $660 million in spending, according to Megan McClean Coval, NASFAA'S vice president of policy and federal relations.
“I’m just throwing this out in hypothetical terms,” she said. “We shouldn’t just be thinking that if the funding is cut in half, what I received last year at my school will be cut in half. That’s not the case. It could be even worse than that. There are a lot of schools that don’t have base guarantees.”
Of course, the Trump administration has yet to share how much of a cut it wants to make to Federal Work-Study. Nor has it spelled out what changes it would make to direct funds to undergraduates judged to most need them.
Coval thinks the Federal Work-Study program has many defenders on Capitol Hill. A fight over cutting the program could obscure the debate about its funding formula. But Coval believes it could also draw more attention to the idea of changing the formula itself.
Not everyone is hopeful that the discourse will follow that path. Iris Palmer is a senior policy analyst at the liberal-leaning think tank New America. She thought that Federal Work-Study seemed like a form of student financial aid the Trump administration could support.
Palmer acknowledges criticisms of the program. But she’d hoped to have a discussion about shifting its funding from elite institutions and wealthy students and toward low-income students who need assistance to stay in class.
“We wanted to have that conversation, and instead we’re probably going to have a conversation about not getting it significantly reduced,” Palmer said. “Having both of those conversations at the same time is actually really hard. That, I think, is unfortunate.”
Some conservative thinkers were heartened, however. Mary Clare Reim is a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation who supports the idea of cutting Federal Work-Study. All sides would be best served if students turned to the private sector for the jobs they need, she said.
“I think it’s a meaningful first step in rolling back a lot of waste in higher education funding,” Reim said of the Trump budget proposal. “Generally, I think it’s hard to find a justification for federal involvement here, especially since we’ve seen a lot of the funding for Federal Work-Study programs is not specifically geared toward low-income students.”
Whatever path the conversation takes, it will have an effect on students. Rutledge, the sophomore at the University of North Georgia, said she could not afford to attend college without also holding a job.
“I have loans taken out,” she said. “I have other scholarships. This is definitely necessary for my living expenses and paying toward textbooks and everything I need. I wouldn’t be able to do it without working.”Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Trump administrationImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
U of California strengthens faculty policies against sexual harassment and assault in light of scandals
After years of bad news about sexual harassment and assault involving professors within the University of California, its Board of Regents voted this week to strengthen the systemwide Faculty Code of Conduct’s policies against such behavior.
Specifically, regents approved an amendment to the code making sexual harassment and assault violations of faculty responsibilities. Previously, sexual misconduct did not explicitly constitute a violation.
The board also clarified the deadline by which campus chancellors must initiate disciplinary proceedings against a faculty member accused of misconduct, putting it at three years. It also eliminated any timeline for making reports of harassment and assault involving faculty members.
The system’s Berkeley campus faced criticism in 2015 for not taking harsher action against a well-known professor of astronomy accused of repeatedly sexual harassing students over many years. The professor, Geoff Marcy, eventually resigned, but reports of perceived “slaps on the wrists” to system professors accused of assault kept coming. Gabriel Piterberg, a professor of history at the Los Angeles campus, for example, was allowed to return to teaching after a brief suspension and a fine, even though the university settled with two graduate students who said he’d repeatedly harassed them and forced himself on them. He never admitted to any wrongdoing.
Most recently, documents obtained by The Mercury News in San Jose showed that more than 110 university employees were determined to have violated the system’s sexual misconduct policies during the past three years. The San Francisco campus had 26 cases, according to the newspaper, while Los Angeles had 25 -- including a French professor who wrote hundreds of love poems to a graduate student. That campus also reportedly saw a cancer researcher send sexually explicit jokes to colleagues, even after having been accused of sexual harassment twice before.
The university system has made attempts at reform, however, with President Janet Napolitano declaring that it become a “national leader” in prevention and response to sexual misconduct. As part of that effort, she appointed a joint committee of administrators, faculty leaders and students to examine the system’s policies and Academic Senate bylaws governing faculty conduct and discipline.
The policy changes approved at this week’s board meeting were recommended by that committee and reviewed by Napolitano and at the campus level. They’ll “further the university’s goals of ensuring an equitable and inclusive education and employment environment free of sexual violence and sexual harassment,” according to the meeting agenda.
There’s also a new timeline for involuntary leave for professors found to be an immediate threat to the campus community. Instead of charges being brought within 10 days -- deemed by the committee to be “untenably” quick -- a chancellor must now inform the faculty member within five days of the allegations being investigated, along with grievance and other information.
"This strengthens the ability of a chancellor to take this interim measure, if appropriate, when investigating an allegation against a faculty member," said Claire Doan, university spokesperson.
The changes, effective by July 1, also say that the chancellor must be informed about an alleged violation of the code when it’s reported to a department chair or higher up the administrative chain, including the coordinator for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit gender discrimination in education, in cases of alleged sexual misconduct. Any disciplinary action must be initiated within three years of the report. But there is “no limit on the time within which a complainant many report an alleged violation.”
That's something that victims' advocates have supported elsewhere, since some may need significant time before they're ready to report misconduct. Disciplinary action must come with a finding of probable cause, and all policy is still subject to the system's other due process protections for faculty members.
California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, was at this week's meeting said, "There seems there was a level of tolerance which was outrageous and frankly I still question the lack of accountability with some of that, and it's on all of us," ABC News reported.Threats Against FacultyEditorial Tags: FacultyTitle IXImage Source: TwitterImage Caption: Recent UCLA protest against Professor Gabriel Piterberg's return to campus after a suspension for alleged sexual misconduct.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Upper Iowa University has been put on notice by its accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, after staff members at one of its locations for years mishandled academic and financial aid information.
The private university, based in Fayette, Iowa, also runs 25 educational centers in seven states. In fall 2013, the university said it learned that a “handful” of employees at one of its five Louisiana locations had changed students’ grades and improperly handled financial aid information.
“It was a small number of employees, they were released immediately, and I am unable to comment further on the investigation,” Karl Easttorp, executive director of the university’s office of communications and marketing, said in an email. “However, I can assure you that these actions are not representative of UIU’s culture and values.”
Easttorp did not say how many university staffers were fired, nor how many students were affected by their actions. According to a website that Upper Iowa set up in response to being put on notice, the university has contacted students who may have been affected.
Since the case involved federal financial aid funds, Upper Iowa notified the U.S. Department of Education, which joined the investigation. The university then notified the HLC last year.
“The university worked closely with legal experts and the U.S. Department of Education to conduct a thorough investigation and self-reported those findings to the HLC,” Easttorp said. “The HLC then conducted their own examination. UIU has already put into place many changes that we believe will prevent this kind of thing from happening again.”
The Higher Learning Commission on Feb. 23 put Upper Iowa on notice, meaning the institution remains accredited but must take remedial steps ahead of the HLC’s scheduled on-site evaluation in 2018. The university can first be removed from notice in February 2019.
In a disclosure notice published on its website, the accreditor said it received reports of “fraudulent staff activity related to the distribution of federal student financial aid, entry or upgrade of grades for students, and identity theft between 2008-2013” and “concluded that the university did not have sufficient oversight of its operations.”
The notice references two accreditation criteria that the university is in danger of not meeting: one related to ethical behavior and operational integrity, the other to governance and administrative structures that enable institutions to fulfill their missions.
“Efforts have already been made to address these concerns, and will continue to be our focus,” the university said. “We are fully committed to working with the HLC over the next two years to remove the ‘on notice’ designation.”
Upper Iowa is scheduled to undergo a routine comprehensive accreditation re-evaluation during the 2019-20 academic year.
A spokesperson for the HLC declined to comment beyond the contents of the disclosure notice. A spokesperson for the Education Department also declined to comment.Editorial Tags: AccreditationCollege administrationFinancial aidIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
The free community college programs picking up steam across the country generally allow students to study whatever they want. But a new free community college initiative in Arkansas is looking to push students into the areas where the state has work force needs. To some free-college advocates, the initiative is more restrictive and limiting than other Promise programs, as the efforts are called.
Last week, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed an act creating the Arkansas Future Grant, or ArFuture. Hutchinson is Republican and both houses of the state's Legislature are led by Republicans. The first grants would be available this fall.
The grant doesn’t require a minimum high school grade point average to qualify but goes to any traditional or nontraditional student -- meaning recent high school graduates and adults -- who enrolls in a science, technology, engineering or math field, or another high-demand field, at any of the state’s community or technical colleges. As a last-dollar grant, ArFuture would go to students only after they’ve received federal and state aid. Grant recipients must participate in a mentor or community service program, and after graduation, they must work full time in Arkansas for at least three years.
If students don’t fulfill the requirement, the grant converts to a loan that must be repaid to the state.
“This was a strategic decision to drive student enrollment to programs that lead them to employment,” said Maria Markham, director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.
Markham said based off some Tennessee Promise data, they're expecting to see about 7,000 students utilize ArFuture.
“Part of the purpose of choosing high-demand fields is that we know those jobs are available if a student successfully completes,” she said, adding that nursing, welding, truck driving and advanced manufacturing are high-demand careers in the state.
But there are some major differences between the type of Promise programs free community college advocates have been endorsing and the plan Arkansas is rolling out, with its loan conversion, for instance.
“If this experimental approach returns better outcomes in STEM, it’s worth learning, but it could burden students with debt who weren’t advised properly, prepared enough or committed to completing the STEM requirements for their degrees or certificates, or who decide to change their majors,” said Marta Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign, in an email.
But Kanter said there isn’t a widely agreed-upon definition for a Promise proposal, and so ArFuture is certainly a Promise program, but in an early stage and narrowly focused, with risks.
Although the Arkansas program is limited, Morley Winograd, president and chief executive officer of the Campaign for Free College Tuition, also described the program as a good first step.
“It’s better than not doing it, but there is a philosophical challenge in making a Promise that is revocable. We try to encourage states not to do that, and in this case, it’s an explicit revocation … which is problematic,” he said.
Arkansas, however, wouldn’t be the first state to offer a free tuition program that is revocable or converts to a loan if requirements aren’t met. ArFuture was partially based off a work force development scholarship program in South Dakota that also converts to a loan if students don't meet requirements.
“In Arkansas, this reflects a desire on the part of the governor and the Legislature to make this an economic development plan more than a broad economic opportunity for everybody,” he said. “You can’t fault Arkansas for saying this is just about economic development and putting all the requirements on it, but what they may not have understood is by doing that they limit the power of the program to create additional enrollment.”
Those broader universal programs tend to have larger impacts on college enrollment and work force skills, he said.
Arkansas’ eastern neighbor, Tennessee, for instance, is showing sharp increases in enrollment and retention in its Promise program’s second year.
But there are also differences in the cost of the two programs.
This year the total cost of the Tennessee Promise is $25.3 million. In Arkansas, the state is canceling out two other state grants -- the Workforce Improvement Grant and the Higher Education Opportunities Grant -- in order to fund the estimated $8 million cost of ArFuture. The need-based work force grant went to nontraditional students who were at least 24 years old.
Students receiving the Higher Education Opportunities Grant, also known as Go!, will continue to receive it until they graduate or no longer meet eligibility requirements, while the work force grants weren’t renewable at all, Markham said. The Go! grant is need based and goes specifically to low-income students pursuing a certificate, two-year or four-year degree.
“Most students who qualify for WIG and Go! will also qualify for ArFuture, because ArFuture is much broader,” she said.
Arkansas is pretty familiar with Promise programs. There’s the Arkadelphia Promise, which is a last-dollar scholarship that allows graduates of Arkadelphia High School to attend any public or private university in the country, up to the maximum tuition at the University of Arkansas. And the El Dorado Promise, which is a first-dollar scholarship that allows students in that city to attend any public two-year or four-year institution in the country. Both, however, are privately funded, with El Dorado’s dollars coming from Murphy Oil Company.
Sylvia Thompson, the director of El Dorado Promise, said in the 10 years the program has existed, it has helped end the flow of families leaving the area. About 25 percent of the El Dorado Promise scholars attend a two-year institution.
“Our [K-12] population has remained the same, and according to surveys all the other schools in this area have continued to decline, but ours has stabilized,” Thompson said, adding that the El Dorado Promise serves the purposes of stabilizing the city and school-age population, while the ArFuture grant is focused on getting the state’s residents to work.
The requirements and the specificity of the Arkansas grant also reflect the work force development competition between states.
“Tennessee talks about how they use their free college as a recruitment tool to get companies to that state, and some of this is Arkansas and Kentucky trying to mitigate that recruiting edge and have the ability to carry that pitch into some economic leverage with future employers,” Winograd said.
That competition isn’t just in the South, with movement in New York and Rhode Island in the Northeast to push for free college plans, although they are focusing on economic opportunity and not just work force skills, because they’re Democratic states, Winograd said.
“Free high school spread this very same way,” he said, adding that it began in cities and towns and eventually states caught on. “It became an economic competitive thing for communities.”Community CollegesEditorial Tags: Financial aidImage Source: Arkansas governor's officeImage Caption: Governor Asa Hutchinson signs Arkansas Future Grant into law.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Illinois Wesleyan University
Prairie State College
The Trump administration today unveiled its "America First" budget -- a plan that would make deep cuts to some student aid programs and science agencies on which colleges, their students and their researchers depend.
In the U.S. Department of Education, the budget pledges level funding for Pell Grants, the primary federal program to support low-income students. Funding for historically black colleges and other minority-serving institutions would remain at current levels under the budget. The Trump administration has pledged to provide help for historically black colleges, and some leaders of HBCUs have been hoping for increases.
But the budget plan says work-study would be cut "significantly." Further, the administration is calling for the elimination of the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, which go to low-income college students. Eliminating the program will "reduce complexity," the budget proposal says, and produce $732 million in savings. In addition, the administration wants to eliminate GEAR-UP and reduce funding for TRIO programs, which prepare disadvantaged students for college and help them succeed once enrolled.
Some programs are slated for complete elimination, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Community and Public Service, which runs AmeriCorps.
Past Inside Higher Ed articles (on the NEH here and AmeriCorps here) note concerns in academe about these programs potentially being eliminated. William D. Adams, chairman of the NEH, has been silent amid reports of the planned elimination of the agency. But this morning, he issued a statement in which he said he was "greatly saddened" by the proposal and said the NEH would continue normal operations for now.
The budget plan would also kill the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Woodrow Wilson International Center, both of which support the work of scholars. Here is a background article from 2011, when Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives tried to kill the peace institute.
In the State Department budget, the document says the Fulbright program will be protected, but other educational exchange programs will be slated for cuts. The international education programs run by the Department of Education -- which provide funding for foreign language and area studies -- are also included on a list of programs slated for reductions or elimination.
As expected, the science budget seeks cuts across a number of agencies that support research on climate change and the environment.
But the budget also proposes to cut funding for the National Institutes of Health by nearly 20 percent, to $25.9 billion. The budget plan states that savings will come in part from "consolidations and structural changes across NIH organizations and activities. The budget also reduces administrative costs and rebalance[s] federal contributions to research funding." The NIH is the largest federal supporter of research and development, and its grants support research at universities nationwide. (Most NIH research is done through grants, and not at the NIH.)
Rush Holt, CEO of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, issued a statement Thursday in which he said that the Trump budget plan "would cripple the science and technology enterprise through shortsighted cuts to discovery science programs and critical mission agencies alike."
The budget's targets include some programs, like the NIH, that have enjoyed broad bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. But the current Republican congressional leadership and President Trump have vowed to push large increases in military spending, build a wall on the border with Mexico and resist tax increases. Such an agenda requires large cuts in many domestic programs.
Early Criticism of Impact on Low-Income Students
New America, a Washington think tank, released an analysis early this morning that suggests the cuts to work-study and SEOG may help protect Pell spending, although the analysis suggested that Pell may still be vulnerable down the road.
The analysis notes that the programs being proposed for cuts or elimination serve low-income students -- with evidence that work-study has a positive impact on graduation rates of the most needy students.
"SEOG recipients’ income levels are comparable to Pell recipients. Seventy-one percent of dependent undergraduate recipients [are] from families making less than $30,000 per year, and 76 percent of independent recipients earn less than $20,000," the analysis says.
As to work-study, New America noted concerns it finds legitimate, such as more aid going to private than public institutions and two-thirds of aid going to those with family incomes over $30,000. (Of course plenty of those with family incomes over $30,000 would have great difficulty paying for college.)
The New America analysis differentiated between reforming work-study and other programs (as others have proposed before Trump) and making deep cuts in the program. "Studies of the work-study program have shown students receiving work-study are more likely to graduate and be employed after graduation. And these positive effects are larger for low-income students who attend public institutions. One-third of American undergraduates are working 35 hours per week and half are working at least part time. Finding ways to help these students balance their jobs with their studies is more needed than ever. Reallocating the work-study allocation makes sense; cutting it significantly does not."Editorial Tags: Trump administrationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Ideological odd couple Robert George and Cornel West issue a joint statement against 'campus illiberalism'
Stylistically and politically, Robert P. George and Cornel West don’t have much in common. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, is one of the country’s most prominent conservative intellectuals. West, a professor of the practice of public philosophy and African and African-American studies at Harvard University, is a self-described “radical Democrat” who, in addition to many books, once released a spoken-word album.
So when George and West agree on something and lend their names to it, people take notice -- as they did this week, when the pair published a statement in support of “truth seeking, democracy and freedom of thought and expression.” It’s a politely worded denunciation of what George and West call “campus illiberalism,” or the brand of thinking that led to this month’s incident at Middlebury College, where students prevented an invited speaker from talking and a professor was physically attacked by some who were protesting the invitation.
“It is all too common these days for people to try to immunize from criticism opinions that happen to be dominant in their particular communities,” reads the statement. “Sometimes this is done by questioning the motives and thus stigmatizing those who dissent from prevailing opinions; or by disrupting their presentations; or by demanding that they be excluded from campus or, if they have already been invited, disinvited.”
Sometimes, it says, “students and faculty members turn their backs on speakers whose opinions they don’t like or simply walk out and refuse to listen to those whose convictions offend their values. Of course, the right to peacefully protest, including on campuses, is sacrosanct. But before exercising that right, each of us should ask: Might it not be better to listen respectfully and try to learn from a speaker with whom I disagree? Might it better serve the cause of truth seeking to engage the speaker in frank civil discussion?”
All of us “should be willing -- even eager -- to engage with anyone who is prepared to do business in the currency of truth-seeking discourse by offering reasons, marshaling evidence and making arguments,” George and West wrote. “The more important the subject under discussion, the more willing we should be to listen and engage -- especially if the person with whom we are in conversation will challenge our deeply held -- even our most cherished and identity-forming -- beliefs.”
Such “an ethos,” they conclude, “protects us against dogmatism and groupthink, both of which are toxic to the health of academic communities and to the functioning of democracies.”
George said in an interview Wednesday that signatures for the statement were flowing in at rate of several per minute, and that the names reflect all points of the ideological spectrum. “We’re gratified,” he said, adding that the statement aims to “encourage -- put the courage in -- people to stand up for themselves” and for the values of the academy.
“The goal is a heightened sense among faculty, administrators and students -- all three categories -- that they must refuse to tolerate campus illiberalism,” George said. “It’s a shared responsibility of everybody to not only refuse to participate in it but to refuse to accept it. In order for colleges and universities to fulfill their missions, there has to be an ethos, an atmosphere, an environment, in which people feel free to speak their minds -- where people are challenging each other, and thus learning.”
The immediate impetus for the statement was indeed the shouting down of Murray, author of the controversial book The Bell Curve, at Middlebury; the professor who was injured at the protest is the next signatory, after George and West. But the authors say they’ve long been concerned with a turning tide on colleges campuses that’s led to the shouting down and disinvitation of invited speakers, and other forms of what is arguably intellectual censorship. They’ve been trying to model the kind of civil dialogue they’re advocating for several years, teaching and speaking together publicly about the benefits of a liberal arts education -- including recently at the American Enterprise Institute.
Yet college illiberalism continues to grow, in their view. Just recently, for example, George said, Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton, who has argued in favor of abortion and euthanasia for severely disabled infants in some instances, was interrupted by disability rights protesters throughout an appearance via Skype at the University of Victoria in Canada.
George blamed the phenomenon on a campus culture of rightful inclusion that has been somehow “corrupted into the idea that people have the right to be free from hearing positions they disagree with.” That’s exacerbated, he said, by an emergent “consumer model” of education, in which colleges and universities competing for enrollments don’t want to offend their “customers,” even if the product -- higher education -- is supposed to be “challenging students’ deeply held convictions and helping them to lead examined lives.”
Singer announced on Twitter that he’d signed the petition. George pointed out that Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University and former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, who is anti-abortion and in many ways Singer’s ideological opposite, also signed on.
I've signed on to this important statement from Robert George and Cornel West. Please join me: https://t.co/oPneLnNiYo— Peter Singer (@PeterSinger) March 14, 2017
Two people who seemingly have little in common, George said, are “completely on the same page” when it comes to their responsibilities as members of the academic community.
George is also active on social media. He’s been tweeting that no one's yet been held "accountable" for the protest at Middlebury, which resulted in a concussion for Allison Stanger, Russell J. Leng '60 Professor of International Politics and Economics.
Stanger said she was asked to sign the statement first and did so, willingly. “It is beautifully written and badly needed, both for college campuses and the country at large,” she said via email. “Nothing good ever comes from demonizing our brothers and sisters.”
As for accountability, George said that students who intentionally disrupt educational opportunities in educational settings should be expelled. And where such protests turn violent, he said, the cases should be turned over to local -- not campus -- police and legal authorities.
Sarah Ray, Middlebury spokesperson, said Wednesday that the college has hired an independent investigator to look into what is “a very complex incident.” She reiterated a previous statement from President Laurie L. Patton that said Middlebury is a “determining a course of action for each individual understood to be involved in some way” in the events March 2.
Right now, she said, “we are gathering information and conducting a thorough investigation. This takes time, especially since so many people are involved.”
Samantha Harris, vice president of policy research at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and a former student of George’s at Princeton, approved of the statement. “It's critical for people to come together from across the political spectrum and agree to listen, and agree to disagree,” she said -- especially when they're defending the right to hear views that differ from their own.
The statement's lasting impact, however, will depend on “how universities respond to incidents like the one at Middlebury,” and whether there are especially serious consequences for protesters who turn to violence. Middlebury was a “watershed moment,” Harris added, because -- in contrast to the recent mob of nonstudents who protested a planned appearance at the University of California, Berkeley, by the known provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos -- Murray, though controversial, “is a sober academic” and Middlebury is a “traditional liberal arts college."
Michael Bérubé, Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of Literature and director of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Pennsylvania State University in State College, once led the Modern Language Association and has written on such issues as disability (at times disagreeing, albeit civilly, with Singer, for example). He called George and West “an unlikely tennis doubles,” saying he’d just seen the statement — and that it was "totally legit."
“I’ve always believed that shouting down or disrupting speakers is a perfect way for the academic ‘left’ to advance the right's agenda,” he wrote in an email. “It plays right into the wrong hands.”
Bérubé said he’d draw the line at Yiannopoulos, “since his ‘lectures’ included vicious attacks on individual students. But his 15 minutes seem to be up, not a moment too soon. But sitting and listening to Murray or Singer? ...You might, as the statement says, even learn how to argue more effectively with people you disagree with.”Academic FreedomThreats Against FacultyTeaching and LearningEditorial Tags: Academic freedomImage Source: TwitterImage Caption: Cornel West, left, and Robert P. GeorgeIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
A large for-profit university is trying an emerging form of competency-based education with the launch this month of four online bachelor’s degrees that ditch the credit-hour standard.
Officials with the publicly traded American Public University System, which enrolls roughly 90,000 students, said the company isn’t chasing a fad with its foray into so-called direct assessment.
“We’re in this for the long haul,” said Cali Morrison, director of alternative learning at APUS. “This isn’t a pilot.”
Hundreds of colleges have worked on introducing competency-based credentials in recent years. But only a handful offer direct-assessment degrees, a more aggressive (and controversial) version in which students must demonstrate mastery of a degree program’s required competencies but do not have to progress through credit-based course material or be taught by faculty members in the traditional sense.
Another publicly traded for-profit, Capella University, was one of the first to gain approval for direct-assessment programs -- following shortly behind Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America, which in 2013 was the first institution to get a green light. So far more than 1,000 students have graduated from Capella's direct-assessment degree tracks.
Laureate Education’s U.S.-based Walden University also has a direct-assessment program. But the for-profit Walden’s program is for graduate students. And while other for-profits, particularly Rasmussen College, have substantial competency-based degree programs on the books, APUS follows Capella as one of the first to go big on direct assessment for undergraduates. (Note: This article has been changed from a previous version to correct references to Capella.)
Advocates for competency-based education have been careful to shepherd its growth while seeking to prevent low-quality providers from entering the market and sparking a backlash. So even while APUS is generally considered to be a solid performer among for-profits, deeply negative views about the sector among consumer groups and Democratic policy makers might make some nervous about the company’s move into competency-based education.
However, American Public has yet to secure approval of the new degrees from the feds, which means students will not be able to use federal financial aid to help pay for the programs.
Critics of for-profits generally focus on federal money that flows to what they say are often lower-quality offerings that can saddle students with debt while not helping them get a well-paying job. But without being able to accept Pell Grants, federal loans or even military tuition benefits (at least for now), that won’t be a problem for the competency-based programs at APUS.
Yet despite its lack of federal aid eligibility, American Public is confident the degrees will be affordable. Tuition in its new “Momentum” programs is a flat rate of $2,500 for a 16-week term in which students can complete an unlimited number of competencies.
“The more they complete, the more valuable their degree,” said Morrison.
The company’s national reach could help it achieve a scale that so far has been rare in competency-based education, several experts said, with the notable exceptions of Western Governors University and a few others that enroll several thousand students and are still growing, including the University of Wisconsin System.
Most competency based programs remain fairly small, in part because of the complexity of explaining how the model works to students. But APUS may have an advantage in tackling that challenge.
“For-profits have money for marketing,” said Charla Long, executive director of the Competency-Based Education Network, a group of colleges that formed in 2014 to help its members develop competency-based credentials. “It really is encouraging, provided it’s done in a high-quality manner, to see an institution with commitment and resources to try direct assessment.”
One reason relatively few colleges have tried direct assessment is that the Obama administration at times sent mixed signals about competency-based education.
The Obama White House and high-ranking officials at the U.S. Department of Education were big supporters, saying the delivery method can be particularly good for adult and returning college students. But critical audits by the department’s Office of Inspector General about competency-based education and the federal approval process for this form of credential, including an as-yet unreleased audit of Western Governors, have had a chilling effect on colleges and accreditors.
For example, in 2015 the Higher Learning Commission, the largest regional accreditor, temporarily froze its approval of new competency-based offerings after being dinged by the inspector general. New direct-assessment degrees in particular were stuck in limbo.
In response to the uncertainty, Long said some colleges instead opted to create competency-based programs that rely on courses and credits while waiting on the regulatory environment to catch up.
However, last November the Higher Learning Commission approved APUS’s new direct-assessment degrees. And while it’s unclear whether the Trump administration’s Education Department will favor this form of credential, APUS is hoping to make a go of its direct-assessment programs even without federal aid.
American Public appears well suited to competency-based education, said Richard Garrett, chief research officer at Eduventures, a higher education research and advisory firm. That’s because of APUS’s size, history of relatively low tuition and high enrollment numbers of veterans and active-duty members of the military, who may be attracted to direct assessment because it is a way to recognize the skills and knowledge they picked up while serving, said Garrett.
“If anyone can pull it off at scale,” he said, “they’re the ones to do it.”
Regular and Substantive
APUS is now offering four direct-assessment bachelor’s degrees, in criminal justice, fire science management, emergency and disaster management, and retail management. Each of the programs requires mastery of 61 or 62 competencies.
An important eligibility requirement for the programs is that students must hold a previously earned associate degree, either an associate of arts or of science.
As a result, by offering the equivalent of the last two years of a bachelor’s degree, the program in some ways is an adult degree-completion track. And adult students with an associate degree under their belts tend to be more likely to succeed than those who enroll without any college experience.
Students in the new degree programs must complete a minimum of three competencies in a 16-week term. They can register for up to 12 at a time, completing as many as they can during the term. New competencies can be added any time until the 14th week of a term.
By completing 15-17 competencies during a 16-week session, APUS said students will be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in four terms -- roughly 15 months -- with a total tuition price tag of $10,000.
American Public is telling prospective students to expect to commit 16-20 hours per week to their studies. The university system also is encouraging students to have on-the-job experience in the degree’s subject area.
The programs feature an adaptive platform provided by RealizeIt, which the company customized for APUS. Adaptive learning is a buzzy technology that personalizes the student experience. In a direct-assessment program, that means giving a boost to student engagement, in part through helping students work through learning material to help them pass assessments.
“We had to make a lot of changes,” said Manoj Kulkarni, RealizeIt’s chief executive officer, when describing how the platform will work for APUS compared to in a course-based setting. “Competency-based education and traditional education seem like two different universes.”
Students take a pre-assessment at the start of each competency under the APUS model. A subject-matter expert will work with them to develop a plan to study content to prepare for a final competency assessment, in which students will be asked to apply knowledge and skills to a real-world situation.
The faculty role in competency-based education is a sticking point for its critics, including the department’s inspector general, who has raised questions about whether there is “regular and substantive” contact between students and faculty members in some programs.
APUS said each student will work closely with both a faculty mentor and subject-matter experts, with mentors being assigned to students for at least a full term. Students also will have access to career services advisers.
Kevin Forehand, APUS’s program director for retail management, said he volunteered to be a faculty mentor for students in the direct-assessment track. His role will be as a “guide on the side,” Forehand said.
“I’ll have the opportunity to be with the student through their entire time” in the program, he said. “They know exactly who they can come to, and that’s me.”Competency-based learningEditorial Tags: Competency-based learningEducation DepartmentFor-profit collegesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Russia is recruiting international students to strengthen its “soft power” in former Soviet states rather than gaining any significant income from foreign enrollments, a study suggests.
About 283,000 international students studied at Russian universities last year, making it the sixth-largest market for globally mobile students, behind only the United States, Britain, China, France and Australia, figures gathered by the Institute of International Education’s Project Atlas study show.
That represents a fourfold increase since 2001-02, when about 72,000 international students were based in Russia, with numbers increasing by 13 percent between 2014-15 and 2015-16 alone -- the fastest growth of any major higher education sector.
However, 69 percent of these students came from Azerbaijan, Belarus and other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States that were previously part of the Soviet Union, with some 10,000 students from former Soviet states receiving scholarships from Russia, according to an analysis by Alena Nefedova, a researcher at Moscow’s National Research University Higher School of Economics.
In terms of attracting international students, “Russia is not about making money -- it is about soft power and influencing people through education,” Nefedova told Times Higher Education.
“U.K. and U.S. universities will use international students to gain money, but Russian government universities are mainly exporting education because of [state] pressure,” she added.
For instance, a 2014 survey of 540 Russian universities with international students found that exactly half derived no income from these enrollments, said Nefedova. The total income derived by those that did charge fees stood at just 49 million pounds ($60 million) -- or about £208,000 ($254,000) per university, she added.
Despite this meager international income -- the Russian sector has about six million students overall -- the country’s universities are still keen to recruit foreign students because it improves internationalization indicators used to rank institutions globally, with high performers likely to receive more state funds, Nefedova said.
“It is about the rankings game -- the more institutions rise up the rankings, the more money they will receive from the 5-100 program,” she said of Russia’s flagship higher education funding project that aims to have five universities in the world’s top 100 by 2020.
“Everyone understands [that] this aim is nearly impossible,” Nefedova added.
The 5-100 investment had been beneficial for Russian higher education in other ways, such as encouraging universities to become more international in their outlook and concentrate on their research strengths, she said.
However, Russia is failing to capitalize fully on its support for international students, owing to its failure to bring more of the highly skilled international graduates that it had trained into its labor market, Nefedova said.
“We have interviewed many international students who have said, ‘Russia has given me a quality education for free and I want to work here, but they have made it impossible for me to stay,’” she said.GlobalEditorial Tags: RussiaTimes Higher EdIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
New presidents or provosts: Duke Flagler Halifax Hastings Hollins Mercy ONU Piedmont Pomona Valdosta
A federal judge in Hawaii issued an injunction late Wednesday blocking the Trump administration from temporarily barring nationals of six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- from entering the U.S.
The injunction is against President Trump's revised travel ban, which he issued this month after federal courts blocked his first ban. While many in higher education said the second ban was in some ways better than the first, they still objected to its automatic refusal to allow some people to come to the United States to study or teach because of their country of origin.
The judge's order is likely to be appealed by the Trump administration. As with the first round of litigation, higher education is playing a prominent role in the legal arguments.
The state of Hawaii, in challenging the second ban, specifically cited the impact it would have on the University of Hawaii. Judge Derrick K. Watson based part of his decision -- on the crucial issue of the state's standing -- on the arguments involving the university.
"The university is an arm of the state. The university recruits students, permanent faculty and visiting faculty from the targeted countries. Students or faculty suspended from entry are deterred from studying or teaching at the university, now and in the future, irrevocably damaging their personal and professional lives and harming the educational institutions themselves," the judge's ruling says.
"There is also evidence of a financial impact from the executive order on the university system. The university recruits from the six affected countries. It currently has 23 graduate students, several permanent faculty members and 29 visiting faculty members from the six countries listed. The state contends that any prospective recruits who are without visas as of March 16, 2017, will not be able to travel to Hawaii to attend the university. As a result, the university will not be able to collect the tuition that those students would have paid," the ruling adds.
The judge also noted with approval the state's argument that "the university will also suffer nonmonetary losses, including damage to the collaborative exchange of ideas among people of different religions and national backgrounds on which the state’s educational institutions depend. This will impair the university’s ability to recruit and accept the most qualified students and faculty, undermine its commitment to being 'one of the most diverse institutions of higher education' in the world."
Further, the judge's ruling says, the travel ban would "grind to a halt certain academic programs, including the university’s Persian language and culture program."
The kinds of impacts faced by the University of Hawaii, the decision says, are similar to those cited by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit when in February it upheld an injunction against Trump's first travel ban. That case was brought by Washington state and cited the impact on the University of Washington and Washington State University. And the ruling says that the concerns raised by the state of Hawaii over its public university system would be addressed by an injunction.
The injunction ordered by the judge is national and started late Wednesday, hours before the new Trump travel ban was due to take effect.
'Unprecedented Judicial Overreach'
In a rally in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday night Trump blasted the judge’s ruling as “unprecedented judicial overreach” and said he would appeal it “all the way up to the Supreme Court” if necessary.
Trump has justified the travel ban as necessary to prevent terrorists from entering the U.S. -- though a draft Department of Homeland Security memo, reported on by the Associated Press, found that citizenship status is an “unlikely indicator” of terror threats and that few people from the countries singled out for the ban have been involved in terrorism-related activities in the U.S.
“The best way to keep foreign terrorists -- or as some people would say, in certain instances, radical Islamic terrorists -- from attacking our country is to stop them from entering our country in the first place,” Trump said at the rally.
Elizabeth Redden contributed to this article.Editorial Tags: Trump administrationImage Caption: Judge Derrick K. WatsonIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Sometimes the darkest and most brilliant aspects of a college's history are embodied in the same person, as St. Olaf College recently found out. The institution said this month that a campus arts building will no longer bear the name of a late professor of art and Norwegian who was a Nazi-era resistance fighter, following an investigation into “credible” allegations of his repeated sexual misconduct.
The professor’s family has criticized the decision, but St. Olaf’s faculty seems to back it.
“We live in a world in which two things that just don’t make any sense together can both be true at the same time,” David R. Anderson, St. Olaf’s president, said in an interview. “It’s confounding and disconcerting, and nevertheless you have to do the best you can to find a way forward.”
Reidar Dittmann, who died in 2010, looms large in campus mythology. Born to Lutheran parents in Norway in 1922, Dittmann sympathized with Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany and was first arrested by occupying German forces for organizing the singing of anti-Nazi songs.
After a brief imprisonment, he joined the Norwegian resistance and helped sabotage a shipyard. His activities landed him a life sentence, and he became a political prisoner. Eventually, he spent 30 months in captivity in the concentration camp at Buchenwald.
“Above the gateway, emblazoned in brass letters, was the motto of the camp, and it said, ‘Right or wrong, my country,’” Dittmann said in a 1997 interview with Minnesota Public Radio.
Released in 1945, Dittmann emigrated to the U.S. and joined the St. Olaf faculty two years later. He co-founded the college’s international studies program and led students on annual tours abroad. He became the college’s first director of international studies and received the St. Olav's Medal from the Norwegian king in 1977 -- no small nod at a college founded by Norwegian immigrants. Dittmann also was a frequent lecturer on the Holocaust and took part in opening ceremonies for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.
After his retirement, in 2002, the college named the building that houses its art, art history and dance programs after Dittmann.
Cut to last year, when St. Olaf -- like many other institutions -- initiated a review of its politics and procedures surrounding sexual misconduct. The process involved creating an independent working group on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender discrimination in education, and gathering input from students, faculty and staff.
Several alumni came forward with reports of sexual misconduct involving faculty and staff members from up to decades ago. Some said they now felt comfortable sharing their experiences “after observing a change in St. Olaf’s culture,” according to information from the college.
An unspecified number of those reports centered on Dittmann. St. Olaf has released no detailed information about the nature of the claims against him, but Anderson said the accusers described behavior that “was wrong then and wrong now. This is not a question of 21st-century political correctness.”
The college investigated the claims, including through interviews with the alleged victims, and found what Anderson, the college's president, called “highly credible evidence” against Dittmann.
Carl Crosby Lehmann, general counsel for the college, was involved in the process. He declined in an interview to elaborate on the claims against Dittmann, citing promises of privacy to the alleged victims. But, in general, in any investigation, he said, it’s “significant” when multiple allegations from “individuals who don’t appear to have known each other come forward, and they’re saying, ‘I didn’t realize I wasn’t the only one.’”
Questioning the College
Last week, St. Olaf told people on campus and alumni about its decision to remove Dittmann's name from the building. Members of his family criticized the college, saying in a statement that they are “shocked and dismayed by the turn of events that has resulted in stripping his name from the Art and Dance Center at St. Olaf College. The allegations of sexual misconduct from decades ago deeply trouble his family, many members of whom proudly attended the college and grew up with it as an integral part of our lives. We abhor sexual misconduct without exception, but we are also devastated by the impossibility of due process for the person we knew and loved.”
There are “many other aspects of this case that should be disturbing to anyone who cares about civil liberties: the recklessness on the part of the college in allowing its alumni database to be used to distribute anonymous allegations and to solicit more allegations from a targeted group of alumnae; the college's secrecy about the allegations and the process used to indict our father posthumously; the haste with which the college reached its conclusion; and finally, the public humiliation our family is experiencing as a result of the college's communications of their actions,” the statement reads. “While we understand that the college needs to find a path forward, we are deeply saddened at this outcome, which provides no closure for us.”
Asked about due process for Dittmann, Crosby said that “when we receive allegations, we don’t take them at face value. We can’t ignore them, either, based on the fact that the accused person is not available to respond.”
Anderson said alumni have come forward with reports about late staff and faculty members beyond Dittmann, but his case has become public because of his significance on campus.
“It would be impossible to keep that name on the building” out of respect for victims, he said. “It was the right thing to do.”
Confronting the Past
Facing increased pressure to confront the darker parts of their legacies in recent years, institutions have responded in different ways.
Yale University, for example, last month announced that it would remove the name of John C. Calhoun, an alumnus who was the seventh U.S. vice president and an outspoken proponent of slavery, from a residential college (the decision reversed an earlier one to retain Calhoun’s name). Clemson University, meanwhile, decided to retain the name of a campus building honoring Benjamin Tillman, a notoriously racist politician who represented South Carolina through the early 20th century.
“Every great institution is built by imperfect craftsmen,” Clemson’s Board of Trustees said in a 2015 statement about their decision. “Stone by stone they add to the foundation so that over many, many generations, we get a variety of stones. And so it is with Clemson. Some of our historical stones are rough and even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours, and denying them as part of our history does not make them any less so.”
Some academics have argued against removing monuments that recall slavery or civil rights violations, saying it could amount to erasure instead of a teaching opportunity. Of course, at St. Olaf, the allegations are about the conduct of a professor against former students of the college.
Anderson said St. Olaf isn’t attempting to erase Dittmann, and that it “couldn’t, even if you wanted to, because of the remarkable 46 years of service he contributed to this college.” He underscored that that history of service doesn't “make sense” in light of the allegations against Dittmann, but said that “colleges and universities are human organizations made up of humans, and so they’re going exhibit the best and worst of us. Our greatest and weakest strengths are mirror sides of each other.”
In any case, Anderson said, “we are not seeking public approval and congratulations for being ‘such good people.’ It’s a sad day for the college that this actually needed to talked about, but we could not have taken the action that needed to be taken without public awareness of it.”
Shock, Sadness, Support
Anderson said he’s tracking the many responses he’s received on the matter from faculty, alumni and staff. There’s lots of shock, sadness, support and “thankfulness that the college did take this step,” he said, in that it’s “doubling down” on its values.
Kari Lie Dorer, chair of Norwegian studies at St. Olaf, used some of those words to describe the general reaction of the faculty, which was not involved in the decision; professors were briefed on the news a few hours before it went public. Though few professors still teaching knew Dittmann, she said, the faculty response was “first shocked and, second, thankful for how our administration dealt with the allegations from start to finish. … I do believe that our faculty trusts our administration in this decision.”
Nevertheless, Dorer said, Dittmann remains an “important part of my department's history,” and he's still remembered for his contributions to teaching and study abroad.
Anna Kuxhausen, chair of Russian and director of women’s and gender studies, congratulated Anderson on his leadership -- especially because the facts of the case will not be made public. That's consistent with Title IX procedures, she said, but surely problematic for some observers.
“The decision to rename this building is appropriate and courageous; it sends a strong message to survivors of sexual misconduct at St. Olaf that the college will not protect known perpetrators -- or their legacies,” Kuxhausen said via email. “Given [Anderson’s] statement, we can conclude that the allegations against Dittmann were substantiated to a degree that warranted this dramatic action.”
Asked what advice he might have for other institutions weighing aspects of their histories, light and dark, Anderson said, “You have to start by going back to the mission and stated values, and you have to behave according to them. That’s where the sadness and pain might come in. But, you know, we’re 142 years old, and I don’t think you’ll find many institutions that are 142 that don’t have complicated histories.”Teaching and LearningEditorial Tags: FacultyTitle IXImage Caption: Reidar DittmannIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Bookmark iBerry !