Higher Education News

Report finds parents of college students taking out more debt and repaying at slower rates

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 08:00

A loan program offered to parents financing their children’s college education has been the target of repeated calls for tighter restrictions on eligibility. And a report released Wednesday by the Brookings institution on Parent PLUS loans adds new fuel to arguments for restricting the program.

The report finds that the average loan amount taken out by parent borrowers has more than tripled in the last quarter century, according to the report. And parents with six figures in loan debt make up a growing share of borrowers entering repayment.

Repayment rates have declined, meanwhile, and more parents are defaulting on loans as they take out debt to finance their children’s degrees at institutions with poor repayment outcomes. While parent borrowers on average have very low default rates on the loans, those aggregate numbers mask negative trends and poor outcomes at particular types of colleges, the report says.

“We’re in this situation where parents, in order to send their kids to schools they want to attend, are taking out loans that some of them clearly can’t afford to repay. And that seems like a terrible choice,” said Adam Looney, the director of the Brookings Center on Regulation and Markets, who co-authored the report along with Vivien Lee, a senior research assistant at Brookings' Hutchins Center on Fiscal & Monetary Policy.

Those concerns are magnified because Parent PLUS loans don’t come with the same kinds of protections as federal undergraduate debt, like income-based repayment and loan forgiveness.

In 1990, the average parent borrower took out $5,200 annually. In 2014, that number was $16,100, according to the report.

And the five-year default rate jumped from 7 percent in 2000 to 11 percent in 2009.

But parents face only a basic eligibility check for Parent PLUS loans; they can be more than $2,000 delinquent on other loan debt and still qualify. And there are no caps on lending to finance their child's education.

The report is the latest of several papers produced by Looney examining student borrowing trends based on administrative data from the National Student Loan Data System.

Parent borrowing has often flown under the radar relative to undergraduate student loan debt. There isn’t much good data on borrowers, and the loans make up a sliver of the overall federal student loan portfolio, said Rachel Fishman, deputy director for research at New America’s Education Policy program.

But the loans are instrumental for many students to access colleges, especially historically black institutions. When the Obama administration attempted to tighten eligibility standards on Parent PLUS loans in 2011, it led to loan denials for thousands of families and intense backlash from black colleges. Many of the families who take out the loans don't have other options after their student exhausts their federal financial aid eligibility. They likely won't, for example, qualify for private student loans with better rates.

Although those changes were carried out clumsily, Fishman has written that more fundamental reform of the program is still needed. In a paper earlier this year, she said the program exacerbates the racial wealth gap by saddling many black families with debt they’re unable to repay. The Brookings report only adds to those concerns, she said.

“The PLUS program is the only undergrad loan program where loans have been increasing year over year even as enrollments decline,” she said. “The result, as Looney and Lee point out, is that average loan balances for PLUS have increased dramatically.”

Many institutions package Parent PLUS loans as part of a student’s financial aid award letter, a practice faulted by Fishman and other critics. And even more have come to rely on the loans as a source of revenue.

The Brookings paper finds the institutions with the worst repayment rates on parent loans were for-profit institutions -- especially those investigated for fraudulent and deceptive practices -- and institutions serving a high share of underrepresented minority students.

Parents of for-profit-college students had paid back 57.7 percent of their aggregate loans five years after entering repayment in 1999. For the cohort entering repayment 10 years later, parents had paid back only 26.3 percent of loan debt within five years. But half of colleges with the worst repayment rates were public or nonprofit institutions.

Groups representing black colleges have argued their members are trying to address affordability while serving a student population with many needs. And they say the PLUS program should not be restricted without addressing the greater need for financial aid among their student bodies.

Mark Kantrowitz, an expert on student aid, said that the growth in Parent PLUS over the last 25 years roughly matches tuition inflation. The growing rate of loan defaults was more concerning, he said.

“Part of the problem is the Parent PLUS loan program is the safety valve for when students reach the Stafford loan limits,” he said.

Kantrowitz has argued that a slowdown in the growth of average student loan debt through the undergraduate Stafford program indicates many borrowers are hitting lending limits -- and parents are borrowing more in response.

Looney said the numbers he found showed the need for more federal data on parent borrowers.

"There are a lot of things that the federal government can do," he said. "One initial step would just be transparency to have a better sense of who is being successful paying their loans and who isn't."

Recent legislative proposals introduced by Republican and Democratic House lawmakers to update the Higher Education Act have taken contrasting approaches to Parent PLUS. The PROSPER Act, House Republicans' bid to reauthorize the higher ed law, would cap aggregate parent borrowing at $56,250 while slightly raising lifetime lending limits for undergraduate borrowers. The Aim Higher Act, which Democrats introduced over the summer, would make parent loans eligible for income-driven repayment.

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University of Illinois insures itself against possible drop in Chinese enrollments

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/29/2018 - 08:00

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has paid $424,000 to insure itself against a significant drop in tuition revenue from Chinese students.

In what is thought to be a world first, the colleges of business and engineering at the university signed a three-year contract with an insurance broker to pay the annual six-figure sum, which provides coverage of up to $60 million.

The university came up with the idea in 2015 and implemented it last year but received permission from the broker to discuss it in public only earlier this month.

Jeff Brown, dean of the Gies College of Business, told Times Higher Education that the insurance would be “triggered” in the event of a 20 percent drop in revenue from Chinese students at the two colleges in a single year as a result of a “specific set of identifiable events.”

“These triggers could be things like a visa restriction, a pandemic, a trade war -- something like that that was outside of our control,” he said.

Tuition revenue from Chinese students makes up about a fifth of the business college’s revenue.

Brown said that the insurance would cover the colleges’ losses if the decline was temporary and buy the university time to “make some adjustments to where we recruit” if it became a longer-term issue.

“Hedging the risk that we face gives us more confidence to be able to continue proactively investing in the very strong relationships that we have in China,” he added.

“We chose the $60 million figure because that roughly is our exposure across the two colleges. If demand had actually completely disappeared, we’d be ‘made whole’ for that year.”

Last month, Peter Varghese, chancellor of Australia’s University of Queensland, suggested that universities should put revenues from Chinese students into a trust fund to insulate themselves against a future drop in enrollments from East Asia.

Sylvie Lomer, lecturer in education at the University of Manchester, said that Illinois’s move was “an interesting development” and “represents the logical extension of the marketplace in international higher education.”

“There are a number of institutions in the U.K. which would be overexposed to this particular form of risk … so this could be a long-term trend,” she added.

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Liberal arts college and boot camp team up to offer new computer science degree

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 08:00

What do a coding boot camp founded by two college dropouts and a small liberal arts college founded in 1890 have in common? Quite a lot, it turns out.

Make School and the Dominican University of California both want their students to be more employable. But neither one thinks they can do that entirely on their own.

In an unusual partnership, the two institutions are working together to trade expertise and share accreditation to offer degrees that combine a traditional liberal arts education with cutting-edge coding skills.

Make School is helping Dominican to create a computer science minor. In exchange, the university will teach general education to Make School students as part of a new accelerated bachelor’s degree in applied computer science, which Dominican will oversee. During the multiyear “incubation” period for the degree program, Dominican will guide the boot camp as it transitions from a college alternative to an accredited degree-granting institution.

Faculty members from Dominican and Make School will teach courses jointly for the computer science program at Make School’s location in San Francisco, near Union Square. The boot camp has temporarily become a branch campus of Dominican. The university’s traditional campus is located about 20 miles north, just outside of San Rafael in Marin County.

Dominican conducted focus groups with its students as the university mulled whether to bulk up its computer science offerings, said Mary B. Marcy, Dominican’s president.

“We were stunned by the level of interest,” Marcy said.

Dominican is working toward a trial launch early next year of its computer science minor, with a plan to enroll a small number of students. But the university hopes that eventually about half of its undergraduates will take at least one course in computer science.

Make School and Dominican jointly designed the curriculum for the minor, which will be delivered by instructors from Make School. Dominican is working to develop the capacity to run the minor in-house.

The union was blessed last week by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, Dominican’s regional accreditor. Officials from both institutions praised the accreditor for being open-minded and having a policy in place to make the jointly offered degree possible.

The commission's decision is an exciting and important development for accreditation, said Judith Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

“This is the way in for alternative providers,” said Eaton. But she adds that “partnering is a lot of work.”

Jeremy Rossmann, Make School’s co-founder, viewed the boot camp as a “two-year college replacement” when he helped launch it in 2015. The boot camp seeks to give students the skills needed to get in-demand tech jobs in software engineering. Many people studying computer science in college weren’t gaining enough relevant experience to get jobs, he argued. Make School was different -- it emphasized creating over studying.

But at a time when many alternative providers are pushing digital badges and other nondegree credentials, Rossmann is headed in the opposite direction.

An MIT dropout, Rossmann doesn't want Make School to be a "college replacement" anymore -- he wants it to be a college. He wants to be able to offer his students the “safety net” of a bachelor’s degree, and says the breadth of a liberal arts education will help students better understand the societal impact of technology they create. With each iteration of Make School’s curriculum, Rossmann said the boot camp started to look more like traditional higher education.

“We were really building a college,” he said, adding that “we know we benefited tremendously from the liberal arts.”

Becoming a degree-granting institution, however, is not easy. Rossmann knew he needed help, and he began searching for a college partner that could help shepherd Make School through the accreditation process. It was a call that Marcy, president of Dominican, answered.

Ready for Change

Dominican, like many small private colleges, is under pressure. With an increasingly diverse student body, the university faces challenges with limited resources as it seeks to ensure that more of its students succeed.

For example, while the university’s finances are sound, its endowment is roughly $33 million. That relatively small amount makes it hard for Dominican to meet the financial needs of its many low-income students.

In the past few years, the call for Dominican to teach computer science has gotten louder, said Marcy. Faculty members want their students to have better digital literacy skills, and students from all disciplines know that basic knowledge of coding could give them an edge in a competitive job market.

But Dominican didn’t have any faculty members who could teach students how to build their own websites or apps, said Marcy. Creating a computer science major from scratch would cost more than $1 million, take four or five years to enroll its first students and would only benefit a small portion of the university, she said.

“We had some generalized anxieties that we needed to provide more for our students than we were,” said Marcy. “But we knew that just adding a computer science degree was probably not going to work for us.”

When Marcy was introduced to Rossmann two years ago, she saw the potential for a partnership. The faculty had just voted overwhelmingly in favor of significant changes to the university’s general education curriculum and its organization of majors and minors. She said this “fertile, creative time on campus” meant that professors were receptive to the idea of Make School teaching their students computer science.

“Faculty just rolled up their sleeves and worked really closely with the team at Make School,” said Marcy. A key concern was ensuring quality, which a faculty-led task force has overseen. Marcy was given the green light from her Board of Trustees to pursue the partnership on the condition that it would not cost the institution any money.

“Do I have worries around the margins? Sure. I want to make sure we do it right. I want to make sure that the courses are of the quality we think they will be,” Marcy said. “It’s a significant change for us,” she said, but a “more radical change for Make School.”

Geology … for Coders?

Friday is now "Science and Letters" day at Make School. Instead of attending their regular coding tutorials, students like Jasmine Anderson now devote the last day of their workweek to physical geology, English or psychology as part of a general education pilot program the boot camp started this semester.

Anderson, a 29-year-old from Florida who previously worked in retail management, moved across the country to attend Make School to try to achieve her dream of becoming a software engineer. She didn’t set out to get a college degree.

Tech companies care more about hiring people with the right expertise than the right piece of paper, said Anderson. But she can see the value of a degree. “If I have experience coding and this piece of paper, that puts me above the competition,” she said.

Learning about physical geology also has been surprisingly enjoyable for her. “I’m seeing the value as I take the class,” she said. “I’m learning things that will help me in life.”

Her instructor, Amy Young, is an assistant professor of physical science at Dominican. She lives in San Francisco, so her commute to Make School is easier than her typical journey to Dominican’s campus. Young said she agreed to take part in the pilot because she thinks the university's partnership with Make School “is an exciting and fun idea.”

Young knows her students were somewhat skeptical at the beginning of the semester.

“They self-selected for a practical education that launches them into a very specific career,” she said. “They thought, ‘I’m here to learn coding, why do I need geology?’ But I think some of them have even started to look forward to Fridays.”

Young described her students as “very driven” and said she likes how much they engage with her and ask questions.

Make School’s current class is 72 percent male and 42 percent underrepresented students of color, according to the boot camp. Half of its students come from households where the annual income is under $60,000.

“They’re very focused on problem solving,” Young said. “They want to open up the hood and see how things work.” She hopes some of her students go on to tackle environmental problems with technology. “I want them to become engaged citizens.”

General education isn’t compulsory for the minority of Make School students who hold a college degree. But the boot camp encourages its students to take general education courses, said Anne Spalding, dean of Make School. She said most students have reacted “very positively” to the prospect of getting a bachelor’s degree in applied computer science.

“We even have alumni reaching out to us, asking if they can come back and get a degree. But we haven’t figured that out yet,” said Spalding.

Incubation and Accreditation

Policy makers of all political stripes often criticize accreditors for putting red tape in the way of promising innovations. But Dominican’s accreditor did not prove to be a barrier to the partnership with a boot camp.

Last week the WASC Senior College and University Commission approved the affiliation between the two institutions. Marcy said the university now can begin admitting students into the new bachelor's degree program in applied computer science. And Dominican next semester will begin offering computer science courses to nonmajor students at its main campus.

The regional accreditor granted the noncollege Make School access to Dominican’s accreditation -- and to federal financial aid -- under an incubation policy it created a few years ago. It’s the first such incubation under the three-page standard, which allows a nonaccredited entity to evolve within the accredited university to become an accreditable one under the commission’s policies.

The policy grew out of the commission’s 2014 approval of degree programs offered by the Minerva Schools through its unusual partnership with the Keck Graduate Institute. That affiliation between a start-up, selective institution with a global reach and an accredited one helped the commission think through how to offer an incubation option for similar partnerships.

“We are trying very hard to help institutions be creative,” said Jamienne Studley, the commission’s president and CEO and a former official in the U.S. Department of Education during the Obama administration. “The standards are broad and leave a lot of room for institutions to create the programs, pathways and models.”

The incubation rules require that Dominican retains academic control of the degree program. “They are responsible until the new creature is finally accredited,” said Studley.

Likewise, Make School also must remain in the partnership until Dominican gains its own ability to be autonomous with its computer science offerings.

“We can’t spin off until Dominican is ready to teach the minor themselves,” Rossmann said. In the future, the partnership could serve as a template to bring the computer science minor to other liberal arts colleges, Rossmann said.

Marcy said creating the incubation partnership was challenging.

“The depth of the integration and collaboration -- between two very different education institutions -- is unique,” she said. “It truly is an act of co-creation.”

Challenging a ‘False Dichotomy’

Many small colleges, particularly those without faculty members in computer science, have reached out to Dominican about the partnership, said Marcy. She said the collaboration has enabled the university to launch a series of courses in coding and app and web development with remarkable speed.

Steven Polacco, associate professor of graphic arts at Dominican, said he was “dazzled” by how quickly Make School adapted its curriculum to meet the university’s standards. Traditional universities have to think deeply about things like learning outcomes as part of the accreditation process -- something Make School hadn’t done previously. “We had to teach them to speak university,” he said.

Polacco had pushed for a computer science minor for years. But he said it kept being put on a back burner because of the expense. Dominican graduates can find jobs in graphic design without coding skills -- but they probably can’t lead teams of designers without “at least some rudimentary knowledge” of the coding language Python, Polacco said. And the new minor will change that.

Dominican is among several small institutions that are trying to “find the sweet spot” between the liberal arts and professional training, said Ashley Finley, senior adviser to the president and secretary to the board for the Association of American Colleges and Universities, who was previously associate vice president for academic affairs at Dominican.

“I think this is a fantastic lesson for other small liberal arts colleges,” she said.

Marcy hopes Dominican’s partnership with Make School will help “ameliorate the false dichotomy” between the liberal arts and in-demand skills training.

“Our goal at Dominican is to create more graduates who combine a strong grounding in the liberal arts with the technical skills necessary to be successful in graduate school or their careers,” said Marcy.

“Some of these students will be graduates in the liberal arts and sciences. Some of these students will be computer scientists,” she said. But “all of them will have the ability to think critically, communicate effectively and apply these skills to relevant work and graduate programs.”

-- Paul Fain contributed to this article.

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Pitzer faculty vote to suspend study abroad program in Israel

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 08:00

Faculty at Pitzer College voted earlier this month to suspend the college’s study abroad program in Israel.

Pitzer faculty say the question will next go to the College Council for a vote.

Study abroad programs have increasingly become a target of the movement to boycott Israeli academic institutions. The Pitzer vote follows two widely reported instances in which a professor and graduate instructor at the University of Michigan cited their support for the academic boycott in declining to write letters of recommendation for students seeking to study abroad at Israeli universities.

Advocates for ending study abroad programs in Israel argue that academic boycotts are a nonviolent mechanism for resisting Israeli policies that infringe on the freedoms of Palestinians, including academic freedoms, and that American universities shouldn’t be complicit in Israeli visa and border control policies that could prevent all of their students from participating in study abroad programs there.

Opponents of the academic boycott argue that Israel is being unfairly singled out for special scrutiny and that restricting Israel study abroad programs limits students’ learning opportunities and violates their academic freedom.

A Pitzer Student Senate resolution introduced at the organization’s Nov. 11 meeting describes the faculty vote to suspend the college’s study abroad program at the University of Haifa as “an advancement of a political agenda at the expense of students who seek opportunities in Middle East/North African Studies, Arabic, Hebrew, Christianity, Judaism, Islam and the intercultural relations of Israeli and Palestinian ethnicities.”

The resolution says that "only the University of Haifa study abroad program was called into question without the same standards of review being applied to any other study abroad program" and it “denounces the faculty’s desire to suspend the study abroad program at the University of Haifa and the Faculty’s decision to act unilaterally without regard to student voice.” Student Senate representatives did not respond to inquiries about the status of the resolution, but the status on the Senate website is variously listed as "proposed"/"pending approval."

A Pitzer spokeswoman confirmed that the Israel study abroad program is not currently suspended, and said the college administration is declining to comment while the issue is considered through Pitzer's governance channels.

“The college community of students, faculty and staff are deliberating the issue through Pitzer’s shared governance process,” the spokeswoman, Anna Chang, said via email. “The college do not plan to release any formal statements until the process is completed.”

Daniel Segal, the professor who put forward the resolution, said it is his understanding that it will be debated at a Thursday meeting of the College Council and voted on by faculty and voting student delegates at a subsequent meeting in January. He said he cannot say for sure whether the Pitzer administration or board can legally overrule the council but that his expectation is that its vote will be binding. "I do not think there has been a single time when College Council has made a curricular decision that is clearly within their purview that has not then become policy," he said.

The resolution, which Segal said was approved by "at least" a four-to-one ratio in a collegewide faculty meeting earlier this month, calls for suspending the college's exchange program at the University of Haifa "until (a) the Israeli state ends its restrictions on entry to Israel based on ancestry and/or political speech and (b) the Israeli state adopts policies granting visas for exchanges to Palestinian universities on a fully equal basis as it does to Israeli universities."

Part of what is at issue here -- per clause (a) of the resolution -- is a 2017 law barring entry to Israel for foreign supporters of boycotts. An American student with a visa to pursue a master’s degree at Hebrew University of Jerusalem was denied entry to Israel under the law earlier this fall on the basis of her past presidency of a Students for Justice for Palestine chapter at the University of Florida. The student, Lara Alqasem, appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court, which ruled that her “actions do not raise satisfactory cause to bar her entry to Israel” and permitted her to enter after she spent more than two weeks in an airport detention center.

Also at issue is the reported differential treatment of individuals of Muslim, Arab or Middle Eastern origin by Israeli border control authorities and -- per clause (b) of the resolution -- what scholarly groups have reported to be an increase in visa denials for foreign faculty seeking to teach at Palestinian universities in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel controls entry to. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel issued a statement from Samia Botmeh, a dean of Birzeit University, in the West Bank, in which she praised the Pitzer faculty vote and said that foreign faculty are being forced out of the West Bank and would-be international students denied entry.

“We shouldn’t be listing as an approved program, meaning we endorse it, a program which in practice will discriminate against some of our students on the basis of ancestry and/or legitimate political speech,” said Segal, the author of the resolution and the Jean M. Pitzer Professor of Anthropology and Professor of History. “We should on the other hand be good allies for colleagues who are suffering from grave violations of their academic freedom and who have asked us for their support. It’s the right thing to do to oppose discrimination against some of our students and it’s the right thing to do to support academic freedom of those whose academic freedom is being violated."

Faculty also approved another resolution at their meeting -- also put forward by Segal -- objecting to a move by the college's Board of Trustees to nullify a resolution to divest from certain companies associated with Israel approved by the Student Senate in April 2017. “Independent of agreeing or disagreeing with that resolution, we the Faculty object to the president and trustees singling out this one issue as a basis for not accepting the Senate’s longstanding autonomy in controlling its funds, in the context of Pitzer’s governance system,” the second resolution stated.

Controversy over the trustees' actions in that instance led to the creation of a working group on Israel-Palestine comprised of students, faculty and trustees. The working group produced a report that was fairly neutral on the question of study abroad, concluding that "too little is known about the precise ways in which the Israeli travel ban [on boycott supporters] would potentially affect staff, students or faculty wishing to participate in our institutional relationship with the University of Haifa" and that "the working group sees the educational benefit of facilitating experiential learning around Israel-Palestine issues and does not wish to create a barrier to study in the region."

The working group’s chairperson, Claudia Strauss, said in an interview Tuesday that she voted in favor of the resolution to suspend the Haifa study abroad program. “I actually went through a change in my own thinking about it after we issued the report,” said Strauss, a professor of anthropology. “In general, I’m not in favor of academic boycotts or limiting study opportunities. My initial thinking about this was I’d like our students to have an opportunity to go over and see things for themselves. But Lara’s case changed my mind about that. I don’t want our students to possibly be detained for their political views.”

Another Pitzer professor, Albert Wachtel, argued that the opposite lesson should be taken from Alqasem’s case. “This student was admitted and is studying in Jerusalem,” said Wachtel, a professor of creative studies. “If she’s an indication of anything, she’s an indication that democracy works in Israel and that its courts balance things out and undertake to negate political decisions which it regards as unacceptable. That’s big. That’s very desirable.”

Segal countered that the Supreme Court decision didn't overturn the law restricting entry to foreign advocates of boycotts; rather the court concluded that Alqasem herself did not meet the bar for refusing entry. “Clearly, we have a problem at the college if we have a program that we list as approved and student A chooses it and can go and student B chooses it and student B has been a prominent member of Claremont Students for Justice in Palestine and cannot go into the program. Then we are approving a program that discriminates on the basis of perfectly legitimate political speech,” Segal said.

The vote by Pitzer faculty was condemned Tuesday by the AMCHA Initiative, an organization that tracks what it views as anti-Israel actions on campuses and opposes the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

“The Pitzer faculty’s attempt to implement academic BDS on campus and subvert the educational opportunities and academic freedom of their own U.S. colleagues and students is absolutely reprehensible,” the group’s executive director, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, said in a written statement. “These Pitzer faculty members have abrogated their most basic professional responsibility -- to promote the academic welfare of their students.”

AMCHA called on Pitzer president Melvin L. Oliver to “immediately condemn this action and publicly commit to ensuring that no Pitzer student will be impeded from studying about or in Israel and that faculty will not be permitted to implement an academic boycott of Israel at Pitzer.”

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New policies, student groups change the culture of free speech at Berkeley

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 08:00

Last year, the University of California, Berkeley, campus literally erupted in flames as a planned speech by conservative provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos devolved into violence: stones and fireworks were hurled at police, windows were shattered, riots turned injurious. Though the destruction then came from off-campus groups, for the next few months, highly public battles around free expression were waged at the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement.

President Trump raised a threat of yanking federal funds over the university’s response to Yiannopoulos (he mischaracterized the situation, saying Berkeley had not allowed Yiannopoulos to speak, when in fact the institution did give him permission).

The former Breitbart editor tried to visit the campus again several months after the protests for a “free speech week” -- declaring he would challenge the status quo grip of liberalism on the campus. The event forced the university to shell out about $1 million in security, though the planned events largely fizzled. Ann Coulter, the hot-button author, also sent her online following after the institution after she had been invited to speak there, but perceived a lack of support by administrators for her talk (she ultimately never appeared). Two conservative student groups filed a federal lawsuit against university officials asserting their free speech rights had been infringed.

But more than a year later, the Berkeley campus is seemingly free of such drama. It has hosted controversial right-wing figures such as TurningPoint USA leaders Charlie Kirk and Candace Owens, commentator Heather Mac Donald and talk-radio host Dennis Prager with little incident.

Students and administrators credit the change in part to the intent of the speakers coming to the university: not to rile up the student body, but instead to engage in discussion. The speakers voiced conservative views but did not insult Berkeley students or groups of students, as others had previously.

This follows two shifts on campus. Most recently, the university’s free speech policies were revised, after being vetted by a university commission. And new student groups were founded intent on promoting “civil dialogue” in wake of the fiascos with Coulter and Yiannopoulos.

“Given that the university has an unwavering commitment to the First Amendment, and has an unwavering commitment to the right and ability of our student organizations -- regardless of their perspective -- to bring speakers of their choice to campus, it seems as if … we’re not a tempting destination for those not interested in engagement, but rather provocation or advancing their brand,” Dan Mogulof, university spokesman, said.

Across the country, attempts by alt-right figures to appear on campuses (namely white nationalist Richard Spencer, a leader of the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last year) have largely halted. Spencer stopped his “college tour” earlier this year and has pleaded for money -- $25,000 -- after being sued for his role in Charlottesville.

Yiannopoulos, the main agitator at Berkeley, also had a fall from grace, following his comments apparently condoning relationships between adult men and teen boys, which led to his exit from Breitbart.

But largely, he and Coulter haven’t returned to campus because of the new student groups and a shift in leadership among the College Republicans, who last year gave an interview to the San Francisco Chronicle saying its members invited “provocative speakers” intentionally, to attract attention.

In October 2017, members of the College Republicans moved to oust the president of the group, Troy Worden, who had supported Yiannopoulos's "free speech week." Worden is now an intern for The Daily Signal, which is published by the Heritage Foundation. He has still clashed with the Berkeley administration as of just last month, when he wrote a piece for The Daily Signal claiming Berkeley was limiting free speech. Mogulof said it was riddled with inaccuracies and misinterpreted the institution’s new policies. The College Republicans did not respond to a request for comment.

The main change in the rules (on an interim basis) is designed to cut down on potential disruptions.

The West Crescent area of the Berkeley campus will essentially serve as a space where large-scale protests can be held at any time. It is now exempt from the institution’s major events policy, which requires advance notice to plan events, among other stipulations.

Traditionally, these types of demonstrations were held in the historic Upper and Lower Sproul Plazas. Now, only the upper portion will be used for impromptu bigger events, and the lower part will be subject to the major events policy.

These plazas are close to a number of significant campus buildings, among them Sproul Hall, which houses the registrar, the university's financial aid center, the dean of students and the César Chávez Student Center, where the Disabled Students Program, Gender Equity Resource Center and Student Learning Center are located.

"Either adding or moving free speech zones would relieve the burden on this area and reduce the likelihood that vital services will be interrupted," the free speech commission's report states.

At the same time, new student groups have become active -- and they are promoting different kinds of discussions on campus.

Manu Meel is a student at Berkeley and president of the national branch of BridgeUSA, a group that tries to promote healthy political discourse without ties to party affiliation. It emerged after Yiannopoulos’s first speech on the campus, and Meel said that a “cultural shift” occurred there. Initially, BridgeUSA was one of the organizations sponsoring Coulter’s visit -- this was an intentional partnership with the College Republicans, to be seen as more moderate -- but Meel said the group pulled out once it was clear Coulter was only intended rabble-rousing.

No longer does the Berkeley administration simply respond to vocal political organizations -- fringe groups on either side of the political spectrum -- but it works with student groups to consider how best to promote free speech, Meel said.

“They were frankly controlled by the circumstances and seen as a reactive, rather than a proactive institution,” Meel said.

BridgeUSA, which Meel said is not a partisan group, has arranged a series with the university called “Conversations Across Political Divides,” in which two parties with different views on one issue will sit and discuss it. Most recently, his group hosted David French, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and Erwin Chemerinsky, professor of law and dean of the Berkeley School of Law, to debate various political topics.

Another, more right-leaning group called the Berkeley Conservative Society has similarly tried to inspire intellectual debate, rather than inflame the campus. It was created in October last year, said its president and founder, Celine Bookin, who splintered off from the College Republicans with the desire to create an organization with a different sort of goal.

Bookin helps organize debates -- just among students -- where they would debate the issues du jour: fiscal policy, health-care reform and more. She said that while the discussions may not have the same draw as a controversial event, they have been successful. Berkeley students are intellectual and want more robust conversations, she said.

“I’m thrilled to help revitalize civil conversation and decency at Berkeley,” Bookin said.

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Authors discuss new book on land-grant universities and their evolution

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 08:00

An 1862 federal law, the Morrill Act, created land-grant universities. In the years since, some land-grant universities have become internationally prominent research universities, and many are crucial to their states. But the American economy and the role of higher education in society have changed dramatically since the Morrill Act. A new book, based on interviews with 27 presidents and chancellors of land-grant universities, considers where the role of these institutions is going.

The book is Land-Grant Universities for the Future: Higher Education for the Public Good (Johns Hopkins University Press). The authors are E. Gordon Gee, the president of West Virginia University, and Stephen M. Gavazzi, a professor of human development and family science at Ohio State University, where Gee was formerly president. (Both Ohio State and WVU are land-grant universities). Gee and Gavazzi responded via email to questions about their book.

Q: Many of the leading universities in the United States are land-grant institutions, but they tend to be described by many as research universities first. Is it problematic that the land-grant identity isn't front and center?

Gee: Yes, this is problematic, first and foremost because this implies that we have vastly overprized the research portion of our tripartite mission. What does this say about our value system, and the worth we assign to teaching and community engagement? Evidence of this skewed way of thinking about our reasons for existence as a land-grant university are on full display when we hear faculty members talk about teaching “load” as if it were some sort of undue burden placed on them to be in contact with students.

Gavazzi: The significant emphasis on research prowess in comparison to the pursuit of excellence in teaching and community engagement was on the minds of most of the 27 land-grant presidents and chancellors that we interviewed for this book. Many of these university leaders talked about judicious efforts to find some sort of balance among the three areas. In contrast, individuals outside of academia who we interviewed were less circumspect. Their comments led us to believe that one of the reasons public support for higher education was on the decline was precisely because we underappreciate the value that citizens place on our teaching and community engagement efforts.

Q: The Morrill Act was enacted at a time when agriculture was central to the economy of every state. Today agriculture (however important it remains) is less visible in American society. Some land-grant universities have renamed colleges of agriculture. Agriculture research is rarely the top category of research at land grants. How have these shifts changed the land-grant identity? Should agriculture be more central than it is at some land grants?

Gavazzi: For starters, we must remember that the Morrill Act placed both agriculture and engineering, then known as the “mechanical arts,” front and center in our original mission. This widened appreciation for where we started allows us to see that the difference between 1862 and 2018 is not so much the field of study -- agriculture or engineering -- as it is the transformation of our nation from a primarily rural population to a predominantly urban one. Meeting the needs of rural America versus the requirements of an urban-dwelling citizenry was very much on the minds of the land-grant university presidents and chancellors we interviewed.

Gee: That said, we must not fail to realize how underappreciated agriculture is today. When I served as the president of the Association of American Universities, I came face-to-face with the fact that the research universities assigned less value to agricultural research in comparison to other scholarly pursuits. I thought this was absurd, and yet it was almost taken for granted that there should be less prestige bestowed upon those faculty members who were engaged in crop science, animal husbandry and so on.

Q: Many public research universities these days position themselves as national or international more than as state institutions. How much does land-grant identity depend on close identification with the state? Is this possible in an era when many states have cut back on appropriations, and when some land grants are focused on increasing out-of-state enrollment?

Gee: This is precisely where the land-grant institutions have all the advantages, and yet more recently have failed to create any sort of meaningful brand identity with the public and with those who are responsible for making decisions about how the public’s money will be spent. The land-grant universities are supposed to be the people’s universities, which means they are the representatives of the best and brightest that each state has to offer to its citizens.

Gavazzi: Again, the stakeholders outside of academia that we interviewed, including state legislators and other higher education policy makers, made it clear to us that they want their land-grant university to solve their state’s most pressing economic and social issues. These stakeholders also were quite unambiguous that any national or international activities should come with a clear explanation about how those efforts are going to help citizens closer to home.

Q: Cooperative extension links land-grant universities' research to communities throughout their states. How has this function changed? Should it change more in the years ahead?

Gavazzi: The Cooperative Extension Services, designated by the Smith-Lever Act to disseminate university-generated knowledge to farms, families and communities, just celebrated its 100th year of existence in 2014. Across that century, the shift from a more rural to a more urban population that we mentioned earlier has put enormous pressures on extension personnel to remain relevant in the lives of most American citizens. The presidents and chancellors we interviewed were aware of newer initiatives being undertaken by extension personnel -- urban agriculture was prominently discussed by many of these senior leaders, for example -- yet there also was a deep-seated recognition that more changes must occur, and quickly.

Gee: Again, we see how the land-grant university holds distinct advantages over other public and private universities, and yet often has not been able to parlay that into any sort of tangible recognition regarding their practicality. Having extension offices in virtually every county of a given state means that land-grant universities have at least one representative who should be waking up every morning and saying to themselves, “What am I going to do today to demonstrate how the people’s university is working to make everyone’s lives better?”

Q: You write that land-grant universities should be more "fiercely land grant." What does that mean?

Gee: In the book, we discuss the immense pressures that universities place upon themselves to be more like each other. This is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing. The higher education system in the United State has been so successful precisely because of its diversity, not despite it. We even see this push for homogeneity affecting religiously based institutions, with the sometimes subtle and other times not-so-subtle message that they should act “less religious.” We think quite the opposite. Catholic universities should be more fiercely Catholic, Baptist universities should be more fiercely Baptist, and so on. Similarly, although there is no formal religion involved, we believe that land-grant universities should be more fiercely land grant in their orientation.

Gavazzi: While we may sound a bit evangelical, this is the same sort of message that was delivered by the Kellogg Commission over 20 years ago when they titled their report “Returning to Our Roots.” It’s a call to get back to our original mission, to place the highest value on meeting the needs of the communities that we were designed to serve.

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Updates on college fund-raising campaigns

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/28/2018 - 08:00

Starting Out:

  • ArtCenter College of Design has started a campaign to raise $100 million by 2020. Top priorities are scholarships, learning spaces and the endowment. To date, $84 million has been raised.
  • College of Saint Benedict has started a campaign to raise $100 million by 2020. Campaign goals include scholarships and the modernization of classroom spaces. So far, $75 million has been raised.

Finishing Up:

  • University of New Hampshire completed a two-year campaign, raising $300 million, $25 million more than the original goal. More than one-third of the funds went toward student aid.

Track fund-raising campaigns in higher education at Inside Higher Ed's database.

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New analysis of history-major data says the field is at a 'new low.' Can it be saved?

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:00

History has seen the steepest decline in majors of all disciplines since the 2008 recession, according to a new analysis published in the American Historical Association's Perspectives on History.

“The drop in history’s share of undergraduate majors in the last decade has put us below the discipline’s previous low point in the 1980s,” reads the analysis, written by Benjamin M. Schmidt, an assistant professor of history at Northeastern University.

Some numbers: there were 34,642 history degrees conferred in 2008, according to federal data. In 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, there were 24,266. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, there was a 1,500 major drop-off. And even as overall university enrollments have grown, “history has seen its raw numbers erode heavily,” Schmidt wrote, especially since 2011-12.

“Of all the fields I’ve looked at, history has fallen more than any other in the last six years,” he says. The 2012 time frame is significant, according to the analysis, because it’s the first period in which students who experienced the financial crisis could easily change their majors.

The data represent a “new low” for the history major, Schmidt wrote. While a 66 percent drop in history’s share of majors from 1969 to 1985 remains the “most bruising” period in the discipline’s history, that drop followed a period of rapid enrollment expansion. The more recent drop is worse than history’s previous low point, in the 1980s.

Source: Benjamin Schmidt/American Historical Association

Discussing history as a share of all majors, Schmidt says the picture is still somewhat grim. The current figure is about five degrees per 1,000 23-year-olds, compared to 12 per 1,000 in 1971 and eight per 1,000 in 1993. Still, he notes, five per 1,000 is still better than the “trough” of the mid-1980s.

The decline is observed among all demographic groups. But Schmidt says that the most profound loss is among Asian American students, who already were underrepresented in history relative to their share of all students. The drop among white students, who make up 71 percent of history degrees and 58 percent of all bachelor’s degrees, is a bit less severe. Hispanic students, who are represented among history majors at the same rate they attend college, follow the overall trend, Schmidt says. African American and Native American students have seen the smallest declines. But women also appear less interested in history than before.

By institution type, these declines seem worst where history has previously been a popular major. Research institutions outside the highest-output group have seen the steepest declines, as have private campuses. One advanced analysis indicates what predicts big drops in history majors: being a research university, having a large number of Asian American or foreign students, and being private or having high tuition. Less steep declines, conversely, are associated with factors such as having more African American, multiracial or Hispanic students and being a historically black college or university (even controlling for having a higher share of black students). Schools in the Midwest seem to have experienced the greatest declines.

That the declines have continued among students who entered college well into the economic recovery shows that these shifts “are not just a temporary response to a missing job market,” Schmidt says. Instead, there seems to have been a “longer-term rethinking of what majors can do for students.” The supporting evidence? Other fields with significant declines since 2008 share traits with history. They include most of the other humanities and what Schmidt calls “many of the more qualitatively inclined social sciences,” including political science, anthropology and sociology.

Data from the AHA and other sources indicate that history majors go into a variety of careers and that employers value what they bring to the hiring table. So Schmidt says that in many cases, “this anxiety over career prospects for history majors is probably misguided.” The increasingly common practice of “lumping a wide variety of disparate fields together as STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] is probably giving students and their parents excessive expectations about the earning potential conferred by many science and technology degrees,” he adds. “While engineers in their 20s can indeed make salaries that would make most full professors of history jealous, science, technology, and math majors are much more of a mixed bag.”

He cites recently released data from the University of Texas system showing that history majors make less than most science majors after controlling for the university they attended, but appear to make more than many other majors -- including English, psychology, sociology and even a number of biology-based majors.

Ultimately, Schmidt says, whether through majors or course enrollments, “the long-term state of the discipline will rest on how it adapts to a cohort of students -- and their parents -- who are much less receptive to arguments for the liberal arts than previous generations have been.” So it’s important to look to departments that have found effective ways of communicating the history major’s purpose, he says. During and after the 2016 election, there were anecdotal reports about a resurgence of history. But overall enrollment trends, like majors, suggest that that resurgence didn’t translate to departments from the public consciousness. Still, some departments are doing well. Last year it was reported that history is again Yale University’s top major for the Class of 2019, for example, after suffering a slump through the 2000s.

Alan Mikhail, incoming chair of history at Yale, on Monday shared comments he made to the AHA at the time about the department’s successes. He cited four major strategies: rethinking course offerings, hiring new faculty members in specific growth areas, organizing campus recruiting events and, crucially, rethinking the actual major. Students are no longer required to take one set of courses, but rather pursue thematic tracks as part of a cohort.

“One important thing that came out from our conversations with students when we were considering changes was that the major lacked coherence or a logical path,” called “regions” or “pathways,” Mikhail told the AHA. “Students were conscious of, and perhaps envious of, the fixed path of requirements that their peers in the STEM fields experience.”

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Rice to investigate scholar in gene-editing case

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:00

Rice University will launch a “full investigation” into whether one of its American scholars had a hand in controversial new research that a Chinese scientist claims has produced the world’s first genetically edited babies.

He Jiankui of the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, on Monday stunned attendees at a Hong Kong genetics conference by announcing that he used the genome-editing technology CRISPR-Cas9 to alter the DNA of embryonic twin girls to make them immune to HIV infection. He said the babies were born earlier this month.

A Rice physics and bioengineering professor, Michael Deem, worked with He on the project after He returned to China following graduate school in the United States, the Associated Press reported Monday. Deem had been He's adviser at Rice in Houston and holds what he has called “a small stake” in He’s two companies in Shenzhen. Deem is also on the companies’ scientific advisory boards, AP reported.

The type of gene editing described by He is banned in the United States because the DNA changes can pass to future generations. The modifications also risk harming other genes.

By the time of Monday’s announcement, there had been no independent confirmation of He’s claim, which was not published in a peer-reviewed journal. He revealed the breakthrough to one of the organizers of an international conference on gene editing that is set to begin today. He also spoke to AP, telling a reporter, “I feel a strong responsibility that it’s not just to make a first, but also make it an example,” adding, “Society will decide what to do next.”

The announcement generated a flurry of news coverage and a resurgence of debate about the ethics of gene editing. One Oxford University medical ethicist told England's Telegraph that He would be facing jail time in most countries for the experiment. If true, said Julian Salulescu, "this experiment is monstrous," calling it "genetic Russian roulette."

Rice on Monday said the research “raises troubling scientific, legal and ethical questions.” The university said it had no prior knowledge of the work, and that none of the clinical work had been performed in the United States.

“Regardless of where it was conducted,” Rice said, “this work as described in press reports violates scientific conduct guidelines and is inconsistent with ethical norms of the scientific community and Rice University.” It announced “a full investigation of Dr. Deem’s involvement in this research.”

Deem did not respond to a request for comment. In an interview, he told AP that he was present in China when potential participants in the research gave their consent. Deem said he had worked with He on vaccine research at Rice and considers the gene editing similar to a vaccine.

Rice wouldn’t comment further but said Deem remained on faculty. On Monday, his profile page remained on Rice’s website, as did the webpage for its program in systems, synthetic and physical biology, which he founded.

But several pages, including those dedicated to Deem’s research, his research group, his publications and his patents, had been taken down.

He, the Chinese scholar, studied at Rice and Stanford Universities before returning to China to open a lab at Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen.

In a statement issued Monday, the Chinese university said, as did Rice, that the research was conducted outside its campus and that it wasn’t reported to the university or its biology department. The university said it learned of the research through media reports, noting that He has been on “no-paid leave” since February.

The university said it was “deeply shocked by this event” and has attempted to reach He for clarification. It also said the biology department had called an emergency meeting of its academic committee. He’s work “has seriously violated academic ethics and codes of conduct,” the university said. It called for international experts to form an independent committee to investigate He’s claim and to release the results to the public.

In a statement, the National Institutes of Health on Monday said officials there had not been able to review the "unexpected and deeply troubling claims" by He. "Without further information, NIH cannot comment on the scientific merits of the study, but we are profoundly concerned about the ethical implications of modifying the human germline."

In a 2015 statement, NIH director Francis S. Collins said that while genomic editing has enabled researchers to more easily study the underlying genetic causes of several diseases, NIH "will not fund any use of gene-editing technologies in human embryos. The concept of altering the human germline in embryos for clinical purposes has been debated over many years from many different perspectives, and has been viewed almost universally as a line that should not be crossed."

Kiran Musunuru, a University of Pennsylvania gene-editing expert and editor of a genetics journal, called the development “unconscionable,” telling AP that experimenting on humans “is not morally or ethically defensible.”

Likewise, Scripps Research Translational Institute director Eric Topol cautioned, “We’re dealing with the operating instructions of a human being. It’s a big deal.”

But Harvard Medical School genetics professor George Church said attempted gene editing for HIV is “justifiable,” given that HIV is “a major and growing public health threat.”

Church said He’s claims were “probably accurate,” telling Stat News by email that he’d been in contact with the team in Shenzhen and had “seen the data” on the gene editing.

“Is the genie really out of the bottle?” Church wrote. “Yes.”

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What Title IX plan would mean for misconduct off campus

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:00

A proposed overhaul of federal standards for colleges’ handling of sexual misconduct would require that institutions only investigate incidents that occur within campus-sanctioned events or activities.

The fear among many advocates for survivors of sexual assault is that language would mean colleges could take a pass on investigating harassment or assaults experienced by students just outside their campuses. But lawyers who advise institutions on compliance with Title IX, the federal law governing sex-based discrimination, say colleges are likely to continue pursuing any incident that affects learning on campus.

“These schools deal with off-campus conduct issues all the time outside of sexual assault,” said Scott Schneider, an Austin, Tex.-based lawyer who advises higher ed clients. “There’s a fairly lengthy history especially in higher education of extending student disciplinary codes to off-campus behavior.”

The rule explicitly states that Greek housing would be considered an “education program or activity.” The implications of Title IX for other off-campus locations are less clear.

The regulation cites both existing statute and court rulings to illustrate what would fall under that category.

"In determining whether a sexual harassment incident occurred within a recipient’s program or activity, courts have examined factors such as whether the conduct occurred in a location or in a context where the recipient owned the premises; exercised oversight, supervision, or discipline; or funded, sponsored, promoted, or endorsed the event or circumstance," the rule states.

The proposed regulation also says that nothing would prevent colleges from launching student-conduct proceedings when harassment occurs outside a campus program or activity.

The proposed rule includes plenty of other mandatory provisions institutions would be expected to carry out -- conducting live hearings, for example, and allowing for cross-examination of parties. But they would have discretion whether or not to continue investigating harassment or assault involving students outside of campus-sanctioned programs. And lawyers who work with colleges say while some may not pursue those cases, many institutions are likely to receive pressure from organizers and student groups to pursue those cases under their own campus codes of conduct.

Most colleges and higher ed associations in Washington have had little to say about the proposed rule so far. And the lawyers tasked with explaining federal statute and regulations to institutions are still unclear about the implications for many of the provisions in the proposed rule.

Jose Olivieri, a Milwaukee-based lawyer, said the proposed rule will require more scrutiny and more explanation from the department. But he said some off-campus misconduct incidents that affect on-campus learning may not qualify as Title IX issues under the rule.

"I think they did make a change there that might eliminate coverage in some situations," he said.

That may not mean colleges rush to change the campus misconduct policies they use to investigate misconduct, though. Melissa Carleton, another lawyer who advises higher ed institutions, said when colleges do change policies, it is typically a consensus-building process.

“I would think that would be something where the campus community would have something to say,” she said.

Carleton said the Education Department should clarify whether the proposed rule would obligate colleges under Title IX to investigate off-campus incidents that create a hostile learning environment on campus. If not, it could be easier for colleges to dismiss a student accused of misconduct.

Higher ed institutions will also be seeking clarification on what constitutes a campus “program or activity.” Would activities like study abroad programs or professional internship programs affiliated with colleges, for example, fall under that category? Jim Newberry, a lawyer based in Louisville, Ky., said he expected so.

“The question is does that particular form of misconduct impact the educational activities of the institution,” he said.

Advocates for survivors of sexual assault, though, are still wary about the implications of the new requirements advanced by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Sage Carson, executive director of Know Your IX, said many off-campus fraternity houses aren’t officially recognized by their colleges.

“It seems to be her way of skirting around our concerns,” she said of DeVos.

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Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan no longer recruiting college sophomores for internships

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:00

The long-standing advice for students (even in high school) is that they should secure an internship as soon as possible to gain experience in their field.

This makes the move by two top Wall Street investment banks -- Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase -- to postpone their internship recruitment timeline seemingly all the more counterintuitive. But it’s a change institutions are welcoming because they say it will help alleviate student anxiety.

“It put a lot of pressure on students, which just wasn’t great,” said Barbara Hewitt, executive director of career services at University of Pennsylvania, a major feeder for the two banks.

Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan will no longer interview or extend internship offers to college sophomores. Even when the companies were interviewing sophomores, they weren't offered internships until the summer after their junior year anyway, which meant they were agreeing to a position roughly 15 to 16 months in advance. This meant sophomores would sometimes be trying to learn concepts for the internship that might be taught in an upper-level course their junior year, Hewitt said. She said that she’s never known another field to be quite as competitive and have the same sorts of early timetables as the banks.

“A lot of the banks told me they wouldn’t be giving technical interviews, but students would go on interviews, and be asked technical, financial questions, so they needed to prep and learn material they probably were learning the following year,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said that sophomores tend to work with smaller employers with less structured internship programs that don't tend to recruit as early as some of the larger employers. While the sophomores may be doing some networking right now, they usually land the internships across industries in the spring semester, she said.

As The Wall Street Journal reported, the banks initially started earlier recruitment periods in an attempt to appeal to the contingent of students who had not considered banking careers and diversify their ranks from largely white, affluent men.

But the opposite appeared to happen -- with stiffer competition, students with existing connections to the finance world started to use them to get internships.

Executives from both Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan told the Journal that they acknowledged how disruptive the early timetable was for many students. One representative from JPMorgan said that it felt “felt obligated” to follow the market.

JPMorgan also asked the National Association of Colleges and Employers to recommend that all banks delay recruitment until junior year to create the level playing field, but NACE does not prescribe such time frames -- it only maintains a broad set of ethical principles for employers.

Mimi Collins, a spokeswoman for NACE, said that in the 1990s, the association would recommend that students be given at least two weeks to consider a job offer, but that was changed because it seemed ultimately two prescriptive and wouldn’t fit many industries, Collins said.

Collins said that because NACE does not suggest recruitment timelines for companies, it was not necessarily endorsing the change by the banks, though she did acknowledge that the previous was system was likely “not a good practice.”

“I think what the banks have done reflects the reality that giving at a least a year may not be the wisest use of recruitment efforts,” Collins said. “I think that what they’re doing if you have an experience that’s going to start a whole year later, students are going to change their minds, so it’s being realistic.”

But Stephanie Marken, executive director of education research at Gallup, said in an interview that she was concerned when companies choose to delay internships until junior or senior years. Having an internship either the first or second year of college can help students decide whether they want to pursue a job in a particular career without them getting too far into a particular major, Marken said.

While first- and second-year students may not developmentally be as prepared to take on the same type of internship at a high-profile investment bank as juniors and seniors are, Marken said that the companies can adjust the experience for the younger students.

“These companies sense great value in internships, and there’s such a great focus on providing them that I think that this customization is possible,” Marken said.

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SUNY Fredonia auctions off a painting from its Stefan Zweig collection

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/27/2018 - 08:00

A painting in the Stefan Zweig Collection at the State University of New York at Fredonia is up for auction today amid some faculty pushback.

The painting, Georgian Woman Wearing a Lechaki, by the Georgian painter Niko Pirosmani, is expected to sell for more than half a million dollars. According to the Sotheby’s listing, proceeds from the sale will benefit the Reed Library at Fredonia, where the collection is housed. However, Birger Vanwesenbeeck, an English professor at Fredonia who has opposed the sale since it was listed a few weeks ago, said in an interview that it is wrong for Fredonia to be selling a great work of art, even if supporting the library is a worthy cause.

The university declined to comment until after the auction is complete.

Vanwesenbeeck and his students often study the collection, which contains thousands of letters, artifacts and artworks obtained by Zweig during his lifetime. Zweig was an Austrian author of Jewish descent who is "widely regarded in the literary community as a decidedly humanitarian thinker[;] by the 1920s he was one of the most published authors in the world," according to the university website.

“I’ve been a faculty member since 2008, and I take students there almost every semester,” Vanwesenbeeck said. “Just a year ago we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the collection.”

The Pirosmani painting up for sale was gifted to the university by Harry Zohn, who acquired the painting from Zweig’s first wife in 1953.

“The sheer variety and polyglot diversity of these documents and artworks attest to the humanist in Zweig: a lover and advocate of the arts, a cosmopolitan, a generous mentor to younger writers and artists, and, in the last decade of his life, a continental European Jew forced into exile by the Nazis’ rise to power,” Vanwesenbeeck wrote about the value of the collection.

One of Vanwesenbeeck’s concerns about the sale is that the painting is being sold as a “single lot” rather than as part of a collection. It will likely go to a private party, and students and scholars will no longer have access to it.

“If we’re going to start selling … individual items, we are effectively erasing that archive,” he said. “We are effectively undoing the work of faculty and administrators who have been collecting these.”

In the past, organizations such as the Association for Academic Museums and Galleries (AAMG) and the Association of Art Museum Directors have raised concerns about similar artwork auctions. Both opposed the sale of a George Bellows painting by Randolph College in 2014, and the AAMD issued a statement in January against the sale of 43 paintings by La Salle University.

Craig Hadley, vice president for communications at the AAMG, wrote in an email that according the AAMG best practices, universities must be “committed to following AAM and museum field standards, particularly with regard to the museum’s collections, the use of deaccessioning proceeds, and collecting and gift-acceptance policies.”

Most of the time, proceeds from artwork sales are supposed to be used only to buy more art or benefit a collection in some way. The Zweig Collection is not part of a university museum and contains more than just artwork, therefore the deaccession standards for pieces in the collection may not be identical to those of museums.

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Canadian scholar says he's been 'persecuted' for his research on colleagues who published in predatory journals

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:00

Derek Pyne, an associate professor of economics at Thompson Rivers University in British Columbia, Canada, says he wasn’t trying to make his colleagues look bad when he used them as his data set for research on predatory publications. Nevertheless, he found that the majority of the School of Business and Economics faculty had published in these open-access journals, which have low to nonexistent quality standards and charge authors fees.

As a result of that 2017 paper and the media attention that followed, Pyne says, he’s been effectively banned from campus since May. He may visit only for a short list of reasons, such as health care. Teaching is out and so, too, is the library. It’s unclear when, or if, Pyne will be allowed to resume his normal duties.

Canada's Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship has appealed to Thompson Rivers on Pyne's behalf. The Canadian Association of University Teachers, similar to American Association of University Professors, is also looking into the case.

Thompson Rivers has refused to participate in that investigation so far, David Robinson, CAUT’s executive director, said recently.

“This is a very peculiar case,” Robinson said. “But certainly criticizing colleagues’ research or his administration is intramural speech protected by academic freedom. These are matters of educational quality. He may be correct, or he may not be correct. But he certainly has a right to express his views on educational quality.”

A university spokesperson declined to answer specific questions about the circumstances of Pyne’s suspension but forwarded several general comments on the matter, including one from Christine Bovis-Cnossen, interim president. That statement says that Thompson Rivers is “unequivocally committed to the principle of academic freedom for all of our faculty members. This is fundamental to who we are as a university. We routinely work in concert with our faculty unions to ensure that the principle of academic freedom is protected and preserved in the research and teaching of every member of our faculty, as well as in the right of any faculty member to criticize the university.”

Pyne says his faculty union, TRU Faculty Association, did file a grievance that restored his pay after he was suspended. But it's unclear why the union hasn't filed grievances about academic freedom aimed at getting him back on campus. The association president did not immediately respond to a request for comment and has publicly declined to answer other questions about the case.

Pyne, who has been at Thompson Rivers since 2010, was always a squeaky wheel in the department, once getting into a shouting match with a former chair about academic programs, for example. He’d also had earlier email skirmishes with his dean and a colleague about his interest in predatory publications. Yet he says his motivation to study his colleagues’ research records for involvement with bogus journals was fundamentally economic.

Predatory journals, which have proliferated over the last decade, are typically portrayed as, well, predators, preying on unsuspecting or desperate-to-publish academic victims. After learning that some scholars with otherwise strong research records had published in predatory journals, Pyne wanted to know if there was more to the story. Were colleagues who published in these journals actually rewarded for doing so? His hunch, based on economic theory, specifically incentives, was yes. Otherwise, why would they do it?

Here’s what he found: most of his business school colleagues had, in fact, published in at least one predatory journal. More than that, they were being rewarded for it, perhaps more so than from publishing in quality journals. His analysis showed that publications in predatory journals, at least in his tiny corner of the academic universe, were correlated with higher compensation and internal research rewards.

Pyne didn’t name names of individuals in his paper, but it marked a shift in the predatory journal discussion -- namely that institutions may be much more complicit in the system than merely clinging to easy research output metrics.

The Journal of Scholarly Publishing printed Pyne’s paper, “The Rewards of Predatory Publications at a Small Business School,” in the spring of 2017, when he was on sabbatical in Europe. There was little initial fanfare. But that summer and into the fall, when he returned to campus, Pyne fielded numerous media requests about the paper.

Around the same time, Pyne began to criticize new graduate programs within the business school. Internally, he told colleagues that they were more like undergraduate programs in quality. He said as much externally, including in comments posted to a local news website, where he also mentioned his findings on predatory publications.

According to department minutes, Pyne’s colleagues soon passed motions of “serious concern” about his comments on the news site. A colleague also launched research claims against him, which were later dropped.

‘Pathologizing Dissent’

In the meantime, in January, Pyne was summoned to a meeting with administrators and informed that faculty members, staff and students were afraid of him. Pyne says it’s unclear why, since he was never provided even redacted copies of specific complaints of that nature. Later that month, Pyne says, he was asked to undergo a psychological evaluation or risk an immediate forced medical leave.

In May, Pyne was banned from campus, his keys confiscated. People claimed they’d seen him on campus talking to himself and waving his hands, he was told. Two weeks later, in hopes that he could lift the suspension, he followed through on the evaluation order with a psychologist provided by the university.

A copy of the psychologist’s evaluation said that Pyne felt persecuted by the university, which he says is understandable in his situation. But there was no indication that he posed a security threat or anything that would justify an administrative leave based on medical or safety grounds, he says.

Even on leave, Pyne submitted to the university feedback on an associate dean candidate, questioning his research record. Several news outlets contacted Pyne around the same time for another interview, in which he continued to criticize the university and some of his colleagues, still not by name.

Later in the summer, Pyne's union informed him that he was back on the university payroll. But he also received a new administrative directive, which he took as the university’s latest in a series of shifting rationales for his suspension: that he “cease communicating inappropriate, defamatory and insubordinate statements” about the university.

Most recently, earlier this month, the university’s human resources office emailed Pyne to ask him why he’d commented on Facebook that a university statement about his case was “misleading (if not dishonest).”

“Please explain what in the president’s message was ‘misleading’ and the facts that you rely on in making that statement,” an email from the office reads. “For clarification, your response should be sent directly to me, and will not be treated as new and independent defamation.”

Ivan Oransky, Distinguished Writer in Residence at New York University's Arthur Carter Journalism Institute and co-founder of Retraction Watch, has followed Pyne’s case for over a year. He said recently that he was “puzzled” about “what's actually going on. It's not very helpful when a university takes action like this but doesn't say why.”

That's why Retraction Watch has argued for the release of university investigations, he said, citing an article on why Cornell University hasn’t released its findings in the Brian Wansink research misconduct case, among other similar incidents elsewhere.

Robinson, of the CAUT, said the Thompson Rivers investigation is ongoing. But based on Pyne’s claims and the available documents, he said, the university appears to be “pathologizing dissent.”

If that’s the case, the university has a lot of material: Pyne dissents much. But if putting him on leave was an attempt to quiet him, it hasn’t worked. Instead, speaking out against the university is a method of defense for him.

However personal things have gotten, Pyne said his concerns continue to center on research integrity. Some colleagues have thanked him for his work and even moved to delete publications in predatory journals from their CVs.

“I can see making the mistake once,” he said of publishing in a predatory publication. “But when you start getting multiple mistakes, people doing this six, seven, eight, nine times, you have to wonder if they’re really qualified to do research to begin with.”

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Academics outraged over life sentence for British graduate student in U.A.E.

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:00

A Ph.D. student at Britain’s Durham University, who had been sentenced to life in prison by a United Arab Emirates court after being found guilty of spying for the U.K., was pardoned Monday.

Matthew Hedges has denied the spying charges and said that he was conducting academic research. The Guardian reported that the pardon was announced at a press conference Monday, which followed talks over the weekend between the British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and U.A.E. officials. Press reports indicated Hedges would be released soon. Al Jazeera quoted Anwar Gargash, the U.A.E. minister of state for foreign affairs, as saying, "His Highness the president’s gracious clemency in the customary National Day pardons allows us to return our focus to the underlying fundamental strength of the U.A.E./U.K. bi-lateral relationship and its importance to the international community. It was always a U.A.E. hope that this matter would be resolved through the common channels of our longstanding partnership. This was a straightforward matter that became unnecessarily complex despite the U.A.E.'s best efforts."

The Hedges case led many academic groups to demand his release, and also to question the ties of Western universities to the U.A.E. Whether those questions will continue to be raised after the pardon is not yet clear.

The Middle East Studies Association said in a letter about Hedges's case prior to the pardon that he was arrested in May at the Dubai airport at the end of a two-week research trip and that his dissertation focuses on "civil-military relations in the U.A.E. and examines how concepts of regime security have evolved since 2011," the year of the Arab Spring. MESA's board recently issued a statement citing the prosecution of Hedges as evidence of an “intensification of threats” against researchers and resident scholars in the U.A.E.

Hedges's family reported that he was sentenced after a five-minute hearing in which he was not represented by a lawyer, according to CNN. The family also said that Hedges was forced to sign a confession in Arabic, a language he does not read or speak.

Human Rights Watch has previously reported that Hedges was detained for months before being formally charged or granted access to lawyers, denying his due process rights. The human rights group also reported that Hedges was held in solitary confinement for prolonged periods.

Prior to the pardon, Britain's foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, described Hedges's sentence as "extremely worrying."

"We have seen no evidence to back up charges against him," Hunt said on Twitter. "U.A.E. claim to be friend & ally of the U.K. so there will be serious diplomatic consequences. Unacceptable."

The vice chancellor of Durham University, Stuart Corbridge, said in a statement he was “devastated” by Hedges’s sentencing.

"Following a period in which he was detained in conditions which breached his human rights this judgment has been delivered in the absence of anything resembling due process or a fair trial,” Corbridge said. “There has been no information given on what basis Matt was handed this sentence and no reason to believe that Matt was conducting anything other than legitimate academic research."

The sentencing could have implications for the U.A.E.'s extensive international academic ties. The country is home to a number of British branch campuses, as well as a branch of New York University in Abu Dhabi. An online petition calling for a boycott of all U.A.E.-based institutions -- as well as all institutions that have campuses in the U.A.E. -- had received more than 100 signatures as of Sunday afternoon. 

The BBC reported that the University and College Union members at the University of Birmingham voted after Hedges's sentencing last week to boycott the university's new Dubai campus. The UCU at the University of Exeter also passed a motion calling on the university to suspend its academic relationships with the U.A.E. Hedges's institution, Durham University, is recommending a moratorium on all non-U.A.E. staff and student travel to the Emirates.

More than 200 faculty and students signed an open letter to NYU president Andrew Hamilton calling on him to "issue a public statement condemning the arrest and sentencing of Matthew Hedges, as well as his prolonged detention under conditions tantamount to torture. The statement should make it clear that the U.A.E.’s treatment and sentencing of Mr. Hedges have grave implications for NYU’s ongoing operation in Abu Dhabi."

The letter also called on NYU to establish a permanent standing committee on academic freedom comprised of representatives from all of NYU's global sites, and for the NYU administration to "establish steps to be taken whenever government officials or policies encroach upon academic freedom of students or faculty at a campus or program site. Information about such encroachments, when they occur, should be publicly available."

In a statement an NYU spokesman said the university was not privy to the details of Hedges's case. "It would of course be a source of significant concern to us if someone engaged in routine scholarly activity were imprisoned for it," said NYU's spokesman, John Beckman. "However it is important to note that we do not have any information regarding the case of Mr. Hedges beyond what has been publicly reported. NYU and NYU Abu Dhabi strongly encourage and assist the conducting of research and scholarship that is essential to our educational mission, to the advancement of knowledge, and to the intellectual growth of the faculty."

Beckman added, "Protocols and policies related to the conduct and support of research and scholarship have been adopted to advance our academic mission, to ensure compliance with applicable laws and ethical norms, and to support our researchers, their research, and research subjects."

John Archer, a professor of English at NYU and one of the organizers of the open letter, described NYU's response as potentially harmful to Hedges's case.

"To state that we only have information on Matt's case from public reports implies he may have done something wrong," Archer said. "It is eerily similar to Trump's response to the [Jamal] Khashoggi murder, which claimed 'We may never know all of the facts surrounding the event.' It shows a distrust of media and implies that NYUAD's strong encouragement of research is proper, in a manner unlike Matt's research in the Durham program. It in fact contradicts what [U.K. foreign minister Jeremy] Hunt has said and also Matt's [member of Parliament's] statement that he is not a spy, as well as the Durham [vice chancellor's] statement that his research was in accord with Durham's scholarly standards and there is no reason to suppose anything else. President Hamilton is out of step, then, with what is known."

"The only way to gain his release and perhaps forestall later academic arrests of Emirati and foreign scholars is for foreign institutions like ours to keep up the pressure on the U.A.E.," Archer added. "We have both a special responsibility and exceptional influence. Instead, we are using our access to undermine both media and, remarkably, U.K. government reports, implying perhaps a special knowledge of Matt's guilt or at least irregularity in research practice."

In its letter on Hedges's sentencing, issued Sunday, the Middle East Studies Association's Committee on Academic Freedom said that no evidence had been produced to back up Hedges's sentence. "We believe that Mr. Hedges’ conviction for espionage betrays a fundamental and/or willful misunderstanding of the nature of field-based academic research, and that the extraordinarily disproportionate nature of his sentence will inflict incalculable damage on the reputation of the U.A.E. as a safe and welcoming place for students and scholars conducting research in and on your country," says the letter. The letter noted particular alarm by a suggestion in an English-language Gulf newspaper that Hedges may have been turned into Emirati authorities by one of his interviewees. 

The U.A.E. ambassador to the U.K., H.E. Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui, said in a statement that the government is "studying" a request by Hedges's family for clemency. But he defended the country's judicial process.

"Matthew Hedges was not convicted after a five-minute show trial, as some have reported," Almazroui said. "Over the course of one month, three judges evaluated compelling evidence in three hearings."

"They reached their conclusion after a full and proper process. This was an extremely serious case … This was also an unusual case. Many researchers visit the U.A.E. freely every year without breaking our laws."


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Brazilian academics vow to resist threats to freedom

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:00

Brazilian academics have vowed to fight back against threats to academic freedom after campuses were stormed by military police and staff were arrested for their political views in the wake of the presidential election.

Right-wing candidate Jair Bolsonaro won the presidency with 55.5 percent of the vote last month, to the dismay of academics who have criticized his failure to commit to tackling Brazil’s research funding crisis and to protect academic freedom.

Fears have deepened in the aftermath of the poll because Bolsonaro’s supporters have pledged to campaign against the “corrupt ideologies” of the academic community.

Academic leaders told Times Higher Education that employees had been threatened and teaching materials had been confiscated by military police with links to Bolsonaro’s political party on the grounds that they contained “leftist propaganda” and “false information” about Brazil’s political history.

“It is a very worrying time for us, and many look back to life under military dictatorship [between 1964 and 1985],” said one university dean, who asked not to be named.

Meanwhile, an anonymous phone line has been set up for students and members of the public to denounce “ideological professors and indoctrinators” in universities.

The initiative was led by Ana Caroline Campagnolo, an elected state representative in Santa Caterina, who asked students to film their classes to catch “political-partisan or ideological” behavior from teachers. “We guarantee the anonymity of the denouncers,” she said in a video published on social media.

Adriana Marotti de Mello, professor of business at the University of São Paulo, reported that students in Para State University had already “denounced teachers … because they were discussing ‘fake news’ in class … It was enough for police invasion and prison. I cannot imagine what is going to happen [in the future],” she said.

Justin Axel-Berg, associate researcher in higher education policy at the University of São Paulo, described the move as a “direct and first-day attempt to create a climate of fear and persecution” but noted that Campagnolo had since been reprimanded by Brazil’s Supreme Electoral Court, which ruled against the restriction of political speech on university campuses on Nov. 1.

Opponents of Bolsonaro have vowed to “resist and defend” their academic freedom, and a number of protests have taken place since the election across Brazilian cities. But the majority still admit that they are too afraid to speak to the media without the condition of anonymity.

One academic from the State University of Goiás told Times Higher Education that as many as 27 universities had reported military incursions into their campuses in recent weeks. “Some cases are more ostentatious than others -- it is for show, to [scare] us. But the fascist climate is already apparent,” he said. “We will not bow to it. [It is clear] we have wide-ranging support on this.”

While the Social Liberal Party does not take over leadership of the country until Jan. 1, it is understood that the party has been able to successfully push for the issuing of arrest warrants in cases where universities were alleged to be breaking federal law.

Vahan Agopyan, rector of the University of São Paulo, explained that political advertisements of any kind were still banned by law in public buildings. “With this excuse, in some states the police are acting inside the campuses,” he said.

Axel-Berg concluded, “In the weeks before and shortly after the election, it’s fair to say we were terrified. But the atmosphere has since changed to one of solidarity among academics. I don’t believe life will return to how it was in 1964.”

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DeVos restores authority of for-profit accreditor

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/26/2018 - 08:00

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will restore federal recognition to a for-profit college accreditor for which the Obama administration withdrew recognition.

DeVos will act on the recommendation of a senior department official who recommended in September that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools be reinstated with the condition that it demonstrate full compliance with federal standards within 12 months. The decision means colleges overseen by the accreditor that failed to find recognition elsewhere will maintain their access to federal student aid.

DeVos outlined the decision in a nine-page document Nov. 21. The Washington Post first reported the news.

Former education secretary John King withdrew recognition from ACICS, which oversaw collapsed for-profit chains Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, in December 2016. Many critics of for-profit colleges applauded that decision and said it would protect students and the use of federal aid. But a federal judge this past spring found that the department failed to consider key evidence before terminating the agency and ordered the department to reconsider the case.

“After the previous administration failed to review 36,000 pages of documents related to ACICS’s application to continue as a recognized accreditor, the United States District Court in Washington, D.C., remanded the case back to the secretary,” said department spokeswoman Liz Hill. “Based on the department’s thorough review of the previously neglected documents, and the [staff's] 77-page recommendation, the final agency decision is to grant ACICS continued recognition, with the condition that it submit compliance reports within 12 months demonstrating full compliance with two specified criteria and that it submit annual monitoring reports concerning four other criteria.”

A more comprehensive internal review of ACICS conducted by career staff at the Education Department released this summer found the accreditor failed a majority of federal standards. Those findings were not considered in the recommendation to reinstate the agency.

Democratic lawmakers and student advocates were quick to criticize the decision.

“This decision will expose hardworking people across the country, including many service members and veterans, to schools that routinely leave students with crippling debt, nontransferrable credits and no degree, while leaving taxpayers to foot the bill,” said Representative Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat who is widely expected to be chairman of the House education committee next year.

Even with recognition extended by DeVos, the long-term outlook of ACICS remains unclear. After King withdrew recognition from the accreditor in 2016 following a lengthy staff review process, the agency began hemorrhaging members. Concerned about their continued access to federal student aid, colleges who could find recognition elsewhere did so.

The accreditor oversaw 245 colleges as of 2016. But roughly 70 ACICS institutions who receive Title IV funds haven’t yet found recognition from another accreditor and remain, according to analyses from the Center for American Progress.

And the largest chain of schools still overseen by the accreditor, Education Corporation of America, looks to be facing serious questions about its financial viability. The for-profit chain, which includes Virginia College and Brightwood College, announced in September it would close about a third of its campuses due to declining enrollment. And last month, ECA sued the Education Department to receive assurances that it could keep access to federal student aid while it pursued a financial restructuring. (A federal judge later tossed the lawsuit over lack of standing.) In May, Virginia College was rejected for recognition through another accreditor. Critics of ACICS say the outcomes at institutions overseen by the accreditor raise serious concerns about the consequences of reinstatement for students attending those colleges.

“We have an agency that has proven over and over again that it’s unreliable as an oversight body,” said Antoinette Flores, associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress. “We have schools remaining in the federal aid system that are of questionable quality, and students are going to suffer as a result.”

Michael Itzkowitz, a senior fellow at the think tank Third Way and a former Obama administration official, said at remaining ACICS colleges, less than a third of students will end up earning more than the average high school graduate.

“That’s substantially below the national average and clearly unacceptable,” he said.

Itzkowitz said those results call into question the role of accreditors as gatekeepers that ensure a basic level of quality at institutions receiving federal aid. The Education Department can’t set an explicit threshold for college outcomes when reviewing accreditors. But some critics of the move question whether the department looked closely enough at student achievement at ACICS colleges.

After District Court Judge Reggie Walton sent the accreditor’s case back to the department in March, DeVos left it to principal deputy under secretary Diane Auer Jones to review thousands of pages of additional documents submitted by ACICS. Those documents have yet to be made fully available to the public. The National Student Legal Defense Network sued for their release, and the department has provided them at a “snail’s pace,” said Aaron Ament, the group’s president.

Jones concluded in her review, though, that the Obama administration’s decision to terminate the accreditor appeared to be politically motivated -- a finding DeVos appeared to endorse Wednesday.

“Among other things, the [senior department official] believes the 2016 Secretary Decision and the recommendations below suffered from insufficient evidence, circular reasoning, and a desire to achieve a preordained result,” she wrote.

But the recommendation to reinstate ACICS was itself criticized for misrepresenting support from fellow accrediting bodies, which the department called an inadvertent error in the editing process. And Flores said Jones and career department officials who produced the more comprehensive review of the accreditor in several instances came to starkly different conclusions based on the same evidence.

“This sends a message to other accrediting agencies that there are no consequences when you make bad decisions and fail to act,” she said.

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Former Michigan State president charged with lying to police in Nassar case

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:00

Michigan State University’s former president Lou Anna K. Simon was charged on Tuesday with lying to police in their investigation of sexual abuse by Larry Nassar, the disgraced and now imprisoned university physician.

Simon resigned in January after revelations of the breadth of abuse by Nassar, who sexually assaulted hundreds of women both in his role as a former team doctor at the institution and with the U.S. gymnastics team.

As the scandal grew, Michigan State's board first stood by Simon, who claimed to be unaware of the worst of the allegations. But Nassar victims said they informed Michigan State officials of the abuse years before the institution acted.

The Michigan attorney general’s office charged Simon with two misdemeanor and two felony counts. If convicted, she could spend four years in prison. Simon had initially told Michigan State police that she was aware a “sports medicine doctor” whose name she hadn't known had been the subject of a gender-discrimination investigation by the university in 2014. But the attorney general’s office suggests that she knew it was Nassar and also said she knew more about the nature of the allegations than she admitted at the time. The charges stem from that alleged lie. In January, the office started investigating the university’s handling of sexual assault reports against Nassar.

Michigan State said in a statement that it “was aware” of the charges brought against Simon and that she was taking a leave of absence from the university (she remained there as a professor) to focus on her “legal situation.”

Lee Silver, Simon's lawyer, told The Detroit News that the charges have "no merit whatsoever" and are "completely baseless."

One of Nassar's victims said on Twitter that Simon deserved to be charged.

Statement on Lou Anna K. Simon’s Arrest: pic.twitter.com/ItqTjHnXCV

— Lindsey Lemke (@lindseylemke) November 20, 2018

Two other officials, William Strampel, former dean of osteopathic medicine and Nassar’s former boss, and Kathie Klages, former Michigan State gymnastics coach, have already been charged in connection with the case. Nassar has been jailed, serving 60 years for three federal child pornography convictions -- he has been sentenced to decades more on the sexual assault convictions in state courts.

Michigan State announced that it would settle with the Nassar’s victims from the university to the tune of $500 million, the largest payout in history related to a university and sexual abuse by an official. The institution was forced to sue 13 insurance companies to get help in covering the costs of the settlement. The remainder of the settlement will come from a combination of cost-cutting, bonding and reserve funds, interim president John Engler has said.

This is not the first time a former university president may be sent to jail after being accused of looking the other way in a sex-abuse scandal.

Graham Spanier, the former president of Pennsylvania State University, who left in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky case, was convicted in 2017 of child endangerment. It was revealed he decided in 2001 to handle internally a report of Sandusky showering with a young boy, rather than reporting it to police or other officials. Former assistant football coach Mike McQueary had told Spanier and other Penn State administrators of the incident, and prosecutors decided their inaction left other boys at risk of abuse by Sandusky for years until the scandal broke.

In June, Spanier lost his appeal to a Pennsylvania Superior Court panel. At the time, he had been free on bail while appealing and had not served his two months in jail, followed by two months of house arrest.

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DePauw faculty split on no-confidence vote in president

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:00

Faculty at Indiana’s DePauw University have sent a mixed message about their leader, with four in 10 indicating that they have no confidence in President Mark McCoy amid faculty downsizing and changes to health-care benefits, among other issues. But the remainder were nearly evenly split on whether they support McCoy or would rather take no position at all.

The results come as DePauw, like most small, private liberal arts institutions, struggles to maintain enrollment while controlling costs -- and weeks after DePauw began essentially guaranteeing that future alumni will find a job or graduate placement in their field of study.

In all, 40.3 percent of faculty who participated during a six-day vote that ended Monday voted no confidence in McCoy; another 28.6 percent expressed confidence in the leader. Slightly more -- 31.1 percent -- abstained from either a yes or no vote.

In a Nov. 14 letter, a group of 20 faculty members said they recognized that DePauw faces "serious financial challenges that require a viable long-term financial plan" and that under McCoy's leadership, the university "has seemingly moved from crisis-to-crisis," among other problems. But the group said they would abstain from the vote because it would delay the "far more urgent" work of collaborative planning and would weaken the university "at a time when it already is in a precarious state and at a time when it needs the full and immediate attention of the faculty, the staff, the administration, and the Board of Trustees."

In all, 206 faculty voted -- about 77 percent of the total faculty.

Earlier this month, faculty laid out the rationale for the vote, saying DePauw "has been in a sustained cycle of crises for the past several years, and under President McCoy’s leadership the crises have become more severe while promoting ‘solutions’ that grow his cabinet and expensive peripheral programs at cost to investment in the core functions of the liberal arts."

They said he had "responded ineffectively" to a series of hate crimes on campus and had dismissed his handpicked dean of the School of Music at a crucial admissions juncture, among other acts. (The university said the search for the School of Music dean was led by a committee of faculty and staff who presented the finalists to McCoy.)

Faculty also said his "divisive management style has brought morale among university employees to historic lows through actions that are ill-considered, done in haste, and poorly communicated."

His presidency, they said, "threatens the reputation of the university and severely compromises the institution’s viability."

After the results were finalized, faculty chair Howard Brooks, a physics and astronomy professor, said in a statement that all of the faculty members he has spoken with this fall “have consistently stated that they want to see DePauw as a better place. They disagree on the path forward.”

Brooks said he planned to work with top university officials “to create more direct pathways of communication between the faculty and their committees with the Board of Trustees.”

He said he’ll also ask the Board of Trustees’ executive committee to clarify a previously announced plan for a campus forum to discuss leadership issues. “I expect President McCoy to stay true to his words to ‘spare no effort in improving our relationship’ and that he will remain ‘committed to getting to a better place,’” Brooks wrote.

Among the biggest issues confronting faculty: tiny annual raises amounting to about 1 percent in recent years, as well as a demand that staff and faculty pick up a larger percentage of their health-care costs. The university is also trying to shrink faculty ranks by urging older instructors to retire.

“Clearly there’s going to be a downsizing of the faculty,” said Jeff McCall, a professor of communication in his 33rd year there.

But he said McCoy has pursued the downsizing in a measured, collegial manner. “I don’t get the sense that they are rampaging out there, targeting the faculty or trying to do it in an inhumane way.”

In a statement, Rebecca Schindler, a professor of classical studies, said the results were “a good outcome.”

“The number of 'yes' votes, as well as abstentions that were cast because of concerns with leadership, send a strong message to the Board of Trustees that the faculty would like to see changes,” she said.

“On the other hand, the majority of votes cast -- the abstentions plus ['no' votes] -- indicate that most voters think removing the president is not the way to affect [sic] that change. The underlying financial and campus climate issues will still be there. In the end, I think everyone who voted believes in DePauw and its academic program, and we all want to strengthen, not weaken, the institution, but we disagree on the best way to make that happen."

University spokesman Ken Owen said DePauw, like many universities, “is facing the challenges of an increasingly competitive marketplace. The Board of Trustees has called upon Dr. McCoy to make needed changes to stay ahead of what we see happening in higher education and to ensure our long-term success,” he said. “That includes investing more into the student experience, curtailing costs, and identifying innovative revenue opportunities. We realize such change is difficult and creates tension. Fortunately, DePauw has a strong endowment and is nearing completion of a record breaking campaign, so has a strong foundation for moving forward. The board supports the efforts the president has taken and will work with the faculty and all campus constituents in the days ahead.”

The 180-year-old Methodist institution in Greencastle, Ind., enrolls about 2,200 students.

An Oct. 10 letter from student groups to The DePauw, the university’s student newspaper, said instructors had told students that top administrators essentially invited faculty to quit, telling them, “We’ll help you find the door.”

The faculty’s working conditions “are our learning conditions,” students wrote. “As students, we were promised an excellent education at DePauw, but how is that possible when our faculty and staff are traumatized by administrative actions and discourse?”

The students noted a plan to save $700,000 by trimming faculty and staff health-care plans. The university recently told employees that working spouses who are eligible for health-care coverage at jobs elsewhere can’t remain enrolled in DePauw’s plan. Many of those spouses work for employers with health plans inferior to DePauw's, essentially meaning that many families could have a reduced quality of care and potentially pay more.

The students said the cut in benefits ignores what they consider wasteful growth in McCoy’s cabinet, a group that they said has doubled in recent decades. (The university said the group has actually grown smaller, from 14 members to 11, during McCoy's tenure.) In their letter, the students asked how many senior executives’ “bloated salaries” could cover the $700,000 health-care cut.

In a letter sent to faculty late Tuesday, the Board of Trustees called the vote "disheartening," but said it was "committed to continuing to listen to the DePauw community and specifically improving our dialogue with faculty."

The board said it takes seriously the responsibility to deliver a high-quality education "while making prudent, if at times difficult, financial decisions."

It added, "We are aware of the faculty’s frustration and appreciate their right to voice their concerns about the actions of the president, administration, and trustees. We believe, however, this vote of no confidence in Dr. McCoy is unwarranted. As a board, we commend Dr. McCoy and his administration for taking on the difficult work we have asked them to do. We remain confident in his ability to lead this institution toward a financially sustainable position within this challenging -- and dramatically changing -- higher education landscape. We believe he has the best long-term interests of DePauw at the core of his work, and the Board of Trustees remains in full support of him."

The board on Tuesday also announced plans for a campus forum “to continue the dialogue on creating a better DePauw.”

Unlike many small liberal arts colleges, DePauw enjoys a fairly healthy endowment, which last year grew nearly 9 percent, to $669 million, according to the NACUBO Commonfund Study of Endowments.

“We aren't struggling to stay afloat,” said English professor Greg Schwipps. “All of the faculty at DePauw still believe in the students we work with every day. I think we disagree about the vision our administration has charted for us, and that's what this vote represents.”

Schwipps said the vote opens an opportunity to work with the Board of Trustees, “and that's the work they've told us they are willing to do. Both faculty and Board of Trustees intend to start working together as soon as possible to create a better university, and I think in that way, the vote might lead to something better in the near future.”

Like several other institutions, DePauw recently offered a kind of job “guarantee,” last spring unveiling its so-called Gold Commitment, an agreement intended to communicate to prospective students (and their parents) that the university stands behind its ability to help students succeed in the work force.

It essentially promises that every graduate, beginning with the Class of 2022, will experience a "successful launch."

Specifically, any student who does not secure an "entry-level professional position" or acceptance to graduate school within six months of graduation will be offered either a full-time entry-level position through one of DePauw’s business partners or another semester of education tuition-free. As part of the plan, DePauw this fall began offering every student a "commitment adviser" who helps ensure that students graduate in four years, remain in good behavioral standing and participate in one of the university's co-curricular centers, among other responsibilities.

McCall said the vote underscored what is perhaps DePauw’s biggest challenge: “to try and find out what kind of institution we really want to be” -- a traditional liberal arts college or one that chases "trendy" majors to attract new students.

As DePauw competes for a shrinking pool of prospective students, he said, the university is “in a place where it has to make some very tough decisions financially.” He added, “I really think some of our issues are much broader than whether the president is performing effectively or not.”

Federal data show that DePauw last year admitted two-thirds of applicants.

Thinking about the split vote, McCall said he kept thinking about a colleague’s famous quip, often written on promising but incomplete student essays: “This is too good to not be better.” He added, “We’re too good as an institution to not be functioning better than we are right now.”

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Journal retracts 29 articles but offers few details on why

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:00

The journal IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility took the unusual step Tuesday of announcing that it was retracting 29 articles that had been published in the last two years. (The IEEE is the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, but it is more commonly known by its acronym.)

The journal declined to identify the articles or to explain in any detail why they were being withdrawn. Plenty of journals retract articles after allegations of scientific misconduct are made, but the norm is to identify the articles.

The association's statement said that the retractions were made "because of violations of IEEE policy discovered in the peer review process of those articles." Further, the association said that "the IEEE Board of Directors has established a committee to examine all aspects of peer review practice across the organization and make recommendations for improvement. The findings of the committee will be published upon the conclusion of the committee’s review."

For now, the IEEE said that "three volunteer editors identified during the investigation as involved in the misconduct have been permanently excluded from IEEE membership. They have been prohibited from publishing with IEEE in the future and no longer hold any positions on an IEEE publication."

The IEEE received "an allegation" about the misconduct this year, and that sparked an investigation.

Inside Higher Ed asked IEEE a series of questions about which papers were retracted, which editors had been barred from working with the group, how they violated peer-review rules and whether the papers had flaws that had been identified or were being retracted solely because of problems with the peer-review process. IEEE declined to answer any of those questions.

Ivan Oransky, co-founder of the blog Retraction Watch and distinguished writer in residence at New York University's Arthur Carter Journalism Institute, said via email that the retraction announcement raised many questions. He also noted that IEEE journals have a reputation for large numbers of retractions.

As to this retraction notice, he said that "it's a bit odd for a publisher to announce a host of retractions but not say which papers they're retracting."

Oransky added, "We've been campaigning for clearer retraction notices since we launched Retraction Watch in 2010. Opaque notices don't help anyone."

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Unique nursing programs allow students to earn associate and bachelor's degrees simultaneously

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:00

Public-private partnerships between universities and community colleges are growing as national demand for nurses with bachelor's degrees is increasing. The institutions are attempting to stave off a projected shortfall of more than a million nurses in coming decades.

Mount Mary University in Wisconsin, a private institution, joined this trend last year when it teamed up with Milwaukee Area Technical College and Waukesha County Technical College, both public institutions, to offer a "1-2-1" nursing program that allows students to earn associate and bachelor's degrees in nursing simultaneously.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Stritch University, also located in Wisconsin, has been piloting a concurrent enrollment model that also allows nursing students to earn both degrees.

“We’re hearing from our community partners and our clinical affiliates in southeast Wisconsin that they need an increased number of bachelor-prepared nurses,” said Kara Groom, chief nurse administrator at Mount Mary. “We hope to expand our partnerships, but we began with those technical colleges close to us geographically.”

Most students who attend the Catholic women’s institution are from the metropolitan Milwaukee area. The university currently has 46 nursing students in the 1-2-1 program.

Students in a 1-2-1 program spend the first year taking required prerequisite courses at the university and the second and third years taking nursing courses at the community college and doing clinical work. Students are eligible to graduate with associate degrees at the end of the third year of study, at which time they can also take the licensure exam to become registered nurses. The fourth year of the program is offered completely online and earns students a bachelor’s degree.

“The last year is designed to meet the part-time student’s need,” Groom said, adding that offering the courses online allows students to begin working as nurses.

Cardinal Stritch administrators started its partnership with Gateway Technical College in 2016 after hearing from Milwaukee-area hospitals and health facilities about a need for nurses with bachelor's degrees.

“The program is very streamlined to ensure that these nursing students who are at a technical college can complete the B.S.N. very quickly,” said Kelly Dries, dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Cardinal Stritch.

Students in the program take the heaviest course load in the first semester, Dries said, and like at Mount Mary, they complete the final year online.

Cardinal Stritch has enrolled seven students so far in the dual-enrollment program and recently established partnership agreements with the technical colleges in Milwaukee and Waukesha County. Dries said the university is planning to soon launch a marketing campaign to help increase the number of students participating.

Nursing programs and associations applaud these partnerships and say more of them may be needed across the country to help increase the number of people in the nursing field. The state’s Center for Nursing Research estimates that Wisconsin will be facing a shortage of 20,000 nurses by 2035. Nationwide, there are about three million nurses, but the American Nurses Association contends the country will need to produce more than one million new registered nurses by 2022 to meet health-care needs.

The National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, published a report in 2010 recommending the percentage of nurses in the field with a bachelor's degree increase from 49 percent to 80 percent by 2020.

In 2016, 54 percent of nurses held a bachelor's degree, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey.

That recommendation has led some health agency employers and hospitals to require nurses to either have a bachelor's degree or to earn one within a set period of time, as a condition of their employment.

Whether the associate or the bachelor’s degree should be the decisive credential for entry into the nursing profession has been the subject a long-running debate in the nursing industry. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which represents four-year and graduate nursing educators, views the bachelor’s degree as the minimal entry-level credential for the field.

“AACN is a strong proponent of academic progression in nursing with the goal of preparing registered nurses with a minimum of a baccalaureate degree in nursing,” Robert Rosseter, chief communications officer for AACN, said in an email. “We encourage universities to partner with community colleges and offer seamless educational pathways from an associate degree to the baccalaureate degree in nursing.”

Donna Meyer, the chief executive officer for the Organization for Associate Degree Nursing, said the organization has traditionally supported the two-year degree as an entry point into the nursing profession.

“OADN totally supports the innovative academic partnership models,” said Meyer, in an email. “OADN supports lifelong learning and academic progression and believes all pathways are important to meet the nursing workforce and ultimately health care needs of the country.”

Jenny Landen, dean of the School of Health, Math and Sciences at Santa Fe Community College, said the dual-degree partnerships aren't likely to end the debate but will certainly help increase the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees.

In the interim, more nursing school students are graduating with associate degrees than with bachelors, she said. In 2016, 81,633 nurses with associate degrees received their licenses, compared to 72,637 nurses with bachelor's degrees, according to OADN.

“We have a shortage of nurses, and we have a lot of industry partners,” she said. “In certain pockets of [New Mexico], they want registered nurses. They want them quickly, and they don’t see the value of spending more money and time to get that bachelor’s nurse.”

New Mexico adopted a statewide curriculum a few years ago that encourages community college and university partnerships based on the dual-enrollment model.

More nursing partnerships between two- and four-year institutions are also emerging in the public sector. Salt Lake Community College and the University of Utah are building a partnership, as is Sinclair Community College in Ohio and its neighbor, the University of Dayton.

Landen said these partnerships between community colleges and universities also lead to more nurses pursuing the graduate degrees needed to increase the number of nurse educators.

Although there currently aren't enough spots available at many university nursing programs to accommodate more students earning bachelor's degrees, the New Mexico model shows there are other paths available for community colleges to help fill that need, she said.

“When community colleges and universities partner, we can raise the number of available bachelor’s degrees … it’s a win-win,” Landen said.

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