Higher Education News

HBCUs seek to grow study abroad participation

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 07:00

Courtney Peavy, a student at Tuskegee University, had no plans to study abroad in college. She thought it would be too expensive and didn't want to burden her parents with the additional costs.

But Peavy's plans changed after she took a class with Rhonda Collier, an English professor who also directs the Alabama university's global office and organizes an international education fair every semester.

Collier had her students attend the fair. Peavy went and learned that studying abroad was not as out of reach as she thought and that there were many ways to pay for it.

"I was just inspired," Peavy said of realizing that "I could potentially have the opportunity to go somewhere, if it was Africa or the Virgin Islands, anywhere."

During the fair, Peavy had stopped at the table of Global Incite, a study abroad provider founded by a Tuskegee alumnus, and picked up an application. Collier, for her part, applied for and received a $20,000 grant from Delta Airlines' foundation to support the travel of several students, including Peavy.

The next thing she knew, Peavy was flying to South Africa to study abroad. "That was a chance of a lifetime. We had the opportunity to go and pay out of pocket little to nothing."

Peavy and her classmates are part of a growing number of students from historically black colleges and universities like Tuskegee who are studying abroad. While they traditionally study abroad at lower rates than the general student population, a total of 2,036 students from HBCUs studied abroad in 2015-16 compared to 1,605 students in 2013-14, according to statistics from the Institute of International Education (IIE), which does an annual survey of study abroad enrollments.

The increase is noteworthy because African American students are generally underrepresented among students studying abroad: black students make up about 14 percent of all students enrolled in U.S. higher education but account for just 5.9 percent of students studying abroad. And at HBCUs, just 3.4 percent of students study abroad during their undergraduate careers, compared to a 10.4 percent participation rate for students across all institutions nationally, according to the IIE.

At Tuskegee, Collier said the institution sent about 65 students abroad this past year, up from 32 in 2015, when she took the position directing the global office.

"We were pretty much a fledgling office," Collier said. "One of my goals was to bring to the world to the classroom, the classroom to the world, and to make sure that the students had study abroad opportunities." (This paragraph has been corrected to accurately reflect that Collier's use of the adjective 'fledgling' referred to the office in 2015.)

Still, HBCUs face a number of challenges even as they seek to grow these opportunities. A research brief on increasing diversity in study abroad published in 2016 by the University of Pennsylvania Center for Minority Serving Institutions notes that MSIs in general -- a group that includes HBCUs -- are more likely to educate first-generation and low-income students who face significant financial barriers to studying abroad, as well as other barriers including lack of support from family members for studying abroad, fears of experiencing racism abroad and difficulties finding programs or program locations of interest or relevance to them. The Penn brief also discusses the fact MSIs often have their own financial challenges that prevent them from allocating resources to study abroad staffing or things like program development, curriculum integration and travel risk management.

The Penn Center for MSIs is partway into a three-year partnership with CIEE, a study abroad provider, to help grow study abroad enrollment at MSIs through workshops for faculty and college presidents and the provision of scholarships, funded from donated exhibitor revenues from CIEE's annual conference.

“There aren’t necessarily that many study abroad programs at MSIs. One of the things we’re doing is trying to enhance that area," said Marybeth Gasman, the Judy & Howard Berkowitz Professor of Education at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Center for MSIs. "A lot of times students don't even get these opportunities."

For those HBCU students who do study abroad, their travel profile is different than that of study abroad participants across all institutions nationally.

For one thing, students from HBCUs are much more likely to participate in short-term programs that last eight weeks or fewer: 86 percent of HBCU students studying abroad do so for short durations, compared to 63 percent of students across all institutions, according to statistics from IIE. And while more than half of all American students studying abroad go to Europe, the top regional destination for HBCU students is Latin America and the Caribbean, and the mix of locations is much more diverse. The top five countries that students at HBCUs travel to are China, South Africa, Spain, Colombia and France.

Study Abroad Participation in 2015-16, HBCUs vs. All Institution

  HBCUs All Institutions Number of Students Studying Abroad 2,036 325,339 Percent Who Study Abroad as Undergraduates 3.4% 10.4% Percent Who Study Abroad for Short-Duration (Programs of 8 Weeks or Fewer) 86% 63% Top Country Destinations China, South Africa, Spain, Colombia, France United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France, Germany Top Regional Destinations by Percentage Participation

Asia: 18%

Europe: 24%

Latin America and the Caribbean: 35%

Middle East and North Africa: 3%

Oceania: <1%

Sub-Saharan Africa: 18%




Asia: 11%

Europe: 54%

Latin America and the Caribbean: 16%

Middle East and North Africa: 2%

Oceania: 4%

Sub-Saharan Africa: 4%




Source: Institute of International Education

Among the factors driving the increase of study abroad by students of color is the chance for them to connect to their ancestral history.

"One of the patterns amongst students at HBCUs or minority institutions is that we see that students are much more interested in what one might consider heritage-related programming, which is why we see a lot of students from HBCUs going to Latin America and the Caribbean as well as to sub-Saharan Africa," said Rajika Bhandari, senior adviser for research and strategy and director of the IIE Center for Academic Mobility Research & Impact.

“I think there’s a realization in our field that students all come from different backgrounds and there are different sorts of things that attract us. The traditional study abroad programs have by and large mimicked each other and may have not been built asking the question, is this the kind of program that will appeal to African American students? ” said Andrew Gordon, the CEO and founder of Diversity Abroad, a consortium of institutions focused on increasing participation of students from underrepresented backgrounds in study abroad.

"If you’re looking to target certain types of populations that haven’t gone, it’s worth asking what kind of program will attract different students. The black student population isn’t monolithic, but are there some broad themes that would appeal to students at HBCUs or African American students in ways that a general program wouldn't?"

Some institutions are intentionally designing programs to cater to this interest, and have teamed up with study abroad provider organizations to this end. Howard University is working with a study abroad provider, CET Academic Programs, to develop a program in Colombia on Afro-Colombian culture. The program is set to launch next spring and will be open to students at all institutions.

Tonija Hope Navas, the director of the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University, said the partnership with CET is “an attempt to create a study abroad program that focused specifically on race, ethnicity and identity primarily because most study abroad programs have predominantly white women who participate, and the study abroad providers are, for the most part, catering to that demographic. And so the course offerings are sometimes very Eurocentric and not speaking to our students.”

“Our students choose to come to an HBCU for a specific reason, and when they go on study abroad programs they’re choosing to leave an HBCU environment, which they specifically chose, and are entering a PWI [predominantly white institution] program. The creation of the program with CET in Colombia is an attempt to develop a program that speaks very specifically and directly to our students but with the hope and expectation that it wouldn’t serve only our students,” Navas said.

In 2014 the School for International Training, a study abroad provider, partnered with Morehouse College, a historically black college in Atlanta, to develop a new semester-long program, New African Diasporas, that takes students to Senegal, Italy and France. A federal grant worth $373,421 over three years paid for things like program development and promotion, scholarships, and the provision of Wolof language classes at Morehouse.

“If we’re looking to increase the participation in study abroad of underrepresented groups or students at HBCUs, we as a provider and as an organization that develops programs should be mindful of themes and of curricular areas that are of interest to that group,” said Mory H. Pagel, SIT’s director of university relations. The New African Diasporas program has now run for two different semesters, with 17 students enrolled one semester and 12 the other. The first time the program ran, more than half the students came from HBCUs -- including four from Morehouse -- while the second time no students from Morehouse participated and the proportion of HBCU participants dropped to 15 percent. Both times more than 80 percent of participants in the program were nonwhite.

HBCUs have also designed their own programs focused on race, Africa or the African diaspora. Morehouse has what it considers to be a signature program, the Morehouse Pan-African Global Experience, which "supports the college’s unique mission and commitment to Africa and the diaspora."

Xavier University of Louisiana developed a short-term program focused on the African diaspora in Martinique last spring, funded partially with a $5,000 grant from Generation Study Abroad and the French Embassy, and just took a group of 10 incoming freshmen to Cuba for a short-term program focused on the African diaspora there.

“As an institution, I think it’s important that we remind students through our offerings that learning about African American culture and the African diaspora throughout the world is very important in producing future leaders,” said Torian L. Lee, the director of Xavier’s Center for Intercultural and International Programs.

That's not to say that HBCUs frown on students visiting countries not located in the African diaspora or related to African American history. In fact, China has also become a major destination for HBCU students going abroad, likely in large part due to the significant amount of Chinese government-funded scholarships available. In 2014 the China Education Association for International Exchange signed a memorandum of understanding with a group of HBCUs pledging 1,000 scholarships for their students to study in China.

David Wilson, the president of Morgan State University, chairs the consortium of HBCUs charged with implementing those scholarships. He estimated that about 800 scholarships had been awarded to HBCU students to study in China to date.

“In terms of our overall study abroad, we have just made tremendous strides over the last six or seven years," Wilson said of Morgan's own efforts. He said 115 students studied abroad in the past year compared to "three or four students" who did so when he first arrived at Morgan in 2010. (A Morgan spokesman said while there was some Fulbright Scholar-related travel in 2010, the university's first recorded study abroad numbers are from 2013, when 13 students went on a faculty-led program to Oaxaca, Mexico).

"This is quite an achievement for us to break the 100 mark,” Wilson said. "This is really in alignment with our quest at Morgan to spread our wings around the world and imbue our students with experiences that will enable them to understand different cultures, different histories, different religions around the world."

Leading the pack among HBCUs in terms of study abroad participation is Spelman College, a women's college also located in Atlanta, where the number of students studying abroad rose from 218 in 2012 to 406 in 2018, according to Dimeji Togunde, Spelman's associate provost for global education and a professor of international studies. Spelman's center for global learning is endowed with an anonymous $17 million gift, and the college gave $230,000 in scholarships for study abroad last year.

"The goal at Spelman is to have every student have a study abroad experience before graduation," said Togunde. He said that the proportion of students who have a global experience before graduating currently stands at 75 percent.

"Whether HBCU or non-HBCU, we stack up with any college in the country," Togunde said. "We are a leader in international education."

From the perspective of a more fledgling office, Collier, of Tuskegee University, said that price is an important factor for her students. Programs in Latin America and elsewhere in North America tend to be cheaper; she said, and a short-term program the university offered in the Dominican Republic for the price tag of just $1,500 was one of the most popular programs ever -- 14 students enrolled.

Collier described the experience of study abroad as potentially transformational, regardless of where students go.

“I’ve had students go to Ireland, and when they come back they’re so shocked that there are other people of color in Ireland, that Ireland is diverse and they would never have thought of Ireland in this way,” she said. “That’s an amazing experience for a young person of color who goes to school in the rural South. That opens up their world. But then for another student to go to Africa and feel like they connected with their ancestral history, that’s a transformative experience as well.”

GlobalStudy AbroadEditorial Tags: International higher educationStudy abroadImage Source: Courtesy of Torian L. LeeImage Caption: Xavier University of Louisiana students visit Casa de Africa museum in Havana. Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 5Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, September 11, 2018Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: HBCU Students AbroadMagazine treatment: Trending: College: Howard UniversityMorehouse CollegeSpelman CollegeTuskegee University

Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/11/2018 - 07:00
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Arizona psychologist faces scrutiny for grants from organization founded to support research in eugenics

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 07:00

The Pioneer Fund was established in a 1937 with the goal of promoting "race betterment" -- as in the white race -- and it has long funded research that supports or could support a link between race and intelligence. So, in 2018, when mainstream science has debunked any such link, is the Pioneer Fund still a legitimate source of funding for an academic researcher?

More precisely, is it still a legitimate source of funding for Aurelio Figueredo, professor of psychology, family studies and human development at the University of Arizona? Figueredo is facing public and professional scrutiny following a recent Associated Press investigation that found he is the only scientific researcher still receiving funding from the Pioneer Fund: his grants reportedly accounted for all $90,000 of the Maryland-based nonprofit’s contributions reported to the Internal Revenue Service from 2014 to 2016. In all, Figueredo received a total of $458,000 from the Pioneer Fund from 2003 to 2016.

“It’s a foundation with an explicit agenda to prove that a biological hierarchy exists,” said Alexandra Minna Stern, chair in American culture and professor of history, women’s studies and obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Michigan, who is an expert in the eugenics movement. “So for any university with a mission that embraces the basic tenets of equality, meritocracy, producing democratic citizens and having a multiracial, diverse student body, the mission of the Pioneer Fund is antagonistic to those very values.”

So far, Arizona is supporting Figueredo’s right as an academic to seek funding where he sees fit.

“Professors seek research funds from a variety of sources,” said Chris Sigurdson, university spokesperson. Arizona doesn’t typically restrict the source of outside funds, he said, “but focuses on protecting open, free and competent academic inquiry.”

Lee Ryan, chair of psychology, said that Figueredo was accepting funding from the Pioneer Fund long before she look over as chair three years ago, but that internal concerns about his funding had never before been raised, to her knowledge. Figueredo’s research “has always been fully vetted” by Arizona’s institutional review board, she said, citing her colleague's previous public statements that his research has never involved race or been used to support racist or eugenist views.

“I accept Dr. Figueredo’s statement that he would discontinue this research if he felt that anyone was being harmed by it,” Ryan said, referring to Figueredo’s specific comment to that effect to the AP.

Figueredo declined several requests for an interview. Much of his work focuses on evolutionary psychology and life cycle strategy, and not the link between race and intelligence. His more recent research has focused on social biogeography, or how physical and community ecological factors produce "variations in subsistence and natural resources that then impact biometric markers of life history, triggering changes in social equality, within-group and between-group peace, sexual equality, macroeconomic diversification and human capital.” Such changes ultimately “produce changes in brain volume and aggregate cognitive abilities,” he argues.

Figueredo in his research has frequently cited the work of the late J. Philippe Rushton, a Canadian psychologist who was for many years the president of the Pioneer Fund. While life cycle strategy sounds innocuous enough when applied across species, such as rabbits living and dying quickly and elephants living and caring for their young much longer, Rushton applied the theory within species, namely people. His theory was that black people lived on an accelerated cycle, white people on something of an average, and East Asians on the longest cycle. He attributed those alleged differences to intelligence and genetics. His work was widely criticized as racist and based on shaky science.

Richard Lynn, director of the Ulster Institute for Social Research and the Pioneer Fund’s current president, confirmed that Figueredo is the fund’s only current beneficiary, saying there is no additional funding available. Lynn estimated it doled out just $8,000 in 2017. But the AP first reported that Figueredo’s curriculum vitae says he received a $30,000 grant from the Pioneer for the 2017-18 academic year.

Lynn was candid about the fund’s goals, saying via email that Pioneer was originally set up to promote research in eugenics and that both he and it continue to support eugenics.

Pioneer “funds research relevant to this objective although not necessarily on eugenics, e.g. -- in the case of grants to Arizona -- topics considered relevant to eugenics,” such as “intelligence, personality, genetics,” he said.

The Pioneer Fund has contributed to Figueredo’s research, as well as his participation in the London Conference on Intelligence. The conference, started in 2014, has attracted international criticism for hosting panels on eugenics.

In correspondence in the journal Intelligence, published by Elsevier, Figueredo and a large group of other London conference-goers said that “innovative intelligence research on controversial topics is often subjected to biased and sensationalized media reporting, including (in some cases) personal attacks against the researchers involved.” Such a pattern has “wider ramifications for these researchers,” they wrote, “as such attacks are sometimes coupled with withdrawal of both social support from colleagues and institutional resources, which may leave researchers isolated within their own faculties. In some instances (such as where employment safeguards, e.g. tenure, are either less absolute or are absent), defamed scientists are even dismissed. Worse still, a subset of these cases involved threats of violence from political activists.”

The writers linked what they called the “politicization” of research on intelligence and its alleged hijacking by egalitarian ideals to the 1981 publication of Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man, a widely read takedown of biological determinism.

Ed Dutton, an intelligence researcher and cultural anthropologist based in Europe who co-wrote a 2104 paper with Lynn arguing that natural scientists are smarter and therefore less political and less religious than social scientists, also signed the Intelligence correspondence. Interestingly, perhaps, Dutton also recently self-published a damning portrait of Rushton, alleging that he cherry-picked findings, manipulated people into supporting his ideas and was a violent narcissist in his personal life. Yet Dutton said recently that the Pioneer Fund and race and intelligence remain legitimate sources for academic inquiry.

“The purpose of science is to establish the truth about the nature of the world,” he said. “This means putting aside emotion and ideology, and simply going where the data takes you. Accordingly, we cannot have areas of research which are off-limits.”

Dutton added, “My understanding was that the Pioneer Fund was established to fund research into certain areas that it's sometimes difficult to attain funding for. You can criticize the ideology of the man who established the fund, but you'll find that most funders have some kind of ideology, so it's not a persuasive argument.” (Wickliffe Draper, an advocate of eugenics, started the fund.)

It’s true that many research funders have some kind of ideology. The Ford Foundation, for example, has long supported work focused on understanding diverse cultures and economic disparities. And the Charles Koch Foundation, whose founder, Charles Koch, pumps money into free market causes, continues to be criticized for that reason -- along with what some see as inappropriate strings attached to grants -- as its footprint in academe expands. But relatively few nonprofits fund academic research that has been widely panned as not only ideological but fundamentally unscientific.

Still, the American Association of University Professors supports professors’ right to seek funding where they wish -- even from the Pioneer Fund -- as long as it’s disclosed. In the 1990s, the AAUP successfully advocated for two professors of education whom the University of Delaware blocked from receiving Pioneer funding. The AAUP’s Recommended Principles to Guide Academy-Industry Relationships says, in part, that no contract “should restrict faculty, students, postdoctoral fellows or academic professionals from freely disclosing their funding source. A signed copy of all final legal research contracts and [memorandums of understanding] formalizing the [contract] and any other types of sponsored agreements formed on campus … should be made freely available to the public -- with discrete redactions only to protect valid commercial trade secrets, but not for other reasons.”

Maybe Pioneer is dying a natural death anyway, with its diminishing resources. Still, Stern, of Michigan, said she’d be concerned if someone on her campus took up with the fund, which has in the past supported organizations led by white nationalists -- disclosure or no disclosure.

“It’s not ethical,” she said, noting the recent resurgence of white nationalism in American life. “What we also have to consider is, 'Why are these questions being asked? What is the underlying motivation behind them?' If these scholars and scientists claim to have evidence to show the relationship between genetics and intelligence, the point is, what are you supposed to do with that information?”

The historical aims of the eugenics movement “might not be right on the table, but they’re not far under the surface,” Stern said.

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Appeals court ruling opens the door for boosted due-process rights

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 07:00

In an unparalleled decision and a win for those who feel due process has been shunned in campus investigations of sexual assault, a federal appeals court has ruled that universities must allow students in these cases -- or their representatives -- to directly question their accuser in a live hearing.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit’s opinion, in a lawsuit against the University of Michigan, has the potential to reshape the notion of due process for campus sexual assault cases, at least for institutions in the four Midwestern states that comprise the Sixth Circuit, experts say.

Also looming is the Trump administration’s imminent release of draft regulations around Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal gender antidiscrimination law barring sexual misconduct on college campuses.

The appeals court decision would seem to match the direction of the U.S. Department of Education, which under new draft rules wants to mandate cross-examination. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last year rescinded Obama-era guidance on Title IX, declaring it had unfairly slanted proceedings against accused students.

A student accused of sexual assault at the University of Michigan, who had been expelled, had improperly been unable to challenge the narrative and findings against him, the circuit court ruled Friday. He sued the institution, but his lawsuit was dismissed by the lower court.

Michigan, as many universities around the country do, relies on a “single-investigator” model, in which an official interviews the two parties, and potentially other witnesses, and collects evidence before deciding whether a violation occurred. Neither side has the chance to pose questions to the other.

Michigan officials did not respond to a request for comment, but a spokesman told the Detroit Free Press the university was "carefully reviewing" the ruling. The institution had argued that even though the accused student hadn't been able to ask direct questions, he could still review the accuser's statement and submit a response; direct cross-examination, Michigan said, wasn't necessary because the university's decision didn't hinge entirely on their competing narratives.

Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators, said that the court's decision “is another nail in the coffin” of single-investigator models. Judges in the decision railed against this practice, noting that even pop culture recognizes the need for due process, citing well-known scenes from the popular movies A Few Good Men and My Cousin Vinny.

They also cited a similar Sixth Circuit decision involving the University of Cincinnati, in which the court blocked the suspension of an accused rapist, asserting that his due-process rights were violated.

“Today, we reiterate that holding once again: if a public university has to choose between competing narratives to resolve a case, the university must give the accused student or his agent an opportunity to cross-examine the accuser and adverse witnesses in the presence of a neutral fact-finder,” the court wrote.

But the judges’ interpretation of due process here goes too far and is more radical, said S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, which consults with colleges on sexual misconduct matters.

The Obama rules, which came in the form of a Dear Colleague letter in 2011, did envision a scenario in which both the accused and the accuser would be able to question the other -- but not in a live setting, Carter said. Allowing an alleged rapist to directly confront their accuser, or vice versa, opens up the potential for intimidation during the process, he said.

Generally, advocates for sexual assault survivors disagree with allowing face-to-face questioning, which was also discouraged in the 2011 letter. One way this could be remedied is by providing questions to a neutral third party -- a hearing officer -- to pose to the two parties, who wouldn’t need to be in the same room.

The Sixth Circuit decision shifts a campus adjudication process more into a courtroom-style setting, which is ill advised, Carter said.

“This is an unprecedented level of granular involvement in the level of due process a university must provide,” he said, adding that he could see this decision as a setup for a Supreme Court case as other circuits may come to contradictory conclusions.

Deborah L. Gordon, the lawyer representing the former student who sued Michigan in the case, disagrees that the ruling could present problems for the survivors and the accused. In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, she said it was a “paternalistic concept” that accusers couldn’t walk into a room and put questions to accused.

Many times, cases of sexual violence are misconstrued, Gordon said -- both parties were drunk, or they were having consensual sex, only for the woman to later have regrets about some aspect of the encounter. She said it was a “disservice” to lump everyone under the umbrella of “survivor.”

She noted that for any other violation of university conduct, Michigan officials hold a live hearing. And if a student is found responsible, the student has their life permanently altered.

“The stakes are so high for these kids,” Gordon said.

Sokolow predicted that other courts could determine other ways to have a robust investigation of sexual assault cases, and indirect questioning, without “an adversarial hearing.”

“I think there is room for an alternate model, but it may take the courts a while to get used to the idea,” Sokolow said.

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Open-access movement hits the silver screen

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 09/10/2018 - 07:00

One minute and 58 seconds into Paywall: The Business of Scholarship, a film promoting open-access publishing, a pop-up appears on screen that demands viewers pay $39.95 to watch the rest of the movie.

The interruption is a metaphor for research articles that are locked behind paywalls. These articles published online in scholarly journals always come with a free abstract summarizing their findings, but unless you have a subscription to the journals, a prompt will require you to pay to read the rest.

True to the spirit of openness the movie encourages, the film is, of course, free to watch and registered under an open copyright license that allows anyone to share or adapt the movie however they wish, as long as they give credit to the creators.

“I would be a hypocrite if it wasn’t,” said director Jason Schmitt, speaking at Paywall’s premiere at the Landmark E Street Cinema in Washington Wednesday.

Schmitt is an associate professor of communication and media at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y. He's also a filmmaker and journalist who previously worked in the music industry.

I worked at Atlantic Records in 1999 when Napster rewrote the concept of music dissemination and eventually overtook. I was taught then that scarcity cannot win out regardless of high cost attorneys, litigation, and dragging of the feet. #OA #openaccess pic.twitter.com/15JXlTMUsx

— Jason Schmitt (@jason_schmitt) July 18, 2018

Early on in his film, Schmitt describes how 20 years ago, Forbes predicted that the academic publishing business would be "the internet's first victim." But the academic publishing industry has proven remarkably resilient, he said.

In Schmitt's view, one that is shared by many of the people who appear in his film, the publishing industry has been able to thrive because it has taken advantage of the people who provide its core product -- researchers.

"Publishing is so profitable because the workers don't get paid," says John Adler, a professor of neurosurgery at Stanford University who is featured in the film.

Richard Price, founder and CEO of academic social networking site academia.edu, also appears in the film and notes that publishers have been able to sustain this model because they have made themselves indispensable.

"It's not like the university librarian could say, 'Well, the Elsevier papers are too expensive; we'll just go with Wiley this year.' You kind of need all of them." Publishers, therefore, have the "ability to charge whatever they want, and universities will rarely actually balk," said Price.

Schmitt's film raises some important questions -- how is it possible that big for-profit publishers, such as Elsevier, have fatter profit margins than some of the biggest corporations in the world? Why can't everyone read all publicly funded research for free?

Discussion of these questions in the film is undoubtedly one-sided. Of around 70 people featured in the film, just a handful work for for-profit publishers like Springer-Nature or the American Association for the Advancement of Science -- and they don't get much screen time. There is also no representative from Elsevier, despite the publisher being the focus of much criticism in the film. This was not for lack of trying, said Schmitt. “I offered Elsevier a five-minute section of the film that they could have full creative control over,” he said. “They turned me down.”

Schmitt said he made Paywall not for academics and scholars but for the general public. He wants people to understand how scholarly publishing works, and why they should care that they can’t access research paid for with their tax dollars.

The film could be interpreted as a response to the growing ire of academics and librarians against big publishers. Several academic libraries, already facing tight budgets, have threatened to cancel their bundled-journal subscription deals with big publishers in recent years.

The film is also a reflection of the growing power of the open-access movement, which is no longer just the domain of die-hard advocates. It's also a central focus of politicians, policy makers and research funders -- particularly in Europe, which earlier this month unveiled "Plan S" -- an initiative to push E.U.-funded researchers to publish only in fully open-access journals.

Paywall: The Business of Scholarship Trailer 2 from Paywall The Movie on Vimeo.

Tom Callaway, a university outreach leader for open-source software company Red Hat, was featured in the film and discussed his frustration with paywalls.

“My wife had a pulmonary embolism, and nobody was sure why,” he said. Wanting to learn more about his wife’s condition, Callaway started to research it online but soon came up against a paywall.

“I can’t afford to spend the money to read a research paper only to discover that it's not relevant to her,” he said.

The film highlights that even academics in the U.S. and Europe, whose institutions have subscriptions to thousands of journals, hit paywalls from time to time. Outside the Western world, the problem is even worse.

Roshan Kumar Karn, a medical doctor in Nepal featured in the movie, said when he hits a paywall, “I feel really pissed.”

Paywall’s message got a sympathetic response at the D.C. premiere; the audience was largely composed of open-access advocates and friends and family of the film’s producers. There were knowing nods and chuckles when the figures featured in the film expressed their frustration with the status quo or criticized big publishers.

The 65-minute film features dozens of interviews spliced together, most sharing one message: the system for disseminating research information is broken and needs to be fixed.

Nonacademics watching the film might walk away from it believing that open access is a straightforward solution to knowledge being locked behind paywalls. But it isn't, says John Warren, director of George Washington University’s publishing master’s program, who was at the premiere.

“Open access is a good goal, I think we can all agree on that,” he said. But open-access publishing doesn't happen for free and shifts costs from the reader to the author -- a point that Warren feels was not adequately addressed in the film. Open-access articles are free to read because someone (either the author, their institution or a research funder) has paid for it to be free. Funding to publish in open-access journals is often limited. Researchers looking to gain tenure may also be incentivized to publish in high-impact subscription journals, and not lower-impact open-access ones.

Warren, who has worked for both for-profit and nonprofit publishers over the last 25 years, said before watching the film that he expected it to be one-sided and “more advocacy than educational.” Watching it confirmed his expectations. The film didn't really explain how open access works or the pros and cons of different models, he said.

John Wilbanks, chief commons officer at Sage Bionetworks, a nonprofit organization that promotes open science, agreed with Warren that the film "does not present a neutral view." But Wilbanks, who is an open-access advocate, said he was comfortable with that.

"We've been making scientific arguments about the benefits of open access for years," he said. "Maybe it's time for us to have a harder edge."

Though Wilbanks still wants open-access policies to be informed by facts and rational argument, he hopes that the emotive approach Paywall takes will "wake people up" to the issues the open-access movement is trying to address.

"My hope is that that it will lead people to learn more, to make up their minds for themselves," he said.

For his part, Schmitt was pleased with the reception to his film and is delighted that it will be screened at over 150 universities in the coming months.

Warren said he would encourage people to watch the movie, but with a caveat. He’d like to see universities organize discussions at screenings that include representatives from the publishing industry so audiences can “get a more balanced view.”

For-profit publishers have a duty to make profits for their shareholders, but that doesn’t make them inherently evil, said Warren.

A spokesperson for the society of Association of American Publishers said that the film didn’t explain the role that publishers play in the research dissemination process.

“In addition to financing and managing the peer-review process, publishers make significant investments in technology, distribution platforms, data analytics and other cutting-edge innovations that enable doctors, scientists, researchers and educators to get the greatest possible value from research,” the spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that academics have “many choices on how to make their research publicly available,” and for many of them “publishers are a critical partner.”

One issue highlighted in the film -- the sheer level of profit generated by big publishers -- is worth thinking about, said Warren. “AT&T was broken up by Congress when it got too big,” he said. “That’s maybe something I’d be concerned about if I worked at Elsevier.”

Michael Carroll, a professor of law at American University and founding member of Creative Commons Inc. -- a global organization that provides standardized copyright licenses that instruct people on how the content can legally be used -- said Paywall highlighted that there is “too much profit and not enough competition” among academic publishers.

Though Carroll, who is featured in the movie, hopes that it will be watched by a broad audience, he believes that the most important viewers are scholars, students and policy makers. “They are the ones who could change the system,” he said

He hopes the key message viewers will take away from the movie is that paywalls hinder innovation by creating barriers to accessing knowledge.

“We’re holding ourselves back,” he said.

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After racist coach scandal, Brandeis demotes two administrators, severs ties with another

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 07:00

For years, Brandeis University showered its men’s basketball coach, Brian Meehan, with numerable lavish, if not astounding, perks for a Division III program -- slick coaching offices, foreign road trips, a retention package. But Meehan's perquisites reflected the institutional gratitude for the Judges’ success -- he took the team to the DIII Elite Eight on multiple occasions.

It was this winning record, and Meehan’s connections with top administrators, that seemed to shield him from punishment even when players reported his verbal abuse and in some cases, racist remarks, as Deadspin detailed in April.

Months after the Deadspin piece went public, though, Brandeis has demoted two high-level administrators and severed ties with another, the university announced this week. Two university investigations concluded Meehan made racially insensitive remarks and generally mistreated his players.

Officials fired Meehan in April, too, around the time Deadspin published its report. These actions are a contrast to, for instance, Ohio State University, which admittedly sponsors a much more high-profile and lucrative athletics program, but which declined to get rid of its prominent head football coach after he was found not to have properly reported allegations of domestic violence against a former assistant coach.

The episode with Brandeis illustrates how, once again, a successful coach escaped consequences -- at least for a while -- when he was boosting the university’s athletics profile. His firing happened only after Deadspin approached the university for comment. A report commissioned and released by the university and conducted by Walter Prince and Malcolm Graham, the assistant United States attorney for the District of Massachusetts and a retired associate justice on the Massachusetts Appeals Court, respectively, referred to Meehan as seemingly “untouchable, and above the rules, even to his superiors.”

Brandeis did not respond to request for further comment. Meehan has not given interviews to the news media and refused to participate in Prince and Graham's investigation.

Meehan joined Brandeis in 2003, part of administrators’ strategy to make basketball an attraction and more successful -- and for many seasons, he did. The team was the Eastern College Athletic Conference champions in the 2010-11 season.

Then his streak slipped -- in the years following the championship, Meehan would lose a majority of his games, a stumble attributed in the investigative report to “diminished ability to gain easy admission for his preferred players” -- this point isn’t explained much further. But the team faced recruitment and retention difficulties, especially with minority players. Since 2011, the team had 20 black players, but only three of them played for the entire four years, according to a human resources investigation by Brandeis.

Perhaps this was related to Meehan’s behavior. Investigators, who combed through 30,000 documents and interviewed more than 150 people, found that Meehan’s attitude soured, and he became much harsher with his players and put his two sons on the team “despite all recommendations to the contrary” from multiple advisers.

Part of the problem came with his close relationships with the athletics director, Lynne Dempsey, and the vice president of student affairs, Sheryl Sousa. Dempsey and Sousa could not be reached for comment.

Dempsey has been demoted, had her salary reduced and was put on probation after being placed on administrative leave in the spring. Sousa resigned. A third administrator, Robin Nelson-Bailey, vice president of human resources, also was demoted and punished.

According to the report, Dempsey and Meehan were close friends -- she introduced Meehan to his wife and officiated their wedding, which Sousa also attended. Sousa and her wife traveled with the Meehan family and the basketball team on a 10-day trip to Croatia in 2012, which “reignited” the friendship, Sousa has said.

Because their relationships were so visible, there was a perceived reluctance for players and others to come forward and complain about Meehan, the report states. Neither Sousa nor Dempsey developed other channels for athletes or employees to discuss Meehan’s behavior. Both women denied having a “blind spot” for Meehan and said they did not personally witness any of his poor behavior, according to the report.

But there were clear examples of their favoritism for Meehan. Players fill out surveys anonymously at the end of seasons, and the results from 2013-14 on for Meehan were quite negative. But Dempsey never talked about them with Meehan, even though these surveys can play a significant role in coaches’ annual performance reviews.

When a black player and his mother complained in 2014 about Meehan humiliating the athletes, and later Sousa saw his comments in that survey, she gave the coach a verbal warning about profanity -- but the misconduct continued. She gave him another “final written warning” in 2017, but Sousa and Dempsey didn’t monitor Meehan any further.

Meehan was subject to a six-month human resources investigation in 2017, but that was also marred by the university’s unclear policies and procedures and Sousa’s role in it, the report said. The HR investigator was able to select a final decision maker in players’ complaints against Meehan, and picked Sousa.

Sousa did not recuse herself and said it would not be a conflict of interest. However, after Brandeis’s HR investigator found evidence that Meehan had been emotionally abusive and prejudicial, Sousa decided she wanted to make an independent decision.

She asked for a full copy of the report, which the HR representative decided to redact. After reviewing the report, Sousa continued to doubt the findings because she had never personally witnessed discriminatory behavior, nor did she believe Meehan was a racist.

“It should go without saying, however, that discriminatory and abusive behavior can be (and often is) committed covertly, especially around supervisors,” the report from Prince and Graham states.

Sousa ultimately disagreed with the HR representative and wrote as much in her final decision -- the only potential punishment being the “final written warning.” Nelson-Bailey, the vice president of human resources, had also undercut the investigation and didn’t support the HR investigator, according to the report.

But about six months later, around the time that Deadspin was about to publish its investigation, and Meehan had once again been accused by another player of color of making a racially insensitive remark, Sousa abruptly reversed her decision.

She said she had just learned the initial investigator had redacted information in the report, “that in Sousa’s view justified Meehan’s termination” -- not about his racist comments, but his treatment of injured players.

“It is important to understand that Sousa never disciplined or terminated Meehan for discriminatory behavior,” the report states.

The duo, Prince and Graham, will come fall be releasing a second report on improvements Brandeis could make to its climate and culture.

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Purdue Global axes faculty confidentiality agreement

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 07:00

Purdue University Global will stop using a contentious confidentiality agreement that critics say requires academics to waive their rights to course materials they create.

The nondisclosure agreement also prohibits ex-employees from hiring former Purdue colleagues for a year -- or from bad-mouthing Purdue once they’re gone.

Inside Higher Ed and other outlets last month reported on the agreement after the American Association of University Professors posted a link to four pages from an employee handbook. AAUP has since circulated an online petition urging universities to "Say no to NDAs and forced arbitration in higher education."

AAUP has said the agreement violates its 1940 Joint Statement of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure, which says instructors “are entitled to full freedom in research and in the publication of the results.” It called the four-page agreement “especially restrictive,” saying it allows the university to be the arbiter of who owns the rights to instructional materials.

Such limitations are highly unusual in nonprofit higher education, but Purdue Global itself is highly unusual, a "public benefit corporation" that is the result of Purdue University's purchase last year of the for-profit Kaplan University.

In August, Purdue Global chancellor Betty Vandenbosch told Inside Higher Ed that the agreement is not unusual in corporate employment circles, and that the nondisclosure provisions are "boilerplate" requirements. She noted as well that, despite the agreement’s restrictions, faculty retain ownership of their copyright-protected content unless it’s used in the university’s learning management system. Producing course materials for such systems, she said, often requires several people -- professors, instructional designers and curriculum managers -- working in collaboration. To grant rights to those materials to one person would be inappropriate. Critics have noted that for online programs such as those of Purdue Global, placing material in the LMS is the norm, so that the agreement would have covered most material.

In a note to faculty members, Vandenbosch on Wednesday said Purdue administrators had been examining the agreement “well before the media reports” and had concluded that it is “no longer necessary” as a condition of employment.

“There has never been a case where the agreement had to be enforced, so its removal shouldn’t affect you in any way,” she wrote.

In a statement, Frank Dooley, a senior vice provost, said the agreement was inherited from Kaplan University. Like Vandenbosch, he said that after meeting with Purdue Global colleagues and representatives of Purdue’s University Senate, administrators are now “united in the feeling that the document is unnecessary and should be discontinued in the interest of aligning with Purdue’s policies and culture.”

Vandenbosch also called media coverage of the controversy “misleading,” saying it misconstrued the agreement’s purposes. She said Purdue Global “will continue to recognize and preserve your ability to copyright, own and distribute your scholarly works and any personal instructional works that you create and offer individually to supplement Purdue Global’s online curriculum delivery, while also safeguarding trade secret and other confidential information owned by the university or entrusted to us to protect.”

In a statement issued Thursday, AAUP called the move a "huge victory" for faculty. "It not only removes a threat to the academic freedom of those currently employed by Purdue Global, but may serve as a bulwark against the use of these agreements by other academic institutions," the organization said.

The AAUP questioned whether previously signed agreements are still in effect and called on Purdue to rescind any existing faculty NDAs. A Purdue spokesman on Thursday said the agreement will no longer be in effect for any faculty member who signed it.

David Sanders, a biology professor and past chair of the Purdue University Senate, said ending the requirement that faculty sign nondisclosure agreements "is a victory for faculty working together. It is a first step in faculty efforts to ensure that Purdue University Global acts as would a bona fide institution of higher education in respecting academic freedom."

He said faculty members will continue to advocate for the elimination of forced arbitration agreements for students, a policy also inherited from Kaplan. That policy came to light last month after the left-leaning Century Foundation, a Washington think tank, published a Purdue Global policy guide it obtained via a records request to the U.S. Department of Education. The guide revealed that Purdue Global plans to ban class-action lawsuits and will apply forced arbitration even to potential fraud cases brought by students.

Purdue has said its board has the final say as to whether it will retain the arbitration policy.

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Long Island University building vet school despite staff cuts and declining enrollment

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 07:00

Long Island University is moving forward with plans to build a college of veterinary medicine, despite faculty opposition and declining enrollment at the university.

The program will be housed in a brand-new, 47,000-square-foot facility at the LIU Post campus in Brookville, N.Y. Construction has yet to begin, but the university expects the building to be completed in 2020. The college plans to welcome its first class of 100 students in the fall of 2019.

The plans are raising eyebrows on campus and off. Faculty leaders think the idea makes no sense. LIU is not up to par with the research universities, typically land-grant institutions, that house vet schools. And New York State already has a vet school -- generally considered among the best -- at Cornell University.

The new facility will cost $40 million, and LIU was promised $12 million for the project from the State of New York as part of a $72 million investment in “transformative” projects on Long Island. As for the remaining $28 million: “We certainly have a robust capital budget. We’ve also been undertaking a campaign for this,” Jon Schneider, director of public relations at LIU, said. He did not disclose how much the university has raised so far but said it is planning a polo fund-raiser this month where ticket packages cost up to $10,000.

LIU has brought in Carmen Fuentealba to serve as dean of the new college. Previously, she served as an executive associate dean at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine and as a professor and associate dean at Western University of Health Sciences. She was not available to comment for this article and has not spoken with other reporters exploring the issues involved in the new project. LIU's program, similar to Western University's, will follow a distributed model of clinical education, which means that the university will not build a teaching hospital or house animals on campus. Instead, students will work with third-party partners to complete their clinical work in nearby communities.

Earlier this month, the American Veterinary Medicine Association (AVMA) Council on Education, the accrediting body for veterinary colleges, completed a comprehensive site visit at LIU. Representatives from the council will draft a report about the visit, which will be presented to the full council in March.

“We thought it was -- I don’t want to overstate -- it was a very comprehensive and productive visit. We certainly felt positively about it as we continue to move forward,” Schneider said.

If the council is happy with LIU’s progress, it will grant a letter of reasonable assurance, which doesn't guarantee accreditation but indicates that the university is on the right track to fulfill the council’s 11 requirements for accreditation.

Previous coverage of the developing veterinary college speculated about why LIU cut in front of other colleges on the council’s site visit list -- including Tufts University, Purdue University and the University of California, Davis -- but Andy Maccabe, CEO of the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges, said that there was no top spot to jump to.

“My understanding is that that’s not accurate at all, there’s no jumping at all, there isn’t a line. It just has to do with availability on the schedule,” Maccabe said. “There happened to be an opening in August of 2018, and Long Island University was able to use that position because they don’t have any students. The council will not schedule a site visit to another school when students are not present.”

Maccabe said that he was aware of two other universities vying for vet schools on the site visit list this year: Texas Tech University and the University of Arizona. Neither has had an easy time developing their programs. Texas Tech is fighting to make room for itself in the shadow of Texas A&M, the only other veterinary school in the state, and the University of Arizona was denied a letter of reasonable assurance twice, setting back its opening multiple years. To-be-expected hiccups for the other universities have left a few observers wondering: Why LIU?

The university has faced a steep decline in enrollment since President Kimberly Cline took over. From 2008 to 2013, average freshman enrollment at LIU Post, where the vet school will be located, was 824. In 2013, freshman enrollment dropped to 563 and has hovered around a 550 average ever since. The university admits 83 percent of applicants, but only 12 percent of those admitted choose to attend. Less than half of students graduate.

Opposition to the project has been growing among faculty members, albeit quietly. Inside Higher Ed spoke to a number of faculty members at LIU Post, all of whom did not want to be named publicly for fear that they could lose their jobs for speaking up. Not without reason: tenure and tenure-track appointment renewals were described as a "bloodbath" this past year. At the Brooklyn campus, over half of the tenure-track appointments were not renewed, four of five professors up for tenure were denied and five of seven up for promotion to full professor were denied. At Post, six of nine professors up for tenure were denied.

“A normal university doesn’t fire a bunch of its tenure track every year. It’s a lack of investment in those of us who are already here,” Emily Drabinski, faculty librarian at LIU Brooklyn, said. “I think people don’t feel the university is invested in them, and in their careers and keeping them around. Turnover in the administration is really intense. If you don’t have union protection, your job is in jeopardy really every day.”

Rebecca States, president of the Brooklyn Faculty Senate, said that faculty aren’t against creating a vet school, but they’re concerned about the message it sends to existing faculty and programs.

“The faculty are generally very dubious about the vet school,” States wrote in an email. “There are so many needs for investment to shore up existing buildings, infrastructure, programs, departments, student services, etc. that it's very hard to see how this big of a gamble makes sense, especially given how expensive it is to run a vet school and how few students it can ultimately serve.”

Ten concerned faculty at LIU Post last month issued the following joint statement to Inside Higher Ed, but wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation:

"Long Island University’s pursuit of a school of veterinary medicine is a major academic shift and financial commitment for a tuition-driven liberal arts institution in the middle of an enrollment crisis. Although the Council on Education completed a comprehensive site visit earlier this month, the administration still has not shared with the faculty its plans or vision for what it says is a $40 million investment but which in reality could be much greater. This troubling lack of communication is further proof that shared governance does not exist at LIU," they wrote. "We have many more questions than answers: Why does the administration think a vet school can succeed at LIU? Besides the $12 million pledged by Gov. Cuomo’s office, where will the remainder come from? How much money has the dean’s office raised to date? How many vet school faculty does LIU plan to hire, and will they come in as union or non-union employees? What campus resources are being diverted to this venture? Were attacks on tenure and promotion the last two years and the surprise elimination of nearly all probationary faculty this summer done so with vet school positions in mind? Although Gov. Cuomo’s office and Long Island news outlets such as Newsday have treated LIU’s vet school as unproblematic and even laudatory, we ask that the administration explain how this endeavor will improve and not exacerbate LIU’s current situation."

Schneider said that the vet school plans are “completely separate” from other decisions on campus.

“With regard to resource decisions here and the college of veterinary medicine, what we’re doing with the vet school … that is completely separate and apart from any decisions that are being made at Long Island University,” he said. “While I can’t get into personnel matters and why decisions are and aren’t being made, with all due respect, if anyone is giving you their opinion about what they think is going on, that opinion is off base.”

He also insisted that communication to faculty about the development of the veterinary school has been clear.

"There is an extensive, ongoing accreditation process which at times limits our ability to publicly communicate certain items, and we are very diligent, responsible, and respectful of that process," Schneider wrote in an email. "That said, deans have participated in briefings, faculty governance leaders have been updated at Board of Trustees meetings, and this subject has been reported on extensively in the media. When there has been relevant information we are able to share with the LIU community, such as Governor Cuomo’s announcement of $12 million in transformative aid, that information was broadly communicated … and, for the last year, we have had a dean located in a central place on campus with an outward facing sign that says 'College of Veterinary Medicine,' literally anyone on campus could have walked in, met Dean Fuentealba and received additional information."

LIU’s emerging program will not be the first veterinary college in New York. Cornell University has one of three veterinary programs in the Northeast (the other two are at Tufts University and the University of Pennsylvania) and in July, Cornell celebrated the completion of a five-year, $91.6 million project to expand its veterinary school. In addition to facilities improvements, the expansion allows the program to admit more students.

When asked about the potential competition from LIU, Lorin Warnick, dean of the veterinary college at Cornell, did not address the new college specifically.

“We are confident that the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine will continue to enjoy strong interest among candidates for our professional veterinary education program, other advanced degrees and academic employment opportunities,” he wrote in an email.

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California agency stands by suspension of colleges from state-based GI eligibility

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 07:00

Update: The California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education reversed its decision late Thursday to stop three private Missouri colleges from offering full veterans education benefits in the state. 

In a letter from CSAAVE notifying Columbia College, Webster University and Park University of their reinstatement, Latanaya Johnson, the assistant deputy secretary of chief postsecondary education, wrote that the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs had directed state approving agencies nationally to accept the determinations made by other federal and state agencies responsible for approving educational programs. The agency also reinstated six other colleges that were suspended in the last year: Central Michigan University, Central Texas College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Worldwide, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, University of Maryland University College and Vincennes University. ​

The dispute between several out-of-state colleges and the California agency that determines eligibility to award veterans education aid in the state is intensifying and may signal a larger power struggle between states and the federal government over the authority to regulate and determine the legitimacy of educational programs.

A judge granted a court order last week on behalf of three Missouri-based nonprofit institutions -- Park University, Webster University and Columbia College -- to temporarily block the California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education from suspending their ability to award federal education aid to veterans and service members. CSAAVE determines which colleges are eligible for GI Bill reimbursement in the state. In recent months, six other colleges around the country have also received suspension letters from the agency.

“We found when we looked at these institutions that they’re not operating the way they’re supposed to be operating,” said Latanaya Johnson, education administrator for CSAAVE.

The core dispute is over the interpretation of a provision in federal law that determines whether state approving agencies such as CSAAVE can approve of educational programs that are offered by out-of-state colleges at extension locations within California. At risk for the colleges -- and the veterans they serve -- is a decrease in the monthly or basic housing allowance, which is determined by the location of an institution.

The law says that to receive state approval, a college facility must be designated as a main or branch campus, not an extension site, satellite location or teaching annex, Johnson said. In the case of Columbia, Park and Webster, she said their regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, deemed the three institutions' locations in California to be similar to extension sites and not main or branch campuses. Therefore, the California agency concluded, the locations in California would fall under the Missouri approving agency's jurisdiction and would qualify for the standard housing allowance given to online or distance learning programs.

CSAAVE, which provides oversight for 1,300 institutions, has been evaluating applications colleges send each year to receive the agency’s approval, and it wasn't until last year after discussions with HLC officials that they noticed the discrepancy, Johnson said.

“None of the campuses operate a main or branch campus in this state,” Johnson said, adding that often these facilities are two rented rooms with a school certifying official or a registrar present and a place to offer instruction. “Everything they do here is operationally dependent on something out of state.”

According to the federal code:

Johnson said the only change between these colleges being approved last year by CSAAVE and this year is that the agency is now examining the institutions “as they exist as opposed to what they submitted” in an application.

Keith Boylan, deputy secretary of veteran services in the California Department of Veterans Affairs, said that in the last year CSAAVE has suspended or notified nine colleges for suspension: the three Missouri-based institutions, Central Michigan University, Central Texas College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, University of Maryland University College and Vincennes University.

The suspensions, which affect only new students, mean that students who choose to attend those institutions and qualify for the military benefits would see their funding cut off or reduced.

The largest impact would be felt in monthly housing allowances, which are based on the cost of living in a particular zip code of the college a student is attending. Cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles with high costs of living would have higher housing allowances than the housing allowance given to students enrolled in online or distance learning programs. The online rate is half the national average of monthly allowances, or $825 for this year. Students who take at least one course in person would qualify for the in-residence housing allowance.

“Some institutions will open up in locations where it’s advantageous and [have] a higher basic housing allowance for students,” Johnson said. “So, the student has an incentive to enroll. It boosts school attendance as long as they keep doing it that way.”

Take, for example, a veteran who enrolls in a program based in San Francisco. If that program is located on a branch or main campus and has CSAAVE approval, the student can receive about $4,000 a month in the basic or monthly housing allocation. If the California facility is not a branch or main campus, and doesn't have CSAAVE approval, the student would receive $825 a month.

“We understand that’s a difficult spot for veterans to be in,” said Lindsey Sin, deputy secretary for women veterans' affairs for CalVet. “A service member gets out of the military and wants to pursue their education goals and they’re using the [basic housing allocation] as a source of income and they’ve become dependent on that and that’s understandable. But we also have to comply with the law and ensure schools and institutions are acting as they represent themselves.”

The Colleges’ View

Officials at Park University said CSAAVE is misinterpreting the law and that the agency should approve the colleges regardless of whether they are branches or extensions, because the latter facilities have the capacity to maintain records and accounts and offer programs that lead to a degree.

The Higher Learning Commission does not use the term “extension,” but defines facilities that are not campuses or branches as “additional locations.” An official from HLC sent Inside Higher Ed a list of out-of-state additional locations for the three colleges, which include the California facilities.

“These schools in question have been around forever,” Boylan said. “It’s not a question of whether they produce a good education or not, but whether it is within our authority to approve the programs.”

Disputing Locations

An official from the federal Department of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday that the agency is working with the colleges and CSAAVE to resolve the dispute.

These issues over the status of a location and whether they maintain state-based GI Bill eligibility are not new. A similar dispute emerged in 2015 when for-profit Ashford University shut down its physical campus in Iowa but maintained a separate Iowa-based educational facility. The Iowa state approving agency attempted to strip the university’s GI Bill eligibility. But last year, with assistance from the veterans affairs' agency, the university’s parent company, Bridgepoint Education, received approval from Arizona to award veterans' benefits.

And state approving agencies nationally are seeing challenges to their legal authority to authorize programs. On Thursday, retired Major General Robert Worley II, the director of VA education services, sent an advisory to the state approving agencies urging them to accept the certifications and approval of accreditors, licensing boards and other state or federal entities that oversee educational programs.

“In all instances where an agency or office (either federal, state or nongovernmental) outside of the [state approving agency] has been duly authorized, appointed or designated by state or federal law or regulations as the agency or office responsible for certifying compliance with applicable laws, regulations, or nongovernmental standards, those offices have already expended resources to ensure compliance with the standards,” the advisory said. “It is inefficient and a waste of VA resources for a SAA to repeat their work and expend further resources in an attempt to confirm or overrule their determinations … these agencies and offices are presumed to be the authoritative experts on these requirements, and the same cannot be presumed of the SAA.”

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Journal on innovation loses its publisher after dispute over articles

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 07:00

A journal is at risk of closure after its publisher, with whom its editors had crossed swords on several occasions, dropped the title.

The editor of Prometheus: Critical Studies in Innovation suggested that Taylor & Francis’s decision might be linked to a dispute over the planned publication of a series of articles on shaken baby syndrome. The publisher, however, said that the decision was “related to the journal’s commercial performance."

The periodical had been published by Taylor & Francis since 2000, when it moved to Britain from Australia, and was known for convening debates on contentious issues.

A previous spat with Taylor & Francis saw Prometheus’s editorial board threaten to resign en masse in 2014 when the company demanded large cuts from a debate paper that criticized the behavior and profit margins of commercial publishers, including Taylor & Francis’s parent company, Informa.

Although publication of the debate was delayed for eight months, Taylor & Francis eventually apologized for being “overzealous” in its “concern to avoid legal and copyright problems.”

Stuart McDonald, Prometheus’s general editor, said the two sides then enjoyed a “peaceful few years” of working together.

But the relationship ran into trouble again last year when the editors proposed a debate on shaken baby syndrome, including a proposition paper by Waney Squier, a consultant pediatric neuropathologist who has questioned the science behind convictions in several infant death cases.

McDonald, a visiting professor in the University of Leicester’s School of Management, said that Squier’s paper was sent to Taylor & Francis’s lawyers in October and then, in January, the publisher asked to inspect the other 10 submissions. These included papers by lawyers, the chair of the General Medical Council and a senior Metropolitan Police officer.

In March, the lawyers said that they had no objections to publication, on the proviso that a second opinion should be sought on Squier’s paper and some of the responses.

But, in June, external lawyers said that all 11 papers were likely to be libelous. McDonald said that Taylor & Francis required changes to all the papers but failed to specify what these should be, and production ground to a halt.

Then, in July, Taylor & Francis told McDonald that it was divesting Prometheus.

“Just why Taylor & Francis should take such draconian action is not entirely clear,” said McDonald. “It may be that Taylor & Francis has become totally risk averse.”

McDonald said that he had been told in a meeting with managers from Taylor & Francis that “they had found a solution to the problem of publishing the debate -- they would simply separate themselves from us completely, with immediate effect and no transition period.”

But a Taylor & Francis spokesman said that the decision was on commercial grounds alone.

“The journal has been publishing behind schedule for some time, despite the best efforts of those who have been working on it, with the most recently published issue being issue 1 of 2017,” he said. “Over the same period, the journal has lost the majority of its subscribers.”

McDonald said that he was seeking a new “smaller publisher” for Prometheus, “with whom we can share academic values.”

Taylor & Francis said it intended to publish the final three issues of the current volume before the end of 2018. “We are supporting the editors to achieve this,” the spokesman said.

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New presidents or provosts: Briar Cliff East London Edgecombe Edward Waters Lamar-Orange MassArt Quincy Southwest Baptist UMES Wheeling

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/07/2018 - 07:00
  • Heidi M. Anderson, former provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas A&M University Kingsville, has been chosen as president of University of Maryland Eastern Shore.
  • Amanda Broderick, chief executive officer at Newcastle University London, in Britain, has been named vice chancellor and president of the University of East London, also in Britain.
  • Thomas A. Johnson, assistant vice president of student affairs at Tyler Junior College, in Texas, has been appointed president of Lamar State College-Orange, also in Texas.
  • Rachelle Karstens, interim president and executive vice president at Briar Cliff University, in Iowa, has been promoted to president there.
  • Gerald P. Koocher, dean of the College of Science and Health at DePaul University, in Illinois, has been selected as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Quincy College, in Massachusetts.
  • Gregory McLeod, provost of the Historic Triangle Campus at Thomas Nelson Community College, in Virginia, has been chosen as president of Edgecombe Community College, in North Carolina.
  • Michael P. Mihalyo Jr., provost and vice president of academic affairs at Rockford University, in Illinois, has been selected as president of Wheeling Jesuit University, in West Virginia.
  • Donna H. Oliver, former president of Mississippi Valley State University, has been selected as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Edward Waters College, in Florida.
  • Kymberly N. Pinder, dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, has been chosen as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Massachusetts College of Art and Design.
  • Eric A. Turner, president of Black River Technical College, in Arkansas, has been appointed president of Southwest Baptist University, in Missouri.
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When rumors swirled about a professor found dead, Emerson's president risked sharing uncomfortable truths about the late filmmaker's conduct

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 07:00

In an unusual public statement, Emerson College’s president said this week that a professor who was recently found dead had been suspended for the fall semester for sexual harassment.

Administrators must often weigh personnel, student and institutional privacy concerns against the public interest. In many cases, this approach results in college leaders saying relatively little about punishments and reasons behind them in harassment cases. In this case, President M. Lee Pelton appeared to want to set the record straight about Emerson’s actions regarding Robert Todd, the late professor of visual and media arts.

Many have been mourning Todd's death and noting his many contributions as an artist. Some comments appeared to cast blame on Emerson for his death, widely believed to be a suicide.

“The circumstances surrounding Professor Todd’s death have been much discussed, and judging by some emails I have read, misleading and false statements have been promulgated with the sad patina of truth,” Pelton said in remarks to Emerson’s faculty that were later shared online. “These assertions, in particular, have alarmed and disappointed me as a member of an academic community devoted to critical thinking, sound judgment and discernment.”

While “I understand the very human and innate impulse to construct meaning out of uncommon human events, it is difficult for me to understand the impulse to assert and facilitate unsubstantiated hearsay or rumors without direct or corroborating knowledge,” Pelton said.

Pelton didn't say which rumors were circulating about Todd’s death, and it’s unsurprising that he wouldn’t want to repeat them. Instead, he offered facts.

In December, Pelton said, Emerson received a complaint from a staff member that Todd had “engaged in multiple, concatenated behaviors that might have violated the college’s sexual misconduct policy.” The campus office charged with enforcing Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based harassment, assessed the complaint and recruited an outside investigator. And a months-long investigation found Todd responsible for sexual harassment.

Additional allegations arose during the investigation, but the college found “insufficient evidence” of misconduct in those cases, Pelton said.

For violating Emerson's sexual misconduct policy, Todd was suspended without pay for the fall semester. He was also required to work with a professional coach to help him “understand the impact of his behaviors, as well as to ensure that they would not occur in the future,” Pelton said. Todd’s right to appeal was “abrogated by his death.”

The unnamed staff member who brought the original complaint has been supported by Emerson’s Healing and Advocacy Collective and others on campus throughout the case, including after Todd’s death, according to a transcript of Pelton's message. “We continue to support the member of our community who came forward, and we wish to make it very clear that the college will never tolerate sexual misconduct or sexual harassment, and will act decisively should findings of either arise.”

The past several weeks have “engendered a variety of perspectives and powerful emotions” and “many of us continue to search for resolution and meaning. This will be a process that will take time,” Pelton said. “However, I am hopeful -- even confident -- that our community will meet the challenges ahead of us with humanity, respect and allegiance to the truth for all those who are grieving now, those who have variously been impacted and perhaps, equally important, for ourselves.”

An earlier, much more typical statement about Todd’s death, which did not mention the harassment allegations against him, noted that he is survived by his wife, a graduate student on campus. Todd was a prolific avant-garde filmmaker and sound and visual artist who taught at Emerson for 18 years, according to that earlier announcement.

“Robert brought extraordinary talents and an incredible vision and dedication to his art and his teaching where he sought to inspire the next generation of filmmakers at Emerson,” Pelton said then.

Todd was found dead in a Boston park in mid-August. He was previously reported missing.

No cause of death has been released. Todd’s friends and family are planning an Out of Darkness walk in Boston, according to his website. Such walks are part of a community campaign started by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Michelle Gaseau, college spokesperson, said that Pelton provided a factual account that represents Emerson's statement on the matter.

"This is a difficult situation that the college is trying to treat with compassion and respect for those who have been impacted, while upholding its responsibility to be as transparent as possible with our community," she added.

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Analysis finds benefits to attending a selective college and penalties for attending a for-profit

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 07:00

Attending a selective college narrows the earnings gap between students from the richest and poorest backgrounds, finds a new analysis from a Federal Reserve Bank of New York economist and analyst. So does attending a public college.

On the other hand, attending a for-profit college sharply widens the gap.

Those findings stand out in a Wednesday post titled “Education’s Role in Earnings, Employment, and Economic Mobility” on the New York Fed’s “Liberty Street Economics” blog. The post also reported that students who enrolled in selective colleges went on to earn more in a decade’s time than those who attended nonselective colleges, and that those who attended for-profit colleges earned significantly less in that time frame than did those who attended private not-for-profit colleges.

The results could prove to be an important addition to the discussion unfolding as the U.S. Department of Education moves away from gainful-employment rules that arguably would have curtailed what critics saw as predatory for-profit colleges. They also show how important it is that students have information available about their choice of college and major, wrote the blog post’s authors, Rajashri Chakrabarti, a senior economist at the New York Fed, and Michelle Jiang, a former senior research analyst there.

“These findings have important implications for policy, specifically for ‘gainful employment’ regulations, which stipulate that educational programs must offer worthwhile preparation in a recognized occupation to be eligible for student-assistance funding under the Higher Education Act, and the recent start of a rollback of these provisions,” the authors wrote. “They also highlight the importance of the availability of information about college and major choices since these choices can matter not only for labor market outcomes but also in affecting income inequalities in the medium to long term.”

The authors sought to find out if the choice of a college and major affects employment and earnings, whether differences persist over time and whether some educational backgrounds promoted upward economic mobility more than others. They used data from the Department of Education to analyze labor market outcomes for freshman cohorts entering college between 1997 and 2007. They controlled for a number of variables like location of a college, cohort size, racial composition and parental education.

First, they examined whether college choice and major choice affected earnings and employment six years after enrollment. They found students who enrolled at selective colleges -- four-year colleges in the top three of six tiers in the 2001 edition of Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges -- posted an 11 percent earnings premium over similar students who attended nonselective colleges. Students who attended for-profit colleges earned 17 percent less than did those who attended private not-for-profit four-year colleges.

Cohorts with larger shares of students majoring in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or business, in comparison to arts and humanities majors, also increased their mean earnings.

The effect of college type on earnings was more pronounced 10 years after cohorts’ enrollment. After 10 years, students who enrolled in selective colleges had a 20 percent earnings premium over students who attended nonselective colleges. Those who attended for-profits earned 18 percent less than those who went to private not-for-profit institutions. STEM and business majors still boosted cohorts’ earnings.

But the effect of college type on whether students would hold a job was not nearly as large. After six years, students who had enrolled in selective colleges only had 1 percent higher employment than did those from nonselective colleges, and students from for-profit colleges were 4 percent less likely to be employed compared to students at private nonprofit colleges. The probabilities were similar in the 10-year time frame.

“This indicates that the quality of jobs, rather than the probability of employment, is more relevant for the broadening of the earnings distribution across individuals,” the authors wrote.

The findings on earnings line up with a significant amount of existing research, experts said. The choice of a college and major matters quite a bit, according to Douglas Webber, director of graduate studies and an associate professor at the Temple University Department of Economics & Institute for Labor Economics. He was intrigued by the findings on earnings inequality, he added.

“I would need to know more of the technical details of the analysis to really evaluate how solid the result that for-profits increase inequality and selective colleges reduce it by very large margins,” he wrote in an email. “That said, the numbers in that last figure are pretty striking.”

That figure, inserted above, illustrates how much smaller the earnings gap is between students from relatively wealthy and poor backgrounds who went to selective colleges -- and how much larger the gap is among students who attended for-profit colleges.

It compares the earnings gap 10 years after enrollment between the top and bottom thirds of students, as measured by family income at the time they enrolled in a four-year institution. The average earnings gap between the top third of students and bottom third across the sample was $6,348.

Attending a selective college cut the earnings gap by 43 percent, or $2,736, in comparison to attending a nonselective college. Attending a four-year public college cut the earnings gap by 25 percent, or $1,584, in comparison to attending a four-year private not-for-profit college.

In sharp contrast, attending a for-profit college increased the earnings gap by 117 percent, or $7,428, in comparison to attending a private not-for-profit college.

While the findings on selective and for-profit status deserve attention, advocates of public colleges said the results also cast those institutions in a good light.

“The analysis shows that public colleges and universities act as an equalizing force and help shrink the earnings gap between those in the top and bottom rungs of the income ladder,” said Thomas Harnisch, director of state relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “Public colleges and universities are a force for economic mobility.”

Students who had enrolled in public colleges posted slightly lower mean earnings than did those who attended private nonprofit colleges. But they still fared better than those attending for-profits. And many students attending public colleges enter careers that don’t pay particularly well but are valuable to society, like teaching, Harnisch said.

He also argued that the six- and 10-year time frames are only medium-term earnings that provide a limited snapshot of an adult’s lifetime potential. It is important to remember public colleges are affordable up front, he added.

“Students at the public colleges and universities will often pay a fraction of the tuition prices and have, on average, less student debt,” Harnisch said.

The findings add to stories surrounding both selective institutions and for-profit colleges, according to Sandy Baum, a fellow at the Urban Institute. Baum, who recently said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos misrepresented her work to try to justify eliminating the gainful-employment rule, said in an email that the new findings confirm that failing to adequately monitor and regulate the for-profit sector will likely have a negative impact on many students.

In other discussions, concerns are running high about selective colleges making inequality worse. But data from Stanford University economist Raj Chetty has suggested people from low-income backgrounds who attend selective colleges end up doing about as well as do more affluent students at those institutions, Baum said in an email.

“Data on undermatching indicate that similar students are more likely to complete bachelor’s degrees if they attend more selective institutions,” she said. “These findings add to that story -- going to a more selective institution also boots earnings prospects.”

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New reports show free tuition programs may not help low-income students as much as expected

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 07:00

Tuition-free college programs enjoy wide public and political support, and their popularity is growing. But two new reports released today indicate that some programs do not guarantee the no-cost education promised to low-income students.

One report, from the Institute of Higher Education Policy, examines tuition-free programs in New York and Tennessee. Both programs have been widely heralded for attempting to make college more affordable, and Tennessee’s program was the basis for the Obama administration’s America’s College Promise initiative. But as last-dollar programs -- which only cover remaining tuition after other forms of federal and state aid have been used -- they often don’t cover the needs of the poorest students, who don’t have to pay tuition and fees but have housing, transportation, textbook and other college costs.

“We find in Tennessee and New York low-income students have an immense unmet need,” said Mamie Voight, director of policy research at IHEP. “While the lowest-income students have the greatest financial need, they are not receiving financial benefits through Tennessee Promise or New York’s promise.”

The second report, from the Education Trust, creates a framework for how voters, families and policy makers can examine statewide free college programs to determine whether they make college more affordable for low-income families and students of color.

“We’re happy people want to invest in opportunities,” said Tiffany Jones, director of higher education policy for Ed Trust and a co-author on the report. “But people assume free college means free, and they’re not understanding that too often these policies don’t cover the costs of attendance.”

Advocates of these tuition-free programs strongly disagree and say both reports don’t fully capture the benefits these initiatives and others in the respective states provide to low-income students.

Examining Tennessee and New York

The IHEP report examines the Tennessee and New York programs from the perspective of three types of students. One is a high-income student who is dependent on parental support. The two others are low-income students, but one is dependent on parental support and the other is financially independent.

The researchers found that before Tennessee Promise was established, low-income students at the state's two- and four-year institutions had more than $7,000 in unmet need, even after grants and scholarships. But even with the free college program, the low-income students' financial needs remained unmet, while the high-income student got an additional $1,500 in state support.

“The low-income independent and dependent student receives no money because it’s last dollar,” Voight said. “Their Pell Grant and other aid is already covering tuition … where they really face a notable financial hurdle is in living expenses.”

A Tennessee Board of Regents report from earlier this year found that 43.6 percent of Promise students received no funding from the program, even though nearly 98 percent of those students were Pell recipients.

Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, disagreed with the findings of the reports. He said measuring the success of the state program on low-income students goes beyond finances. For example, in 2014, the year before the Promise program started, 45 percent of low-income students attended college. The following year, when the program was implemented, the college-going rate increased to about 54 percent. About 1,700 more low-income students have enrolled in college per year in the three years since the program started, he said.

“If the sole measure of success is how much money is awarded to students, I would question that as the most important policy question,” he said. “In Tennessee, our important policy question is, are we creating optimal access for students?”

He said many of these low-income students would not have even considered going to college if not for the existence of the Promise program.

“We welcome the conversation about serving underserved students and thank Ed Trust in the work they’re doing in this space,” Krause said. “I think we all need to have a clear conversation about the cost of college that extends beyond tuition, but a state stepping up to make sure tuition is met is commendable.”

Prior to New York’s Excelsior program, low-income students at the state’s colleges and universities had between $3,000 and $14,000 of unmet financial need. That need remains the same even with the program up and running, according to the IHEP report.

One good thing about New York’s program, however, is that there is an income cap that prevents high-income students from benefiting, Voight said.

A spokesperson in New York governor Andrew Cuomo’s office said both the Ed Trust and IHEP reports miss the full scope of the state’s aid programs.

“These reports are frankly uninformed and fundamentally flawed in that they ignore the totality of New York’s robust financial aid programs and instead attempt to analyze one program, the Excelsior Scholarship, in a vacuum without understanding how it interacts with the rest of the state’s free tuition financial aid system,” Don Kaplan, deputy communications director in the governor’s office, said in an email.

Kaplan pointed to New York’s Tuition Assistance Program, which provides about $1 billion in need-based aid to low-income students.

“Many, if not most of the students receiving TAP, have no need for the Excelsior Scholarship,” he said. “The bottom line is that New York is expanding college access and making it affordable for thousands of students who otherwise would be denied this life-changing opportunity to reach their full potential.”

But Voight said TAP has lost purchasing power in much the same way as the Pell Grant. The state has failed to increase the maximum TAP award for about 15 years, she said. Depending on the year a student enrolls, the maximum award can be up to about $5,000.

The state does provide a “tap-gap” tuition credit that covers tuition expenses above the maximum TAP for low-income students.

Measuring Tuition-Free Programs

An online poll conducted in June by Penn Schoen Berland, a market research firm, on behalf of the Campaign for Free College Tuition found 78 percent of respondents supported making college tuition free for anyone who is academically capable. That level of popularity is just one reason why candidates running for governor in Arizona, California, Florida, Maryland, Michigan and Minnesota have pitched tuition-free programs as part of their campaigns.

“Free is a message that works and is gaining traction, and it’s why we’re seeing so many of these programs pop up,” Voight said. “But the details of the programs really matter, and we want to make sure the way they’re designed is targeted in the best way possible so they’re truly free and making a difference for the students that need it.”

Officials at Ed Trust believe voters and students can better demand that these programs help low-income people if they have the tools to evaluate these initiatives.

Ed Trust researchers examined 15 existing statewide programs and 16 proposed programs that are designed to cover the cost of tuition, are entirely state funded and don’t require students to pursue specific areas of study. They then asked each program to meet eight different criteria to determine if they helped students financially and were racially equitable.

Those criteria included if the program covered living costs for low-income students, fees and at least four years of college and tuition at four-year universities and colleges. They also examined whether the programs were offered to adult and returning students, students with a 2.0 grade point average and part-time students, and whether the program converted to a loan at any point.

“Public voters can ask more critical questions of these policies to ensure they’re pushing policy makers to design a more affordable college for themselves and low-income students,” Jones said.

Of the 15 existing programs Ed Trust examined, only one met seven of the eight criteria -- the College Bound Scholarship in Washington State. It failed in only one area -- the scholarship does not cover adult and returning students.

Ed Trust also examined the states that include income caps and found that they tend to have more diverse beneficiaries and more closely mirror the demography of their state, said Katie Berger, a senior policy analyst at Ed Trust.

For instance, Indiana’s 21st Century Scholars Program, which has an income cap, has a 15 percent black and 10 percent Hispanic participation rate. The state’s population is 10 percent black and 7 percent Hispanic.

But in states that don’t restrict their free college programs, low-income students were less likely to benefit. In Delaware's program, 82 percent of free college students were middle or upper income, compared to 18 percent who were low income or Pell Grant recipients.

Meanwhile, there are other groups that policy makers should be cognizant of such as adult and returning students, Berger said, adding that 40 percent of college students today are over age 25.

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New report encourages apprenticeships in nursing as pathway to B.S.N. degrees

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 07:00

Apprenticeships may be the most effective way to encourage more nurses to pursue bachelor’s degrees in nursing, according to a new report released today by New America.

The report examines a unique registered apprenticeship at Fairview Health Services of Minnesota that partners with universities to offer a different pathway for registered nurses to earn their bachelor’s degrees.

“There’s a really strong professional push” for the bachelor’s of science in nursing, said Ivy Love, a policy analyst at the Center on Education and Skills at New America and a co-author of the report. “Even within organizations that work with associate degree programs, ending up with a B.S.N. is something folks can get around.”

While there is still some debate over whether the associate or the bachelor’s degree should be the entry-level credential into the profession, the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academy of Sciences, formerly the Institute of Medicine, has proposed increasing the population of bachelor's-degreed nurses from 50 percent to 80 percent by 2020. In the U.S., registered nurses can have an associate degree, a bachelor’s or a diploma from an accredited hospital-based training program.

A registered apprenticeship in nursing may be a more affordable and flexible option for many nurses as opposed to the traditional registered nurse-to-B.S.N. pathway that universities traditionally offer, Love said.

“Going to school on top of a job that requires an enormous amount of mental, physical and emotional strength, and adding course work on top of that, is very difficult, and that’s not counting the cost of tuition,” she said. “With an apprenticeship, we’re hoping nurses can have a schedule that can incorporate classes toward a degree and on-the-job learning.”

Apprenticeships are increasingly being viewed as effective methods of helping people achieve their career goals. Earlier this year the U.S. Department of Labor released a report calling on higher education to embrace apprenticeships as adequate ways to prepare graduates for the work force.

At Fairview, which is Minnesota’s fourth-largest employer and the only academic medical center in the state, officials wanted to increase the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees as they pursue “magnet” status for the hospital. The status is a prestigious designation given to hospitals that exemplify the best practices in nursing leadership, patient care and education.

“In Minnesota, only half of the nurses who graduate with prelicensure have a bachelor’s degree or higher,” said Laura Beeth, vice president of talent acquisition at Fairview. The others have associate degrees, and they’re usually nontraditional students and people of color, she said.

“We want to keep our doors open to have this program be for all individuals by being able to continue to take associate-degree nurses we can hire,” she said. “We can help them finish that [bachelor’s] degree, and it’s our intention to mirror our patient population.”

Nurses in the apprenticeship program are eligible for the hospital’s tuition reimbursement program. They apply and enroll in a B.S.N. program through a university that is open to partnering with the hospital. The program has had about 130 nurses enroll, and so far about 10 have achieved their bachelor’s degrees, said Keisha Powell, work-force development operations manager at Fairview.

Beeth said the hospital worked with the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System, as well as some private institutions such as Rasmussen College, Bethel University and St. Catherine University.

“We found the universities to be very interested in this,” she said. “Industry is their main partner, and we need to find multiple ways to help people succeed. We still hire traditional nurses with B.S.N.s and still offer tuition reimbursement and scholarships, but the apprenticeship is there to bundle everything together.”

The Fairview apprenticeship is already getting attention elsewhere. Beeth said she’s been contacted by work-force and labor officials in Oregon about replicating the program, and she has attended White House summits about expanding apprenticeships to other medical fields.

The apprenticeship doesn't require Fairview nurses to stay employed at the hospitals where they apprenticed. However, if they accepted tuition reimbursement, they are required to work in the health system for a year, Beeth said.

“It’s an exciting time, because the apprenticeship model is expanding into fields where it wasn’t before,” Love said. “Even though registered apprenticeship is not common in nursing, the idea of integrating training on the job and fostering learning is very familiar.”

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Clemson University parade theme criticized for co-opting student movement

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/06/2018 - 07:00

The First Friday Parade marks the beginning of the academic year -- and football season -- at Clemson University. This year's parade theme, "The Stripes That Make a Tiger," was chosen to highlight Clemson's commitment to diversity and inclusion, but some students and former faculty say it conveys the opposite: that Clemson's commitment to diversity and inclusion is only superficial.

To the critics, Clemson is taking a theme used to promote minority activism and using it to suggest that all is well.

“The parade theme is not tethered to anything tangible that can be called ‘diversity’ or ‘inclusion’ other than the appearance of such,” A. D. Carson, a former graduate student at Clemson, wrote in a blog post. “It even undermines itself, as it is borrowed from previous students and alumni, unattributed, and claims ‘the Clemson family is not complete without the diverse experiences and contributions of students and alumni.’”

Khayla Williams, a senior computer science student at Clemson, was one of the students who sent emails to administrators to point out the similarities between the parade theme and "See the Stripes," the name of a poem by Carson, which later became the title of a student-led movement for institutional change that culminated in a nine-day sit-in two years ago.

Phillip Sikes, communications director for student affairs, told Williams in an email that he wasn't aware of the poem or the movement but that "it certainly seems as though this did influence this year’s parade theme." Another student reached out to Almeda Jacks, vice president for student affairs.

“Please know the the [sic] Central Spirit Committee (all students) came up with this theme embracing inclusive excellence on our campus as we celebrate diversity. I know for a fact the chair of that student organization and their advisor who joined us in January did not know or discuss with the committee the works of A. D. Carson,” Jacks wrote. “I also know the suggestion of the theme came from a person of color. The committee wanted to celebrate and embrace diversity and ‘The Stripes that Make a Tiger’ was selected by the student organization. I hope we can all do just that, celebrate our differences.”

Jacks is the same administrator who had five students -- dubbed the Clemson Five -- arrested during the 2016 sit-in at Sikes Hall, where the administrative offices are housed. Williams was one of those students. So was Carson, who is now a professor at the University of Virginia.

“Something about Clemson’s use of the language and concept behind the See the Stripes campaign in a self-congratulatory parade wasn’t sitting quite right,” Carson wrote. “It seems that the diversity they will be celebrating comes at the cost of erasing the ‘diverse experiences and contributions of’ the recent students and alumni from whom they have plagiarized their theme.”

For Williams, the lack of credit given to Carson and other students who advocate for greater diversity and inclusion rubbed her the wrong way.

"No one’s upset about the theme, no one’s upset about the fact that you want to do this. What we’re upset about is that you’re acting like you came up with the idea without giving credit to the people who have been putting in the work for years," she said.

The Central Spirit Committee, the student organization that came up with the theme, addressed the decision in a statement on Twitter.

“As students, we wanted to incorporate a theme that embodies a value important to our university and campus. While the connection to Dr. A. D. Carson’s ‘See the Stripes’ campaign was unintentional, this year’s parade theme exemplifies the good work he and others have done to raise awareness to the importance of inclusive excellence on our campus,” the committee wrote.

The university did not say which, if any, administrators signed off on the theme.

This isn't the first time Carson's work has been used for university marketing. When his dissertation, a 34-track rap album, went viral, the university issued a press release about his work, including the track "See the Stripes."

"Because of the format of the dissertation, it made a lot of news and … Clemson was more than willing to accept the praise of being the place where this happened, and the project speaks about these particular issues" of diversity and inclusion, Carson said. "It raises questions about knowledge production at universities, but when we get to the particular issue of what Clemson is doing, they don’t acknowledge that."

The sit-in outside Sikes Hall ended when university president James Clements responded to student demands with a series of action items to improve diversity and inclusion at Clemson, including promises to increase the underrepresented student population and to double the number of faculty of color by 2025. Recent federal data show that the Clemson student body is 83 percent white and the university employs few faculty of color. Clemson did not provide exact numbers, but the university noted that the number of African American faculty members has increased by 35 percent in the last five years. Data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that the total number of black/African American faculty at Clemson jumped from 36 to 48 between 2012 and 2016. Black/African American faculty make up about four percent of the total full-time instructional staff at Clemson.

At least four faculty members of color have left the university since Clements's 2016 promise. Chenjerai Kumanyika was among them; he is now a professor at Rutgers University. He noted that, like many colleges, Clemson seems to be more concerned with appearing diverse than making substantive changes to actually be more inclusive and diverse.

“Clemson was really concerned in branding themselves in a certain way, and using that branding to avoid more fundamental transformations,” he said. “Clemson has no problem putting black people on its brochures or its website.”

Joe Galbraith, associate vice president of strategic communications, did not say whether he or others had read Carson's blog post, but he issued the following statement in response to criticism about the university's approach to diversity and inclusion.

"Clemson continues to work every day to create an inclusive environment for students, faculty and staff, and dedicates significant resources to this work," Galbraith said in an email. "Clemson’s Division of Inclusion and Equity is dedicated to inclusive excellence, and has a number of programs established to advance Clemson as a leading university in inclusive excellence. Additionally, Clemson’s Council for Diversity and Inclusion, comprised of students, faculty, staff, and community leaders, carries out the goals and objectives outlined in the ClemsonForward strategic plan to embrace and promote an inclusive environment for higher learning."

Williams said that administrators scheduled a meeting on Sept. 17 to update students on the diversity and inclusion initiatives in place. She doesn't know what will be discussed but said that there have been few visible changes on campus in the last two years.

"I still walk into classrooms and have tenured professors telling me that I should just shut up and be grateful for the opportunity to be here," she said.

Both Carson and Kumanyika wish that universities, including Clemson, would work harder to make lasting, structural changes to improve diversity and inclusion and address racist histories.

“I get why politicians don’t want to do it, even though it's wrong there, or why businesses don’t want to do it, even though it's wrong there, but the university? It should be a leader,” Kumanyika said.

DiversityEditorial Tags: DiscriminationImage Caption: The First Friday Parade at Clemson (left) and a sit-in in 2016Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Clemson University

Roman Catholic colleges are rescinding honors to bishops involved in sex abuse scandal

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 07:00

The Pennsylvania grand jury investigation into sex abuse in the Roman Catholic church is damning: more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania were found to have abused children over a period of 70 years. The report identified 1,000 victims and noted that there were probably thousands more. The report also documented that many of these cases of abuse were known about for years by church authorities, who in many cases took little or no action.

In the wake of the report's release last month, Catholic colleges in Pennsylvania and across the country have responded. Many have rescinded honors -- degrees, medals and building names -- that recognized leaders of the church who sexually abused children or helped orchestrate a cover-up of the abuse.

Siena College in New York State was the first to act. The board unanimously decided on Aug. 8 to rescind an honorary degree from Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was found to have sexually abused minors and adults. Pope Francis accepted Cardinal McCarrick’s resignation on July 28 after the abuse allegations surfaced, two weeks before the grand jury’s report was released.

The University of Scranton rescinded honorary degrees from Scranton bishops Reverend Jerome Hannan and Reverend J. Carroll McCormick, now deceased, and Reverend James Timlin, who were all found to have assisted in hiding the abuse. The university will also rename campus buildings currently named for the bishops. McCormick Hall will be renamed MacKillop Hall in honor of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, an Australian nun who helped uncover sex abuse in the church. The name of Timlin House will be removed and the larger complex it's located in will be renamed Romero Plaza in honor of the late Oscar Romero, archbishop of San Salvador. Hannan Hall will be renamed Giblin-Kelly Hall after notable alumni Brendan Giblin and William Kelly Jr.

King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Catholic University and Marywood University have also taken action. King's College removed Bishop McCormick’s name from its campus ministry building and is in the process of rescinding the honorary degrees awarded to him and Bishop Timlin. Catholic University revoked an honorary degree given to Cardinal McCarrick in 2006. The Marywood University board voted to rescind an honorary doctorate and a presidential medal awarded to Bishop Timlin.

On Tuesday, Marquette University in Milwaukee announced that it would remove the name of the Reverend Robert Wild from the residence hall that was recently named for him. Wild wrote the university requesting the removal himself. "During my six years in office, accusations of sexual abuse of minors were lodged against three of our members. Looking back, I would have handled certain aspects of those cases rather differently than I did then," Father Wild wrote. "The restrictive measures I thought quite sufficient to restrain the behavior of one of those priests, for example, proved in practice to be insufficient to do so. I very much regret that and apologize especially to those victimized for my mistakes in that regard."

The Marquette Board of Trustees voted unanimously to honor Wild's request.

"We are in agreement with Father Wild that this is the right decision for both Marquette and survivors of clergy abuse," Michael Lovell, Marquette's president, wrote in a statement. "The residence hall, which includes Ray and Kay Eckstein Tower and Wells St. Hall, will be known as The Commons."

DeSales University and Misericordia University are still deciding how best to proceed. When the DeSales University board meets Sept. 13, it will discuss renaming the McShea Student Union and the Bishop Welsh Residence Hall, named for former Allentown bishops Joseph McShea and Thomas Welsh, who failed to remove Reverend Michael Lawrence even after he admitted to molesting a 12-year-old boy in 1982. Thomas Botzman, president of Misericordia, said in a statement that he is “recommending actions” to the board to address an honorary degree awarded to Bishop McCormick. Bishop McCormick’s name is also on a Misericordia science building.

Michael Galligan-Stierle, president and CEO of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, recommends that colleges take several steps to address the report's findings.

“When a report of this magnitude is released, every Catholic institution, including Catholic education, first needs to do a personal inventory of how well their school has established safeguards for all people,” he said. “The second response is, in the university’s past, has there been any egregious actions like the ones noted in this report? And the third one is, is there anything in the report that is connected to the university and the university needs to take direct action on?”

Acting quickly, he said, matters less than getting it right. He urged colleges to keep the well-being of the victims at the heart of their actions.

"There were people that we violated, and how do we help the people that were hurt the most, the victims? That needs to be the center point of any response," he said.

Most of the allegations against Cardinal McCarrick involved sexual abuse of children, but Seton Hall University hired an outside investigator to look into allegations against him involving seminarians from the Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology and the College Seminary at Saint Andrew’s Hall, which are part of Seton Hall. Cardinal McCarrick was accused of inviting young priests from the seminary to his beach house, where they were expected to share his bed. The cardinal, then archbishop of Newark, served on the Seton Hall Board of Trustees. He frequently visited the campus.

Even colleges without direct connections to the report are still involved in some way, Galligan-Stierle said. He encouraged colleges to share their resources with each other and the community to promote healing, and with the church to work to rectify the situation. The Reverend John Jenkins addressed the report during opening mass at the University of Notre Dame, where he is the president.

"The stories in that report and in other reports are appalling in themselves, but are made much more so because the offenders were priests, called to be examples and pastors to those they exploited," Reverend Jenkins said in his address. "Such stories are painful to all, but they are particularly searing to me and the other priests with me today, whose commitment can seem so tarnished, so soaked in filth, by those who so badly abused it."

John Petillo, president of Sacred Heart University, wrote a blog post about the need for greater accountability and transparency in the Catholic Church.

"Numerous news articles assert that the 'Uncle Ted' syndrome was well known to other bishops. Was it that easy to remain silent? Was it because the perpetrator was a peer? Since the Dallas Charter, many of these same bishops have glibly suspended priests without due process or with such process greatly delayed," Petillo wrote. "Was it so easy to hide behind a canonical curtain that only a pope can discipline a bishop? The lack of transparency is scandalous. How convenient that the American bishops never petitioned Rome for a method to enable them to develop a system of accountability for sexual and power abuse by one of their own until this past week."

Regardless of their response, Galligan-Stierle is glad Catholic colleges are addressing the issue.

“There isn’t a correct response,” Galligan-Stierle said. “The correct response is to be involved. How you’re involved is going to differ.”

Editorial Tags: Religious collegesCatholicismImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Responding to Abuse and Cover-UpsTrending order: 1College: Catholic University of AmericaDeSales UniversityKing's CollegeMarquette UniversityMarywood UniversityMisericordia UniversitySiena CollegeUniversity of Notre DameUniversity of Scranton

Brandeis grad students win significant gains in union contract, even as Trump administration has exerted influence on NLRB

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 07:00

Brandeis University’s graduate student workers reached a tentative contract with their administration, almost two years to the day after the National Labor Relations Board said graduate students at private institutions have the right to unionize.

The Brandeis agreement, if approved by union members later this month, will be the first contract for graduate students across the country whose union bids relied on that 2016 NLRB decision.

“We are pleased to report that after one year of hard work, the bargaining teams have reached tentative agreement on a collective bargaining agreement that will soon be put to a ratification vote of bargaining unit members,” Brandeis said in a statement.

The university offered no details about what the agreement entails, but the bargaining unit, which is affiliated with Service Employees International Union, has discussed some terms and even shared a copy of the contract on its website. It includes real gains.

The union said in a statement that the most pressing issue in organizing was student compensation. Students’ other concerns included being more respected and supported as teachers.

The three-year deal increases teaching assistants’ per-course pay by up to 56 percent over the period of the contract. Arts and sciences teaching assistants who now earn $3,200 per course will earn $3,720 by the contract’s end, for example. Teaching fellows, who teach their own courses, now earn $3,350 per course but can expect to earn $5,000 per course within three years.

The contract also guarantees graduate student workers access to the same on-campus professional development opportunities offered to faculty members, academic freedom, various workplace protections and a say in institutional decision making about issues that concern them via standing committees.

Caps on workloads also are included, to 14 hours per week for teaching fellows and 10 hours for TAs. Graduate students are now guaranteed access to teaching materials needed for a course, such a textbooks and supplies. Previously, some students reported having to buy their own.

Regarding benefits, the contract includes assurances of improved access to mental health care.

Dominick Knowles, graduate assistant in English, noted union support from undergraduates, calling the solidarity between graduate and undergraduate students “astounding.” 

Regarding the new contract, Knowles said in a statement that “all the people in my department can actually pay for heat. Our basic material conditions will improve, and that will improve our academic work and our ability to teach.”

Borrowing a phrase from adjunct faculty organizing campaigns, Kalee Hall, another graduate student in English, said that graduate students’ “teaching conditions are [undergraduates’] learning conditions. We want to be paid fairly for the jobs we do and the resources we need to do the job.”

 Noting that the new contract includes workplace dispute resolution mechanisms and related protections, Hall said, “We’re the ones who are on the ground and see the students each and every day. It’s important to be able to safely deal with conflicts in the workplace, both on behalf of our students and ourselves. This contract allows you to address conflict in the workplace without being retaliated against.”

Beyond Brandeis

Just a few contracts between graduate students and private institutions predate the 2016 NLRB decision, which pertained to student workers at Columbia University who wished to form a union affiliated with the United Auto Workers. And while some other administrations are currently bargaining with graduate students who have held successful union elections since 2016, things look increasingly bleak for pro-union students on other campuses -- including Columbia. That’s because a number of institutions have refused to bargain with their graduate students, and the Trump-era NLRB appears to be much less hospitable to graduate student unions than its 2016 iteration.

Historically, the board has gone back and forth as to whether graduate students who teach and assist with research are just students or are also employees with the right to engage in collective bargaining. And not wanting to risk another NLRB reversal on its current position, graduate students at Boston College, the University of Chicago and Yale University have withdrawn their union petitions and started public pressure campaigns for voluntary recognition.

Those seem to be a long shot, given the institutions’ stated opposition to graduate student unions. Georgetown University and Brown University already have agreed to contract negotiations outside NLRB channels, however.

American University, the New School and Tufts University are currently negotiating with their respective graduate student unions. Negotiations are scheduled at Harvard University.

In addition to Columbia, Loyola University of Chicago and the University of Chicago have refused to negotiate with unions following union elections.

Source: National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions

Signaling uncertainty about widespread support for a union, students at the University of Pennsylvania withdrew their union bid prior to any election, however, as did their counterparts at George Washington University. And petitions were withdrawn after elections at Cornell University, Duke University, Washington University in St. Louis and in the physics department at Yale University, which was engaged in a “microunit” strategy.

The NLRB’s 2016 decision also opened the door for undergraduate student employee unions. But a bid for a housing advisers’ union at Reed College was withdrawn following unit certification, and a bid for a similar union at George Washington University was withdrawn before any election.

New York University inked a contract with United Auto Workers-affiliated students in 2015, based on voluntary union recognition. The Communications Workers of America has an agreement with the State University of New York Research Foundation, a private entity that employs research assistants. Similarly, the Professional Staff Congress at the City University of New York has negotiated contracts for bargaining units that include graduate students at the CUNY Research Foundation, according to information from CUNY’s National Center for the Study of Collective Bargaining in Higher Education and the Professions at Hunter College.

Those agreements existed before the NLRB’s major 2016 decision that graduate students -- and, more sweepingly, all students -- at private institutions are in fact employees with the right to bargain collectively.

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Will politicians' latest try overhaul public higher ed governance in North Dakota?

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 07:00

North Dakota leaders are taking a hard look -- the second in five years -- at the constitutionally protected board governing the state’s 11 public colleges and universities, weighing possible structural changes ranging from minor tweaks to a massive overhaul.

Driven by the state’s disruption-minded Republican governor, Doug Burgum, they could recommend new boards be created to separately govern the state's research universities, four-year universities and community colleges. That would mean significant changes for North Dakota, where a State Board of Higher Education was created by constitutional amendment in the 1930s to protect members from political influence.

Burgum said a re-evaluation is necessary to make sure the state’s higher education system meets today’s needs.

“We’ve got these powerful economic forces that are being driven by rapid changes in technology,” said Burgum, an entrepreneur and former Microsoft executive who was elected governor in 2016, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed. “The digitization of every industry is occurring, and higher education in particular is not going to be immune to that. It’s also time to take a look and say, ‘Does a governance model that was built in 1939 give all the tools to our higher education system that it needs to allow them to be nimble and responsive in a time of rapid change?’”

North Dakota joins a lineup of states across the country that have re-examined their higher education governance structures of late. In some ways, discussions unfolding echo those that took place in states like Oregon and Wisconsin, where flagship universities bristling at what they saw as state-imposed constraints sought more autonomy -- or in Tennessee, where Governor Bill Haslam has championed efforts to break up or weaken statewide higher ed governance, most recently winning passage this year of a measure creating advisory boards for University of Tennessee campuses and reducing the size of the system's Board of Trustees. But advocates for centralization exist in North Dakota as well, and they can point to recent moves toward consolidation in states like Connecticut.

It remains too early to say what changes will ultimately be recommended in North Dakota, or whether a significant restructuring could realistically be put in place. Burgum kicked off the current discussion by creating a task force to examine possible changes, and some of that task force’s members seem to favor small adjustments over tearing up the existing model. Even if significant changes are recommended, any large-scale overhaul would have to go on the ballot and be approved by voters, who just four years ago rejected a measure to replace the current board structure with a three-member commission.

No matter what happens, Burgum represents a strong, unorthodox force pushing to change North Dakota’s higher education system. He has advocated for universities to be more market oriented and enterprising, speaking highly of Arizona State University’s model. And conversations with him can take unexpected turns.

The governor responded to a question about challenges facing North Dakota higher education by talking about large state industries such as energy and agriculture.

“Take carbon -- I mean, that’s in the news every day,” he said. “We have an opportunity there with our energy industry and our ag industry. Carbon’s been demonized, effectively, but it turns out plants love carbon. The whole soil health and food production is all based on the carbon cycle.”

That statement may raise eyebrows among climate scientists, who would point out that concern over carbon is based on the ways rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide could trap heat, drastically change global temperatures and create surface conditions that will stress animals and plants, regardless of whether they need some level of carbon to survive. Burgum went on to finish his point by saying carbon presented a research opportunity.

“Let’s figure out a way to get the carbon to the plants,” Burgum said. “You know the plants aren’t writing any editorials against carbon.”

Options on the Table

Colorful ideas aside, leaders in North Dakota are asking hard questions that apply to public universities across the country: What is the best way to build a governance structure that allows different types of colleges and universities to thrive in a quickly changing world with scarce resources? At what point is adaptability less about institutional structure and more about the people who are board members, university presidents, deans and professors?

“Is it the structure of the board that’s the problem, or is there some other problem we should solve in North Dakota?” asked Joan Heckaman, a Democratic state senator and retired teacher who is on the Task Force for Higher Education Governance. “I’m not sure our Board of Higher Education right now doesn’t have the power to do anything that we as a task force are concerned about.”

At a meeting in August, members of the higher education task force weighed a variety of options presented by a Washington, D.C.-based group, AGB Consulting. The task force narrowed the set of options to four, reported The Bismarck Tribune. The options will be considered at a meeting in late September.

The first option is keeping the current governance model of a single board over all of the state’s 11 public institutions -- its two research universities, four regional universities and five community colleges. The current board is made up of seven members appointed by the governor to four-year terms and one student appointed by the governor to a one-year term.

That first option could include minor changes like lengthening the terms of board members so they would be more politically insulated, changing the number of board members and possibly allowing the selection of board members who live out of state.

The second option still on the table is creating four boards -- one for each research university, one for the four-year universities and one for the two-year community colleges.

The third option is creating three boards -- one for each research university and one to oversee the other four-year and two-year institutions.

The final option is creating two boards -- one that would oversee the two research universities and another for the remaining four-year and two-year institutions.

Making any major changes to the governance structure would require a constitutional amendment. The task force would approve a recommendation, and the state Legislature would have to agree to put it on the ballot. Voters would then decide whether to change the Constitution. A majority of voters would have to approve of the change.

That won’t be easy, if history is any indication.

Voters have traditionally protected the State Board of Higher Education. It was formed about 80 years ago in the wake of controversy over political interference in what was then North Dakota Agricultural College, after an incident in which the college’s president and seven faculty members were fired. The year after their firings, in 1937, voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution creating the state board. North Dakota Agricultural College became North Dakota State University in 1960.

Since then, the board has changed the state’s higher education system but has itself remained largely unchanged. It created a single university system headed by a chancellor in 1990. In 1996, voters amended the state Constitution to shorten term lengths from seven years to four years.

In 2014, a lawmaker-backed ballot measure would have replaced the State Board of Higher Education with a commission made up of three paid, full-time members. The members would have been appointed by the governor to four-year terms and confirmed by the Senate.

The relationship between the board and Legislature had traditionally been tense, a state senator supporting the ballot measure, Tony Grindberg, said when the measure was on the ballot in 2014. Supporters at the time argued that the measure would make the system more efficient and modern.

“They’re not visionary leaders challenging the status quo,” Grindberg said of State Board of Higher Education members at the time. “Their environment just doesn’t foster that.”

The ballot measure proved controversial, with the Higher Learning Commission questioning how it would affect North Dakota colleges’ accreditation and the Association of Governing Boards urging residents to vote against it.

Voters rejected it three to one.

Still, controversies within the system in recent years continued to leave some politicians with a sour taste in their mouths. In 2013, then chancellor Hamid Shirvani’s management style prompted concerns. Shirvani maintained he had been brought in to enact reform, but the board ultimately bought out his contract.

More recently, the system’s current chancellor was accused by his former chief of staff of creating a hostile work environment, prompting board leaders to warn of collateral damage that could be done to innocent parties, the Grand Forks Herald reported in December.

A Challenging State

Beyond the interpersonal issues, North Dakota’s political, geographic and economic landscape presents challenges for public higher education. The state Legislature meets infrequently, only in odd numbered years. North Dakota is sparsely populated and rich in natural resources, leaving its economy and budget highly dependent on energy and agriculture. About half as many people live in North Dakota as reside in the Jacksonville, Fla., metropolitan area, yet North Dakota is about 5,000 square miles larger than the entire state of Florida.

As a result, a small number of public colleges and universities are left to serve residents in far-flung corners of North Dakota. The entire higher education system’s enrollment totaled about 44,000 this spring, across a state spanning nearly 71,000 square miles.

Work-force training remains a priority, as the North Dakota economy requires skilled craftspeople, agricultural workers and oil workers. So finding ways for different institutions to serve a variety of students has been a key point of emphasis. The North Dakota University System has invested heavily in making it easy for students to transfer credits. In some cases, two-year degree programs are offered at four-year colleges, and vice versa.

At the same time, forces push for more investment in the state’s research universities, both of which are on the eastern side of the state, far away from the oil fields to the west. Fear runs high about the prospect of losing top talent to larger, better-resourced university systems on the coasts. Pressure mounts to invest in research that could boost economic fortunes in the future.

So some members of Burgum’s Task Force for Higher Education Governance like the idea of a decentralized structure that would have board members focusing on the needs of specific institutions.

The state higher education system should be more responsive to market demand signals, said Katherine Mastel, a task force member who is a student at North Dakota State University.

“It’s hard when you have two research universities along with four-years and two-years in one basket,” said Mastel, a marketing major who last year served as the research university’s student body vice president.

Tensions have long existed between the state’s two research universities and its other nine higher education institutions, said another task force member, Mike Nathe. Nathe is a Republican state representative who formerly chaired the House’s education committee.

“There’s always been this rub between the two research universities and the other nine,” Nathe said. “We worked hard as a state to make this into one system where they have shared services and common course coding. If we go to a tiered system, that’s going to go away.”

From a lawmaker’s perspective, a lot of effort has gone into keeping state funding for universities uniform, Nathe said. Going to a tiered system could lead to unexpected changes in funding and other areas.

Nathe was leaning toward coming up with a different governance structure earlier in the task force process, he said. Now, he’s not so sure. He has reservations that will have to be discussed. Leaders within the system have also expressed concern, according to Nathe.

“I’ve had, since this came up, a couple of small-school presidents call me, and they’re not very happy,” he said. “They like the current system. They feel the system has learned from its mistakes in the last 10 years and is becoming more responsive.”

Certain governance structures could increase competition between the state’s colleges and universities, the chancellor for the North Dakota University system, Mark Hagerott, has warned. He emphasizes that a unified system of governance brings benefits like limiting redundancy in staffing.

In theory, costs go up if each tier of institution gains its own board. Coordination could become harder. Having one coordinating board can make it easier to balance different priorities while keeping the different institutions, types of institution and geographic regions from splintering along their own interests.

Hagerott still thinks it is an important moment to take stock of the system and its governance structure.

“I can clearly see the need for some improvements,” Hagerott said. “For a state our size to have to go into multiple boards, I could see some real challenges to that. But again, I respect the work of the task force, and we’ll hear what their thoughts are.”

North Dakota is far from the only state examining its governance structure. West Virginia governor Jim Justice created a blue-ribbon commission to examine higher education, a process that has been highly contentious as leaders at the state’s regional universities fear a power grab by the flagship West Virginia University. Connecticut has been struggling to find a way to consolidate its 12 community colleges into a single system. Wisconsin has also pursued merger plans.

But each state’s situation is unique, said Robert E. Anderson, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers association. When re-examining governance structures, political and cultural histories need to be considered, he said. Sometimes structures are criticized for being too big, too unwieldy or too old and rigid. Other times they draw fire for redundancy.

Ultimately, the discussions boil down to finding a way to make the most productive use of limited resources, Anderson said.

“One thing that’s important to consider is that the buck has to stop with someone who is responsible for enacting a state strategy or plan,” Anderson said. “You have to have an individual or office that has the authority to carry that plan out.”

Anderson has served in public higher education administrative roles in Tennessee, West Virginia and Georgia. He’s grown to appreciate different governance structures in different contexts. One board at the state level can put policy changes into place very swiftly. Locally based structures require more buy-in from more people, but when parties do rally around a policy, they bring deep understanding and institutional support that can be important.

As for North Dakota, Anderson gave the state credit for a process that appears transparent.

“I think it’s important for all stakeholders to understand the process,” he said. “The fact that they’re being presented the various models to debate and discuss, I think, is a very healthy way to go about this.”

Editorial Tags: State policyNorth DakotaImage Source: By Bobak Ha'Eri [CC BY 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], from Wikimedia CommonsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: North Dakota State University-Main Campus

A Q&A on the uncertain future of accreditation

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/05/2018 - 07:00

Accreditors provide the stamp of approval for colleges and universities in the U.S. Without their recognition, those institutions can't keep access to federal student aid. So even though accreditors are essentially membership organizations that operate with limited transparency, they are a key part of the "triad" of higher ed regulators, along with states and the federal government.

Traditionally, they've focused on questions of academic quality at colleges. But in recent years with the cost of college and growing student loan debt increasing concerns, they've come under pressure from critics, including federal lawmakers, who say they should do more to hold the poorest-performing institutions accountable.

That thinking led the Obama administration to take the unprecedented step of pulling federal recognition from the accreditor that oversaw the now defunct for-profit chains Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech. And while the Trump administration has signaled a more sympathetic attitude toward accreditors, consumer advocates and some lawmakers continue to demand they better fulfill their watchdog role. Recently, that's included new pressure to scrutinize proposals from for-profit colleges to reclassify as nonprofits.

Accreditation on the Edge: Challenging Quality Assurance in Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press), a new book of essays co-edited by Susan Phillips, a professor of educational leadership and policy and of counseling psychology at the University at Albany, and Kevin Kinser, the head of education policy studies at Pennsylvania State University, explores the new pressures on accreditors and what role they should be expected to play in holding colleges accountable. Phillips and Kinser answered questions via email about how issues involving accreditation have come to the forefront of higher ed.

Q: You write that the role of accreditors in higher ed has been debated for close to a century. What’s new about the latest controversies over the role of these organizations and how is the conversation being shaped by concerns over student loan debt and job outcomes for college graduates?

A: Yes, debates about accreditation are perennial. But in the past concerns about accreditation were mostly “inside baseball” -- conversations about obscure points comprehensible only those immersed in the weeds of accreditation policy. Now, however, we see accreditation wrapped up in a perfect storm of issues that go to the heart of the higher education enterprise, starting with the emergence of new providers and alternative delivery mechanisms, adding in the recent scandals in the for-profit sector and the increasing focus on consumer protection for students. Long-term trends in higher education finance also play a part, with a reduction in public subsidies and increase in student debt transferring more responsibility and risk to students.

Taken together, this perfect storm of issues places accreditation on the front burner unlike any time since it first took on a major public policy role after World War II. There are now issues on the table that everyone can relate to. And they raise questions from stakeholders ranging from students to parents to lawmakers. How much higher ed do we want to pay for? Is it a good investment? Will graduates get good jobs? Will taxpayer dollars be safe? Is accreditation working as a guarantor of quality? Can it identify bad actors and take action against them? Does it have too much authority, or not enough?

Q: How have accreditors traditionally pushed for improvement at colleges and how has that work changed in response to demands for a bigger focus on student outcomes?

A: As you know, improvement has long been a sine qua non goal of accreditation -- institutions strive to do better, and the self-study and peer-review process helps them do that. And, over the last two decades, there has been an significant push for institutions to assess (and improve) student learning outcomes. Now, however, the outcomes that are under discussion are less about student learning, per se. Now, they are more about things like graduation and default rates, or postgraduation employment, and are applied in an evaluative and punitive manner. Poorer outcomes are now seen more as a sign of failure than as a baseline from which the institution should improve. In responding to these kinds of outcome accountability metrics, accreditors vary considerably: some point out that they have already been using such postgraduation indicators for years, while others try to place performance on those metrics in the larger context of what they know about a given institution, and yet others -- the regionals, in particular -- have begun to systematically study what level and combination of those metrics should serve as a trigger for closer review.

Q: Many accreditors have complained about new responsibilities being foisted upon them that are not part of their core mission. The Trump administration appears to agree with many of those complaints. If accreditors are not the right entities to handle that oversight of colleges, who is?

A: There are many points made in the book that echo these concerns and questions! The system of oversight of U.S. higher education has traditionally been framed as threefold, referred to as the “triad.” In the triad -- at least in theory -- the federal government watches over issues of financial support and access, the states attend to matters of consumer protection, and accreditors guard the educational quality. This three-legged stool, however turns out to be quite wobbly, with the federal leg requiring accreditation agencies to handle an increasing number of responsibilities and -- given that states vary widely in their interest and capacity -- accreditors are also pressured to pick up many consumer protection functions as well.

Although this has made for a larger (some would say too large) role for accreditors, we offer a paraphrase of Churchill: U.S. accreditation as it exists now is the worst form of oversight in higher education, except for anything else we have come up with. But if not this, then what? It would take a massive government bureaucracy to do what accreditation does now. As [Education Secretary Betsy] DeVos takes on this challenge, she seems to be echoing one theme from our book: accreditation has taken on many responsibilities that may not make sense. The question, however, that we need to consider is the extent of our willingness to take the risks that go with reducing oversight -- and the recognition that the students are ultimately the ones who face the consequences of that risk taking.

Q: The Obama administration in 2016 withdrew federal recognition from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools after the collapse of Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech. But DeVos is considering right now whether to reinstate ACICS. How has the fight over the survival of that accreditor reflected the broader debate discussed in this collection?

A: The fight over the fate of ACICS has many faces: its survival can be seen as a victory -- or at least a vote of confidence -- in the for-profit sector, or, alternately, as an appropriate retraction of a governmental overreach, and a movement toward a time of fewer regulations that many institutions and accreditors seek. In turn, the demise of ACICS can be seen as a triumph of consumer protection interests, or as a blow to the opportunities of the numerous students served in the career pursuits of the institutions overseen by ACICS. And, further, there are likely larger political issues, including prioritizing deregulation across the federal government, that have little to do with the role of accreditation in higher education. These many faces are very much reflected in the diverse -- and often disagreeing -- perspectives that we sought to bring together in our book. The fate of ACICS is a great example of an issue that might seem self-evident from one perspective, and yet have many other possible interpretations and unforeseen consequences that would be best considered before making what might seem a simple decision.

Q: DeVos wants to rethink the role of accreditors through an upcoming negotiated rule-making process. The various contributors to this collection illustrate many starkly different positions from many corners of higher ed. How do you expect that rule-making process to shape the demands on these organizations?

A: Well, we’d be hesitant to make any kind of solid prediction about what will certainly be a complex and political process! That said, in our analysis of the many different legitimate perspectives, we identified five critical issues that are important to consider in any discussion of accreditation reform. The first is that simple solutions are very tough to imagine as workable reforms. Indeed, we liken this to a game of Jenga -- in which players take turns removing one block at a time from a tall tower. The tower quickly, and inevitably, becomes unstable as individual blocks are removed and replaced.

The second issue is that defining “quality” is not so easy. Reaching agreement about what counts as quality, and how one measures it will be an inherently problematic element of reform. Third, accreditation serves many masters with different goals, resulting in multiple and often contradictory missions. Although quality improvement, quality assurance and consumer protection might seem like similar missions, the reform process will need to navigate a path through very different sets of stakeholders, methods and goals.

Fourth, in an age of information, it is easy to assert that more is better. However, while data can be useful and transparency can be valuable, there are also real questions about the accuracy, relevance and use of information generated from the accreditation process.

Finally, finding the right place for innovation in higher education is essential, but [one] must consider a process that recognizes that new is not always better. Further, while innovation is a logical outcome of an improvement mission, a greater speed of change will inevitably call for tolerance for a greater risk of failure.

Q: This administration is clearly more open to the concerns of accreditors. But what do they risk in the future if they don’t take steps now to placate their biggest critics?

A: It would probably be smart to view the administration’s sympathy with the concerns of accreditors as being a reflection of its commitment to deregulation. Indeed, moving toward less regulation would seem like common ground for the administration, accreditors, institutions and policy makers, where the weight and intrusion of the regulatory hand in the affairs of higher education is a significant criticism. Further, there are many points where those thinking about deregulation in accreditation need to take a close look and ask, “Does this make sense?” Much of what accreditation is being asked to do in the name of Title IV access may not stand up under that scrutiny.

That said, like most issues raised in our book, there are more facets to the puzzle: in this case, one also needs to consider that less regulation invariably means taking on greater risk, and in the case of quality in higher education, the student is where that risk most likely falls. This, in turn, leads us back to another quarter of criticism about accreditors -- that they are not sufficiently protective of consumers. With the triple expectation that accreditors assure compliance, prompt improvement and protect consumers, a shift in one area (say, regulatory compliance) likely just increases the expectations in another (say, consumer protection). The challenge, really, is to figure out ways to be responsive to each of those three expectations.

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