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Higher Education News
The visual arts involve sometimes-painful critiques of student work. But the University of Central Florida has warned a well-known professor that he crossed the line into harassment with some salty comments allegedly directed at a female student in an advanced painting class.
“You should just paint a vagina on it, it would be much better,” Walter Gaudnek, the professor, is accused of telling an undergraduate last semester. “You can’t paint the Virgin Mary like this, she would be fucking pissed,” he added, according to a letter of instruction placed in his personnel file and provided to Inside Higher Ed via an open-records request. News of the letter was originally reported by The Orlando Sentinel.
The unnamed student in question filed a complaint against Gaudnek with the university’s IntegrityLine reporting service in October, saying that the professor had been unprofessional and offensive. Public documents provide little additional context, such as what, exactly, the student was painting. Gaudnek, 85, is a pop artist who often deals with religious imagery.
The student also reported that Gaudnek was a “horrible teacher who yells at his student’s [sic] and discourages everyone from making the work they want to make. I’ve been [at the university] for almost two years and I’ve never had a teacher curse directly at me.”
The report triggered an investigation into Gaudnek’s teaching, which included interviews with students. According to the letter of reprimand, their reviews were mixed, with some reporting similar experiences and one report of “veiled retaliation or threat.” A review of Gaudnek’s annual evaluations suggests his classroom demeanor “could use improvement,” it adds.
On the flip side, student witnesses praised Gaudnek’s teaching methods and course content. The letter ultimately reminds Gaudnek that he must interact with students without belittling them and without directing profanities or other aggressive language at them.
To be “absolutely clear,” the letter says, “academic freedom does not involve using offensive language to evaluate or critique students’ work. … It is imperative that profanity used by you for the purposes of instruction be contained" only to relevant topics -- in this case, certain kinds of pop art.
Gaudnek, who did not respond to a request for comment, argued to administrators that he uses profanity to discuss pop art, according to the letter. He did not admit to disparaging the student as she alleged, but said repeatedly that academic freedom afforded him the right to say what he wanted in class. He reportedly agreed to put a disclaimer on his syllabi saying some classes would involve strong language out of necessity.
No further action is planned against Gaudnek, who has been teaching at Central Florida since 1970. The Czech-born professor has had a long career as both an artist and teacher, and has his own museum in Europe. According to his faculty bio, he “bases his teaching philosophy with accent on the individual.”
It’s My Class, and I’ll Say What I Want To
Some professors will agree that they may say what they wish in class. But the American Association of University Professors, which promotes academic freedom, says otherwise.
“We don’t hold the position that academic freedom provides for unlimited rights to say whatever one wants in class,” said Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary of academic freedom, tenure and governance at AAUP. The association's Statement on Professional Ethics, for example, says professors should not harass their students.
AAUP also maintains that inquiries into an instructor’s professionalism -- such as whether one’s speech constitutes harassment -- should be led by faculty peers. But it considers a letter of reprimand to be a minor sanction, which may be imposed without a prior hearing before faculty peers -- so long as the professor can appeal it.
Tiede said Gaudnek’s case in some ways recalled that of Teresa Buchanan at Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, who was dismissed -- despite having tenure -- for repeatedly using the word “fuck” in her classes. In that case, due to the severe sanction imposed, AAUP wrote to LSU that it had distanced itself “from the mainstream of our secular research universities by dismissing a professor for misconduct simply for having used language that is not only run-of-the-mill these days for much of the academic community but is also protected conduct under principles of academic freedom.”
Buchanan taught education, which arguably heightens her responsibility to model appropriate classroom behavior. Does art, to which emotion and individualism are central, differ? Tiede again pointed to the need for peer review.
As for AAUP, he said, “We would certainly not subscribe to the [administration’s statement] that faculty members may not use 'offensive language' to evaluate a student's work. We do subscribe to the position that a faculty member may not harass a student when evaluating their work, or anywhere else, for that matter.”
Morgan T. Paine, associate professor of art at Florida Gulf Coast University and a member of the College Art Association’s Education Committee, said art tends to defy strict professional guidelines; association standards for the bachelor’s degree in studio art say that assessment is “inherent” to the discipline, but otherwise defer to institutional policies and curricula. Similarly, Paine said that any artist who is part of an academic community -- namely Gaudnek -- is “able to pursue and profess his sense of truth within the context” of his discipline and institution.
Paine’s own experience is that art is “a low-coherency field in which experts routinely disagree about even foundational principles,” he said, and in which judgments of individual faculty members “vary widely, and pedagogical tactics are almost always situational.”
As for critique, he said, a subset of art professors believe a session “in which no one cries is a failure,” and “that personal, wrenching, disorienting criticism is a legitimate way to engage a student’s core beliefs and accelerate the change process that is central to any educational experience.” On the other hand, he added, “not all art faculty think that personality destruction, and the belittling of student’s core values -- even when they are apparently without merit in the faculty’s view -- is educationally constructive.”
Of Gaudnek in particular, Paine said that if “using crude language does not disqualify you from being president, then it likely ought not to be an impediment for being empowered to conduct a critique for upper-level university painting students. His word choices would not be my first choice of language when critiquing student work, but it is language that reflects a specific, albeit harsh, point of view, within the context of a particular situation.”
For Mark Van Proyen, an art critic and associate professor of painting at San Francisco Art Institute, it all comes down to context — largely absent from the public record of Gaudnek’s case — since “one person’s loquacity could be another person's hate speech.”
“If the language was pointed at work that the student had presented in fulfillment of some assignment, it should be protected by the code of academic freedom,” he said in an email, “but if the colorful language was a disparagement of the student, another standard comes into play.”
Van Proyen said one red line would be language that violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibit gender-based discrimination in education. Falling short of that standard, though, he continued, “it seems that the right of a professor to indulge in colorful speech should go in greater authority” than the “needs of oversensitive students [who] want to wax censorious over points of propriety that do not belong in an environment where honest inquiry is to be prized.”
Clara Lieu, a visual artist and adjunct professor at the Rhode Island School of Design who blogs about art school, said that even after teaching studio art for over a decade, “I still find art critiques to be endlessly challenging for both teachers and students. There are infinite directions an art critique can potentially take, and the public format of a group art critique creates pressure that can be inherently nerve-racking for many students. The tone and direction of an art critique can vary tremendously depending on the specific teacher, the group of students and the artwork being discussed.”
Lieu said she’s had group critiques at RISD “that played out like a Victorian drama, critiques where students burst into tears, and others where the entire class was laughing so hard our stomachs hurt,” for example.
Regardless of the topic at hand, though, “it's critical that mutual respect between everyone in the discussion is always maintained. I do believe that it is possible to give a tough critique on a student's artwork, but also to be respectful toward the student in terms of how that critique is delivered,” she said. That doesn't mean suppressing one's professional opinions to "coddle" students, or otherwise sacrificing one's academic freedom, but rather investing effort "toward fostering an appropriate, respectful atmosphere in a group critique.”Academic FreedomEditorial Tags: Academic freedomArtsImage Source: MySpaceImage Caption: Walter GaudnekIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Amid a heated political climate that has bled onto college campuses nationwide, students at Davidson College, a private liberal arts institution in North Carolina, have demanded easier access to the governing board there.
A digital petition circulating campus since March 31 from a new Davidson student group unaffiliated with the college calls for an amendment to the Board of Trustees’ bylaws that would require at least 20 percent of the board membership to attend twice-annual town halls open to all students.
Such a request comes at a time when, more and more frequently, students are rejecting the notion that their contact person is perhaps a professor or college dean, and have instead sought direct contact with presidents and trustees.
Students have stipulated that the town halls occur on campus within a week of the trustee meetings and be advertised at least one week before they’re scheduled. Public college and university boards generally meet in the open and often dedicate time for attendees to make remarks. Many boards of private colleges maintain no such requirement or practice of meeting publicly.
After trustee meetings, the board should publish a report of its actions, the petition states, with a caveat that confidential information can be redacted at the chairman’s discretion.
Between 30 and 45 people sit on Davidson’s board.
Following the election of President Trump, some students on campus were scared, representatives from the group Ortaculture said in a phone interview.
Minority students feared the new administration’s policies that would restrict their rights, the students said. Protests in Charlotte, proximate to the college, spawned by a police officer’s fatal shooting of Keith Lamont Scott in September 2016 “burst the bubble” of Davidson, said Evans Schmedtje, a junior and a member of Ortaculture. A coalition called Charlotte Uprising emerged from those protests.
Given the election results and the protests, a network of students, primarily drawn from the existing minority student organizations, formed Ortaculture. Those involved with the group deliberately avoided chartering with the university -- and subsequently taking its money -- because organizers wanted to ensure independence and lobby the leadership without any ties.
The group name derives from the Latin word “orta,” or “arisen,” which the students translated into “Rising Culture.”
Though the group of 40 or so students has held lectures on hot-button topics like police brutality, the petition has served as its first major campaign. Access to information and board decisions is an appropriate first step to allow the students to plan around policy the board sets, Schmedtje said.
Student government at the college is “disempowered,” said Santiago Navia, a senior involved with Ortaculture. The president of the Student Government Association may attend trustee meetings and speak but cannot vote.
Last week, when the board convened, students with the group gathered outside the building where the trustees met, with signs saying, “Sign our petition,” and one that simply asked, “Let’s get coffee.”
Davidson spokesman Mark Johnson said via email that trustees are “eager” to speak with students and a request to talk with them at their last meeting likely would have been accommodated. Students enjoy extensive access to the trustees, Johnson said. He pointed out the position of the student government president, and that students participate in committees the board has set up that focus in various aspects of university life. Some students also participate in a “social function” with the board when it meets, like a two-hour lunch for the board’s April meeting.
Johnson did not make Davidson President Carol Quillen, who was due to meet with Ortaculture students Wednesday, available for an interview.
Richard Legon, president of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, called the petition at Davidson an “exaggerated request.” He questioned whether the bylaws of the board were even the proper place to include the students’ stipulations.
“I’m sure the students are passionate about the issues they’re representing, but to overregulate the response could have a reverse impact,” Legon said. “I’m sure if I’m right about Davidson and its leadership that they’re doing as good a job as they can in reaching out and engaging students in multiple ways.”
Legon acknowledged that since the election, a sense of agitation has grown on college campuses, one that is not unhealthy, because it can create dialogue among students. However, they need to learn how to best engage with existing systems of communication with leadership, he said.
In a statement Tuesday regarding the Davidson petition, Armand Alacbay, vice president of trustee and legislative affairs at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, said that governing boards should “be receptive to all, but be beholden to none.”
“It’s critical for trustees to be knowledgeable about campus life, accept faculty and administrator invitations to attend campus events, and thoroughly understand the institution’s unique character, resources and needs -- but ultimately, they represent the interests of all, not just one constituent group,” the statement said.
“As fiduciaries of the public trust, trustees rightly demand accountability of their institutions, and likewise, students and the public should expect the same level of accountability from governing boards. Above all else, boards must exercise independent oversight to protect the institution’s financial and academic integrity and, therefore, should use their own discretion as they build structures for communicating with students, faculty and others on campus. Reflexively responding to the demands of any one group without taking a comprehensive view of the institution’s needs would be a failure of board leadership.”
Thus far, the students have collected almost 200 signatures on their petition, nearly enough to bring the measure to a full referendum for a student body vote.
They will deliver the petition to the student government, which will confirm the validity of the signatures. If a majority of the student body votes yes on the proposal, it will be added to the board’s agenda for consideration.
Davidson started out as an all-men’s liberal arts college and has maintained a small, rural feel, though as the city of Charlotte expands, so does its influence on the campus.
“Part of the issue we’re having now is almost all old white men are making the decisions … it’s a deeply undemocratic process,” Schmedtje said. “Their experience from 30, 40, 50 years ago isn’t the same, and the institution has changed drastically.”
All colleges, both private and public, have grappled with the problem of board diversity, and are “leaning into it,” Legon said.
Finding willing volunteers for a board, who are both diverse and with a connection to the institution, can be difficult, he said.
A similar movement to Davidson's has sprung up at Salem College, where students have rallied for the Board of Trustees to undergo mandatory diversity training. They’re seeking yearly meetings with the board there, and two student representatives on the board who are allowed to vote.Editorial Tags: College administrationTrustees/regentsImage Source: Photo by Sacha FranksImage Caption: Davidson students push for more access to college's board.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
The City University of New York and State University of New York systems are preparing for the conversation about college affordability to shift to the cost of textbooks as the state rolls out its free-tuition plan.
Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators announced Saturday they had reached a deal that will make tuition free at CUNY and SUNY. Known as the Excelsior Scholarship, the program could help as many as 940,000 families afford higher education, according to one estimate.
As the state prepares to launch the program this fall, administrators at the two university systems are planning for an influx of low-income students for whom the add-on costs of higher education -- such as textbooks -- represent a significant barrier to enrolling.
“Tuition may be free, but the rest of college still isn’t,” said Carey Hatch, associate provost for academic technologies and information services at SUNY.
The deal also contains some funding to address that issue: $8 million, to be split by the two systems. According to the announcement, the money will be used to “provide open educational resources, including ebooks, to students at SUNY and CUNY colleges to help defray the prohibitive cost of textbooks.”
At SUNY, administrators are still “trying to get our heads around” the impact $4 million could have on reducing the number of students who are unable to afford textbooks, Hatch said.
“This isn’t a nice one-off innovation,” Hatch said. “This is something that can be incredibly impactful for our students. If you can save students $700 a semester, that’s a month’s rent.”
New York is one of many states that are targeting textbook costs as part of a larger effort to bring down the cost of higher education. Early experiments with OER often began with a single professor testing alternatives to commercial textbooks in a single class, but the last few years have seen an increase in OER initiatives at the state or university system level.
At the moment, Hatch said, the system hopes to eliminate textbook costs for 100,000 student enrollments, and plans to distribute funding to campuses that want to use OER in courses where they will benefit the greatest number of students -- large introductory general-education courses, for example.
“My assumption is we’re not just going to distribute the money out to the individual campuses,” Hatch said. “We will be very targeted, and we will work with the campuses that are really willing to help drive it to scale.”
Some of the funding may find its way to SUNY OER Services, a membership organization that works with campuses in the system as they grow the use of OER. SUNY OER Services originally launched as Open SUNY Textbooks, a publishing initiative, which has relied on a series of grants to publish 20 free textbooks. The last two titles are expected to be released before the end of the semester.
In an effort to become financially self-sustaining, Open SUNY Textbooks last year said it would focus on services. Alexis Clifton, executive director of SUNY OER Services, said the funds in the budget deal earmarked for OER will accelerate that shift.
“With this new, wonderful infusion of funds, our primary goal is going to be less on the creation of brand-new materials whole cloth and more in partnering faculty and campuses with resources that already exist and are well-defined, peer reviewed and in good shape to serve the needs of this incoming population of students,” Clifton said in an interview.
SUNY OER Services doesn’t have any paying members yet, but the organization works with about a dozen campuses in the system, including five community colleges that have received grants from Achieving the Dream to build zero-textbook-cost degree programs.
“Textbook prices are another significant barrier to entry for many college students, and textbook prices off the shelf can be one-third to half of tuition, especially at community colleges,” Clifton said. “This specific attention and funding for OER means that the state’s really making a concerted effort to acknowledge that this is a barrier, and maybe not one that students are aware of when they first enroll.”
CUNY promotes open educational resources in a number of different ways, including grant programs and the repository CUNY Academic Works, where faculty members can deposit materials for their colleagues across the system to find.
With its $4 million, CUNY plans to expand an existing grant program to create up to 300 zero-textbook-cost courses or convert existing courses that use commercial textbooks. The system is looking for colleges that can commit to creating five, 15 or even 25 such courses, and five sections of each course, said Greg Gosselin, interim university dean of libraries and information systems.
The one-time grants to colleges that volunteer to participate will include stipends for course development and faculty training, money for technical support and funds for participating libraries, Gosselin said.
Since the money must be spent in the next fiscal year and the prospects of future funding are unclear, “We need to get a lot of bang for the buck, and we need to make a serious impact,” Gosselin.
Administrators at both university systems said they plan to work more closely together to maximize the impact of the funding. The two systems have been in constant contact since news of the budget deal broke last week, Ann Fielder, open education librarian at CUNY, said in an interview. So far, discussions have ranged from creating a shared catalog of OER courses to finding ways to support each other’s campuses.
“It’s a mean amount of money,” Fiddler said, adding that the funding has the potential to create millions of dollars in savings for students. “The potential is just enormous.”Courseware/Digital PublishingEditorial Tags: TextbooksIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
New presidents or provosts: Bristol Cincinnati Des Moines Hartford Lawrence Merced Nevada State Norco Sacramento
A white nationalist group that initially claimed affiliation with Auburn University has prompted condemnation from officials there.
The controversy surrounding the Auburn White Student Union represents the continued rise of white supremacist activities on university campuses, intensified by the contemporary political landscape.
Per its website, the group subscribes to the “alt-right” movement -- a right-wing following that often espouses white supremacist and racist views. Initially the site was emblazoned with an eagle and the moniker “Whites of the Alt-Right Educating Auburn Gentiles for Liberation and Empowerment,” or WAR EAGLE, a reference to the university’s motto. Since, the logo has been removed and replaced with a disclaimer that the group isn’t associated with Auburn.
The group is shrouded in digital anonymity. No contact information appears on its website, and the organization that registered the website domain is listed as “c/o RespectMyPrivacy LLC.”
A recent report from the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors racism and bigotry nationwide, revealed that even with the upswing of white nationalist activity at colleges and universities, most of it comes from groups with no campus ties. At Auburn, there is only the suggestion it's run by students, and it's unclear if students have been recruited to the group.
The league found 107 incidents of white supremacist activity at colleges and universities as of March 6, when it released the report. Largely, these involved white supremacist promotional materials, like posters or leaflets, being dispensed on campuses.
News reports have linked the group with the recent emergence of anti-Semitic flyers on the Alabama campus. These materials spurred social media outrage, and the university Twitter account spent part of Tuesday sending the same statement to people: “This group isn't an Auburn student org, and we find the views expressed in their materials reprehensible and unrepresentative of the university.”
Not everyone felt satisfied by the university's response.
"That's nice and all, but what actions are being taken? Can we do something about them using our name like this?" one user tweeted back.
On the group website, it asserts that “far-left” movements like Black Lives Matter have targeted conservatives.
“Black-white integration has failed miserably, and our country becomes ever more divided the more nonwhites it has. White people are hungry for a group that will give them real, organic community, based on kinship, sincerity (rather than self-censorship and political correctness), and commonality. They’re fed up with the false idols of consumerism and sports teams as a substitute for real community. They never cared about abstractions that were foisted on them, like ‘tolerance,’” the website reads.
The group goes on to describe the election of President Trump as a victory that has energized the white conservative base.
Three “classes” of membership are detailed on the website. During a trial period, a group hopeful would study "white history," psychology and the current political “reality.” A full membership grants access to the group’s “inner sanctum.”
“Members who wish to remain anonymous may choose to meet only with other full members. While we forbid all illegal and criminal activity, anonymity is important if an anti-white employer would fire you for advocating for your race,” the website states.
An auxiliary membership is available for “allies” who may not fully agree with the group but empathize with its cause.
Only people of white ancestry are admitted, though the website states that those with “small amounts” of nonwhite ancestry will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The firestorm at Auburn won’t likely die down any time soon, as Richard Spencer, an infamous white supremacist who is frequently called a neo-Nazi, is slated to speak on campus Tuesday, he confirmed on Twitter. He will discuss Trump, Syria and the alt-right, he said, adding that his talk will likely be "wild."
Auburn released a statement Wednesday about Spencer’s lecture: “We strongly deplore his views, which run counter to those of this institution. While his event isn’t affiliated with the university, Auburn supports the constitutional right to free speech. We encourage the campus community to respond to speech they find objectionable with their own views in civil discourse and to do so with respect and inclusion.”DiversityEditorial Tags: RaceIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
New York’s freshly signed free public tuition program puts the squeeze on many of the state’s weakest private colleges and universities.
Private college presidents know it. But most aren’t yet sure what to do about it.
Those presidents reacted with a mix of dismay, confusion, criticism and, in some cases, resolve in the days after New York leaders struck a deal to start a tuition-free public college program this fall. The creation of a program in New York caps a winding and unexpected path for the free-college idea, which New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed early this year after it appeared to have died with Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid. Cuomo held a ceremonial bill signing for the program Wednesday, which Clinton attended.
The program, called the Excelsior Scholarship, will allow New York residents from families earning up to $125,000 per year to attend the state’s public community colleges and four-year colleges without paying tuition. It will go into effect this fall for students who are newly enrolling at institutions in the State University of New York and City University of New York systems and who come from families with incomes of up to $100,000 per year. The income limit will jump to $110,000 in fall 2018 and $125,000 in 2019. Cuomo’s office estimates that about 940,000 families in the state will be eligible at that point.
The program poses a significant challenge for New York’s many small private institutions, which suddenly find themselves facing a new kind of competition and increasing inter-sector warfare in the state. The pressure will be highest on tuition-dependent colleges and universities that already compete for students in part by heavily discounting their tuition and that draw most of their students from inside the state. More prestigious colleges and universities, which pull in more students from out of state and are more selective in their admissions, are less likely to feel a major pinch.
But experts warned that all private institutions in New York should take this moment to evaluate their strategies for the future. Some will have to find ways to keep the doors open in a suddenly more competitive landscape, and all should be aware of where they stand in a market that has suddenly been upended.
“I think the only outcome that’s certain from this initiative is that it has thrown the marketplace into confusion,” said Charles L. Flynn Jr., president of the College of Mount Saint Vincent. The college, located in the Bronx, draws about 80 percent of its 1,600 undergraduates from within New York State.
“We don’t know how it would work, we don’t know how it can work and we certainly don’t know how it will affect individual families,” Flynn said of the free-college program.
Private colleges would seem to have a few strategies available if they want to attract students who are newly considering public institutions. One is that they could throw more financial aid at students who are on the fence.
Not everyone has the money available, however. Mount Saint Vincent already has a freshman tuition discount rate in the high 50 percent range, Flynn said. The national average tuition discount rate for first-time, full-time freshmen is 48.6 percent, according to the most recent report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.
“How can I go above that?” he said. “We don’t have a lot more aid to throw.”
The college can survive in the event its enrollment dips this fall, Flynn said. But he can’t yet rule out having to take steps like layoffs if enrollment drops substantially. And he said Mount Saint Vincent is in better financial shape than many other private institutions in New York. He has heard talk of some institutions already preparing for layoffs in the wake of the free-tuition bill passing, he said.
SUNY and CUNY do not yet have estimates for how much the free-college program will boost fall enrollment, spokeswomen for the systems said. A March report from the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities in New York projected that public institutions would see an enrollment increase of between 9 percent and 22 percent under Cuomo’s plan.
The report went on to estimate that enrollment in the state’s private nonprofit colleges and universities would fall by between 7 percent and 15 percent under Cuomo’s plan. That would cost private institutions a collective $1.4 billion in revenue, representing a major shift in student behavior and hitting institutions with diverse student bodies especially hard.
New York is home to more than 100 private nonprofit colleges and universities enrolling about 300,000 students from within the state, according to CICU. Just over half of the state’s colleges have student bodies that are at least 75 percent New Yorkers. Close to 90 enroll fewer than 2,000 students.
In other words, many tuition-dependent colleges would be at risk of missing critical enrollment targets if public colleges’ free tuition draws even a few students away from them. Those colleges are likely already financially strapped and can least afford to see sudden drops in enrollment.
“Once this is out there and implemented, possibly some of the more precarious institutions will go under,” said Gary Olson, president of Daemen College, near Buffalo, which enrolls about 2,700 students -- 2,000 of them undergraduates, 90 percent of whom come from New York State. “And what that will do is cause millions of dollars of lost economic impact on the local community where the college is located.”
Daemen’s full-time undergraduate tuition sticker price is $26,400 for the 2016-17 academic year. It’s possible that the college will have to increase its tuition discount rate to attract students, Olson said. The college’s discount rate is currently in the low 40 percent range for freshmen.
Olson wasn’t ready to commit to raising the discount rate, however. Daemen is more likely to argue that it provides a better education than its public competitors.
“What we’re likely to do is play the quality card,” he said.
Olson also argued that there are several problems with the Excelsior Scholarship that will ultimately disappoint students. The program requires students to graduate on time. It also requires recipients to live in New York for the same number of years they received free tuition -- otherwise, the scholarship amount will turn into student loans.
Time will tell if Olson’s argument proves true. But even if it does, it won’t help colleges and universities that can’t survive a year or two of lower enrollment.
Such a college or university could attempt to recruit more students from outside of the state. It could also attempt to draw more students from upper-middle-class or wealthy families who do not qualify for the Excelsior Scholarship.
Those aren’t necessarily reasonable propositions, however. Many private colleges or universities would be enrolling more out-of-state or wealthy students if they were able to.
Experts said that in the short term, the discussion is likely to keep coming back to the idea of price.
“The challenge for private institutions is that all of this media is out there touting free tuition,” said Craig Goebel, a principal at the Baltimore-based strategy consulting firm Art & Science Group. “My fear for the private institutions is that even students who won’t be eligible for this program will be swayed to pursue public education on a misunderstanding of what’s going on.”
Private colleges might have to take their evaluation of price beyond tuition discounting.
“Pricing strategies are probably going to be a hot topic on some campuses,” said Wes Butterfield, vice president overseeing the financial aid services division of the consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz. “This is part of the reason we’ve been moving to this environment: because of cost. We’re talking about the initial sticker price. Maybe this is an opportunity for campuses to take a look.”
Butterfield cautioned against focusing too much on price, however. Private colleges and universities need to examine their mission, vision and values in order to better position themselves in the market, he said.
“You have to look at what you do and make sure you are tightening up that aspect of your institution, first and foremost,” he said. “Take a look at your programs and make sure you are providing students strong outcomes. That’s the easiest and the hardest thing to do in some respects, but it allows you to take some of that pressure off of the cost piece.”
Private colleges in New York should have been taking a hard look at their strategies even before the free-tuition program became law, said Sarah Coen, senior vice president at Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Strategic enrollment plans can’t ignore student demographic and economic trends, she said. Many of those trends do not favor parts of New York State.
Coen suggested that colleges focus on retention as they face increasing competition for new students.
“If there is more concern of losing the incoming student, then what are these private institutions doing?” Coen said. “It’s a really good time to make sure your current students know how much you love them and want them to stay.”
Presidents will have to strike a delicate balance between the triage of making sure their colleges and universities survive in an unsettled market and the long-term planning that is necessary to set them up for the future.
“Institutions that are relying on big discounts and financial aid to enroll a class, they’re going to be in trouble,” said Rick Hesel, a principal at Art & Science. “The ones that have a strong, differentiated position based on substance, on the student experience, will be better off.”
Another Art & Science principal, David Strauss, warned college presidents against falling into the trap of thinking they can simply do a better job of marketing themselves. They need to take a real look at their missions and how they can strengthen them, he said.
“Acting on a cosmetic level, where we figure out how to communicate a bit better, aid a bit better, recruit a bit better, is unlikely to create real competitive balance for the institutions that will be challenged by this move,” Strauss said.
Some private college presidents suggested they could emphasize four-year graduation rates. The SUNY system’s four-year graduation rate is only 48.9 percent. But some small private colleges post four-year rates below that level. Other presidents said they could compete on indicators like economic mobility, class size and levels of academic support offered.
“You just have to look at this thing and say, it is what it is, how do we make the best of this?” said Kenneth Macur, the president of Medaille College in Buffalo. “When you’re already in a position to compete on value and not on price, then you’re in a position to compete.”
Medaille enrolls about 2,100 students, about three-quarters of whom are undergraduates. More than 90 percent of the undergraduate population is from New York.
Yet Macur said he is not impressed by the free-tuition law. He described it as more hype than substance.
New York’s public institutions do not have the money or the capacity to take on a huge influx of students on short notice, he said. He went on to argue that the law effectively undermines the worth of a SUNY education by telling the public that its value is zero.
Macur also pointed to issues he has with a new grant program being created for students attending private colleges. The program offers awards of up to $3,000, but private colleges and universities have to provide matching funds. They would also have to freeze tuition for the student receiving the grant.
“Nobody has the money sitting around,” Macur said. “Keep in mind, we’re awarding 40 and 50 percent discount rates.”
Medaille’s tuition discount rate is in the 50 percent range, Macur said. The college quotes full-time undergraduate tuition in Buffalo at $27,276 per year.
New York’s private colleges had wanted Cuomo to boost the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, a grant available to students attending both public and private institutions.
“This was an opportunity where he could have built a stronger partnership between publics and privates,” said Shirley Mullen, president of Houghton College, in western New York. “This is perhaps a lose-lose that could have been a win-win.”
Houghton is a Christian liberal arts college that draws about 40 percent of its students from out of the state, Mullen said. Its student body makeup and specific identity as a Christian college make her confident about her college’s future.
“I think we are probably a little less vulnerable than schools who have a much higher percentage of their students coming from New York State,” she said. “There is also a specific reason that most families are choosing to come to Houghton. They’re coming for the strong academic programs, but also for the faith-based component.”
Also confident was Philip A. Glotzbach, president of Skidmore College, located north of Albany.
“I actually worry more now about international students, given some of the things that are going on with immigration” at the national level, Glotzbach said.
Only 29 percent of Skidmore’s students come from New York State, he said. The 2,500-student college is highly selective, accepting just 24 percent of its applicants. And it has a relatively low tuition discount rate of 32 percent for first-year students.
As a result, Glotzbach said, the free-tuition program is unlikely to cut into enrollment at Skidmore.
“Some other private schools, schools that compete more on the basis of sticker price than we do, might suffer from this,” he said. “I don’t think it will have much effect on Skidmore.”Editorial Tags: Business issuesNew YorkTuitionImage Source: New York governor's officeImage Caption: Hillary Clinton and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared Wednesday at a ceremonial bill signing for New York's free public college tuition program.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Fresno State and the Secret Service are investigating an untenured lecturer who said President Trump "must hang" on Twitter
In yet another cautionary social media tale, California State University, Fresno -- and federal officials -- are investigating a non-tenure-track lecturer in history for inflammatory tweets he’s made about politics.
Lars Maischak’s Twitter posts this semester include:
Many in academe wouldn’t bat an eye at Maischak’s comments, since professors tend to skew to the political left, and a large number have expressed particular concern about the rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration. Professors themselves often employ their own brands of rhetoric, using strong language for effect that they say should not be taken literally. And Maischak has since said he never meant to incite actual violence against the president.
The tweets nevertheless caused a stir on campus last weekend, after the far-right website Breitbart ran an article about them. Here’s the thrust of the piece: “This is today’s academia. These are types of voices hired to teach recent high school graduates American history. How do you think George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson fare when taught by one who sees the world in this way? How do you think America’s Judeo-Christian heritage fares?”
Where the do the feds come in? Joseph Castro, university president, said during conference call with reporters Wednesday that Fresno State alerted federal authorities to Maischak’s tweets Saturday after learning about them from an unnamed news source -- and that the university has since been in “constant” contact with them. He declined to disclose the status of any federal investigation or name a specific agency taking the lead, but said the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security are all aware of the situation.
Why? Castro said Maischak’s comments were “serious” and merited a full review.
In earlier statement, Castro said, “Maischak’s personal views and commentary, with its inclusion of violent and threatening language, is obviously inconsistent with the core values of our university. … In response to these concerns, we have conducted a preliminary review to ensure that it is clear that the statements made by him were as a private citizen, not as a representative of Fresno State.”
The university’s “primary concern is for the safety of our students and with providing a conducive learning environment,” the statement continues. “We acknowledge that our faculty have an obligation to establish and maintain ethical and professional conduct, inside and outside of the classroom. … The review of these and any other statements will be conducted in the context of rights of free expression, but also for potential direct threats of violence that may violate the law.”
Maischak declined to answer specific questions about his case Wednesday evening but said in an emailed statement that he’d been contacted by the Secret Service and was cooperating fully with their ongoing investigation. He said he never intended harm to anyone, nor to incite harm.
“I ask forgiveness of those who felt threatened or offended” by the tweets, he said. “My statements each represent the end point of a dark train of thought triggered by my despair over the actions of the present U.S. government.”
Maischak, who has deleted his Twitter account, said he had 28 followers at the time of his posts and was seeking catharsis in recording his thoughts.
“I never expected them to be read by anyone but a close circle of acquaintances who would know to place them in their context,” he said. “To treat Twitter as of no more consequence than a journal was a poor decision. … In this spirit, I am prepared to take full responsibility for my statements.”
That’s a tad more tempered than Maischak’s previous statement to local media, released on Monday. In it, he said that Trump-sanctioned arrests of undocumented immigrants recalled visions of 1930s Germany.
“Most observers will consider these arrests a blatant injustice,” he said. “My thought at the time was that if this were to become a mass phenomenon, encompassing in the end all 11 million undocumented immigrants, the guilt amassed by the present government and its supporters would be tremendous, and would lead to demands for vengeance.”
In general, “the substantial continuity between fascism and the present Republican Party makes it likely that the deeds of [Trump’s] government will be the subject of court proceedings, or even a tribunal akin to the Nuremburg Trials,” Maischak, who is from Germany, said Monday. “Historical precedent suggests that such proceedings often end with the incarceration or execution of the leadership.”
Still, Maischak added, “I would be horrified to learn that anyone would have read this tweet as an invitation to violence. I still do not think, within the context at the time, and within the context of my other statements on Twitter, that any reasonable reader could come to that conclusion, however.” To that point, he said he was appalled that Castro “is allowing himself to be instrumentalized for a right-wing smear campaign.”
Indeed, leftist professors have become something of a favorite topic for websites such as Breitbart in recent years. Many of the profiles on the controversial Professor Watchlist cite Breitbart and Fox News as sources, for example.
Maischak’s case parallels many others in recent months, with mixed outcomes for professors involved. George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University, for example, wished for “white genocide” for Christmas on Twitter and just this month tweeted that he wanted to “vomit” after seeing a civilian give up an airline seat in first class for a U.S. soldier. Drexel’s administration flip-flopped in its public response to the first comment but ultimately declared it “protected speech.” A small group of Faculty Senate members is now reportedly seeking an investigation into Ciccariello-Maher’s impact on the university.
In another case, Oberlin College in November fired Joy Karega, an assistant professor of rhetoric and composition, after The Tower, a pro-Israel website, uncovered a series of anti-Semitic, anti-Israel and conspiratorial Facebook posts Karega made about world events. Oberlin first affirmed her right to free expression but then backtracked, following a push from the college’s Board of Trustees.
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville investigated but decided not to punish Glenn Reynolds, Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law and well-known conservative blogger at Instapundit, for his tweet saying motorists should “run down” protesters blocking the highway outside of Charlotte, N.C., following a police shooting in September. Somewhat like Maischak, Reynolds said he wasn’t actually encouraging people to target protesters (some of his critics argued otherwise).
Scholars have different views as to when and if extramural utterances should be relevant to one’s professional standing. That question was at the heart of the Steven Salaita controversy at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, for example, which reverberated across academe. A brief recap: Salaita made anti-Israel remarks on Twitter and lost a promised tenured position in 2014, but the administration faced major fallout from its actions.
The American Association of University Professors maintains that extramural speech should only be investigated if it calls into question a professor's professional fitness. And even then, inquiries should only be led by a faculty member’s peers.
As for Maischak, Robert O’Neil, a First Amendment scholar and former president of the University of Virginia, said Fresno State is within its rights to investigate him.
O’Neil said it would be hard to argue that Maischak meant Trump should “hang tough” or anything other than hang -- literally -- based on his public statements. “Bizarre” declarations of harming a president (or even judges), must be taken seriously, O’Neil said, “as much on social media as in a letter.”
Moreover, he said, Maischak’s tweet lodged in a “highly charged political environment,” and his discipline of history arguably imposes on him a “higher level of academic commitment here than, say, for a chemist or mathematician.”
For those reasons, among others, O’Neil said, comments such as Maischak’s do “risk a charge of incompetence.”
Maischak’s union, the California Faculty Association, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Castro said Maischak has been working at Fresno State since 2006 and confirmed that he’s still employed and teaching (though the university is currently on spring break). Possible future interruptions to his teaching schedule will be dealt with in a manner least disruptive to students, he said.FacultyThreats Against FacultyEditorial Tags: Academic freedomSocial media/networkingImage Caption: Lars MaischakIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the hiring of nine senior staff members Wednesday, including an acting under secretary with significant experience working on student aid and postsecondary issues.
The hiring of most of the individuals in the announcement had previously been discussed publicly, but it was the first official announcement from DeVos about who would fill key staff positions. Like other federal agencies in the Trump administration, the Department of Education has gone nearly three months without naming appointees to a number of political positions.
James Manning, who was named senior adviser to the under secretary and acting under secretary of education, was picked last November to lead the Trump "beachhead" team at the department -- the group appointed by the incoming administration to assist with the transition at each federal agency. Manning has experience as a department official going back to the Carter administration, last serving as acting chief operating officer of federal student aid. As acting under secretary, Manning would be the most senior official in the department after DeVos.
Rohit Chopra, the former student loans ombudsman at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, said Manning is experienced and fair-minded.
"He knows the Office of Federal Student Aid inside and out, which has been a trillion-dollar headache for many an education secretary," said Chopra, who also served as a special adviser to former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. "I hope his role signals that cleaning up loan servicing and debt collection will be a top priority."
The hires announced included others with deep experience in education policy, as well as more controversial picks.
The addition of Rob Eitel, who was named senior counselor to the secretary Wednesday, was the subject of media scrutiny last month after it was reported that he had taken a leave of absence from for-profit college chain Bridgepoint Education Inc. to serve as a special assistant to DeVos. Eitel had been the chief compliance officer at Bridgepoint, which would be affected by the department's approach to regulations such as borrower defense and gainful employment.
Other hires announced Wednesday included:
Senate approval would be required only for the assistant secretary position.
The appointment of Candice Jackson as deputy assistant secretary in the Office for Civil Rights has stirred concerns among advocates for victims of sexual assault. Jackson staked out a public image as a supporter of women who accused former President Bill Clinton of assault. Last year, however, she called the women who accused President Trump of harassment and assault "fake victims." Jackson was also named acting assistant secretary. The "acting" designation for Jackson, Botel and Manning would allow them to initially fill those roles without Senate approval.
Brenda Tracy, an activist on sexual assault issues and a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, said the appointment of Jackson felt like "the rug being pulled out from under us" for advocates of Title IX protections.
"It just feels like a slap in the face," she said. "It's disheartening to know you don’t have the support of your government behind you."Editorial Tags: Education DepartmentImage Caption: Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senator Lamar Alexander Ad Keyword: Department of Education Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Universities can improve their Ph.D. completion rates by using metrics to assess the performance of supervisors, Australian academics say.
Richard Russell, a former pro vice chancellor for research operations at the University of Adelaide, told the Third International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training that, while everyone knew academics who “should never have been allowed to supervise Ph.D.s,” institutions that tolerated this were “failing in their duty of care.”
At the event, organized by Britain’s Council for Graduate Education, Russell explained how leading research universities in Australia’s Group of Eight agreed to require the formal training and registration of doctoral supervisors as long ago as 2004-05. More recently, Adelaide realized that it “needed to optimize candidatures to hold our levels of funding and scholarships.”
All supervisors were therefore assessed on their number of past students, current “load” and an index designed to capture “outcomes versus opportunities.” The university was keen to reward supervisors for “timely” completions, other completions and “student rescues,” when someone about to abandon a thesis was persuaded to stay on. It wanted to penalize noncompletions and withdrawals due to dissatisfaction with supervisors, but to remain neutral about early withdrawals, student-initiated withdrawals for nonacademic reasons and failed rescue attempts.
The result, Russell said, was a much more effective system for classifying and tracking the performance of supervisors. This has led to problems being addressed earlier, the removal of “totally unsatisfactory supervisors” and an 8 percent increase in timely completions.
Faculty members have bought into it because they can use the results to support applications for promotion, and the university can demonstrate “the efforts made to reduce unnecessary wastage” when “arguing for additional scholarship support,” according to Russell, who said that behavior such as “dragging failing students out” until their scholarships run out is no longer seen as appropriate.
Delegates to the conference also heard from David Bogle, head of the graduate school at University College London, who spoke on behalf of the League of European Research Universities. Universities’ goal, he said, must be to create doctoral graduates who are “creative, critical, autonomous intellectual risk takers” and can act as “drivers of their professional development.” With skills development now “the cornerstone of the modern doctorate,” institutions should start thinking of the candidate as the central “product” and the thesis as just an important piece of supporting evidence, Bogle said.
The conference ended with a presentation by David Uribe, head of the European University Association’s Council for Doctoral Education. At a time when only “4 percent of doctoral holders end up working in academia,” he stressed the importance of raising “awareness among doctoral candidates of the importance of recognizing and enhancing the skills that they develop and acquire through research.”Editorial Tags: AustraliaGraduate educationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Women shoulder a disproportionately large workload at home in ways that might disadvantage them professionally. But are female professors also “taking care of the academic family” via disproportionate service loads? A new study says yes and adds to a growing body of research suggesting the same.
“We find strong evidence that, on average, women faculty perform more service than male faculty in academia, and that the service differential is driven particularly by participation in internal rather than external service,” the study says. “When we look within departments -- controlling for any type of organizational or cultural factor that is department specific -- we still find large, significant differences in the service loads of women versus men.”
All that matters because service loads “likely have an impact on productivity in other areas of faculty effort such as research and teaching, and these latter activities can lead directly to salary differentials and overall success in academia,” the paper says. “In the urgency to redress not only differences in time use but compensation imbalances, as well, the service imbalance is one that deserves to rise to the forefront of the discussion.”
“Faculty Service Loads and Gender: Are Women Taking Care of the Academic Family?” published in Research in Higher Education, was written by Cassandra M. Guarino, professor of education and public policy at the University of California, Riverside, and Victor M. H. Borden, professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Indiana University at Bloomington. The authors considered data from the 2014 Faculty Survey of Student Engagement, a web-based national survey related to the National Survey of Student Engagement. The faculty survey included responses from nearly 19,000 faculty members at 143 colleges and universities, and asked about how faculty members spend their time (in addition to professors’ views on student engagement).
Guarino and Borden limited their analysis of the national survey to responses from tenured or tenure-track faculty members at four-year colleges and universities, or about 40 percent of the sample. The national survey asked only how many hours a week faculty members spent on service, not which kinds of service they did or how departments were run. So the authors supplemented that data with those from much more detailed yearly faculty activity reports from two research-intensive campuses (one flagship and one “urban”) of an unnamed Midwestern university. The latter data set, from 2012, pertained to about 1,400 tenured or tenure-track faculty members. They reported whether their service was “internal,” performed on campus, or the more visible “external” kinds of service performed off campus for professional associations and other groups or communities.
Women Do More
In a first, basic crack at the data, the authors determined that women in the national sample performed 30 more minutes per week of service than men and 1.5 more service activities per year than men in the local sample, and that the difference was statistically significant in both cases.
To glean more meaningful results and control for a number of factors, they proceeded with a multiple regression analysis. In the national sample, women reported 0.6 hours more service per week than men, controlling for rank, race and discipline. Female full professors, in particular, reported significantly more time spent on service than male full professors -- though full professors of both genders spent the most time on service over all. Faculty members in business and some sciences appeared to spend less time on service than those in the arts and humanities.
Results for the local data mirrored those for the national set. Controlling for rank, race, department and campus, female professors reported performing, on average, 1.4 more service activities per year than their male counterparts.
The difference was driven largely by internal service, the study says, with women performing approximately one more internal service activity annually than men.
Associate professors in the Midwest university sample reported performing more internal service than other ranks, but full professors exceeded them in terms of external service. “There was some evidence to suggest that that Asian female faculty performed more service than Asian male faculty, and that women in various fields performed differently than their male counterparts,” the paper notes. “Women in the public policy faculty performed significantly more service than men on that faculty, and women in law and, to a lesser degree, education performed less.”
Regarding external service, women reportedly perform more service than men in the categories of community service and national service.
Why Does It Happen?
The authors had some specific hypotheses as to why gender differentials in service exist, so they looked at the STEM, social science and liberal arts fields (their categories) separately. One hypothesis related to “proportionality,” or whether women are called on to do more service when there are fewer of them in an academic unit. They also considered the importance of gender in departmental leadership, to see if women with male supervisors do more service.
They found some evidence for both the proportionality and leadership hypotheses, varying by discipline. In STEM, having a female department chair was strongly correlated with female faculty members’ external service, which, the authors say, is driven by service to professional organizations and the international community. Within the social sciences, having a male department chair correlated with women doing more department-based service. Interestingly, in the liberal arts, having female chairs correlated with women doing more service, especially within the department -- “a finding that would go against the hypothesis that women are asked to do more service or less likely to refuse requests by male chairs,” the study says.
Guarino and Borden also explored whether women might have a heightened perception of the presence of an ‘‘internal’’ track into paid administrative roles via internal service. But there was little evidence to suggest that, at least in the limited local data, since women tended to be proportionately or underrepresented in such roles. One final explanation -- a gender difference in self-report bias -- proved difficult to assess.
Over all, the study says that the data sets “corroborate” each other, leaving “little doubt as to the existence of a gender imbalance in faculty service loads,” both in number of activities and amount of time spent on service.
Yet in the effort to achieve greater gender equity in academe, it continues, “service has often been overlooked as a factor in the quest for parity,” and “merits close attention.”
The authors assert that service is an area of inequity that can be addressed relatively easily, via careful monitoring of service requests and allocations. Female faculty members, it says, “could be mentored to show more selectivity in their service-related choices and cultivate their ability to say no to requests.” Department chairs and deans, meanwhile, “could be made to be more fully aware of how service assignments are being meted out. A simple increase in overall awareness of this issue may improve overall attitudes toward service loads, remove traces of gender bias from service expectations and enable both women and men to accept or decline service requests with equal ease and impunity.”
Guarino in an interview underscored the concept of awareness, saying that women don’t necessarily know they’re doing or -- as the case may be -- being asked to do more until they see objective proof of service imbalances between male and female faculty members.
“There’s no woman who loves this stuff more than men,” she said of service. “But until we see evidence and we can really help women say no, it’s just going to keep happening.”
Guarino also emphasized institutional accountability for fixing gender service imbalances, saying it’s now virtually nonexistent. “There needs to be more internal monitoring of this,” from the department level to the provost’s office, she said.
Joya Misra, a professor of sociology and public policy at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (and an Inside Higher Ed columnist) who has studied the gendered nature of faculty work, said she’s found “dramatic service differentials between men and women,” particularly among associate professors.
Despite the fact that women’s service work “is necessary for the institutions to survive,” she added, the “daily grind of service and leadership rarely carries the respect and reputational benefits of disciplinary service, while it actively limits women's research time.”
As to righting the imbalance, Misra said that it may seem like “women simply need to become more protective of their research time, as men are.” Yet they face “grave consequences if they are not perceived as team players,” she said, while men usually don’t.
Laura Perna, James S. Riepe Professor and executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania, said the new study sheds critical light on faculty workloads, especially with the suspension of the federally-funded National Study of Postsecondary Faculty in 2004.
More broadly, the study raises important questions about “what it is we are valuing in our reward system,” she said. Service, not always rewarded like other kinds of faculty work, “is really oriented toward advancing [an institution’s] collective mission.”ResearchGenderEditorial Tags: Career AdviceFacultyImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 1Advice Newsletter publication date: Thursday, April 13, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday withdrew guidance issued by the Obama administration aimed at improving the contracting process for student loan servicers.
That guidance, issued by former Education Secretary John B. King Jr. and former Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, directed the Office of Federal Student Aid to consider past behavior of servicers in awarding contracts and to include consumer protections in those contracts. The procurement process was an opportunity to improve the experiences and outcomes of student loan borrowers, King said last year.
DeVos echoed those sentiments in a letter to Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runcie. But she said the process had unfortunately been "subjected to a myriad of moving deadlines, changing requirements and a lack of consistent objectives." That new guidance followed warnings from one industry group that contracts have become too burdensome for servicers of federal student loans.
"We must create a student loan servicing environment that provides the highest-quality customer service and increases accountability and transparency for all borrowers, while also limiting the cost to taxpayers," DeVos added in the letter.
Borrowers make payments on federal student loans to one of several student loan servicers contracted by the department. The largest of those are Navient, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services Inc., Nelnet and the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency. The department is in the midst of a procurement process to re-award those contracts. It also last year started a process, announced by Mitchell, to create a single web portal for federal student loan borrowers to use, no matter their servicer.
Weeks after King issued the guidance on servicers' past performance last June, he joined state and federal officials on a July conference call to announce new guidelines for servicers to provide more transparent information to borrowers. Those guidelines were based on a joint statement of principles released by the Department of Education, the Department of the Treasury and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2015 that focused on access to accurate information and consistent service for students, increasing transparency, and adding accountability for servicers.
The Tuesday letter was the first time DeVos has weighed in on federal student loan servicing policies since she began her tenure at the department. Last month, the department announced it would delay deadlines for colleges to submit appeals of debt-to-earnings ratios under the gainful-employment rule -- a decision many proponents of the rule took as signaling DeVos's priorities on accountability for for-profit institutions.
Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said the organization was pleased with the July guidelines because they would have implemented several loan servicing recommendations from financial aid officials -- among them, the single web portal for borrowers, removing servicer branding from communications and standardizing consumer testing.
"Whether those commitments are still in play, delayed or off the table entirely is unclear. But I don't see how FSA can provide the 'highest-quality customer service' by abandoning those commitments en masse," Draeger said.
The National Council of Higher Education Resources, which represents servicers, guarantee agencies and collection agencies, wrote to key House and Senate lawmakers last week urging that the awarding of the contract for the borrower web portal be delayed and warning that federal servicing contracts as currently written are not financially viable.
"The servicing of the Federal Direct Loan Program and its portfolio has changed significantly over the last five years; under the current contract, servicers have been required to meet a growing number of new requirements -- many around compliance that have questionable impacts on borrowers and others mandated by the CFPB ‐- without getting adequately compensated," NCHER President James P. Bergeron wrote to lawmakers. "The lack of adequate funding and imposition of new compliance requirements are resulting in fewer services being provided to struggling borrowers."
The department did not respond to a request for comment on whether it would follow through on any of the recommendations from previous guidance, including the creation of the web portal.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, who will join DeVos at a visit to an Ohio public school later this month, said rescinding the Obama-era guidance opens the door for "rogue operators" to win lucrative government contracts.
"If Secretary DeVos were serious about curing America’s trillion-dollar student loan crisis, she would strengthen, not rescind, these protections," Weingarten said. "Instead, she is enabling and empowering bad actors. It’s just another clear example of Betsy DeVos and the Trump administration putting the interests of predatory profiteers over the needs of the little guy -- in this instance, the millions of people trying to go to college or acquire career skills without being crippled by debt.”
Persis Yu, director of the National Consumer Law Center’s Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project, said the CFPB's lawsuit against Navient has demonstrated that problems with servicers are widespread and their practices can create obstacles to repayment that become costly for borrowers.
"Today’s action by Secretary DeVos could make it easier for the department to hire servicers with a track record of harming borrowers," Yu said. "The Department of Education should ensure that servicers who work for the taxpayer embrace student loan borrower-centric policies and are held accountable when they fall short, rather than rescinding basic rules that assist strapped borrowers."Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Education DepartmentImage Caption: Education Secretary Betsy DeVosIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Roughly two-thirds of undergraduates are paying more for college than is recommended by a common benchmark for affordability.
That's the top-line finding of a new report by higher education experts from three think tanks with a range of political perspectives, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and New America.
The report attempts to answer the question of for whom is college affordable, and why?
Its authors used a federal data set from 2012 that includes the tuition rates and fees, room, board and other expenses that full-time students nationwide spent to attend college. The researchers then compared that data to an affordability measure, dubbed the Rule of 10, that Lumina Foundation created in 2015.
That benchmark says students and families should pay no more for college than the savings they can accumulate by setting aside 10 percent of their discretionary income (earnings above 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines) for 10 years and with the additional income students earn from working 10 hours per week while enrolled, which would be roughly $14,500 for four years of work at minimum wage.
For example, a single working adult student with no children should expect to pay $6,460 in total for a degree, under the benchmark. But an upper-income family of four might be able to contribute $51,500, with any college students in the family chipping in another $3,625 per year.
The findings suggest that 68 percent of undergraduates overpaid, on average ponying up twice the recommended amount.
Student loans are not included in the price-based Rule of 10, because the benchmark represents what students and families should expect to pay out of pocket. Not surprisingly, the report found that substantial student loans are used to cover the net price of a college degree -- which averaged $54,092 across the data set. (Net price is the amount students actually pay, having subtracted non-loan financial aid.)
On average, students and families will take on $16,498 in debt to pay for 30 percent of the cost of credentials (both associate and bachelor's degrees), the study found. Students earn a similar amount, $16,248, while in college.
That means the remaining 40 percent, or $21,346, comes from somewhere else, such as savings, parents' earnings, other forms of credit and unreported support from friends or family.
"Combining student earnings and borrowing did not tend to cover the net cost of enrollment. Even after families contributed an amount equal to the level of savings recommended by the Rule of 10, the average shortfall was $2,510," the report found. "Students and their families are necessarily finding a way to finance this additional sum, probably by devoting more savings than is prescribed by the benchmark, or perhaps through using other forms of credit such as home equity or credit cards."
The report goes beyond aggregate numbers, however, in an effort to bring some nuance to discussions about college debt. It finds wide variation in expenses and borrowing when the data are broken out by family and student income levels as well as factoring in which type of institution a student attended.
For example, the wealthiest students typically pay the most to attend college. Dependent students from the highest income quartile spent an average of $92,341 for their degrees compared to the $38,841 paid by students from lowest quartile. That's often because wealthier students choose to attend more expensive colleges, the report said. (See chart, below.)
Income also heavily influences borrowing, but perhaps not in the way some would expect.
While the share of students with college expenses above the affordability benchmark declines as family income increases, the report found that the highest levels of student debt are taken on by students whose parents are in the second-highest income quintile (household earnings of $82,000 to $120,470).
These students, who could be classified as solidly upper-middle class, borrowed an average of $5,819 per academic year. That's 44 percent more than the lowest-income students, who borrowed an average of $4,045.
Since relatively well-off families tend to have options for paying for college other than debt, the report's authors write that many cases of high-level borrowing may be driven by choice rather than necessity.
"People may be choosing to spend more on college than they really have to," said Elizabeth Akers, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and one of the report's co-authors. And since a college degree can be viewed as an investment, she adds that the choice to spend more is "not necessarily a bad thing."
The report includes caveats about reading too much into using the Rule of 10 in assessing college affordability.
For example, the benchmark doesn't measure value or return on investment.
"The problem is that benchmarking affordability based on price alone is akin to a one-sided financial balance sheet -- one that displays only a company’s liabilities and ignores its assets," the report said. "In this case, the liability is the price for the education, and the asset is the education and the future earnings that a student will gain from it."
A more telling measure, the report said, would look at college affordability with a value-based measure that factors in a degree's impact on long-run financial returns from more consistent employment and higher earnings.
In addition to benchmarking the up-front expenses of attending college, Akers said the new report is an attempt to clear away some of the confusion about the enormously complex issue of student debt.
More students are taking on loans. In 2000, the typical student covered 38 percent of their tuition and fees with debt, compared to 50 percent in 2013, the report said. But not everyone agrees on how to look at debt, let alone how to deal with the problem.
For example, two years ago Akers talked about student debt at a hearing of the U.S. Senate's education committee. Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, took issue with Akers's testimony that the debt most students accrue is offset by graduates' higher earnings.
"It just seems to me, based on your research and on the Fed's research -- both of which show a substantial increase in debt loads -- that it is a serious problem," Warren said. "And I don't think it's responsible to sit here and claim that borrowers are, quote, 'no worse off' while people are still struggling to make much higher student loan payments than ever before and carrying their debt for much longer than ever before."
Warren's take was based on a human capital model of paying for college, Akers said, while Akers, an economist, had been focused on the liquidity issue.
"There are actually a lot of different definitions of affordability that are floating around the policy space," she said.
In the report, Akers and her co-authors try to set a clearer baseline for the up-front price of college. But they argue that a value-based framework is needed to truly measure affordability.
"Otherwise, financially advantageous educational opportunities will be passed over for opportunities with a smaller price tag, even when the prospects are worse," the report concludes.
(Note: This article has been changed from an earlier version to include an updated figure from the researchers about the overall percentage of undergraduates who pay too much for college under the benchmark.)Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: College costs/pricesFinancial aidImage Source: U.S. SenateImage Caption: Beth Akers and other experts at a 2015 Senate hearing on student debtIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
When Republicans in the House of Representatives seemed to be nearing a vote on a health care reform bill last month, several prominent Democratic governors spoke out to criticize the proposed changes, arguing they would impose high costs on states.
California Governor Jerry Brown said that the proposed changes would cost California $6 billion per year by 2020. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the federal reform bill would create a gap of almost $7 billion in the state’s budget because of changes to Medicaid reimbursements.
Republicans did not bring their bill to the floor for a vote after they were unable to drum up enough support amid intense opposition. But even without changes, many states are shouldering a larger share of Medicaid costs than they have been over the last several years.
They’re just doing it under existing law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed and President Trump sought to repeal. The way the current law was designed, states' share of Medicaid costs is rising as the federal government pulls back on incentives it used to encourage them to expand the program. And when federal spending requirements for states grow, public funding for colleges and universities -- one of the largest so-called discretionary pots of money most states control -- tends to be the target. Consequently, the current law has drawn attention from higher education experts, because more spending requirements on states translates into more pressure on public funding for colleges and universities.
“Some states are going to be left really holding the bag,” said George Pernsteiner, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers association. “It will put them in a pinch if they don’t have a booming economy. That’s what I worry about.”
The increased costs are connected to the federal funding mechanism underpinning the expansion of Medicaid, which covers many low-income children and adults and people with disabilities. States and the federal government share Medicaid costs under a patchwork of funding mechanisms, including the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, or FMAP, which guarantees a minimum of $1 in federal matching funds for every $1 states spend on Medicaid. But the Affordable Care Act sought to entice states to expand Medicaid to cover adults with incomes of up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level.
It did so by paying 100 percent of the costs of such Medicaid expansion -- but only for a limited time. The 100 percent federal match started in the 2014 calendar year but ended in January 2017, when it dropped to 95 percent. It is set to phase down to 90 percent in 2020 and remain at that level afterward.
Washington, D.C., and 31 states expanded Medicaid in response to the Affordable Care Act. That means they are now seeing their share of Medicaid costs rising.
When states adopted their budgets for the 2017 fiscal year, their share of Medicaid spending was expected to grow by 4.4 percent on average, according to an April report from the Kaiser Family Foundation. The increase was expected in large part because of the decrease in federal funding for Medicaid expansion.
While 4.4 percent might not sound like an overwhelming increase, Medicaid spending is a massive portion of states’ budgets. Medicaid spending across all states totaled $509 billion in the 2015 fiscal year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. States paid 38 percent of the costs, with the federal government picking up the rest.
That means states spent about $193.4 billion on Medicaid in 2015. That dwarfs state higher education appropriations, which totaled about $83.6 billion across the country in 2016-17.
State legislators are essentially locked into spending on Medicaid. So when costs in that program rise, lawmakers have to either raise revenue through taxes and fees or find money in their discretionary budgets to reallocate. Higher education represents one of the few big-ticket discretionary items from which they can draw.
“They’re going to get the money somewhere,” Pernsteiner said. “Where they make the cuts is higher ed.”
Within individual states that expanded Medicaid, projections show costs mounting in coming years. Kentucky’s expenditures for Medicaid expansion are projected at $77.2 million for the 2016-17 fiscal year -- a year in which the federal match rate only falls below 100 percent for six months. The expenditures under current law are expected to rise to $180.1 million in 2018, $224 million in 2019 and $306.3 million in 2020, according to state projections.
Kentucky is dealing with other budget pressures as well. By some estimates, the state has the worst-funded pension system of any state in the country -- even worse than Illinois and New Jersey. Many believe dealing with that issue will be a major drain on state coffers.
The state’s Republican governor, Matt Bevin, has already shown a willingness to take funding that would have gone to higher education and put it toward pensions, said Robert L. King, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. Budget pressures add up, including from Medicaid, King said.
“Because it’s a mandated expenditure, it gets paid,” King said. “So our universities have been taking cuts consistently for the last decade. I can’t tell you that they are directly caused by Medicaid, but it certainly is a contributing factor.”
King has been watching trends between Medicaid funding and higher education funding since he was chancellor of the State University of New York System in the early 2000s.
“I remember reading studies at the time that showed that there was a pretty straight-line correlation between the growth in Medicaid costs and the reduction in state support for higher education,” he said.
A 2003 Brookings report found every new dollar in state Medicaid spending was related to a decline in higher education appropriations of about 6 cents to 7 cents.
In West Virginia, which also expanded Medicaid eligibility under the Affordable Care Act, health-care costs were wrapped up in a long budget standoff that left leaders worried about higher education funding. State revenue has been declining with energy markets, causing stress on the budget and a possible pinch on higher education funding, according to a spokesman for West Virginia University.
All of the pressures have real ramifications on the ground. West Virginia University’s president, E. Gordon Gee, issued a letter April 4 after the state’s Senate distributed a budget bill that would cut appropriations to the university by 15 percent. Such a cut would mean staff layoffs, increased tuition for students and major changes to other programs like the West Virginia University Extension Service and academic programs, Gee wrote.
“Our university has already lost nearly $29 million in base reductions compared to 2011,” Gee wrote. “This additional reduction will be devastating to West Virginia University and all of the other four-year institutions in this state.”
West Virginia lawmakers passed a budget Sunday at the end of their session that would cut higher education. But the budget did not follow a blueprint followed by the state’s governor, setting up a potential veto and extra session.
Cutting Medicaid coverage wouldn’t necessarily alleviate all funding pressures on universities, either. West Virginia University’s health-care arm, WVU Medicine, is the largest health-care provider in the state. Cutting Medicaid coverage would mean fewer patients getting treatment, said Clay Marsh, the vice president for health sciences at West Virginia University. It would also mean more patients putting off care and receiving costly treatment in emergency rooms -- and providers often have to write off the cost of such services when patients can’t pay their bills.
Marsh estimated that not covering patients who are currently covered under Medicaid expansion would result in a loss of about $20 million annually for WVU Medicine.
“Some of the money that comes through the health-care delivery system comes back to the academic enterprise and educational enterprise to help train the state’s population,” Marsh said. “The expansion has been so powerful because we have such a large percentage of our population that has just started to be covered.”
In theory, states could raise taxes to generate enough revenue to cover the cost of Medicaid expansion while also keeping funding for higher education stable. Eight governors proposed new or increased provider taxes to help pay for Medicaid spending growth, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But it’s not that simple, according to Iris Palmer, a senior policy analyst at the liberal-leaning think tank New America.
“People can say you can increase taxes, but there are definitely states where increasing taxes is not a political option,” she said. “In places where they have very high tax rates like Illinois or Connecticut or California, they don’t have a lot of room to increase taxes to cover their additional spending, I would argue.”
Experts believe the states that expanded Medicaid but have not fully recovered from the recession are generally in line for the biggest pinch to higher education budgets in coming years. Kentucky and West Virginia, with their energy-focused economies, are good examples. But they’re not the only ones. Oregon, for example, faces a $1.6 billion shortfall in its upcoming two-year budget cycle. About $1 billion of that comes from health-care costs, including reduced federal support for Medicaid expansion.
Meanwhile, Oregon universities are expecting less state funding. Portland State University is proposing a 9 percent tuition hike and potentially $9 million in cuts because of lower state funding and other pressures like rising wage and benefit costs. Six of the state’s seven public universities plan to raise tuition by at least 5 percent, according to The Oregonian.
Farther south on the West Coast, the California State University system is facing challenges if expensive changes to federal Medicaid funding proceed, said a spokeswoman, Toni Molle.
“If ACA costs do shift to the state and the state chooses to fund health care over universities, it has that choice,” Molle said in an email. “It would not be our choice, but a choice that state lawmakers and the governor would have to make.”
Meanwhile, there have been efforts in some states that did not expand Medicaid previously to do so now. Kansas lawmakers, for instance, narrowly missed approving an expansion this month after Governor Sam Brownback rejected a bill that would have expanded Medicaid and they fell a few votes short of overturning his veto.
To some, the costs associated with Medicaid funding changes are just the latest in a long trend of competition for state resources playing out between health care and education. They believe the competition will continue into the future.
“Health care is in a permanent competition with higher education,” said Anthony P. Carnevale, research professor and director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. “Higher ed has neither legal protection nor budgetary protection. It is the lone standing discretionary spending, except for prisons.”
Carnevale said the future could turn into a grim picture where higher education loses enough resources at the margins that public colleges and universities can no longer expand access to new student populations or provide them with the support they need to graduate. Large public research universities with diverse funding streams will survive, and community colleges will, too.
But other institutions in the middle -- those that depend on state revenue and tuition -- could die. Those institutions educate a large number of students.
That would imperil the American form of higher education, where all students have access to a general education with liberal arts and elective courses, Carnevale said.
“This is going to be a test of the American model,” Carnevale said. “It’s a test of the model on equity grounds, in particular, because it’s about a dual system that’s emerging that gives general education plus a major to more affluent and white people and more specific education to black, brown, working-class and low-income people.”Editorial Tags: Federal policyState policyIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
President Trump has said he wants “extreme vetting” and ideological testing of visa applicants. What will that look like, exactly? As American colleges wait to hear whether accepted applicants will take up their admission offers for the fall, what can they expect students who are coming from other countries to encounter when they apply for visas and when they show up at border security checkpoints at U.S. airports?
A lot remains in flux. But here’s what we know so far about what’s changed and what hasn’t, and the likely effects of the government's moves to strengthen screening processes on the ability of American colleges to attract international students. At issue are not just changes in actual practices or protocols but also what some say are widespread perceptions that the U.S. has grown less welcoming, fueled in part by the Trump administration's temporarily halted travel ban and the crackdown on illegal immigration.
‘Extreme Vetting’ -- What Could It Look Like?
Trump’s ban on entry into the U.S. for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries -- Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- received widespread condemnation from higher education organizations and has been temporarily blocked by federal judges. But other parts of Trump’s March 6 executive order -- “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” -- have not been enjoined by the courts and remain in effect.
One provision of the order -- which, per its title, is framed as intended to prevent the entry of would-be terrorists -- calls for the development of new screening and vetting procedures for “all immigration programs.” The order directs the secretaries of Homeland Security and State, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence to develop “a uniform baseline for screening and vetting standards and procedures, such as in-person interviews; a database of identity documents proffered by applicants to ensure that duplicate documents are not used by multiple applicants; amended application forms that include questions aimed at identifying fraudulent answers and malicious intent; a mechanism to ensure that applicants are who they claim to be; a mechanism to assess whether applicants may commit, aid or support any kind of violent, criminal or terrorist acts after entering the United States; and any other appropriate means for ensuring the proper collection of all information necessary for a rigorous evaluation of all grounds of inadmissibility or grounds for the denial of other immigration benefits.”
That’s as specific as it gets. But The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the administration is considering “far-reaching steps” for vetting that could include requiring foreign nationals who want to visit the U.S. to disclose contacts on their cell phones, their social media passwords and financial records -- some financial records showing proof of funding sources are already required for student visas -- and to answer ideological questions about things like how they view the role of women in society and what they think of so-called honor killings. More generally, the administration wants to subject more visa applicants to extra scrutiny and increase the length of required interviews. Such changes, The Wall Street Journal reported, could potentially apply to people from all over the world, including countries allied with the U.S., like Australia, France, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
When asked, an official at the State Department did not comment on the Wall Street Journal article other than to say that current visa application forms do not request information on social media profiles and that "consular officers have broad discretion to request information they believe is needed to assess applicants’ visa eligibility during the visa adjudication process." The official also said that security screening procedures are the same for immigrant and nonimmigrant visas -- the latter being the types of visas on which international students and scholars typically travel.
But U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill grilled Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly -- whose agency controls entry into the country -- about the article at an April 5 hearing held by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. McCaskill, a Missouri senator and the ranking Democratic member on the committee, questioned the effectiveness of the proposed methods in catching would-be terrorists. "If they know we’re going to look at their phones and they know we're going to ask them questions about their ideology, they’re going to get rid of their phones, and guess what they're going to do on ideology? They’re going to lie," she said.
McCaskill called the described changes "un-American" and damaging to perceptions of the U.S. worldwide. “Every ambassador in Washington read this article in The Wall Street Journal yesterday, and every ambassador in Washington called back to their country and said, ‘Listen to this, they’re going to start asking people for their social media passwords and about their ideology in America,’” McCaskill said at the hearing. “That is incredibly damaging, and all the bad guys are going to, like, just lie. I don’t get how we get anything out of it -- except damage.”
Kelly did not directly answer McCaskill’s question on whether the Wall Street Journal article is accurate, although he said that the ideological questions quoted in the newspaper are not the types of questions he thought would be used in secondary questioning of incoming travelers. (Just to underscore the process, however, the Journal reported that the Trump administration is considering asking those questions during the visa application process -- a process that's controlled by the State Department, not Homeland Security, and which happens well before travelers ever arrive at American airports.)
Kelly said that the Homeland Security department is not routinely using these kinds of screening methods. “We will go to those questions, or request social media -- and I’m talking right now about at our airports and ports of entry -- we’ll go in that direction when the professionals at the counter decide that there’s a reason to go in that direction, but the vast majority of people will not be questioned in that way. It’s just like the vast majority of people that come in the country, foreigners and, for that matter, American citizens, we don’t go into their luggage and inspect their luggage. It’s the same kind of thing. We will do it when we think there’s a reason to do it,” he said.
Kelly also answered questions during the hearing about his agency's use of electronic device searches, a method that has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. Kelly estimated that about “one half of 1 percent” of travelers to the U.S., predominantly foreign nationals, might be subjected to searches of electronic devices, and said the method has been successfully used to identify possessors of child pornography. Kelly also described in some detail a case in which an electronic device search was used to identify an individual with connections to suspected terrorist plotters.
“We had an individual traveling here from a Middle Eastern country. During the process -- the profiling, if you will -- there was something not quite right about him, matching up with what he was telling about his past, where he comes from, his passport. So we put him in secondary; they ran his contact numbers out of his telephone and he was in contact with several -- I won’t go into it too deeply -- but several well-known terrorist traffickers and organizers in the Middle East. They then looked at the pictures and saw a full display of, you know, gay men being thrown off of roofs and people being beheaded and all that. Now, we had no reason to hold him because he was not in any database, so we sent him back,” Kelly said.
Visa Vetting -- What's Changed So Far?
The Wall Street Journal was reporting on possible future changes to visa vetting procedures. But some changes to visa screening procedures have already been ordered. Internal State Department cables from March reported on by Reuters and The New York Times instruct consular chiefs worldwide to appoint working groups to “develop a list of criteria identifying sets of post-applicant populations warranting increased scrutiny” and suggests a list of questions consular officers could ask applicants flagged for extra screening. These include questions about their employment and travel histories, prior passport numbers, addresses, and phone numbers, and email addresses and social media handles. The memos also direct a “mandatory social media check” for any visa applicants who were present in a territory at a time it was controlled by the Islamic State.
A State Department official declined to comment on the cables but addressed the presidential directive ordering enhanced screening and vetting more generally. “In accordance with the presidential memorandum signed on March 6, 2017, which addresses, among other things, enhanced screening and vetting of applications for visas, we immediately took steps to further strengthen our already strong screening and vetting procedures, which include fingerprint, facial recognition and interagency counterterrorism screening, in order to more effectively identify individuals who could pose a threat to the United States. We are working with the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice to implement these steps in compliance with all relevant court orders,” the official said.
Immigration lawyers say that the instructions outlined in the memos, combined with another, less remarked-upon provision of Trump’s March 6 executive order that suspended the visa interview waiver program, could lead to increased backlogs and wait times. Previously, under the interview waiver program, some international students, for example, were able to skip a required in-person interview at the U.S. consulate when it came time to renew their visas.
“Generally, it’s going to take longer to get visas under the procedures outlined in the State Department cables,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration lawyer and professor of practice at Cornell University. “More people are going to have to be interviewed in the first place, because they have suspended the visa interview waiver program, and the background checks are going to take longer. More security advisory opinions will be required from people, which means that even after a visa interview, the consulates will have to send people’s information off to other posts or to Washington, D.C., for background checks, which will slow down the process.” He added that the time involved in social media checks will leave less time for interviews.
In short, Yale-Loehr said, “it’s going to be harder for academics and others to plan how long it will take them to get the visas they need.” Incoming international students, he said, should “apply as soon as possible for their F student visa, since we really do not know how much longer it’s going to take on average to get an F student visa this summer than it has in the past.”
Experts emphasize how much remains unknown at this point. “Right now, it’s too soon to see full effects of these visa vetting policy changes,” said Rachel Banks, the director for public policy for NAFSA: Association of International Educators. “Where we likely will begin to see any effects is starting in the summer months, which is high season for student visa applications at consulates, and going into the fall, as international students arrive in the United States to start their course of study. We also may see fewer currently enrolled international students choosing to depart the United States for the summer break, wanting to avoid not being able to return in the fall.”
Banks added that “many school officials are attributing the decrease in applications for next year … to these new procedures and the rhetoric accompanying them.”
Thirty-eight percent of U.S. universities are reporting declines in international applications for the fall, and international student recruitment professionals report “a great deal of concern” from students and their families about visas and their perception “that the climate in the U.S. is now less welcoming to individuals from other countries,” according to a recent survey conducted by five different higher education associations, including NAFSA.
While it’s indeed the case that the majority of universities aren’t seeing declines in international applications, it's notable that those drops are coming after 10 years of steady growth in international enrollments in the U.S. -- and at the same time when many universities in Canada are recording increases in international applications of 20 percent or more.
“I don’t think anyone would disagree with the fact that we want to keep the bad guys out,” said Anastasia Tonello, the first vice president for the American Immigration Lawyers Association and a managing partner with Laura Devine Attorneys in New York City. But she said that “security is at the forefront” already in consular officers’ decisions -- she noted that the visa refusal rate for a place like Yemen, for example, is already high (48.85 percent for tourist visas, according to adjusted State Department statistics) -- and questioned the usefulness of some of the methods being put forward, such as asking for information from applicants on their social media accounts. “My concern is how are we getting this,” she said. “Are we getting this information that we solicit from the applicant, are they telling us all of their log-in names and all of their online identities and, if so, is the bad guy going to tell us the ones they are using to do bad things?”
“There seems to be this … knee-jerk reaction -- let’s do this -- without going through the analysis of is this going to make America safer or are you just creating more work for your consular officers, which is just going to discourage legitimate business and travel to the United States,” Tonello said.
Port of Entry Protocols -- and Perceptions
On the other end of a successful visa application process is arrival at a U.S. airport or other port of entry and the encounter with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents there.
CBP statistics do not suggest increases in the number of individuals flagged for secondary inspection this February compared to February 2016, under President Obama’s administration. The number of travelers sent to additional screening did increase slightly, by 0.88 percent, this February compared to the previous February. But at the same time the total number of travelers processed rose by 1.84 percent -- and the number of travelers ultimately denied admission to the U.S. fell significantly, by about 49 percent.February 2016 February 2017 Percent Change Total Number of Travelers Processed by CBP Officers 27,699,715 28,209,602 1.84% Total Number of Travelers Identified for Additional Screening 887,817 895,628 0.88% Total Number of Travelers Ultimately Deemed Inadmissible to the U.S. 23,768 12,173 -48.78%
"The statistics are indicative of how CBP officers carry out the important work of enforcing our nation’s laws while facilitating legitimate travel," a CBP spokesperson said.
The data contrast with what Mo Goldman, an immigration lawyer in Tucson, said is the perception of heightened scrutiny at border checkpoints.
"I think it's maybe perception more than reality," Goldman said. "I get it. The undocumented community is freaked out; a lot of people even with green cards and citizenship are worried about traveling internationally in light of some of the rhetoric that’s come out of the White House and the travel ban, and then of course people who are not from those six countries, they're concerned that it could still impact them. All it takes is three or four different incidents to hit the news."
Since February there have been a few high-profile cases of artists or academics being subjected to intense secondary questioning or even detained, prompting PEN America, a writers’ group, in March to issue a statement about the problem of “aggressive interrogations” at the border in which it said, “America’s status as a world-class cultural hub, as a proponent of free thought and lively debate, as a country that celebrates our diversity and welcomes new voices and new ideas from all corners of the world, is crumbling.”
Among the cases PEN highlighted was that of Henry Rousso, a French Holocaust historian originally from Egypt who was traveling to attend a symposium organized by Texas A&M University. Rousso was detained for about 10 hours and nearly sent back to Paris over what seems to have been confusion on the border agent’s part about whether Rousso was allowed to accept an honorarium for a lecture while in the U.S. on a tourist visa (the short answer is that he could).
Rousso wrote about his experience in The Huffington Post: “Even if I had made a mistake, which was not the case, did I deserve such treatment? How can one explain this zeal if not by the concern to fulfill quotas and justify increased controls? That is the situation today in this country. We must now face arbitrariness and incompetence at all levels,” he wrote.
“I think it has a very chilling effect on other scholars,” said Fatma E. Marouf, a law professor and director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at Texas A&M who helped secure Rousso’s release. “People are more reluctant to come to the U.S. Even if they get in, they don’t want to be held in the airport, detained in long secondary inspections. It just makes it less attractive to come here and give talks. That, in turn, limits the exchange of ideas and the diversity that is so integral to higher education.”
Some are staying away. Thousands of academics signed a petition saying they will boycott conferences in the U.S. after Trump issued his first iteration of the travel ban Jan. 27 (that ban was halted by the courts and subsequently rescinded by the March 6 executive order). Organizers of the International Studies Association’s annual conference, which was held in Baltimore in February, said that a total of 176 participants withdrew citing a reason related to the travel ban. One scholar from the Philippines who did make it to Baltimore and was questioned for two hours upon his arrival in the U.S. -- questions that he said centered around Islam, the subject of his research, and terrorism -- said he was having “second thoughts” about returning to the U.S. for future conferences during the Trump administration.
Safwan M. Masri, an executive vice president at Columbia University charged with overseeing Columbia’s network of eight overseas research centers, shares concerns that some scholars might stay away, to higher education's detriment. A Jordanian-born American citizen, Masri likewise wrote a piece for The Huffington Post after being questioned Feb. 18 upon re-entering the U.S. after a trip to Columbia’s center in Mumbai. “Far more sinister than travel bans and policy changes is the undeclared, and now seemingly common, practice of profiling on the basis of religion and origin,” wrote Masri, who said he was asked a series of questions about his ties to Jordan and about his work and the purpose of Columbia’s global centers. “Though never made explicit,” he wrote, “the unmistakable subtext of the interrogation was to vet on the basis of Muslim and Arab affiliation.”
“The woman who interviewed me could not have been nicer,” Masri said in an interview. “I almost felt like she was kind of apologetic, and I was very confident and comfortable because I was a U.S. citizen. But when I asked her what triggered this, why are you asking this or that, the answers she gave me just didn’t make sense.”
“As an experience, as a transaction, it was not painful, but what it left me with was very painful,” continued Masri, who’s been cleared as a low-risk traveler under the government’s Global Entry program. “I felt unsettled and uncertain and I was going to take another trip in a few days and I was nervous about what happened. But I felt insulted most of all. I felt my Americanness was being questioned.” When he got home, he found a summons for jury duty in the mail.
“These kinds of incidents serve as a deterrent to people who might otherwise travel to the United States,” Masri said. “Even before I published my piece, I was hearing from people who feel that if they don’t have an absolutely necessary purpose for a trip to the United States, they were not going to travel, and that’s because of the general climate that they feel we have in the United States today. We do have some data on increased violence and profiling of people on the basis of their ethnicity and religion -- what we have seen, for example, take place in Kansas, the two Indians who were taken for Iranians and were ambushed. Stories like this get around. But even without those anecdotes, there is a general sense in the rest of the world that the United States under Trump is not a welcoming place.”GlobalForeign StudentsEditorial Tags: Trump administrationImmigrationInternational higher educationForeign Students in U.S.Image Source: Getty ImagesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
A Georgia lawmaker’s now defunct bill that would have restricted colleges’ powers to investigate campus sex crimes inspired a national firestorm. It highlighted a raging and yet unresolved debate: Do institutions unfairly pursue discipline against the accused?
Some believe the current federal directions for how colleges should scrutinize sexual assault cases is skewed in favor of those making a complaint, but measures that others view as bringing more balance to the process are often slammed as protections for rapists.
Though the controversial bill from Georgia Representative Earl Ehrhart easily passed the state's House of Representatives, the Senate Judiciary Committee tabled it, citing the need to rework the proposal. Ideas in the bill are reflected in national criticisms of how colleges adjudicate sexual assault allegations and have cropped up in both state legislatures and Congress. Because the Trump administration is expected to rescind the current federal guidance on these issues, the battle in Georgia could preview what's ahead.
Early in the state’s legislative session, sexual assault prevention advocates, particularly students and survivors, rallied fiercely against Ehrhart, a Republican and chairman of the House of Representatives subcommittee that controls the state's higher education spending.
The legislation would have mandated that reports of felony sexual assaults made to campus officials statewide be forwarded to law enforcement. Only a few types of employees are excluded from this requirement, namely licensed mental health professionals.
Colleges would have also been limited in their internal probes into such reports, depending largely on police. And any disciplinary investigation the institution conducted couldn't “obstruct or prejudice” law enforcement’s investigations.
Students who brought accusations of sexual assault wouldn't have been able to prevent anyone from telling law enforcement their story, though they could have been granted anonymity and would not be forced to cooperate with an investigation. Accusers also didn't need to engage in a college disciplinary proceedings, but under the bill, the college could punish no one without the accuser’s participation.
Such a proposal would create a “chill” among victims, who are less likely to come forward if they know law enforcement will be involved, said S. Daniel Carter, secretary of the advocacy group SurvJustice, which lobbied heavily against Ehrhart’s bill.
Survivors say this often, Carter said, but research seems to back the claim. Less than 5 percent of rapes or attempted rapes are ever reported to police, according to a 2000 study by agencies in the research arm in the U.S. Department of Justice. Victims surveyed in the study stated they did not want their family or other people to find out, or they lacked proof of their assault.
Eleven state and national advocacy organizations, including SurvJustice, in a letter to Georgia’s Senate Judiciary Committee when it was considering the bill, wrote that survivors would see mandatory reporting to police as “another betrayal.”
“Many survivors fear skepticism or harassment from the police and retaliatory violence by their perpetrator; many do not want to pursue a long, arduous criminal trial. Many are all too aware that prosecutors rarely press charges against accused rapists, and juries rarely convict,” they wrote.
Georgia students also pressed back against the bill, organizing a group called Students Against HB 51, a reference to the bill number.
Anna Harrison, a senior at the Georgia Institute of Technology and one of the group’s organizers, said that the legislation removed autonomy from survivors, a key part of their continued mental well-being.
The legal system lags far behind the speed of college investigations, too, Harrison said. Her encounters with legislators were relatively respectful -- excluding Ehrhart, who she said called survivors “snowflakes,” a common insult to describe someone’s perceived oversensitivity.
Left-leaning websites have also slammed Ehrhart with headlines like “Georgia Lawmakers Cruelly Mocked Rape Survivor Lobbying Against Harmful Bill,” and showed a video of him telling sexual assault survivors during one hearing on the bill to “trigger somewhere else.”
In an interview last week with Inside Higher Ed, Ehrhart criticized colleges’ handling of sexual assault cases, repeatedly referring to their procedures as “kangaroo court.”
Colleges, in investigating sexual assaults, follow Obama-era guidance issued by U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. The 2011 Dear Colleague letter re-interpreted the gender discrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Perhaps the most controversial element of that directive was that colleges should, in judging sexual assault cases, rely on a lower standard of proof, preponderance of evidence, meaning that enough evidence has been presented to show a scenario likely occurred, rather than the clear and convincing evidence standard. President Trump is reportedly planning to rescind this guidance.
Ehrhart filed a still pending lawsuit against the Office for Civil Rights in 2016, claiming that the Obama administration's interpretation was unlawful.
False reports of sexual assault are “rampant” and destroy lives, Ehrhart said. He recounted a “poignant” meeting with the mother of student who had been accused of sexual assault but was later cleared -- the student had attempted suicide, Ehrhart said. This tragedy was one of many he heard from parents who contacted his office, he said.
“It comes down to punishing someone based on an accusation with no real standard of due process,” Ehrhart said. “It’s shocking to me that some think that you should be tried without due process, with some nonjudicial proceeding. Imagine if it was your family, your son or daughter, your sibling, who had their entire college education ruined, with no chance of a professional career, and a scarlet letter of serial sexual assaulter on your forehead. That’s serious stuff. You don’t get to do that with untrained college bureaucrats.”
Ehrhart did not provide data to back his claims of the prevalence of false reporting. Research has pegged the rate of false reports -- defined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an accusation that has been studied and deemed untrue -- between 2 and 8 percent nationally.
He did cite a 2016 piece from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which reported that Georgia Tech had suspended or expelled almost every student accused of sexual assault in a five-year period. In January 2016, the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents reversed Georgia Tech’s decision to expel a student who had been accused of sexual assault. The student had sued, and the system later settled the lawsuit for $125,000.
The regents in March 2016 established two new university system policies concerning sexual misconduct and student conduct investigations. In a statement, the system stressed that investigators into sexual assault cases would be trained, and that both parties in a case were always allowed some sort of an adviser or attorney present at each stage of the process. Sonja A. Roberts, a spokeswoman with the University System of Georgia, declined an interview request regarding Ehrhart’s bill.
During the legislative session, HB 51 easily passed the Georgia House of Representatives 115 to 55, but stalled in the senate committee.
In an unusual legislative maneuver, Ehrhart, in an attempt to revive the legislation, struck a deal to gut a senate bill that dealt with bankruptcy and replaced it with the language of his bill. It still did not pass.
Ehrhart said during an interview that his actions were completely transparent, done on the floor of the House, and entirely appropriate.
“How could it not be if it’s allowed under law?” Ehrhart said.
He intends to bring the bill back next year, asserting this year he and the other sponsors “ran out of time” to send it through the Legislature.
Accordingly, his opposition intends to monitor movement on future legislation, and Harrison said her group will use the year to contact more organizations and broaden their lobbying force.
Both California and Virginia require sexual assault crimes to be reported to law enforcement. The Texas Senate also last week approved, 30 to 1, a bill that would mandate all college employees immediately inform a campus Title IX coordinator of a sexual assault.
Recent federal actions intended to curb sexual assault have failed. Federal legislation similar to Ehrhart’s was introduced in 2015 by former U.S. Representative Matt Salmon, a Republican from Arizona. It would have forced colleges to go to police, but after receiving written consent from the student who brought the allegation. Institutions wouldn’t have been able to launch an investigation until law enforcement’s concluded.
Another proposal from a contingent of bipartisan lawmakers led by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, came in both 2014 and 2015 and would have imposed heftier fines on colleges that mishandled Title IX cases. It also would have ordered colleges to survey their students anonymously about the frequency of sexual assault on campus.Students and ViolenceEditorial Tags: Sexual assaultIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
AAUP: Faculty salaries up slightly, but budgets are balanced 'on the backs' of adjuncts and out-of-state students
Pay for full-time faculty members rose 2.6 percent this academic year over last, according to “Visualizing Change,” the American Association of University Professors’ Annual Report on the Economic Status of the Profession. But professors shouldn't get too excited: adjusted for inflation, that amounts to just 0.5 percent.
Although average faculty salary increases this year are fairly close to the increases the past two years, a relatively high Consumer Price Index in many metropolitan areas “means the real buying power of any increases [is] substantially diminished,” said Samuel J. Dunietz, a senior program officer at AAUP who helped write the report.
Released today, AAUP’s annual survey finds that the average salary for full-time ranked faculty members was $80,095 in 2016-17, while the average total pay for part-time faculty members at a single institution was $20,508. Average pay for part-time faculty members teaching on a per-section basis only (excluding professors teaching part-time during phased retirement, for example) was $7,066, with serious limitations to the data.
The compensation data above are collected annually by the American Association of University Professors. Participation in the AAUP survey is optional; 1,022 institutions submitted data for the 2016-17 academic year.
Pay Data for 1,022 Institutions
Full professors earned $102,402, on average, across ranks, disciplines and institution types. They also saw the largest increase in salary from 2015-16, of about $2,956, on average. Associate professors earned $79,654 and enjoyed a $2,462 average bump in pay. Assistant professors made $69,206, up by about $2,224 from the year prior.
Salaries for continuing faculty members, who have served one or more years at the same institution, increased at all ranks, by about 1 percent, adjusted for inflation, according to AAUP. For continuing full professors, the bump was about 0.6 percent, and 1.2 percent and 1.5 percent for the entire population of associate and full professors, respectively. Yet AAUP found no evidence of widespread salary inversion or compression, in which junior faculty members make the same or more than their more senior colleagues.
While the gap between junior and senior ranks “may be narrowing slightly,” reads AAUP’s report, “it would take a long time for assistant professors to catch up even to associate professors at the current rate. In addition, a very high increase in salaries at a few institutions could skew the average.”
AAUP expressed concern over the declining share of full-time, tenure-track faculty members across academe, however -- about a 50 percent drop since 1975. “With fewer tenured and tenure-track positions, U.S. higher education is less likely to be an engine for pedagogical and research innovation, since non-tenure-track faculty usually have less freedom to take risks in the classroom and in the laboratory,” the report says.
Men vs. Women
Gender-based pay disparities are also evident at all faculty ranks, with male full professors earning $104,493, on average this year, compared to $98,524 for women. Among associate professors, men earned $80,895, while women earned $77,751. Male assistant professors earned $70,446 and women earned $67,647. These findings parallel those included a recent faculty salary report from College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, which put the overall pay ratio at 0.87 (meaning that women make $0.87 on the dollar compared to men).
AAUP’s data, available here exclusively from Inside Higher Ed, also includes pay-parity ratios by institution. While ratios are high at many institutions, some -- including Vanderbilt University -- have achieved virtual pay parity (99.6). Some institutions even have higher average professor salaries for women than for men: Notre Dame of Maryland University, for example, has a ratio of 111.9.
AAUP explains these gender disparities, in part, by disciplinary pay differences. “The results of several discipline-level salary surveys consistently reveal that higher-paying disciplines, such as business management, biological sciences, engineering and mathematics, tend to be disproportionately male-dominated,” the report reads, “while lower-paying disciplines such as English, sociology and women’s and gender studies have a disproportionately high number of female faculty. When male faculty members are overrepresented in higher-paying disciplines, it is not surprising to find gender disparity at the institutional level.”
Coasts vs. Midwest and South
As in past years, professors tended to make the most in New England (full-time professor average professor pay: $93,730), the Middle Atlantic ($85,593) and the West (Pacific, $92,891, and Mountain, $74,640). The lowest annual salaries were found in the Midwest ($69,547) and East South Central region ($70,057).
The report notes that while the cost of living is a major factor in faculty salaries, so, too, may be political representation and collective bargaining. “Faculty salaries, particularly at public institutions, tend to be higher where there is a strong commitment to state financing of public higher education,” AAUP says, and where faculties have unionized.
Administrators vs. Faculty Members
AAUP is a longtime critic of institutions’ budgetary priorities, and this year’s faculty compensation report is no exception. It points out that the average salary this year for college and university presidents was $334,617, a 4.3 percent jump from 2015-16, not adjusted for inflation.
“Presidents now earn nearly four times as much as full professors at private doctoral institutions and more than three and a half times as much as those at public doctoral institutions,” the report says. “Other senior administrators also earn substantially more than full professors. The average salary for chief academic officers in 2016-17 was $212,774, and the average salary for chief financial officers was $202,048.”
Full-time vs. Part-Time Professors
Homing in on another longtime concern -- the decline of tenure-track positions -- AAUP says that the share of adjuncts teaching across higher ed has increased 66 percent in the past four decades. Adjuncts now make up 40 percent of the academic labor force at institutions surveyed, according to federal data, “a slightly larger share than tenured and tenure-track faculty combined,” while average total pay, per institution, for these instructors is $20,508.
Pay for adjuncts teaching on a per-section basis only is $7,066 on average, per institution. AAUP warns that “caution is warranted” here, since, at “many institutions, the only readily available pieces of information about part-time faculty members teaching on a per-section basis are the total amount paid to those faculty members and the number of those faculty members being paid. … Because many faculty members teach more than one section of a course, this average is greater than the amount a part-time faculty member would be paid per section.”
Dunietz, of AAUP, emphasized that the statistic is “not meant to indicate an average pay per course,” but rather the average salaries of those part-time faculty that are paid on a per-course basis. “Some of these faculty may teach two or three courses, and the data that we have doesn’t differentiate between cost per course,” he added.
CUPA-HR's recent survey included responses on adjunct pay from a limited number of institutions. The average was about $1,000 per credit taught.
Despite this limitation, AAUP says, inclusion of part-time faculty data in the annual report marks an “important step” toward benchmarking per-section pay data. In any case, the report reads, “The average pay from a single institution for part-time faculty teaching on a per-section basis is well below the federal poverty line of $16,240 for a family of two. Even if we assume that a part-time faculty member teaches three courses at one institution and three at another, the earnings from those courses would still likely place him or her near the poverty line.” Moreover, it says, benefits are typically nil for these faculty members.
Republican vs. Democrats and State Funding
The economic picture for adjuncts and other faculty members likely won’t improve under the all-Republican federal administration, AAUP adds, and the “expansion of Republican control of state legislatures and governorships will have dramatic effects on faculty compensation for years to come. The potential full repeal of the Affordable Care Act could cause health-insurance premiums to increase and would likely place additional burdens on part-time faculty. With appropriations for higher education still lagging behind pre-recession levels, faculty should expect a prolonged period of little growth in salaries.”
Why? State appropriations for higher education remain uneven, and those in Republican-dominated states, in particular, struggle to catch up to pre-2008 levels, especially when enrollment growth is taken into account. For example, AAUP says, “total state appropriations increased nationally by just over 4 percent between 2015 and 2016,” but that growth “was overshadowed by the 16 percent decline in appropriations that occurred in years immediately following the recession, between 2009 and 2013. … Six of the 10 states with the largest increases in appropriations between 2015 and 2016 leaned toward or were controlled by Democrats. Conversely, eight of the 10 states with the lowest percentage change in state appropriations leaned toward or were controlled by Republicans.”
AAUP also says that decreases in state appropriations since 2008 have contributed to net tuition price increases at public institutions.
More than that, said Howard Bunsis, professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and a member of the AAUP Council’s executive committee, the declining public commitment to higher education is “making it harder for students and their families to afford an education. The students today have it harder than ever, and we are not doing enough to help students succeed.”
Summing up AAUP’s concerns about adjunct faculty members, Bunsis said that administrators continue to rely on them for teaching needs, evidenced by the fact that they’re now the largest component of the professoriate. Yet “these dedicated part-time faculty work for low compensation, no security and no benefits.”
Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct advocacy organization, said the incomplete nature of data on adjuncts in AAUP's survey and other sources makes clear the "critical need" for mandatory, comprehensive data collection on part-time faculty compensation -- as opposed to voluntary survey responses -- "so that the public realizes the real scope of the disparity in compensation affecting the faculty doing what is arguably the most essential work in higher education."
The Highly Paid vs. the Not-So-Highly Paid
Here's data on average salary and compensation (including benefits) for faculty members across disciplines across academe, by rank and institution type, followed by information about the highest-paid faculty members nationwide:
Among private institutions, Columbia University retained the same spot year over year for highest full professor pay. The University of Chicago fell two slots from last year, to No. 4, while Stanford University moved up one, to No. 2. Princeton University jumped up two spots, to No. 3. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology jumped two, to No. 6, while New York University fell three slots, to No. 9. Duke University pushed Johns Hopkins University out of the top 10 in this category.
Top Salaries for Full Professors at Private Universities, 2016-17 (Average)1. Columbia University $244,400 2. Stanford University $236,600 3. Princeton University $229,400 4. University of Chicago $228,100 5. Harvard University $227,700 6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology $212,100 7. Yale University $209, 500 8. University of Pennsylvania $209,200 9. New York University $205,600 10. Duke University $204,200
The top 10 public institutions for full professor pay are very similar to last year's. Among other small changes, the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor fell two slots, to No. 6, while the University of Maryland at Baltimore jumped to No. 8 from No. 10.
Top Salaries for Full Professors at Public Universities, 2016-17 (Average)1. University of California, Los Angeles $195,000 2. University of California, Berkeley $185,100 3. Rutgers University, Newark $178,800 4. University of Virginia $172,400 5. University of California, Santa Barbara $169,600 6. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor $168,400 7. University of California, Irvine $165,700 8. University of Maryland, Baltimore $165,500 9. University of California, San Diego $164,200 10. Rutgers University, New Brunswick $163,500
The top 10 liberal arts institutions for full professors in term of pays were virtually unchanged since last year, except that Barnard College and Claremont McKenna College flipped within the top two slots.
Top Salaries for Full Professors at Liberal Arts Colleges, 2016-17 (Average)1. Barnard College $164,000 2. Claremont McKenna College $163,300 3. Wellesley College $157,500 4. Pomona College $154,900 5. Amherst College $149,900 6. Wesleyan University $149,400 7. Swarthmore College $149,300 8. Harvey Mudd College $148,100 9. Williams College $143,700 10. Colgate University $143,000
Assistant professors earned most this year at many of the same 10 institutions as last year. Harvard and Columbia switched places year over year, however, for fifth and sixth place, respectively. Bentley and Northwestern Universities also entered the top 10 in this category, as Johns Hopkins and NYU fell out.
Top 10 Colleges With Six-Figure Salaries for Assistant Professors, 2016-17 (Average)1. Babson College $131,700 2. Stanford University $128,200 3. California Institute of Technology $127,900 4. University of Pennsylvania $127,500 5. Harvard University $123,700 6. Columbia University $122,800 7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology $120,600 8. Bentley University $118,600 9. University of Chicago $118,200 10. Northwestern University $117,200 Pay and BenefitsFacultyEditorial Tags: Career AdviceCollege administrationFacultyImage Source: Getty ImagesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 3Advice Newsletter publication date: Thursday, April 13, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
Degree requirements for child-care workers may improve industry, but raise concerns for low-paying field
New developments in the field and the drive to improve quality in some careers are pushing entry-level requirements to include degrees.
Take, for instance, jobs in child care or early-childhood development.
A new regulation in Washington sets an associate degree as the minimum credential for a lead teacher in a child-care center. The District of Columbia’s child-care providers have until December 2020 to meet the new regulation. Child-care directors must also earn at least a bachelor’s degree, and home-care providers and assistant teachers must have a child development associate credential, which is an entry-level certificate for providers.
“We know the economy has changed, and by 2020, 75 percent of jobs in the District will require some postsecondary credential,” said Elizabeth Groginsky, assistant superintendent of early learning for the nation's capital. “We’re keeping up with the research, and having a policy that shows brain development in young children is incredible … Teachers will need this knowledge and skill base to work with this population.”
Although there are scholarships available in the District for child-care providers pursuing their CDAs or degrees, some critics say pushing for more education may lead to providers pursuing higher-paying jobs in elementary schools. That could mean wage increases at day-care centers will be passed on to families, who may find the child-care centers unaffordable.
For example, Preston Cooper, an education data analyst for the American Enterprise Institute, in an essay called the District's policy "nonsensical" and said the only winners are the "colleges that get to charge child-care workers thousands of dollars to churn out those credentials."
Research into children’s learning and early development has progressed rapidly, but the standards and the child-care work force have failed to keep pace, according to a 2015 report from the National Academy of Sciences.
“Those who provide for the care and education of children from birth through age 8 are not acknowledged as a cohesive work force, unified by the shared knowledge and competencies needed to do their jobs well,” the report said. “Expectations for these professionals often have not kept pace with what the science indicates children need, and many current policies do not place enough value on the significant contributions these professionals make to children’s long-term success.”
Nationwide, requirements for child-care providers have increased in recent years, said Christine Schull, a professor of early-childhood education at Northern Virginia Community College. She said years ago degree requirements also increased for Head Start providers.
“What we know about young children and their brain development makes it crucial to say there need to be increased education requirements,” she said. “We know a lot more about brain development and early learning, and just saying, ‘I kept your kid alive and they’re not crying’ is not enough. There is a misperception that maybe anybody can do this.”
Schull compares the transition the field is undergoing today to how educators were viewed in the past. An elementary school teacher didn’t always need a degree to teach, she said.
But increasing degree requirements for a career that traditionally doesn’t pay high -- or even sufficient -- wages is also concerning. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national average annual wage of a day-care provider is $21,340.
“The industry used to be looked at like it was babysitting, and it hasn’t been given the importance it really deserves,” said Dede Marshall, department chair for education and social services and an assistant professor of early-childhood education at Montgomery College in Maryland. “It is an issue requiring teachers to get a certain level of education because they’re often not going to get the increase in their salary, and this a problem nationally.”
Yet Marshall said it’s also a good thing to encourage more education for child-care providers, because research shows that higher-quality instructors lead to better outcomes for children.
“It is a contentious issue whether or not we have too much licensing,” said Anthony Carnevale, a research professor and director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce, adding that, for instance, Virginia requires a license to be a yoga instructor. “But most people would agree increased credentialing does reflect real upscaling. It reflects a demand for more skills from entry-level workers.”
Following the Lead of Nursing
For many child-care experts and teachers, the hope is that the profession will shift in similar ways to how nursing has shifted in the last 60 years.
In the 1950s, nurses learned on the job and weren't required to hold as many degrees or certifications as they do today. But that shift in the nursing profession to requiring more education eventually led to better compensation, Carnevale said, which is what early-education experts and educators hope will happen to the day-care industry.
But today, wages for child-care jobs don't have a relation to the value of the work, he said. “This is work that is overwhelmingly women’s work, which we keep increasing the education standards of, but we don’t increase wages.”
At the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), there is hope that the national shift to “professionalizing” child care will play out like nursing, but the field doesn’t have a consistent list of standards or a programmatic accrediting agency.
In contrast, there may be variations across some states, but requirements for registered nurses or certified nursing assistants generally are consistent across the country and regulated, said Marica Mitchell, deputy executive director for early learning systems at NAEYC.
“These two conversations need to happen simultaneously,” she said. “We need to have a unified framework for credentials and qualifications because we’ll need significant public investments to reach significant compensation. But making a case for compensation is difficult when you can’t show or provide evidence that the profession you’re advocating for has comparable education, accountability and preparation.”
When it comes to professional standards, NAEYC does offer voluntary accreditation of early-childhood programs; about 20 percent of early childhood education degree programs across the country have NAEYC recognition or accreditation status, Mitchell said.
The CDA, which is the entry-level credential in early-childhood development, is overseen by the Council for Professional Recognition. The council works with providers, colleges and universities to offer the credential, which costs about $425 to earn. CDA applicants have to have completed 120 hours of professional education or an equivalent number of college credits. About 20,000 child-care providers earn it each year.
“The CDA is the best first step even for someone who has been in the field for 30 years,” said Valora Washington, chief executive at the council. “We find a lot of colleges and universities use the CDA standard as part of what they’re teaching … It’s really important to not have just any degree, but specialized training and experience working with young children.”
But Washington said colleges and universities need to be more prepared to handle this transition as the field professionalizes.
“Higher education is going to have some real capacity issues in terms of dealing with the early-childhood work force, in terms of course offerings and in having full-time faculty,” she said, adding that many of these programs are staffed by adjuncts and there will need to be stronger transfer agreements between two- and four-year institutions.
In places like D.C., where the new requirement may be burdensome on longtime child-care providers, competency-based education programs may come in handy, said Courtney Brown, vice president of strategic impact at the Lumina Foundation.
“All of these people have probably learned on the job and should get credit for learning, wherever it takes place,” she said.Accreditation and Student LearningNational Accountability SystemsCommunity CollegesTeaching and LearningEditorial Tags: Adult educationCompensationDiversity MattersIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 5Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, April 11, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
South Carolina State University is the latest historically black institution to align with the University of Phoenix to expand its online education offerings.
South Carolina State last month launched the Bulldog Academic Resumption Covenant Program, or BARC, which targets more than 2,500 students who enrolled at the university between 2010 and 2015 but stopped out. Most of the students still live in South Carolina but have jobs or other commitments that prevent them from finishing their degrees.
The university has now invited those students back to resume their studies by taking online courses offered by Phoenix. Under the terms of the BARC program, S.C. State will waive a $35 readmission fee and offer students a 50 percent discount on tuition rates, dropping the cost of a three-credit-hour course to $651. Students can take up to 27 credits from Phoenix.
Once students signal their interest in the BARC program, “the division of academic affairs is making a covenant of sticking with them until they get their degrees,” said Learie B. Luke, acting provost and vice president for academic affairs at the South Carolina public university. After the university reviews the students’ accounts for academic or financial holds, the academic departments map the courses they need to finish the degree they were pursuing before stopping out to equivalent courses offered by Phoenix.
The BARC program is the latest product of an “alliance” that Phoenix and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund entered into in November 2014 to boost online education at historically black colleges and universities.
Few HBCUs have so far taken advantage of the partnership. In 2015, the Developmental Research School at Florida A&M University began a research project to create online college-preparatory courses for K-12 students. Originally slated for spring and fall 2016, three of the courses launched in January, a university spokesperson said in an email.
Paul Quinn College in 2015 also announced plans to let its students take online courses from Phoenix, but its website makes no mention of such a program. A spokesperson for the college did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Johnny C. Taylor Jr., CEO and president of the Thurgood Marshall fund, was also unavailable for comment Monday.
South Carolina State’s announcement has attracted the same sort of mixed reactions that accompanied the Marshall fund's announcement of the alliance, with many questioning the value of sending students at HBCUs to a for-profit institution. A story that ran Sunday in the Charleston, S.C.-based Post and Courier, for example, focused on the fact that S.C. State will pay Phoenix $395 for every course one of its students completes.
Luke said he was disappointed that coverage has focused on Phoenix and not on the university’s efforts to help former students finish their degrees. He compared the partnership to S.C. State’s articulation agreements with local technical colleges, saying it is one of many ways the university is working to increase the number of students who are able to go to and graduate from college.
“We are in the 21st century, where universities have to be flexible about how they provide access to education,” Luke said. “Certainly as an HBCU, access is a critical part of our mission to educate people and increase their socioeconomic standing in the community. What the University of Phoenix helps us do is to carry out our mission effectively with students who cannot walk through our gates anymore.”
The BARC program may expand to include other students in the future, Luke said. Since the launch, the university has heard from students who attended the university in the 1990s who would be interested in participating.
South Carolina State offers a number of online courses of its own, but its lineup doesn’t cover all the upper-level courses the students who stopped out need to graduate, Luke said. This spring, the university is offering about 30 online courses.
The university is working on expanding its presence in the online education market, Luke said. It recently graduated its first group of “e-fellows” -- faculty members trained to teach online -- but training its entire faculty will take time. “In the meantime, we ought to be doing something for our students,” he said.
Thomas J. Cassidy, professor of English and modern languages, referenced the Post and Courier story in an email, saying department chairs will vet Phoenix’s upper-level courses “with strict consideration paid to the demands of accreditation” to determine which of them can satisfy major requirements.
“As the Faculty Senate president, I was not a fan of this agreement, because of this reputation [Phoenix] brings with it,” Cassidy said. “The onus will be on both institutions to make sure that students receive the advisement and support they need. Having said that, I have some former students who seem interested, so I hope it works out.”TechnologyEditorial Tags: Historically black collegesOnline learningIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
How do you measure the impact of a library when the number of books on its shelves is no longer its defining characteristic?
The research arms of Ithaka and the library collaborative OCLC have launched a joint project to find out. Over the next 14 months, researchers with the organizations plan to survey the higher education landscape to identify how colleges and universities are differentiating themselves, explore the different types of services libraries are investing in, and help college librarians articulate the new ways in which they are creating value for their institutions.
“Our research question is: What happens when libraries differentiate themselves in terms of services, not collection size; are there multiple models of success?” a project description shared with Inside Higher Ed reads.
The two nonprofits, both of which conduct research on topics related to libraries, have titled the project “University Futures; Library Futures” -- a recognition that the success of colleges and their libraries is connected, co-principal investigators Deanna Marcum and Lorcan Dempsey said in an interview.
“If universities are going to more purposely think about their place and position, what it is that they have to offer, how they want to be seen and what they want to do, then that’s the most important determinant of what the libraries in those universities are going to be,” Dempsey, chief strategist and vice president of membership and research at OCLC, said. “Over time, if universities are going to be more differentiated, then so will university libraries.”
That transformation is already taking place at many colleges and universities. But while many library reorganization projects involve some of the same features -- adding space for new activities, investing in support services for faculty members and students, and reducing the footprint of physical books, among others -- they are rarely identical. Yet libraries continue to be judged based on the size of their collections or their recent book acquisitions.
“If these books that are filling the shelves and occupying an awful lot of prime real estate on campus aren’t being used, what else should the facilities be used for, and what is the right kind of support for the faculty and students in the institution?” Marcum, a senior adviser for Ithaka S+R, said. “Just as there are different types of institutions, there are going to be different measures of success for libraries.”
Two recent projects highlight some of the directions university libraries are headed in. Georgia Institute of Technology, with its focus on STEM fields, has decided to move virtually all of its physical books to a storage facility. Arizona State University, in comparison, will also move much of its physical collection out of its main library, but use the space to better showcase its special collections and, perhaps, exhibit rotating collections organized around a monthly theme.
Those are two examples of the “clusters” of similar institutions that Dempsey and Marcum said their project may outline. For example, their research could find groups of colleges defined by their focus on teaching students or their faculty’s research output. At the same time, the project will look at which “bundles” of services libraries at those institution are prioritizing, with the goal of producing a framework that can be used to display a library’s strengths in key areas.
“For instance, if the project identifies three main bundles of academic library services, these might be visualized as dials that are turned up or down in intensity according to institutional need,” the project description reads. “We might expect that in libraries supporting research institutions, some dials would be turned higher and others would be lower, relative to libraries in teaching/learning institutions.”
The later stages of the project will involve site visits and workshops to gather input from higher education and library groups on the types of institutions and bundles of services that the researchers have identified.
Dempsey and Marcum said the goal of the project is not to grade libraries, but to explore the ways libraries and universities are changing and help libraries find the support services best suited for the people they serve.
“The major purpose is to provide good ways [for] libraries and librarians to talk about their services in ways in which universities are developing,” Dempsey said. “We want to be able to help the library tell good stories about the range of services it provides.”
Ithaka S+R’s own research suggests library directors are having a harder time telling those stories today than they did only a few years ago. A survey released last week showed fewer library directors feel they share the same vision for the library with their supervisor compared to three years ago.
“In some cases there’s a very clear alignment between the direction that the university is going and the direction the library is going,” said Roger C. Schonfeld, director of Ithaka S+R’s library and scholarly communication program. “But it is the case that colleges and universities are making strategic pivots in one way or the other in recent years, and sometimes in ways that libraries are not always well positioned to stay abreast of.”
Schonfeld said he hoped the project will produce several “road maps” that can help library directors see how their counterparts at similar institutions are planning for the future.
Both Ithaka S+R and OCLC Research will contribute resources to the project, which is also being supported by a grant of unspecified size from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
“This is not an answer, but it’s an exploration,” Marcum said. “There are so many ways of looking at the future of the library, and this will help us have that discussion.”Libraries and PublishingEditorial Tags: LibrariesImage Source: Georgia TechIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?:
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