Higher Education News

Two institutions grapple with how they should deal with revelations of faculty members' histories of sexual misconduct

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 07:00

The recent wave of years- and even decades-old sexual misconduct cases demonstrates that the past is very much present. But an unusual legal decision in Pennsylvania suggests that the past isn’t necessarily prologue.

Last week, a Pennsylvania court affirmed an arbitrator’s earlier order that Lock Haven University reinstate a professor of mathematics it terminated over a 28-year-old child sex abuse case. In so doing, it cited the professor’s years of service without apparent “impropriety” and state law prohibiting legislation that “deprives an individual of the right to conduct a lawful business unless the regulation has a real and substantial relationship to a valid state objective” -- in this case, public safety.

At the same time, the three-judge panel upheld the arbitrator’s decision that the professor, Charles Morgan, may not teach high school students in dual-enrollment courses.

Lock Haven declined comment on the decision.

Revelations, Termination

Morgan’s criminal history was revealed in 2016, after the Jerry Sandusky abuse case at Pennsylvania State University prompted background check legislation pertaining to all college and university employees with direct access to children. The law exempted those employees whose access to minors was limited to matriculated and prospective students, except where the students were enrolled in high school, or dual enrollees. The Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education subsequently adopted an even more stringent policy, which the state college and university faculty union challenged.

Morgan, who’d been working at Lock Haven since 2004, had his background checked in response to a temporary legal order that Pennsylvania professors teaching 100-level courses complete a background check. The check turned up a 1990 conviction in Kentucky for sodomy and sexual assault against an 8-year-old boy and another minor. Morgan, who was 19 at the time, was sentenced to five years in prison but was released early after he completed a voluntary therapy program.

Lock Haven put Morgan on leave, pending a fact-finding investigation. According to legal documents, he told the investigator that he’d always done the “right thing” since his conviction, kept his door open during meetings with students and been a “safe member” of the faculty.

The university terminated Morgan. In a dismissal letter, President Michael Fiorentino, who has since retired, said that Lock Haven had based its decision on the fact that Morgan had a “regular and recurring teaching assignment” of 100-level courses in which nonmatriculated minors could enroll, and that he participated in running an annual math competition for high school students. Fiorentino also said that the seriousness and relevancy of Morgan’s crimes outweighed any possible mitigation due to the passage of time, according to court documents.

Morgan filed a grievance, with the support of the Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties. He’s argued that he hadn’t disclosed his criminal record upon his hire because the relevant form at the time asked only whether he had been convicted of criminal charges within the previous decade and whether any criminal charges were pending (he answered no to both, truthfully). And, according to legal documents, there “has been no allegation that [Morgan] engaged in any other instance of sexual abuse or any other impropriety while employed at Lock Haven or at any point after 1989.”

The grievance went to binding arbitration, in which the arbitrator challenged Fiorentino’s assertion that the gravity of Morgan’s crimes outweighed the case for retaining him. While decisions about new hires may be based on the severity of a crime and a related risk assessment, the arbitrator reasoned, decisions about current employees must be based more on objective facts -- namely that Morgan faced no allegations of misconduct since his conviction and that “being in direct contact with dual enrollees is not an essential aspect of his role as a professor.”

The arbitrator ordered that Lock Haven reinstate Morgan, with the caveat that he not teach dual enrollees.

Challenging Reinstatement

The state system of higher education sought to void the order in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, saying that it violated public policy with respect to child safety. But in his opinion affirming the arbitration decision, Judge James Gardner Colins underscored “the fact that over 25 years had elapsed since [Morgan’s] crime, his relatively young age at the time of the incident, the fact that he completed a voluntary sexual offender program, and the fact that after being released from prison he completed two advanced degrees at other universities while serving as a tutor and supervisor of graduate students.”

Moreover, Colins said, Morgan had worked at Lock Haven “since 2004, was promoted to full professor, attained tenure and received excellent reviews for his teaching and scholarship with no indication that he had ever engaged in any impropriety.”

Colins also cited a “long line of decisions” that have invalidated legislation “imposing blanket prohibitions on employment based on past convictions.” In Morgan’s case, he said, “the arbitrator performed exactly the type of individualized assessment” established by legal precedent as to whether Morgan was “suitable” for continued employment -- determining that, “in light of his exemplary work record, [Morgan’s] remote convictions did not reflect on his present ability to perform the duties of his position.”

Colins's decision does not mention Morgan by name, but his case is well-known in Pennsylvania and he has filed a related civil complaint against Lock Haven.

The essential question of the case is not whether Morgan’s past actions were contrary to public policy or whether his termination forwarded public policy, Colins wrote. Rather, it’s whether public policy would preclude the enforcement of the arbitration award and force the state board and Lock Haven to “breach their legal obligations or public duty.” The answer, Colins said, is no.

Morgan did not immediately respond to a request for comment through his lawyer, nor did his faculty union.

Revelations, Resignation

The case contrasts somewhat with that of another former professor at the University of California, Irvine, against whom allegations of past child sex abuse recently surfaced.

Ron Carlson, author and professor of English, resigned from Irvine last month after the Hotchkiss School, a private boarding school in Connecticut where Carlson taught from 1971 to 1981, released an independent report naming him as one of seven faculty members accused of “substantiated reports of sexual misconduct.”

According to the report, prepared by the law firm Locke Lord to address allegations of abuse at Hotchkiss, Carlson was a “dorm parent” and a professor of English to a female high school student in the mid-1970s. Carlson did not participate in the investigation, but the unnamed former student said she found him “charismatic” and “sort of a father figure” at the time.

One evening, she said, Carlson left a note inviting her to tea in his dorm apartment. He allegedly kissed her at the end of the period, after which the student said she avoided him for several days. Carlson sought her out to kiss her again, and he “kissed and fondled” her for the rest of the school year, she said. When Carlson became ill and missed work, the student said she wrote him a letter. Carlson later allegedly told the student that his wife had read the letter, and that she should approach the wife to “tell her the truth.” The report said she spent the rest of the year “terrified” about what Carlson’s wife might do.

The student said she met with Carlson years after she graduated to confront him, and that his did not deny abusing her but rather blamed his behavior on drinking.

One faculty witness told investigators that after she graduated, the student had disclosed to him that Carlson had given her an unwanted kiss. A friend and former classmate of the student’s also said the student had shared allegations of misconduct with her. “Many” other classmates reported hearing rumors of sexual misconduct and noted an unusually close relationship between Carlson and the student at the time.

Michael Szalay, chair of English at Irvine, shared news of Carlson’s departure with the department in an email obtained by the Los Angeles Times, saying, “He had been mulling this course of action for some time, and the decision was his, and his alone.” Szalay, who did not cite a specific reason for the decision, said that Carlson “has been an integral part of our department for many years, and his extraordinary generosity and diligence have shaped our renowned M.F.A. program especially in countless ways … Please join me in wishing him the very best in his future endeavors. Ron, you will be missed.”

The university said in a statement that it first heard about the Hotchkiss report through news reports, and is “disturbed by the conduct it described. Upon learning about the report, we accepted Professor Carlson’s immediate resignation. There have been no formal reports of similar conduct during his employment.” Carlson came to Irvine in 2006. Before that he taught at Arizona State University.

Carlson’s and Morgan’s cases differ in obvious ways. Most significantly, Morgan served jail time and Carlson’s alleged crime was never reported until recently. But both raise questions about how universities should deal with revelations about faculty members’ past misconduct. Carlson appeared to make the decision for Irvine, while Morgan, backed by his union, successfully argued that he is no longer a threat to public safety.

Editorial Tags: FacultyMisconductImage Caption: Charles Morgan addresses high school students at a Lock Haven University math competition in 2011, prior to his termination.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Past Misconduct by ProfessorsTrending order: 1College: Lock Haven UniversityUniversity of California, Irvine

Survey of more than 500 China scholars provides data on how frequently they experience Chinese state repression

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 07:00

Anecdotes abound of scholars who write on controversial subjects being denied visas to enter China, having difficulty accessing archives on the mainland or being “taken for tea” by Chinese police or security officials during the course of their fieldwork. But just how common are these kinds of experiences?

A survey of more than 500 China scholars discussed Saturday at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Boston finds that such “repressive research experiences are a rare but real phenomenon” in the China studies field and “collectively present a barrier to the conduct of research in China.” Researchers found that about 9 percent of China scholars report having been “taken for tea” by Chinese government authorities within the past 10 years, to be interviewed or warned about their research; 26 percent of scholars who conduct archival research report being denied access; and 5 percent report difficulties obtaining a visa.

A majority of researchers believe their research is either somewhat sensitive (53 percent) or very sensitive (14 percent). Sixty-eight percent of scholars say that self-censorship is a problem for the China studies field.

“Our own conclusion is that the risks of research conduct in China are uncertain, highly individualized, and often not easily discernible from public information. The decision about whether or not to pursue a particular potentially sensitive research project is a therefore highly personal one. Scholars encounter real consequences for conducting certain research in China, and these risks are higher for both Chinese researchers, and the Chinese colleagues and interlocutors who interact with foreign scholars,” Sheena Chestnut Greitens, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri, and Rory Truex, an assistant professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, write in a paper outlining the results of their survey.

Greitens and Truex write that their survey provides “the first systematic data on the frequency with which China scholars encounter repressive actions by the Chinese government.” The researchers sent the survey to 1,967 social scientists they identified having expertise in China and received 562 complete responses, for a 28.6 percent response rate. Respondents include anthropologists, economists, historians, political scientists and sociologists. The researchers limited the sample to scholars working in Australia, Europe, Hong Kong, New Zealand and North America.

The survey focuses specifically on researchers' experiences, but it comes at a time of increasing concern about Chinese influence on Western academe more broadly. Reports last fall that academic publishers were censoring journal content in China raised widespread alarm, and Chinese-government funded Confucius Institutes, centers of Chinese language and culture education that are located on U.S. college campuses, are coming under increasing scrutiny.

Greitens and Truex divided the repressive research experiences they documented into three main categories:

Restrictions on access to China. Greitens and Truex found that the Chinese government "does restrict visa access for work that it considers potentially problematic." While there are some high-profile cases of scholars who report being "blacklisted" from China long term, the researchers found that "the most common form of restriction is temporary visa ‘difficulty’ rather than outright denial or long-term blacklisting." Greitens and Truex note that it is not always clear that the reason for difficulties is related to the scholar’s research, but the scholars often believed or received informal indication this was the case.

Restrictions on access to research materials and subject. Restrictions on access to archival research materials are fairly common: 26 percent of all scholars who do archival research report facing restrictions, as do 41 percent of responding historians, whose research depends most heavily on access to archives. Denials of access to particular materials often seemed to be based on the topic of those materials, though, as Greitens and Truex write, “archivists rarely cited sensitivity as the reason for denial, instead citing digitization or other internal processes.”

The survey findings also suggest that access to archival materials has changed over time, and that some previously accessible materials are no longer available to foreign researchers.

Of those researchers who use interviews or participant observation in their research, about 17 percent report that they’d had interview subjects “withdraw in a suspicious or unexplained matter, an experience that is most prevalent in political science and anthropology.”

Surveillance and intimidation. Among the 9 percent of respondents who said they’d been interviewed by Chinese authorities (“taken for tea”) within the last 10 years, Greitens and Truex write that there were certain common patterns in their experiences. “A scholar attracts attention in the course of research -- attending a protest, requesting archival access, giving a talk, etc. Agents of the local government in turn respond, gather information on the researcher, and often seek an end to, or place boundaries around, the research activity,” they write.

In addition, about 2 percent of respondents reported having their computer or other materials confiscated during field research. And 2.5 percent -- 14 individual scholars -- reported experiencing temporary detention by police or physical intimidation. Greitens and Truex found that “these higher-impact events occurred disproportionately in places with a heightened security presence, such as Tibet and Xinjiang.”

Impact on a Range of Research Subjects

Over all, Greitens and Truex found that while it does appear that “research topic area plays a role in repressive experiences,” it is “far from deterministic.” For example, they found that scholars who studied topics considered sensitive like ethnicity, religion and human rights were disproportionately likely to encounter difficulties getting visas. But researchers who studied other topics including the environment, China’s foreign relations and gender had problems, too.

In many cases Greitens and Truex note that “research is not blocked, but allowed to proceed while being monitored along the way.” One theme of their findings was what scholars describe in open-ended responses as “fuzzy” or unclear boundaries: “You never know where the border is; you only know when you have crossed it,” one respondent said.

Warnings frequently come through informal channels. Twelve percent of all scholars, and 17 percent of those who said they do intensive field research, say that a Chinese colleague or friend had been contacted about their work. “We note that this is consistent with a broader pattern … where political sensitivity is communicated through indirect channels and language than directly through formal procedures, where relationships rather than documents and institutions are leveraged for that communication,” Greitens and Truex write.

China scholars reported adjusting their research strategies in in various ways to avoid drawing undesired attention from Chinese state authorities. Nearly half (48.9 percent) said they have used different language to describe a project while in China. Nearly a quarter (23.7 percent) shifted a project’s focus away from the most sensitive aspects, while 15.5 percent reported having abandoned a project entirely. Just 1.6 percent reported publishing anonymously.

Though the majority (68 percent) of respondents agree that self-censorship among China scholars is a problem in the field, Greitens and Truex write that their "survey data also challenges the definition of self-censorship and the notion that it occurs primarily because of self-interested careerism. Respondents stressed discretion as a necessary ethical principle for social science research in China, given the potential for a scholar’s Chinese interlocutors to disproportionately bear the negative consequences of sensitive research. They also drew a distinction between censoring the conclusions of academic work and choosing to adopt more publicly critical stances on policy issues, especially those that fell outside their specific research area."

Asked to offer advice on how to manage sensitive research in China, respondents emphasized the importance of listening to Chinese colleagues and protecting research subjects and interlocutors above all else.

“Many respondents offered advice that emphasized discretion and sensitivity to context,” Greitens and Truex write. “Variants of ‘keep a low profile’ or ‘keep your head down’ occurred with some frequency. This was usually explained not just as a measure to avoid trouble with the Chinese government in the short-term, but a matter of developing the capacity to conduct research in China over the course of a scholar’s entire career, thereby creating long-term intellectual value.”

GlobalEditorial Tags: Academic freedomPolitical scienceChinaResearchSafetyIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Co-author discusses new book criticizing prevailing ideas in society and higher education

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 07:00

More than 30 years ago, Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind became a cultural phenomenon with its critique of American higher education as dominated by trendy concepts rather than ideas truly tested by time.

This academic year arrives with a new critique of American higher education and American society, The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (Penguin Random House). You may recognize the title from a much discussed Atlantic article by the authors (discussed below). The book discusses what its authors see as an unwillingness by college students to engage in ideas with which they disagree.

And while some of the blame in the book goes to students and academic leaders, much of it is placed on parents and society that the authors argue are not preparing students for challenges to their ideas and challenges in life. The authors are Greg Lukianoff, president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and Jonathan Haidt, the Thomas Cooley Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University’s Stern School of Business.

Lukianoff responded via email to questions about the book.

Q: Tensions over free speech in American society (think of Nazis marching in Skokie or the push to ban the burning of the American flag) are not new. How do you see the current "coddling" as different and dangerous?

A: A couple of preliminary points: Even though I am a First Amendment advocate and the president and CEO of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, this book is not primarily about freedom of speech or the First Amendment. If you want a deep dive into those topics, I recommend my books Unlearning Liberty: Campus Censorship and the End of American Debate or Freedom From Speech, or, for more recent commentary, check out FIRE’s blog.

Second, neither Jonathan Haidt nor I are great fans of the title of the book. It wasn’t our first choice. It was chosen by the editors at The Atlantic when we published our cover story of the same name in 2015. “Disempowered” and “Arguing Toward Misery” were titles I liked much more for the book and article, respectively, but our editors were right that the current title is well, less boring. That said, other than in the title, the words “coddle” or “coddling” don’t make many appearances in the book. In our relatively short discussion of it, we explain that all “coddling” means in this context is simply overprotection, which can result in unforeseen negative consequences.

As for what the differences are between this moment in the history of censorship and others, it’s important to recognize that the desire to censor is the norm in human history. Left to our devices, human beings punish heretics, execute blasphemers, ostracize dissenters, give preference to the views of those in their in-group, and often don’t respect the rights of those in the out-group. What’s most interesting about the rationales for censorship is their continuity, not their perceived differences.

But, in the book, we do note one difference in the rationales for censorship on campus that we saw emerging around 2013 and 2014. A lot of them started to be medicalized -- that is, rather than people saying that a book or speaker is offensive, we began seeing people place more reliance on quasi-medical rationales for censorship. Speech was being portrayed primarily as a potential psychological harm, sometimes akin to violence. These arguments are by no means entirely novel, but the emphasis on concepts of trauma has become more pronounced over the last five years compared to what I saw earlier in my career.

Q: Free speech has historically been seen as a tool of those seeking to change American society. Why do you think many college students don't see free speech rights as helping them, but as hurting them?

A: The First Amendment and freedom of speech, to a degree, are victims of their own success. It’s possible for people today to take for granted their own speech rights. As a result, a primary argument used by free speech defenders -- that you should defend freedom of speech because it could be your speech censored next -- simply doesn’t resonate. Many students probably have a hard time imagining their own opinions running afoul of campus censors, even though sometimes the most progressive opinions do. But I’ve never been a huge fan of the “defend free speech because you may be next” argument. My perspective on free speech is simply that it’s valuable to know what other people really think or believe, especially when what they think or believe is challenging, troubling, or deeply out of line with prevailing point of views.

I think what we are also seeing are the simple results of 30-plus years of anti-free-speech arguments being made by the supporters of campus speech codes. If students today see freedom of speech primarily as an impediment to progress, that is probably because they simply haven’t been taught about its essential role in defending the rights of minorities and progressive causes. Campuses do too little to explain to students the value of freedom of speech, academic freedom and freedom of inquiry.

Q: You relate the ideas in your book to trends in parenting, psychology and political discourse. How do those trends influence campus life, and what can be done about them?

A: Now we are getting to the heart of the book. The book is not primarily about freedom of speech. Rather, it’s a social science detective story. Haidt and I try to get to the bottom of why there was an increase in the rates of anxiety and depression on campuses in the past several years. We also wanted to figure out why campus politics and national politics had grown more divisive, starting even before the election of Donald Trump.

In investigating these phenomena, we look at six causal threads, and these include: increased political polarization both nationally and locally, the rise of a paranoid parenting style for the kind of parents who routinely send their kids to top colleges, decreased time allowed for free play (probably one of the most interesting findings in the book), social media, campus bureaucratization, corporatization, and, of course, the rise of an isolating version of identity politics.

These are the crucial themes of the book, and it’s why our original title for the book was “Disempowered.” We believe we have unwittingly taught a generation of students the mental habits of anxious, depressed, polarized people, and we need to rethink how we do everything from parenting in K-12, through, of course, higher education.

Q: You write about the importance of punishing those who disrupt speech. Officials at Middlebury and Claremont McKenna Colleges say that they did so. What do you make of the way they handled those disruptions?

A: Well, let’s start with what we think we know at Middlebury. About six weeks after the protest at Middlebury, the college handed down final sanctions for a total of 74 students (out of about 200 who allegedly participated). The sanctions were for actions ranging from the initial shout-down to blocking people in the parking lot. The college says it was unable to identify any of the roughly six people responsible for physical violence. Of those 74 sanctioned individuals, most received probation, none were suspended, and fewer than 10 will have anything noted on their transcript, assuming the terms of probation are met. The thing that really needed to happen there was for the students who assaulted and injured Allison Stanger to be identified and punished. The fact that this didn’t happen set a precedent that should be troubling to anyone who cares about free speech at Middlebury College.

Claremont McKenna, on the other hand, punished fewer students but imposed harsher sanctions. Out of the roughly 250 protesters who allegedly obstructed the Heather Mac Donald event, a total of seven students faced discipline, with five facing suspensions of up to one year, and two others receiving probation. I’m hopeful that sent the message that tactics like preventing students from entering a place where someone is giving a speech is not acceptable.

We are far more concerned with the way both the University of California, Berkeley, and the town of Berkeley handled the Milo Yiannopoulos riots early last year. While the police understood they could claim it was overwhelmed by the sheer number of people who engaged in criminal activity that day, the fact that only two people were arrested virtually guaranteed later future violence in the Berkeley community. This is precisely what happened. As we argue in the book, we must be very tolerant to freedom of opinion, even opinion we hate, but we must show no tolerance toward physical violence.

Q: Your book notes (as many who criticize "coddling" do not) that some faculty members of the left have been attacked for their speech. Why is the debate about this issue one that so often assumes the lack of support for free speech is only a problem on the left?

A: I guess we must talk to different people. In the circles I most often frequent, practically nobody thinks that hostility to free speech is unique to one side of the political spectrum. Universities, of course, lean decidedly to the left, so you shouldn’t be surprised if there is censorship on campus that comes largely from the dominant political ideology. But a major trend we have seen just in the past two years is the rise in cases of right-wing outrage mobs going after left-wing professors for what they said on Facebook, Twitter or, in one big case, on Fox News.

We saw an early glimmer of these sorts of cases in 2013 with David Guth after he was suspended by the University of Kansas for an anti-NRA tweet following the shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. In the past two years, there was University of Iowa professor Sarah Bond, who received violent threats for noting that the white supremacist movements that praised the classical ideal of bare marble statues likely didn’t realize the statues were originally painted; there was Professor Lisa Durden, who was fired from Essex County College in New Jersey for defending a Black Lives Matter gathering on Fox News; and, most recently, Rutgers subjected Professor James Livingston (who is white himself) to discipline for his exasperated tweets about noisy white children in a Harlem restaurant and gentrification.

Q: American colleges are full of incidents that upset many people, particularly members of minority groups. Whether there are speakers who offend, blackface parties or other incidents, this is a reality of college life. You write critically of the way many college leaders and students respond. How should they respond?

A: If Inside Higher Ed readers are under the impression that the primary national debates about freedom of speech on campus revolve around blackface parties or other offensive expression, they should really read our book. In it, we talk about, for example, a program at Northern Michigan University that threatened dozens of students with punishment if they told their friends they were depressed or considering suicide. We talk about multiple examples where professors ran into trouble for writing op-eds or scholarly articles that we believe would have been considered largely uncontroversial not even 10 years ago.

We devote an entire chapter to cases that fit practically no one’s stereotype of free speech controversies on campus but that often revolve around administrators’ desire to control campus at an unreasonable level of strictness, resulting in tiny speech zones and other protest policies. And we talk about many examples by off-campus advocates to get -- usually -- left-wing professors fired.

So, with that context in mind, we think presidents should consider the following:

  • Adopting some version of the Chicago statement on freedom of speech and academic freedom;
  • Reviewing their policies for speech codes that could be used to suppress speech on campus (so far 42 colleges have earned “green light” ratings in our review);
  • Pre-commitment: making it clear in advance that professors will not be fired and students will not be disciplined for opinions expressed, for example, online;
  • Not giving in to outrage mobs from either side of the spectrum when they come for a professor or student;
  • Having a high tolerance for diversity of opinion, but no tolerance for violence; and
  • Providing serious programs both at orientation and beyond to help students understand and prepare for the difficult process of debate and discussion on campus, and to understand the reason why we need to believe so strongly in academic freedom and epistemic humility. We can’t expect students to value free speech or academic freedom if they’ve never been taught anything about the deep philosophy that undergirds those ideas.
Books and PublishingEditorial Tags: BooksIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

UNC Chapel Hill starts search for place on campus for Confederate monument

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 07:00

The battle over Silent Sam -- the Confederate monument protesters toppled last month -- took a new turn Friday with the announcement that the monument will return to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's campus, but in a new, as yet unspecified, location.

Whether that announcement will calm a tense campus situation -- in which there were multiple protests in the last week, leading to arrests -- remains to be seen. The statue has been the subject of debate for years, with many students and faculty members calling for its removal, but many politicians insisting that it stay put. Of late, faculty critics at UNC and elsewhere have been drawing more attention to the racist roots behind the statue, challenging the idea that Silent Sam is simply a monument to the Confederate war dead.

Kevin M. Kruse, a historian at Princeton University, wrote on Twitter that those endorsing a plan to keep Silent Sam anywhere on campus should read aloud the dedication speech given in 1913 for the statue, in which one of those celebrating the statue said that he had "horse-whipped a Negro wench" in defense of "the Anglo-Saxon race."

Here, this is what Silent Sam was explicitly designed to celebrate.

If you want to keep him up, this is the message you’re endorsing. https://t.co/CSv0JuC7cQ

— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) August 24, 2018

While scores of faculty members at UNC have been calling for the university not to restore Silent Sam, members of the University of North Carolina System Board of Governors (and many Republican politicians) have invoked a 2015 law passed as other states were moving or taking down Confederate statues.

That law gave power to move state-owned statues to the North Carolina Historical Commission and generally said that the commission shouldn't move monuments unless necessary to preserve them. The law bans relocation to museums or cemeteries and requires that any new location be a "site of similar prominence, honor, visibility, availability, and access that are within the boundaries of the jurisdiction from which it was relocated."

The UNC system board -- where some members have expressed strong support for the law -- asked Chapel Hill officials for a plan to find a new home for Silent Sam.

On Friday, Chancellor Carol L. Folt issued an open letter in which she announced that the system has given her until Nov. 15 to come up with a plan for Silent Sam.

She acknowledged more explicitly than in the past the racist history behind the statue, and said that it should not go back to where it has been, in the center of campus.

"We need to respect that, apart from the anger and hatred that has been expressed, there are different meanings attached to this monument by different people in our communities," Folt said. "Many may still be unaware of the devastating, racist commentary made at its dedication in 1913 by a member of the Board of Trustees. Our university repudiates those words and the system of oppression they represent. In forum after forum, the stories told by so many reveal the pain and hurt that come from that speech, and from the presence, at the front door of the university they love, of the monument they associate with it."

But Folt went on to express sympathy for those who have wanted Silent Sam to be at the center of campus.

"At the same time, we also hear daily from our community, citizens from across North Carolina and the country, who have always seen the statue as a memorial to fallen soldiers, many of them family members," Folt said. "I hope we can agree that there is a difference between those who commemorate their fallen and people who want a restoration of white rule. Reconciliation of our past and our present requires us to reach deep into our hearts and across the state to the people we serve."

Folt said that she would work to come up with a plan to keep Silent Sam on campus, but in some new place. "Silent Sam has a place in our history and on our campus where its history can be taught, but not at the front door of a safe, welcoming, proudly public research university," she said.

It may be difficult for UNC to come up with a solution that satisfies those pushing for a place of honor for Silent Sam and those who think the statue doesn't reflect anything that should be honored.

The Move Silent Sam Coalition sent the following statement to Inside Higher Ed on the chancellor's announcement: "We welcome Chancellor Folt’s acknowledgement that the Confederate monument has sparked decades of conflict and does not belong at the university’s 'front door.' Folt's ongoing efforts to preserve and honor the monument have inflamed a dangerous situation, however, and there is no site on our campus for this racist relic. If this is indeed a time for healing, our chancellor must drop criminal and honor court charges against the courageous activists who dared to make these hard truths about Silent Sam visible."

DiversityEditorial Tags: RaceImage Caption: Silent Sam after protesters pulled it downIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 3Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, September 4, 2018Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Finding New Home for Silent SamMagazine treatment: Trending: College: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Rutgers revisits free speech decision after public backlash

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/04/2018 - 07:00

Rutgers University is walking back its finding that James Livingston, a professor who posted antiwhite comments about gentrification in his neighborhood on Facebook last spring, violated Rutgers's discrimination and harassment policy.

In a letter to Peter March, executive dean at Rutgers's School of Arts and Sciences, Robert Barchi, university president, said that the report “was released to [March] and Professor Livingston before I had been made aware of its content” and that he planned to take action to review the findings of the report.

“Like many in our community, I found that Professor Livingston’s comments showed especially poor judgment, were offensive, and, despite the professor’s claims of satire, were not at all funny,” he wrote. “At the same time, few values are as important to the university as the protection of First Amendment rights -- even when the speech we are protecting in insensitive and reckless.”

Barchi asked the Office of Employment Equity (OEE) to “more rigorously analyze the facts and the assumptions underlying its conclusions” that Livingston violated university policy and asked that the review be completed as quickly as possible. He also had the Office of the General Counsel convene an advisory group, consisting of First Amendment and academic freedom scholars and attorneys and Rutgers faculty to provide guidance to the OEE for its second review.

Since the OEE's initial decision was publicized, outside parties have weighed in. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has vigorously opposed the decision and argued for Livingston's protection under the First Amendment. Representatives at FIRE have been coordinating with Livingston and said they would help Livingston with legal action if he chose to pursue it. At this time, the university has yet to act on the OEE's original findings.

The American Association of University Professors has also spoken out against Rutgers's initial decision. In an advisory letter to the Rutgers University AAUP chapter, Hans-Joerg Tiede, associate secretary, dissected the OEE's report in light of AAUP and Rutgers policies on freedom of speech.

“The review of Professor Livingston’s Facebook posts by the Office of Employment Equity analyzed the institution’s obligations toward Professor Livingston only from the perspective of the First Amendment,” Tiede wrote. “As a result, it entirely ignored Professor Livingston’s freedom of extramural utterance under principles of academic freedom -- principles to which Rutgers University has had a historical commitment, both through action by its Board of Governors and through ‘recognition’ of that action in the collective bargaining agreement between the institution and AAUP-AFT Rutgers.”

In an update about Barchi's recent letter, FIRE wrote that it hopes Rutgers's initial decision will be reversed.

"We hope to soon be able to report that Professor Livingston has been cleared of charges and that Rutgers stands firmly behind its faculty’s rights to free expression and academic freedom," the article read.

Editorial Tags: Academic freedomImage Caption: James LivingstonIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 4Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, September 4, 2018Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Rutgers Revisits Finding on ProfessorMagazine treatment: Trending: College: Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Is the N-word simply to be avoided, or is Emory wrong to suspend a law professor who used it?

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 07:00

Emory University has removed a law professor from the classroom as it investigates student reports that he used the N-word in a class discussion earlier this month.

The professor, Paul Zwier, director of Emory's Center for Advocacy and Dispute Resolution, has since expressed remorse but also doubt as to whether he actually used that term (although he’s indicated he planned to use it in a subsequent lecture about a case explicitly involving the N-word). In a statement to faculty members, which he shared with Inside Higher Ed, Zwier said, “To say I am in shock is to put it mildly. I hope you will read my explanation.”

The gist of Zwier’s letter is that, in a first-year torts class, he was discussing a 1967 case involving a Texas man who was refused service at a professional luncheon by a venue manager who called him a “Negro.” And while Zwier may have been careless in possibly using the N-word instead, he meant no offense and would have had pedagogical reasons for doing so, he said.

Zwier wrote that he has outstanding questions about the case -- namely whether a harsher word than “Negro” was actually used at the lunch -- since the restaurant club manager died before the trial and the plaintiff, Emmit E. Fisher, was never cross-examined. Zwier also said via email Thursday that court recorders at the time tended to “sanitize” offensive language and so may have altered the case history.

“Perhaps this was in my mind as I continued my dialogue” with a student, who happened to be black, Zwier wrote in his note to colleagues. “I’m not sure whether I used the ‘N-word’ because I don’t remember consciously choosing to use the word. I do remember that there was a reaction from at least one black student to my question, so I may have misspoken.”

In any case, he said, “I admit that had I used the ‘N-word,’ this was a mistake on my part and I have no doubt hurt and offended students who heard it or later learned that I had used the word itself. I apologized the next morning,” with Black Law Students Association representatives present in the class for the apology.

The association held a unity rally this week about the incident, with several hundred students and professors in attendance.

“The main thing we’re here about today is not about the professor,” said Wrenica Archibald, leader of the campus branch, said at the rally, according to Law.com. “This is about our community as a whole -- we have to have these uncomfortable conversations.”

‘I Have to Face It, I Did Say It’

Zwier originally stuck to his account Thursday, saying he thought at the time that any comment he made was “clearly an inquiry about historical facts.” He added, “I teach mediation and know that apology is often the best course when a mistake has been made.” Yet “in today's climate, and with the amount of hurt that some had experienced, and then was spread to others in the retelling, the apology was evidently not heard or accepted.”

Later in the day, Zwier emailed to say that he’d “had a chance to talk to someone else in the class who I trust who says that I did say the ‘N-word’ itself. In other words, I have to face it, I did say it. And struggle to explain how it came out, other than to have conflated the facts in the case with a hypothetical or facts from a later case. And that I am so sorry for using the word itself.”

It seems implausible, or damning, that a professor could unintentionally use the N-word. But Zwier does deal with course material that explicitly uses the term. His account at least provides more context than what Emory has said publicly about the case thus far.

In a campus memo, Emory’s president, Claire E. Sterk, and other administrators said that a professor had used the “‘N-word’ in a classroom when lecturing first-year law students on the topic of 1960s civil rights lunch counter protests in the South.” Such “offensive language was not part of the case law cited. The use of this -- or any racial slur -- in our community is unacceptable.”

Announcing immediate changes, including forthcoming "meaningful mandatory training,” presumably on bias and climate issues, Sterk and fellow administrators wrote, “We can -- and will -- do better. Although this letter focused on a particular issue in Emory Law, we -- the university leadership and greater community -- are committed to upholding the principles of equity, inclusion and respect that we all embrace and value at Emory.” Emory's Office of Equity and Inclusion is now investigating the matter to make findings of fact and recommend further actions, if any, within two weeks.

Another professor is currently teaching Zwier’s classes. Zwier said he’s been blocked from teaching for the semester. A spokesperson for the university did not respond to a request for comment about the terms of suspension, or whether it is, in Emory’s view, a suspension at all.

Widely followed standards established by the American Association of University Professors says removal from the classroom constitutes a suspension, which is a serious sanction that should be reserved only for cases in which student, faculty or staff safety is at immediate risk.

This is not the first time a professor has been criticized for using the N-word in ways that students have found superfluous or insulting. In February, for example, Lawrence Rosen, a professor emeritus of anthropology at Princeton University, canceled a course on hate speech and pornography that he’d taught previously, after some students walked out and complained about his use of the N-word in an opening lecture. Rosen, who also taught courses on law and anthropology, asked students which was worse: a white man physically assaulting a black man or using the N-word against him. In that case, however, Rosen’s department publicly supported him and he was not asked to step down.

Zwier’s case is also not the first in which law students have objected to content that is arguably connected to the curriculum. Jeannie Suk, a professor of law at Harvard University, has written about how discussions about sexual assault have become harder to navigate in the post-trigger warning era, ultimately -- in Suk’s view -- to the detriment of the sexual assault victims today’s law students might one day represent.

“One teacher I know was recently asked by a student not to use the word 'violate' in class -- as in ‘Does this conduct violate the law?’ -- because the word was triggering. Some students have even suggested that rape law should not be taught because of its potential to cause distress,” Suk wrote in a widely discussed 2014 essay in The New Yorker.

There is little disagreement, even among academic freedom and free speech watchdogs, that offensive content should make its way into the classroom only for sound educational reasons. Emory's statement seems to imply that its standard for using a slur, at least in law classes, is whether it's an explicit part of a case. Zwier's explanation makes a case for using a slur when it's in the margins of case law.

Given this and past controversies, is the N-word in particular so sensitive that it should be banned from explicit use in the classroom altogether? Everyone understands the less offensive shorthand, after all.

Zwier in his statement to colleagues cited an article by Randall Kennedy, the Michael R. Klein Professor of law at Harvard, called “Who Can Say ‘N----r?’ And Other Considerations.” (Kennedy also wrote a 2003 book, more descriptive than prescriptive, called N----r: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. Both titles include the full word.)

“Kennedy’s article shows the discussion of how words are used in law is at the heart of the common law,” Zwier wrote. “He uses a quote from O. W. Holmes that makes the point, ‘… a word is not a crystal, transparent and unchanged [but is] the skin of a living thought [that] may vary greatly in color and contact according to the circumstances and the time in which it is used.’”

Holmes died in 1935, and Kennedy, who published his article in 1999, did not respond to a request for comment about how it might apply to Zwier’s case.

John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom who edits AAUP’s "Academe" blog, said that “colleges don’t ban words. But professors should avoid needlessly offending students.”

When they do, he added, “criticism is the best response, since it is difficult to imagine how one word could be punishable harassment.”

Asked if it’s ever permissible to use the N-word in class when it’s not absolutely necessary, Tommy Curry, a professor of philosophy at Texas A&M University who has written about race and language and the N-word’s dehumanizing effect, said that it can have “some pedagogical utility for black scholars trying to impress on students the meaning and terror of the word.” And for a scholar studying 19th-century ethnology, for example, he said, it’s “difficult to not run across the word throughout these pseudo-scientific texts. The N-word is a terrible part of history and sometimes has to be encountered as such.”

Whether professors of all races may use the word is a separate issue, however, Curry said, adding that he doesn’t believe in any “universal rule.” That’s because black professors must have the freedom to “study themselves and the consequences of dehumanizing discourse" -- while acknowledging the weight of the word and their decisions -- and an attempt to limit use of the word for any group would limit it for all. 

In general, though, Curry said he believes that non-black professors should avoid the term, as its use towards black students “can inflict undue injury and trauma.” Despite the intentions of non-black educators, he added, “there is a historical and cultural context that must be acknowledged and respected.”

DiversityEditorial Tags: Academic freedomFacultyImage Caption: Paul ZwierIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 1Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, September 4, 2018Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Suspended for Using N-WordMagazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Using N-Word in ClassTrending order: 1College: Emory University

Financial sanctions at Howard University

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 07:00

One of the country’s most prominent historically black universities learned this month that it is now subject to one of the Education Department's strictest forms of financial limitation.

Howard University landed on the list of institutions subject to heightened cash monitoring 2, a status that means it can receive federal funding only after it has disbursed financial aid to students. That doesn’t necessarily create a crisis for Howard, but it could generate more financial instability at an institution that has struggled in recent years with budget and financial issues.

The cash monitoring sanctions can be triggered by a number of situations, such as troubles with accreditation, late filing of financial statements or concerns about an institution's financial responsibility.

Howard faced an embarrassing financial aid scandal last spring -- the university fired six employees in its financial office for fraud, which was discovered via an internal investigation begun in 2016. Social media posts detailing the misappropriation of funds led to campus protests by students demanding answers from the university.

In a letter to university students and employees this week, Howard president Wayne Frederick indicated that the federal sanctions, which were first reported by The Washington Post, resulted from an inquiry that began after those issues became public.

In a statement, Frederick said the university has made serious reforms and improved oversight of its financial aid office.

“The university will continue to partner with Financial Aid Services, and work closely with the Department of Education, to ensure Howard students receive best in class service in the administration of financial aid,” he said. “It is important to note that we are taking all necessary measures to avoid any adverse impact to students in the processing of aid and receipt of funds. The entire cabinet and I remain focused on ensuring Howard’s future remains bright and the institution is led with transparency and accountability.”

In a letter to Howard announcing the decision this month, the Education Department said only that its action arose from “serious administrative capability issues” found in the university’s compliance audits for the 2015 through 2017 award years and in a May 2018 program review. Among those issues were a lack of internal controls and failure to make sure students were actually eligible for Title IV funds.

The department’s letter said the university would receive a more detailed outline of problems identified and be given a chance to respond. (That report has not yet been sent to Howard.)

The most recent publicly available data on cash monitoring sanctions included nearly 550 colleges, most of those subject to a less severe form of cash monitoring. Three other historically black colleges appear on the list of institutions subject to HCM2 -- Cheyney University of Pennsylvania and Arkansas Baptist College for administrative capability issues, and Wiley College in Marshall, Tex., for program review findings.

While Wiley was a new addition to the list, Cheyney and Arkansas Baptist have been subject to the heightened cash monitoring sanction for multiple years.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, said the sanctions should be a significant concern at Howard.

“This has the potential to cause financial stability issues or at least potentially force Howard to access a line of credit to help cover the delay in receiving federal funds,” he said.

But even though the university's timeline for getting off heightened cash monitoring is unclear, Kelchen said Howard can still expect to be paid back by the federal government for student aid. Special federal funding Howard receives as an HBCU could also blunt the impact of the sanctions. And if the university runs into serious challenges, politics could be a factor as well.

“If Howard begins to struggle financially, I would expect members of Congress to pressure the department to help it get off HCM2 more quickly,” he said.

Editorial Tags: Financial aidImage Caption: News coverage from last spring's protests at HowardAd Keyword: Howard university Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Howard University

UC Santa Cruz plea to professors, staff: rent to students

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 08/31/2018 - 07:00

Facing an "urgent" area housing shortage, officials at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have issued a plea to professors and staffers: please rent out rooms to students.

Dave Keller, executive director of housing services, emailed employees this week informing them that several hundred students remain on a waiting list for university housing for the upcoming fall quarter, which begins Sept. 22. He asked faculty and staff to open their homes to these in-limbo students.

“The need is real and it is urgent, so I am reaching out to the faculty and staff community for help,” Keller wrote. “Offering a room in your home to a student who has not been able to find housing for the school year would be a tremendous support to their success at UCSC.”

The university guarantees housing for first- and second-year students and for one year for transfer students -- about 9,300 spaces, university spokesman Scott Hernandez-Jason said in an interview. It already houses a higher percentage of its student body than any other California public institution except for California State University Maritime Academy, Hernandez-Jason said.

Asked if the institution was concerned about blurring boundaries when students live with their professors, Hernandez-Jason said officials welcome students reporting any concerns. The campus offers trainings for students, faculty and staff around “inappropriate conduct."

“On campus we’ve done a lot of outreach about having a healthy climate,” he said.

The university does not appear to have a policy explicitly barring relationships between students and professors. But the faculty’s code of conduct, as approved by the Academic Senate, says that romantic or sexual encounters between the two are inappropriate, even if they are consensual -- at least for faculty who have responsibility for or reasonably expect to have care over a student in the future.

Increasingly, the Santa Cruz area has been plagued with a housing crisis, Hernandez-Jason said.

Indeed, since the financial crisis in 2008, the economy has been sluggish to recover and new building has slowed -- at the same time, rents have skyrocketed, The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported last year.

As Silicon Valley residents have been priced out of the market there, they have also turned to Santa Cruz, Hernandez-Jason said.

A November ballot measure for the city of Santa Cruz would enact rent-control laws, but for the interim, students have struggled to find affordable housing, Hernandez-Jason said.

UC Santa Cruz tried this strategy once before, in 2014, putting out a call to faculty and staff when the institution was strapped for space. That effort was successful, Hernandez-Jason said.

The university also sponsors a “community rentals” page, similar to Craigslist or other websites for rental listings -- this week's email is meant to encourage employees to post their housing vacancies there, Hernandez-Jason said. Institution officials do not vet postings on the portal, he said. "Students need to do their own due diligence."

The university is trying to build new housing, which would add about 3,000 new beds but displace spaces in other buildings, resulting in about 2,100 new spaces, Hernandez-Jason said. But that project doesn’t have a timeline.

The institution offered admission to 35,000 students for the coming academic year, but expects to enroll 5,600 brand-new undergraduates and more than 7,000 transfer students, according to The Mercury News.

Reaction to the entreaty has been met with some criticism. A student whose tweet about the university’s email went viral, whom BuzzFeed identified as Dana Padilla, 21, wrote that the plan was “fuckin’ ridiculous.”

MesSSS pic.twitter.com/5AvLHTqs87

— Michael with a B (@disneydann) August 28, 2018

“All of our study spaces were converted into rooms as well!! It [sic] almost like … they wanna accept students over capacity and then be surprised when so many drop out or don’t do well,” Padilla tweeted.

Editorial Tags: FacultyStudent lifeIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of California, Santa Cruz

Despite struggles, comics find lucrative business on college campuses

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:00

Could a stand-up comedian get a laugh with a joke that insults both Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Larry Nassar?

… probably not on a college campus.

But famed comedian Judy Gold, who has starred in stand-up specials on HBO and Comedy Central and came up with the bit, doesn’t want to tell it in front of students. As she proclaims on a recent VICE special about the challenges comedians encounter performing risqué or boundary-pushing acts on campuses: “Why is it that everyone has to adjust to everyone else? Don’t hire me if you don’t want to hear what I have to say.”

And the students and campus officials who book comedians probably wouldn’t pick Gold anyway.

In one routine, recorded by VICE, she makes fun of the word-salad acronym meant to represent gay people -- LGBTQIA+ etc. -- a light, not terribly original jab, but one to which undergraduates today probably wouldn’t respond kindly.

That’s because sexual orientation falls into a particular taboo category, the bucket of topics that many students have deemed too offensive for comics to mention in their campus sets.

The results of these restrictions are well documented: sanitized routines, devoid of slights against minority groups, but filled with playful anecdotes about that finance professor you hate, or the quality of the cafeteria food (perhaps a play on “what’s the deal with airline food?”).

Violate these unspoken rules (or sometimes they are spoken, or written -- comedians have found themselves subject to contracts that outline what they are and aren’t allowed to discuss in their acts) and risk the wrath of students.

Such a case emerged recently at Purdue University, where comedian and ventriloquist Andy Gross performed during new student orientation. Hundreds of attendees walked out during Gross’s show after he brought a student up on stage and pretended to have an erection, throwing his voice to make it seem as though his genitals were saying “Let me out.” During an apparent magic trick, Gross told the student to stand back to back with him, then asked her to grab his thigh, joking that, despite his flub, he at least was “getting a feel.”

Fallout was swift. The university said Gross’s actions were not consistent with institutional values -- despite the fact that he had performed the bit before elsewhere. Purdue officials requested a refund. A Twitter hashtag caught on: #AndyGrossIsGross. He eventually apologized and said he would not work the college circuit again.

“Andy has never before been accused of sexual misconduct or harassment,” a statement from his representatives reads. “Andy was oblivious and naïve about the current environment on college campuses, and he sincerely regrets causing any offense or discomfort to any student participating.”

Gross joins perhaps two of the country’s most prominent comedians in eschewing college sets. Chris Rock won’t play campuses anymore because students are too easily insulted, he says, and Jerry Seinfeld has expressed a similar sentiment, saying comics have urged him to avoid colleges, where students are often “so PC,” he said in an interview with ESPN.

Still, powerhouses like Rock and Seinfeld have no need to try to appeal to the college market. But up-and-coming comedians rely on campus gigs because they can prove to be consistent and lucrative income streams -- comedians can earn thousands of dollars for a single set. And because their audience turns over in several years, they can recycle jokes without fear. One successful showing can snowball into a comedian’s annual income, according to Jason Meier, director of student engagement and leadership at Emerson College and one of the student affairs professionals who works with and trains students to book acts.

Most colleges have a campus board composed of students who work with officials to screen and schedule not only comedians, but musical artists, magicians, slam poets and hypnotists.

And no showcase is greater for these artists than the one sponsored by the National Association for Campus Activities, or NACA. At its annual convention, they gather to sell themselves to college students and their professional counterparts. The membership of NACA is wide and assorted: religious institutions, giant research universities and rural, intimate liberal arts colleges.

Comedians submit 90-second video routines for panels of these students and university representatives to vet before being allowed to perform a 10-minute set live at the convention. Feedback is instantaneous and brutal -- critiques via Twitter on whether a set was funny, and immediate prospects of bookings afterward.

The comics succeed with a smart agent, who will take them aside after a sound check and perform on-the-spot surgery on their routines: extract this, strike this, strike that, throw in a joke here.

“It behooves them to water down, to tailor their set, to 18-, 19-, 20-year olds,” said Meier, who has performed stand-up locally in Massachusetts. “They know how students will respond to it. Comedians who engage in the college scene know their market and know jokes that are going to fly on a college campus. They want to get booked again, they want the money. They also are keenly aware that we all talk.”

Those jokesters whose humor is baser, littered with junky one-liners more apt for a bar scene with a two-drink minimum, won’t thrive in the college market, said Toby Cummings, NACA's executive director. College students enjoy “intelligent humor,” Cummings said -- but remarkably, the type of gag that entrances students has changed little since he was a NACA volunteer in the early 1990s, booking the likes of Carrot Top and Sinbad for two-year San Juan College in New Mexico. They enjoy jokes that are applicable to them, that resonate with their daily lives, he said.

Although now, in the last decade or so, a new trend is that some colleges -- Cummings said he’s observed this at religious institutions -- will demand that comedians not touch certain topics (such as religion at religious colleges, of course) and will make it a point in their contracts.

“They want funny, smart jokes that don’t degrade the intelligence in the room,” Cummings said.

And why would a student want to sit there and be insulted for an hour? Meier said. Students recognize that comedy can provoke, can challenge, but they also know that comics can tackle hot-button political subjects through an “inclusive lens.”

There's an idiom in comedy: punch up, not down, Meier said. Potshots at the marginalized, those with no support, are “problematic.”

“Our students are so savvy,” he said. “They won’t book people who punch [down]. They don’t want to listen to jokes making fun of themselves.”

Editorial Tags: Student lifeImage Caption: Andy Gross's controversial performance at Purdue University earlier this monthIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Gambian student has life-changing opportunity to study in the U.S. but can't get a visa

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:00

The young woman from Gambia who planned to study in the U.S. had the support of her government, all the way up to the first lady, whose foundation was to pay for her airfare. A college in New York had offered her a substantial scholarship. A host family in New York was waiting for her; another family in Pennsylvania was ready to donate a new laptop, a smartphone and a four-year phone plan, school supplies, even a new wardrobe. All told, when you factor in her scholarship, her sponsors in the U.S. had put together a package worth more than $140,000 to pay for four years of tuition and living costs.

It was all lining up -- a life-changing opportunity for a young woman from a poor family in a poor country. But she was twice denied a visa to come to the U.S. And so instead of joining this fall's freshman class at St. Thomas Aquinas College outside New York City, Penda Jallow is still in Gambia, unemployed. Jallow, her mother and her father get by on the father’s income of $35 a month.

“To my own understanding, I think I’m just not lucky yet,” said Jallow, who is 23. “I’m not lucky yet to have the visa. I was having the hope that I will make it because I was well prepared for the interview.”

To Jallow’s mentor and primary champion in the U.S., Ashleigh DeLuca, Jallow's denial suggests there's something wrong with the visa system. In addition to the proof of financial support, Jallow's visa application included letters from U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and the Gambian ambassador, as well as a job offer for Jallow from a Gambian food processing company pending the completion of her undergraduate degree.

“I understand why they have the system set up the way they do, but the system has to allow for people to come in,” DeLuca said. “If a young woman who very clearly has support and very clearly is planning on coming back to the Gambia is not granted a visa, that to me says that the system is broken.”

DeLuca, an American, met Jallow 10 years ago, when she taught English in Gambia. Her students were in sixth grade, the last grade in lower basic school, and most of them, she said, couldn’t afford to keep going. At age 13, they were expected to be full contributing participants in their households.

“I was very struck that there was a small group of kids, they got it without anyone telling them -- they knew education was important,” DeLuca said. “I told this group of kids, let’s sign a contract. If the parents promise to not pull your kids out of school for any reason, I promise that I will go home to New York and find families that will pay for your kids to go to school through high school.

“They agreed. I agreed. I went home and I did it. I found 10 sponsoring families for all 18 students.” Of the 18, DeLuca said, only three, including Jallow, finished high school. The young men dropped out to take jobs, the young women to get married. One of her students died a preventable death of malaria.

For the three who did graduate high school, DeLuca said, “the program changed into, let’s give these kids life-changing education. Let’s bring them to the U.S. Let’s give them a four-year degree. The only expectation is that they try their hardest. Then we send them back to the Gambia to help develop their country.”

Jallow would have been the first of the three students to come to the U.S. for college with the help of what DeLuca dubbed the Starling Sponsorship Program, a program that has received the support of Gambia's government.

“We supported this program 100 percent,” said Mustapha Sosseh, the deputy head of mission for the Gambian embassy in Washington, D.C. Sosseh said embassy staff had raised money for Jallow’s visa application fee.

“This is the only sponsorship program that we’re working on and it’s the first of its kind, and it was a noble gesture by Ashleigh and we definitely applaud the initiative,” Sosseh said.

“We are very disappointed,” he added. “We thought it was going to be much easier.”

The State Department does not comment on reasons for visa denials. However, the form letter Jallow received from the U.S. embassy in Senegal, where she applied, suggests she didn't convince the consular officer that she intended to depart the U.S. and return home after her education, a requirement for obtaining a student visa. The form letter, addressed to "applicant" and not to Jallow specifically, says the applicant has not demonstrated that she has the kind of familial, professional or social ties "that will compel you to return to your home country after your travel to the United States."

Failure to establish what's known in immigration law as "nonimmigrant intent" is a common reason why prospective students are denied visas to come to the U.S. And it’s a lot harder for citizens of poor countries to convince a consular officer they plan to go back home than it is for people from developed Western nations.

“It's hard because it is subjective,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell University. “It's really up to the individual consular officer to determine whether they think the individual will go back to their home country after they finish their studies. For some countries it is harder than others: it’s a lot easier to show nonimmigrant intent if you’re from a Western European country than if you’re from a West African country. It’s always been the case, and this is just the latest example of that. There’s no magic bullet or document that will necessarily satisfy a consular officer. The more evidence that an individual has, such as a job offer or owning land or being married to someone who is staying behind in the home country, the better the chances that someone will satisfy that 'nonimmigrant intent' requirement. But for many students, they’re not married, they don’t own land and if they’re the first one in their family to be going to college, it can be hard to prove that they really do intend to return home after they finish their studies.”

Jallow did present the letter with the job offer from the Gambian food processing company with her visa application, but evidently it was not enough to satisfy the consular officer of her intent to return. The State Department issued just 42 F student visas to Gambian nationals in fiscal year 2017, down from 66 the year before that, and 79 in 2015.

It’s unclear whether the reduction in the number of student visas issued to Gambian nationals is a result of an increase in rejection rates or of fewer individuals applying. The State Department does not publish refusal rates by country for F student visas, but it does publish somewhat analogous data on country-specific refusal rates for short-term B tourist and business visas, which also require applicants to demonstrate "nonimmigrant intent." About 70 percent of B visa applicants from Gambia were refused in 2017, a figure nearly on par with the refusal rate for applicants from Afghanistan. To choose a couple of other countries by way of comparison, about 6 percent of B visa applicants from Germany were rejected, and 56 percent of B visa applicants from Ghana.

The B visa refusal rate for Gambians has not changed substantially in recent years, though it is down somewhat from 76 percent in fiscal year 2015.

Classes at St. Thomas Aquinas College will start Sept. 4, likely without Jallow. “It’s unfortunate, but obviously it’s not the call of the institution,” said Michael R. DiBartolomeo, the college's vice president for enrollment management.

"I’m going to pivot until I have no moves left to make, but unfortunately my options are dwindling and they’re dwindling fast," said DeLuca, Jallow's mentor and benefactor. DeLuca said she still wants to see if the second of her three former students who graduated high school is able to get a visa to come to the U.S. to study, but in order for the student to apply for a visa, DeLuca has to help that student get everything else -- the college admission offer, the aid package, the letters of support -- in place first. It's a daunting task knowing that the end result could still be a visa denial.

"Right now the political climate in our country is just not receptive to people who look like Penda, a black African from a Muslim-majority country. I’m very disappointed in that because it’s my country," DeLuca said.

DeLuca said her other option is to look at college possibilities for her former students outside the U.S., such as in Canada. "For me, my goal is to try as hard as I could to get these kids to a four-year college; if not a four-year college, at least some semblance of an education that will improve their lives and their families' lives. If it doesn’t include the U.S., that’s disappointing to me as an American, but I’m not accounting for what I want in this equation. It's about helping them.”

Jallow said in an interview she's been unable to find a job since graduating from high school in 2015.

"I’m just sitting at home, helping my family," she said on a call via WhatsApp. “My aim is to study in the U.S. because having an American degree will give me more opportunity to have a good job and a good salary because right now my father is earning $35 a month. My mother and I have not been able to find employment, so we must carefully use his income to support the three of us."

Jallow said she would return home to Gambia after earning an education in the U.S. "For me it is important for me to return to my home country immediately after graduation because I have been given the full support of the Gambian government to get a college degree because they want to see the Starling Sponsorship Program a success. They hope that if more students receive a strong education abroad and go back home to apply their degree in the Gambia that they can lower the unemployment rate and help boost the economy."

“I’m just waiting for a mission,” she added. “After completing my mission, I have to come back to my home country, not only to take care of my parents but also to repay the generosity and the support of my government.”

GlobalForeign StudentsEditorial Tags: International higher educationForeign Students in U.S.Image Source: Ashleigh DeLucaImage Caption: Penda Jallow, age 23Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: A Student Visa DeniedTrending order: 1

MLA study: English and other modern language Ph.D.s 1996-2010 mostly working in academe; many have earned tenured positions

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:00

Most English and modern language Ph.D.s are working in academe, and 52 percent hold tenured faculty positions, according to a new, limited study of their career outcomes from the Modern Language Association.

Even so, the variety of job paths these Ph.D.s pursue outside higher education is notable and should inspire further efforts to track graduates’ career trajectories, the association says.

Last summer, MLA researchers contacted 1,949 Ph.D.s who were included in a related 2015 study of doctoral recipients from 1996 to 2010, asking them to complete a jobs survey. The response rate was low, which MLA’s new report acknowledges -- just 310 graduates, or 15 percent of the original sample. One additional, more recent graduate was included this time, for a total of 311 Ph.D.s.

The "small number of respondents reminds us how enormously far tracking efforts have to go before the profession can claim to have anything approaching a comprehensive picture of the occupations and employment histories of the tens of thousands of living individuals who hold doctoral degrees in English and other modern languages," MLA says. But the 311 respondents did provide "a set of suggestive illustrations that should spur the further research needed to gather information that will confirm or correct the findings presented here."

From the Mouths of Ph.D.s

The vast majority of respondents -- 79 percent -- said they worked in academe. Over all, 52 percent of survey respondents said they held a tenured faculty position. That’s higher than some might expect, given the dismal tenure-track job market. But MLA notes that having a tenured position varied by when respondents earned their Ph.D.s, specifically whether the tenure-track job market was booming or busting at the time. Just 36 percent of those who received their Ph.D.s from 1996 to 1998 worked in tenured positions when surveyed last summer, compared to 69 percent of the 1999-2001 cohort, for example. And just 35 percent of the 2009-15 cohort was tenured by 2017.

Data on first jobs upon completing the Ph.D. tell a similar story. About 45 percent of graduates from 2006 to 2008, when the tenure-track job market in the humanities was relatively good, landed tenure-track faculty jobs right out of graduate school. That figure fell to 26 percent after the Great Recession, in 2009-15.

Just about 4 percent of the overall sample held tenure-track, nontenured positions at the time of the survey, while 12 percent and 3 percent said they worked in full- and part-time faculty positions off the tenure track, respectively. About 9 percent worked in administration.

Some 21 percent worked outside academe. Fourteen percent worked in business, government or nonprofit organizations. A 4 percent sliver worked in K-12 education, while 3 percent were self-employed. One percent was retired.

“Of course, the future may bring more movement from non-tenure-track to tenure-track positions for those in this most recently graduated cohort, as it has for three of its four predecessors,” David Laurence, MLA researcher, wrote in a separate, partial analysis of the report. “Or the future may confirm a more permanent shift to non-tenure-track appointments and to employment outside academe -- a shift that is apparent in the data for the 2009-15 cohort to date and that characterizes the experience reflected in the far lower fraction of graduates in tenured and tenure-track positions in the 1996-98 group and the markedly higher 29 percent who have moved out of academe into self-employment or business, government, and nonprofit organizations.”

The most “urgent message” of these data may be “how important it is for both doctoral programs and their students to remain open and active in consideration of the fullest possible range of employment options and opportunities, especially perhaps if a leading one of those options is the career of a tenured faculty member,” Laurence added.

Maybe You Can Get Satisfaction … but We Still Need More Data

MLA’s full report also provides data on job satisfaction among humanities Ph.D.s. In relatively good news, 77 percent of respondents reported being satisfied or very satisfied with their work. Those levels varied somewhat with when students graduated, too: those who earned their Ph.D.s since the recession were the largest share of “neutral” satisfaction respondents.

There's some data on earnings, too. About 50 percent of modern language Ph.D.s are earning between $65,000 and $100,000 annually.

Humanities Ph.D.s haven’t been included in the federal Survey of Doctoral Recipients since 1995. So what humanities Ph.D.s do with their degrees has been a giant question mark, at least on a national level, since then. Recent years have seen a major push for institutions and professional societies to help close that data gap and track humanities Ph.D.s, however, so that students know what kinds of careers to plan for -- especially given the shrinking faculty job market -- and so that graduate programs know how to help them.

These data collection efforts are not easy, and they’re less than comprehensive. But the MLA study provides crucial insight into what humanities Ph.D.s are doing, and even if they like doing it.

Paula Krebs, executive director of the MLA, said Wednesday that while the sample size “is way too small to be very specific,” the available data suggest “that we urgently need a more comprehensive picture of the occupations and employment histories of Ph.D. recipients in our fields.” MLA hopes that the “preliminary snapshot will prompt further research and tracking, especially at the departmental level,” she said.

Still, Krebs said that graduates’ career variety already demonstrates “how important it is for doctoral programs and graduate students to be aware of the full range of employment options for humanities Ph.D.s.” With graduates working in diverse jobs already, she said, doctoral programs that track their graduates make it easier for current students to “imagine and pursue” their own paths.

Robert B. Townsend, director of the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, said the small response rate to the survey was indeed a concern. That noted, the results “seem quite valuable for the discussion about career diversity for humanities Ph.D.s,” he said. Specifically, Townsend said the report underscores what he’s noticed in helping prepare similar studies for the American Historical Association, where he once worked, and the academy: how diverse even individual career trajectories can be after the Ph.D.

“When I talk to audiences about these issues, that diversity of career trajectories can be very hard to convey,” he said. “This report provides tangible evidence for those conversations and provides some provisional numbers that help us move beyond personal anecdotes. I think it will be very helpful.” Among other things, Townsend said, the data suggest “how hard it is to make it onto the tenure track after you start down one of the other paths.”

Likening such studies to “taking a snapshot of a moving object,” Townsend said he learned while helping write a 2013 AHA report on Ph.D. career outcomes that, for instance, some respondents clearly had moved on to other jobs by the time he went back to double-check the data.

While career outcomes and trajectories are surely the flashier part of this report, Townsend said he was also struck by MLA’s findings on job satisfaction. A recent academy report found that Ph.D.s working inside academe were significantly more satisfied over all than their counterparts outside academe, but there is no such divide in MLA’s sample.

Townsend said he assumed part of the difference is that MLA’s survey population consists disproportionately of young people, “whose struggles to find a secure position are amply documented elsewhere in the report.”

Once again, he said, “it points to the value of looking at the results as potentially changing over time.”

Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, said in an emailed statement that MLA's and AHA's recent studies "are filling big gaps in our understanding of the careers of humanities Ph.D.s." 

Their information is "critical for current and future Ph.D.s trying to understand the career options available to them, and to humanities Ph.D. programs working to improve the preparation of their students," Ortega said, noting that CGS will be ready to release data from its own Andrew W. Mellon Foundation- and National Science Foundation-funded study of career pathways in the fall. Preliminarily, she said of the forthcoming data, "I think we can safely say that the first wave of findings point to greater diversity of career options than many humanities Ph.D. students would imagine." Editorial Tags: EnglishFacultyGraduate studentsImage Source: Modern Language AssociationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Colleges challenge California's suspension of their GI Bill eligibility

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:00

The California agency that certifies colleges to award federal education aid to veterans and service members in the state has in recent weeks suspended the eligibility of colleges from other states -- including three from Missouri that on Wednesday persuaded a judge to temporarily block the agency's actions.

Park University, Webster University and Columbia College were granted a temporary restraining order Wednesday by the San Diego Superior Court to keep the California State Approving Agency for Veterans Education from moving forward with their suspension.

CSAAVE, which determines which colleges are eligible for GI Bill reimbursement in California, has sent suspension letters to several colleges outside the state based on the agency’s “new interpretation of federal regulations,” according to a statement from the three Missouri institutions. Several institutions from other states have been similarly disqualified in recent weeks.

According to the suspension letters sent to the colleges, CSAAVE based its decision on the perceived inadequacy of the colleges’ locations in California. The suspension means that students at those institutions who qualify for the military benefits could see their funding cut off or reduced.

CSAAVE did not respond to requests from Inside Higher Ed for comment about the court order, which gives the agency until Sept. 21 to show why the suspensions should stand. The agency did confirm that a number of institutions have been “operating out of compliance” and received notices that they have 60 days to correct the deficiencies.

In a suspension letter to Park, CSAAVE education administrator Latanaya Johnson wrote, “Park University is not recognized as a main campus or a branch campus by the Higher Learning Commission, but rather as an off-campus instructional site. According to HLC, an off-campus instructional site is operationally dependent on the main campus.” HLC accredits all three of the Missouri colleges.

Johnson wrote that the state approving agency may combine approval of courses offered by a college or university's extension location with its approval of the main or branch campus, but only if the extension is located within the same state as the campus it is dependent on.

CSAAVE also suspended the California locations for only offering "individual subject courses, not a complete program of education." The letter to Park, for example, asserts that the university’s California locations do not confer a degree, certificate or diploma and that is consistent with HLC's designation for off-campus sites.

CSAAVE required all three institutions to provide evidence disputing the claims in the suspension letters, and according to their lawsuit, each institution’s president submitted documents from their accreditor showing they are in compliance with state law.

"Nevertheless, CSAAVE refused to rescind its suspensions, instead citing irrelevant and different sections of the applicable federal rules and regulations,” according to the court complaint filed by the colleges.

“We’ve been unable to understand why they’re raising these concerns at this time,” said Greg Gunderson, Park's president. “We are unclear what disqualifies us. If it’s because the location of our incorporation is Missouri, that’s not a problem we’ve faced anywhere else in the U.S.”

Park has had locations in California since 1990 and has campuses on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Barstow Community College, Fort Irwin National Training Center and Victor Valley College.

Gunderson said the institution has 42 campuses in 22 states and hasn’t had this issue with any other state approving agency beside California's.

Impact Elsewhere

Although the three Missouri colleges have received a temporary order blocking the suspension, other colleges around the country have been affected by the California agency's apparent change in policy. Officials at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, University of Maryland University College and Central Texas College confirmed they had also received suspension letters.

“We have been providing educational services to active-duty military and veterans around the world since 1947 including in California,” Bob Ludwig, assistant vice president for media relations at the University of Maryland University College, said in an email. “Our San Diego education center remains open and we continue to provide advising and other services to our veteran students. We hope to once again offer face-to-face classes when this issue is resolved.”

An official from Central Texas College said the institution is currently looking into the issue.

Officials from Embry-Riddle said they have approval and support from the Florida approving agency for veterans' affairs to certify all of their California veterans under a code that would allow those students to receive military housing allowances of about $825 a month -- lower than the “in-person” amounts those students received before the CSAAVE suspension, which ranged from about $1,300 to $3,500 a month.

“The university has appealed CSAAVE’s suspension,” John Watret, chancellor of Embry-Riddle Worldwide, which has 17 physical locations in California, of which eight are located on military bases, said in an email. “This appeal was submitted in advance of their August 14 deadline and no response has been received. CSAAVE is refusing to speak with Embry-Riddle on the status of our appeal or what specific criteria they use to determine whether an institution is considered in-state.”

Watret said the college has about 950 students in California receiving GI Bill benefits, and about 450 receive the monthly housing allotment.

“Students have been notified by CSAAVE that their school is at risk of losing GI Bill approval and the potential impact of such action,” said Curt Cashour, press secretary at the federal Veteran Affairs Department, in an email.

Cashour said the VA is working with CSAAVE and the affected colleges to address the situation.

Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: VeteransImage Caption: Park UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: GI Bill EligibilityTrending order: 2

Study raises new questions about reproducibility of research

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:00

Academics are easily able to predict whether an experiment’s findings will be reproducible, according to a study that raises more questions about the reliability of research published in leading journals.

A major new investigation -- undertaken by 12 research centers across the world in partnership with the Center for Open Science (COS) and published in Nature Human Behavior -- sought to test the most significant findings in social science papers published in Science and Nature between 2010 and 2015.

Conducting replication experiments for 21 eligible studies, the collaborative team of researchers from five laboratories found that 13 showed evidence “consistent with” the findings of the original paper. As many as eight failed to do so, however, suggesting a reproducibility rate of 62 percent.

To ensure “high statistical power,” average sample sizes for the replication studies were about five times larger than the originals. Strikingly, however, effect sizes were found to be about 50 percent smaller on average in the replication tests than their original studies had promised.

Lily Hummer, an assistant research scientist at the COS and co-author of one of the replication studies, explained that the smaller effect sizes showed that “increasing power substantially is not sufficient to reproduce all published findings.”

Project leaders set up prediction markets -- allowing other researchers to bet money on whether they thought each one of the papers would replicate or not -- before conducting the experiments.

Taking into account the bets of 206 researchers, the markets correctly predicted replication outcomes for 18 of the 21 studies. Furthermore, market beliefs about replication were highly correlated with the true replication effect sizes, authors noted.

Thomas Pfeiffer, professor in computation biology at the New Zealand Institute for Advanced Study, another of the project leaders, said that this suggested that “researchers have advance knowledge about the likelihood that some findings will replicate.”

Speaking to Times Higher Education, Brian Nosek, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia and executive director of the COS, said that this outcome did not necessarily indicate that academics were willingly or knowingly submitting papers with poor-quality data sets to journals.

“I wouldn’t infer that researchers are submitting work that they know to be irreproducible,” he said. “The market reflects the price that the whole community puts on the likelihood of replication, but there is a lot of variability between individuals.”

It was also likely that a “shift in culture” meant that scientists who might once have been defensive about criticisms against their findings are becoming increasingly aware of potential problems with reproducibility of data and, thus, more open to public discussion than they might have been even just a few years ago.

“It may be that researchers themselves will sharpen their intuitions about the plausibility of results,” Nosek said. “When the culture was just rewarding finding the sexy result, regardless of its plausibility, there was little reason to consider whether it was reproducible. That is one of the biggest benefits of the changing norms.”

This is not the first time that betting has been used as an indicator for the likelihood of results. A previous study published by the COS asked researchers to submit their predictions for the reproducibility of 44 studies published in prominent psychology journals.

Each researcher was given $100 to “trade” with, and a total of 2,496 transactions were carried out -- suggesting to researchers that prediction markets could be used as “decision markets” to help scientists prioritize which studies to attempt to replicate in the future.

Editorial Tags: Sciences/Tech/Engineering/MathTimes Higher EdIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

New presidents or provosts: ArtCenter Chamberlain KCTCS Metropolitan RIT Southern Union WashU Western Tech

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 08/30/2018 - 07:00
  • Karen Cox, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Children’s Mercy-Kansas City, in Missouri, has been appointed president of Chamberlain University, in Chicago.
  • Ellen Granberg, senior associate provost at Clemson University, in South Carolina, has been chosen as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Rochester Institute of Technology, in New York.
  • Karen Hofmann, interim provost at ArtCenter College of Design, in California, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Kathleen Linaker, assistant vice president of academics and dean of the School of STEM, Health and Natural Sciences at Mohawk Valley Community College, in New York, has been selected as vice president of academics at Western Technical College, in Wisconsin.
  • Andrew D. Martin, dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts at the University of Michigan, has been chosen as chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, in Missouri.
  • Joanne Passaro, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Carroll University, in Wisconsin, has been appointed president of Metropolitan College of New York.
  • Norma Perez, interim vice chancellor of instructional services and chief academic officer at Houston Community College, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Todd Shackett, director of operational excellence at Baxter International, in Alabama, has been chosen as president of Southern Union State Community College, also in Alabama.
  • Kristin Williams, president of Henderson Community College, in Kentucky, has been selected as chancellor of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
Editorial Tags: College administrationNew presidentsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Clemson UniversityHouston Community CollegeMetropolitan College of New YorkMohawk Valley Community CollegeRochester Institute of Technology

Philosophers object to a journal's publication 'TERF,' in reference to some feminists. Is it really a slur?

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 07:00

For some, using the word “TERF” means calling out transphobia where they see it. For others, the word is a slur that has no place in academic discourse. And those points of view are currently clashing in philosophy, a journal of which recently permitted use of the term.

Still, to others, “TERF” sounds like a foreign word. So, first, a primer: TERF is an acronym meaning “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” While the term has become controversial over time, especially with its often hateful deployment on social media, it originally described a subgroup of feminists who believe that the interests of cisgender women (those who are born with vaginas) don’t necessarily intersect with those of transgender women (primarily those born with penises).

To some feminists, that notion is obvious: the experience of having lived as male for any period of time matters. But some trans scholars and allies say that notion is in and of itself transphobic, since it means that trans women are somehow different from women, or that they’re not women at all.

This debate has been simmering for some time in public life in Britain, which is considering updating its Gender Recognition Act to allow for gender self-identification. (New Zealand also is moving toward self-declaration). But it has not reached such a pitch in academe, especially in the U.S. -- at least not until now. As Kathleen Stock, a professor of philosophy at the University of Sussex, in Britain, wrote on Medium in May, “Beyond the academy, there’s a huge and impassioned discussion going on, around the apparent conflict between women-who-are-not-transwomen’s rights and interests, and transwomen’s rights and interests. And yet nearly all academic philosophers  -- including, surprisingly, feminist philosophers  --  are ignoring it.”

This month, though, a group of scholars registered a public complaint with Philosophy and Phenomenological Research’s editorial team. In a guest post for the Daily Nous philosophy blog, the scholars said that in a recent issue of the journal, the term “TERF” was lobbed in “ad hominem attacks” rather than in mere discussions.

In question is a symposium on the noted 2015 book How Propaganda Works, by Jason Stanley, Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. In an article called “The Epistemology of Propaganda,” Rachel McKinnon, an assistant professor of philosophy at the College of Charleston, uses Stanley’s work to analyze what she calls “a modern form of propaganda where so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) are engaged in a political project to deny that trans women are women -- and thereby to exclude trans women from women-only spaces, services and protections.”

Noting that the phrase “trans-exclusionary radical feminist” was coined by two cisgender radical feminists in 2008, McKinnon argues that “this point is important, since many contemporary feminists accuse trans women of coining the phrase/term -- and, ludicrously, claim that ‘TERF’ is a misogynistic slur.”

The scholars who complained -- seven feminist philosophers from Britain and Australia -- wrote in Daily Nous that TERF “is at worst a slur and at best derogatory. We are extremely concerned about the normalization of this term in academic philosophy, and its effect in reinforcing a hostile climate for debate on an issue of key importance to women.”

TERF “is widely used across online platforms as a way to denigrate and dismiss the women (and some men) who disagree with the dominant narrative on trans issues,” the scholars wrote. Targeted groups include “lesbians who merely maintain that same-sex attraction is not equivalent to transphobia,” and “women who believe that women’s oppression is sex-based, and are concerned about erasing the political importance of female bodies,” they said, citing websites such as TerfIsaSlur.com as evidence.

A quick search for #TERF on Twitter also turns up references to the “clitterati,” “ignorant, hateful cunt[s],” comparisons to Nazis, and invitations to “go fuck themselves on cactuses.” Trans women of course face brutal discrimination online and in life, but such examples support the idea that "TERF" is not a neutral term.

The scholars -- who also took issue with McKinnon’s assertion that concerns about trans access to certain sex-segregated spaces are “unfounded" and “based only a flawed ideology” -- said that their complaint was squarely with Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. That is, the word "TERF," in their view, should have been screened out in the editorial process. But McKinnon, much more than Stanley, who also used the term in his symposium reply, has nevertheless been implicated in the debate.

McKinnon forwarded her online talk about why "TERF" is not a slur but declined an interview request. She's responded on Twitter to what she called a targeted attack against her, however. She's also said that the writers of the complaint asked the journal’s editor to retract the article.

The scholars denied ever requesting a retraction, and said it was troublesome that it was being asserted that they had. The journal’s editor in chief, Ernest Sosa, professor emeritus of philosophy at Brown University, said via email that there was no formal request for retraction, just a request for an apology and a correcting. There was some “back and forth” in terms of an informal request for a retraction, Sosa said, adding that he did not have a good record of it.

Sosa also wrote a public response to the scholars' complaint, published in Daily Nous.

The “slur” issue “did not escape the attention of the editor responsible for the publication of this article, who consulted with several senior distinguished scholars in the relevant field, whose consensus view was that though the term in question might evolve to become a slur, the denigrating uses that you have exhibited are on a par with denigrating uses of ‘Jew’ and many other terms, and quite compatible with its having a descriptive meaning,” Sosa wrote. “Since in any case the question of whether it is a slur is a controversial one that is a matter of academic disagreement between you and the author of this article, it is not the role of the editors to decide this issue.”

Asked if she was satisfied with that response, Mary Leng, senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of York, in Britain, and one of the philosophers who complained to the journal, said no, “especially given that they were made aware in advance of the contested nature of the term.” Leng underscored that neither she nor her colleagues were calling for a retraction, but instead to make academics, both authors and journal editors, more aware of the matter going forward.

Sophie Allen, a lecturer in philosophy at Keele University, in Britain, also signed the public complaint to the journal and said that no one had asked for a retraction. Her colleagues who were in touch with the journal prior to the Daily Nous piece asked that an alternative term be used, such as “‘gender critical feminist,’ which is not a slur nor derogatory,” she said.

As for Sosa’s response, Allen said it was “inadequate.” TERF is “frequently accompanied by threats of violence, rape and death,” she said, and it has already evolved to into a slur and so lost its place in a scholarly publication. Allen objected on numerous grounds to Sosa’s analogy to the term “Jew.” And most “most radical feminists who are apparently described” by the term TERF are inclusive of trans men, and so are not “trans-exclusionary” anyway, she said.

Numerous supporters of McKinnon also reached out to Inside Higher Ed, asking that it not publish an article about the topic. Several academics declined interview requests, with one citing not having tenure as the reason.

“Please stop your harassment of Dr. Rachel McKinnon,” reads one of many similar emails received by this reporter after requesting comment from McKinnon. “‘TERF’ is not a slur. [McKinnon] needs your support, not your contributing to further hate and violence threats from TERFs.”

Stanley did not respond to a request for comment.

Books and PublishingDiversityEditorial Tags: PhilosophyFacultyImage Source: YouTubeImage Caption: Rachel McKinnonIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, September 4, 2018Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: ‘TERF’ WarMagazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Should Journals Ban an Acronym?Trending order: 1

The Trump administration's renewed interest in prison education

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 07:00

One year into an experiment allowing colleges to award Pell Grants to incarcerated students, Trump administration officials look to be even more invested in the program.

The question within the Department of Education is not whether the Second Chance Pell program should continue but how to evaluate the results at more than 60 participating institutions as momentum has gathered in Congress behind a possible repeal of the ban on federal aid for incarcerated college students.

The Obama administration launched the Second Chance program in 2015 using its experimental sites authority, which allows the Education Department to circumvent federal statute on a limited basis to evaluate potential policy changes. Republicans criticized the project at the time, focusing largely on the legal authority of the administration to offer the grants.

But support for prison education fits broader rhetoric from the Trump administration about reforming the criminal justice system, a cause championed by presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner in particular.

And political appointees who have recently joined the department have taken a strong interest in the Second Chance program. Diane Auer Jones, the Education Department’s top higher ed official, said the results of the Second Chance program would help inform the administration’s stance on a repeal of the ban, which has been in place since 1994.

“We think with 65 schools and 10,000 students, we have a real opportunity to learn something,” she said. “As institutions provide us with data, we’re really going to look to see, are there best practices? Are there some things that work better than others?”

The department plans to watch student outcomes such as the number and types of degrees or certificates awarded. It will also monitor challenges to providing courses in prison settings and how they were addressed and how students continue their education after release from prison.

Talks involving prison education have also encompassed funding sources outside the Second Chance program. Jones said department officials are looking in particular at allocations states could use under the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act. That law allows states to dedicate up to 20 percent of federal funds awarded through the act to correctional education. In 2015 states spent only $20 million of their federal allocation on that purpose, though, while an additional $94 million could have gone to prison education.

The Perkins Career and Technical Education Act also allows states to spend up to 1 percent of their federal grant award at correctional institutions. The feds can’t dictate how states use those funds. But the department can provide them information clarifying that it can be spent on prison education, Jones said.

“Those are two fairly large pots of money, so to speak, that states tap in to,” she said.

The department’s examination of the prison education has been informed by meetings with advocacy groups and college officials as well as formerly incarcerated individuals.

Jones and Frank Brogan, the assistant secretary of elementary and secondary education, met earlier this summer with a group including Stanley Andrisse, a Howard University medical school endocrinologist. Shortly after graduating college in 2006, Andrisse was sentenced to state prison for a drug conviction but went on to earn a doctorate in physiology and a business degree after his release. He’s now the executive director of From Prison Cells to Ph.D., a nonprofit that provides mentoring and guidance to formerly incarcerated students.

His story, Jones said, helped broaden department officials’ thinking about the kinds of opportunities that should be made available to incarcerated students from career and technical education to four-year liberal arts degrees.

Shifting Politics in Congress

The ban on federal student aid for incarcerated students has been in place for less than a quarter century. It was included in the 1994 federal crime bill signed into law by President Clinton that reflected a broader set of "tough on crime" policies at the time. But as criminal justice reform has become popular among members of both parties, advocates for incarcerated students hope to make progress on reinstating Pell Grants.

And the Second Chance program has taken shape as enthusiasm has grown in Congress -- mostly among Democratic lawmakers -- for reconsidering the ban on federal student aid in prisons, although winning a repeal still appears to be an uphill battle.

House Democrats released a proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act last month called the Aim Higher Act including a provision that would strike the ban. The provision was noncontroversial among caucus members, committee staff said. And earlier this year, Senator Brian Schatz, a Hawaii Democrat, introduced legislation that would reinstate Pell eligibility for incarcerated individuals. The Schatz legislation, dubbed the REAL Act, counts among its co-sponsors potential 2020 presidential contenders including Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Although Education Secretary Betsy DeVos called reinstating the grants “a very good and interesting possibility,” congressional Republicans haven't rushed to endorse the proposal.

Some have nonetheless signaled a willingness to consider the idea as part of future higher ed legislation. When the Obama administration made moves to launch the Second Chance program, Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican and chairman of the Senate education committee, said the department did not have the authority to restore the Pell Grants, even on a limited basis, without approval from Congress. But he said earlier this year that reinstating the financial aid could be part of the next Higher Education Act.

“Most prisoners, sooner or later, are released from prison, and no one is helped when they do not have the skills to find a job,” Alexander said in a statement. “Making Pell Grants available to them in the right circumstances is a good idea, and the committee will work to make this a part of the law in a HEA reauthorization.”

Asked about reinstating the grants, a spokeswoman for Representative Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and the chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, said Foxx wanted to see the results of the Second Chance Pell initiative.

Some conservative Republicans have sought to end the Second Chance experiment. Representative Chris Collins, a New York Republican who recently dropped his re-election bid after an insider-trading indictment, has twice introduced legislation dubbed the Kids Before Cons Act that would block the department from administering the program.

But that proposal has received almost no support even from Collins's fellow GOP members. And some conservative policy thinkers have joined with liberals to make the case for prison education as a smart government investment.

Advocates for prison education like Andrisse say higher education is transformational for incarcerated students and significantly reduces recidivism.

“It puts them in physical environments they haven’t been accustomed to, interacting with professors, interacting with other students. All of this is helping build their social capital and their network,” Andrisse said.

But the biggest hurdle for those students in pursuing an education is the cost of college, he said.

“The Pell Grant allows people to start believing, ‘maybe this is for me, maybe I can do this.’ Just by having that opportunity that says that people want to invest in you, that increases a person’s hope,” he said.

One of the alumni of Andrisse’s nonprofit, Donte Small, attended classes through the Goucher Prison Education Partnership while he was incarcerated at Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. He was released in 2014, before the launch of the Second Chance program, but eventually continued his undergraduate education at Goucher College’s Towson, Md., campus. He graduated from Goucher this spring with an undergraduate degree in computer science.

The Goucher program at Jessup is now one of the recipients of funding from the Second Chance Pell initiative.

Without the exposure to higher education while at Jessup, Small said, he never would have made it as far as applying to college.

“[If] I hadn’t went to college while I was incarcerated, if I hadn’t had that opportunity to see what I could do while I was incarcerated, I’m not going to apply,” he said. “It gave me the confidence to say, ‘I know I can do it.’”

Editorial Tags: Federal policyImage Caption: Stanley Andrisse, a Howard University faculty member and executive director of Prison Cells to Ph.D.Ad Keyword: Pell Grant Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Washington and Lee rejects plan to move events out of Lee Chapel

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 07:00

Washington and Lee University has for years debated how to reconcile its history with its desire to be seen as an inclusive institution. W&L is named for two slaveholders, one of whom was a Confederate hero and whose identity is honored all over the campus.

After last year's deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. -- organized on the premise of protesting the planned removal of a Lee statue in the city -- Washington and Lee appointed a panel of faculty and staff members, students and alumni to consider questions of its history and how that history is presented on campus. The commission reported in May, recommending that the university keep its nickname and its athletics teams' name (the Generals). But the committee recommended significant changes to the role of Lee Chapel, ending its use for key campus events, and converting the chapel into a museum. The commission also called for W&L to consider the messages it makes by the historical portraits (many of Lee, many in uniform) that are found throughout the campus. The committee said that the university has struggled to recruit black students in part because of its history.

On Tuesday, President William C. Dudley announced his response (and that of the board) to the recommendations. The university's name and team name will remain. And while Dudley said some changes would be made to Lee Chapel, he said key events would continue to be held there. And he didn't comment at all on the proposals for the portraits.

Black student leaders could not be reached for comment late Tuesday. But the editor of a conservative student newspaper that has criticized the commission for not sufficiently honoring Lee praised the president for not following its recommendations on key issues.

The announcement from Washington and Lee comes amid renewed debate at many campuses over what to do about statues of Confederate heroes -- statues that have been honored by white supremacists for years. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill last week, protesters pulled down a statue of a Confederate soldier, prompting a rally on Saturday by people with Confederate flags. At Duke University, which last year removed a statue of Robert E. Lee from its chapel, the university announced this month that it would leave the spot empty, a symbol of American racism.

The Lee Chapel

The commission, which studied the history of the university, noted that the sculpture and other imagery in the chapel were part of an effort in the South in the late 19th century and beyond to make the Confederacy a great cause, worthy of veneration, and to make Confederate heroes into something akin to saints. "By continuing to hold rituals and events in Lee Chapel, the university, wittingly or not, sustains the Shrine of the South and the memory of Lee as a commander of the Confederate Army," the report said. "The commission heard repeatedly in its outreach that the effect is problematic for many students, faculty, staff and alumni." Notably, the commission said, orientation of new students takes place in the chapel, as does the signing of the honor code.

So it recommended that the chapel be converted to a museum, and that all key events be moved elsewhere.

Dudley, however, rejected that recommendation. He stressed that there are separate functions taking place in the chapel and that they can be thought of separately.

"We can and will continue to use Lee Chapel, as our community has done for a century and a half, in the service of the life of the university," he wrote in a message to the campus. "We can and will continue to welcome visitors to Lee's tomb and memorial statue, while ensuring that university events do not feel as though they take place in a Confederate shrine. And we can and will continue to teach the history of W&L, including the history of Lee's presidency and the chapel he built, without converting the building to a museum that would be unavailable for any other purpose. We will take care to preserve the historical value of the chapel and its later addition, while at the same time making certain that the space becomes one in which all members of our community can enjoy participating in important university events."

He said that the Lee family crypt and related statues can "remain intact and open to the public, but functionally separate from the chapel's assembly hall."

As for the honor code ceremony, Dudley said the student government runs the honor code and so can decide for itself where to hold the ceremony.

Hayden W. Daniel, editor of The W&L Spectator, which has criticized attempts to change the way the college portrays its history, said via email that he was generally pleased with the president's response.

"We are elated that Lee Chapel will not be converted into a museum closed to university events and that it will continue to be an integral part of campus events," Daniel said. "We are also happy that the issue of the honor system on Lee Chapel will be left to the students. We are confident that the current students of W&L recognize the importance of Lee Chapel to the school and to the honor system in general, and that they will choose to retain the integral link between the honor system and the chapel. It would seem that Dudley has chosen moderation and discussion over the more radical suggestions of the commission."

DiversityEditorial Tags: DiscriminationImage Caption: Lee ChapelIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Washington and Lee University

The perils and pitfalls of higher ed social media management

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 07:00

As floodwaters from Hurricane Matthew surged through Flagler College’s campus in 2016, Holly Hill, director of web and new media services for the Florida institution, realized she had a problem.

Thousands of students, faculty and staff were turning to social media for information and help. But Hill and the one other colleague responsible for manning the college's social media accounts couldn’t keep up.

“We went from pushing out information to all of a sudden becoming a call center,” said Hill.

Flagler’s campus was evacuated prior to the storm. But it was unclear when the campus would reopen. Power went out in most of the administrative buildings, and some students, many from out of state, couldn’t get into their apartments for months, Hill said.

“After Matthew, we really took a big look to improve how we communicated in future years,” she said.

Less than a year later, another hurricane hit Flagler. But this time, Hill was ready. She’d established a Social Media Emergency Response Team and had trained a group of staff involved in communications to be on call to respond to emergencies.

When Hurricane Irma made landfall, Hill’s team congregated in the nearest coffee shop with power and brainstormed what information students would want to know. Inspired by the county’s emergency response operations, this social media “hub” worked because “all the right people were at the table,” said Hill. The team didn’t have all the answers, but they'd learned from Hurricane Matthew just to “answer honestly” even if all they could say was “we’re looking into this.” That responsiveness was reassuring to students, Hill said.

Anticipating that students, parents, faculty and others might want to know if buildings on campus were damaged, Hill encouraged the college president to do a Snapchat video tour showing the damage.

“That was really helpful,” she said. “People are just curious and nervous. I tried to put myself in their shoes.”

Thinking ahead and on your feet is just one of many responsibilities of a college social media manager. In addition to promoting and protecting the reputation of an institution, live-tweeting events such as commencements, and remaining vigilant for threats both online and on campus, they are increasingly expected to play a customer service role -- handling wide-ranging inquiries, directing people to information, responding to complaints and much more -- and to do so efficiently, accurately and quickly.

Although they work in a relatively young and still evolving field, social media managers are becoming an important part of colleges' and universities' brands. Faceless, nameless and often working behind the scenes, how do they do the job can nonetheless "make or break" an institution's reputation.

While it may feel like social media has been around for a long time, “In a lot of respects, we’re still figuring out best practices and the rules of the road,” said Erin Hennessy, vice president of TVP Communications, a public relations agency focused on higher education.

She said managing a university’s social media is “truly a 24-7-365 job” and one that can be “particularly stressful.”

Walking a Fine Line

Finding the right voice for an academic institution is a particular challenge. Universities are serious places. Smart people do important things there. But how do you convey that without putting people to sleep? Is it appropriate to try to be funny? Can you be flippant or witty without seeming snide?

Matt Hames, former communications strategist at Colgate University, said finding the right balance was challenging. “How can you be the voice of a 200-year-old building?” he asked.

Hames said he settled on a voice that was “more Walter Cronkite than Jon Stewart.” But that wasn’t how he started out. Early on, Hames's withering comebacks against bad toothpaste jokes garnered widespread attention. He said that over time, however, he realized he should perhaps be a little more serious and “less wacky.”

Though Hames is often cited as a pioneer in higher education social media management, he announced earlier this year that Colgate had decided to let him go. “They said they wanted to go in a different direction,” said Hames.

He now works for the Utica National Insurance Group.

As the University of Essex in Britain recently discovered, it’s easy for a humorous tweet to backfire. The university's social media manager made fun of another British institution for encouraging students to enroll using voice-controlled Alexa devices. The jibe didn’t go down well. Critics said Essex’s joke was not collegial and “left a bad taste.” The University of Essex subsequently apologized, acknowledging it had “got it wrong.”

Andrew Careaga, chief marketing and communications officer at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, said he likes to engage in some “geek humor” as is befitting a STEM-focused institution like Missouri S&T, but he admits it doesn’t always go down well.

On April Fool’s Day in 2012, Careaga's team replaced the university's homepage with a QR code, with the instruction to "scan this code to visit our website." People were annoyed. They criticized QR codes. They did not get the joke, said Careaga. “That was definitely one that fell flat.”

But two years later, Careaga found success. His team plastered the university's homepage with doge memes -- adding to every image on the site a wide-eyed shiba inu dog, surrounded by expressions such as “wow,” “so research” and “many smart,” in colorful Comic Sans font.

Wired declared that Missouri S&T had “won April Fool’s Day.” Loads of people visited the site. But, Careaga adds, “a lot of people thought we’d been hacked.”

Social media managers need to be sensitive to the environment they are in, said Liz Gross, director of Campus Sonar, a social media and marketing consultancy for higher education institutions. The University of Wisconsin Madison, for example, used to have a pretty cheeky social media persona. “They wanted to be ‘the smartest person in the room,’” said Gross. But as the political climate became more critical of higher education institutions, the edginess was toned down, said Gross.

There are, however, occasions when a little impudence works. Earlier this year, the University of Maryland Baltimore County’s men’s basketball team had an incredible Cinderella run in the NCAA tournament. But it wasn’t just UMBC’s prowess on the court that gained national attention. Off the court, the UMBC Athletics Twitter account was gaining legions of fans. The account was funny, irreverent and, as The New York Times put it, not afraid to “burn, burn, burn” those who had doubted UMBC.

Sup, @ESPN pic.twitter.com/ISHem7E57R

— UMBC Athletics (@UMBCAthletics) March 17, 2018

“It was the perfect combination of once-in-a-lifetime circumstances, a creative strategy and leaders who were willing to give the social media team room to run, which paid enormous dividends for the institution,” said Hennessy.

A Stressful Role

The job also has a very serious and sometimes stressful side.

Social media managers can play an important role not only in disseminating information during and after an emergency, but also preparing for one. The University of Michigan, for example, has used Snapchat to educate students about how to respond to an active shooter.

They can often be the first person to see reports of violence, sexual assault or other major incidents on campus, said Gross. But they are “not always equipped to deal with things like that,” she said.

Handling a crisis event is stressful but it can also take a personal toll, said Gross. Social media managers might be the only person monitoring accounts and that means that they can’t really switch off. Intercepting hateful messages all day doesn’t make you feel good, Gross said.

“The internet can be a yucky place.”

Finding a Purpose

It’s taken a while, but universities have started to recognize the importance of getting social media right, said Hennessy.

“It used to be that managers in all sorts of industries, not just higher ed, grabbed the youngest person in the room and said, ‘You’re young, you get this, so it’s yours to manage,’” she said. “Now, smart institutions realize that their brands can live or die on social media and have started to press for significant investments in talent and resources.”

But Gross said that she still encounters many social media managers who have not had any formal training and are not getting much guidance.

“People know their job is to do social media, but when you ask what they are trying to accomplish, you get blank stares,” she said. “There’s often a lack of clear direction.”

Hames said that universities often struggle to set a clear purpose for their social media. In the business world, it’s clear that the purpose of social media is to sell, but in higher ed that kind of naked commercialization is frowned upon.

Though social media can be used to connect students on campus, engage alumni or woo donors, Hames believes that attracting new students should be the goal.

“Right now, schools should be all about the end-of-summer tours, the new class, photos of moving in, everything and anything that might jazz a rising high school senior.”

Editorial Tags: MarketingIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Flagler College-St AugustineMissouri University of Science and TechnologyUniversity of Maryland-Baltimore County

Colleges award tenure

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 07:00

Bates College

  • Ali Humayun Akhtar, religious studies
  • Jonathan Cavallero, rhetoric, film and screen studies
  • Raluca Cernahoschi, German
  • Jakub Kazecki, German
  • Katharine Ott, mathematics
  • Larissa Williams, biology

Emmanuel College

  • Benjamin Allen, mathematics
  • Monique-Adelle Callahan, English
  • Padraig Deighan, biology
  • Jason Kuehner, biology
  • Christine Leighton, education
  • Andrea McDonnell, communication and media
  • Christine Sample, mathematics

Frostburg State University

  • Ali Ashraf, marketing and finance
  • Amanda Bena, librarian
  • Justin Dunmyre, mathematics
  • Travis English, visual arts
  • Lisa Hartman, librarian
  • Melody Kentrus, kinesiology and recreation
  • Christopher Masciocchi, psychology
  • Eleanor McConnell, history
  • Kristine McGee, educational professions
  • Lisa Morshead, psychology
  • Kara Platt, nursing
  • Rebekah Taylor, biology
  • Brent Weber, music
  • Wudyalew Wondmagegn, physics and engineering
  • Liangliang Xiao, computer science and information technologies

Hendrix College

  • Maureen McClung, biology
  • Stanly Rauh, classics
  • Ruthann Thomas, psychology

Millikin University

  • Najiba Benabess, economics
  • Hee Young Choi, education
  • RJ Podeschi, information systems

San Diego State University

  • Madeline Baer, political science
  • Harsimran Singh Baweja, exercise and nutritional sciences
  • Aaron Blashill, psychology
  • Stephen Brotebeck, theater, television and film
  • Yea-Wen Chen, communication
  • Jerome Gilles, mathematics and statistics
  • Gregory Peter Holland, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Jessica Renee Humphrey, music and dance
  • Marina Kalyuzhnaya, biology
  • Ranin Kazemi, history
  • Shannon Kitelinger, music and dance
  • Lourdes Martinez, communication
  • Hilary Katherine McMillan, geography
  • Giang Thuy Pham, speech, language and hearing sciences
  • Byron Willis Purse, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Rachael Record, communication
  • Erika Robb Larkins, anthropology and sociology
  • Taekjin Shin, management
  • Dustin Brian Thoman, psychology
  • William Carl Zahner, mathematics and statistics

University of Alaska Southeast

  • Andrea Dewees, humanities
  • Ernestine Hayes, English
  • X’unei Lance Twitchell, Alaska Native languages
  • Math Trafton, English

University of North Georgia

  • Macklin Cowart, English
  • Janice Crook-Hill, biology
  • Yi Deng, philosophy
  • Gabe Fankhauser, music
  • Selcuk Koyuncu, mathematics
  • Kyounghye Kwon, English
  • Lindsay Linsky, teacher education
  • Jessica Miles, kinesiology
  • Lisa Jones-Moore, teacher education
  • Sangshin Pae, accounting
  • Barbara Petersohn, library science
  • Michael Rifenburg, English
  • Carly Redding, sociology and human services
  • Rebecca Rose, head librarian
  • Margaret Smith, biology
  • Cristina Washell, teacher education
Editorial Tags: Tenure listIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Bates CollegeEmmanuel CollegeFrostburg State UniversityHendrix CollegeMillikin UniversitySan Diego State UniversityUniversity of Alaska SoutheastUniversity of North Georgia

Survey: Business leaders believe students are learning skills but not those needed to advance

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 07:00

Though public support for higher education seems to be waning, this skepticism doesn’t appear to extend to potential employers, who say they still have faith in colleges and universities, according to a new survey conducted on behalf of the Association of American Colleges & Universities.

But while executives and hiring managers believe that institutions are teaching graduates the skills needed for entry-level jobs, they reported that students usually aren’t ready to be promoted.

AAC&U commissioned the Washington, D.C.-based Hart Research Associates to survey two groups: 500 or so business executives in the private sector, and 500 managers whose duties include recruiting and hiring new employees.

The opinions of the executives and the managers did not differ much -- in fact, 63 percent of both groups expressed “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in colleges and universities. Compare this to Gallup research from last year that showed only 44 percent of the random sample it polled had confidence in colleges and universities. The divide deepens along partisan lines, with only 33 percent of Republicans expressing confidence; 56 percent of Democrats reported confidence in higher ed.

But the new AAC&U survey shows that 82 percent of executives and 75 percent of managers think completing a college education is “very important” or “absolutely essential.”

The association titled the report “Fulfilling the American Dream: Liberal Education and the Future of Work,” because it was mindful of the worries the public has about higher education, said AAC&U president Lynn Pasquerella.

“We want to restore our public trust in higher education and liberal education in particular,” Pasquerella said in an interview. “We can’t do that unless we address their concerns.”

While they are generally confident in higher education, business leaders' faith does diminish around the skills that students are learning in college. While a majority of employers (57 percent of executives, 60 percent of managers) believe that students have the knowledge to succeed in entry-level positions, few of them think graduates can advance in a workplace -- only 34 percent of executives and 25 percent of managers believe students have the skills to be promoted.

"When we talk about the liberal education, it’s often in terms of lifelong learning and preparing students not only for their first job, but for their last job," Pasquerella said.

Also notable in the findings: business leaders appear to value more generalized skills, ones that aren’t specific to certain majors. The general public has soured on the concept of a liberal arts education, which AAC&U has expressed concerns about in the past.

In a joint statement with the American Association of University Professors in May, AAC&U extolled the value of liberal arts: “The disciplines of the liberal arts -- and the overall benefit of a liberal education -- are exemplary in this regard, for they foster intellectual curiosity about questions that will never be definitively settled -- questions about justice, about community, about politics and culture, about difference in every sense of the word,” the statement reads. “All college students and not solely a privileged few should have opportunities to address such questions as a critical part of their educational experience.”

A couple of the skills that both parties valued the most: effective oral communication and critical thinking.

But while 90 percent of managers, and 80 percent of executives, considered oral communication “very important” in their hiring, only 47 percent of the managers and 40 percent of the executives believe students are well prepared in this regard.

Those surveyed indicated they’d be much more likely to hire a student with an internship or an apprenticeship -- often where students learn some of these generalized skills.

Pasquerella also said institutions should be mindful of the continued and growing economic segregation in higher education, and ensure that underserved students are being reached with these types of opportunities.

“It underscores the importance of providing the opportunity to engage in high-impact practices and real-world experiences,” she said.

Assessment and AccountabilityEditorial Tags: Liberal artsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Employers and Higher EdTrending order: 1
Syndicate content