Higher Education News

Virginia Tech faces accusations of employing white supremacist

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 07:00

Virginia Tech is facing demands that it fire a graduate student teaching assistant who is accused of being a white supremacist, although officials are keeping mum while some students start to lose patience.

At his State of the University address Friday, President Tim Sands was interrupted by protesters demanding the firing of the alleged white supremacist -- and pushing the accusations into the public eye.

An anonymous blog posted screenshots said to belong to a Tech graduate student in late September. Local publications, including The Roanoke Times and the student newspaper, have covered the dispute but have not named the accused white supremacist for lack of official confirmation that he is linked to an anonymous blog post with screenshots of racist social media and forum posts purportedly made in his name. Inside Higher Ed is also not naming the person in question, for the same lack of confirmation.

“President Sands! Why do you employ a white supremacist?” one of the protesters said, according to the Times. Others unfurled a banner with the phrase “Nazis get off our campus.”

In an interview with the Times, Tori Coan, one of the protesters, said she had filed an official complaint with the university and complained that there hadn’t been action despite “a month talking to the administration.”

Mark Owczarski, a university spokesman, told Inside Higher Ed that Tech is aware of the accusations against a graduate student teaching assistant. He declined to confirm whether a report had been filed and said that a report couldn’t be shared even if it had been submitted. (Virginia law protects personnel files from public-records laws.)

An email from Inside Higher Ed to the graduate student named in the blog post was not returned.

The anonymous blog post shows screenshots of the graduate student appearing to post on white nationalist forums, proclaiming himself a white supremacist, sharing memes about Holocaust denial and making other anti-Semitic statements on social media.

The chair of the alleged supremacist’s department was “aware of the situation” but referred media requests back to the university.

Though the reports and accusations come at a time of heightened sensitivity around white supremacists and their presence on college campuses, the path forward isn’t necessarily clear cut. This also wouldn’t be the first time that white supremacists, racists or anti-Semites have come up against the First Amendment or measures of academic freedom.

At Northwestern University, Arthur Butz, an electrical engineering and computer science professor, published a book of Holocaust denial shortly after he was tenured. Every few years, attention on him has resurfaced as new students discover his views. Although Northwestern is a private university, and the First Amendment therefore doesn’t prevent the university from taking steps to curb Butz’s speech, the university has kept him employed, citing academic freedom principles.

In 2006, when Butz’s views flared up again, Henry S. Bienen, then the president of Northwestern, issued a statement denouncing Butz but defending his continued employment. Butz had recently praised the then president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for his public statements calling the Holocaust a myth.

“While I hope everyone understands that Butz’s opinions are his own and in no way represent the views of the university or me personally, his reprehensible opinions on this issue are an embarrassment to Northwestern,” Bienen said at the time.

However, Bienen said, Butz wasn’t going to be fired, in an effort to grant all professors the freedom to explore controversial topics.

“Like all faculty members, he is entitled to express his personal views, including on his personal webpages, as long as he does not represent such opinions as the views of the university,” Bienen said. “Butz has made clear that his opinions are his own and at no time has he discussed those views in class or made them part of his class curriculum. Therefore, we cannot take action based on the content of what Butz says regarding the Holocaust -- however odious it may be -- without undermining the vital principle of intellectual freedom that all academic institutions serve to protect.”

Northwestern has also deployed a strategy to keep students away from Butz’s classes if they ever feel uncomfortable, although students said he hasn’t brought up the Holocaust in the classroom. If Butz were ever teaching a course required for graduation, Northwestern offers a different section with a different professor. A spokesman said the policy is still in place today.

“If any student expresses a concern about taking a course from Professor Butz, the student can take that course from another engineering professor or take a different course needed to meet a requirement,” spokesman Alan Cubbage said via email. “Any student who expresses a concern would not be forced to have him as [a] professor.”

“Professor Butz is a tenured professor. The university has made very clear that he may not discuss his views on this issue in his classes, and he has not done so.”

While Owczarski, the Virginia Tech spokesman, didn’t delve into First Amendment or academic freedom issues, he did list ways that students could potentially deal with an instructor about whom they had concerns.

“That student has access to and can go to the department head and voice her/his concern,” Owczarski said in an email. From there, he said, the department head would talk to the instructor, and if additional steps needed to be taken, the department head would recommend a “peer review” of the instructor, which could lead to more action.

For students who felt that they couldn’t continue their work with the instructor, the dean of students' office would work to “find an alternative to the current situation.”

Hank Reichman, a professor emeritus of history at California State University, East Bay, and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said that academic freedom was probably in play in the Virginia Tech situation, especially if the student in question never brought his alleged views into the classroom.

“Because they have yet to prove their professional competence, graduate student instructors generally enjoy fewer protections than do tenured or tenure-track faculty members. However, all who teach in higher education, including graduate students, should have academic freedom,” Reichman said via email. “In this case, unless a determination is made through ordinary processes of faculty supervision of graduate teaching that this instructor has improperly injected personal political views into the classroom, including into grading practices, it seems to me that his/her alleged opinions or associations, however odious they may be to me or most others, should be irrelevant to any employment decision.”

An important factor in the Virginia Tech case is that the person in question is an employee, and generally, there are legal protections for employees of public institutions who -- as private citizens -- express political opinions that don't have to do with their job duties. But there can be limits if the person’s ability to do their job might be hindered by particular views or actions.

Take, for example, when the University of Toledo fired a human-resources administrator in 2008 over her views on gay people. Crystal Dixon, the administrator, challenged her firing, which came after she wrote a newspaper column questioning whether gay people could be considered victims of civil-rights discrimination, arguing that their sexual orientation was a choice.

Despite the fact that Dixon was employed at a public institution, the judge ruled that the nature of her position trumped her First Amendment rights: as a top human-resources administrator, she was in charge of upholding university policies barring discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“[Dixon’s] interest in making a comment of public concern is outweighed by the university's interest as her employer in carrying out its own objectives,” a federal judge wrote in his ruling on the case.

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Long Island U says it is turning things around one year after a faculty lockout, but professors say otherwise

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 07:00

A year after Long Island University’s unprecedented faculty lockout at its Brooklyn campus over contract negotiations, relations between professors and administrators have yet to improve. And while faculty members point to spiraling enrollment numbers as further cause for concern, the administration says its once-collapsing finances have stabilized -- proof that a tough-as-nails management style is working.

“At LIU, we have over 500 programs, and while that’s nice to say, on the one hand, strategically we can’t continue to be all things to all people,” said Christopher Fevola, LIU vice president and chief financial officer. “We’re aligning our strategic priorities with investment."

He added, “We haven’t laid off a single faculty member; we’re promoting people and granting tenure. Things seem very favorable at this point.”

Indeed, Moody's Investors Service in June upgraded LIU’s revenue bond rating to Baa2 from Baa3, with a stable outlook. That’s not great, but it’s better than the negative-outlook Baa3 rating it received as recently as 2013.

The reasons for the upgrade, according to Moody’s, are “clear strategic direction and gains,” including “sustained investments in new programs.” Total enrollments are declining, but the university is focusing on enrolling students in more “distinctive” programs and those who bring “greater expected family contributions.”

Since Kimberly R. Cline became president in 2013, LIU also has more than doubled its endowment from about $87 million to some $197 million. LIU plans to continue the financial comeback by focusing its offerings on what it sees as key growth areas, including communications, pharmacy and nursing.

Gale Stevens Haynes, vice president of academic affairs and chief operating officer, said the borough of Brooklyn is in need of more health-care professionals and, as a result, a large share of majors at that campus are in that field.

LIU still wants to be known as a research institution with an emphasis on the liberal arts, she said, but institutions nationwide “have been slow to come to grips with the fact that most students come to college to achieve a certain career goal.” And even though “while they’re there, we try to broaden their thinking with everything that a liberal arts education should provide,” she said, a traditional liberal arts education is no longer the be-all, end-all for LIU.

Not as Good as It Sounds

That’s where the faculty objections begin. As part of LIU's rebranding, the university’s Board of Trustees last academic year imposed a credit cap on the disciplinary core at both the Brooklyn and C. W. Post campuses. The university already had cut or suspended dozens of degrees, with professors saying they’d had little to no involvement in planning. On the Brooklyn campus, for example, math, philosophy, economics, visual arts and sociology-anthropology, among other majors, were effectively killed until further notice.

While the university said its unusually large general education cores (at least 51 credits at Brooklyn and 39 to 45 credits at Post) were scaring potential students away, the call to trim them added insult to injury for professors. On top of the lockout, many said, it now appeared administrators were trying to take over the curriculum -- the primary domain of the faculty on many if not most campuses.

Moreover, professors said, blaming plummeting enrollments on the core seemed to be overlooking alleged administrative errors: an anemic recruiting strategy with a high turnover rate among admissions staffers, a long-term failure to distinguish LIU from other area institutions and, most recently, the chaos of the lockout at the beginning of last fall term.

Enrollments this year don’t look good. Two years ago, there were 3,552 undergraduates at Brooklyn. Last fall there were 3,199 and this September there were 2,734. Total credits taken also dropped for undergraduates since 2015. Graduate enrollments fell over the same period, from 2,583 to 2,298.

The Post campus's figures are slightly better but still show a continued decline in overall enrollment, from 3,341 undergraduates in 2015 to 3,099 today. 

Jessica Rosenberg, an associate professor of social work at the Brooklyn campus and president of its American Federation of Teachers-affiliated faculty union, said it’s difficult to know how much to blame on the lockout. However, she said, “this lockout was the first and only to date in higher education and it’s a disastrous event -- there’s a reason these things don’t happen. The impact on the faculty and impact on morale is so negative that it takes a long time to recover … Students left.”

Rosenberg said the union is seeking to better communicate with university leaders to avoid another such impasse. “I wouldn’t say communication is better since the lockout," though, she added.

As for communication, many professors say there isn't much. Faculty members at both Brooklyn and Post have complained, for example, to the New York State Education Department and asked it to investigate alleged violations of shared governance, failure to grant tenure based on pre-existing criteria and over-enrolling health care programs, among other concerns. The department did not respond to a request for information about the status of the investigation.

"We believe that faculty members are being systematically excluded from the essential roles that they must play in educating students,” reads a letter to the department from the Post Faculty Council. “Despite repeated efforts on the part of the [council] to collaborate with administration and improve shared governance, faculty has been handed down mandate after mandate without prior consultation or any effort to engage in authentic dialogue. We ask that you intervene and help us restore compliance with accreditation, transparency, accountability and shared governance to our institution."

LIU, meanwhile, has cited New York's Excelsior Scholarship, a free in-state tuition initiative for qualifying students, as one reason for the drop in enrollments -- although LIU is among the approximately one-third of New York’s private campuses to opt in to a companion program for private colleges, which could provide some students with additional aid.

Some professors aren’t convinced by that logic, however. José Ramón Sánchez, chair of urban studies at the Brooklyn campus, attributed the year-over-year enrollment drop to the lockout and the longer-term decline to Cline, the president. Part of her austerity budgeting program includes reductions in financial aid and graduate assistantship, he said, and even bathroom sanitation has suffered as a result of contracting out the janitors' union.

“Working-class private colleges like ours do not do well in these difficult economic times,” Sánchez added. “But this university leadership has committed to budget cuts, staff reductions and antiacademic policies that have pushed the institution into a downward spiral.”

John Ehrenberg, chair of political science at the Brooklyn campus, agreed, saying the challenges facing private universities serving an predominantly “urban, immigrant, female, minority and working-class student body are profound, dangerous and different from those facing public universities.”

At the same time, he said, “word of mouth has been a very strong force for us, and word of mouth says that things are bad. And it’s true.”

A “grinding” austerity program means that “faculty lines are not being replaced, secretaries are being forced to double or triple up, programs and majors are being shut down,” Ehrenberg said. The faculty remains “angry and disenchanted,” despite a “promising” new dean of arts and sciences, “and the future doesn’t look like it’s going to be very different from the immediate past. LIU used to be a fun place to work, even with its permanent challenges and frequent crises. Those days are gone, and I don’t think they’re ever coming back.”

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Grace University to close at end of academic year after enrollment struggles

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 07:00

Grace University, in Omaha, Neb., will close at the end of the current academic year, it said Tuesday, shortly after a small incoming freshman class forced it to re-evaluate plans to sell its campus and relocate about 30 miles away.

Leaders at the nondenominational Christian university, which enrolls fewer than 300 students, said they had exhausted options for addressing persistent financial challenges. By deciding on a closure plan now, they hope to give students and faculty and staff members enough time to plan for the transition and complete the current academic year successfully.

“The economic difficulties Grace has encountered over the past several years were due mainly to declining enrollment while initiatives to grow enrollment were unsuccessful,” wrote Carlon Tschetter, chair of the Grace Board of Trustees, in an announcement of the closure decision. “The financial impact of those issues reached a level whereby the amount of cash required to continue operations beyond the current year could not be reasonably attained without putting the university at significant risk.”

Grace had been running substantial deficits in recent years. During the fiscal year ending in June 2015, it lost nearly $2.1 million on revenue of $11.4 million, according to its most recent publicly available federal tax form. The previous year, it lost almost $1.1 million on revenue of $12.3 million. In June 2016 it attempted to close deficits by slashing salaries by 10 percent while increasing tuition by 7 percent, cutting some scholarships for students and eliminating the baseball and softball teams.

The college eked out a small operating surplus in 2016-17, according to William L. Bauhard, its chief executive officer. But this fall, the freshman class numbered 33 students. Coupled with a large graduating class last spring, the small freshman class dropped overall enrollment to 293, including undergraduates, graduate students and students enrolled in adult degree-completion programs. That’s about 100 fewer students than last year.

“It really was the freshman class this year, but also last year’s freshman class,” Bauhard said. “Last year’s freshman class was 52. This year’s was 33. That’s 85 in the two years, and as you well know, it takes four years for a freshman class to make their way through.”

Bauhard modeled different financial scenarios before the decision to close was made.

“I ran several different what-ifs,” he said. “We would have needed 100 or 120 new students each of the next three years to get to the point where break-even would have occurred in year four.”

Leaders decided the university did not have the resources remaining to survive. Its endowment is valued at about $2.4 million.

Grace’s decision to close comes as many small, tuition-dependent colleges and universities struggle in the face of persistent financial and enrollment headwinds. Several other small institutions have been re-evaluating their futures recently. In August, Marygrove College in Detroit announced it will shut down undergraduate programs and only offer master’s degree programs as of January. Later that month talks to have Wheelock College merge into Boston University were revealed.

The market of prospective Grace students is declining, Bauhard said. The university’s strongest programs include teacher education and psychology but not many of the programs currently most in demand with students.

“We have no science, technology, engineering or math,” Bauhard said. “That, again, was a factor in why students would tell us they were not coming here.”

Nonetheless, Grace had been attempting to chart a path forward by leveraging its land assets. The university’s property values had jumped significantly in recent years, Bauhard wrote in January. With the university facing significant deferred maintenance on its buildings and the city of Omaha planning to develop the area around campus, trustees decided to sell Grace’s buildings and land. They reached a deal to sell land to the Omaha Public Schools that would allow the university to use its existing campus until the end of May 2018. Leaders then planned to relocate the university to property in Blair, Neb., that was previously home to the defunct Dana College.

Property sales would have provided bridge funding allowing the university to pay down debt and try to revamp itself in a new location, where it would lease space. Grace had about $7.5 million in debt before property sales took place, according to Bauhard.

The property sales are still under way. The university’s main campus consists of four parcels being sold -- one to the Omaha Public Schools and three others to different buyers and developers. Two of the parcels have already been sold. In total, the sales are expected to be worth about $9.5 million.

“It turned out that even with the bridge, the time it would take to get to where we needed to be, it was too risky for the university,” Bauhard said. “The thing we wanted to avoid is an emergency shutdown.”

The university is preparing a teach-out plan for students and will release additional details after it is approved by the Higher Learning Commission and other regulators. HLC placed Grace on probation this summer, labeling it as being in a position of financial distress.

About 20 full-time faculty members, nearly 60 adjuncts and almost 40 staff members work for the university. No severance plan is in place at this time. Any severance will depend on how much cash is available at the end of the fiscal year, Bauhard said.

Commenters on social media expressed sadness at the university’s pending closure.

“So thankful for my time here, for the life change I experienced here, [the] healing I experienced here,” one wrote on Facebook. “So blessed especially to learn under the amazing professors who always gave above and beyond. So much time spent in these walls for my master's and undergrad …sad my kids will never even have the chance to attend this school.”

Others noted the affects will be felt outside Omaha.

“And the old buildings at Dana College in Blair draw a heavy sigh,” wrote another commenter.

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New papers find persistent barriers to aid for low-income students, despite federal policy changes

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 07:00

Two tweaks to the federal student aid application process -- an earlier start date and use of family income data from the previous year -- appear to have boosted completion rates of applications for federal student aid. A years-long decline in filings of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid was reversed. Every state saw its application numbers go up. And applications by high school seniors were up 9 percent over the previous year as of June 30, traditionally considered the end of the academic year.

But two papers released Tuesday by the National College Access Network found that those changes didn't fundamentally simplify what's often a painfully complicated process of applying for aid to attend college. And students from the lowest-income school districts -- those most in need of federal aid -- continue to lag peers in wealthier districts in completing the FAFSA.

Those findings suggest the need for additional reforms to streamline the financial aid process and make sure those students are not leaving federal aid on the table. And while the Education Department was able to carry out policy changes last year without congressional authorization, lawmakers will likely need to direct some additional changes called for by proponents of a simpler FAFSA application.

Carrie Warick, director of policy and advocacy at the National College Access Network, said advocates saw tremendous progress over the last year -- evidence that policy change could have a serious impact on student completion rates.

“But we’re not there yet,” she said. “We’re looking to see what the next set of improvements will be to help get us even further.”

The Obama administration for the first time made the FAFSA application available Oct. 1 last year -- three months earlier than the traditional start date of financial aid application season -- to give students more time to complete the application and to consider award packages before picking a college. It paired that change with use of prior-prior year income data in the application, a switch that allows students to use their family's most recent income data on file with the federal government instead of estimating income they would report to the IRS in the spring.

(The interest in the earlier aid cycle appears to have carried over to this fall. The Department of Education reported that 238,000 FAFSA applications were received Sunday, the first day of the 2018-19 federal aid cycle.)

The changes carried out by the Obama administration did have real benefits for students, even beyond the boost in FAFSA applications, NCAN found. With the federal aid application available in the fall, high school counselors and other student advisers can have discussions about the cost of college at the same time as they consult with students on which colleges and universities would best match them academically and socially. The earlier start to the aid process also meant that students received financial aid packages earlier and that they and their families had more time to review those offers when deciding on a college.

The effects of some changes in campus policy made in response to the earlier FAFSA timeline will take longer to unpack. About 10 percent of four-year institutions, for example, and about a fifth of private four-year institutions, moved up aid deadlines to get financial aid packages to students sooner. But it's unclear if those changes could negatively affect lower-income students, who typically take longer to complete financial aid applications.

Other campus policy shifts provided more transparency to applicants. Some colleges, NCAN found, are now setting tuition rates for the following year in the fall, giving applicants a better idea of what it will cost to attend when they apply.

Students who are completing the FAFSA aren't necessarily picking a college earlier. That's possibly because they are taking more time to weigh their options and possibly because state aid deadlines haven't moved up to reflect the new FAFSA timeline. For those federal policy changes to have their full effect, the paper found, state aid policies will have to align more closely with the new federal aid cycle.

Although the earlier timeline provided some relief to students and their parents and advisers, it didn't necessarily make actually completing the FAFSA, which contains more than 100 questions, any easier. And a second NCAN paper found that completion rates for the application tracked closely with a school district's poverty rate. In only six states -- California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, New Mexico and Washington -- did the group find that higher poverty rates in school districts were associated with higher completion of the application. (A separate paper in August examined those successes in four states.) Other states, like Tennessee and Maine, saw districts with high rates of completion, regardless of the poverty rate.

The gap between the wealthiest and poorest districts didn't grow in the 2016-17 aid cycle even as the overall filing rate increased. But the group argues federal policy makers should do more to close the gap even while pushing for higher overall completion rates.

Recommendations to Improve Completion

A number of organizations, including NCAN, have offered suggestions in recent years for further improving the FAFSA to make it less burdensome to students, including continuing to pare down required financial questions for the lowest-income students.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2015 backed the use of tax data already on file as well as more time for students to complete applications. And it recommended sorting student applications based on their financial profile. Applicants whose families do not file tax schedules would have to answer only a handful of questions confirming certain demographic data. The Gates Foundation estimated that two million additional low-income students could get financial support they needed to attend college with those changes. It also argues a simplified application will allow high school counselors and other advisers to spend more time with students who have to answer more questions about their families' finances.

"That in many ways will ultimately reduce the burden on folks helping families throughout that process," said Nick Lee, a senior program officer at the Gates Foundation. "That will allow them to spend time with folks in those districts who do need more resources."

While the department could act on its own to provide more flexibility for verification requirements, members of Congress would have to weigh in on the length of the financial aid application and questions about family income. That could fit the priorities of Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee and has said simplifying financial aid is a key goal of his in reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, said the idea behind those recommendations is that low-income people shouldn't have to demonstrate multiple times that they are poor to receive state and federal assistance.

"To the average citizen, it's one federal government," he said. "The idea that these federal agencies can't talk to one another, I think, defies logic for most people."

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Nonacademic barriers highlight challenges facing rural colleges 

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 10/04/2017 - 07:00

The demands on rural community colleges often go beyond academics when it comes to keeping students from dropping out of an institution.  

Food, transportation, housing, health care, child care and broadband insecurities dominated the concerns addressed by college leaders at the Rural Community College Alliance national conference last week in Oklahoma City.  

"Poverty in the rural community just looks different than poverty in urban areas," said Jared Reed, a doctoral student studying rural community colleges at Iowa State University and PACE lead navigator at Southeastern Community College in Iowa, "Trying to have a discussion about the importance of attending class falls to the back burner if a student is in survival mode. They may understand what you're saying, but they also haven't had anything to eat, or haven't had a shower in days because their power has been cut off."  

The proportion of rural adults aged 25 and older with an associate's degree increased from 6 to 9 percent from 2000 to 2015. But the proportion of rural adults with some college and no degree also increased going from 20 percent in 2000 to 22 percent in 2015, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service.   

Low education attainment rates also correspond to higher poverty rates in rural areas. From 2011 to 2015, the average poverty rate for rural counties with low education was about 8 percent higher than other rural counties. Low education counties are those with 20 percent or more adults lacking a high school diploma, according to the USDA.  

Funding decreases from state legislatures and little to no existing resources like public transportation, social services or food pantries are more difficult to come by in rural areas.  

"Those existing resources like churches in rural communities are often times already hit hard," Reed said. "Compared to the number of groups in urban communities, there's a big difference." 

That increases the burden rural colleges have when addressing the lack of basic necessities their students may have. And often, rural community colleges despite their small enrollment sizes are addressing issues that affect people across multiple counties.  

"It's really important to not lose focus and forget we're open access and that means regardless of potential applicants' level of socioeconomic status – they may be on welfare, or on Medicaid, or living in Section 8 housing," Reed said. "But they might also be a 4.0 [grade point average] student."   

Southeastern Iowa, for example, has an enrollment of 2,844 students across four counties with a population of about 105,000 people.  

"Living in one community and attending class in another just means those issues of poverty get spread out over a geographic area," Reed said. "It's not limited to where they live."  

There isn't a blanket solution to any of the non-academic barriers students face, which means colleges are looking for innovative and different ways to address the problems.  

Davidson County Community College, in North Carolina, is part of the Single Stop nonprofit initiative, which connects community college students to housing assistance, food benefits, financial counseling and other social services.  

With the large geographic region and smaller populations in rural areas, transportation also remains a concern for community colleges and their students who may not have reliable method of getting to and from classes 

Most of Davidson's service area is farmland, and while there is a small transportation system the schedule doesn't always fit the college's schedule, said Stacy Waters-Bailey, the Single Stop director for the college, adding that trying to make an 8 a.m. class could be difficult if a student relies on the bus.  

"We are moving class start times next academic year to 8:30 a.m., so students don't lose points or be afraid of being late," she said. "And this inadvertently is helping parents who need to get their children on the bus. So, we're hoping more students sign up for 8:30 classes."  

But even if a student has their own vehicle to get to campus, that doesn't mean it's reliable. So, Davidson partnered with a local car maintenance agency that assists students who any repair fees. The college also offers free maintenance to students for small repairs through its automotive courses.  

Officials at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Virginia negotiated extended stay rates at local hotels for students, said Matt McGraw, associate vice president of institutional effectiveness and academic services at the college, adding that Dabney also negotiated company housing at a local resort that employs students.  

"But if a student becomes homeless, we can partner with emergency shelters," he said, adding that for male students the situation becomes more difficult since there are very few, if any, shelter space available for them and often they're forced into shelters an hour away from campus in larger cities like Roanoke.  

Even if poverty and basic necessities like food and housing aren't a concern for students, there may be other regional issues that colleges are trying to overcome.  

At Riverland Community College in Minnesota, Sheryl Barton, a business and office technology instructor at the college said it's not usual to find students staying on campus until 10 p.m. when it closes. It's often the only place in the area they can go to complete work online.  

"The community college has the infrastructure available on campus, but once they are off campus and into the community the residents and students suffer because individuals and families don't often have the resources to go out and have high-speed internet installed, even if it is available," Reed said. 

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Mass shooting in Las Vegas leads to renewed calls to lift limits on studying gun violence

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:02

In 2013, dozens of scholars organized by the Crime Lab of the University of Chicago released a letter calling for Congress to lift restrictions that have led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other agencies to avoid funding research on gun violence.

The letter noted that in a 40-year period, the United States had experienced 400 cases of cholera and that the National Institutes of Health had funded 212 grants on cholera. The 1,337 cases of diphtheria had led to 56 NIH grants. But more than four million firearms injuries? The NIH funded only three grants on that topic.

This week's horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas is prompting scholars -- particularly in social science groups -- to once again to call for shifts in federal policy to resume support for research on gun violence.

Felice Levine, executive director of the American Educational Research Association, released a statement Monday that said, "In this period of human devastation and public pain, it is incumbent upon us to confront our collective responsibilities as researchers, educators and policy makers to engage in a dialogue about the pervasive and lethal effects of guns in the hands of those seeking to render violence."

Levine added, "Once again, AERA calls on Congress to lift restrictions that prevent the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from conducting gun violence research. These restrictions obstruct the development and implementation of evidence-based policies and programs that foster gun safety."

The American Anthropological Association issued a similar statement, and social science groups have been issuing such statements for years. Here is one from 2013 from the American Sociological Association.

The limits to which the statements refer were part of an appropriations bill enacted in 1996, provisions of which remain law. The key provision bars the CDC from using funds to support research that “may be used to advocate or promote gun control.”

As reported by The New York Times, the CDC-backed studies that prompted the measure found that having guns increased the chances of violence in a home rather than providing protection. While scientists who conducted the research insisted that they were analyzing data, the National Rifle Association attacked the research as advocacy for gun control. Republicans in Congress agreed.

In the years since 1996, Democrats in Congress have tried several times to have the limits lifted, but have been blocked by Republicans.

In 2013, President Obama urged the CDC and the NIH to conduct more research on gun violence and asked Congress for funds to do so. But with congressional Republicans making clear that they would interpret most such studies as violating the 1996 measure, the CDC has balked at doing so. The NIH did start a program, but Science reported last month that it had opted to let the program end.

Calls to change policy have typically followed mass shootings. President Obama's request followed the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School. An unsuccessful Democratic congressional push on the issue followed the 2016 mass killing at an Orlando, Fla., nightclub.

The lack of federal support for this research prompted the state of California to start a research center at the University of California, Davis, on the topic. The center opened in June.

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FBI charges in college basketball -- beyond a few 'bad apples'?

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:00

Scandals in big-time sports are like a Rorschach test separating believers and skeptics.

Whenever a major crisis hits -- a prominent football or basketball program gets whacked for breaking major National Collegiate Athletic Association rules, a university is ensnared in a cheating scandal involving athletes, athletes commit a rash of crimes -- a barrage of "I told you so" denunciations rain down from those for whom the scandal affirms their view that big-time college sports are corrupt and irredeemable. Many of the constituents of intercollegiate athletics, meanwhile -- coaches, NCAA officials and not a few college leaders -- patiently explain why the guilty party is an outlier or seek to differentiate it from their own program or institution.

And so the world keeps spinning.

Last week's announcement of federal charges of fraud and corruption against four college basketball coaches and a bevy of assorted agents, shoe-company executives and others would -- if the charges bear out -- arguably be the most expansive case of wrongdoing in the history of college sports.

By implicating six of the country's top 100 men's basketball programs in allegedly improper (if not illegal) payments to players, the Federal Bureau of Investigation charges would touch all but one of the Power Five sports conferences. (The impact could spread much farther if the FBI's call for tips starts a frenzy in which Adidas officials rat out their counterparts at Nike and Under Armour, or if the coaches facing jail time try to reduce their sentences by turning state's evidence against their peers at other institutions.)

Have these charges gotten the attention of presidents of the colleges and universities that play big-time sports? Are the new allegations making them look more closely at their own programs? And might they be less inclined than in the past to write off a scandal at another institution as an outlier and embrace the notion that a systemic problem exists in the NCAA's top tier?

It depends where you look. A day after the allegations were announced, Auburn University's new president, Steven Leath, told ESPN that while he was stunned by the charges, he gleaned from FBI officials "that they don't think there's some structural problem or some broader problem at the university, that this was an isolated individual … I don't think anybody else knew. I don't think there's any indication at Auburn that anybody else knew about this."

A series of interviews with current and former university presidents elicited a range of views.

F. King Alexander, president of the Louisiana State University System and chancellor of its Baton Rouge campus, which plays football and basketball in the powerhouse Southeastern Conference (alongside Auburn), said he was "asking questions just to make sure we’re not involved in any of this," he said. "Are we trying to find out if we have a problem? You're darned right; everybody should." LSU's teams sport Nike apparel, and Alexander said he took some heart from the fact that "we're not an Adidas school." But he acknowledged that might be small comfort. "Is Nike doing what Adidas did?"

(Nike and Adidas have been locked in a decades-long duel to associate themselves with universities and athletes who they believe can win the hearts of consumers everywhere, a competition that arguably got a lot more intense, and expensive, last year when Under Armour signed a $280 million deal with the Bruins of the University of California, Los Angeles.)

Susan Herbst, president of the University of Connecticut, said in an interview that with all the money and other incentives floating through college sports, "the conditions have been set up for this to happen -- a nice rich environment for the appearance of bad motives, impulses, bad apples to be up to no good."

But she expressed confidence that "we have nothing like that here." What reassures her? "I know the program thoroughly. I have an athletics director who is very hands-on, and I know the whole staff. Basketball isn't hard to know; they are very small, intimate programs, and it would be difficult to hide much in most of them … If your AD is paying attention, isn't on the road too much, I would think you would get a sense of whether [your program] could get wrapped up in this kind of thing."

Other presidents seemed more rattled by the turn of events.

Randy Woodson, president of North Carolina State University, which competes in the Atlantic Coast Conference with the University of Miami, another of the institutions singed in the FBI charges, said via email that he has "worked hard with my athletic director at NC State to insure that we have no knowledge of activities such as these here. I think it is a safe bet to assume that every university president is asking their AD and coaches hard questions about recruiting practices given the allegations outlined in this criminal investigation."

But "I can assure you," he said, "that I am not writing this off as a few bad actors. I'm worried that the alleged behavior that the FBI is investigating could be more widespread." The involvement of the FBI changes the equation, Woodson said, given that the government agency has subpoena powers that college sports' own governing body, and the institutions themselves, do not.

"NCAA investigations are one thing and we all take them seriously and work hard to play by the rules," Woodson said. "But when the investigative body has the power to arrest, compel testimony and ultimately convict, you can be assured that the truth will be discovered and likely very quickly."

Walter Harrison, who retired in July as president of the University of Hartford and spent 15 years in the NCAA's governance system on several of its most powerful committees, knows firsthand the difference between NCAA enforcement and federal law enforcement. As vice president for university relations and a key adviser to the president of the University of Michigan in the late 1990s, Harrison was among several officials tasked with investigating charges that members of the university's "Fab Five" basketball team had received payments to enroll there. "We were trying to figure out if any money had changed hands, and we tried to get to [former player] Chris Webber's bank accounts. They said no, and we couldn't go any further." The inquiry ended without major findings.

Not long after, Ed Martin, the booster at the center of the allegations, drew the attention of the U.S. attorney in Detroit for allegedly laundering money from an illegal gambling operation. "It turned out that hundreds of thousands of dollars had changed hands, and that five players had received money. Webber had perjured himself. But we couldn't touch it."

Even having seen the limits of what an internal investigation can uncover, Harrison said that if he were running a major basketball power right now, he would be "charging the AD to look very carefully … at which players you've been able to attract over the last few years, which [Amateur Athletic Union] coaches they were close to … what kinds of cars the kids were driving."

More fundamentally, Harrison said he was concerned that what one colleague a decade ago described as the "cesspool underneath men's basketball" -- money changing hands, corruption, stuff "you just don't want to know about," he was told -- is poised to be outed. "If I were leading the NCAA, I'd be thinking, 'If I don’t do something about this in a very visible way, Congress might,' and that would worry me a lot," he said. Harrison was referring to the re-emergence, spawned by the FBI investigation, of congressional interest that has, in the past, suggested a possible antitrust exemption to change how college sports are governed.

Harrison fears such an approach -- but John V. Lombardi thinks it might be the only meaningful solution.

Lombardi, who led the LSU system, the University of Florida and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (and their powerhouse teams) during his decades as a university president, equates the alleged behavior of the basketball coaches implicated in the FBI inquiry to the lawbreaking employees at Wells Fargo, who "think they're promoting the interests of the institution or the company but really they're not."

It is wholly unsurprising that bad behavior is spilling out of a system with "so much money, ego, visibility and celebrity floating around," Lombardi said -- leaving "no question that we have to fix the systemic problem."

But most of his solutions for doing so -- "letting the kids go to the pros" without having to go through college, "allowing student athletes to commercialize certain aspects of their lives without becoming professionals" -- would require giving the NCAA (or another body) powers that only Congress can grant. "If you don't get this, the rest of the conversation is irrelevant," he said.

Lost in much of the hubbub surrounding the latest charges, Lombardi said, is the reality that in most major sports programs, "you've got 400-500 athletes, most of whom have no possibility of taking bribes," a reference to the male soccer players and runners, and pretty much every female athlete, and probably three-quarters or more of the football and men's basketball players who aren't destined for the pros.

"We've got to find a way to separate the money part from the student part," Lombardi said. If not, scandals like these might destroy the whole enterprise, the good with the bad.

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‘Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities’

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:00

Foreign and domestic intelligence services spar and spy on one another all across the world. But it would be naïve to think it’s not happening in the lab or classroom as well.

In his new book, Spy Schools: How the CIA, FBI and Foreign Intelligence Secretly Exploit America’s Universities (Henry Holt and Company), investigative journalist Daniel Golden explores the fraught -- and sometimes exploitative -- relationship between higher education and intelligence services, both foreign and domestic. Chapters explore various case studies of the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation using the open and collaborative nature of higher education to their advantage, as well as foreign governments infiltrating the U.S. via education.

“It’s pretty widespread, and I’d say it’s most prevalent at research universities,” Golden, an editor at ProPublica and an alumnus of The Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” team, told Inside Higher Ed. “The foreign intelligence services have the interest and the opportunity to learn cutting-edge, Pentagon-funded or government-funded research.”

Golden, who has also covered higher education for The Wall Street Journal, previously wrote about the intersection of wealth and admissions in his 2006 book The Price of Admission.

Each of the case studies in Spy Schools, which goes on sale Oct. 10, is critical. One could read the chapters on the Chinese government’s interest in U.S. research universities as hawkish, but then turn to the next chapter on Harvard’s relationship with the CIA and read it as critical of the American intelligence establishment as well.

“People of one political persuasion might focus on [the chapters regarding] foreign espionage; people of another political persuasion might focus on domestic espionage,” Golden said. “I try to follow where the facts lead.”

Perhaps the most prestigious institution Golden examines is Harvard University, probing its cozy relationship with the CIA. (While Harvard has recently come under scrutiny for its relationship with the agency after it withdrew an invitation for Chelsea Manning to be a visiting fellow -- after the agency objected to her appointment -- this book was written before the Manning incident, which occurred in September.) The university, which has had varying degrees of closeness and coldness with the CIA over the years, currently allows the agency to send officers to the midcareer program at the Kennedy School of Government while continuing to act undercover, with the school’s knowledge. When the officers apply -- often with fudged credentials that are part of their CIA cover -- the university doesn’t know they’re CIA agents, but once they’re in, Golden writes, Harvard allows them to tell the university that they’re undercover. Their fellow students, however -- often high-profile or soon-to-be-high-profile actors in the world of international diplomacy -- are kept in the dark.

“Kenneth Moskow is one of a long line of CIA officers who have enrolled undercover at the Kennedy School, generally with Harvard’s knowledge and approval, gaining access to up-and-comers worldwide,” Golden writes. “For four decades the CIA and Harvard have concealed this practice, which raises larger questions about academic boundaries, the integrity of class discussions and student interactions, and whether an American university has a responsibility to accommodate U.S. intelligence.”

But the CIA isn’t the only intelligence group operating at Harvard. Golden notes Russian spies have enrolled at the Kennedy School, although without Harvard’s knowledge or cooperation.

When contacted by Inside Higher Ed, Harvard officials didn’t deny Golden’s telling, but defended the university’s practices while emphasizing the agreement between the university and the CIA -- which Golden also writes about -- on not using Harvard to conduct CIA fieldwork.

“Harvard Kennedy School does not knowingly provide false information or ‘cover’ for any member of our community from an intelligence agency, nor do we allow members of our community to carry out intelligence operations at Harvard Kennedy School,” Eric Rosenbach, co-director of the Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, said in a statement.

While Golden said the CIA’s involvement on campus raises existential questions about the purpose and integrity of higher education, Harvard maintained that the Kennedy School was living up to its mission.

“Our community consists of people from different spheres of public service. We are proud to train people from the U.S. government and the intelligence community, as well as peace activists and those who favor more open government,” Rosenbach said in his statement. “We train students from a wide range of foreign countries and foreign governments, including -- among others -- Israel, U.K., Russia and China. That is consistent with our mission and we are proud to have that reach.”

On the other hand, other countries are interested in exploiting U.S. higher education. Golden documents the case of Ruopeng Liu, a graduate student at Duke University who siphoned off U.S.-government-funded research to Chinese researchers. Liu eventually returned to China and has used some of the research for his Chinese-government-funded start-up ventures.

Golden is comprehensive, interviewing Duke researchers who worked with Liu, as well as dispatching a freelance journalist in China to interview Liu (he denied wrongdoing, saying his actions were taken as part of higher education's collaborative norms regarding research projects). Despite questions that arose while Liu was a student, he received his doctorate in 2009 without any formal questions or pushback from the university. A week before Liu defended his dissertation, Golden notes that Duke officials voted to move forward in negotiations with the Chinese government regarding opening a Duke campus in China -- raising questions about whether Duke was cautious about punishing a Chinese student lest there were negative business implications for Duke. (The building of the campus proved to be a controversial move in its own right.)

The Duke professor Liu worked under told Golden it would be hard to prove Liu acted with intentional malice rather than out of genuine cultural and translational obstacles, or ethical slips made by a novice researcher. Duke officials told Inside Higher Ed that there weren’t any connections between Liu and the vote.

“The awarding of Ruopeng Liu’s degree had absolutely no connection to the deliberations over the proposal for Duke to participate in the founding of a new university in Kunshan, China,” a spokesman said in an email.

These are just two chapters of Golden’s book, which also goes on to document the foreign exchange relationship between Marietta College, in Ohio, and the controversial Chinese-intelligence-aligned University of International Relations. Agreements between Marietta and UIR, which is widely regarded a recruiting ground for Chinese intelligence services, include exchanging professors and sending Chinese students to Marietta. Conversely, Golden writes, as American professors teach UIR students who could end up spying on the U.S., American students at Marietta are advised against studying abroad at UIR if they have an interest in working for the government -- studying at UIR carries a risk for students hoping to get certain security clearances. Another highlight is the chapter documenting the CIA’s efforts to stage phony international academic conferences, put on to lure Iranian nuclear scientists as attendees and get them out of their country -- and in a position to defect to the U.S. According to Golden's sources, the operations, combined with other efforts, have been successful enough “to hinder Iran's nuclear weapons program.”

But Golden’s book doesn’t just shed light on previously untold stories. It also highlights the existential questions facing higher education, not only when dealing with infiltration from foreign governments, but also those brought on by cozy relationships between the U.S. intelligence and academe.

“One issue is American national security,” Golden said. “Universities do a lot of research that’s important to our government and our military, and they don’t take very strong precautions against it being stolen,” he said. “So the domestic espionage side -- I’m kind of a traditionalist and I believe in the ideal of universities as places where the brightest minds of all countries come together to learn, teach each other, study and do research. Espionage from both sides taints that … that’s kind of disturbing.”

After diving deep into the complex web that ties higher education and espionage together, however, Golden remains optimistic about the future.

“It wouldn’t be that hard to tighten up the intellectual property rules and have written collaboration agreements and have more courses about intellectual safeguards,” he said. “In the 1970s, Harvard adopted guidelines against U.S. intelligence trying to recruit foreign students in an undercover way … they didn’t become standard practice [across academe, but], I still think those guidelines are pertinent and colleges would do well to take a second look at them.”

“In the idealistic dreamer mode, it would be wonderful if the U.N. or some other organization would take a look at this issue, and say, ‘Can we declare universities off-limits to espionage?’”

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Do medical schools still need books?

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:00

Earlier this year the Association of American Medical Colleges predicted that by 2030, the United States would have a shortage of up to 104,900 physicians. To try to curb this impending crisis, a wave of new medical schools have opened in the last decade. Eleven schools have been accredited by the Liaison Committee on Medical Education in the last five years, and eight more are currently under consideration.

As a condition of accreditation, these new schools must provide access to “well-maintained library resources sufficient in breadth of holdings and technology” to support the school’s educational mission, but it seems many medical schools are deciding that large print collections are no longer a vital component of those resources.

Paperless Libraries

The Frank H. Netter School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University, which accepted its first students in 2013, is one such school. Designed as a paperless institution, the school has a library space where students can read and study, but the vast majority of the library's resources are online. Bruce Koeppen, dean of the school, said that by making most of the library's holdings electronic, it ensured that students and faculty could access information “anywhere and anytime, even when the library is closed.”

Charles Stewart, associate dean and chief librarian of City College of New York, of the City University of New York system, said that his institution chose to go a paperless route for the newly opened CUNY School of Medicine on the City College campus for much the same reason -- 24-7 access. “We chose the all-electronic option since our medical school clearly wanted instant e-access to all their resources,” said Stewart.

Matt Wilcox, director of the Edward and Barbara Netter Library at Quinnipiac University, said that he had observed a “definite trend” in the last few years for medical schools to have very different libraries than the traditional large academic medical libraries of old. “These born-digital libraries, with their focus on electronic collections and relatively tiny print collections, allow institutions to think creatively about how to best distribute their study spaces,” said Wilcox.

A Hybrid Approach

Though some schools are curbing their print collections, others see that print still plays an important role. The Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, which welcomed its first students in 2010, opened with just 50 books on its shelves, but students quickly pushed to expand this collection to 4,000 books, saying that they preferred to use physical materials for studying. The school noted, however, that it did not want to increase its print collection beyond the current level.

Fay Towell, director of libraries at the Greenville Hospital System, said that it was interesting that students at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville, which opened in 2012, frequently requested access to both print and electronic resources. Given the small size of the library, and the prohibitive cost of providing both print and online versions of texts, Towell said the library had to be selective. She noted that often journals might cost more electronically than in print -- “if a journal cost is $4,000 electronically and $400 in print, then the library makes space for print,” she said.

A Clean Slate

While many new medical schools have the opportunity to design their library spaces from scratch, it is not often that more established institutions have the same opportunity. The New York University Health Sciences Library is an exception. The Frederick L. Ehrman Medical Library was “basically destroyed” by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, said Neil Rambo, the library's director, meaning the institution had the opportunity to completely rethink their space. A new library was opened in the same location in 2016, but it is a “completely different type of facility” from its predecessor, with a focus on tech-enabled study spaces, and no bookshelves -- except for the display of a few rare books and artifacts.

Between the destruction of the old library and the opening of the new one, Rambo and his colleagues operated from offices across the street. They had no physical library for four years but didn't find it too difficult to adjust. “A main problem of not having a library is ensuring that students have somewhere to study and work together in small groups, so the institution did have to scramble to make sure there were spaces identified for that,” said Rambo.

Rambo said there was a period when it was not clear that they would ever have a library again, but the institution was committed to rebuilding and creating an “intellectual center” for students and faculty. “Most of our librarians had no problem adjusting to not having a library. They were already in a different mind-set -- their work was not tied to the library as a facility, more their relationships with the people that they work with, and not having to manage a physical space freed them to completely focus on that.” He noted, however, that some library staff -- for example, those dedicated to staffing the circulation desk -- did feel a loss of identity. “We tried to reposition those staff as much as possible,” said Rambo. Now staff who might previously have manned a desk in the library might respond to online queries instead, he said.

Roger Schonfeld, director of the Library and Scholarly Communication Program for Ithaka S+R, pointed out that when medical libraries thin their print collections, it does not necessarily mean that the campus loses access to those physical materials. “Whether the collections are moved to an off-site facility, or the library participates in a shared print program, it is almost always still possible to provide access to a print version on those occasions when it is necessary to do so.” The trend for thinning print collections is not unique to medical libraries, said Schonfeld -- many science and engineering libraries have done the same. “What science, engineering and medicine have in common is that the most important collections are typically journals, and journals in those fields are almost entirely accessed in digital form,” said Schonfeld.

Rambo agreed, adding that in the sciences, particularly biomedical science, there is a strong focus on current research. “Books and monographs in biomedicine have a pretty short shelf life. Ten years old is pretty old in biomedicine, but in other fields that’s clearly not the case. In the humanities and social sciences, things that are decades old can be just as valuable.”

Despite the lack of bookshelves, Rambo conceded, there is still a place for some books in his library. “While we have a lot of ebooks, we’ve generally found that they’re still a work in progress and the technology is not mature enough for students to really love them. Most of our students still prefer to have a hard copy in front of them,” he said. To cater to these students, Rambo says, the library has bought hard copies of required textbooks and put them on a book truck in the students’ study space. “We don’t control them, we don’t check them in and out. Students are in charge of using them as they wish. If the books disappear then we’ll replace them, but we actually have very little problem with that -- the students are pretty vigilant about making sure they’re available to others when needed. It’s a low-tech way of giving them what they need.”

A Conundrum

Asked whether he expected that other established libraries would eventually ditch their physical collections, Rambo said he thought most schools would like to go in that direction, but that legacy schools might face a “political conundrum” if there is not a perceived need for change. “The storm in a way made things easy for us, because it wasn’t our choice. People realized that things were gone and got used to it. Other places where you have to make a conscious decision to throw anything out, it’s a tougher thing -- but I think it’s going to be seen increasingly as not that difficult a decision.”

Anne Seymour, director of the William H. Welch Medical Library at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said that there had been a definite shift in focus from physical to digital collections at her institution in the last few years -- a shift she said she has “fully embraced.”

“Even if you’re not a new medical school, even if you’re in one of the oldest, all schools are faced with the changing notion of their library space -- from being just a collection of books and rungs of journals to becoming a much more vibrant hub of scholarship, collaboration and technology,” said Seymour. She noted that at her library, where much of the collection had been digitized, “our community just really doesn’t use the print material as much -- it doesn’t make sense to use up valuable space on campus.”

“Any space that is underutilized starts to become questioned,” she said. “There’s a lot of attachment to these collections, but I think if anybody looks at them, they're just not used,” agreed Rambo. Seymour noted that students, researchers and faculty rarely visit the library for the latest research -- instead they go online from their office, lab or even a patient’s bedside.

Though Seymour and Rambo see a shift to digital collections as inevitable, there is still a desire to preserve the “rich history” of many print collections, said Gerald Jurek, user experience librarian and clinical assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Library of the Health Sciences. Jurek recently oversaw a renovation of his library, which had not been remodeled since the early ’70s. Though Jurek said he did have to dispose of some books to claim back shelf space, he said he still saw books and print as an important aspect of the library’s holdings, particularly as the library is a destination for scholars studying medical history.

Even when books aren’t regularly used, Jurek said he liked to think of books as aesthetic, and noted that they could be useful for zoning spaces and buffering sound. Though Jurek’s library still has a large print collection, he noted that the way people interacted with the books had noticeably changed. “It used to be very much that people would come in and browse. You don’t see that at all now. I’d be interested to find out what activity has replaced that.”

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A university president discusses her new book on how colleges can prepare students for success

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:00

Colleges face scrutiny -- from would-be students, their parents and politicians -- over whether they are preparing students for careers. Gloria Cordes Larson has focused on these issues at Bentley University, a business-oriented institution that also takes pride in the general education students receive. Her new book, PreparedU: How Innovative Colleges Drive Student Success (Jossey-Bass), is something of a guide for colleges -- including those institutions far less focused on business than is Bentley -- to how to respond to the demands in this area. The book is also a critique of higher education, suggesting that many academics have failed to focus on these issues. The name comes from programs at Bentley that Larson has championed.

Larson responded via email to questions about her new book.

Q: What are the current practices that aren’t working, that are resulting in some graduates failing to find a good spot in the job market?

A: When I speak with business leaders, I find there is a disconnect between how colleges educate undergraduates and the reality of how business operates today, particularly in regard to positions where the required skills cross traditional job-description boundaries. A business graduate, for example, needs to know the technical skills of their discipline, but that is no longer enough on its own. Critical thinking, complex problem solving, empathy, creativity and communication skills are all necessary in today’s work environment. This is why more and more schools are finding creative ways to integrate the arts and sciences with professional and technical skills.

Employers are point-blank telling us they need college graduates who have mastered soft skills in addition to the hard, industry-specific technical skills. They are looking for employees who understand big data or business development, but according to research from Bentley University’s PreparedU Project, a whopping 92 percent of employers rank critical thinking and the ability to analyze issues as “important” or “very important” to success. Additionally, 87 percent of those employers emphasize the importance of verbal and written communication and presentation skills, and 91 percent want employees who can work collaboratively within a team. To fulfill that need, universities must provide opportunities, as part of the educational experience, that teach students skills like team and relationship building, understanding emotional intelligence, and participating in leadership roles.

Career services is a crucial element to a graduate’s success. A mistake that students and some universities make is introducing career services on the way out the door as graduation and “real life” near. That’s too late. Career services needs to start as soon as students arrive on campus.

Q: How should the curriculum be changed to make students better prepared?

A: This question goes to the core of the book and what everyone in higher education should be asking themselves -- how can we best prepare today’s young adults for a successful career and a happy life? This is especially important at a time when a fast-changing global and digital economy is forcing students to prepare for jobs after graduation that may not even exist yet. The key is to be innovative and adaptable -- these are skills that can be taught. I believe it all begins with an approach that combines left-brain and right-brain thinking, integrates hands-on learning experiences, and exposes students to the technologies that will give them an edge in specific industries.

This combination of left-brain and right-brain thinking is happening all over the innovation economy in companies large and small, and it’s far past time higher education gets on board. At Bentley that translates into a mix of business with arts and sciences. One example is Bentley’s liberal studies major, in which business majors add a second, liberal arts major. Students might combine a major in economics and finance with a liberal studies major in earth environment and global sustainability, leaving them well suited to develop a business plan for a growing solar power company. Or someone might put together a left-brain interest in accounting and a right-brain interest in ethics and corporate responsibility; there is no doubt Wall Street is in need of investors and business leaders like that. These are real examples I’ve seen among recent Bentley graduates.

Beyond these choices of major or field of study, hands-on experiences are crucial to better prepare students, whether via external internships, corporate immersion classes on campus with real companies, study abroad or community-based service-­learning opportunities. A combination of several of these experiences is ideal. These real-world experiences allow students to see how their studies, skills and interests play out in the realities of work and life. In fact, I think internships and service learning should be mandatory for all students, regardless of major.

Q: Bentley has a focus on business. How do your ideas play out at a liberal arts college?

A: In the book, I quote Clark University’s president, David Angel, as saying, “Liberal arts education can’t stand still.” The truth is, no one in higher ed can stand still. Higher education’s traditional separation of left-brain and right-brain domains needs to disappear. Fortunately, that change is beginning to take hold. The hybrid model that dissolves the traditional barrier between business and liberal arts education is being done successfully at a number of different institutions, from Ivy League schools to community colleges. It can absolutely be applied at liberal arts schools.

Clark University is a great example. Clark has made good on its vow to not stand still by overhauling its curriculum and introducing a new model of liberal arts education that it calls Liberal Education and Effective Practice. This approach integrates world, workplace and personal experiences with a liberal arts curriculum. By integrating projects and internships, alumni mentoring, research, community engagement and cross-cultural exchanges with classroom experiences, the program fosters critical thinking, effective communication, creativity, teamwork, a strong ethical framework and the resilience and persistence to get things done. This what students need to thrive in today’s complex, ever-changing world.

Another example: at Davidson College, a liberal arts school, they believe career services should be a core part of the student experience. It starts the first week of first year, when students do a Myers-Briggs assessment to figure out who they are, what drives them and where they want to go. There it is again, the dissolution of that traditional line between careers and liberal arts. I think that’s the right approach.

A report released in 2011 called “Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession,” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, examined 10 schools, including Bentley. Called the BELL project (Business, Entrepreneurship and Liberal Learning), the report concluded that “each of these domains [liberal arts and business or practical learning] must serve as both crucible and catalyst to animate the educational potential of the other.” Bentley had at that time incorporated our “fusion” education model, linking business and the liberal arts, as well as our liberal studies majors. This learning model highlighted by BELL has become an important differentiator at many leading colleges and universities in order to properly prepare their students.

Q: Many these days argue for online education as an alternative to traditional higher education. You have an entire chapter on the value of place-based education. Why is physical presence so important?

A: I am very passionate about this -- which is why I devoted all of chapter 5 to it. If a student can attend college on a campus, the totality of their personal experience is much richer. Place-based education -- the campus -- is where students, professors, mentors, peers and activities come together for a holistic experience, greater than the sum of its parts and suited to that time in life when young people are largely becoming who they will be for decades to come.

The internet and online courses provide a superabundance of information, but wisdom and intellectual growth still depend on the relationships of teachers and students. When living on campus, students have the opportunity for advanced learning including time management, learning limitations, gaining new perspectives and getting outside your comfort zone. Graduates need to possess the courage to take risks, the creativity to innovate, a strong moral compass -- all things you get by living independently on a campus with new people and new experiences.

I realize that place-based education is a privilege. Not everybody can live on a campus for four years, whether because of financial circumstances or commitments to work or family. That’s why it’s so important that the higher education system offers off-campus students a range of options, including part-time study and financial aid, as well as online learning.

Q: Some faculty members fear that efforts to make students better prepared for jobs will undercut general education. How would you reassure them?

A: I would say to them that this is not an either/or situation. It’s possible to prepare students to engage in successful careers after graduation while also giving them a great general education. It’s not vocational or narrow to say the real world -- and preparing students for it -- matters.

Our faculty at Bentley don’t see this as pitting general education versus preparing students for careers. They are the ones who most “own” our model of integrating business with the liberal arts and its resulting success -- for the past eight consecutive years, over 98 percent of our graduates have a job or attend graduate school within six months of graduation. The reality is that this is what students and families are concerned about. Research from the University of California, Los Angeles’s Higher Education Institute tells us that 85 percent of first-year college students say getting a better job was a major reason for attending college. These are numbers we cannot ignore.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 10/03/2017 - 07:00
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Johns Hopkins eliminates Russian program, leaving faculty out of the loop

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:00

The director of the Russian program at Johns Hopkins University says she was “blindsided” by the cancellation of the institution’s Russian major -- especially as Russia’s influence in world and even domestic affairs is growing.

“This is a crazy decision based not on the merits of the program but on something we can’t even grasp -- we don’t understand it,” said Olya Samilenko, an associate professor of Russian at Goucher College who directs the Johns Hopkins-Goucher cooperative Russian program in language, literature and culture.

Based on the two institutions’ decades-old agreement, Goucher faculty members teach and advise students who study Russian on both campuses. Hopkins students have been allowed to major in Russian only as a second major, or as a minor, and while the program on that campus has traditionally been small, it currently has nine majors and minors combined -- nothing to sniff at for a language with an alphabet unfamiliar to most Americans.

Current majors and minors will be able to complete their programs. Starting this year, however, incoming Hopkins students will no longer be able to major or minor in Russian.

Hopkins attributes the change to Goucher and Hopkins’s academic structures becoming increasingly incompatible, but Samilenko has said she was originally told the program would be cut due to low enrollments. She challenges that characterization, however, pointing out the relatively high number of majors and minors for a small program and the significance of Russian itself.

Samilenko said in an interview last week that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “a major, major player in world politics who is putting out feelers in many places and has already invaded half of Ukraine, and there are people who want to learn this language … This is big loss to Hopkins students.”

What happened? Samilenko says she doesn’t really know, writing in a recent op-ed in Hopkins’s student newspaper that she and a colleague “were told after the fact that upper-level Russian courses had been deemed ‘too advanced’ and therefore incompatible with the goals of CLE [Center for Language Education]. But did [anyone] mention how instrumental those advanced lit courses -- all taught in Russian -- had been in getting jobs for Hopkins students?”

The move appears to have been planned for more than a year -- before it became clear just how enmeshed Russian and American politics are at present. Joel F. Schildbach, vice dean for undergraduate education and a professor of biology in the university’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, said that in mid-2016, Goucher and Hopkins began discussing the future of the cooperative with respect to organizational changes at Goucher, including adjustments to credit hours and class times. Ultimately, he said, those changes made Goucher and Hopkins’s program structures too “divergent.”

So a choice needed to be made, he said: offer some language courses and several literature courses to recreate the major “for the benefit of the handful of students who took those courses,” or “provide greater offerings in Russian language that would benefit many more of our students, including a number of our hundreds of international studies and political science majors.”

Hopkins chose the latter, and will accordingly next year increase the number and levels of language courses offered at Hopkins, Schildbach added via email. Starting next fall, "by redirecting the money we spend on the cooperative program into hiring at least one full-time instructor, at a minimum we will offer Russian language through the third year. We’ll be more flexible in scheduling the language courses because the instructor(s) won’t be traveling between two schools, and be better able to add additional sections or levels of language as demand requires."

Regarding communication with the faculty, he said that Goucher early on asked to handle discussions with its faculty members, who administer the joint program. Regarding some students’ complaints that they, too, were left in the dark about the major’s cancellation, Schildbach said the change could not be discussed with students before Hopkins was sure professors were aware.

Leslie Lewis, provost and professor of English at Goucher, said in a statement Friday that as a “true liberal arts college, we remain committed to Russian language and cultural studies.” Goucher continues to offer a major and minor in Russian, she added, welcoming Hopkins students to participate.

Samilenko noted that students will be able to take approximately one Russian course per semester at Goucher going forward as part of the separate, unaffected Baltimore Student Exchange Program. A dozen area institutions participate in that consortium.

Hopkins will monitor enrollments and gauge student interest in the future, Schildbach said. “If students indicate a clear desire for a major and minor, we will certainly revisit the decision.”

According to the most recent Modern Language Association survey on enrollments, Russian enrollments dropped 18 percent between 2009 and 2013. Yet advanced enrollments actually increased slightly. Some 16 percent of all Russian programs reported stability in 2013, and 32 percent reported growth. Predictably, a look at historical enrollments shows them peaking around 1990 (just after the fall of the Berlin Wall) and shrinking after that, with a slight surge in 2009 and another drop before 2013.

Paula Krebs, executive director of the Modern Language Association, said it’s “always unfortunate when a university decides to cut a language major, and this move appears to have been planned before the current upsurge of interest in U.S.-Russian relations.”

Elsewhere in the Baltimore-Washington area, she said, enrollments in Russian are strong, including at George Washington University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and the U.S. Naval Academy.

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Might 'death penalty' be on the horizon for Louisville basketball?

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:00

After the University of Louisville men’s basketball team was linked to a widespread kickback scheme that federal officials have been investigating, as the U.S. attorney for New York revealed last week, the public pondered: Would the program, one of the top performers in the country, be killed?

The National Collegiate Athletic Association hasn’t imposed the “death penalty” on a Division I program since 1987, when the football team at Southern Methodist University was punished for repeated violations over a number of years, including payments to players. But Louisville, at least on the surface, seems to fit the basic criteria -- multiple significant violations of NCAA rules -- for a competition ban, which usually lasts at least one season.

It’s the most severe punishment the NCAA can hand down.

Former NCAA officials and experts offered mixed assessments of whether the association has maintained the clout to carry out the death penalty now, or whether Louisville’s indiscretions would even warrant it.

The New York-based United States attorney’s office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation shook college athletics last week by announcing corruption and bribery charges against high-ranking Adidas executives and four assistant or associate basketball coaches at major programs across the country. It also surfaced that Adidas, which sponsors Louisville's sports program, and others allegedly paid a six-figure sum to a high school recruit to direct him to Louisville.

Louisville’s high-profile head coach, Rick Pitino, who led the Cardinals to the 2013 national title, was ousted. Though Pitino officially was placed on unpaid leave per the terms of his contract, which requires 10 days’ notice before he can be terminated, his lawyer said he is “effectively fired.” The athletics director, Tom Jurich, was also put on leave, and the five-star recruit referenced in the federal complaint, Brian Bowen, has been suspended from all athletics-related activities, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

The NCAA already slapped the men’s basketball program with a four-year probation and gave Pitino a five-game suspension earlier this year, following revelations that a former Cardinals staffer sneaked escorts into university dormitories. The women were paid to strip and perform sex acts on potential recruits, some of whom were underage at the time. The association ordered certain games vacated, including, most likely, the national title.

Initially, the university intended to appeal the NCAA ruling on the prostitution scandal and said it would “stand behind” Pitino, who has remained relatively quiet since the Adidas allegations were announced. Via his lawyer, he called the allegations “a shock” -- his only other public statement was a text message to a radio show host, posted to Twitter on Friday, saying this “had been tough.”

“It’s been three days [and] I miss my players so much,” Pitino wrote in the text.

NEW: Rick Pitino allowed me to share this text. pic.twitter.com/Eubgy2oyXR

— Terry Meiners (@terrymeiners) September 29, 2017

But the death penalty requires more than a single corrupt coach, or one bad administrator, said Josephine Potuto, former head of the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I Committee on Infractions, which adjudicates cases of alleged rule breaking -- a program must be so infiltrated by abuse of the rules as to necessitate it being shut down.

“The fact that they’re already on probation will be a factor, no question, but it’s got to be more than a one-off here, one-off there,” said Potuto, the Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln.

Part of the reason the NCAA may be disinclined to stop a program, even for a season, is the ripple effect to other institutions -- other colleges that have never been implicated in anything would need to scramble to adjust conference schedules, and television contracts, set out years in advance, would also be affected, Potuto said.

Some athletes would transfer, too, which research has shown often causes their grades to fall, Potuto said.

Though a program might only be temporarily banned from competition, it’s hard for it to recover afterward, Potuto said, explaining how degraded the SMU football team was following the death penalty.

The aftermath of the death penalty, when Southern Methodist players finally returned to the field in 1989, was called "devastating," with multiple teams inflicting terrible losses on the Mustangs. Most players transferred away from the institution, which had been placed on probation for several similar violations before the NCAA cracked down. The scandal reached all the way to the office of Texas's then governor, William T. Clements, who was involved in the payments.

NCAA enforcers must sometimes operate with limited information when laying down their sanctions, Potuto said -- sometimes federal officials, particularly high-level ones, won’t share all the facts about a pending criminal case with the association, leaving them to function with what has been made public.

A former NCAA investigator, J. Brent Clark, said he doubted the death penalty would be invoked at Louisville, though he predicted that the Louisville coaching staff and athletics director would be replaced, and some of the players kicked off.

Clark said that the death penalty would “destroy” the program and, because the institution is still in debt on a new arena, without the money basketball brings in, Louisville could possibly default on its bonds.

He cited the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill academic fraud as a case that deserved the death penalty more. Over a nearly 20-year period, some employees steered as many as 3,000 students -- half of them athletes -- toward no-show classes that never met and for which the only assignment was a single paper that received a high grade no matter the content. Because students there were “robbed” of an education and the case spanned both the academic and athletic sides of the institution, Clark said, the UNC basketball program should be disbanded -- even though it might not fit the NCAA rules of having multiple violations. UNC and the association remain locked in a battle over the allegations.

Donna A. Lopiano, president of Sports Management Resources and a longtime women's athletics director at the University of Texas at Austin, said she hoped this scandal would prompt an overhaul of the NCAA system. The death penalty may not be appropriate for Louisville, she said, because by the time the NCAA can levy its consequences, most of the transgressors would likely have departed the institution.

“I’m hopeful that this forces the NCAA to re-examine their whole system of under-the-table compensation. We can’t have coaches making five million bucks,” she said. (Pitino earns nearly $7.8 million annually.)

Pundits and Kentucky locals -- even die-hard fans -- have called for the death penalty.

Dalton Ray, sports editor of The Louisville Cardinal, the student newspaper, and a self-proclaimed “fan boy,” in a column advocated for Pitino’s exit, despite his golden record.

“The program needs a culture change. Blow it up and start from scratch,” Ray wrote. “Who knows what will happen to the athletic department as a whole if the death penalty is the answer, but it’s becoming the final resort. The financial hit of a death penalty is one thing, but the hit to the fans is another. They need a fresh slate. Louisville fans deserve better.”

College sports columnist Pat Forde wrote in a column that this scandal exposed the dirtiness of athletics programs across the country -- and that other coaches are “running scared.”

“The damage to it will be immense and long-lasting,” Forde said of the impact of the FBI investigation on college basketball. “The NCAA will have a hard fight to make anyone believe in its breadwinner sport again. Which is why the first order of business needs to be blasting Louisville basketball into nonexistence.”

“Shut it down.”

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AAU reports on efforts to improve science teaching at research universities

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:00

Science instructors increasingly are moving beyond the lecture to more innovative -- and effective -- teaching methods. But professors with a taste for change often enact it alone, as their colleagues continue to lecture.

The Association of American Universities wants to change that. In 2011, it launched its Undergraduate STEM Initiative to encourage systemic reforms to science education to improve teaching and learning, especially in first- and second-year courses.

Early feedback was promising, and AAU is this week releasing a formal five-year status report detailing progress at eight project sites: Brown University; Michigan State University; the University of Arizona; the University of California, Davis; the University of Colorado at Boulder; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the University of Pennsylvania and Washington University in St. Louis.

Mary Sue Coleman, president of AAU, wrote in the report that the initiative is a “significant test of the degree to which a group of prominent research universities can work collectively with their national organization to improve the quality of teaching in undergraduate STEM courses, especially large introductory and gateway courses, thereby enhancing the learning experiences of many thousands of their undergraduate students.” And so far, she said, results “indicate a resoundingly affirmative answer to this test.”

Additionally, she said, the initiative has helped AAU understand how it, as group of research universities, can better help to “support meaningful change at various institutional levels to improve undergraduate STEM education.”

Higher education is “now reaching a major tipping point,” Coleman added. “We cannot condone poor teaching of introductory STEM courses because we are trying to weed out the weaker students in the class or simply because a professor, department and/or institution fails to recognize and accept that there are, in fact, more effective ways to teach.” Failing to adopt evidence-based teaching practices in the classroom “must be viewed as irresponsible, an abrogation of fulfilling our collective mission to ensure that all students who are interested in learning and enrolled in a STEM course -- not just those who will choose to major in or pursue an advanced degree in that discipline -- are provided with the maximum opportunity to succeed,” she said.

The report says that participation in the initiative beyond the eight project sites has been high: all 62 AAU institutions now have a designated STEM campus point of contact, for example. Some 55 member institutions have participated in the initiative in some way, including more than 450 faculty members and administrators. Departmentwide innovations are becoming institutional priorities, teaching and learning centers are being redesigned, and data and analytics are being used to monitor and improve student learning.

Campuses are also exploring new hiring practices to advance improvements in STEM education, learning spaces are being reimagined and campuses are addressing the critical issue of meaningful evaluations of faculty teaching, by AAU’s accounting.

Every project site reported some improvement in student learning outcomes, according to the report. Degree of improvement varied, but “dramatic reductions in achievement gaps especially for women, underrepresented minorities and first-generation students” were observed in some sites. Reports of decreased D’s, F’s and withdrawals were common, as were increased persistence and success in subsequent courses.

Project Sites at a Glance

Improved performance on exams sponsored by disciplinary societies was observed, as was stronger performance on key disciplinary concepts, the report says. And some sites that managed to track the effects of instructional interventions on more general psychological factors reported increased self-efficacy, metacognition and attitudes toward science among students.

The initiative looks different on every campus but everywhere hinges on evidence-based practices. Arizona, for example, has focused some of its efforts to redesign classrooms into collaborative learning spaces: there are currently 10 such spaces, ranging in size from 30 to 264 student seats (10 additional spaces are planned). AAU’s report quotes Zoe Cohen, a professor of immunology at Arizona, as saying that she’s been thinking about trying a “flipped” classroom and applied for one of the new rooms. Once she started teaching in 2015, she said, it “changed me as an educator.”

Cohen joined a faculty learning committee and an educational faculty learning committee and learned and developed active learning techniques. As a result, she said, she’s seen her students earn more A’s and B’s and fewer D’s on the final exam for her physiology of the immune system courses. Students also report more active and meaningful engagement and understanding.

Cohen’s experiences match those of other Arizona professors teaching different courses in other departments, including physics, chemistry, molecular, cellular biology and engineering, according to AAU.

North Carolina, meanwhile, has taken a mentor-mentee approach, embedding fixed-term faculty members skilled in teaching within departments to train colleagues. Failures and D’s in redesigned courses dropped from 11.5 percent in 2013 prior to the AAU project to 9.5 percent in 2016, while the learning gains in these courses were 13 percent higher than in traditional courses, the report says. Departments have promoted training by giving faculty members course releases to compensate for the course they are revamping that term.

Teaching assistants at Davis trained to use active learning practices and adaptive learning technology were able to raise student outcomes in introductory biology by half a letter grade. Washington University, meanwhile, found that clicker-based active learning in high-enrollment introductory science courses was positively associated with exam performance. Boulder’s Departmental Action Teams worked toward department-level consensus on learning goals, pedagogical approaches and assessments aligned with learning goals. Results from the physics department there indicate that students from all four courses had post-test scores between 25 percent and 30 percent higher in reformed courses.

Michigan State started with faculty discussions of core ideas in each discipline, and the ways that knowledge is used, rather than changing pedagogical approaches and assessments: the assumption was that teaching changes would happen naturally when professors were thinking about big ideas and scientific practices. Other changes include the formation of an institute, CREATE for STEM, to coordinate science education activities across campus, and they’ve had a large-scale impact, according to AAU.

And at Penn -- which AAU says is the most faculty-centric of all project institutions -- individual faculty members within six departments are change agents, and their nexus is the Center for Teaching and Learning. The center administers Penn's four-year-old Structured Active In-class Learning (SAIL) program, which assists instructors as they develop, adopt and evaluate active learning activities to transform their classes. SAIL classes are designed to allow students to struggle through the application of course content, an often difficult part of the learning process, with the guidance of instructors and help from peers, and require students to do work outside class time to prepare for in-class activities, according to AAU.

Common Themes

Half of the project sites expanded their reach to departments not originally included in their proposals. Graduate and undergraduate assistants were called upon across campuses to help with the initiative. “With more trained individuals in the room, the capacity to facilitate and evaluate evidence-based pedagogy increases,” the report says. “The experience also benefits the students themselves by reinforcing core concepts and helping them to learn effective teaching practices.”

Recurrent themes among institutions include a shift from individual to collective responsibility by departments for introductory course curriculum, hiring educational experts within departments to bolster reforms, and a harnessing of (not just collecting) institutionwide data to support student learning.

Institutions were also found to have reorganized administrative support services to better support departmental reform efforts, such as by connecting centers for teaching and learning with department-based instructional efforts. Crucially, too, institutions found ways to better manage the simultaneous pursuit of high-quality teaching and research and signal the value of both. Washington University’s Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning and Education (CIRCLE), for example, includes tenure-track faculty, in addition to permanent research scientists. Consequently, according to AAU, the campus has been able “to focus on curriculum and scaffolding rather than individual course reforms as well as target sustainability and cultural [reform].”

Over all, said Coleman, of AAU, while there is much work to be done to realize “a ‘new normal’ -- one characterized by personal and institutional expectations that all faculty members will both use and be rewarded for using evidence-based approaches to instruction -- our initiative suggests that progress is being made.”

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Athletes, band members find ways to protest during anthem

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:00

When members of teams across the National Football League knelt during the national anthem before their games on Sept. 24, it was a defining moment for the protest against racism and police brutality started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year.

It also raised a question: Would the movement, which had gained more steam than ever before -- thanks, in part, to President Trump's tweets lambasting it relentlessly -- spread to college athletics?

Over the last week, coaches of football teams across the country fielded questions about kneeling, institutional policy and where they stood on the issue. For the most part, college teams are in the locker room during the anthem, so there isn’t an opportunity to protest. At the same time, at least one college issued an order for players to stand during the anthem.

Five players at the University of New Mexico took a knee on the field while the anthem played after the first half of their game against the Air Force Academy Saturday, the Associated Press reported.

The anthem -- and the protest -- appeared to catch coaches off guard, although weather delays had also scrambled most of the pregame ceremonies.

"We’ve never been out there for the national anthem, and the agreement was that there wasn’t going to be a national anthem played,” New Mexico coach Bob Davie said.

Air Force coach Troy Calhoun told reporters he didn’t mind, and the crowd reportedly didn’t react much.

“That’s their right,” he said. “They live in a country where they’re allowed to do that. We’ve got service members all over the world currently and who have served, so if somebody chooses not to stand, they’re allowed to. There’s no law and there should be no law and it should be your choice.”

That's not a universally shared sentiment, however. On Friday, the College of the Ozarks, which does not have a football team, announced it would ban any protesting during the national anthem during its sporting events. The college also called for opponents to be held to the same standards.

“The College of the Ozarks will not play in games where disrespect is exhibited toward the American flag or national anthem,” Jerry C. Davis, the institution's president, said in a statement. “Opponents are pledging to meet the college’s expectations for respect of the national anthem and American flag. Otherwise, our college will not participate.”

Players at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., opted for what one of the players called a display of “brotherhood and unity.”

While the national anthem played, players placed their hands on the person standing next to them or in front of them in line, in an effort to make a statement during the anthem.

“We felt like we couldn’t sit back and do nothing, because we feel that social injustices are going on in the world. We wanted to get together and send a message, but a positive message more than anything else,” Assumption receiver Ashton Grant told the Worcester Telegram.

"The world outside of here this summer wasn’t lacking for any social injustices,” Assumption coach Bob Chesney said, “and for our guys and anyone that wants to make a stand or speak out against those things, [the national anthem] seems to be the platform in our sport. We discussed, ‘Is there something we need to do?’ and if there is, we need to do it all together.”

At Cornell University and Brown University, while players were in the locker room before their respective games, some band members took a knee while playing the anthem, according to reports.

Several members of the Brown band taking a knee in protest while playing the national anthem. Brown, URI players in their locker rooms.

— Bill Koch (@BillKoch25) September 30, 2017

At the same time, protests by students continued off the field, with students at St. Michael’s College in Colchester, Vt., taking a knee during a protest that included athletes and student activists.

“We organized mostly in support and in solidarity with people of color who are experiencing racial oppression, racial injustice, against police brutality and in solidarity with our athletes here on campus,” the organizer of the event, student Melanie Castillo, told the local NBC station.

“I took an approach from an athlete’s perspective. You take a knee in competition to respect a person, whether they are injured or have been fouled wrongly. Your fellow teammate, an American citizen, is being hurt. They need to be recognized,” St. Michael’s basketball player Winston Jones, who attended the protest, told reporters.

At Clemson University, several student senators last week remained seated during the Pledge of Allegiance that starts student government meetings.

These protests aren’t the first time that college students or athletes protested during the national anthem. Last year, a handful of players at the University of Michigan and Michigan State University raised their fists during the anthem at their respective home games over the same weekend.

Proudest & scariest moment as a yellow-jacket happened at the same time. Thank you @Kaepernick7 for inspiring to #TakeAKnee to take a stand pic.twitter.com/iJVqHEpWx0

— Issa Rai (@freeSPIRIT_5678) September 24, 2017

A cheerleader at Georgia Tech took a knee last year during the anthem before a game as well, although protesters -- and detractors -- were busy talking about it last week. Raianna Brown, the cheerleader, shared a year-old picture of her protest on Twitter over the weekend that the NFL protests occurred.

“For me, it’s not about being disrespectful toward the country or toward the flag itself. It’s more making a statement about what’s going on in the country that’s being ignored,” she told The Cut in an interview after her tweet went viral.

Brown said she received both negative and positive reactions when she knelt, both of which were revived again when she shared the picture this year -- a sign of how politicized the issue remains.

“This time it most definitely has gained a lot more traction, probably just because overall in media the #TakeAKnee hashtag has gained a lot more traction as well,” she said. “This time I’ve actually gotten a lot more, I guess, blowback; as far as social media, there have been a lot more negative comments. But the negative comments are really outweighed by all the positive support I have received.”

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New presidents or provosts: Arlington Creighton ENMU Guilford Midwestern Montana Royal Spelman

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 10/02/2017 - 07:00
  • Frank Boyd, associate provost at Illinois Wesleyan University, has been selected as vice president of academic affairs and academic dean at Guilford College, in North Carolina.
  • Lesley Brown, vice provost and associate vice president (academic) at the University of Lethbridge, in Alberta, has been selected as provost and vice president at Mount Royal University, also in Alberta.
  • Sharon Davies, vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer at Ohio State University, has been appointed provost and vice president of academic affairs at Spelman College, in Georgia.
  • Jeff Elwell, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has been chosen as president of Eastern New Mexico University.
  • James Johnston, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Midwestern State University, in Texas, has been promoted to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Teik C. Lim, dean of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati, in Ohio, has been appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Texas at Arlington.
  • Linda A. Livingstone, dean and professor of management at George Washington University School of Business, has been selected as president of Baylor University.
  • Robert Mokwa, interim provost at Montana State University, has been named executive vice president for academic affairs and provost there.
  • Tom Murray, interim provost at Creighton University, in Nebraska, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
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Study challenges common belief that most science and engineering Ph.D.s leave academe because of the poor job market

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 07:00

Most Ph.D.s in the natural sciences and engineering leave academe because of the difficult job market, not because they want to, right? Wrong, according to a new study in PLOS ONE.

Authors Michael Roach, the J. Thomas and Nancy W. Clark Assistant Professor of Entrepreneurship at Cornell University, and Henry Sauermann, an associate professor of strategic management at Georgia Tech, found that labor market conditions do prevent some doctoral graduates interested in an academic career from pursuing one -- but a large share lose interest for other reasons.

That matters, the authors say, because “efforts to understand students’ career paths should consider the diversity in career goals" and the broad range of factors than shape them. In particular, “comparisons of the number of graduates with the number of available faculty positions likely overstate the number of Ph.D.s who aspire to a faculty career, thereby exaggerating imbalances in academic labor markets.”

It's good news, according to the study, since the significant share of students who remain interested in academe “alleviates concerns about a potential ‘drying up’” of the faculty pipeline, and means “better alignment between students’ career preferences and the careers they ultimately enter.”

But the findings also indicate that more information, training and flexibility are needed within Ph.D. programs (and maybe even before students enroll in them), according to the study. That way, students can best prepare for the jobs they'll choose.

Roach said Thursday that nonacademic careers "have long been the more common pathway and not the alternative." And most faculty members "have spent their entire careers in academia and are not familiar enough with other career pathways to help guide their students.” Moreover, there isn’t “enough appreciation for the important ways that science and engineering Ph.D.s contribute to society outside of academia, through innovation and economic growth.”

Economists and policy makers have long recognized the "essential role of universities in training industrial scientists," he said, "and applying scientific knowledge and research skills to the development of new medical devices or autonomous vehicles or alternative energy should not be seen as a failure."

The study, “The Declining Interest in an Academic Career,” is based on a longitudinal survey of a cohort of graduate students from 39 U.S. research universities over the course of their training. The central idea was to document changes in those students' career preferences and what might be fueling them.

The first major finding is that although the vast majority of students start their Ph.D. training interested in an academic career, that share falls to 55 percent of students over time -- and 25 percent of students lose all interest in academe.

Fifteen percent, meanwhile, were never interested in an academic career. Just 5 percent became more interested in a faculty career during their training.

Source: PLOS ONE

Roach and Sauermann say that the declining interest isn’t, therefore, a general phenomenon but rather “reflects a divergence between those students who remain highly interested in an academic career and other students who are no longer interested in one.”

And does the job market drive the drop in interest? No. Rather, it’s misalignment between students’ evolving preferences for specific job attributes, according to the paper, and students’ changing perceptions of their own research abilities. Perhaps surprisingly, the pressure to produce publications -- and the challenges for those who can't -- don’t seem to play a role.

Digging Deeper

Roach and Sauermann followed 854 students over their training in the life sciences (36 percent of the sample), chemistry (12 percent), physics (18 percent), engineering (24 percent) and computer science (10 percent). The 39 universities in the sample were considered tier one and accounted for 40 percent of all graduating Ph.D.s in the natural sciences and engineering. First- and second-year Ph.D. students were invited via email to participate in a survey about their Ph.D. program experiences and career goals, with the first responses reported in 2010 at a response rate of 30 percent. The researchers followed up with respondents three years later, in 2013, and got a response rate of about 40 percent.

To measure career interests, respondents were asked both times, “Putting job availability aside, how attractive or unattractive do you personally find each of the following careers?” The survey asked about a range of research and nonresearch careers inside and outside academe, but the new study focuses on students’ interest in university faculty jobs with a focus on research.

By 2013, nearly one-third of doctoral students surveyed who started their programs as faculty hopefuls lost that spark, and the job also became increasingly less attractive to them on a five-point scale. Men were more likely to start out enthusiastic about an academic career than were women (83 percent vs. 75 percent), and this difference persisted over time, with 59 percent of men remaining interested in an academic career compared to 50 percent of women after three years. Similar shares of men and women reported a decline in their interest in an academic career over time.

In another significant demographic finding, some 27 percent of U.S. citizens lost interest in an academic career compared to only 16 percent of foreign Ph.D. students. Some 51 percent of U.S. citizens remained interested in an academic career three years on, compared to 68 percent of foreign students.

Both the 2010 and 2013 surveys asked students, “What do you think is the probability that a Ph.D. in your field can find the following positions after graduation (and any potential postdocs),” with positions including “university faculty with an emphasis on research or development” and “established firm job with an emphasis on research or development.”

Early in their programs, students expected that about half of graduates in their fields would obtain a faculty position at some point in their careers. Over time that expectation decreased significantly for all students, but irrespective of their interest in an academic career. And while students in the 2013 survey expected that one might spend more time as a postdoctoral fellow than they had in 2010, those responses were also not significantly linked to career aspirations or preferences. So, too, with students’ responses to the question “To what extent do you think research funding is available to faculty members at a research university?”

Instead, non-job-market factors correlated with students’ interest in tenure-track jobs. 

Both waves of the survey asked students, “When thinking about the future, how interesting would you find the following kinds of work?” on a five-point scale, for example. Work activities included basic research (“research that contributes fundamental insights or theories”), applied research (“research that creates knowledge to solve practical problems”) and commercialization (“commercializing research results into products or services”). To measure preferences for job attributes, students were asked “When thinking about an ideal job, how important is each of the following factors to you?” Listed factors included “financial income (e.g., salary, bonus, etc.)” and “freedom to choose research projects.” 

Early in the Ph.D. program, the vast majority of students have a strong preference for basic and applied research and choosing research projects. Students who remained interested in an academic career later on changed little over time with respect to these preferences. But among students who lost interest, the share with strong preferences for basic research, applied research and freedom decreased significantly, while the share with a strong preference for commercialization increased. Income was not a significant factor.

The authors note that they can’t rule out reverse causality, in that changes in career interests could lead to changes in preferences for work activities and job attributes. But they say their observations are consistent with the idea that preferences in job attributes “shape students’ career interests and suggest that the decreased interest in a faculty career partly reflects changes in students’ preferences.” 

As for ability, the surveys asked students to rate their research ability relative to their peers in their area of specialization on a sliding scale. They also asked respondents how many published or accepted articles in peer-reviewed journals listed them as authors (that measure increased from a mean of 0.87 in 2010 to 2.5 in 2013). Students who remained interested in a faculty career started with higher levels of self-reported ability and publications than those who lost interest. Subjective ability increased significantly among those who remained interested in academe but remained unchanged among those who lost interest. Publication counts increased for both groups, but not significantly more for the sustained interest group.

In sum, 40 percent of advanced students aren’t interested in pursuing an academic career, according to the study. Many of those students reported a lack of information about nonacademic career options, suggesting that more information about career diversity is needed earlier in Ph.D. programs. Experiential approaches, such as internships, may be more effective than just workshops and information sessions, the authors say. They also praise programs such as the National Institutes’ of Health’s BEST Program, which promotes programs that broaden Ph.D. training. And advisers still tend to strongly encourage the traditional academic career path.

The authors also note their findings suggest that students would benefit from more information about diverse careers in the sciences before starting their Ph.D. programs, to avoid a mismatch between what they want to do and what kinds of training they need.

“This may allow individuals to take advantage of a growing range of alternative educational options, such as professional science master’s programs, and ultimately result in faster career progress and more satisfying long-term career outcomes.”

Over all, Roach said, the study clashes with the “common assumption” that most Ph.D. students want a faculty career. When students start working toward their doctorates, he said, “many see academia as the typical career path, but as they learn more about what the faculty career is really like and learn more about their own interests, they realize that academia is not for them.”

And among the Ph.D. students in the study who remain attracted to an academic career, he said, more than half also express an interest in industry careers. “So the notion that academia is the only preferred career path and that careers in entrepreneurship and industrial [research and development] are undesirable is a false dichotomy.”

Nathan L. Vanderford, a professor of toxicology and cancer biology at the University of Kentucky, who has studied the gap between Ph.D. training and job outcomes, said that the study captured what he and colleagues observe every day, anecdotally: that the job market doesn’t inform students’ career decisions as much as a growing understanding of what an academic career entails.

Increasingly, he said, given the highly competitive funding environment, being a professor means chasing grants and otherwise dealing with the academic bureaucracy.

“They realize that being an academic is not just about being able to do the research that you love to do every day,” he said of trainees.

Vanderford wholeheartedly supported the paper’s multiple calls for more information for potential Ph.D. students and training for Ph.D. candidates about the job market, both inside and outside academe. He said he’s been teaching a class on exactly that topic for the past four years, so that trainees “can make more informed decisions as they’re making progress preparing for their careers.”

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Education Dept. updates higher ed consumer tool, adds new comparison feature

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 07:00

An Obama administration initiative that provided consumer information on colleges and universities has survived for another year and into the Trump administration.

The Department of Education published updated information on the College Scorecard Thursday, including a new feature that allows students to compare data from up to 10 institutions at once. The update is a significant win for proponents of transparency in higher education who have watched Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over recent months delay and water down requirements for the gainful-employment measure.

The consumer tool allows students and their families to easily find the average annual cost of a given institution, its graduation rate, the typical salary after attending and the percentage of students paying off their debt within three years of leaving.

The Scorecard wasn't required by law and, having launched in 2015, isn't so entrenched that it would have been difficult for the department to abandon. Although the Scorecard's metrics weren't attached to any accountability measures that could have repercussions for institutions (read: potential loss of student aid funds), maintaining and updating the tool takes a significant amount of work on the part of staff. Inside Higher Ed reported that the department was making progress on updating the website's data in June, and it rolled out the new numbers Thursday with little fanfare.

"The Department of Education should be commended for doing so," said Michael Itzkowitz, a senior policy adviser for higher education at Third Way and the former director of the Scorecard at the department. "This is a huge and difficult project that takes as significant amount of man-hours to produce."

Itzkowitz said 2.5 million users have already accessed the website. Even more have used College Scorecard data through separate college-search tools built by developers using the Scorecard's application programming interface, or data feed.

The Scorecard came about after the Obama administration shelved a much more controversial proposal to rank colleges and universities. Higher ed groups have largely gotten on board with the tool, although they still have complaints about which data are included, which students are counted and how quickly incorrect information is fixed.

Paul Hassen, a spokesman for the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said the group is still concerned with the focus on the three main data points in the tool -- annual cost, graduation rate, salary after attending -- and believes they are somewhat flawed in presentation. But he said the group thinks over all that the updated tool is a big improvement, pointing specifically to the comparison feature.

"It seems to be a very useful tool for students and families looking to make what is a very important decision," he said.

In addition to the comparison feature, the update Thursday also makes it easier for users to share results.

The Federal Student Aid website already includes a link to the College Scorecard on the home page of its Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Itzkowitz said further improvements could allow those two tools to work together -- for example, by populating the online FAFSA application with results from Scorecard searches.

Jamey Rorison, director of research and policy at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, said there are still plenty of other ways to improve the Scorecard's consumer tool and data. The department should add completion data by race to its website to cast new light on inequities in the higher education system, Rorison said, as well as add data on program-level outcomes. He said the College Transparency Act, a bipartisan bill introduced in May to create a student-level data system, would accomplish many of those objectives to make students and policy makers better informed.

A spokesman for the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities agreed that the passage of legislation for a comprehensive data system was necessary, even as he said APLU was pleased that the department had continued to update the Scorecard data.

"We continue to be very concerned that a lot of key data on the Scorecard is incomplete and misleading (such as graduation rates and earnings) largely because the department has its hands tied due to a congressional ban on student-level data," said Jeff Lieberson, a spokesman for APLU. "This underscores the need for Congress to pass the College Transparency Act, which would enable the department and its Scorecard to post much more complete and accurate data."

The Obama administration made it a stated ambition to release program-level data through the Scorecard website, so students and families could see variation in results within institutions based on a student's choice of major. But it will likely take several more years of data collection before the department has the ability to release results with that level of detail.

Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy at New America, said the release of new Scorecard data was a promising sign the department is at least willing to consider the value of transparency.

"They have a long way to go to prove they are true believers, and that they really think putting out more data and better data can help students make better choices about where they go to college," she said.

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Caribbean universities deal with damage from Hurricanes Irma, Maria

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 07:00

A little more than a week after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico at Category 4 strength, the extent of the damage to the University of Puerto Rico’s 11 campuses remains unclear. With telecommunications in the U.S. territory still knocked out, roads in places impassable and gasoline in short supply, Darrel Hillman, the university’s interim president, said a lack of communication between the campuses has been a problem.

It has also been difficult to communicate with the university’s approximately 60,000 students. “The only way that we can communicate with people will be by radio,” Hillman said.

The university’s most pressing need is electrical power. With power out across Puerto Rico, Hillman said that obtaining additional diesel to keep generators going is a priority. In particular, he said, the university needs diesel for generators to power the central student and employee information system and in order to continue to keep sensitive research-related infrastructure -- including a building housing laboratory animals and refrigerators containing liquid gases that can explode at certain temperatures -- appropriately cooled.

Power has been restored to the medical sciences campus and the university hospital, which is treating patients, though Hillman said Wednesday the power supply is fragile and has been going in and out. None of the 11 campuses, including the medical sciences campus, are open for classes, and Hillman said there's no reopening date to announce as of yet. He hopes classes might restart within a month or six weeks -- “that’s a very gross estimate” -- and said it is possible students from the more badly hit campuses will need to be relocated to other campuses that sustained less damage. It appears, he said, that the university’s campuses in Arecibo and Humacao were hit the hardest.

Senior leaders at the University of Puerto Rico, the University of the Virgin Islands and the University of the West Indies all talked with Inside Higher Ed about the destruction caused by Hurricanes Maria and Irma when they swept through the Caribbean earlier this month. The storms damaged buildings, displaced students and promised to stress already strained budgets.

In Puerto Rico, Hurricane Maria came on top of a deep financial crisis that has implications for the island’s flagship public university. The University of Puerto Rico’s accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, put eight of the university’s 11 campuses on probation in May, partly due to concerns about finances and institutional resources.

Sarah Muir and Frances Negrón-Muntaner, co-chairs of a research group at Columbia University that has focused on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, said they would like to see a coordinated effort to support Puerto Rican higher education, similar to what happened in 2005 when other institutions took in students from New Orleans universities after Hurricane Katrina. In that case, many universities waived tuition for the displaced students who had already paid, keeping their tuition dollars at the New Orleans colleges.

"There is an emergency at the moment. There are displaced people; there is a danger that students will not complete their studies, that this will have long-term individual effects on people,” said Negrón-Muntaner, a professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia with a joint appointment in the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race.

“But this also allows an opportunity -- tragically -- but it provides an opportunity to think about the inequities that have been inherent in the model of postsecondary education in Puerto Rico and other territories and also the lack of collaboration that exists by and large between American higher education institutions and Puerto Rican ones” -- and to develop deeper linkages, Negrón-Muntaner said.

Some Florida colleges have agreed to offer in-state tuition to students from Puerto Rico who were displaced by Hurricane Maria, following a request from Governor Rick Scott. According to various news reports and announcements from colleges, Florida colleges offering in-state tuition to displaced Puerto Rican students include Broward College, Hillsborough Community College, Miami Dade College, Palm Beach State College, Seminole State College of Florida, the University of Central Florida and Valencia College. St. Petersburg College said Thursday it would provide in-state tuition and waive its $40 admission fee for displaced students from Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Houston area, which sustained severe flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

The University of the Virgin Islands

The U.S. Virgin Islands were hit first by Irma, then Maria, both of which came through the U.S. territory at Category 5 strength. David Hall, the president of the University of the Virgin Islands, said the university's students and staff have all been accounted for. "Physically, they are all safe. However, you can imagine the personal losses that they have suffered. Many have lost their homes and others have had their homes extremely damaged, and even those who are still living in their homes may not have power or a lot of other things that we have grown accustomed to," Hall said. The university has started a relief fund, called UVI Rise, to raise money for students, faculty and staff affected by the hurricanes.

Hall said the university's two campuses in St. Thomas and St. Croix sustained extensive physical damage. "These are rough estimates because adjusters are just coming in, but we estimate somewhere between $40 million and $60 million in damages to facilities on both of our campuses at this particular time," Hall said.

“With Irma, our St. Thomas campus was severely damaged. I would say somewhere between 25 to 30 percent of our buildings were destroyed or damaged in such a way where they are uninhabitable. Our newest and premier residence hall was severely damaged, and we cannot put students back there. Our premier performing arts center, the Reichhold Center, which I will boastfully say was the best performing arts center in the Caribbean, was totally destroyed. We've had numerous other academic buildings and administrative buildings where the roofs came off, so those are not habitable.”

He continued, “Maria did not do as much damage on the physical structure, in regards to buildings -- Irma had pretty much taken care of that -- but it provided a lot of water damage on both campuses, and Maria had a more serious impact on our St. Croix campus. One of our new buildings, the research and technology park, has substantial damage, but portions of it that house our College of Science and Math we’re going to try to bring back online as soon as possible.”

Hall doesn't expect insurance to cover the entire cost of rebuilding. But beyond the capital costs, he's concerned about the operating budget. “This is a tremendous loss to our operating budget, in two ways,” he said. “Of course there are some students who have withdrawn and therefore we have to refund them their tuition monies. More importantly, we receive 50 percent of our funding from the local government, and the economy of the Virgin Islands has been severely damaged by this. So allotments that we would normally get from them have not been forthcoming. I anticipate that’s going to be a problem for a while, and yet we still need to operate. We still have to pay people; we still have to make sure that all of the things that are necessary for a university to function are in place. That is the place where I really hope that those looking upon this tragedy would be open to supporting the university so we can continue to provide the high-quality education that we have provided in the past.”

Hall said the university, which enrolls 2,400 students, many of whom commute to the institution, is working toward a goal of resuming classes Oct. 9. When classes do resume, UVI will be operating under certain constraints. Among them, it can't count on students having internet access at home, and it won't be able to hold night classes both because of a curfew and because much of its lighting was destroyed in the storm. The university is currently relying on generator power for its electricity.

"The Oct. 9 goal is an aggressive one, but we’re trying to be aggressive because our students are ready to get back into the classroom," Hall said. "They want their educational dreams to go forward. Some of them are seniors and they want to graduate on time, and others who are not want to stay on track."

Elsewhere in the Caribbean

The University of the West Indies, which has campuses and online learning centers across 17 Caribbean countries and territories, has suffered damage from hurricanes before. But with three of its locations currently inoperable -- and the one in Dominica almost totally destroyed by Hurricane Maria -- the situation it’s facing this fall is unprecedented.

“We have approximately 400 students who study with us online in Dominica, and in terms of those who would have participated in our ongoing continuing education courses, that could be another 600 students for the semester alone. We’re really looking at students being totally dislocated; there are no projections for electricity to be restored for the rest of this year,” said Luz M. Longsworth, the pro vice chancellor and principal of UWI’s Open Campus.

Longsworth said the university, using text messaging, has only managed to make connection with about 100 of its students on Dominica. On the one hand, that’s not many; on the other, she said, “It is remarkable that we’re even hearing from that many of our students. There is no electricity in the interior part of the island, and if they’ve lost electricity they wouldn’t have any phone charge, so many of them would have to physically come to us for us to tick off who we have heard from. We are quite hopeful that there isn’t any loss of life among our students, because that seems to be fairly well accounted for in terms of the names of the persons [who died], and none of those names have appeared on our list, but it is just the inability to communicate at this point in time, we’re assuming.”

Longsworth said the university’s 14 staff members in Dominica are accounted for. Though there is extensive water damage to the university site, and much equipment was damaged -- some, it appears, was looted -- one small building was left unharmed. “Our library is destroyed, but our librarian had carefully put away the books,” Longsworth said. “Right now they are OK, but we are anxious to get them into some waterproof containers so we can protect them from the moisture. The collections are one-of-a-kind collections on the history and culture of Dominica that you can find nowhere else."

In addition to the site in Dominica, Longsworth said an online learning site in Anguilla is closed for classes: electricity has been restored, but not internet connectivity. Also closed is a site in Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, which is relying on generator power and currently being used for emergency relief efforts. Both the Anguilla and Tortola sites suffered minimal damage. And UWI’s three main physical campuses -- which are located in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago -- have been spared the brunt of the hurricanes that swept through other parts of the Caribbean.

For online students who are displaced, Longsworth said they can pick up their studies wherever they find an internet connection. “In a sense we are hopeful that having a presence in 44 physical sites, 17 physical countries, and also having a presence in the clouds gives us a great deal of resilience in terms of being able to recover much more quickly than if we are teaching only face-to-face, let’s say, in Dominica,” she said.

Caribbean Medical Schools

The Caribbean islands are also home to a number of for-profit medical schools that largely teach American and Canadian students. Some of those campuses have also sustained damage and evacuated their students.

Ross University School of Medicine, which is located in storm-ravaged Dominica and owned by the U.S.-based for-profit education company Adtalem Global Education (formerly DeVry), reported Tuesday that it had completed evacuating all of its students who were on Dominica at the time Hurricane Maria hit. The university’s dean and chancellor, William F. Owen Jr., said in a message that Ross is working on a plan to resume its basic science program -- which comprises the first two preclinical years of medical education -- in an alternative location, to be determined (clinical training occurs at U.S. hospitals and has not been disrupted).

Owen said in a message on Ross’s website Wednesday that “in considering new potential sites of instruction, we are focused on identifying a location that will be conducive to intensive medical study; meet the rigorous academic expectations of our accreditors; support continued access to federal student loans; and nicely balance study and recreation.”

“We expect to communicate a decision soon from our list of options for a locale. There will be no classes for the next two weeks, so recuperate, refuel and bond with your loved ones,” Owen told students.

Another Adtalem-owned medical school, the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine, in St. Maarten, announced after Hurricane Irma hit the island that it would hold its fall semester classes at a location in the United Kingdom. The medical school initially announced plans to start classes at the U.K. location Sept. 29 -- today -- but in a statement Thursday Adtalem said the school is still "finalizing details" for the temporary relocation.

"AUC is working to secure all regulatory approvals to do so, and working to finalize an agreement with University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to utilize UCLan’s teaching facilities and student support services. We are so pleased to partner with UCLan in this effort and we greatly appreciate their hospitality and assistance. While these final arrangements and approvals are still pending, AUC students have begun arriving in Preston to prepare for the planned start of classes," the statement said.

Another Caribbean medical school, All Saints University, in Dominica, said in a message on its website that “evacuation of students is on course’ and that lectures for students from Dominica would resume Oct. 2 at the university’s other campus in in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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Colorado State, professor settle First Amendment lawsuit

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 09/29/2017 - 07:00

The Colorado State University system and a professor who sued its chancellor and Board of Governors have settled a lawsuit he filed alleging First Amendment violations and defamation on the part of the institution.

Timothy McGettigan, a sociology professor at Colorado State University, Pueblo, sent an email to faculty and students in 2014 calling for resistance to proposed faculty cuts. McGettigan used historical imagery in his email, recalling the “children of Ludlow,” a reference to a 1914 massacre of striking coal miners.

“The hit men massacred those people. Coldly and methodically, the hit men turned their guns on women and children. The hit men riddled the little tent village in Ludlow with bullets, and then they set that village alight,” McGettigan wrote at the time. “That was a century ago. But what, if anything, has changed in southern Colorado?”

The university then shut down McGettigan’s access to his email address, saying McGettigan violated the institution’s policy on use of electronic communications. While terms of the settlement weren't released, his email account is back.

"Considering the lessons we’ve all learned from Columbine, Virginia Tech and more recently Arapahoe High School, I can only say that the security of our students, faculty and staff are our top priority," a spokeswoman said at the time.

The implication that McGettigan was promoting violence, as well as the shutdown of his access to his email account, prompted McGettigan to file a lawsuit alleging defamation as well as First Amendment violations. McGettigan said he received the final settlement papers Tuesday.

Although McGettigan did not reveal the precise details of the settlement, he said it was settled in his favor with an undisclosed sum of money being awarded to him. The parties were set to go to trial in October.

“When the university shut down my ability to communicate, to respond to these falsehoods [about the reasons for the proposed cuts] the administrators were putting forward, then the only other means that I had at my disposal to fight back against the university power structure was the judicial system,” McGettigan told Inside Higher Ed.

A representative from the Colorado State University system did not respond to a request for comment.

McGettigan has said that he is confident about free speech at Colorado State, Pueblo, going forward, and parts of the settlement included efforts to evaluate free speech at the institution. (He was first reached by Inside Higher Ed via a university email address.)

“I have made requests to the university that we evaluate how restricted free speech is at CSU Pueblo,” he said. “No former administrator at the university has been willing to move in that direction, but the current president [Timothy Mottet] is a man of principle, is enlightened, and he has already announced plans to go forward with a faculty-driven review [on] chilled free speech at Pueblo … These are things I never thought that the university would make progress on.”

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