Higher Education News

San Francisco's Metro Academies increase college completion for academically underprepared students

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:00

Two colleges in San Francisco are helping recent high school graduates who are not considered academically ready for college reach graduation on time.

San Francisco State University and City College of San Francisco have combined student services with a curriculum that emphasizes social justice as a way to improve student retention and completion. And both institutions are making sure faculty receive specialized training to provide that curriculum.

The Metro College Success Program is a two-year "school within a school" in which Metro Academies are organized within the colleges around a broad career or program area. Students enrolled in the academies at both the university and the community college outperform their peers. For instance, San Francisco State's six-year graduation rate is 53 percent, with a 45 percent rate for students with similar demographics -- low income, from minority groups or first generation -- as those in the Metro program. Yet students in the academies program had a six-year graduation rate of 60 percent.

At CCSF in 2017, according to program officials, 53 percent of Metro students transferred or graduated compared to 38 percent of similar student groups.

The program appears to be working in part because it manages to increase student engagement by offering instruction that is topically relevant to students' daily lives.

"While many student success approaches inevitably look at advising, tutoring and supplemental instruction … faculty teach a curriculum that's very contextualized and engaging to address real-world problems they experience," said Mary Beth Love, co-founder of the Metro program at San Francisco State and a professor of health education, adding that gentrification, for example, is a social issue that's integrated into the curriculum. "Many of our students are coming from communities in San Francisco where gentrification is a problem. It has emotional resonance for them and it makes learning and engaging real and connects to their lived experience."

Local high school students are recruited and apply for the more than 10 academies on a first-come, first-served basis if they're either low-income, first-generation or from an underrepresented minority group. Metro students are often all three, said Rama Kased, student services director for the program at San Francisco State.

For instance, 77 percent of Metro students at San Francisco State are first generation, 63 percent are low income and 58 percent are Latino. At City College, 57 percent of participants are first generation and 77 percent are from underrepresented minority groups. Both academies enroll many students who need remediation -- 90 percent of City College's Metro students and 76 percent of San Francisco State's.

Students enter and complete the program as a cohort. And the "wraparound" student supports are brought to them, so students don't feel they have to visit multiple locations or figure out where to go for coaching or financial aid.

As for the curriculum, despite each academy focusing on a program area like engineering, the sciences or health, students take general-education courses in addition to developmental courses with a goal of being college ready within a year. For example, if a student decides math in an engineering academy isn't for them, Love said, they can switch to a different academy without losing credit for the work.

And the social justice influence on the curriculum isn't just felt in courses like English -- a math class might examine the data behind stop-and-frisk policies.

"It makes the work of higher education very meaningful to young people who may question whether it's meaningful besides getting a job," Love said.

The program features 10 academies and has been funded to expand to 14. About a quarter of incoming students at San Francisco State are Metro students, while nearly 500 students at City College are enrolled in the program.

Although City College students can transfer wherever they please, if they're qualified, those who go to San Francisco State automatically join the upper-division part of the program.

"We have students who watch over our City College transfer students," said Vicki Legion, co-director of the Metro program and a professor of health and social justice at City College, adding that the nearby university is the two-year college's No. 1 transfer partner. "If someone hits a bump academically or gets on academic probation, there is a more advanced student who is watching out for them and can reach out and get them help."

Program tutors at the university are more advanced students and program alumni, Kased said, while the community college uses professional tutors. The third leg of the program centers on faculty development. During the summer, participating faculty members spend 45 hours in a learning community that prepares them for the socioeconomic needs of Metro students.

"Most programs leave the classrooms as they are and add services on top," Legion said. But to shift what's happening in the classroom and to provide more interactive and project-based instructions, she said, the academies also focus on helping instructors.

Since 2007 the Metro program has been funded by a variety of state and federal grants. The program's academies launched in 2009. And despite requiring more investment per student, it reduces overall institutional costs by helping more students graduate. For San Francisco State, the Metro program's progress in increasing completion has helped bring in additional state aid as part of the California State University system's Graduation Initiative 2025.

City College spends about $18,500 in the first two years on all students who meet the qualifications to apply for the Metro program. The program invests an estimated additional amount of $790 per year on each Metro student. Yet a college study found the program reduces overall costs by more than $24,000 for each student who completes.

The cost savings come from reducing attrition, the time to graduation and the extra credits students take that don't count toward a degree. For instance, Metro students typically place into developmental math or English yet complete an associate degree on average within two and a half years. Yet the median time for California's black and Latino community college students to earn an associate degree is 4.3 years.

"Doing the same wrong thing over and over again and not getting students to graduation also has a pretty big price tag," said Love. "That additional investment to provide support and the engagement around learning with students is paying off on getting students through."

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Russia makes new push on research

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:00

A Russian government shake-up creating a new Ministry of Science and Higher Education is seen as a potential boost to the integration of universities with research, and to the country’s excellence initiative.

Previously, Russian universities were the responsibility of the Ministry of Education and Science, led by Olga Vasilyeva, a historian known for her admiration of Stalin.

But that body has now been split into two new entities: the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and the Ministry of Enlightenment, covering school education and vocational training. The latter is to be led by Vasilyeva, while the former will be led by Mikhail Kotyukov, a former head of the Federal Agency for Scientific Organisations.

In a presidential decree issued after he was re-elected Russian Federation president in May, Vladimir Putin announced goals of doubling the number of foreign students in Russian universities by 2024 and creating at least 15 world-class centers for education and research based on cooperation between universities, research institutes and business structures.

The departmental restructure follows this, with the changes said to have been under discussion by Russian officials for some time.

“The idea … is not to split research and higher education,” said Mikhail Strikhanov, rector of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI and a former deputy minister of education.

The Soviet-era divide between higher education in universities and research within the Russian Academy of Sciences is “still alive in many Russian universities; they are just teaching universities,” Strikhanov said.

The new structure could increase the number of “talented young people working both in institutes of [the] Russian Academy of Sciences and in universities,” he suggested.

There are also potentially significant impacts for the government’s 5-100 Russian Academic Excellence Project, intended to propel five of the country’s universities into the top 100 of international rankings by 2020.

Vasilyeva appeared to express skepticism about Project 5-100 and its budget shortly after she was appointed to the Ministry of Education and Science in 2016.

Strikhanov said that, while Project 5-100 has been approved by presidential decree until 2020, negotiations “are now being conducted on the amount of financial support and on project continuation up to 2024.”

He added that the new ministerial structure “is more amicable to [the] 5-100 Project than [the] previous one, when [the] former Ministry of Education and Science was responsible for school construction and renovation in the whole country.”

Andrei Volkov, deputy chairman of Project 5-100’s council, said of the departmental changes, “On the one hand, this is a plus for Russian academia, as the new structure drives the integration of research and teaching forward conceptually. However, decoupling secondary and tertiary education might result in discordance between policies.

“Also, vocational education and training is left in the uncomfortable in-between. These three factors affect the 5-100 program as well.”

But he added, “The project will mostly gain, as the new governmental makeup will further expand universities’ research capacity. And … [5-100] is likely to receive more attention, with the 5-100 group now essentially being the major part of the bridge between the worlds of research and higher education.”

Some argue that Putin’s goal of increasing foreign student numbers is not achievable without success in Project 5‑100.

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New presidents or provosts: Cloud Columbia Gorge Evansville Mayville New Rochelle OCU Oklahoma TCNJ UCF Whittier

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/31/2018 - 07:00
  • Martha Burger, senior vice president of human and corporate resources at Chesapeake Energy Corporation, in Oklahoma, has been chosen as president of Oklahoma City University.
  • Marta Yera Cronin, vice president of academic affairs at Indian River State College, in Florida, has been selected as president of Columbia Gorge Community College, in Oregon.
  • Adrian Douglas, vice president of business services at Eastfield College, in Texas, has been appointed president of Cloud County Community College, in Kansas.
  • Kathryn A. Foster, president of the University of Maine at Farmington, has been named president of the College of New Jersey.
  • James L. Gallogly, former chairman and chief executive officer of LyondellBasell, a chemical company in Texas, has been selected as president of the University of Oklahoma.
  • Linda Oubré, dean of the College of Business at San Francisco State University, in California, has been appointed president of Whittier College, also in California.
  • Christopher M. Pietruszkiewicz, dean and professor of law at Stetson University’s College of Law, in Florida, has been selected as president of the University of Evansville, in Indiana.
  • Brian Van Horn, associate provost at Murray State University, in Kentucky, has been chosen as president of Mayville State University, in North Dakota.
  • Dale Whittaker, provost and executive vice president at the University of Central Florida, has been named president there.
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The rise of PrEP on college campuses

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 07:00

WASHINGTON -- At the annual college health administrators’ conference Tuesday, one presenter laid out a scenario all too common among students: an 18-year-old gay man, a first-year student who was once sexually stifled in the small town where he grew up, is now out and experimenting on a large, urban campus.

He has 10 or so partners within a couple months -- sometimes using condoms, sometimes not. This is the type of student some health advocates believe is ideally suited to try the HIV-preventive drug PrEP -- which stands for pre-exposure prophylaxis -- which more and more institutions’ health centers have begun prescribing since it gained Food and Drug Administration approval about six years ago.

Because traditional-aged college students remain at risk for HIV and often start to be more sexually adventurous, university health centers have begun serving as a much more frequent dispenser of this sometimes controversial drug -- more so than even a family doctor, who may not be aware it exists or might be reluctant to prescribe it.

The session at the American College Health Association's annual conference was essentially a how-to on prescribing PrEP, which can guarantee almost total protection against contracting the virus -- though concerns linger among college health professionals.

PrEP, sold under the brand name Truvada, is a small, daily-administered blue pill that blocks the acquisition of HIV by protecting the cells the virus attacks. It’s particularly important that PrEP be taken every day, because otherwise its effectiveness is drastically reduced -- it’s about 99 percent effective if taken seven days a week, versus roughly 85 percent at three doses a week, health professionals say.

Though the FDA approved it in 2012 and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started recommending it two years later, many health providers remain ignorant of PrEP or know little about it, said David Reitman, medical director of the student health center at American University.

Colleges and universities often don’t prescribe it because they don’t know about it, or they’re misinformed, Reitman said. But many college-age students should be considered for PrEP, he said. Of the new youth (ages 13 to 24) HIV diagnoses in 2016, about 80 percent -- 6,766 -- were people ages 20 to 24, according to the CDC.

Men who have sex with other men still also contract HIV at a much higher rate than straight-identified men and women, and new diagnoses are particularly common among young men of color, especially black men. Kim Daly, health services coordinator at Salem State University, said that people of color much more frequently lack health care access, and the culture at certain institutions, such as at historically black colleges and universities, can discourage discussing issues of sexuality and HIV prevention.

Reitman during his presentation rattled off a list of reasons why college health centers sometimes don’t prescribe PrEP -- they think it doesn’t work, or that it can make the virus worse. They think it’s too hard to monitor because of the strict follow-ups required, or that it causes privacy concerns when students take it without their parents’ knowledge.

But similar to birth control pills for women and other contraceptives, PrEP is just relatively new and untried in some college environments, Daly said. She said that some health administrators believe you need complicated protocols in place or lengthy consent forms to administer PrEP. This was often the case for oral contraceptives -- women would need to fill out multiple-page consents -- but that’s not true with PrEP.

“Our fear has maybe delayed the action,” said Marcy Ferdschneider, executive director of student health services at Columbia University Medical Center. “It’s the same with the HPV vaccine and what people said -- ‘what are we telling people, when we say we’re protecting against a sexually transmitted infection,’ and when birth control pills came out.”

After testing for sexually transmitted infections, and confirming the student doesn’t already have HIV, a provider can prescribe PrEP for a three-month period. Students generally need to return every three months to confirm they’re still HIV-free, because PrEP can make the virus resistant to treatment if it’s already been caught.

But college health officials are often flexible since they’re working around odd schedules in which the institution’s health center might be closed for a month or more at a time for holiday breaks. An audience member asked how a student whose three-month follow-up fell in the summer could still safely take PrEP.

Margaret Higham, the medical director of health service education at Tufts University, said she has prescribed four-month supplies before, such as when students go overseas, without any problem. In rare cases, she’s done five months.

“What you’re trying to do is make people be consistent,” Higham said. “You’re meeting them and developing systems that make them succeed.”

Part of a college clinician’s job then is to also counsel a student on safe sex practices. PrEP doesn’t prevent any other sexually transmitted infections, but for some college students, it’s a green light to have sex without a condom.

Some in the audience brought this up: Would students have more reckless sexual encounters? Would a health official be doing more harm than good if a student didn’t follow the daily regimen and somehow contracted HIV?

No, Reitman said. Contrary to what most people would think, any PrEP is better than none at all, because it still offers some protection.

And getting the drug isn’t so difficult, even with possible insurance complications. Most insurers will cover it -- in only one case Reitman remembers, when he was working with the Puerto Rico branch of Blue Cross Blue Shield, was a student not able to pay for it.

The creator of PrEP, Gilead Sciences, will also cover several thousand dollars for co-pays for the drug.

More often complications come when college students are covered by their parents’ insurance plan, and an explanation of benefits -- detailing STI testing and an HIV drug -- is sent to them instead of to the student. At least one state developed a solution for this: Massachusetts passed a law in April known as the PATCH bill, or Protecting Access to Confidential Health Care. When someone uses certain services through insurance, such as mental health or addiction treatment, the benefits explanation is sent to the patient, not whoever’s insurance plan it is.

Reitman said students can also call the insurance company and reroute the EOB to them. Sometimes college clinicians will need to work with students to make sure they know how insurance works. STI testing can be particularly expensive and could eat through an insurance plan’s limit, he noted.

To launch PrEP on a college campus, Reitman recommended aggressive marketing and reaching out to certain student groups -- such as the lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer campus organizations (which are often concerned about these types of issues) and women’s groups.

Higham, of Tufts, said prescribing PrEP is particularly rewarding.

“With PrEP, they really bond with you, you learn about their life, and you’re making a huge impact,” she said.

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New findings cast net more broadly on 'nontraditional' college presidents

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 07:00

New research on pathways to the presidency is tweaking the traditional meaning of the term “traditional,” asking whether the country's public colleges and universities are being led by more nonacademics than we think.

The research, from three scholars at Virginia Commonwealth University, looks at career histories for 215 leaders, most of them at public land-grant universities.

The researchers suggest that the proportion of university presidents coming to the job from something other than the typical tenure-track faculty position is more common than previous research has indicated: in the sample, 40.5 percent of university presidents had never held a tenured or tenure-track-eligible position in academe -- a higher rate, for instance, than in a 2017 study that put the proportion of nontraditional presidents at just 33 percent. In that study, researcher Scott Beardsley found that among 248 liberal arts college presidents in 2014, one in three came to the job from a path other than a tenured academic position in their discipline, typically followed by a series of administrative jobs leading to provost, then to the presidency.

The new findings also stand in contrast to the most widely cited study of the college presidency, published every five years by the American Council on Education. In 2017 it found the share of presidents coming from outside higher education dropped to 15 percent in 2016. The percentage who had ever worked outside higher education rose from 47.8 percent in 2011 to 58 percent in 2016. But the percentage who had never been a faculty member fell from 30.4 percent to 18.8 percent.

The ACE study found that the most popular career pathway for new presidents continued to be through academic administration -- 42.7 percent of presidents said their most recent prior position was as a chief academic officer, provost, dean or other senior executive in academic affairs.

The new research, led by VCU sociologist Tressie McMillan Cottom and under review for publication in the open-access SocArXiv, cast a wider net looking for nontraditional markers. Cottom and her co-authors -- VCU’s Sally S. Hunnicutt and Jennifer A. Johnson -- say the evolving path to the presidency reflects the reality that “the academy is not and never was wholly an ‘ivory tower’ where the financial concerns of the institution are secondary.”

They also worry that the new path to the presidency may reflect “the cultural shift away from the traditional core mission of the university as an altruistic public good,” toward a revenue-seeking enterprise -- what they term the “financialization” of U.S. public universities.

In an interview, Cottom said higher education has long debated the extent to which universities act more like corporations. “But we don’t have a whole lot of empirics about the extent to which that’s true, and ways for us to sort of index that.”

While faculty critics may complain that publicly funded universities have become “for sale” to corporate interests, others say universities are resistant to needed change. Cottom said the data show that the truth is somewhere in the middle.

“We’re not totally up for sale,” she said. "We still exert a lot of influence over who can become a university leader -- especially who can become a legitimate university president." Universities, she said, are also "not nearly as stodgy and closed off" as other critics would say. "We’re not, it seems, resistant to external ideas about how the university should work. We do value what the market values."

The study did not examine private nonprofit universities.

Cottom and her colleagues found that 46 percent of university presidents began their careers in something other than a tenure-track position and followed nontraditional paths, beginning their careers in administrative roles or in "nonacademic positions such as in a corporation, military or government," suggesting that “diverse career pathways for university presidents are common.”

Cottom and her colleagues also point out that most of the institutions they studied were doctoral universities that “maintain the status quo by hiring presidents whose backgrounds look similar to the current culture of the university. To the extent that professionalization to tenure-track faculty cultures predisposes one with beliefs and norms of academic leadership versus corporate leadership, these academic presidents are still the likely university president.”

Carl J. Strikwerda, president of Pennsylvania’s Elizabethtown College, called the findings “promising.”

“We should do more work on actual pathways on which people get to the president,” said Strikwerda, who wrote about paths to the presidency in an essay for Inside Higher Ed last year. “I think the categories ‘traditional’ and ‘nontraditional’ are not particularly helpful. We’ve got to be more subtle than that.”

He said much of the previous research on how people get to the presidency has focused simply on the person’s previous job.

“Most of us in academia don’t find that a particularly useful piece of information,” he said. “What’s more interesting is to look at clusters: Which institutions had a lot of people go through as maybe a dean or some other kind of administrator?”

He noted that as a history professor and associate dean at the University of Kansas from 1987 to 2004, he worked with “about six or eight people who are college presidents now -- we were all at Kansas at the same time.”

A more meaningful question than “What was your previous job?” is “What are the kinds of institutions, and especially even at a point in time, where those people actually got influenced enough to become a president?”

While most of his Kansas colleagues were tenure track, a few weren’t. Among the presidents of colleges near Elizabethtown, he said, several were “academically acculturated” in universities, but not necessarily tenure-track faculty. “That’s a very important subsector of potential presidents,” he said.

“The successful nontraditional presidents who come particularly to public institutions are ones who have the ability to understand the academic culture and actually still thrive in it,” he said, citing former U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates, at one time the president of Texas A&M University. Gates is now chancellor of the College of William & Mary.

“You have to be a very sharp, culturally sensitive individual to be successful,” Strikwerda said. “You can do it -- you just have to be sort of an amateur anthropologist: ‘How does this group work? What are the codes? How do I create change here?’ You can’t just take a lesson directly from one sector to another.”

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Report urges program data transparency and a focus on core competencies in graduate STEM education

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 07:00

U.S. graduate education in science, technology, engineering and math is, in many ways, the “gold standard” for the world. But it can and must better prepare graduates for a changing science landscape and multiple careers. It should also be more transparent in terms of where graduates end up working.

So says a major new report on the future of graduate STEM education from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. The report was drafted by the Committee on Revitalizing Graduate STEM Education for the 21st Century, chaired by Alan Leshner, chief executive officer emeritus of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“We believe that students have a right to know what the outcomes have been for students who went before them,” Leshner said during a news conference on the report Tuesday in Washington. Moreover, he said, programs should use outcomes data they gather to shape the graduate experience for current and future students.

The Association of American Universities in September called on all member institutions to offer current and prospective graduate students information about student demographics, average time to finish a degree, financial support and career paths and outcomes both inside and outside academe. A small minority of institutions already make such information accessible, but AAU said it wanted a broader -- if still voluntary -- commitment to transparency.

AAU’s president, Mary Sue Coleman, served on the National Academies’ report committee. She said Tuesday that now is the right time to push forward with those expectations. The report also suggests that federal and state funding agencies act as enforcers by requiring the institutions they support to collect and make such data easily available.

As for adopting the report’s recommendations over all, committee member Keith Yamamoto, vice chancellor for science policy and strategy at the University of California, San Francisco, said that “cultural change is difficult.” But all it takes is a few institutions around the country to decide that “this is an important thing to be doing” for others to feel the “need to respond in some way,” he said. In other words, peer pressure.

Student Focused and Action Oriented

The National Academies last charged the committee with examining graduate STEM education in 1995. This time, the committee worked for 18 months to examine data and hold focus groups and discussions with everyone from students to policy makers. The resultant report is exceptionally action oriented and student focused -- it urges programs to place a greater emphasis on mental health support for graduate students, for example. Perhaps most crucially, the report proposes core competencies that should be at the center of any graduate degree program in STEM.

The report recommends more attention to master’s degree training, not just doctoral training, and discusses core competencies at both levels. But Yamamoto described common competencies as relatively simple. The idea, he said, is that scientific fields are merging. So students need to develop “deep, specialized expertise, coupled with transdisciplinary literacy” -- at least enough to know other disciplinary approaches and where to find help if they need it.

Students need to be able to identify “important problems" and shape “rigorous research strategies,” breaking down the problems down into experiments, Yamamoto said -- and know how to “select which results to pursue and which to leave by the wayside.”

Beyond data transparency and developing core competencies, the report says that in an ideal graduate STEM education system, students would have multiple opportunities to understand and learn about ethical issues associated with their work and its implications for society.

The report also emphasizes diversity and inclusion, arguing that scientific excellence depends on them. Ideally, the report says, students from all backgrounds “would fully participate and achieve their greatest potential during their educational experience through transparent institutional action to enhance diversity and promote inclusive and equitable learning environments.” The committee adopts a broad definition of diversity, but also urges continued efforts at supporting underrepresented minorities.

Students would encounter a variety of perspectives about what science is, and about the relationships between science, engineering and society, the report says. They’d have multiple, varied opportunities to “communicate the results of their work and understand the broader impacts of their research.” And they’d be encouraged to create their own project-based learning opportunities, especially as a member of a team, to develop “transferable skills,” such as communication, collaboration, management and entrepreneurship.

“Experiences where students ‘learn by doing,’ rather than simply learn by lecturing and coursework, would be the norm,” the report says. In addition, rather than getting one-size-fits-all career preparation, students who wish to become professors should be given the time and resources to teach across a variety of contexts, including at community colleges. Those who wish to end up in industry or government, meanwhile, should be allowed to train or intern there -- and businesses should be encouraged to subsidize this training in some way, such as by paying a Ph.D. student intern’s stipend.

According to the report, “Faculty advisers would encourage students to explore career options broadly and would not stigmatize those who favor nonacademic careers.” Committee member Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, underscored that point during the news conference, saying that institutions that wish to adopt the report’s recommendations can start by not making students who don’t want or find tenure-track faculty jobs feel “guilty.”

Kenneth Gibbs Jr., another committee member who is a program director for the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, said he’s proof that scientists don’t have to be professors to be fulfilled.

“We exist. We’re happy. This can work,” he said.

Ortega, and the report itself, emphasized that these changes can only come about with changes to academe’s incentive system. If a scholar’s value is only or primarily determined by numbers of peer-reviewed publications, Ortega said, there’s little hope for change. Realigning incentives would involve rewarding effective teaching, mentoring and advising, along with scholarship that results in some kind of tangible change, she said.

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Survey on how faculty view international students

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 05/30/2018 - 07:00

PHILADELPHIA -- Professors identify limited English proficiency and different academic preparation or expectations as the two biggest academic challenges international students face, according to results of a survey of DePaul University faculty presented Tuesday at the NAFSA: Association of International Educators conference.

The new findings are in line with previous research that found that professors question international students’ language abilities and that their teaching practices aren’t always aligned with their beliefs.

“On the one hand, faculty have good things to say about international students and they appreciate their presence, but at the same time they don’t know what their role is or they don’t know how to make changes in the classroom to adjust to these students,” Jason Schneider, an assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric and Discourse at DePaul, said in summarizing the results of a literature review on the topic.

Schneider and Li Jin, an associate professor in DePaul’s Department of Modern Languages, surveyed all 1,865 full- and part-time faculty at DePaul about their perceptions of international students. A total of 261 faculty responded to the survey, which asked about their perceptions of the positive attributes brought by international students, the challenges faced by international students and the challenges they face as faculty in teaching international students.

For context, DePaul, a private university located in Chicago, enrolled 2,601 international students in 2016-17, accounting for 9.6 percent of the university's students, according to Jin. Slightly less than a third (30.7 percent) came from China, and other top countries of origin were India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and Nigeria. The statistics are not unusual for a university such as DePaul, which is classified as a doctoral university with "moderate research activity," according to the Carnegie Classification of Institutes of Higher Education.

About three-quarters (76.3 percent) of the responding faculty said that international students bring diverse views to campus, and 28.74 percent said international students usually perform better academically than other students. Twenty-eight faculty members (10.73 percent) cited the global perspectives students bring, while 21 faculty members (8.05 percent) said that international students enhance multilingualism on campus.

The top challenges they identified were, as noted above, limited English proficiency, cited by about 66 percent of faculty, and different academic preparation or expectations, which were cited by 26.3 percent of faculty surveyed. Other top challenges identified included social challenges related to loneliness and cultural differences; a full list of challenges cited by faculty is below.

  Number of Faculty Percentage Academic Challenges     Limited English proficiency 173 66.28% Different academic preparation or expectations 69 26.44% Lack of confidence in speaking English 16 6.13% Lack of knowledge of student rights and resources on campus 9 3.45% Narrow worldview 5 1.92% Lack of rigor 1 0.38%       Sociocultural Challenges     Loneliness due to lack of social network 55 21.07% Cultural differences 48 18.39% Lack of daily life communication skills 38 14.56%

Discrimination and social exclusion encountered in the U.S.

37 14.18% Self-seclusion 5 1.92% Other     Financial, Legal, Professional Challenges 12 4.60%

When asked about their own challenges in teaching international students, nearly half of faculty members (45.59 percent) once again cited students' own limited English proficiency. Nearly a quarter (24.9 percent) cited international students' lack of understanding of American academic culture.

"On the one hand [faculty are saying] yes, we appreciate that our international students are multilingual, but then they say the main challenge is English and even when we ask about their challenges they say it’s English, that’s the problem," Schneider said.

The faculty survey also looked for correlations between perceptions of international students and faculty members' own backgrounds in terms of their ethnicity, academic status, birth place, prior international experience, and skills in languages other than English. Out of more than 100 pairings, researchers found nine statistically significant relationships. These included:

  • White faculty members were more likely than nonwhite faculty members to see international students' challenges in terms of English language ability. Similarly, faculty members born in the U.S. were also more likely than faculty born outside the US. to cite English language challenges. Those who spoke only English were also more likely than faculty who spoke two or more languages to focus on English language proficiency issues.
  • Professors who were born outside the U.S. were more likely than faculty who were born in the U.S. to see international students' challenges as being related to different academic preparation or expectations.

The survey also asked faculty about seven practices they use in teaching international students. The most common were "I recommend the use of campus support services when helpful" (190 of the 261 professors said they "always" or "often" did this), "I actively create opportunities for international students to bring their unique cultural knowledge to class activities and assignments" (again, 150 of the respondents said they "always" or "often" did this), and "I adapt my communication style so that my language is more comprehensible" (137 chose "always" or "often").

Less common strategies included: "I take into account students' language backgrounds when assigning groups" (again, 104 said they did this "always" or "often"); "I consider my students' cultural backgrounds when planning my curriculum" (103 said "always" or "often"), "I make various accommodations in teaching and assignments, e.g. allowing students to use a bilingual dictionary during a test" (86 said "always" or "often") and "I grade the work of international students more leniently (32 said "always" or "often").

In addition to the quantitative research, the researchers also conducted interviews with two to three faculty members from each of DePaul's five largest colleges about effective practices for teaching international students and how their backgrounds inform their practices. Practices that emerged included empathizing with students' linguistic challenges -- the researchers quoted one faculty member who speaks Chinese and lived in Asia for 10 years as saying, "If I were a university student sitting in a classroom in China and having to write essays at the freshman, sophomore or junior level, I would -- it would be very difficult for me to do that as well" -- and creating a supportive classroom environment where international students are encouraged to speak. Other pedagogical implications identified by the researchers included encouraging one-on-one meetings, providing out-of-class mentoring, integrating international students' cultural knowledge into assignments and discussions when possible, structuring multicultural group work, and adjusting assignments and grading.

“This idea of adjusting assignments and grading, this is very controversial. A lot of faculty say they do not do that, will not do that,” Schneider said.

“I don’t think any of us would advocate for making things ‘easier' for international students, but rather thinking about the kinds of assignments we give and how we grade them and setting it up so that everyone can achieve success."

“It has to happen at the front end when you design assignments,” Schneider continued. “It’s about creating assignments and curriculum that are equal opportunity for everybody.”

Student Voices

Another session at the NAFSA conference Tuesday provided a student view on these issues.

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles, reported on a research project they did in which international students interviewed their peers -- a total of 41, about half undergraduate and half graduate -- about their goals and expectations and also the barriers they faced in achieving those goals.

Lucrecia Mena Meléndez, a Ph.D. student in sociology who analyzed the data, discussed two main barriers that came up in the research: financial barriers and communication-related barriers.

Graduate students were more likely to cite financial barriers, which included the cost of living in Los Angeles, particularly housing costs, difficulties transferring money from their home country, stresses related to exchange rates or crashes of their home country's currency, ineligibility for external grant funding due to their lack of U.S. citizenship, and loan disbursement issues.

As for communication-related barriers, Meléndez quoted several students who participated in the study who described feeling self-conscious about their accent or language ability.

One said, "As an international student, I feel self-conscious all the time, especially in class or in discussions. You know if you have accent and stuff like that, people will know where you are from and it is so weird. I just feel so weird when I say stuff, they’re gonna know, ‘Oh, you’re not from around here.’ I don’t know, I’m really not comfortable doing that, but I will get used to it eventually, I guess.”

Another student said: "Maybe it’s not other people’s fault, but I just feel like I’m being different all the time. I feel like…I don’t know why I’m really self-conscious about my accent, like how I express myself. So even if I’m in a club or in my group of people, I just feel like ‘what if I say something wrong? I don’t know the expressions.'"

Another international student who comes from an English-speaking country was also quoted as discussing challenges related to his accent. "They ask you ‘what’ like twice, because your accent is pretty thick," the student said.

“Language and accent are the No. 1 campus climate issue for international students on our campus," said Amy Pojar, the assistant director of research and special projects at UCLA's Dashew Center for International Students and Scholars and a Ph.D. candidate at UCLA in international and comparative education. Pojar explained after the session that this finding comes from a survey UCLA does in which it asks international students how much they agree with the statement "people are respected regardless of" a range of characteristics including class, gender expression and language ability or accent. Students express the most disagreement with the idea that students are respected regardless or language ability or accent.

"Our students are experiencing microaggressions around language as well, so people will say, ‘Why is your English so good,’ and they’ll feel very othered by that." Many of UCLA's students learn English at a young age, suggesting fluency, Pojar said, and UCLA's minimum standardized English testing requirements are relatively high.

Pojar described a need to "shift the narrative from a deficit perspective to really thinking about multilingualism as an asset and how we can tap into that on our campus." She stressed that what came up in the interviews as a barrier to academic success or social integration wasn't the students' objective English proficiency but rather their reported self-confidence in speaking English.

“We see that over and over again in the quotes," she said. "No one is telling us that their actual proficiency level is not up to standard. They’re really talking about a sense of belonging."

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Rift among scholars over treatment of Junot Díaz as he faces harassment and misconduct allegations

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 07:00

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Junot Díaz has long hinted in his fiction at secret trauma. But he only revealed that he was the victim of child rape in a recent New Yorker essay, which reads as a “me too” story (he uses those words, literally, at one point) and an acknowledgment of the disordered relationships he’s had with women since.

The essay also feels, at times, like an implicit apology for those relationships. “I think about the hurt I caused,” he wrote. But if Díaz was trying to apologize, it didn’t work. Soon after the essay’s April publication, a small group of female writers publicly accused Díaz of unwanted physical contact, sexual harassment and bullying behavior throughout his career. Those writers say they’ve since been contacted by others with similar stories. Several of the allegations concern Díaz's conduct on campus visits, interacting with graduate students and others.

The debate might have remained one for literary circles, but feminist academics have weighed in, both in support of Díaz and, alternatively, his accusers. And while many see the dialogue as divisive, some see it as evidence of the complexity of feminist thought and how it intersects with race, in particular.

The Allegations

In brief, Zinzi Clemmons, an acclaimed writer who teaches writing part-time at Occidental College, in person at an Australian writers festival and on Twitter accused Díaz of forcibly kissing her after she invited him to come speak at Columbia University when she was a graduate student there. A National Book Award finalist, Carmen Maria Machado, also tweeted that Díaz belittled her and implied that she was a “prude” for 20 minutes after she asked him about the fraught relationships with women depicted in his work, during a talk at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, from which she’d just graduated. Author Monica Byrne said on social media that Díaz shouted “rape” in her face during a conversation at a dinner party to prove a point, and continued to cut her off and talk over her throughout the evening.

Writer Alisa Valdes rehashed an account of Díaz she’d blogged about a decade earlier. She said that when she was a reporter in her 20s, she interviewed Díaz, who allegedly insisted on finishing the interview at her apartment. Valdes said he feigned interest in her burgeoning literary career, saying he could help her get her manuscript to the “right people” before suggesting that they have sex. They began a relationship that Valdes thought was based on mutual admiration, she said, but the romance soon faded: Díaz allegedly told her he had a girlfriend before asking her to clean up his kitchen, strewn with hundreds of iced tea bottles. You can take the man out of the Dominican Republic, he allegedly told her, but you can't take it out of the man.

The poet Shreerekha Subramanian, an associate professor of humanities at the University of Houston at Clear Lake, also outed herself as the lover “S” in Díaz’s New Yorker piece, saying (without naming Díaz explicitly) that he swore her to silence during their relationship, when she was a graduate student at Rutgers University. She said he loved her because she identified as black, but eventually dumped her because she wasn’t black enough (Subramanian is of South Asian descent).

Theorist Marianella Belliard wrote about how she had introduced herself to Díaz during a talk, when she was scholar in residence at Wellesley College. Initially warm and friendly, Belliard said that Díaz grew agitated when she later rebuffed his sexual advances. She said he proceeded to talk about her skin color and her hair in racialized ways, in what she interpreted as an attempt to make her feel uncomfortable.

Other stories -- especially about Díaz’s alleged rudeness to, if not harassment of, women -- continue to emerge.

Backlash and Support

In an order now familiar, there soon came canceled readings and public appearances, and questions about Díaz’s professional future. He resigned as chair of the Pulitzer Prize board, which opened an investigation into his conduct. Díaz eventually released a statement, saying he takes “responsibility for my past. That is the reason I made the decision to tell the truth of my rape and its damaging aftermath.”

He also said he’s “listening to and learning from women’s stories in this essential and overdue cultural movement. We must continue to teach all men about consent and boundaries.”

Díaz is the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which has said it’s “looking into” the allegations; no word on whether that’s a formal investigation or something else. Yet Díaz's Me Too moment remained a mostly literary story until mid-May. That’s when a group of well-known, mostly senior feminist scholars began to offer their public support for him -- at least in the context of how he'd been portrayed in social and news media.

“We write in deep concern over the ways in which the press and those on social media have turned tweets made against Junot Díaz into trending topics and headlines in major newspapers both inside and outside the U.S.,” reads a letter to the editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education signed by some two dozen scholars. “The (at times uncritical) reception and repetition of the charges have created what amounts to a full-blown media-harassment campaign. They have led to the characterization of the writer as a bizarre person, a sexual predator, a virulent misogynist, an abuser and an aggressor.”

The issue is "not whether or not one believes Díaz, or his accusers, but whether one approves the use of media to violently make a spectacle out of a single person while at the same time canceling out the possibility of disagreement about the facts at hand," the letter says, "or erasing a sustained attention to how the violence of racial hatred, structural poverty and histories of colonialism extend into the most intimate spaces."

One of the letter’s signatories, Linda Martín Alcoff, a professor of philosophy at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, followed up with an op-ed in The New York Times distinguishing between repentant and unrepentant misogynists, and situating individual perpetrators within larger political systems.

“Clearly, we need to go beyond easy binaries,” Alcoff wrote. “The letter I signed calls on all of us to think through the important issue of how to demand individual responsibility from abusers while also being vigilant about our collective and institutional responsibility, to develop critiques of the conventions of sexual behavior that produce systemic sexual abuse. While individuals can never be absolved of responsibility by blaming structural conditions, those conditions do create opportunities, excuses, even training in the ways of domination, and these have to be radically transformed.”

Sexist behavior, whether slight or severe, “is never acceptable or excusable,” she added. “But sexist behavior is sometimes enacted by individuals who are making otherwise important contributions to the [liberation] movement, even contributions against the oppression of women.”

These pieces do not call out Díaz’s accusers, but rather the conversations surrounding their accusations -- including immediate calls to boycott Díaz and attempts to intimidate on social media or otherwise “silence” those who might defend him. And if MIT is indeed investigating the allegations against Díaz, due process has not run its course.

The Rift

Feminist scholarship is not monolithic. Feminist academe is as ideologically diverse as the individual scholars who comprise it. Still, the support for Díaz was interpreted by many feminists as putting a successful Afro-Latino writer ahead of his female accusers -- most of them also people of color -- and, thus, violating a fundamental tenet of feminism: accusers in sexual misconduct cases should be given the benefit of the doubt that the law and, historically, patriarchal society affords to the accused.

Alcoff said via email that “our letter was not in any way meant to silence any accusers. We just hoped to advance the conversation further.”

But Clemmons in a tweet called Alcoff’s essay “garbage" and a "transparent attempt to defend your own hypocrisy. Sanjam Ahluwalia, a professor women's and gender studies and history at Northern Arizona University, said in an interview that she was confused -- Alcoff’s essay acknowledges how race is sometimes used to coerce women into silence in the name of group solidarity. But it also seems to be doing just that, she said.

“I don’t understand why we have to jump to the rescue of this man,” Ahluwalia said. “There are lots of conversations about race happening, but whose race really matters, given there are raced victims and perpetrators? While there is a racialized script about masculinity, what about the women of color he has been targeting?”

Ahluwalia engages closely with feminist debates on India in her research and teaching. She mentioned a somewhat similar move by a few senior feminist scholars there, who were urging due process for some prominent male figures accused of misconduct in a crowd-sourced document. But due process does not seem to be the focus of Díaz’s defenders in academe, she said.

She also noted that Sherman Alexie, a Native American writer accused of harassing Native American women writers, has not seen such support.

Some of Díaz’s accusers have made similar statements. Byrne told The Cut that Díaz has long been protected by the literary “establishment.” She said that it’s “tricky because he’s a really successful Latinx writer and that’s really precious. But he built that by hurting women, women of color. And he’s received a lot of help in doing that.” Valdes has said she was aggressively criticized by both Díaz and his supporters when she tried to sound an alarm on him 10 years ago.

At the same time, some have contrasted the media’s treatment of Díaz of with that of white authors accused of even worse transgressions against women. After the Díaz news broke, for example, poet Mary Karr took to Twitter to remind her followers that late (and white) David Foster Wallace -- still a celebrated literary figure -- stalked, threatened and physically assaulted her.

In any case, a group of scholars who skew, perhaps significantly, more junior that the signers of the first letter published a rebuttal of sorts, on Medium. They said they don’t reject the idea of transformative justice for Díaz, but that he has more work to do first. And they said that in scholarly debates about Me Too, "survivor support should take precedence."

“As BIPOC (black, indigenous, and people of color) academics and as members of the communities to which both our colleagues and Díaz belong, we must work to build a culture in which all survivors feel that they will be protected by us even if their stories make us uncomfortable,” the letter says.

"We are concerned that the open letter published last week has sent the message that these highly respected members of the academic community prefer silence when the accused belongs to our communities. The structures of institutional power and access are central to what enables Díaz and so many others to perpetrate abuse, and ignoring these questions of power is to the detriment of the most vulnerable in our communities,” the scholars added.

Camille Goodison, an associate professor of English at New York City College of Technology of the City University of New York, also wrote a letter to the Chronicle, saying that she believes Díaz has been treated fairly by the media.

“The accusations, spanning a 20-year period, are serious, and speak to a calculated targeting of young women writers of color who simply wanted a place in the publishing industry,” she wrote. “The accusations range from unprofessional conduct regarding a sexual relationship with a student, to emotional and psychological abuse. I hope the signers of this open letter, many of them women of color, recognize how women of color have been traditionally disbelieved or dismissed when they speak of their abuse at the hands of the powerful.”

Díaz did not respond to a request for comment through his agent.

Two Sides of the Same Coin?

Women who signed both letters have faced harsh criticism on social media. Coco Fusco, Andrew Banks Endowed Chair in Art at the University of Florida, and a Díaz supporter, is among them.

“Some of the accusers are operating as trolls on social media, hounding people who have expressed concern about the way that Díaz is being treated,” she said via email, adding that accounts of Díaz talking harshly in public debates don’t meet the legal standard of sexual misconduct. Instead of an online campaign, she said, sexual misconduct claims within academe should be handled through a legally informed process based on facts.

“I signed the original letter because I believe in the rule of law,” Fusco said. “People accused of wrongdoing are innocent until proven guilty. And in the moral universe I seek to uphold, people who were victims of rape when they were children, whether they are male or female, deserve understanding and compassion -- especially when they themselves have reckoned with the long-term effects of such trauma on their behavior.”

Beyond that, Fusco said she, too, is a survivor of sexual assault (a number of Díaz's supporters and detractors have identified themselves as survivors). And as a mother of teenage son, she’s also “painfully aware of the ways that men of color are hypersexualized and demonized in American culture, and the history of how scores of men of color were hanged because of false accusations of rape made by white women.”

Public intellectuals of color bear “impossible burdens because of the wild expectations thrust upon us by members of our own communities,” she added.

Saida Grundy, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Boston University who signed the second letter supporting Díaz’s accusers, said she did so with the understanding that the two documents did not stand in opposition to each other.

The women who signed the first letter “are not the kinds of scholars who need convincing about this issue of toxic masculinity in the academy being problematic -- these are women whose gender theories I cite. I understood part of what they were saying,” she said. “When you are a woman of color academic, as nearly all the undersigned on either letter are, Me Too has multitudes of layers that are enmeshed in the other types of ‘isms’ our communities face.”

Grundy said it’s well-known within academe that women of color are the most vulnerable to assault, and women of color working within the academy often occupy the most vulnerable positions, for example. At the same time, she said, “we are extremely cognizant of the way there seems to be an insatiable media appetite for casting black and brown communities as sexually deviant, including the ways in which black men like Díaz are cast as rapacious predators.”

Ultimately, Grundy signed the second letter because she put herself in the place of women “who have had to watch the men go on to be belles of academia and the literary world -- the same men who humiliated them, embarrassed them, and left them feeling infuriatingly impotent in their ability to be heard or believed, and who did things this side of legal but no more this side of OK.”

Saying she knows “how that feels,” Grundy described it as “a fire fanned every time you see the toxic man who hurt you publish, win an accolade or be celebrated by your own profession.” And in her own “personal math,” she said, that “suppressed fury” is a “bit more enduring and suffocating than being knocked around in a racist media cycle -- and I have had both points of comparison to make that call.”

Indeed, paradoxes abound in the Díaz debate. Among them: while some have described his essay about being raped as a pre-emptive defense against those women who would accuse him of abuse,  Díaz has, in a sense, been punished as a result of his disclosure. He is both a victim and an alleged perpetrator of harm. He comes from a historically marginalized background but now has an enormous amount of personal power. And while he writes deeply misogynistic characters, those characters aren't often rewarded for their attitudes and behaviors.

Ahluwalia, of Northern Arizona, signed the second letter critical of her colleagues supporting Díaz. She said still viewed the first letter as “fumbling and enabling,” but that the Díaz and broader Me Too debates are opening important conversations. The effects of “toxic masculinity” have never before been so clearly on display -- for men and women alike, she said.

“I’m still processing a lot of this,” she said. “But I see that we need room for a multiplicity of perspectives. We’ll see where this goes.”

Díaz in the Classroom

What about teaching Díaz in the classroom? Marilyn Edelstein, an associate professor of English at Santa Clara University, did not sign either letter but has been following the Díaz case -- in part to know how to treat his work now, or whether to put it on the syllabus at all. Of course, she said, the question of art versus artist is nothing new in narrative theory. And Díaz has spoken openly over the years about sexism in his work and his life, demonstrating that "we are all, to widely varying degrees, products of our own upbringing and culture, including internalizing sexism and racism," she said. Yet to think that Díaz allegedly "primarily mistreated women of color, especially Latina women writers, is especially disturbing."

In the midst of the Me Too and Time's Up movements, Edelstein added, "and with the omnipresence and speed of social media, I'm afraid that there will be more revelations about talented, multi-award-winning male writers and artists, and possibly even a woman writer or two." So many teachers and professors, especially feminists, "will have to decide whether to start leaving these writers out of our courses and curricula, or keeping the writers in but discussing the connection between the authors' lives -- and violations of others' lives -- and their work."

Edelstein said she'll leave Díaz's fiction out of her feminist literary and cultural theory classes, and may not teach his work for "a while" in other literature courses.

"I really am interested in what other feminist faculty, male and female, are going to decide about whether or not to include Díaz -- and Alexie -- in future courses."

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Washington and Lee faces unusual challenges in confronting its history

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 07:00

In recent years, many colleges have studied their histories, publicized their ties to slavery or segregation, and reconsidered symbols that strike critics as inappropriate for an era of inclusiveness. Statues have come down. Buildings have been renamed. New institutional histories have been published.

Washington and Lee University has not been immune. President George Washington provided an initial endowment for the college. Robert E. Lee was president of what was then Washington College from 1865, shortly after he surrendered his army, until 1870, when he died. As president, he led the college to financial stability and expanded the curriculum. His ideas are credited with the eventual development of the university's honor code. Shortly after he died, the board of the college changed the name of the institution to Washington and Lee. All presidents since Lee have lived in his house.

In 2014, the university apologized for having once owned slaves and said it would move Confederate flags near a statue of Lee in a chapel used for key university events. But if university leaders thought at the time that it had responsibly handled its history, they stopped thinking that last summer. The university has always promoted the view of Lee as flawed but worthy of honor. There has been more talk about his military genius and his work after the Civil War to promote reconciliation, and less talk about how he defended a system based on slavery, and participated in that system himself.

So with the initial calls in recent years for statues to come down, at Washington and Lee and elsewhere, Robert E. Lee wasn't the prime target. The University of Texas at Austin removed a statue of Jefferson Davis in 2015 but left a statue of Lee up until last year. Duke University also removed a Lee statue last year.

Both universities acted after last year's deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va. -- organized on the premise of protesting the planned removal of a Lee statue in the city. While the statue in question was not at the University of Virginia, a march by white supremacists on campus featuring Nazi slogans stunned academics there and elsewhere.

Will Dudley, president of Washington and Lee, said in a statement following the violence in Charlottesville that "W&L and Lexington have a complex history with regard to the Confederate symbols and figures around which these hateful groups are rallying. Lee, our former president and one of our namesakes, has become a particularly polarizing figure. This gives us a special obligation to be absolutely clear about what we stand for as an institution." The university then appointed a panel to study the university's history and symbols -- with everything up for discussion, even the university's name.

That panel has now come forward with numerous recommendations that the university will now review. The panel suggests keeping the university name but making many other changes. Did the panel go too far or not far enough? It depends whom you ask, as the commission is already being criticized for (to some) unfairly diminishing Lee's legacy and (to others) continuing to glorify traditions that should be set aside.

A backdrop to the discussions is the reality that Washington and Lee has struggled to recruit black students -- despite a strong academic reputation and generous financial aid. Only 2 percent of Washington and Lee undergraduates are black, while 82 percent are white. The top liberal arts colleges with which W&L competes are far more diverse. At Davidson College, one state away, 7 percent of students are black and 68 percent are white.

The commission noted in its discussion of the university's name that "W&L's affiliation with its namesakes -- particularly R. E. Lee -- greatly limits the school's ability to attract diverse students, faculty and staff. This is a concern, as the school remains one of the least diverse liberal arts institutions in the nation."

What the Panel Recommended

The panel's report covers many parts of Washington and Lee, but much of the attention was on the university's name. The report included several reasons (including the impact on recruiting students) that would justify a name change.

But ultimately it opted to recommend keeping the name. "Changing the name would not change the institution's history or perfect its culture, and runs the risk of denying history rather than learning from it" was one reason the report gave for keeping the name.

And the report also stressed that keeping the name didn't need to equate with the status quo. "The recommendation to retain the name is not passive," the commission report said. "Rather, the commission thought that, at this point, efforts are better spent on concrete recommendations about how best to teach and present the university's history. At this time, the commission believes that W&L can maintain its namesakes while being a relevant, ethical and vibrant 21st-century institution."

The commission also recommended that W&L keep the Generals as its sports teams' name. The commission report noted significant disagreement on the commission and among those with whom its members consulted on this issue. Reasons the commission was urged to change the name include that both Washington and Lee became associated with the university after their military years. Further, "the team name is a vestige of a past era that accepted its association with the Civil War and celebrated its Confederate-cause identity," the commission said.

But the commission said it feared moving to change the name would divert attention from more important issues. And it added that the name "has longevity, popularity and a unifying effect. The name has been in place for decades and is immediately recognized by many university constituencies."

The commission did recommend a number of changes, including how Lee is viewed, however. The commission said that it was important for the university to acknowledge that Lee not only accepted slavery, but accepted the idea that the college he led would educate only white men. And the commission urged the university to teach about Lee's history (and the university's) including links to slavery, segregation and racism. And to put the emphasis on Lee's postwar career, the commission said the university should refer to him as "President Lee" not "General Lee."

Portraits and the Chapel

While keeping the university name, the commission urged W&L to think about all the ways that the campus focuses on Lee and Washington -- to the exclusion of others. Consider portraits. "As one scholar explains, portraits are powerful objects freeing many from the bonds of mortality," the report says. "The viewer's gaze brings the historical figure into the present day. Accordingly, the university should be aware of who is made present and why."

At Washington and Lee, 153 portraits are on display. Aside from those of 19 women, the rest are of white men. While the dominance of white men may be natural, given the university's history, the commission urges that portraits be added of black and female people with connections to the institution. And as for Lee, "only portraits of Lee that portray him in civilian attire, not as a Confederate general," should be displayed.

The image of Lee that the commission challenges most directly is in the Lee Chapel, which he recommended building and which has become both a place for key university events but also a memorial to him. The sculpture and other imagery in the chapel, the commission found, were part of an effort in the South in the late 19th century and beyond to make the Confederacy a great cause, worthy of veneration, and to make Confederate heroes into something akin to saints.

"By continuing to hold rituals and events in Lee Chapel, the university, wittingly or not, sustains the Shrine of the South and the memory of Lee as a commander of the Confederate Army," the report said. "The commission heard repeatedly in its outreach that the effect is problematic for many students, faculty, staff and alumni." Notably, the commission said, orientation of new students takes place in the chapel, as does the signing of the honor code.

So the commission is recommending that the chapel be converted to a museum, and that all key events be moved elsewhere.

And the commission recommended new efforts to recruit minority students and faculty members -- in part by being open about the university's history and desire to move beyond it, and in part by having university officials work together to promote diversity.

‘Only Scratch the Surface’

Stefani C. Evans, president of the Black Law Student Association at the university, said that the commission shouldn't have just recommended turning the chapel into a museum, but should have recommended the creation of another museum on the black experience at W&L. Generally, she said, while it was valuable to consider the full history of Lee and the university, the commission didn't go far enough in promoting a full history of the way black people have experienced the university.

"I believe that adopting all of the commission’s recommendations would only scratch the surface of the numerous issues faced by African-Americans and minorities at W&L, but it will not significantly change their experiences," Evans said via email. "If adopted in full, the commission’s report represents the first time W&L openly acknowledges that its portrayal of history on campus does not take into consideration the history, feelings, and concerns of African-American students and alumni. The implementation of all the commission’s recommendations is only the first step. Things will not get significantly better for African-Americans at W&L as long as the school continues to act as if African-Americans, their histories, contributions, concerns, and feelings are less important and secondary to those of others."

But articles that have run in The W&L Spectator, a conservative student publication, have questioned the way the commission treated Lee, arguing that the commission is "making a malicious and unrelenting assault on Robert E. Lee." Changing the way Lee is referred to (as something other than General Lee) or removing portraits of him in his Confederate uniform "are unnecessary and offensive to Robert E. Lee," one article said.

While the article said that students from all backgrounds should be encouraged to enroll at the university, the piece questioned the idea of creating new efforts to promote this. "The possibility of an appointed shadow government of diversity-minded central planners bent on artificially manipulating the ethnic makeup of the student body in order to fill a diversity quota should be viewed with suspicion," the article said.

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Study: For-profits raise tuition as Post-9/11 GI Bill benefit grows

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 07:00

A long-held conservative viewpoint on financial aid goes like this: as government assistance gets more generous, colleges and universities simply respond by raising tuition, worsening affordability.

A new working paper takes a look at the so-called Bennett hypothesis, first proposed in 1987 by former U.S. education secretary William Bennett. The analysis finds that in the case of a veterans’ benefit enacted after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the principle seems to hold true, at least in this case, for just one sector: private for-profit institutions.

The findings come courtesy of four researchers -- two at RAND Corp., one from the American Institutes for Research, and a fourth from the U.S. Military Academy. The researchers looked at tuition trends at private for-profit and nonprofit colleges before and after Congress tweaked the Post-9/11 GI Bill, in a few cases dramatically changing how much tuition assistance veterans were eligible to receive.

The original version of the Post-9/11 GI Bill, enacted in 2009, capped benefits based on tuition rates at each state’s most expensive public university. The maximum payment in Delaware, for instance, was as low as $665, while in Colorado it was $43,035.

In 2011, lawmakers threw out that formula, capping the standardized benefit nationally at $17,500. As a result, it rose sharply in states like Delaware while dropping in places like Colorado.

“It’s kind of a very neat, natural experiment for an underserved group,” said Michael Kofoed, an assistant professor at West Point and one of the researchers.

What they found: in states where the benefit increased, for-profit universities increased their sticker price, on average, by $437, even though enrollment didn’t grow. By contrast, private nonprofit university tuition remained unchanged.

In states where benefits dropped, for-profit institutions cut tuition by $1,260.

The researchers conclude that for-profit colleges change their price “to extract surpluses from their students,” engaging in what economists would call “price discrimination” -- pricing that has little to do with demand.

Kofoed, who stressed that his opinion was his own and not necessarily that of the U.S. Defense Department, the Army or West Point, said private nonprofits simply can’t adjust tuition rates so easily and quickly.

“If I’m Duke or Stanford, I’m going to have to go to a Board of Trustees to hike my tuition -- particularly if I want to claim that I’m going to do it in response to increased GI Bill benefits,” he said. “But if I’m a for-profit college and I’m targeting veterans or active-duty military that are around -- for example, a lot of these are located around military bases -- then I might have an incentive now.”

He noted that veterans receiving the more generous tuition benefit might not be as “price sensitive” as other classmates, since the federal government is picking up the extra cost of attending for-profit colleges. “So I can increase my tuition to capture these excess funds,” he said.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University’s Department of Education Leadership Management and Policy, agreed that, in this case, veterans aren’t necessarily focused on price.

“It’s the classic third-party-payment issue,” he said. “The student doesn’t care how much they pay because they don’t actually pay it.” Likewise, he said, the college doesn’t have much of an incentive to keep their price down because someone else is essentially footing the bill.

Wallace E. Boston Jr., president and CEO of the online for-profit American Public University System, said private for-profits are simply “more market sensitive” than private nonprofit universities. The new analysis is incomplete, he said, in part because it doesn’t capture online students. “Whatever the population in the county, it may not be relevant to the number of veterans who are enrolling nationwide in an online program."

Bennett first proposed his hypothesis in a February 1987 New York Times op-ed, in which he looked at federal loans, not grants like the Post-9/11 GI Bill.

Titled “Our Greedy Colleges,” the op-ed alleged that increases in financial aid in the preceding years had “enabled colleges and universities blithely to raise their tuitions, confident that federal loan subsidies would help cushion the increase.”

Kelchen said Bennett floated the idea at a time when the U.S. for-profit college sector was tiny and dominated by “mom-and-pop” institutions, not major corporate players.

Kelchen said he’d need to see more evidence before calling the for-profits’ Post-9/11 behavior “predatory.” He noted, for instance, that the researchers also found that for-profits quickly reduced tuition when the veterans' tuition benefit in some states dropped.

“My biggest conclusion is that for-profit colleges are quite responsive to potential changes in their revenue sources,” he said.

Over all, the benefit continues to rise -- this fall, it is due to grow to a maximum of $23,671.94 at private institutions, about $866 more than for the current academic year, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

APUS's Boston said the data presented in the survey likely represents students enrolled at programs at physical campuses "where the opportunities to grow enrollment may be limited by location and capacity." It may also not reflect most of the veterans attending college.

Also, he said, correlating data to counties likely skews the results for students attending online institutions from multiple states.

He noted that APUS's online enrollments of students using VA benefits have increased since the passage of the Post-911 GI Bill without an undergraduate tuition increase for active-duty service members and veterans since 2001. "As a result, our tuition is less than most in state public institutions," he said, at $250 per credit hour. "None of these statistics reflect that. Policy makers would be more informed by seeking a study that examines the entire population enrolled and not a subsector of a subsector."

Kofoed, the West Point researcher, noted that about one in three veterans has used the Post-9/11 benefit to attend for-profit colleges, spending about 40 percent of GI Bill dollars at these institutions. He and his fellow researchers say lawmakers should consider the behavior of for-profits when designing future financial aid programs.

“Policy makers need to think very, very carefully, because they might be overpaying for an education for our veterans and active-duty military that won’t help them transition to civilian life well,” he said.

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USC president will step down

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 05/29/2018 - 07:00

The University of Southern California announced late Friday that C. L. Max Nikias will step down as president. No date was given for his departure from office.

The move comes amid a growing scandal over abuse of students by a campus gynecologist, George Tyndall, and other incidents in which the university is perceived to have failed to act on misconduct by powerful officials. Despite growing calls for his resignation, board leaders until Friday backed Nikias, who is credited with raising billions of dollars for the institution and using that money to recruit top students and faculty members.

On Tuesday, after 200 faculty members called for Nikias to be replaced, the Executive Committee of the board issued a statement saying that it had "full confidence in President Nikias’ leadership, ethics and values and is certain that he will successfully guide our community forward."

But on Friday, a statement from the same committee announced a new direction.

"We have heard the message that something is broken and that urgent and profound actions are needed," the statement said. "Today, President Nikias and the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees have agreed to begin an orderly transition and commence the process of selecting a new president. We recognize the need for change and are committed to a stable transition. Please know that our actions will be swift and thorough, but we ask for your patience as we manage a complex process with due diligence."

The statement concluded by saying, "There is nothing more sacred to this board than the well-being of our students. We will be guided solely by what is in the best interest of this great university."

Multiple Scandals

Since the Los Angles Times first reported on the abuse of female students seeking treatment in the campus health center, more than 300 students have come forward with complaints about how they were treated. Some reported having alerted officials about what was going on -- raising questions not just about the conduct of the doctor but of the university in failing to stop abuse.

John Manly is a lawyer who is now representing 80 former students suing the university. He issued a statement late Friday saying that the departure of Nikias should be viewed as a first step in what USC needs to do.

“The resignation of Dr. Nikias is the first step in a long process of healing for the victims of Dr. Tyndall. It occurred because students faculty and alumni pressured Board of Trustees to do the right thing. It is our hope that their pressure will continue until the university reforms the culture which has enabled sexual abuse and holds all of the enablers accountable so this will never happen again.”

The Times article detailed complaints that Tyndall photographed female students while examining them, touched them inappropriately and made sexually suggestive comments while examining them. Many of the female students were from China and may have felt particularly vulnerable to him. Tyndall denied wrongdoing. But much of the anger on campus isn't just about him, but about how the university handled the allegations.

A USC inquiry confirmed reports of inappropriate behavior on his part last year, but he was allowed to resign, and USC did not inform his patients or state medical authorities of its findings. The university now says that, "in hindsight," it should have reported him. Since the initial report, more women have come forward to say that they reported Tyndall years ago, leaving many to believe that the university could have prevented many women from being abused had it acted earlier.

Many of those criticizing the university over the Tyndall case are also noting the case of Carmen A. Puliafito, the now former dean of the medical school, who lost his job amid a series of stunning reports in the Times. Prior to resigning as dean, the newspaper reported, he had spent considerable time socializing with criminals and others who said he used methamphetamine and other drugs with them.

The newspaper also reviewed photographs showing the dean partying with these companions in a variety of locations, including his USC dean's office. He resigned as dean shortly after a woman overdosed while with him in a hotel room, but he maintained his faculty role.

In back-and-forth statements between the university and USC after the newspaper broke the story about Puliafito, the university suggested that it had only recently learned of the accusations against him. But the Times described a series of inquiries over 15 months it made to the university seeking information about the then dean's conduct. In one case, a reporter delivered a sealed note requesting an interview about the matter to Nikias's home, only to have the note returned, unopened, the next day by courier with a letter from the university's vice president for public relations and marketing saying the reporter had crossed the line.

Then the university faced another scandal over the professor selected to succeed Puliafito as medical school dean.

In October the university announced that it had lost confidence in Rohit Varma and that he was no longer dean. The university acted after the Times told officials it was about to publish an article about how Varma treated a female medical school fellow. According to the Times: "The woman accused Varma of making unwanted sexual advances during a trip to a conference and then retaliating against her for reporting him, according to the records and interviews. USC paid her more than $100,000 and temporarily blocked Varma from becoming a full member of the faculty, according to the records and interviews." Later, however, the university promoted him to dean -- at least until the newspaper called with its story.

The faculty letter calling for Nikias to be ousted focused on what professors see as a pattern.

"The university administration's actions have been wrong at every turn, and not only in hindsight," the letter says. "In this case, as in prior cases, faced with an ongoing pattern of serious wrongdoing by a powerful university official, the university has kept the wrongdoing quiet, settled financially with the wrongdoer in secret, and denied any responsibility on the part of the university. There has been no public report on the two cases involving USC medical deans, nor any visible attempt to determine what university administrators knew and when they knew it and why they waited as long as they did to take action."

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San Diego State's provost resigns suddenly, and an unusual email he wrote to a former professor surfaces

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 07:00

San Diego State University’s provost resigned from his position suddenly this week, and both he and the university have declined comment as to why.

But there is one glaring clue: an unusual email he sent to a former professor last year, which has since been made public. 

If “all I have ever done was to promote your wellbeing and progress as previously detailed, and in return you willfully sought to harm or hurt me, may my Lord Jesus Christ ensure that you reap what you sowed,” the former provost, Chukuka S. Enwemeka wrote in the September email, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. 

So that “instead of blessings,” he continued, “you are showered with unending curse and harmed, hurt and visited by evil a million fold in everything you do throughout the rest of your life.” 

Enwemeka ended the email by saying, “I am not necessarily cursing or wishing you evil. I am simply invoking the natural Law of Karma; the Law of Retributive Justice.”

Enwemeka, who was appointed provost in 2014, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday. He reportedly wrote the fire and brimstone-style email to Douglas Deutschman, a former professor of biology and associate dean of sciences at San Diego State who is now the dean of graduate and postdoctoral studies at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada. Deutschman asked the university to conduct an early performance review for Enwemeka, according to the Union-Tribune. And while the March review turned out positive overall -- save a few, perhaps now ironic pointers about communicating with the campus community -- Enwemeka was apparently irked by the request.

The university in a statement thanked Enwemeka for his service as provost and said he will assume a professorship in the College of Health and Human Services.

Sally Roush, interim president, is expected to name an interim provost by June 8.

A university spokesperson said that San Diego State doesn’t comment on "specific" personnel matters. 

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SIT Graduate Institute ends full-time programs in Vermont in favor of new global campus model

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 07:00

John Ungerleider, a professor of peacebuilding and conflict transformation at the School for International Training Graduate Institute, played an original song at the May 12 commencement. Titled “Graduation Celebration,” the song was appropriately celebratory but also, in one verse, somber:

We've been bridging borders, for all these years
people from many nations learning to, bring down the walls of fear
Come next September, your classrooms will sit silent
your younger siblings, will not be arriving

The SIT Graduate Institute announced in January that it would end full-time programs at its campus in the small town of Brattleboro, Vt., in favor of a new model in which it will teach its master’s programs across an existing network of global campus sites.

Ungerleider is one of a group of faculty members who have been laid off as part of the changes. He has taught at the SIT Graduate Institute-- a small, niche institution that offers master's degrees in fields including international education, peace and justice leadership, teaching English as a second language, and sustainable development -- for 29 years.

“I understand the math,” Ungerleider said of the enrollment declines that led to the decision to end full-time programs in Brattleboro and suspend new programs at a satellite campus in Washington, D.C. “I’m sad for the legacy.”

The graduate institute “brought people together from all over the world into this very unique rural retreat setting. People got to learn from each other outside of their home cultures and their home countries,” Ungerleider said.

“It’s that mixing of people together intensively for a couple of semesters that was unique, and that was the goal of it. The goal was to have people live together from around the world, as a way to build peace, nonviolent relationships, communication and intercultural understanding. And plus it really is a cornerstone of the town here, where you have so many people who come from around the country, around the world, and lived for decades and contributed, especially people who are interested in social justice.”

“It’s been a big part of a small town in southern Vermont since 1964, and people aren’t going to be coming here anymore. It’s going to be more of an administrative center, with some short-term summer programs, not a college campus with people that are here full-time,” said Ungerleider.

The story of what’s happening at SIT Graduate Institute is on the one hand a somewhat familiar story of enrollment woes and financial deficits at a small private institution leading to faculty and staff layoffs and triggering drastic change in educational models.

It is at the same time a much more unusual story about a highly unusual graduate institution couched within a larger organization that operates study abroad programs around the world. It is the story of an institution that, when it comes to rebuilding, has unique assets to build upon.

Enrollment Declines and Deficits

The regionally accredited School for International Training has an unusual structure. SIT is part of a nongovernmental organization, World Learning, and has two components: the graduate institute, which enrolled fewer than 150 students in the 2017-18 academic year, and the much bigger undergraduate study abroad programs, which enroll 2,400 students in programs around the world.

“I inherited this organization that is registered in 70 countries and is living and breathing in 40 countries,” said Sophia Howlett, SIT’s president.

“I think my ‘aha moment’ really was when I started to look at who I’ve got running things in our study abroad world,” Howlett said. “I suddenly realized that this is not a group of individuals as maybe it was 30 years ago who were great administrators, people who were running trips for students who wanted to see [for example] Ecuador, but in fact that we’d managed to put together this group of academics, people who were established in their own fields, who were publishing and working in their own fields who were bringing to our programs in places like Ecuador a network of faculty from Ecuador.”

"It became very obvious to me that our future should be leveraging that and bringing that same excitement to our graduate programming -- which ironically had just sat in Brattleboro,” Howlett said.

“In Brattleboro we were teaching on a hill in Vermont. We talked about experiential learning and we talked about intercultural communication but we weren't really doing it. SIT was originally based on this idea of taking students, and taking young people, and getting them out there into the world and getting them to confront and engage with people from different cultures and lifestyles."

"Our undergraduate programs were really showing us where things could be.”

When big changes happened at the SIT Graduate Institute they happened quickly and without prior alumni and faculty consultation, much less a faculty vote. Howlett said when she assumed the presidency in January 2017 she was told there was money for three years. 

“It turned out pretty quickly that we really didn’t have three years of money,” she said. “By about November, December it became very obvious to me that we really were running out of money quickly and I needed to do something pretty bold.”

Enrollments had been steadily declining at the SIT Graduate Institute from 239 full-time equivalent students in the 2014-15 academic year to 196 in 2015-16, 151 in 2016-17, and 143 in 2017-18. The final catalyst for change, Howlett said, was when it became clear the institution would fall far below its enrollment targets for a January intake of students.  

Howlett said the graduate programs had been operating at a deficit – the institution declined to share details of the magnitude of that deficit – and had become a drag on the undergraduate study abroad programs. 

“Unfortunately the finances had become such that it was also impacting our study abroad programming,” Howlett said. “We had all these wonderful students coming and doing these great programs, but we were having to take money that we might have wanted to reinvest in those programs and we were using it to plug a black hole in our graduate programming.”

As part of the changes, SIT eliminated about two dozen jobs, about half staff and half faculty. Faculty members at SIT do not have tenure but instead teach on one- or multi-year contracts depending on their length of service. Howlett said about half of the instructors whose jobs were eliminated had contracts that were up for renewal, whereas for the other half SIT had to break their contracts. The graduate institute is in the process of negotiating separation packages.

“We gave everybody at least six months' notice," Howlett said. "They’ve been offered a series of things like maintaining title, maintaining affiliate status, maintaining email, being in good standing, all of those things. In other words we’ve really done our best to provide a sufficient bridge to their next career move."

Hopes for a Vibrant and Global Future

As SIT Graduate Institute revamps its curriculum, it has suspended new enrollments in many of its programs.

The plan for this coming academic year is to accept new students into just three degree programs, including two already existing limited-residency master’s programs, one in international education and one in teaching English as a second language. Both limited-residency programs will continue to bring graduate students to Brattleboro for short stints.

The graduate institute will also launch its first master’s program this fall in the new global campus format. Students in the master’s program in climate change and global sustainability will spend one semester in Iceland and one semester in Tanzania, followed by a third semester in which they complete a practicum at an environmental or climate change-focused organization in a location of their choice.

Over the next three years, Howlett said the plan is to scale back up to 10 programs -- five limited-residency programs and five of the global master’s programs that will use the same model of being based in multiple countries. Howlett said the five global master’s programs planned will focus on humanitarian assistance, international education, public health, and either sustainable development or environmental management, in addition to the first program in climate change and global sustainability.

Howlett said the humanitarian assistance program, to take one example, will include semesters in Jordan and Uganda. Humanitarian assistance will be a new field for the SIT Graduate Institute but Howlett said it will build on academic expertise SIT has already developed in its undergraduate study abroad programs, which include a refugee-focused program in Jordan.

“It’s building on our network and expertise,” Howlett said. “We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here. We’re trying to see what we have and utilize it where we’ve got the real academic depth and expertise to build on that into graduate programming.”

“The opportunity to take our programs to a global delivery model, it’s what we should be doing,” said Sora Friedman, who is staying on at SIT as a professor and chair of the international education degree program.  “I regret the circumstances that got us there, but I’m glad that we’re there.”

“Even two years from now when SIT is hopefully thriving in its new model, I’ll still regret that,” Friedman continued. 

“I can’t say what I think about the new models until I know if they work or not.  I really am decoupling: I’m separating out my emotions about the colleagues who are leaving, my emotions and regret that I won’t be working with students as much in a face-to-face situation [in Brattleboro], my excitement about this new model, and my pure hope that the institution is thriving and larger than ever two years from now. In some ways the proof will be in the pudding. We’ll know if this was a brilliant plan. I’m hopeful," Friedman said.

“Two years from now, may we be stronger than ever, more vibrant than ever, more global than ever. That’s my hope, and my students deserve that.”

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Criticism over Northwestern's new $270 million athletics complex

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 07:00

Northwestern University will inaugurate a new football practice and athletics facility, an eyebrow-raising $270 million project for a team that hasn't been considered one of the university's top programs -- but one that appears to fit with the contemporary college athletics arms race.

The lavish building, detailed in a Yahoo Sports profile, follows the trend of institutions sinking significant cash into football with the hopes that their investments will bear lucrative new fruit.

It doesn’t always work that way, as athletics experts have opined.

Only the top-tier programs in National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Power 5 conferences in Division I tend to yield the kind of money that make athletics directors and other administrators swoon, they have said.

Look no further than Eastern Michigan University, which recently decided to shut down four sports -- wrestling, men’s swimming and diving, softball and women’s tennis. But not football, despite that the Eastern Michigan Eagles have maintained a dismal record for years -- its most recent being 5-7 in 2017. The leadership there bluntly rejected the idea of cutting football.

Northwestern fared not too much better and consistently ranked low in the Big 10 Conference until Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald took over in summer 2006. He recently came off a 10-win season. As the Yahoo article describes, the university’s leaders were worried Fitzgerald would be wooed away to replace the former head coach of University of Michigan in 2011 -- which was the catalyst to the new facility.

Ultimately, Fitzgerald never interviewed with Michigan. Instead, Fitzgerald laid out to top Northwestern administrators, and a wealthy donor and trustee for which the building is named, Pat Ryan, what was "necessary from a facility perspective to change Northwestern football’s paradigm,” as the Yahoo piece says.

They accepted. Fitzgerald has subsequently signed multiple 10-year deals with Northwestern.

And the result -- the Ryan Fieldhouse and Walter Athletics Center, a 425,000 square foot-behemoth on the shore of Lake Michigan with splendorous 45-foot floor-to-ceiling windows that will house multiple athletics and some intramural teams and some administrative offices. It’s fashioned with slick toys and trappings -- curtains controlled by remote control and video cameras by joystick, a barrier to separate a practice room into two separate sides for offense and defense, a barber chair and a hot and cold tub that seats 40. Funding came from the university's fund-raising effort "We Will. The Campaign for Northwestern."

Alan K. Cubbage, a university spokesman, said to characterize the building as benefiting just football is inaccurate. He said it will be used for other teams such as women’s soccer and women’s lacrosse, and for university events, such as convocation for new students.

“Yes, we anticipate that Ryan Fieldhouse and the Walter Athletic Center will provide a real boost for the football program, as they will provide terrific facilities in an unmatched location, right on the shore of Lake Michigan,” Cubbage wrote in an email. “But the building also will benefit thousands of other Northwestern students, faculty and staff.”

The president of the Northwestern Faculty Senate, Robert Hariman, said he didn’t really have an opinion of whether this was a good use of university funds -- except to say, in an email: “I’m more interested in where the next $270 million is going to go.”

These luxuries aren’t unique to Northwestern athletics.

Clemson University’s football complex contains a small bowling alley, a slide, pool tables and arcade games and literal miniature golf course.

University of Oregon’s also has a barber. And a hot tub. And televisions -- 64 of them, 55-inch screens that can all link together to show one image.

Deadspin lamented about this trend in a particularly critical piece on the Northwestern facility, which the author described as reaching “a new apex" of stupidity in spending on college athletics.

“We all recognize that college sports, namely football, exist in this bizarro world separate from the free-market reality the rest of America is forced to dredge through, wherein players are not compensated with green pieces of paper for their labor but with four years of access to pools, slides, big hot tubs, in-house barbers, massage parlors, and a breezy track as a communications major, should they want it,” the author, Nick Martin, wrote. “It makes sense, in that bizarro world, that Northwestern would spend an ungodly amount of money on a new place just to practice because, well, that’s what everyone else is doing, and in college sports, the folks that run the show wholeheartedly believe that if you aren’t setting the trends, you’re falling behind.”

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 05/25/2018 - 07:00
  • Bridgewater College, in Virginia, is starting a master's program in digital media strategy.
  • Dordt College is starting new undergraduate majors in data science and in statistics.
  • Marist College is starting a master of science degree in global fashion merchandising, in collaboration with Mod-Spe Paris, and with much of the program in Paris.
  • Niagara University is starting an advanced certificate in applied behavior analysis.
  • Rockhurst University is starting an online master of science in business intelligence and analytics.
  • Thiel College is starting an undergraduate major in health systems.
  • Tuskegee University is starting a bachelor of science in computer engineering, with a focus on cybersecurity.
  • University of San Francisco is starting an online master's program in public leadership.





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Academe sees a new wave of faculty-student relationship restrictions in the era of Me Too

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 07:00

A number of colleges and universities banned faculty-undergraduate dating or otherwise shored up their consensual relationship policies after the Education Department published a reminder letter about sexual harassment liability, in 2011. Other institutions had adopted such policies earlier.

Now, in the era of Me Too, another wave of institutions has moved to restrict consensual relationships between students and their professors. And while many involved in or affected by these decisions support them as preventing potential abuse, others remain critical of policing connections between consenting adults.

“There’s still wide variation in terms of policies,” said Tara Richards, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Baltimore. “But more and more universities are moving toward policies that go beyond a sentence or two discouraging these relationships, to actually having thoughtful conversations among stakeholder groups -- faculty, students government and administrators -- discussing what’s going to work.” 

Most successfully, Richards said, institutions have “proactive” discussions, taking into account their own student populations, norms and shared governance structures. Less successfully, she said, institutions change their polices in response to incidents on their campuses or elsewhere, “out of fear of liability.”

Richards co-wrote a 2014 study of 55 institutions’ student-faculty dating policies saying that consensual relationships were viewed in previous generations as "private matters” and ignored by administrators, except where harassment was alleged. Fear of legal liability and increasing acknowledgement of academic power structures changed that, leading institutions to adopt a mix of policies regarding these relationships. That mix led to subsequent “confusion” about community norms, however, according to the study.

At the time, within Richards's sample, only Yale University banned undergraduate-faculty dating. But as institutions increasingly came under scrutiny for their enforcement (or lack thereof) of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits gender-based discrimination in education, other campuses followed suit. In one example, Northwestern University -- which saw a case of alleged assault involving a professor and an undergraduate (and, later, a graduate student) -- banned dating all undergraduates in 2014. Its rationale for doing so, stated in the policy itself, sums up much of the thinking behind blanket bans on undergraduate-faculty dating. 

“When undergraduate students are involved,” the policy says, “the difference in institutional power and the inherent risk of coercion are so great that no faculty member or coaching staff member shall enter into a romantic, dating, or sexual relationship with a Northwestern undergraduate student, regardless of whether there is a supervisory or evaluative relationship between them.”

Northwestern’s policy on graduate student-faculty dating restricting relationships where an evaluative authority exists reflects a Title IX-era trend, as well. Northwestern previously banned relationships between graduate students and faculty supervisors. But the new policy said that relationships between a faculty member and a graduate or professional student in the same department or program must be disclosed to the department chair, to manage the potential conflict of interest. 

There is no hardfast rule about these policies. Richards’s institution, Baltimore -- a traditionally non-traditional student-serving institution -- has no policy against student-faculty dating, for instance. Somewhere in the middle of the policy mix, the University of Wisconsin System in 2016 banned faculty-student dating (graduate or undergraduate) where an advisory or supervisory relationship, or the potential for one, exists. Pre-existing relationships must be reported. The University of California System’s policy against professors dating the students they supervise academically has been in place since 2003. In terms of trends however, there was movement toward restricting student-faculty relationships in what might be called the Title IX era, and there’s new movement now. 

New Wave of Restrictions

In the spring semester alone, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia and Duke Universities adopted prohibitory policies against dating undergraduates across the board, not only where a supervisory relationship exists. Syracuse University is considering something similar.

Just this week, Cornell University President Martha E. Pollack announced that that she’d largely accepted campus input on student-faculty relationships, and that the institution was banning sexual or romantic relationships between faculty and undergraduates altogether. Romantic relationships between professors and graduate or professional students “whenever the faculty member exercises direct academic authority over the student or is likely to in the foreseeable future,” also are prohibited. The latter policy was a compromise, following debate over an ealier version that would have banned dating between graduate students and professors in the same program. 

Additionally, “Any member of the Cornell community who has, or has had, a sexual or romantic relationship with a current student or current postgraduate is prohibited from exercising academic or professional authority over that student or postgraduate.” 

Most sweepingly, Berklee College of Music -- which has faced recent allegations that it tolerates a culture of harassment -- adopted a ban on all romantic or sexual relationships between employees and students, graduate or undergraduate, this month. Such a strict policy remains rare, since even other relatively restrictive codes allow for graduate students to date professors where no evaluative authority exits.

Apart from blanket bans on dating undergraduates, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for the first time this spring banned student-faculty dating where an advisory relationship exists. (A standing policy at Amherst College merely “discourages” these relationships and requires that professors remove themselves from any advisory role.)

Similar to Richards, Erin Buzuvis, a professor of law at Western New England University and moderator of the Title IX Blog, said that policies probably depend on a student populations. 

“I can imagine some institutions, particularly large publics with age-diverse student bodies, permitting consensual relationships -- especially pre-existing relationships -- between faculty and undergraduates with whom they have no contact,” she said, noting that a friend recently went back to college to to take care of her university employee husband's tuition remission. In a blanket ban scenario, that wouldn't be possible, she said, even if they had no contact on campus. So a policy such as UMass’s make sense to Buzuvis.

“There should be a professional norm in teaching just like there is in other professions, that regards dating as incompatible with the objectives of the profession,” she said. “Just like a counselor-client relationship is compromised by the introduction of a romantic component, so too is a faculty-student relationship.” 

Still, faculty-student dating constraints remain controversial. Richards said that they’re notoriously difficult to enforce, since they typically rely on the couples’ disclosure. It's hard to get the details right: outstanding faculty questions about what a proposed policy on consensual relationships at DePaul University really means delayed a vote on it. Bamshad Mobasher, professor of computing and president of DePaul's Faculty Council, said council members had questions about what constitutes a “romantic” relationship and the potential impact of some policy language on  "opportunity hires" involving spouses of faculty candidates. 

Other legal experts say it is costly — up to $250,000, on average — to get rid of a faculty member found to have violated a policy, whether in quiet agreements or litigation. Some raise ethical arguments about agency and consent, even calling blanket bans anti-feminist.

Neil McArthur, a professor of applied philosophy at the University of Manitoba wrote a paper last year arguing against blanket bans (while urging caution to those who engage in such relationships), “because adults have a fundamental right to engage in intimate relationships without interference,” for instance.

Brett Sokolow, who advises campuses on security and legal issues as executive director of the Association for Title IX Administrators, also opposes blanket relationship bans.

“Quid pro quo harassment is already prohibited on every college campus" and behaviors “that cross the line are already addressable under existing policies,” he said. "Perhaps there is some value in consensual relationship policies for their ability to protect the institution, but the Draconian rules being implemented on many campuses now are both infantilizing and over-broad.”

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Philip Roth's relationship to academe? It's complicated

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 07:00

The great American novelist Philip Roth, who died Tuesday at 85, had what might be described as a complicated relationship to academe.

Several of Roth’s 30-plus novels and story collections -- especially the trilogy that comprises American Pastoral, The Human Stain and I Married a Communist, called out academics as misguided, hyper-political or overtly ambitious.

“He certainly had a love-hate relationship -- more of the latter, I guess, less of the former -- with the academy,” said Ezra Cappell, an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso.

But in real life, said Aimee Pozorski, a professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, “He was really supportive of us.”

Roth, she said, “was happy to know that he was being taught” in English departments nationwide, he once told her. Over the past few decades, she and others said, his work has found a ready audience in immigrant and first-generation college students who reflect his own journey from middle-class Newark to a position as one of America’s most honored writers.

Roth graduated magna cum laude from Bucknell University in 1954, and a year later earned a master’s degree at the University of Chicago. After a stint in the U.S. Army, he worked on a Ph.D. in English at Chicago, but dropped out in 1956, after one term, The New York Times reported.

Three years later, his short story collection Goodbye, Columbus brought him a first taste of critical success, winning a National Book Award. The title story is about a working-class Jewish youth from Newark who falls in love with a wealthy, more assimilated Jewish Radcliffe College student from upscale Short Hills, N.J. The novella takes its name from the lyrics of a song sung at Ohio State University's commencement, played over and over again by the woman's brother, depicted as assimilated because of his connection to Ohio State athletics. "We will miss you, in the fall, in the winter, in the spring, but some day we shall return. Till then, goodbye, Ohio State, goodbye, red and white, goodbye, Columbus."

A decade later, in 1969, the raunchy and ground-breaking Portnoy’s Complaint made Roth a household name.

In its obituary, The Times on Tuesday called him "the last of the great white males” who dominated American letters in the second half of the 20th century, along with Saul Bellow and John Updike.

But Pozorski said her students don’t necessarily see him through the lens of race. “They’re not thinking about him as this old white guy who doesn’t have anything to say.”

Actually, she said, her students -- many of them the first in their families to attend college -- find him speaking directly to them. Though Roth often took criticism for his depiction of women, Pozorski said her students admire his portraits of vulnerable women who are abused, ill or even dying.

Cappell, the UTEP professor, agreed, saying his students -- many of them immigrants, "have found his work extremely relevant.” 

Roth’s fiction, he said, often explores conflicts between older and younger generations of immigrants in which the younger generation pulls away from the older one. “My first-generation college students often here at UTEP really embrace Roth and his incredible body of work. I do think he’s extremely relevant to our society. We’ve just lost one of the great voices and one of the great chroniclers of our culture and our society -- perhaps when we need him most, actually.”

Though he taught seminars in comparative literature at the University of Pennsylvania and at New York's Hunter College, among others, much of Roth’s work “stood against these institutions, which tend toward a belief in their infallibility, Cappell said.

Among the most notable examples: Roth’s 2000 novel The Human Stain, in which a classics professor at Massachusetts’ fictional Athena College finds himself in hot water after students accuse him of racial insensitivity, a plot line in political correctness that could play out nearly word-for-word on a U.S. campus today.

Roth began writing the book around the time of Kenneth Starr’s investigation of President Clinton, which led to Clinton’s impeachment. “I felt there was something afoot in the late ‘90s, just a great explosion of righteous moralizing, which Americans are gifted at,” he told The Times in a recent interview.

Roth later said the incident actually happened to a friend who taught at Princeton. Writing in The New Yorker in 2012, he said the book was actually inspired by “an unhappy event” in the life of his late friend Melvin Tumin, a longtime professor of sociology, whom he’d met as a writer-in-residence in the early 1960s.

He wrote that more than 20 years later, in the fall of 1985, Tumin was “meticulously taking the roll” in a sociology class in the middle of the semester and realized that two of his students hadn’t attended a single class session. Tumin queried the class about the two mystery students, asking: “Does anyone know these people? Do they exist or are they spooks?”

The two students, it turned out, were both African-American. Though Tumin meant the remark as a joke about ghosts, students understood it as a degrading racial term. Summoned before an administrative tribunal, Tumin defended himself, but a “witch hunt” ensued in which “the powers of the moment sought to take down Professor Tumin from his high academic post for no reason at all.”

The book was made into a 2003 movie starring Anthony Hopkins and Nicole Kidman.

Dean Franco, an English professor at Wake Forest University and director of the university’s Humanities Institute, said he taught The Human Stain this semester, “and boy, was I nervous teaching it in the Me Too moment, because it’s a novel about a lot of surprising sex.”

For one thing, the main character is an older male professor who sleeps with a 30-something janitor at the college. “There are all of these power disparities and imbalances,” Franco said. 

But his students -- including his female students -- “felt that Roth was able to get at the many, many facets of sexual encounter. So we were not offended by it. We were not calling Roth sexist. Rather we were examining the complexities, almost moment-by-moment, of sexual encounter.”

The novel, he said, presented a disarmingly honest depiction of a relationship between two unlikely characters. It also offered a clear-eyed look at “academic pretension and academic politics” in a small New England college.

“Roth got it right,” he said. “He got a lot right.”

Franco and others said Roth was also a quiet booster of young writers -- he noted that while researching Roth, he found letters from the novelist Louise Erdrich, who thanked him for being a mentor, and for offering blurbs for her book jackets. 

Though he was not necessarily a fan of literary criticism, Franco said, Roth made exceptions when it pleased him. In 2013, when Roth turned 80, an academic conference in his honor at the Newark Public Library became a raucous birthday party after Roth "basically hijacked the conference and said, ‘Let’s turn this into my 80th birthday party.’ So there was an academic conference on Day 1, and on Day 2 there was a massive banquet and blowout party for Roth and all of his friends -- and the academics were all invited. He lined up and chatted with us. It was good times.”

The conference included an improbable tour of Newark filled with “all these academics driving around on a bus looking at all these Philip Roth sites,” Franco recalled.

Pozorski, who planned the event alongside Roth and Liz Del Tufo of the Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee, said it was always intended as a combined party and conference -- an example, she said, of Roth's support of academics who study his work.

But nearly 50 years after his breakout novel appeared, do literature classes still read Portnoy’s Complaint, with its well-known scenes of masturbation? The Washington Post has called it “a provocative hand grenade rolled right into the literary and Jewish establishments,” noting that novelist Irving Howe in 1969 slammed it, saying, “The cruelest thing anyone can do with Portnoy’s Complaint is read it twice.”

Cappell said the novel’s “ruthless intimacy” still holds lessons for aspiring writers.

“That is what his work does,” he said. “It is ruthless in terms of its ability to get into the depths of his characters and try to understand the world through their experiences. And sensuality is a major part of that, just as it is in the lives of all of us.”

Wake Forest’s Franco noted that The Wire creator David Simon is adapting Roth’s 2004 novel The Plot Against America into a six-part TV miniseries, and said he hopes the series will prompt readers to pick up Roth’s novels.

“I think he’ll be around for a very long time,” Franco said.

For his part, Simon on Wednesday tweeted that he’d recently met Roth to discuss the adaptation: “At 85, he was more precise and insightful, more intellectually adept and downright witty than most any person of any age,” Simon wrote. “What a marvelous, rigorous mind.” 

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UCLA will limit how much it will pay in security on outside speakers

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 07:00

The University of California, Los Angeles, will cover only $100,000 in total security costs each academic year for speakers who are not invited by a student group, a spending cap on certain events that appears to be the first of its kind among high-profile colleges and universities.

This policy -- which legal experts say was carefully crafted to balance the First Amendment obligations of a public institution with the potentially high costs of hosting controversial speakers -- took effect on an interim basis this month.

It comes after nearly two years of hot-button individuals testing the boundaries of college free speech practices. Most notably, the white supremacist Richard Spencer toured universities nationwide last year in a deliberate attempt to rattle the campuses, but institutions have also faced protests inspired by visits from the ex-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos and the conservative commentator Ann Coulter (though in her case, she didn’t end up showing up at UC Berkeley as she publicly stated she would).

Administrators have struggled with how to accommodate these instigators while not taxing their budgets to cover hundreds of thousands of dollars in security. Spencer's trip to the University of Florida in October cost it upwards of $600,000 in security, university officials said at the time. A spending cap for certain events has been oft-debated in higher education, but never materialized until now.

The UCLA policy ensures that the university will pay, without any limits, for security for speakers invited by student groups associated with the institution, as long as they follow certain procedures, such as registering the event at least three weeks before it occurs, and meeting with campus police at least two weeks before.

These rules don’t apply to all events – just the ones the university deems “major,” meaning more than 350 people are anticipated to attend and there may be a security risk or a chance it would interfere with campus day-to-day activities.

For campus outsiders not brought in by a student group, the university has set aside $100,000 for the same type of events per academic year. Once that money is used up, generally a speaker would be denied. Outdoor events are still allowed, meaning Spencer could still shout on the UCLA grounds with a megaphone if he wanted to, but he probably couldn’t rent a space if the $100,000 budget had been exceeded.

A UCLA spokesman told Inside Higher Ed an administrator was unavailable for an interview.

Civil liberties advocates and experts expect that the UCLA rule will be both tested in court and replicated in some form at other institutions, given the likelihood that provocative speakers won’t disappear anytime soon.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a watchdog group that normally rails on institutional attempts to limit free expression, gave a much more measured response after learning about the policy.

FIRE’s lawyers debated the constitutionality of the policy, but ultimately, they found it had been so smartly written that it’s unclear whether it would fail under legal scrutiny, said Will Creeley, senior vice president of legal and public advocacy. Had the university applied the $100,000 maximum to student group-organized events, or also extended it to outdoor spaces, it would likely clash with free speech principles, he said.

“The law does not provide great clarity here in terms of what the obligation is,” Creeley said, noting that universities are allowed to impose restrictions on free expression that don’t discriminate based on viewpoints or content.

Peter Lake, director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University, likened the potential legal challenges to the policy to the arguments in a Supreme Court case on charging student fees, the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System v. Southworth, decided in 2000.

The court ruled that universities could impose a mandatory student activities fee and use it to fund groups that individual students found offensive -- as long as that money was distributed in a viewpoint neutral way.

“It has the same texture,” Lake said, referring to the Supreme Court case. “But I would worry if I were a speaker, if my great idea pops up in April, that I would be disadvantaged if someone else had a great in September. Without some system to plan ahead for the year, I have a feeling you’ll see some kind of balancing process.”

Colleges and universities will likely be adopting some form of this policy, said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

He said it does not clash with the traditional mission of universities serving as open forums.

“Philosophically, it makes sense, with the disruptive new world order of what speech can look like on campus, this is a reasonable way to reduce the negative consequences,” Kruger said. 

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Oxford and Cambridge both turn to bonds as major tool in finance

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 07:00

The University of Cambridge is facing internal criticism over plans to borrow up to £600 million ($801 million), in a move that suggests the emergence of a borrowing “arms race” with the University of Oxford.

Cambridge’s plans for a new bond, which follows a £350 million ($467 million) bond issued in 2012 and Oxford’s raising of £750 million ($1 billion) via a bond launch last December, is intended to finance income-generating investments in “non-operational estate” such as housing and retail developments. It could be seen as a sign of the huge fund-raising power of Britain's top-tier higher education institutions -- and of how they are seeking to keep pace with American rivals that boast huge endowments.

Nine British universities have now issued bonds, but all of them apart from Oxford and Cambridge had their credit ratings downgraded last September in the wake of Brexit, with Moody’s warning of lower international student recruitment and increased competition.

Cambridge’s council, its executive body, last month said that it wanted to seek approval from the governing Regent House for further borrowing of up to £600 million (Regent House had already given approval for extra borrowing up to £300 million).

Two members of Cambridge’s council have signed a “note of dissent” expressing concern about the plan, which has yet to go before Regent House for approval.

“We have yet to see a sufficiently clear business case with enough detail on the funding model and how repayments for a new bond will be achieved,” says the note of dissent.

The council responded in a report published May 10 in the university’s official journal, The Reporter, saying that “specific business cases are indeed immature at this stage," but that it has “a high degree of confidence in the collective potential of such projects."

Duncan Maskell, pro vice-chancellor for planning and resources, said at a Regent House discussion of the new plans  that the university “needs capital” for purposes including “the potential commercial elements of development schemes such as Old Press/Mill Lane [where a retail development is planned]” and “the development of commercial research facilities at West Cambridge," as well as to invest in housing for staff.

He added that “approval for a bond issue is being sought now so as to lock in currently low interest rates."

Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge, one of the two signatories of the note of dissent, told Times Higher Education: “The question here is, quite simply, ‘Should we back the university as a property developer?’ The answer, from experience, is ‘No more than we have to.'”

Gill Evans, emeritus professor of medieval theology at Cambridge, said that she was concerned by a plan “to borrow a gigantic sum speculatively on the stated basis that interest rates are currently low."


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New presidents or provosts: Georgia Southern Golden West Goshen Lock Haven Mississippi Rochester St. Cloud St. Edward's

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 05/24/2018 - 07:00
  • Jeffery Boyd, provost at Tidewater Community College, in Virginia, has been chosen as president of Rochester Community and Technical College, in Minnesota.
  • Annesa Cheek, vice president for school and community partnerships at Sinclair Community College, in Ohio, has been named as president of St. Cloud Technical & Community College, in Minnesota.
  • Scott Cook, vice president for quality assurance and performance funding at Motlow State Community College, in Tennessee, has been appointed as provost at Madisonville Community College, in Kentucky.
  • Tim McGrath, vice president of instruction at San Diego Mesa College, in California, has been selected as president of Golden West College, also in California.
  • Robert M. Pignatello, senior vice president for finance and administration and chief operating officer at Hunter College of the City University of New York, has been appointed as president of Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania
  • J. Andrew Prall, vice president for academic affairs at the University of Saint Francis, in Indiana, has been selected as provost of St. Edward’s University, in Texas.
  • Alfred Rankins Jr., president of Alcorn State University, in Mississippi, has been appointed as commissioner of higher education in the state.
  • Carl Reiber, senior vice provost at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, has been named provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southern University.
  • Ann Vendrely, associate provost and associate vice president for academic affairs at Governors State University, in Illinois, has been chosen as vice president for academic affairs and academic dean at Goshen College, in Indiana.
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