Higher Education News

Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/21/2018 - 08:00
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Title IX rules on cross-examination would make colleges act as courts, lawyers say

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 08:00

Last week Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released her proposed overhaul of federal standards for how colleges handle campus-based sexual misconduct. The rule includes a key demand from supporters of accused students, requiring that colleges allow those students to cross-examine, through an advocate, the person who accused them of misconduct in a live hearing.

DeVos said the regulations would ensure a more transparent, consistent and reliable process for campus hearings.

However, advocates for survivors of sexual assault said requiring cross-examination rights will discourage victims from coming forward to report misconduct to their colleges. And many lawyers who advise colleges on Title IX issues are warning that the proposal essentially would turn campus hearings into courtroom proceedings, pushing colleges into roles they are ill equipped to take on. And critics said the requirement raises questions about equity for student representation in court-like settings.

“The department has through regulation essentially set up a court system at colleges. And it's a court system that has almost all of the same features as the legal court system,” said Josh Richards, a lawyer who specializes in higher education. “It has mandatory right of representation by counsel. And it has what amounts to sort of a full discovery right, which exceeds the rights that many criminal defendants have.”

Richards and other lawyers said institutions with more resources are better equipped to comply with the new standards. But the rules won’t necessarily work for every institution, they said, especially smaller colleges. For example, an Ivy League institution could easily provide each student with a trained advocate for a hearing. But that may not be the case for smaller colleges or even public universities with relatively strapped budgets.

Naomi Shatz, a lawyer at Zalkind Duncan and Bernstein LLP, who has represented students on both sides of campus misconduct hearings, said the rule will require more time from complainants, accused students and witnesses, likely prolonging a process that already can take several months to complete under current standards. The hearing requirements also will raise questions about the kind of advocates each student has access to, she said.

“These cases are already on an incredibly unlevel playing field,” she said. “Are we going to start having ineffective-assistance-of-counsel issues after these cases?”

Title IX experts have long had concerns about unequal access to representation, even under previous federal standards. Those concerns likely only will be exacerbated by a rule that many experts say would press college administrators into the jobs of lawyers and judges.

“There’s this huge asymmetry between male responding parties who can afford lawyers and female reporting parties who can’t,” said Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators. “For a lot of those victims -- male, female or otherwise identified individuals -- who know they can’t afford good legal advice going in, if the other side has high-paid lawyers, I think it’s going to create a powerful incentive to not persist.”

Groups like the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education have long argued that cross-examination is essential to fair hearings on campuses. FIRE has backed that part of the new rule as well as other changes, such as a presumption that an accused student is not responsible for misconduct.

“Having a live hearing ensures that all parties can see exactly the same evidence and testimony that the fact-finder is seeing, so that he or she can rebut that evidence and testimony as fully as he or she is able,” Susan Kruth, a senior program manager for legal and public advocacy at FIRE, said last week in a written statement.

Cross-examination is especially important in cases that hinge on witness testimony, Kruth wrote.

The provision also illustrates the Education Department's attempt to reflect recent rulings from a federal appeals court, which found that accused students have a right to question their accuser in a live hearing.

Advocates for survivors, however, said cross-examination can be used to weaponize the hearing process against survivors.

"Even when it is conducted through third parties, cross-examination can be used as a tool to harass Title IX complainants," said Alyssa Leader, an activist on Title IX issues. "Accused students can raise pointed questions designed to embarrass or traumatize the complaining party, such as questions about mental health, substance abuse or irrelevant details of the events alleged. The provision preventing questions about sexual history is insufficient to ensure that cross-examination is used for these purposes."

Sokolow predicted that the requirement for cross-examination in live hearings -- even with accommodations like questioning from a separate room -- would lead to a 50 percent drop in the reporting of misconduct.

He said the change proposed by the department is addressing a problem that never really existed. Under previous standards, accused students had opportunities to respond in writing to an investigative report and provide questions for the other student. The DeVos Title IX rule moves that process to a live hearing setting, which Sokolow said would be a "train wreck."

Colleges operating under previous federal standards have faced numerous legal challenges from accused students who were found responsible for misconduct. Sokolow said the proposed rule is likely to drive more litigation by survivors of sexual harassment and assault as well as students who don’t believe they were effectively advised during a hearing process.

After the new rule is published in the Federal Register, members of the public will have 60 days to make comments, including suggestions of potential changes, before the department issues final regulations.

The proposed rule, which has been in the works since DeVos last year rescinded Obama-era guidance on campus handling of sexual misconduct, was intended to create a more fair process and provide more clarity to colleges about their role. But Jeff Nolan, a lawyer who advises clients on higher education, said if the department is going to require cross-examination, it must include clarification on how live hearings are to be run, what kind of questioning is allowable and when colleges can tell attorneys they’ve gone too far.

“It looks like a free for all, potentially,” he said.

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Columbia says it's open to collective bargaining with its graduate student union -- with some caveats

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 08:00

Columbia University spent more than two years resisting a landmark 2016 decision from the National Labor Relations Board saying that its graduate research and teaching assistants are in fact employees entitled to collective bargaining. But on Monday, the university quietly announced that it had reached a tentative framework agreement for contract negotiations with the graduate student union and its postdoctoral fellows’ union, which are affiliated with the United Auto Workers.

Lee C. Bollinger, Columbia’s president, and John H. Coatsworth, provost, said in a joint statement that the framework is the “product of a dialogue between Columbia and UAW representatives that followed outreach by the university to the union.”

The agreement -- which still must be approved by union members -- includes “principles reflecting the respective interests of the parties,” Bollinger and Coatsworth said. For Columbia, most important is that any collectively bargained agreement “will not infringe upon the integrity of the university’s academic decision-making,” reads the statement, and that the university will retain the “exclusive right to manage the institution consistent with our educational and research mission.”

The framework includes a timeline for bargaining: it must begin no later than Feb. 26. The agreement also precludes any union strike or other kind of “disruption” to university operations through April 2020.

Bollinger and Coatsworth said the framework preserves their ability to honor a commitment they’ve cited repeatedly over the past two years: ensuring Columbia “remains a place where every student can achieve the highest levels of intellectual accomplishment and personal fulfillment.”

A Columbia spokesperson referred questions about the agreement back to the university’s statement. The union did not offer any immediate comment. Graduate students, who went on strike in the spring over the university’s refusal to negotiate a contract, were scheduled to strike again starting Dec. 4.

Generally, graduate student unions say that they are not trying to take over management or educational leadership of universities but are trying to win better wages, benefits and grievance rights for their members.

Columbia’s graduate students voted overwhelmingly to unionize in late 2016, several months after the NLRB decided in their favor in a widely watched case about whether graduate student assistants on private campuses had the right to unionize. Columbia's postdocs voted to unionized this year; theirs is the first such union on a private campus.

While some institutions have moved forward with contract negotiations with graduate assistants since 2016, others have continued to argue that students are students, not employees. Columbia was one of them, until this week, at least publicly. Its willingness to negotiate with the UAW is especially surprising, given that the Trump-appointed NLRB would likely be less hospitable to graduate student unions in future proceedings than the Obama-era board. For this reason, some unions have begun to seek agreements with their institutions outside NLRB channels.

The mutually agreed-on terms of negotiations, as reported by Columbia, include good faith, no-strike and exclusive representation clauses. As noted in the university’s statement, they also say that any contract "must not infringe upon the integrity of Columbia’s academic decision-making or Columbia’s exclusive right to manage the institution consistent with its educational and research mission." Relatedly, any grievance or arbitration processes must defer to Columbia’s right to control academic concerns and issues.

Reflecting protections against sexual harassment and assault that graduate students nationwide increasingly are seeking to build into union contracts, the terms say that unions “can play a constructive role in advocating for or representing survivors of sexual assault and harassment and other forms of discrimination, and may negotiate for additional procedures available to members of the bargaining units,” provided they don’t undermine existing university policies.

The framework is only valid through Nov. 28. If the union accepts it, Columbia must promptly withdraw its request for review in the postdoctoral case pending before the NLRB and recognize both units. Unlike Georgetown University, for example, which has entered in private negotiations with its American Federation of Teachers-affiliated union, Columbia’s negotiations would remain under the purview of the NLRB.

Union Vote at Brown

Late Monday, Brown University and the American Federation of Teachers announced that graduate employees there had voted to unionize with the AFT. The AFT announcement said that more than 60 percent of the graduate students had voted for the union. A statement from Kaitlyn Quaranta, a graduate student in French studies, said, "Hundreds of graduate workers stood up this week and sent a clear message that our labor for the university should not be taken for granted. Winning this election is about more than just improving working conditions for grads at Brown. In voting to unionize, we stood up for labor rights during an incredibly anti-labor administration."

Brown's statement pledged to cooperate in contract negotiations. Provost Richard M. Locke said, “The university’s commitment throughout this process has been to minimize polarization, maintain a cohesive community and ensure that eligible graduate assistants could decide for themselves whether or not to unionize. I’m pleased that we were able to provide a fair and orderly process, and I look forward to continuing to collaborate closely with graduate students to enhance graduate education at Brown.”

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Leaders of journalism schools have condemned Trump's attacks on the press

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 08:00

President Trump’s attacks on journalists and the media have become routine, and for the most part, journalism schools have stayed quiet.

The president is notorious for his “fake news” remarks during rallies and on Twitter. In October, he praised Greg Gianforte, U.S. representative from Montana, for body-slamming a reporter. Most recently, the White House engaged in a legal battle with CNN after the Trump administration revoked the press pass of Jim Acosta, one of the network’s senior White House correspondents, and accused him of “putting his hands” on a White House staffer during a contentious press conference. Acosta has denied the accusation and believes that his press credentials were revoked because he was asking the president tough questions.

Trump’s disparagement of the press has posed a difficult question for reporters and journalism schools: Should journalists, and the colleges that train them, publicly condemn the president’s attitudes toward media, or should they stay neutral in an effort to focus on reporting the news instead of becoming the news?

The Acosta incident seemed to be the tipping point for many. On Friday, deans from 10 prominent journalism schools signed a letter condemning the White House’s revocation of Acosta’s press pass and other “alarming attacks on the press.”

“Although gratuitous, harsh and insulting reprimands directed at reporters and news organizations that pose inconvenient questions are routine under this administration, the Acosta incident crosses an important line regarding First Amendment protections and press freedom,” the statement read. “Prohibiting White House access to punish a reporter for asking vexing questions of significant public concern resembles the act of an autocrat, not the chief of state of a constitutional republic. The president’s actions against Acosta seem clearly intended to warn other journalists: if you question governmental actions and sayings, the same might happen to you. Play it safe: sit down and be quiet.”

Deans from journalism schools at the University of California, Berkeley; City University of New York; Temple University; Syracuse University; Columbia University; the University of Maryland; Boston University; the University of Texas at Austin; the University of Southern California and Northwestern University signed the letter.

A week before the joint letter was sent, Charles Whitaker, interim dean of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern, sent an email to alumni in support of press freedom.

“It is often said that history will judge us not only for what we said and did in times of strife, but also for our silence. It is important, therefore, that those of us who purport to champion and teach the high ideals and responsibilities of journalism raise our voices when one of the most important obligations of our industry -- the duty to speak truth to power -- comes under attack,” Whitaker wrote.

Katherine Chaddock, a retired education professor at the University of South Carolina and an alumna of Medill, was “thrilled” that Whitaker made a statement.

“I sent them back an email right away that said, ‘Thank you, finally, I’ve been waiting for this. I’m so glad that somebody is speaking out,’” she said.

According to a university spokesperson, the email to alumni was the first time Whitaker had spoken publicly on the issue. Speaking out, Chaddock said, isn’t always easy.

“There is fear that ‘oh my gosh, maybe somebody above me or some powerful gift giver doesn’t like hearing this.’ I guess it is hard to speak out,” she said. “Either [press freedom] is a concern of the journalism school or it’s not, and you can’t always worry that there might be some people who feel like this is overstepping the bounds.”

Steve Coll, dean of the Columbia Journalism School, has made many public remarks since Trump was sworn into office, including a statement in April 2017 in which he addressed the threats to journalism from the current presidential administration.

“From day to day, we know that our mission is to get right back to doing our jobs, reporting hard and fairly on all of those who exercise power in our government and economy. Yet when President Donald Trump publicly referred to journalists as ‘enemies of the people’ and then repeatedly called them ‘dishonest’ or ‘dishonorable,’ he crossed into new territory for an American president, at least in the postwar period,” Coll said in his address. “With such language, the president is evidently seeking to delegitimize the place of an independent, professional press in our constitutional system, for the purpose of weakening it. We must all recognize and resist this attack.”

Michael Bugeja, a media ethics professor at Iowa State University's Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication, has reflected on how the current media landscape affects his teaching. His students use a discussion app to have private conversations about the current state of journalism.

“We are operating in a very contentious and partisan climate on First Amendment issues, reporting issues, the fabrications that we have to explore and provide fact to rectify and refute. It’s a very difficult time because I believe social mores are starting to change, not only in journalism, but in the country as well, on how reporting is perceived," Bugeja added.

Despite increased hostility toward the press, Paul Glader, director of the journalism program at King’s College in New York, said he’s noticed his students' interest in the profession continuing to rise.

“We’re a fast-growing program,” he said. “There’s still a lot of young people who seem to be really excited about the profession.”

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Author discusses new book about research universities and why they matter

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 08:00

American research universities are the envy of those around the world. So why is the value of these institutions so frequently questioned by politicians, pundits and others? In Research Universities and the Public Good: Discovery for an Uncertain Future (Stanford University Press), Jason Owen-Smith offers a defense of these institutions, while acknowledging that they are not always well understood. Owen-Smith, a professor of sociology and executive director of the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science at the University of Michigan, answered questions via email about his new book.

Q: To many in academe, it would seem obvious that research universities promote the public good. Why did you think it necessary to make the case in this way?

A: We may think the idea is so obvious that we don’t bother to make the case as clearly and rigorously as we should. I wrote this book to show how research universities look to someone like me. Their value is obvious and it needs to be explained.

The last decade was not good for higher education. A recent Pew survey found that 58 percent of Republican-identified respondents believe colleges and universities have a negative effect on the direction of the country. States continued, and often accelerated, divestment from public universities. Increasing tuition and concerns about student debt raise questions about the sustainability of our enterprise. Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Department of Education is rolling back Obama-era protections for students. President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposed cuts to federal research funding that would have taken us back to pre-recession levels and imposed a dramatic cap on indirect cost recovery rates.

A new Congress may mean things are looking up, but I remain concerned. Partisan disagreement about the value of universities is dangerous in a polarized political climate. Our dominant language for talking about the value of universities and their work is ill suited to seeing and sustaining their most important purposes. Being sanguine about our contributions to the public good is a loser’s game, especially now.

Q: Much of the political support for university research tends to focus on science with short-term impact (applied research). Why are broad research universities, with programs in a range of disciplines, and support for basic research, important?

A: Consider Google, which I discuss early in the book. Their search technology, PageRank, was invented by Larry Page when he was a graduate student working on a grant the National Science Foundation made to Stanford in 1994. Stanford patented PageRank. Google was founded in 1999 and went public in 2004. Today it is worth more than $1 trillion. You could read Google as exhibit A for short-term, innovation-oriented investments in research. But to understand the challenge that poses, you need three more facts.

First, that 1994 grant was not the first NSF investment essential to PageRank. The earliest NSF grant that supported immediately relevant research funded a sociology project at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1974.

Second, the Stanford project didn’t target the World Wide Web. It wasn’t a thing yet. The first modern web browser, Mosaic, was created at the University of Illinois in 1993. At the end of 1994, the first commercial browser, Netscape, came from a company whose founder worked on Mosaic as an undergraduate.

Third, PageRank’s economic value was far from obvious. Stanford tried to license their patent to companies including Excite and Yahoo! for what now seem like paltry sums. Contemporary market leaders passed.

If we want to support research as a means to economic growth or other good outcomes, we must confront an uncomfortable idea. Right now we probably know just as much about which research will create opportunities in 20 years as sociologists evaluating grant proposals at NSF in 1974 knew about web search. This is why basic research funding across all fields is necessary. That work happens at a very small and unique set of organizations.

About 3 percent of U.S. higher education institutions conduct nearly 90 percent of federally funded basic research. They are a unique knowledge infrastructure that helps ensure we will be ready to address an uncertain future. If we want them to serve that purpose, we need to invest in and run them in ways that support that job. Emphasizing research with clear applications we can see today is important, but doing only that denigrates our universities’ abilities to respond to the problems and opportunities we don’t yet know we have.

Q: Many pundits champion the idea of "unbundling" the various parts of the research university. Why do you think this is a bad idea?

A: Unbundling means many things: separating the research and teaching missions, disentangling parts of degree programs by emphasizing skill-based certifications, or making parts of the institution more independent and subject to market discipline. All these ideas seek to increase the university’s productive efficiency. We should make certain that student and public investments in higher education are responsibly spent to support our missions. But seeking efficiency for its own sake makes those missions more difficult.

Instead we need a research and education system that can identify and address new challenges and possibilities. I develop three metaphors to explain how research universities do this. They are sources of new knowledge and skilled people, anchors for communities and industries, and hubs connecting far-flung parts of society. All these roles require stability, openness and a broad, diverse knowledge base. On-campus public goods like libraries and advanced IT make synergies across competing missions and activities possible. Unbundling activities to promote efficiency one thing at a time will make universities less fertile by limiting possibilities for collaboration on the common platform that campus public goods create. The result may be a more efficient education or a more focused applied research portfolio, but those aren’t the goals we should be striving for.

Q: How does teaching undergraduates fit into the public good of research universities?

A: Teaching undergraduates is a huge part of the public good mission of research universities. I downplay education to keep my argument tractable and because clear, sustained effort to address the research mission is needed. It has become normal to ask why faculty should be doing research at the expense of teaching. Instead, I ask why we should do extensive and diverse teaching at all levels in an institution that is also dedicated to research.

Even the easy answers to that question are challenging. Universities themselves are funding larger proportions of research. That money has to come from somewhere. On most campuses tuition and gifts are the only likely sources. The business model of the university depends on research and teaching together. This has become a shell game that puts too much of the cost of maintaining a legitimate social good on students and their families. A clear sense of what’s at stake for research in making changes to the organization and financing of teaching (and vice versa) is essential.

Students are often the means for new discoveries to leave the university and new problems to enter it. Graduate students directed a Stanford project toward web search. Netscape was founded by a student who helped produce Mosaic. Most research is also teaching. But we could do more to forge that connection.

Treating education as an irreducible component of a university’s mission helps the institutions do the work of ensuring our future. Students make the university more, better anchors and more central hubs. They help universities stand for something more than the simple technical requirements of teaching and discovery. They should be well served, but we should also recognize the role that education continues to play in the academic research enterprise.

Q: What should leaders of research universities be doing to shore up public and political support?

A: Stop ceding ground. We need to articulate a clear message about the long- and short-term public value of research universities that recognizes and defends the features of academe that serve the former even if they come at the expense of the latter. We need to invest in data and infrastructure that allow universities to turn their best science on themselves. Doing so will help us understand, explain and improve the public value of our work, but it will also help our credibility. I think that most people have little sense of what research actually is or how it works. We need to offer better explanations. This book, and the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science, which I co-founded, are efforts to do both those things. We should also focus intensely on teaching students about research. If our graduates don’t understand or see the value in what we do, our hopes for convincing others seem limited.

Talk is necessary, but it is not enough. Campus leaders should commit to data sharing and analysis of the workings of their research and education enterprises that can allow us to identify places for improvement and improve them. We must undertake disciplined experiments with new means to organize and integrate research and teaching. Campus policies and practices should emphasize openness to the greatest extent possible, whether that be in handling of intellectual property licensing, sharing information about the university and its work, or accessing the results of research. We should identify and attend to what makes universities unique and valuable, even, perhaps especially, when those sources of value are hard to explain in terms of short-term, easy-to-measure returns.

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New presidents or provosts: Baltimore City Belhaven Cabrini FAMU Forsyth Tech Methodist Naval New River Texarkana

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/20/2018 - 08:00
  • Bonny Copenhaver, vice president of academic affairs at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, has been appointed president of New River Community and Technical College, in West Virginia.
  • Maurice Edington, vice president of strategic planning, analysis and institutional effectiveness at Florida A&M University, has been promoted to provost and vice president for academic affairs there.
  • Debra L. McCurdy, president of Rhodes State College, in Ohio, has been named president of Baltimore City Community College, in Maryland.
  • Ann Elisabeth Rondeau, president of the College of DuPage, in Illinois, has been chosen as the next president of the Naval Postgraduate School, in California.
  • Bradford Smith, dean of arts and sciences and the School of Fine Arts at Belhaven University, in Mississippi, has been promoted to provost and vice president of academic affairs there.
  • Jason Smith, superintendent of Pleasant Grove Independent School District, in Texas, has been named president of Texarkana College, also in Texas.
  • Janet N. Spriggs, chief operating officer at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, in North Carolina, has been appointed president of Forsyth Technical Community College, also in North Carolina.
  • Chioma Ugochukwu, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Cottey College, in Missouri, has been chosen as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Cabrini University, in Pennsylvania.
  • Stanley T. Wearden, senior vice president and provost of Columbia College Chicago, in Illinois, has been selected as president of Methodist University, in North Carolina.
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Anonymous pamphlets channel complaints at LIU

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 08:00

Long Island University has made deep cuts in recent years, reorganizing departments while pouring more resources into new disciplines that officials hope will bring in new students and revenue.

The result is a kind of turmoil that has engendered an unusual, low-tech protest: an anonymous pamphleteer this fall is papering LIU’s Post campus in Brookville, N.Y., with homemade, hand-lettered screeds that skewer LIU’s administration. The broadsides borrow the title of revolutionary-era author Thomas Paine’s 1776 treatise: “Common Sense.”

Paine argued -- anonymously at first -- that the colonies should fight for independence from King George III. In this version, the anonymous pamphleteer portrays LIU president Kimberly Cline (at left) as “Queen Kimmy,” an out-of-touch royal who draws a “fat” $800,000 salary even as enrollment falters. (For the record, LIU’s latest IRS filings show Cline’s base salary at $761,066, with another $24,578 in “other reportable compensation.”)

In one illustration, Cline is represented as a playing card Queen of Hearts, surrounded by the question "Truth & Ethics, Accountability & Morals -- Where have they gone?" In another, her face and those of other LIU officials are superimposed onto British soldiers in a rendering of the 1770 Boston Massacre.

The so-called Friday Night Massacre calls out Cline’s Oct. 12 decision to enact what the pamphleteer calls “massive cuts” to spring 2019 classes. The pamphlets also note the distribution of 30 “death letters” to faculty, informing them that they’ll be out of a job after the spring semester. (A faculty representative told Inside Higher Ed that the total number of instructors subject to impending layoffs or tenure denials is about 16 to 18.)

Found on tables, chairs and benches across campus, the pamphlets have also found their way under the office door of LIU Post’s student newspaper, a top editor said.

The university is not amused.

LIU spokesman Gordon Tepper told Inside Higher Ed that the author or authors of the “anonymous, factually incorrect, disrespectful, and sexist trash should be ashamed of themselves. The fact that the author refers to a distinguished university president as 'Queen' or 'Royal Majesty' on no fewer than 20 occasions in this unsourced rant speaks to a disturbed individual who clearly has issues with women in authority.”

Tepper said LIU “continues to make great strides as a national teaching and research institution, and while there is certainly opportunity to present alternative views in a collegial shared governance environment, there is no place for this kind of trash.”

LIU did not make Cline available for comment, but instead offered an interview with chief financial officer Christopher Fevola, who spoke at length about the university’s plans, calling Cline “a president that has completely transformed the institution” and has worked collaboratively with faculty.

In interviews, Cline has said Post has had “surpluses every year I’ve been here.” She has also said the university’s endowment has grown 267 percent, from $86 million to about $230 million.

Fevola last week said LIU’s finances are strong. “We are more financially secure than we’ve been in our recorded history,” he said. Any assertion that LIU is financially unstable is pure speculation, he said, “creating a narrative that frankly speaks to change and the reaction to change.”

Jada Butler, co-editor-in-chief of The Pioneer, LIU Post’s student newspaper, said she had fact-checked one of the recent pamphlets, noting that its assertions are “a little bit exaggerated” in places. But she said the treatises accurately reflect the sentiment of many students and faculty on the Post campus. “I think they’re a little tired and exhausted of all of the things that are going on,” she said.

Butler noted that the latest “Common Sense” pamphlet made the cover of the newspaper’s Nov. 14 issue.

“The issues on campus, whether the administration intended to or not, have been timed poorly and piled up one after the other,” Butler said. “It’s just been an overwhelming amount of change going on at the school and students are deciding to speak up about it.”

She noted that other forms of anonymous protest have taken hold on campus as well, including an Instagram account titled “Everything Broken at Post,” which collects students’ mobile phone images of broken bike-share bicycles, dorms in disrepair and the like.

Among other recent changes, Cline ruffled feathers on campus last month when she laid off the director of a popular adult education program -- much to the chagrin of many Long Island retirees, who wrote to the university to demand her reinstatement.

Cline also announced that she would consolidate varsity sports teams on LIU’s two campuses, creating one united roster of teams. Athletes learned about the move after being called out of class to watch her Oct. 3 news conference, broadcast from Manhattan.

Butler said the news has thrown into turmoil the educational plans of hundreds of students. The planned merger would force athletes -- many of whom attend on scholarship -- to compete for a shrinking number of starting positions. Consolidating LIU Post and LIU Brooklyn’s athletics departments also puts many students’ futures in limbo, since Post sports compete in Division II athletics, while Brooklyn is a Division I institution.

“They dropped a bomb on us,” freshman basketball player Liam Kunkel told the Long Island newspaper Newsday. “Nobody saw this coming.”

Lauren Kloos, a sophomore volleyball player, told Newsday that she and her teammates protested during their first home game two days later by covering the “LIU” on their jerseys with white tape. Referees allowed players to warm up under protest, but asked them to remove the tape during the game.

LIU said it will honor all of its current athletic scholarships, even if students don’t play or make their teams’ rosters next fall. Tepper said via email that LIU “is committed to all of its student-athletes graduating on time, with a LIU diploma that will serve for years to come. The university will honor athletic aid awards for all student-athletes who remain at LIU even if they choose not to participate with an athletic team throughout the span of their athletic eligibility.”

Though Cline has said the change had been in the works for at least a decade, the announcement was a shock to most students, especially for athletes who were already in the middle of their seasons, said Butler, the newspaper co-editor. “A lot of students needed to be consoled afterwards.”

Michael Soupios, an LIU political science professor, said many students felt “betrayed” by the move. “The kids are very angry about that -- and their parents are angry.”

Soupios, who also leads the faculty union at Post, said he gives Cline credit for pushing to turn the university’s finances around. “In fairness to her, she did inherit a situation where there was a large deficit,” he said. Soupios also said Cline has made smart hiring moves and has focused more aggressively on securing research funding.

But he said “hundreds and hundreds” of staff have been dismissed over the past several years, affecting student services, among other issues, and contributing to dysfunction on campus. “This is why the students are up in arms” and upset with Cline’s administration, he said.

And Cline’s admissions operation “has failed since the day they got here,” he said, with declining numbers of incoming students most years. Post's first-year enrollment, which reached nearly 900 a decade ago, now sits at under 600.

“You can’t play games in that operation,” he said.

Fevola, LIU’s CFO, said the university’s plan is to focus on admitting higher-quality students -- he noted that the average SAT score of admitted students has risen, as have graduation rates. “The number of students or the number of faculty you have is not determinative of the quality, health or level of service of an institution,” he said. Federal data put Post's six-year graduation rate at 47 percent (lower than the national six-year average of 59 percent for students at public institutions and 66 percent at private nonprofit institutions).

Soupios, who is in his 41st year teaching at LIU, called that line of reasoning “a cop-out.”

“I see no signs in the classroom that we have a higher quality of students,” he said. “This has nothing to do with selectivity. This has to do with incompetence in the admissions office.”

Post’s admissions office garnered unwanted attention last August, when Vice President of Academic Affairs Ed Weis became the target of a lawsuit filed by nearby Mercy College, which said he had poached promising first-year students, among others, upon leaving his job at Mercy last May. Cline led Mercy for six years before moving to LIU in 2013. Mercy is seeking at least $700,000 in the lawsuit. It had no comment on the litigation last week.

The university has clashed with faculty as well. In 2016, LIU locked out faculty from its Brooklyn campus over contract disputes. A year later, in 2017, Fevola said the university hadn’t laid off “a single faculty member,” adding, “we’re promoting people and granting tenure.”

Fevola reiterated that no faculty have been laid off -- actually, he said, hiring is up. “The pace at which we’re hiring faculty is outpacing the rate at which faculty are retiring or leaving the institution to pursue other interests,” he said.

Soupios, the political science professor, said those assertions “are infected with half-truths -- were people denied for tenure? Yes, people were denied. They’re on terminal letters. They haven’t been fired -- yet.”

He said seven or eight faculty members who were up for tenure last spring were denied. Another nine or 10 probationary faculty received termination letters last spring. These instructors’ last employment date: Aug. 31, 2019. So faculty members will likely lose their jobs through contracts that aren't being renewed.

“Essentially, tenure as a principle at LIU is dead,” Soupios said. “You’ve got a whole lot of people on the steps up to the guillotine.”

LIU last September surprised observers when it announced plans to build a new college of veterinary medicine -- it expects to open a new, 47,000-square-foot, $40 million facility in 2020.

Soupios said the vet school is, indeed, hiring faculty. “Everybody else is being contracted.”

Fevola said LIU has “sunsetted” 60 programs that had total enrollments of just a few dozen students. The discontinued programs were “no longer serving the needs of our students and our faculty,” he said. In their place, the university is in the process of creating “high-demand, signature, competitive programs,” often in technical fields. “We’re investing in areas of growth, as any responsible institution would,” he said.

Soupios said he understands that changing priorities in higher ed are “the reality of the marketplace. But at the same time, that doesn’t mean that you should come up with every opportunity to obliterate the arts and sciences, which are the backbone of every university.”

If an institution wants to continue using the word “university,” he said, it must keep its commitment to the humanities. “Otherwise just pick up your toolbox and be an auto mechanic at Apex Technical.”

Over all, he said, Cline’s moves have generated “a tremendous amount of ill will and lack of trust in the eyes of virtually every constituent” on campus. Faculty members, he joked, are “always grousing and complaining about administrations.” But he said he’d “never seen it quite like this -- this is, as they say, sui generis, in a category quite by itself.”

Butler, the newspaper co-editor, a journalism major who is scheduled to graduate in 2020, said she had been trying unsuccessfully to score an interview with Cline. After the first anonymous "Common Sense" pamphlet appeared, Cline agreed to meet with her.

She theorized that the pamphlets have had the intended effect, pushing Cline and others to engage more openly with the campus. “They’re probably trying to get back ahold of the narrative,” she said. Butler said LIU’s dean of students has announced a series of listening sessions over the next few weeks as well.

Tepper, the LIU spokesman, said the listening sessions have no connection to the pamphlets.

So far, administrators have held two town hall meetings, with another scheduled for Nov. 29. “In the beginning it was all crazy, but now it seems like they’re making an effort to fix it,” Butler said.

When the newspaper editor finally sat down with Cline for the interview, the president asked what she could do to help put students at ease. “I told her, ‘Seeing more of you, seeing more of the administration reach out and talk to students about how to fix this. You can’t just ignore a fire burning right in front of you,’” Butler said. “They’re probably trying to calm it down.”

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New paper explores what faculty candidates include in their diversity, equity and inclusion statements

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 08:00

There’s a lot of chatter about faculty diversity statements, good and bad. But there’s little talk about what’s actually in them. Do they all read the same? Do they provide a clear record of faculty applicants’ past efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in their teaching, research and service? Or do they focus -- less helpfully, in critics' eyes -- on faculty applicants’ beliefs about diversity? A new working paper from researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor's National Center for Institutional Diversity attempts to inject some substance into the conversation.

“From the thousands of applications my team and I have read” for this paper and other work, said co-author Tabbye Chavous, center director and professor of education and psychology, “applicants were not just submitting statements of political beliefs or ideologies.” While statements vary in detail and depth, she continued, “applicants were writing about their experiences, accomplishments and goals as they relate to the faculty role, suggesting the benefit of telling applicants what we're looking for -- rather than them trying to figure it out and then feeling pressured to fit themselves into what they think we’re asking for."

Chavous’s paper, recently presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, is an analysis of faculty equity, diversity and inclusion statements required of applicants to a postdoctoral fellow-to-faculty program across dozens of disciplines at Michigan’s College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Some institutions now require these statements across departments, but the requirement varies by program at Michigan.

The sample size for this particular paper is small: 54. But the researchers sought to create a helpful typology that would shed light on what contributions to diversity candidates were actually highlighting in their statements. Ultimately, they found seven recurring elements: "values and understanding" of diversity, equity and inclusion, along with teaching, research and scholarship, engagement and service, mentorship, skill building and personal growth, and personal background experiences.

The authors also considered qualitative features of these statement: depth of discussion and engagement, and the sphere of influence or impact of the actions described.

Again, the authors didn’t test a theory about diversity statements, they wanted to develop one -- hence the typology. Regarding values and understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion, applicants often included statements of support for advancing these values, or described their understanding of structural issues that impact them on campus and off. Valuing diversity and clearly understanding it weren’t always linked in these statements, the authors note. But they often were.

Regarding teaching, applicants often talked about advancing diversity, equity and inclusion through course curricula, such as accommodations for students within syllabi or course readings from underrepresented scholars. Statements also included discussions of pedagogical practice (discussing diversity with students or making space for all students to participate, for example), or the promotion of inclusive classroom climates.

Source: National Center for Institutional Diversity

Teaching and the classroom space were mentioned 80 times across 39 statements analyzed in one phase of the work, with pedagogy being discussed most often. Many applicants referenced the growing body of literature on fostering equity and inclusion.

Scholars referenced their research and scholarship 70 times over the 39 statements, but their foci varied. And sometimes those who did research on underserved groups or inequality didn’t recognize that work as related to diversity, equity and inclusion, Chavous said. That underscores the authors’ assertion that diversity, equity and inclusion work happens all the time -- often by underrepresented scholars -- but that academics aren’t used to talking about it: it’s what the literature calls “invisible labor.”

Chavous said that the postdoc-to-faculty program in question sought to conceptualize the work of diversity, equity and inclusion as “involving skills and competencies that enhance the capacity of institutions to provide … environments that are intellectually rich and inclusive.” And that is a “needed departure” from views of diversity work as “service add-ons,” or as political to ideological, “toward a conceptualization of diversity as interconnected with excellence.”

Diversity statements also included efforts at public scholarship, promoting diversity work in nonacademic channels. Applicants also mentioned efforts to promote diverse research teams.

Service contributions included efforts to develop institutional policies or practices. This most often manifested as participation and involvement in organizations, programs, projects or professional organizations.

References to applicants’ engagement and service were identified 80 times across the sample, with most describing engagement in organizations or programs, as opposed to explicit policies.

Mentorship, which has remained underrecognized across academe, included the mentoring of individual students from underrepresented populations and serving as a mentor within a mentoring or pipeline program. Skill building and personal growth was the least common type of contribution. But applications did mention attempts to increasing their diversity-related competencies, both through formal and informal processes.

Personal background experiences centered on personally held identities, backgrounds and experiences of applicants and how they shaped their perspectives, behaviors or actions. Chavous said she doesn’t necessarily recommend that her own mentees disclose their underrepresented identities in their application portfolios, and that it’s a personal choice. But applicants in the sample disclosed a range of identities, or multiple identities, from ethnicity to gender to socioeconomic status to nationality.

Here are some examples included in the study:

When applicants mentioned frequency of engagement, they were typically “one-time” or “sustained” experiences. When articulating the different ways that they fomented change, applicants often did so through passive proposals, concrete proposals or adopted actions. And when describing the role that they played in these events, the applicants tended to describe themselves as what the study calls “active participants” or “leaders.” Interactions were either one on one, affecting policy, or with an audience.

Over all, Chavous said that scholars across disciplines “were able to describe many ways that their work in scholarship, teaching and mentoring, and service and engagement represented their demonstrated commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Their statements also reflected “many different ways of defining and thinking about diversity,” Chavous said. In other words, there was “no one type of diversity statement or single way of engaging diversity seriously and effectively.” That’s important to note “in the context of criticisms that institutions asking for diversity statements are looking for particular profiles, ideologies or expressions of values.”

Indeed, some critics continue to question whether these diversity statements threaten academic freedom, or push one’s research and teaching in a certain direction for fear of not otherwise being hired. Chavous said she and her team have just begun looking into how these statements are actually being used in hiring decisions (that was not part of the recent paper). But, in the interim, she described asking faculty candidates to submit statements about how equity, diversity and inclusion factor into their teaching, research and service as exercising truth in advertising. It doesn’t quite make sense to affirm diversity as underpinning the institutional mission, while not giving candidates the opportunity to talk about and be credited for their efforts, she said. To that end, diversity statement guidelines for these candidates should be as transparent and direct as possible.

“Too often in higher education and other organizations, diversity is understood as only a proxy, or code, for race or demographic identity, and it is often not tied to equity and inclusion,” Chavous said. “For the faculty program from which we drew our data, applicants were provided explicit guidance about the goal of the diversity statements -- that the university was looking for indicators of demonstrated commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion and valued the different ways this might be demonstrated,” such as scholarship, teaching, mentoring, service and engagement.

“We have more work to do in this area,” Chavous added. “But I’m pushing back on the idea, ‘We shouldn’t be asking about this, because it’s ideological and we should be looking at objective information.’ But there is so much research indicating that how we assess faculty work in general relies on a series of assumptions of objectivity -- from reputations about networks and who trains scholars and what journals they publish in. These things are all based on consensus.”

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Colleges cancel class due to poor air quality from California fires

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 08:00

While two wildfires continue to blaze in California, colleges have canceled classes and events to protect students from unsafe air quality in parts of the state, which, according to the pollution monitoring organization PurpleAir, is among the worst in the world.

None of the campuses have been evacuated, but most have advised students to stay indoors as much as possible with windows and vents closed and have instructed students with respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis to wear a mask while outside.

California State University, Chico -- located 15 miles east of Paradise, Calif., the town that was wiped out by the Camp Fire -- suspended classes on Nov. 9 through the Thanksgiving holiday. The fire never reached campus, but many students and employees have been either displaced or impacted in some way by the fire.

The university sent out the Wildcats Rise Campus Needs survey to gauge the extent of the impact.

“Our hearts are broken for the unfathomable devastation our community is experiencing. With results from just 15 percent of the campus community so far, more than 1,640 Wildcats report they have been affected by wildfires in California and 1,147 of those are related to the Camp Fire,” university officials wrote Wednesday. “Among them, 166 individuals report losing their home, and 727 have been evacuated or displaced. More than 445 are providing shelter to evacuees. Others are reporting loss of employer, loss of transportation, the death of pets, homes that are standing but damaged, health impacts from air quality, and secondary trauma.”

As of Saturday, the Camp Fire was 55 percent contained. It has claimed 76 lives, and more than 1,200 people remain unaccounted for.

This morning, the university opened the Wildcats Rise Care and Resources Center for those impacted by the fire.

“The center is a one-stop shop for counseling, academic advising, employment advice, and other important services,” a university statement read. “You’ll find Wildcats who can answer your questions about financial assistance, leaves, benefits, payroll, and housing, and point to community resources for helping with insurance and other questions.”

Smoke from the fire has reached the San Francisco Bay Area, nearly 200 miles from the fire’s origin, raising the air quality index (AQI) to over 200 and putting it squarely in “very unsafe” levels.

Stanford University canceled class and outdoor activities Friday in response to the rising AQI. Other university operations, including public safety, student services and residential and dining services remained open.

Prior to the cancellations, more than 500 Stanford students petitioned the university to cancel class or offer access to N95 masks, though it is unclear if the petition influenced the university’s decision.

The “Big Game” between the Stanford and the University of California, Berkeley, football teams, which had been scheduled for Saturday, has also been rescheduled for Dec. 1. Berkeley, also located in the Bay Area, chose not to cancel class on Friday but did cancel Saturday classes.

“Campus medical staff are advising that all of us limit our time outside and refrain from heavy exertion when outdoors. In addition, medical staff advise that those who have underlying medical conditions that could make them more sensitive to the current air quality should consider staying home, particularly if they commute by foot and bike,” Carol Christ, UC Berkeley chancellor, wrote in a message to students and staff. “In that context we ask faculty and supervisors to be as accommodating as possible.”

The University of California, Davis, canceled classes Tuesday and had scheduled to resume operations Wednesday, but postponed reopening after a petition garnered more than 18,000 signatures. Students also criticized the university's response to the poor air quality on Twitter.

UC Davis: “Classes will be held tomorrow despite air quality”

UCD Students: pic.twitter.com/ecfROA4v7u

— Niko Montes (@niko_montes) November 14, 2018

UC Davis: Free bus rides from 7am-11pm to limit physical activity during poor air quality
Students: you already have that though
UC Davis: pic.twitter.com/OZINKAQ9JH

— Heather❤️ (@kingthe_queeen) November 14, 2018

The university reversed its decision Wednesday.

“The chancellor regrets any stress or inconvenience our previous update caused. We are all learning together,” the university statement read. “The Davis and Sacramento campuses will be closed today and classes canceled.”

In addition to the colleges above, the following colleges have canceled class or closed due to poor air quality. See the links for detailed information about the closures.

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A roundup of college fund-raising campaigns

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 08:00

Starting Up:

  • Baylor University is starting a campaign to raise $1.1 billion by 2023. So far, $542 million has been raised. Priorities include endowments for faculty positions and student aid.
  • St. Lawrence University is starting a campaign to raise $225 million. There is no end date. So far $140 million has been raised. Endowment funds and teaching programs are priorities.
  • Wabash College is starting a campaign to raise $225 million by 2023. Top priorities are student aid and academic programs. So far, Wabash has raised $150.9 million.

Check on the status of college fund-raising campaigns at Inside Higher Ed's fund-raising database.

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DeVos sexual misconduct rule criticized by survivor advocates

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/19/2018 - 08:00

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a proposed rule Friday that would significantly reduce the obligations of colleges to investigate complaints of sexual misconduct.

The rule, which DeVos argued would restore fairness to the process of adjudicating complaints, also adds protections for accused students. But women’s groups and advocates for survivors of sexual assault warn that it will undermine the rights of victims. And they say the rule will let colleges off the hook for not taking the issue of sexual misconduct seriously.

One of the biggest changes from previous federal policy is that institutions would be responsible only for investigating misconduct that occurred within programs sanctioned by the college. Advocates for victims had warned this would leave students assaulted or harassed off-campus without recourse, although documents released by the department Friday emphasize that geography alone would not dictate whether misconduct falls under the purview of Title IX.

The rule also would make colleges responsible for investigating cases when they have "actual knowledge" of misconduct, meaning a formal complaint is made to the proper officials on campus, a significant departure from Obama administration policies that required institutions to look into any misconduct that came to the attention of employees. In addition, the proposed regulation would allow colleges to set their own evidentiary standard for making findings of misconduct.

The rule would deliver on a key demand of advocates for accused students by requiring that colleges allow for cross-examination of students in those campus proceedings -- a major point of contention -- although no interaction by the parties themselves would be allowed.

"Throughout this process, my focus was, is, and always will be on ensuring that every student can learn in a safe and nurturing environment," DeVos said in a statement Friday. "That starts with having clear policies and fair processes that every student can rely on."

Although groups that represent accused students have welcomed the new cross-examination requirements and other changes advanced by DeVos, the biggest beneficiaries of the proposed rule may be colleges themselves. Some institutions, under pressure from campus activists, have already said they will maintain standards introduced under the Obama administration. But liability for institutions would be seriously reduced in the proposed rule.

Many college officials had complained about a lack of clarity surrounding their responsibilities after President Obama issued federal guidance on campus assault in 2011. Those standards pushed institutions to change their practices but lacked the force of formal regulation. Critics also complained the guidance failed to account for public input.

Catherine Lhamon, a former assistant secretary for civil rights in the Obama administration, said the consequences of the rule would be devastating for survivors.

“It seems like encouragement for schools to stick their heads in the sand and ignore information readily available to them,” she said.

​DeVos unveiled the new regulation Friday well over a year after she rescinded the guidance documents from the Obama administration. After that decision last fall, the national mood on issues of sexual harassment and assault has shifted dramatically because of the Me Too movement.

After widely publicized allegations of sexual assault against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein arose, numerous women -- and some men -- have spoken up about harassment and abuse, including in the workplace. And many powerful men in media, entertainment and the government have been implicated, with some losing their jobs or being prosecuted for assault. Among them was Brett Kavanaugh, the new Supreme Court justice. After his nomination to the court in July, Kavanaugh was accused of sexual misconduct as a teenager by multiple women.

For many advocates for survivors on campus, it seems like a bitter irony that as American society’s awareness of the prevalence of sexual misconduct grows, DeVos is curbing protections they’d fought for and won years before.

DeVos, before rescinding the 2011 guidance last year, argued in a speech at George Mason University's law school that federal requirements had led colleges to trample on the rights of accused students.

“Due process is the foundation of any system of justice that seeks a fair outcome. Due process either protects everyone, or it protects no one,” she said. “The notion that a school must diminish due process rights to better serve the 'victim' only creates more victims.”

Interim guidance released by the department shortly thereafter gave colleges the ability to set their own standard of evidence for findings of misconduct. The Obama administration had advised colleges that they should use a preponderance of evidence standard, meaning that institutions should determine if it was more likely than not that harassment or abuse occurred. Proponents of more due process protections for accused students had argued for a higher evidentiary bar, known as clear and convincing evidence. And the guidance allowed colleges to use informal resolution practices such as mediation if agreed to by both parties. The regulation proposed by the department codifies those and other changes.

Reactions to the Proposed Rule

In September, a draft version of the proposal was leaked online after The New York Times published a story reporting on key details in the document. The rule released Friday is largely in line with what was contained in the draft proposal. One significant change, though, would make mandatory the ability of accused students to cross-examine their accusers, which The Wall Street Journal first reported last month. An earlier draft of the rules would have allowed colleges to include cross-examination rights in campus proceedings but would not have made it mandatory. The Obama administration had discouraged that practice.

Advocacy groups had argued that the possibility of questioning by their assailants would traumatize victims of assault and discourage them from coming forward. But some courts have ruled that colleges should incorporate a form of cross-examination opportunity when determining misconduct. The proposed rule released Friday would only allow for advisers, and not students themselves, to ask questions of the other party. Colleges would be required to hold live hearings to determine misconduct under the regulation, which would not allow the "single investigator" model that has been employed by many institutions.

Samantha Harris, vice president for procedural advocacy at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said including those cross-examination requirements was an important step.

"The right to due process and the right to procedural protections is not inherently in conflict with the responsibility of an institution to take claims of sexual misconduct seriously," she said.

But Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, the chief lobby group in Washington for colleges, said the group would have serious concerns if the rule would allow one student to hire a highly paid lawyer to grill the other party in campus proceedings.

Hartle said it would take time to process the impact of the nearly 150-page rule. “At the end of the day, we want to support the survivor and be fair to both parties,” he said.

The rule also narrows the definition of sexual harassment to reflect Supreme Court precedent, which requires complaints of pervasive and egregious behavior. The definition is one of several changes to federal guidelines that limits the responsibility of colleges. Another would require that colleges only investigate misconduct reported to the proper official on campus. Since the Obama guidance was issued, professors or other college employees who were made aware of abuse or harassment were expected to report it.

Just as significantly, the provision dealing with misconduct within a college's program or activities would significantly limit the scope of institutions' responsibilities and will likely be subject to intense scrutiny as the rule goes through a public comment process. Elizabeth Tang, an Equal Justice Works Fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, said that would leave students who are harassed by a classmate off campus without important protections.

"Sexual harassment that happens off campus and outside of a school activity is no less traumatic than on-campus harassment," she said. "The negative impact on the student’s education is the same either way if the student is forced to see their harasser regularly at school."

The department's proposed rule noted that 41 percent of college sexual assaults occur off-campus, Tang said.

The rule also includes specific supportive measures that colleges are expected to make available for students, with or without a formal complaint of misconduct. Those include counseling, no-contact orders, changes to class schedules and dorm reassignments.

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the main lobby group for public higher ed institutions, released a statement Friday that did not take a position on the rule, although APLU president Peter McPherson said the group was reviewing the proposal carefully before releasing detailed comments.

"We fully expect that public universities will continue to work hard to far exceed what’s minimally expected in Title IX rules to support survivors while also ensuring due process for the accused," McPherson said.

The University of California System took a much tougher line. Suzanne Taylor, UC's interim systemwide Title IX coordinator, warned that the rule was overly prescriptive, too narrow in its definition of sexual harassment and would weaken the enforcement powers of the Office for Civil Rights.

"The Department of Education’s proposed changes will reverse decades of well-established, hard-won progress toward equity in our nation’s schools, unravel critical protections for individuals who experience sexual harassment, and undermine the very procedures designed to ensure fairness and justice," Taylor said. "This is yet another attack on students’ right to an educational environment free of sexual harassment."

When it is published in the Federal Register, the rule will enter a 60-day public notice and comment period, which many advocates began preparing for months ago.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress on Friday offered contrasting responses to the rule. Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee, said the department's approach "seems to balance fairness and support for survivors."

But Washington Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said DeVos and President Trump were "trying to take another step toward sweeping the scourge of sexual assault under the rug." And House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, who is vying to win back the speaker's gavel, promised the new Democratic majority in the chamber would take immediate action to fight the DeVos proposal.

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Federal complaint against Dartmouth says the college repeatedly ignored reports of three professors' 'Animal House' behavior

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 08:00

Three professors of psychological and brain sciences left Dartmouth College this year under a cloud of alleged sexual misconduct. But the exact allegations against them have been unclear. A new federal lawsuit against Dartmouth brought by seven former students may be filling in the blanks, with serious claims of misconduct on the part of the professors, up to and including assault, and negligence on the college’s part.

Dartmouth “knowingly permitted three of its prominent (and well-funded) professors to turn a human behavior research department into a 21st century Animal House,” reads the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire. For more than a decade, it continues, female students in the department were “treated as sex objects by tenured professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley, and Paul Whalen. These professors leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated, and even raped female students.”

Dartmouth denies mishandling student complaints. All three professors were on a yearlong administrative leave prior to departing Dartmouth over the summer, following an investigation and recommendations by both the administration and a faculty committee that they lose their tenured positions. Kelley, the last to leave, resigned in July. Whalen resigned in June and Heatherton retired that same month.

President Philip J. Hanlon said at the time that Dartmouth did not enter into separation or nondisclosure agreements with any of the professors, and that they’d continue to be prohibited from entering campus property or attending any Dartmouth-sponsored events, on campus or off. The former faculty members are not named in the suit, and Kelley and Whalen could not be reached for comment. Heatherton, through his lawyer, told The New York Times Thursday that he “categorically denies playing any role in creating a toxic environment at Dartmouth.” He has previously apologized for acting “unprofessionally in public at conferences while intoxicated.”

But the lawsuit, per the frat house reference, describes a pattern of misconduct on and around campus, and of “conditioning faculty mentorship and support on students’ participation in the alcohol-saturated ‘party culture’ they perpetuated.”

The professors' “predatory club" was arguably “founded” by Heatherton, a prolific researcher who in 2005 was a co-principal investigator on Dartmouth’s biggest-ever peer-reviewed grant, according to the lawsuit. The faculty members conducted lab and one-on-one meetings at bars. Drinking alcohol, often to excess, was expected at department gatherings, and Kelley allegedly labeled one student who refused to drink a “bitch.” Comments about students' anatomy were commonplace; one student was told she didn't need a "boob job," for example, and another student was told a colleague had a "big penis." The professors allegedly asked students to late-night hot tub, or “tubby time,” parties at their homes, encouraged female students to stay overnight and invited undergraduates to use real cocaine during class lectures on addiction as part of a “demonstration.”

As for Dartmouth, the lawsuit says that it has known about the professors’ behavior, via student reports, since at least 2002. “But Dartmouth did nothing and ignored” them, it says, “thereby ratifying the violent and criminal acts of its professors.”

Allegedly emboldened by Dartmouth’s failure to respond to complaints against the department, Whalen announced to a group of students in 2010-11 that one female complainant’s action had “backfired” and that she’d lost “resources” and “steam in her career,” the suit says. The complainant “got what was coming to her, of course -- you don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” Whalen allegedly said.

Finally, in April 2017, according to the lawsuit, a group of female graduate students together contacted Dartmouth’s Title IX Office, which is responsible for complying with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibiting gender-based discrimination. But Dartmouth again “did nothing” to immediately alleviate the situation and even encouraged students to continue to work with the professors so as not to disrupt their studies. As a result, it says, Whalen sexually assaulted one of the complainants 20 days later, after he allegedly forced the graduate student into a night of drinking with him.

The student says she attempted to leave Whalen's home several times, but he did not let her. When he allegedly forced her into intercourse, she says she begged him to wear a condom and he refused. Kelley also allegedly pressured another plaintiff, also a graduate student, into sex in 2015. After she confronted him about it, he allegedly tried to coerce her into leaving Dartmouth early, saying she wasn’t getting “anything done here” and was “really bitter.”

The plaintiffs and the other women in the department continued to have to work with the professors for four more months, with the sexual harassment “unabated,” until they were placed on leave. Dartmouth did not publicly acknowledge the suspensions, causing some students to post fliers on campus asking about their “missing” professors, according to lawsuit.

Eventually, some 27 complainants became involved in a Title IX investigation, the lawsuit says. Soon after Dartmouth was forced by news media to publicly acknowledge the case, last fall, New Hampshire’s attorney general opened a criminal investigation into the allegations.

Dartmouth later hired an outside attorney to conduct a third-party investigation, but the college stopped the inquiry and allowed the professors to retire or resign, some 15 months after the group of graduate students’ initial complaints, the lawsuit says.

“The seven plaintiffs, each an exemplary female scientist at the start of her career, came to Dartmouth to contribute to a crucial and burgeoning field of academic study,” reads the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs were instead sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by the department’s tenured professors and expected to tolerate increasing levels of sexual predation.”

The women are seeking $70 million in damages and to force Dartmouth to adopt “meaningful reforms that will permit women to engage in rigorous scientific study without fear of being sexually harassed and sexually assaulted.”

“Sexual misconduct and harassment have no place at Dartmouth,” the college said in a statement. As a result of the misconduct it found earlier this year, it said, “we took unprecedented steps toward revoking their tenure and terminating their employment. They are no longer at Dartmouth and remain banned from our campus and from attending all Dartmouth-sponsored events, no matter where the events are held.”

While applauding the “courage” it took for the students bring the misconduct allegations to Dartmouth’s attention last year, Dartmouth said it “respectfully, but strongly” disagrees with the characterizations of its actions in the complaint.

Dartmouth remains “open to a fair resolution of the students’ claims through an alternative to the court process,” it added.

Michael Barasch, managing partner of Barasch McGarry, who has represented thousands of clergy sex-abuse victims, said Dartmouth’s lawsuit “should be a loud and clear warning to institutions of higher education that ignoring sexual misconduct could have serious financial consequences. Even for a college like Dartmouth, with a $5 billion endowment, $70 million amounts to an enormous liability.” Barasch said the case also underscores that institutions must create processes by which survivors can report abuse "without the threat of retaliation, for both moral and financial reasons.”

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Faculty at Kean U China campus won't be Kean employees for much longer

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 08:00

The Kean Federation of Teachers is raising alarms about a plan to change the fundamental terms of employment for faculty members teaching at Kean University’s campus in China. Currently, faculty who teach at the Wenzhou-Kean University campus are employees of Kean, a public university in New Jersey. Starting July 1 they will be employees of Wenzhou-Kean.

Kean says that it will continue to control academics at the institution and that as Wenzhou-Kean has grown, it has become more efficient for its Chinese branch to pay faculty members directly. But James A. Castiglione, the president of the Kean Federation of Teachers and an associate professor of physics at the New Jersey campus, said the change raises a whole host of questions, including questions about how academic freedom will be protected and whether there will be changes to the pay, benefits and tenure status of faculty teaching at the Wenzhou-Kean campus. Kean says it intends to provide comparable pay and benefits to faculty at WKU after the change, but Castiglione said that since faculty will no longer be eligible for union membership and covered by the union's contract, there is no guarantee of that.

“The president says the only change is they’re being paid by China, but it’s a little bit like saying we’re moving your address to the moon -- that’s all, that’s the only change, you’re moving to the moon,” Castiglione said. “There’s a whole cascade of problems that flow from that.”

Castiglione said the change will effectively make faculty members at Wenzhou-Kean employees of the Chinese government. A press release from the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey bears the striking headline “Kean U. Hands Over Overseas Faculty to Communist China.”

“To say that you’re an employee of Wenzhou-Kean versus an employee of the government -- there’s no distinction,” Castiglione said. “The government bought the land; it paid for the construction of the building; it provides the money that runs the university … If you go to the Wenzhou-Kean website and you print out an organizational chart of Wenzhou-Kean, what you’ll see is that the very top of the organizational chart is the CCP secretary -- that is, the Chinese Communist Party secretary.”

Kean’s vice president of university relations, Karen Smith, said that Wenzhou-Kean is a joint initiative between Kean and its Chinese partner, Wenzhou University. She said Kean will retain academic control over the institution after the change in the employment structure. “That’s part of the agreement for the establishment of Wenzhou-Kean University in the first place and that is what will continue,” Smith said.

A letter from Kean president Dawood Farahi says that Kean will continue to set academic policies and that "senior academic managers" -- which Smith defined as administrators at the associate dean level or higher -- will continue to be employed by Kean even though the faculty they manage will soon be Wenzhou-Kean employees. (Castiglione was skeptical: “Does anyone really believe the Kean academic managers will have any authority?” he asked).

“To be clear, academic management, standards, policies, assessment and accreditation will be managed by Kean USA, with all senior academic managers remaining Kean USA employees,” Farahi wrote. “Moreover, no Wenzhou-Kean faculty member can be appointed or reappointed without the recommendation of the Kean USA president/provost, which will only occur following the normal Kean USA evaluation process via the provost’s office.”

The letter does not specify the converse of that: whether approval from the Kean president or provost will be required for a faculty member to be terminated. Officials at Kean, which closed at 4 p.m. Thursday for snow, did not provide clarification on whether that would be the case.

"While we understand some people may purposely misconstrue information about this transition, the administration is focused on communicating the facts directly with faculty," the letter from Farahi states. "Our objective is to focus on what benefits our students both at WKU and Kean USA and to provide faculty at WKU with comparable salary, benefits and other privileges as those who work here at Kean USA. In a recent meeting Kean University leadership clearly stated that faculty will receive comparable tenure status, benefits and compensation in Chinese currency."

The letter continues: "It is worth noting that our sister institutions in China, [New York University] Shanghai and Duke Kunshan, are already using the local employment model, and have been successfully for a few years.” A spokesman for Duke University confirmed that faculty hired at the Duke Kunshan campus are Duke Kunshan, not Duke, employees. Similarly, a spokesman for NYU said that NYU Shanghai, not NYU, employs faculty in China. 

Kevin Kinser, a professor and chair of education policy studies at Pennsylvania State University, said via email that faculty members at Kean “are right to resist this move, and I would expect this to get the attention of Kean’s accreditor.”

“Given China’s increasing restrictions on free speech and dissent, I would be interested in how Kean is assured that the new model won’t affect academic freedom,” Kinser, an expert on international higher education, said via email. He said he was not comforted by the fact that other institutions with branch campuses in China have similar employment models.

“In fact, I wonder how they are addressing the exact same issues,” Kinser said. “China is changing in terms of how open it is to Western ideas and challenges to [the] government agenda. This is new. Branch campuses can’t assume that the original agreements still hold. In this case, Kean needs to understand whether it still has levers of control. And I think it owes it to its constituents and stakeholders to explain how it still maintains academic control and what it will do if the Chinese government tries to restrict faculty and student autonomy.”

Kean’s hiring policies in China have come under scrutiny before. In 2015 the faculty union raised concerns about job postings for two student affairs positions that stated preferences for Chinese Communist Party members. A spokeswoman for Kean said at the time that per its agreement for the campus, "All academic personnel are hired and employed by Kean University in accordance with the same laws, policies and practices at all Kean campuses. Operations personnel are hired by our Chinese partners in accordance with their laws."

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David Warren, longtime head of private college group, to retire

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 11/16/2018 - 08:00

David L. Warren, who as head of the nation's association of private nonprofit colleges earned a reputation among admirers and critics alike as higher education's power lobbyist, will retire next summer after 25 years.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities announced this morning that Warren would retire as its president. Warren came to NAICU in 1993 after a decade as president of Ohio Wesleyan University. His career, which also included senior administrative posts at Antioch College and Yale University, included a stint in city politics in New Haven, Conn.

Warren's chief accomplishments during his tenure at NAICU included:

  • Spearheading the Student Aid Alliance, which was born in the wake of the effort by congressional Republicans working to implement the Contract for America in 1994 to cut student financial aid, and has been activated whenever federal funds for students are threatened.
  • Co-chairing the National Campus Voter Registration Project, which has encouraged and driven student participation in the electoral process.
  • Creating UCAN, the University and College Accountability Network, which is designed to provide comparable information about institutions as an alternative to federal accountability systems that Warren considered too intrusive.

Warren's time at NAICU is notable as much for what did not happen as for what did.

Longtime observers of higher education will recall indelible images of Warren, back problems and all, folded into a chair at every meeting of then Education Secretary Margaret Spellings's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, for which Warren was a leading voice against what he considered federal overreach. College leaders, with support from Congress, blunted the impact of the Spellings Commission.

Warren's fierce advocacy for his group's members and their students sometimes put him at odds with Washington's other sectors of higher education. While federal support for higher education doesn't have to be a zero-sum game, since budgets for financial aid and other needs can go up, it frequently is, and the priorities of different types of institutions (public versus private, two-year versus four-year, higher priced versus lower, etc.) can vary.

Critics sometimes asserted that Warren's lobbying success for independent colleges -- which make up about a third of the nation's colleges even though they enroll about 15 percent of all students -- offered policy makers a skewed perspective of what higher education and college students wanted and needed.

A 2014 report from New America asserted that NAICU enjoyed an “outsized influence” over federal policy, generally, as well as within the “Big Six” associations of college presidents. The report focused on NAICU's opposition to a proposed federal student-level database that would provide more expansive data about how colleges are performing, which public colleges have generally supported.

Private colleges have been fortunate to have Warren in their corner all these years, Andrew Benton, president of Pepperdine University and chair of NAICU's board, said in a prepared statement.

“During the past 25 years, David has been able to organize and mobilize an extremely diverse membership, one that has grown in every year he has been president, representing schools of all sizes and missions from around the country," he said. "In a time of immense partisanship in Washington, D.C., NAICU, together with its members, has been able to realize significant federal policy results for private, nonprofit colleges and universities and, more importantly, the students they serve.”

Added Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, “David Warren is a remarkable leader. Throughout his career, David has stood for the very best that American higher education represents. He has been a champion for equity and access, and has promoted initiatives that ensure that higher education remains an engine of social mobility. All of us are in David’s debt.”

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UNC Chapel Hill students targeted by white nationalist figure online

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:00

The social network Gab isn’t the same as more mainstream platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

At Gab, without the rule book that governs other social media, users can freely spew white supremacist-laced vitriol, hailing “the end of the Jewish century” and calling their critics “faggots.”

It’s there that the alleged shooter of 11 Jewish men and women -- whom he murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last month -- often felt comfortable posting blatantly anti-Semitic hate speech. His bio on the website read, “Jews are the children of Satan.” He wrote on Gab just minutes before the attack.

Another one of the website’s more prolific users, known as Jack Corbin, is ideologically allied with the suspected killer, Robert Bowers, 46, who would often repost Corbin. And Corbin -- whose real name is unknown, but has generated a following of more than 2,000 people on Gab -- has been harassing college students online, notably activists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, near where Corbin says he lives.

The university has not directly addressed Corbin’s actions, publicly only saying that students who feel unsafe should report threats to police.

Corbin maintains both his Gab and at least two Twitter pages. On both sites, he often discusses UNC students by name -- those involved in protests around campus -- and has attempted to hassle them directly. He has been particularly interested in those who have pushed to bring down Silent Sam, the controversial Confederate monument on campus.

On Gab, Corbin took delight in coming up with a nickname for a graduate student who has protested Silent Sam -- calling her “lampshade.” One of Corbin’s followers had taunted the student, saying he would take her to the lampshade factory, apparently a reference to stories of Nazis who made lampshades from human skin. The student declined to be interviewed but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Corbin has posted comments about her “looks, ethnicity and background” since August and she had started learning cardio kickboxing because she feared potential violence.

The graduate student was also interviewed for a report on Corbin by the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. When the article was published, Corbin immediately began targeting the student journalist who wrote it, Charlie McGee.

Corbin wrote online that McGee’s reporting was a “hatchet job” and goaded him directly on Twitter, sending him tweets, calling him “fake news,” President Trump’s common refrain, and emphasizing the last three letters of McGee’s first name -- “lie.”

“You can't spell Charlie McGee without LIE!,” Corbin wrote in a tweet, adding that the Tar Heel should fire him. He also tweeted at a Tar Heel editor asking how to contact McGee.

McGee said in an email he was concerned about anonymous rhetoric such as Corbin's has become increasingly directed toward the UNC campus.

"The activist community on campus has reacted strongly to the article," McGee wrote in an email. "They see it as an issue that has not been discussed nearly enough ... their fear is that a mainstream conversation will only be held after something tragic happens." 

According to an analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- which tracks bigotry and hate crimes across the country -- of Corbin’s and Bowers’s social media, Bowers interacted with Corbin the most out of all the alt-right figures on Gab.

Bowers shared posts from Corbin that contained deeply homophobic sentiments -- one read, “Whites have a right to exist, faggots do not. Faggots are not human beings, they are AIDS carrying flesh muppets,” according to the SPLC. In July, Bowers reposted Corbin following riots in Portland, Ore., that were led by far-right groups, including one called the Proud Boys. One member of that group was recorded knocking out an antifascist protester, a video that went viral among extremists and helped boost recruitment for the Proud Boys. Bowers shared Corbin’s commentary on the incident:

“I hear there’s a 75 percent chance he might die,” Corbin wrote, referencing the protester who had been attacked. “One less Antifa terrorist and one less loose end if that happens!”

Corbin did not respond to a request for comment sent to his Gab account.

Derek Kemp, UNC’s associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management, said in a statement that the institution “takes the safety of our students and employees very seriously and relies on information from the community to keep our campus safe.”

“Anyone who is receiving threats should call or email UNC police so that they may assist,” Kemp’s statement reads. “When university police receive any report from a member of our campus community who is concerned about their safety, they follow up with the individual who made the report to learn more, and if the reporting individual wishes, will investigate further.”

The media relations office at UNC did not respond to a question whether officials were concerned by Corbin’s behavior. But since the Pittsburgh shooting, students have been speaking out about hate they have experienced, and their fears that the insults could translate into real violence.

A doctoral student from the university, Calvin Deutschbein, said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that activists tend not to report to law enforcement or administrators for fear they will instead be retaliated against.

Deutschbein is one of Corbin’s frequent targets. Corbin began harassing Deutschbein a couple months ago when he participated in a campus demonstration around the sexual assault accusations against newly installed Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, then a nominee. Deutschbein was featured in a photograph of the protest posted to Twitter, which Corbin apparently saw. Since then, Corbin has latched on to Deutschbein, referring to him as an “antifa leader” and sharing personal details. Corbin also made fun of his hairline.

The harassment ramped up shortly after the Pittsburgh shooting, Deutschbein said. But he said he knows Corbin bullies women more, with “psychological and misogynistic abuse.” For instance, with the graduate student, Corbin mocked her about her brother’s recent death.

Deutschbein said he sometimes reports Corbin on Twitter (Gab allows hate speech, but not threats of violence). He doesn’t want to block Corbin because some of his followers do share insinuations of violence after Corbin posts about him, and Deutschbein said he wants to make sure he knows about them.

“I don’t know if that makes me safer or not,” he said.

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After expansion, Drew University plans nonacademic cuts

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:00

Faced with tight budgets, a nagging deficit and a reduced endowment, Drew University, a small, private liberal arts institution west of New York City, has opted to expand -- not trim -- academic offerings. To reduce its operating budget, Drew is cutting, among other line items, cops and sippy cups.

President MaryAnn Baenninger (right) said the university has refused to cut virtually any student-facing programs. “Our plan has been to grow and then get more efficient,” she said.

On the chopping block: nonacademic expenses and fringe benefits for faculty and staff ranging from public safety to retiree health-care subsidies to daycare.

Baenninger said aggressive cost-cutting should close Drew’s funding gap in three years. But instead of cutting academics, Drew has pushed to woo new students by creating new undergraduate majors in media and communications, public health, and cybersecurity, as well as master’s-level programs in finance and education. It added men’s and women’s golf teams and is redesigning its theological school curriculum.

Earlier this month, Baenninger told students, faculty and alumni that a new undergraduate program, dubbed Launch, slated for fall 2019, will guarantee “real-world, résumé-ready experiences” such as internships, hands-on research and residencies in cities like London, New York and Washington. (The effort’s motto: “Put the ‘Hire’ in Higher Education.”) She didn't publicly announce the anticipated cuts.

In a message to the campus, Baenninger said Launch arose, in part, from an effort to understand why some prospective students don’t choose Drew -- and how others who do “experience more difficulty than others in translating their successes at Drew into a meaningful career arc.”

The only actual programmatic cut that Baenninger has recommended: a low-residency, master’s-level poetry program that enrolls nine students. They’ll complete their degrees, but the program will not accept new recruits. Otherwise, she said, Drew plans cuts in mostly non-student-facing areas. It doesn't foresee any faculty reductions.

When Baenninger arrived four years ago, the college’s plan was to tame its growing deficit and shrinking endowment by cutting several academic programs.

“It didn’t actually make sense to me,” Baenninger said, noting that many of the majors then on the chopping block had high market demand. Instead, her staff searched “in a surgical way” for areas that had large numbers of employees but that weren’t contributing to instruction.

Among the two biggest areas: public safety and childcare.

The university plans to outsource operation of a long-standing, highly subsidized childcare center that serves dozens of campus and area families, but that “loses six figures every year -- some years it costs us $300,000,” Baenninger said. Those funds, she said, come almost entirely from undergraduate and graduate tuition proceeds. Drew expects to cut 56 positions across several areas, including childcare.

“In my view, as much as I understand why day care is very, very important -- and we’ll look at that moving forward -- I have to steward our tuition dollars as best I can,” Baenninger said.

The childcare center won’t go away -- Drew will find ways to outsource its operation. The university hasn’t yet figured out whether it will subsidize the new entity.

Addressing the safety issue, Baenninger said Drew, which sits on a wooded 186-acre campus in Madison, N.J., a tony suburb 25 miles west of New York City, is already safe -- in an interview, she said with a little laugh that she could anticipate the next question: Isn’t Drew safe because it spends so much on keeping trouble out?

“We’re a very, very safe campus, but we were putting more resources into that than our peer institutions were,” she said. A benchmarking study found that Drew had about twice as much public safety staff as comparable colleges, meaning that on occasion small skirmishes or incidences of misbehavior are met with an overwhelming response.

She has also combined the university’s career center with its study abroad, civic engagement and student research offices, in the process hiring a new director.

And Drew cut some health benefits for retirees and their dependents.

Reducing these bedrock benefits is difficult for the community, she said, “but they were a long time coming” and had to be considered to keep academic programs afloat.

“Everything we’re cutting is not mission-central,” she said. “There are things that had been part of our ethos and our culture for a long time -- we want to shift the resources that we used for them towards student-focused programs.”

Professor Sarah Abramowitz, who chairs Drew's math department, said she has spoken to colleagues who are “very sad to lose some of these benefits that they really care about,” especially valuable childcare subsidies that many younger faculty and staff have come to rely upon. But she said most see the bigger picture. “Other schools are experiencing the same problems, but the way they’re doing it is by cutting programs,” she said. Those can easily create a “downward spiral” that spells the end of institutions like Drew, making them less, not more appealing to new students.

“As we grow our enrollments, we’re going to solve our fiscal problems,” Abramowitz said.

The changes follow several years of bleak financial news for Drew, which was established in 1867 as a Methodist seminary and eventually became a small college for men.

Former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean led the school for 15 years, from 1990 to 2005, expanding the campus while growing Drew’s endowment. But by the time Baenninger arrived in 2014, the university had an $11.1 million operating deficit -- which soon grew to $13.7 million, or about 15 percent of spending.

In 2015, as she pushed to reinvigorate the university, Baenninger told faculty, "The ocean liner has stalled, and it's facing the wrong direction. It will take us four or five years to recover."

Since then she has spent heavily to turn Drew around, spending down the university’s endowment in the process -- it dropped 19.1 percent between 2015 and 2016, to $172.2 million, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund. The trend has since reversed: the endowment now stands at $177.8 million, a 3.2 percent gain.

In March 2017, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Drew’s bonds for the second time in 15 months, dropping one series from Ba3 to B2 and two others from Ba3 to B3. Moody’s said Drew’s operating deficits would likely last longer than expected -- analysts predicted that Drew’s financial outlook would remain “challenged” for several years, making a return to financial stability “very difficult.”

Drew later took its debt private, removing it from Moody’s gaze.

Reflecting on the downgrades, Baenninger said the ratings agency “would have felt better if we cut first and then grew -- but the board and I didn’t believe that would work.”

As part of her plan to bring in more revenue, Baenninger hired Robert Massa as senior vice president for enrollment and institutional planning. Massa had previously helped Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College turn around its enrollment and revenue.

Since his arrival, freshman enrollment has grown, from 302 in 2015 to 420 this fall, just short of Drew’s goal of 430.

Next fall, Baenninger said, Drew needs 470 new students to meet anticipated expenses. By 2021, the university needs a “steady state” of 500 new students each fall.

Drew also reset tuition this fall to 2010 levels, lowering it 20 percent. Its discount rate, meanwhile, has fallen, from 67 percent in 2015 to 57 percent this fall -- discount rates typically fall when institutions reset tuition.

Baenninger said more revenue and lower spending could wipe out Drew’s deficit by 2021. The following year, she said, she anticipates making larger deposits to the endowment.

“It’s going to be a few years before we start to recover from the stagnancy because of the dollars we’ve had to use,” she said. “And our budget plans to make extraordinary deposits to the endowment starting in 2022.”

In the meantime, she said, alumni giving is up -- Drew’s annual fund grew 37 percent this year, to $1.6 million. One donor challenged the university to raise an additional $4 million within six months. If they did, he promised, he’d add $1 million to the total.

“We did -- and he did,” Baenninger said.

Brett Frazier, chief commercial officer at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, the enrollment management and consulting company, said he couldn't comment specifically on Drew's changes. But he said more generally that institutions like Drew shouldn't just propose new offerings “every decade or two” -- they should re-evaluate both their offerings and price “on a more consistent and frequent basis.”

Universities that remain student-focused, regardless of how markets are changing, “typically do quite well and come out ahead of their peers,” he said. He also said universities that focus on personally appealing to everyone from prospective students to alumni "and everyone in between" are typically more successful.

“We expect personalization in every other aspect of our lives, and we know that personalization is possible primarily through data and analytics,” Frazier said.

His colleague Brian Gawor, Ruffalo's vice president for research, said asking students and families “what they want and how they want it delivered” is a huge key to success. Families like those that consider Drew are looking for institutions that focus on individual student success, not just recruitment, he said. "Americans are demanding more of higher education."

One of the key metrics universities should consider, he said, is student engagement -- not just in course work but in everything, from clubs and organizations to how often a student uses campus dining facilities and, on a deeper level, how engaged a student is with classmates who are different than she is.

“If we’re going to provide a life-changing experience, let’s talk about the things that are truly life-changing,” Gawor said.

David Strauss, a principal at Art & Science Group, a Baltimore-based consulting firm that advises universities on strategy, said each institution must preserve the “core of your reason for being.” Other expenditures -- even those that employees have come to expect and rely upon -- aren’t necessarily worth keeping if they don’t accomplish this. “That often means that an institution has to prune at areas that are not at the core of its reason for being,” he said. Such cuts can be painful, especially if they serve the greater public or are highly valued, like day care or dependent health care. “But we have to take a step back strategically and realize that not all institutions can afford to be doing all things.”

Like Frazier and Gawor, Strauss wouldn’t comment specifically on Drew’s efforts -- Art & Science has consulted with the university on its Launch effort, for one thing. He said all institutions are “idiosyncratic,” and that virtually no solution will work across all of them. “Suffice to say that whenever you hear people say, ‘Institution X is doing this and it’s really working for them -- we should go do it too,’ they’re almost always wrong.”

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Investigation finds Texas college allegedly changed nursing students' grades

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:00

A wide-ranging investigation into the administrative practices of a Texas community college found that the institution improperly changed students' grades and did not have a policy for doing so.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or THECB, released a report of the findings of its investigation of Coastal Bend College earlier this week. The report also outlined how the college failed to properly administer a state nursing grant program.

Officials at the college are disputing parts of the report, although they wouldn’t go into detail about which parts they believe are wrong.

“The Coastal Bend College Board of Trustees will review the results of THECB report at its upcoming board meeting and CBC administration will then consider further comment,” Bernie Saenz, director of marketing and public relations for the college, said in an email. “CBC administration will say that it believes the report contains inaccuracies. We will also note that the report makes no findings of illegality or fraud.”

Saenz said college administrators take the report seriously and are working to improve Coastal Bend's processes and procedures.

The investigation found that 275 grade changes were made for 124 students on nursing exams administered in the fall semester last year. The grade changes occurred 45 days after the end of the semester.

Of those grade changes:

  • More than half, or 139, were not signed off by a faculty member, which was required by the grade change form.
  • Thirty-one were not processed and, as result, do not appear on students’ transcripts.
  • Sixteen grade-change forms did not explain the reasoning for the change.
  • Eight were changed from a failing to passing grade, including three for which forms did not include a faculty signature.
  • Seven grade change forms could not be "tested" because a completed transcript wasn’t available.

Another 21 grade changes occurred earlier this year in the spring semester; eight of them had an incorrect letter grade and moved the student from failing to passing.

Kelly Carper Polden, a spokeswoman for the higher education coordinating board, said in an email that the board has not yet determined the effect the grade changes had on student outcomes, such as graduation.

The investigation also found that the college didn’t comply with the requirements of a state nursing grant. The college is being asked to refund $260,287 to THECB.

“Weak controls over both grant administration and grade changes indicate weak institutional integrity and could result in numerous impacts including accreditation issues,” according to the report.

The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission. The institution's next reaffirmation is in 2024.

THECB launched the investigation after Matilda Saenz, a former interim vice president of instruction and economic development at Coastal Bend, accused administrators of committing fraud by changing the grades of nursing students without faculty consent. She was fired in August after initially making the allegations and reporting to board members a climate of intimidation at the college.

The investigation found that some administrators, staff, faculty and students failed to meet with investigators out of fear of retaliation.

“A common theme communicated to the auditors by these individuals was that staff felt intimidated and threatened by the possible loss of their job if they were found to have been providing information or otherwise cooperating with the auditors,” according to the report.

Representatives from the Texas Community College Teaching Association could not be reached for comment.

THECB will discuss the report and any follow-up steps during the next board meeting in January, Polden said.

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English literature and decorating magazines collide in professor's new book

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:00

Which of Mr. Darcy’s portraits is Elizabeth’s favorite? How would Lady Macbeth describe her style? What inspired the paint color of Dorothy’s rural Kansas home?

In her new book Decorating a Room of One’s Own (Abrams Books), Susan Harlan, an English professor at Wake Forest University, answers these questions and others through Apartment Therapy-style interviews with some of literature’s most famous characters.

The idea for the book was born out of an essay, a “house tour” with Jane Eyre, that Harlan wrote for The Toast, an online humor and feminist writing website.

“Thornfield Hall became an accidental decorating inspiration, an idea that struck me as darkly funny, given the tragedies and horrors that the house holds. I grabbed my laptop and started to take notes while I watched the movie,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “What if Jane were interested in paint colors and cushions? Maybe scorched-by-a-fire-set-by-your-husband’s-doomed-secret-wife is the new shabby chic.”

Her first essay turned into a series for The Toast, and after the site shut down in 2016, she decided to turn the essays into a book.

“Literary houses are just so important, and there’s so many books that we can’t even think about without thinking about where these characters lived,” Harlan said. One of those homes is Pemberley, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s home, which Harlan teaches about when her students read Pride and Prejudice.

For a year, Harlan bought subscriptions to many popular decorating and home design magazines and revisited her favorite books to imagine how each character would plan, talk about and decorate their own space. Some books had already laid out the characters’ homes in great detail. For others, she got more creative.

“In some cases I wanted to be really faithful to the descriptions in the book, but of course, parody operates with exaggeration and license, so some [chapters] are more fanciful than others,” Harlan said. “Howards End by E. M. Forster … is more strict. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I think I’m just kind of playing around a little bit more and imaging this knight/fertility god having a house filled with plants.”

Each chapter begins with an introduction to the characters that also gives readers a reminder about the book’s plot. Then, Harlan “interviews” the character about their style, important influences and favorite pieces à la an Apartment Therapy house tour. Harlan’s real-life Winston-Salem home was featured on the site in 2016.

"I am quite skilled at tablescapes. I love a good centerpiece heavily overhung with cobwebs and infested with speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies. My real pièce de résistance was for my wedding. You think I was going to let all that go to waste? Christ, no. You don’t throw out a perfectly good wedding cake just because you don’t actually get married," Harlan wrote in the voice of Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. "The moldering bride cake really ties the room together, and one day, when I die, my corpse will be laid out on the table, too -- in what you might call the ultimate tablescape."

Harlan's interview with Father from Swiss Family Robinson about the family's elaborate treehouse home reflects his personality and the time period.

"Ship chic meets tiki, with a soupçon of colonialism, although we haven’t found any savages," Father said about the family's style. "It is important to control the natural world, to transform nature’s bounty into useful things that make your life more comfortable and meaningful. There’s no limit to what a man can do! And by that I really do mean a man."

Harlan strives to embody the character’s voice in each interview.

“Characters that I really admire like Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility or Jo in Little Women … I wanted them to be themselves,” she said. “Think about what kinds of things they would actually like.”

Along the way she pokes fun at the format of modern home decorating media, which, she said, promotes certain styles or items as “fetish objects that everyone is supposed to want.”

“I wanted them to speak with that voice as well, since the joke, obviously, was kind of imaging the way that these literary characters talk about their homes the way that HGTV does,” she said.

She also included interviews with characters she didn’t particularly like, such as the Professor in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the book he comes off as distant, snobbish and old -- traits that are reflected in his style.

"The perfectly splendid property boasts a wireless, a lot of books, an odd-looking front door, a balcony, long passages and rows of doors leading into empty rooms, a Green Room, and the relentless sound of owls," Harlan wrote.

Designing a home for a stereotypical “professor” was an interesting exercise for Harlan, who is often told she doesn’t look the part.

"I have had so many people tell me I don’t seem like a professor or don’t look like a professor, which is something that so many women and people of color in the field deal with," Harlan said.

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Academics alarmed by ouster of university president in China

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:00

Scholars have warned that the state of academic freedom in China is “going from bad to worse” after the president of one of the country’s leading universities was ousted and replaced by a Communist Party chief.

Last month, Lin Jianhua was suddenly removed from his position as president of Peking University, with state officials claiming that he was “past retirement age.” He was replaced by Hao Ping, a professor and former Communist Party secretary of the institution who had previously served as a vice minister of education in the country.

The university has received criticism in recent months over its handling of a decades-old allegation, which came to light as a result of the Me Too movement, that a former lecturer raped a student who later died by suicide. Alumni had called for Lin to resign, but it is unclear whether this was a factor in his removal.

Christopher Balding, an American academic and critic of the Chinese government who lost his post as an associate professor at Peking University HSBC Business School earlier this year -- and subsequently left the country, citing fears for his safety -- said that there has been “increasing party control over universities for some time."

“Academic freedom in China is clearly on the retreat,” he said. “I have been told of other universities where the party has taken significantly more control and taken action against foreign or Chinese academics. The idea that the party is not pre-eminent in the management of a university is just false.”

Kevin Carrico, lecturer in Chinese studies at Australia’s Macquarie University, said that “academic freedom was already in quite dire straits in China” but “the recent personnel changes at Peking … suggest that the situation is going from bad to worse -- even worse than pessimists like myself would have expected.”

“The fact that someone with such close links with the party-state apparatus -- the same apparatus imprisoning millions in Xinjiang and eliminating civil society throughout China -- should become the head of Peking University, one of the best universities in China and ostensibly a top global university, highlights just how serious the already quite distressing political environment in China has become, and makes a mockery of hardworking academics there who simply want to think and speak freely like their colleagues elsewhere,” he said.

Hans van de Ven, professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Cambridge, said that universities in China are “being purged and have to toe the party line,” adding that “it is tragic that Peking University, the most important university that has done most to make the case for academic autonomy, is now suffering the consequences of these developments.”

Jonathan Sullivan, director of the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute, said that the “coupling of party and university administration” has previously “been avoided” and Hao is “well qualified for the job politically and as an education professional.”

However, he added that the presidential reshuffle, “if it were designed to signify closer party control in higher education, would be compatible with the broader atmosphere of increasing circumscriptions in the sector.”

“Given that this is Peking, not only the top university but the most politically symbolic, it could be interpreted as giving the green light to other institutions to follow suit, but that is speculation on my part,” he said.

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Paper finds female chairs benefit departments' gender diversity and equity

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/14/2018 - 08:00

It’s common advice: to increase faculty gender diversity, increase the gender diversity of institutional leaders. But what about department chairs, a kind of middle-management position -- do they make a difference? And beyond gender diversity, does having a female chair help improve the success of female academics?

The answer to much of the above is yes, according to a new working paper finding that in departments with female chairs, gender gaps in publication and tenure rates are smaller among assistant professors. The pay gap also shrinks. After departments replace a male chair with a female chair, they see an increase of about 10 percent in the number of incoming female graduate students, with no change in students’ ability levels.

Yet the takeaway is not that it’s “always necessarily better for a woman to work in a female-chaired department, or that chairs show favoritism towards individuals of their own gender,” the paper cautions. Rather, it says, the results reinforce other findings suggesting that “managers from different backgrounds often take different approaches, highlighting the value of diversity among decision-makers.”

Further work is needed to understand the management practices that may “help all individuals and academic departments achieve their full potential, regardless of gender or other characteristics.”

The paper, “Female Managers and Gender Disparities: The Case of Academic Department Chairs,” was written by Andrew Langan, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Princeton University who has previously found that graduate economics programs with better outcomes for women tend to hire more female professors, enable adviser-student contact, offer “collegial” research seminars and employ senior faculty members who are aware of gender issues.

Langan said this week that he wanted to study female department chairs in particular because academe is, “in many ways, an ideal setting to look at the impacts women have in management and how they differ from men.” That’s a major of area of research with many unanswered questions, he added, and academe is an “especially nice place to look for answers.” Why? Academe has long-run data on individuals' background and outcomes, to often include public salary data.

From a policy perspective, there’s big “interest at universities in reducing gender and other disparities in things like pay and promotion,” he said. And government, business and academe alike seek to increase gender balance in certain fields.

What A Chair Does

Langan said his results indicate that “something about how the department is managed actually matters,” whoever the chair happens to be. Again, these results don’t seem to merely come from having a female chair, but rather what that chair does, he said.

“I think departments who are interested in changing their outcomes would do well to take that into account, and to look at their practices.”

For his study, Langan collected a database of department chairs in economics, accounting and political science across nearly 200 institutions, spanning 35 years. (He estimates that his paper represents the largest compilation of faculty rosters to date.) He then examined cross-department variation in the timing of transitions between department chairs, along with variation within a department of the chair's gender over time.

Among assistant professors, working more years under female department chairs is associated with smaller gender gaps in publication and tenure rates. The wage gap across a department also shrinks in the years after a woman replaces a man as chair. And female chairs raise the number of women in incoming graduate student cohorts without affecting the number of men, or proxies for ability.

Source: Langan

Interestingly, Langan found no increase in women’s representation on the department faculty under female chairs. There was also no effect, either way, of a female chair on the number of top papers published per person at the department level.

As to why female chairs appear to have some positive effects, Langan in his paper guesses that chairs act as mentors or role models “and steer the culture and tone of the department.” Having a female role model as chair might “increase women’s demand for spots on the faculty or in the student body,” he adds. That assertion is supported by many other studies on role models. But Langan said more is at work than seeing oneself in a mentor, namely the chairs’ wheelhouses: dividing and negotiating for departmental resources, staffing admissions committees, and dealing with professors who have received outside offers.

Langan's paper includes an advanced analysis to estimate the change in gender representation that would result from a policy that replaced some male chairs in economics with women. Even a major effort to replace male chairs at 25 percent of departments would result in “fairly small impacts on the number of female faculty 20 years in the future, relying on mechanical effects alone,” he says.

“So while female chairs meaningfully increase gender equity in outcomes, this exercise suggests some other important factors lay behind long-run demographic shifts observed in some fields.”

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