Higher Education News

Experts say new 'Jansporting' trend is dangerous

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

College students’ drinking habits -- taking a shot through the eyeball or an alcohol enema, the crudely named “butt-chugging” -- have generally inspired incredulity and some head shaking among their elders.

After a fraternity pledge at Pennsylvania State University, Timothy Piazza, died in February, however, one detail that emerged was Piazza’s fellow fraternity members’ decision not to call an ambulance after he tumbled 15 feet down a fight of steps -- instead they strapped a backpack to him to (theoretically) ensure he wouldn’t recline and choke on his own vomit.

It’s a fad that has taken on many names -- “turtling,” “backpacking” or “Jansporting,” after the popular backpack brand. Students fill the bag with heavy objects and place it on the back of the intoxicated person, which supposedly will prevent them from lying flat -- presumably allowing the person to be left unattended while the partying continues.

Health experts warn that so-called Jansporting is actually quite irresponsible. Though it appears to relate to the advice professionals give to not lie down to avoid death by vomit aspiration, people who are drunk can die in many other ways, and they should be supervised at all times. Above all, students should call 911 in a tenuous situation and colleges and universities should reinforce proper drinking habits through continual education, experts say.

“Jansporting” has captured some headlines since Piazza’s death and subsequent legal action against the fraternity members, but the internet has long been tuned into it. The humor blog Total Frat Move wrote about it in January 2016, with a post containing explicit instructions how to stuff a backpack full of “books, jackets, empty bottles of booze” before tightening it around a person -- “kinda like a mom would do as she’s gearing up her little tyke for their first day of kindergarten” -- though the website warns to never leave the drunk person alone.

Several Reddit threads, some as old as four years, in the “life hacks” section of the site, are devoted to the practice, though some users express skepticism -- “[maybe] read up on some first-aid techniques.”

“It’s a very interesting development,” said Aaron White, senior scientific adviser to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. “I’m really surprised about all the work we’ve done around college drinking -- somehow college students think it’s a good idea to put a backpack on their friend’s back as a lifesaving strategy.”

Other drinking trends -- some of them myths -- have emerged and evaporated: sobering up a with a mug of strong coffee or a freezing shower, White said, or inserting a tampon soaked in vodka to get drunk quickly. He said Jansporting will likely be a brief flash, too.

This method isn’t even foolproof. White said he knew of a student who went out to a bar with his friends, drank too many shots, came back to his dormitory and eventually went to bed, throwing up in his sleep. He inhaled just a bit of vomit and died a week later. White said a person doesn’t have to “drown” from vomit -- they can just inhale a bit into their lungs, where the bacteria thrives in the moist, warm environment, resulting in a slower death.

A person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) can continue to rise even after they have stopped drinking if alcohol remains in the stomach and hasn’t yet been absorbed into the bloodstream, White said. Moderate drinking will result in a 0.03 to 0.05 BAC, while 50 percent of alcohol-related deaths occur at a 0.35 or above -- so “about 10 times the effective dose.”

Once the alcohol in the blood reaches a certain point, it can start to switch off the body’s vital functions -- gag reflex, breathing and heart rates -- so a backpack wouldn’t make a difference, White said.

Students may have mixed the alcohol with something else or taken another drug, increasing the danger of leaving them alone, said Beth DeRicco, one of the chairs of the American College Health Association’s Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Coalition. Left alone, the person could also be vulnerable to sexual assault.

DeRicco and the other chairwoman, Delynne Wilcox, both said that students are all looking for a “quick fix” -- something to sober them quickly. Drinks have gotten sweeter, fruitier and more palatable, they said, citing the rise of hard lemonades and cinnamon-flavored whiskies such as Fireball. These liquors that have taken the “alcohol flavor” out of the drink can more easily lead to poisoning.

DeRicco recalled reading about IV services -- some of which can cost hundreds of dollars -- that will come to someone’s door after a night of heavy drinking and directly replenish the body’s fluids so the person can avoid a hangover.

But the only way to possibly avoid the worst outcome is for students to dial 911, said Kimberley Timpf, senior director of prevention at EverFi, which developed AlcoholEdu, the popular digital program that many colleges rely on to teach their incoming students about drinking.

When students are asked why they didn’t want to contact a medical professional or an authority figure about a dangerously intoxicated friend, they’ll say it was to avoid punishment by the college, Timpf said. But surveys reveal a different reason, she said -- many students are ignorant of the symptoms of alcohol poisoning entirely. Many institutions have created amnesty policies, too, that immunize students who seek help for themselves or their drunken friends.

The more that these trends -- such as backpacking -- are discussed, the more attention they’ll receive, and the publicity may ultimately result in students trying them, Timpf said. When she was at a training at the University of Delaware, she was pleasantly surprised to learn students hadn’t heard of filling up a backpack and strapping to someone.

More and repeated education will help students learn -- not just a single webinar at the start of their college careers, but in-person sessions to teach them, said Timpf. She said fewer and fewer students will enter college now with experience in drinking, and some may not drink at all before arriving on campus. Campuses should be obligated to create a culture that offers students alternatives to drinking so they aren’t “caught up” at a party and feel like abusing alcohol is something necessary for them to experience in college.

“The underlying message here is that we don’t want to [have to] take care of the person,” Timpf said of backpacking. “It’s ‘we’ll cross our fingers and hope that it works,’ and go about our partying while this person is passed out but sitting up. That’s a really … that’s the thing that’s most disturbing -- you’re trying to put a Band-Aid on something.”

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How two institutions diversified their faculties without spending big or setting hard targets

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:00

It’s easy to understand why so many colleges want to increase their share of faculty members who are underrepresented minorities: research suggests that cultural diversity means diversity of thought and experience -- boons to any intellectual enterprise -- and both minority and white students benefit from learning from professors who look like them, and those who don’t.

But actually diversifying faculty ranks is hard. Implicit biases persist in hiring, some academics resist explicit faculty diversity initiatives and data still demonstrate some “pipeline,” or supply, issues, especially in the natural sciences.

Yet a number of campuses have made strides toward achieving faculty diversity in a short period of time. Among them are the University of California, Riverside, and Boston College. Both institutions avoided setting hard numerical goals and opted instead for cluster hiring -- which has been proven to promote faculty diversity elsewhere -- and additional training and support for faculty search committees.

Riverside also asked all candidates for faculty jobs to submit a statement describing how they’ve worked to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in their previous positions -- as graduate students or professors -- and how they planned to continue to do so once on campus. (Pomona College, among others, has recently introduced similar requirements.) By law, faculty candidates cannot be assessed based on their personal characteristics, but there was clearly a correlation between having a compelling diversity statement and coming from a diverse background.

Ken Baerenklau, Riverside's associate provost, said the university's Bourns College of Engineering ran its own simultaneous experiment, by limiting its initial review of candidates to just research records and diversity statements. All three new hires ended up being women, and two of those were underrepresented ethnic minorities (the other hire was an underrepresented religious minority).

“It was striking,” he said. “But I do think it’s natural that those who are committed to diversity themselves or drawn to this part of our mission have had their own life experiences.”

Riverside over the past two hiring cycles recruited 35 new underrepresented-minority faculty members, comprising upwards of 22 percent of all new hires. Historically that figure has been about 13 percent of new hires. And in the most recent cycle, 30 percent of all new minority hires were in the natural sciences, technology, math and engineering. That’s significantly higher than the university's current underrepresented-minority faculty population of approximately 10 percent. And it brings Riverside’s professoriate closer to reflecting the diversity of its students, as 45 percent of undergraduates at the university are from an underrepresented minority background. The share of hires who were women also increased.

At Boston College, 46 percent of the tenure-track and tenured faculty hires last year were from minority backgrounds (39 hires total). Among all full-time hires by the college, including non-tenure-track professors, 38 percent (or 53 total) were minorities, which, in Boston College terminology, is “AHANA.” That means of African, Hispanic, Asian or Native American descent. Counting visiting professors, some 32 percent of new faculty hires (87 total) were AHANA. Currently, less than 20 percent of the Boston College faculty meets that definition, compared to 31 percent of students.

Looking only at underrepresented-minority faculty members, which means excluding professors of Asian descent -- who are in some cases overrepresented -- the figures change but still indicate progress toward diversity. Eighteen percent of new tenure-track and tenured professor hires by the college this year were underrepresented minorities. The current student body is 15 percent minority, while the faculty is less than 8 percent.

How They Did It

Neither Riverside nor Boston College announced major faculty diversity initiatives, and both institutions avoided setting numerical targets, such as a goal of X percent of the faculty being underrepresented minorities by 2025. Instead, they relied on consistent messaging from university leaders about the importance of diversity and other, somewhat more subtle changes.

Cynthia Larive, Riverside’s interim provost, said avoiding particular targets “gets people out of thinking about a quota system. We want to hire outstanding faculty members who can help the institution continue to be successful and, most importantly, who can mentor students.”

Billy Soo, vice provost for faculties at Boston College, said “just having conversations is very important -- getting the search committees and department chairs together sends a clear signal to them that we really care about this.”

Describing something like peer pressure coupled with peer support, Soo said, “Having people sit together and talk about what hiccups their departments are experiencing, and hearing what other departments are doing, puts the onus on everyone there to do something, too.”

In addition to stated commitments to diversity from administrators, both institutions offered additional training to faculty members involved in hiring. Ana M. Martínez Alemán, associate dean of faculty and academic affairs at Boston College, said search committees were up and running earlier than usual this past year, and that she met with each to review best practices focused on equity.

“We review what we know about explicit and implicit biases in academic searches,” such as privileging Ph.D.s from elite institutions and relying on “narrow” networks, she said. Recruitment strategies include working within professional organizations at meetings, especially those that have identified racial and ethnic contingencies, and asking faculty members to contact colleagues in their fields for recommendations, or to apply themselves. All departmental faculty members are provided with template emails for such outreach, so that contact is not limited to the search committee.

Committee membership is approved by the dean, who visits with each to discuss equity. And Boston College provides additional training seminars though its Office of Institutional Diversity.

“We make sure that the goal is clear and that we employ good strategies to recruit candidates of color,” Martínez Alemán said.

Riverside used similar strategies. The university also hoped that its new cluster hiring program, which focused on hiring teams of faculty members to work on particular sets of problems across departments, would offer the ancillary benefit of increasing diversity. The approach worked elsewhere: a 2015 report from the Urban Universities for HEALTH, for example, found that most surveyed institutions that engaged in cluster hiring had appointed faculty members who were more diverse in terms of race, ethnicity and gender than those who were hired through traditional department searches. Other kinds of diversity, such as the intellectual variety, also were reported by the institutions that could measure them.

Riverside’s cluster hiring initiative had a rocky rollout, with faculty members complaining in a survey that it was opaque in terms of how cluster pitches would be assessed. Critics also charged that cluster hiring seemed to supplant, rather than enhance, traditional departmental hiring -- a no-no, according to the emerging literature on effective cluster hiring.

Larive said faculty members still have their concerns about cluster hiring, but that the university is dedicated to making the process more transparent and collaborative. (Many faculty concerns about the initiative were also linked to the former provost, whom Larive replaced, and who resigned from that post facing a planned faculty vote of no confidence in his leadership.) Those comments are supported somewhat by a second faculty survey on cluster hiring in the 2016-17 academic year, the results of which were released last month. "A strong plurality of the responding faculty would support (i) a far more narrowly targeted cluster hiring program that (ii) acknowledges and builds on existing campus/departmental research strengths and/or carefully defined research areas likely to yield high-value research over a long-term research trajectory, in which (iii) departments take the lead role in conducting the cluster searches themselves," reads that report.

The dominant theme in the survey comments was a "need for a far more rigorous articulation between cluster hiring and the departments in which cluster faculty are placed," it says. Further, "there is an overwhelming consensus that the selection of cluster hire themes and recruitment of prospective faculty members often do not account for the programmatic and pedagogical needs of departments, which are the primary locus for [Riverside's] fulfillment of the academic mission."

Baerenklau said cluster hiring led to increased new hires from Native American backgrounds, in part due to the inclusion of an indigenous studies cluster. Chicano and Latino hires increased as a result of both cluster hiring and regular departmental hiring, he said, while regular departmental hiring -- with enhanced training and recruitment efforts -- resulted in increased African-American hires.

The Boston College cluster initiative was smaller (just one funded proposal) but also resulted in increased diversity. Four African-American faculty members were hired: two in English, one in theology and one in arts and art history. All four have joint appointments in the African and African diaspora studies program.

Richard Gaillardetz, Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology and department chair at the college, said he and his fellow theology professors believed that having a colleauge with a joint appointment in African and African disapora studies "was a very important initial step toward creating a more diverse theology faculty." 

He added, "We still have a long way to go in redress a pronounced gender inequity and a grievously inadequate representation of scholars of color. It has been our experience that AHANA faculty members bring a challenging, fresh perspective to our theological conversation."

Soo said this year’s progress is promising and necessary, but just a start. Only with similar gains, year after year, will the college's faculty diversity reflect that of students. For Riverside, Larive said it was hard to know for certain whether the recent gains were a “blip or trend,” but she was confident they would continue. Retaining faculty members of color through a positive climate is another crucial piece of the puzzle, she added. 

“My sense is that faculty are more comfortable with looking at diverse candidates as part of the hiring pool, without thinking of it as an affirmative action kind of hire,” Larive said. “That’s an important breakthrough for us, and we see it as a strategic advantage.”

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As deadline looms, chances of extension for Perkins Loan program uncertain

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:00

​As the expiration date for the Perkins Loan program approaches this week, it's unclear whether the program will survive to the next financial aid cycle. That's despite bipartisan support for legislation in both chambers of Congress to extend the program to 2019.

Perkins works as a supplemental (?) loan programs that allows participating colleges and universities to fill gaps between the amount of aid low-income students receive through federal direct loans and grants and the full cost of attendance. Congress hasn't put new money into the program since 2004. New loans are funded instead by the repayment of older loans. 

In the 2014-2015 academic year, about 350,000 students used the loans with an average value of around $2,000. 

Student financial aid advocates and higher ed groups say it's important to maintain the program to fill gaps in need at colleges that do participate. Without it, they say students would struggle to afford costs associated with attending class such as housing, food, and transportation, or would be forced to take on private debt with worse terms. 

Critics of the program, among them Sen. Lamar Alexander, the Republican chairman of the Senate education committee, say it adds to a needlessly complex financial aid system. Perkins has different repayment plans and loan forgiveness opportunities than direct loans, they say, and students must make a separate payment to another lender (their college) on top of the one for their federal loan. 

Jason Delisle, TK at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in the Hill this month that complexity in the financial aid system causes students to waste time and resources. 

"It also obscures prices, making it difficult for families to know ahead of time what college costs them," Delisle said. 

Advocates for maintaining the program, among them student financial aid organizations and colleges themselves, say that eliminating Perkins wouldn't reduce complexity -- it would just mean students have to find some other way to cover those costs. And they argue that Perkins was extended for two years in 2015 with the understanding that Congress would reauthorize the Higher Education Act within that timeframe. That, of course, hasn't happened and defenders of the program say such a significant change should happen in the context of a broader discussion about financial aid. 

 

The message from colleges still has traction with many in Congress based on the broad support for keeping the program. In the House, a bill authored by Rep. Elise Stefanik, a New York Republican, to extend Perkins two additional years has 226 co-sponsors, including 38 GOP members (CQ). This week, Stefanik and Rep. Mark Pocan, a Wisconsin Democrat and original co-sponsor of the bill, called for a vote on the legislation and warned that a half million students would lose access to aid. 

Maneuverings on the Hill 

In the Senate, a bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced identical legislation to extend the 

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Graduate school enrollment grows again, but at slower rate

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:00

Enrollment in graduate school is up, continuing a trend in first-time graduate students researchers have seen for five years. But growth rates are starting to dip, according to numbers from a new report the Council of Graduate Schools co-published with the Graduate Record Examinations Board.

The report shows the “strength of graduate education and the attractiveness of U.S. graduate programs to both domestic students and [students from] abroad,” said Suzanne Ortega, the council's president. “There were almost 2.25 million applications to graduate school.”

Indeed, the number of applications received last year set a record, with a growth of 1.2 percent in the number of applications compared to the previous year. However, between 2006 and 2016 -- the years the study captured -- the number of graduate applications grew at an average annual rate of 5.7 percent.

“This is our fifth consecutive year of growth in graduate enrollment, but the growth rate has flattened, really, two years in a row,” Ortega said. “This year the primary driver in the slowing rate of growth really is decreases in the rate of growth for international students.”

Colleges across the country have seen drops in international student enrollment, especially in graduate programs and among students from China, India and Saudi Arabia. Some colleges cited the Trump administration's policies, although others credited market forces as a cause. (India, China and Saudi Arabia are not covered by the Trump administration’s travel ban, although some colleges said political factors in the U.S. beyond the ban are affecting enrollment.) At the same time, other colleges reported no decline in international students.

According to the data from the Council of Graduate Schools, enrollment among first-time international graduate students decreased 0.9 percent between fall 2016 and the previous year, the first decrease since 2003. The five-year average annual increase of those students' enrollment still remains high, however, at 7.8 percent.

The slowdown also could be explained at least partially by how the data breaks down by degree, Ortega said. Fields such as business and the biological and agricultural sciences have seen significant growth in enrollment, but engineering and computer science programs have experienced declines.

“Those are fields where international students have been really a significant portion of the enrollment,” Ortega said of engineering and computer science.

On the other hand, graduate programs have seen an increase in enrollment among students from minority groups, including African-American, Latino, Native American and Alaska Native students. Students from underrepresented minority groups, according to the data, now make up 23.4 percent of first-year graduate students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

“There’s this counterbalancing,” Ortega said, adding that she’d like to see that number keep climbing. “Given the large percentage of graduate students who are in master’s programs and this sort of variation by field, our best interpretation is that graduate enrollment reflects market forces and trends.”

Another trend the study found, and that Ortega said likely was due to changes in market demands, was the growing number of certificates earned by graduate students in addition to a degree. The number of graduate certificates awarded increased 11.8 percent between the 2014-15 and 2015-16 academic years, according to the survey. That’s about a two-percentage-point jump from the five-year average.

“This is, we suspect, a definite way in which the graduate education enterprise is contributing to the demands of the work force,” said Hironao Okahana, assistant vice president for research and policy analysis at the council.

Ortega said the rising number of certificates awarded was consistent with what they had heard about the rising importance of microcredentials. She said it was unclear why there has been a rise in certificates.

“The only honest answer we can give right now is we don’t know,” said Ortega. “But educated guesses [are] this whole notion of transciptable credentials that demonstrate competencies that can be immediately deployed in the work force, or are necessary for people to keep up with rapid changes in their current field, seem to be the most logical explanations.”

While individual fields of study have had bigger changes in enrollment year to year, over all the number of students seeking graduate degrees is moving at a stable pace, even if overall growth is slowing.

“The patterns, to some extent, are self-correcting,” Ortega said. “For both statistical reasons, and for resource constraints, the really sizable increases in enrollment we’ve seen, let’s say, over the past four or five years, aren’t sustainable.”

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Troubled Baltimore City Community College considers free tuition

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:00

After years of struggling to enroll and graduate students, officials at Baltimore City Community College hope a state-mandated reorganization and a tuition-free proposal from the mayor's office will spark a turnaround at the institution.  

Earlier this year, Maryland's General Assembly passed legislation directing the community college to improve graduation rates and build better partnerships with the business community, while also replacing its Board of Trustees.  

Meanwhile, Baltimore's mayor, Catherine Pugh, recently proposed a tuition-free plan for the co, amid growing popularity across the nation for free college programs. Although there are some concerns from tuition-free advocates about whether or not the final plan will provide the academic and student supports to help the influx of students reach completion.

"The college in the view of the state Legislature has not always performed as they would like it to given the mission of the college and who we are serving," said Bryan Perry, general counsel and chief of staff to the college's president, Gordon May.  

Perry said the state government's decision to realign the college and its priorities reflects a larger national trend to encourage colleges to put more of an emphasis on getting students into jobs.  

"In 2015 we had a national uprising and many of the people involved were between 16 and 24, who didn't have a job or were underemployed or lacking an educational credential," said Perry, in reference to protests that took place following the arrest and death of Freddie Gray. "The Legislature felt the college needed to do a better job serving the citizens of Baltimore."  

Among Maryland's two-year colleges, Baltimore City has the lowest graduation rate -- 3.3 percent for students who first enrolled in 2011 -- and the lowest transfer rate -- at 11.5 percent for the same group, according to 2017 annual state and college records.  

Enrollment also has decreased significantly in Baltimore. In 2007, the college had more than 22,000 students. A decade later, roughly 16,000 students attend the campus, according to data from the college.  

"Many of our city students turned to educational opportunities elsewhere and some are foregoing education altogether and getting a job," Perry said. 

The college has until February to submit plans for improvement to the state, with a final report due in December 2018.  

Perry said Baltimore City has trimmed its budget to reflect  enrollment projections and officials have started to look at the college's real estate holdings to examine what can be leased or used for future use.  

"We don't feel like our services have suffered," Perry said. "Students will be getting a great education. We have the state's only two-year robotics degree. We do well in nursing, health science and tech areas. Students will be getting a great two-year education at no cost."  

The mayor's tuition-free proposal is one way the college hopes to work with the city to better help students. While the plan is still in development, it is expected to cost the city about $1.7 million during the first year, which would begin with the 2018 high school graduating class. The mayor's office didn't respond to interview requests. 

Baltimore wouldn't be the first troubled college to entertain the idea of a tuition-free proposal. City College of San Francisco, which only recently emerged from a years-long series of battles with its accreditor over quality and has lingering financial challenges, also has is developing a tuition-free proposal from the city.  

Sara Goldrick-Rab, a professor of higher education policy and sociology at Temple University, said she doesn't see a problem with colleges -- even those that have had operational problems -- offering tuition-free programs.  

"I think these represent a great opportunity to rebuild struggling colleges," she said via email. "That is definitely what is happening at CCSF."  

But increasing enrollment at a school that is having challenges may not be the best way to support students and get them to graduation, said Wil Del Pilar, vice president for higher education policy, practice and research for The Education Trust. 

"Enrollment without a degree serves no purpose," he said. "Is there capacity to do mentorship, additional advising, and a capacity to provide students with the additional supports to help them get to graduation." 

Del Pilar points to the City University of New York's Accelerated Study in Associate Programs model which provides students with transportation cards and counseling in addition to free tuition. 

The CUNY ASAP model was recently tested in the Detroit Promise Program and is showing early signs of full-time enrollment and retention growth, said Karen Stout, president of Achieving the Dream, of which BCCC is a member institution.

"You could make a case that it's the perfect time to marry a new promise program with a brand new student success program," Stout said. "The city needs that type of bold approach. The city is suffering from tremendous educational gaps, so access to the community college is really important and the new promise program could provide that new access for many of the Baltimore city students going to neighboring county colleges and paying double the tuition."  

Other states that have considered adopting tuition-free programs have included requirements to determine which community colleges would receive it. For example, legislation in California that is awaiting the governor's signature would require two-year colleges to reduce remedial course offerings and improve student outcomes in order to be eligible for state funding for one year of free tuition, Morley Winograd, president and chief executive officer for the Campaign for Free College Tuition, via email.  

"CFCT has always said a promise is about more than money," he said, adding that they recommend tying improvements to the college with a tuition-free initiative.

Baltimore City this year began other attempts to be more affordable for its many low-income students.  

Earlier this year, the college added Open Educational Resources -- better known as free textbooks and classroom resources -- to about 80 classes, Perry said.  

"Free tuition is something the state and counties have looked at and it's something the college wanted to consider," he said. "Working with the mayor, we think it'll help enrollment, but the students will still benefit from the college being even better."  

Ultimately it's up to students to make the decision about whether or not one college or another offers them a chance to economic stability and mobility, said Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy. 

"We need to think about institutions and make sure they are serving students appropriately and are equipped to provide students with the education they need," she said. "So they are not enrolling just because its tuition-free but enrolling into real pathways to credentials." 

The General Assembly's legislation to reorganize the college replaced its governing board with a new group to oversee the changes. It also outlined what the expectations would be for finding a new college president.  

The president of the University of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, was tapped to help lead the reorganization. Schmoke declined to be interviewed for this story and referred to Perry. Earlier this month, the city college's president, Gordon May, announced plans to retire next year after serving four years at the institution's top leader.  

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Turkish academics remain fearful in exile

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:00

Mehmet is a Turkish academic who rarely looks directly at you; instead, he turns away and smiles in a pained way. Unlike almost all of the other delegates at a conference for refugee academics being held in Leipzig, he is not wearing a name lanyard that would identify him.

His real name is not Mehmet -- he asked Times Higher Education to keep his identity secret, fearing that his relatives back in Turkey would have their homes raided if the state found out that he was talking to journalists in Germany, having fled there and applied for asylum.

Even now, he and other Turkish academics who have escaped increasing repression at home do not feel entirely comfortable. They feel that they are being watched by supporters of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, many of whom live in Germany.

In Turkey, Mehmet was a professor at a university founded by supporters of a movement led by the cleric Fethullah Gülen, a long-term exile in Pennsylvania, who fell out with Erdoğan around 2012. The movement is seen by supporters as a relatively liberal Islamic creed focused on education, but detractors see it as a shadowy force attempting to build a secret network inside the Turkish state. Mehmet said that he gave part of his salary to support the movement, although he could not decide whether he was a “member” or merely a “sympathizer.”

Then in July 2016, a coup attempt was launched that left more than 260 people dead. Fighter planes bombed Turkey’s parliament building and there was a shoot-out as rebels attempted to capture Erdoğan. But it failed after the president’s supporters took to the streets in defiance.

It is probably fair to say that Western journalists are still not completely certain who orchestrated the coup. But Erdoğan blamed the Gülen network, shutting down 15 universities, including Mehmet’s, as well as banning scholars from leaving the country and, over the coming months, dismissing thousands of academics from their jobs on suspicion of involvement in the Gülen movement and the coup, according to the Scholars at Risk network. These academics were banned from seeking other academic positions, while their passports and those of their spouses were canceled.

Mehmet managed to leave before being caught in this net. After the coup attempt, with news mounting of the jailing and torture of Gülen supporters, “I just decided to leave the country as fast as possible,” he said.

Via stays with friends in Bosnia, Iraq and Nigeria, where he could stay with no visa, Mehmet eventually made it to Germany (he said he had to avoid using Turkish Airlines for fear of being snatched). Now he is waiting on an asylum decision, having applied a fortnight ago.

But even in Germany, his unease persists. About four million people of Turkish descent, originally brought in as “guest workers” during the West German economic boom of the 1960s, live in Germany, and cleavages in Turkish society have spread to the diaspora. Many German commentators were shocked when a majority of Turkish voters in Germany cast their ballots earlier this year in favor of even further autocratic powers for Erdoğan. Recent diplomatic spats between the two countries have made tensions even higher.

“I feel safe, but whenever I get in touch with Turkish people here … I feel a bit not comfortable,” said Mehmet. They will ask whether he had a problem with the government, he explained.

For example, Mehmet recently met an eBay seller, a Turkish man who had lived in Germany for 27 years, to buy a bicycle. One of the first questions he asked Mehmet was “Are you close to the guy in America?” -- meaning Gülen. When it became clear that Mehmet was a Gülen sympathizer, the bike seller became hostile. Although Mehmet said that he managed to soften the other man’s opinions somewhat during the lengthy conversation that followed, Mehmet was told never to tell anyone that they had spoken.

Another Gülen movement supporter, who helps those who have fled, including academics, told Times Higher Education that since the coup attempt, hostility from some Turks in Germany had grown significantly. Friends of 20 years’ standing now believe that he is a terrorist, he said (Turkey has designated the Gülen movement as a terrorist organization).

He said that many Gülenists have had to stop going to Ditib mosques, a network that serves those with a Turkish background in Germany. The German government has accused Ditib mosques of being under Ankara’s influence, and in February, German police raided the apartments of four Ditib imams accused of spying on Gülen supporters in Germany. The supporter said he has been forced to find another mosque.

The long arm of Turkish influence can reach refugee academics in Germany in other ways, too. Ekrem Düzen, who left Turkey for Germany last summer, said that he believes his and many of his fellow academics’ social media accounts are being watched. They have received direct and indirect messages and comments pointing out that their academic friends in Turkey had been fired, threatened, harassed and even detained, he said -- the clear implication is that they should keep a low profile.

Düzen was fired at the beginning of 2016 in the first wave of dismissals of academics who had signed a letter urging the Turkish government to cease military operations against Kurdish towns and neighborhoods. These “academics for peace” were mainly liberals, social democrats and leftists, he said, who have for years been trying to make clear the dividing line between them and the Gülenists, whom he calls “antidemocratic.” But after the coup, the government made the “political play” of mixing up these two groups in lists of targeted academics.

Now a researcher on conflict and violence at Bielefeld University in northwestern Germany, Düzen said that although he has not received any direct threats, the political polarization in Turkey has spread to Germany, and government sympathizers both in Turkey and abroad believe that people like him are enemies of the Turkish state.

“The Turkish government mobilizes people here,” Düzen said. You “never know” if you are safe, even in Germany, he continued. “We know that we are telling the truth and we continue to do so.”

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New presidents or provosts: Aquinas Army Empire Pembroke USD Umpqua Ventura WMU Western Tech

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 09/28/2017 - 07:00
  • Gail F. Baker, dean of the College of Communication, Fine Arts and Media and executive associate to the chancellor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, has been chosen as provost and vice president of academic affairs at the University of San Diego.
  • David Bejou, dean of the College of Business and Social Sciences at West Virginia State University, has been appointed as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Empire State College, part of the State University of New York.
  • James Breckenridge, dean of the Ridge College of Intelligence Studies and Applied Sciences at Mercyhurst University, in Pennsylvania, has been chosen as provost at the United States Army War College, also in Pennsylvania.
  • Kacy Crabtree, associate provost at Lees-McRae College, in North Carolina, has been named provost at Umpqua Community College, in Oregon.
  • Greg Gillespie, president of Ventura College, in California, has been chosen as chancellor of the Ventura Community College District.
  • Edward B. Montgomery, dean and professor of economics at Georgetown University's McCourt School of Public Policy, in Washington, has been selected as president of Western Michigan University.
  • Kevin Quinn, dean of the Schneider School of Business and Economics at St. Norbert College, in Wisconsin, has been appointed of Aquinas College, in Michigan.
  • Roger Stanford, vice president of academic affairs at Western Technical College, in Wisconsin, has been promoted to president there.
  • David Ward, dean of the College of Health Professions at Armstrong State University, in Georgia, has been selected as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.
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Corruption charges are 'huge moment' for college basketball

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 07:00

Ten people, including four coaches who work for some of college basketball's most prominent programs, face federal fraud and corruption charges for an alleged scheme to direct athletes to certain institutions and agents in exchange for thousands of dollars’ worth of bribes.

College sports experts and ethicists say the Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry marks a historic moment in the landscape of men’s basketball and is the latest in a series of outside pressures -- a push for athlete unionization and pay, antitrust lawsuits -- that could threaten the reputation of big-time college sports and further undermine support for its amateur status.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association, which according to prosecutors was unaware of the inquiry, lacks the manpower and the will to radically alter the current system, which is lucrative for colleges, television networks and many other parties, experts say.

“I think this truly shows real inability of the NCAA to police college athletics. I think most everyone knew this was going on,” said Dave Ridpath, president of ethics watchdog the Drake Group, referring to widespread and surreptitious payments to athletes and coaches. “It probably wouldn’t take a lot of work to uncover.”

The United States attorney’s office in New York on Tuesday announced the charges against four assistant or associate coaches: Lamont Evans of Oklahoma State University, Emanuel Richardson of the University of Arizona, Tony Bland of the University of Southern California and, most notably, Chuck Person of Auburn University -- a former National Basketball Association star and coach.

All four coaches were either suspended or placed on leave by their universities.

Three representatives of Adidas, including the high-ranking director of global sports marketing, were also named in the complaint, as were three financial advisers and athletics managers. Adidas was not identified by name in court documents.

In a press briefing Tuesday, Joon H. Kim, acting United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, detailed two complex arrangements. One involved Adidas executive James Gatto and others helping facilitate six-figure payments to the families of high school basketball recruits in exchange for the recruits' commitment to play at college basketball programs sponsored by Adidas, and for the athletes agreeing to sign endorsement deals with Adidas once they turned professional.

One athlete was allegedly paid $150,000, another $100,000.

This occurred with at least three recruits, who in turn pledged to two colleges not named in court papers, but that are widely reported to be the University of Louisville (already on NCAA probation) and the University of Miami. Enrollment numbers and other descriptors listed in court filings match those institutions, and both have deals with Adidas.

Statements From Universities

Louisville: "Today, the University of Louisville received notice that it is included in a federal investigation involving criminal activity related to men’s basketball recruiting. While we are just learning about this information, this is a serious concern that goes to the heart of our athletic department and the university. U of L is committed to ethical behavior and adherence to NCAA rules; any violations will not be tolerated. We will cooperate fully with any law enforcement or NCAA investigation into the matter."

Miami: "The University of Miami is aware of the indictments handed down today by the Department of Justice involving several men’s college basketball programs, coaches, financial advisers, agents and apparel executives. As we are just learning the details, we cannot comment on the actions taken today by federal authorities. However, if requested, we will cooperate in any legal or NCAA review of the matter."

Oklahoma State: "Based on the serious and troubling allegations in the complaint, Oklahoma State University has suspended assistant coach Lamont Evans. We are cooperating with federal officials. We have been in contact with the NCAA and will provide additional information as it becomes available. OSU takes seriously the high standards of conduct expected in our athletic department and does not tolerate any deviation from those standards."

Southern California: "This morning we were surprised to learn of the FBI investigation and arrest of USC basketball assistant coach Tony Bland. After [USC learned] of these allegations, Bland was placed on immediate administrative leave. USC places the highest priority on athletic compliance and is taking this situation very seriously. Accordingly, we have hired former FBI director Louis J. Freeh, and his firm, Freeh Group International Solutions, to work with us in conducting an internal investigation into this matter so that we can take action quickly and appropriately. This morning, we reached out proactively to both the NCAA and the FBI to pledge our full cooperation and to learn more details. Everyone associated with the program will cooperate fully with these investigations and will assist authorities as needed."

Auburn: "This morning’s news is shocking. We are saddened, angry and disappointed. We have suspended Coach Person without pay effective immediately. We are committed to playing by the rules, and that’s what we expect from our coaches. In the meantime, Auburn is working closely with law enforcement, and we will help them in their investigation in any way we can."

Arizona: "We were made aware of the Department of Justice's investigation this morning and we are cooperating fully with the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office. Men's basketball assistant coach Emanuel Richardson was immediately suspended and relieved of all duties. We were appalled to learn of the allegations, as they do not reflect the standards we hold ourselves to and require from our colleagues. The University of Arizona has a strong culture of compliance and the expectation is we follow the rules."

In return for cash, the coaches also allegedly persuaded athletes to hire certain financial managers and advisers, such as Christian Dawkins, a former NBA agent cited in the complaint who was recently fired from his agency after he charged $42,000 in Uber rides to an NBA player’s credit card.

During the news conference Tuesday, Kim quoted coaches bragging about their influence over players.

"The picture painted by the charges brought today is not a pretty one,'' Kim said. "Coaches at some of the nation's top programs soliciting and accepting cash bribes. Managers and financial advisers circling blue-chip prospects like coyotes. And employees of one of the world's largest sportswear companies secretly funneling cash to the families of high school recruits."

Tuesday's revelations were the latest to expose the influence of apparel companies in the college sports landscape. Several international shoe and sportswear companies -- Nike and Under Armour, in addition to Adidas -- pay tens of millions of dollars a year to equip (and, from a marketing standpoint, align themselves) with major university programs. For nearly 30 years, books such as Raw Recruits and Sole Influence have documented the leverage companies have on recruitment and players' choices as early as middle school.

No head coaches were charged Tuesday. Per a transcript of recorded comments by Dawkins, he said head coaches "ain’t willing to [take bribes], ’cause they’re making too much money." Despite a handful of recent cases to the contrary, assistant coaches have historically been likeliest to do the dirty work that gets NCAA sports programs in trouble, even though critics often believe that the aides are acting with the implicit support of -- if not under outright pressure from -- their bosses, the head coaches.

Ridpath, of the Drake Group, called the scandal a “wake-up call” for the public and said these types of issues pervade men’s basketball -- they are “systemic and endemic,” he said. Ridpath said external sources, such as federal officials -- Congress -- and sports fans need to apply pressure and push for major reforms, because the NCAA will not.

NCAA President Mark Emmert released a statement Tuesday. "The nature of the charges brought by the federal government are deeply disturbing," he said. "We have no tolerance whatsoever for this alleged behavior. Coaches hold a unique position of trust with student athletes and their families and these bribery allegations, if true, suggest an extraordinary and despicable breach of that trust. We learned of these charges this morning and of course will support the ongoing criminal federal investigation."

American Council on Education President Ted Mitchell said in a statement that the allegations, if proven, would be among the most egregious to affect colleges and universities in recent memory.

"If true, I am confident the institutions and the NCAA will promptly take the strongest possible action," Mitchell said.

Preserving the amateurism of college sports and a paycheck for athletes have both been contentiously debated. The NCAA charter stipulates athletics be subordinate to the educational mission of an institution, but with its drain on many colleges’ finances and sports dominating campus culture, some have questioned whether college athletics should shift to a semi-pro model.

Similarly, players can rake in millions of dollars for an institution and serve as high-profile figures in the sports world, but they can never be considered employees, with the protections that would come along with that designation.

Andrew Zimbalist, chairman of the department of economics and a professor of economics at Smith College, said that while this will make the NCAA squirm and perhaps increase the momentum for changes, the association has survived more damaging situations.

Zimbalist said that he would push for athletic directors and coaches to be limited in their salaries, because those at the top are sometimes paid as much as those in the professional leagues. He called it an “absurd contradiction” that college athletics is still considered amateur but the coaches are paid so highly.

Many basketball coaches nationwide will likely sweat over the investigation, said Jon Solomon, editorial director of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program, who also favors pay for athletes.

He said no one was surprised by this, and noted that the FBI had set up a tip line, likely leading to the exposure of more corruption. Solomon said he would be interested in which coaches and managers would rat on the others to avoid jail time and whether institutions would cut ties with those who were implicated in this type of crime.

“This is just the start,” Solomon said.

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Inspired by Kaepernick and NFL, professors and students protest off the field

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 07:00

It's unclear if college football players this Saturday will follow the lead of players across the National Football League who protested by kneeling or locking arms during the national anthem before games Sunday and Monday. But this week has already seen multiple instances of students, faculty and staff taking a knee in an effort to replicate former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s original protest, which started last year and is aimed at protesting racism and police brutality.

While those involved in college athletics might face obstacles -- logistical or otherwise -- if they’re seeking to protest, students, faculty and staff members have taken the protest off the field since Kaepernick’s original protest caught on among NFL players and other professional athletes. Though other NFL players, as well as members of the WNBA's Indiana Fever and Phoenix Mercury, joined Kaepernick last year, the protests did not previously occur on the wide scale seen Sunday, after Trump on Twitter demanded that players who protested during the anthem be fired.

Sunday’s protests were one of the inspirations for Dana Greene Jr., a graduate student at Michigan, to take a knee in front of an American flag on campus from 7 a.m. Monday until 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, in a protest that drew hundreds of others throughout the day who knelt in solidarity with him.

“My knees feel like crap, my body hurts,” he told Inside Higher Ed Tuesday afternoon. “You would think I’d be dead exhausted, and I was, but I also feel energized.”

Greene said he was protesting against specific instances of racist graffiti and anti-Muslim rhetoric on campus, but also against injustice against people from marginalized or minority groups.

Greene said he felt supported on campus, though not everyone agreed with him. He noted a conversation he had while kneeling with a student who thought his protest was disrespectful since it was in front of the flag. Although they didn’t come to a consensus, Greene said he was happy they could talk about it respectfully, and that the student wanted to learn why he was protesting.

“The idea of America is a great one, and I believe in it, but in our current state of affairs, we’re not living up to it,” Greene said. “For the first time in my life, I feel like we’re taking a step back. We can do better.”

The controversy around protesting by taking a knee in front of the American flag or during the national anthem, Greene said, needs to be unpacked as well.

“If we’re more upset about how people are protesting and not why they’re protesting, then that’s part of the problem,” he said.

Scientists at UMich kneel in solidarity with our fellow citizens against discrimination, racism and police brutality #ScientistsTakeAKnee pic.twitter.com/KQmQY29cPN

— Kenzo Esquivel (@KenzoEsquivel) September 26, 2017

As Greene woke up Tuesday, scientists and researchers at Michigan and across the country were taking a knee as part of a separate but similar protest. The hashtag #ScientistsTakeAKnee circulated on social media as scientists posted pictures of themselves and their colleagues protesting and kneeling in solidarity with people of color.

Users on Twitter took the opportunity to speak out not only against racism and police brutality, but also racial disparities in STEM fields.

Another Kaepernick-inspired protest is scheduled today, this time at Cornell University. At 12:30 p.m., professors are planning to kneel on one of the campus quads while holding a moment of silence that is as long as the typical playing of the national anthem.

“It was very galvanizing and encouraging to see the solidarity [of NFL players Sunday] emerge at a time when a lot of these black athletes have paid heavily for their free speech,” said Tracy McNulty, a French and comparative literature professor who is helping organize the protest along with the Cornell Coalition for Inclusive Democracy, a faculty group originally set up after the election to lobby and protest for the protection of undocumented students.

“They had really been risking their careers for a long time to make a statement that should be a value for everyone,” she said. “But what struck me as a professor … was that what Kaepernick was really insisting on all along was not racist treatment that he had personally experienced, but rather institutional and systemic racism.”

McNulty said that the Cornell protest, which will also feature a few speakers before the moment of silence, hopes to show solidarity with the student group Black Students United, which has advocated for universitywide diversity requirements and support for black students and other students of color.

“One concern that has been raised is, ‘Is this just going to be kind of an easy, symbolic gesture? Or is it really going to be attached to some effort to create change here?’” she said. “That’s obviously a real concern. We still feel there is a benefit to be gained from taking a moment where people are talking about these national events, and directing that energy.”

On the Field

Though students and faculty have taken a knee on campuses across the country over the past few days, the reason college sports teams haven’t taken up the protest widely often comes down to logistics.

Many college teams remain in the locker room during the national anthem, which they have done for many seasons. (The NFL itself didn’t mandate players to be on the field for the anthem until 2009, before which players were often in the locker room. The teams from Pittsburgh, Seattle and Tennessee opted to stay off the field during “The Star-Spangled Banner” Sunday.)

But even some of the college teams who do have their teams on the field while the band plays the anthem haven’t seen any demonstrations, this year or last year.

“I visited with a few players and listened to the pulse of the team,” Ohio State University head coach Urban Meyer said at his most recent press conference. “If it needs to be addressed, it will.”

Meyer said that the team, which hasn’t seen any notable protests during the anthem over the last two seasons, has done a good job of fostering respect regarding players’ sometimes opposite views on the matter.

Rutgers University hasn’t been the site of any noted protests, either, though head coach Chris Ash said that players could, in theory, protest during the national anthem if they so chose.

“We are a team that goes and takes the field for the national anthem. The college has that choice,” Ash said during a press conference Monday. “We have not had any issues in regards to demonstrating, so to speak, during the national anthem. Don’t anticipate any. Again … we have talked about it -- it’s not something that we mandate, [that] if you’re going to be on this team, this is the way it’s going to be. Because we do value everyone’s differences and everyone’s beliefs.”

An athletics spokesman at Boston College, which also has football players on the field for the national anthem but has yet to have any protests, conveyed a sentiment similar to Ash’s.

“We set up our football timeline to include teams on the field, and we are out for the anthem,” spokesman Jason Baum said via email. “There are no rules about protesting during the anthem.”

That isn’t to say there haven’t been any examples of protests in the past. Last year the University of Michigan and Michigan State University made news when, during the same weekend, some football players raised their fists during the anthem before respective home games.

"To me, your patriotism, your faith are sort of the same -- that's your choice. And it's influenced by what you've experienced in this world. So whether somebody salutes or puts a hand over their heart, everybody has a choice to make," Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said at the time.

On the other hand, East Carolina University mandated last year that marching band members had to stand during the playing of the national anthem. The order came after some members took a knee on the field while performing.

Colorado Christian University, a private institution in Lakewood, Colo., reiterated its stance against protests during the anthem Tuesday, underscoring the partisan divide that surrounds Kaepernick and his actions.

“The racial issues facing this country are serious and racial reconciliation should be a priority for all Americans. Unfortunately, refusing to stand during the national anthem dilutes the message of the protesters and portrays disrespect towards our country, all who are serving it and our veterans,” Jeff Hunt, director of the campus’s conservative-leaning think tank, said in a statement. “I am proud that Colorado Christian University will not take part in these disrespectful protests.”

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Arizona State opens new dormitory just for engineering majors

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 07:00

Engineering students at Arizona State University need not leave their slick new dormitory on the college’s Tempe campus for some of their classes. A couple of classrooms are just a quick walk down the hall -- and some of their rooms are equipped with Amazon’s latest tech, the Echo Dot, a way for them to learn voice-recognition technology.

Arizona State officials say their residential model has always assigned some students to buildings based on degree -- integrative science in arts in some spaces, business in another, and with the continued popularity of science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, they could see the concept being replicated more widely.

The features of the $120 million building that opened this fall, called the Tooker House, would likely excite students with its contemporary touches, like the spacious dining hall and Bluetooth-enabled laundry rooms that can send notifications to students’ smartphones when a load is done. In an interview, though, Bradley Bolin, Arizona State’s assistant director of residential life, talked up the community bonding and academic benefits for students.

Classrooms where beginner engineering courses are taught, featuring 3-D printers, laser cutters and the “tools and nuts and bolts” those students would require, Bolin said, are constantly in use. Tutoring centers are located on the first floor.

While many other colleges maintain homes or dormitories for people with common interests, such as the environment, or the French language and culture, both those programs are a step removed from only housing people of certain majors. Other institutions have residential colleges that may feature classrooms and study spaces in the same building where students live, but those students tend to come from many different fields of study.

Breaking the ice can also prove difficult for first-year students, but not as much if they see one another in classes and can bond that way, Bolin said.

“They notice each other in the academic setting we create there and form social bonds because of that,” he said. “They can say, ‘Here, I have that book already -- we can share.’ It creates an opportunity to start dialogue.”

Such amenities come with a price -- either $8,175 or $8,575 per academic year, depending on if a student wants a shared or private room. And meal plans are required for those living in the apartment-style dormitories, or if they’re in their first year at Arizona State, which can cost up to a little more than $5,200 extra.

Comparatively, rooms in one of the institution's upper-division housing units, the North Residence Halls building, costs between $4,980 and $5,931 for the year.

Asked about the price of the engineering dorm, Bolin said he knows “it’s always on families’ minds” but that when officials do tours, they market the specialness of the dormitory and all the features.

“It’s all the amenities we have --they can get more bang for the buck,” Bolin said. “Let’s make sure they know about all the amazing opportunities to connect with faculty, and those connections can lead to internships, which are going to lead to opportunities.”

The previous building for engineering students had aged, said Kyle Squires, dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, and the university needed to decide whether to renovate or start from scratch.

In the past decade, the engineering program had seen a surge in enrollment, too, he said.

Tooker House can accommodate nearly 1,600 residents -- a fraction of the more than 20,000 enrolled in the undergraduate and graduate engineering programs at Arizona State, about 2,800 of whom are freshmen.

Upper-level students can live in the more traditional style of residence hall not delineated by major.

In building something completely new, the university wanted to innovate, Squires said -- not just have the dormitory serve as a space for students to eat and then return to their rooms. While students were particularly keen on the more superficial features -- such as the fitness center -- Squires said when they were giving feedback on what the dormitory should have, they delved into academic-related services, too.

“The common spaces are inviting and also easy to get to within the residence hall, in a way you’re going to walk by your colleagues on a regular basis,” he said.

While Squires said he was unaware of anyone duplicating the Tooker House idea (surprising, considering the popularity of STEM disciplines), he intends to share the progress on it at an upcoming conference of college and university deans and gather ideas for how the model could be improved.

Daniel Ocampo, adviser to the National Association of College and University Residence Halls, said via email that his organization has seen a national trend in residence life of partnering more with the academic side of colleges and universities. He was unaware of any dormitory quite like Arizona State's, but he said he has seen similar programs.

At the University of the Pacific, where Ocampo serves as director of residential life and student engagement, officials tried a “residential learning community” for freshman engineering majors, an attempt to retain those students.

“While I think we could have developed more strategies, and further develop the program, the School of Engineering didn’t feel that it was worth the effort and withdrew from the collaboration,” he said.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 07:00
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Attorney General Sessions blasts colleges on issues of free speech

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 07:00

WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared Tuesday at Georgetown University Law Center that freedom of thought and speech are “under attack” on American campuses.

He said the Department of Justice would file a “statement of interest” in a lawsuit involving a Georgia public college’s use of “free speech zones” and that the department would make more such filings in weeks to come.

Sessions’s new apparent focus on free speech in higher ed reflects an ongoing concern of many Republican officials, who have held multiple congressional hearings to take college leaders to task over high-profile campus incidents. It also comes after a week in which the president drew national attention for his coarse condemnation of National Football League athletes’ public protests against police brutality, which have remained lawful, nonviolent and nondisruptive.

And the speech drew protests from many Georgetown law students and faculty members who oppose the attorney general’s broader agenda as well as his record on civil rights.

“Freedom of thought and speech on the American campus are under attack,” Sessions declared. “The American university was once the center of academic freedom -- a place of robust debate, a forum for the competition of ideas. But it is transforming into an echo chamber of political correctness and homogenous thought, a shelter for fragile egos.”

The attorney general cited a 2017 survey from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that found 40 percent of responding colleges maintained speech codes “substantially infringing” on constitutionally protected speech. (He didn’t mention that FIRE’s own metrics showed the situation improving at colleges.)

The lawsuit DOJ weighed in on Tuesday involved Chike Uzuegbunam, a student at Georgia Gwinnett College who, his lawyers have argued, was prevented from efforts to "share his Christian faith" because of campus rules limiting expressive displays to small "free speech zones." Such zones have been vulnerable legally in cases where they are seen as effectively preventing students’ free speech.

A statement from the Justice Department said the zones at Georgia Gwinnett constitute 0.0015 percent of the campus, and that students must also obtain prior authorization for many activities, even in the zones.

A spokeswoman for the college said Georgia Gwinnett believes the rights set forth in the First Amendment "are of the utmost importance."  

"Though the College cannot comment on pending litigation, it has ensured and will continue to ensure that individuals are able to exercise their First Amendment rights on campus," said Asia Hauter, a spokeswoman for the college.  

Sessions picked out a handful of instances of restrictive speech codes at colleges and universities, as well as notable incidents involving campus speech conflicts, to depict a broad threat to free expression in higher education. (The full text of the attorney general's remarks can be found here.)

Noting the incident when Charles Murray, a controversial social scientist, was shouted down and prevented from talking at Middlebury College, Sessions said that colleges were too tolerant of the "heckler's veto."

“This is not right. This is not the great tradition of America,” he said. “And, yet, school administrators bend to this behavior. In effect, they coddle and encourage it.”

Middlebury eventually punished nearly 70 students for varying roles in what happened during Murray's visit.

FIRE welcomed Sessions’s speech Tuesday. Executive Director Robert Shibley said, “As campuses struggle with an uptick in violence in response to controversial speech, we are glad to see the Department of Justice bring much-needed attention to this issue.”

PEN America, another group that advocates for free speech, meanwhile questioned some of the attorney general's statements. The group issued a statement noting that Sessions did not mention incidents in which conservatives have urged colleges -- sometimes successfully -- to block speakers.

“In an environment where the White House and administration have repeatedly failed to convincingly denounce hateful rhetoric and gestures, some Americans understandably fear that menacing speech is spreading untrammeled and can morph into dangerous action,” the PEN statement said. “We agree with Jeff Sessions that the defense of free speech rights on campus must be uncompromising, and that neither the heckler’s veto nor considerations of political correctness should be allowed to silence controversial speech. We also share the concern that, in some instances, free speech rights have been sidelined in favor of other values and priorities. But we note that calls to silence free speech on campus in recent months have derived from both the left and the right and regret that the attorney general confined his examples to left-leaning groups protesting voices considered more conservative. As the Justice Department wades into issues of campus speech, we hope its defense of free expression on campus will encompass not only opposition to infringements on free speech, but also the imperative to ensure that U.S. university campuses are truly open to the speech of all students, regardless of political leanings, LGBT status and racial, ethnic or religious background.”

Sessions has a checkered history with other civil rights groups that may make him an odd messenger to announce a new priority on free speech.

After news of the scheduled event leaked Sunday night, many were quick to note that the Department of Justice is prosecuting a Code Pink activist who was dragged out of the attorney general's confirmation hearing in January after audibly laughing at comments by Alabama Senator Richard Shelby lauding Sessions's record on equality. The woman was found guilty in May of demonstrating on Capitol grounds and disorderly conduct. A judge threw out that verdict, but the government has said it will go back to trial.

Sessions has a much longer record that’s provided fodder for critics, among them civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. He’s called the Voting Rights Act “intrusive legislation” and prosecuted civil rights activists in Alabama for registering black voters.

As a federal prosecutor in Alabama, Sessions referred to groups like the ACLU and the NAACP as “un-American,” according to Senate testimony by former colleagues after he was nominated for a federal judgeship in 1986.

And in 1996, as Alabama state attorney general, Sessions sought to block a gay organization from holding a conference on the University of Alabama campus. He argued that the meeting of the Southeastern Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual College Conference would violate an Alabama law prohibiting state universities from using public funds to promote "actions prohibited by the sodomy and sexual misconduct laws."

Recent actions from the Trump administration suggest some discordance with the Justice Department's professed commitment to defending free speech. Last month, Harvard University rescinded a fellowship offered to NSA whistle-blower Chelsea Manning after being pressured by the former and current directors of the CIA.

Asked about Sessions’s opposition to the conference and his position on Manning, a Justice Department spokesman said the attorney general’s remarks spoke for themselves.

In a question-and-answer period after his remarks, Sessions also defended recent remarks from President Trump on public protests. Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick last year protested police brutality and systemic racism by kneeling during the national anthem before games. Trump said over the weekend that NFL owners should fire any “son of a bitch” who kneels during the anthem, as Kaepernick did. Those comments drew wide condemnation and prompted wider acts of protest from NFL players Sunday and Monday.

But Sessions said “the president has free speech rights, too.”

“If they take a provocative act, they can expect to be condemned,” he said of protesting players.

Sessions only took questions submitted in advance by students who RSVP'd for the event. Protesters outside complained that more than 100 students who originally received tickets for the event through an online lottery were denied entry because they were not affiliated with a course taught by law professor Randy Barnett, a well-known libertarian.

The law school did not respond to questions about the concerns voiced by students.

“My impression based on who was disinvited and who was allowed to come into the room is they were looking for a curated audience,” said Lauren Phillips, a second-year Georgetown law student involved in organizing the protest. “Which is very ironic to me, given that he was giving a speech on campus free speech.”

About 250 law students and faculty gathered outside on the law center’s front steps before the event. And a group of law professors released a statement beforehand condemning what they called the hypocrisy of the attorney general on free speech issues.

Phillips said that despite deep personal disagreements she has with Sessions over public policy, she supported the school’s decision to host the speech -- an opinion she said was not shared by many of her classmates who joined in protesting the event. But she said that the university should at a minimum have facilitated a real exchange of questions and answers between students and Sessions. Phillips had hoped to ask a question herself about the attorney general’s ongoing opposition to bipartisan criminal justice reform efforts.

“I wonder if he believes that campus free speech should include ability of people to express views that are different from his own,” she said. “His actions speak louder than words here. He excluded dissenting voices.”

Suhaib Khan, another second-year law student, who wore a “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt Tuesday, was able to gain entry to the speech before joining protesters outside afterward.

He said he disagreed with the law school’s decision to host Sessions, especially without giving students the opportunity to weigh in. Absent the chance to challenge or question the attorney general, Georgetown was basically giving the attorney general a public relations opportunity, he said.

“There is an active threat against the right of college students to have free speech, but it is not where he is trying to make it out to be,” Khan said.

Ted Mitchell, the president of the American Council on Education, said free expression and competition between ideas is essential to higher education and has been from the beginning.

“Institutions across the country are making themselves open and available to competing ideas. Georgetown is a perfect example,” he said. “Georgetown welcomed Attorney General Sessions today to express ideas they knew were going to be unpopular with a large portion of their student body and probably their faculty, too. Institutions see that as their responsibility.”

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Scores on new SAT show large gaps by race and ethnicity

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 09/27/2017 - 07:00

More than 93 percent of the students who took the SAT during the 2016-17 academic year took the new version of the test. That makes the results released Tuesday the baseline against which future scores can be compared. But since this is the first time the SAT has had a majority of test takers using the new version of the test, the College Board maintains that it would be inaccurate to compare this year's scores to previous scores for the annual articles here and elsewhere (at least most years) on whether scores are up or down.

That said, the data do show that an issue that has worried educators for years -- gaps in average scores by race and ethnicity -- remains. Similar gaps are apparent in this year's ACT scores.

For SAT scores, a particularly striking figure relates to the performance of Asian-Americans who took the test.

In the last year before the College Board started to switch to the new version of the SAT, white students outscored Asian students in one category, critical reading. In the new version of the SAT, Asian students scored higher on average on both parts of the test than did all other student groups. Experts on admissions know of course that colleges admit on the basis of more than test scores, and typically on a wide range of factors.

But critics of affirmative action -- perhaps including the U.S. Justice Department -- have focused on test scores to argue that elite colleges are discriminating against Asian applicants. The new data not only show Asian students earning top scores, but also that Asian students were significantly more likely to have met what the College Board calls "benchmark" scores indicating that students have a 75 percent chance of earning a C or higher in various college courses. The table below shows the percentage of students who met the benchmark for both the mathematics and the reading and writing sections of the test.

2017 Mean SAT Scores, and Percentage Meeting Benchmarks, by Race and Ethnicity

Group Reading and Writing Mathematics Met Both Benchmarks American Indian/Alaska Native 486 477 27% Asian 569 612 70% Black 479 462 20% Latino 500 487 31% Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 498 488 32% White 565 553 59% AdmissionsEditorial Tags: AdmissionsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

UC Irvine under scrutiny for taking $200 million for school of health from couple some say back junk science

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 07:00

A $200 million gift turned into a $200 million headache for the University of California, Irvine as critics argue it is indulging the wishes of wealthy donors who advocate for junk science.

The university announced the gift last week, tagging it as the largest in its history and the seventh-largest ever made to a single public university. Long-time UCI donors Susan and Henry Samueli are giving the money to name a “first-of-its-kind” College of Health Sciences focusing on “interdisciplinary integrative health,” the announcement read. The renamed college will be the first “university-based health sciences enterprise to incorporate integrative health research, teaching and patient care” across schools and programs, it continued.

Critics in the medical community quickly pounced on the donation, which they saw as rich donors influencing academic and scientific decisions that should be reserved for academics. They called integrative medicine a rebranding of alternative medicine -- a collection of practices not supported by science, like homeopathy, and of ideas stolen from mainstream medicine, like nutrition. Those ideas do not need to be integrated into mainstream medicine because they are already part of it, wrote one critic, Steven Novella, on the blog Science-Based Medicine.

“What is clearly happening here is an attempt to put a giant thumb of the scale of science and medicine through money,” wrote Novella, who is an academic clinical neurologist at the Yale University School of Medicine and the executive editor of Science-Based Medicine. “That is essentially what has been happening with so-called alternative medicine for the last four decades.”

University leaders have rejected the idea that the College of Health Sciences will be advocating for practices proven to be ineffective. The college’s Academic Senate chair was involved early in the process of securing the Samuelis’ donation and said nothing indicated academic freedom would be violated. He was, however, surprised at the way the donation was portrayed for the public.

If nothing else, the controversy shows how delicate the relationship between donor dollars and academic freedom has become in a time when state funding for higher education is severely restricted. The fundamental tensions are nothing new, experts said. But the UCI situation serves as a reminder that colleges and universities should be thinking hard about just how much influence they might be giving big-name donors and how they will be viewed for taking money from controversial figures.

The Samuelis’ gift stands out for its size, what it will do, the way it was announced and who is giving it. Henry Samueli co-founded a semiconductor maker, Broadcom, and the couple owns the Anaheim Ducks hockey team.

They are also longtime backers of integrative medicine. They founded the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UCI with a $5.7 million donation in 2001. Also in 2001, they started a Virginia-based institute to study alternative medicine that operated for 15 years before saying it would shut down its research and programs in 2017.

Susan Samueli has attracted media attention for telling the story of how she became an advocate for alternative medicine. More than 30 years ago, she came down with a cold while visiting France, according to an account in The Los Angeles Times. A friend suggested she try the homeopathic remedy aconite, and she was cured. Her husband said integrative health helped him to overcome illnesses. The couple report the methods allowed them to keep their children healthy without using antibiotics.

The couple made clear their allegiance to alternative medicine at an announcement of their UCI gift.

“I firmly believe that health and well-being is achieved when conventional medicine is supplemented with evidence-based, complementary and alternative medicine,” Susan Samueli said.

“So now, with evidence in hand, the timing is right to shift our system toward integrative health,” she said. “Many clinicians are already using complementary practices as part of mainstream medicine. Medical students are demanding integrative health courses and experiences. The public is not only interested, but they are clamoring for it.”

Henry Samueli reiterated that he is a believer in integrative health. His personal physician is Shaista Malik, the director of the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine at UCI -- which he called “Susan’s center.” Malik monitors his blood chemistry, adjusts his supplements and cholesterol medication and makes sure he maintains a healthy lifestyle, he said. He credited his wife for his conversion to the health practices.

“Susan has completely converted me into an advocate for integrative health,” he said. “When I feel a cold or flu coming on, rather than run to the doctor, I run to Susan to figure out which homeopathic remedy or Chinese herb I should be taking.”

UCI’s official press release announcing the gift makes no mention of homeopathy or Chinese herbs. It defines integrative health as redefining the relationship between practitioner and patient “by focusing on the whole person and the whole community.” Integrated health is informed by scientific evidence and includes preventative measures, therapeutic approaches, lifestyle approaches and healthcare professionals, according to the release, which also states that the newly renamed Susan and Henry Samueli College of Health Sciences will be the first university-based operation combining integrative health research, teaching and patient care across schools and programs.

The college will include the UCI School of Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Pharmacy and School of Population Health. It will also include the existing Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, which will be renamed the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute and is slated to cover multidisciplinary research, education, clinical service and community programs.

A quarter of the $200 million gift will go toward a new building for the College of Health Sciences. Another $5 million is earmarked for laboratories and technology.

The remainder will go toward an endowment. It will fund as many as 15 faculty chairs in various disciplines for faculty with integrative health expertise and integrative health training for medical school students. It will also fund scholarships and fellowships, interdisciplinary research projects, curricular development and clinical services in the Integrative Health Institute.

Critics asked what practices the university is integrating.

“If mainstream medicine, by its own standards, uses interventions which have been shown to be safe and effective, the only things left to integrate are treatments that have not been shown to be safe and effective,” Novella wrote. “Some of these unproven treatments are also highly implausible, sometimes to the point that they are essentially magic potions and witchcraft.”

Good science-based primary care doctors take care of the whole patient already, argued David H. Gorski, a professor of surgery and oncology at Wayne State University, on the blog Respectful Insolence. The Samuelis’ gift could do plenty of good, wrote Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik. But its source will bring scrutiny into whether the university is committed to scientific rigor.

Malik, the director of the Susan Samueli Center, is being promoted to associate vice chancellor of UCI to collaborate with other medical schools, Hiltzik reported. The Samuelis will not have a say in recruiting or choosing faculty members to hold endowed chairs.

However, they will both serve on advisory boards. The Samuelis or their representative are invited to serve on both an advisory board for the college and one for the institute, a university spokesman said in an email Monday. The advisory boards will counsel the university on the mission and vision of the college and institute.

A College of Health Sciences campus has been part of UCI expansion plans for years, added the spokesman, Tom Vasich. The intention has always been for the four schools to share a focus on comprehensive care for individuals and communities, he said.

UCI was unable to schedule an interview with Inside Higher Ed Monday. The university’s vice chancellor for health affairs, Howard Federoff, told Hiltzik of The Los Angeles Times that teaching, research and treatment funded by the Samuelis' gift will be evidence-based.

“We’re not going to promulgate things that have been established to be ineffective,” he said. “There’s nothing I would ever allow in the context of clinical care if I believed the clinical evidence was lacking.”

Federoff went on to label critics too skeptical, saying physician scientists need to keep a broadly open mind when finding ways to deliver care or make diagnoses. He pointed out that treatments once dismissed were later found to be effective in some applications.

The Samuelis have been supportive of learning about the most effective ways to address prevention, health and wellness, according to Gerald Solomon, executive director for the Samueli Foundation. Solomon does not see the current medical system paying for health and wellness on a large scale. Research can be valuable, he said.

“One of the greatest aspects of what UCI offers is that it is a leading institution around research,” Solomon said. “And when you engage in good, high-level evidence-based research, you learn. You learn things that work and things that don’t work. And isn’t it good to know both?”

UCI made clear upfront that it would have control over what it chooses to do with the gift, Solomon said.

The gift is scheduled to be dispersed in $50 million increments over time, according to the university. The first $50 million comes in 2017, followed by dispersals in 2020, 2023 and 2025.

Jay Gargus is a professor of physiology and biophysics, a professor of pediatrics and the director for the UCI School of Medicine’s Center for Autism Research and Translation. He is also the chair of the College of Health Sciences Academic Senate and was involved in early development meetings regarding the Samuelis’ gift, although he was not present for the signing of a gift agreement.

Gargus has seen nothing that makes him believe the gift violated ordinary standards.

“The idea that UCI College of Health Sciences is going to become a home of homeopathy or witchcraft or call it whatever you want, that’s just not going to be the case,” he said. “We’re only going to be doing evidence-based medicine. And it’s going to be rigorously reviewed, programmatically, by the Academic Senate.”

The plan was for the Samuelis’ gift to be the lead gift of a broader fund-raising effort, Gargus said. He was surprised by some of the content at the gift’s announcement but believes it was likely aimed at the donor base.

“What you see on the surface of that infomercial launch that we had would be troubling if you didn’t know more about the whole process,” Gargus said. “I could see why anxiety could be raised about what this is going to be. But once you know how the UC system operates, you know that’s not what this is going to be.”

Tension between donors who want to exert influence or pursue specific goals and universities that need to maintain their academic integrity is nothing new. But what is changing now is the amount of fund-raising taking place and the universities doing it, according to Noah Drezner, an associate professor of higher education at Columbia University Teachers College.

For many years, only private universities were raising large amounts of money, he said. But as state funding has shriveled, public colleges and universities are trying to raise more and more from donors.

More fund-raising has led to more scrutiny -- both within universities and in broader society about how much influence mega-donors have.

“I think seeing it outside of higher education has just made higher ed fund-raisers and administrators a little bit more interested in that conversation and these larger questions,” he said. “How much are you willing to, potentially, bend mission in order to progress on other things?

“It’s complicated, and these are those difficult questions of ethics that institutions need to grapple with.”

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Racist Facebook page discovered at Pomona

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 07:00

As the digital age presses on, colleges increasingly must decide whether -- and how much -- their students’ online presence is relevant to their status as students. In June, Harvard University revoked the admission of some incoming students over their participation in a private Facebook group in which the students shared offensive jokes and memes, as first reported by The Harvard Crimson.

Now it appears that Pomona College, part of the Claremont Colleges consortium, has found itself in a similar situation, this time with enrolled students.

A private Facebook group used by Pomona students, known as “U PC BREAUX” -- pronounced like “[Are] you PC, bro?” with “PC” standing in for “politically correct” -- was filled with “images and comments so vile that they would be right at home in the comments section of The Daily Stormer,” a neo-Nazi website. That was how the page was described by Ross Steinberg, the student journalist who broke the story in an opinion piece titled “The Dark Underbelly of Claremont’s Meme Culture.” Examples of the memes are available here, on another student news outlet's website.

The college has launched an investigation into the matter, and officials said the posts fit under the college's guidelines for a “bias-related incident.”

Memes were posted about rape, genocide and, in one example, calling Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport undocumented immigrants because they were being too loud, Steinberg told Inside Higher Ed. He said he had been randomly invited to the group, which contained about 300 members. Pomona enrolls about 1,650 students.

“Personally, I felt this is a big group on campus,” Steinberg said. “This was a group in which people post hateful things … it really kind of normalizes that kind of thought.”

While the Harvard story was a cautionary tale for students in the application process, the case developing at Pomona shows that problems and questions related to unregulated spaces on the internet don’t go away after students enroll, said Eric Stoller, a higher education writer and consultant. Indeed, Pomona has since launched an investigation into the Facebook group.

“People have been posting things that violate community standards and codes of conduct on the internet for a very long time, on forums, on web chats. Social media is the next extension of that. The challenge is that universities [as a whole] are very risk averse, so a lot of times they’ve said, ‘We’re not going to pay attention to this stuff,’” said Stoller (who also blogs for Inside Higher Ed). “But the digital web and social media challenges universities to take a stance and to take a position that unfortunately there’s not a lot of case law on.”

Unlike students waiting to enroll at Harvard, the students at Pomona have “essentially a collective terms of service” with their university via the student code of conduct, Stoller said.

“If those codes -- and I’m sure they would be -- are found to have [been] violated … then an institution has a means of adjudicating that situation,” he said.

Pomona’s disciplinary policy defines a “bias-related incident” as follows:

Expressions of hostility against another individual (or group) because of the other person's (or group's) race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, gender identity or expression and sexual orientation, or because the perpetrator perceives that the other person (or group) has one or more of these characteristics. Depending on the circumstances, a bias-related incident may not be a crime, and may be protected speech. The conduct underlying some bias-related incidents may violate the college's policies, including provisions of the Student Code and the Harassment and Discrimination Policy.

Pomona’s handbook has a section promising to uphold free speech, although it also warns against speech or conduct that is “inconsistent with the college's community values.” Many passages related to hateful speech also talk about using those instances as learning opportunities, however, rather than as occasions for discipline.

“We strongly condemn the reported memes for expressions of bias that are antithetical to Pomona’s community values and to our commitment to an educational environment free from discrimination. As a college community, we expect respectful conduct from each other and from ourselves,” Ric Townes, associate dean of student mentoring and leadership, wrote to students in a campuswide email.

The official who ordered the investigation, Miriam Feldblum, vice president and dean of students, said in an email that even though the posts have been determined to be bias related, the investigation is still in the process of figuring out whether a student code or other policy violation occurred.

"The Bias Incident Response Team (Bias IRT) can identify an incident of speech/imagery as bias related and determine that it is still protected speech," she said. Depending on what happens with the investigation, Feldblum said, speaking generally, available sanctions could range from warnings and probation to suspension or expulsion.

Both Stoller and Kevin Kruger, president of the NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, said that, as a private college, Pomona has a lot of discretion to discipline students involved in the group. On the other hand, at public colleges the First Amendment often offers more protection for speech, as was the case when students at public institutions were found out to have attended the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August. While critics called for their expulsions, colleges said they couldn’t act.

However, Kruger also said that it might not be clear-cut what action is applicable, or appropriate.

“I think it would be hard, but not impossible, to take action simply on the basis of a student participating in the group, or even posting an offensive meme, if that meme was not in and of itself threatening or harassing to an individual,” he said. “But they also might determine, as a community, these are not the views we want in our community.”

Kruger also said that as online discourse opens up more opportunities for racism or prejudices to be aired, universities need to reach out to students who are part of minority and marginalized groups.

“This is all in the same bucket of the national discomfort we’re having with free speech, what it means, under what circumstances -- it’s all in the same space,” Kruger said. “I think colleges are really struggling with trying to live up to [being] a marketplace of ideas, but in the context of pretty awful things being said.”

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New travel restrictions raise questions, concerns for higher ed

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 07:00

Higher education groups on Monday began to grapple with what new restrictions on travel to the U.S. from eight countries imposed Sunday night by the Trump administration will mean for international student and scholar exchange.

The new restrictions, which replace a 90-day travel ban on nationals of six Muslim-majority countries that expired on Sunday, vary by country, ranging from a ban of all travel from North Korea and Syria to a targeted ban limited to certain government officials and their family members in Venezuela. Though all Iranian immigrants and most nonimmigrant visitors will be barred,  nationals from Iran traveling on student (F and M) and exchange visitor (J) visas will still be able to enter the U.S, “subject to enhanced screening and vetting requirements.” Nonimmigrant visitors – including students and scholars -- from Somalia will be permitted to come to the U.S. but will also be subject to heightened screening.

The new restrictions do not limit travel by visiting students and scholars on F, J or M visas who come from the other three countries targeted for restrictions: Chad, Libya, and Yemen. However, in suspending all travel on business and tourist visas (the B visas) from those three countries, the new restrictions could prevent students and scholars from coming to the U.S. for short-term visits – such as to present at a conference. 

The Trump administration says the restrictions, developed after a review by the Department of Homeland Security, are needed to address the failure of most of the affected countries to share adequate information with the U.S. about terrorism-related risks. "All countries share responsibility to prevent terrorist attacks, transnational crime, and immigration fraud.... if foreign countries do not meet the United States Government’s traveler vetting and information sharing requirements, their nationals may not be allowed to enter the United States or may face other travel restrictions, with certain exceptions," the White House said in a statement Sunday.

"Making America Safe is my number one priority," Trump said in a Tweet in which he linked to a presidential proclamation outlining the restrictions. "We will not admit those into our country we cannot safely vet."

NAFSA: Association of International Educators, the largest higher education group focused on international education and exchange, issued a statement Monday expressing questions and concerns.

“While the proclamation adopts a “more tailored approach” to nonimmigrants and appears to recognize the value of educational exchange, questions remain about how the ban will be implemented,” said the statement from Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy at NAFSA. “For example, researchers from Chad, Libya and Yemen may no longer be able to attend a U.S. conference, and other nonimmigrant travelers from the additional countries named will be subjected to yet further enhanced screening and vetting. Such an approach only helps fuel the ongoing uncertainty felt by students, scholars and other travelers from across the world since the first travel ban took effect in January.”

“The newest version of the ban leaves no reliable path for legitimate travel to the United States from these eight countries, such as Syrian parents hoping to be reunited with their U.S. citizen children, an Iranian educator who wants to attend a conference in the United States or parents of students from any of the eight countries who would seek a B visa to come visit for graduation or other major events," Welch said. "The section of the proclamation addressing potential waivers, while welcomed, provides little comfort to those who must face the uncertain hurdle of convincing a consular officer of the legitimacy of their intended activity."

Welch added: "While it may be tempting to think that preventing such legitimate travel is just collateral damage in keeping the nation safe, it is important to remember the unwelcoming message these bans send to groups of people around the world who wonder if their nation may be next on the list.”

Universities and higher education groups had widely opposed two earlier travel bans imposed by Trump out of concern that they would prevent talented students and scholars from coming to the U.S. and damage American universities' reputations for promoting openness and diversity. The first ban, introduced a week after Trump took office, put in place a blanket ban on all travel from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen – and went into effect immediately, leaving students and scholars at American campuses from those countries who happened to be outside of the U.S. at the time it went into effect stranded. A second ban, introduced in March after court challenges blocked enforcement of the first, dropped Iraq from the list of countries, had a delayed effective date, and honored visas that were already granted, but was otherwise similar. 

Federal courts blocked the second ban before it went into effect, with judges variously ruling that it was discriminatory against Muslims or that the president had overstepped his authority in issuing it.  The Supreme Court ruled in June, however, to allow a scaled-back version of the ban to go into effect, and permitted the Trump administration to ban all travelers from the (at that point) six Muslim-majority countries who could not demonstrate a “bona fide relationship” with a U.S. person or entity, such as a university. Under the modified ban endorsed by the Supreme Court, students from the six affected countries with an admissions offer from an American university could still come to the U.S., as could a scholar with a lecture invitation.

It is unclear how the new travel restrictions issued on Sunday will affect ongoing litigation involving the March travel ban. The Supreme Court on Monday canceled oral arguments, originally scheduled for Oct. 10, on two pending legal challenges to the now-expired travel ban, and instructed the parties to submit briefs addressing whether the issues at hand are now moot.

Higher education groups and universities have been involved in some of the legal challenges to the two earlier versions of the travel ban. Thirty higher education groups filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court earlier this month saying that the March executive order barring travel for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries “sends a clarion message of exclusion to millions around the globe that America’s doors are no longer open to foreign students, scholars, lecturers, and researchers. It directly threatens amici’s ability to attract the international students and scholars who are essential to the success of American educational institutions. Foreign students, faculty and researchers come to this country because our institutions are rightly perceived as the destinations of choice compared to all others around the globe. The [executive order] has fundamentally altered those positive perceptions with the stroke of a pen.”

“I think we’ve already seen a negative impact on higher education because of the first two travel bans, and I do not see anything in this latest travel ban order that significantly will change that perception,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law practice at Cornell University. “I don’t think that international students are going to feel more welcomed because of this latest version of the travel ban. I think that as a practical matter international students from at least these countries will still have a very difficult time getting visas even though technically they’re allowed to apply for them” – except in the cases of North Korea and Syria – “and I think the fact that we have a travel ban at all sends a signal to international students and others that they may not be welcome in the United States.”

Yale-Loehr said he thinks it’s more likely this newest set of travel restrictions will hold up in court. 

“I think that because it’s more narrowly focused and the fact that not everyone from a country is barred, because of the fact that it does not bar refugees from entering the United States, because the proclamation goes into great depth in going into how the government went about in figuring out which countries should be subject to increased screening, and because certain countries, North Korea and Venezuela, are not Muslim countries, I think this travel ban has a much higher chance of surviving a court challenge,” he said.

Civil rights groups and some higher education groups have criticized the various travel bans – including this latest one -- as intended to block the entry of Muslims, a step Trump called for in his campaign. 

The American Anthropological Association said in a statement on Monday that the new travel ban "represents a cynical attempt to circumvent the judicial system’s legal prohibitions against discriminating on the basis of religious affiliation or national origin."

"In addition to retaining all but one of the Muslim-majority countries that the administration originally targeted for discrimination [Sudan], it adds yet another Muslim-majority country (Chad), and seeks a smokescreen of Venezuelan diplomats and North Korean visitors to support a dubious claim that religious affiliation is not the issue. These restrictions distinguish between 'immigrants' and visitors, but send the same chilling message regardless: 'the current administration says you are not welcome here,'" the anthropology association said.

Jessica Sandberg, the director of international admissions at Temple University, is directing a nationwide campaign involving more than 300 universities to spread the exact message to international students -- that, per the campaign name and hashtag, "#YouAreWelcomeHere." Sandberg said she thinks it's too early to say whether the new travel restrictions will affect the negative perceptions that the campaign is attempting to counter, or how it will change the international recruiting landscape. Many universities have reported declines in international students this fall. 

“At Temple, we will continue to focus on the sentiment that motivated us to spearhead the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign: international students enrich and strengthen our academic community,” Sandberg said. “That’s as much a part of our identity today as it was 10 years ago, and as it will be 10 years from now.”

The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement Monday about what it described as the “chilling effect” of the Trump administration’s various actions on students and scholars wanting to come to the U.S.

“The Trump administration’s actions on immigration and visas – most recently the September 24 White House proclamation -- continue to have a chilling effect on students and scientists who seek to work and collaborate with their peers in the United States,” AAAS's chief executive officer, Rush Holt, said in a statement. “Scientific progress depends on openness, transparency and the free flow of ideas. The United States has historically benefited from its attraction of international scientific talent, which is essential to U.S. economic and national security. We remain concerned that administration policies are trading the loss of scientists and future scientists to our country for unsubstantiated improvements to security. Impacts to U.S. leadership in science, technology, and innovation must be considered in the development of immigration and visa policy.”

Below is a chart with data from the Institute of International Education the number of international students and visiting scholars from the eight affected countries, plus Iraq. Although Iraq is not among the eight countries targeted for travel restrictions, the presidential proclamation notes that the Department of Homeland Security has recommended that Iraqi nationals who wish to travel to the U.S. should be subject to enhanced screening and vetting.

Of the affected countries, Iran sends the most students and scholars to the U.S. In 2015-16, it was the 11th leading country of origin for international students in the U.S., falling on the list just below Mexico and Just above the United Kingdom.

  International Students in the U.S., 2015-16 International Visiting Scholars in the U.S, 2015-16 Chad 52 5 Iraq 1,901 171 Iran 12,269 1,891 Libya 1,514 49 North Korea 18 -- Somalia 35 0 Syria 783 145 Venezuela 8,267 244 Yemen 599 19

 

 

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U.S. appeals court finds student accused of sexual assault was denied due process

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 07:00

A federal appeals court has agreed to block the University of Cincinnati’s suspension of a student, saying the institution violated his rights by not allowing him to question the female student who accused him of sexually assaulting her.

The decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit follows the announcement Friday from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that she would pull guidance on Title IX investigations and adjudication the Obama administration released in 2011.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law prohibiting gender-based discrimination. The Obama decree, which came in the form of a Dear Colleague letter and was meant to clarify the law, proved controversial and was criticized for being slanted against those accused of sexual assault. DeVos said the department will write a new regulation after taking feedback; the department has provided information to colleges on how to handle sexual assault cases in the interim.

The appeals court on Monday sided with a federal judge's 2016 preliminary injunction blocking the university's one-year suspension of the accused student. Lawyers who examined the appeals court’s opinion varied on how much they thought it would set legal precedent.

A spokesman for Cincinnati, Greg Vehr, said university officials are reviewing the ruling.

"The university continues to strive to create the best environment it can for all our students by means of disciplinary processes and proactive efforts on how we can help prevent these events from occurring at all. We are actively working to create a culture of consent," Vehr said in a statement.

The two students, who met on Tinder and were cited in court documents under the pseudonyms John Doe and Jane Roe, had sex in 2015 -- the male student said the encounter was consensual, but the female student said it was not.

Three weeks later, Roe reported to the university she had been assaulted. Five months following that, Doe was officially notified he had possibly violated Cincinnati’s conduct code, specifically around sexual discrimination and harassment.

In 2016 the university held a hearing to determine whether Doe was guilty. Court documents indicate this was primarily a “he said/she said” case, with no physical evidence supporting either student. The female student did not appear at the hearing, and university officials did not provide any avenue for Doe to question her, even indirectly.

“Defendant's failure to provide any form of confrontation of the accuser made the proceeding against John Doe fundamentally unfair,” the appeals court ruling states.

The 2011 Dear Colleague letter recommends that a victim of sexual assault not meet with their attacker face-to-face. The court ruling quotes the letter and notes that Doe never asked to confront his accuser directly.

“By having options to pose questions to an accuser without subjecting them to possible intimidation by direct questioning by the accused, it is possible to uphold due process requirements and protect accusers as well,” S. Daniel Carter, a longtime campus safety consultant and president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, wrote in an email.

The university panel adjudicating that hearing found that Doe had breached the student code of conduct, and he was later given a two-year suspension, reduced to a single year after he appealed to administrators.

Doe then filed his lawsuit. The Associated Press reported that he remains enrolled as a graduate student at the university.

Though the ruling does clearly mention the suggestions on how to properly handle these hearings, Carly N. Mee, a lawyer with SurvJustice, a nonprofit advocating for sexual assault survivors, said she was concerned with the court’s emphasis on cross-examination.

She said that accused students would think they have the right “to aggressively interrogate a survivor face-to-face, without the panel mitigating this trauma by asking any questions itself.”

“I am concerned that, in this political climate, a decision like this will be taken to an extreme so that schools end up allowing direct questioning, which would severely retraumatize survivors in hearings and ultimately discourage them from coming forward,” Mee said via email.

But Brett A. Sokolow, a lawyer, executive director of the Association of Title IX Administrators and president of the NCHERM Group, a risk-management firm that works with colleges, called the ruling “narrow.”

He said this decision wouldn’t cause broad cross-examination in hearings, but said it does uphold the idea that credibility is key in these cases, and when one party doesn’t show up for the process, “the right to question is unfairly curtailed.”

“If this is a good decision that is followed by other courts, it may spell the end of public universities proceeding to a hearing without the active participation of the reporting party, at least where credibility is disputed and there is no admission of responsibility,” Sokolow said via email.

Sokolow said that a court in another jurisdiction could potentially rule the other way, however, considering that both Doe and Roe had submitted written statements. He urged institutions across the country to study the decision, particularly in light of all the news surrounding Title IX at the moment.

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Annual report from Scholars at Risk analyzes attacks on students, academics and universities

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 07:00

The new edition of Scholars at Risk’s annual “Free to Think” report analyzes more than 250 reported attacks on higher education institutions, their students or their employees in 35 countries in the past year. The incidents examined range from killings or disappearances of higher education workers to what Scholars at Risk judges as cases of wrongful imprisonment, prosecution or termination, or undue travel restrictions.

The report, which covers a period spanning Sept. 1, 2016, to Aug. 31 of this year, describes mass attacks on campuses in Nigeria, Pakistan and Syria. A rocket attack on Syria’s University of Aleppo last October reportedly killed between two and five students, while an Oct. 24, 2016, attack by armed militants on Pakistan’s Balochistan Police College reportedly killed at least 61 people, primarily students. Nigeria’s University of Maiduguri suffered a series of six bombing attacks, killing at least 14 and injuring 33. The attacks have been widely attributed to the militant group Boko Haram, which claimed responsibility for the Jan. 16 attack on the university.

Beyond these mass attacks, the report says that targeted killings of individual students or scholars were reported in Niger, Pakistan and Sierra Leone.

The report from Scholars at Risk, an organization that monitors academic freedom violations worldwide and provides international fellowships for scholars under threat in their home countries, also documents an increase in the number of reported incidents involving violence against organized student protesters.

“In Venezuela, South Africa, Niger, Cameroon, Turkey and India, state authorities responded to nonviolent student protests with force, including with rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades,” the report states. “In some cases, however, students engaged in violent or coercive conduct, including incidents in South Africa, where campus facilities were damaged, and in the United States, where physical force was used to intimidate and disrupt disfavored speakers on campus.”

In relation to the U.S., the report spotlights violence that broke out last winter and spring during protests surrounding planned talks by the right-wing provocateur and former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Washington -- where a man was shot in the abdomen and seriously wounded -- and a March 2 protest against a speech at Middlebury College by the controversial political scientist Charles Murray that resulted in injuries to a professor who was moderating the event.

"We did, obviously, this last year see at least a more visible spate of incidents that resulted in violence either on campus or against members of the campus community," said Robert Quinn, the executive director of Scholars at Risk. He said one of the things the organization looks at in compiling the report is not just the location of an incident -- does it occur on a university campus -- but "also dimensions of the intent behind the actions and the effect it has. Are they intended to try to shrink or control the space or intimidate, and do they have the effect? I think in the U.S. in particular my concern is what impact are these incidents having on the space itself and on the understanding of that space?"

Outside the U.S., the report devotes special attention to Venezuela, where economic, political and social conditions have been deteriorating and where student-led antigovernment protests have been met with violent responses from military or police forces. Students have been injured and, in one case, when state security forces confronted protesters on the campus of Orient University in May, a 22-year-old nursing student, Augusto Sergio Pugas, reportedly died of a bullet wound to the head.

SAR also reports that at least 21 students have been killed in off-campus protests in Venezuela and that there have been at least 65 wrongful arrests and detentions of students during the past year. Mayda Hočevar, a professor of law at the University of Los Andes, said students have been accused of crimes in military courts and have been tortured during detention.

A United Nations report this summer corroborates the use of military courts and torture of some detainees and found that the use of force against protesters (all protesters, not just students) had escalated from April to July of this year: "In the first half of April, the majority of injuries were from inhaling tear gas; by July, medical personnel were treating gunshot injuries," a U.N. investigating body found.

"In the U.S. in particular my concern is what impact are these incidents having on the space itself and on the understanding of that space?"

"Governmental authorities keep saying that university students who participate in protests are terrorist[s] and that the universities are den[s] of terrorists," said Hočevar, who monitors events in Venezuela for Scholars at Risk.

The report from Scholars at Risk also includes a section focusing on threats to institutional freedom in Central and Eastern Europe. These threats include the passage of a new law in Hungary that imperils the continued operation of Central European University in Budapest and the revocation of the teaching license of the European University at St. Petersburg. (The university has applied for a new license.) CEU, an American-accredited institution, is widely believed to have been targeted for its connections to the liberal financier George Soros, while EUSP, another Western-style institution, came under government scrutiny after a Russian politician reportedly criticized its research and teaching in gender studies as “fake studies” that “may well be illegal.”

In addition, the report devotes considerable space to continued threats to academic freedom in Turkey, where firings and arrests of scholars on suspicion of links to a failed coup attempt in July 2016 have resulted in what Scholars at Risk calls an “unprecedented threat to a national higher education system.”

Between January 2016 and Aug. 31 of this year, Scholars at Risk estimates, 7,023 Turkish higher education employees were dismissed from their positions and barred from public employment and traveling abroad; 1,404 scholars, staff and students were detained, arrested or named in arrest warrants; 407 higher education personnel and students were criminally charged; and 294 graduate students were expelled from their Turkish institutions while studying abroad. In addition, more than 60,000 students have been affected by state-ordered closures of universities.

Quinn, the executive director of SAR, described what he saw as “a very worrying pattern of serious pressures in states that previously we would have thought of as more respectful of the space of the university and academic freedom. That’s clearly Turkey, which has made a significant turn in a negative direction, but then [there’s] also the Eastern European stuff and even some of the attempts on the U.S. side on the restrictions on travel.” (President Trump issued a new set of restrictions on travel Sunday to replace an expiring 90-day ban on travel to the U.S. for nationals of six Muslim-majority countries.)

“What you’re seeing I think is an erosion of respect for the idea that society tolerates questions,” Quinn said. “And when the state starts to punish people simply for asking questions, that’s not just a threat to academic freedom, that’s a threat to democracy. Obviously, if the previously generally rights-respecting states are having their own democracy erode, they’re less viable partners in trying to help states that have bigger security problems.”

In addition to cases involving violence and prosecutions or imprisonments, the report also examines the issue of travel restrictions barring the entry or exit or ordering the expulsion of specific scholars or students in China, Egypt, Israel, Malaysia, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda and Vietnam. The largest-scale example of this comes from Turkey, where the report describes the move to invalidate the passports of scholars and others as “part of a larger set of measures, including mass terminations and bans on future employment … that aim to identify and penalize public employees accused (often with little evidence) of supporting Fethullah Gülen, the cleric Turkish authorities have claimed was behind the July 2016 coup attempt. The invalidation of passports is particularly harmful, as it not only prevents a disfavored class of scholars from engaging in academic expression abroad but also is effectively the final step in a career-destroying effort: scholars who are already prevented from pursuing their careers at home are also barred from seeking employment anywhere else in the world. Under the decrees to date, 5,623 scholars, 1,299 administrative staff and their spouses are barred from leaving the country.”

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Author of 'Third World Quarterly' article on colonialism wants it stricken from the record, but it might not be going anywhere

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 09/26/2017 - 07:00

Third World Quarterly is in no hurry to pull “The Case for Colonialism,” despite author Bruce Gilley’s request last week that the journal withdraw his contentious essay.

“Whilst we fully appreciate the many competing voices that have debated the publication of this ‘Viewpoint’ over the last week, we will continue to address this situation in a rigorous, methodical and measured way,” Elaine Devine, a spokeswoman for the journal's publisher, Taylor & Francis, said via email.

“The Case for Colonialism,” which was published as an opinion essay, will remain online while Third World Quarterly follows guidelines established by the international Committee on Publication Ethics, Devine said. Known as COPE, the group helps some 12,000 members and others navigate ethical gray areas in scholarly publishing.

“This is the process we work through when any request is received to change the scholarly record, and we will apply these same standards here,” Devine said.

As of Monday, COPE had yet to receive a formal request for assistance from Taylor & Francis.

That answer didn’t particularly interest Vijay Prashad, George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and professor of international studies at Trinity College in Connecticut, who resigned from the journal’s editorial board last week over the matter.

“The fact that the journal ran the piece in the first place is the problem,” he said. “And just because I’m saying the journal shouldn’t have published the essay doesn’t mean that I’m operating on behalf of the state to curtail free speech. But the journal has certain values, and this is coloring outside the lines.”

Prashad added, “I’m willing to have a debate about real issues, but the question is who sets the terms of the debate? This essay was just juvenile. It set the debate at such a low level, I feel embarrassed to have to respond to it. It’s like saying, ‘Let’s debate whether women are inferior to men.’ It’s not the place you want to start that conversation.”

Third World Quarterly rattled many of its readers -- including members of its editorial board -- earlier this month when it published the pro-colonialism piece by Gilley, who is an associate professor of political science at Portland State University. In addition to arguing that countries that embraced their colonial pasts upon liberation fared better than those that didn’t, the essay proposed recolonization of developing nations by Western powers in some instances. Third World Quarterly, established 38 years ago, is typically devoted to more nuanced questions about challenges facing postcolonial and other developing nations.

Critics immediately objected to Gilley’s premise, since it goes against decades of scholarship on the ills of colonialism. They also highlighted what they called methodological flaws and a near-complete failure to grapple with atrocities committed in the name of colonialism.

More than 10,000 names -- many belonging to academics -- soon appeared on a petition to retract the article. Perhaps most significantly, some 15 members of the journal’s editorial board, including Prashad, resigned in protest, saying that three peer reviewers had rejected Gilley’s piece: first as an article, then as an opinion essay. The editorial board members' objections shifted the debate in that they weren't just about content, but about a publication process in which editorial norms may have been bypassed.

The resignations brought to the fore common concerns about the opacity of scholarly publication standards, as well as the role of editorial boards today.

For Prashad, the latter issue was significant.

“Across the board, editorial boards have just become window dressing,” he said. “The use of editorial boards should be to provide intellectual gravity and, in this case, when there was conflictual evidence coming from outside reviewers, or when the editor realized there was some conflict, that might have been a good time to consult the editorial board.”

Third World Quarterly’s editor, Shahid Qadir, did not respond to a request for comment about the role of the editorial board in editorial decisions. And while Taylor & Francis has said it will be consulting COPE guidelines as it looks into Gilley’s request for withdrawal, COPE is an advisory body that stresses, above all, transparency and consistency in editorial policies. The body doesn’t recommend that peer reviewers, editorial boards or editors dictate what gets published, for example, but rather that a journal establish its own policies and procedures and stick to them.

COPE’s Principles of Transparency and Best Practice in Scholarly Publishing says that peer review policies and procedures should be clearly described on a journal’s website. The organization also considers editorial boards to be governing bodies whose members are recognized experts in the field at hand.

A position statement on international standards for editors and authors that COPE helped develop says that editors should make decisions on academic merit alone and take full responsibility for their choices. Among the most important responsibilities of editors “is to maintain a high standard in the scholarly literature,” according to the statement, and “editors should work to ensure that all published papers make a substantial new contribution to their field.”

Editors may reject a paper without peer review when it is deemed “unsuitable for the journal’s readers or is of poor quality,” the statement says. The decision should be fair and unbiased and criteria should be made explicit. Some editors regard peer reviewers as advisors and may not necessarily follow — or even ask for — reviewers’ recommendations on acceptance or rejection, it says.

In any case, “Something went wrong here,” said Geraldine Pearson, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut and co-chair of COPE’s governing council. “I don’t have enough data or information to know what that looked like, but there was a major difference of opinion … Perhaps our Principles of Transparency should have been applied a while ago.”

Many see transparency in scholarly publishing as lacking across journals, but it’s particularly germane to the Third World Quarterly debate. That's because critics of the journal have charged that it published Gilley’s article, against the advice of expert reviewers, as “clickbait.”

In a post for the London School of Economics and Political Science’s blog “Impact of Social Sciences,” for example, Portia Roelofs, a fellow in international development, and Max Gallien, a Ph.D. candidate in international development, wrote that academe has been “hacked” by scholars and journals looking to up their citation and impact figures, respectively. They note that Gilley’s essay, of which they are highly critical, is already on its way to becoming Third World Quarterly’s most popular article ever.

“The paper has, in a few days, already achieved a higher Altmetric Attention Score than any other [Third World Quarterly] paper. By the rules of modern academia, this is a triumph. The problem is, the paper is not,” Roelofs and Gallien wrote. “The [article] is a travesty, the academic equivalent of a Trump tweet, clickbait with footnotes.”

The Council of Science editors also stress transparency and consistency for journal editors. The council says that editors’ obligations to authors include establishing a system for effective and rapid peer review and establishing a procedure of reconsidering editorial decisions.

John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom and co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, said that, in general, “Editors make the choices, not reviewers. So it's not a question of veto power, it's editorial judgment.” At the same time, he said, “peer review exists for a good reason. If an editor is going to reject the judgment of all the reviewers, that editor ought to have a very good reason and inform the editorial board about it.”

Prashad didn’t rule out ever returning to Third World Quarterly’s editorial board, but said, “Surely there are questions a person of integrity would ask, to avoid coming back merely to be window dressing again.” Among them: What procedures are in place to assess articles that have garnered split decisions from reviewers? And every two or three months, will there be a letter from the journal editor to the board letting to them know what’s coming up?

Gilley did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement Thursday, Gilley said he'd asked Third World Quarterly to withdraw his essay and that he regretted the "pain and anger" it had caused. He said he hoped that his action would "allow a more civil and caring discussion on this important issue to take place.” A spokesperson for Portland State said the university did not encourage or ask him to withdraw the paper.

Farhana Sultana, an associate professor of geography at Syracuse University who helped organize the petition against Gilley’s essay, said via email that Third World Quarterly “should never have published a thrice-rejected piece that failed on basic scholarly standards of intellectual rigor, accuracy or integrity.”

Many members of the editorial board resigned last week due to the journal’s failure to uphold academic publication standards and processes, she added. So the “responsibility to maintain scholarly rigor in academic publishing or to retract rests with the journal's editor and not with the author.”

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Trustees and new presidents lead push for tuition resets despite debate over the practice's effectiveness

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 09/25/2017 - 07:00

Presidents and trustees at private colleges are increasingly interested in assuaging student concerns about affordability by slashing sticker prices, with a surprisingly high number of colleges and universities in recent weeks announcing steep cuts to next year’s published tuition.

Between Sept. 5 and Sept. 15, at least eight colleges and universities announced such price cuts for next fall. While that’s a tiny percentage of the roughly 1,200 degree-granting private nonprofit institutions operating across the country, it’s also a significant number in comparison to recent years. Fewer than 30 colleges and universities put such price cuts in place in the dozen years between 2002 and 2014, according to the count of one consulting firm.

On the surface, the increasing popularity of price cuts -- called tuition resets in the world of college enrollment -- would seem to be a clear win for students and their families who have been squeezed for years by published tuition marching steadily higher. It would also seem a blow against colleges and universities, an acknowledgment of diminished pricing power and an admission they will have to charge students less.

Dig deeper and the reality is vastly more complex. Most institutions are actually banking on tuition resets as a way to attract more students in order to raise the overall amount of tuition money they collect. Yet the only guarantee when a college resets tuition is that its wealthiest students will end up paying less.

That’s because resets typically aren’t being used as a mechanism to cut the net price a private college or university charges -- the net price being what students and their families actually pay after colleges lower the sticker price by offering grants and scholarships. Resets' impact on students' actual tuition bills is blunted by colleges and universities dropping their financial aid offers in step with the sticker-price cuts. So resets are being deployed as a signal to the market that an institution is affordable -- a way to grab students’ attention and tell them they really can find a way to pay for a private college.

From colleges’ point of view, resets are a risky proposition. They’re jeopardizing revenue from a small but important percentage of their student bodies -- the handful of students who pay the full price of tuition without receiving any financial aid. Still, colleges and universities struggling for position in a competitive market are pursuing the strategy in hopes of luring more students who had previously been scared off by published tuition prices few students actually pay.

Any individual tuition reset's success or failure is likely to depend as much on whether a college is targeting the right group of students with the right message, programs and services as it is on whether the college is priced correctly. The price cut is the hook grabbing students' attention. A college's other attributes and strategies are what reel them in.

“If you think marketing rather than pricing, you’re on the beat,” said Bill Hall, founder and president of Applied Policy Research Inc., an enrollment and pricing advising firm. “How do you turn the affordability, the price of higher education, into something to talk about to attract attention?”

The eight institutions recently announcing resets for next year tackle this question from a variety of angles -- some of them unexpectedly unique. Whether they will be successful, and whether the reset strategy can work generally, remains a hotly debated issue.

Who is cutting prices?

Avila University, Kansas City, Mo.

Cutting tuition plus books and campus fees for full-time, traditional resident undergraduates by 33 percent, to $19,900, in 2018-19.

Fall 2016 undergraduate enrollment: 1,333

Notes: The university is promising students their tuition will not increase by more than 3 percent per year. Avila is guaranteeing an internship or research experience for students. It is also offering monetary travel awards.

*

Birmingham-Southern College, Birmingham, Ala.

Cutting tuition and mandatory fees by 51 percent, to $17,650, for 2018-19.

Fall 2016 undergraduate enrollment: 1,293

Notes: Returning students will have their tuition reset, but financial aid will be adjusted concurrently so their net price should be similar to what they pay this year.

*

Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland

Cutting tuition for new undergraduates and graduate students by 15 percent, to $40,000, in 2018-19.

Fall 2016 total enrollment: 431

Notes: Tuition resets for graduate students are unusual. Returning students have their sticker price frozen at $47,200. The institute plans to shrink in size while growing fund-raising.

*

Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids, Mich.

Dropping tuition by 11 percent for traditional undergraduate students, to $24,500, for 2018-19.

Fall 2016 undergraduate enrollment: 1,856

Notes: Returning students will have a one-year net tuition freeze. The tuition reset is being combined with a pricing restructure, charging students a block price for 12-18 credit hours instead of 12-17 credit hours.

*

Drew University, Madison, N.J.

Cutting undergraduate tuition by 20 percent, to $38,668, in 2017-18.

Fall 2016 undergraduate enrollment: 1,521

Notes: Returning students will be covered by the tuition reset but, as is common, will have their financial aid adjusted downward along with the tuition reduction.

*

Mills College, Oakland, Calif.

Cutting base undergraduate tuition by 36 percent, to $28,765, in 2018-19

Fall 2016 undergraduate enrollment: 821

Notes: The college has previously said it is planning a new signature experience for undergraduates. It has promised returning undergraduates will not pay more in 2018-19 than they did in 2017-18, although their financial aid will be decreased along with the sticker price.

*

Sweet Briar College, Sweet Briar, Va.

Cutting tuition, room, board and fees by 32 percent, to $34,000, in 2018-19.

Fall 2016 undergraduate enrollment: 365

Notes: The price cut will apply to both new and returning students. It is being paired with a curricular and organizational overhaul developed around the theme of women’s leadership and three centers of excellence.

*

University of the Sciences, Philadelphia

Cutting undergraduate tuition and general fees by 37 percent, to $25,000, for undergraduates enrolling in fall 2018 and freezing rates for cohorts. Students accepted into accelerated six-year doctoral programs will pay a total cost of $190,000, down from higher sticker prices.

Fall 2016 enrollment: 1,344 undergraduates, 1,197 graduate students

Notes: A combined reset and tuition freeze is unusual. Tuition for current students is not being reset but is being frozen.

Colleges and universities have also been cutting their sticker prices in differing amounts. Among eight colleges recorded as announcing tuition resets this month, Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. plans the smallest cut for next year, an 11 percent reduction, to $24,500. Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama plans the largest, 51 percent, to $17,650.

Generally, colleges and universities announcing resets over the years have been small, enrolling under 5,000 students. They have also often struggled with finances or to attract students.

A sampling of the colleges recently announcing price cuts proves that point. Birmingham-Southern, Drew and Mills have all been saddled with financial troubles in recent years. So has Sweet Briar College, which is cutting its sticker price by 32 percent next year to an advertised $34,000, a figure that includes tuition, room, board and fees. The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, which is cutting undergraduate tuition and fees by 37 percent to $25,000, laid off faculty and staff members this spring and cut programs to close a budget shortfall.

This effectively means that financially challenged institutions are putting on the line their biggest source of revenue -- tuition dollars.

"Reduced price is essentially a reduction of the potential to draw money into what is the primary revenue stream for most of these institutions," Hall said.

Why Reset?

Still, small colleges under pressure are increasingly finding reasons to consider a tuition reset. They usually weren't doing particularly well in today's dominant pricing paradigm, in which private colleges raise tuition every year to eke out incremental revenue gains from wealthier segments of their student bodies while jacking up their discount rates so everyone else can afford to enroll.

The higher education world has been wringing its hands about the growth of discounting for years. In 2016, discounting at private colleges and universities reached an all-time high, according to an annual report from the National Association of College and University Business Officers -- the institutional discount rate for first-time, full-time students hit 49.1 percent, and the rate for all undergraduates reached 44.2 percent.

In many cases, resets are being driven by new presidents or ideas from boards of trustees. Birmingham-Southern is a good example.

The president of the 1,300-student college, Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith, took over in June 2016, although she’d worked with the college earlier as a consultant to its trustees and as chief of staff under one of its former presidents. A tuition reset was on her list of initial strategies to pursue, she said.

The college started work on the idea at the beginning of August 2016, studying it for about a year before announcing its reset Sept. 12. It found that 80 percent of students in Alabama wouldn’t consider a college with tuition, fees, room and board adding up to more than $50,000. It also found that the South was different from other parts of the country in that more than three-quarters of students preferred public universities to private colleges if the two options cost the same amount.

“They’re so steeped in the public climate, they wouldn’t even check a private if it was significantly higher,” Flaherty-Goldsmith said.

But Birmingham-Southern’s tuition discount rate was 60 percent. In other words, the average student isn't paying $35,840 in tuition -- they pay just north of $14,000. Students were passing over Birmingham-Southern because they were looking at the sticker price and never even considering the net price they would pay after financial aid.

“When we started looking at the data, it became clear to us we were missing the opportunity to market to a number of students who could really benefit,” Flaherty-Goldsmith said.

The reset won’t equalize Birmingham-Southern’s tuition with tuition at state colleges. The University of Alabama at Birmingham, for example, charges full-time in-state undergraduates $10,410 to $12,270 annually this year, depending on their program and before any financial aid. But the idea is that Birmingham-Southern will scare away fewer students with its lower sticker price, enabling it to sell itself on its lower student-to-faculty ratio, internships and new programs in order to grow to a larger size of 1,600 to 1,800 students.

Many of those students will hopefully come as transfers from two-year colleges. Birmingham-Southern has been creating articulation agreements with two-year colleges, and it’s hoping the tuition reset helps it with those and other students.

“We think that we’ll get a lot more transfer students, and they’ll be from a lot of different backgrounds,” Flaherty-Goldsmith said. “We think that we’re going to open it up to schools that are in the inner city who have always assumed Birmingham-Southern is out of the realm of possibility.”

The college is not, however, doing away with discounting. Its tuition and fee discount rate for freshmen entering this year is around 65 percent, Flaherty-Goldsmith said. Next year the rate is expected to drop to between 30 percent and 35 percent. Current students who are returning next fall will be included in the tuition reset, but their financial aid will be reduced by approximately the same amount as tuition. The college anticipates them paying a net cost next year that’s similar to what they’re paying today.

“The numbers work out for us because we did give so much financial aid,” Flaherty-Goldsmith said. “More than 90 percent of our students received scholarships, so it’s not as though we had very many full-pay students. I think you’d find that to be true with many small colleges.”

A Risky Road

Although most small private colleges enroll a relatively low number of full-pay students, those students' importance to the budget shouldn’t be overlooked.

Take, for example, Drew University, which announced its own tuition reset Sept. 11, about a year after admissions leaders and some trustees started discussing the idea. Drew is cutting tuition by 20 percent next year, from $48,336 to $38,668. Returning students will be included.

About 5 percent of Drew students receive no financial aid, according to Robert Massa, senior vice president for enrollment and institutional planning. He has no doubt that in next year’s applicant pool, there will be students who will not receive any financial support from Drew because they come from families too wealthy to be judged as having financial need and they do not quality for non-need-based aid.

“For them, it is a real $10,000 savings,” Massa said. “It is also a reduction in revenue for the institution, so we need to make up that loss.”

Making up for that loss could take many forms. An institution could theoretically use a tuition reset as a way to simultaneously drop its sticker price while nudging up its average net price for all students. Depending on how financial aid dollars are disbursed, that could mean a college or university cuts net prices for its wealthiest students but raises them for other groups of students. Unsurprisingly, colleges are usually saying they’ll make up the lost revenue by boosting enrollment instead.

Drew, for example, will be sending returning students comparisons of their sticker price, financial aid packages and the balance they must pay in three different scenarios: this year, next year with a theoretical standard 3 percent tuition increase, and next year with the tuition reset that will actually be taking place. They’ll see that they’re paying about the same amount of tuition this year and next year under the reset, although the cost of room and board will increase, Massa said.

To make up for lost revenue, Drew will have to bring in 80 new students. This year it enrolled 452 freshmen with a 59 percent discount rate. Next year, it is aiming for 530 new students at a discount of 49 percent on the lower tuition rate.

“Our market research study indicated that we could expect a 20-25 percent bump in applications as a result of this price reset,” Massa said. “We have a lot of work to do to make that happen, and we’re prepared to do that. It may seem like a lot, 80 new students between first year and transfers, but I think we’re poised to achieve that.”

Drew expects enrollment growth especially from "middle-class families who may not have qualified for need-based aid," according to an online Q&A about the tuition reset.

A wealthier applicant pool can also help colleges and universities offset the cost of lost revenue from full-pay students. Tuition resets have in the past attracted the attention of well-off families. Concordia University in St. Paul, for example, reset tuition in 2013. It found that the number of freshmen it enrolled judged to have no financial need doubled between 2012 and 2016, to 24 out of 239 freshmen.

Critics Abound

Many attack resets as a strategy prone to overpromising and underdelivering. Among the critiques: they’re gimmicks. They’re marketing ploys that won’t work if more than a handful of colleges and universities try them. They work for a year or two, but then colleges and universities see applications and enrollments tail off. Colleges are putting them in place as temporary measures before they go back to jacking up tuition and discount rates at unsustainable rates.

“They’re not changing their model,” said P. Jesse Rine, assistant provost at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, who wrote a white paper last year comparing the practice of tuition discounting to a shell game.

“If you’re using the same model but just doing it on a smaller scale, the fundamental or inherent flaws in the model remain,” he said. “Right now, the model’s susceptibility to unsustainable escalation is still a feature of an institution’s pricing and financial aid model if all they’re doing is resetting tuition.”

Rine believes a more straightforward approach for colleges and universities would be to identify the cost of providing an education, use it to calculate a published tuition price, then use endowment resources to lower the cost for some students through financial aid. He thinks the current high-price, high-aid model is unsustainable over the long term and that it has seriously damaged private colleges’ credibility with students and families who are dissatisfied with opaque tuition practices.

Tuition resets have often been pitched to the public as being responsive to the market and being transparent pricing, Rine noted. Colleges and universities seem to be trying to address a sense of lost trust.

Others urge caution to any institution considering a tuition reset.

“We don’t recommend a tuition reset,” said Kathy Dawley, principal at Hardwick Day, the financial aid consulting division of EAB. Instead, she advocates for making every attempt to lower discount rates carefully, with an eye toward how net revenue is affected.

“There are occasions where lowering discount without any check, actually, itself, brings down revenue,” Dawley said. “So it has to be managed pretty carefully.”

Still, Hardwick Day counted 27 institutions that had put tuition resets in place between 2002 and 2014. They cut tuition on average by $6,000, reducing the average sticker price by 17 percent.

Results among those institutions are mixed, according to Dawley. Some showed improved retention rates initially, only to have tuition revenue and enrollment decline over time.

Remember also the question of whether tuition resets actually translate to students. After the University of Charleston in West Virginia cut its advertised tuition in 2012 from $25,000 to $19,500, its average net price for students from families making less than $30,000 rose 39 percent, The Hechinger Report said in an article published last year.

Any increase in net price for low-income students was unintentional, said Ed Welch, Charleston's president. The university cut tuition across the board and decreased financial aid by a corresponding amount because it was not attempting to collect more or less money from students, he said in an interview.

“If anything, we thought the first reset would appeal to more middle-class people, because we thought they might be price conscious,” he said. “We just thought that the time was right for people to be more responsive to a lower advertised tuition, rather than having to do tuition plus financial aid. Then we found out that didn’t work for our audience, sadly.”

A study of eight colleges that reset tuition between 1996 and 2014 found seven increased freshman enrollment the year they put their price change into effect. The 2015 study, by the economist and former Mercy College President Lucie Lapovsky, noted that administrators at the institution that did not increase freshman enrollment said they did not provide enough attention to the reset and executed it poorly. That college experienced a 42 percent drop in freshman enrollment in its reset year.

Lapovsky was able to analyze net tuition revenue per first-year student at the seven colleges that increased enrollment in the year of their resets. Three increased net tuition revenue per student the year they reset tuition, by 0.5 percent, 4.2 percent and 4.3 percent. Four saw net tuition revenue per student decrease, by 2.6 percent, 11.3 percent, 13.9 percent and 16.4 percent. But because of enrollment gains, five of the seven colleges increased net total tuition revenue. Net total tuition increases ranged from 8 percent to 57 percent, while losses were 1 percent and 9 percent.

Four institutions had reset tuition long enough in the past that Lapovsky was able to analyze enrollment over several years since their resets. All four institutions were still reporting higher freshman enrollment than they were the year before they reset tuition. Three of those colleges had grown enrollment since the reset was put into effect.

Lapovsky is in the process of updating the study, she said in an interview. In the meantime, she is a strong advocate of resets in the right circumstances.

Institutions that are candidates for resets are those giving aid to almost all of their students and any with a discount rate above 50 percent, she said. They also include institutions with excess capacity.

“I think that there’s a feeling that the spread between the published price and the average price has just grown far too wide,” she said.

Lapovsky pushes back against the idea that a tuition reset is a failure if an institution goes back to raising tuition rates in subsequent years. Unless colleges are able to expand enrollment every year, it is a given that they will have to increase the sticker price to keep up with cost growth, she said.

“I never had an assumption that when you do a tuition reset you do a tuition freeze,” she said. “It just means you are starting from a much lower base.”

Colleges and universities also often continue to raise charges for room and board during and after tuition resets.

Although she backs resets in some cases, Lapovsky isn’t blind to their potential drawbacks. Colleges could turn off students if they price themselves incorrectly for how they are positioned. They could communicate the reset poorly. They could miss with their financial modeling.

“You have to redo your leveraging matrix without any data, because you don’t have a history to base it on,” Lapovsky said. “That’s a challenging thing for schools, so schools are scared. There is risk involved.”

The risk spans multiple years. Backers of tuition resets say institutions that have done the best job of implementing them used them as long-term strategies instead of just short-term shots in the arm.

Their strategy includes how future tuition increases will be put in place.

“They’ve mapped out what those smaller increases on a smaller starting base would look like over time, and they prepared for it,” said Carole Arwidson, vice president and director of market research for the Lawlor Group. “The reset, in their minds, was never a one-year strategy. It’s a five, 10-year model.”

The Lawlor Group is, along with Lapovsky, generally seen as one of the leading advocates for tuition resets in the consulting world. It has argued resets can succeed if institutions are operating from a position of strength, those with a valuable educational experience to offer to students, and those that are willing to respond to the higher education marketplace.

Resets in other circumstances can be more problematic, according to John Lawlor, the firm’s founder and principal.

“We’ve had clients that explored doing this, and our recommendation was ‘your brand equity isn’t strong enough,’ ” he said. “If we did this, it would be a case of cheap just got cheaper.”

In that light, it is worth reiterating that many of the institutions announcing tuition resets for next year have faced financial struggles recently. Some skeptics believe a wealthy institution like a Williams College or Amherst College would have to implement a tuition reset before the practice is taken seriously. That would signal prices had grown out of alignment with demand throughout the market, they said. Because of their prestige, it would also be harder for rival institutions to try to poach their applicants by dangling eye-popping financial aid packages to offset high sticker prices.

Of course, a wealthy institution implementing another controversial pricing strategy, tuition freezes, didn't validate that practice for many in the broader market. Princeton University froze tuition in 2007, but the freeze didn't last. Even as some try tuition freezes and other similar plans, like fixed net price tuition plans keeping student cohorts' tuition level for all of the years they enroll, many view them with suspicion.

Otherwise, many likened tuition resets to a strategy tried by the retailer J.C. Penney. Several years ago the chain, which traditionally tagged items with high sticker prices and drove traffic to stores with coupons and flashy sales, attempted to change to a model of fair and square prices without the markups and deep discounts. Sales plummeted, the store's stock price crashed and CEO Ron Johnson was fired less than two years after he was hired and implemented the strategy.

Some, including Johnson, have argued that J.C. Penney should have stuck with the strategy longer. Others said he put it in place before its time. But others feel he simply misread the chain's market position, trying to make J.C. Penney something it could never be.

Many would point out that college is not clothing. Paying for a pair of Dockers is very different from deciding where to try to earn a diploma.

Resets can be part of returning a college to solid financial footing, said Elizabeth Hillman, president of Mills, which had to make cuts as it faced a several-million-dollar deficit in its $57 million operating budget heading into this year -- but the college is still cutting its sticker price for undergraduate tuition by 36 percent next year, to $28,765. (This paragraph has been updated to clarify the size of the operating deficit and budget Mills faced earlier this year.)

“I think moving from a tenuous financial position to a really thriving and robust space requires a lot of steps,” Hillman said. “This is an important step that really clarifies what costs are going to be and hopefully energizes some of the people who come to our campus, say it looks great, but then they look at the sticker price and they say, ‘It’s not for me.’ We want to make clear this can be for them.”

Per-student net tuition is likely to stay the same at Mills as its discount rate drops along with sticker price -- from more than 60 percent for incoming students this fall to below 50 percent next year. But the college can increase revenue by growing enrollment, Hillman said.

That growth can come from both high school students who are writing off Mills based on price and from transfer students.

“No private college in California fails to compete with our public university system,” Hillman said. “So we do hope that we can actually work to make a more seamless transition from the community colleges to Mills because of this.”

Unusual Resets Unfold

Several institutions announcing resets this year stand out as particularly unusual, either because of their recent history or because of the details embedded in their plans.

In Virginia, Sweet Briar’s tuition reset will come just three years after it went through another high-profile reset of a different sort. The women’s college’s former board attempted to close it because of concerns about its long-term sustainability as a going concern, only to have alumnae wrest away control of the college and run it under new leadership.

The new president of Sweet Briar, Meredith Woo, who started at the college this year, brought up the idea of a reset, according to Teresa Tomlinson, who chairs the college’s board. She also put several other structural changes on the table. In addition to the reset, Sweet Briar is adopting a new core curriculum focused on women’s leadership, reorganizing its academic departments and revamping its academic calendar.

The timing of Sweet Briar’s tuition reset announcement might seem strange to the outside observer, given that it has gone through so many other major changes of late. But the college needed to stabilize its core operations before it could plot its way forward, according to Tomlinson.

“When you’re restructuring a college like this, you have the national reputation and a brand and the potential to be exactly what you want to be -- which is a formidable women’s liberal arts college -- you’re going to have to spend some time remaking things and getting your house in order,” Tomlinson said.

The Cleveland Institute of Music has its own unique take on the tuition reset. It is cutting tuition with an eye toward shrinking, not growing, its student body.

“We have set a new threshold of tuition from which we are going to work down,” said Paul W. Hogle, the institute’s president and CEO. “Most people do this to increase applications in order to increase matriculation. We’re increasing applications so we can be more selective.”

The institute is cutting tuition by 15 percent, to $40,000, for 2018-19, a year after holding tuition flat for the first time in more than 50 years. Its freshman tuition discount rate is expected to drop accordingly, from north of 60 percent to the middle or high 50 percent range.

Currently, the institute has 400 students. Next year it will have 350 to 375, and in the next 10 years Hogle wants enrollment to drop to the low 300s.

One way to make the math work is through fund-raising. For the last 20 years, the institute has raised about $1.4 million annually in nonrestricted gifts, Hogle said. Over the last several years, that has climbed to $2 million. He thinks it will be $2.25 million this year and grow to $3 million in the future, raising money for scholarships.

The Cleveland Institute of Music is using a tuition reset toward a different end because it plays in an entirely different space than the four-year undergraduate institutions that usually deploy the mechanism. As a conservatory, it competes against top names like the Juilliard School and the Colburn School. The most sought-after students don’t pay to attend conservatories.

“The gold standard in my category is 100 percent,” Hogle said of the tuition discount rate his institution is competing against. “In an orchestra world, you would love to think it is the Tchaikovsky who sold the program. It is often the other things.”

Also standing out is the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, which is pairing a tuition reset and tuition freeze. The university is cutting undergraduate tuition from $39,994 per year to $25,000 next year. The university is also guaranteeing that undergraduates will not pay more than $25,000 per year in tuition and fees until they complete their degrees. It is also guaranteeing students accepted into its six-year doctoral programs will pay a total cost of no more than $190,000. That's down from a sticker price typically over $300,000, according to administrators.

Current students will not see a tuition reset, but their tuition will be frozen for the rest of their time on campus.

Currently, the university's first-year undergraduate class numbers 358. It aims to grow to 387 next year and 400 the following year, said Patricia Vanston, vice president for business development and enrollment management.

“Our target student is who we are going after now -- students in the tristate area, the Mid-Atlantic part of the country,” she said. “We’re going aggressively after smart science kids who want to go to a science school.”

The sticker price cut comes on the heels of layoffs and program cuts as the university sought to close a $4.5 million hole in its $90 million budget earlier this year. Its enrollment had also been slipping even as its discount rate increased.

“What’s happening now is unsustainable,” Vanston said. “I looked at our trajectory. What are we going to have, an 80 percent discount? I felt like I’d rather be on the front end of this [reset movement] because I feel like it’s going to be much bigger.”

The other institutions announcing a tuition reset in September are Cornerstone University, a Christian institution in Michigan, and Avila University, a Catholic university in Kansas City, Mo. Cornerstone is cutting its sticker price next fall from $27,520 to $24,500. The cut is being paired with a one-year tuition freeze for returning students and an expansion of the college’s block tuition. Instead of paying one price for taking 12 to 17 academic credit hours, students will be able to take between 12 and 18 credits for the same price. That change starts in January.

Cornerstone expects to decrease its discount rate and keep its net price per student similar to what it is today, according to Bob Sack, vice president for advancement. It anticipates enrollment growth as more students see the lower sticker price and believe the university is affordable.

Avila, meanwhile, plans a 33 percent cut in its listed price, to $19,900, starting next year. The price includes books and campus fees. Avila is promising tuition protection, keeping tuition from increasing by more than 3 percent per year in the future.

The university is also taking steps to ensure students graduate in four years, guaranteeing students an internship or research experience, and making students eligible to apply for a $1,000 travel award. Current students have already received information about the new pricing. The university says incoming freshmen in 2018 will see the "full benefit" of the new model but that all students will receive a reduction in tuition pricing.

AdmissionsEditorial Tags: College costs/pricesImage Caption: Birmingham-Southern College has cast its aggressive tuition reset as the result of it listening to students.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 
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