Higher Education News

U of California, Berkeley, to delete publicly available educational content

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 08:00

The University of California, Berkeley, will cut off public access to tens of thousands of video lectures and podcasts in response to a U.S. Justice Department order that it make the educational content accessible to people with disabilities.

Today, the content is available to the public on YouTube, iTunes U and the university’s webcast.berkeley site. On March 15, the university will begin removing the more than 20,000 audio and video files from those platforms -- a process that will take three to five months -- and require users sign in with University of California credentials to view or listen to them.

The university will continue to offer massive open online courses on edX and said it plans to create new public content that is accessible to listeners or viewers with disabilities.

Cathy Koshland, vice chancellor for undergraduate education, made the announcement in a March 1 statement.

“This move will also partially address recent findings by the Department of Justice, which suggests that the YouTube and iTunes U content meet higher accessibility standards as a condition of remaining publicly available,” Koshland said. “Finally, moving our content behind authentication allows us to better protect instructor intellectual property from ‘pirates’ who have reused content for personal profit without consent.”

The Justice Department, following an investigation, in August determined that the university was violating the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990. The department reached that conclusion after receiving complaints from two employees of Gallaudet University, saying Berkeley’s free online educational content was inaccessible to blind and deaf people because of a lack of captions, screen reader compatibility and other issues.

Stacy Nowak, one of the complainants, referred comments to the Justice Department and the National Association of the Deaf. The NAD did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

The department ordered the university to make the content accessible to people with disabilities. Berkeley, however, publicly floated an alternative: removing everything from public view.

“In many cases the requirements proposed by the department would require the university to implement extremely expensive measures to continue to make these resources available to the public for free,” Koshland wrote in a Sept. 20 statement. “We believe that in a time of substantial budget deficits and shrinking state financial support, our first obligation is to use our limited resources to support our enrolled students. Therefore, we must strongly consider the unenviable option of whether to remove content from public access.”

Now the university has settled on that option.

Koshland said that Berkeley has since 2015 piloted requiring university credentials to access recorded lecture content. That system has so far proved more effective at helping the university accommodate students and others at Berkeley with disabilities.

The Justice Department’s investigation did not look at how Berkeley serves students with disabilities, only the accessibility of content it offers to the public.

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New America releases guidelines on ethical use of data

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 08:00

Colleges see plenty of potential in predictive analytics -- using data to make informed decisions about institutional strategy and help students progress through their courses and toward graduation.

But there is also potential for abuse, namely that data could instead be used to limit students’ opportunities.

New America hopes to avoid that. The Washington-based think tank on Sunday released a five-point framework intended to help colleges navigate the ethical concerns surrounding predictive analytics as they flip the switch on adaptive learning, early-warning and other data-driven systems.

“Using data ethically is complex, and no magic formula exists,” the report reads. “This ethical framework is meant to start conversations on campus. It cannot address all possible issues surrounding the use -- and potential abuse -- of institutional data.”

Some colleges already have systems in place that notify advisers when students are in danger of dropping or failing a course, for example, or recommend majors to students based on their interests and academic performance. Many more colleges are not that far along, however. The framework therefore targets those institutions that now are considering predictive analytics.

“We’re reaching a point where the idea of predictive analytics is really catching on,” said Iris Palmer, a senior policy analyst at New America. “As institutions are pressured to improve completion and graduation rates and provide more support to students, it’s going to become more common.”

The framework introduces questions that colleges should debate as they proceed through the planning, design and implementation phases of data-driven systems. It offers advice on how to involve faculty members, staffers and students, how to keep data private and secure, and how to use that data to meet institutional goals.

“Have we set a goal/vision for using predictive analytics and/or adaptive technologies?” an early question reads. Follow-up questions encourage colleges to view their plans for predictive analytics from different perspectives. “Have we considered the unintended consequences predictive analytics may introduce? When drafting our vision and goals, have we made any assumptions about students or data?”

New America created the framework with help from an advisory council consisting of ed-tech vendors, higher education analysts and researchers. Broadly speaking, the advisory council endorsed a vision of responsible use of predictive analytics where technology plays a supporting role to advisers and faculty members who know how to interpret the data and explain it to students. Colleges should be open about how they collect data about students, and mindful of whether the predictive models they have built address existing biases about age, gender, race and socioeconomic status.

“As we predict the future, we want to make sure that we’re not just repeating the past,” said Manuela Ekowo, a policy analyst at New America.

The framework joins a growing body of best practices concerning the ethical use of data. In the summers of 2014 and 2016, for example, administrators, ed-tech vendors, faculty members and higher education associations met to discuss the topic during the Asilomar conventions.

During both meetings, attendees produced a set of guidelines that, like the New America framework, stressed using data in transparent ways to improve student outcomes (Ekowo and Palmer said they were familiar with the work and had spoken to the organizers).

Mitchell L. Stevens, associate professor of education at Stanford University, in an email called the framework a “very useful document.” Stanford, along with the research and consulting group Ithaka S+R, helped organize the Asilomar meetings.

“We are in early days of a wholesale transformation of postsecondary delivery, in which distinctions between physical and digital platforms are dissolving,” Stevens said. “Ubiquitous digital traces of learning activity raise very large new questions about the nature of the student record and instructional propriety. We need a hundred reports like this one -- and collegial conversations among leaders of colleges, education businesses, engineers and ethicists to think them through.”

Martin Kurzweil, director of educational transformation at Ithaka S+R, said the report’s straightforward instructions will help colleges make sense of predictive analytics. “I expect this paper to serve as a valuable resource and a good entry point for institutions pursuing efforts to use data to better serve their students,” he said.

TechnologyEditorial Tags: Adaptive learningInformation systems/technologyResearchIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

New network aims to strengthen, transform independent bookstores

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 08:00

With broad adoption of rented textbooks and the steady but incremental shift from print to digital, the price of instructional materials is inching down -- far too slowly for those worried about students' costs, but enough to have significantly hurt the bottom line of most campus bookstores.

And the continuation of that trend is certain enough that it is only a matter of time before college stores, which now typically derive about 60 percent of their revenue from textbooks and other instructional material, will die if they do not change to "be financially self-supporting without making textbooks a profit center," says Robert Walton, CEO of the National Association of College Stores.

Many colleges and universities have responded to those trends and the increasing complexity of the bookstore landscape by leasing the operations of their campus stores to outside providers like Barnes & Noble and Follett; the number of independent bookstores, which now stands at about 1,550, shrinks by about 7 to 10 percent a year.

Walton thinks that's bad for higher education (and ultimately students) because of the hundreds of millions of dollars the institutions pay to the bookstore operators. On Saturday, his organization announced a new effort to give colleges more tools for keeping their bookstores independent -- and to make it more feasible for them to hold on to the money they now pay to the lease operations, "about $1 billion that used to go into higher ed every five years," Walton says.

"We're expecting a bare-knuckle fight with Follett and Barnes & Noble."

At the Campus Market Expo in Salt Lake City, NACS, which has historically been more of a trade association, announced the launch of IndiCo, a collaborative involving independent stores, digital textbook providers, virtual bookstores and other partners -- including the 800-lb. gorilla in the textbook market, Amazon.

IndiCo, which stands for Independent Campus Stores Collaborative, will offer a suite of services that run from operating entire campus stores to filling gaps that independent stores have, for instance in discovering and providing affordable course materials, improving their marketing and website presences, or refreshing their store design. A video explaining its services can be found here.

Walton compares the new entity to United Educators, which provides liability insurance and risk management services to 1,300 members (Walton worked with United Educators when he was a chief financial officer at Vassar and the Claremont Colleges). In short, the new organization hopes to give campus stores an alternative to using Follett and Barnes & Noble -- not only in allowing more of the 1,500-odd existing independent stores to stay independent, but to encourage some of those who lease to become independent again.

And Walton doesn't shy away from taking on the leasing behemoths head-on, and using fighting words.

"We're expecting a bare-knuckle fight with Follett and Barnes & Noble," he says. "If a university goes out to bid to run its store, we're going to respond just like a commercial supplier would. We're going to try to push Follett and Barnes & Noble back, with the goal of keeping more of the money with the institutions."

IndiCo's partners will include VitalSource/Verba and RedShelf, which will help bookstores and their students identify, buy, sample and track the use of ebooks and other digital instructional material; Sidewalk, for book rentals and tracking faculty adoptions; Akadémos, a virtual textbook provider and student marketplace for those stores that want to stop providing those services; and Amazon, which will provide books at wholesale prices to IndiCo's members, which Walton says the retail giant has not done before. Other partners include Montezuma Publishing, Nebraska Book Company and Trimdata Corp.


Walton's vision is that IndiCo and its corporate partners will enable independent campus stores to offer the lowest possible prices on instructional materials to students. While that will arguably hasten the pace at which the stores must wean themselves from relying on textbook revenue (and profits), the collaborative is also designed to increase their buying power so they can buy the other merchandise they sell to students and alumni more cheaply, and therefore increase their margins and profitability on noninstructional materials. (The association expects down the road to formally announce a plan to help its stores buy merchandise directly from Asia.)


The expectation, Walton says, is that these changes will allow campus stores to focus less on pure retail and more on education. In this vision, the bookstore becomes an "academic resource, creating stronger partnerships with faculty and alignment to student learning outcomes," IndiCo says in promotional materials.

Barnes & Noble officials declined to comment for this article. Clay Wahl, executive vice president for sales operations at Follett Higher Education, said via email that the company "applauds Indico’s intent to play a role in sustaining the relevancy of higher education bookstores, which has been the core mission of Follett Corporation for over 80 years."

He said that in addition to managing stores through leasing arrangements, Follett provides a range of services to independent campus stores and works to "address textbook affordability with our text rental library, the nation’s largest," used books, digital and OER content and integration, and other approaches.

"These services integrate within the existing technology platforms of our customers; they are not standalone services provided by multiple companies," Wahl said. "Follett has invested heavily in these academic integration points, technologies and tools to truly reduce the level of complexity for administrators, faculty and students."

He added: "Every physical or virtual store requires expense to operate, whether it’s Follett or the institution that runs its own bookstore. This is why Follett has had decades of success operating bookstores for institutions that prefer to focus on education. Because of Follett’s resources and our many years of experience in managing bookstores, we provide efficient operations that allow us to return a portion of store profit to the institution for reinvestment within the campus community."

Optimism From Partners

Some of the entities IndiCo will be working with say they believe the collaborative is an idea whose time has come.

"From the conversations we've had, I think this can have a significant impact as an alternative option for institutions," says Jonathan Shar, chief marketing officer for Akadémos. "There's a lot of interest from schools in finding alternative solutions to really address textbook affordability, but many of them no longer have the knowledge and resources to run a general merchandise store themselves. This seems like it has the possibility of creating a one-stop shop hybrid solution for those institutions that want to move off lease, to take back the campus store."

Mike Hale, VitalSource's vice president of education for North America, said IndiCo can "make it easier for stores to handle a more complex marketplace."

Helping independent stores navigate the many choices they have to make about instructional materials and increasing their buying power through the consortium, he said, will help "make stores more relevant to the mission of their universities."

Editorial Tags: Business issuesTextbooksImage Caption: Campus bookstore at California State University at FullertonIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

Large for-profit chain EDMC to be bought by the Dream Center, a missionary group

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 03/06/2017 - 08:00

After years of switching between being publicly traded and privately held, Education Management Corporation’s large chain of for-profit institutions will become nonprofits.

The Los Angeles-based Dream Center Foundation announced Friday that it is seeking to purchase the for-profit company for an undisclosed amount and plans to convert Argosy University, South University and the Art Institutes into nonprofits.

The sale requires the approval of accreditors and the U.S. Department of Education before it is finalized, however. And it doesn’t include Brown Mackie University, which is closing its campuses. The EDMC sale and conversion are just the latest sign of a collapsing for-profit sector. The move follows the recent closing of ITT Technical Institutes, Corinthian Colleges and many other institutions, as well as the sale of the University of Phoenix.

“We actually have been looking for a higher education organization to affiliate with or acquire for three years now,” said Randy Barton, managing director of the foundation. “Our board made the determination that we felt higher education opportunities were a missing component of our efforts to help people transform their lives and become productive citizens.”

The Dream Center, which is a Christian missionary organization sometimes described as Pentecostal, funds programs that primarily provide education, emergency food, medical services and transitional housing to homeless families, young people and veterans in 41 states and 21 countries.

In the education space the foundation has mostly focused on GED programs and a private school to help children who have trouble adjusting to a public education, Barton said.

Although the Dream Center is a missionary organization that is affiliated with the Assemblies of God churches, Barton said the EDMC institutions will remain strictly secular after the acquisition.

“The Dream Center, although faith based, serves everyone regardless of faith affiliation,” he said.

The faith-based affiliation was a concern of EDMC’s chief executive officer, Mark McEachen, who said the company entertained a few purchase offers, some that would have offered a higher price, but eventually chose the Dream Center because of its mission and commitment to keep the institutions nonsectarian.

McEachen said the company was confident and satisfied that the Dream Center wouldn’t force anything on the educational system, such as faith requirements for faculty or students.

“This deal wasn’t about price. It was about fit and finish,” he said. “We are really removing fully … the legacy of the for-profit EDMC history, and now they have a fresh start and there are things the Dream Center can provide that we could never.”

For instance, the Dream Center was especially interested in the programs at Argosy and South Universities, Barton said. South is focused on medical and health programs, while Argosy is known for its psychology and mental health counseling programs. The center currently provides some form of social services to about 50,000 people a month.

“We have a mobile medical clinic … we do provide medical services through a different subsidiary affiliated with us,” Barton said. “We also have an unbelievable counseling load, and many of the people who come to us are in desperate need of high-quality counseling.”

Barton admits that the least aligned institution to the Dream Center’s mission would be the Art Institutes. But he said the foundation would consider offering more technology training degrees through the Art Institutes to fill growing job market needs.

The universities would be managed by Dream Center Education Holdings, which was created specifically for the acquisition, and Brent Richardson will be the nonprofit’s chief executive officer and co-chairman. He formerly was chief executive officer at Grand Canyon University, a large Christian for-profit institution. The deal is being financed by an affiliate of the Najafi Companies, along with additional funding from the Richardson Family Trust, to which Brent Richardson is connected.

After the deal goes through, the Dream Center plans to reimburse Najafi for its contribution, plus interest. And the Dream Center intends to invest a percentage of revenue generated from the EDMC institutions into charitable organizations.

“While the Dream Center will continue to operate these institutions as they have operated, we will bring to them an expanded vision,” Barton said. “They will be community-focused, not-for-profit institutions coupling their quality programs with a humanitarian culture that values social responsibility.”

The Case for Going Nonprofit

As for Pittsburgh-based EDMC, it will continue on with its teach-out of Brown Mackie and 19 closing Art Institutes campuses.

McEachen said those institutions are expected to close completely by the end of this year.

The company is one of the nation’s largest for-profit institutions, with a total 102 locations in 32 states. It enrolls roughly 65,000 students. EDMC went private in 2014.

While the chain includes recognizable brands, it has struggled with decreases in enrollment and revenue, in addition to federal and state investigations.

In 2015, for example, the company agreed to $202 million in settlements with the Obama administration and a large group of state attorneys general over allegations that it engaged in deceptive practices and illegally paid bonuses to student recruiters. EDMC did not admit wrongdoing in either case.

The company also was hit hard by gainful-employment regulations.

“A lot of art schools and culinary schools are begging to be nonprofit,” said Trace Urdan, a for-profit sector analyst for Credit Suisse. “In EDMC's case you have very specific and pointed effect of the gainful-employment rule that killed the passion-based programs like art, design, culinary and broadcasting. These kinds of things that are very expensive to teach and where there is a much more narrow chance of making it big if students have dreams of being a fashion designer … they’re jobs that don’t pay well out of college.”

EDMC’s Brown Mackie University, which is closing and being taught out, will remain under EDMC. The university's medical assistant program also ran afoul of the gainful-employment rule.

Some critics view the company's transition as one way to avoid regulations that have focused on for-profit institutions.

“EDMC’s proposed sale and conversion to nonprofit status is a shameful attempt to avoid the rules put in place to stop its continued abuse of students and taxpayers,” Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a written statement.

Healey said she was urging the U.S. Department of Education and Betsy DeVos, the education secretary, to stop the transaction.

“Earlier this year more than 100 EDMC programs across the country showed outrageous levels of unaffordable student debt,” she said.

From For-Profit to Nonprofit

One of the most recent for-profit entities to attempt a nonprofit conversion was Christian-based Grand Canyon University. However, Grand Canyon’s accreditor rejected the conversion, which did not go forward.

Both EDMC and Dream Center officials argued that there are differences between Grand Canyon’s attempts and their own.

For one, the Dream Center is a completely separate entity from EDMC.

“We understood full well what would and wouldn’t work,” McEachen said. “We did our homework up front, and the Dream Center is a third party that has been in business for 30 years. We have no affiliation with them. We will have no affiliation with them postclosing, and no management services are being provided to them.”

Robert Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former Education Department official in the Obama administration, has been a critic of what he describes as the “covert for-profit,” or for-profit institutions that convert to nonprofit status while those who remain in control of the institution still have a financial stake.

“Perhaps by going nonprofit, the reputation can be rebuilt by being able to tell people this institution is guided not by owners who are trying to take as much for themselves as they can, but by community-minded trustees,” he said.

Experts on the for-profit sector said staying afloat in the current competitive and regulatory environments means having a specialty or other distinguishing characteristics.

“You have to be differentiated,” Urdan said, adding that Strayer, Capella, DeVry and Grand Canyon Universities have all differentiated themselves either in their academic program offerings or their identities in the for-profit marketplace. “To survive in the more competitive world with traditional schools, you have to offer something the traditional schools don’t offer. The vocational schools -- their issues are concerns about the value proposition and the market.”


For-Profit Higher EdEditorial Tags: For-profit collegesImage Caption: The Art Institute of PittsburghIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

Middlebury students shout down lecture by Charles Murray

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 08:00

Hundreds of students at Middlebury College on Thursday chanted and shouted at Charles Murray, the controversial writer whom many accuse of espousing racist ideas, preventing him from giving a public lecture at the college.

Murray had been invited by Middlebury's student group affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute, a think tank at which Murray is a scholar. Many of his writings are controversial, but perhaps none more than The Bell Curve, a book that linked intelligence and race and that has been widely condemned by many social scientists (even as Murray has been supported by others).

Prior to the point when Murray was introduced, several Middlebury officials reminded students that they were allowed to protest but not to disrupt the talk. The students ignored those reminders and faced no visible consequences for doing so.

As soon as Murray took the stage, students stood up, turned their backs to him and started various chants that were loud enough and in unison such that he could not talk over them. Chants included:

  • "Racist, sexist, anti-gay, Charles Murray, go away."
  • "Your message is hatred. We cannot tolerate it."
  • "Charles Murray, go away. Middlebury says no way."
  • "Who is the enemy? White supremacy."
  • "Hey hey, ho ho. Charles Murray has got to go."

The scene was recorded and posted to YouTube. Murray appears around minute 19.

After the students chanted for about 20 minutes, college officials announced that the lecture would not take place but that Murray would go to another location, which the college didn't name, and have a discussion with a Middlebury faculty member -- livestreamed back to the original lecture site.

According to Middlebury officials, after Murray and the professor who interviewed him for the livestream attempted to leave the location in a car, some protesters surrounded the car, jumped on it, pounded on it and tried to prevent the car from leaving campus.

Laurie Patton, president of Middlebury, attended the attempted lecture and spoke before Murray took the stage. She received some boos from the crowd, although she was applauded when she said she disagreed with Murray's views. Patton said she attended because students invited her, and she tries to attend events when invited -- regardless of her views of a speaker. She said that "the very premise of free speech on this campus is that a speaker has a right to be heard."

In a statement Friday morning, Middlebury said, "We’re deeply disappointed that Charles Murray was not permitted to give his talk in the way it was intended. A large group of students took it upon themselves to disrupt the event, which forced us to move Mr. Murray and Professor Allison Stanger, the moderator of the Q&A, to another location. Thanks to some advance planning, we were able to livestream Mr. Murray’s talk and his conversation with Professor Stanger. We will make a recording of that available as soon as possible so the members of our community who came to the event wanting to hear Mr. Murray will be able to do so."

Middlebury officials said that while they expected a protest and possible disruption, the size of the protest was unexpected, making it impossible to clear the hall.

College officials framed the decision to allow the event to take place as being about free speech.

But critics said that Murray shouldn't be treated simply a person with whom they had differing political views. Many noted that he is classified as a white nationalist by the Southern Poverty Law Center, which sums him up this way: "Charles Murray, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has become one of the most influential social scientists in America, using racist pseudoscience and misleading statistics to argue that social inequality is caused by the genetic inferiority of the black and Latino communities, women, and the poor."

An open letter by hundreds of Middlebury alumni says in part, "This is not an issue of freedom of speech. We think it is necessary to allow a diverse range of perspectives to be voiced at Middlebury …. However, in this case we find the principle does not apply, due to not only the nature, but also the quality, of Dr. Murray’s scholarship. He paints arguments for the biological and intellectual superiority of white men with a thin veneer of quantitative rhetoric and academic authority. His work, including 1984’s Losing Ground and 1994’s The Bell Curve … misinterprets selective, uncorrected statistics and other faulty data to argue for the genetic inferiority of people of color, women, people with disabilities and the poor. This is the same thinking that motivates eugenics and the genocidal white supremacist ideologies which are enjoying a popular resurgence under the new presidential administration."

Murray has said that critiques of The Bell Curve are incorrect. He issued a letter defending the book last year -- at a time when some wanted Virginia Tech to call off an appearance there (it did not).

Via email Friday morning, Murray declined to comment on what took place at Middlebury, but he posted several comments on Twitter, including this one.

Report from the front: The Middlebury administration was exemplary. The students were seriously scary.

— Charles Murray (@charlesmurray) March 3, 2017 Editorial Tags: Academic freedomImage Source: YouTubeImage Caption: Students, their backs to Charles Murray, chant and shout.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

Cal State Fullerton faculty union disputes allegations that an instructor struck a Republican student

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 08:00

It’s become a tactic of critics of the academic left to record professors’ politically charged comments and behaviors, then share them online as part of a public shaming campaign. Take Olga Perez Stable Cox’s now-infamous statement that Donald Trump’s election was an act of “terrorism,” recorded by one of her psychology students at Orange Coast College, for example.

So it’s somewhat curious that another Orange County professor’s alleged assault of a student during a pro-Trump rally -- this time at California State University at Fullerton -- didn’t make it onto film, while the rest of an incident did. What happened is also in dispute. Supporters of the professors say he was the one being harassed -- by protesters holding racist signs -- and that he didn't assault anyone.

The group behind the rally, Fullerton’s College Republicans, asserts that a part-time instructor of anthropology, Eric Canin, who has since been suspended, hit one of its members. And the university says an investigation yielded the same conclusion. But the professor’s faculty union says Fullerton has not shared any physical or video evidence to support the claim, and that Canin -- who denies hitting the student -- was the real "victim of aggression." Some of the pictures of the event posted to Twitter show Canin being restrained by one of his student accusers or surrounded, but not hitting anyone.

The incident happened last month, during a counterprotest by the College Republicans to an anti-Trump, “No Ban, No Wall” protest on campus. In a student video that has since been shared online, Canin can be seen walking alongside the Republicans and engaging in conversation. He calls members of the group “trolls,” and some back-and-forth about “respect” can be heard. Then the camera drops away from the scene. There’s quiet for a few moments, then the sounds of alarmed voices in the background. The video does not show Canin touching anyone.

Numerous members of the club have since shared their versions of events online, including in a post on Breitbart. “I saw a man who had told us he was a professor attacking” another student, “and immediately intervened to physically restrain him until police arrived to apprehend him,” Christopher Boyle, club president, told the site. “At the time, students identified him as anthropology professor Eric Canin. … It’s unfortunate that young Republicans and College Republicans can’t take their safety for granted on campus and get attacked for their views.”

Campus police intervened, but Canin was not arrested. The College Republicans filed a complaint, and the university investigated. Jeffrey Cook, a Fullerton spokesperson, said via email Thursday that the university completed its internal inquiry, which “substantiated the charges that a physical altercation occurred, that a campus employee struck a student and that as a consequence the speech of the student group was stopped.”

Cook called the nature of the incident “profoundly troubling,” as “a central tenet of this community is the open exchange of ideas.” Even when opposing views are objectionable, he said, “ours is a campus where we will insist that respect be afforded to the right of others to assert those views. Responding with violence to speech we disagree with cannot and will not be tolerated.”

The university is taking “appropriate action,” he said, declining to provide more detail while the case is ongoing.

Michele Barr, a lecturer in kinesiology and president of Fullerton’s chapter of the California Faculty Association, confirmed that Canin is suspended, and said the case is still under investigation. As to the evidence against him, Barr said it’s “very odd that there are no known pictures or video to support the charge,” since photos of the scene show numerous students documenting it with cell phones.

A separate statement from the union says that Canin "categorically denies having struck anybody and asserts that he has always been and always will be committed to nonviolence. Canin was, in fact, the victim of harassment by a crowd carrying signs with racist messages clearly attempting to provoke a confrontation. … [He] did not prevent anybody’s free speech, yet now by the university’s action, he is being silenced."

The union said it will continue to "aggressively support Canin and demand that the university reinstate him to his former position."

The American Association of University Professors recently released a report about targeted online harassment of professors, saying colleges and universities should prohibit surreptitious student recordings of professors in class or in private meetings. That’s because, increasingly, such tapes end up on YouTube and other sites, and often result in unwanted emails and phone calls to professors from off-campus critics. Cox, for example, said she had to leave the state due to physical threats after her comments were shared online.

In the Fullerton case, which happened outside of class, it appears that what’s missing from the video is the problem -- though other professors elsewhere have alleged recordings of their comments were edited in misleading ways. Canin did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Barr said that he “insists that any video would exonerate him of the charge.”

Reached via Twitter, Boyle, the College Republicans president, said there were "cameras going at the moment of the incident, but none happened to be pointed at the professor when he shoved the student." There were "plenty of eyewitnesses," however, he said.

Academic FreedomEditorial Tags: Academic freedomFacultyImage Source: TwitterImage Caption: Eric Canin, right, at a protest at Cal State FullertonIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

Notre Dame, known for commencement speeches by new presidents, invites Pence

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 08:00

In 1981, President Reagan's first trip after surviving an assassination attempt was to deliver the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame. In 2009, many anti-abortion activists (largely outside the university) condemned Notre Dame for inviting President Obama to deliver the address, given his support for abortion rights. But he was warmly received and praised the university for being willing to listen to all views. University leaders at the time noted the tradition of inviting presidents, many times in their first years in office.

That tradition may have ended Thursday, when Notre Dame announced that Vice President Mike Pence would be this year's commencement speaker.

The Reverend John I. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, said shortly after Election Day that he was reconsidering the tradition of inviting new presidents to speak at commencement. “What is the most constructive thing to do?” he said in a November interview. “It’s just something I’m reflecting on now.”

The Notre Dame announcement Thursday mentioned President Trump only in passing, and noted the links between Pence, a former Indiana governor, and Notre Dame, located in Indiana. One quote in the announcement praised Pence for “his own brand of reserved dignity.”

A Notre Dame spokesman declined to say whether Trump had been considered or invited. “Notre Dame only announces commencement speakers who have accepted our offer to speak at commencement. We don’t announce or speculate on who else may or may not have been invited or considered,” said the spokesman via email.

President Eisenhower was the first U.S. chief executive to speak at a Notre Dame commencement. Since then, Notre Dame graduates have been addressed by Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush (George H. W.), Bush (George W.) and Obama.

The criticism of the invitation to Obama centered on a conflict between his view of abortion rights and that of the Roman Catholic Church. Both Trump and Pence are anti-abortion, and Pence is considered one of the favorite political leaders of the anti-abortion movement.

On other issues, though, the Trump administration has taken positions opposed by Notre Dame and church leaders -- and Father Jenkins has spoken out about these positions, taken during the 2016 campaign and since.

In July, Father Jenkins gave a speech in Mexico in which he criticized anti-immigrant political rhetoric. “The vitriol directed at the Irish … and later the Italians, and other waves of immigrants to the United States, sadly is not a thing of the past, certainly not for Mexicans in the United States who have been slandered in extraordinary ways, as has Mexico itself,” Father Jenkins said. “It is churlish, insulting political theater, for certain. But it is not only that. It suggests that the United States distance itself from Mexico at just the time that our nations are most positively engaged with each other and poised to reap the benefits of robust trade, industrialization and entrepreneurship.”

The July statement did not mention Trump by name. But in January, Father Jenkins did name Trump, in a statement denouncing his ban (since blocked by federal courts) on travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority nations.

The statement: “The sweeping, indiscriminate and abrupt character of President Trump’s recent executive order halts the work of valued students and colleagues who have already passed a rigorous, post-9/11 review process, are vouched for by the university and have contributed so much to our campuses. If it stands, it will over time diminish the scope and strength of the educational and research efforts of American universities, which have been the source not only of intellectual discovery but of economic innovation for the United States and international understanding for our world; and, above all, it will demean our nation, whose true greatness has been its guiding ideals of fairness, welcome to immigrants, compassion for refugees, respect for religious faith and the courageous refusal to compromise its principles in the face of threats.”

Since the election, op-eds in the student newspaper at Notre Dame have debated whether Trump should be invited. A petition also urged Father Jenkins not to invite Trump.

Shortly after Father Jenkins suggested he might reconsider the tradition of inviting new presidents, Eddie Damstra, a sophomore, published an open letter to the university’s president in The Observer, the student newspaper. In his letter, Damstra said he didn’t vote for Trump, but still thought he should be invited.

“Inviting Trump to speak is not a blanket declaration of tolerance for the offensive remarks he made during his campaign,” Damstra wrote. “Just as inviting President Barack Obama was not a condoning of his positions on abortion, inviting Trump is not declaring agreement with all of the policies he has proposed or statements he has made. Rather, inviting Trump is embracing the virtue of open expression and holding high respect for the executive office of the president.”

Among those who responded was Michael Folger, a member of the class that graduated in 2009 and who heard Obama address graduates. Folger wrote that he had been delighted by the invitation to Obama and had been puzzled at the time that anyone would object. “I found the whole situation baffling. Would Notre Dame seriously decline to invite the president to speak at our graduation? Surely, an invitation to speak at commencement need not equate to an endorsement of all of the president’s policies, and a snub seemed like a close-minded refusal to engage with anyone whose political beliefs did not align with Catholic teaching,” Folger wrote.

As a result, he said he expected to favor that the university invite future presidents, regardless of their views. And while he said he might “seem hypocritical,” Folger wrote that he didn't think Trump should be invited, but that his view was about more than politics.

“Mr. Trump has also done much to divide us, including his comments on immigrants and Muslims, his refusal to distance himself from or forcibly denounce the white supremacist right (the so-called alt-right), his continued refusal to take any responsibility, even indirectly, for pulling us apart. An invitation to speak at commencement might not equate to an endorsement of Mr. Trump’s policies, but it does at least partially endorse Mr. Trump, the man,” Folger wrote. “It would be wrong to decline to invite Mr. Trump because of legitimately held political differences, but it would be worse still to invite Mr. Trump following the concrete actions he has taken that threaten to corrode the foundation of our democracy and rip apart the ties that bind us together.”

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Bowdoin's former president takes senior post at Boston public university

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 08:00

Barry Mills could be stepping into an awkward situation at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Mills is well regarded for a 14-year tenure as president of Bowdoin College. During that time the 1,800-student liberal arts college in Maine sharply increased its endowment. It started a financial aid policy that replaced student loans with grants and increased the enrollment of minority students.

Now Mills enters a very different situation at UMass Boston. The public institution is more than nine times larger than Bowdoin, with 12,800 undergraduates and 4,000 graduate students. It’s in a fiscal pinch, with administrators trying to close a $26 million deficit that has put faculty members on edge. And Mills won’t be the leader on campus.

The University of Massachusetts system announced Thursday that Mills is starting in the newly created position of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer. He’s joining a campus already led by Chancellor J. Keith Motley. The University of Massachusetts System said on Thursday that Mills will work with Motley on “developing and refining” a long-term strategy in Boston.

But Mills seems undaunted by his path. He pointed out that he was a nontraditional presidential candidate when he was hired at Bowdoin in 2001 -- he’d been a partner at the New York City law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where he worked in finance, real estate and corporate law.

And to hear Mills tell it, he’s going where the action is in higher education right now.

“I have thought for a long time that the big challenge in America is public education,” Mills said in a telephone interview. “The real impact, just numbers-wise and challenge-wise, is in the publics.”

Mills cast his decision to join UMass Boston as one driven by ideals. The Boston campus has a mission that appeals to him. It’s a commuter institution drawing students of all ages, he said. More than 40 percent of its undergraduates receive federal Pell Grants, meaning they come from low-income families. It’s diverse, with only 36 percent of its undergraduates reported as white.

The graduation rate at UMass Boston is low, Mills continued. The four-year graduation rate for full-time undergraduates who began in the fall of 2009 was 17 percent, according to federal data. The six-year graduation rate for the same cohort was 42 percent.

Mills believes it is critical to find ways to improve that graduation rate. That will head off the problem of students taking on debt to attend a few years of college, not graduating, and having to try to pay off that debt without the higher wages that a college degree can bring, he said.

Additionally, Mills wants to increase UMass Boston’s enrollment and make it more affordable to students. He wasn’t prepared to offer specific fixes on Thursday, but he thinks online education is a part of the equation. So are connections to the Boston area and employers.

“I really want to understand how we make this work for students at all levels,” he said. “How do we connect UMass Boston up to the neighboring community, so they understand there are jobs for them when they graduate?”

Those goals come as Boston Chancellor Motley is already pursuing an aggressive agenda that includes a 25-year master plan to revamp the campus and the institution's first on-campus dormitories. He also aims to improve academic offerings and raise the intuition's research profile. Motley has also worked to boost enrollment, which hit an all-time high of just over 17,000 students in 2015.

Working on those fronts will require navigating a tight financial situation. Campus leaders are fighting to close a $26 million deficit in the current fiscal year. Late last year Motley called for an across-the-board 2.5 percent budget reduction, a hiring freeze and furlough days from some employees. Faculty members are bracing for more cuts.

Officials have blamed the budget situation in part on cost overruns related to $750 million in construction and renovation projects intended to improve the campus and its reputation. Officials also pointed to a slowdown in enrollment amid the construction and to increased payroll costs.

Students and faculty members protested the situation after returning to campus in the fall -- after leaders raised in-state undergraduate tuition by $750 to $13,110 for the year and about 100 adjunct faculty positions were cut. Protesters argued that the financial crunch hurt first-generation and working-class students the most. UMass Boston leaders said the campus is in the process of a transformation that will have long-lasting benefits, according to The Boston Globe.

Mills's work will include finances.

“I will for sure be looking at the financial side,” Mills said. “It’s an important part of any leader’s job to match your ambitions with your resources.”

Fund-raising will be an important piece of the puzzle. Massachusetts does not have a strong history of private philanthropic support for public higher education, Mills said. But he thinks he can explain to donors that UMass serves a critical role in the state and should be important to them even if they did not attend one of its institutions.

The endowment for the entire UMass system was valued at $734.2 million in 2016, according to the most recent survey data from the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the nonprofit asset management firm Commonfund. Budget documents show Boston has fewer investment resources feeding its operations than some other system institutions, however. Boston's investment and endowment return was listed at $8.1 million for 2017, compared to $22.5 million for UMass Amherst.

Mills is known as a strong fund-raiser. He is credited with helping to build Bowdoin’s endowment from $470 million in 2001 to almost $1.4 billion in 2015.

Faculty members are hoping Mills can help with fund-raising and finances. UMass Boston caters to first-generation college students, said Marlene Kim, a professor of economics who is the president of the Faculty Staff Union on campus. UMass Boston teaches students who don’t have the chance or the money to go to private institutions, she said.

Right now, many on campus fear for the university's ability to provide a good education at an affordable price into the future.

“I think we’re at a crossroads on whether we can provide that or not,” Kim said. “Hopefully, he can help us.”

Mills joins UMass Boston after consulting throughout the UMass system since leaving Bowdoin. His consulting focused on educational quality in a time of scarce economic resources, he said.

Chancellor Motley shares his view on UMass Boston and its mission, Mills said.

“I spent a lot of time with Keith trying to make sure it would work with both of us,” Bowdoin said. “I’m very happy that Keith is staying as chancellor and as my partner, because I can really focus on the strategic and operational parts of the place and not have to do all the ceremonial parts.”

Motley (pictured at right) said in a statement that he looks forward to working with Mills.

“Barry’s desire to join us is indicative of his deep regard for UMass Boston and its mission -- and the passion he has for unlocking the full potential in each and every student who walks through our doors,” Motley said. “I look forward to working with him in what is certain to be a fruitful and productive partnership.”

Also releasing statements were UMass system President Marty Meehan and Board of Trustees Chairman Robert J. Manning.

“Throughout the course of his presidency at Bowdoin, Barry Mills was recognized as one of the nation’s pre-eminent higher education leaders, managing his institution carefully and skillfully, while always maintaining an idealist’s passion for extending higher education’s promise to all, regardless of income or background,” Meehan said.

“The Board of Trustees is thrilled to have someone with the stature and ability of Barry Mills coming to our Boston campus,” Manning said. “We are committed to him and will do everything in our power to make him and UMass Boston successful.”

The dynamic between Mills and Motley will be critical to watch going forward. Mills is a successful former president, while Motley has been Boston's chancellor since 2007. There is no guarantee that the relationship between two leaders will work.

Experts believe that such arrangements can be successful, however. It takes the right leaders, according to Roderick McDavis, managing principal of AGB Search and the former president of Ohio University.

“Not only do you need the right personalities, I also think you need the right understanding right at the beginning,” McDavis said. “Don’t see that person coming in as a competitor or rival, but see that person as a true colleague, someone with a certain skill set.”

McDavis believes more former presidents are likely to start taking high-level administrative jobs that aren’t at the level of chief executive on campus. Those who are able to let go of having final say can carve out successful roles as experienced administrators and advisers, he said.

Such moves would spare leaders from the harsh scrutiny of the presidency. It can also be a new challenge, said Jessica Kozloff, president of Academic Search and president emerita of Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania.

“We refer to it as your encore career,” she said. “It’s another full-time career, but it’s something that gives you a new experience.”

Mills knows he will have a new experience at UMass Boston. He is under no illusions that it will simply be Bowdoin at a larger scale. UMass Boston is a more complex institution educating different students, he said. Like many public universities, it has challenges with infrastructure, branding and online education.

Mills doesn’t need to be a college president, he said. His wife, former U.S. Small Business Administration leader Karen Gordon Mills, is a faculty member at Harvard Business School. He wants to be in Boston with his family, even if he could be president of a liberal arts college elsewhere.

“Lots of people have called me,” Mills said. “This isn’t something I needed to do. This isn’t about being a college president. This is about a totally mission-driven opportunity for me -- and a challenge -- and I’m looking forward to it.”

Editorial Tags: College administrationImage Source: UMass BostonImage Caption: Former Bowdoin College President Barry Mills is the new deputy chancellor and chief operating officer at UMass Boston.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

Some academics worry that new tools enable plagiarism to bypass detection

Inside HigherEd - Fri, 03/03/2017 - 08:00

The proliferation of online tools allowing students to paraphrase academic work for their own assignments is facilitating plagiarism, according to the author of new research in the area.

Plagiarism-checking software is often unable to detect the use of such websites, according to a new study, "Using Internet-Based Paraphrasing Tools: Original Work, Patchwriting or Facilitated Plagiarism?"

Ann Rogerson, co-author of the paper and senior lecturer in the Faculty of Business at the University of Wollongong, in Australia, warned that the ability to go undetected may lead to more intentional plagiarism among students.

“It could breed it, especially if students use that approach and get away with it,” she told Times Higher Education. “If they’ve used the tool and got through an assessment task … that encourages them to keep on doing it.”

Her study, published in the International Journal for Educational Integrity, was aimed at highlighting “the existence, development, use and detection of use” of these tools and to demonstrate their “dangers."

It concluded that the proliferation of these tools was of “great concern” but that “of greater concern is that tools contracted to identify original source materials cannot necessarily be used … to identify where writing has been repurposed.”

In her study, Rogerson took an excerpt from an existing publication and ran it through two internet-paraphrasing tools to test their quality. The originality of the output was assessed by running it through Turnitin.

She concluded that the outputs were more indicative of “patchwriting” -- a superficial form of paraphrasing where words are simply replaced with synonyms. However, while the result of the first tool was “mainly intelligible,” some of the results of the second tool could be classified as “word salads,” unintelligible and random collections of words and phrases.

Rogerson said it was worrying that students were not only using these tools but that they were submitting assignments without checking for unintelligible sentences.

“They’re just totally trusting the output of the internet tool,” she said. “It’s where the internet can be a little bit dangerous. You rely on it to convert a temperature or a distance, so [they] think, ‘If I can do it with this, I can trust this as well.’”

With technologies like Turnitin not yet fully capable of detecting the use of these tools, it is vital for academics to be proactive in addressing the issues with students, she added. But integrity on the part of students is also required.

“If I find something that’s suspicious or [I] have concerns with, I’ll discuss it with the student. It’s about confronting the issue,” she said. At the same time, “we all talk of academic integrity [in terms of] people doing the wrong thing, [so] you need to make a conscious decision as an individual, whether you’re going to cheat or whether you’re going to learn.”

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Racial gap among senior administrators widens

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 08:00

Look only at the trend line showing the slowly climbing percentage of higher education administrative positions held by minority leaders, and it appears colleges and universities are inching toward a day when their leaders reflect the diversity of their student bodies.

But add a few other pieces of data, and a very different picture takes shape. Look at the much faster growth in the proportion of minority college graduates and the growth in the U.S. minority population. It becomes clear that a substantial representation gap exists between the percentage of minority administrators and the makeup of the country. Further, the ethnic and racial makeup of administrators isn’t changing fast enough to keep up with broader demographic shifts -- the line showing the percentage of minority higher education leaders is not growing closer to lines that show the country's minority population or the percentage of minority college graduates.

Those are some key findings in a new piece of research released Wednesday by the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, CUPA-HR. Researchers reported more equality in salaries, finding that minority administrators are paid equitably on the whole in comparison to white administrators. In fact, minority administrators are paid significantly better in parts of the country where they are less represented, possibly indicating high interest in recruiting and retaining them.

CUPA-HR found that in 2016, 7 percent of higher education administrative positions -- which includes top executives, administrative officers like controllers, division heads, department heads, deans and associate deans -- were held by black staffers. Just 3 percent of those jobs were held by Hispanic or Latino people, 2 percent were Asian and 1 percent identified as another race or ethnicity. The remaining 86 percent of administrators were white.

The percentage of white administrators mirrors that of private industry. In the private sector, 87 percent of senior-level executives are white, CUPA-HR said. That means members of minority groups are underrepresented in both higher education and private industry leadership.

Minority representation among higher education administrations has been slowly rising over the last 15 years. The 14 percent of higher ed administrators in 2016 who belonged to racial or ethnic minority groups was up from 11 percent in 2001.

But that wasn’t enough to keep pace with increases in the proportion of people in the United States who are members of minority groups. They accounted for 38.5 percent of the U.S. population in 2016, up from 30.1 percent in 2001.

Nor did minority representation in higher ed administration increase fast enough to keep up with growth among minority college graduates -- an important benchmark, since candidates need degrees before they can enter the pipeline leading to administrative positions. In 2016, the portion of college graduates who were members of minority groups came in at 26.7 percent. That’s up sharply from 19.1 percent in 2001.

“Increases in the number of minority administrators over time are a false indicator of progress, since increases in the minority population and minority college graduates outpace these numbers,” the CUPA-HR report says.

Different regions of the country showed steady increases in minority representation in administrative positions. The South, however, was more erratic than other regions. Researchers noted that no region showed parity when minority administrative representation was compared to the percentage of minority college graduates.

Breaking down a selection of administration positions by type instead of geography, CUPA-HR found that student affairs chiefs, human resources chiefs and chief legal affairs officers had relatively high levels of minority representation. More than 20 percent of chief student affairs officers were members of minority groups in 2016. In contrast, chief development officers exhibited the lowest minority representation (6 percent).

On the question of salary, researchers found that minority administrators' pay essentially matches that of white administrators dollar for dollar. They also noted relatively steady salary equity over the last 15 years, with a slight uptick in minority pay in 2016, due largely to salary increases for Asian administrators.

“Higher education has been really progressive in maintaining that equal pay,” said Jacqueline Bichsel, CUPA-HR director of research. “We were pleasantly surprised to find that.”

Examining pay by region, CUPA-HR found that the Midwest and Northeast both paid minority administrators more than nonminority administrators in 2016. Minority administrators earned more than $1.10 on the dollar in the Midwest and just under $1.10 on the dollar in the Northeast. In contrast, the West and the South both paid minority administrators about 95 cents on the dollar. That means pay for minority administrators is highest in the regions where colleges and universities have the lowest levels of minority administrators.

Over time, minority administrator pay ratios have been on the rise in all regions but the West, where it has fallen amid some significant swings. The increases reflect higher salaries for Asian, black and Hispanic administrators.

Minority administrators’ pay ratios varied by type of position, but many senior positions CUPA-HR broke out showed administrators who were members of racial and ethnic minority groups receiving higher pay than those who were not. Minority chief legal affairs officers earned less than their nonminority counterparts. Minority library administrators and human resources officers had the highest pay ratios, approaching $1.25 on the dollar.

The findings largely line up with findings in another study CUPA-HR released last month on pay and representation gaps between male and female administrators: scarcity generally leads to higher rates of pay.

“That is the common thread that goes throughout all of this data,” Bichsel said. “It really is conforming to a hypothesis that whenever people see fewer of whatever demographic characteristic -- you see fewer women in a position or fewer minorities in a position -- the response is to attempt to retain those minorities in that position and to pay them more.”

But the report released Wednesday ends by pointing out that equal pay does not compensate for unequal representation for minority administrators. It called on college and university leaders to study whether gaps exist in their own institutions and consider whether they need to make changes to their career pipelines or retention efforts.

“There are things you can do to increase retention and to make people feel included at institutions,” Bichsel said. “It’s not just about increasing diversity, but about increasing inclusivity, which are different things. You have to make people want to stay. That includes creating a culture where they want to stay, and that is very nuanced.”

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One of the most liberal-minded disciplines plots its course under the new administration

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 08:00

The American Anthropological Association has about 10,000 members, with one-fifth of them living outside the United States.

Many of the association’s members both in and outside the United States conduct research concerning immigrants and migrant populations, so they are unsurprisingly opposed to President Trump’s ban on travel -- since blocked by federal courts -- from seven majority-Muslim countries. And the organization's membership is unabashedly left-leaning over all.

The association’s leadership in Arlington, Va., is plotting how to channel the energy of members into constructive work under the Trump administration and a Republican Congress.

Among the planks of that strategy, the organization plans to speak out forcefully on public policy -- as it did on the January travel ban -- and play defense on federal funding for research. Perhaps most importantly, the organization will emphasize ongoing efforts to improve how it translates the work of members to the public, what AAA Executive Director Ed Liebow calls a “retail sales effort.”

“We cannot take for granted that people will say, ‘Oh, you’re a scientist, so I should listen to you,’” he said. “I think compelling storytelling is going to be of essence in being at all persuasive.”

Liebow said those efforts to communicate with regular people and change the public conversation in the country will complement legislative advocacy efforts from organizations like AAA and street protests like the Women’s March on Washington in January or the March for Science planned for April.

“It takes a lot of people pushing and pulling from different directions to make a social movement,” Liebow said.

Last month, after the Idaho House education committee approved new science standards that deleted mentions of climate change and human impact on the environment, the association coordinated an op-ed by the anthropology department chairs at the state’s three largest universities that spoke out in favor of climate change education. The Senate education committee discussed the standards last week. And an AAA member, University of New Mexico anthropologist Valorie Aquino, is one of the organizers of the March for Science.

The association is focused on four main policy domains: climate change, health disparities, race and social justice (including immigration policy), and cultural heritage protection. Those priorities would have remained the same regardless of whether a Republican or Democrat was occupying the White House, Liebow said.

The group has a history of involvement in hot-button political issues as well as federal funding battles. Last summer, the organization’s members narrowly rejected a resolution to boycott Israeli academic institutions in what would have been an extension of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The vote followed an annual meeting where attendees overwhelmingly voted to support the BDS campaign, which aims to use economic pressure to end Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. AAA issued one of the strongest condemnations of the Jan. 27 White House travel ban affecting nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. And it was outspoken against recent congressional attempts to apply a “national interest” standard to research that receives funding from the National Science Foundation.

The NSF is the largest source of funding for social science research in the country. Although the Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Research receives only a fraction of the agency’s budget, that meant more than $270 million in fiscal year 2015. Such social science funding was a favorite target of conservative Republicans long before Trump was a serious presidential candidate.

The association expects that attempts to apply accountability at the individual grant level will resurface in the current Congress on the House science committee, chaired by Texas Republican Lamar Smith. Liebow said the association’s greatest strength in resisting efforts to micromanage research in Congress, just like in the public sphere, will be an ability to tell compelling stories about that research.

Jason De Leon, a University of Michigan anthropologist who studies immigration from Latin America, has long been active in producing “public research” -- academic scholarship translated into everyday English for wider consumption. His work has examined how federal border security policies contribute to migrant deaths in places like the Sonoran Desert to document what those policies actually look like on the ground. De Leon said the work he does has not changed significantly since November.

But he said conversations with colleagues in the field indicate that anthropologists more widely are beginning to re-examine how their work engages the public.

“What’s happening now is folks are recognizing that they have this moral imperative to make their work accessible in this moment and also to try to figure out ways to demonstrate that their work is important for these public conversations,” De Leon said.

To engage with a wider audience, De Leon writes articles and op-eds for nonanthropological audiences and participates in projects like documentaries and in other mediums outside typical academic publishing.

Hugh Gusterson, a professor of international affairs and anthropology at George Washington University, said it’s no secret that most anthropologists don’t like Trump. Indeed, most see him as a threat to human rights and democracy, he said.

“We don’t just research people abstractly. We form very intimate relationships of trust with them,” he said. “We feel an obligation to advocate for the people we study in a way a political scientist or economist wouldn’t.”

The cross-cultural orientation of the discipline contributes to the strong stand organizations like the AAA took against the travel ban. One of the greatest strengths of the discipline, Gusterson said, might be its ability to humanize people affected by those policies. That’s also true of populations whom the mostly liberal-minded anthropological profession may not initially empathize with, he said.

Gusterson studies the people who make up the American security state -- members of the intelligence community, employees of weapons labs and others whom opponents of Trump might not see as allies.

“You think you know what a population is like, but you’ve never met anyone from that population,” he said. “Anthropologists find over and over and over again that when they actually talk to them that these people are different than they expected.”

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Replicating Tennessee's approach to free community college takes money and more

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 08:00

While many states and cities are still working through the details and funding behind their attempts to create a free community college program, Tennessee has been busy expanding its scholarship.

The state was the first to create a free community college program. Now in its second year, the Tennessee Promise has led to student retention gains even as the number of participating students increases.

That success was highlighted recently by the state’s move to expand the Promise to include all adult residents through Tennessee Reconnect -- which already allowed adult residents to earn a certificate for free at any Tennessee college of applied technology. (The expanded program requires adults to not already have an associate or bachelor's degree, be a state resident for at least a year, apply for federal student aid, participate in an advising program and attend college at least part time.)

“One of the things we always heard was, ‘What are we doing with adults?’” said Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “And now we’ve been able to answer that question. We built a seamless message that is about everyone going to college.”

More than 33,000 students have received the Promise scholarship and enrolled in college since the program began in 2015, with nearly 23,300 enrolled in 2016.

But, as some states and cities are learning, replicating an initiative like the Tennessee Promise isn’t an exact science. And there are a few common barriers many programs have faced, including finances and politics.

“Money is the logical explanation,” said Laura Perna, director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at the University of Pennsylvania, who has examined more than 150 Promise programs to assemble a database of characteristics. “Many states have a number of programs spending a lot of money on different types of financial aid already. So it’s important for a state to consider the resources they have available.”

For instance, Oregon, which is using money from the state budget to fund its Promise initiative, allocated $10 million to the program last year. However, officials are estimating the cost will rise to $13.5 million as the state deals with a budget shortfall. Oregon has also seen some of its universities object to the Promise money, with some arguing for more funding for a state scholarship that benefits low-income students who attend public, four-year institutions.

Yet in Tennessee, the program's expansion is less controversial because it won’t directly cost taxpayers. The state is expecting the expansion to cost about $10 million a year, but those funds will come from lottery dollars. The main Promise program also is primarily funded from the state’s lottery reserves, which were placed in an endowment.

This year the total cost for the scholarship is $25.3 million.

“If you’re going to establish a program, you want it to be politically and financially sustainable,” Perna said. “Certainly we know from research that money matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters if you want to improve college attainment for underserved students.”

Where Oregon is facing a backlash from its four-year institutions, Tennessee allows public and private universities that offer an associate degree program to participate in the Promise program.

Four percent of Tennessee Promise students are enrolled at private institutions this year, with a 2 percent annual gain, according to the state higher education office.

“The compromise we made with the governor put us in a position where we would not oppose [the Promise],” said Claude Pressnell Jr., president of the Tennessee Independent Colleges & Universities Association. “We found, due to transfers and adult learners, our enrollment has gone up slightly over the past few years.”

While enrollment has increased at all the state's private institutions, Pressnell said three in particular have seen enrollment gains and the largest share of Tennessee Promise students: Cumberland University, Martin Methodist College and Carson-Newman University.

All three of those private institutions have recruited Promise students, either by agreeing to match the scholarship with institutional aid or by hosting Promise orientation sessions on their campuses, he said.

“I don’t think the other states know we do it,” Pressnell said. “It’s billed as a community college program, and they don’t realize that it’s portable to a four-year institution with an associate degree. Even in this state, it’s the least publicized piece of the program.”

Among the state’s four-year public universities, however, some institutions have taken an enrollment hit in recent years. At the University of Tennessee Martin, for instance, undergraduate enrollment is down 2.4 percent since last year, according to state data. The campus doesn’t offer associate degree programs.

However, UT Martin officials are more likely to praise the Promise program than blame it for low enrollment. After all, the university has seen a 14 percent decrease in enrollment over five years -- a trend that predates the Promise.

“We think the Tennessee Promise program is a good thing,” said Keith Carver, chancellor for UT Martin. “When you talk about a state trying to get 55 percent of its population to a postsecondary degree, whether it’s a technical certificate, an associate’s degree at one of the state’s community colleges or a four-year degree from one of our four-year colleges or universities, that’s a really good thing.”

Carver said it is reasonable to suspect that the Promise program has had some influence on the decrease in Martin’s undergraduate enrollment. But because the population was already in a decline, the reason for the change has been difficult to quantify.

UT Martin faces other issues that impact enrollment more -- an overall declining population in rural western Tennessee and high unemployment when compared to the rest of the state.

Instead, UT Martin is focusing its efforts on transfer students.

The campus is up 4.3 percent in Promise students who have transferred in, Carver said.

“As tough as our jobs are, in terms of dwindling pool of students, we’re having to work much more strategically,” he said.

Beyond the Money

Chris Baldwin, a senior director at Jobs for the Future, said as other states examine Tennessee and look at creating Promise programs, it’s important to note that the changes the state made weren’t decided overnight.

“What Tennessee has been able to do and the success they’ve had is broader than free community college,” he said. “For one, it fits the performance funding they’ve had for a long time. There’s a robust set of things they’ve done around developmental education and streamlining through guided pathways … I’d hesitate to say the success is purely about free tuition, so if you’re replicating it, it would mean you have to replicate a lot.”

Baldwin points to the Detroit Promise scholarship, which, while generating a lot of interest in community college, doesn’t solve the underlying problems students have, such as academic challenges and not having financial stability in their lives to sustain enrollment and be successful.

As New York pursues a free college program and other, similar Promise programs emerge across the country, the question will be what they are doing beyond free tuition, he said.

In Tennessee, officials feel their biggest impact hasn’t been financial but messaging. Perhaps that’s why Krause said he isn’t surprised other states haven’t exactly replicated the Tennessee model.

“It’s amazing to see more states haven’t realized by changing the messaging and leveraging financial aid … it takes time,” he said. “A lot of people are watching to see how it goes through a full cohort.”

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Q&A with author of book about college in prison

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 08:00

If given the opportunity to pursue a demanding college education, anyone -- even society’s most isolated, stigmatized individuals -- can rise to the occasion.

That’s the idea behind College in Prison: Reading in an Age of Mass Incarceration (Rutgers University Press), a new book by Daniel Karpowitz about the ways that a liberal arts education can transform the lives of people living behind bars. In the book, Karpowitz, professor of law and the humanities at Bard College and a director of the Bard Prison Initiative, reflects on his 15-year history with the Bard prison program and reveals many of the intricacies, challenges and rewards that have come with it.

Since 2001, the initiative has delivered a liberal arts education -- including courses on anthropology, literature, political science, history and the Mandarin language -- to hundreds of prisoners in the United State. These courses come with a rigorous curriculum and stimulating classroom discussions, and for some, the degrees they earn offer the chance for a better job -- a better life -- after prison.

Since its inception, the BPI has partnered with a number of liberal arts colleges across the country, in hopes of allowing more prisoners to participate in what has been a powerful, even life-changing, experience for many.

Inside Higher Ed had a chance to talk with Karpowitz about the book. His emailed responses are below.

Q: In College in Prison, you say this has been your calling for the last 20 years or so. What, exactly, drew you into this work? Can you describe when and how you first became interested?

A: I long had a desire to have one foot in the academy and one foot outside of it. Throughout law school I mixed serious graduate work in the humanities and social sciences with an interest in constitutionalism and civil rights. It was [the University of] Chicago in the late '90s, and I was introduced to the facts about mass incarceration by faculty and politicians connected to the university. Some of them suggested I work on a successful community-based alternative to incarceration back in my native Philadelphia. Later, after stints in the rhetoric department at [the University of California, Berkeley] and work on justice mapping in NYC, when I first got up to Bard, the dean introduced me to the person who was starting the college in prison project, and we really saw things eye to eye -- that this was work that was first and foremost about a love of learning, and a belief that brains and talent are everywhere: it was passion for college and an unusual mix of democratic faith and high-status aspirations for students. The criminal justice intervention was a crucial but secondary concern. I felt at home at once.

Q: Do the college professors teach, evaluate or treat the students in prison differently from students in traditional classrooms, and if so, how? What is it like for you, personally, to teach college-level courses to prison inmates?

A: We and the faculty do a remarkable dance treating all students the same, while addressing the particular needs of students bursting with talent, brains and ambition, but who have so long been failed by their formal institutions of learning. Students get a lot of support and “remediation,” but with almost no formal course work segregated into a remedial or developmental track. It’s creative, challenging, rigorous liberal arts from day one, and the development of skills is woven into that along the way. It makes it more demanding, perhaps, for both faculty and students, but since everyone is so turned on, it seems to work. If anything, I’d say the standards have to be higher at the prison campus, since the graduates will always be scrutinized more in their future academic and professional lives. It’s not fair, perhaps, but it’s the reality. Beyond that, faculty, courses, curricula and standards are almost identical on Bard’s conventional and BPI campuses. In addition to BPI, I’ve taught at the law campus in Kathmandu, to rhetoric majors at Berkeley, and many times at Bard’s main campus. I know it’s sort of sacrilegious to say, but I find the similarities among students as important if not more so than their differences.

Q: The Bard Prison Initiative aims to connect prison inmates with a college education. What advantage do these prisoners have from taking classes and pursuing an education through a liberal arts college specifically?

A: Same as anyone else. A former dean of the law school at Notre Dame who has supported the college in prison project there said to me once, “As an undergrad, as a law student and later, after my wife died and I went back to join the priesthood, Notre Dame helped me define my purpose in life. That’s what any great university should do, and that’s what Bard does for students through BPI.” That sounded right to me -- people need to be turned on and they need to find a purpose in life. Above all, they need to come to realize -- through the joys of hard-won accomplishments -- just how much the world has to offer them, and just how much they have to offer the world. That’s a pretty good start, I think, of a definition of a liberal arts education.

Q: The BPI has partnered with a number of other colleges to bring education to prisoners in other areas of the country. How successful have these partnerships been? What are your short- and long-term goals for scaling the program?

A: By and large they’ve been very successful: hundreds of students across the country going to first-rate colleges and universities, when beforehand they had no opportunity for higher education at all. All of these programs have credits and transcripts, all have or are working toward multiple degree programs, and all share a passion for the liberal arts as well as a commitment to a life after college of professional and academic achievement for their alumni -- that is commensurate with not with having done time in prison, but with having graduated from a great American institution of higher education. I’d say that at BPI our short-term goals are to find ever more colleges and universities prepared to take the modest moral risk of saying that this sort of work is indeed part of their mission, that they celebrate their own place in the meritocracy of American higher education but also know full well that this meritocracy has deep, even grave flaws. So our short-term goal is further expansion. But long term it’s continuing to shatter expectations of what students are capable of, and changing the habits of great schools about where great students can be found, and at which moments in life.

Q: At this point, you’ve read thousands of essays from prisoners seeking entrance into college. What themes have emerged from those essays? What have the many different voices of those prisoners taught you -- whether it's about mass incarceration, higher education or something else entirely?

A: That’s a great question, and one I have to admit I’m really not ready to answer. I’m certain several of my colleagues on the faculty would have eloquent and exceptionally insightful things to say right now and will be furious with me for dodging. But I’ll offer this, at least: for all the great diversity of voices, I’m always reminded -- not taught so much as reminded -- about how keen insight is a faculty that almost all people have within in them, and that college is just a place to cultivate it and take up one’s collective inheritances, and so on. The application essays, regardless of formal literacy, are often full of intellect and insight. One thing we also remark on often is how diverse and accomplished are the modes of what we might call informal literacy: the reading and writing and journaling that people do that have nothing to do with school or college.

Q: A 2013 study by the RAND Corporation found that inmates who enroll in correctional education are 43 percent less likely to return to prison within the following three years than are those who don't enroll in such programs. Based on your anecdotal experience, does that seem about right? What has it been like to see inmates leave prison and find secure, skilled jobs in the work force because of the Bard Prison Initiative?

A: The rate of recidivism at BPI, after 15 years, is about 4 percent for those who participate and 2 percent for those who complete a degree. The baselines are very high: recidivism is typically from 20 to 40 percent. There are many ways to measure and mismeasure these effects, but there’s no question that engagement in higher education correlates with profound reductions in recidivism. Of course, the highest reductions come from academic programs that do absolutely nothing intentional to reduce recidivism. No good college or university cares about such an outcome, nor should it. Indeed, the only way to fully reap the benefits of college in prison is if the college sticks to what it knows best: teaching and cultivating the higher learning of its students. The other “policy benefits” will follow. A college, or a public policy, that tries to turn education into a recidivism-reduction device will have done irreversible damage to what is otherwise a very precious opportunity.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside HigherEd - Thu, 03/02/2017 - 08:00

Clarkson University

  • Bebonchu Atems, economics and financial studies
  • Jennifer Knack, psychology
  • Damien Samways, biology
  • Weiming Wu, civil and environmental engineering
  • Phillip Yuya, mechanical and aeronautical engineering

Colorado College

  • Helen Daly, philosophy
  • Scott Krzych, film and media studies
  • Christina Leza, anthropology
  • Corina McKendry, political science
  • Habiba Vaghoo, chemistry and biochemistry
  • Dana Wolfe, political science
  • Naomi Wood, Spanish and Portuguese

Philadelphia University

  • Stacey Van Dahm, writing
  • Reza Masoodi, engineering
  • Raju Parakkal, international relations

St. Norbert College

  • Seth Meyer, mathematics
  • Marc Schaffer, economics
  • Jamie O’Brien, business administration
  • Alexa Trumpy, sociology

Suffolk University

  • Michael Suvak, psychology

Wheaton College (Illinois)

  • James E. Beitler, English
  • Marc A. Cortez, theology
  • Edward B. Davis, psychology
  • Winnie Fung, economics
  • David M. Gordon, music
  • Susan L. Greener, intercultural studies
  • Mark E. Jonas, education
  • Min-Dong Paul Lee, business
  • Amy L. Peeler, New Testament
  • Amy M. Reynolds, sociology
  • Sandra Y. Rueger, psychology
  • Heather M. Whitney, physics
  • Laura S. Meitzner Yoder, environmental studies
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Wisconsin higher ed leaders welcome proposed funding but worry about details

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 08:00

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s latest two-year budget proposal has been received relatively warmly by higher education leaders, considering it calls for continuing to freeze tuition and then cutting it.

Yes, leaders have expressed reservations about parts of Walker’s plan, publicly worrying about performance metrics he wants to put in place, a proposal to allow students to opt out of some fees and a lack of funding for construction and maintenance projects. But they’ve also welcomed Walker’s proposals relating to the state’s allotment of funds for university operating budgets.

In short, that’s because the governor is executing an about-face in tone on funding for the University of Wisconsin System. After years of deep cuts, Walker is calling for putting more than $100 million in additional state spending into the system’s budget, which spans the 2017-18 and 2018-19 fiscal years. And even though he wants to lower resident undergraduate tuition by 5 percent in 2018-19, he plans to offset institutions’ lost revenue with another $35 million in state money -- on top of the extra $100 million.

The change in tone doesn’t necessarily translate to a lasting change at the bank, however. Some have questioned whether Walker’s proposal is a pre-election change of heart geared only toward winning at the polls in 2018. Wisconsin’s legislative leaders, who have significant influence over the final budget that will be enacted, have been skeptical of the governor’s higher education plans -- sometimes wondering if the money to backfill tuition cuts could be better spent on student aid. Meanwhile, some faculty and union leaders are arguing that Walker isn’t doing enough to pay for previous cuts in state allocations and an ongoing state-imposed tuition freeze that dates back to controversy over the university system’s reserves and that has been in place since the 2013-15 budget.

You don’t need elected officials or university leaders to sum up the current situation, though. Brent L. Notbohm, who chairs the University of Wisconsin Superior’s Faculty Senate, put it as follows.

“I think it’s certainly more positive than the last biennial budget,” said Notbohm, a professor of film and video. “But the devil is going to be in the details.”

The details of Walker’s $76.1 billion 2017-19 biennial budget have the state increasing spending on the University of Wisconsin System by $105.2 million over the two years combined. But it would put in place $42.5 million in performance funding based on categories like the number of graduates, time to graduation and how many graduates are employed in high-demand fields. Another $11.6 million would go to employee compensation, an important pot of money for a state higher education system whose leaders have been spending millions on nonsalary enticements like research equipment and teaching assistants in order to keep professors from leaving for higher salaries elsewhere.

The $35 million in state money to pay for the proposed 5 percent tuition cut would be on top of the $105.2 million in new spending on the University of Wisconsin System. It would save the average student $360 per year, the governor’s office estimates.

The average resident undergraduate pays just under $7,200 in annual tuition, according to Walker’s office. There is considerable range between institutions, however, with full-time annual quoted tuition for students at the university system’s two-year colleges coming in at $4,750 compared to nearly $9,300 for students of most full-time resident undergraduate programs at the flagship Madison campus. Out-of-state and international students pay significantly higher tuition rates, over $30,000 per year before factoring in fees.

Collectively, the $105 million and $35 million would help grow the University of Wisconsin System's budget from about $6.1 billion in 2017 to more than $6.2 billion in 2019. The budget would grow year to year by 1.6 percent in the first year of the biennium and 0.7 percent in the second.

Walker’s budget proposal also contains several other controversial elements. Professors and academic staff members would have their teaching loads tracked. Information on professors’ workloads would be made public, and those who teach beyond the standard load would receive rewards. The budget document does not outline exactly how the system would work, instead calling on the Board of Regents to develop a plan.

The state university system would also be required to offer three-year degree options in order to save students money. Three-year degree pathways would need to be in place for 10 percent of programs by 2018 and for 60 percent of programs by the middle of 2020. At the same time, the budget calls for requiring students to take part in internships or work experience in order to earn bachelor’s degrees.

The governor’s proposed increases come after past Wisconsin budgets have cut hundreds of millions of dollars from the university system, which has spent more than $6 billion annually in recent years. The budget for 2015-17 cut $250 million. A faculty and staff union says cuts to the system since 2011 add up to $795 million.

When he introduced his budget earlier this month, Walker focused on affordability, supporting the long tuition freeze by saying that tuition went up 118 percent in the decade before the freeze was put in place. He also argued for the 5 percent tuition cut in the budget’s second year.

“Reducing tuition by putting more money into the UW is very much like lowering property taxes by putting more money into public schools in the state,” he said, according to a transcript of his budget address delivered Feb. 8.

Walker’s budget proposals will have a difficult time making it through the Wisconsin Legislature intact, particularly the headline $35 million to pay for a tuition cut. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said after Walker’s budget was unveiled that he did not believe the governor’s tuition cut can make it through the budgeting process. Other Republicans have wondered how the state can come up with the funding needed to pay for the cut.

Leaders within the University of Wisconsin System nonetheless voiced support for the idea of more state funding.

“We are feeling very positive about the governor’s proposed budget,” system President Ray Cross said in a statement shortly after Walker released his proposal. “It is a reinvestment in the UW System as we requested, and is certainly a wonderful first step for higher education. It demonstrates the appreciation for the value and economic impact the UW System brings to Wisconsin.”

The UW System is reviewing the proposals, according to a spokeswoman. But it would like to see decisions related to tuition costs and performance-based funding made by the Board of Regents, she said.

The chancellor of the system’s flagship Madison campus, Rebecca Blank, called the additional money in the proposal a partial restoration of funding cut in the past and some new money.

“This is a welcome change from the cuts in state support in 10 out of the last 12 years (under both political parties), which created serious challenges for the entire UW System,” she wrote in a Feb. 22 blog post.

But Blank also noted that the UW system already tracks accountability measures under state law in areas of administrative management, educational performance, financial management and research and economic development. And she took aim at a limited capital budget Walker proposed that did not include funding for renovation and construction projects UW Madison requested. She did note, however that the state was providing funding for maintenance projects, something that had been missing in the last round of budgeting.

Others cautioned that the budget proposal could change significantly before it becomes law. It is critical that the state supplies funding to offset any tuition cut, said Cathy Sandeen, the chancellor of the University of Wisconsin Colleges and University of Wisconsin Extension. The University of Wisconsin Colleges are freshman and sophomore campuses where students can earn associate’s degrees and prepare to transfer into four-year programs.

While the latest budget proposal is a positive development, previous state budgets, including that for the last biennium, have taken their toll on public education, Sandeen said.

“We cut over 20 percent of administrative positions in order to meet that budget cut,” Sandeen said. “Let’s be careful to be sure that we are recouping the state money that we need to compensate for that proposed tuition decrease.”

It’s not clear what the university system would do if it ended up losing more from the 5 percent tuition cut than it gained in state reimbursement. Universities have ways to manage enrollment to make up for some funding differences. One is relying on better-paying out-of-state students. The University of Wisconsin System has already been doing that in recent years. Systemwide in-state resident undergraduate head count fell from 126,432 in 2012-13 to 117,613 in 2016-17. Systemwide nonresident undergraduate head count rose over the same period from 16,590 to 20,839.

Still, it is significant that the governor is changing his messaging regarding higher education funding, said George Pernsteiner, president of the State Higher Education Executive Officers association. Wisconsin’s recent history isn’t the only reason. Many other states are discussing cutting their funding for public higher education, Pernsteiner said.

Several of Walker’s proposals have been attempted in other states. Many others have adopted performance funding to varying degrees. Three-year degree programs have been the subject of buzz in the past as well.

The 5 percent tuition cut is effectively a buy down, another strategy that has been tried elsewhere. North Carolina is pursuing an aggressive version of a tuition buy down for some of its public campuses, for example. Even so, policy makers will have plenty to debate regarding tuition levels.

“The question that really always is asked is, when you do that, how is this addressing your affordability issues for your lowest-income students?” Pernsteiner said. “Would the money be more effectively spent in need-based aid programs?”

Faculty members also have significant concerns about the other elements of Walker’s budget. Some see the budget proposals involving faculty workload as an insult to professors who are already working extremely hard.

Ken Menningen is a professor in the department of physics and astronomy at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point who chairs that university’s Common Council. Stevens Point professors teach four classes in both the fall and the spring, Menningen said. That 4-4 teaching load is generally considered high at colleges and universities.

“He wants us to fill out forms and say how many hours I teach this week,” Menningen said. “We did this in the past, and other states have done this, too. It’s always been an exercise in futility.”

Chad Alan Goldberg, a professor of sociology at Madison and the president of United Faculty and Academic Staff AFT Local 223, questioned funding levels and the proposed performance-based funding. Cuts to the UW system since 2011 have totaled $795 million, he said. That has meant fewer classes for students, fewer programs and larger class sizes.

Goldberg said the union supports the idea of a tuition cut but that it would be better to find a way to eliminate tuition. It is also a bad idea for Walker to set up a series of performance metrics that require institutions within the higher education system to compete for funding, “Hunger Games-style,” he said.

“There’s a concern that the metrics he’s proposed would create pretty strong incentives for the various campuses to accept fewer students who are underprepared for college,” Goldberg said. “That has implications for accessibility and higher education being an engine for social mobility.”

Student groups voiced concern about Walker’s proposal to make optional student fees known as segregated fees. Those fees fund essential services like transportation, rape crisis centers and veterans’ services, said Sally Rohrer, who chairs the legislative affairs committee of the Associated Students of Madison.

“We fear an opt-out system would create a freeloader problem, where we can’t deny students services but we cannot pay for student services,” she said. “Then nobody has those services.”

Yet to be seen is what kind of lasting influence Walker’s proposal will have on public higher education in the state. Many wonder whether the governor is making a show of investing in universities as he prepares for the 2018 election but will change his tune in the future. Some don’t believe he has changed his tone enough right now.

“It would be great if the person I worked for, the governor, would actually have a high esteem for faculty like me,” said Menningen, the Common Council Chair at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. “But I’m not so sure that throwing money at the UW system and saying, ‘We’re going to keep them accountable’ quite does away with that suspicion.”

Others remember previous battles that make them suspicious of state lawmakers.

Notbohm, the Faculty Senate President at the University of Wisconsin Superior, said a weakening of tenure protections in recent years still hangs heavy in the minds of professors.

“I think there is a trust issue on both sides,” Notbohm said. “The Legislature seems to lack trust for the educators, and the educators lack some trust for the Legislature.”

Editorial Tags: Business issuesImage Source: Wisconsin governor's officeImage Caption: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker proposed increased funding for the University of Wisconsin System.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

National completion gap by race one-third larger than average gap at institutions

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 08:00

Only 41 percent of black students who start college as first-time freshmen earn a bachelor’s degree within six years -- a rate more than 20 percentage point below that of white students.

While that’s the national average, a new report from the Education Trust, a nonprofit organization that advocates for minority and low-income students, suggests that the average gap at individual institutions is just two-thirds that wide. And that means if higher education collectively is going to close the completion gap, it will take more than just boosting graduation rates on individual campuses. Highly selective colleges with high graduation rates must also enroll more black students, the report concludes.

“If you close all institutional gaps, you’re still going to have a pretty substantive national gap,” said Andrew Nichols, Education Trust’s director of higher education and the report’s lead author. “You have very few black students going to highly selective institutions, and you have a lot of black students going to open-access institutions. We have to address enrollment stratification.”

Black students disproportionately enroll at institutions that are open access and, therefore, tend to have lower graduation rates. One-quarter of black freshmen enroll at highly selective institutions -- those in the top quartile of institutions, based on SAT scores -- while 40 percent of white freshmen enroll at such a college.

Nichols and his co-author, Denzel Evans-Bill, examined graduation data -- pulled from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System -- at all nonspecialized public and private nonprofit institutions, as well as four-year for-profit institutions, for first-time, full-time students who enrolled in 2008. They found that, nationally, graduation rates of black students lag behind those of white students by 22 percentage points. When the data were isolated to include only the 676 public and private nonprofit institutions, the gap was slightly smaller: black students graduated at a rate 19.3 percentage points lower than the 64.7 percent graduation rate for white students.

Among students who attended the same institutions, however, the average gap between white and black students is just 13.5 percentage points.

“If the graduation rate for black students were equal to the current graduation rate for white students at each institution where a gap exists, the national graduation rate for black students would still lag behind the national rate for white students,” the researchers wrote. “Eliminating institutional gaps at each campus in our sample would produce an additional 11,992 black graduates, and would reduce the national gap in black and white completion from 19.3 percentage points to 6.6 percentage points. These remaining 6.6 percentage points are the result of divergent enrollment patterns between black and white students.”

Closing the completion gap “requires simultaneous work on three fronts,” the report states: improving overall graduation rates at institutions where black students are most likely to attend, changing enrollment patterns so that selective institutions enroll more black students, and addressing whatever inequities are leading to completion gaps on individual campuses.

The report highlights some institutions that appear to be closing such gaps. More than 20 percent of colleges and universities have completion gaps that are at or below five percentage points. Among those institutions, 55 have either no gap at all or the gap is inverted.

Georgia State, Francis Marion and Winthrop Universities; the City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice; the Universities of North Carolina at Greensboro, South Florida and South Carolina at Aiken; the State University of New York at Albany; the University of California, Riverside; and Keiser University, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., all graduate black students at rates higher than white students.

“Through our analysis, we were able to find a handful of top-performing schools that we felt are really serving black students well and deserve to be recognized for that,” Nichols said. “On the other hand, we did also want to identify a number of schools that aren’t serving black students really well. These are schools that have significant gaps.”

That list includes Northern Illinois University, where just 28 percent of black students who enrolled in 2008 graduated within six years. White students graduated at a rate 32.5 percentage points higher. It also includes Liberty University, where only 23.7 percent of black students graduated -- a rate 31.5 percentage points lower than that of white students.

Liberty University did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Northern Illinois University declined to comment.

Closing out the bottom three was Wayne State University, where only 11 percent of black students graduated in six years. That’s 33.2 percentage points lower than Wayne State’s white students. Nearly 40 percent of its students are black.

Monica Brockmeyer, Wayne State’s associate provost for student success, said the university has been working to close this gap and noted that it has improved graduation rates for black students since 2014, the last year included in the report.

Over the past five years, Brockmeyer said, Wayne State has invested more than $10 million in student success initiatives, including programs aimed at improving the completion rates of black students. That money has been used to hire more academic advisers, launch an Office of Multicultural Engagement and create a bridge program for incoming freshmen. The graduation rate for black students has risen from 11.1 percent in 2014 to 17 percent.

“That’s still too low,” Brockmeyer said. “But we do feel like this is the beginning of some positive gains. We really consider black students as core to our mission, so we have been aware and have been working on this issue.”

(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the percentage of black and white freshmen who enroll at highly selective institutions. The story has been updated.)

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Trump signs HBCU executive order as campus leaders meet with congressional Republicans

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 08:00

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday re-establishing the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and moving the initiative from the Department of Education to the Executive Office of the President.

Despite the serious hype that surrounded the order, including weeks of promising it would go beyond previous administrations' efforts, it offered no other concrete changes from previous orders, such as new funding commitments or contracting requirements by federal agencies. The executive order creates an advisory board (similar to that of past administrations) and also urges federal agencies to consider how they can better work with historically black colleges (as did previous presidential directives).

"It's a very important moment and a moment that means a great deal to me," Trump said.

The signing of the document followed weeks of discussions between White House advisers and advocates of HBCUs and two days of meetings and photo ops with college and university presidents in Washington.

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, had sought commitments of specific funding levels from federal grants and contracts to HBCUs. And Taylor asked that the White House HBCU initiative be moved from the Department of Education to the White House. The organization had made both requests of the Obama administration.

Taylor in a statement said that the executive order was “a significant and positive first step” in the working relationship between historically black colleges and the new administration.

"We look forward to working with the executive branch and the legislative branch to ensure the president’s funding requests and the subsequent budget approved by Congress put the necessary resources into black colleges so they can continue doing the important work America needs them to do," Taylor said.

United Negro College Fund President and CEO Michael L. Lomax praised the decision to move the HBCU initiative into the White House but noted the group's funding recommendations were not included.

"Today, the president said he pledges to do more for HBCUs than any other president has done before, and we look forward to partnering with him to ensure this is a reality for the deserving students and faculty of HBCUs," Lomax said.

Trump hosted HBCU presidents in the Oval Office Monday, and on Tuesday they met with congressional Republicans in a daylong conference at the Library of Congress organized by Representative Mark Walker of North Carolina and Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina.

The high-level meetings represented heightened attention for black colleges -- particularly from Republicans. But not everyone saw much substance in the meetings that kicked off the visit to D.C.

Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough in a Medium post said the Oval Office trip scuttled other plans to meet with the heads of several federal agencies in addition to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. That meant “there was very little listening to HBCU presidents,” he said.

Kimbrough said that given more time Monday, he would have emphasized the growing wealth gap between white and black households and the disparity in student loan debt between white and black college graduates. The best way to address those problems is to increase spending on Pell Grants, he said.

That was a common refrain among presidents in attendance at the HBCU “fly-in” hosted by Walker and Scott. And Pell Grants received verbal support, even from House Speaker Paul Ryan, who joined the two organizers for a live Facebook Q&A event.

But few details emerged on where funding for expanding Pell or other HBCU priorities would come from. Speaking with reporters at the event Tuesday, Scott said it was significant that members of the congressional appropriations committees were at the event, including Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican.

“I’m not going to commit to a dollar amount unless it’s a dollar amount that I control,” Scott said.

HBCU leaders have other key funding priorities beyond Pell, including money for infrastructure and work force readiness.

But it’s unclear what impact Trump’s other budgetary plans could have on those goals. The White House said this week that Trump would ask Congress to add $54 billion in military spending, offset by spending cuts at other federal agencies.

Officials have not released any details on what cuts might be proposed for the Department of Education if it is among the affected agencies. DeVos said earlier in February that the department would look to identify unnecessary programs for cuts, prompting questions from Democratic leaders.

The education secretary spoke to HBCU leaders at the Library of Congress one day after sparking a controversy not over spending cuts but due to a statement that cast those institutions as “pioneers of school choice” and ignored the role racism played in their foundation. In her remarks Tuesday, DeVos said the history of HBCUs “was born, not out of mere choice, but out of necessity, in the face of racism, and in the aftermath of the Civil War.” The department did not respond to an inquiry about the anger over the initial statement.

In a less discussed section of her comments Monday, DeVos said institutions must be willing to make tangible, structural reforms rather than focus on questions of funding. But Taylor told reporters that those reforms can’t happen without improved funding for colleges and universities.

Despite the absence of firm commitments from the White House or congressional Republicans, Taylor said he was extremely optimistic about an improved relationship between the Trump administration and historically black colleges.

“This didn’t happen with an African-American president. We never saw that,” Taylor said. “And we didn’t see it before.”

The discussions with the Republicans on Capitol Hill happened against a backdrop of dissatisfaction on HBCU campuses, where many students and faculty members see their presidents being used or -- worse -- collaborating with an administration they see as hostile to their communities. In D.C. Tuesday, spray paint on Howard University’s Yard called campus President Wayne A. I. Frederick the “overseer” of the “Trump plantation.”

Julianne Malveaux, the former president of Bennett College in North Carolina, described herself as a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat with no love for Trump. But HBCU presidents “almost have to be there,” she said of meetings with Trump and Republican elected officials.

“The proof in the pudding is going be the dollars,” she said.

David Johns, the former executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans under President Obama, said conversations are essential to the policy-making process. But Johns, who has had conversations with Howard students critical of Trump, observed that the executive order came out late Tuesday afternoon, well after the White House's meetings with leaders of minority institutions -- and too late for those leaders to provide any feedback. That sequence of events was off for students who wanted to see what the university was getting for engaging with the administration, he said.

“If the question is, are these meetings -- or more crudely, photo opportunities -- translating into tangible resources for or otherwise advancing the needs of historically black colleges and universities? The answer right now is no,” Johns said.

AdministrationEditorial Tags: African AmericansImage Caption: Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.), House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.)Ad Keyword: HBCU Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

Women's studies meets math in a new book arguing for a more inclusive cultural approach to numeracy

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 08:00

Few disciplines are as polarizing as math. Everyone seems to have an opinion about it, and those opinions usually veer toward love or hate. A new book argues that part of the problem is how we learn to see math and the people who excel at it: typically male, white and relentlessly objective. Inventing the Mathematician: Gender, Race and Our Cultural Understanding of Mathematics (State University of New York Press) might well also have been called “Reinventing the Mathematician,” because its ultimate goal is to deconstruct our individual and cultural ideas about math -- then build them back up again in a more inclusive fashion.

Author Sara N. Hottinger, interim dean of arts and humanities and a professor of women’s and gender studies at Keene State College, examines mathematical history, math textbooks, portraits of noted mathematicians and the interdisciplinary field of ethnomathematics in her quest to prove that we are all mathematical “subjects.” Her approach is scholarly but also informed by an unusual (but in some ways common) personal story: she considered becoming a mathematician before ultimately pursing a career in women’s studies. The result is a highly readable book that might just change math haters’ minds about math (and, perhaps, make some math lovers more open to critical approaches to the field).

"Everyone can do mathematics," Hottinger said in an email interview. "You may need to work really hard at it and try multiple times before you understand. It may come easier to some of us, but all of us can eventually succeed."

Q: You narrowly missed a career as a mathematician, becoming a gender studies scholar instead. Can you share a little bit about your journey through both disciplines, and why you ended up studying gender in graduate school, as opposed to math?

A: I earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and women's studies, graduating with honors in both fields. My major in women's studies was self-designed, because my undergraduate institution, at the time, did not offer a women's studies major. The classes I took in women's studies had a profound impact on me. Reading feminist scholarship empowered me; it changed the way I understood the world and my place in the world. During my senior year, I made the choice to pursue a doctorate in women's studies, rather than mathematics. I distinctly remember thinking that if I became a professor of women's studies, I could share that sense of empowerment with my students.

It is important to acknowledge the agency behind the choices I made. It is also important to study the ways in which the choices we make are shaped, in part, by the culture we live in. That is what my book attempts to do. I made the choice to pursue a career as a women's studies professor for very real and powerful reasons. But I also remember other, smaller choices that led me away from a career as a mathematician. During my junior year, my math adviser encouraged me to apply to the Budapest Semester in Mathematics, a prestigious study abroad opportunity to learn mathematics from leading Hungarian mathematicians. I looked into the program and decided not to apply; I did not think I would be accepted. During my senior year, I worried that I would not pass the subject Graduate Record Examination in mathematics and, as a result, I chose not to apply to graduate programs in mathematics -- despite encouragement from my math professors.

Later, when I read the work of scholars Heather Mendick, Melissa Rodd, and Hannah Bartholomew, I found my undergraduate experiences mirrored in their interviews with female mathematics students.​ … The dominant ways in which we make meaning, as a culture, do not allow an understanding of femininity to easily coexist alongside an understanding of mathematical achievement.

Q: One might think there's little common ground between gender studies and math, but you bridge the canyon, so to speak. Still, do you have any regrets about not continuing to study mathematics? You note the allure of its simplicity, which is hard to come by in other fields.

A: I love mathematics, and I miss it. When I have time (maybe when I retire!), I would love to take more math classes. But I would never give up my career as an interdisciplinary women's and gender studies professor. I like to ask my upper-level students about their feminist aha moment, and I tell them about my own moment of revelation: a single book changed my life. I was 19, enrolled in my first women’s studies course, and the feminist argument in that book radically shifted the way I understood myself, the world around me and my place in that world. When I chose to pursue a doctoral degree in women’s studies, I remembered that aha moment, and I committed to creating moments like that for my future students.

Not only do I love teaching women's studies, but as a women's studies scholar, I am free to pursue the kind of interdisciplinary projects that interest and sustain me. It was in my attempts to articulate my experiences as an undergraduate mathematics student and to connect my mathematics education with feminist theory that the seeds of my current interdisciplinary intellectual work were planted. During my senior year of college, I did an independent study on psychoanalytic theorist and philosopher Jacques Lacan and ended up writing my final paper on the connections between mathematical topology and Lacanian theory. I wrote my women’s studies senior thesis on feminist pedagogies in the mathematics classroom and the ways in which feminist approaches to the teaching of math allowed marginalized students to understand and work with mathematical knowledge in innovative new ways.

I continued this work in my doctoral dissertation, where I made the epistemological argument that mathematical ways of knowing are shaped within communities, using a series of historical case studies to support my argument. And, now, in this book, I consider the cultural construction of mathematical subjectivity and argue that mathematics plays a significant role in the construction of normative Western subjectivity and in the constitution of the West itself.

Q: Even smart people (e.g., Larry Summers) seem to believe that women are inherently worse at quantitative fields than men. Why does this myth, if in fact it is a myth, persist?

A: In my book, I trace the relationship between the construction of mathematical subjectivity and the much broader construction of the subject in Western culture and of the West itself. Mathematics is central to our cultural self-conception, and this becomes clear in the various ways we talk about mathematics, in the stories we tell about the field. These stories both underlie and work to reproduce the discursive construction of the normative subject in Western culture. This intimate relationship between mathematical subjectivity and normative Western subjectivity is why many educators understand achievement in mathematics to be a “gateway” to success in the world. It is also why we, as a culture, have an investment in limiting who can be successful in mathematics. If we maintain a myth that only certain groups can be successful at mathematics, then, as a culture, we also limit access to full subjectivity to people in those groups.

Q: What is the stereotype or common portrait of the mathematician? And why is math incompatible with notions of femininity?

A: Although many mathematicians will acknowledge that this is not at all how they work, mathematics is conceived in our culture to be an individual cognitive activity, where the mathematician, working in isolation, discovers a mathematical theorem using logical, rule-based reasoning to develop and modify the work of those who came before him. Many feminist theorists have argued that a close association exists between masculinity and reason, whereby those traits that are considered central to the activity of reasoning -- logic, neutrality, a lack of emotional connection and a separation between the knower and the object of knowledge -- are also stereotypical traits of masculinity. Thus, reason can only be achieved by denying those traits which are stereotypically considered feminine -- empathy, creativity, intuition, embodiment and connection. Yet to reason well is an achievement that defines what it means to be human, to be a subject in Western culture. Thus we have a very difficult time reconciling the ability to reason, which is a central component in the construction of subjectivity, with our understanding of femininity.

Because mathematics is understood to be the ultimate manifestation of the human ability to reason, mathematical achievement is a clear marker in the construction of an ideal subjectivity. If these multiple associations -- between reason, masculinity, subjectivity and mathematics -- are teased apart, we can better understand why mathematical subjectivity and the ability to succeed in mathematics is so difficult to achieve for those in marginalized groups. For example, if mathematical subjectivity and the ability to reason is constructed within Western culture as masculine, then women will continue to find it difficult to see themselves as mathematical subjects. Women will have to choose between being good mathematicians or being "proper" women. A number of studies have shown that this is, indeed, the position that many girls and women in mathematics find themselves.

Q: What are the cultural and disciplinary consequences of such a myth -- perhaps more aptly what you call "normative mathematical subjectivity" -- especially on historically marginalized groups?

A: If mathematical subjectivity is constructed in ways that prevent women from seeing themselves as mathematical subjects, then we also limit the ability of women to see themselves as full subjects in the broader sense, as well. This is true for people of color, as well. In one of his recent publications, David Stinson’s research on the ways in which African-American students must negotiate what he calls the “white male math myth” demonstrate that for African-American students there are a series of cultural discourses that work to limit who can understand themselves as mathematical knowers.

Erica Walker also makes a powerful argument that mathematical identity needs to be reconciled with ethnic, gender or other identities and that students of color, for example, have to sometimes compromise their ethnic identity in order to fully embrace their academic identity. In much the same way that feminist education scholars have shown, via discourse analysis, the incompatibility between femininity and mathematical achievement, both Walker and Stinson show the complex ways successful black mathematics students must accommodate, reconfigure or resist the discursive construction of a normative white, masculine mathematical subjectivity. By limiting access to mathematical subjectivity in this way, we also limit access to Western subjectivity.

Q: What can teachers of math do to cast off cultural baggage surrounding math and gender?

A: I would argue that teachers of mathematics are doing quite a bit already to ensure that girls are succeeding in mathematics. Recent research shows that girls’ achievements in mathematics stay on par with boys through secondary school. There remains, however, a significant disparity between young men and young women’s participation and success in mathematics at the postsecondary level, leading to what many now call the leaky mathematics pipeline. Young women start dropping out of mathematics during their undergraduate and graduate education.

I argue in my book that we need to expand our focus beyond the classroom and consider the wider cultural discourses that shape our relationship to mathematics. One of the first narratives about mathematics that needs to shift is the one that says only some people can be successful at mathematics. Think about the fact that it is perfectly acceptable for people to say things like, "I just can't do math." Such claims then serve as justification for poor performance in mathematics and the eventual decision to stop taking math classes altogether. We would never accept an equivalent claim about reading, right? Our assumption is that every child can read. Some may have to work harder at it, but eventually everyone should be able to read. We need to start making the same assumptions about mathematics.

I would also love to see more representations in our wider culture of women and people of color working at and succeeding in mathematics. The phenomenal success of the film Hidden Figures is a testament to the power of such representations. But what Hidden Figures also teaches us is that we need to expand our understanding of the history of mathematics. Right now our histories of mathematics center around a narrative of discovery. Only those mathematicians who made a great mathematical discovery or advanced knowledge within the field are counted in those histories. Telling histories of mathematics in that way discounts the many, many women and men who advanced mathematics through excellent, innovative teaching, through translating complex mathematical texts, or through the kind of hard, daily mathematical labor we see represented in the movie. We need more varied stories in our culture of what it means to be successful as mathematical knowers and practitioners.

Q: You have two daughters. How do you approach math at home?

A: I have tried to focus as much, if not more so, on numeracy, as I have on literacy. When they were younger, I played number games with my girls and tried to cultivate their interest in working with patterns and problem solving. When my older daughter started school, I started talking about how much practice is needed to succeed in mathematics. When she started working on a new concept in mathematics and was having difficulty, I told her that the struggle she experienced was normal and expected. And I told her to keep struggling, that when she has struggled enough, understanding will come.

Because that narrative has been central to how we talk about mathematics, she is rarely frustrated by new mathematical concepts these days. She will occasionally ask for an explanation, but I more commonly get a request for more practice problems. She knows now that if she just practices a little bit more, then she will succeed. And I do, of course, have a lot of books and stories and images of women who have been successful at mathematics. The importance of having role models cannot be discounted.

New Books About Higher EducationEditorial Tags: MathematicsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

Education Department's inspector general wants feds to more closely monitor colleges with shaky finances

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 03/01/2017 - 08:00

The U.S. Department of Education should do more to monitor colleges with shaky finances in order to protect students and taxpayers from closures like the 2014 collapse of Corinthian Colleges.

That’s the central finding of a newly released audit from the department’s Office of Inspector General, an independent entity that answers to both the secretary of education and the U.S. Congress. (The audit was commissioned and conducted during the Obama administration.)

The 20-page report looks at how the department’s processes for keeping any eye on shaky colleges have changed since the implosion of Corinthian, which enrolled roughly 72,000 students. In addition to the impact on students, the for-profit chain’s closure has been expensive -- as of last October, the department had approved more than $350 million in loan discharges for students who attended a Corinthian program.

“Financial accountability and oversight matter. When they go wrong, you get things like Corinthian that cost a lot of money,” said Ben Miller, a former department official and senior director of the postsecondary education policy team at the Center for American Progress, which has written critically of the department's financial oversight. He called the report a timely reminder that “oversight responsibilities matter more than dogmatic beliefs.”

Since 2014 the feds have improved their financial oversight of colleges, according to the inspector general.

For example, the report praises new financial monitoring triggers included in the Obama administration’s borrower-defense rule. Those regulations, which seeks to help students who have been defrauded or misled to get their loans forgiven, is due to go into effect this summer. However, congressional Republicans and the Trump administration are likely to rescind the rule.

Trace Urdan, a managing director for Credit Suisse who analyzes for-profits, said the borrower-defense rule includes “baby steps” for better monitoring the finances of colleges.

However, Urdan is among many critics who say the rule unfairly targets for-profits and is subjective and overly broad.

“The additional precautions are not a reason to keep the rule in place,” he said.

Even with borrower defense, the OIG report said more financial monitoring by the department is needed.

One key area for improvement, the report said, is the financial responsibility composite scores the department calculates for the financial health of private nonprofit and for-profit institutions.

Colleges with low or failing scores are subject to additional federal scrutiny, such as being required to take out a letter of credit (meaning the college is on the hook for some of the cost if it shuts down) or a sanction called heightened cash monitoring, which can include delays in financial aid payments. A form of heightened cash monitoring helped topple Corinthian.

The department determined that Corinthian took out substantial short-term loans to artificially inflate its composite score. Yet the feds incorrectly decided Corinthian’s 2011 manipulation of its score was a one-time event and did not review underlying financial information the next two years, according to the report. If they had, department officials would have discovered subsequent manipulation by the company.

The department’s approach of viewing the composite as “one snapshot point in time,” Urdan said, lends itself to gamesmanship.

“That is exactly what schools do. They only report what they have to report,” he said. “It’s due for a review and an updating.”

The inspector general’s report includes recommendations for more timely resolution of composite score appeals and for the department to study how colleges might manipulate their scores, among other changes.

In addition, the report said the department under borrower defense could develop a “financial stress test” to probe a college’s ability to absorb losses while continuing to meet its obligations.

“Unexpected or abrupt school closures can have significant adverse effects on large numbers of students,” the inspector general said, “including potentially being displaced from their educational program before completion, having credits that cannot transfer to another school, incurring significant student loan debt without obtaining a degree or certificate and significantly diminished job prospects.”

Even if Congress decides to nix borrower defense, Urdan said, some of the financial monitoring ideas could be preserved in another form.

“There’s an opportunity for reform,” he said of the current climate in Washington. “Maybe there’s a chance they could come up with something better.”

Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Education DepartmentFinancial aidImage Caption: Everest College, formerly owned by CorinthianIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0

DeVos criticized for calling black colleges 'pioneers of school choice'

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 02/28/2017 - 08:00

Monday evening, the Education Department issued a statement from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos that has infuriated many advocates for historically black colleges. The statement comes when many leaders of black colleges are in Washington for meetings at the White House and with Republican congressional leaders, who have been wooing black colleges and pledging to help them.

Most of the statement is innocuous. DeVos praises black colleges. In perhaps a sign not to expect too much money from the Trump administration, she says, "Rather than focus solely on funding, we must be willing to make the tangible, structural reforms that will allow students to reach their full potential." And she notes that black colleges were created when "there were too many students in America who did not have equal access to education."

But DeVos goes on to link black colleges to the issue of school choice -- a cause for which she is an advocate. "HBCUs are real pioneers when it comes to school choice," she said. "They are living proof that when more options are provided to students, they are afforded greater access and greater quality. Their success has shown that more options help students flourish."

While that summarizes the school choice argument, social media lit up late Monday with supporters of black colleges noting that the institutions were founded because black students had, in many respects, no choice. They could not enroll at predominantly white institutions in the South, even at public institutions in their own states. Further, as states created public historically black colleges, they did so to meet "separate but equal" requirements and never took the "equal" part of that statement seriously. Public black colleges were created with a fraction of the budgets, programs and facilities of their predominantly white counterparts. While many students did thrive at these institutions, educators there constantly decried the lack of resources (and many maintain that continues to this day).

The DeVos comments also arrived early into a controversial tenure. Last week she angered many faculty members by saying that they indoctrinate students.

Here are some of the comments that appeared on social media after the DeVos statement was released.

Betsy DeVos said HBCUs were about school choice. As if white/colored water fountains were about beverage options. pic.twitter.com/I3tNlER43n

— Resist Dystopia (@AynAyahSteenkur) February 28, 2017

DeVos thinks HBCUs are about school choice... let that sink in. https://t.co/yUvtifgQkO

— Dustin Smith-Salinas (@dustinasmith) February 28, 2017

Slate ran a column last night with the headline "Insane Betsy DeVos Press Release Celebrates Jim Crow Education System as Pioneer of 'School Choice.'"

Marybeth Gasman, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has written numerous books about the history of black colleges and who is director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions, took to Facebook to describe her anger at the DeVos statement and the idea that people are taking seriously the Trump administration's outreach to black colleges.

Gasman wrote, "Take a look at this ahistorical and inaccurate depiction of HBCUs by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos. See how HBCUs and their creation are described -- 'they saw that the system wasn't working.' I'm talking to the media about this right now. And then folks are wondering why I don't advocate for kowtowing with Trump and his white supremacist friends. They are trying to pretend that a vast system of oppression, slavery, Jim Crow and discrimination never existed. And then using HBCUs to promote their school choice agenda … give me a break. Stop falling for the okie doke people! You can't negotiate with white supremacists for black rights and opportunities. #WhitewashingHBCUhistory"

DiversityEditorial Tags: Diversity MattersTrump administrationHistorically black collegesImage Caption: Betsy DeVosIs this diversity newsletter?: Diversity Newsletter Order: 1Diversity Newsletter publication dates: Tuesday, February 28, 2017
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