Higher Education News

Institutions grapple with accreditor's changes to dual-credit instruction

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/27/2017 - 08:00

Some states and colleges are scrambling to offer incentives and develop programs that help dual-enrollment instructors meet a change in accreditation guidelines for teaching the increasingly popular courses.

But concerns remain about whether colleges will have enough qualified dual-credit instructors by the time the accreditor’s deadline arrives.

The issue began about two years ago, when the Higher Learning Commission, the country’s largest regional accreditor, issued a policy clarification stating that high school teachers in dual-credit courses, along with all instructional college faculty, must have a master’s degree in the specialty they’re teaching, or they need at least 18 graduate-level credit hours within that specialty. Dual-credit or dual-enrollment courses allow high school students to take college courses and earn credits before graduation. The courses are frequently taught by high school teachers.

The issue affects thousands of dual-credit instructors across HLC’s 19-state jurisdiction -- which goes from Arizona to West Virginia and North Dakota to Arkansas -- who are more likely to have a master’s degree in education than in the specialty they’re teaching. Advanced Placement teachers, for instance, aren’t affected because they aren’t affiliated with colleges. The issue is a concern particularly in colleges and high schools that employ dual-credit instructors, but also some colleges that employ faculty members who don’t meet the new standard.

HLC originally gave colleges until September this year to meet the new standard, but later allowed institutions and states to apply for an extension that pushes the deadline to September 2022 for dual-credit instructors.

“Many programs still have anxiety about the transition to the new requirements,” said Adam Lowe, executive director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment in Partnerships, in an email. “Dual-credit instructors tend to be veteran teachers and thus closer to retirement and less inclined to enroll in graduate course work. And even in places where the existing pool of instructors largely meet the new requirements, continuing to build a pipeline of teachers who have the right credentials is a challenge as veterans approach retirement.”

While some of the states under HLC’s jurisdiction, like Arkansas, are already in compliance, others, like Minnesota and Indiana, applied for extensions to help their institutions bring instructors up to par.

The community colleges that offer most of the dual-credit instruction to high school students are partnering with universities to help their teachers get the credentials. John Newby, assistant vice president of K-12 initiatives for Ivy Tech Community College, said they’re finding institutions that are able to put together programming for the instructors who need it, and a lot of that is just beginning now.

Ivy Tech, which is Indiana’s statewide two-year college system, has about 3,000 dual-credit teachers for high school students, and of that group, about 1,000 will have to complete some level of graduate course work to meet HLC’s standard, Newby said.

“Some need as little as three credit hours, and for others, there is a much larger inventory they need to complete,” he said.

While Ivy Tech does have dual-credit instructors in career and technical education, the certifications those instructors have already meet HLC requirements, Newby said, adding that the need is to get the graduate credit requirements for those instructors in the liberal arts.

Newby said it’s still too early to tell whether or not the dual-credit instructors for Ivy Tech have flocked to graduate programs.

Indiana, for example, is awarding grant money to universities to help dual-credit teachers with the credentialing. The STEM Teach initiative, as it is known, is typically offered to encourage high school teachers to enter science, technology, engineering and math fields, but the grant can also provide tuition-free graduate courses to dual-enrollment instructors.

And there are other ways Indiana has responded to the need.

“We’re seeing more school districts across the state incorporate into their teaching contracts incentives for teachers to get the course work,” Newby said. “One way they’re helping them is with the tuition themselves or compensating them to a greater level if they become dual-credit credentialed under these new standards.”

Some universities, like those in the Indiana University System, are offering teachers tuition-free graduate course work, as long as they continue teaching dual-credit courses through the universities, Newby said.

“We developed new online master’s programs for this cohort and also new online certificate programs,” said Mike Beam, senior assistant vice provost for undergraduate education at Indiana University, adding that the university didn’t create new degrees for the instructors but is making the programs available online and crafted toward the instructors' needs. “If they have a master’s degree in education and need 18 hours in content areas … we’re developing 18- and 20-hour certificates in this space. The courses really make sense for dual-credit-course teaching.”

The most affected IU dual-credit high school programs were math, biology, chemistry, history, political science, English and public speaking. The university works with up to 600 dual-credit instructors a year, of which about 400 were affected by the HLC change, Beam said.

So, for instance, if an instructor needs graduate credit hours to teach dual-credit history, the master’s program at the university wouldn’t include European or East Asian history, because most dual-credit history courses in the high schools focus on U.S. history, he said.

“We just rolled this out this fall, and we had an outstanding response from teachers interested in taking courses,” Beam said. “We want to make sure we have the capacity for enrollment, but we’re letting teachers know how many credits they need compared to HLC requirements.”

The courses for dual-credit instructors are expected to begin next year, he said.

Farther north, the Minnesota State system of 37 colleges and universities received a systemwide extension to 2022 as well. Although system officials don’t know how many teachers have enrolled in graduate courses to meet HLC requirements, 33 of the system’s institutions offer dual-credit programs, said Doug Anderson, director of communications and media for the system, in an email.

At the University of Minnesota, officials are still collecting information on dual-credit instructors to evaluate who needs the additional courses, but the institution works with about 500 dual-enrollment teachers, said Julie Williams, director of College in the Schools for the university. The University of Minnesota is not part of the Minnesota State system.

“It has not been an easy job to evaluate where all of our instructors are in regard to what HLC has required,” Williams said, adding that the university has spent most of its time working with faculty departments to determine what degrees and graduate work they will recognize in order to offer the credit.

There was also the issue of equivalent test experience and what faculty at the university would be willing to accept for graduate credit, she said, adding that some dual-credit instructors have a significant amount of professional development that was hosted by the university.

The university also hasn’t approved or considered the possibility of reduced or free tuition for the instructors, she said.

“I imagine we’ll lose some instructors,” Williams said. “But I don’t think we’ll lose many.”

Williams said the instructors signed on to teach University of Minnesota work, even as a high school course, and that implies they’re willing to put in the time to continue teaching the youth courses and getting the graduate credit.

At Southwest Minnesota State University, the response from teachers has varied.

“We’ve had teachers say, ‘It’s not possible for my lifestyle and where I’m at with my family and teaching,’ and other teachers saying, ‘Point me where I need to go,’” said Kimberly Guenther, director of concurrent enrollment for SMSU. “We’ve seen all of it.”

SMSU is pointing instructors to a new online program hosted by Minnesota State University Moorhead called 18 Online, which was started specifically for the dual-credit high school teachers. The university has about 325 high school teachers in dual-credit courses, with about 80 percent not meeting HLC’s credentialing standard, Guenther said.

MSU-Moorhead created 18 Online in response to the HLC requirements. The program, which received $3 million from the Legislature, helps the dual-enrollment instructors reach their 18 graduate credits in content areas.

The program is not only tuition-free to the high school teachers, but there is no charge for textbooks and they can move up in salary at their high schools for participating. Those teachers already at the top of their salary schedules can receive a $1,500 stipend, said Boyd Bradbury, 18 Online liaison at MSU Moorhead.

So far, since starting earlier this year, 356 teachers have enrolled in 18 Online, he said.

“It’s growing -- it just takes a while to get this off the ground,” Bradbury said. “We started with math, communications and English … we’ve expanded to eight disciplines and [are] hoping to push that up to 12 in the very near future.”

But expanding courses hasn’t been easy, particularly because the university has had to navigate the collective bargaining system in order to incentivize university faculty to develop and administer the online graduate courses, he said.

“Faculty members proved to be the most challenging aspect of accomplishing this,” he said, adding that as part of the money from the state, the university included incentives for faculty members to participate. “And quite frankly there are faculty members who don’t believe in college in high school for credit and those who feel what is happening is a loss of faculty members at the postsecondary level.”

They also negotiated with faculty to have some kind of quality control for the courses, and thus 18 Online also meets the Quality Matters framework. Quality Matters is a nonprofit that conducts quality assurance in online education.

“We did respond very quickly to this, and for those who know the higher education world, this was lightning speed for anything to happen at the university level,” Bradbury said. “But to tell you this wasn’t contentious at the campus level would be less than truthful … but our math department led the way with this, and those individuals were willing to spend time for the greater good of kids and for the university.”

Teachers in the northwest region of the state, which includes about 90 school districts, can enroll in the program first, if they’ve received permission from their districts, ahead of other instructors across the state. For instance, SMSU is out of the main service area for 18 Online, so instructors at that institution would have to wait until after northwestern teachers applied to participate.

“Because of 18 Online, SMSU is trying to figure out and offer the courses that make sense. The university is offering special programming for dual-credit instructors in English and math graduate courses, and this spring the university will also offer chemistry courses for the instructors, Guenther said.

“There is absolutely a concern that not all 100 percent of teachers will make it,” Guenther said. “In the past two years, we’ve seen quite a few jump on board and take our math and English credits to meet credentialing, and I think over the course of the next five years we’ll see quite a few more meet that requirement on their own, but that’s a reality not all of them will be able to meet.”

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University faces uproar over recording showing how teaching assistant was questioned over video debate on pronouns

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 08:00

A recording of the way professors at Wilfrid Laurier University questioned a teaching assistant about her use of a debate video in class has set off a major dispute about academic freedom in Canada.

The teaching assistant had shown her class a recording in which two professors -- one of them of late a polarizing figure in Canadian academe -- debated the use of nontraditional pronouns for transgender people. The course was in communications, and the video was part of a discussion on the significance of grammar and language generally. Lindsay Shepherd, the teaching assistant, did not endorse a position in the debate, but told students that this was a subject being discussed in society today.

The recording now getting attention is one made by Shepherd as she was grilled days later by academics at the university who received a complaint about Shepherd showing the video.

In the audio recording, Shepherd's superiors are heard asking her repeatedly why she showed the video and why she didn't condemn the professor in the video who opposes nontraditional pronouns. Shepherd was told that her actions were hurtful and "transphobic," and she was told that her actions were the equivalent of refusing to take a stand against Hitler or white supremacists. She was also told that she might have violated Canada's antibias laws.

Shepherd tried to defend herself.

"I don't see how someone would rationally think it was threatening," she said of the class. Students might be challenged in their thinking, she said, "but for me that's the spirit of the university."

Shepherd asked those questioning her to show her the complaint so she could learn how she offended someone, and she asked to know the number of students who had complained, saying, "Was it one?" After being told that confidentiality requirements made it impossible to share the complaint, she asked whether confidentiality would be violated by her being told how many students complained. She was told that it would, and that the complaint came from one or more students.

As the discussion went on, Shepherd said that she did not agree with the person who argued against the use of the pronouns many transgender people prefer. But she said her obligation to her students was to show them ideas that are in the world. "Can you shield people from those ideas? Am I supposed to comfort them?" Of her students, she said, "when they leave the university, they are going to be exposed to these ideas."

Shepherd apologized for crying during her questioning but said that she couldn't believe she was being asked these questions at a university.

Those who questioned her included two faculty members (one of whom supervised her work as a teaching assistant) and the university's equity officer.

As Canadian press outlets covered the recording in the last 48 hours, many academics and others have demanded to know how Shepherd could have been treated as she was.

Apology From the President

On Tuesday, Deborah MacLatchy, the president of the university, issued an apology to Shepherd.

"After listening to this recording, an apology is in order. The conversation I heard does not reflect the values and practices to which Laurier aspires. I am sorry it occurred in the way that it did and I regret the impact it had on Lindsay Shepherd," MacLatchy wrote.

She vowed that an independent review would be conducted into what happened. Further, she said that freedom of expression is essential in higher education.

"Let me be clear by stating that Laurier is committed to the abiding principles of freedom of speech and freedom of expression," she said. "Giving life to these principles while respecting fundamentally important human rights and our institutional values of diversity and inclusion, is not a simple matter. The intense media interest points to a highly polarizing and very complicated set of issues that is affecting universities across the democratic world. The polarizing nature of the current debate does not do justice to the complexity of issues."

David Robinson, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said in an interview that Shepherd had been "treated very badly" by the administration. While Shepherd was questioned by faculty members and an administrator, Robinson said that the administrator should have seen that the discussion was going off track and that any suggestion that Shepherd violated the law couldn't be true.

Robinson noted that the video she shared in class came from Canadian public television, and so had arguably been produced by the government. He also said that Shepherd outlined a sound pedagogy that should not have been doubted.

The Jordan Peterson Impact

Robinson said that, generally, the culture wars that are a major force in American higher education have not been as present in Canadian higher education. But he said a few figures have been "quite polarizing," and that one of them is Jordan Peterson, who was the debate participant who opposed the use of alternative pronouns. Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, has said that his position isn't so much against the pronouns, but against efforts to persuade people to use them even if they don't want to.

In March, protesters shouted down a talk of his at McMaster University, in Ontario.

Then this month, Peterson announced a plan to create a website to list courses nationwide containing “postmodern neo-Marxist course content,” in an effort to decrease enrollment in those courses. Amid criticism, he abandoned the plan.

"These kinds of issues seem to come up daily in the U.S., but they are still rare in Canada," Robinson said of the controversies surrounding Peterson.

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Punishments for shouting down college speakers run the gamut

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 08:00

One member of a student group that disrupted the University of Oregon president’s State of the University address last month has been punished.

The student -- Charlie Landeros -- has been assigned an essay.

Landeros, who prefers the pronouns they and them, also has had a letter reprimanding them added to their record.

But those consequences pale compared to those levied on students found guilty of the same offense one state over, at California's Claremont McKenna College. There, five students were suspended -- three of them for a year -- for shouting down the controversial conservative figure Heather Mac Donald.

The penalties for students who interrupt speakers vary drastically among institutions, in part because each case is so specific, but also because campus leaders remain reluctant and a little unsure of how hard to come down on these protesters, experts say.

Campus officials prefer to educate rather than punish students, especially when the students are engaging in a fundamental and long-standing tradition of higher education -- exercising free speech, albeit in an imprudent way. Administrators increasingly must respond to lawmakers and other outside forces to more harshly discipline these students.

“I don’t think campuses are anxious to adjudicate student protesters, but they’re feeling under the gun to create environments where speech can occur,” said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education.

Early examples of protests gone awry demonstrate institutions’ unfamiliarity with handling such events. Notably, at Middlebury College in early March, a visit by the divisive scholar Charles Murray devolved from a shouting down into violence -- a total of 74 students were punished. Even then, most received probation and none were suspended, as at Claremont McKenna.

Middlebury, whose representatives did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this article, have refused to disclose details about the penalties, which it labeled “official college discipline.” An earlier statement from the college said the more serious “college discipline” was a notice placed in students' records that they are sometimes required to disclose to potential graduate programs and employers.

Administrators have been disinclined to discipline students for shutting down speakers, though in interviews experts characterized this hesitancy in different ways.

Ari Cohn, from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said that administrators recognized that penalizing students was an “unpopular political move,” but that that tendency showed students they could escape punishments. Cohn is director of the individual rights defense program at FIRE, a civil rights watchdog group.

Now, college leaders are “flailing” as they try to clamp down on a problem they helped create, Cohn said. Students across the country have tuned in to social media and can observe campus protests, which will spawn others, he said.

But such demonstrations are cyclical and not nascent on college campuses, said Jill Creighton, president of the Association for Student Conduct Administration. While higher education hasn’t often grappled with speakers being shouted down in the last decade, 30 years ago it did, she said.

Conduct officials never approach cases with a punitive lens, but rather they try to “repair” behavior, Creighton said -- so colleges punish only as a last resort.

“We’ve really seen civil rights concerns as a part of our profession since the beginning; it’s iterative -- it comes around in different forms,” she said.

At the University of Oregon, which failed to provide a comment for this article, students were initially extended a deal in which their student conduct violations could be wiped away simply by meeting with administrators.

Members of one student group, the University of Oregon Student Collective, which organized the protest against the president, refused. The Student Collective, described by Landeros in an interview, has called for the administration to make the institution more accessible to and safe for marginalized students. Landeros cited a proliferation of white nationalist propaganda on campus, which they said can lead to violence.

Landeros, a founding member of the Student Collective, met behind closed doors with an administrator recently and argued that the group did not disrupt the university environment. The university can’t function without students and thus the collective’s protest was more “university business” than the president’s speech, Landeros argued.

“A speech by an executive administrator is not essential to a school,” they said.

The university also told Landeros that the group had ignored an order to end the protest. Landeros did not dispute that in the interview, but said that the members were being told to be “less effective” in their protest, rendering the demand to stop as unreasonable.

They intend to appeal the punishment. The Student Collective also introduced a resolution to the University of Oregon Senate asking the Senate to call for dropping the conduct violations against the protesters.

President Michael H. Schill, in an opinion piece in The New York Times, likened the language used by one protester to fascism, which the students had accused him of promoting. Schill said the use of the term to describe him and the institution offended him, because members of his extended family were thrown into concentration campus and murdered in the Holocaust.

Schill wrote that he respected the right to protest, but not the silencing of others.

“From what I can tell, much of what students are protesting, both at the University of Oregon and elsewhere, is the expression of viewpoints or ideologies that offend them and make them feel marginalized. They are fed up with what they see as a blanket protection of free speech that, at its extreme, permits the expression of views by neo-Nazis and white supremacists. I am opposed to all these groups stand for, but offensive speech can never be the sole criterion for shutting down a speaker.”

Officials do not want to “criminalize” this behavior, but they do want to prevent free speech from being restricted, said Kruger of NASPA. He described a scenario: What if right-wing speakers, the kind college students have typically tried to block, were excluded from campus? That could lead to someone discussing sexual or reproductive health also being drowned out, simply because someone in the audience was insulted.

Lawmakers and university systems have stepped in to address this, either legislatively or through policy, sometimes to the chagrin of campus officials. Alumni and the “greater community” of these colleges also pressure the institutions to act, Kruger said.

The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, for instance, approved a policy last month mandating that students who disrupt protests be suspended if they do it twice, and after three times, expelled. Legislation had been floated in Wisconsin that would have forced similar punishments.

Both NASPA and FIRE oppose such minimum sentencing, because it does not permit officials to consider context.

“This has always been the purview of colleges and universities to manage their own disciplinary matters,” Kruger said. “This doesn’t account for nuance at individual institutions.”

Also among the more recent incidents were students at the College of William & Mary associated with the Black Lives Matter movement interrupting the speech of Claire Guthrie Gastañaga, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Virginia chapter.

The protesters accused the ACLU of protecting white supremacists, linked to the ACLU's backing a white nationalist's lawsuit against the city of Charlottesville, Va., related to their right to hold a protest in August, which ultimately turned violent.

Those students violated the William & Mary conduct code, the institution confirmed, but it would not disclose if the students would face consequences. Spokesman Brian Whitson, citing federal privacy laws, again refused to discuss possible sanctions for this article.

Whitson said via email that the institution intends to work more closely with event organizers in advance of an event that might be protested. The college had practices for large and high-profile events before, but Whitson said it is formalizing this planning process for all events.

"Candidly, we were not expecting a protest like we had during the student event on Sept. 27, and we want to do everything we can to prevent that from happening again," Whitson wrote in his email.

William & Mary President Taylor Reveley published a statement in October that touched on the First Amendment and the student protest of ACLU.

"This is my 20th year at William & Mary. Along the way I have come to know our magnificent institution very well. Among its myriad virtues, one that I've especially cherished is the civility and mutual respect with which we wage our disagreements, even when they are passionately felt. This way of living and working together has served us well. Let's not lose it."

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Inside a failed race against the clock at SUNY Buffalo

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 08:00

When a vote to censure the dean of the School of Architecture and Planning failed to pass the Faculty Senate this month at the University at Buffalo, of the State University of New York system, it was only the latest development in a dispute that has been brewing for more than a year. And while the dean avoided censure, and his decision not to renew a professor’s contract -- which was the impetus for the dispute -- still stands, some faculty and union representatives say they’re just getting started in seeking more policy changes.

What was a simple nonrenewal of a contract in 2016 has turned into a winding dispute, leaving the professor in question with a life-threatening illness and now -- after failed back-channel negotiations between faculty members and administrators -- no health-insurance support from SUNY Buffalo. The consequences are likely to go beyond the professor, as well, as faculty and union leaders lead a charge to prevent a similar situation from happening again.

In 2014, a professor was offered a tenure-track position -- with a six-year probationary period and an opportunity for renewal at three years -- at SUNY Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning. Since she was let go in August 2017, her name hasn’t been released by the university, which cited privacy policies regarding personnel. But when the faculty member accepted the position, her understanding was that faculty input would help decide whether her three-year contract for the first half of her pre-tenure-vote employment would be renewed.

While that might be the typical procedure for SUNY Buffalo faculty members, however, it’s not in their contract. In June 2016, the professor was told that after finishing her contract in August 2017, she would no longer be employed by the university. A reasoning has not been announced -- nor is a reason required by the faculty contract.

The decision was made June 15, 2016, and came from Robert Shibley, dean of the School of Architecture and Planning, as well as the interim department chair, Despina Stratigakos, and the department chair, Omar Khan, who was on sabbatical at the time. It was signed off by Provost Charles Zukoski.

A report from the professor’s mentoring committee -- composed of her colleagues -- wouldn’t arrive until a week later.

When outlining the narrative, Philip Glick, chair of the Faculty Senate, expressed frustration with what he said was a lack of support for pretenure faculty members, whose dismissal could come without reason, and -- as this case showed -- without adequate faculty input.

“Her process was violated,” Glick said. “It was very clear from all the information that was presented to us … in the future we need some sort of independent ombudsman, where disputes between the administration and the faculty can be resolved.”

Paul Zarembka, grievance officer for SUNY Buffalo's union, the United University Professionals North Campus chapter, said the process under which the professor was dismissed wasn't in violation of union standards, but it exposed a bad policy.

"The report itself did not in any way suggest she be dismissed or anything like that," Zarembka said. "But whatever it was, it didn't even arrive to the dean's office until the next week."

In May 2016, Glick said, the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate formed an ad hoc grievance committee to look into the dismissal of the professor. They called her to testify, as well as Shibley, the chairs of the mentoring committee and the department, and the interim chairs of both the mentoring committee and the department.

The only one who showed up was the professor.

Speaking on behalf of Stratigakos and himself, Khan said via email that a draft of the mentoring report was used in "part of our deliberation" regarding the professor, and contested the characterization that any due process was breached. In a letter to the Faculty Senate ahead of the censure vote, he criticized the ad hoc grievance committee for making a decision without all the evidence, but at the same time admitted that he declined to testify to the committee, citing the privacy policy surrounding personnel matters.

Khan said it was not uncommon to use a draft of a report rather than the report itself if the report had been delayed. He did not answer a follow-up question as to whether or not this report was delayed.

SUNY Buffalo contends that the committee was out of line in investigating the dismissal, since the contract was never breached.

“Within this context, the dean of a school or college, the provost and the president have the clear authority to make these judgments,” that is, dismissing a professor, university spokesman John Della Contrada said in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. “The Faculty Senate, as an inseparable and vital part of [SUNY Buffalo], has no role in individual faculty personnel actions.”

The Faculty Senate, Della Contrada said, had “no standing” in the matter, per the union contract. Others agreed, writing in support of Shibley when the Faculty Senate eventually moved to censure him for his role in the dismissal in November 2017.

“The nonrenewal was based upon the recommendation of the Department of Architecture and then of the school,” Shibley wrote in a letter to the Faculty Senate shortly before the vote to censure him. “This action by [Faculty Senate chair] Glick is an unprecedented intrusion into the ability of the department to chart its destiny and review its colleagues on term appointments with recommendations to the provost in accordance with [the union], Employee Relations and [SUNY] Board of Trustees policies and procedures.”

Since the university didn’t violate the professor’s contract, Zarembka, the union's grievance officer, told Inside Higher Ed the professor wasn’t able to file a complaint with the union. He lamented the circumstances under which she was dismissed, and that the dismissal was allowed to occur the way it did. That’s why the Faculty Senate stepped in, Glick said, to carry out its duty to look into grievances, although he had his detractors in the Executive Committee as well, especially after the membership of the Executive Committee changed in August.

“She had every right to come to the Faculty Senate,” Glick said.

Illness and Negotiations

During the time that the ad hoc grievance committee was investigating the professor’s dismissal, the professor developed a life-threatening illness, Glick said. And come Aug. 15, she would be removed from SUNY Buffalo’s health insurance.

Glick’s solution was to ask the provost to reappoint her temporarily and have faculty members donate their sick pay so she could continue to receive a paycheck and benefits for six months, with the thinking that she would then transition to state disability services.

The university, however, found that would constitute an illegal use of public funds. The union countered with a legal opinion that the arrangement could have been legal.

The back-and-forth, however, never amounted to any sort of agreement. The professor was let go in August as scheduled and lost her health insurance.

A Vote to Censure

With the ad hoc grievance committee’s efforts to challenge the nonrenewal unsuccessful, the Executive Committee moved to introduce a resolution that would censure Shibley. While the censure of Shibley would be approved as a matter of public record, there would be no actual consequences.

By then, however, the makeup of the Executive Committee had changed. Although the resolution was approved, so was another resolution, which, if passed by the full Senate, would have the original censure be rescinded if it were to pass.

In the two months before the vote, Glick said he continued to press Zukoski, the provost, to reinstate the professor who was let go, in order to get her benefits back. He pledged to try to lobby the Faculty Senate to vote against the censure of Shibley as part of his bargain, he said.

No deal was reached. And after more than an hour of debate, the motion to censure Shibley failed anyway, by close to a three-to-one margin.

“The dean is a wonderful man; he’s done great things for the community and the university. But he was the person responsible,” Glick said. “And he didn’t really care whether policies and procedures were followed.”

The provost applauded the vote.

“I am pleased that the Faculty Senate voted overwhelmingly to support the dean and to recognize the established governing policies and procedures of the university and the SUNY Board of Trustees,” he said in a statement to Inside Higher Ed.

‘Just Getting Started’

Glick said he learned valuable lessons from his unsuccessful campaign, and, with his position on the SUNY-wide Faculty Senate, he hopes to implement changes to prevent a similar situation from happening in the future.

Glick hopes to guarantee legal representation for faculty senates in the SUNY system, he said, so that when administrations get legal representation, the faculty is entitled to similar counsel. While the union was able to assist in this case, he said, that doesn’t mean they can always be there, especially at smaller institutions.

Another change he’s seeking has to do with the actual contract, and the ability of the university to dismiss professors without giving cause.

“It seems ludicrous to me that in a higher education environment, where we’re dealing with really smart people … that pretenure and nonpermanent faculty can be dismissed without any reason or cause,” he said. The changes he’s seeking, he said, wouldn’t undercut the university’s authority to dismiss those professors, but would at least give them notice for why that decision was made.

In pushing back on the motion to censure Shibley, the university took issue with how much attention was being paid to that part of the contract, which falls under Article 32.

“If the Senate leadership’s goal was to pursue the prospects of amending Article 32 and other proposals, it should have done so in a more transparent and straightforward manner rather than the ill-advised censure resolution,” Della Contrada said. “This would have been more consistent with the values of the university and its faculty, and far more thoughtful than the attempt to discredit colleagues by censuring them for their compliance with existing policies.”

Glick, however, “has no trouble going to bed at night,” and hopes that he can continue fighting for what he says is more justice and representation for nontenured and nonpermanent faculty.

“The access to legal representation is just getting started, the Article 32 adjustments are just getting started, helping pretenure faculty is just getting started,” he said.

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A university gets personal with its students about cybersecurity

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 08:00

Today’s students may be digital natives, but that doesn't mean institutions can count on them to protect themselves from cyberattacks.

A recent survey by the technology firm CDW-G found that the No. 1 cybersecurity challenge facing IT professionals on campus is educating users about security policies and practices. Among students surveyed, just 25 percent dubbed the cybersecurity training or education efforts on their campus as very effective.

One institution, however, may have found a way to reach students -- by making them, and their pets, the stars of a cybersecurity-awareness campaign.

Speaking at the annual meeting of Educause in Philadelphia this month, representatives from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst shared how they leveraged students’ love of social media and personalized content to encourage them to up their cybersecurity game.

“There was a recognition that we needed to do something different, something fun,” said Iris Chelaru, web communications manager at UMass. While previous awareness campaigns had been informative, they failed to connect with students on a personal level, said Chelaru. Cybersecurity awareness is a bit like public health awareness, she said -- “things that we have to do but that we don’t want to.”

As students are both creators and curators of content online, who better than them to advise and help design an awareness campaign, Chelaru said. She and her team worked with the student government and other campus organizations to design an approach that was both informative and “warm and fuzzy,” said Chelaru.

Rather than presenting information on multiple security risks, as the university had previously, UMass officials decided to pick just one issue -- weak passwords -- as the center of their campaign. Pet names emerged as something that students regularly use as passwords, but that can be easily guessed, said Chelaru. With this in mind, the team created a website where students can create posters with pictures of their pets, underneath the tagline “My name is not a good password.”

“We were thinking about things that are familiar to students and that they know, maybe something from home that they miss,” said Chelaru. The posters, which could be easily shared on social media, saw much more engagement from students than previous campaigns did, said Matthew Dalton, chief information security officer at UMass Amherst.

Though the campaign started with posters of student pets, it quickly broadened, said Dalton. To make the campaign even more interactive, the team created giant photo frames that students could pose with in real life, under the same “My name is not a good password” banner. The team set up tables in areas with high student traffic at lunchtimes in October as part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month and offered prizes to encourage engagement. Soon the football team's mascot, Sam the Minuteman, and the university administration were in on the campaign.

While Dalton and colleagues hailed the campaign as a success, evaluating its impact has been tricky, he acknowledged. They have seen a decrease in student account breaches, but Dalton said he can’t be sure this campaign is responsible, as opposed to other security work the team has done. It would be difficult to track whether the campaign had actually resulted in behavior change without cracking student passwords to check if they contain pet names, said Dalton. But he is planning to look at whether password change activity has risen, he said.

Dalton said that the password campaign, now entering its third year, continues to have an impact because it doesn’t overload students with information. Where previously students might have been referred to the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s guidelines on how to create a good password (make them complicated, change them regularly, include numbers and special characters, etc.), now students are just being made to think about what makes a bad password. The details come later, when the students actually log in to change their passwords, said Dalton.

Though the impact on student behavior is not yet known, the institution views the campaign as a success for other reasons, said Dalton. First, all the posters and photos shared on social media had strong institutional branding. Second, the campaign had support and engagement from the university administration, including backing from the vice chancellor for information services. Third, students were able to take ownership of the campaign. “People were willing to become part of the message,” said Dalton. “With any participation event, that’s key -- especially with security awareness.”

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Election victors in Czech Republic seek shift in priorities in higher education

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 08:00

The antiestablishment political party that swept to victory in the Czech Republic’s recent elections is likely to want the country’s universities to redirect teaching and research towards the needs of the economy, observers say.

ANO, led by the billionaire Andrej Babiš, won almost 30 percent of the vote in elections last month, limiting the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats -- who normally dominate government -- to single figures. Negotiations are underway to form a new government.

Tomas Dumbrovsky, assistant professor of law at Charles University in Prague, who has written on Czech higher education, said that the party’s approach was “market oriented, which might fit natural science and technical [subjects] … but hardly takes into account the needs of humanities and social science.”

ANO’s program commits to increase the stability of university funding so that institutions can supply “qualified experts in line with strategic decisions of the state.”

It also wants more “practical experience” in university education, as well as a system of “quality evaluation” to make sure that graduates meet “labor market needs.”

ANO also believes that Czech research spending is not achieving results and thinks that it should be focused more toward helping to deliver economic growth, Dumbrovsky added.

The party also wants more international involvement in Czech universities. Institutional assessments should be based on peer review by researchers, preferably international ones, and students should have to take a course either in English or abroad, the program says.

Michal Lošťák, vice rector for international relations at the Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, said that ANO also pledged not to introduce tuition on the basis that “the education of young people will be beneficial for all of us.”

However, tuition has become a political issue in another way: Babiš recently criticized the former Czech government for waiving the fees of 10 Nigerian medical students whose home country funding had been cut off, arguing that “they should work as any other student to get the needed sum,” Lošťák explained.

ANO’s program in part echoes some of the utilitarian themes seen elsewhere in Central Europe, such as Hungary, where the ruling Fidesz Party has reduced the number of university places and said that higher education should serve the labor market.

But whether it will be carried out is another matter. “ANO’s focus on … university education is minimal in reality,” Dumbrovsky said. Its program is “modern and appealing,” and it has “nice phrases,” he said, but it lacks “any real plan how to achieve the pledged state of things.”

Declaring that “ANO’s electorate has little interest in the area” of higher education, he predicted that the same would be true of an ANO government.

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New presidents or provosts: Cedarville Colgate Heritage Huntingdon Kansas McNeese Missouri Nottingham St. Thomas Scott UAB

Inside HigherEd - Wed, 11/22/2017 - 08:00
  • Pam Benoit, executive vice president and provost at Ohio University, has been chosen as senior vice president of academic affairs and provost at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
  • Daryl Burckel, professor of accounting at McNeese State University, in Louisiana, has been named president there.
  • Alexander Cartwright, provost and vice president of the State University of New York System, has been appointed chancellor of the University of Missouri at Columbia.
  • Lyn Brodersen Cochran, assistant vice president for organizational development at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, has been selected as president of Scott Community College, in Iowa.
  • Douglas A. Girod, executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center, has been chosen as chancellor of the University of Kansas.
  • Tracey Hucks, James D. Vail III Professor at Davidson College, in North Carolina, has been selected as provost and dean of the faculty at Colgate University, in New York.
  • Richard L. Ludwick, president of Independent Colleges of Indiana, has been appointed president of the University of St. Thomas, in Texas.
  • Thomas Mach, assistant vice president for academics at Cedarville University, in Ohio, has been promoted to vice president for academics there.
  • Anna McEwan, dean of the College of Education at the University of Montevallo, in Alabama, has been chosen as provost and dean of the college at Huntingdon College, also in Alabama.
  • Andrew C. Sund, president of St. Augustine College, in Illinois, has been selected as president of Heritage University, in Washington.
  • Shearer West, professor of art history and provost and deputy vice chancellor at the University of Sheffield, in Britain, has appointed as president and vice chancellor of the University of Nottingham, also in Britain.
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At Middle East studies conference, panelists consider how Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out in classroom

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:00

WASHINGTON -- At the Middle East Studies Association’s annual meeting, several panels focused on the tensions scholars of the region are navigating in the classroom in these intensely polarized times, with perhaps few issues as contentious as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A roundtable session Monday afternoon focused on navigating Jewish campus and community debates on Israel. Speakers at the session raised a number of issues, ranging from the ways in which the Jewish campus organization Hillel International has defined the terms of debate to the influence of external groups that promote a certain view about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the growth of donor-funded Israel studies chairs on U.S. campuses and the uneasy relationship between Israel studies and the broader field of Middle East studies.

Also on Monday, MESA’s board approved a resolution condemning what it described as “intimidation of students and faculty” by groups like the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Canary Mission, organizations that have coordinated poster or social media campaigns that single out individual students and scholars who are identified by the groups as being anti-Israel or supportive of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. The David Horowitz Freedom Center is behind poster campaigns on campuses that link faculty or students involved in Palestinian activism to Hamas and terrorism. Canary Mission’s website, which includes profiles and photos of individual students who are affiliated with groups like Students for Justice in Palestine as well as professors, has a stated aim of exposing “those who promote lies and attacks on Israel and the Jewish people.”

“We urge academic administrations to repudiate and condemn in no uncertain terms these efforts to defame, intimidate and silence members of their communities,” MESA’s board said in a statement. “We also call upon administrators to reaffirm unequivocal support for the principles of academic freedom and free speech, and to take prompt action to fulfill their responsibility for establishing and maintaining a safe, inclusive and diverse campus environment.”

David Horowitz said the activists identified by his group should stand behind their beliefs. “What these people don’t want is to be held accountable,” he said. “What is the big deal about identifying people who are standing up for terrorists?”

“The MESA statement is the height of hypocrisy,” Horowitz added. Referring to tactics by Palestinian activists to establish mock checkpoints or “apartheid walls” on campuses or distribute mock eviction notices meant to draw attention to the expulsion of Palestinians from their homes, Horowitz asked, “Posters are 'intimidation' but checkpoints and apartheid walls and eviction notices and chants of 'Zionists off campus' are not?”

Panelists at the Monday afternoon MESA session on navigating campus debates on Israel described an increasing polarization, and ways in which what happens outside the classroom can affect what goes on inside the classroom.

Benjamin Schreier, a literary scholar who directs the Jewish studies program at Pennsylvania State University, argued that Hillel International, the largest student group that supports Jewish student life, seeks to simplify the discourse on Israel, with opinions being divided into two spheres, those that are more or less critical of Israeli policies and those that are more or less supportive -- and to overlay onto this difference of opinion a characterization of being anti-Israel or Israel friendly. “A difference of opinion becomes a difference of what kind of person you are,” Schreier said.

As Schreier wrote in the abstract for the presentation, “Claims of position are increasingly legible as -- and only as -- claims of identity. It’s getting too easy to see in a scene of discursive antagonism conflicting kinds of irreconcilable people rather than conflicting sets of arguable claims.”

Hillel did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday afternoon. The organization, which has been criticized for its policies that preclude partnering with groups that support BDS, says on its website that it "welcomes a diversity of student perspectives on Israel" and that its “goal is to inspire every Jewish college student to develop a meaningful and enduring relationship to Israel and to Israelis.”

Another panelist at the session, a professor of history and Jewish studies at Vassar College, Joshua Schreier, described the pressure on the college that came from a group of pro-Israel alumni who alleged a lack of balance in campus discussions of the topic. He suggested that outside groups are using professors' publicly stated political opinions as proof that Jewish students are being cowed without having knowledge of what goes on inside the classroom.

As such, Joshua Schreier raised the question of how faculty members can take positions on contentious political issues while at the same time making “it very clear to students from a wide variety of groups that we’re their professor too. There’s not one group of students that claims a particular monopoly on us. What I’ve been thinking about is how we present ourselves as professors to everyone but [also] very clearly as people of conscience who are not afraid to speak out.”

Much of the session focused on the growth of positions in Israel studies funded by donors and the relationship of positions funded by Israel advocacy groups to the broader Middle East Studies field. One audience member spoke of a case at Case Western Reserve University where a local Jewish community organization was represented on the search committee. (The case was recently covered by The Chronicle of Higher Education.)

“There’s been some pretty insidious activity on some of our campuses with regard to donor intervention,” said Shira Robinson, a panelist and an associate professor of history and international affairs at George Washington University. "In other institutions, and I’m not naming names here, where there were failed searches [for Israel studies chairs], not only have the searches failed once, the searches have failed multiple times because of either donor intervention or the refusal of the faculty to accept the candidates that the donors wanted."

Robinson, who teaches on the modern Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, also discussed a trend after the establishment of an Israel studies chair at her university for Jewish students to migrate toward courses under the Israel studies umbrella, while other students who see themselves in solidarity with Palestinians migrate to her classes. Robinson described this as a kind of "Balkanization" that she thinks is very unfortunate.

The discussion was at times quite contentious, as when panelists clashed with an audience member who represented an external organization that promotes U.S.-Israeli cooperation and funds visiting faculty and graduate students over who it funds and whether they’re expected to hold certain views on Israel.

Ilan Troen, an Israel studies professor at Brandeis University, said there is a great demand for Israel studies and for the study of subjects other than the conflict and that the influence of donors was much exaggerated. "The good universities, the Jewish donors might try and shove and push, but they’re not on promotion committees," Troen said from the audience.

“Efforts to constrain searches ideologically come from the right and the left across campus. They come from a dozen or more different disciplines; they really are an equal opportunity effort to bias search procedures,” Cary Nelson, an emeritus professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who has written extensively opposing the BDS campaign, said, also from the audience. "You put yourself at risk if you assume that you are always and only the better angel of our nature, that you are interested in objective critique and that there are other folks out there who are ideologically motivated." He suggested there was "no lack of ideological motivation" to go around.

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Full-time jobs in English and languages reach new low, MLA report finds

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:00

Job ads published with the Modern Language Association declined for a fifth straight year in 2016-17, reaching another new low, according to a preliminary report from the MLA.

The association’s Job Information List -- a proxy for the tenure-track (or otherwise full-time) job market in English and foreign languages -- included 851 jobs last year in English, 11 percent (102 jobs) fewer than the year before. The foreign language edition list included 808 jobs, or 12 percent (110 jobs) fewer than the year before.

The declines of the past five years bring the number of total jobs advertised to another new low, according to MLA, below the dip seen between 2007-08 and 2009-10.

Source: Modern Language Association

MLA notes that the share of all job ads in English that are tenure-line has fallen to under 65 percent, from about 75 percent in 2008-09.

In foreign languages, the share of all jobs ads that are tenure-line has fallen from about 60 percent to just over 45 percent over the same period.

A more detailed report from the MLA is expected later this year. In the interim, the association shared a breakdown of jobs ads for positions in languages other than English. The number of ads for jobs in Arabic, Chinese, French, Germanic and Scandinavian languages, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish continued their multiyear declines.

Available positions in Russian and Slavic languages increased year over year, from 31 in 2015-16 to 40 in 2016-17.

Robert Townsend, director of the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, said MLA’s data seem “quite consistent” with other data on jobs in the humanities, such as a recent, sobering jobs report from the American Historical Association and a jobs snapshot from the academy.

The academy report, for example, says that the number of jobs advertised with disciplinary associations in the humanities linger “substantially below pre-recession levels.”

As to precisely what’s driving the continued decline of available full-time positions, Townsend said he thought it was still “an open question.” Possible factors include changes in the ways jobs are advertised, a decline in faculty retirements, a drop in enrollments or a shift toward more adjunct instructors.

“Unfortunately, we lack the data we need to really tease out the underlying variables at work here,” he said. “There is still more work to be done there.”

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Q&A with author of book on the unequal higher ed landscape

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:00

Although university leaders speak frequently about college as a driver of social mobility, opining on the need to expand access to poor and underserved populations, inequality permeates American higher education.

A new book attempts to quantify just how different top colleges are from their less selective peers -- and how institutions’ fortunes have changed since the 1970s. That book, Unequal Colleges in the Age of Disparity (Harvard University Press), by economist Charles Clotfelter, shows American undergraduate education is less equal today than it was half a century ago. It also explores the many forces contributing to that change.

Clotfelter, a professor of public policy studies at Duke University, examines higher education as an industry, setting aside idealized portraits in lieu of economic terminology in order to demystify the market and scrutinize it in depth. He argues that no one who works at a top institution like Duke sets out to create an increasingly unequal higher education landscape. Yet a competitive market and rising income inequality have contributed to top universities growing even more powerful and elite than they were in the past, even as many of their smaller and lesser-known peers struggle.

“When we examine the market for baccalaureate education in the United States, we behold a scene of spectacular disparities,” Clotfelter writes. “They reveal themselves as differences across colleges in tangible resources, academic qualifications of entering students, and outcomes for graduates.”

Clotfelter answered questions by email about his new book. The following exchange has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Q: You pick out three themes in the book: diversity, competition and inequality. Were you surprised at what you found?

A: Regarding inequality, the surprise was in the extent, not the existence of it. Comparing the less selective half of public colleges and universities (so classified in 1970) with the most selective private ones, for example, the difference in assets per student by 2013 was astounding: $29,000 for the former group of colleges, compared to $1.2 million for the latter group. Another aspect where inequality showed up was in qualifications of students, and these disparities grew larger over time. In 1972, for example, the percentage of students whose average grades in high school were A or A-plus was 7 percent in the less selective public colleges, compared to 39 percent in the most selective private ones, for a gap of 32 percentage points. By 2010 that large gap had grown even bigger, to 43 points.

The extent of the diversity in colleges’ missions is also striking. Colleges differ from each other, sometimes radically, along a host of dimensions, most noticeably by age, location, architecture and size. Going beneath the easily observed, they differ in elusive but more significant ways -- religious mission, research intensity and emphasis on practical skills, to name a few. But there is a connection back to inequality, since the extent to which a college’s courses teach “useful” skills is often a good predictor of where the college resides along the elusive dimension of prestige. Prestige in turn is correlated with the average SAT scores of students and the difficulty of gaining admission.

Most of these differences have roots in history. For example, many if not most private colleges were founded by religious bodies or for religious reasons. Although for many colleges these religious ties have weakened over time, as the society at large has become more secular, the vestiges of these religious origins remain. Historical roots are evident as well in the most secular of colleges, the country’s public universities, including the great land-grant institutions established by the Morrill Acts of the 19th century. They are evident as well in the historically black colleges and universities, originally designed to serve black students in the states where Jim Crow segregation was the law. Other dimensions of diversity can be seen in universities that began as colleges for women or for Native Americans, or as urban commuter colleges, or two-year colleges. And if you really want to see diversity in mission, just look at the military academies.

One final reason for diversity is that every student’s college experience is different. Unlike many goods and services that require little from the purchaser except money, the service being bought and sold in the college marketplace requires as one indispensable “input” attention and exertion by the student herself. Like any paying customer who visits the supermarket or joins a gym, the college student must also be a partner in the production process. What students get out of college depends on the effort they expend. Owing to the marvelous variety among students and the multitude of classes and activities available at most colleges, the ultimate product -- a baccalaureate education -- is by its nature an idiosyncratic thing.

Q: How do you go about analyzing such a range of institutions?

A: To reflect this diversity, I adopted an approach to the empirical analysis that would accentuate differences across various types of colleges. I divided colleges into 17 categories. I first separated public and private HBCUs from the rest, owing to their unique history. I divided the remaining colleges between public and private and according to the average SATs of their students in 1970. Once a college had been classified, it remained in the same category over time and in each of three waves of data from the Freshman Survey, 1972, 1989-90, and 2008-09. This permanent assignment facilitated the objective of making apples-to-apples comparisons over time. For every one of my calculations of changes over time, the categories I compare contain exactly the same colleges or students from exactly the same colleges.

Q: How much do the choices made by the handful of elite, highly desirable colleges drive all of this?

A: In a very real sense these elite colleges are the “industry leaders.” Historians of higher education have demonstrated the myriad ways in which colleges across the land have attempted to emulate Harvard and the rest of this handful of institutions. For the developments I document, however, the importance of the choices made by the elite colleges lies not in their effect on other colleges, but rather on their own situations.

The most selective private colleges, already seemingly secure, left no stone unturned in their efforts to improve the quality of their programs, to recruit the very best faculty, to admit the brightest possible entering classes and, of course, to raise the maximum amount of donations and grants. The venerable law enunciated by Howard Bowen several decades ago remains true: colleges raise all the money they can and spend all the money they raise. To be sure, it is not spending for spending’s sake, but spending for the aim of being the best, of coming out ahead of one’s rivals.

This meant raising tuition at rates consistently above the rate of inflation. It meant gathering as many dollars of donations into their endowments and seeking out financial expertise that would achieve above-average rates of return. It also meant continuing the age-old practice of giving preferential consideration to the sons and daughters of alumni.

To offset the rather obvious class bias wrapped up in such as policy, the top colleges also maintained or enhanced their financial aid to low-income students. But at the end of the day, very few of these elite colleges enroll all that many students from the bottom one-fifth of the income distribution.

Q: What built-in advantages allowed those elite colleges to expand their resources in a time of increasing competition?

A: This is an industry where history’s hand is very heavy, and the advantages of a great faculty combine with the advantages of fame, reputation and architecture to produce barriers to entry of awesome proportions. But this advantage bestowed by inertia was enhanced by the increasing inequality in incomes throughout the economy, having the ironic effect of enriching the very institutions that needed help the least.

I call this the inequality dividend. In a perfect illustration of the enigmatic Matthew effect (the tendency for the rich to get richer, so named by the sociologist Robert Merton for a New Testament parable), the rising incomes of the most affluent households in the country led to large jumps in donations to higher education. Because donors tended to give to their own alma maters, much of this new giving gravitated to the very institutions that were already well-off.

Q: How has growing inequality affected faculty members?

A: No resource is more important to a college’s teaching and research missions than the faculty. Thanks to annual surveys carried out by the American Association of University Professors, it is not hard to trace the pay of faculty by college. Among the 17 categories of colleges I followed over time, the most selective private colleges increased the pay for their faculty members by the most. Pay differences that were significant in 1970 became bigger over time.

The difference in average faculty compensation between the least selective public colleges and the most selective private ones was some 37 percent in 1972. By 2012, the inflation-corrected difference had reached 44 percent.

These disparities have taken on an ominous public-private dimension, due in part to lagging state appropriations for public higher education. A recent study compared average salaries at public and private research universities. In 1971, it showed, the average salary in the public universities was 5 percent less than the average in the private ones. By 2015, that gap had reached 24 percent. Given the importance of public research universities to the growth and well-being of the American economy, this trend is a troubling one.

Q: What does it mean for students?

A: If you combine these findings with those related to the larger question of resources, what you come up with is a picture of a well-financed, highly efficient set of colleges at one end and a large number of struggling colleges at the other. Combined with other information I present in the book, which shows that students enrolling in the most selective colleges, in comparison to those who enrolled in less selective colleges, spent more time in high school studying and with other research showing a general decline in study time among college students, these indications of a bifurcation in college quality are disquieting.

Q: What choices do colleges face now?

A: The richer the college, the more choices it has. The richest and most exclusive, which have the luxury of choosing among scores of talented applicants, have the power to increase or decrease the share of their students who come from modest backgrounds. If colleges, singly or as a whole, want to reduce the degree of economic stratification that exists across the spectrum of colleges, they must act accordingly.

There is no shortage of possible remedies. As economists Caroline Hoxby and Sarah Turner have demonstrated, there are hundreds of low-income, highly able high school seniors across the country, many of them outside metropolitan areas, who are there to be contacted and informed that colleges want them and that financial aid is available. To identify some of these students, colleges’ admissions offices could redirect a few of their visits each year from affluent suburbs to nontraditional recruitment areas. In evaluating applications, they could do more to neutralize the advantages of affluence, such as by giving less weight to experiences, like unpaid internships, that are more accessible to affluent applicants. And, in making financial aid offers, they could take steps to lessen or eliminate the debt burden on the neediest students.

Lastly, they could reduce the preference they give to legacies. That most of the selective colleges continue to favor legacies reveals that “excellence” must not be the sole institutional objective.

If any college wishes to take steps to increase its share of low-income students, it will require a willingness to sacrifice other objectives. It might mean scrimping on renovations, professors’ salaries or additions to the endowment, or it might mean turning in less impressive statistics to U.S. News.

It is unreasonable, however, to expect colleges to do much redistribution beyond what is in their own private best interest. This would require concerted action by selective colleges as a group, but this approach will inevitably raise antitrust concerns.

Q: Do you have hope that the trajectory of American higher education can change?

A: At the moment, all the trajectories seem locked in place. The incentives of colleges to engage in practices that enhance their financial strength and competitive position do not show signs of changing. Public policies designed to open opportunities to lower-income students, such as an enhancement of Pell Grants, do not appear politically likely. More grandly, policies that might slow the seemingly unstoppable increase in inequality do not appear likely. About the only policy proposal I have seen that would have the effect of reducing the inequality of colleges is the proposal, contained in the current House tax bill, that would tax large university endowments and pay to top employees over $1 million.

In a word, no.

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Jury awards more than $1 million to trans academic who sued over tenure denial

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:00

A federal jury on Monday found that Southeastern Oklahoma State University discriminated against Rachel Tudor in denying her tenure, and ordered the university to pay her $1.165 million.

The case has become a pivotal one in the area of transgender rights. Tudor, who is transgender, sued under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars gender discrimination, among other forms of bias, in employment. Tudor and her supporters argued that the discrimination she faced as a transgender woman was a form of discrimination barred by Title VII. In a move that was hailed at the time by advocates for transgender people, the Obama administration backed her claim in 2015 and said that she had been a victim of bias under Title VII. But the Trump administration has reversed that policy and stated that discrimination against trans people is not covered by Title VII.

The Justice Department under Obama said that the case demonstrated clear evidence of anti-transgender bias. Among the facts stated by the Justice Department at the time:

  • Tudor was hired in 2004, at the time identifying as male. In 2007, she started to present herself as a woman. And it was in 2007 and later that she experienced discrimination.
  • A vice president of the university asked a human resources employee whether Tudor could be fired because her gender identity offended his religious beliefs. (The human resources official answered in the negative, but the vice president played a role in Tudor's tenure review.)
  • A dean, in a meeting with Tudor about her tenure bid, repeatedly used the wrong pronouns to refer to Tudor, despite being told of her status and despite her being in the room.
  • A tenure review committee in her department (English) and her chair recommended her for tenure and found she met all the university's criteria.
  • The dean and vice president referenced above reversed that decision without offering an explanation.
  • Both the dean and the vice president refused to meet with Tudor to discuss her case so she could appeal to the president for tenure. In refusing to meet her, they broke with practice at the university of holding such meetings, which have resulted in cisgender people winning tenure.

Sean Burrage, president of Southeastern Oklahoma State, issued a statement Monday that made no reference to whether discrimination had taken place. "Southeastern Oklahoma State University places great trust in the judicial system and respects the verdict rendered today by the jury. It has been our position throughout this process that the legal system would handle this matter, while the university continues to focus its time and energy on educating students," said the statement.

Jillian Weiss, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund, said via email that the case was significant for transgender professors. "This ruling is very important for the rights of transgender professors because it shows that protection is granted under federal law, and it does not matter where in the country you are located," Weiss said. "A fair-minded jury in Oklahoma found that the actions of the university were impermissible under federal law."

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Counterprotesters at North Florida outnumber those supporting white nationalist

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:00

Ken Parker was suspended from the University of North Florida Nov. 14, but the swastika-tattooed former KKK leader was back on campus Monday to appeal the institution’s decision, bringing with him fears of protesters rallying around his cause.

Only four protesters showed up, outnumbered by some 50 to 80 counterprotesters, as estimated by the university and local media.

Parker, 37, is a student at UNF. He posted a photo of himself on social media last week, holding a gun, expressing in the caption that if anyone from the left-wing Students for a Democratic Society chapter aimed to challenge him, he would “shut them down.” Many white supremacists attending public institutions have had the expression of their views protected under the First Amendment, though UNF officials said that the combination of the gun and the caption constituted a threat, which was why Parker was suspended.

He also made comments against the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, writing, "It's OK to be white!" and "WHITE and PROUD."

Although the university expressed confidence last week that the number of protesters would be small, the appeal hearing was moved to a building farther from the center of campus as a precaution, and announced it was cooperating with the Jacksonville sheriff’s office for increased security.

There was talk of canceling classes for the day, but it was ultimately decided that they would continue as previously scheduled.

“The University Police Department did a terrific job in coordinating with the Jacksonville sheriff’s office in a display of police presence, including police patrols in the core of campus,” President John Delaney said in a statement Monday. “I would like to thank both departments for their professionalism.”

The appeal hearing was held Monday morning, though a decision on whether Parker would remain suspended did not come about by that evening. A decision is expected sometime today.

In a statement issued Friday, Delaney sympathized with students and faculty who found the situation upsetting.

“I understand the situation is upsetting and frightening to many students, faculty, staff and parents,” he said. “In fact, all of the vice presidents and I have been responding to students, parents, staff and faculty, and the pain as well as the fear is palpable and actually emotionally draining to witness. I wish I had a magic wand that could address all of that and could solve the historic problems of racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, etc. I really wish that we could take away the pain and fear.”

Delaney echoed that law enforcement asked him to request that there wouldn’t be a counterprotest -- a strategy that many colleges have tried, though not always successfully, in an effort to keep students safe and avoid physical altercations -- though he acknowledged that there were plans underway for just that. The counterprotests Monday were peaceful.

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New presidents or provosts: Arkansas State Barnard Bloomsburg Carroll Emory Holy Cross Pierce Raritan San Diego Shippensburg UALR

Inside HigherEd - Tue, 11/21/2017 - 08:00
  • Sian Leah Beilock, executive vice provost of the University of Chicago, in Illinois, has become president of Barnard College, in New York.
  • Velmer Burton Jr., dean of the University of Mississippi School of Applied Sciences, has been chosen as executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
  • Laurie A. Carter, executive vice president and university counsel for Eastern Kentucky University, has been chosen as president of Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania.
  • Kelly Damphousse, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma, has been selected as chancellor of Arkansas State University.
  • James DuMond Jr., dean of the School of Science at Marist College, in New York, has been appointed provost and vice president for academic affairs at Franklin Pierce University, in New Hampshire.
  • Cindy Gnadinger, executive consultant for Bellarmine University, in Kentucky, has been named president of Carroll University, in Wisconsin.
  • Bashar W. Hanna, professor of biology and former vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Delaware Valley University, in Pennsylvania, has been appointed president of Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania.
  • Dwight A. McBride, dean of the graduate school and associate provost for graduate education and Daniel Hale Williams Professor of African-American Studies, English and Performance Studies at Northwestern University, has been selected as provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Emory University, in Georgia.
  • Deborah E. Preston, dean for visual, performing and media arts at Montgomery College, in Maryland, has been chosen as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Raritan Valley Community College, in New Jersey.
  • Ricky Shabazz, vice president of student services at San Bernardino Valley College, in California, has been appointed president of San Diego City College, also in California.
  • Justin Watson, vice president for academic affairs at Holy Cross College, in Indiana, has been promoted to provost there.
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Experts: Punishments, bans not effective in changing Greek culture

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 08:00

Andrew Coffey, a 20-year-old fraternity pledge at Florida State University, died at an off-campus party this month following a night of heavy drinking.

The circumstances were nearly identical at Texas State University just last week -- Matthew Ellis, 20, another pledge, died, with officials saying alcohol played a factor.

And at Ohio State University, 11 of the institution’s 37 fraternities have come under investigation since the beginning of the academic year -- mostly for alcohol and hazing violations, per a spokesman.

The responses to these incidents have dominated headlines because of their seemingly drastic nature -- a complete and sweeping prohibition of sororities and fraternities at three powerhouse state institutions with a major Greek presence (in the case of Ohio State, just its fraternities were suspended).

Yet similar bans have been tried before, and deaths associated with Greek organizations have never ceased.

Lesser punishments of varying degrees have also been attempted. Administrators have limited or removed alcohol from Greek events, or they’ve discontinued the pledging process. Often, the drinking and recruitment have continued but shifted underground.

Individual chapters have been shut down or barred from campuses, such as Beta Theta Pi at Penn State University after the high-profile death this year of pledge Timothy Piazza, whose fraternity brothers never sought medical attention for Piazza after he drank so much that he fell 15 feet down a flight of steps and bled internally for hours.

The University of West Florida last week suspended Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity for a minimum of five years after an investigation revealed hazing and alcohol-related misconduct, and issued a temporary ban on Zeta Phi Beta sorority, also for hazing. The student-led Interfraternity Council at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor voted recently, too, to suspend most fraternity pledging and parties after claims of sexual misconduct and hazing -- an unusual move in that it was taken by students and not administrators.

Sanctions historically, though, have accomplished little to nothing, experts and researchers into Greek life said in interviews.

Both institutions and the national heads of fraternities and sororities must truly start to control their chapters more, they said, which in some cases means clashing with the preferences of donors, the alumni of the Greek system. It means more oversight -- responsible adult guides need to be installed in the chapters.

And it means investing in investigations and training for the people who conduct them.

“There’s been a never-ending stream of bad headlines,” said John Hechinger, a senior editor at Bloomberg News and author of True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of America’s Fraternities. Greek organizations “are very concerned about this. Enrollment may be up, but every one of these deaths results in a criminal investigation, often a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, and it’s hard. It does put a huge amount of pressure on them.”

Suspending Greek activities entirely isn’t quite a new phenomenon. West Virginia University and Clemson University both did so in 2014 following pledge deaths.

A slew of higher education professional associations, among them NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education and the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors, released a statement after the now infamous 2014 Rolling Stone piece (since retracted) about an alleged sexual assault at a University of Virginia fraternity house. That statement touched on such bans:

“Pausing the activities of student groups for a reasonable, defined period of time can be a useful mechanism in helping a reeling group evaluate and assess in a time of crisis, especially when that crisis may be related to the group’s activities, as may be the case with sexual violence, hazing and binge drinking,” the statement reads.

The suspension of Greek life activity only serves as a stopgap measure, said Jill Creighton, president of the Association of Student Conduct Administration. It’s not designed as a punishment, but as a way for the institution to address possible safety concerns by pushing “the pause button,” she said.

“It’s to help the community understand the gravity of the concern and collectively work toward positive cultural changes,” Creighton said.

But Nick Altwies, founder of the Society Advocating Fraternal Excellence, a pro-Greek group, has a slightly more cynical view -- he thinks the move is more of a public relations strategy. Altwies was formerly the assistant executive director, director of programs and field secretary for the national Phi Gamma Delta office.

Because these suspensions are temporary, just years later colleges and universities likely go back to operating as “business as usual,” he said. Sometimes after a scandal fraternity chapters will weed out some of the members -- a national branch or administrators might only keep 20 out of 100 brothers and kick the rest out, Altwies said.

Nothing will change fundamentally, though, if the national offices won’t step in and assure a system is in place at all chapters that provides for mentors and supervision, Altwies said -- they have a responsibility to do so, he said.

“The chapters need a fatherly figure, perhaps alumni, to connect with students -- not control them -- much like a good coach does,” he said.

Some chapters have such a figure and are high functioning, and they’re not the ones making news, Altwies said.

National fraternities must also back alcohol-free policies, such as Sigma Phi Epsilon did at its more than 200 chapters, said Hechinger -- this would greatly help institutions in enforcing the rules.

Gentry McCreary, the chief executive officer of Dyad Strategies, which consults with colleges and universities to reshape their Greek life systems, said he was aware of at least four national fraternities that are discussing shifting their policies, either instituting alcohol bans or curtailing the pledging period. He declined to name the fraternities.

“These incidents are a catalyst for these changes,” he said.

The North-American Interfraternity Conference will pilot a new program come January -- an “enhanced health and safety policy” that mandates that hard alcohol be removed from fraternity houses.

The program also tries to better control crowd size at such events -- and the number of them that can have alcohol is limited.

“This pilot approach blends policy rooted in research, best practices in education, enhanced procedures to make events safer and consistent assessment to measure the effectiveness of these interventions,” Heather Kirk, an conference spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

Institutions benefit from the current Greek system, however, Hechinger said.

Colleges market their campus social experience, particularly state institutions looking to attract full-paying out-of-state customers, and are in a way endorsing the current practices, Hechinger said. Many donors also come from the Greek system, he said. Greek alumni are often in high-ranking positions in congresses and in legislatures.

“Really what needs to happen is that colleges and fraternities can’t look at the other way and then act all shocked when someone dies,” he said. “For every death there are multiple hospitalizations before that and sexual assaults and horrible behavior. They need to change the environment -- it’s a public health issue.”

In a statement to Inside Higher Ed, Carole Jones, chairwoman of the National Panhellenic Conference, a coalition of sororities from across the country, said the message to universities is that the sororities want to partner with them.

“Student safety is too important for us to do anything other than work together. We’ve always known that rules alone are not sufficient, so we must create cultures where students advocate for one another. We believe this can happen and we believe it can happen in ways that also respect the rights of students. To that end, we see our role as an organization that can convene leaders from across the industry -- from member organizations, from alumni and from the ranks of university leadership -- to identify where campuses are succeeding in creating the kind of cultures we aspire to build everywhere. This will be our focus in the coming months.”

Hechinger noted that recruitment within Greek life has suffered little despite the negative headlines, with a 50 percent increase in membership in the last decade.

Institutions have also never really tried to determine if their punishments are working, said McCreary.

He said his group offers surveys that can figure out the motivation behind hazing in fraternity and sorority chapters -- in some cases, it’s a bonding exercise to unite the members. In others, it’s simply an issue of “social dominance,” McCreary said.

If colleges simply hand down consequences without learning those motivating factors, they can’t actually change the culture of a chapter, he said.

Many institutions are also particularly poor at investigating low-level hazing and alcohol incidents. If someone dies, generally information comes to light quickly, but in the smaller-scale events, even the victim is more likely to lie, McCreary said.

While colleges have invested substantially in Title IX coordinators, those who administer the federal gender antidiscrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, McCreary said, they have not done so with those who investigate hazing.

He questioned whether the federal government needed to step in, as the Obama administration did with Title IX in 2011, when it enacted far more strict measures for colleges to investigate and adjudicate campus sexual assault.

“All in all,” he said, “we just need more responsible adults in the room.”

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Boston U moves to terminate professor after investigation into sexual harassment claims

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 08:00

Boston University said Friday that it found evidence of harassment in a case involving David Marchant, a well-known geologist -- enough to initiate termination proceedings against him.

Marchant, who was until recently chair of the department of earth and environment at Boston, remains a professor but is now on paid administrative leave, Provost Jean Morrison said in a statement. The university’s 13-month investigation was prompted by claims of harassment by one of Marchant’s former graduate students but involved interviews and statements from more than 30 witnesses and some 1,000 pages of records.

Many details of the case have since become public, due to media coverage. The matter is also the subject of a separate investigation by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology.

Marchant’s primary accuser is Jane Willenbring, now an associate professor of geology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. She says that Marchant harassed her during a 1999 research trip to Antarctica, when he was still an assistant professor at Boston. Marchant allegedly pressured Willenbring to have sex with his brother, who was also on the trip, and called her a "slut" and a "whore." Willenbring also says Marchant pelted her with rocks while she was urinating outside and purposely blew volcanic ash into her eyes as she was recovering from a condition known as ice blindness.

Other witnesses have publicly corroborated some of Willenbring’s account and, in two cases, reported similar experiences during field research with Marchant.

Boston investigators concluded that Marchant engaged in sexual harassment in violation of the university’s policies on sexual harassment and equal opportunity. Specifically, investigators found, “by a preponderance of the evidence, that Marchant directed derogatory sex-based slurs and sexual comments at Willenbring during the 1999-2000 field expedition to Antarctica,” Morrison said. Investigators did not find credible evidence to support Willenbring’s remaining allegations of “direct physical attacks and other types of psychological and physical abuse,” however, she said.

Over all, Boston found the sexual harassment “was sufficiently severe and pervasive so as to create a hostile learning and living environment for Willenbring” in Antarctica.

“We take all complaints of sexual harassment very seriously and will always be vigilant in conducting a thorough, fair and effective investigation,” Morrison said. “We are committed to creating an environment for all members of the university community that is free from sexual harassment.”

Marchant, who has not commented publicly on the case and did not respond to a request from Inside Higher Ed about the university’s findings, has been notified of his right to appeal. Science reported that he denied the allegations against him during the university's investigation.

Willenbring has said that she waited until she gained tenure to report Marchant, for fear of possible professional retribution. Hers is among a group of recent harassment claims against professors involving older incidents -- some inspired by the allegations against movie mogul Harvey Weinstein and others not. Boston’s response is significant in that it signals professors will still be held accountable for misconduct, regardless of timeline. The case also highlights the particular challenges faced by those who experience harassment or assault at scientific field sites, which are often geographically remote and lack clear standards of conduct and reporting procedures.

Willenbring said Saturday that she was “pleased that the truth of many women’s experiences was heard and believed.” Even though the university didn’t find credible evidence of physical misconduct, she added, it’s “clear from the report that he still discriminates based on gender and sexually harasses some women.”

Boston’s investigation under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibiting gender discrimination in education, indicates Boston’s “future commitment to students’ well-being,” she said. “Common sense prevailed in their determination that he sexually harassed me.”

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Feminism, safe spaces and the inclusion of male voices

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 08:00

BALTIMORE -- It was the 38th annual meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association, and Erin Spampinato wanted to talk about cisgender, heterosexual men.

For the City University of New York doctoral candidate, though, that wasn’t an incompatible juxtaposition. Rather, it was a necessary one.

She was talking about a class she taught, Representations of Rape in Literature, and how her syllabus’s trigger warnings on the course's violent content also called for an inclusive classroom -- and specifically welcoming the inclusion of straight, cisgender men -- in order to encourage debate and make sure every student felt welcome to share their opinions. The idea of calling for a safe space in the classroom and using trigger warnings, Spampinato said, wasn’t to stifle debate, as conservative pundits often charge, but quite the opposite: to foster “a diversity of opinions,” the same phrase that conservatives often use when claiming feminism or liberalism is intolerant of their views.

Spampinato was speaking a panel on feminist curricula, titled “Pedagogy’s Cutting Edge: The Practice and Promise of Curriculum Design,” where she was joined by scholars presenting papers on topics ranging from teaching feminism during a period of cultural backlash to the design of online and virtual curricula in a feminist manner.

For Spampinato, using trigger warnings and establishing the classroom as a safe space is a way to promote more conversation and bring more people into discussions on feminism and related topics. During the panel, her definition of a safe space wasn’t a classroom that called for censorship, or a place where no one would be offended, but rather a classroom where “if you are offended, you will feel comfortable explaining why and sharing your feelings.”

Spampinato spoke on her paper “Teaching the Literature of Sexual Violence in the Era of the Trigger Warning” and acknowledged that her approach was unorthodox and very specific to the context of the course she taught, which occurred before the 2016 presidential election. She acknowledged the criticism that comes with carving out space for men in a feminist or women’s studies course, but for her it was as practical as it was pedagogical.

“As a person who researches this topic, I know that the vast majority of sexual assaults are committed by cisgender, heterosexual men,” she told Inside Higher Ed. “I work on a college campus where we have sexual violence. It’s a cultural problem, and I believe men must be part of those conversations.”

The conflation of safe spaces and trigger warnings with censorship, she said, was based on a false understanding by critics of what safe spaces and trigger warnings are supposed to do. The only opinions that Spampinato said were not welcome were ones that were only meant to cause offense without furthering a dialogue or conversation.

Still, Spampinato said her method of explicitly calling for the inclusion of straight, cisgender men was contextual to the class she was teaching, and warned against it being used as a general rule. She wanted to bring men into the conversation around the depiction of rape in literature, she said, and she found that this was a good way to accomplish that in her specific course. Although there were instances of male students saying ignorant or offensive things, their ability to express those opinions became teachable moments when the rest of the class could express their feelings in response.

“The reason I centered cis men in this situation was totally contextual … I didn’t want male students not to take my class, and I was worried about that, especially [given] the topic,” Spampinato said in response to an audience member asking if her method inadvertently made male students the center of attention in a feminist course. “But there might be some internalized misogyny in there, trying to meet the needs of cis male students. That’s something I think about a lot.”

She said her method wasn’t set in stone, and she wasn’t above re-evaluating it; perhaps, she said, she was too concerned with male voices, at the expense at others. She also said she worked made sure her method didn’t come at the expense of supporting students from marginalized backgrounds. Still, she said, her method was in line with feminist goals -- particularly shifting the blame for sexual assault off victims and onto perpetrators.

“If talking about rape more, and sometimes offending each other, means that my students rape each other less, then I’m all for that,” Spampinato said during the panel discussion.

Trigger warnings and safe spaces, Spampinato said, are an invitation for discussing difficult topics.

“You shouldn’t be using them unless you’re down to be challenged, and to reconsider your thinking.”

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California colleges consider prospect of multiple promises

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 08:00

California’s Legislature and governor may have officially signed off on covering tuition costs for the first year of community college last month, but many of the state’s colleges have already been offering some type of tuition-free program on their own.

And now questions remain about how those more than 40 tuition-free plans in the state will change once the statewide California Promise goes into effect. Despite the measure being signed into law, the statewide tuition-free initiative is dependent on funding that will need to be secured in the state budget next year, which many college officials are optimistic will happen. The legislation is estimated to cost $31 million.

“We definitely see the recent legislation and the flourishing local Promise partnerships as complementing each other, not competing,” said Paul Feist, vice chancellor for communications in the California Community Colleges system, via email, adding that the law is designed to work with local programs.

Although the law is still in need of funding from the Legislature, it provides some flexibility once funding is available and would allow colleges to use the money to waive some or all fees up to one year for first-time students, although the colleges are not required to do so. So students could only benefit from the statewide initiative if colleges choose to participate in the California Promise. But those colleges should also use the funds to “advance the goals of the legislation.”

And advancing those goals, which include increasing completion rates, eliminating achievement gaps and increasing transfer rates to the state’s public universities, has many colleges already considering different ways to use the dollars they have in their current Promise programs.

“When [Assembly Bill 19] is fully funded, individual campuses that have raised funds can choose how to use them in addition to what students will be eligible for through the new law,” said Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley in a recent newsletter to the system. “For instance, campus private funds could be used to help fund the second-year tuition, or for books, supplies or other expenses.”

Among the state’s 114 community colleges, Mary Rauner, a senior research associate at WestEd, estimates there are 49 tuition-free or Promise programs.

Rauner said while it’s still too early for many of these programs to have a plan for how to run alongside the statewide initiative, she’s heard plenty of thoughts and ideas.

“And they run the gamut from extending to two years to using funding for add-ons like books, beyond what existing programs offer … I’ve even heard people at various points talk about child care and nontuition fees,” she said.

Take, for instance, the Long Beach College Promise, a partnership between the city, state university, community college and K-12 system, which has existed for about a decade. Just two years ago, the Long Beach program expanded to offer a full year of free tuition to Long Beach City College.

“In Long Beach, we think the statewide promise is a significant step forward,” said Terri Carbaugh, associate vice president for media and government relations for Long Beach College Promise. “It provides that flexibility because California is so large and every region is so different. It incentivizes that behavior but doesn’t tell regions how to do it. Everyone is free to design their own initiative.”

Carbaugh said the statewide initiative to provide a tuition-free year has allowed Long Beach Promise officials to examine what more they can offer. Nearly 80 percent of first-time, full-time students at Long Beach City College are already attending for free because of the California Promise Grant, formerly known as the Board of Governors fee waiver. The name of the fee waiver, which has existed for more than 30 years, was changed in September to reflect the state’s commitment to waiving tuition for low-income students.

So if the statewide initiative is fully funded next year, Long Beach could consider funding a second year, or “we would have the flexibility to create grants for housing, transportation or books to really begin addressing the full cost of attending college in Long Beach,” Carbaugh said.

Unlike typical statewide tuition-free initiatives that often place prerequisites on students to receive the scholarship, California’s new law has created participation requirements for colleges. Which means those that already have thriving Promise or tuition-free programs may be in a better position to use the statewide program.

Rauner said it also remains to be seen what will come from the colleges that don’t participate in a local tuition-free program. Some could be waiting to see how the statewide Promise is funded before launching any new local initiative.

The law, for instance, requires colleges to partner with K-12 school districts to educate families on college opportunities, financial aid and offer preparatory courses. The colleges should also use multiple measures for placement and participate in the California Community College Guided Pathways Grant Program. It will be up to the chancellor’s office to determine that colleges qualify for the statewide initiative.

“Because the Promise movement is really a grassroots movement, that probably bodes well for its long-term success,” Carbaugh said, adding that as opposed to the Legislature mandating institutions participate in a tuition-free program, the opposite has happened -- the Legislature is backing up existing programs in Long Beach, Oakland and Los Angeles.

The Oakland Promise, which is connected to the East Bay College Fund, for instance, doesn’t just help students with college expenses but is also offering to open college savings accounts for children in the school district.

“All the studies will show that money makes a certain degree of difference, but it’s the persistent support and the advising, too,” said Diane Dodge, executive director of the East Bay College Fund. “When you’re in poverty, just because you’re in college that doesn’t mean it’s any easier … supporting students through four or five or six years is a lot.”

Many of the local tuition-free programs, however, have received funding through private donations or local taxes, and there is a concern that the statewide free initiative may lead to donors finding other ways to help students outside the many Promise programs.

“I have heard some concerns and I know the state has talked about being really careful about how to message this funding,” Rauner said. “It will be a little bit of a challenge for some of the programs, especially those that have worked hard on developing relationships with private donors.”

Carbaugh said she would encourage fund-raisers to make sure donors know that the first year of free tuition is just one step and students still face many other expenses.

“Our hope is that donors, either through education or inherently in our region, will understand, in L.A. in particular … the vast majority of our students are disadvantaged students, so just helping them with tuition is not enough, and helping them in any way you can is a very valuable need,” said Drew Yamanishi, dean of the first-year experience at Los Angeles City College.

The Los Angeles Promise also covers one year of free tuition for students attending any of the nine Los Angeles Community College District institutions. Yamanishi said officials in L.A. are pondering the same issue as other local initiatives about how to combine with the statewide Promise.

The Richmond Promise, which benefits high school students who live in Richmond or North Richmond -- about 10 miles north of Oakland -- already covers the full cost of attendance. The program is mostly funded by Chevron.

“This legislation reinforces the opportunity we have to proactively build in more financial literacy training for our students about short- and long-term financial management,” said Jessie Stewart, executive director, in an email. “We would welcome recommendations about how to leverage this legislation to make Richmond Promise dollars more impactful and possibly provide alternatives for students to save their scholarship dollars for transfer.”

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Roundup of colleges starting or finishing fund-raising campaigns

Inside HigherEd - Mon, 11/20/2017 - 08:00

Starting Off:

  • Mount Saint Mary's University, in California, has announced a campaign to raise $100 million by 2020. Priorities include student aid and efforts to encourage students to study and conduct research abroad. Already the university has raised $68 million.
  • St. Mary's University, in Texas, is starting a campaign to raise $130 million by 2021. So far, the university has raised more than $104 million.
  • Skidmore College is starting a campaign to raise $200 million by 2020. More than $145 million has already been raised.
  • Tennessee Tech University has launched a campaign to raise $60 million by 2021. Three core areas have been identified for the campaign: student scholarships, endowed faculty and campus expansion. The university has already raised $48 million toward its goal.
  • University of Delaware has started a campaign to raise $750 million by 2020. Financial aid, graduate fellowships and endowed professorships are top priorities for the campaign. The university has already raised $565 million.
  • University of St. Thomas has started a campaign to raise $200 million by 2025. The focus will be scholarship support for students. The university has also announced a $50 million gift for that purpose from the GHR Foundation.

Finishing Up:

  • Loras College, in Iowa, has raised $106 million in a campaign that started in 2013. The original goal was $75 million, and that goal was increased to $100 million two years ago. A key focus has been financial aid, with more than 120 new endowed scholarships created with funds raised in the campaign.
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