Inside Higher Ed

Several programs are encouraging students to slow down and think about life outside of college

8 hours 8 min ago

Ask any college student how their day is going and they’ll likely say, “It's busy.”

“My students have résumés and CVs that are longer than most adults' when they’re 18,” said Justin McDaniel, a religion professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “They have internships up the ass, they shadowed this person, they won on the debate team."

Taking time for silence, self-reflection and introspection doesn't top students’ to-do lists, and neither does seeking out mental health services, McDaniel said. "They look at it as taking up time.”

Several programs -- including McDaniel’s course at Penn, a student group at Princeton University and a contemplative studies course at Vassar College -- share a common goal: encourage students to slow down, relax and learn how to manage the problems they’ll face outside of college.

McDaniel teaches a course that meets once a week for seven hours, with no homework, no tests and no syllabus. Instead, every Tuesday he hands students a book upon arrival, which they read from cover to cover. After four or five hours of silent reading time, the group discusses the book.

The 300-level course, called “Existential Despair,” isn’t about anything, McDaniel said; it’s a place where students can “learn for the sake of learning, reflect for the sake of reflection and talk about issues that will actually come up as adults.”

Such issues include addiction, a cancer diagnosis, the death of a loved one or losing a job. In past semesters, McDaniel assigned Junkie by William Burroughs, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison, The Sailor Who Fell From Grace With the Sea by Yukio Mishima and The Wonder by Emma Donoghue.

"They can all reflect upon [the book] because they’re all experts on that book,” he said.

Leveling the playing field was a priority for McDaniel, who noticed that students without a humanities background often shy away from taking literature courses for fun.

“They go into these classes and they feel intimidated because they don’t know Foucault’s latest theory on Shakespeare … then they get resentful of the people who actually didn’t do the reading but [participate] in discussion,” he said.

He’s noticed a huge difference in the quality of class discussions, in and outside class.

“In 17 years of teaching, there is no comparison,” he said. “It’s the best conversation I’ve ever had in a classroom.”

The students are graded on attendance and participation, and they’re required to write a two- to three-page journal entry each week, which they often complete in class. They also contribute to an online, weeklong discussion forum.

In his other classes, McDaniel said, “I pose questions online and people would write two or three lines to get their five points. Now, I’m getting five to six pages from each student, and they’re responding to each other.”

He also observed a gender flip during conversations. Women are speaking up more often than men, the reverse of the norm at Penn.

Each reading period includes a 20- to 30-minute dinner break, and McDaniel collects students’ cellphones at the beginning of class. Students spread out across three floors of a building and bring tea, coffee and food for a partner McDaniel assigns.

“We say these kids are addicted to technology -- they’re not. When I started this class I thought there was going to be tons of napping, and there’s not. It’s so rare, so rare,” he said.

Alec Gewirtz, a senior religion major at Princeton University, had a similar goal. Last February he founded Workshop No. 1, a student group that meets on Saturday mornings to work through questions and problems students confront outside of their academic lives.

“Students didn’t have a place where they could reflect on how to build more fulfilling lives,” Gewirtz said. “They often found that they couldn’t do that in the classrooms, and students who weren’t involved in religious groups didn’t have a place where they can do that.”

Gewirtz likened the workshop to religious communities that people lean on for support and guidance, but the group has no religious ties or requirements to join. At each meeting, a student presents on a topic or problem they are facing in their own life -- such as building a meaningful relationship with their parents as adults, handling the death of a loved one or navigating some part of their career. Then, others will chime in about how they’ve confronted a similar problem. Discussions last about an hour.

Over 100 students are part of Workshop No. 1, and about 60 to 70 students attend the hourlong meetings any given week. In addition, they have the option to break into small groups of four members that meet on their own time to identify goals, create a plan and hold each other accountable.

Sophie Steinman-Gordon, a junior politics major, joined the workshop earlier this fall.

“I love it. I think that especially at a place like Princeton where your day-to-day life can get so consumed with school and stress that comes from school, it’s really important to have a space to step back,” she said.

In one meeting, Steinman-Gordon recalled a member who spoke about relationships and how to be vulnerable without relying too heavily on another person.

“The member who presented … her boyfriend was in the room,” she said. “That just is indicative about how healthy of a space it is, if someone can share something about an intimate relationship while their partner is in the room.”

Jaime Cuffe, a senior computer science major, said the group has fostered a fierce sense of community.

“It can be difficult to get a group of 50 people to commit to anything at Princeton, but what Alec has been able to create here as been really, really powerful,” he said. “There’s a saying that ‘we’re the average of the five of our closest friends.’ When I look around the room in any of the workshop sessions, I think, ‘I would be lucky to be the average of any of these five people.’”

At Vassar College in New York, Carolyn Palmer, a psychology professor, debuted an Introduction to Contemplative Studies class this fall. Each week, students in the class are introduced to different methods of contemplation and introspection -- everything from social justice and pilgrimage to journaling and meditation.

“People are thirsty for the tools and the experiences that broaden our lives, and the ways in which we can keep asking important questions of ourselves and of each other,” Palmer said.

In addition to regular classroom periods, students meet for a “lab” period once a week, similar to science course schedule. One day, a music professor walked students through the “soundscape” and asked them move slowly, focusing on their balance and what they heard. During another lab, a staff member at the counseling center led the students through meditation.

Ten students make up the pilot class, which is a typical class size for Vassar, and Palmer hopes that more students will be interested in the course once word spreads.

“They’re experiencing a wide variety of practices, and they’re reflecting on this for themselves. They are also interviewing other people about those people’s experience with contemplative practice, and then they do half-a-semester-long personal project that they want to explore in more depth,” Palmer said. “They’re getting first-person, second-person and third-person experience with contemplative studies.”

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College concierge expansion is on the horizon

8 hours 8 min ago

In the last several years, colleges have been criticized for their climbing walls and lazy rivers, which signal to some too much spending on nonacademic matters.

Wait until those critics hear about the latest trend: concierges for students.

New Mexico State University’s nearly one-year old concierge service -- the Crimson Concierge program -- offers students everything from help booking vacations, to, for an extra fee, doing their laundry.

New Mexico State relies on a popular vendor among colleges and universities, Sodexo, to carry out Crimson Concierge, and the company said it intends to expand to other institutions.

“We are very aware of the fact that a large percentage of students are making their ultimate selection on schools that really can fulfill the ‘college experience,’” said Steve Bettner, assistant vice president of auxiliary services at New Mexico State. “Places that have amenities.”

Forbes in a column over the weekend declared New Mexico State’s program “the only one in the country,” which is not the case. High Point University, a private institution in North Carolina, has since 2007 operated a concierge service even more expansive than New Mexico State’s. The author of the Forbes piece, Christopher Elliott, the founder of a consumer nonprofit, praised the concierge service as a way to alleviate student stress.

Bettner said that to appeal to new students, New Mexico State realized it needed to be more competitive with other institutions with flashier offerings. Without the immediate budget to improve some of the buildings that were a half a century old or more, administrators settled on expanding its dining contract with Sodexo to include the concierge service, the vendor’s first. It launched in January.

After a slow rollout, the program is being much more aggressively marketed toward potential students, Bettner said. It is paid for not through university funds, but instead through partnerships with outside companies and charging a fee or commission on services students obtain through the concierge.

The concierge will research travel plans both locally and abroad -- the Forbes article highlights a student who helped plan his entire trip to southeast Asia (completely unrelated to his academics). Crimson Concierge also finds and makes dinner reservations, locates events in the area, and, for a little extra money, cleans and folds laundry and does housework.

Both students and their families have loved the program, which is housed in the university union, Bettner said. One of the staffers there is referred to as a “mother away from home” who “would do anything a mother would do,” which delights parents, Bettner said.

He acknowledged the criticism in academe of too much focus on facilities and not on academics, but said that this will help remove a “to-do list” for students and help them focus more on their studies.

“This significantly contributes to improving [graduation] numbers,” Bettner said. “That’s the goal that will bear out over time. We’re using this as a tool to help students through their matriculation and graduating on time.”

Ronni Schorr, global vice president of marketing for Circles, the part of Sodexo that administers the concierge program, said in an interview that the program doesn’t coddle students, but merely helps improve their lives. This benefits both international and domestic students, such as those who may be from out of state, Schorr said.

“They are the future leaders and they are very stressed,” Schorr said. “They have a lot going on their lives. Often they are going to college and university not in their home area, and getting acquainted with the area … and we want to relieve some of the stress they might feel.”

Schorr said Sodexo intends to expand to other institutions, but declined to name them given that contracts are not yet signed.

At High Point University, the concierge handles phone calls to the university and communications with parents and gives students free rides to the nearby airport, as well as some of the services that Crimson Concierge offers, such as travel reservations, said Lyndsey Derrow, the chief concierge. It also sponsors some programs that might be more traditionally housed in a career center, such as taking pictures for a LinkedIn profile or teaching communication skills.

In addition to the six full-time staff members, the concierge service also employs students to teach them more about the hospitality industry, Derrow said. She declined to say how much money the university devotes to the concierge.

Derrow said that the concierge service has contributed to 96 percent of High Point graduates landing a job within six months after they graduate -- she said that some critics will conflate “being nice,” as the concierges are, with handing out A's in the classroom.

“We want to be that resource for them and feel fully comfortable,” Derrow said. “We want them to feel like they can go to us for answers.”

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Campaign spending by for-profit colleges mostly absent from midterm elections

8 hours 8 min ago

Just two years ago, Democratic candidates settled on for-profit colleges as a favorite political target on the campaign trail.

ITT Tech and Corinthian Colleges had recently collapsed, and regulators were pursuing high-profile investigations of other colleges, making the sector a compelling target for political barbs. And political donations from for-profit higher education made an attractive cudgel to swing at GOP opponents.

During this campaign season, though, for-profits have received little mention. And they’re mostly staying on the sidelines themselves.

For-profit chains that were once big-time spenders -- mostly on GOP campaigns -- have once again dropped their campaign spending in the midterm elections, a downward trend that has continued for multiple election cycles.

Bridgepoint Education Inc. steered more than $443,000 through its political action committee to candidates, parties and fund-raising committees two years ago. But the company, which owns Ashford University, has spent about $252,000 so far in the 2018 midterms, according to data analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.

A political action committee for the University of Phoenix's owner, Apollo Education Group, donated more than $195,000 through its PAC in the 2016 election, but has spent $47,500 in the current cycle.

And Education Management Corporation, which gave close to $147,000 through its PAC in the 2016 elections, filed for bankruptcy earlier this year.

Industry observers say the sliding numbers reflect both the changing political environment in Washington -- and the weakened position of the industry. While for-profit colleges have notched key regulatory wins, enrollment across the sector began declining long before the Trump administration started putting its stamp on higher ed.

“They are not swimming in cash the way they were in previous cycles,” said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “But there also may be a different political judgment and a different political dynamic at work. They are very active when they felt like they were under existential threat.”

Political spending by for-profits peaked in the 2012 election cycle, when the sector poured money into congressional campaigns and political action committees.

That year, a Senate investigation led by Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin wrapped up an investigation into for-profits. The Obama administration was crafting gainful-employment regulations that would sanction career education programs with poor rates of loan repayment among graduates. And the movement to seek loan forgiveness through the previously little-used borrower-defense process was well under way.

Enrollment in for-profit colleges peaked in 2012 as well and has been on the decline as the economy has continued to strengthen. For a sector already on its heels thanks to that trend and federal and state investigations, the 2016 election was seen as critical to deciding whether or not Obama-era regulations targeting the sector would go forward.

Under the Trump administration, for-profits have found the U.S. Department of Education to be much friendlier to their priorities. For example, among the first major steps taken by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was rolling back the gainful-employment and borrower-defense regulations.

The department has also extended a second chance to ACICS, a national accreditor to many for-profit colleges, which the Obama administration sought to eliminate. That decision kept federal student aid money flowing to dozens of colleges that couldn’t find approval from other accreditors.

“The sense of urgency is definitely diminished,” said Trace Urdan, a managing director at Tyton Partners who follows the for-profit education industry.

After lawmakers failed to make serious progress on reauthorizing the Higher Education Act in the past year, there’s also little expectation that a new law with major implications for for-profits will be passed any time before 2020 at the earliest.

“Why spend money to influence something that’s just not going to happen?” Urdan said.

Even as officials in Washington have created a friendlier regulatory environment, though, the industry has undergone a major restructuring that has had implications for entities that once played a big role in funding campaigns. There is less regulatory pressure on colleges, said Jeff Silber, a managing director and senior research analyst at BMO Capital Markets, but at the same time Phoenix and many of the other largest for-profit entities are smaller, and others like Corinthian have gone out of business entirely.

Meanwhile, Grand Canyon University converted to nonprofit status earlier this year. Kaplan University stopped issuing credentials after it formed a new public-private venture with Purdue University. And the parent company of DeVry University has agreed to sell the chain of colleges to a California-based private equity investor.

The trend in the sector’s political activity also is reflected by trade association representing for-profit colleges, once a big-time spender but this cycle much less of a factor in campaigns.

Career Education Colleges and Universities’ political action committee spent close to $300,000 on campaigns in 2012. But CECU, which by 2016 had seen its membership decline, gave more than $87,000 to campaigns through its PAC in the last election cycle. So far for this year’s midterm elections, the PAC has spent $57,000, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. At the peak of the group's political spending, it gave more than $367,000 to candidates and political action committees.

But Steve Gunderson, CECU’s president and CEO, said those numbers shouldn’t be interpreted as the group declaring victory on its federal priorities.

“We have found our most successful political engagement today is organizing and hosting events for members rather than simply raising money for the PAC and sending checks,” he said. “Our members, like everyone else in America, want to have some personal control over where their dollars go. The PAC is not as popular as a political vehicle,” he said.

Gunderson said the organization now goes as far as asking candidates and officeholders to visit a member college before CECU will send donations to campaigns -- a requirement he said he cleared with the Federal Elections Commission.

CECU has been as engaged as any group on federal higher ed policy in the Trump administration -- it backed the department’s overhaul of Obama-era student loan rules and lobbied hard for ACICS to keep federal recognition. And the PROSPER Act, House Republicans’ bid to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, reflected many of the group’s priorities.

But Gunderson said CECU is focusing more on engaging its member colleges than contacts in D.C.

“This is really about the future of your constituents, not about the politic of Washington,” he said.

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Annual report documents attacks on students and scholars worldwide

8 hours 8 min ago

A new report identifies 294 reported "attacks" on students, scholars or higher education institutions in 47 countries between Sept. 1, 2017, and Aug. 31 of this year.

"The incidents covered by this report are only a small portion of all incidents involving attacks on higher education over the previous year," says the report from Scholars at Risk, an organization that monitors academic freedom violations worldwide and also arranges for temporary positions for threatened scholars. "Nevertheless, they are sufficient evidence of a global crisis of attacks on scholars, students, and other members of the higher education community requiring a robust, global response."

Among the attacks documented in the "Free to Think 2018" report -- the latest in an annual series of reports from SAR's Academic Freedom Monitoring Project -- are 79 violent attacks against campuses or “higher education communities” across 27 countries, resulting in at least 77 deaths. These include violent attacks by gunmen or bombers targeting campuses in four countries -- Afghanistan, Kenya, Nigeria and Pakistan -- as well as targeted attacks on scholars or students in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Turkey and Yemen.

SAR also documented 41 instances of state or private security forces using violence against student protesters, including eight cases in which students were killed.

Other categories of attacks on higher education discussed in the report include cases of imprisonment or prosecution of scholars “in apparent retaliation for their scholarly work or expression,” instances in which scholars were dismissed or students expelled in connection with their academic speech or conduct, and restrictions on academic travel, which were reported in nine different countries.

The travel restrictions, which are among the less extreme types of attacks on higher education profiled in the report, include seemingly targeted ones barring the exit or entry or ordering the deportation of individual scholars or students, instances of which were reported in Cameroon, China, Hong Kong, Israel and Russia.

In addition, several countries have taken broad actions limiting the movement of certain scholars. India blocked participants of Pakistani origin from participating in an Asian studies conference in New Delhi. Tajikistan just repealed a regulation that would have required scholars and students traveling outside the country for academic or other official university purposes to obtain advance permission from the Ministry of Education and Science and submit a report on their travels upon their return. And Turkey has barred thousands of higher education personnel from international travel as part of a broader set of punitive measures against individuals accused of supporting a cleric the Turkish government blames for a 2016 coup attempt (more on Turkey below).

In addition, the report discusses reported difficulties foreign faculty members have faced in obtaining visas from Israel to teach at universities in the West Bank, and notes that in June the U.S. Supreme Court upheld President Trump’s travel ban restricting entry to the U.S. for nationals of seven mostly Muslim-majority countries.

While much of the report focuses on violent attacks, arrests or detentions of scholars and other severe infringements on academic and personal freedoms in authoritarian or conflict-ridden nations, this year’s report also includes a section discussing partisan political tensions on U.S. campuses, including pressures from external groups that have held controversial events on campuses and what the report describes as the “political targeting of campus speech.”

“Also in the United States, provocative off-campus groups and individuals have chosen colleges and universities as the sites of controversial speeches and rallies that frequently result in confrontations,” the report states. “In several cases, these confrontations became violent, endangering students, faculty, and others. Political actors seeking to expose alleged bias among scholars and students have taken a variety of public measures, including the creation of online watchlists, surreptitious audio and video recording, and advancing restrictive and potentially overbroad legislation, all of which have prompted concerns about a shrinking campus space for free, open inquiry and debate.”

"It's not a coincidence that where there are tensions in society and combat over what the future of a society should be like that we see those tensions manifest within university communities," said Robert Quinn, executive director of the Scholars at Risk Network.

"The pressures we see on U.S. campuses are less physically severe, thankfully, than they are in Pakistan," Quinn continued, "but fundamentally the dynamic underneath it is the same -- the attempt to delegitimize certain ideas, to delegitimize certain conduct" -- that conduct being "the legitimacy of asking questions and demanding better answers."

Specific countries and issues of concern discussed in the SAR report include:

  • An increase on reported attacks on higher education in Iran, including a crackdown on student protests leading to the arrest and imprisonment of students and professors on charges related to “propaganda against the regime,” “action against national security” or “spreading false information.” The report also discusses cases of long-term detentions of both Iranian- and foreign-based scholars or students on espionage or other national security-related charges.
  • The detention of students and scholars of the Uighur ethnic minority group by Chinese authorities in so-called re-education camps. Hundreds of thousands of Uighurs have reportedly been held in the camps in China's northwestern Xinjiang region. "What we have is an ethnicity-based attack on an entire community and not surprisingly the university space is very much caught up in that," Quinn said.
  • Violence against student protesters in Nicaragua, where protests against the authoritarian government of President Daniel Ortega began in April. Citing numbers from United Nations human rights experts, the SAR report says that police violence against protesters in Nicaragua has been frequent and that “clashes between protesters and security forces have resulted in at least 317 people killed and at least 1,830 injured, including many students.”
  • Ongoing threats to academic freedom in Turkey, where there were widespread dismissals and prosecutions of scholars and higher education administrators following the 2016 coup attempt. The report says that during the 2017-18 reporting period “SAR reported imprisonments, prosecutions, and criminal investigations targeting hundreds of university scholars, students, and staff across Turkey. In the majority of these cases, the scholars and students have been accused, often based on unclear or undisclosed evidence, of affiliations with a movement led by the Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen,” the Islamic cleric whom Turkish officials accuse of orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt. Gülen has denied involvement.
  • Threats to the autonomy or continuing operation of institutions in Central Europe or Russia. These include threats to Central European University, which remains locked in a standoff with the Hungarian government over its long-term future in the country. The report also discusses the case of the European University at St. Petersburg, which in August regained its teaching license after slightly more than a year without a license, and the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, which in June had its accreditation revoked.
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Author discusses her new book about race on campus -- and misconceptions on race on campus

8 hours 8 min ago

Not a week goes by without a racial incident on some campus or another. Court cases about affirmative action generate widespread debate. Many colleges struggle to diversify their student bodies. As Julie J. Park looks at these trends, she sees many misconceptions about race relations. Her new book, Race on Campus: Debunking Myths with Data (Harvard Education Press), seeks to enable educators and others to have a better-informed discussion on race. Park, associate professor of education at the University of Maryland, College Park, responded via email to questions about her new book.

Q: Why did you decide to frame your book as being about "debunking myths with data"? Why do you think so many people have incorrect ideas about race on campus?

A: I often hear offhanded comments like, “Well what good is diversity? Students just stick to themselves,” or “Affirmative action isn’t needed anymore; minority students are just as rich as white students.” Not true at all! I always knew that the data had a different story to tell.

It’s easy to think that you know what’s going on in colleges if you went to college, or you heard a sensational report about how higher education is falling apart. However, research on cognitive biases shows that it’s very easy for our brains to jump to conclusions that actually aren’t supported by evidence. In this book, I want to show people that evidence and also unpack why we’re so vulnerable to misinformation.

Q: You have a chapter about alleged self-segregation of black students. What is the reality there?

A: The reality is that students of color have higher rates of interracial engagement and friendship than white students, hands down. Also, participation in groups like ethnic student organizations (e.g., a Black Student Union or Asian American Student Association) is actually linked with higher rates of interracial engagement, particularly for black and Latino/a students. This finding is counterintuitive since most people think these groups promote separation.

Q: Many campuses, with sad regularity, see racial incidents. Why do you think this is?

A: Despite all of the good things that happen on college campuses, we still exist in a society where racism is part of everyday life. For many white students, it’s their first time ever being in an environment where there is a critical mass of students of color, and sometimes there’s pushback against that. All of this underscores why supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and antiracism are all the more important, because college is an opportunity for students to prepare for citizenship in a diverse democracy.

Q: You note the push by critics of affirmative action to focus on alleged discrimination against Asian Americans. Why do you challenge that narrative? How do you react to that charge as an Asian American?

A: I challenge that narrative because I’ve looked at the data and I don’t see evidence of discrimination. I’ve looked at the expert reports from Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University (for which I served as an expert consultant for Harvard -- all views here are my own), and I don’t agree with SFFA’s interpretation of the data. What I do see are key issues that have largely been ignored -- for instance, how low-income Asian Americans benefit from current policies, and how the Harvard personal rating is not some racist personality test. I also challenge that narrative because I know the research on how Asian American students benefit from diverse learning environments and have experienced that richness firsthand. As an Asian American, I am greatly frustrated that there is an orchestrated effort to exploit our community by spreading misinformation about affirmative action.

Q: What are two or three things that college leaders could do to improve race relations today?

A: First would be to get rid of the idea that diversity is some sort of linear process, something to be achieved and crossed off of the to-do list. Fostering diverse and equitable campuses is a deeply nonlinear process -- one step forward, two steps back. In my book, I compare higher education and racial issues to a patient who needs blood-pressure medication for the rest of their life -- it’s something that always needs constant attention and intentionality. No. 2 would be to add antiracism to the list of things we talk about wanting to support alongside diversity, inclusion and equity, and to think deeply about what that really means. No. 3 is to keep looking at the data and see where it points your campus in terms of what needs to be prioritized in advancing a more positive campus racial climate.

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Study takes aim at psychology's practice of ordering reference lists alphabetically

Mon, 2018-10-22 07:00

Citation counts supposedly demonstrate a researcher’s scholarly impact. But outside factors can corrupt this metric. One of those factors is where a first author’s name falls in the alphabet, according to a new study. This is especially true in psychology, where convention dictates that in-text citations are ordered alphabetically.

When the study’s authors compared psychology journals to those in biology and geoscience -- both of which typically list authors chronologically in in-text citations -- the effects of alphabetizing in-text citations appeared to bias citation decisions toward authors with last names from early in the alphabet. So, say, a Professor Dumbledore would be cited frequently than, say, a Professor Snape, by virtue of a the first letters of their last names.

The study's authors attribute this finding to an interaction between cognitive biases -- specifically the primacy effect, which says that we more easily recall items earlier that appear earlier in a list -- and the citation environment, or style. The fix? Journals using alphabetically ordered citations should “switch to chronological ordering to minimize this arbitrary alphabetical citation bias,” the authors say.

Jeffrey Stevens, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, co-wrote “Order Matters: Alphabetizing In-Text Citations Biases Citation Rates” with Juan F. Duque, now an instructor in psychology at Arcadia University. The paper is in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Stevens said last week that he was interested in this area of research because he was originally trained as a biologist, with a different citation approach.

Only later in his career did he get into psychology, he said, and transitioning to alphabetizing in-text citations “didn’t make much sense to me.” Stevens got to thinking about the consequences of such a system and the primacy effect, and realized “this could lead people to ignore articles listed later in the in-text citations.”

Stevens explained the phenomenon via email, saying that "biology might include the following citation (Darwin 1859, Zuckerberg 2018), whereas psychology would use this (Zuckerberg 2018, Darwin 1859). If there is a long list of papers in the citation, we will likely just read/focus on the first few."  For biology, he said, "that means focusing on the early work, which is often the most important. For psychology, that means focusing on people with last names early in the alphabet, which is not necessarily the most important. We are also more likely to cite the papers that we focus on."

For their study, Stevens and Duque first looked at citation rates of tens of thousands of articles in 27 journals across psychology and biology. More precisely, they measured citation rates by looking at the number of times that each article was cited in Web of Science, and then calculated the average number of citations for each letter of the alphabet. Next, they divided that mean citation rate for each letter by the total number of citations, and multiplied that by 100 to get the average citation percentage for each letter. They next replicated their study, preregistering a very similar experiment involving psychology and geoscience journals.

As predicted, they found that in psychology, authors with last names early in the alphabet had more citations than those late in the alphabet. But that wasn't the case for biology and geoscience, which tend to order chronologically.

Categorizing the articles studied by field shows that the citation rate in psychology very strongly decreased with the letter of the first author's surname, the paper says, whereas biology showed no correlation. Comparing models without the field, and just by letter interaction, showed only weak support for any difference. But the replication involving geoscience journals also showed that alphabetical citation bias exists in psychology, and not where chronological lists exist.

Stevens said the findings matter because a seemingly arbitrary choice about ordering citations can influence citation rates, which have high-stakes implications for academics. And while psychology may be “relatively unique in forcing these arbitrary rules across the whole field,” he said, other disciplines, such as sociology and political science, at least allow that type of ordering.

“Though the effects might not be as strong, other fields could potentially have the same bias,” Stevens said.

Psychology’s citation rules are set by the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, which says that in-text citations must by alphabetized. (In-text citations include the author’s last name and year of publication.) Kim Mills, spokesperson for the organization, said via email that the “APA is constantly monitoring usage and feedback and we periodically make changes as we deem appropriate.”

Yves Gingras, a professor and Canada Research Chair in history and sociology of science at the University of Quebec at Montreal, who has written critically about how citation metrics are used to evaluate individual scholars, said that upon first read, the paper’s premise was interesting but that the effect size is relatively small and should be tested further. That said, he added that he had “no particular objection to the idea of making [citations] in chronological order from the older to the most recent or the reverse.”

It always always good to exercise caution when using citations for faculty evaluations, he said, and one way of doing that is looking at the way references are made.

Asked if his findings said anything bigger about the flawed nature of bibliometrics and the perils of relying on them too much for personnel decisions, Stevens said the question wasn’t necessarily relevant to his research.

“We used citation rates because they are easy to measure for our purposes,” he said. “The real issue is simply that authors early in the alphabet get more exposure or attention, and citation rates are just easy-to-measure proxies of attention.”

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Trump administration considers plan to end legal status of transgender students

Mon, 2018-10-22 07:00

The Trump administration has drafted policies for the Education Department and other agencies that enforce civil rights that eliminate the concept of a student being transgender, and potentially make it next to impossible for transgender students to raise complaints about treatment based on their gender identities.

The New York Times revealed the plans Sunday. Under the draft policies for use in various federal agencies, the following definition would be used: “Sex means a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth … The sex listed on a person’s birth certificate, as originally issued, shall constitute definitive proof of a person’s sex unless rebutted by reliable genetic evidence.”

While transgender covers a variety of identities, many who identify as transgender do not see themselves in the "male" or "female" designation they received at birth or in the male/female binary.

Under the Obama administration, federal agencies recognized gender identity as a protected class and considered complaints brought by transgender students. At the same time, a growing number of federal courts have also recognized transgender status (although some federal courts have not done so).

The Trump administration has criticized these developments, saying that the Obama administration exceeded its authority and should have waited for Congress to specify that various federal civil rights laws protect transgender students. Last year, the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights said it would handle complaints by transgender students the way the agency did before the Obama administration said that it would consider such complaints as covered by civil rights laws.

In some cases, officials noted bias against transgender students may be covered by federal bans on gender-based discrimination and might still be investigated. Advocates for transgender students said that this was true in some cases, but not in many others. But an investigation by Politico -- focused on cases in elementary and secondary schools -- found the department under the Trump administration throwing out many complaints by trans students and their families.

Catherine Lhamon, who served as assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education under President Obama, said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that the proposals, if enacted, would be "catastrophic to transgender students."

She noted that while some colleges have moved to protect transgender students from discrimination, others have not. Disputes have come up about admissions policies, access to bathrooms, access to residence halls, athletic participation and more.

While a student could still sue a college for bias, the Trump proposal would effectively shut down any chance that a student could turn to a government agency for help, Lhamon said. Many students don't have the money to bring a suit but can file complaints with OCR or other agencies, she said. "The federal government, speaking with its incredibly powerful voice, would effectively render transgender students as people without protection," she said.

This move could also influence the decisions of colleges on whether to be inclusive to trans students, she said. "This would essentially give a permission structure for discrimination," she said.

Lhamon also said that the move should concern anyone who values civil rights enforcement by the federal government in education. "The Trump administration is giving itself permission to narrow the law," she said, and could do so in other areas as well.

Shane Windmeyer, founder and executive director of Campus Pride, which is an advocate for gay, lesbian and transgender students, said via email that the policy being considered would be dangerous for transgender students.

"The Trump administration wants to flippantly deny even the existence of trans people and allow any college campus to discriminate outright in programs and policies," he said. "Any campus that discriminates toward a group of students should be held accountable for not providing a safe learning environment. And it must be realized, regardless of viewpoints, that an unsafe, discriminatory learning environment for any student is not an inclusive, open, safe place for learning for anyone."

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New York City sues for-profit Berkeley College

Mon, 2018-10-22 07:00

Cities rarely sue colleges, but New York has received so many complaints against for-profit institutions that it brought a complaint Friday against Berkeley College New York in state court.

The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs filed a lawsuit against Berkeley for deceptive and predatory lending.

“For-profit colleges are businesses and like most businesses their top priority is generating profits,” the city agency's commissioner, Lorelei Salas, said in a news release. “Our investigation into Berkeley College reveals that their recruiters appear to say whatever they think a prospective student wants to hear, especially when it comes to academic programs, employment, transfer credits and federal student loans."

The college denies the allegations, and Berkeley’s legal counsel is reviewing the lawsuit.

“We repeatedly sought the opportunity to review any allegations with the DCA. However, DCA officials denied our requests to discuss the claims before they pursued this action," a spokeswoman for the college said in an email. "Berkeley College has provided more than 52,000 pages of documentation in accordance with the DCA’s requests."

The lawsuit alleges that Berkeley recruiters misrepresented facts about financial aid to students and tricked students into taking out loans directly from the college.

“Berkeley representatives block students from paying their balance any other way, misrepresent the terms of the financing, and even generate loans without telling students,” according to the complaint.

The complaint details that recruiters promote Berkeley’s grants, which do not need to be repaid, to encourage people to enroll. However, they fail to disclose that the institutional grants require students to borrow the maximum amount of loans available through the federal government.

The lawsuit also alleges that the recruiters were dishonest about transfer credits, majors, credentialing and careers. One recruiter told an undercover DCA inspector that 96 percent of Berkeley students graduate and are employed, according to the complaint. However, the institution’s federal, six-year graduation rate is 29 percent.

A spokeswoman from the college said Berkeley received reaffirmation of its regional accreditation by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education this year.

“Last year Berkeley College New York was cited by the Income Mobility Report Card for being in the top 1 percent of colleges that help increase income mobility among graduates,” the spokeswoman said. “We are proud of our many accomplishments and accolades including those of our students and more than 60,000 alumni whose success has always been our primary concern.”

While it is typical for lawsuits against for-profits to come from the offices of state attorneys general, Yan Cao, a fellow at the Century Foundation, a progressive organization that examines for-profit institutions, said the city’s consumer affairs agency has the authority to do the same.

The agency had been investigating four for-profit colleges, including Berkeley, since 2015. The agency chose to pursue those institutions because they received the most complaints, The New York Times reported in a 2015 article about the agency's activities.

Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success, a group that focuses on fraud and abuse of student veterans, said New York City has been trying to be more proactive about complaints against for-profit colleges. This is especially true because the city's population and resources are on par with those of many states, she said, in an email.

In 2011, New York City also undertook the Know Before You Enroll campaign to warn residents about the predatory practices of some for-profit institutions in the city. From November 2011 to April 2014, city officials received more than 750 complaints against for-profit colleges, according to city data.

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Two former Fort Valley State employees charged with pimping, soliciting prostitutes

Mon, 2018-10-22 07:00

Two former Fort Valley State University employees were charged last week with pimping, prostitution or soliciting prostitution.

The arrest warrants were handed down at the end of a months-long investigation into alleged misconduct by university employees, conducted by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in conjunction with Fort Valley State and the University System of Georgia.

Alecia Jeanetta Johnson, former executive assistant to the president, sits at the center of the scandal. She was charged with six counts of pimping after allegedly arranging to provide a prostitute for six men: Ernest Harvey, Kenneth Howard, Ryan Jenkins, Charles Jones, Devontae Little and Arthur James Nance Jr. Each was charged with one count of pandering and solicitation of sodomy for alleged conduct in 2017 and 2018.

Jones was formerly a lawyer for Fort Valley State.

Johnson was also charged with six counts of prostitution based on allegations that she “performed, offered or consented to perform a sexual act for money or other items of value” and one count of conspiracy to commit fiduciary theft after she allegedly conspired to steal a book scholarship from a student in 2015.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported her ties to university’s local chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, where she served as a graduate adviser. Johnson, who had worked at the university since 2004, resigned from her executive assistant position on April 18, the same day the sorority announced its own investigation into misconduct allegations against a graduate member and university employee. David Cooke, the Macon Judicial Circuit district attorney, ​told the Journal-Constitution he "would not comment" on any student involvement or abuse surrounding the investigation. The national sorority in April said it was investigating "unauthorized activities and misconduct involving current and former members" at Fort Valley State.

“I find it best under the circumstances to render my resignation, effective immediately,” Johnson’s resignation letter read. “Please have my personal belongings packed and mailed to the address listed or I can have someone pick them up next week.”

Alpha Kappa Alpha’s national office scheduled meetings last weekend with the Fort Valley State chapter, which is disqualified from sorority activities pending the results of the investigation. Alpha Kappa Alpha did not respond to a request for comment.

Fort Valley State issued a statement Friday that emphasized its cooperation with law enforcement and the University System of Georgia to investigate all alleged wrongdoing.

“FVSU has promised its students that their safety and security is our first priority, and we fully support the application of the judicial process. We have consistently and aggressively worked with the University System of Georgia and law enforcement to ensure that anyone who allegedly puts our students at risk is investigated thoroughly and expeditiously, and have advocated for the most appropriate standards to be applied,” the statement read. “While we cannot comment on the details of an ongoing investigation, we expect anyone who has compromised the trust of our students to be held accountable with all deliberate speed.”

Adrian Patrick, the lawyer representing Johnson, told the Journal-Constitution that he has “no evidence of her having done anything improper or criminal” and that she has been demonized on social media. Patrick did not respond to a request for comment. The six men charged have not commented publicly about the allegations.

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Author discusses how realistic campus consent policies are

Mon, 2018-10-22 07:00

Ahead of the Trump administration's release of new regulations around Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal gender antidiscrimination law that governs how institutions adjudicate cases of sexual violence, Donna Freitas, a noted expert, speaker and consultant on college students and sex, and visiting associate professor at Adelphi University, has released a new book, Consent on Campus: A Manifesto (Oxford University Press). In it, she discusses the flaws around Title IX enforcement and how universities can better teach their students about consent in a realistic way.

Freitas answered some questions about her book via email.

Q: Why do you think Title IX with regard to sexual assaults failed under the Obama administration? In your book, you discuss the messiness of Title IX coordinator duties being assigned. Had this improved by the time U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos yanked the 2011 Dear Colleague letter? You say Title IX is necessary but should be the final step after an incident of sexual violence. What should colleges do to change how they operate before it reaches a complaint?

A: What’s happened with respect to Title IX since Obama is a mix. Some colleges have used Title IX pressure to educate their communities and address complaints as effectively as they can; as an opportunity to put into place important resources, people and processes to contend with systemic sexual violence and harassment -- usually this happens on the student affairs/admin side of things. Other colleges have rolled out a hodgepodge of measures designed to prove compliance and little else.

But most important of all -- and we shouldn’t need a Title IX letter to be doing this -- are preventative measures and consent education on our campuses. These measures need to be enacted outside and inside the classroom. The inside the classroom piece, in my experience, is the biggest unmet challenge. It requires the academic, faculty side of the university to contend with sexual violence and harassment as systemic, intellectually rigorous issues, worthy of faculty research and classroom time -- that’s the only way we are going to make a dent in this issue, in my opinion. But while I believe that doing education in the classroom is the most important, most effective thing we could be going, I almost never see this happening on a campus.

Q: You discuss consent policies and the requirements of some state laws and colleges that explicit verbal consent come before any sexual act. What should universities do to be, in your view, more realistic about teaching their students about consent and the way it works?

A: It’s not simply that teaching verbal consent is impractical -- it’s impoverished. The notion that consent equals yes means yes and nonconsent equals no means no is woefully inadequate. It ignores the complexities of sex, sexuality and sexual intimacy on every level. It ignores the fact that consent is about ethics -- sexual ethics; that consent gets to the heart of who we are as people in relationship, of our self-understanding as people -- or it should. We are just scratching the surface of what consent is and what it points to about our communities, ethics and social justice. Teaching verbal consent does little to address and transform systemic sexual violence. It gives our students the how but not the why of consent.

Q: What is the unhealthiest part of “hookup culture” on college campuses at the moment and how should colleges remedy it?

A: First, a culture of hooking up (not simply an individual hookup) peddles the notion that apathy toward one’s partner and within situations of sexual intimacy is “normal,” even ideal. It passes on an “anti-ethic” about sex -- the idea that sexual intimacy can occur outside of an ethical framework. We must content with the fact that such a culture presents us with a paradox with respect to consent education, because consent education, at its most foundational level, teaches us that we must practice a basic attitude of care toward our partners.

To remedy this, colleges must take a far more complex approach to consent education (as I describe above) -- the kind of complex approach that can really only happen in the classroom. It requires ongoing discussion and equally complex readings that analyze societal structures and embedded attitudes that enable and perpetuate systemic sexual violence. How could such an effort possibly occur outside the classroom?

Q: How does "hookup culture" play into the overall debate around Title IX policy?

A: What I’m talking about shouldn’t even need Title IX for us to address it. Why should we need a government law to force colleges and universities to contend with systemic sexual violence? Shouldn’t we be doing this irrespective of Title IX because our missions and identities require it of us? Isn’t that what universities are meant to do in the first place? Shouldn’t we be communities that work toward the common good -- not under threat of losing federal funding -- but because we see it as core to who we are as privileged institutions with tremendous resources for doing just this kind of work?

Q: Should colleges and universities start making efforts to unpack the stereotypes around masculinity and how it plays into sexual violence, and how should that manifest on campus?

A: Of course. We need to expand our lens on sexual violence and harassment beyond women and the LGBTQ community, to include all men. The idea that this is a “women’s issue” is as outdated as it gets. All colleges and universities should have courses that address men, boys and masculinity, and we need the subject of masculinity to begin to appear as a topic on syllabi across the disciplines -- not only in courses exclusively dedicated to its study.

Q: After your research on the culture on campuses, what concerns you about the administration’s release of Title IX regulations?

A: What would be scandalous -- truly, truly scandalous -- would be for certain colleges and universities to undo what they were forced to put into place under Obama. Can you imagine? Universities using this as an opportunity to go back to the status quo of brushing complaints under the rug (as often was the case) and turning their backs on victims and this issue? If any admin or university board members are even considering doing such a thing, they should be ashamed of themselves. The ways that colleges and universities systemically ignored this issue (over all) prior to that April 2011 Title IX letter was shameful and scandalous. To go back to that shameful, scandalous state -- I can’t let myself go there. No university should let itself go there.

I still believe in the idea of the university -- the notion that we are communities responsible for working to promote the common good. I have hope that colleges and universities will choose to do the right thing here, even when our government and its politicians are doing the wrong one on this issue in every way.

How can we not do the right thing? To not do it is to leave students and community members that depend on us vulnerable to sexual violence and harassment. How could we possibly live with ourselves?

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New program at Pitt asks recent grads to pay it forward for future students

Fri, 2018-10-19 07:00

This spring, the University of Pittsburgh will pilot a “pay-it-forward” financial aid program that offers students up to $5,000 upon graduation to pay down their student debt. In return, the university asks, but does not require, graduates of the program to contribute to a fund that will finance the same debt-relief scholarships for future students in the program.

Rohit Anand, a recent Pittsburgh graduate, hopes the Panthers Forward program will serve as one answer to the growing student debt crisis. According to the Institute for College Access and Success, two in three college seniors in the United States graduate with debt, and those students walk away with an average of $28,650 in loans. In Pennsylvania it's worse -- graduates with debt leave with an average of $36,854 in loans.

Anand and his team at Altian Education, a company he co-founded to develop and promote community pledge networks like this one, designed the program alongside Patrick Gallagher, University of Pittsburgh chancellor. Their goal was to create something that “gave students more flexibility to pay for future students without the burden of loans,” he said.

The University of Pittsburgh is currently Altian Education's first and only client. The university contracted the company to develop the program, and Anand said that it "does not make any money from the Panthers Forward program itself." All contributions from Panthers Forward alumni will directly fund future debt-relief scholarships.

The first group will include 150 students, and any graduating senior with subsidized or unsubsidized federal loans can apply online. The money will be sent directly to the loan servicer at the time of graduation. For now, the university won’t apply the $5,000 to private loan debt.

“The loaner, for a federal loan, is the federal government,” said Anna Adams-Sarthou, program manager for Panthers Forward. “[This way] we’re not sending checks to different banks, we’re sending one check to … the federal entity that provides those loans.”

The university is looking for students who are “in good standing," not only academically but through clubs, student government, athletics or internships. The brief application asks students to list their activities and volunteer hours, provide a faculty reference and write 250 words about how the University of Pittsburgh made a difference in their life.

Money for the first round of students will come from the chancellor’s discretionary funds, but Anand and Adams-Sarthou hope the fund will become “evergreen.”

“In a perfect world, of course that would be great, but we’re being realistic and we don’t think it’ll be self-sustaining in one year,” Adams-Sarthou said.

Anand did not want to estimate how long it would take.

"We're not focused right now on making such estimations. We want to first see how the program is received by students and how it develops over the next couple years," he wrote in an email. "This initial phase of the program will be indicative of how the future of the program, including when it will be self-sustaining, is planned."

Anand and Adams-Sarthou emphasized that scholarship recipients are not required to pay back the money in any way, and the group does not have recommended repayment plans set up yet.

"We are intentionally not mandating any kind of specified payment or payment plan, although it is our hope that students who graduate from the program choose to set up a plan to make recurring payments at amounts of their choosing," Anand wrote.

Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, is optimistic about the program’s success given Pittsburgh’s long-standing commitment to financial aid.

“On a larger scale, this is kind of what’s supposed to happen when you pay state and national taxes,” he said. “This is how federal student aid came about … and now we have a program that is doing that at a hyperlocal level.”

The pay-it-forward psychology is critical to the program’s success. Ayelet Gneezy, an associate professor of behavior science and marketing at the Rady School of Management at the University of California, San Diego, and an expert on "pay-it-forward" and "pay-what-you-want" models, said that the program's success will require a few key features: a well-crafted ask, fostering a sense of charitable giving and a reasonable time frame for paying back into the fund. Anand said that the university will keep in touch with graduates of the program, but details about how, when and how frequently are still being decided.

Choosing students who already have goodwill toward the university is smart, Gneezy said.

“If you try to think, ‘OK, when are people going to be positioned in a situation in which they want to do the right thing?’ Take for example, Starbucks versus the local coffee shop,” she said. “I would probably want to reciprocate or be kind to my local coffee shop rather than Starbucks.”

Language is also important. Graduates will be more likely to pay back into the fund if they know the money is going directly to other students.

"What we found was when you frame it as pay-it-forward, people pay more than if you frame it as pay-what-you-want," she said.

Draeger mentioned that the impact of Panthers Forward could be twofold: an evergreen fund for debt-relief scholarships and a strong network of young alumni who are inclined to give back to the college.

"Clearly it's also about creating a sustainable fund-raising base and engaged alumni," he said. "It’s that secondary piece that, if Pitt is successful, may serve as a model for other schools going forward."

In addition to the debt-relief scholarships, admitted students will be welcomed into a network of Panthers Forward alumni whom they can turn to for career advice and guidance. Adams-Sarthou emphasized that the networking aspect also had no set obligations.

“Sometimes it’ll be setting up a more formalized network; sometimes it’s going for a coffee and talking about ‘this is what I’ve been doing in college, but now I’m thinking about doing something else,’” she said. “We’re intentionally not trying to structure it because we don’t want it to feel like a series of mandates -- ‘if you’re part of the program, you must do x, y and z.’”


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Medium-size institutions look to medical schools for future stability

Fri, 2018-10-19 07:00

As its fellow midsize, modestly endowed private colleges look nervously to the future, Marist College in New York’s Hudson Valley is making a bold, nearly $180 million bet: last month, it announced that it will partner with a regional health-care provider to build a new medical school.

Marist Health Quest School of Medicine is expected to open its doors in 2022, reaching capacity in 2032 with about 500 students.

Adding a medical school to a private college is “honestly a big leap up in scope and complexity,” said President David Yellen. But it makes sense, he said. “If you have the resources, there’s room for another good medical school. And we think it will boost our status and reputation.”

The move is unusual -- if not unprecedented -- for a regional institution. In 2013, Marian University in Indianapolis did much the same, opening its College of Osteopathic Medicine, only the second medical school in Indiana.

In both cases, relatively nonwealthy -- if economically secure -- private institutions surveyed the educational landscape and decided that training doctors made sense. Opening a medical school represents not just a worthy pursuit, they concluded, but a possible key to long-term financial security, despite a byzantine and ever-shifting health-care industry.

Marian president Daniel Elsener said the endeavor turned out to be so enormous that it’s best understood not as a typical campus expansion but as an “intergenerational” undertaking.

But he said it is a smart investment, since most medical students eventually become physicians -- who become donors.

“The likelihood that they can support their institution as an alum increases,” he said.

Geoffrey Young, senior director for student affairs and programs at the Association of American Medical Colleges, said the demand for new doctors will continue to grow. “We have a generation of physicians -- the baby boomers -- who are at or are rapidly approaching retirement age,” he said.

And as the median age of Americans inches up, “We know that we’re going to continue to need physicians to care for our population,” said Young, a former admissions dean at the Medical College of Georgia. He said the field has seen steady growth in the total number of applicants. “Over all, medical school remains a very attractive option for those who are qualified,” he said.

According to recent AAMC data, the U.S. faces a severe physician shortage over the next 12 years. Its 2017 analysis found that the number of new primary care physicians and other medical specialists is not keeping pace with the demands of a “growing and aging population.” By 2030, it predicted, the U.S. will need between 40,800 and 104,900 more physicians than it is expected to produce.

The analysis found that primary care shortages won’t be as bad -- at most, AAMC found, we will come up short by as many as 43,100 primary care physicians. But surgical specialties and others are expected to see a shortfall of as many as 61,800 practitioners by 2030. Other specialties, such as emergency medicine, anesthesiology, radiology, neurology and psychiatry could see shortages that are about half as large.

AAMC statistics suggest that the nation’s 152 accredited medical schools were slightly more competitive last year than they were nine years earlier: in 2017, the schools accepted 41.2 percent of applicants. In 2008, they accepted 42.7 percent.

Over all, the acceptance rate dropped even as the total number of med school slots grew, from 18,036 in 2008 to 21,338 in 2017, or by 18.3 percent.

Mostly that’s because in the same period, the number of applicants grew at an even faster rate: 22.3 percent. In 2017, nearly 9,500 more students applied to medical school than in 2008, but institutions could accommodate only 3,302 more applicants, according to AAMC statistics.

Though the costs to underwrite a brand-new medical school are considerable, analysts have actually said Marist’s move is not as risky as it seems. For one thing, Health Quest has committed to funding construction of the facility that will house it.

Moody's Investor Services last month said Marist’s plan would have no immediate impact on its $104 million in outstanding rated debt, or on $40 million in proposed bonds to be issued through the Dutchess County, N.Y., Development Corporation. The costs associated with launching and supporting the medical school are “manageable,” Moody’s said, noting that they’ll be split evenly between Marist and Health Quest, which already runs four hospitals in the Hudson Valley and northwestern Connecticut.

Marist will spend about $25 million over the next five years, a small portion of its “sizeable” $290 million in spendable cash and investments, Moody’s said.

Yellen, the Marist president, said building the new school “is only possible because we’re doing very well financially, in an environment that’s pretty challenging for private colleges.”

He estimated that the college and Health Quest will spend nearly $180 million to get the new school to capacity in 2032. It will likely never turn a profit, Yellen said, but if all goes as planned, it will help raise Marist's reputation and drive enrollment to other programs such as the sciences. “This isn’t something we’re doing to generate revenue for the college at all, in any direction -- just the opposite,” he said. “We think it’s going to cost us money for a long, long time.”

Yellen also said the school isn't designed “to spin off money to be used for other purposes.” While he anticipates that alumni could someday give back generously, it'll likely be to the medical school and not to Marist's general fund. “We’re not expecting that medical school alumni will give money to help Marist College build a new undergraduate dorm,” he said. “But it’s kind of a rising tide raising all boats.”

He said the move makes sense for the region: the nearest medical schools in the region sit either in Westchester and Rockland Counties, 50 miles south, or in Albany to the north, 80 miles away.

“In between, there’s a million people,” he said.

Though the success of the new school won’t necessarily be judged by the percentage of graduates who stay to practice medicine in Dutchess County, he believes the area’s natural beauty, low cost of living and proximity to New York City will make it an attractive place for future physicians to put down roots. The new school, he said, will be located just a half mile from Poughkeepsie's Metro North commuter train station -- the trip to Grand Central Station takes about an hour and a half. “This is a beautiful, dynamic part of the country that has a mix of natural beauty and a proximity to New York,” he said.

The recent AAMC data on medical school matriculation show that there’s “a dramatic oversupply of really qualified” medical school applicants, Yellen said. “We’re not worried about enrolling a full class of really good people.”

Part of the new school’s appeal will be its focus on medicine assisted by artificial intelligence and cognitive computing, which will be built into the curriculum. “We want our medical students to begin to be educated in that, and to begin to be acclimated to that.” As data-driven decision making becomes a bigger part of medical practice, “they’ll be ready,” he said.

Despite its isolated location, he predicted that Marist “will do just fine in that competition for the best students, over time.”

Robert Friedberg, Health Quest's president and CEO, said bringing a medical school to Dutchess County would familiarize students with the region. "We’re hoping that many of them will find it a desirable area" and apply for residencies, he said.

He said he and Yellen “just shared the vision about how this would look and how it will work.”

Marist's modest size, he said, wasn't a consideration. “They have strong premedical programs and they have some postgraduate programs as well in the medical arts -- they were just positioned really well.”

Alumni Shift Could Pay Off

Marian’s Elsener said Indianapolis is “a great environment to attract talent.” The university boasts that it offers a “faith-based, liberal arts environment,” and has committed an estimated $80 million to $90 million to the new school over the past decade. “If you don’t bring a lot of resources to the game, you should stay off the field,” he said, noting that start-up costs are “very, very significant. If you aren’t prepared to take care of that, it can pull down the whole institution rather than raising it up.”

He said the move could pay off as institutions like Marian shift away from graduating mostly teachers, nurses and social workers -- through the 1980s and 1990s, about 80 percent of Marian alumni ended up in these professions -- and add more disciplines like medicine and engineering. The shift, he said, could help the university's bottom line, since these new alumni are more likely to be able to give back generously in future decades. Teachers, nurses and social workers, he said, are “wonderful people,” but they don’t always earn sizable wages.

Patrick McCabe, a Moody’s analyst, said a new medical school “carries both long-term potential benefits as well as more immediate potential risks. Once successfully up and running, a medical school can enhance a college’s reputation and profile, driving additional revenue growth and often resulting in enhanced fund-raising.”

But during the start-up phase, he said, “there can be both operational and financial risks including accreditation, capital needs and unexpected uses of liquidity.”

The Marian project experienced a huge and unpleasant surprise in 2016, when donor Michael Evans, the medical school’s namesake and a key early supporter, backed out after donating just $10 million of a planned $48 million gift. Evans, CEO of AIT Laboratories, a local toxicology testing firm, had fallen on hard times amid a decline in Medicare reimbursement rates and a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Labor, which said he'd sold the company to employees in 2009 for more than it was worth. Evans settled the lawsuit for $3 million, but Marian had to look elsewhere for funding.

In the two years since, Marian has raised more than the $38 million Evans promised, a spokesman said. The larger facility remains the Michael A. Evans Center for Health Sciences.

Many health-care experts praise osteopathic medicine for meeting patients' needs and for emphasizing primary care more closely than many traditional M.D.s. But it has also come under criticism in a few cases. Elsener said critics are “uninformed” about its methods, its standards and its efficacy. “There’s no doubt that an osteopathic doctor is high-quality,” he said. The field also “sits well in a Catholic university,” which emphasizes focusing on the “whole person.”

Elsener said having potential physicians, surgeons and anesthesiologists as students can’t be overstated: medical students are more willing than other graduate students to take on debt to finance their education. “A medical student can calculate their lifetime earnings,” Elsener said. Carrying debt, for these students, is almost always a smart investment.

Charging more of the student population for full tuition also helps Marian with its discount rate, he said. “Most institutions today are in discount misery.”

Over all, he said, attracting as many of these students as possible is smart for an institution. “Unless you’re heavily endowed, you’d better pay attention to all aspects of the financial model.”

Health ProfessionsEditorial Tags: NursingSciences/Tech/Engineering/MathFinancial aidMedical educationImage Source: Marist CollegeImage Caption: Artist's rendering of Marist Health Quest School of MedicineIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Starting Med SchoolsTrending order: 1College: Marian University of IndianaMarist College

Conservative group cancels tickets for students from some campus groups

Fri, 2018-10-19 07:00

Earlier this month, a conservative campus group at the University of Southern California hosted Ben Shapiro, an author notorious for his comments that offend, such as remarks that transgender people suffer from mental illness.

This event alone may have not been so unusual. While some conservative speakers have been shouted down, many of them -- including Shapiro -- speak regularly on campuses. But in the case of his USC appearance, some students have questioned whether the group that brought him did so in a way that squelched free expression.

The USC chapter of Young Americans for Freedom canceled at least 150 of the free tickets students had reserved, reportedly out of fear that some of them would disrupt the event. Some of these students were leaders of organizations that represent minority students -- the Black Student Assembly, for instance -- or activist groups such as Student Assembly for Gender Empowerment. A representative from the Latinx Student Assembly​ provided Inside Higher Ed with a screenshot showing that Young Americans for Freedom had canceled her ticket. Some tickets had been reserved under obviously fake names or with curse words.

Because the university chapter of Young Americans for Freedom did not respond to request for comment, it is unclear whether certain students were ultimately excluded from the event. Representatives from groups who had their tickets canceled also did not respond to request for comment.

The Shapiro event on Oct. 4 went off with no hitches. A couple hundred people protested outside the hall where Shapiro was giving his talk, but the protest was peaceful; inside the venue, no one tried to drown out Shapiro.

USC spokesman Eddie North-Hager confirmed that the Office of Campus Activities inquired into the ticketing incident and found no violation of the university’s policies.

However, North-Hager also said that the student government, which has some separate guidelines from the university, gave Young Americans for Freedom $4,100 out of its discretionary fund for student events -- the maximum amount allowed per academic year. Per the rules of that funding, the event must be free for all undergraduate students. The Undergraduate Student Government treasurer did not respond to a question about why the group was able to use that money for Shapiro’s talk or whether Young Americans for Freedom would be punished.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, a civil liberties watchdog group in academe, said that a student organization hosting an event can decline to give reservations to those who publicly indicate they are not actually attending or who have announced they want to disrupt an event.

“But that doesn’t extend to turning away students simply because organizers think they’re opposed to the event happening or to the speaker’s views,” Adam Steinbaugh, director of FIRE’s individual rights defense program, said in a statement to Inside Higher Ed. “The entire point is to allow individuals to engage with views they find objectionable. Excluding dissenters who haven’t expressed an intent to disrupt the event would not be a narrow way of preventing disruption.”

It does not appear that these student groups publicly announced they would interrupt Shapiro. Several student groups posted on social media a statement with the #SoundtheAlarm hashtag that suggested Shapiro’s presence would be a “catalyst” for “dangerously radical conservatives” and white supremacists on campus. But it also contained some misinformation, purporting that the university spent thousands of dollars for the event to pay for security and police K-9 units.

#SOUNDTHEALARM, spread the word.

— Black Trojan (@USCBSA) September 21, 2018

According to a statement last month from John Thomas, chief of the USC Department of Public Safety, Young Americans for Freedom paid for security costs associated with the event. It said police dogs were never part of the security plan.

North-Hager did not respond to a question about how much security cost, but said the student government money that the group secured went toward that.

“Our role is to make sure that all parties on campus may safely exercise their First Amendment rights in accordance with university policy,” Thomas said in his statement.

Young Americans for Freedom is a recognized organization with the university, meaning it enjoys such perks as applying for institutional funding, discounts on renting facilities and using the name, logo and other trademarks associated with USC.

The university has been largely quiet about the Shapiro event, other than to correct false statements. But Ainsley Carry, vice president for student affairs, wrote in a letter to the student newspaper, The Daily Trojan, that he found Shapiro’s views “abhorrent, painful, offensive and hateful.” Carry wrote that his gut instincts questioned why a university could not simply outright deny a speaker like Shapiro a platform.

“It is true that our constitutional inability to deny or restrict hateful speech runs counter to our sincere efforts to advance equity and inclusion,” wrote Carry, who is black. “However, I want to remind our community that no single speaker in one evening can set back all that has been achieved over the past decade. Our cultural centers, cultural assemblies and student leaders have made tremendous strides in making this campus a safer space for so many marginalized student populations. Is it really possible this speaker can unravel all that has been accomplished to make our university better? Should we grant any speaker that much power? I hope the answer to these questions is ‘hell, no!’”

Editorial Tags: Free speechPolitics (national)Image Source: Young Americans for Freedom at USCImage Caption: Ben Shapiro Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Free Speech for SomeTrending order: 2College: University of Southern California

For-profit college chain sues feds to keep federal aid amid restructuring

Fri, 2018-10-19 07:00

The problems at for-profit college operator Education Corporation of America have piled up in recent years.

Its enrollment has plummeted. It has stopped making on-time payments on its debt. And it’s fighting eviction from multiple locations as creditors pursue judgments against the company.

This week, ECA told a federal judge that it could not complete a teach-out -- a process by which students finish their degrees or transfer credits elsewhere -- at two dozen campuses slated for closure unless an unusual restructuring plan is approved. In a lawsuit naming Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and her department as defendants, the company hinted that the government could face numerous loan-forgiveness claims from students attending those campuses without the plan in place.

Higher ed institutions that enter the bankruptcy are barred from receiving Title IV federal student aid, including grants and loans. The company brought the lawsuit to assure that it can keep access to the federal aid while a receivership process goes through. Its financial situation is so dire, it argued, that it can’t cover salary or other costs without those funds.

“It seems like ECA is at death’s door,” said Matthew Bruckner, a professor who studies higher ed and bankruptcy at Howard University Law School. "They're basically saying 'without this receivership we have no money; we can't do a teach-out.'" 

The company operates multiple for-profit chains with campuses across the country, including Virginia College and Brightwood College. In the lawsuit, filed in a federal district court in Alabama, ECA says it enrolls about 20,000 students -- although it’s unclear from the complaint if that number refers to just Virginia College or all ECA institutions.

It announced plans last month to phase out 26 campuses, about a third of its total footprint, by December 2019. The company said it took that step because of declining enrollment in the affected markets.

When a college makes plans to close a campus, it’s required to formulate what’s known as a teach-out process that will allow students still enrolled to either complete their degrees or transfer their credits to another institution. The lawsuit argues that without the restructuring plan in place -- and continued access to Title IV -- ECA won’t be able to fulfill those obligations.

“Without obtaining the relief requested herein, the unrestrained actions by ECA’s creditors will almost certainly result in a disorderly and chaotic process that will irreparably harm students’ interests and minimize recovery for all creditors,” according to the complaint.

If the restructuring plan is approved, ECA said in the lawsuit, a creditor, Monroe Lenders, has offered to purchase its remaining 46 campuses and its management platform.

ECA didn’t respond to a request to comment further on the lawsuit.

An Education Department spokeswoman said the agency could not comment on active litigation.

A sudden closure of those campuses would be unwelcome news for students. It would also create serious costs for the federal government from closed-school discharge claims -- a process where borrowers can seek loan forgiveness when their college suddenly closes while their degree is in progress.

But many ECA programs also have a questionable track record of academic outcomes that won’t be helped by the teach-out process, said Antoinette Flores, associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.

“On the one hand, it’s terrible that the campuses would close,” she said. “On the other hand, it would mean continuing to allow Title IV money to flow to institutions with questionable academic quality. I don’t think there’s a win here for students.”

The Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training in May rejected an application from Virginia College to get approval from the accreditor, citing in part low graduation and job-placement rates. The chain had sought accreditation through ACCET in part because the status of its own accreditor, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, was in doubt.

The Obama administration sought to shut down ACICS as an accreditor because of oversight failures. But after the organization got a second chance thanks to a court ruling, a senior Education Department official recommended last month that its federal recognition be extended for 12 months.

ACICS did not respond to a request for comment on the ECA lawsuit. The for-profit chains operated by ECA make up about half of the remaining colleges accredited through the organization.

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New presidents or provosts: Cambrian Cuyahoga Duke Kunshan Griffith Loyola Md. MUW Piedmont Shaw South Seattle USMMA

Fri, 2018-10-19 07:00
  • John R. Ballard, vice president for veterans and military partnerships and director of the Servicemembers Opportunity Colleges at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, in Washington, D.C., has been selected as academic dean and provost at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, in New York.
  • Paulette Dillard, interim president and vice president for academic affairs at Shaw University, in North Carolina, has been appointed president there.
  • Carolyn Evans, deputy vice chancellor (graduate and international) and deputy provost at the University of Melbourne, in Australia, has been chosen as vice chancellor and president at Griffith University, also in Australia.
  • Paula Gouveia, dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Humber College, in Ontario, has been appointed vice president academic at Cambrian College, also in Ontario.
  • Tavarez Holston, vice president for academic affairs and vice president for adult education at Lanier Technical College, in Georgia, has been named president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College.
  • Nora Miller, acting president and senior vice president for administration and chief financial officer at Mississippi University for Women, has been promoted to president there.
  • Rosie Rimando-Chareunsap, vice president of student services at South Seattle College, has been appointed president there.
  • Amanda Thomas, interim vice president for academic affairs at Loyola University Maryland, has been selected as provost and vice president for academic affairs there.
  • Lisa Williams, vice president of learning and engagement at Cuyahoga Community College, in Ohio, has been selected as president of the college's Eastern Campus.
  • Feng Youmei, executive vice president of Wuhan University, in China, has been appointed chancellor of Duke Kunshan University, also in China.
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Large-scale humanities Ph.D. tracking effort finds that they'd do it all over again, if given the choice

Thu, 2018-10-18 07:00

A large majority of humanities Ph.D.s believe that their graduate programs prepared them well for their eventual jobs, academic or not, especially over time. And all those jobs appear to require many of the same kinds of skills, according to a new report from the Council of Graduate Schools.

A majority of Ph.D.s surveyed as part of the council's research also said they would pursue a doctorate in the same general field if they had to do it all over again -- good news for both institutions and current students looking for light at the end of the graduate school tunnel. The findings seemingly defy the tight academic job market in many humanities fields and widespread reports that recent Ph.D.s see few tenure-track positions available.


Satisfaction with Ph.D. training was greatest among those who earned their doctorates at least 15 years ago, but majorities of those who earned Ph.D.s more recently also agreed they'd enroll in graduate school again.

“Together, these results suggest that humanities Ph.D. education offers relevant training that prepares graduates for jobs both inside and outside of the academy,” reads the council’s report, the first in a series of briefs based on its Ph.D. Careers Pathways project on graduate program outcomes. The council encourages programs and institutions to “continue to offer curricular and co-curricular experiences that integrate training and professional development opportunities toward a variety of fulfilling career paths.”

Emily Swafford, director of academic and professional affairs at the American Historical Association, said the council’s data on attitudes and skills complement the information her association already has collected via its own career-tracking efforts. The council’s work is also “exciting” in that its data show not only where humanities Ph.D. work, but what that work “looks like and how they feel about it," she said.

“It's the only project I know of that is collecting that kind of data on a large scale.”

Why We Need More Data

Paula Krebs, executive director of the Modern Language Association, which has its own Ph.D.-tracking initiative, said the council report affirms the MLA’s belief that humanities Ph.D.s give students “skills they can use in a variety of careers.”

Doctoral programs need not develop “separate paths aimed at academic and nonacademic employment,” she said. And the most successful programs “help students to understand and be articulate about the skills, values and perspectives they've gained in their doctoral work,” Krebs added. That way, students who do become professors can help their own students understand the value of the humanities relative to diverse careers, and those who work outside academe will be more successful interviewees.

Considering the investment of time and resources that graduate school is, we know surprisingly little about its returns. As Swafford pointed out, there is no comprehensive national data set on where Ph.D.s across disciplines end up working and how prepared and rewarded they feel. Individual institutions, professional associations and other organizations have attempted to fill the data gap, but the picture is still hazy -- especially for humanities Ph.D.s.

That’s starting to change, however. The Association of American Universities is pushing for institutional transparency about who gets Ph.D.s in what length of time and what they end up doing, for example.

Via its own pathways project, the council is gathering data on career tracks and professional preparation from dozens of institutions. The new report is based on a survey of Ph.D.s who were three, eight or 15 years out of their programs at 35 participating institutions. The aggregated data set includes responses from 882 Ph.D.s in the following fields: anthropology and archaeology, English, foreign languages, history, philosophy, religion and theology, and humanities/other. The analysis focused on alumni working in jobs closely or somewhat related to their academic fields, but only 60 respondents fell outside that group.

Feeling Prepared, Especially Over Time

The council found that humanities Ph.D.s employed by colleges and universities felt that their studies had better prepared them for their work than their counterparts working outside academe. More precisely, three years post-Ph.D., some 52 percent of humanists working in nonacademic jobs said their programs prepared them well for work, compared to 77 percent of those working in academe. But that difference narrowed to statistical insignificance by eight and 15 years post-Ph.D. The same went for whether Ph.D.s would pursue the same training in hindsight.

"For those employed in business, nonprofit, government and other sectors, it may take longer to recognize the value and relevance of Ph.D. training to careers,” reads the brief. “Recent graduates may also be reconciling their initial expectations for a first job and career (e.g., becoming a faculty member at a research university) with their actual employment (e.g., employed in another academic or nonacademic context). Support for transitions into first jobs may be particularly helpful for recent graduates.”

Asked whether various skills and attributes were extremely or very important to their jobs, academic and nonacademic workers responded similarly, with some significant differences. Important traits for both groups included persistence, attention to detail, analytical thinking, dependability and integrity.

Regarding employers, the report says that the “value of a humanities Ph.D.s might not be immediately tangible to employers outside of the academy,” so it’s “important for universities to engage employers as partners, helping them to understand the skills and knowledge humanities Ph.D.s offer to their sectors.”

‘The Transition Was Hard’

Swafford said the finding that most humanists eventually feel comfortable about how their Ph.D.s prepared them for work “corroborates what we've heard from historians working beyond the professoriate -- that the transition was hard, but there is something valuable enough about earning their Ph.D. that they would do it again if they had the choice.”

Robert Townsend, who has studied humanities career outcomes as director of the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, noted that his organization’s analyses show that Ph.D.s employed outside academe were somewhat less satisfied than their academic peers. So the council’s finding that that gap narrows over time stands out to him, as well, he said -- though it remains “an open question whether Ph.D.s in nonacademic careers gain confidence in the relationship between their degree and their jobs, or they work their way into jobs that more directly relate to the degree.” Such a distinction has important implications for departments and organizations working to promote career diversity, he said.

Suzanne Ortega, council president, said in a statement that it’s not clear from the data just why the gap narrows. Whatever the reason, she said, “this is good evidence that recent Ph.D.s can use extra support in finding a job that’s right for them.”

Collecting Data to Use It

The council’s report also recommends various “conversation starters” for Ph.D. program improvement, saying that “culture change happens incrementally and requires active participation of students, faculty and employers. A good first step is understanding how your campus community communicates about career options for Ph.D.s.” Example questions for campus colleagues include, “What kind of resources and guidance does your institution offer to humanities faculty members, so that they talk to their students about the diversity of humanities Ph.D. careers?” along with “What is your institution and its humanities Ph.D. programs doing to foster partnerships with current and prospective Ph.D. employers? How effective are those strategies?”

Emily R. Miller, associate vice president for policy at AAU, said a number of institutions have responded to her own organization’s 2017 call for transparency. Echoing some of the council’s conversation starters -- and the strong implication that data collection means little if it’s not being put to use to help students -- she noted that the AAU’s Ph.D. Education Initiative is also about promoting “more student-centered doctoral education” by “making diverse Ph.D. career pathways visible, valued and viable.”

That kind of “culture shift would foster changes in institutions and departments that would make the educational environment for doctoral students more hospitable for all students, and more fruitful for their success in career pathways both within and beyond the academy,” Miller said.

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College campuses are fighting outbreaks of hand, foot and mouth disease

Thu, 2018-10-18 07:00

Hundreds of students are falling ill with hand, foot and mouth disease at colleges in the East.

The contagious viral infection spreads quickly and causes fever, sore throat and a rash on the mouth, hands and feet -- hence the name. Campuswide illness outbreaks are not uncommon -- in years past norovirus and mumps have plagued colleges -- but hand, foot and mouth is especially surprising given that it’s typically found in children who are under the age of 5.

"When you have populations that are in really close contact -- like college campuses or military bases -- it can spread easily," said Mark Reed, director of the Dartmouth College Health Service. Dartmouth, in New Hampshire, confirmed 50 cases this quarter, and Reed expects at least a few more.

"It has slowed down, so we probably won’t know for awhile [if it's contained], and my guess is that we’ll probably have some more cases through the quarter," he said.

According to the Mayo Clinic, the disease spreads easily through person-to-person contact of saliva, droplets in the air from a cough or sneeze, fluid from blisters, and feces. Once a person is infected, it can take three to six days to develop symptoms, which most often include a fever, sore throat, feeling unwell and blisters or a rash on the hands, feet and mouth. Symptoms usually subside after a few days and there is no specific treatment for the disease, although over-the-counter medications can help relieve fever and associated pain.

Johns Hopkins University was hit especially hard. Dennis O’Shea, a university spokesman, confirmed 120 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease as of Wednesday, up from 95 just five days earlier. The outbreak has not yet been contained.

“I’ve been here 28 years and I don’t recall this particular disease,” he said.

To combat the spread, Roanna Kessler, director of the student health and wellness center at the Homewood campus, has sent multiple emails to students and employees advising them to steer clear of infected peers, clean and disinfect surfaces, and wash their hands. She instructed infected students to stay home from class until symptoms disappear and asked faculty members to be “understanding if a student needs to miss classes or assignments due to illness.”

The university is also posting fliers and lawn signs around campus to warn students, and O’Shea mentioned that students are “pitching in” by sharing hand, foot and mouth disease-related memes on the college meme page. The closed Facebook group, which was aptly renamed to “Hand Foot and Mouth Disease Memes for Infected Teens,” has over 15,000 members.

Mike Thornhill, director of communications at Mars Hill University, in North Carolina, confirmed 15 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease. The most recent case was reported early last week, so Thornhill hopes the disease has since been contained.

During the two-week outbreak, Mars Hill attacked the virus. Staff cleaned and disinfected door handles, elevator buttons and other surfaces frequently. The dining hall temporarily replaced its usual dishware with paper plates and plastic cutlery. Infected students were told to stay in their rooms, had food delivered to them and were instructed not to attend class or extracurricular activities until their symptoms subsided.

“As with any college or university, we occasionally have colds, flu and other viral illnesses make the rounds,” Thornhill wrote in an email. “I'm not aware of any previous instances of hand, foot, and mouth virus, at least in the 14 years I've worked here.”

One hundred and sixteen infected students sought out student health services at Lehigh University between Sept. 3 and Oct. 12, according to Amy White, associate director of media relations.

Since then, "The number of cases has dropped dramatically with no new known cases since Oct. 11," she wrote in an email. This isn't the first time Lehigh University has dealt with hand, foot and mouth disease; in the fall of 2015, roughly half as many students were infected.

Students at multiple colleges are posting on Twitter to complain about the outbreaks and rip on their disease-ridden peers.

“Close to ordering a hazmat suit cause people on campus have hand foot and mouth disease,” one user tweeted.

“Advantages of going to Dartmouth include: being paranoid about every cough and sneeze because there is currently an outbreak of hand foot and mouth disease on campus,” another user wrote.

And another: “Happy #GlobalHandwashingDay to all the dirty ass people at Hopkins spreading Hand, Foot, Mouth Disease!"

Six students sought treatment for the disease at Princeton University, and cases have also been reported at Wesleyan University, though the exact numbers have not been confirmed.

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Planned rule would establish maximum period of stay for student visa holders

Thu, 2018-10-18 07:00

The Trump administration published notice on Wednesday that it intends to propose a new rule in fall 2019 establishing a maximum period of authorized stay for international students and other holders of certain nonimmigrant visas.

The government says the planned rule is "intended to decrease the incidence of nonimmigrant student overstays and improve the integrity of the nonimmigrant student visa." Advocates for international exchange are worried, however, that the introduction of such a rule could limit flexibility for international students and scholars and undercut efforts by U.S. universities to recruit them. The number of international students in the U.S. declined in the 2017-18 academic year after years of steady growth.

Currently, student visas are generally valid for what's known as “duration of status,” which means that international students in the U.S. can stay indefinitely as long as they maintain their status as students. Students can fall out of status by failing to maintain a full-time course of study or working without authorization, but as long as they follow the regulations associated with their student visa, they can stay in the U.S., transfer to other institutions and progress from one academic level to another. Effectively, the duration of their time in the U.S. is dictated by the duration of their academic programs.

The new proposed rule planned for next September would replace the authorized period of stay from “duration of status” to a fixed maximum term for certain nonimmigrant visa holders, including holders of F-1 student visas. The notice published Wednesday does not specify what the maximum period of stay for student visa holders would be, but it does say that there would be options for extensions in each applicable visa category.

“The failure to provide certain categories of nonimmigrants with specific dates for their authorized periods of stay can cause confusion over how long they may lawfully remain in the United States and has complicated the efforts to reduce overstay rates for nonimmigrant students,” a statement justifying the planned rule says. “The clarity created by date-certain admissions will help reduce the overstay rate.”

Jill Welch, the deputy executive director for public policy at NAFSA: Association of International Educators, issued a statement describing the proposed change as a break with decades of precedent.

"For decades, international students and scholars have been granted immigration status known as 'duration of status,' or 'D/S' that lasts for the period of time they are engaging in their studies and practical training. They are carefully screened, vetted, and monitored through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Maintaining this policy is necessary because the time for study or research can fluctuate given the changing goals and actions of the student or scholar. We are in a global competition for talent, and we need to ensure our policies are welcoming," Welch said.

She added, “As universities and colleges across the country work to welcome highly valued, hardworking international students and scholars to our campuses and communities, their efforts are being undermined by policies and regulations that further close our doors and pull up America’s welcome mat.”

The Trump administration has pursued a number of regulatory and subregulatory changes that are in various ways shaping the landscape for international education in the U.S. Among the most significant was a recent change in determining how international students admitted into the U.S. for duration of status will be found to accrue "unlawful presence," a determination that could subject them to future five- or 10-year bars on re-entering the country. Final policy guidance issued in August holds that unlawful presence will begin accruing the day after a student stops pursuing a course of study or otherwise violates his or her immigration status, rather than -- as was the case under the previous policy -- the day after the Homeland Security department issues a formal finding of a violation in the course of adjudicating a request for another immigration benefit or the day after a judge issues an order of deportation.

Stephen Yale-Loehr, a professor of immigration law at Cornell University, cautioned that the planned rule on duration of visas may never come to fruition. "Historically, there are lots of items on the semiannual regulatory agenda that never even make it into a proposed rule," he said. "If it happens, it’ll happen slowly. They’ll have to come out with a proposed rule and then ask for comments and then they have to look at those comments before they issue a final rule, and the final rule could be subject to challenge by the courts. No one needs to worry about this immediately."

"Having said that, if a rule like this does take effect there are pros and cons," Yale-Loehr continued. "It would remove some flexibility for people who may take longer than anticipated to finish their degrees. On the other hand, the unlawful presence guidance that came out in August creates a lot of uncertainty for foreign students because of the fact that right now they don’t have a fixed time limit, so they may be deemed after the fact to have been here unlawfully. Having a fixed duration would at least give a bright line for measuring when unlawful presence would start."

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University presses take control of ebook distribution

Thu, 2018-10-18 07:00

MIT Press and the University of Michigan Press have both announced plans to start selling their ebook collections directly to libraries by creating their own distribution platforms.

The publishers previously did not have a mechanism for selling to institutions directly. Instead, access to ebooks was largely brokered through third-party acquisition services such as EBSCO, ProQuest, OverDrive, Project Muse and JSTOR.

Amy Brand, director of MIT Press, said she had been thinking about how to move away from these third-party platforms, known as aggregators, for some time.

“We determined that the MIT Press brand was prestigious enough, and that the collection was large enough, that we could go it on our own," she said. 

Not only do these platforms take a “significant percentage” of the revenue from ebook sales, they also create a barrier between university presses and their customers, said Brand. She’d like to build a closer relationship with the libraries that purchase from MIT Press and also gain more insight into how they use the content they buy. Detailed customer usage data is not always made available to publishers from aggregators, she said.

MIT Press's new distribution platform, called MIT Press Direct, is being developed by a company called Silverchair and will launch in beta this December.

Terry Ehling, director for strategic initiatives at MIT Press, said the new platform would give the press greater flexibility in what it can publish.

“Having our own platform allows us to create new products and new services around those products," said Ehling. "We can control the delivery and the look and feel of our products. That was very appealing to us." 

Developing its own platform means MIT Press can set its own terms for how content is used, said Brand. For example, there will be no limit on the number of people who can access one ebook at a time -- a common restriction on content sold through aggregators.

The University of Michigan Press is planning to offer its ebook collection directly to libraries in the next few months. Charles Watkinson, director of the press, said the ebook collection will launch in January 2019 on Fulcrum -- an open-source publishing platform being developed with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“For us, it’s very much about taking back some control of our digital content,” said Watkinson. It was “impossible” to sell some of the publisher's more experimental content, such as this ebook with 3-D modeling, through the aggregators’ platforms, said Watkinson.

Like Brand, Watkinson worried that his organization “simply lost touch with the library market.”

“Despite being based in a library at the University of Michigan, we no longer have a good sense of what our most important companies are thinking and needing, and by extension what their faculty and student users are interested in,” he said.

The University of Michigan Press will continue to offer access to individual titles through JSTOR, Project Muse, ProQuest, EBSCO and OverDrive, said Watkinson. “But we’ll only offer our comprehensive collection of scholarly ebooks directly,” he said.

Both MIT Press and the University of Michigan Press will offer tiered pricing structures for their collections -- with prices corresponding to the size of the institutions buying the books. Ehling said that MIT Press has not yet finalized pricing for its collections, but plans to do so by mid-December.

Watkinson said that the list price for the University of Michigan ebook collection would be $6,800, but university libraries will pay between $694 and $5,780 per year based on their size. For this price, the libraries will get perpetual access to all titles published in 2019, and a year's access to approximately 1,000 titles in the publisher's back catalog. Watkinson said the press expects to publish at least 80 titles in 2019. 

By taking control of the distribution of their ebook collections, MIT Press and the University of Michigan Press will soon join a very select group of university presses that sell their collections directly to libraries -- including the presses of Oxford and Cambridge Universities in Britain and Duke University in North Carolina.

Allison Belan, assistant director for digital strategy at Duke University Press, said Duke has been selling its ebook collection directly to libraries since 2008. The press already had a sales team that sold journal access to libraries, so it “wasn’t a huge leap” to do the same for ebooks, she said.

One of the biggest barriers to other universities selling their collections directly to libraries is cost. Many university presses don’t have the money to invest in platforms or sales teams.

“There’s a big investment for a university press to sell bundles directly,” Belan said.

Peter Berkery, executive director of the Association of University Presses, said it was too soon to describe the movement as a trend. “There’s a lot of experimentation,” he said, noting the unlikeliness of all university presses deciding to start selling directly to customers any time soon. Many university presses will be watching the progress of MIT and Michigan’s efforts with interest, however.

“Whenever MIT or Michigan do something, people pay attention,” said Berkery.

Frank Smith, director of books at JSTOR, said he is pleased to see university presses experimenting. He thinks there is enough diversity of opinion and business models in the sector that there will always be some university presses that want to work with aggregators.

Joseph Esposito, senior partner at publishing consultancy Clarke & Esposito, also believes more university presses trying to sell their ebooks directly to libraries is a good thing. But notes it is a “tough market” with lots of competition.

“Will libraries buy books directly from an individual university press, or do the libraries experience such administrative efficiency by going through [third-party acquisition services] that the university presses will only be able to get a small number of customers?” he asked.

Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communication at the Marriott Library at the University of Utah, said whether libraries choose to work directly with university presses or not will likely come down to a question of scale.

It will be “relatively easy” to work with larger presses like MIT Press or the University of Michigan Press, but “if we had to deal with all university presses individually, that would be a problem,” he said.

Smaller university presses could, however, offer “deep discounts in return for direct dealing,” said Anderson. “My door is always open to a publisher that wants to talk about discounts. We might be willing to invest more staff time if the price is right.”

The market for ebooks is changing, said Watkinson, of Michigan. Constrained budgets mean some libraries prefer to buy ebooks on a title by title basis, rather than purchasing whole collections. He thinks only about 100 libraries will purchase the University of Michigan Press ebook collection.

“We are targeting a high-end group,” he said.

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University of Glasgow requires doctoral defense panels for female Ph.D. candidates to have at least one woman

Thu, 2018-10-18 07:00

The University of Glasgow's decision to insist that female Ph.D. candidates have at least one woman on their viva examination panel has been criticized for pushing unrewarded “academic housework” on to senior female academics.

While Glasgow has won praise for its efforts to improve the gender balance of its doctoral examiners, some scholars have claimed that its new rule will heap further “unrecognized and unrewarded” academic duties on senior female academics. At present, just under one-quarter of British professors are women, the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Fiona Leverick, professor of criminal law and criminal justice at Glasgow, explained that because women are “massively underrepresented at senior level” and it is “unusual to invite a junior academic to examine a Ph.D. thesis,” the “practical effect of this is that the burden will fall on women to give up their time.”

“This work is unrecognized in work models and unrewarded in promotion criteria,” said Leverick, adding that this is “one of many, many instances of women -- because they are underrepresented at senior levels -- being asked to do the type of service work that is unrecognized and unrewarded.”

Other similarly time-consuming duties include sitting on appointment panels and committees “so that they are gender balanced,” as well as acting as mentors and taking on managerial roles, she wrote.

“While we are doing all of this service work in the name of gender balance, my male academic colleagues can use their time to do the things that *are* rewarded and valued,” added Leverick, who declined to speak directly to Times Higher Education about her comments.

Leverick acknowledged in the thread that there are “good reasons to have a gender-balanced committee [of examinations]” but when the “burden of this policy falls on women, who already undertake a disproportionate amount of unrewarded and unrecognized academic service, I am not convinced that this is the way to go.”

Her comments gained support from several Twitter users, including Carol Taylor, professor of gender and higher education at Sheffield Hallam University, who said that the practice of “women doing the academic housework … has to stop.”

Others, however, noted that the issue was “super tricky” because some female doctoral candidates may feel more comfortable with a female examiner but are unlikely to submit this request.

A spokeswoman from the University of Glasgow told Times Higher Education that it was “striving to ensure a better gender balance on all groups, committees and panels across the university -- this includes viva panels for examining Ph.D. students.”

However, the university said it was important that the workload implications of the new rule were recognized, as “in the short term, this can put pressure on female academics where they are underrepresented.”

“It is right that [this extra work] should be recognized in the distribution of academic workload so that all members of staff are treated equally and fairly,” she said.

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