Inside Higher Ed

Strayer and Capella, two publicly traded for-profit providers, to merge

Mon, 2017-10-30 07:00

Strayer Education and Capella Education, two of the remaining publicly traded for-profit-college companies in an industry that has been roiled by enrollment losses and regulatory scrutiny, will announce today that they will merge their corporate functions but continue to operate as separate institutions.

The combined value of the merged entities is $1.9 billion.

The combined entity will be called Strategic Education and will have about 80,000 students. The 125-year-old Strayer, which is based in Virginia, operates 73 Strayer University campuses mostly in the Eastern half of the United States, plus an online program offering certificates up through master's degrees.

Capella, based in Minneapolis, is an online university focused on adults that was established in 1993. A majority of its students are in master's or doctoral programs, and it was one of the earliest institutions to win federal approval for competency-based degree programs.

The merger comes after a period in which several major for-profit college providers have closed and many others have struggled with enrollment losses and intense regulatory scrutiny from the Obama administration. Strayer and Capella have largely avoided significant trouble, and Strayer even earned praise from Senate Democrats during their review of the industry several years ago.

The Trump administration has acted to delay implementation of Obama-era rules focused on the for-profit sector and has signaled an easier regulatory ride for for-profit colleges.

“Strayer and Capella complement each other in powerful ways and share cultures that value integrity and innovation," said Kevin Gilligan, chairman and chief executive officer of Capella, who will become vice chairman of Strayer under Robert S. Silberman, who is currently Strayer's executive chairman. "Uniting Strayer University’s degrees in business, including the Jack Welch Management Institute, accounting, economics and information technology with Capella University’s competency-based flexible degree programs, health-care offerings and robust doctoral portfolio will help us better meet the educational needs of students in the modern economy. We are committed to maintaining our standards of excellence across both universities and our nondegreed businesses.”

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Lehigh rejects calls to revoke honorary degree to Trump

Mon, 2017-10-30 07:00

The board of Lehigh University announced Friday that it would take "no action" about the honorary degree awarded in 1988 to Donald Trump at a time when he was growing in prominence as a business executive but was not thought of as a future president. And without an official announcement, so did the board of Wagner College, which awarded Trump an honorary degree in 2004.

In the past two years, some at Lehigh have questioned the appropriateness of the award by the university. Particularly after Lehigh was among the many institutions that revoked an honorary degree to Bill Cosby, the disgraced entertainer, students and alumni have said Trump is not worthy of the honorary doctorate. At that time, the university referenced the "character and high standards" expected of honorary degree recipients. And critics said that Trump, like Cosby, lacked those qualities.

In its announcement Friday, the university said that the board was taking no action, but that it continued to believe in those standards.

The text of the university's announcement is as follows: "Lehigh University encourages respectful dialogue, discussion and learning about important societal issues. The Board of Trustees remains committed to the university’s values and to its Principles of Our Equitable Community, which recognize each person’s right to think and speak as dictated by personal belief and to respectfully disagree with or counter another’s point of view. These values provide meaningful guidance when deliberating or making decisions that impact the Lehigh community. In considering a petition regarding the honorary degree given 29 years ago to President Donald Trump, the Board of Trustees engaged in lengthy, full and robust discussions. The board has concluded that no action will be taken."

The current push to withdraw the honor picked up steam after President Trump said that "both sides" were to blame for the August violence in Charlottesville, Va. -- a statement that stunned many, given that one side was chanting Nazi and anti-Jewish slogans. A petition signed by more than 30,000 people cited Trump's response to Charlottesville, as well as his remarks denigrating women and immigrants, accusations that he has sexually assaulted women, and policies that have rolled back legal protections for gay and transgender people to argue that Trump's record was inconsistent with the values Lehigh says it upholds.

"The various examples presented here just scratch the surface of his divisive and narrow-minded politics. His rejection of diversity and his lack of respect for the differences of others around him stands in direct opposition to the principles laid out here. He does not reflect Lehigh University's values," the petition says. "Therefore, he does not deserve to bear the distinction of an honorary degree from Lehigh. To suggest otherwise would ignore and minimize the work of Lehigh's community to promote diversity and inclusion on its campus."

Kelly McCoy, a recent graduate of the university, organized the petition. In a letter to the editor of The Brown and White, the student newspaper at Lehigh, McCoy blasted the board's decision.

"By refusing to rescind this degree, Lehigh offers tacit support to a man who supports censorship against the media; who profiles Mexicans as rapists and criminals; who reluctantly denounces his core support base of white supremacists (and who was endorsed by the KKK); who wants to rid women of their constitutional rights to their reproductive choices; who disrespects and dishonors veterans -- both transgender and cisgender; and who has a general disregard for the principles of democracy, ethics and humanity," McCoy's letter says.

The Brown and White also published a letter backing the board's decision. In this letter, alumna Kristin Lipani Bianco said that she met Trump when she interviewed him, while an intern at Forbes, in 1988. Trump was polite then and has been a great leader since then, Bianco said. She added that she was sharing her views "as a representative of the more than 65 million people who voted for President Trump and are proud we finally have someone who’s strong enough to expose the dishonesty, corruption, hypocrisy and sanctimony of an entrenched ruling class and its propaganda arm, the mainstream media."

Richard N. Weisman, professor emeritus of water resources engineering, was among the first at Lehigh to publicly raise the issue of Trump's honorary degree, in light of his statements as a presidential candidate and as president. Via email he said he was pleased that the board had discussed the issue, but said that the trustees' statement left many questions and concerns.

"I am deeply dismayed that the board did not state what it was they considered and have the courage to tell the stakeholders how and why they reached its decision," Weisman said. "Did the members discuss Trump's sexual predatory behavior as they did with Bill Cosby? Did they discuss Trump's policies regarding science and compare that to the role of our university, especially one known for programs in science and engineering? Did they discuss Trump's problem with telling the truth and compare that to the very basic role of the university? They acknowledge our principles, but did they discuss Trump's bullying? I believe that our community needs reasons for the decision, but we are left hanging."

Lehigh is not the only college to have awarded Trump an honorary degree. Wagner College did so in 2004. The illustration at right is from a Wagner publication's coverage of that award.

A spokesman for Wagner said that the board there has also discussed the idea of revoking the honor but decided not to do so. The spokesman declined to elaborate on the Wagner board's decision.

Robert Gordon University, in Scotland, awarded Trump an honorary degree in 2010, but revoked it in 2015 based on comments Trump made in the presidential campaign that the university said were "wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university."

Liberty University has twice awarded Trump honorary doctorates, in business in 2012 and in law in 2017 (below).

The university said that the most recent honor was for “commitment to his country and to the citizens who have been forgotten by their own government, his unwavering determination to make America great again, and his bold leadership of our nation.”

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Many groups are reserving judgment on Trump's pick to head the Office for Civil Rights. With the exception of one issue

Mon, 2017-10-30 07:00

The announcement by the White House last week of the nomination of Kenneth L. Marcus to be the next head of civil rights at the Department of Education will draw attention to his views on issues related to sexual assault while opening up a potential new front for controversy: the issue of Israel.

Marcus, should he be confirmed, will assume the duties of Candice Jackson, who has served as acting assistant secretary for civil rights at the department since April. Marcus was previously the staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for four years under the George W. Bush administration from 2004-08 and, prior to that, served as deputy assistant secretary for civil rights at the Department of Education. He is currently president and general counsel of the Louis D. Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, a civil rights organization that, according to Marcus's official biography, he founded in 2011 to "combat the resurgence of anti-Semitism in American higher education."

While how his office will address complaints related to sexual assault will likely be central in his confirmation hearings, Marcus's passion has been combating anti-Semitism on college campuses. He has been at the forefront of many of the recent contentious debates about Israel-related speech and activity in academe. Opponents to his nomination argue that he too readily conflates criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism and say his appointment as OCR head could have a chilling effect on speech and activism critical of Israel on college campuses.

Marcus has written that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, a movement that has found traction in a few scholarly groups and some student government bodies, is anti-Semitic. He is one of the lawyers for a group of current and former members of the American Studies Association who filed a lawsuit against the group over its 2013 vote to endorse the boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In April a federal judge dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims that support for the boycott was outside the scope of the ASA’s mission but allowed the suit to move forward with claims that ASA violated its own procedures in voting for the boycott.

In 2014, the Brandeis Center joined with pro-Israel groups in calling on Congress to "end or mend" federal funding for Middle East studies centers due to what the center described as anti-Israel bias in their programming. The Middle East Studies Association at the time condemned "such politically motivated attacks on scholars and academic institutions" as "a serious threat to free speech but also to academic freedom and to the essential role of our colleges and universities as arenas of free and open discussion of even the most controversial issues."

Of more direct relevance to Marcus’s appointment is how he will seek to enforce Title VI of the Civil Rights Act when it comes to investigating complaints of anti-Semitism. In a 2011 paper published in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, Marcus wrote that the Office for Civil Rights “must address anti-Semitic incidents that masquerade as anti-Israelism. On college campuses -- and especially in protests brought by the anti-Israel boycotts, divestment and sanctions movement -- it is now widely understood that attacking ‘Jews’ by name is impolitic, but that one can smear ‘Zionists’ with impunity.”

In that 2011 paper Marcus argues that OCR should incorporate into its policies what’s known as the State Department definition of anti-Semitism, which gives examples of ways that anti-Semitism can manifest as criticism of Israel. Others argue that adoption of the State Department definition -- which singles out speech that demonizes, delegitimizes or applies a double standard to Israel -- is overly broad and would chill critical speech about Israel on college campuses. The lead author of the definition, Kenneth S. Stern, has argued against its usage by the Department of Education, writing in The New York Times that it was developed for the purposes of data collectors monitoring anti-Semitism and was "never supposed to curtail speech on campus."

Marcus wrote in the 2011 paper that the "OCR needs to demonstrate that it can protect Jewish students from hate and bias while guarding the First Amendment and academic freedom" (see full quote in text box below).

"Second, OCR needs to demonstrate that it can protect Jewish students from hate and bias while guarding the First Amendment and academic freedom. On many campuses, anti-Israel activists suppress pro-Israel advocacy by heckling Jewish-sponsored speakers, vandalizing Jewish posters and fliers, and intimidating students who wear clothing or jewelry that connects them with the Jewish state. University leaders must condemn these attacks on free speech and academic freedom.

At the same time, OCR must explain that nothing in its new policy requires any encroachment on constitutionally protected expression by either advocates or critics of Israel. In many cases, campus anti-Semitism includes nonspeech elements such as assault and vandalism. In other cases, anti-Semitic incidents include forms of speech that are excepted from protection under the First Amendment, such as threats of imminent illegal actions or perhaps incidents of 'fighting words.' In these circumstances, universities may regulate anti-Semitic incidents without First Amendment issues arising. Similarly, universities may reasonably regulate the time, place or manner of on-campus expression, and they may reasonably relate speech in nonforum locations. When expressive conduct is used to create a hostile environment for Jewish students in traditional or designated campus fora, the extent to which university officials may (or must) regulate the expression itself is a difficult but important question beyond the scope of this short paper. What is clear, however, is that universities must take some action in these circumstances. Even where public university administrators are constitutionally precluded from punishing offensive anti-Semitic speech, the correct response is never to do nothing. The best university response is often to condemn the hate or bigotry, rather than to censor or punish the speaker. Universities which fail to do so deserve to get a call from the federal agency that funds them."

-- Kenneth L. Marcus, from 2011 paper in the Journal for the Study of Antisemitism on "The New OCR Anti-Semitism Policy"

The OCR under the Obama administration investigated and rejected several high-profile complaints that claimed, among other things, that anti-Israel protests or speakers created a hostile environment for Jewish students. Writing in The Jerusalem Post of the dismissal, in short succession, of three complaints against three University of California campuses in 2013, Marcus wrote that the cases had nonetheless put universities “on notice” of the risk of bad publicity.

“If appointed, Marcus will try to do from the inside of the [Department of Education] what he has failed to do from the outside: advance Title VI cases that push universities to punish students who exercise their First Amendment right to advocate for justice in Palestine,” Dima Khalidi, the director of Palestine Legal, a legal organization focused on Palestinian rights, said in a statement opposing Marcus’s nomination.

“Kenneth Marcus has really orchestrated the strategy of using civil rights laws to pressure universities to censor and punish Palestine activists,” Khalidi said in an interview. “The basis of this strategy has been to conflate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. This conflation has really serious consequences for those who advocate for Palestinian human rights and are being condemned and censored and punished as a result of the enormous pressure being placed on universities by the likes of Marcus and dozens of other Israel advocacy groups.”

Jewish Voice for Peace, an organization that supports the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel, similarly says in an open letter that Marcus’s appointment “will have catastrophic effects on free speech and civil rights on campuses.”

“His tactics dilute the definition of antis-Semitism so much that it becomes useless and have contributed to widespread repression on college campuses, where students and faculty fear studying Palestinian history or advocating for Palestinian rights,” the letter states.

But others say there is a real problem of anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Israelism, as Marcus has put it -- and that Marcus is well positioned to address it.

“I think that the No. 1 issue that Ken himself dealt with at Brandeis is when anti-Israelism bleeds into anti-Semitism,” said Asaf Romirowsky, the executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, a pro-Israel faculty group. “We at SPME believe that the majority of what you’re seeing today is indeed anti-Semitic and I think that those fine lines need to be established. I would hope and I believe that Ken does have that grasping of that situation and will be able to convey those messages as it relates to the campus environment.”

Marcus formerly held a position as the Lillie and Nathan Ackerman Chair in Equality and Justice in America at the City University of New York’s Baruch College. He is author of two books, The Definition of Anti-Semitism (Oxford University Press, 2015) and Jewish Identity and Civil Rights in America (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Cary Nelson, a leading opponent of the academic boycott movement against Israel and a former president of the American Association of University Professors, praised Marcus’s appointment. "Ken Marcus is a scholar with wide and deep knowledge of the history and character of anti-Semitism. Bringing that knowledge to bear on the activities of the Office of Civil Rights would be welcome," Nelson, an emeritus professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said via email.

"At the same time it is important to remember that even explicit hate speech has constitutional protections," Nelson said. "The basic principle both in the public sphere and on campus is that good speech -- and more of it -- is the best corrective to ignorance, bias and prejudice. But educating everyone about that nature of anti-Semitism is essential. That should inform regulations sanctioning speech that crosses the line into threatening groups or individuals. Title VI is a remedy when university leadership neglects its job to stop bigoted harassment of students; it is not a tool to define ‘politically correct’ campus speech.”

Sexual Assault

Marcus has less of a public record on other issues that could fall within the purview of the Office for Civil Rights.

If confirmed, Marcus would be tasked with overseeing a rule-making process that will produce a new regulation on campus sexual assault policies. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in September rescinded 2011 and 2014 federal guidance issued by the Obama administration that survivor advocates credit with pushing colleges and universities to take sexual misconduct seriously.

Marcus has few stated views on issues such as the appropriate standard of evidence for campus misconduct findings, or how OCR should balance the thoroughness of investigating civil rights complaints with efficiency of resolutions for complainants and institutions.

But he would bring to the task of rule making more experience than the official who preceded him. Jackson, currently the acting assistant secretary for civil rights, had no previous government experience before joining the department in April. And she’s been beset throughout her tenure by controversy over her statements on victims of sexual assault.

Senator Patty Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee, in a statement last week welcomed the news that Jackson would not be staying on at OCR while promising to scrutinize Marcus’s views on civil rights in confirmation hearings.

"I look forward to hearing more from Mr. Marcus and determining whether he will commit to protecting the civil rights and safety of all students and maintaining the mission of the Office for Civil Rights to 'ensure equal access to education and to promote educational excellence throughout the nation through vigorous enforcement of civil rights,'" Murray said.

In 2004, Marcus authored a Dear Colleague letter to colleges and universities that addressed discrimination against white male Christian students. The letter cited a specific incident in which a student was allegedly harassed by a college professor for expressing “conservative Christian views” about homosexuality.

The same letter -- which was issued just after the third anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks -- also addressed and warned against discrimination targeting Arab Muslim, Sikh and Jewish students.

“No OCR policy should be construed to permit, much less to require, any form of religious discrimination or any encroachment upon the free exercise of religion,” he wrote in the letter. “While OCR lacks jurisdiction to prohibit discrimination against students based on religion per se, OCR will aggressively prosecute harassment of religious students who are targeted on the basis of race or gender, as well as racial or gender harassment of students who are targeted on the basis of religion.”

Civil rights organizations on Friday said they were still looking into Marcus’s record and would reserve judgment for now. But they also said given the Trump administration’s actions on civil rights so far, they would have many questions.

“This administration has taken aim at LGBT people, and transgender students in particular, by (among other actions) rescinding guidance documents that clarified schools’ obligations to keep students safe and to promote equal educational opportunity,” Sharon McGowan, director of strategy at Lambda Legal, said via email. “For this reason, we view any nominee from this administration -- particularly for an office charged with defending civil rights -- with tremendous skepticism, and hope that the Senate will scrutinize his record carefully.”

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said DeVos’s “dismal record on civil rights and her failure to support students” heightens the need for a qualified individual to lead the Office for Civil Rights.

“In its confirmation hearing, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee has an obligation to thoroughly examine the qualifications of Kenneth L. Marcus and his record, the actions of the Office for Civil Rights since the beginning of this administration, and planned future actions,” she said. “Our nation’s students deserve no less than the full, robust protection of their rights and an assistant secretary who will meaningfully enforce them.”

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Black Clemson student government vice president alleges racism is behind impeachment trial

Mon, 2017-10-30 07:00

In September, the vice president of the student government at Clemson University, Jaren Stewart, refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance during a meeting of the Student Senate.

It was a show of support for the National Football League players who have knelt during the national anthem at games for the past year, a protest against racial injustice in the country.

Now a month later, Stewart, who is black, faces an impeachment trial, which he told The Anderson Independent Mail was a “social lynching” -- he believes it’s motivated by bigotry at Clemson, an institution in the Deep South previously under fire for perceived inaction on racial issues.

In particular, the Board of Trustees there has refused demands to change the name of a campus building, Tillman Hall, named after a white supremacist politician, Benjamin Tillman, who was present for the murder of a black state senator back in the 1800s -- an attempt to intimidate black voters in the post-Civil War South.

The university now won’t take a stance on the impeachment, according to a statement from a spokesman, John Gouch, who wouldn’t answer questions about race relations generally on campus.

“The university has no position on the impeachment itself, as its role is simply to ensure that our student government, which is an autonomous body, follows its own bylaws and that the process is not discriminatory in any way,” Gouch said.

Gouch declined to answer a follow-up question on whether the university felt the impeachment was motivated by discrimination, saying it wanted to respect “the student government process.” It has not yet halted the proceedings, though, and a trial date is set for November.

The student senator who introduced the articles of impeachment asserts that his action was not prejudicial, but based on Stewart’s alleged troubles with his old job as a resident assistant.

“I cannot stress enough how the situation has absolutely nothing to do with the flag protest or contain [sic] any racial motivation at all,” Miller Hoffman, the white student senator who moved to impeach Stewart, said during a student government meeting. “Such a narrative is without evidence and completely untrue.”

Stewart didn’t respond to a request for comment, but in his interview with the Independent Mail he claimed that the Student Senate had “made up [its] mind” shortly after he remained seated for the pledge, following the “trope of a villainous African-American male.”

Hoffman, meanwhile, cited as his reason for impeachment a complaint against Stewart from his time as a resident assistant the previous academic year. The leaked document purported Stewart would go into the room of two residents without permission, sometimes taking food and cleaning supplies and leaving it covered in sweat and dirt from his rugby matches, and that he went into a dormitory room while women were changing and wouldn’t leave.

Stewart confirmed to the Independent Mail that the document is authentic but debated the accuracy of the complaint, saying it was exaggerated.

His punishment is unclear -- the university won’t discuss the case, citing federal privacy laws, and while Hoffman said Stewart was fired, Stewart said he was only suspended briefly as a resident assistant. He does not work as an RA this academic year.

Most of the Student Senate has sided against Stewart. The anonymous vote in favor of an impeachment trial was 40 to 18.

Since the NFL protests have prompted a national debate over race -- with members of the Trump administration harshly condemning the players taking a knee -- buzz about the Clemson case has spread rapidly both across campus and online.

A thread on the Clemson Reddit page is entirely devoted to Stewart’s potential impeachment, with someone asking, “Is there a real reason aside from the other senators disliking him?”

“The trouble is (if I'm reading this correctly) that the issues at hand were totally an [sic] thing before he sat for the pledge, and they're only now being talked about because he did so,” another Reddit user wrote. “Makes it seem a lot less like they're trying to impeach him for what he did and more like they're trying to impeach him for sitting for the pledge.”

One Twitter user posted that the controversy was unsurprising, given Clemson’s history.

Perhaps the most notable element of the racially charged campus debate was the trustees’ defense of Tillman Hall. Support among students and faculty for a name change was significant. Both the graduate student government and the Faculty Senate voted early 2015 to change the name of the building.

Tillman was a South Carolina governor and United States senator who deeply opposed rights for black people and openly bragged about harming them. His statue also stands on the South Carolina statehouse grounds. State law makes it difficult to change the name of the building at Clemson, but at board has never advocated for it.

The board outright rejected a request to change the name, with former chairman David H. Wilkins saying at the time, “Some of our historical stones are rough and even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours and denying them as part of our history does not make them any less so. For that reason, we will not change the name of our historical buildings.”

In April 2016, students occupied the steps of Sikes Hall for nine days with complaints the university hadn’t been vocal enough against racism, that minority students had nowhere on campus to meet and feel safe, and that the administration had not “embraced” them.

Five students were arrested in the sit-in for trying to enter the building once it had closed.

President Jim Clements agreed to some of the protesters’ demands at the time, though some were watered down.

He pledged that the university would double its minority faculty numbers by 2025 and increase the population of underrepresented students on campus. About 7 percent of the student body is black, compared to about 27.5 percent of the population in the state.

All employees would undergo diversity training, Clements promised at the time, and the institution would find a more “appropriate” location for the campus multicultural center.

Clemson has been lauded for its diversity efforts in some cases.

The university reported in 2012 that about 10 percent of all the black faculty and Ph.D. students who work in computer science at research universities were at Clemson. Clemson had hired six black tenure-track computer science professors when there were 56 in the country at the time, the university said.

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Colleges start new academic programs

Mon, 2017-10-30 07:00
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Faculty Buy-in Builds, Bit by Bit: Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology

Mon, 2017-10-30 07:00

As more professors teach online, their confidence in the effectiveness of digital learning grows, though a majority question impact on vulnerable students and administrators' motives.

Multiple Authors: Doug LedermanLindsay McKenzieAd Keyword: FacultyTech2017Section: Teaching and LearningTeaching With TechnologyTechnologyTeaching With Technology

In hiring for junior faculty positions, study finds bias against female candidates who have partners

Fri, 2017-10-27 07:00

The search committee chair said of a job candidate, “She seems to have the highest potential based on limited information.”

The other search committee members agreed -- with regard to her qualifications. But other issues quickly came up. One committee member said, “Some people think it’s unlikely she’d come because of her boyfriend. He’s a [names the boyfriend’s occupation], and [the city where her other offer is] is really the best for that.”

Another committee member, incorrectly assuming the job candidate was married, said, “I want to put the [acceptance] probabilities on the board. She told me that we are better than [her other offers]. But we need to work out her husband. If it were up to her, she would come here.”

These quotes come from a paper (abstract available here) just published in American Sociological Review by Lauren A. Rivera, associate professor of management and organizations and of sociology at Northwestern University. Rivera observed all meetings of three search committees for junior faculty members in different disciplines at an unnamed but prestigious research university.

She found that search committee members considered “relationship status” when evaluating female candidates but not male candidates. And the underlying assumptions of this consideration hurt the female candidates. Search committees assumed that those with boyfriends or husbands might turn down the offer -- even though they were considering candidates who had already been through a substantial portion of a search.

Committee members made “assumptions that such male partners were not ‘portable’ or ‘movable,’” writes Rivera. “By contrast, committees infrequently discussed the relationship status of shortlisted male applicants. When they did, members considered all female partners to be portable, irrespective of their employment status or occupation.”

The search committee members generally focused on these partner issues at a crucial stage in the search: after finalists had been selected and the panel was down to a small number of candidates.

Rivera was able to observe the committees by granting them and their institution anonymity. As they demonstrated this form of discrimination, they seemed aware that it was wrong, sometimes even joking about it.

One committee chair said of a candidate, “I asked her if she would move. She said her husband [he looks directly at me] --- she mentioned it because we cannot ask. Her husband [an academic] is in [another country]. The commute is hard …”

Or consider this quote from a female search committee member: “But is she movable? I don’t trust people who are married [laughs]. I thought she was pretty, by the way. [Says to group] I can’t say that.”

In another exchange in which committee members were suggesting how to finalize a decision on a female candidate, a male committee member said, “It may depend on where her husband [an academic] is going to go … The next step is finding out what her husband will do. We are not going to get her if we can’t get her husband.”

Rivera acknowledges in the paper that her sample size is small but argues that the patterns she saw do not appear to be unique to any discipline or institution.

She said via email that she did not see any cases where candidates being considered had same-sex partners, so she is not sure if the bias would show up in evaluating such candidates.

Part of the problem, Rivera writes, is lack of support for dual-career issues facing many academics.

But many times, when she asked search committee members about the issue, she said that they focused on it out of fear of a failed search, which could result in a lost faculty line.

“The faculty I spoke with believed that considering a candidate’s likelihood of acceptance was a valid criterion of evaluation,” she writes. “I argue that the resource-intensive nature of screening processes in academia, combined with the sequential and limited way in which job offers are typically made, can contribute to fears of failed searches. This, in turn, can contribute to heightened emphasis on factors that committees perceive as associated with offer rejection, including relationship status.”

And this in turn, Rivera writes, creates an "all or nothing" approach to hiring that may encourage the kind of bias she found.

"Abstract fears of search failure were compounded by the sequential and limited way in which job offers were typically made," she writes. "Academic departments often have a very small number of jobs (frequently, only one) they can fill per year. Chairs described how departments within a given discipline typically hire around the same time to remain competitive."

The bottom line, she adds, is that she saw real bias.

"Even if women do 'everything right' according to individualistic narratives of choice -- pick the correct major, excel in school, pursue desirable and demanding work, and find a supportive, accommodating partner -- this may not be enough," Rivera writes. "Hiring committees may still treat them as if their careers are secondary and exclude them from top jobs."

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Even with booms in student enrollment, not enough degrees to keep up with jobs in computer science

Fri, 2017-10-27 07:00

Colleges can’t seem to keep up with computers.

The growing number of jobs in the computing field far outpaces how many students are earning bachelor’s degrees in computer science and similar fields, according to a lengthy new report from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.

The continued demand for computer science programs at colleges and universities has strained faculty workloads, especially as more and more students enroll. Of those students, few are women or from underrepresented minority groups, and that’s not likely to change unless academe begins targeting those populations.

These are the takeaways from the report -- and the national academies have suggestions, though they stressed some solutions will vary by institution.

“Strains on educational institutions are significant,” the report reads. “There is a growing sense of an impending crisis in many universities.”

The academies’ recommendations are as follows:

  • Colleges and universities should consider funneling more resources into their computer science departments to address professors' increasing workload. Administrators should be working with their departments to develop new goals on faculty and staff retention and seriously mull increasing those numbers and the academic rank of those professors.
  • It’s temping for institutions to enforce caps on computer course or major enrollment -- but that decision should be weighed carefully.
  • Computer science courses should be taught creatively with a heavy focus on technology for “high-quality instruction.”
  • Institutions should try to increase interest in computer science programs among their students -- both those people who intend to major in it and not, and be deliberate in recruiting and keeping more women and black, Hispanic, Latino, American Indian and Alaska Native students.
  • Partnerships should be developed among colleges and universities and industry professionals. This could also encourage certain companies to provide research funding.
  • Because computer scientists are so in demand, and public institutions train them, states should be providing more money to help boost the work force in this area.
  • Education on the importance of computer science should begin in kindergarten through secondary school.
  • Trends in undergraduate enrollment should be tracked better, and government at all levels should be working better with colleges to understand these data and how they can be used to influence decisions on academic programs.

The report also mentions increasing reliance on the National Science Foundation’s resources.

Computer sciences were previously merged in with larger departments, as were engineering programs. As time went on, they emerged as their own separate entities, as their popularity and society’s reliance on these skills grew.

The report questioned whether the current enrollment boom will be sustained. And while it’s impossible to know whether the enrollment increase will decline significantly, as it did in both the 1980s and the early 2000s, computing has deeply penetrated all sectors of the economy, academic disciplines and “all aspects of modern life,” according the report.

Past jumps in enrollment came after the advent of the personal computer and then in the late 1990s, with the dot-com era -- which eventually turned into a bubble that burst.

Degree production in computer information sciences jumped by 115 percent from 2009 to 2015, according to the report. At the same time, the numbers of jobs in the field also continued to rise.

“The broad opportunities in computing in both the labor market and for enabling a host of intellectual pursuits will continue to be drivers of increasing enrollments in undergraduate computer science, from both majors and nonmajors,” the report states.

In recent years, students, particularly those concerned about cost and seeking to learn these skills more quickly, have taken to alternatives, such as certificate programs and boot camps.

Free and low-cost massive open online courses have grown in popularity, and the Education Department has in the past signaled its support for programs free of the traditional limits of higher education.

Recently, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, in conjunction with the for-profit Southern Careers Institute, launched a program called Woz U, courses that can lead to certifications in software development, computer support and, eventually, data science and cybersecurity.

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University investigating professor's anti-Semitic Facebook posts

Fri, 2017-10-27 07:00

This article contains explicit and potentially offensive terms that are essential to reporting on this situation.

Rutgers University at New Brunswick is investigating a professor’s anti-Semitic Facebook posts to see if anything he shared violates the institution’s nondiscrimination policy. The professor doesn’t explicitly deny posting racist images, suggesting that Jews are responsible for the Armenian genocide or declaring, “These jewish [sic] motherfuckers do not control me. They can go and fuck each other in their fat arses.”

But Michael Chikindas, a professor of food science, does say his Facebook account was “hacked.” So he says he can’t be sure that he personally shared everything on the page.

“Because my public domains and my personal PC were HACKED,” Chikindas said via email (emphasis his, here and throughout), “I restrain myself from any comments on the content of my page as I cannot be sure anymore if what is being referred to is mine or modifiyed [sic] by those who hacked my domain.”

Chikindas further explained that a blog post highlighting the anti-Semitic messages linked to his Facebook page, somehow making its private content available to the public. His personal photographs were then “manipulated (changed to make me look ugly-fat),” he said, “and comments from those who were not included as my friends started to appear, nasty, insulting, health- and life-threatening comments.”

That was earlier this week. Chikindas’s Facebook page has since been taken down. But news websites, blogs and Twitter users continue to post screen shots of undeniably anti-Semitic content reportedly taken from the page. Here are a few shared by The Times of Israel and The Algemeiner.

The latter publication, a Jewish newspaper based in the U.S., reported extensively on Chikindas, sharing additional comments he allegedly made. They include, “We must not forget that the Armenian genocide was orchestrated by the Turkish Jews who pretended to be the Turks,” and “Israel, the country of the Jews and for the Jews, has one of the highest percentage of gays in the world.” Other examples abound.

Chikindas said via email that he does not identify as an anti-Semite and that it is his “lifelong credo that all people are born equal regardless of their ethnicity, religion and wealth. I am equally intolerant to all forms of racism, without any exclusions.”

Arguing that anything he’d shared was anti-Zionist, and not anti-Semitic (even though many of his alleged posts refer to Jews, not Israelis or Israel), Chikindas added, “Should I knew [sic] that sharing these freely available pictures questioning Zionism on possible racist actions can be seen as anti-Semitic, I would never do it. I strictly separate anti-Semitism from intolerance to Zionism.”

Chikindas also said he’d received hateful messages in response to the news about his posts, many of them from Israel-based Russians, “and these messages are of a questionable racist nature as I am referred to as a goyim [non-Jewish person], and my health and life are being threatened. I FEEL EXTREMELY INSECURE WITH MY HEALTH AND LIFE BEING THREATENED IN NUMEROUS WRITTEN AND VERBAL MESSAGES.”

Rutgers said in a statement that Chikindas’s statements are “antithetical to our university’s principles and values of respect for people of all backgrounds, including, among other groups, our large and vibrant Jewish community. Such comments do not represent the position of the university.”

As for free speech, Rutgers said its position is “clear: all of the members of our community, including faculty and staff, are free to express their viewpoints in public forums as private citizens.” Yet the university must also foster an environment free from discrimination, it said, and is therefore “reviewing this matter to determine if actions taken in the context of [Chikindas’s] role as a faculty member at Rutgers may have violated that policy.”

Chikindas’s predicament recalls that of Joy Karega, a former assistant professor of rhetoric and composition studies whom Oberlin College fired last year for past anti-Semitic statements and falsehoods she posted on Facebook. Oberlin initially backed Karega’s right to free speech but investigated her comments after a push from its Board of Trustees; the Ohio college cited a lack of professional fitness in its final decision, in which faculty committees were involved.

Some Oberlin faculty members initially defended Karega, saying that she, as a young black woman, was being scapegoated for larger concerns about anti-Semitism and racial justice more broadly on campus. But she was terminated with little to no protest from the faculty, at least publicly.

Leaders of the American Association of University Professors- and American Federation of Teachers'-affiliated faculty union at Rutgers said Thursday that they are aware of the Chikindas case but are not commenting on it.

Rutgers said Chikindas is still teaching there this semester.

John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of academic freedom and an editor of the national AAUP’s “Academe” blog, said that while Chikindas's views “are both stupid and offensive,” they’re “also fully protected by academic freedom.”

Describing Rutgers’s statement as vague, Wilson said it’s unclear if Chikindas is being investigated on the basis of a complaint about his work, an act of discrimination as a professor, or merely private social media activity. While either professional claim would be legitimate, if, he said, “Rutgers is investigating offensive Facebook posts, that's a troubling message to send to the campus.”

Wilson drew a comparison between Chikindas and another professor facing backlash for public statements: George Ciccariello-Maher, an associate professor of politics and global studies at Drexel University. That institution has long had its eye on Ciccariello-Maher for his tweets, which are not anti-Semitic but have been called inflammatory for other reasons. But it only recently suspended him -- later allowing him to resume teaching online -- on the grounds that it was necessary for his personal protection, as he was receiving threats.

“Rutgers may use the email death threats sent from around the world as an excuse to suspend Chikindas, as a subterfuge to appease his critics and punish him while pretending to still protect free speech,” Wilson said. “Let's hope they don't try that approach.”

Still, other academics elsewhere have condemned Chikindas online. AAUP in general says that professors’ public statements may merit investigation if they suggest a lack of professional fitness. But such an action must happen in conjunction with the faculty.

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Supposed campus guidelines on costumes not always what they seem

Fri, 2017-10-27 07:00

Liberal students and colleges are at it again. Or are they?

The TV program Fox and Friends recently ran a segment on Ohio State University students creating a flowchart to help others determine if their Halloween costumes are racist. A student-run magazine, hosts said, created the chart, which ignored “real problems,” and, as one guest put it, helped fuel a “hierarchy of oppression” present on college campuses these days.

“There’s almost nothing to go as [for Halloween] this year -- you can’t even go as yourself, or people would be offended by that, too,” said Cabot Phillips, a guest on the program and media director for conservative news outlet Campus Reform.

The hosts pointed out that the flowchart deemed it OK to make fun of President Trump, and then raised a question: Is it OK to dress up as President Obama if you’re white? (While the hosts couldn’t seem to come to an agreement, numerous students and professors alike have landed themselves in trouble for dressing up in blackface over the years due to its racist history and messaging.)

A story running on Fox News Insider was filed under the tag “Outrageous” and the headline “College Halloween Costume Guide Says No Indian Headdresses, but Ridiculing Trump Is Fine.”

Except the story didn’t unfold quite the way Fox made it appear.

It wasn’t Ohio State students who were responsible for the origin of the flowchart. It was an Ohio State alumnus writing a satirical piece for a local magazine (one that is student and millennial focused, and has student writers). Moreover, the flowchart didn’t signify any campus consensus, much less any hard-and-fast rules, even if many students do increasingly avoid costumes based on others' ethnicity -- and even as parties this time of year inevitably feature such costumes and themes.

Students' costumes have come under increasing scrutiny over the last few years as social media has become more prominent, and images can be shared with and commented on by the entire internet. Last year, a white University of Central Arkansas student was expelled from his fraternity by the national chapter after photos surfaced of him dressed as Bill Cosby, in blackface. Sombreros and Native American headdresses have also drawn outrage, as critics say they belittle minority communities and perpetuate stereotypes.

While stories -- whether originating on social media or in conservative news outlets -- about oversensitive students or university policies that supposedly coddle them are common around Halloween each year, they can sometimes paint a misleading picture about how much colleges actually control students’ costumes. In practice, though many colleges share information with students about why some costumes may be offensive, they often don't regulate what students wear.

Last year, for example, the University of Wisconsin La Crosse faced accusations that it was reviewing students’ costumes ahead of Halloween. In fact, a department -- not the university itself -- had scheduled an optional event open to students to discuss Halloween costumes and what people might perceive as racist.

The Ethnic and Racial Studies Department, which hosted the event, is not hosting the event this year, Dan Modaff, department chair, said in an email. Modaff, who became chair in July, said that programming for outside events didn’t come up in the department’s planning meetings this year, which he attributed to the department’s small size and the fact that one of the faculty members is on family leave.

“Any backlash or support from last year’s event was not a factor, since there was no decision-based discussion regarding the event for this year,” he said.

At the University of Florida last year, officials wrote a blog post asking students to be thoughtful about their costumes. They also used the blog post to advertise contact information for university counseling services and the Bias Education and Response Team.

“If you choose to participate in Halloween activities, we encourage you to think about your choices of costumes and themes. Some Halloween costumes reinforce stereotypes of particular races, genders, cultures or religions,” the post read. “Regardless of intent, these costumes can perpetuate negative stereotypes, causing harm and offense to groups of people. Also, keep in mind that social media posts can have a long-term impact on your personal and professional reputation.”

The post did not specify rules or regulations about costumes.

In response to the blog post, however, far-right news site Breitbart ran an article that misleadingly claimed “students offended by insensitive Halloween costumes are being provided with around-the-clock counseling services.” (The counseling services are available year-round and are not specific to Halloween.)

This month, Southern Utah University's Center for Diversity and Inclusion launched an ad campaign to promote awareness about cultural appropriation and offensive costumes. Like many other colleges’, Southern Utah’s ad campaign was a messaging effort put out by a specific campus center or group, rather than a top-down enforcement mechanism.

The "My Culture Is Not a Costume" campaign featured four Southern Utah students holding photos of costumes that perpetuated stereotypes about the respective students’ ethnic backgrounds. A Latino student, in one example, holds a poster of someone dressed up in a sombrero and a poncho waving two pistols.

"We hope people do more research, ask questions, learn correct and appropriate cultural terminology with the goal to bridge the gap from narrow-minded stereotypes to appropriate cultural respect," university spokeswoman Nikki Koontz said in an email.

"This is not an enforced initiative from upper administration."

A blog post on the University of St. Thomas's website, written by Amaris Holguin, a program intern with the university's Student Diversity and Inclusion Services, carries a similar tone. A disclaimer at the bottom of the post, which is titled "Costume or Cultural Appropriation," notes that the Minnesota university doesn't have an official policy on Halloween costumes. The blog post, however, asks students to think critically about their costumes.

Cultural appropriation is defined as “the act of taking intellectual and cultural expressions from a culture that is not your own, without showing that you understand or respect the culture.” This can be as simple as wearing a dashiki without knowledge or respect to West African culture, and as serious as wearing a fake Native American headdress without any regard of its sacredness. It generally incorporates a history of prejudice and discrimination by perpetuating longstanding stereotypes.

There have, of course, been cases where a costume did become something reviewed by a university, but these cases are not the norm. At the University of Oregon last year, a law school professor was found to have violated the university’s policies against racial harassment for her costume, although the case was somewhat unusual.

The professor, Nancy Shurtz, apologized for wearing blackface for her costume. She was trying to dress as a book, Black Man in a White Coat, Damon Tweedy’s memoir about a black man starting his medical career. Her costume, she said, was intended to draw attention to the book and its antiracist message.

Shurtz wore the costume at a party hosted at her home, to which she had invited students. Some reported feeling offended or uncomfortable but obligated to stay, since Shurtz was still grading papers. Shurtz is still employed at the university, and the institution said that any disciplinary action would be confidential. The issue had to do with her role as a professor. A student in the same costume might have been criticized but not investigated.

Even so, spokesman Toby Klinger said he wasn’t aware of any specific communications coming out of the university about Halloween costumes this year. He also said that he couldn’t speculate on whether a student could run afoul of the code of conduct if they found themselves in a similar situation.

There aren’t blanket, cut-and-dried rules or bans, he said.

“I’m not aware of any specific communications coming out about that,” Klinger said via email. “Nor would I really be able to speculate on whether a student would run afoul of the code of conduct under a similar circumstance, given the complexities of individual incidents.”

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Senate hearing explores free speech on college campuses

Fri, 2017-10-27 07:00

WASHINGTON -- At a congressional hearing on free speech on college campuses Thursday, witnesses and senators from both parties championed the free exchange of a diversity of ideas, though they almost all had the same opinion: free speech needs to be vigorously defended on college campuses in the wake of a spate of instances in which students have shouted down speakers.

Allison Stanger, a professor of international politics and economics at Middlebury College, was one of the witnesses at the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions’ Thursday hearing, “Exploring Free Speech on College Campuses.” She joined Senators Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray -- the Republican chairman and ranking Democrat, respectively -- in expressing her commitment to seeing colleges uphold free speech.

But Stanger’s testimony was as personal as it was political.

In March, the libertarian scholar Charles Murray visited Middlebury, a private liberal arts college in Vermont -- or, as Stanger described it at the hearing, a “bubble within a bubble” -- for a speech that Stanger was to moderate. Although Stanger is a Democrat, and she did not invite Charles Murray (with whom she said she disagrees on a number of issues), she decided to moderate the event because she wanted her students to be exposed to conservative thinkers, she said Thursday.

That speech was disrupted by protesters, who later physically attacked Charles Murray and Stanger, leaving Stanger with a concussion and whiplash. Students and professors had assailed Charles Murray as antigay and racist (charges of racism stem from a book he co-wrote in 1994 that, in part, controversially addresses IQ differences among different races).

Still, Stanger defended free speech Thursday, criticizing Middlebury students and faculty members along the way, mostly on their rush to judgment on Charles Murray. The Southern Poverty Law Center -- whose president, Richard Cohen, was also a witness and sat next to Stanger -- labeled Charles Murray a white nationalist, a label Stanger disputes.

“We can and must do better,” she said, decrying the students and professors who admitted they had not read about Charles Murray or his work beyond what the SPLC published. “Some faculty acknowledged publicly that they had not read a thing Charles Murray had written, but still knew everything they needed to know about him from what the Southern Poverty Law Center website had to say about him.”

“Some students believed that shutting down speech was a means to social justice. Some Middlebury faculty shared that view, thereby encouraging radical action.”

While senators pressed witnesses for best practices, constitutional requirements to uphold free speech and the balance of liberal and conservative voices on campus, the general consensus was that the colleges themselves were doing their best to uphold the First Amendment. While the University of Florida’s roughly $600,000 security tab for hosting a speech by the white supremacist Richard Spencer was cited as worrisome, college administrations generally drew praise for their efforts to support free speech.

Another concern expressed by those at the hearing was Spencer's rise into the mainstream political discourse, as well as the rise of other figures affiliated with the so-called alt-right, such as Milo Yiannopoulos. Both men, who espouse racist, sexist and xenophobic ideas, have gone on speaking tours at college campuses, sometimes being invited by students and other times renting space like any member of the public could.

“An unusual thing happened during the presidential campaign: white supremacists openly endorsed President Trump,” Cohen said. In most cases, both the Republican and Democratic Parties are unappealing to those types of groups, but their coalescence around Trump -- and his success -- have helped vault them into the political discourse. “They feel, rightly or wrongly, that they have the ear of the president, especially when they had [former presidential adviser Steve] Bannon there.”

“When you look at who we have in the White House right now … it should not come as a surprise when we see an apparent resurgence of hate, bigotry, xenophobia and misogyny on our campuses,” said Senator Murray, the Washington Democrat.

Still, some senators expressed worry that college speakers might be approaching the tipping point of free speech limits -- the equivalent of shouting “fire” in a crowded theater, said Senator Maggie Hassan, a New Hampshire Democrat. She pointed to two recently filed lawsuits seeking to hold Spencer and organizers of the “Unite the Right” rally accountable for the violence that occurred when white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville, Va., ostensibly to protest against the proposed removal of Confederate statues. In addition to protesters shouting racist and anti-Semitic chants, a man drove his car through a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a woman, and plaintiffs say the organizers saw the violence coming during the planning stages.

Hassan also brought up the Spencer supporters arrested for attempted murder after Spencer’s University of Florida speech, one of whom also attended the Unite the Right rally.

“Courts have also recognized that the First Amendment has constraints,” Hassan said. “When does unprotected speech cross the line into the unprotected incitement of violence? And can’t we agree that the university has a responsibility to protect its students from this kind of planned violence?”

Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, also expressed skepticism about how the First Amendment was being applied in some cases.

“Colleges should be a place of robust speech and disagreement. We don’t need to protect people from free speech; we need to expose them to different ideas and have them use their critical faculties to determine what is right and wrong,” Kaine said. “But, I think, we cannot use the banner of protecting free speech to allow people to terrorize folks.”

But as Cohen pointed out, while harassment and violence are not protected speech, the bar for free speech crossing a line and becoming an unprotected incitement of violence is very high.

“I think it would be difficult, perhaps, to prove some of the allegations [in the Charlottesville lawsuit], to be honest,” Cohen said. “Clearly, incitement has a very precise legal meaning under the Constitution … There could be evidence of that. Bravado in advance [is] probably not enough. Celebrating someone’s demise in an ugly way, clearly not enough.”

The panel generally formed a consensus that the best way to combat hate speech is with more positive speech. And while that is certainly a pro-free-speech opinion, it’s not -- as the Middlebury protesters demonstrated in March, and colleges have seen since -- the only opinion.

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Pulse podcast features interview about StudyTree, mobile academic assistant

Fri, 2017-10-27 07:00

This month’s episode of the Pulse podcast features an interview with Ethan Keiser, founder and CEO of StudyTree.

In the discussion with the host Rodney B. Murray, Keiser talks about how the app -- which the company calls a "personal assistant" focused on students' academic performance -- uses artificial intelligence to analyze students’ grades and behavioral patterns to construct customized recommendations.

The Pulse is Inside Higher Ed’s monthly technology podcast. Murray is executive director of the office of academic technology at University of the Sciences.

Find out more, and listen to past Pulse podcasts, here.

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Report criticizes public universities for catering to wealthy students

Thu, 2017-10-26 07:00

A majority of the country’s top public universities have grown less accessible for the most financially strapped students since 1999 -- and at the same time, they have grown more accessible for wealthy students.

More than half of selective public institutions, 54 percent, have reduced the share of students they enroll from families with incomes in the lowest 40 percent of earners, while also increasing the share of students they enroll from families that are among the country’s top 20 percent of earners. Put differently, 217 out of 381 top public institutions enrolled a larger share of wealthy students even as they reduced their percentages of low-income students.

That statistic is key to a provocative argument about dwindling access in a new report being released today by the left-leaning think tank New America. The think tank is releasing its findings as part of a report analyzing publicly available data from the Equality of Opportunity Project, a study of U.S. social mobility combining public information on higher education with deidentified tax records from students and their parents.

The Equality of Opportunity Project received coverage early this year for showing that a handful of prestigious colleges enrolled more students from the top 1 percent of families sorted by income than they did from the bottom 60 percent. Other coverage of the project included the argument that college rankings incentivize institutions to favor wealthy students. New America has also published a series of blog posts looking at the data and what they show about higher education and mobility.

Those blog posts culminate in the new report out today. The Equality of Opportunity Project data are important because they allow researchers to see enrollment patterns among students from both poor and wealthy backgrounds, according to Stephen Burd, a senior policy analyst with New America. Previously, data available from the federal government did not provide insight into students from wealthy families.

“You try to read all the tea leaves and put together something based on what was available,” said Burd, who wrote portions of the new report addressing public institutions’ enrollment patterns over time. “We’ve hypothesized through various reports that this was happening.”

Burd calls out institutions by name in the report. Most prominently, he highlights Stony Brook University, a public research university that is part of the State University of New York System and is located on Long Island.

Stony Brook receives accolades for helping the low-income students it enrolls. More than half of the students at Stony Brook in the late 1990s who were from families earning less than $20,000 per year ended up in the top 20 percent of earners by the middle of their 30s, earning $110,000 or more. Almost eight in 10 made it to the middle class.

But the share of Stony Brook students coming from low-income families has dropped, while the share of its students coming from high-income families has risen. Students from families in the bottom 40 percent of earners -- those families making less than $37,000 -- made up more than a third of Stony Brook’s class in the late 1990s. Today they are a quarter of its class. Students coming from families in the top 20 percent of earners used to make up about a third of the university’s class. They accounted for almost 40 percent of the class of 2013.

Burd points to Stony Brook increasing its spending on merit aid, or non-need-based aid, as a driver of this shift. Non-need-based aid is often seen as a tool universities can use to attract desirable, high-achieving students -- who are often wealthy. It contrasts with need-based aid, which many view as the most targeted way to enable low-income students to attend college.

Stony Brook ratcheted up spending on non-need-based aid, from about $5 million in 2011-12 to over $8 million in 2015-16, according to Burd. More freshmen are receiving non-need-based aid as well.

The university also seems to be targeting out-of-state and foreign students, according to Burd. Those students pay higher tuition prices than in-state students. Stony Brook, like many other top public universities, appears to be enrolling more wealthy foreign students and out-of-state students to compensate for state budget cuts and to boost its prestige, he writes.

Between 2008 and 2016, Stony Brook’s international freshman enrollment jumped from 154 to 483, while the share of international students in its freshman class spiked from 5 percent to 17 percent. Since 2004, domestic out-of-state freshman enrollment rose from 4 percent to 9 percent.

Meanwhile, in-state enrollment has been pinched. In 2004, students from within New York State made up 90 percent of Stony Brook’s student body. Today, they make up 74 percent, Burd writes.

This phenomenon is not limited to Stony Brook. Burd also calls out similar trends at numerous other public colleges.

“These data should raise alarm bells throughout higher education and among policy makers,” Burd writes. “They need to consider whether the cult of enrollment management, which has encouraged public and private colleges and universities to cater to affluent students, has gone too far and left low-income students in the lurch.”

Stony Brook disputed the characterization. The university is enrolling a higher number of students from New York now than it has in past years, said Braden Hosch, assistant vice president for institutional research, planning and effectiveness. It also enrolls a higher number of students receiving Pell Grants -- often used as a proxy for low-income students -- than it did in the past.

But Stony Brook’s overall enrollment has grown as well, and it has added more out-of-state and international students. As a result, the percentage of in-state students can drop even as the sheer number does not.

The same relationship holds true for Pell Grant recipients. At 37.6 percent, the portion of Stony Brook undergraduates receiving Pell Grants in 2016-17 is the same as it was in 2003-04, even though the university now enrolls over 400 more Pell Grant recipients.

New York State is also experiencing a decline in its number of high school graduates, Hosch said.

“The number of New York students is declining,” he said. “There are just not more New York students, proportionally, to enroll.”

Asked whether Stony Brook could enroll more students from populations that were previously underrepresented, Hosch said the university tries.

“But everybody is competing for those students,” he said. “It’s a closed system, and we have enrolled more. We’re just competing with everybody else.”

There is also the argument that state disinvestment has forced public universities to enroll more full-pay students so they can use the high margins those students generate to fund students from families who cannot afford to pay for college. But Burd is not swayed by that or other arguments.

“I think, really, the part that gets lost that they won’t talk about is the prestige factor and the rankings,” he said. “This isn’t all about revenue.”

Burd also examined 32 public flagship universities whose data were available. He labeled them the biggest players in “the merit-aid arms race.”

Two-thirds of public flagships analyzed increased their shares of wealthy students while cutting their percentages of low-income students since the late 1990s. Just three flagships -- the Universities of Michigan, Nevada and Texas at Austin -- did the opposite.

Again, Burd names names. The University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa spent more than $100 million on non-need-based aid in 2014-15, up from $12 million in inflation-adjusted dollars 2000-01, he writes. More than two-thirds of its institutional aid dollars go to non-need-based aid.

The university increased its share of students from top-earning families by about 13 percentage points since the late 1990s, to 59 percent. The share of students from families in the bottom 40 percent of earners fell by almost six percentage points, to about 11 percent in the Class of 2013. The average annual income for a family with a student enrolled at the University of Alabama increased from $152,000 in the class entering in 1999 to almost $230,000 for the class graduating in 2013.

The University of Alabama’s out-of-state recruitment efforts focus on all students interested in attending, said a statement from Rick Barth, assistant vice president for enrollment management. Non-need-based scholarships have attracted students from wealthy families but also allowed in-state and out-of-state students to attend who otherwise would not be able to do so, he said.

Barth also disputed the idea that non-need-based aid caused the average family incomes of Alabama students to rise. As more students from faraway states have attended the university, “there has been a natural increase in average family income,” he said.

“The merit-based scholarship program has assisted UA with its out-of-state growth much more through benefiting families that otherwise would not have been able to send their sons or daughters out of state than it has attracted students from families that can afford to send their children to any institution,” Barth said.

Burd also names several other flagship institutions, including the University of Arkansas, which increased the percentage of students from top-earning families by almost 15 percentage points since the late 1990s, to 53 percent of the Class of 2013.

Arkansas indicated an interest in changing.

"Improving access to affordable higher education and supporting student success through graduation is a top priority of the University of Arkansas," said Mark Rushing, assistant vice chancellor of university relations. "That is why we are actively increasing funding for need-based scholarships through several programs."

The university has also shifted more aid to Arkansas students in the last two years.

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College requires students to take Patriotic Education and Fitness

Thu, 2017-10-26 07:00

Quick quiz: Where is Omaha Beach?

If your answer was Normandy, France, the site of the D-Day landings, you’re correct. But Jerry Davis is worried that kids these days might wager Nebraska.

That’s why the College of the Ozarks, where Davis is president, has launched a new required course for freshmen -- dubbed Patriotic Education and Fitness -- to combat what he sees as rising anti-American, antipatriotic sentiments in American culture that have been "bubbling for many years." How much that is true versus how much that is his perception is certainly up for debate, but given that one of the college’s five pillars is “patriotic education,” the course certainly fits the culture of the Christian liberal arts college.

The college held a media day for local outlets in Point Lookout, Mo., Monday to show off the new four-credit course, which was piloted both semesters last year and debuted in earnest as a requirement for freshmen this semester. At the media day, a formation of students marched through campus and stood at attention as Davis addressed them. Terrence Dake, a Board of Trustees member and retired Marine general, told them to stand at ease before continuing with another address.

Speaking by phone with Inside Higher Ed Wednesday, Davis had criticisms of the younger generation but said the course -- which combines elements from ROTC programming, physical education courses and the college’s patriotic education pillar -- was about building a positive citizenry.

“We can all be patriots, but we all can’t be in the military. But we need to understand each other,” he said. “We think that higher education should take a leadership role in closing what we think is a cultural gap, if you will, between the 99 percent [of American citizens] that don’t serve in the military, and the 1 percent that does.”

“We don’t need that gulf to widen -- we need it to close.”

The course includes physical- and military-oriented education components -- such as map reading, rifle marksmanship, military organization and protocol regarding the American flag -- as well as civics and government aspects. While the course is certainly oriented toward patriotism, it isn’t necessarily partisan; the college’s website prominently lists both College Republicans and College Democrats chapters as ways for students to become civically engaged.

“We don’t need a bunch of kids running around thinking Omaha Beach is in Nebraska,” he said. “There’s a remarkable amount of ignorance in college students, no matter what their grades, nowadays. And it goes back to how they’ve been taught.”

Davis wants colleges to “be intentional” about patriotism. But as the National Football League has come under scrutiny with accusations of “forced patriotism” in putting its players on the field for the national anthem, Davis rebuffed the idea that requiring a course on patriotism might dilute its purpose.

“We require them to take English and other things, because we think it’s important,” he said. “It communicates a value, that it’s important.”

He added that in his four decades as a college president, he’s “never found students reluctant to criticize anything,” from parking lots to dining-hall options, and doubted that this course would leave to students reluctant to criticize the military or the United States.

Davis also said that he had received inquiries wondering whether the course was a reaction to recent protests by NFL players -- originally started last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick -- which involve kneeling during the national anthem. The protests have played out in various sports and at various colleges as a way to protest police brutality against African-Americans, but its detractors have said it’s disrespectful to the military. The College of the Ozarks concurred, and in September, Davis announced that the Bobcats would not play opponents whose teams don't stand for the national anthem.

“The college itself has a patriotic goal. And if you look at what that goal is, we define it as [encouraging] understanding of American heritage, civic responsibilities, love of country and willingness to defend it,” he said. “That’s one of the ways we do that, is with this course. It’s not a reaction to something.”

While he said that “people in this part of the country” generally aren’t fans of “disrespect of the national anthem,” he also believes that had been the consensus for a long time.

Though the course will almost certainly draw liberal or leftist detractors from around academe, Davis expressed confidence in the course’s potential to be a positive impact in students’ lives.

“I want them to have an appreciation for the country in which we live. They should understand how it works, and they should understand more about the military and how it operates,” he said. “And they should come away with the idea that we’re all Americans, and we have these things -- or should have these things -- in common.”

“If you’re going to be a good citizen, we can’t think of a better way to prepare you than to take a class like this.”

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Education Dept. officials debate partial debt relief for student borrowers

Thu, 2017-10-26 07:00

Student borrowers have filed tens of thousands of additional applications for discharge of student debt since the Trump administration last updated Congress over the summer.

But the Department of Education has yet to issue any new resolutions of those claims, known as borrower-defense applications. And while borrowers wait for a ruling on their claims, there is an ongoing debate within the department over whether it could grant partial relief to some applicants -- and on what basis it would determine the proper amount of relief for those borrowers.

Borrowers are allowed to seek discharge of their federal student loans if they were misled by their college or university, or if the institution violated certain state laws. The option was little used before the collapse of the for-profit Corinthian Colleges chain in 2015 and ITT Tech in 2016.

A flood of applications followed from former students of those and other for-profit institutions. Tens of thousands of those claims were still pending review by the department when the transition in administrations took place in January. And to the consternation of student advocates, the backlog of claims has only grown.

The Washington Post first reported that partial relief was on the table this week; a person with knowledge of those discussions confirmed to Inside Higher Ed that they had taken place.

Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the department, said she could not address whether partial relief for defrauded borrowers was on the table.

"We're working on a process for adjudicating all pending claims," she said. "There's still a lot of internal discussion going on about the best way forward."

The department told Democratic lawmakers in July that as of that month, more than 65,000 borrower-defense claims were pending review. The Post reported that that number is now as high as 87,000 claims; sources at the department indicated the total was even higher.

About 10,000 claims are ready to go out the door -- to notify borrowers that their claims were either approved or denied. But further movement has stalled. Meanwhile, debate is taking place within the department over whether and how to issue partial relief.

Granting partial relief would hinge on the actual harm suffered by borrowers. For example, the department could compare the earnings of a borrower working in their field of study who made a claim of fraud by an institution to the average earnings of someone in that profession. But discussion is ongoing internally over how to measure harm. The department would likely have to use earnings for a group of borrowers who attended a particular program in making such calculations -- borrower-defense forms issued by the department didn't ask for individual applicants' earnings information after leaving their college or university.

Debbie Cochrane, vice president of the Institute for College Access and Success, said the idea that defrauded borrowers would see only partial relief of their student loan debt was alarming.

"The notion that a full federal loan discharge is truly even making borrowers whole is just not accurate," she said. "In addition to taking out federal student loans, these students have spent their time and their own money to enroll, and they won't get that back."

And granting partial relief to applicants working in their field of study basically penalizes students who manage to do well despite being defrauded, Cochrane said.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in June blocked a borrower-defense regulation crafted by the Obama administration from going into effect. That rule would have clarified -- and expanded -- the eligibility of borrowers seeking discharge of their student loans after being misled or defrauded by their college. But it also included language about partial relief that was heavily opposed by advocacy groups like TICAS.

While the scenarios it imagined were fairly straightforward, partial relief would have been entirely permissible under the regulation, said Clare McCann, the deputy director for federal higher education policy at New America and a former Obama official who worked on the rule.

"Many who applied for borrower defense likely do deserve full relief," McCann said. "It's also reasonable to say some of the people got value out of their education and, therefore, the amount of relief [the department is] going to provide is not going to be the same as for someone who got a totally valueless education."

Michael Goldstein, a lawyer at Cooley LLP, said that before the Corinthian debacle, there was essentially no use of the existing borrower-defense provision. How the secretary uses her discretion is an open matter, he said.

"Fairness, equal treatment, etc., are all issues, but the basic authority seems to already be there," he said in an email.

Some student advocates see internal discussions over granting relief as a sign that borrowers who have waited as long as two years for a resolution on their claims could remain in limbo for the foreseeable future.

"The more precise you want to be about the damages done to borrowers, the less efficiently you'll be able to move these claims through," said Justin Draeger, president and CEO of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. "I'd lean toward moving these claims forward."

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Isolation, loneliness for college students persists in a partisan era on college campuses

Thu, 2017-10-26 07:00

In a video gone viral, a first-year Cornell University student, Emery Bergmann, is curled up on her bed, hunched over her phone, lamenting how she hasn’t found friends on her new campus.

“I feel like everyone else has kind of found their squad. Like, people walk around in big posses and I definitely don’t have that,” Bergmann narrates in the video, a class project that dealt with the loneliness she felt as a new student. “I feel more like a planet in the solar system, and, like, I know people and I say hi to them when I pass by them, but sometimes that’s kind of it.”

Bergmann captures a problem that student affairs professionals and counselors say is not new among college students, though today’s crop has to deal with much more than just making friends with their fellow students down the hall.

Political anxieties abound on campuses, particularly exacerbated by the Trump administration’s policies and positions. Controversial speakers appearing at public institutions has become near par for the course in some places, significantly disrupting the campus flow. And of course, students still face trouble locating jobs and affording college -- much more than previous generations.

While these issues do suck up much of the oxygen and attention of college officials, in interviews they said the more traditional mental health problems, such as feelings of isolation among freshmen, persist.

Perhaps that’s why Bergmann’s video has attracted so much attention -- it’s been featured on the Today show website and viewed more than 87,000 times since it was published a little more than a week and a half ago.

While the press has focused on controversial topics in higher education -- such as free speech on campus -- campus officials have done “quiet work” on addressing engaging students and ensuring that they take care of their mental well-being, said Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education. When a student connects to campus and develops a social life, they will do better academically, Kruger said.

Much more now, colleges and universities are training their professors and their staff members to serve as an ear for students and teach them how to direct students to resources like a counseling center, Kruger said.

Especially at larger institutions, students can become invisible, so talking to the people closer to them -- their professors -- can be beneficial, he said. Removing the stigma around seeking mental health treatment is also key, he said, citing the fact that many students don’t take advantage of a counseling center willingly.

At two-year institutions, such as Santa Fe Community College, this is particularly true, in part because students don’t live on campus, said Janelle Johnson, the senior counselor there, and president-elect of the American College Counseling Association.

Santa Fe has deliberately tried to work with professors because they’re often the first to notice when a student is struggling, she said.

At the community college, where many are first-generation college students, some may encounter a different type of loneliness, Johnson said. Many of their friends may not be enrolled in college, and so there’s an “experience gap,” she said. Students attend class not to make friends, and they're not often asking their classmates out for coffee, she said, which is why the college tries to recruit them into groups where they can meet people.

Johnson said because the college is located in New Mexico, it enrolls many Dreamers, the students protected by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, which President Trump has announced he will rescind. These students aren’t always worried about themselves -- if they graduated from a New Mexico high school, they’re eligible for certain scholarships even if they don’t qualify for federal aid, Johnson said. They’re worried for their family members who are undocumented.

The college is trying to help students learn “mindfulness in education,” a buzzy way of saying they should live in the moment. This applies particularly to students’ penchant for their cellphones.

“They’re not present if they’re, like, ‘oh, I’m meeting my friends later,’ or going to the club … or whatever these events are,” Johnson said. “Students a lot don’t stay present, and that can contribute to the loneliness. And the kind of lifestyle we want for a college student is being present, with new experiences, and meeting new people.”

When students are more invested in their phones than the world around them, the more “beneficial” pieces of human contact are lost, said Christopher Corbett, director of counseling and student support services at the Savannah College of Art and Design and past president of the American College Counseling Association.

Many students won’t share their experiences, though, so the college has tried grouping freshmen in their residence halls with the same students in their classes, Corbett said.

Institutions have grappled with this problem, especially in light of the new politically related tensions, and it’s up to each individual college or university on what they want to prioritize, Corbett said.

“It’s really hard to spend those resources in such a way that every single student feels similarly connected,” he said. “It’s just a matter of math, and some of the really hard decisions administrators have to make.”

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Data show global nature of academic collaboration

Thu, 2017-10-26 07:00

More than half of all research papers published by academics in France and Britain now have at least one international co-author, the latest figures reveal.

Analysis by publishing giant Elsevier showed that both countries pushed past the 50 percent mark for the first time in 2014, the most recent year for which complete data are available. In France, 51.6 percent of articles had at least one overseas collaborator, with the U.K. 0.3 percentage points behind.

Canada and Germany were not much farther behind, at 48.3 percent and 47.3 percent, respectively. Partial data for 2015 released to Times Higher Education show that both these countries were set to hit 50 percent in that year, with the U.K. and France on course to reach 54.4 percent.

The U.S. is farther behind, with a third (33.1 percent) of all 2014 papers featuring foreign input.

The 2014 data are included in Elsevier’s recent report, International Comparative Performance of the U.K. Research Base 2016, commissioned by the British government.

It highlights how internationally co-authored articles tend to be more highly cited than those that are co-authored within national borders or institutions. In Britain, for example, of articles published in 2014, the field-weighted citation impact of those with an international co-author was 47 percent higher than those produced collaboratively in the U.K., and 59 percent higher than institutionally co-authored papers.

The number of internationally co-authored papers produced in both the U.K. and France has climbed steadily in recent years, which could be partly attributable to strong relationships with universities in other European countries, as well as Australia and the U.S.

“Every partner in a research collaboration influences the outcomes of that research, as each brings something different to the relationship, from basic needs such as access to resources, to more creative benefits like innovation sparked by the mixing of different approaches and methodologies in the search for answers to traditional questions,” the report says. “This is especially true of international collaborations.”

Elsevier’s report for the U.K. government warns that there are “growing indications that the U.K. is losing ground in the research leadership stakes,” citing the rise of China as “the biggest pressure on the U.K. and others.”

Increased investment in research in China has resulted in a spurt in the number of papers published over all -- up by more than a third, from 347,000 in 2010 to in excess of 478,000 in 2014.

Levels of global research collaboration remain relatively low compared with more established higher education powers, however, leaving China at the bottom of the scale for international co-authorship, alongside India (16.5 percent and 15.8 percent, respectively).

Separate research by Ohio State University and the European Commission, published in Nature earlier this month, found a strong relationship between a nation’s scientific influence and the links that it fosters with foreign researchers.

This correlation held true regardless of a country’s spending on research and development or the number of articles that it publishes.

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New presidents or provosts: Charleston Eastern Wyoming Jefferson Oakland Tompkins Widener

Thu, 2017-10-26 07:00
  • Orinthia T. Montague, vice president of student affairs and chief diversity officer at Normandale Community College, in Minnesota, has been appointed president of Tompkins Cortland Community College, in New York.
  • Ora Hirsch Pescovitz, senior vice president and U.S. medical leader for Lilly Bio-Medicines at Eli Lilly and Company, in Michigan, has been chosen as president of Oakland University, in Michigan.
  • Dale Scalise-Smith, dean of the College of Health Professions at Northern Kentucky University, has been selected as provost of Widener University, in Pennsylvania.
  • Kim Spiezio, vice president of academic affairs, executive director of special projects and vice president of institutional effectiveness at Tennessee Wesleyan University, has been named provost at the University of Charleston, in West Virginia.
  • Ty A. Stone, vice president for strategic initiatives at Sinclair Community College, in Ohio, has been chosen as president of Jefferson Community College, in New York.
  • Lesley Travers, dean of the School of Business and Industry at Casper College, in Wyoming, has been selected as president of Eastern Wyoming College.
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Tuition and fees still rising faster than aid, College Board report shows

Wed, 2017-10-25 07:00

In what has become a familiar pattern in the last several years, published tuition and fee prices increased at a relatively low, steady rate this year -- but financial aid again failed to keep up, resulting in students paying more to attend college.

Tuition and fees increased by less than 2 percent between 2016-17 and 2017-18 after adjusting for inflation, according to new College Board reports released Wednesday. The reports, “Trends in Student Aid” and “Trends in College Pricing,” are released annually, showing both short-term changes and trends over longer periods of time.

Private nonprofit four-year institutions’ average published tuition and fees increased by 1.9 percent, to $34,740, in 2017-18, after adjusting for inflation. Public four-year institutions’ tuition and fees rose by 1.3 percent, to $9,970. Public two-year colleges’ tuition and fees increased by 1.1 percent year over year, to $3,570.

The increases are significant, but they are substantially lower than year-over-year jumps seen during the Great Recession. In 2009-10, when institutions posted some of their largest tuition increases, private nonprofit four-year institutions raised tuition and fees by 5.9 percent. Public four-year colleges posted a 9.5 percent increase, and public two-year colleges posted a 10.2 percent hike.

Yet the prices students end up paying in tuition and fees still marched upward in 2017-18 as grant aid and tax benefits did not keep pace with rising sticker prices. That’s a key difference from the recession. Then, average net prices declined despite jumps in published tuition and fees because of major increases in grant aid and tax benefits, the reports say.

Now, net prices for full-time students at public four-year institutions have increased for eight straight years, for seven straight years for students at public two-year colleges, and for six straight years for those at private nonprofit colleges and universities. So the typical student keeps paying more for college each year.

Across private nonprofit four-year institutions, net tuition and fees collected per full-time undergraduate student averaged $14,530 in 2017-18. That was up from $13,890 the year before, meaning net tuition and fees increased by a substantial 4.6 percent. At public four-year colleges, net tuition and fees averaged $4,140, up from $4,010, an increase of 3.2 percent.

At public two-year colleges, grant aid and tax benefits exceeded posted tuition and fees. But students were still expected to pay more than in recent years. In 2017-18, the average aid and tax benefits totaled $330 more than the cost of tuition and fees. In 2016-17, it was $370 more than tuition and fees. Average aid can exceed average net tuition and fees -- students still must fund other expenses, like housing, food and books, which can cost thousands of dollars.

Increases in colleges' sticker prices and net prices aren't just numbers on paper. They drive questions about the affordability of higher education for many families. They also cause some to question the value of attending a college or university, as higher up-front costs make some worry about the return on investment. The debate exists even as research continues to point to strong economic benefits from earning a college education.

Prices creeping up year after year is a serious problem, said Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute, who co-wrote the report.

“We should be thinking about it not as a one-year problem, but as a long-term question of how we’re going to finance higher education,” she said.

In the decade from 2007-08 to 2017-18, published prices rose by an average of 2.4 percent annually at private nonprofit four-year institutions, after adjusting for inflation. They rose by 3.2 percent annually at public four-year institutions and by 2.8 percent at public two-year institutions.

Seemingly small annual increases can add up over decades. The published tuition and fee price in the public four-year sector was 3.13 times higher in 2017-18 than it was in 1987-88. The tuition and fee price in the private nonprofit four-year sector was 2.29 times higher in 2017-18 than it was 30 years earlier. The price in the public two-year sector was 2.25 times higher.

Examining net pricing trends over the last decade shows two general periods of change. Generally, net tuition and fees dropped after 2007-08 and started to rebound in subsequent years.

In the four-year private nonprofit sector, for example, net undergraduate tuition and fees fell from an average of $15,270 in 2007-08 to $13,210 in 2012-13. In other words, net tuition and fees are currently lower, at $14,530, than they were in 2007-08, but significantly higher than they were in 2013-14.

In the public two-year sector, net tuition and fees fell from $350 in 2007-08 to negative $620 in 2012-13. At negative $330, average net tuition and fees are currently still lower than they were in 2007-08 but come in higher than they were in 2012-13.

Public four-year institutions are slightly different because net tuition and fees are higher today than they were a decade ago. In 2007-08, net tuition and fees for full-time in-state undergraduate students at public four-year institutions were $3,070. They fell, notching $3,460 in 2012-13, and have since climbed back to more than $4,100.

Those changes came amid some differing trends in enrollment and public funding for higher education. From 2005-06 to 2010-11, enrollment jumped by 19 percent, while total state and local funding rose by just 2 percent. As a result, per-student funding fell by 14 percent.

Then from 2010-11 to 2015-16, total state and local funding fell by 2 percent. But enrollment dropped by 5 percent, leading to a 3 percent increase in per-student funding.

Financial Aid

Grant aid for postsecondary students totaled $125.4 billion in 2016-17. That was 74 percent more than 10 years earlier, adjusting for inflation.

Full-time-equivalent enrollment increased by 11 percent during that time frame. That left grant aid per undergraduate rising by 61 percent, to $8,440, and grant aid per graduate student increasing by 39 percent, to $9,290.

Colleges and universities are shouldering more of the grant load. The federal share of grant aid topped out at 44 percent in 2010-11 and has since dropped to 32 percent in 2016-17. Institutional grant aid rose from 35 percent to 47 percent during that same time frame.

Expenditures on Pell Grants increased from $15.2 billion in 2006-07 to $35.8 billion in 2011-12, then dropped to $26.6 billion in 2016-17. The number of Pell Grant recipients has fallen for five straight years but at 7.1 million recipients is still 38 percent higher than it was in 2006-07.

Meanwhile, the makeup of federal grant aid has skewed more heavily toward veterans. Pell Grants fell from 76 percent of federal grants in 2006-07 to 66 percent of federal grants in 2016-17, even as they grew in dollar terms. Veterans’ benefits increased from $3.2 billion to $12.9 billion during the same time frame, rising from 16 percent to 32 percent of all federal grants. The recent Forever GI Bill will reinforce the trend, according to the reports.

Grant aid per full-time-equivalent undergraduate student increased by 14 percent, or $1,020, between 2011-12 and 2016-17. It had increased by 42 percent, or $2,180, in the previous five years.

Both low-income and high-income families received more tax credits in the years between 2004 and 2014. The share of savings from education tax credits and deductions for households with adjusted gross income of less than $25,000 was 15 percent in 2004. It rose to 24 percent in 2014.

The share of savings from education tax credits and deductions for households with adjusted gross income of $100,000 went from 0 percent to 24 percent during the same time span. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, implemented in 2009, shifted the benefits of education tax credits toward upper-income and lower-income filers, according to the reports.

Nearly two-thirds of bachelor’s degree recipients from public and private nonprofit institutions borrowed -- 60 percent. They graduated with an average of $28,400 in debt. In 2017, half of outstanding federal education loan debt is held by just 12 percent of borrowers who owe $60,000 or more. Another 57 percent of borrowers with outstanding federal education loan debt owe less than $20,000.

Total annual education borrowing dropped for the sixth consecutive year. It fell by 15 percent, from $125.6 billion in 2010-11 to $106.5 billion in 2016-17, adjusting for inflation. Borrowing per full-time-equivalent undergraduate decreased by $830, to $5,430.

Borrowing per undergraduate has likely fallen for multiple reasons, Baum said. The improved economy likely means more parents have jobs and can pay more for their children to go to college. Some students might also be going to work instead of college.

Borrowing per graduate student has followed a different path. It first decreased, from $19,420 in 2010-11 to $17,760 in 2014-15. Then it rose to $18,430 in 2016-17.

“Graduate students can borrow a virtually unlimited amount under the Grad PLUS program, and as tuition goes up, they just borrow more,” Baum said. “It’s time to think hard about the structure of federal loans for graduate students.”

Financial aid per undergraduate full-time-equivalent student averaged $14,400 in 2016-17. Grants from various sources accounted for $8,440, federal loans were $4,620, education tax credits and deductions were $1,280, and Federal Work-Study averaged $60.

Graduate students received $27,950 per full-time equivalent in financial aid. Federal loans averaged the largest share, at $17,710, followed by grants at $9,290, tax credits and deductions at $860, and Federal Work-Study at $90.

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List of featured speakers for sociology conference, most of them men, sparks debate and backlash

Wed, 2017-10-25 07:00

Sociologists study inequality for a living. The field is also relatively diverse. Panels at sociology conferences -- unlike some of their counterparts in traditionally male-dominated fields -- usually reflect both of those facts.

So a preliminary list of panels for the upcoming annual meeting of the Eastern Sociological Society that included two women among 14 academics total startled some earlier this week. It also led to a public debate about professional comportment and the purpose of scholarly meetings.

“If you don’t see a problem here, you might be a part of the problem here,” tweeted Matthew W. Hughey, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Connecticut, in response to the list on the Eastern Sociological Society’s home page. It listed plenary sessions by two male speakers, both from Harvard University; the society’s president, Victor Nee, the Frank and Rosa Rhodes Professors at Cornell University; and 11 presidential panels with “leading scholars.” Nine were men.

Hughey echoed thoughts others had already expressed on Facebook, though his tweet attracted posts from like-minded sociologists who said they were stunned by the apparent lack of diversity among panelists. Some said they planned to skip the meeting.

The home page was soon updated to include many more women as speakers within the panels listed. Among other changes, it included a lecture by Grace Kao, a professor of sociology at Yale University; the name of the society’s female vice president, Vilna Bashi Treitler, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (formerly of the City University of New York’s Graduate Center and Baruch College); and a new panel proposal from Treitler, on “power and paradigm” in sociology.

Most of the female panelists included in the new list had previously agreed to speak at the conference, meaning they were not asked to appear merely as a result of the controversy. But Treitler said Tuesday that she had pitched her panel specifically in response to the first list.

“There’s a bigger issue here -- it’s not just about inclusion, it’s about hierarchy and power in the academy,” she said.

In the interim, Nee, the society's president, emailed Hughey -- copying the society's executive committee, of which Hughey is part -- to ask that he retract his criticism of the conference, according to an email obtained by Inside Higher Ed.

“I am writing to say that your recent Twitter violates norms of collegiality and academic values of the Eastern Sociological Society,” Nee wrote, saying that he’d promoted a recent talk by Hughey at Cornell. “As president of the [society], I request an apology and retraction of your Twitter post … [It] shows an uncollegial disposition, one that is in conflict with your responsibility” as a committee member.

Asked about the email Tuesday, Hughey said it was “inappropriate” request, "bullying and authoritarian in style," that could have a chilling effect on academics’ willingness to promote change from within their fields.

Richard Alba, a distinguished professor of sociology at CUNY's Graduate Center and past president of the society, also criticized Hughey via Twitter, saying that his “comment reveals sociology's widening cleavages.” In another tweet to Hughey, he wrote, “And I’m frankly surprised to see this announcement derided by a member of the [executive committee] -- you are one, right, Matthew?” (Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated Alba's institutional affiliation.)

In another post that was criticized by a number of sociologists beyond Hughey, Alba defined a meeting as “a chance for junior colleagues to interact with luminaries. To me, there’s nothing out of the ordinary about advertising the meeting with big names.”

Gender imbalances aside, Hughey told Inside Higher Ed, the full speaker list remains elitist, with 31 of 53 highlighted speakers coming from the Ivy League. While some may defend this as featuring the “best and brightest” speakers, he said, “I’d say the definition of ‘best and brightest’ is contested, and not shared.”

Treitler agreed, saying meetings, in her view, are a place for intellectual back-and-forth, not to idolize a very particular definition of senior scholars. “This is how scholarship is made.”

Via email, Nee said that the initial poster provided just a partial list of scholars who agreed to organize panels on the theme of social and institutional change.

Hughey “inferred incorrectly that the other panelists would be exactly like the organizers,” Nee said. Hoping to attract robust participation at the conference in Baltimore, he added, “I sought to recruit as panel organizers active and visible senior scholars in a broad range of fields of research with whom younger scholars might wish to interact. I am hopeful that the controversy will be resolved now that we have posted a more complete account of the 2018 presidential panels.”

Nee added, “The charges of lack of diversity in terms of institution, gender and ethnicity/race are just are not borne out by a fair-minded review of the panelists serving on the 2018 [society] plenary and presidential panels.” Some 40 to 50 percent of the panelists are women, while just over 30 percent are racial minorities, he said (Nee pointed out that he is the society's first Asian-American elected president). The Northeast, meanwhile, "has the greatest concentration of leading research universities of any region in the U.S. Not surprisingly, many panelists are from research universities. However, there is a representation of scholars from City University of New York and liberal arts colleges."

In an interview, Alba said the Eastern society has a particular reputation for diversity and inclusion in terms of race, gender and institution type; he served as its president when he was a professor at the State University of New York at Albany, for example, he added. So it’s puzzling, he said, that there’s so much “upset” over “a very skimpy statement of the program … It bothers me as a scholar to see people rush to judgment in this way.”

Nazli Kibria, chair of sociology at Boston University and the society’s president-elect, said she agreed to talk on a presidential panel months ago, forgot about it and was reminded when she saw her name on the updated list. While she understood her colleagues’ concerns about diversity and inclusion, she said, the Eastern society conference is a place where many sociologists present their first papers because it is so inclusive. She chalked the debate up to a “bureaucratic mishap.”

“I’m troubled that this whole discussion is not giving a true picture of what this organization is,” Kibria added. “Relatively speaking, compared to other groups, this is pretty inclusive.”

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