Higher Education News

New presidents or provosts: Fort Lewis Furman Greensburg Kent Morgan Northwestern Pitzer Reed Thomas More UCLA UNM

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 6, 2019 - 5:00pm
  • Audrey Bilger, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college and professor of English at Pomona College, in California, has been named president of Reed College, in Oregon.
  • Emily A. Carter, dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University, in New Jersey, has been appointed executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Joseph L. Chillo, president of Newbury College, in Massachusetts, has been selected as president of Thomas More University, in Kentucky.
  • Lesia L. Crumpton-Young, vice president for research and institutional advancement and chief research officer at Tennessee State University, has been chosen as provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Morgan State University, in Maryland.
  • Todd Diacon, executive vice president and provost at Kent State University, in Ohio, has been appointed president there.
  • Robert G. Gregerson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and senior adviser to the provost at Florida Gulf Coast University, has been named president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
  • James Paul Holloway, vice provost for global engagement and interdisciplinary academic affairs at the University of Michigan, has been selected as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of New Mexico.
  • Allen M. Omoto, associate provost for academic affairs and director of the Institute for Research on Social Issues at Claremont Graduate University, in California, has been chosen as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Pitzer College, also in California.
  • Ken Peterson, dean of the faculty at Furman University, in South Carolina, has been named vice president for academic affairs and provost there.
  • D. Nathan Phinney, provost at Malone University, in Ohio, has been chosen as vice president for academic affairs at Northwestern College, in Iowa.
  • Tom Stritikus, deputy director of K-12 education at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has been appointed president of Fort Lewis College, in Colorado.
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Categories: Higher Education News

Alumnus leaves Compton College properties worth millions

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 5, 2019 - 5:00pm

Oliver Conner was just starting to make his way in the world when he moved to Los Angeles from Texarkana, Ark., in 1961.

He was only 18 years old and still had a year of high school left to complete, but he wanted more than what his hometown could offer. Opportunities for upward mobility for black people were limited in Texarkana back then.

Conner eventually enrolled at Compton Community College, as it was then called, a two-year institution just south of downtown Los Angeles, and graduated on June 14, 1972. When he died in 2016 at age 72, he left much of his estate -- $9 million worth of property he’d methodically acquired over several decades -- to what is now called Compton College.

Compton announced in April that it had renamed a free tuition program for area high school graduates the Oliver W. Conner College Promise. The program, which originally guaranteed admission and waived enrollment fees for the first year of college for graduates from the neighboring Compton, Lynwood, and Paramount unified school districts, will now cover tuition for two years. Every student in the program will also now receive up to $400 for books, a new benefit made possible in part by Conner's gift.

The program's name change seemed fitting. Conner got a free education at Compton -- the institution didn’t start charging tuition until 1984 -- which he believed helped him create the life he’d imagined for himself. He wanted to use his financial success to do the same for current students.

“This is the first major gift to our institution, and it’s a game-changer,” said Keith Curry, president and CEO of the college. “It provides a significant opportunity for our promise program. It changes what we can provide to our students and allows us to provide more for our students.”

The school districts covered by the promise program are located in economically depressed areas of Los Angeles County. At least 25 percent of the households in those districts have incomes below the federal poverty level; two free years of college are very meaningful to students from poor families. It can also help them complete college sooner -- it takes most community college students an average of 3.3 years to graduate -- and give them incentive to pursue bachelor's degrees. The promise program covers the fall and spring semesters, and the shorter winter and summer terms, for students who enroll at Compton full-time.

At a time when the necessity and practicality of free college is being debated by academics, policy makers and the many candidates vying to become the next president of the United States, Oliver Conner’s story is illuminating -- and instructive.

The notion of the transformative power of a college education and the long-term benefits of graduating debt-free, still resonates today among first-generation college students, immigrants and students from low-income families -- the very people who could most benefit from free college and who increasingly represent the changing demographics of American college campuses. College debt can keep these students from completing their education, or from prospering if and when they do graduate. It can even threaten their financial security for the rest of their lives.

Meanwhile, overall enrollment at community colleges is shrinking, and state and federal education funding can't make up for the lost revenue. Compton's total enrollment for the 2017-18 academic year was 12,205, a 25 percent decline from the peak enrollment of 16,203 in 2010-11. As a result of these trends, seven-figure gifts to small, struggling community colleges have great significance.

Curry said Conner’s gift will enable Compton to pay for books for promise program students, as Conner stipulated in his will. It will also enable the college to offer them more support services, such as dedicated academic counseling.

“It will make local high school students want to come to Compton College,” Curry said.

Perhaps more importantly, it may prompt others to become benefactors of the college.

“We beg for people to give us money, and it always falls back to ‘Oh, but this is Compton,’” Curry said. “It’s hard to get people to invest in the college. It’s a hard sell, because they look at all the negative images of the city of Compton and the media stereotypes about it, the emphasis on the negatives and not the positives.”

He said he's constantly trying to convince potential donors, and even students, of the value of the college.

Although Conner clearly considered Compton worth his investment, the college came incredibly close to losing the donation due to a long and winding sequence of events.

Shortly after Conner died, one of his brothers and the wife of another brother went to Conner's business office and found and shredded Conner's original will, "along with many other documents," according to a petition filed by the college in July 2017 to admit the will in probate court. Fortunately for Compton, "A copy of the will was secretly preserved and sent to two of the decedent's longtime friends, and both have corroborated the story," the petition states.

The will had stipulated that in the event that Compton was no longer in existence at the time of Conner’s death, the portion of his estate willed to the college should instead go to the Crippled Children's Society of Los Angeles. That organization, since renamed AbilityFirst, advocates for disability rights and pioneered some of the first community services in the state for children and adults with disabilities.

It turned out that a friend of Conner's knew that his brother and sister-in-law had shredded the will. The friend also knew that copies of the will existed; she contacted Children's Hospital Los Angeles and told a company representative about the will. Hospital administrators contacted AbilityFirst, and a representative of the organization called Compton, informed Curry of the will and offered to share the proceeds if Compton joined AbilityFirst in an attempt to have the copy of the will admitted to probate court.

Curry declined the offer, and Compton petitioned the court on its own. Conner's brother and a nephew then contested the will on behalf of themselves and the other relatives, effectively petitioning the probate court not to validate the copy of will. Compton filed suit against the family soon after.

Last January, after two years of legal wrangling, Compton and Conner's relatives reached a settlement. The college agreed to give Conner's family members $3 million of the $9 million, and the family supported the plan to name the promise program after him. The family joined in the celebration of the bequest to Compton (right).

Starting Out

Conner didn’t need the "hard sell" that Curry says is now sometimes required to convince him to enroll at Compton. It was one of the first two-year colleges created in California, and it had a strong reputation in the 1960s. Conner's older brother, Jerry, whom Oliver followed to the West Coast, was already a student there. Oliver Conner arrived as the demographics of the student body was just starting to shift from overwhelmingly white to predominantly black. By the end of that decade, some people were referring to the institution as “California’s historically black college,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

Another shift occurred in subsequent decades, however, as the Latino student population surpassed that of black students. Latinos were 60 percent of the student body in the 2017-18 academic year, while African Americans were 25 percent, according to Compton College data.

Conner’s gift to the college arrived as the growing debt gap between white college graduates and graduates of color was raising concerns about the role of student loan debt in perpetuating income inequality and stifling generational wealth.

According to a Brookings Institution report on the racial disparity in student loan debt, black undergraduates owe $7,400 more on average in loans than their white peers upon graduation.

And student loan debt also had an “outsized effect” on Latino students, according to data compiled by Demos, a public policy think tank focused on social, economic and political equity issues.

Although Latino students at four-year, public colleges borrow at about the same rate as white students, “Latino borrowers are more likely to drop out because they or their families are more likely to face financial pressures than white borrowers,” according to a Demos fact sheet on Latino student debt and financial security.

“Higher dropout rates in turn cause Latino borrowers to have higher default rates, due to the pressures of loan repayment without the higher earnings from a degree,” the fact sheet states.

For community college students, who tend to be older than undergraduates at four-year institutions and have more financial responsibilities, such as paying for childcare and housing, the challenges and the barriers to completing college are sometimes even greater. Compton students are predominantly young adults; 62 percent were 24 years old or younger in the 2017-18 academic year, and 33 percent were working adults ages 25 to 44.

According to a study by the Pew Research Center, the number of poor undergraduate students in the U.S. has been steadily rising in recent decades. Their numbers grew at all higher ed institutions from 12 percent in 1996 to 20 percent in 2016. The highest percentage of those students were enrolled at public two-year institutions and private for-profit colleges during that period. For example, 13 percent of undergraduates at public community colleges came from households or families whose incomes were classified as poverty level in 1996, according to the study, but by 2016 the percentage had jumped to 27.

Oliver and Jerry were the eldest of eight children reared by a single mother who dropped out of school in eight grade but nonetheless insisted her children get a college education. (She eventually went back to high school and got her diploma, at age 48, and graduated in 1964 along with two of her daughters.)

“They were very poor,” said Jane Conner, wife of Jerry, who died 15 years ago. "They grew up in a four-room house with no electricity or running water.”

An uncle who lived in California had encouraged Jerry to come there. After Oliver relocated, younger brothers Gary and Lowry and sister Gwen followed suit. All four brothers graduated from Compton and went on to four-year colleges. Oliver attended California State University but didn’t complete his studies there.

The rest of the siblings also heeded their mother and earned college degrees. All eight of them became successful professionals in their own right, but Oliver’s story is particularly extraordinary.

He joined the U.S. Army after graduating from Compton and became a sergeant “in a fairly short length of time,” according to Mary Helen Reeves, one of his three sisters and the family’s historian. He was based at Fort Gordon in Georgia and served in Germany.

Conner was also a lover of history and geography and traveled the world during his time in and out of the military. He visited Britain, Mexico, Ethiopia and Japan, among other places. When he returned to the U.S. he settled down near Compton College, in Lynwood, and began mapping out his future.

Family members said Conner loved to work and at one point had three jobs. He worked for many decades as a ticket agent for Western Airlines, a Los Angeles-based airline that later merged with Delta Airlines, and kept that job for 40 years until he retired in 2008. He also worked as a sales clerk at Sears and as a real estate agent for a local broker. One of his favorite expressions was "Knowledge and money is power, and you have to work hard to get them."

At heart, though, he remained an ideas man with a strongly independent and entrepreneurial streak. He took courses to become a broker while he worked at the local real estate agency and eventually got his broker’s license and started his own business, Pyramid Properties, in 1979.

"He was a big dreamer and an optimist,” his sister-in-law recalled. He talked about buying a skating rink, among other investment ideas.

A lifelong bachelor, Conner was also “a bit of a miser and very frugal,” Reeves said. “He drove a 30-year-old car.”

“He was consumed about being successful and building a real estate empire,” she said. “Buying and selling property was a game to him, he loved it, truly, truly loved it.”

She said Conner would tell his siblings about his latest real estate deals during their weekly family conference call.

“It was always ‘I brought this this week, sold that last week, going to look at some new property next week,’” she recalled. “He was something else.”

“I knew he had amassed a lot of property and was always looking for the next deal,” she said, “but I didn’t know the totality of what he had.”

Conner’s real estate holdings totaled 20 properties in all, including single-family homes, apartment buildings and commercial property, all within the vicinity of the college.

“We were really surprised,” Reeves said, adding that they “had no idea” of the extent of his real estate holdings. “We were just impressed with what he could do, and had done, just with his wits.”

Conner made an impression on others as well, including Compton students he'd befriended and mentored long after he'd graduated. To his family's surprise, some of those young people showed up at his funeral service in California on April 23, 2016, Reeves said.

"They came to talk about him and share stories of his generosity and the ways he'd helped them, and the impact that he'd had on them," she said. "They said things such as, 'This is where I am now because of what Mr. Conner did back then.'"

The family members were touched. They knew about Conner's community involvement, "But we didn’t know how much he was involved in helping young people," Reeves said. "It wasn't something that he bragged about."

Next Steps

Compton administrators are still in the process of assessing the rental properties. They are also developing plans to establish an endowment.

“I think he had a great love for Compton and stayed in the neighborhood where he first started, and near the college that helped propel him to be successful,” Reeves said. “He didn’t see a reason to move from the neighborhood where he made his money.”

But Conner was not solely interested in accumulating wealth. He was also very civic-minded and was a longtime member and one time president of the Lynwood Rotary Club.

“He clearly wanted to give back to this institution,” Curry said. “It kind of validates the work that we’re doing here because sometimes you wonder, am I doing the work that’s right for these students? Now I no longer wonder if we’re doing what’s right for them.”

Conner’s gift was particularly meaningful “especially with all that we’ve been through,” Curry said, alluding to the nearly 12 years, from 2005 to 2017, that Compton could not operate independently after being stripped of accreditation by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. It was the first public college in California to ever lose its accreditation. The state Legislature also simultaneously stripped the Board of Trustees of power.

Curry, who was provost of the campus during that period, is widely credited for guiding the college’s comeback.

In February 2016, Curry did a detailed PowerPoint presentation of the financial and student performance data of the college for the Lynwood Rotary Club. During and after the presentation, he had an exchange with one of the club members that would prove fortuitous. That member was Oliver Conner, who used the question-and-answer period of the meeting to grill Curry about why and when the college lost its accreditation. Unbeknownst to Curry, Conner had a personal stake in the future of the college -- Compton was among the beneficiaries named in his 1980 will.

"I had no clue. None," Curry said. "He never said anything about it. But he was the only one who asked questions. And it wasn't one or two questions, it was multiple questions."

After the meeting, the two men talked one on one.

"I told him he should come and visit the campus, and I gave him my business card," Curry recalled. Conner said he would visit.

They never talked again. Conner died two months later.

When Curry learned that Conner left his properties to the college, he was surprised -- and thrilled. Conner's relatives were also surprised; his will did not leave them anything. They contested the will because they contend, but could not prove, that he was in the process of revising the will written 36 years before he died. 

Last April, some 17 Conner family members attended a luncheon in his honor at Compton, where a formal announcement was made about the renaming of the program.

Reeves was among those who spoke about her brother's work ethic and ambition. In the audience were current Compton students who graduated from the high schools participating in the promise program.

"It is our hope that his legacy will live on for many years and be helpful to all of the students who will benefit from the Oliver W. Conner program of Compton College," she said.

Then and Now

When Compton first began charging tuition in 1984, the cost was $5 per credit hour, and the maximum a student could be expected to pay was capped at $50. Twenty years later, the per credit cost was $18 and the maximum cap was gone. (It was removed during the 1992-93 academic year.) The current per credit cost is $46, relatively inexpensive by most standards but still a hardship for many students. Some are struggling to put themselves through college or come from families with limited financial means to help them. Some experience regular food shortages and rely on the college’s food pantry. Others have problems finding affordable housing. In an annual assessment of basic needs security among college students, 59 percent of Compton students surveyed (compared to 50 percent statewide) said they had experienced food insecurity, 68 percent (compared to 60 percent statewide) said they experienced housing insecurity, and 17.8 percent (compared to 19 percent statewide) said they had experienced homelessness.

College administrators were distressed to learn that a handful of students were living in their cars. They decided that student housing was needed on campus and made that part of Compton’s master plan. It has not yet been funded, however. The irony is lost on no one that Conner left houses and apartment buildings to a college where some students are homeless. Curry said he's determined to fix this problem.

In the interim, Conner's relatives are pleased that his gift will make a lasting difference on campus.

“He used to talk about trying to help people move forward and helping young people break the cycle of poverty in their families,” Reeves said. “This will help more people than you can count, even after we’re long gone. The students can go to school and come out not owning anybody or having to pay for student loans.”

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Categories: Higher Education News

Why 'mastering out' of a Ph.D. program might really be 'mastering in'

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 5, 2019 - 5:00pm

Chelsea Corkins graduated Kansas State University in August 2013 with a joint undergraduate and master’s degree in biological and agricultural engineering. Later that month she headed to Virginia Tech for a Ph.D. program in biological systems engineering.

In many ways, Corkins thrived at Virginia Tech. She liked what she was learning, had friends and took on leadership roles that eventually led to her to being elected president of the Graduate Student Assembly. But doubts about pursuing a Ph.D. were creeping in. She wasn’t enthralled with research and looked forward to teaching undergraduates and maybe even high schoolers, not graduate students.

With the support of her dean, Karen dePauw, and several faculty teaching mentors, Corkins considered options beyond the Ph.D. -- including leaving with a master’s. Because she already had a master’s in her field, though, she changed tracks a bit. After taking some time off to work in an agricultural education program through Virginia Tech, she re-enrolled as a master’s student in agricultural leadership and community education.

Corkins graduated this year and is now working as a community engagement specialist in agricultural extension at the University of Missouri.

All told, Corkins took six years to get that second master's. But she doesn’t regret it -- or her choice to leave her Ph.D. program. She’s convinced that experiences she gained during and between her studies landed her the position she holds today.

“There is no required timeline for graduate school. And beginning a Ph.D. program should not require that you finish that program,” she said. “Many students are still very young and exploring what they like to do. You’re not signing your soul away when you sign up for a program. Those five or so years aren’t set in stone, and there’s a reason for that.”

She added, “You’re not indebted to anyone. It’s all part of the experience.”

That said, Corkins didn’t take her decision lightly, and says she could not have made it without the help of mentors. Without them, she might even have walked away from her time at Virginia Tech with no degree.

Others students complete their programs with few to no doubts. But Corkins said she still encourages current Ph.D. candidates to check in with themselves on a regular basis, starting early on. What are their career goals, have they changed of late and is a doctorate still compatible with them? How are students feeling about graduate school -- and life in general?

A Pivot

Corkins’s choice is one way to “master out” of a Ph.D. program, although she prefers the term “pivot.” More typically, “master out” is used to describe students who enroll in a Ph.D. program and exit with a master’s degree in that same field instead.

It’s unclear how often this happens. Over all, 50 percent of Ph.D. students don't finish their programs. But there is no national data on how many master out, as opposed to just leave, and institutions don’t typically track this path. But it probably happens more than we think. And those who have done it say it should be a more visible choice.

Beth Davey, a graduate student working at Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research in Australia, recently announced her decision to master out on Twitter. In a popular thread, she described a cycle of doubt about whether she wanted, needed or even deserved a Ph.D. Ultimately a friend’s decision to master out of a graduate program was the confirmation she needed that doing so was OK. That she would be OK.

“The response was overall really positive,” Davey told Inside Higher Ed, “but I have had moments of colleagues in particular thinking I would change my mind, or thinking I am throwing away my Ph.D. opportunity. I also had some guilt within myself for a long time” but “finally decided that if I did want to do a Ph.D. again down the track, I could -- and I’m sure I’d be a lot happier and wiser about deciding.”

She added, “I also believe I rushed into my Ph.D., as it was the next logical step for me in academia, and I didn’t really know what else to do with my honors degree aside from a higher degree,” or working as a research assistant or technician, which she did for nine months.

Davey needs to finish her thesis to receive her master’s. She’s unsure about her exact career goals but hopeful she’ll be in a better place to contemplate them following graduation. Still, while she’s writing, she’s reaching out to her various networks and talking to people working in research, but not necessarily as researchers -- think project management, science communication and education. She also works at a science education center for K-12 students.

Suzanne Ortega, president of the Council of Graduate Schools, said there are multiple reasons that doctoral students leave with a master's, including family and life circumstances, “evolving career objectives, and a recognition that the master’s degree offers appealing options.”

Chris Golde, assistant director of career communities for doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows at Stanford University (and a columnist for Inside Higher Ed), said a Ph.D. is a “very long commitment that’s not for everyone.” People can lose enthusiasm and “any number of things that happen in life can happen along the way.”

Still, students’ identities often became wrapped up in their Ph.D. goals, and some who might want to leave with a master’s don’t consider it (Golde doesn’t like the term "mastering out," either) because “any choice that’s not very visible is a harder one to make.”

Not a ‘Consolation Prize’

Yet Ortega said that exiting a doctoral program with a master’s degree “can be a very successful outcome, and one the higher education community should accept and support.” Regardless of why they leave, “students should know their degree is valued and can opens doors to additional career pathways and advancement.”

Jerry B. Weinberg, associate provost for research and dean of the Graduate School at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, said that the master’s degree is no longer the “consolation prize” for opting out of the doctoral track, but rather a “sought-after degree by employers in quite a few fields of practice.”

In many fields, such as natural science, technology, engineering, math and health care, he said, employers see the master’s degree as the “expected or preferred level of entry.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment in master’s-level occupations is projected to grow by almost 17 percent between 2016 and 2026, the fastest of any education level, Weinberg noted. And many recent employees without a master’s are returning to school as “a pathway to promotion and raises.”

Weinberg also said that Council of Graduate Schools data show how master’s degree applications and conferrals have increased continually over the last 10 years, with significant gains in the last five. About 84 percent of all graduate degrees conferred are at the master’s level, and institutions have changed the way they deliver programs to meet the needs of all students.

Instead of “mastering out,” Weinberg said it would be more accurate to say that students are mastering “in,” due to the increased demand.

Leonard Cassuto, professor of English at Fordham University who has written about and long advocated changing graduate education to focus on students, said a candidate’s decision to master out (or in) should never come as a total surprise to a department. Students should feel comfortable exploring their various degree and career options with their faculty mentors. And when they don’t, he said, the department has failed -- not the student.

Such conversations and decisions are better made earlier rather than later, Cassuto also said. It’s only natural for some students to decide, through a few years of graduate exploration, that a Ph.D. is not for them. But students leaving well into their research programs because that kind of work isn't for them also signals institutional failure, he said.

Centering Students

“Graduate education has centered on the Ph.D. since its inception, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as the Ph.D. can provide an organizing principle,” Cassuto said. “But as a professional institution, we haven’t done very much to think beyond the Ph.D., or people who don’t necessarily need it but are in graduate school anyway.”

In today’s academic job market and overall climate, in particular, he added, “no one can afford that kind of indifference.”

Golde, at Stanford, said students don’t necessarily need to share all their doubts with their faculty mentors and advisers, but rather explore them with someone. That’s why institutions need to develop infrastructures to support graduate students, including career centers and mental health facilities. Pre-existing anxiety and depression can make gradate school harder, she said, and can sometimes surface in graduate school.

Unfortunately, she said, many institutions are still playing catch-up when it comes to supporting graduate students in multiple ways, as they do undergraduates.

Master’s degrees are typically not conferred automatically. In Cassuto’s department, for example, Ph.D. students who enter without a master’s become eligible to get one after they pass their comps. But they have to formally request it from the graduate school.

At Stanford, Golde recommends that all Ph.D. students complete the paperwork and other necessary steps to get a master's for this reason -- what she joked was “credit for time served.”

At Virginia Tech, the master’s isn’t automatic, either. But dePauw, the dean who mentored Corkins, said the university accommodates students who decide they want to leave with a master’s instead of a Ph.D., such as by allowing them to stay on to complete any necessary requirements.

Some institutions, including Virginia Tech, have worked to provide the kind of infrastructure Golde mentioned and to promote cultural change. DePauw helped developed the Transformative Graduate Education initiative, which includes programs and courses that transcend departments and promote inclusion, interdisciplinarity and community. The campus also has a Graduate Life Center that houses courses, programs and events, administrative offices, and even graduate student apartments.

Still, dePauw said, there’s more work to be done to change graduate education and the way it influences students’ paths.

“Underlying some of these things is impostor syndrome and the personal angst and stress that goes on. Some people will kind of stick it out and persevere, but my philosophy about graduate education is that we should be thriving, not surviving,” she said. “We need to get these things out in the open and talk about them -- perfectionism and stress and work-life balance, and do more to make all of it easier. We have to change the culture of graduate education.”

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Categories: Higher Education News

Tennessee's move of math remediation to K-12 fails to boost college completion, study finds

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 5, 2019 - 5:00pm

Remedial course work has long been viewed as a primary barrier to college completion, a black hole from which relatively few students emerge to earn a credential after being placed in the typically noncredit courses in mathematics and English.

Yet a new study found that reforms to remedial education, even a promising one that reaches back into high school, do little to move the needle on students’ credit completion or the likelihood of earning a college credential.

“We were hoping we’d see bigger effects on credit accumulation,” said Thomas Kane, and economist and Walter H. Gale Professor of Education at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, who still said the program was worth keeping and improving.

As a result, the study found that focusing student success initiatives on clearing or changing requirements for college remediation -- which has occurred via state policy in Florida, Texas and California -- will not substantially improve the nation’s college completion crisis.

“Learning this now will help us redirect those efforts to clear other potential logjams,” said Kane.

Kane is one of seven academics who coauthored the newly released working paper, which was published by the National Bureau of Economic Research and builds on a previous study. Angela Boatman, an assistant professor of public policy and higher education at Vanderbilt University, also was a coauthor.

The study analyzed the impacts of a well-established, statewide effort in Tennessee aimed at improving student success in remedial math. Created in 2012, the Seamless Alignment and Integrated Learning Support (SAILS) program seeks to shift college-level math remediation back to high school, to better prepare students to complete college-level math when they enroll at a postsecondary institution.

Under the program, high school students who require developmental course work in math, as determined by their junior-year ACT score, can fulfill that requirement by a hybrid online (meaning offered partially online and in-person) math course offered during their senior year. The modular course is run by high school instructors but modeled on the remedial math track offered by Tennessee community colleges.

By the end of their second year of college, the study found, SAILS participants on average had completed an additional 4.5 college credits compared to their counterparts without the program. That basically means they were able to complete an additional college-level course in place of the remedial math course that was waived for finishing the high school program, the study said.

SAILS also appeared to improve students’ perceptions of the usefulness of math and enjoyment of taking it. For example, student participants who were just below the remedial placement cutoff were more likely to perceive that their math course content would be useful in their careers, to say they were better prepared for college math and that they were interested in math compared to their peers just above the threshold.

Yet the gains didn’t show up in more tangible ways, as the study found that the removal of the remedial math requirement for SAILS completers did not lead to a burst of progress beyond that course.

“It does not seem that remediation requirements were the primary constraint getting in the way of college credit accumulation for students,” the paper said.

The study found no statistically significant impact from SAILS either on the proportion of students earning an associate degree or certificate within two years.

Likewise, despite the positive impact on students’ perceptions of math, there was no difference in math performance for students just above and below the remediation cutoff (according to an assessment and survey the researchers conducted with roughly 16,000 Tennessee seniors enrolled at high schools that administered SAILS).

That finding implies that the Tennessee program’s high school math remediation course “had little impact on students’ math achievement over and above the high school math course they would have taken otherwise.”

Remedial Reform as One Piece of Puzzle

In recent years, much of the energy around attempting to improve developmental education success rates has focused on an approach called corequisite remediation.

This method seeks to reduce the time and delay created by remedial requirements by allowing students to take college-level gateway courses in math and English at the same time they complete remedial course work, ideally with enhanced student supports, such as additional tutoring. California, Florida and Texas have pushed corequisite remediation at the state level, as have many community colleges around the country.

The new paper said both corequisite programs and ones like SAILS, which eliminate prerequisite remedial requirements by moving remediation to high school, seem to allow community college students to enroll in college-level, credit-bearing math more quickly and to accumulate an additional 1.5 college courses by the end of their second year.

“However, such findings also suggest that the prerequisite remediation requirement is not the primary barrier to credit accumulation and degree completion for many students -- since, if it were, we would have expected a larger burst of credit accumulation than the single course,” the paper said. “Because the SAILS course was modeled on the course delivered in community colleges, our findings raise doubts about the impact of those courses in remediating students’ math skills as well.”

The researchers said student success efforts should include attempts to alleviate other barriers to graduation, through better college advising, clearer course progression, so-called meta majors featuring common course requirements for first-year students and other promising, research-backed interventions.

Kane also said the findings do not suggest that SAILS and other, similar programs should be abandoned. In fact, the paper suggests that perhaps math remediation should be moved to earlier in high school.

“It may be that starting in 12th grade is too late,” Kane said.

The paper pointed to the positive impacts of a ninth-grade, double-period algebra course used in the Chicago Public Schools, which resulted in bumps to test scores, high school graduation rates and the likelihood of students enrolling in college.

In addition, the study said that the self-paced, hybrid online approach of SAILS could be revisited with an eye to improving its effectiveness with low-achieving students.

“Boosting degree completion will require a more effective model of math remediation -- either in high school or college -- or the elimination of other barriers to completion, such as inadequate advising or the level of math required in gateway college courses,” the paper concluded.

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Wheeling president placed on leave in next chapter of chaotic year

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 5, 2019 - 5:00pm

It's been a tumultuous year at Wheeling University -- formerly Wheeling Jesuit University until the Jesuits cut ties. In the latest shift, the university announced the president and a vice president have been placed on administrative leave.

The decision came almost immediately before a meeting at which the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) was set to vote on reauthorization of Wheeling as a degree-granting institution. In light of the news, the HEPC chose to reconvene Aug. 16 for a reauthorization vote.

Little information has been given on the reasoning behind placing President Michael Mihalyo and Senior Vice President Joseph Petrella on paid administrative leave, and the university has not announced the appointment of an interim president. A Wheeling press release called the decision a “reorganization of its executive leadership.”

“Our board and administration are deeply committed to providing hands-on leadership and guidance during the reauthorization process and throughout the upcoming 2019-20 academic year,” Ginny Favede, chair of the Board of Trustees, said in a press release. “We are working collaboratively with the Higher Learning Commission and HEPC during this process and we appreciate the HEPC’s understanding in agreeing to set a new date of Aug. 16 to reconvene for our reauthorization, following their planned visit on Aug. 12.”

A campuswide message sent out last Friday from Wheeling communications director Julia Cook informed the community of the decision to place Mihalyo and Petrella on administrative leave and said more information would be released “in the coming days.”

Jeff Rutherford, a former history professor at the university who lost his job when the university trimmed most of its liberal arts programs, said he believed the announcement that Mihalyo and Petrella would be placed on leave was done in order to gain a continuance from the HEPC.

“When the president was hired, he made a big show of bringing in Petrella for our upcoming accreditation process,” Rutherford said in an email. “My guess is that he failed to deliver, based on what I have read about the West Virginia education commission's decisions. So the two of them were sacrificed to gain another continuance in the process. Accreditation was the primary issue that the two of them talked about in the fall semester and the first month or two of the spring semester.”

The episode is one of many in a year of problems for the institution, which has included a declaration of financial exigency as well as layoffs for a number of faculty members. The cuts eliminated the history, theology, philosophy, literature and engineering majors, as well as 20 of the university’s full-time faculty members.

Additionally, the university’s ties to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston led to scandal. The local bishop of the diocese wielded great power within the institution and at any given time served as the chair of the Board of Trustees or appointed someone to do so.

This arrangement is what caught the university in one of the Catholic Church’s scandals as a leaked report to the Vatican published by The Washington Post revealed former bishop of the diocese Michael Bransfield had engaged in sexual abuse and financial impropriety. One of Bransfield’s top aides, Monsignor Kevin Quirk, served as chair of the Board of Trustees until June, when he stepped down as a result of the scandal. Quirk was board chair when Mihalyo was chosen as president.

Rutherford said that most of the main power at the university was held by the board instead of its administrative staff.

“Many faculty members saw the president as having no real power or inclination to use whatever power he had and viewed him as a figurehead, while real power rested in the board,” Rutherford said.

With all the issues facing Wheeling, Rutherford said he would be surprised if the university was able to survive in the long term.

“This might be my bias showing, but I would be shocked if the university was open next fall,” Rutherford said. “You cut 40 percent of your faculty and about two-thirds of your majors, start abolishing athletic teams; its only real benefactor is the local diocese, which is mired in its own scandal, and finally it has lost whatever goodwill and support it had among the community as well as alumni -- things aren't good.”

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New data track graduates of six popular majors through their first three jobs

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 2, 2019 - 5:00pm

Defining the value of a college major is tricky, in part because students typically aren't fully rational when picking one. Likewise, career paths are increasingly hard to predict, with a growing number of job changes for graduates looming in the fast-moving knowledge economy and automation also playing a bigger role.

New data from Emsi, a labor market analytics firm that is part of the Strada Education Network, sheds light on the career tracks for graduates of six relatively common academic programs, with widely varying levels of perceived applicability to jobs: languages and philosophy, the social sciences, business, communications, engineering, and IT.

Not surprisingly, the typical path is more of a swirl than a straight line.

“The results don’t look like neat cohorts entering a few high-profile careers with perfect intentionality,” Rob Sentz, the new report’s co-author and chief innovation officer at the nonprofit Emsi, said in an email. “Instead, we see something that looks much more ‘real’ people moving in the market based on a complex web of factors, changing over time, finding their way and adapting as they go.”

The report is based on Emsi’s database of 125 million professional profiles, taken from résumé repositories, applicant tracking systems and other sources. It analyzed profiles of graduates of four-year colleges that mentioned the six specific degree programs, tracking the first three jobs they held after college.

“We now have a clear characterization of their actual work,” Sentz said, despite the “crazy flow between these jobs.”

The bottom line, Sentz said, is that the six majors were “not totally deterministic, but not totally irrelevant” to career pathways.

The top career findings for each major track were the expected ones. For example, engineering grads were mostly likely to work in industrial and mechanical engineering for their first job (20 percent), followed by software development (13 percent). Language and philosophy grads went into education first (17 percent) and journalism and writing (10 percent).

After those jobs, however, the report starts to look more like the findings from a 2018 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, which found that only 27 percent of college graduates work in a field related to their major.

Emsi found that most graduates’ outcomes are dispersed widely, among a broad array of careers. They tend to move in and out of careers during their first, second and third jobs. And those job changes often take graduates into totally different fields.

Yet the data also show several clear patterns.

Perhaps most notably, sales, marketing, management and business, and financial analysis were common jobs for graduates of all six majors, typically as one of the top 10 job outcomes.

The report also found that roughly half of all the tracked jobs (54 percent) were in major business functions, which include tactical communication, strategic communication, interpersonal oversight and operational oversight. In comparison, one-third of graduates went into STEM jobs, and one-fifth worked in “soft skill” jobs.

Philosophy and Practical Skills

“This really makes a strong case for work-based learning,” said Jane Oates, a former official in the U.S. Department of Labor during the Obama administration, who is now president of WorkingNation, a nonprofit organization.

Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, agreed with Oates.

“Colleges and universities need to provide students with practice,” she said, “in the context of the workplace.”

The dominance of business functions in the report’s findings isn’t a surprise, Sentz said, given the nearly 15 million sales jobs in the economy, which stretch across every sector and region. Likewise, the report said jobs in marketing, public relations and advertising have grown in popularity by 62 percent over the last decade.

“There is an enormous part of the economy hungry for graduates with skills in analysis and communication -- skills students are honing as they conduct close readings of texts, persuade their classmates in seminars and hone the style and structure of papers,” Sentz said.

That might not be clear to students, however, or to college leaders.

“Students outside STEM fields often lack the sense that they are gaining discrete, in-demand skills in the course of their studies,” he said. “Consequently, they do not perceive a clear line between their education and the working life for which it laid the foundation.”

The report provides new and novel data to back the growing understanding that the college-to-career path typically is not linear, said Stephen Yadzinski, managing director of JFFLabs at Jobs for the Future, a nonprofit group.

“Human beings do this as a network of choices,” he said.

Yadzinski said the report also includes good news for students, because the most popular skills it identifies “are the things that are not automated as easily.”

The numbers have value in the aggregate, several experts said, because they give a more nuanced view of how popular majors, including ones in the humanities, do in fact prepare graduates with skills to help them thrive in the workforce.

The report shows that disciplines that don’t seem to directly apply to the labor market (think the welders-versus-philosophers canard) often do, said Pasquerella. It’s an analysis “that can help college and university presidents articulate the value of the liberal education they’re offering,” she said.

College leaders can use the numbers to get granular as well, said Sentz. He said Emsi is working with 100 or so colleges to do the mapping of first three jobs by graduates’ major, and can give specific numbers for which employers are hiring those graduates. For example, he said, a community college could tell a big accounting firm that 25 of its employees graduated from the college, including liberal arts majors who didn’t study accounting.

“This is where a lot of this data on labor markets are headed,” Sentz said, meaning the “flows of degrees into work.”

Sentz said colleges can use the report to help reverse engineer degree programs to more explicitly link valued skills to common career paths.

Employers should use the data as well, said Oates.

“I don’t think the employers are very good at identifying the skills needed for a job,” she said, adding that it’s not enough for colleges alone to change to be more intentional about including workforce-relevant skills to degree programs. “Employers have to be doing this simultaneously.”

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Trump administration's regulatory overhaul wipes out shortcomings at troubled accreditor

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 2, 2019 - 5:00pm

When an appointed federal panel met at a hotel ballroom in Alexandria, Va., this week, it marked something of a turning point for oversight of college accreditors, the organizations that serve as gatekeepers of federal student aid.

It was the last meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity for six Obama-administration appointees (17 total sit on the panel) who had pushed accreditors to apply tougher scrutiny of college performance. It was also the first chance for Trump administration officials to give the panel their assessment of a regulatory overhaul of accreditation standards that began more than a year ago.

While the Obama appointees had pushed for a more activist approach from accreditors during an unprecedented series of high-profile for-profit college failures, the Education Department’s proposed regulatory changes would make clear the distinct roles of accreditors, states and the federal government -- the so-called triad, in higher ed parlance. Diane Auer Jones, the principal deputy under secretary at the department and the primary architect behind the new standards, told NACIQI members that the Trump administration wanted accreditors to spend more time and energy focusing on what matters most.

“We think accreditation over time has become focused on bureaucracy, paperwork, pages and pages and pages of documents,” she said. “What we really want is for accreditors to be focused on student experiences.”

Although several accreditors were scheduled for regular reviews before NACIQI, one agency that didn’t appear on the agenda, the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, still drew scrutiny from board members. In response to questions from NACIQI members, Education Department officials said they are reviewing the financial status of ACICS eight months after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reinstated the accreditor.

NACIQI recommended in 2016 that the Education Department pull recognition from the organization, which oversaw the Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech chains, among others, before their collapse. At the time, that was an unprecedented step by federal officials. And although accreditors occasionally face tough questions from NACIQI appointees, it's exceedingly rare that they would actually face the loss of federal recognition. Consumer advocates now say the regulatory overhaul sought by the Trump administration would remove several of the standards that the panel and federal officials previously found that ACICS failed to meet.

The overhaul of accreditation standards was agreed to by an appointed panel of negotiators in April after a months-long process known as negotiated rule making. The Education Department offered regulatory language it wanted to alter, but -- as Trump administration officials have pointed out -- the changes had to be agreed to by all negotiators.

The number of colleges overseen by ACICS has shrunk dramatically since 2016, when the Obama administration's decision to yank approval led many institutions to seek recognition elsewhere; other college chains overseen by ACICS have abruptly closed their doors. Critics of the administration, though, say many of the changes open the door to negative outcomes under another accreditor approved with lower standards.

Overhauling Standards Where Troubled Accreditor Fell Short

When Jones issued a recommendation last year that the department permanently reinstate federal recognition of ACICS, she cited support from several other national accreditors. The problem for the Education Department? Those agencies had never offered their endorsements. After news reports pointed out the discrepancy, the Trump administration said including those endorsements was an editing mistake and said it planned a correction.

Instead of tightening that standard, the new regulations proposed by the department this month drop the requirement entirely. But administration officials said the standard itself was  inconsistently enforced. "The widely-accepted criteria was a primary example of a criterion that was vaguely written, and interpreted differently among the staff and for different agencies over time," said Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the department. 

But Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higher education policy at New America and a former Obama administration official, said when state attorneys general called on the federal government to pull recognition for ACICS in 2016, it was that standard that allowed the department to consider those comments in its assessment of the agency. 

The Trump administration also plans to introduce a new status for approved accreditors known as substantial compliance. Instead of requiring that accreditors meet all federal standards, it would allow organizations to keep their recognition if they meet requirements in all but a technical sense. Critics say that effectively lowers the bar for organizations to get federal approval without fully meeting standards. And they note that the department has already begun designating ACICS as substantially compliant even before the rule changes are finalized. But supporters, including the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions, say the change would allow the department to conserve resources by allowing department staff to follow up on any technical shortcomings later.

"Over the years, accreditors have at times been faced with unnecessary follow-up at NACIQI or shortened periods of recognition based upon very technical issues, such as not providing a full roster of staff or board members -- something that can be easily addressed," said Barbara Gellman-Danley, chair of C-RAC and president of the Higher Learning Commission, in public comments on the rule changes. 

The updated regulations also would change the standards for how accreditors hold colleges accountable. The Trump administration is also proposing that accreditors be judged on whether they establish clear expectations for colleges, not on whether they effectively address quality issues at those institutions. A staff report produced by the department in 2016, before the Obama administration yanked federal recognition, found evidence that ACICS hadn’t effectively monitored widespread misconduct involving recruiting, admissions and advertisement of job-placement rates.

They would double the amount of time accreditors could allow colleges to come into compliance with their standards. Under the new rules, colleges could fall short of accreditor standards for up to four years without losing their recognition. An internal review of ACICS produced by career staff at the Education Department last year found that the organization allowed institutions a longer time period than regulations allowed to come into compliance without meeting student achievement standards. C-RAC found that the change was a common sense move that reflected the reality that many institutions can't quickly come back into compliance with standards. 

McCann though aid the proposed changes eliminate those pitfalls for ACICS by removing the minimum requirements for effectiveness of accreditors.

“They’re pretty clearly designed to protect the department from having to go through another ACICS,” she said. “The Trump administration saw how the recognition process could be used to hold poor-quality accreditors accountable, and it tried to foreclose the possibility of those same things happening again.”

McCann noted that it was Jones who oversaw the rule-making process and drafted a report recommending the reinstatement of ACICS last year.

“Part of the upside for the individuals involved is it offers cover for their decision to bring back ACICS in light of overwhelming evidence that the agency was not compliant with many criteria,” she said.

Hill said it was “dead wrong” to suggest that an entire rule-making panel was shilling for a single accreditor, or that negotiators would agree to changes if those changes were identified as a problem for a single accreditor or the institutions it accredits.

“The department’s accreditation regulations were outdated, overreaching and overly prescriptive -- and they weren’t working to encourage innovation or competition or to improve student outcomes,” Hill said. “It is hard to understand why New America defends the status quo when it was the status quo that resulted in catastrophic closures for which taxpayers and students will be suffering for decades.”

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Size reduction of Lyon College board allows college to better respond to problems

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 2, 2019 - 5:00pm

Last summer, Lyon College cut the size of its governing Board of Trustees in half -- a move that defies common trends for private liberal arts colleges at a time when those institutions are facing greater upheaval and challenges.

Historically, private colleges have had sprawling governing boards, with community leaders, business leaders and even church leaders getting a seat at the table. But in recent years, as private liberal arts colleges have had faced greater obstacles, some have questioned the value of a large board in favor of a smaller board with more flexibility.

At Lyon, an Arkansas liberal arts college with approximately 700 students, this idea caused leaders to decide to cut the number of board members from 32 to 15. Under the previous model, the bylaws allowed for 42 possible trustees; under the new changes, only a maximum of 20 trustees would be allowed on the board. Likewise, at the University of Southern California, many have called for a restructuring of the massive 56-person board.

“In my view, and my recommendation was, the board needed to meet quite a bit more often and needed to meet more as a committee of the whole,” said Joey King, president of Lyon College. “Now the board will have six regular meetings a year and one in the summer with everyone on the same page and running much more as, say, the Harvard Corporation board would run as opposed to your average giant Board of Trustees.”

The issue is one King is familiar with, having authored a book on university governance. King argues that with a smaller board that can meet more frequently and be in accord about institutional issues, the board will be better equipped to handle difficulties.

According to 2016 data from the Association of Governing Boards, the average size of a board at a public college or university was 12, while for independent private boards that number was 29. King said as a result of Lyon's shift, more board members are engaged, not just the executive committee.

“I think the greatest benefit is not having to rely on the executive to effectively work as a politburo,” King said. “I’ve been on boards where the executive committee had immense power, often meeting in between board meetings monthly or even more, and decisions were made that the bulk of the trustees were unaware of. It creates a corrosive situation in that because your board is so big … It forces the executive committee into basically [being] a governing committee with this extraordinary authority.”

King said that these changes are vital to facing the storms that some institutions have seen, giving Mount Ida College -- a small liberal arts college that closed in 2018 -- as an example. As of the most recently available tax filings before Mount Ida closed, the college had 20 trustees with a maximum of 30 possible.

“For institutions that are struggling -- and particularly for institutions that are in distress, and Mount Ida was in distress -- saying you’re going to meet a couple times a year and follow a very staged scripted meeting format won’t do,” King said. “If you’re in a corporation in distress, those boards are meeting all the time. I think as higher ed goes through those convulsions it’s going through right now, they’re most hamstrung by the governance processes.”

Perry Wilson, who has been chair of the Lyon board since 2012, said he and King saw eye to eye on the need for change within the board. Wilson said after first joining the board in 2009, he almost quit because he didn’t feel like he could fulfill his fiduciary responsibility without being on the executive committee due to the lack of information.

“We truly decided that if we were going to turn the school around, we needed to have a board that was going to be nimble enough to act as quickly as it needed to and board members that were well versed in all aspects of the college,” Wilson said. “Joey said we need a war cabinet, and I thought he was damn right.”

The process for deciding who would leave the board happened somewhat naturally, according to King, with some trustees not being able or willing to give the increased time required by the board’s new structure. King himself gave up his voting membership on the board and became an ex officio member.

“Part of our restructuring happened through self-selection and attrition,” King said. “There was a group that said, ‘That’s way more than I signed on for and I can’t get out of work that much.’ Then of course there were the trustees who had made that degree of that commitment, so they were OK with doubling up. Then the hard part was the people in the middle.”

Wilson called the situation a “chess game” and said that many people were understanding about the need to step aside.

Among the challenges Lyon faces, Wilson said, is pursuing greater enrollment numbers -- a problem at many liberal arts colleges. However, Wilson said he didn’t think the college was driven to cut the board as a result of any crisis, but that it would help the college respond should dire times ever come.

“The consideration was how we could operate in a more nimble manner in order to do the things we need to do more quickly,” Wilson said. “I think that’s what can make a small liberal arts college survive -- let’s do something different than the way everyone else is doing it, because that’s clearly not always working.”

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Federal accreditation panel will look into political interference with state universities

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 2, 2019 - 5:00pm

One needn't look very hard these days to find evidence of significant intervention by state politicians in public university matters -- or of accrediting agencies questioning those politicians' decisions. Just in the last two weeks, regional accreditors in the Southeast and the Northwest, respectively, issued warnings that decisions by the governors of South Carolina and of Alaska could threaten the continued good standing of their states' universities.

The accreditors' recent actions drew the attention this week of the federal panel that advises the U.S. education secretary on accreditation, prompting it to appoint a special subcommittee to explore the issue. And the federal panel's members appear to have divergent views about what they hope the subcommittee will say and do -- with some wanting the accreditors to zealously block politicians' excessive interference in the governance of public universities, and others believing the agencies have no role in doing so.

The issue arose during the twice-yearly meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, known familiarly as NACIQI (nuh-seek-ee). The panel reviews accrediting agencies and makes recommendations to the education secretary about which ones it should recognize as gatekeepers to federal financial aid. It also at times explores accreditation issues of interest to the executive branch in charge at the moment.

At this week's meeting in the D.C. suburbs, the panel was reviewing the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges. Its president, Belle Wheelan, had responded last month to local reporters' questions about accusations that Governor Henry McMaster had inappropriately influenced the University of South Carolina governing board's selection of a new president. A divided board ultimately approved Robert L. Caslen as president; the chair of the South Carolina board insisted that McMaster had not inappropriately pressured the board.

Wheelan told reporters that while McMaster was an ex officio (nonvoting) member of the university's board, it would be inappropriate for him to use his role as governor to influence the board -- and that doing so could put the university's accreditation at risk.

“While the governor is a member of the board, he has no more of a role than any other member of the board,” Wheelan told local reporters.

During NACIQI's review, one of its members, Anne D. Neal, co-founder of the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, asked Wheelan why she had intervened in the South Carolina matter.

"I wanted to examine what appeared to be an overreach by them and a violation of their own standards," Neal said in an interview Wednesday. She questioned how the governor of a state, as a member of the university's board, could ever be seen as an "external influencer" who could exert "undue [political] influence."

Neal, who has long been critical of accreditation, said she questions whether SACS and other accreditors should have standards about issues such as governance that technically fall outside the core of their focus on educational quality.

"As we discussed it, more and more members of NACIQI became interested in the appropriateness of accreditors engaging in political process matters that are dictated by state law," Neal said.

Some NACIQI members agreed that the committee should explore the appropriate role of accreditors in dealing with political influence at public universities -- but they offered a very different perspective on what they hoped would come from it.

Jill Derby, a former regent of the Nevada System of Higher Education who is a senior consultant for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, said she believed it was wholly appropriate -- and desirable -- for accreditors both to have standards on political interference and to call out politicians who overstep their bounds.

"We're seeing this undue political influence arise many times and in many places," Derby said, noting that she was speaking in her role at AGB, not her capacity as a member of NACIQI. Trustees or regents often struggle to push back against undue political involvement themselves, she said, "because they’re talking to their funding source."

Accreditors are often better positioned to push back, Derby said, as they did both in South Carolina and in Alaska. In the latter, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities warned that Governor Mike Dunleavy's offer to minimize the size of a cut to the University of Alaska system's budget if it reduced spending in certain areas could violate the accreditor's standards on "an independent and functional Board of Trustees or Regents."

On top of the potential damage to the university of the 41 percent state funding cut, "the additional and, perhaps, inappropriate strong-arm 'guidance' of the Alaska governor in place of the proper and shared decision-making processes central to the healthy functioning of an institution of higher learning poses yet another factor as NWCCU considers the long-term viability and accreditation status of the institutions within your stewardship," the agency's leader wrote.

The NACIQI panel wound up agreeing to form a subcommittee to "look into the issue of accrediting agency oversight of governance and political influence" at the institutions they accredit, according to staff notes from the meeting.

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Colleges start and finish fundraising plans

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 2, 2019 - 5:00pm

Starting Off

  • College of the Atlantic has started a two-year campaign to raise $50 million. Thus far, $41 million has been raised. Priorities include new facilities and financial aid.

Finishing Up

  • ArtCenter College of Design has finished a $124 million campaign. When the campaign started in 2011, the goal was $100 million.
  • Davidson College has completed a five-year campaign, raising $555 million. The original goal was $425 million. Major goals were for the endowment and student aid.

Inside Higher Ed's database on fundraising may be found here.

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Council of Graduate Schools data show there's no one way to use a doctorate

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 1, 2019 - 5:00pm

We still know surprisingly little about Ph.D. career pathways. So the Council of Graduate Schools’ data-collection effort on Ph.D. outcomes continues to yield valuable information. This time, the information is about recent jobs changes among Ph.D.s.

The council’s new research brief -- the fourth since it began releasing data on its Ph.D. Career Pathways project last year -- says that many Ph.D.s switch jobs in their early careers and even into midcareer. That could reflect postdoctoral training opportunities, the brief says, but it also “signals that earning a Ph.D. is just the beginning of one’s career, and job changes continue throughout the next 15 years in the workforce.”

In other words, according to the council, “a first job is certainly not the last job. This underscores the importance of preparing Ph.D. students not only for their first job searches but also for preparing them to navigate different job opportunities and careers as a whole.”

Some Ph.D.s move between academe and business, government and nonprofit work, and their career pathways are “not always linear, through a single employment sector.” Nor are they unidirectional, as some Ph.D.s move from outside academe to faculty and administrative positions. So Ph.D. programs should help prepare students to navigate job opportunities and understand the value of their degrees across across sectors.

There is “no singular pathway to faculty and administrative positions at colleges and universities, even if this fluidity is more pronounced in some fields than in others,” reads the council’s new brief, which divides Ph.D.s into cohorts: those who earned their doctorates three years ago (Cohort A), eight years ago (Cohort B) and 15 years ago (Cohort C). The council focused on job changes within the last three years to determine which cohorts were most job-mobile.

Unsurprisingly, almost all respondents who earned their Ph.D.s three years ago changed jobs within those last three years: in every broad field of study except education, over 90 percent of Ph.D.s indicated that they switched to their current jobs within the last three years. Education Ph.D.s in this cohort switched recently, too, just at a lower rate -- 80 percent (CGS assumes that more education Ph.D.s held jobs while pursuing their doctorates than the cohort as a whole).

Source: Council of Graduate Schools

Fewer Ph.D.s who graduated 15 years ago changed jobs recently. In every broad field except life and health sciences -- where there was more movement -- about one-third of these respondents said they changed jobs within the last three years. Most respondents moved to jobs within the same sector.

Over all, most intersector job changes among science, math, technology and engineering Ph.D.s occur in the three years after graduation. Thirty-two percent of life and health sciences Ph.D.s, 27 percent of physical and earth sciences Ph.D.s, and 22 percent of engineering, math and computer science Ph.D.s who graduated three years ago have moved between business, government and nonprofits and academe.

In the arts and humanities, movement across sectors within the last three years was consistent across all groups of graduates (three, eight and 15 years out), at 17 to 19 percent. The majority of all the moves happened in one direction: from academe to outside. The most moves to academe from other sectors happened for education Ph.D.s.

The majority of Ph.D.s in both the three- and eight-year cohorts who moved into academe moved into faculty positions. The 15-year cohort respondents were more likely to move into administrative jobs.

Data are based on the council’s Career Pathways Project Fall 2018 Alumni Survey. The questionnaire was sent to Ph.D.s three, eight and 15 years post-Ph.D. in selected programs at 51 institutions. Universities administered the survey and shared the results with the council, making for 4,766 respondents total.

The council’s brief includes “conversations starters” for Ph.D. programs, to “ensure that career diversity is seen and celebrated. Culture change happens incrementally and requires active participation of students, faculty and administrators.”

A good first step is understanding “how your campus community communicates about career options for Ph.D.s,” the council says. Some related questions for graduate school staff members and program directors and unit deans, among others, include, “What kind of professional development opportunities does your institution provide Ph.D. students to help them imagine and navigate into their second jobs and beyond?” and “What kind of resources and guidance does your institution offer to faculty members and advisers, so that they talk to their students about a range of job opportunities and career pathways for Ph.D. holders?”

Suzanne Ortega, president of the council, said Wednesday that Ph.D. career pathways “are less linear than is often supposed,” with movement across sectors among all alumni groups.

As for the Ph.D. Pathways project as a whole, Ortega said that more universities contributed data to this year’s survey than even last year’s, “and we continue to see a high level of interest” from member institutions.

Beyond graduate programs, professional organizations want more information about what Ph.D.s end up doing, for how long and where. Some have started their own data-collection efforts. The Association of American Universities also launched the Ph.D. Education Initiative, in part to promote data transparency on these issues.

Steven R. Smith, executive director of the American Political Science Association, said his organization has been spending a lot of time thinking about Ph.D. pathways. Currently, he said, the APSA has good data on job placements a year after Ph.D. completion. But it would like to investigate further and might apply for a grant to do so in the coming months. He called the council’s new brief “informative and timely,” especially “given the growth of contingent faculty and changes in the academic labor market for political scientists.”

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Author discusses his book on "the college dropout scandal"

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 1, 2019 - 5:00pm

David Kirp says the graduation rates of most American colleges and universities are unacceptable -- they are simply too low. In The College Dropout Scandal (Oxford University Press), Kirp makes the case for dramatic improvements. A professor at the Graduate School of the University of California, Berkeley, he outlines his views in this email interview.

Q: How do you define the "scandal"? As you note, college graduation rates vary in part based on the students being educated. How can you tell (roughly) what success rates should be at different kinds of colleges?

A: “Give us better students and we’ll improve the graduation rate” -- that rationale for belittling the dropout crisis is often heard, but it’s dead wrong. As College Results Online, an invaluable source, shows, the graduation rates among colleges whose freshmen look the same on paper can vary by more than 25 percent, and the opportunity gap for undergraduates I call “new gen” -- underrepresented minorities, Pell Grant recipients and first-generation students -- can vary at least as much.

At some schools, including Georgia State, the graduation rate for these new-gen undergraduates is greater than the campuswide average. Elsewhere, the story is very different. For instance, the undergraduates at Cal State Chico mirror those at Eastern Michigan. But while 68.7 percent of Chico State students graduate in six years, just 40.7 percent of Eastern Michigan undergrads earn a bachelor’s degree. What’s more, the opportunity gap for new-gen students at Chico State is modest. By sharp contrast, minority students at Eastern Michigan graduate are half as likely to graduate as their classmates. That’s unconscionable.

Q: You write that there are strategies all colleges can use -- what are these?

A: Every college administrator with a pulse knows what can move the needle on the graduation rate:

  • Make smart use of big data, coupled with knowledgeable counseling.
  • Show students that they belong on the campus -- that they’re more than a revenue source for the college.
  • Rely on nudges to get students in the door and keep them on track.
  • Revamp or eliminate remedial math.
  • Redesign big lecture classes.
  • Provide minigrants to juniors and seniors for whom a few hundred dollars can be the make-or-break difference.

There’s no playbook that all schools can use -- the best approach depends on the culture and resources of the campus. But there’s no excuse for handwringing -- we know, from experience and research, that public colleges and universities can do much better by students generally and new-gen students in particular.

Q: You write about impressive efforts at places such as Georgia State, CUNY, Cal State Long Beach and elsewhere -- are there common threads to these institutions' approaches?

A: The schools I profile in depth vary widely, but their fundamental challenge is the same -- how can the institution promote a sense of belonging? What will enable students to understand that they are respected members of a community that cares about their well-being and will do everything it can to smooth the way to their graduating?

It’s critically important that the leadership at each of these schools made boosting graduation rates their top priority. Budgets are a way of demonstrating what matters, and how these institutions have allocated resources -- emphasizing counseling, for instance -- shows that this is more than a lip-service commitment.

When I asked these presidents and provosts why so many universities are falling down on the job, their answer was much the same: it’s hard work to move from a campus culture of fatalism to a culture that emphasizes potential, they told me, and no one gets fired because of the school’s high dropout rate. While universities do the easy things, like creating “learning communities” where like-minded students are brought together, many campus leaders are unwilling to invest the sweat equity that’s essential to boost student success.

Q: How much are resources a factor? Many of the colleges with low graduation rates are also not well financed. Does this matter?

A: The disinvestment in public higher education that we’ve witnessed since the 1980s obviously makes a difference. Where funding is generous, as in New York, it is possible to mount programs, like the well-known ASAP model at CUNY, whose up-front costs are high. But as a number of the places that I write about, like Valencia College and Georgia State, have shown, a lot can be accomplished on a pittance.

Q: What types of federal or state policies would get more colleges to take these issues seriously?

A: Policy makers and politicians have concentrated on increasing college access -- it’s become a big issue in the 2020 presidential campaign. While getting students in the door is important, making sure that they earn a degree matters more, both to those students, who will be better off in a host of ways, and to the rest of us.

Instead of rewarding colleges and universities for the number of students they admit, public dollars should be used to increase the number who earn degrees. This doesn’t mean rewarding schools simply on the basis of their graduation rate, because that might well lead them to set higher admissions standards and relax academic requirements. Instead, the focus should be on adopting policies that remove the biggest roadblocks.

One promising approach that several states have taken is to end remedial math and reading courses, requiring public institutions to combine college-credit classes and catch-up instruction. Another strategy is to deliver more money to institutions that enroll, and graduate, sizable numbers of new-gen students.

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Germany's path to excellence for higher education

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 1, 2019 - 5:00pm

On a Friday afternoon, university presidents, city mayors, senior managers, academics and students waited nervously on campuses across Germany. Champagne was on ice. Confetti cannons were primed. TV cameras rolled.

In silence they watched a live stream from Bonn of Anja Karliczek, federal minister for education and research, reading out the names of Germany’s 13 “universities of excellence” -- a coveted status that comes with extra collective funding of 148 million euros ($165 million) a year, not to mention priceless bragging rights.

At the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, one of 19 applicants in the running, onlookers wiped sweat from their faces and anxiously patted their legs as Karliczek listed the winners in alphabetical order.

Eventually she reached “K” and announced, “Das Karlsruher Institut für Technologie.” The crowd erupted into a cheer, hands above their heads, as though celebrating a goal for the German soccer team. Besuited university dignitaries hugged and punched the air.

Since Germany launched its Excellence Strategy in 2005 (then known as the Excellence Initiative), this live unveiling of the results -- nicknamed the ExStra-Finale by the education journalist Jan-Martin Wiarda -- has become a fixture in the German higher education calendar. The Excellence Strategy, now in its third iteration, aims to “strengthen Germany’s position as an outstanding place for research in the long term and further improve its international competitiveness” (the scheme also funds “clusters of excellence” as well as individual universities).

While the Excellence Strategy’s extra funding is actually quite limited -- an additional 2 to 3 percent on top of normal budgets, estimated Günter Ziegler, president of the Free University of Berlin (FU) -- its deeper impact is arguably to have seeded a culture in which self-promotion is encouraged.

Some university Twitter feeds were awash with videos of jubilant, cheering crowds. Press releases happily proclaimed their universities “excellent.” The rectorate of the University of Bonn and the city’s mayor paraded through the city center on an open-top bus to celebrate their triumph.

In the capital, four institutions -- the FU, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Technical University of Berlin, plus the Charité university hospital -- entered together as the Berlin University Alliance. Celebrating their success, 500 guests danced to the music of no fewer than five DJs, with a couple of university vice presidents and the city’s state secretary for science and research taking to the decks.

“We had a lot of fun, and we were celebrating into Saturday morning,” said Ziegler.

He insisted that the party would have gone ahead even if the alliance had been unsuccessful (the event was billed as “champagne or mineral water”). More important are the institutions’ joint plans, he said.

The live results do not come as a complete surprise for everyone, explained Dieter Lenzen, president of the University of Hamburg -- he was informed of Hamburg’s success a few hours before the official announcement.

Still, university heads have to prepare to commiserate as well as celebrate. “I’m nearly 72 years old, so I know anything can happen,” he said. “I had two speeches in my pocket” -- one for success, one for failure, he explained.

Excellence status allows Hamburg to finally be taken seriously by the city’s elite, Lenzen said. Since it was founded in 1918, the university has been long overlooked by a merchant ruling class that thought trade more important than higher education. “Starting today, I never again want to hear Universität Hamburg is ‘at best average.’ That is now proven to be straight-up ‘fake news,’” he said in a statement celebrating the win.

But winners necessitate losers. At the University of Stuttgart, the team who bid for excellence status watched in disappointment as Karliczek failed to read out the institution’s name, lamented rector Wolfram Ressel.

They then headed to a beach-themed party put on for them by students. “In the beginning, the atmosphere was a bit down. But after some beers, everybody laughed,” he said. Stuttgart’s bid, though unsuccessful, was nonetheless a unifying exercise that prompted faculty and students to promote the university and jointly plan for the future, he said.

The competition has indeed changed the culture of German universities, said Lenzen, but he added two caveats. Only 50 to 60 universities out of about 400 actually compete, he pointed out. And this new hierarchy has not itself created differences between universities; rather, it has merely brought them out into the open, doing away with the previously prevailing fiction that all German universities were comparable, he argued.

“In the end there is more balance than change,” said Peter-André Alt, former president of the FU and now head of the German Rectors’ Conference. A handful of German universities have made strides in boosting their reputation internationally -- he mentioned the Free University, the Technical University of Munich and LMU Munich -- but the country’s system is still one of “distributed excellence,” with no one institution at the peak of international rankings. Public opinion is of the belief that “they should not aim at a comparable situation as the U.S.,” he said.

As the then president of the FU, Alt remembers the months of nervous tension before the previous ExStra-Finale in 2012. After the FU’s win in that round, the party went on until midnight, he recalled: “For an academic party, it’s quite long.”

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Colleges start new programs

Inside Higher Ed - News - August 1, 2019 - 5:00pm
  • Albertus Magnus College is starting an undergraduate major in cybersecurity.
  • Coastal Carolina Community College is starting an associate in applied science program in air-conditioning, heating and refrigeration technology.
  • Grand Rapids Community College is starting an associate's degree in pre-sports management.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is starting a minor in data science and engineering.
  • University of California, Berkeley's Haas School of Business and College of Engineering have joined to launch a concurrent M.B.A./M.Eng. degree program to equip innovative leaders with the skills to take on complex and technical challenges.
  • University of Scranton is starting a major in business analytics.
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State Department's top education official says Chinese students are welcome, but…

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 31, 2019 - 5:00pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- A senior State Department official said Tuesday that the U.S. welcomes students from China. But Marie Royce, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, also said that colleges need to do a better job integrating their Chinese students and that many live in a “bubble” of Chinese Communist Party propaganda and misinformation that skews their perceptions of the U.S.

And she said that the U.S. takes the threat of academic espionage seriously and will not tolerate intellectual property theft, even as she noted that only 0.0001 percent of Chinese students' visa applications are refused for this reason.

“Contrary to what you might have heard from the government of China, the number of Chinese student visa applications refused has declined each of the last four years,” Royce said. It was not immediately clear whether Royce referred to a decline in the visa refusal rate or in a decline in the raw number of refusals. According to publicly available data, the raw number of student visas issued to Chinese citizens has fallen substantially over the last several years, a decline largely attributable to change in policy under the Obama administration that increased the duration of visas for Chinese students from one year to five.

The remarks by Royce can be read as a rejoinder of sorts to a June warning from the Chinese Ministry of Education advising students of the risk of visa difficulties if they come to the U.S.

Her speech also can be read against the context of widespread concerns among professionals in American higher education that visa policies, anti-immigrant rhetoric and perceptions of a less welcoming or safe environment may be factors in the declines in new international student enrollment that colleges in the U.S. have experienced over the last two years.

College leaders have raised concerns about the climate for Chinese students and researchers, in particular, in light of increasing attention from national security agencies, science agencies, members of Congress and the White House to alleged Chinese government-backed efforts to steal American academic research.

Royce spoke Tuesday at the EducationUSA forum, an annual State Department event that brings together college representatives and advisers from the department’s global network of educational advising centers.

She began her speech by saying that the U.S. welcomes Chinese students and citing a recent comment from President Trump articulating the value of Chinese international students: “We want to have Chinese students come and use our great schools, our great universities. They have been great students and tremendous assets,” the president said.

“In the president’s words, we want to keep these students here,” Royce said.

"Chinese students contributed $15 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018 alone, making international education one of our country’s top exports," Royce added. "From a foreign relations standpoint, the friendships that are formed, the values shared and the networks created are even more important than the economic contributions of the Chinese students."

At the same time, Royce said that American colleges need to do a better job fully integrating students on their campuses and communities to give them a broader exposure to American culture and values. "As you know, at many U.S. institutions with significant numbers of Chinese students, it's all too easy for Chinese students to cluster together -- missing the chance to live, study and eat alongside their American and international peers," she said.

Royce said that American colleges are on the front lines in countering what she described as Chinese government propaganda. "We know the Chinese Communist Party is actively working to provide an inaccurate picture of the United States to Chinese citizens, including overseas students. The state-controlled Chinese media inundates Chinese students with Communist Party-curated content that exaggerates the dangers of living and studying in the United States," she said.

“Through Chinese social media, Chinese students continue to view the United States through this distorted lens. This constant flow of misinformation creates a bubble of fear that discourages Chinese students from fully engaging with American peers while here in the United States."

Royce also warned against reported Chinese government attempts to interfere with speech on U.S. campuses and to encourage students to monitor their peers. "We can and we will push back hard against the Chinese government’s efforts to chill free speech on American campuses," Royce said.

Finally, on the subject of intellectual property theft, she warned of the need to make sure that Chinese students and visiting scholars "are not pressured by their own government to engage in activities beyond the scope of legitimate academic pursuits," even as she stressed that only a very small proportion of the student population is involved in illegitimate activities.

“Students and researchers who act within established ethical guidelines of academic research have nothing to worry about. Those who do not follow the rules, however, regardless of national origin, should expect consequences,” Royce said.

Some found themselves perplexed by Royce's remarks. One senior international enrollment officer -- who spoke on condition of anonymity because it was not possible for the official to get institutional approval to speak on the record in time for Inside Higher Ed's deadline -- described Royce’s remarks as “infuriating”: “It’s just this thing that the Trump administration does is they take something that’s not a lie -- they lie a lot, too -- but they take something that’s not a lie and then they twist it,” the senior international enrollment officer said.

“I’m sure that there’s propaganda coming out to people who speak Chinese in America. I’m sure that that’s a thing that happens. Is this the venue for that? As we’re trying to invite these students from an HEI perspective or perform educational diplomacy from an EducationUSA perspective, we’ve literally got the person in charge putting up stumbling blocks in their speech.”

Jenny Lee, a professor at the University of Arizona’s Center for the Study of Higher Education who studies international students, said she appreciated Royce’s articulation of the value of Chinese students at U.S. colleges. But she said her concerns were "a bit misplaced."

"She attributes the lack of Chinese students’ integration in U.S. universities to mostly Chinese social media that creates a so-called bubble of fear," Lee said via email. "This claim is largely unfounded. Those who are truly afraid for their safety have not and will not come. For those who do choose the U.S., the research on Chinese students in the U.S. makes clear that Chinese (and other international students) want to engage with and befriend U.S. students. However, Chinese students struggle to socially integrate with U.S. peers, not because of a lack of desire on their part, but a lack of interest from U.S. students."

“Marie Royce’s speech only reinforces the current administration’s racial profiling of Chinese students as potential spies, engaging in espionage and intellectual theft,” Lee added. “Her underlying message is: 'Chinese students are valuable but vulnerable to becoming arms of the Chinese government. So watch out and keep them close.' Unfortunately, current geopolitical U.S.-China tensions are now affecting how we treat particular international students when ultimately, they all just want to get a better education.”

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Alaska regents' intense debate over response to state cut reveals internal rifts

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 31, 2019 - 5:00pm

The nearly monthlong drama surrounding the Alaska governor's decision to slash 41 percent from the state's allocation to the University of Alaska system has been widely portrayed as a battle between Governor Mike Dunleavy and those who support the university.

But seven hours of discussion and debate by the university's Board of Regents revealed a significant chasm between the university's supporters, too. Although the divided governing board ultimately voted 8 to 3 to support President Jim Johnsen's recommendation to move toward a singly accredited university, it did so over the objections of chancellors of the university's three main campuses and many faculty and student leaders who argued instead for maintaining three separately accredited institutions.

To a person, the members of the board and all those who spoke before it unequivocally believe the planned $136 million cut in state funds will damage the university. Johnsen called the reduction "truly existential," precipitating an "unprecedented fiscal crisis in magnitude and speed."

The board's chairman, John Davies, stated the obvious when he said, "The premise that we need to be cut by $135 million is something we don't agree with." Discussing one particular potential victim of the cut, the university's museum, Davies said that the cultural institution would be "easy to destroy" even though it "took 75 years to create it." Many others involved in the discussion made similar references to the dangers of swift decision making about such important matters.

But Alaska's university leaders have been left little choice by the governor, who addressed the board by telephone midway through Tuesday's meeting. He opened his remarks with praise for the university and its role in Alaska's economy and culture, noting that he is a graduate and that his two daughters have studied there, too.

His comments were barbed, though. The university has "been the beneficiary over the years" of strong funding from the state, Dunleavy said, and those who don't recognize that today is different are "still living in the belief that we have $85- to $95-a-barrel oil." It is time for the university, like all state entities, to pay more attention to student outcomes and "have a real look in the mirror, which we all should … to see if we can do better."

Dunleavy noted that last Friday, he had softened his proposed immediate cut of $136 million in the current 2019-20 fiscal year in favor of a "step-down" approach that would spread the cuts over two years, with about $90 million this year and $40 million in 2020-21. But the offer came with a major catch: the cuts would have to come in "categories" of the state leader's choosing.

That potential delay aside, the governor (and a representative from his Office of Management and Budget who spoke at length during the meeting) offered little hope of any serious rollback of the cuts, even though legislators have sought to restore some of the funding.

Facing the inevitability of major cuts, much of the day's sometimes emotional conversation focused on how best to bring about required reductions.

It's the board's responsibility to decide, President Johnsen said in framing the day's discussion, "whether the house is on fire or whether it's just toast burning." As he laid it out, board members who believed the financial crisis is less severe can afford to take a more modest and less urgent approach.

"My view is that the house is on fire," he said, arguing that the reality of scarcer resources required a dramatic restructuring like the one he said he had come to favor, in which the campuses would unite as "one university."

The chancellors of the three campuses, which have long been accused of competing and challenging each other more than cooperating, were given the chance to present their own vision, which was at odds with Johnsen's.

Under the plan they had developed, which they described as an "integrated UA consortium," the three universities would each make a series of significant cuts on their own and then work much more closely together to build off each other's strengths and supplement their weaknesses.

"Going to a single accreditation has significant downsides," said Rick Caulfield, chancellor of the University of Alaska Southeast, by far the smallest of the three campuses. The chancellors' proposal, by contrast, would "address the immediate needs for cuts, to address the fire that's in our house, but not throw out the distinctive qualities of the three accredited universities."

The differing views of the system president and the campus chancellors is not distinctive to Alaska; many recent debates over funding and governance in public higher education have ultimately devolved into battles of wills between system leaders who argue for greater centralization and campus administrators who do not. (It's not incidental that the three chancellors' plan called for a "lean statewide office" focused on a narrower set of responsibilities and puts more decision making closer to "consumers," as Cathy Sandeen, chancellor of Alaska's largest campus in Anchorage, put it.)

"Our model retains more direct contact and less bureaucracy," she said.

Sandeen also made the case that the chancellors' approach would result in the least amount of "drastic structural change" made on the fly.

Some regents were skeptical of the campus leaders' promise of increased collaboration. Dale Anderson said the regents had tried many times in the past to get the Alaska campuses to cooperate.

“Why is this all of a sudden at the forefront?” he asked. “This must have been a real, excuse the term, come-to-Jesus meeting that you guys have had … We have tried and tried and tried to get cooperation between the campuses, and it is nonexistent. I am looking at your comments with a pretty jaundiced eye.”

The debate continued for several hours more, well past the original end point of the meeting, with regents weighing varying proposals as tensions mounted and divisions grew sharper (though, being Alaskans, the participants remained civil).

The motion the board ultimately approved -- whose author read it between emotional pauses and amid tears -- calls on Johnsen to prepare a plan for board approval "for transitioning to single accreditation," in consultation with faculty, staff and student leaders, and in the meantime for campus constituents to reduce back-office administrative costs and eliminate duplicative academic programs and schools.

"This is not the end of the road," said Davies, the board chair. "It's the beginning of a discussion."

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 31, 2019 - 5:00pm

Drury University

  • Greg Booker, communication
  • Natalie Precise, education
  • James Simmerman, business/finance

Winston-Salem State University

  • Rachelle Barnes, psychological sciences
  • Althea Bradford, communication and media studies
  • Lisandra Estevez, art and visual studies
  • John Hutchens, mathematics
  • Hye Kim, art and visual studies
  • Lisa Maness, clinical laboratory sciences
  • James Pope, liberal studies
  • Tammara Thomas, rehabilitation counseling
  • Tangela Towns, behavioral sciences
  • Chinyu Wu, occupational therapy
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Political science association pleases and surprises members with its flagship publication's new editorial board

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 30, 2019 - 5:00pm

The American Political Science Review’s new editors want to preserve its strong reputation while broadening its readership, relevance and contributor pool. They’ve pledged editorial transparency, checks and balances in their decision making, and a commitment to research ethics.

Other guiding principles involve diversity of content, methods and representation, outreach to multiple audiences, and engagement with members of the American Political Science Association -- of which the review is the flagship publication.

The 12 editors bring with them experience, and then some. Seven have served as lead or associate journal editors. Altogether, the team members have served on more than 40 journal editorial boards, including the Review’s. They're experts in methods from geospatial analysis and formal models to participant observation, archival and historical research, and life history interviews. 

And, oh yeah, they’re all women. With “a mandate.”

“Our editorial team is unprecedented in many ways. Although many political science journals -- including the APSR -- have had all-male editorial teams, few have had all-woman teams; nor have many had teams with the breadth of experience and expertise encompassed by ours,” the new editors said in a statement. “We also bring expertise in every subfield of the discipline, in nearly every region of the globe (including two regional experts in African politics), and in wide-ranging domains of U.S. politics.”

Members bring "substantive strengths in the domestic and international politics of race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality -- areas that have been traditionally underrepresented, both among the editors and in the pages of the APSR," they said. They are diverse along lines of race, ethnicity and sexuality and “APSA’s selection of our team sends a strong signal about the association leadership’s commitment to structural and cultural changes at the journal and in the discipline more generally. We take seriously what we understand to be a mandate to effect these changes.”

One of the new editors, 
Sharon D. Wright Austin, professor of political science and director of African American studies at the University of Florida, said Monday that it’s “quite an honor” to be part of the group, and that her team was founded on a common desire to make the Review more inclusive.

Like other leading journals in political science and additional broad fields, the Review -- while revered -- has faced criticism that it is too white, too male and too biased toward certain kinds of research to truly represent a discipline.

The Review’s current editors challenged this notion, in part, in a self-study published as part of a larger investigation into gender bias last year. Looking at 10 years’ worth of publication data, or more than 8,000 submissions and 18,000 reviews, the editors found no evidence of gender bias in the editorial process --and that solo male authors dominated submissions and had the highest desk rejection rate.

Instead of editorial bias, the current editors wrote, “[Our] analysis points much more to the problem of a systematically low submission rate of female authors as explanation for the underrepresentation of women” in published articles. “It would hint to concerns that male and female authors have different quality standards when submitting their work in the first place.”

Either way, underrepresentation is an unsolved problem.

The political science association doesn’t compose boards but picks editorial teams as a whole based on group submissions. The current set of editors -- two women and five men, all white -- all work at institutions in Europe. They’ve called their selection historic in its non-North American orientation, and sought to globalize and otherwise broaden the review in their own way.

Austin, at Florida, said her own team “is very excited about the work we are planning to do to maintain the high standards of the journal while also making it more inclusive of diverse research topics and methodologies.” It also wants “to end the perception of the APSR as a journal that does not publish certain kinds of research.”

Clarissa Hayward, professor of political science at Washington University in St. Louis, said that kind of research includes political theorists'.

“It includes scholars who use ethnographic and other qualitative research methods and political scientists who study topics like power, racial injustice, gender inequality and social movements. And it includes LGBTQ scholars and scholars who are women and people of color,” she said.

The new group has received public congratulations from many political scientists, including some students and junior faculty members who say an all-female board and its particular vision bolsters their faith in the field and academe. Other commenters -- mostly anonymously -- have been more critical, calling the board’s invocation of diversity “Orwellian,” for example.

As to critics' worries about whether men are being excluded, Hayward pointed back to the data.

“I would suggest they read some of the recent studies that show that, for years, men have been overrepresented, rather than underrepresented, in the APSR,” she said. One study, for example, found that 70 percent of articles published in the journal between 2007 and 2016 had only male authors. 

Another point: the APSR receives thousands of submissions each year and doesn’t use the full allotment of space that its publisher, Cambridge University Press, allows, Hayman said.

“We firmly believe that we can improve the representativeness and the quality of the APSR, and that we can do that without excluding any group of political scientists.”

Austin said that the Review “has had several all-male teams, but I don't remember anyone questioning whether they were diverse.”

The new editors have “diverse backgrounds and interests and, even more important, we are very qualified to serve as editors for this prestigious journal,” she added.

John Ishiyama, University Distinguished Research Professor of Political Science and Piper Professor of Texas at the University of North Texas, was editor in chief of the Review from 2012 to 2016.

He said the new board could “invigorate the profession” in that it's a new chapter and “signifies a break with past practices.” As far as the team being made up of women, he added, “I generally see this as a positive step. After all, there have been many all-male and racially homogeneous editorial teams in the past, so why not a racially diverse team of women?”

What “really matters” is that “I believe that they can do this job.” And it’s a "helluva" big job, Ishiyama added.

Typically the journal has one lead editor for all four years, like Ishiyama. The new team plans to have co-leaders who will rotate down the line to assist their new co-leaders every year. The team's term starts next year and ends in 2024.

Ishiyama’s one concern? The size of team, since 12 is an unusually large number, and coordination problems can arise. He noted that the APSA will now provide centralized administrative support for editors at its headquarters -- a shift triggered by the growing number of submissions to the journal and one that could benefit the new editors. 

Even so, “I do think that someone needs to be the point person, the lead editor if you will, to make sure the big ship moves in the same direction,” he said.

Melissa Michelson, professor of political science at Menlo College and an editorial board member for the Women Also Know Stuff campaign in political science, said she thought that women will be “more inclined to submit their work to the journal” under the new board, as will authors whose work focuses on areas often dismissed as “not of general interest” -- race, gender and LGBTQ politics, for example.

“That means those who have benefited from the historical bias toward work done and about white men will have more competition for the limited space in the journal,” she said, “and so of course this will be seen by some people as a threat, or as inappropriate.”

However, she said, “we are moving forward, not backward” and the “future of political science is diverse, inclusive and, increasingly, female.”

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Categories: Higher Education News

Hawley puts Trumpian spin on higher ed accountability

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 30, 2019 - 5:00pm

Freshman GOP senator Josh Hawley has sought to make a name for himself in recent weeks by going on the attack against liberal elites.

He’s gone after tech giants in public comments as well as “anti-flag” shoe brands. His most recent target is traditional higher ed. Hawley introduced two bills earlier this month aiming to shake up the academy. One would remove most eligibility standards for short-term training programs to access Pell Grants and instead assess them based on student outcomes. Another bill would put colleges on the hook for defaulted student loans.

“You shouldn't have to take on a mountain of debt and get a four-year degree you don't want in order to get a good job in our state and in our country,” the Missouri Republican said in touting the bills.

Neither idea is original in higher ed policy circles. There’s already bipartisan legislation backed by community colleges and business groups that would open Pell eligibility to programs as short as eight weeks, potentially turning the program into the biggest supporter of job training in the country. And lawmakers have offered a slew of “risk-sharing” proposals in recent years. Senator Lamar Alexander, the GOP chairman of the Senate education committee, said earlier this year he wants to make higher ed programs accountable for loan repayment rates.

Hawley’s proposals, though, combine those ideas with the rhetorical attacks favored by other up-and-coming Republicans in the past. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Law School, he apparently had traditional higher ed in mind when he critiqued “cosmopolitan elites” in a speech at the National Conservatism Conference.

They make up a class, Hawley said, that live in the United States but “identify as ‘citizens of the world.’ They run businesses or oversee universities here, but their primary loyalty is to the global community.”

(At the same conference, University of Pennsylvania law professor Amy Wax offered a "cultural case" for limiting immigration to the U.S. that stirred a backlash from many connected to her university.)

Before his election to the Senate last year, Hawley worked as a lawyer for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and as an associate professor at the University of Missouri Law School, and he served briefly as Missouri attorney general.

It’s not clear that college groups will pay much attention to the Hawley bills for now. Growing student debt and poor outcomes for students has become a preoccupation for members of both parties. The proposals, though, are unlikely to make a significant impact on legislative discussions soon.

Similar Ideas, Different Framing

Hawley doesn’t sit on the Senate education committee, and neither of his bills has added a Senate co-sponsor so far. They also didn’t receive endorsements from organizations that are influential on higher ed policy. It would be unlikely any bill introduced under those circumstances advances far, said Jon Fansmith, director of government and public affairs at the American Council on Education.

Legislation introduced with broader support also has benefited from extensive back-and-forth with other members and groups who advocate on postsecondary issues, he said.

“There’s an understandable interest in holding institutions accountable for outcomes of students,” Fansmith said. “The point here is it’s an attack on a perception of what higher education is that’s not in line with reality.”

Federal aid programs like Pell Grants already support students pursuing alternatives to four-year degrees like associate degrees and certificate programs, he said. And Fansmith said the accountability measure Hawley offered would likely penalize the kinds of colleges that serve high numbers of low-income and minority students.

The Pell Grant bill would make any program in existence for at least five years eligible for federal aid as long as it met a number of benchmarks for student outcomes, among them: completion rates, job placement rates and starting median salary of graduates. The accountability legislation would require colleges to pay off half of borrowers’ defaulted student loans. And it would prohibit colleges from raising prices to offset costs.

Observers are skeptical about how the federal government would enforce those provisions. But the bills have excited some conservatives who are critical of traditional higher ed. Mary Clare Anselem, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, wrote in an op-ed that the legislation “could be life-changing for many students.”

“Currently, the outdated accreditation system allows only traditional colleges to access federal dollars, maintaining a status quo that discourages innovation in higher education,” she wrote.

Heritage wants the federal government out of the student loan system entirely. Anselem said Hawley’s accountability proposal would be a positive step by pressuring colleges to improve their performance.

His proposal to open up the Pell Grant program lands in the midst of an ongoing debate about short-term Pell. Senator Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, and Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, introduced legislation in March that would allow students to use Pell for short-term programs designed to help them quickly land jobs in industries that don’t require a college degree. The bill, known as the JOBS Act, is co-sponsored by 14 other senators, including Democrats and Republicans.

Kaine has made similar arguments to Hawley about supporting a broader range of postsecondary programs. In a letter to The New York Times in March, he wrote that many Americans “feel alienated” by a federal higher ed system that places so much value on four-year degrees.

The JOBS Act would require that short-term programs meet requirements of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and be approved by state workforce commissions and the Education Department. The Hawley bill, however, would do away with most front-end eligibility requirements, including state authorization or minimum seat time. Instead, it would use student outcomes entirely to assess programs’ eligibility for aid.

"Senator Hawley believes that by busting the higher education monopoly and opening Pell to any program that has a proven track record of success preparing students to get good jobs, we will see more innovation and competition in the postsecondary education and job training, which will create more opportunities for students at lower costs," a Hawley aide said.

On college accountability as well, members of Congress have offered multiple plans targeting outcomes on student loans, including some with bipartisan support. A 2017 GOP proposal to reauthorize the Higher Education Act would have blocked federal aid to colleges if 45 percent of borrowers weren’t in repayment on their loans within three years. And a proposal from former Senator Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a New Hampshire Democrat, would cut off funding to colleges where 15 percent of borrowers hadn’t begun paying their loan principal within three years.

Alexander and Senator Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat, have also pushed their own accountability frameworks for inclusion in a potential HEA reauthorization.

“The idea of risk-sharing is not groundbreaking,” said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University. “It has bipartisan support. The two parties just haven’t been able to agree on the details.”

He said the concepts being pushed in the Hawley bill aren’t especially new. “The framing is just different,” Kelchen said. “The framing is ‘breaking up the higher education monopoly.’”

Kelchen noted the institutions that might suffer the most under Hawley’s accountability proposal are community colleges and for-profit colleges that serve more low-income and minority students. But he said when lawmakers who aren’t on a relevant committee introduce legislation, it often amounts to messaging rather than something likely to become law.

A Hawley staffer said the bills are "important first steps towards reducing costs, increasing accountability and maximizing opportunities for students, but there’s more to be done."

Ben Miller, vice president for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said new lawmakers often look for policy areas they can make their signature focus.

Higher education has often been that issue. Hawley isn’t the first up-and-coming GOP senator in recent years to question the value of a traditional degree or argue the federal government should do more to emphasize vocational education. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, famously argued during the 2016 GOP presidential primary that “we need more welders and less philosophers.”

Welders, Rubio claimed in one debate, make more money than philosophers -- a claim belied by data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The Florida Republican’s arguments didn’t carry the same sharp undertones as Hawley’s attacks on liberal elites and the higher education monopoly. But he nonetheless changed his tune on the need for philosophers last year.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Career and technology education is an effective pathway to earning money

Inside Higher Ed - News - July 30, 2019 - 5:00pm

High schoolers who take career and technology education courses achieve the same college success as students who focus on more academic courses, and they are only slightly less likely to enroll in college in the first place, a study published Tuesday by Education Next found.

Researchers Daniel Kreisman, an assistant professor of economics at Georgia State University, and Kevin Stange, an associate professor of public policy at the University of Michigan, reviewed data from nearly 4,000 participants in the 1998-2015 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth and found that for each upper-level CTE class a student took in high school, they earned about 2 percent more annually, even if they didn't go to college, compared to people who took more academic courses without going to college, who had no such return.

“The returns when you get a job from taking upper-level academic courses are all explained by whether you went to college,” Kreisman said. “College increases your earnings, but having taken an academic course does not, necessarily. It doesn’t look like the workforce really values doing well, simply, in math, for example.”

The report, “Depth Over Breadth: The Value of Vocational Education in U.S. High Schools,” addressed the question of whether students who take CTE courses are disadvantaged because they did not invest time in more standard academic courses, and the answer is they are not, Kreisman said.

Kreisman and Stange also identified specific demographic groups that are more likely to enroll in vocational courses: male students, disadvantaged students who have a low household income or whose parents did not attend college, and students in rural America, specifically Southern states. For these students, the report suggests, it’s important to continually offer both introductory and advanced-level vocational courses.

“CTE helps the less advantaged kids,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown Center for Education and the Workforce. “High school is very academic now; it has almost nothing to do with the real world. For most young people, that’s an absurd situation … They don’t see any relationship between their Algebra 2 course and the real world.”

Vocational or CTE courses, which are most commonly introductions to industries like transportation, business and management, and computer technology, “facilitate better postsecondary enrollment decisions before students make potentially expensive mistakes -- an important priority amid concerns about the number of college dropouts burdened with student debt,” the report said.

However, the report “doesn’t say anything about bypassing college,” Kreisman said.

“I can’t necessarily say that someone struggling in academics would be better off going right into the labor market,” he said. “The students who choose to go into these courses end up benefiting from them, meaning if we limit the chances for students to take these courses, they won’t have that option.”

There is concern, however, that high schools are leaving vocational learning behind for a heavier academic course load, which may not work for all students. Federal funding for vocational programming has dropped 32 percent since 1985, and high school students’ average number of vocational credits dropped by 14 percent between 1990 and 2009, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

But Kreisman said the outlook is turning positive, with more STEM courses placed into CTE curricula and CTE course work being incorporated into college-preparation classes.

“There’s demand for these hard skills and the cost of college has gone way up, so it makes sense for students who want to take these types of courses, especially in high school, because when they get [out], it becomes very, very costly,” he said.

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Categories: Higher Education News