Higher Education News

How can global higher education promote gender equality?

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 4:20pm
Gender equality in higher education is complex and not easy to implement. Most official policy approaches concern themselves with the mild notion of equity or statistical parity and gender justice ...
Categories: Higher Education News

As study abroad numbers rise, Nepali students land in trouble

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 4:16pm
With a significant rise in the number of Nepali students studying abroad, particularly in Australia, the United States and Japan, more of them have been caught up in scams, pressured by unscrupulo ...
Categories: Higher Education News

Student loan scheme seeks fresh funds in new plan

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 4:14pm
The Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), the agency that disburses loans to students on behalf of the Kenyan government, launched a five-year strategic plan recently aimed at increasing loan alloc ...
Categories: Higher Education News

Students to present their start-up instead of a thesis

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 4:12pm
Students at all Russian universities are to be allowed the option of presenting a start-up that they have launched instead of submitting a traditional masters thesis, the Russian Ministry of Scien ...
Categories: Higher Education News

A problem in higher education masquerading as a solution

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 4:10pm
Without a hint of irony, American politicians suggest that the best way to combat the epidemic of gun violence that claims the lives of 40,000 of us per year is to have more guns. Especially in sc ...
Categories: Higher Education News

The quest to promote quality over mediocrity in HE

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 4:04pm
Poland has a new law on science and higher education. Parliament passed it last summer and it came into effect from the beginning of the academic year on 1 October 2018, but it is only now that it ...
Categories: Higher Education News

The promise of engaging the academic diaspora

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 4:02pm
Despite the absence of precise data, there is a general consensus that Ethiopia has a massive intellectual resource in its diaspora. In the United States, for instance, where 32% of those aged 25 ...
Categories: Higher Education News

Kashmiri students face uncertain future as tensions rise

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 2:12am
Kashmiri students fleeing Indian university campuses after a wave of attacks and harassment in the aftermath of the deadly 14 February suicide car bombing on Indian paramilitary forces in Pulwama, ...
Categories: Higher Education News

Security chief: 'Foreign spies are recruiting students'

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 12:48am
Norwegian students and researchers are being targeted by foreign intelligence services to gain access to sensitive information, the Norwegian Police Security Service or PST has warned.

The met ...
Categories: Higher Education News

Military tensions lead to rise in campus sedition charges

University World News - March 1, 2019 - 12:01am
With rising military tensions between India and Pakistan in the aftermath of a major terror attack in the Pulwama district of the restive Himalayan state of Kashmir on 14 February, a number of Kas ...
Categories: Higher Education News

US loses one in five top spots in global subject ranking

University World News - February 28, 2019 - 3:30am
The United States' higher education system is continuing to decline in the global rankings, losing almost 20% of top rankings for its university departments in the ...
Categories: Higher Education News

Foreign student numbers should be cut, say Australians

University World News - February 27, 2019 - 9:40pm
In the past 20 years, the number of overseas students enrolled in Australia's schools, colleges and universities has jumped by more than 300,000 or an astonishing 560%.

Foreign students now tot ...
Categories: Higher Education News

College of New Rochelle announces that it will likely close this year

Inside Higher Ed - News - February 23, 2019 - 11:16am

The College of New Rochelle announced Friday that it will likely close by the end of the summer of 2019.

A memo to the campus from the president and board chair said, "The college continues to experience significant cash flow challenges. In multiple forums, President [William] Latimer has stated that the three courses of action facing the College of New Rochelle include closure and teaching out existing students, partnership or standing alone. At this point in time, it appears unlikely that the college will be able to continue operations beyond the end of the summer 2019 semester."

The memo goes on to say that the college is in discussions with "an educational institution that is party to a memorandum of understanding," but that the proposed MOU would not preserve the college. "That institution is not considering a merger or acquisition of the college and is not considering the assumption of any of the college’s debt," said the memo. "The discussions are now focused on finalizing an arrangement with that institution that would meet the continuing educational needs of CNR’s students without interruption and may necessitate the retention of a number of faculty and staff."

The College of New Rochelle has some challenges that are typical of Northeastern private colleges without much money. But with enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, the college has more of a student base than do many other private institutions.

The college's economic free fall has roots that are different from those of other institutions. In 2016, the college announced the abrupt resignation of President Judith Huntington, saying that the turnover at the top came after trustees learned of “significant unmet financial obligations” that had the institution preparing for major budget cuts and possible financial exigency. Then a few weeks later, the college announced that it had not made payroll taxes for two years and owed about $20 million in such payments. Further, the college had additional debts of more than $11 million and said that budgets prepared for the board were inaccurate.

Since then, the college has made major cuts and has been accused of making faculty members (who have lost their jobs) pay for mistakes made by administrators. The college has also been trying to resolve issues related to the unpaid taxes and incomplete budgets. The memo issued Friday said, "The College of New Rochelle‘s audited financial statements for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2018, have not been completed due to open audit items. These include negotiations with the Internal Revenue Service to abate accrued penalties under the installment plan for the college’s outstanding federal tax liability that were stalled during the shutdown of the federal government and are ongoing. Because of this matter and the ongoing financial challenges, the college’s auditor has not yet made a final determination as to CNR’s ability to continue as a going concern."

Two colleges -- Green Mountain College and the Oregon College of Art and Craft -- have already announced closure plans this year. Hampshire College has announced that it will not admit a full freshman class while the college explores options for mergers or partnerships.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Accreditor rejects appeal of decision to revoke Bennett College accreditation

Inside Higher Ed - News - February 23, 2019 - 5:25am

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools has rejected Bennett College's appeal of a December decision to strip it of accreditation. The appeals panel of SACS found the December decision "to be reasonable, not arbitrary, and based on the standards cited," said a statement released by the accreditor.

Without accreditation, a college's students are not eligible for federal aid. Because the vast majority of Bennett students receive federal grants and loans, a loss of accreditation could make it impossible for the college to function. Bennett is a small, historically black women's college -- one of two such colleges in the country. It enrolls about 400 students and is located in Greensboro, N.C.

On Friday evening, Bennett announced that it had obtained a federal court order saying that accreditation would remain in place pending a legal challenge to the SACS decision to reject the appeal. That news means that students will continue to be eligible for aid while that process continues.

In addition, Bennett announced that it has started the process of seeking accreditation from the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools, and that a TRACS team would visit the Bennett campus in March. TRACS has recognized some colleges after they lost accreditation elsewhere.

After the December decision, Bennett announced a fund-raising campaign with the goal of raising $5 million to show that the college was financially sustainable. The college topped that goal, raising $8.2 million, encouraging supporters of the college.

The SACS announcement noted that colleges are permitted to provide updated financial information when an accreditation decision is being appealed. "The appeals committee found that Bennett College had 'failed to show that the institution possesses resources demonstrating a stable financial base to support the mission and scope of programs and services,'" the SACS announcement said.

This article has been updated.

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Scientists rally around Vanderbilt professor whose tenure bid appeared to hit roadblocks as Me Too activism grew

Inside Higher Ed - News - February 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

BethAnn McLaughlin is a hero to many women in academe, especially those in science. She founded a nonprofit called #MeTooSTEM to draw attention to the harassment of women in academic science, much by prominent men who are considered leaders of their fields.

She has spoken out against “harassholes” and has named names in public speeches, asking why some scientists are still showered with honors for their science despite the way they have treated women. She has urged members of the National Academy of Sciences to resign unless all harassers are removed from its ranks.

McLaughlin also had notable success -- where others have complained for years and achieved nothing -- in taking on Rate My Professors last year. McLaughlin, assistant professor of neurology and pharmacology at Vanderbilt University, tweeted at the website that ranks faculty members, "Life is hard enough for female professors. Your 'chili pepper' rating of our 'hotness' is obnoxious and utterly irrelevant to our teaching. Please remove it because #TimesUP and you need to do better." After a social media campaign took off to support her request, Rate My Professors announced it would take down the dubious "hotness" rating.

As McLaughlin's activism has grown, some of it has struck close to home. A faculty committee that had endorsed her tenure bid reversed itself, Science reported. The action came amid investigations of McLaughlin for allegedly posting anonymous derogatory comments about colleagues, and the complaint reportedly came from a professor against whom McLaughlin had spoken in a sexual harassment investigation. While Vanderbilt never found her guilty of violating any rules, the tenure process went from moving to not moving. She is in danger of being out of a job at the end of this month.

McLaughlin, who has denied wrongdoing, makes no secret of her views on Me Too, and does tweet regularly about these issues. But she does so under her own name.

A tweet from last year that she has kept at the top of her page is, to many, a sadly accurate prediction of the struggles she would face. The tweet is from an email to her from Anita Hill, a professor at Brandeis University best known for accusing Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas of harassment. "I am deeply appreciative of your willingness to use your voice … to make a real difference. The impact on you and your career are not to be underestimated. I know that you've taken great risks to hold the national academies and individuals who abuse their positions accountable. In my own case, the challenges were considerable, but knowing that I did the right thing in the end outweigh[ed] the negatives … I am confident that your colleagues will see you as the hero you are for standing up for what's right."

As word of the tenure difficulties facing McLaughlin has spread, support for her has grown. Thousands have signed a petition calling on Vanderbilt to reverse itself. The petition notes that the faculty committee originally backed McLaughlin (who has an active lab) and changed its mind only after she became involved in allegations against a colleague.

"The tenure process is the means by which a professor's contributions to the academic community recognize the scholarship, teaching and service to their peers," the petition says. "When administrators pressure faculty to reverse their decision on tenure, they bring politics and fear into a process that should be objective and independent. Even the appearance of administrative interference strikes a blow against academic freedom and the expectation of scholarly independence."

Sharona E. Gordon, professor of physiology and biophysics at the University of Washington, organized the petition. "Why do so many people support BethAnn?" she said. "If the most public face of MeTooSTEM can be fired for her support of targets of sexual harassment, none of us is safe."

As the controversy grew, Vanderbilt -- as is common in these cases -- declined to comment.

But this week it issued a statement that did not name McLaughlin but instead offered some comment on "an ongoing tenure review" at the university. The statement cited the confidential nature of tenure reviews, and said that the specifics of the case could not be discussed.

Still, Vanderbilt asserted that the publicity about the case has been incorrect.

"Recent news reports and subsequent social media conversations and posts related to an ongoing tenure review have created a grossly inaccurate picture of the culture and values of Vanderbilt University," the statement said. "We share genuine concern about the real and pervasive challenges facing women in science around the world and are working to address them here at Vanderbilt. We do not tolerate sexual discrimination and misconduct, or retaliation against those that stand up against it, and we work to foster an environment that encourages reporting and protects those who do so. Our community holds diversity, equity and inclusion as bedrock values and any suggestion otherwise is false."

The statement added that the university's tenure process is led by faculty members, and that no final decisions have been made.

"The processes to review tenure decisions and disciplinary actions are faculty-led, and the strict confidentiality we maintain around personnel matters is a covenant that was developed by our faculty and for our faculty," the statement said. "That is why we will not get into a public debate about the specific circumstances of any individual’s tenure application … To be clear, the process in the tenure review in question is ongoing and a final decision will be made based on a thorough assessment of the facts."

Via email, McLaughlin said that the reversal of the faculty committee was not faculty-led, but reflected the views of senior administrators. She noted how unusual it is for a candidate to be approved by a faculty committee, only to have that decision be revoked.

She said she was "incredibly sad" that she is on the verge of losing her position. She noted that she has raised millions of dollars to support her research, which her lab website describes as work that focuses "on how the brain responds to stress in an effort to design safe and effective therapeutics for acute and chronic injury."

At the same time, she said she was heartened by the support she is receiving from women in science. "I'm incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support from trainees and colleagues," she said. "There's a real chance to change the trajectory of inclusion and diversity and become a model for others. It's what we do as academics. We find the truth, we share it, we learn from it. We are continually improving, and all women need us to improve in this area."

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Categories: Higher Education News

College groups raise access concerns over Alexander accountability plan

Inside Higher Ed - News - February 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

The rules that hold most colleges accountable for the debt their students leave campus with are widely regarded as broken.

A Government Accountability Office report last year found that colleges easily game standards applying to loan default rates. Policy shops and lawmakers, meanwhile, have spent years debating the right approach about the degree to which institutions should be on the hook for poor results on student loans.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee, this month released the latest gambit to overhaul federal accountability for colleges. He proposed in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that a single accountability system measuring students’ progress paying back their loans should apply to all colleges and majors.

It’s a simple concept, but policy makers would quickly run into complications drafting such a rule, representatives of college groups say. So far, the proposal is getting tepid responses from those groups, who say it could hurt access and create new administrative challenges on campus. But they could be facing a tougher political environment to oppose accountability outright.

“I think the plan is consistent with Senator Alexander's admirable desire to simplify federal student aid as much as possible,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education. “Unfortunately, simplification sometimes turns out to be very complicated. I suspect that will be the case here.”

Alexander is offering his plan, though, as the ground has started to shift politically around college accountability, said Lanae Erickson, senior vice president for social politics and policy at the think tank Third Way. "It shows that the conversation has really moved over the last few years," she said.

Alexander's proposal would replace a patchwork of existing accountability rules that many argue don't effectively measure outcomes at most colleges. The cohort default rate, which applies to all colleges, tracks the share of borrowers at each institution who default on their loans within three years. But it doesn't track what happens to borrowers after that window, and few institutions ever face the loss of federal aid because of the rule.

An Obama-era regulation called gainful employment targeted for-profit and career education programs by assessing borrowers’ debt burdens after graduation. Critics -- especially representatives of career colleges -- charged that gainful employment was unfair because it targeted only certain higher ed programs and not those at most public and private nonprofit institutions.

Unlike those rules, Alexander argued his framework would "simplify and expand" on what gainful employment tried to accomplish by measuring whether students are actually paying off their loans.

Public and nonprofit colleges have long argued that it's inappropriate to apply the same rules to four-year colleges as career education programs -- the payoff may not be immediate, but students benefit from higher earnings for many more years, they argue. And they warn holding four-year programs accountable will be much more complex.

College Groups Raise Access Concerns

Some Republicans expect that colleges would either close low-performing programs -- as some institutions did in response to the early gainful-employment ratings -- or discount the price of programs with lower earnings.

But Sarah Flanagan, vice president for government relations and policy development at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said that would have the effect of steering students who rely on financial aid toward lower-priced programs.

"If you’re a low-income student, you’re the most price-sensitive student,” she said. “It’s going to undermine equality of opportunity, not help it.”

Colleges have slowly started to move toward differential pricing for programs in recent years. Business and engineering are two fields of study where some institutions have set higher tuition rates than for liberal arts degrees.

However, David Sheppard, senior vice president and chief of staff at the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, whose members are mostly public historically black institutions, said those colleges have limited flexibility to set different tuition levels depending on the program. And he said historically black institutions want to preserve the ability for students to pursue postsecondary programs like teaching, especially when there is a dearth of black male teachers in the U.S. education system.

“Our schools don’t want to be deterred from offering that opportunity to students,” Sheppard said. “It’s fair to say our group feels there needs to be additional thought given to the accountability aspect of the proposal.”

Pursuing accountability by program rather than at the college level is still preferable, said Preston Cooper, a research analyst at the American Enterprise Institute, because there can be a wide variation in quality within a single institution.

“There may be some reductions in access,” he said. “I think we have to accept some of those if we actually want to hold low-quality institutions and low-quality programs accountable.”

Erickson of Third Way said the boom in high-priced four-year degree programs at for-profit colleges over the last decade also shows low-income students aren't always sensitive to cost.

"What students say they want is to make enough money to have a stable career," she said. "If they're having to take out so much in loans they can't pay it back, they're not getting what they're asking for."

The Alexander proposal also raises questions about how to count outcomes for each program. Nearly a third of students at public and nonprofit institutions switch majors at least once within their first three years.

“Things get very complicated very quickly,” said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “The issue of compliance burden is a fairly significant one here.”

While it’s not surprising college groups would take issue with the outlines of the proposal, higher ed associations have beaten back previous attempts at the federal level to overhaul accountability rules. And the absence of federal data on program-level outcomes for student borrowers means many institutions can’t say how they would perform under the new accountability regime even with more details about Alexander’s plan.

That lack of data is a perennial problem for higher ed, Cooper said. He said lawmakers could allay those concerns in legislation by cutting off aid only after multiple years falling short of the new standards.

Growing Interest in Measuring Loan Repayment

The interest in using loan repayment to assess higher ed programs isn't new -- the Obama administration's original gainful-employment rule, which was later struck down by a federal court, incorporated the metric.

And Alexander isn’t the first lawmaker to call for linking federal aid to loan repayment at the program level. But Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, noted that there is no consensus in recent proposals on what qualifies as loan repayment or what thresholds the federal government should set for colleges to meet the standards.

House Republican legislation to reauthorize the Higher Education Act in 2017 would have cut off federal student aid to institutions where 45 percent of student borrowers weren’t in repayment on their loans within three years. Meanwhile, Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen introduced a Senate bill the same year that would have blocked federal aid to colleges where less than 15 percent of their students haven’t begun repaying their loans within three years of leaving school.

The Hatch/Shaheen bill used a more stringent definition of repayment that assessed what percentage of borrowers had paid down at least $1 of their loan principal. Alexander’s proposal would likely use a similar definition, because he wants borrowers to have their loan payments automatically deducted from their paychecks.

Kelchen said policy makers would have to sort out other thorny issues like the appropriate thresholds for triggering sanctions against colleges or the time frame they would have to come into compliance.

“Accountability is one of the biggest challenges in getting an agreement for [Higher Education Act] reauthorization,” he said. “Democrats are pushing hard for different rules for for-profits. Republicans want to treat each sector the same. Senators in both parties want to make sure colleges in their state are not adversely affected.”

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Moves to kill UT Knoxville's Sex Week met with questions

Inside Higher Ed - News - February 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

Nearly six years ago, Todd Starnes, a Fox News personality, wrote a column with a headline certain to make the eyes of his conservative audience pop:

“University of Tennessee Uses Student Fees to Pay for Lesbian Bondage Expert.”

The piece summarized the University of Tennessee at Knoxville’s inaugural Sex Week in 2013 -- how student fees paid for a campuswide condom scavenger hunt and for a leather expert. These tidbits might seem salacious, but colleges and universities nationwide often sponsor sex-related events with these types of activities -- even on other public campuses in Tennessee -- with the idea that students who are sexually active will learn how to do so in healthy ways.

The widespread publicity set off the public and horrified state Republican lawmakers, who pressured university leaders to kill Sex Week. Knoxville’s chancellor at the time, Jimmy G. Cheek, pulled more than $11,000 in funding for it that year, determined that state tax dollars or tuition money wouldn’t be used, but students raised thousands of dollars in private donations and held it anyway.

This act of defiance set off an extraordinary half-a-decade-long battle between one student group and the Tennessee Legislature, which has gone to astonishing lengths and spent a considerable amount of time trying to curtail Sex Week, passing a law that state money can’t be used to pay for it and rejecting nominees to the university system’s Board of Trustees who politicians perceived as complacent with the event.

At times, the controversy has veered into personal and ugly attacks. Lawmakers have deemed Sex Week “disgusting” and “evil,” and framed its organizers as unintelligent and worthy of public scorn -- a sign of frustration, perhaps, from representatives from a state that limits sex education in K-12 public schools to abstinence only.

This week, the Tennessee comptroller of the Treasury released a 269-page report on the history of state funds with Sex Week, an inquiry ordered by the General Assembly last year and made public Wednesday during a State Senate Education Committee hearing.

It includes a list of possibilities on how lawmakers can address Sex Week. They range from ignoring the event, as has been done in some years -- the writers of the report hinted that the attention from the capitol and the media has strengthened the student group that runs Sex Week -- to legislatively banning it, which the comptroller’s office suggested would surely invite a First Amendment lawsuit.

Randy Boyd, University of Tennessee System interim president, pledged that Knoxville will stop allocating the fees to student groups, by which Sex Week is primarily funded. Instead, the university will directly control nonacademic student activities. It is unclear whether this would diminish some of the programs during Sex Week.

The week's organizers, the student club Sexual Empowerment and Awareness at Tennessee, or SEAT, and supporters adamantly maintain that despite the sensational format in which the material is presented, the sexual health lessons students glean from Sex Week make it worthwhile.

Thank you for the constant support. We are proud to have started this conversation on campus all those years ago. #LetsTalkAboutIt #SexWeek2019 pic.twitter.com/cbNCCBjqhm

— Sex Week at UT (@SexWeekUTK) February 21, 2019

“We have always treated human sexuality as a topic of utmost intellectual importance,” SEAT said in a statement Thursday. “Our programming has been and is still largely put on by professionals, doctors and professors. We were the first organization to bring many sex education-related topics and ideas to campus.”

A Controversial History

Sex Week usually happens in early April every year and features sessions on sex and sexuality, everything from anal intercourse -- playfully named Butt Stuff, a lesson that has generated quite a bit of flak -- to sex toys (called Batteries Not Included) and sex workers.

Attendance has been ranged from 1,650 participants to more than 3,500 -- and not just students.

In one particularly fascinating session, a black sex worker presented on both bondage and how she requires her clients to read feminist literature by black authors, said Joan Heminway, faculty adviser for SEAT and Rick Rose Distinguished Professor of Law.

“Students are experimenting with that kind of thing, too,” Heminway said about BDSM. “You know, 50 Shades of Grey, that was emotionally destructive, that kind of sexual behavior, which they are trying to correct.”

In 2014, the year after the first Sex Week, multiple bills were proposed in the General Assembly that sought to weaken the event -- one would even have prevented student fees and other institutional funds from paying for guest speakers at public campuses, a plan that didn’t make it out of committee. Tennessee’s House of Representatives did pass a resolution condemning administrators for allowing Sex Week to continue (which was later amended to denounce the student organizers instead).

Cheek, the former chancellor, met with the SEAT leaders that year and asked if they would consider “toning down” the event. In response, the students leased a billboard on Interstate 40 in Knoxville advertising for it, a marker of what would be their recurrent conflict with administrators and the General Assembly.

Lawmakers continued to press and question why university leaders hadn’t stopped Sex Week, but nothing happened legislatively until 2016, when the Legislature approved a law preventing state funds from being used for Sex Week (it also prohibited state money being used to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns on campus or promote or inhibit the celebration or religious holidays).

Outside of donations to SEAT, student fees were the only way that the group paid for Sex Week -- and the university in the 2015-16 academic year made it possible for students to opt out of their fees going toward the event. The maximum SEAT ever received in student fees was $29,800 during the 2016-17 academic year. In the last several years it was given the highest amount out of all the student groups at Knoxville.

During the next legislative session in 2017, politicians passed a free-expression law lauded as one of the most comprehensive in the country that stated it is “not the proper role of an institution to attempt to shield individuals from free speech, including ideas and opinions they find offensive, unwise, immoral, indecent, disagreeable, conservative, liberal, traditional, radical or wrongheaded.”

Critics have pointed out that GOP lawmakers’ attempts to restrain Sex Week -- which they find distasteful -- seems counter to the measure they championed.

Last year, the controversy became an issue for Franklin Graham, a prominent Christian evangelist who espouses far-right views and has attracted a significant political following. On his Facebook page in April, he attacked former Knoxville chancellor Beverly Davenport, who was abruptly fired last year for what the then system president described as "very poor" communication skills and a "lack of trust, collaboration, communication and transparency" in relationships. Graham urged the governor to step in.

“They’re actually pushing this filthy trash on young people whose parents are paying good money to send them there for a quality education,” Graham wrote.

Later that month, Davenport sent a letter to the lieutenant governor and former speaker for the House of Representatives, suggesting she was embarrassed by the language used in the Sex Week sessions and stressing no state money was being used.

“We do not organize, promote or condone these events, but we are obliged by the law to allow the student-funded and organized event to take place. This applies across student-funded events,” Davenport wrote.

Then came the controversy with the system Board of Trustees. The General Assembly had moved to reduce the size of the board from 27 members to 12, with 10 of those members being nominated by the governor and confirmed by representatives from both chambers in the Legislature.

Senator Dolores Gresham, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, said at the time:

What we have seen in the conduct, for example, of Sex Week on the UTK campus, is not education. It’s not even the free exchange of ideas. It seeks nothing more than to glorify depravity, and it takes the name of the university and drags it through the trash that we have seen touted as educational in lofty phrases and terms. Human sexuality is a legitimate academic field of inquiry and should be approached in a scholarly manner. It is not a circus by which the dignity of the human person is denigrated and besmirched. What a betrayal. Thus, we are here where the sequence of events from divergent paths cross. This governor and this Legislature seek new leadership and new perspectives in the governance of the University of Tennessee. And the events on the flagship campus made us a spectacle and a national embarrassment again.

So, for those candidates for confirmation here, present, heed my words. We expect better. And we expect lots better.

None of the original board members were confirmed. One hopeful initially on the board withdrew from consideration.

Many in the public attributed this to lawmakers’ dissatisfaction with how they handled Sex Week.

What Will Happen?

Boyd has promised to be more transparent with the public about how funding for student groups works, and consider how Knoxville can “reduce the perception of bias” in how it distributes student fees.

But beyond this, it’s uncertain how administrators will proceed. Boyd and interim chancellor Wayne T. Davis haven’t expressed much support for Sex Week. Boyd said during the Senate hearing Wednesday that the system didn’t “condone the sensational and explicit programming … often provided.”

“We believe it has damaged the reputation and overshadowed the many achievements of our university,” Boyd said.

He and Wilson wrote a joint letter to the comptroller saying that too much of the event had focused on the sensational, and noted that previous discussions with the student leaders, asking them to focus on human sexuality just as an academic pursuit, have failed.

John Compton, current chairman of the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, said in a statement he "endorses the comptroller’s review and fully agree[s] with President Boyd and the actions he and his team are taking to resolve this unfortunate distraction."

Other suggestions by the comptroller were that Knoxville could declare that it is the sole provider of sex-related education on campus, which would also effectively ban Sex Week. Funding to student groups could be reduced, the comptroller’s report states, which may limit Sex Week’s offerings.

The comptroller also noted that Knoxville could start to charge for use of its facilities. Right now, student groups use them for free, which again, would likely make Sex Week more difficult to pay for.

Heminway, the faculty adviser, said that she appreciates the legislators using a real fact-finding arm -- the comptroller -- because of widespread misinformation about Sex Week. But she said lawmakers’ crusade against Sex Week wastes taxpayer money.

“Some of these things make me uncomfortable,” Heminway said. “I’m a middle-aged woman. But I see it, when I’ve gone to some of those programs, what I understand is that things they would be doing otherwise are harmful to themselves or others. So, yes, it’s being taught in a proactive way with proactive titles. It’s a way at coming at the educational process not as a textbook process, but driven by personal examples. It’s an unorthodox way of educating.”

As the report points out, other public campuses in Tennessee host sex workshops, some just as long as Knoxville’s.

East Tennessee State University planned multiple sex weeks in 2015 and 2017, though there was backlash, and the student government denied the organizers money, forcing them to crowdsource for it.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga also arranged a sex week in 2015 through 2017, though not on as large a scale as Knoxville’s. The event there had sessions called Dildo’s and Don’ts and Cunts, Cops, Cocks, Consent: Oh My! with little controversy, though no university funds were used for it.

Sex education weeks are generally a fun way to raise awareness about an issue that is deeply minimized in Tennessee, said Emi Canahuati, a board member of the Tennessee Alliance For Sexual Health. She also runs a business called Talk and Thrive, which consults with parents and others on discussing sex with children.

In Tennessee public schools, children are only taught abstinence education. And in 2012, Governor Bill Haslam signed a law saying teachers can’t promote “gateway sexual activity.” Teachers can be disciplined for teaching activities that could lead to sex, and the law blocks outside speakers such as Planned Parenthood from coming into schools.

Canahuati called it the “breathing bill.”

“Because even breathing can lead to sex,” she said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has indicated that the rate of sexually transmitted diseases is growing in the mid-South, and nationally.

Doctors diagnosed two million people in the country with STDs in 2016, according to the CDC. And in Tennessee, the rate of people diagnosed with chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis in 2018 was up by double digits from the previous year, WMC 5, a local television station, reported.

Canahuati said that the Legislature has “hampered sex education at every turn.” She said students should be learning about sex from an early age. When students arrive at college, they will inevitably experiment, but they don’t have the knowledge on how to have sex safely, Canahuati said.

She said colleges should not be taking away opportunities for sex education -- such as they seem to be doing with Sex Week at Knoxville -- but providing more.

“A lot of the messages they’ve gotten is that sex is dirty,” Canahuati said about students. “They’ve been told, save it for the one you love, and just don’t it, and then they do, and they have no sense to keep themselves or their partners safe.”

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Categories: Higher Education News

New initiative to help single moms succeed in community colleges

Inside Higher Ed - News - February 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Community college graduation rates are poor, but they’re even worse for single mothers. Only 8 percent of single mothers enrolled in an associate or bachelor’s degree program graduate within six years, according to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research.

A new initiative announced Wednesday by former second lady Jill Biden hopes to improve that rate. Biden, a full-time English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, said the Community College Women Succeed initiative will help colleges learn how to help adult women and single mothers graduate from two-year institutions across the country. The initiative was announced during the Achieving the Dream national conference.

“We will listen to women who know what they need more than anyone else,” Biden said. “We’re hosting regional roundtables with students and working with advocates across the nation to figure out how to create the best, most effective support system we can.”

Karen Stout, president of Achieving the Dream, said the listening sessions will help educators and higher education researchers develop policies and programs that help colleges redesign their campuses to meet the needs of female students who are also parents. Achieving the Dream and the Biden Foundation are jointly supporting the initiative, which does not include any funding.

“Once we have the students' voices and more of the data and policy issues lined up, we want to use that with our community colleges to help them identify women on their campuses who need these additional supports,” Stout said.

The number of single mothers attending two-and four-year colleges more than doubled between 1999 and 2011 and reached 2.1 million, or 11 percent of all undergraduates, as of 2012, the most recent year for which data are available, according to IWPR. The growing number of parents in college also caught the attention of Congress, which last year increased funding to the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program (CCAMPIS) from $15 million to $50 million. The program provides grants to colleges that support childcare on campus and helps more than 5,000 student parents nationwide.

After the announcement, Biden's staff attended the first roundtable at Los Angeles Harbor College for a private discussion with a group of current and former students.

“There isn’t one thing that’s going to suddenly make balancing work and childcare and education and pursuing your career simple,” Biden said. “But for the women who are willing to give their all, who are willing to fight for the futures they want and deserve, we can do more.”

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Categories: Higher Education News

New presidents or provosts: Allegheny Georgia Southern Grand Valley Grande Prairie Hawaii Liberty Queens Temple Tufts

Inside Higher Ed - News - February 22, 2019 - 7:00pm
  • Nadine Aubry, dean of the College of Engineering at Northeastern University, in Massachusetts, has been chosen as provost and senior vice president at Tufts University, also in Massachusetts.
  • Tim Heath, dean of the Center for Applied Arts and Sciences at Lethbridge College, in Alberta, Canada, has been selected as vice president, academics and research, at Grande Prairie Regional College, also in Alberta.
  • Scott Hicks, interim provost at Liberty University, in Virginia, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Bonnie Irwin, provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University Monterey Bay, has been named chancellor of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
  • Hilary L. Link, dean of Temple University Rome, in Italy, has been appointed president of Allegheny College, in Pennsylvania.
  • Daniel G. Lugo, vice president for college advancement at Colby College, in Maine, has been chosen as president of Queens University, in North Carolina.
  • Philomena V. Mantella, senior vice president and chief executive officer of the Lifelong Learning Network at Northeastern University, in Massachusetts, has been selected as president of Grand Valley State University, in Michigan.
  • Kyle Marrero, president of the University of West Georgia, has been named president of Georgia Southern University.
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Categories: Higher Education News