THE NEWS QUARTERLY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TRUSTEES

VOL. 2,   NO. 4          fall 2017

 

 

T O P  S T O R I E S

 

 

 

 

  PURPOSE      GOVERNANCE      PUBLIC TRUST     EMERGENT ORDERS

NAVIGATION

DeVos Breaks More Title IX China  The Secretary of Education rolls back Obama-era sexual assault guidelines for colleges MORE

 

Is Fed Ed Ready for Education Innovation?  Trying to enforce “correspondence course” rules in the Internet age  MORE

 

 

E M E R G E N T   O R D E R S  |  The Future of Higher Education?  Wisconsin is merging its two-year schools with its four-year ones MORE

 

Cornell Opens Outpost in NYC   A bold experiment to marry technology and the humanities  MORE

 

Nontraditional Students: The New Norm  So says a report from Civitas Learning  MORE

 

Alternative Education Takes Off  More than a quarter of Americans have a non-degree work credential  MORE

 

Whom Do College Rankings Help?  The newly released U.S. News and Wall St. Journal/THE standings are out  MORE

 

Big Tech: Are We Buoyed or Doomed?  A couple of new books suggest it’s the latter MORE

 

Troubling Trends in Student Debt  The default rate has risen to 11.5 percent MORE

 

DeVos’s “Quite Vertical” Learning Curve  Someone who doesn’t like “so-called free money” is bound to have a few critics  MORE

 

Trump Nixes Deferred Action; Gets Sued Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), now 800,000 strong  MORE

 

Bipartisan Aversion to GOP Tax Plan  Nickel-and-diming our way to deficit spending  MORE

 

Report Finds UVa Unprepared for White Supremacist Rally  Being “predisposed to defend… free speech,” the Charlottesville school turned a blind eye to threats of violence  MORE

 

The High Cost of Free Speech  A visit by a white nationalist cost U of Florida $600,000—for security  MORE

 

Free-Speech Checklist  A new book offers college administrators some advice   MORE

 

#TakeAKnee  College quarterback trying it got kicked off the team  MORE

 

Hard Times for Admissions Officers  A third of colleges didn’t meet enrollment targets; travel bans implicated  MORE

 

Tuition No Longer the Holy Grail of Affordability  More like a game of robbing Peter to pay Paul  MORE

 

The Giveth and Taketh of College Giving  Turns out the rich don’t give their money away for nothing—then there’s Harvey Weinstein  MORE

 

Midwest Brain Drain  State budget cuts and withering federal funds hurting non-urban public universities   MORE

 

The Facts of Life About Sexual Assault  Beyond the Beltway it’s happening on campuses  MORE

 

 

P U B L I C  T R U S T  | Bribery, Kickbacks, Fraud: The Mob? No, It’s the NCAA   The Feds uncover some pretty organized crime in college basketball  MORE

 

Former Male Former Spy Hired, Then Fired Harvard learned a hard lesson making Chelsea Manning a visiting fellow  MORE

P U R P O S E | Bok Talk: Fixing Higher Ed Former Harvard president Derek Bok has a new book out, The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges MORE

 

There Is Value in a Liberal Arts Education Some think it should be a requirement for business school   MORE

 

A STEM Major Is No Job Guarantee Biology majors have a post-graduation unemployment rate of 8.76 percent  MORE

 

A Call to Return to “Bourgeois Norms” An uproar over hard work, discipline, marriage, and respect for authority  MORE

 

Rethinking Remedial Ed Despite throwing billions of dollars at it, it’s not working  MORE

 

Betting on ‘Excellence With Diversity’  Columbia is staking $100 million MORE

 

When Free Speech Is Hate Speech  Words may not break bones, but they have consequences  MORE

 

First-Gen College Students Need Support Beyond Academics  Schools are beginning to address the social gap  MORE

 

 

G O V E R N A N C E  | Free Speech Behind Closed Doors  Sixty-six college leaders met quietly and agreed that students need more education on the First Amendment  MORE

 

An Inexpensive MicroMasters Degree—and Microcollege  When MIT, U of Penn, and Boston U team up, it’s worth paying attention; so too when Bard’s Botstein weighs in  MORE

 

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P U R P O S E

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CURRICULUM

 

Bok Talk: Fixing Higher Ed Derek Bok, president emeritus of Harvard, writes extensively about higher education in his new book, The Struggle to Reform Our Colleges. According to Glenn Altschuler, professor of American studies at Cornell, Bok faults the gap in outcomes among African-American, Hispanic, low-income, and affluent white students, but believes that all students suffer because current curriculum poorly teaches critical thinking, writing skills, global knowledge, and career readiness. He also complains of grade inflation and the number of faculty who are more interested in their own research than teaching skills. Bok expands on one of the themes of his book in an essay for The Chronicle of Higher Education, “The Crisis of Civic Education,” arguing that educators need to be concerned with “what more can be done to prepare young people for responsible citizenship in a democratic society.” New course requirements aren’t the answer, says Bok; community service is. George Leef, former book review editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education, disagrees with much of what Bok says— “Liberals like Bok always look for top-down solutions”—arguing that “America’s low educational attainment isn’t so much the fault of our colleges as it’s the fault of our students.”  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

There Is Value in a Liberal Arts Education  Should the value of education be measured solely in financial terms? Or should “a liberal arts education … prepare students to lead successful lives, but also curious, meaningful lives that are fulfilling across multiple dimensions? Drew Faust, president of Harvard University, source of the latter quote, believes in the expansive definition of “successful lives.” And while the proportion of students who major in the humanities has fallen from a high of nearly one in five to one in 20 since the late 1960s, a new poll shows that college-bound students do recognize the benefits of a liberal arts education—e.g., to help them become well-rounded, to prepare for grad school or as a stepping stone to a good job. And though the Hechinger Report story quoted above is titled “Make [the Humanities] a Requirement Toward a Business Degree,” (see “STEM Major No Job Guarantee”)  just 38 percent of students believe that liberal arts are “the best education for them.” Part of the problem, says Peter Berkowitz, a senior fellow at Stanford, is that instead of teaching students how to think, schools want to talk gender and inequality. A new report reveals that freshman students at the vast majority of American colleges and universities are not required to take general core classes before choosing a major. And many schools do not have any core requirements. In this day and age, when almost any career could become “Uberized,” students are graduating with “specialized skills but lack these basics,” writes Cathy Davidson in Time magazine. Indeed, now might be a good time to study the humanities, as a liberal arts degree could set a recent grad “apart from the hordes clutching STEM degrees.”  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

3  STEM Major Is No Job Guarantee  A list of the college majors with the highest post-graduate unemployment rates, as compiled by the career website Zippia, includes some of the usual suspects—e.g., the arts and communications studies. But students pursuing STEM degrees (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) aren’t guaranteed a job, either. Environmental science (11.79 percent), communication technology (9.4 percent), and biology students (8.76 percent) also have high unemployment rates. And in another curious twist, full-time MBA programs are falling out of favor. The University of Wisconsin-Madison, one of the oldest schools of business in the country, has backed away from plans to shut down its full-time master’s of business administration program in favor of shorter, more specialized degrees. Business schools outside of the top tier are finding it increasingly difficult to attract applicants. The University of Iowa and Wake Forest University recently ended their full-time MBA programs, citing waning student demand.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

4  A Call to Return to “Bourgeois Norms”  An op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer suggests that what this country needs is a return to “bourgeois norms.” The listing of such norms—hard work, self-discipline, marriage, and respect for authority—triggered an uproar on at least two college campuses. The piece was written by law professors Amy Wax, of the University of Pennsylvania, and Larry Alexander, of the University of San Diego. Wax’s colleagues signed an open letter denouncing her views, while the dean of USD’s law school issued a memo repudiating the article and pledging new measures to compensate students for “racial discrimination and cultural subordination.”  Meanwhile, farther north and west, Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, reached a $500,000 settlement with a professor who was at the center of campus protests earlier this year. Bret Weinstein had refused to take part in an officially sanctioned “Day of Absence” that asked college students and staff to support “a day for community building around identity groups.” The subsequent protests and allegations of racism and intolerance against Weinstein pulled the liberal arts school into the national debate over free speech on college campuses. Weinstein and his wife, also a professor at the school, alleged that Evergreen “has permitted, cultivated, and perpetuated a racially hostile and retaliatory work environment.” The school recently adopted a new set of guidelines, noting who can speak on campus grounds and when.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

5  Rethinking Remedial Ed Nearly half of ACT test-takers are not ready for entry-level college courses in English, math, reading, or science, according to data released by the testing organization. Underserved students—defined as the first generation in their family to attend college, students who come from low-income families, and/or those who self-identify as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority—lag far behind their peers. And even more alarming, the more “underserved” characteristics a student has, the worse he or she performs. This news comes at a time when more states, including California, Colorado, Indiana, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Florida, are moving away from remedial education, which costs students and schools $7 billion a year and, despite the high price tag, does little to move students closer to graduation. At California State University System, only 45 percent of remedial students graduate within six years, versus 66 percent of non-remedial students. Beginning in fall 2018, Cal State Los Angeles students will be allowed to take courses that count toward their degrees from Day 1. Those who need additional help will simultaneously enroll in college-level and new basic skills classes.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

COMMUNITY

 

6  Betting on ‘Excellence With Diversity’ Columbia Vice Provost of Diversity and Inclusion Dennis Mitchell lauds the $100 million his university is committing to increase diversity among its faculty, while others want that outcome without spending that kind of money. University of California Riverside, for one, doesn’t state a number goal of new faculty hires from underrepresented minorities but rather asks candidates how they work to achieve diversity; through its recruitment it, and other schools such as Boston College and Pomona, is simply making diversity part of the conversation. Columbia extends that conversation to women looking to major in STEM courses by hosting events for women interested in engineering, for example, and in 2016, 42 percent of its STEM grads were women. As labor statistics continue to show there are unfilled STEM jobs, schools from high schools with Girls Who Code clubs and colleges are indeed bringing women into the STEM conversation.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

7  When Free Speech Is Hate Speech  Harvard rescinded admissions to students who were part of a Facebook group that posted racial slurs and jokes about the Holocaust. At Pomona College “vile images and comments” were discovered in an online group of enrolled students, causing the school to investigate but also to ponder how it balances its commitment to free speech with its policy against “expressions of bias.”  And survey results published in the journal Race and Social Problems show that such expressions, which could fall under the definition of microaggressions, indicate a deeper racism rather than just an off-hand insensitivity. What might seem harmless to a white person just may not be to a black person.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

8  First-Generation College Students Need Support Beyond Academics  Top schools want more first-generation students and are now beginning to realize that this means addressing the social gap between first-generation college-goers and those from college-educated families. Yale offers FSY (First-Year Scholars at Yale), a program that includes academics and social help and even assistance with travel logistics. Georgetown has a similar Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP), and Princeton is actively accepting more Pell Grant students. Statistics of graduating rates among first-generation students vary: Brookings states only 9 percent of them get a B.A. by age 24, but the Higher Education Research Institute says 50 percent of them at four-year schools graduate within six years. And groups such as the College Transition Collaborative, composed of social psychologists, researchers, and educators, are emerging. At UT Austin, a group of first-generation students themselves have built a support group for new students, helping with everything from health insurance advice to sharing textbooks. But, according to Youlanda Copeland-Morgan, vice-provost of enrollment at UCLA, schools would get more first-gen students if they did things differently, such as not giving merit scholarships based on SAT and ACT scores or requiring a scholarship student to do community service, and giving one-time four-year scholarships rather than piecemeal ones.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

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GOVERNANCE

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TRUSTEESHIP

 

Free Speech Behind Closed Doors  A group of 66 higher education presidents and provosts gathered at the University of Chicago to discuss ongoing campus protests and the free speech debate (ironically, behind closed doors). There was strong consensus that the principle of free speech for all must be upheld, with the leaders saying they want to work to better educate students on the First Amendment. But some challenged the common notion that today’s students are “snowflakes” who can't handle the cognitive dissonance of ideas opposed to their own. A Brookings Institution survey of undergraduates found that a significant percentage (19 percent of all students and 30 percent of male students) think it’s acceptable to resort to violence to prevent a speaker from appearing on campus. Some question the validity of the Brookings study, with one expert calling it “junk science.” In another study, by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, only one percent of undergrads said it’s OK to disrupt a speaker with violent action. But nearly one-third (31 percent) think hate speech should not be protected by the First Amendment.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

ADMINISTRATION

 

10  An Inexpensive MicroMasters Degree—and a Microcollege  There are now 2.4 million fewer college students in the U.S. than there were six years ago, reports former Chronicle of Higher Education editor Jeffrey Selingo. One interesting reason for this dramatic drop, says Selingo, writing in The Washington Post, is the MicroMasters degree. Universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, and Boston University have partnered with the online learning provider edX to offer MicroMasters, which costs significantly less time and money than traditional master’s degree programs. At MIT, for instance, the on-campus master’s program in supply-chain management costs nearly $70,000. The MicroMasters, which covers a quarter to a half of the traditional course material, is just $1,350. At Georgia Tech, roughly 5,000 students have enrolled in the online master’s in computer science. Tuition for the online program is $6,600, compared to $40,000 for the on-campus counterpart. And Bard College, no stranger to K-12 innovation with its pioneering “early college” programs, has announced the launch of a Microcollege program, “targeting low-income applicants.”  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

11  Report Finds UVa Unprepared for White Supremacist Rally  A new report from the University of Virginia finds that the university was ill prepared for the violent white supremacist march across campus in August. An internal working group determined that UVa failed to seek out and act upon information about the marchers because it “was predisposed to defend constitutionally protected free speech, as long as violence did not break out.” The report also notes “missed opportunities” the school could have taken before matters got out of hand. Jill Lepore, a professor of history at Harvard, writes in The New Yorker that free speech must be strongly defended, even if it seems that the right and left have switched sides—with the left fighting against free speech and the right fighting for it.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

12  The High Cost of Free Speech  A state of emergency was declared at the University of Florida ahead of a scheduled speech last month by white nationalist Richard Spencer. State troopers and local police were called in—some troopers donned riot uniforms and all were equipped with gas masks. The visit went off with little incident, but, in the end, the university spent more than $600,000 for security on campus and in the city. Bringing controversial speakers to college campuses is a costly undertaking. The University of California, Berkeley, has spent about $1.4 million so far this year on campus security during controversial speeches—a lot more than its annual $250,000 “demonstration fund.”  The university spent an estimated $800,000 alone on Milo Yiannopoulos’s much-publicized 20-minute appearance during “Free Speech Week.” Schools across the country are facing the fact that free speech isn’t so free. But the toll isn’t just financial. Increasingly, many feel the school is “militarizing” the campus at the mental and emotional expense of students and professors. Institutions are now walking a fine line. If a public university chooses to allow access to outside speakers, it can’t pick and choose who can speak. If it does, it may find itself in court, accused of violating the First Amendment. Ohio University has taken the unusual step of completely barring protests inside its buildings. But opposition may cause the policy to be short-lived.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

13 A Free-Speech Checklist for College Administrators  The mayor of Berkeley, California, pressured the town’s flagship university to cancel its upcoming “Free Speech Week,” just days after Carol T. Christ, the school’s chancellor, vowed to defend the First Amendment on campus. Christ later admitted that she wished the school had had policies in place to respond to some of the initial concerns. How can campus officials prevent the appearance by a controversial speaker from spilling over into violence? The authors of the book Free Speech on Campus offer a five-point checklist, beginning with setting neutral free-speech rules and publishing a clear statement supporting the presence of controversial speakers before a crisis begins.   to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

14  #TakeAKnee  There was some anticipation, shall we say, as people wondered if college football teams might follow Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee during the national anthem to protest treatment of blacks at the hands of police. The knee-takers have ranged from players to band members to cheerleaders, with many of them garnering support. Gyree Durante wasn’t that lucky. The freshman backup quarterback at Albright College, in Reading, Pennsylvania, was thrown off the team. He responded by saying, “At some point in life, there’s going to be a time when you’ve got to take a stand.” In his case, to do that, he took a knee.   to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

15  Hard Times for Admissions Officers  Hitting enrollment goals is harder than ever. According to a recent survey by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, only 34 percent of admission departments had met their new student enrollment targets by May 1 of this year, down three percentage points from 2016 and eight percentage points from 2015. For all but the most elite private schools, the implications can be “anything from an annoyance to an existential crisis.” Just 22 percent of public bachelor’s/master’s institutions met their targets by May 1, while 59 percent of public doctoral institutions met theirs. What does President Trump’s travel ban mean for the enrollment of foreign students, who tend to pay full tuition? No unifying trends have emerged. More than half of institutions are reporting an increase or no change in international applications. Other schools, however, are seeing numbers drop by as much as 30 to 50 percent. Among the biggest declines is in the flow of students from China and India; together, these two countries account for nearly half of all international students in the US. As a result, a number of admission directors say they are stepping up their efforts to recruit students from rural areas.   to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

16  Tuition No Longer the Holy Grail of College Affordability  While the National Association of College and University Business Officers says almost nine in ten students receive grants, debt remains the most publicized albatross on student necks,  including those of students in New York, with its recently implemented “Excelsior” program—the offer of “free college.” Called a “last dollar” program, the New York State funds kick in only after all resources are used up. Glitches seem to be holding back full implementation. At UC Santa Cruz, meanwhile, students are fighting a fee increase earmarked for athletics, and athletic programs themselves are being questioned when only 24 of the 1,200 NCAA schools make a profit from them—even after broadcast rights and sponsorships. In higher ed parlance, “tuition-reset,” or lowering tuition, is pushed as a boon, but research shows that financial aid drops proportionately and enrollment, thus class size, rises. But hope springs eternal, and a technology consortium, Unizen, at four public universities, says sharing, combining, and analyzing student data can streamline operations to create more productive and less costly learning environments.   to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

17  The Giveth and Taketh of College Giving  While endowments can make deans salivate, wise ones know that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The University of Southern California just rejected a $5 million gift from alleged serial sexual assaulter Harvey Weinstein for women filmmakers after a student circulated a Change.org petition. Case Western University, meanwhile, is facing faculty protest over strings tied to a decades-old gift for the Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Judaic Studies, which called for the search committee to include three members from the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. There’s nothing new about concern of outside influence on academic integrity, says The Chronicle of Higher Education, citing critics of the free-market Charles Koch Foundation’s gifts to Florida State and Utah State with similar strings. This isn’t stopping western public universities from raising tons of money from private donors—$200 million for U.C. Irvine, the school’s largest donation, and $500 million each to U.C. San Francisco and the University of Oregon—which the The Wall Street Journal says is “out of necessity” as public funds dry up. On the money management front, David Swensen, Yale’s much-ballyhooed endowment chief, was a “laggard” this year, with an 11.5 percent return; this was enough to beat archrival Harvard, however, which managed  only a “disappointing” 8.1 percent.   to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

18  Midwest Brain Drain  Public universities in the Midwest have been responsible for some of the nation’s most important cutting-edge research. But withering federal funding and deep state budget cuts are now threatening the survival of many flagship schools in America’s heartland and wreaking havoc on the surrounding communities. Some schools are spending millions of dollars just to keep research faculty from being lured away by wealthier schools on the coasts. All this could lead to a stratification of public research universities, with the good ones remaining competitive, while “the rest may decline.” On the other hand, a new report finds that urban colleges and universities are catalysts for commercial and creative growth. Compared to their small-town counterparts, urban institutions produce 80 percent more licensing deals and 123 percent more inventions, receive 222 percent more income from licensing agreements, and create 71 percent more startups. The top five urban schools ranked in the study are Rockefeller University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Carnegie Mellon University.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

STUDENTS

 

19  The Facts of Life About Sexual Assault  While Betsy DeVos may be attempting to reposition the pendulum on campus sexual assault from her new Washington perch, outside the Beltway it’s the Harvey Weinstein era (SeeThe Giveth and Taketh of College Giving,” above). Certainly, claims of a campus rape epidemic—including the commonly quoted statistic that one in four women will be sexually assaulted during her time in college—are “wildly inflated,” says Jennifer Braceras, a Boston lawyer, writing to the “female members of the class of 2021.” But, she warns them, administrators are more interested in avoiding bad publicity than in keeping students safe and so offers her own advice to these young women, including, Do not get drunk and go home with someone you don’t know… There’s safety in numbers… and Reject the hookup culture. William Beaver, a professor of social science at Robert Morris University, agrees that the statistics can be “very misleading” because the definition of sexual assault is so broad and also because surveys rely on self-reporting and not random samples of students. Yes, he says, campus sexual assault is largely associated with alcohol consumption, but as the flood of testimony pours over dozens of organizations, institutions, and corporations, big and small, post-Weinstein, we know that sexual assault is still real. (See Further Reading below.) As Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, argues, it would be a huge setback to turn back the clock on Title IX protections. We should be making it easier for students to report incidences and feel confident about the “process of adjudication,” he says. To help ensure fairness, some schools, including Brandeis University, Amherst College, Harvard University, Eastern Nazarene College, Mount Holyoke College, and Wheelock College, are hiring outside parties to investigate and judge sexual assault cases. All the professionals hired undergo training on trauma and how to work with both victims and the accused.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

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PUBLIC TRUST

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CRITIQUE

 

20  Bribery, Kickbacks, Fraud: The Mob? No, It’s the NCAA  It gathered almost as much press attention as Betsy DeVos as she rolled back federal rules on campus sexual assault. But like most sports stories, this was more dramatic: in late September federal prosecutors accused “some of the most storied programs in college basketball” of helping “funnel tens of thousands of dollars to the families of high-school recruits.”  According to the feds, it  was a multi-tentacled criminal network that involved an Adidas executive, coaches from the University of Arizona, Oklahoma State University, the University of Southern California, Auburn, among others: bribes, kickbacks, undercover cops, wiretapped phones, and multiple criminal charges.  “Deeply disturbing,” said NCAA president Mark Emmert. It should be. As Joe Drape reported in The New York Times, the case “laid bare the worst-kept secret in college athletics: Student-athletes (the N.C.A.A.’s preferred term) have been bought and sold in pursuit of championship glory and a healthy percentage of their future earnings.”  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

21  Former Male Former Spy Hired, Then Fired Less than two days after Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government announced that Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning and formerly a military intelligence analyst who spent seven years in prison for leaking classified government secrets, would be a visiting fellow, the offer was rescinded. Critics accused Harvard of bowing to political pressure (aka identity politics) in inviting Manning in the first place. School officials, however, said their aim was to expose students to individuals with a wide range of different worldviews—“even if they do not share our values, and even if their actions or words are abhorrent to some members of our community.”  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

REGULATION

 

22  DeVos Breaks More Title IX China  Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has officially made good on her promise to overhaul Obama-era campus sexual assault guidance. Building on her September remarks at George Mason University, when DeVos declared that the previous system “failed too many students,” a few days later DeVos’s education department released interim guidelines intended to balance the rights of both the accuser and the accused. The new guidelines, which were posted online in a Q&A document, signal a major shift in the way that colleges and universities enforce Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in education. Under the old guidelines, schools were required to use the “preponderance of evidence” standard to evaluate sexual assault cases—defined as a 50.1  percent chance that the accused was responsible—or risk losing federal funding under Title IX. Until a permanent policy is crafted, schools will be allowed to apply either that standard or the higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard. The federal government says it will solicit public comment to establish a new framework. In response, a group of House Democrats promptly proposed the Title IX Protection Act, which would require schools to use the lower-threshold-of-evidence standard. Meanwhile, there are questions about what will happen in states like New York, California, and Illinois, all of which  have already embraced the Obama approach.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

23  Is Fed Ed Ready for Education Innovation?   Western Governors University (WGU) gets praise from the education community for offering adult-population cost-effective online courses with above-average postgraduate salaries and below-average student loan defaults. But the Department of Education inspector general has deemed its classes akin to correspondence courses of yore without enough faculty involvement and without meeting the minimum standards for financial aid, ordering WGU to repay $712 million. WGU is fighting back, and education experts are defending the 20-year-old college, demanding that the DOE update its criteria. WGU falls into the category of competency-based education, which draws on students’ already-gained knowledge, offers experiential, outside-the-classroom learning methods, and builds relationships with public universities. While competency-based education and other non-traditional methods are defended by its proponents, another group, the International Quality Group of the U.S. Council for Higher Education, wants to ensure that accreditation agencies apply correct measures when assessing new types of education; it is sponsoring a world-wide survey to gather information on issues such as admission and recruitment practices, fraudulent research, and plagiarism.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

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EMERGENT  ORDERS

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HIGHER EDUCATION

 

24  The Future of Higher Education?  The U.S. system of higher education is a “rags to riches story” that essentially emerged without a plan, primarily in rural parts of the country, to become the envy of the world. But an aging population and the migration movement from rural areas to cities is having a profound impact on institutions today, especially in the Midwest and Northeast. (See “Midwest Brain Drain,” above. ) The University of Wisconsin has announced a plan to merge the state’s two-year schools with its four-year campuses starting in July 2018. No physical campuses would be closed; instead, the two-year schools would function as branch campuses. System officials say the merger will bolster two-year school enrollment and make it easier for students to transfer credits, while streamlining administrative operations. Enrollment has dropped dramatically at all 13 UW two-year schools since 2010 (from 28 percent at UW Rock County to 52 percent at UW Manitowoc). Some faculty members say they were blindsided by the proposal, and there are few details yet on what it would mean for jobs and programs at the two-year colleges.   to the top

Sources & Further Reading

 

25  Cornell Opens Outpost in NYC   In what Inside Higher Ed called an “aggressive move,” Cornell University, “the Ivy League institution tucked away in snowy upstate New York,” has opened a gleaming new waterfront campus on New York City’s East River Roosevelt Island. Cornell Tech, as the new campus is called, is a partnership between Cornell and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. Just weeks after the opening, Cornell announced a new initiative to promote technology in the humanities. The Milstein Program in Technology and Humanity, a collaboration between the College of Arts and Sciences and Cornell Tech, will give liberal arts students at the Ithaca campus access to specialized courses in computer science, in addition to free courses on Roosevelt Island and internships in New York City. This comes at a time when Americans are increasingly skeptical about the value of a college degree. According to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, Americans are pretty evenly split when asked whether a four-year degree leads to a good job and higher lifetime earnings (49 percent agree versus 47 percent disagree). However, fewer men, people who live in rural areas, and young people in general believe a four-year degree is worth the cost. In other news, the Education Department is asking Purdue University to absorb the debts and liabilities of Kaplan University, a request that critics say risks public funds.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

26  Nontraditional Students: The New Norm A national initiative called “15 to Finish,” which encourages students to graduate on time by taking 15 credits per semester, doesn’t reflect today’s reality, according to a new report by  Civitas Learning, an organization analyzing higher education outcomes. With nontraditional students becoming the norm, institutions of higher learning should move away from the “either/or” mentality of full-time versus part-time students, says the company’s cofounder.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

27  Alternative Education Takes Off  The Labor Department is asking corporate executives, labor unions, and governors to help draft policy to increase apprenticeships in the US. Long popular in Europe, apprenticeship programs have never really taken hold in this country, in part because of our education system’s emphasis on college preparation. More than a quarter of Americans hold a non-degree work credential, such as an occupational certification or license, or a postsecondary occupational certificate, according to new data from the federal government. And many of them have well-paying jobs. Despite our supposed skills gap, the US is ranked fourth in the world in human capital development—the highest-ranked country outside of Western Europe—by the World Economic Forum. These high marks are attributed to the high college-enrollment and degree-attainment rates among America’s younger generation.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

28  Whom Do College Rankings Help?  U.S. News & World Report and The Wall St. Journal/Times Higher Education (THE) have released their annual rankings of US colleges. Despite years of scoffing by the highbrow, these scorecards remain a staple of college prestige.  (In a speech at a recent conclave of the Association of College Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) honoring University of Chicago President Robert Zimmer, David Rubenstein, a graduate of the university’s law school, several times noted the fact that UC “had moved up to number three,” alluding to the U.S. News standings.) This year for the first time in THE’s 14-year history, non-U.S. schools rated among the best in the world: Oxford is #1; Cambridge, #2. China moved up the ladder with Peking University at #27, causing Phil Baty, rankings editor at THE, to say, “It’s not doom and gloom, the U.S. still dominates the list, but there are clear warning signs and fairly significant flashing red lights that the U.S. is under threat from increasing competition.” Back home, “the usual suspects” were rounded up, with Harvard topping the WSJ/THE list and Princeton topping the U.S. News list. Daniel F. Labaree, a Stanford education historian, says there are unspoken rules—the older the school, the higher its rank, and higher ed prefers creating new colleges to increasing enrollment. Criteria for both studies included resources and outcomes, with the WSJ/THE list looking at engagement and U.S. News schools best serving veterans. Outlier Richard Vedder suggests taxing instead of subsidizing schools since they “assault free expression.” Paul Fain recommends The Global Human Capital Report, in which the US scored well on skills training in higher education.  to the top

 

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TECHNOLOGY

 

29  Big Tech: Are We Buoyed or Doomed?   Is Amazon, with other tech behemoths, going to rule the world? Scott Galloway, professor of marketing at the NYU Stern School of Business and author of the new book The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, warns us that while Jeff Bezos gives consumers what they want, Amazon, along with Apple, Google parent Alphabet, and Facebook have, since 2007, amassed $2 trillion in their combined market capitalization—all that with Amazon showing little profit and paying relatively few taxes. Both Galloway and Randall Stross, who reviewed Galloway’s book, comment on how much power we Americans have given over to these giants. Franklin Foer, author of World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech, not only concurs, but he also calls for a federal Data Protection Authority. On the other hand, founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Inc., Tim O’Reilly criticizes a financial system that is optimized only for corporate profit, ignoring society in the process. He believes, and says history proves, that technology and automation increase—not eliminate—jobs and optimistically quotes Wallace Stevens: “Reality is an activity of the most august imagination.” In other words, if we can imagine a better future, we can create it. A better future for Harvard professor Eric Mazu involves letting students bring their smartphones to exams, since Google has eliminated the need for memorization.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

GOVERNMENT

 

30  Troubling Trends in Student Debt  The number of people defaulting on federal student loans has risen to 11.5 percent, reversing five straight years of declines, the Department of Education reports. The picture is even more troubling for African-Americans. According to newly released federal data, nearly half of all black borrowers defaulted on at least one loan within 12 years. While student debt is undoubtedly a problem for many, according to a report by the Institute for College Access and Success (ICAS), the average debt for the Class of 2016 varies widely by state, ranging from less than $20,000 in Utah to more than $36,000 in New Hampshire. The ICAS report also highlights the worrisome fact that a significant share of student loans is from nonfederal sources—banks and state or college lenders. Nonfederal borrowing tends to be concentrated in certain states; 34 of the colleges where students who graduate have borrowed the most in private loans are located in Pennsylvania. In related news, one of the largest owners of private student loans, National Collegiate Student Loan Trusts, has been ordered to pay $21.6 million to settle claims for wrongfully filing thousands of lawsuits against student borrowers. to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

31  DeVos’s “Quite Vertical” Learning Curve Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was greeted by hundreds of protesters when she took the podium at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in October; one student held up a sign reading “Our Students are Not 4 Sale.” The Michigan native was more warmly received at the Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference, where she defended her decision to roll back some key Obama-era education policies, including the “borrower defense to repaying” regulation, aimed at protecting students from predatory for-profit schools. The previous rules, she said, amounted to “so-called free money.” Speaking to a group of reporters, Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system and President Obama’s first homeland security secretary, characterized DeVos’s learning curve on higher education as “quite vertical.” During a 30-minute meeting with DeVos earlier this year, Napolitano explained, she “had to explain what the SEOG grants do.”  The Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, more commonly known by its acronym SEOG, is a federal assistance grant reserved for college students with the greatest need for financial aid to attend school. The UC president said her remarks were not intended as a criticism of the new education secretary.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

32  Trump Nixes Deferred Action; Gets Sued  In the first legal challenge by a university, the University of California has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for pulling the plug on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The program allowed nearly 800,000 undocumented immigrants, who came to the US illegally as children, to remain here without fear of deportation—a group commonly known as “dreamers.” UC President Janet Napolitano, who was an architect of the program while working in the Obama administration, says that DACA recipients “represent the best of who we are—hard working, resilient and motivated high achievers.” Of note: The UC system has about 4,000 students and workers who are in this country illegally. At Whittier College, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a critic of Trump and a part of the lawsuit against DACA, was shouted down by pro-Trump student protesters at a recent Q&A session.  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

33  Bipartisan Aversion to GOP Tax Plan The written-in-secret Republican tax proposal unveiled in early November did not, at first glance, do much for the middle class or public education, either K-12 or college.  Most controversial was the proposal’s elimination of education savings accounts, deductions for interest paid on student loans, and education assistance programs allowing businesses to deduct expenses for such programs and individuals the income from the programs.  “I was surprised,” said Kathleen Coulombe, a senior adviser for government relations at the Society for Human Resource Management.  “The [educational assistance program] has enjoyed bipartisan support. It always has.”  And as if to rub salt in the wounds, the plan proposes a tax on college endowments, a move that “has no clear policy objective other than raising revenue,” according to a Cornell University statement. (See “The Giveth and Taketh of College Giving,” above)  to the top

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

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