THE NEWS QUARTERLY FOR HIGHER EDUCATION TRUSTEES

VOL. 3,   NO. 2          spring  2018

 

 

T O P  S T O R I E S

 

 

 

  PURPOSE    GOVERNANCE    PUBLIC TRUST      EMERGENT ORDERS

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PURPOSE

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CURRICULUM

 

Praising Liberal Arts—or Burying Them? In a remarkable conclusion to a review of a book on war, the reviewer suggests that, among other things, the tome is “a thoughtful validation of the liberal arts, an argument for literature over social science, [and] an engaging reflection on university education.”  Such studies, nevertheless, are under siege across the country, from Reed, in Oregon, to the University of Central Missouri to the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point.  Still, liberal arts faculties are fighting back at the University of Oklahoma, DePauw, and Cornell, and philanthropists continue to support them. Reflecting on the campus tension over curriculum, Paul Reitter reviews three other recent books attempting to explain how modern universities must wrestle with “the ideal of character formation in liberal education and its ideal of free inquiry.” Meanwhile, an Oxford don says “there is no case for the humanities,” and a Baylor poly-sci professor defends “disinterest.” (See “Reinventing Higher Education.”)  TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

2 Head of Heterodox Academy Steps Away From Academia to Help Save It At a time when many academics find themselves “walking on eggshells” to avoid offending anyone, and STEM educators feel that being apolitical means being irrelevant, Debra Mashek is stepping away from a tenured professorship of psychology at Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts school with an intense focus on the STEM disciplines, to lead Heterodox Academy. Colleges—especially small liberal arts colleges—have recently “seen an increase in ideological polarization, tribalism and hostility,” says Mashek, who is concerned that many academic fields “lack sufficient viewpoint diversity, particularly political diversity.” The New York City–based nonprofit was founded in 2015 on the premise that research and teaching suffer when institutions of higher learning lack diverse viewpoints.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

3 Reinventing Higher Education, One College at a Time San Francisco’s MissionU takes its students on Silicon Valley field trips. Taking a detour from four-year-college protocol, this school educates students in digital skills in one year, then sends them out into the job market, often with quite positive results. Others with similar programs include South Carolina’s Praxis and the Kenzie Academy, in Indianapolis. A reviewer of the British book A University Education, David Goodhart, might agree with the tenets of Praxis and Kenzie, but he certainly doesn’t agree with the book’s author, David Willetts, who advocates for higher education for all. Goodhart instead worries about the dumbing down of universities and might just welcome a MissionU on his side of the pond.     TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

community

 

Professors Fight Back Against Online Attacks  A year after Penn Law professor Amy Wax made headlines for her comments on race and free speech, the university’s dean, Ted Luger, announced Wax would no longer be allowed to teach any mandatory first-year courses. Wax has made a series of controversial statements, starting with the op-ed piece she co-wrote last year that praised “bourgeois” values and continuing earlier this year, when she said there are no African-American law students at Penn who graduate in the top percentages of their classes. Colleges should be a home of free inquiry, but this is something that is “not possible in today’s atmosphere of enforced orthodoxy,” Wax recently wrote in a Wall Street Journal essay. Over the past 18 months or so, at least 250 university professors across the country have been targeted via online campaigns because of their research, teaching, or social media posts, NPR reports. As a result, some have lost their jobs or fear for their families’ safety. Albert Ponce, who teaches political science at Diablo Valley in California’s East Bay, says he received death threats after giving a talk on white supremacy. He is now urging the board of governors of his community college’s district to adopt a resolution in support of academic freedom, so that institutions of higher learning remain “the place for a quest for truth, not merely opinion.”    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Gaps in College Spending Shortchange Black and Latino Students  Some disappointing news from the Center for American Progress suggests that college isn’t leveling the playing field in the ways many college reformers hoped. According to the CAP report, two- and four-year public colleges spend approximately $1,000 less per year on black and Latino students than on white students. Overall, this amounts to $5 billion per year. The reasons are twofold, concludes CAP: (1) Selective research universities typically get more funding from their state governments than regional public colleges. (2) Better-funded research universities also tend to educate more white students. As a result, black and Latino students are likely to wind up getting less out of their college experience: fewer tutoring opportunities, limited access to healthcare services, and lower completion rates.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Confucian Spies and Other Curiosities  From Confucius Institutes to undergraduate fraternities to student government, universities are peering into and regulating the activities of the campus organizations thriving in their midst. Are the Confucius Institutes, for instance, hotbeds of political espionage or simply promoting Chinese culture, much as the Goethe Institutes, Casas Italianas, and Maisons Françaises promote their cultures? At Penn State the end of Greek life is a distinct possibility, and at Harvard members of its single-sex clubs are being penalized. Even student government is coming under the watchful eye of campus administrators.   TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

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GOVERNANCE

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TRUSTEESHIP

 

Purdue Goes Global Purdue University Global officially launched on April 2 after receiving final approval from the Higher Learning Commission. With the merger of Purdue and Kaplan universities, Purdue Global, which will combine aspects of public, private nonprofit, and for-profit higher education, has drawn strong praise but also criticism. According to Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue, the deal is an opportunity for Purdue to expand its mission as a land-grant university “to millions of adult students around the country.” Some Purdue faculty members, however, are less than enthusiastic about the deal, saying they were not consulted during the decision-making process. Others have raised concerns about how the new entity will be managed and whether the quality of degrees from Purdue University might suffer.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

Two Universities  Pushed and pulled from every direction—at the heart of its culture—stand the country’s four-year higher-education institutions. Argues Mark Bauerlein, a professor in the humanities at Emory University, they have become two universities, “large STEM research centers with small liberal arts colleges attached to them.” Between the two, an uneasy truce exists, fueled by the “identity politics” that Saul Alinsky preached, with students pulling to both left and right on some campuses.  Eager to benefit from research, business and government entities shower them with multi-hundred-million-dollar grants and contracts; and dependent on them for jobs and economic development, the communities surrounding them come calling. We now have, as David Brooks observes about recent graduates, “a generation emerging from the wreckage.   TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

9 Stayin’ Alive: How Special-Interest Schools Are Faring Is partnering with corporations, as Clemson is doing, good for survival? Schools are trying different tactics with varying success rates. Numerous for-profits are merging. A report from the Council of Independent Colleges showcases innovations from developing consortia with other schools to changing courses.  “Signature programs” are sprouting up with offerings such as intense academic advising, internships, and foreign travel. The old standby fund-raising flourishes at Sweet Briar, which still can’t seem to get enough enrollment. Other women’s colleges such as Mt. Holyoke, Wellesley, and Mills now accept applications from transgender students who are self-identifying female and/or non-binary; however, they are not necessarily using this to build enrollment, as the schools see this as the right thing to do. On another front, the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities says their brand works; students at these schools have half the loan-default rate as the national average. Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are seeing some success, amid protests (see “Student Sit-In at Howard), in working with the Trump administration; they’ve secured year-round Pell Grants, and some New Orleans–area HBCUs had a $330 million post-Katrina debt rescinded. Conversely, some HBCUs see enrollment rising due to current politics. Ruth J. Simmons, president of Prairie View A&M in Texas, says it is not just about safe spaces. “I’m trying to do a lot of things that wouldn’t be called ‘safe,’” she says.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

10  Corporations and Universities: Unholy Alliances?  The University of Colorado returned  $1 million to Coca-Cola when it realized the company wanted a self-serving study on the benefits of exercise over calories. But not all such alliances prove so controversial. Discussions abounded at the recent conference of U.S. News and World STEM Solutions about partnerships between industry and academia; some suggested taking a page from the playbook of community colleges, which, according to Education Dive, have “always had to adapt to change in societal needs.” That said, good two-way-street relationships have existed and continue to all over America (e.g., Silicon Valley and Stanford). Graduates in big states such as California, Texas, and Illinois tend to stay put after graduation—attracting employers, friends, and partners to join them—something that could happen in a smaller town, says Bloomberg’s Noah Smith, with a vibrant academic scene. However, according to Enrico Moretti in The New Geography of Jobs, cities (and so, it would seem, the schools in them) sporting the new “emerging knowledge economy,” need continual innovation, thus also needing hubs of educated workers “engaged in the regular, often informal, exchange of ideas.”    TO THE TOP

Sources & Further Reading

 

11  Is This What Privatization Looks Like?   “For the first time,” reported The Wall Street Journal
in late March,
students in more than half of all U.S. states are paying more in tuition to attend public colleges or universities than the government contributes.” This grim news was found in a report by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO), which  offered  a state-by-state funding breakdown, and also suggested that per-student state funds for public colleges in 2017 were $2,000 lower in real dollars than they were prior to 2001‘s dot-com bust. That number is an average, says the Journal,  as state funding varies due to drops in enrollment and state revenue. And Forbes’s Derek Newton offers a complex calculus for why tuition is really lower now; it’s the media’s fault that we think it’s higher, he says.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

12 Hirings and Firings From All Over It appears that “oil executive,” “Harvard PhD,” “big donor,” “high-level government official,” “fund-raiser,” and “alumnus” all look good on college-executive job applications. The University of Texas, with 230,000 students and an $18 billion annual budget, is considering Rex Tillerson, former CEO of Exxon and secretary of state, for its chancellor. The University of Oklahoma is replacing its retiring president David Boren (a former US senator known for keen fund-raising), with James L. Gallogly, an executive with Conoco Phillips—and a big donor; the university’s school of engineering is named for the Gallogly family. And Harvard just picked alumnus Lawrence Bacow, JD-MPP ’76, PhD ’78 (and former Tufts president), to follow retiring Drew Faust. A sadder East Coast story is that of President H. Fred Walker at Pennsylvania’s Edinboro University. His tough-love strategy of improving the college, including threatening to send  the faculty to “boot camp” and asking The Chronicle of Higher Education not to publish intemperate remarks he had made in an interview, led to his resignation. And Walker had it easy compared to Beverly Davenport, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, whose dismissal in early May by the system’s president came with a letter detailing such faults as very poor “one-on-one, small-group, and business-transactional communication skills.”    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

13 Michigan State Troubles Continue William Strampel, the dean of osteopathic medicine at Michigan State University and Larry Nassar’s boss during the time the sports doctor sexually assaulted hundreds of female students, was himself arrested in late March—for similar crimes. Strampel’s arrest seemed to come on the heels of one popular theory about—and excuse for—Nassar’s decades-long crimes: that he was allowed to persist because fellow adults turned “a blind eye” to his crimes. Subsequently, MSU’s president resigned, but not until Nassar was sentenced to 175 years in prison (see Paideia Times, Winter 2018). Besides Strampel’s arrest, the latest problems for MSU include actions by interim president John Engler, a former Republican governor of the state, who allegedly offered a victim a payout, criticized a bill to prevent sexual assault, criticized ESPN for an article on Michigan State, and stumbled through an analogous situation with another female student, who accused three basketball players of sexual assault. Investigations have been opened by the US Department of Education and several Congressional committees. Mediation continues in lawsuits by nearly 250 women against Michigan State, its board, and its administrators. Financial fallout for Michigan State may run over $500 million, prompting Mr. Engler to issue another unpopular statement: the school may have to raise tuition.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

14  Debate Over Expansion of “Post-Tenure Review”  The University of Tennessee board of
trustees has overwhelmingly approved controversial changes to the school’s post-tenure review policy. Only one trustee voted against the changes. The new policy puts in place a new requirement for comprehensive reviews of tenured faculty at least every six years. It also calls for automatic reviews of all faculty whose departments are found to be underperforming. “
This will enhance academic excellence, transparency and accountability,” said Raja Jubran, vice chairman of the board. Though a joint committee of faculty members and administrators from across the university’s four campuses had spent months revising the post-tenure review policy, it has still left many professors “baffled and alarmed” and worried that it essentially eliminates tenure. And it’s hard to assess what the sudden dismissal of chancellor Beverly Davenport in early May means to the new tenure policy. (See Hirings & Firings From All Over. ) In Chicago, Loyola University’s nontenured faculty, made up of instructors in the arts-and-sciences and English-instruction divisions, staged a one-day strike over frustrations that two years of negotiations have failed to produce a contract. Could this signal the “re-emergence of the strike as a tool” to pressure universities across the country to improve working conditions for faculty?   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

ADMINISTRATION

 

15  For Sex Assault and Violence, the Buck Is Stopping Closer to the President’s Office  In
a precedent-setting case in March, the California Supreme Court ruled that
public colleges must protect students from “foreseeable violence.” The ruling was the result of a suit brought by a UCLA student stabbed by a fellow student, one who had been barred from his dorm because of paranoid delusions and auditory hallucinations. Not far away the federal Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) cracked down on UC Berkeley, charging it with violating Title IX rules in its handling of numerous sexual assault cases. The pendulum swung the other way in late February when a Duke student, expelled for sexual assault in 2014, reached a settlement in his breach-of-contract suit against the university. Then, in April, two Massachusetts College of Art and Design professors resigned after being accused of sexual harassment. The professors represented two very different kinds of harassment cases, wrote Inside Ed reporter Colleen Flaherty: one “showed students art some found inappropriate, while [the other] is alleged to have engaged in conduct that many would consider harassment.” Finally, an American Council on Education panel, reviewing the many challenges facing colleges in this increasingly important matter, suggested more education for students on consent and sexual-harassment issues, more best-practices communications between universities, and more interaction between colleges and the OCR.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

16  Corruption and Special Favors in College Sports  Supplying basketball recruits with hookers was just one of the transgressions that caused the NCAA to rescind the University of Louisville’s 2013 men’s basketball national championship last February. There were other punishments as well: Cardinal coaches were ousted, and Adidas exec James Gatto was indicted for bribery. In April the US Attorney for the Southern District brought charges against the University of Kansas and North Carolina State University for similar crimes. Despite Louisville’s vacating a championship, The Wall Street Journal’s William McGurn says that “college sports may be one of the few areas in American life that would be improved if academics had more say.” But maybe not. Last February The Chronicle of Higher Education discovered evidence that Auburn University’s athlete-friendly academic program was devised by a professor and promoted by a provost who wanted more like it. A Forbes commentator suggests more drastic measures: schools take fewer TV dollars; reduce coaches’ salaries; and pay athletes. Or maybe, borrowing from a favorite football chant: “Go home. Pack up. Gonna make you give that football up!”   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

17  Chasing Applicants: Bring on the Marching Bands  While elite universities limit admissions to as little as 5 percent of those who apply, other colleges go to amusing lengths to recruit them. Struggling to meet enrollment numbers, colleges are handing out scholarships and cutting tuition rates, albeit with mixed success—while all are facing declining applications from foreign students, which many attribute to Trump administration immigration policies.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

18 Students Choose Diversity Over Free Speech  When asked which is more important, a narrow margin of millennials said they value diversity and inclusion over free speech, 53 percent compared to 46 percent, according to a new survey of college students by the Gallup/Knight Foundation. Women, blacks, and Democrats are more likely than other students to say inclusion is more important than free speech. If forced to choose, 61 percent of men would choose free speech, while 64 percent of women say that diversity is more important. A slim majority of white students (52 percent) tend to value free speech more than inclusion. More black students (68 percent) believe that diversity is more important. College and universities have been busy in recent years creating new jobs and offices that fill students’ calls for diversity. Some academic leaders, however, question whether students’ “commitment to free expression may be stronger in the abstract than in reality,” as, for example, with people invited to speak at colleges. Having been forced to host alt-right speakers, some institutions are making their policies on outside speakers more restrictive. When white nationalist Richard Spencer visited Texas A&M University, the school instituted a new rule that external speakers have to be sponsored by an affiliated student group. Sponsors have to attend the event and assume responsibility for any damage or unpaid fees. The civil liberties watchdog group FIRE (the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) worries that this “selective enforcement” reduces the number of viewpoints heard on campus and shortchanges students, who are being exposed to fewer new ideas.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

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PUBLIC TRUST

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REGULATION

 

19  Petit à Petit, DeVos Dismantles Obama-Era Regulations  When Betsy DeVos was named education secretary last year, she was known mainly for her push for school choice. But rather than focusing intently on any one particular issue, DeVos has wasted no time in undoing or rewriting many regulations and executive actions enacted under President Obama. Despite some setbacks (see “Congress Deals a Blow”) her short tenure has already resulted in fewer protections for transgender students, changes in federal policy on rules for investigating sexual assault reports on campus, and a friendlier climate for for-profit schools. Even among conservatives DeVos’s goals for higher education are considered “a serious challenge for the department,” as Preston Cooper, a higher-education researcher at the American Enterprise Institute told The Chronicle of Higher Education. “Obama went a little far in one direction,” he noted. “DeVos seems to be going too far the other way.” A rocky appearance on 60 Minutes earlier this spring didn’t help. When asked by correspondent Leslie Stahl if the number of false accusations of rape is as high as the actual number of rapes or assaults, DeVos answered “I don’t know.” What regulations might DeVos undo next? No one knows for sure, but according to Politico’s Morning Education, the Trump administration is considering regulatory changes in the four following areas: state authorization; the definition of a credit hour; the “regular and substantive” requirement for distance education providers; and accreditation. Stay tuned.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

20  Feds Probe Early-Admit Practices  Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government relations and public affairs at the American Council on Education, calls it “the ultimate First World problem in higher ed.” But the feds are investigating the practice of some high-end colleges of sharing names of students who’ve been granted early admissions. The sharing is done, say the schools in question, such as Wesleyan, Middlebury, and Pomona, to ensure that students don’t accept more than one early admission and that they withdraw any other applications, since accepting an early admission is binding. Ivy League schools used to share student financial information, but that stopped in 1991. Further, many students use the Common Application, and doing so supposedly gives permission for the name sharing.   TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

21  New EU Data Privacy Regulations a Major Headache for US Colleges and Universities Strict new consumer-privacy rules go into effect on May 25 for any company that processes data relating to people in the European Union—and this includes US colleges and universities. These regulations, known as the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), spell out draconian penalties for any organization in the world that fails to comply, even if it isn’t based in the EU. All higher education institutions collect vast amounts of personal data on students and staff. It’s estimated that failure to comply with the new rules could cost US schools more than $23 million in fines; nonetheless, few are currently prepared to comply.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

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EMERGENT ORDERS

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CULTURE

 

22  Steven Pinker Is Back   Celebrity professor Steven Pinker is back with a new book, and the reviews are pouring in. Author of such bestsellers as The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works, the Harvard psychologist is now recalling one of Western civilization’s finest moments in suggesting, as the title of his new book proposes, that we’re experiencing an “Enlightenment Now,” with a subtitle alluding to his Candide-esque optimism—“The Case for Science, Reason, Humanism, and Progress.” Though most reviewers are respectful of  Pinker’s reputation and academic credentials, his unabashedly upbeat book, with charts that show progress in dozens of areas, from racism to car-accident prevention, earned him a “Powerpoint Philosophe” sobriquet from The Nation, whose reviewer called the new work “a dogmatic book that offers an oversimplified, excessively optimistic vision of human history and a starkly technocratic prescription for the human future.” A Wall Street Journal reviewer scolds Pinker for attributing the origins of the US Constitution to “Enlightenment men,” when in fact, the key ideas found in that document came from “religious [men], English nationalists and political conservatives.” The New York Times’s Ross Douthat calls Pinker’s certainties “smug,” while acknowledging that the book is a “salutary reminder of the material progress modern science and commerce have delivered.” (See “Pinker: In His Own Words.”)    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

23  Pinker: In His Own Words  In two lengthy magazine stories, Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker offers readers a chance to taste his new book, Enlightenment Now, and share his unapologetic enthusiasm for the state of modern civilization. In The Guardian he breaks down the Enlightenment’s foundational ideals: reason to make sense of the world; science to understand humankind; humanism to understand and sympathize with our shared condition; commerce and prosperity to do well insofar as it helps the common good (as he paraphrases Adam Smith); and peace—to unburden humanity from the tragedy of war. In The Chronicle of Higher Education he discusses the current war on science by “right-wing know-nothings” as well as the left intelligentsia in academia and publishing who either ignore science or give it remarkably short shrift. Today’s scientific research on humans, he says, is stymied by bioethicists who “try to sow panic about advances in biomedical research.” Pinker longs for a “consilience” of science and the humanities as we see in disciplines such as archaeology and linguistics.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

24   In Ignorance We Trust?   Does the American public trust science? For the most part, yes—but it’s complicated, depending on a person’s age, education, gender, political party, race, and region. According to Perceptions of Science in America, a new report by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which examined existing public-opinion survey data, public confidence in the scientific community as a whole has remained stable for decades, especially when measured against other professions.  However, a sizeable minority of the public (42 percent) has zero or little trust that scientists will report findings that go against the sponsor of the research. This is the first in a series of reports by the academy’s “Public Face of Science” project, a three-year initiative to better understand the evolving relationship between the public and scientists. Tom Nichols, a political scientist who teaches at the Harvard Extension School, thinks that many people today are not just uninformed but “aggressively wrong” and unwilling to learn. “Americans have reached a point where ignorance, especially of anything related to public policy, is an actual virtue,” he writes in his bestselling The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Expertise and Why It Matters. Look out, Steven Pinker. TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

25  From Obscure Psychology Professor to Conservative Hero  In a few short years, University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan B. Peterson has gone from obscurity to hero of the alt-right for his critiques of political correctness. He first made news in 2016 over his opposition to C-16, the Canadian bill forbidding discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, arguing that such a law could be a serious infringement of free speech. Since then, Peterson has become a YouTube sensation, author of the best-selling 12 Rules For Life: An Antidote to Chaos, and, to quote The New Yorker, “one of the most influential—and polarizing—public intellectuals in the English-speaking world.” In 12 Rules for Life, only his second book in 20 years, Peterson argues that modern-day men have been “pushed too hard to feminize” and urges them “to toughen up.” Peterson recently talked to The Weekly Standard about his views on contemporary politics and his belief that school shooters are “out for revenge against God.” (See Paideia Times, Winter 2018.)    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

TECHNOLOGY

 

26   Who’s Afraid of the Frightful Five?  Shaking the culture of the country and its higher education institutions are the West Coast five—Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Waking up to their influence are both the political establishment in Washington and the academy itself.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

GOVERNMENT

 

27   Congress Deals a Blow to DeVos Agenda It’s pretty unusual for the head of a federal agency to ask for less money. But that’s exactly what Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did when she submitted her budget request to Congress earlier this year. In fact, DeVos suggested massive cuts to the Education Department—a decrease of $3.6 billion, or 5 percent, to specific department programs, and an overall decrease of $9 billion, or 13 percent. When Congress finally passed its big spending bill, however, it gave her everything she didn’t want, including a larger budget and a guarantee that certain department offices won’t be cut—altogether awarding the department $2.6 billion in more money. Democrats have accused the education secretary of having her head in the sand when it comes to racial bias and discrimination, and the new spending package increases the Office of Civil Rights’ funding by $8.5 million, specifying that the additional money cannot be used to cut staff or shutter any of the OCR’s 12 regional offices. (Nonetheless, the OCR has been taking steps recently to streamline its investigation of civil rights complaints.) Other programs that will see additional funding under the new spending deal include $107 million more for the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant program; a $140 million boost for the Federal Work-Study program; and a $175 increase in the size of the maximum Pell Grant.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

28  Student Sit-In at Howard Might Be the Tipping Point for Other HBCUs  A student sit-in at Howard University, the most famous of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, came to an end after a record nine days, with students claiming victory on eight of their nine demands—including adequate campus housing, a tuition freeze, and a more forceful response to sexual assault. The students had asked for the disarmament of campus police officers; instead, the Washington, D.C.–based university agreed to create a student-led task force to review the use of force by campus police officers. The protesting students also dropped their demand calling for the resignation of the university’s president, Wayne A. I. Frederick. The student group HU Resist organized the sit-in, which began on March 29, after problems with housing going all the way back to 2015, including rats in residence halls, a lack of hot water in dorms, and no air-conditioning in classrooms. News that six university employees had misappropriated financial aid money further incited the students’ complaints. Howard students say they hope the sit-in will inspire other historically black institutions, “especially those with less prominence, to push for change.” On the heels of the sit-in, Howard faculty members voted no-confidence in Frederick, but any connection between the vote and the student protest was “not intentional,” according to the Faculty Senate’s leadership council. This was not the council’s first no-confidence vote against Frederick—the first happened in 2017. (See “Stayin' Alive.”)  

TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

 

29  Loan Bankruptcy Criteria and the Meaning of “Undue Hardship”  Student loan debt is notoriously hard to discharge in bankruptcy court, but that might change soon. The Trump administration is considering softening the stringent standard of “undue hardship,” which would allow more Americans to erase student debt in bankruptcy. Congress never defined the term, leaving courts to come up with a strict definition of undue hardship. Both sides agree that the new guidelines “will have to strike a proper balance” between not wasting energy trying to collect from borrowers who will never be able to repay their loans and opening bankruptcy standards too wide, which would make the federal student loan program too costly. Student loan delinquencies remain dangerously high, despite the improving economy. Eleven percent of the nearly $1.4 trillion in student debt is thought to be delinquent (at least 90 days late), but the real number is closer to 22 percent, according to the New York Federal Reserve. And a study by the Brookings Institution finds that a subset of borrowers—those with “jumbo loans” totaling at least $50,000—are the new threat in the student debt market, making up the majority (58 percent) of delinquent borrowers.    TO THE TOP

 

Sources & Further Reading

~ E N D ~

 

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Feds Probe Early-Admit Practices  Justice Department sees some collusion (and it’s not the Russians)  MORE

 

New EU Data Privacy Regulations  Europeans giving US colleges and universities some headaches   MORE

 

 

EMERGENT   ORDERS Steven Pinker Is Back  The celebrity Harvard prof has a new book out  MORE

 

Pinker: In His Own Words Sample his unapologetic enthusiasm for the state of modern civilization  MORE

 

In Ignorance We Trust? Many Americans really think it’s a virtue   MORE

 

From Obscure Psychology Professor to Conservative Hero His name is Jordan Peterson  MORE

 

Who’s Afraid of the Frightful Five? Turns out, lots of people    MORE

 

Congress Deals a Blow to DeVos Agenda  It gave her more money than she asked for    MORE

 

Student Sit-In at Howard Some think it might be a tipping point for HBCUs—but which way?  MORE

 

Loan Bankruptcy Criteria Change  Questions brewing about the meaning of “undue hardship”  MORE

taking a page from the community college playbook  MORE

 

Is This What Privatization Looks Like?  Students in many public colleges are paying more in tuition than the government gives    MORE

 

Hirings and Firings  An odd mix of congratulations and condolences MORE

 

Michigan State Troubles Continue  A Spartan dean is arrested, implicated in the Larry Nassar scandal  MORE

 

Debate Over Expansion of “Post-Tenure Review”  Some see it as the road to ending tenure  MORE

 

For Sex Assault and Violence, the Buck Is Stopping Closer to the President’s Office  A California case may change the ground rules   MORE

 

Corruption and Special Favors in College Sports   Scandals a long time in the making   MORE

 

Chasing Applicants: Bring on the Marching Bands  Struggling to meet enrollment numbers, colleges take amusing recruitment steps  MORE

 

Students Choose Diversity Over Free Speech  A new poll is surprisingly (or not) close  MORE

 

 

P U B L I C  T R U S T  Petit à Petit, DeVos Dismantles Obama-Era Regulations Despite setbacks the new Secretary of Education is making changes  MORE

P U R P O S E  | Praising Liberal Arts—or Burying Them?  That remains the question of the day  MORE

 

New Head of Heterodox  Academy  She steps away from academia to save it  MORE

 

Reinventing Higher Education  One college at a time  MORE

 

Professors Fight Back   Challenging the “atmosphere of enforced orthodoxy”  MORE

 

Gaps in College Spending Shortchange Blacks and Latinos  Some disappointing news from the Center for American Progress  MORE

 

Confucian Spies and Other Curiosities  When do cultural centers become hotbeds of political espionage?  MORE

 

 

G O V E R N A N C E  | Purdue Goes Global  The merger of Kaplan and Purdue  University is approved   MORE

 

Two Universities Are they “large STEM research centers with small liberal arts colleges attached to them”? MORE

 

Stayin’ Alive: How Special-Interest Schools Are Faring It’s not easy  MORE

 

Corporations and Universities: Unholy Alliance? Some suggest