latest version 05/24


VOL. I,  NO. 2              spring 2016


T O P  S T O R I E S.... 








1  Student Achievement Hit a Wall   America’s high school seniors are barely holding steady in reading and math, according to the recently released 2015 “Nations Report Card,” which concluded that only 37 percent of them were college- or career-ready.  Perhaps more disturbing is that the one-in-four college freshmen taking remedial coursework are spending nearly $1.5 billion in out-of-pocket expenses and $380 million more taking out loans for such courses. Forty-five percent of them, surprisingly, come from middle- and high-income families; this news comes at a time when the nation’s high school graduation rate is at an all-time high—82 percent of seniors graduated on time in 2104—raising questions, The Washington Post notes, about whether a high school diploma is stilla meaningful measure of achievement.” And speaking of excess college costs, a study from The Institute of College Access & Success finds that the students attending community college often don’t realize that there are additional fees on top of tuition and often mistake “low tuition” for “low total costs.” Said one student at a California community college, “The book costs are what really wipe out my school budget. I select classes partially based on the cost of books. I spent over $1,000 this semester on books, fees, and tutoring.”  TO THE TOP



The Nation’s Report Card: 2015 Mathematics and Reading Assessments (Nation’s Report Card)

2015 Nation’s Report Card Reveals Majority of High School Seniors Aren’t College Ready
(Education World)

The Cost of Remediation (Inside Higher Ed)

High School Graduation Rate Hits All-Time High; 82 Percent Finish On Time (Washington Post)

U.S. High School Seniors Slip In Math and Show No Improvement in Reading (Washington Post)

On the Verge: Costs and Tradeoffs Facing Community College Students
(The Institute for College Access & Success)

Report: Financial Struggles in Community College Go Beyond Tuition (Education News)



Further Reading

Most High School Seniors Aren’t College or Career Ready (NPR Ed)

What Can Stop Kids From Dropping Out (New York Times)

Taking High School Courses In College Costs Students and Families Nearly $1.5 Billion (NPR Ed)

U.S. High School Seniors Slip In Math and Show No Improvement In Reading (Washington Post)

Guess Who’s Taking Remedial Classes? (New York Times)

The College Remediation Hoax (Diane Ravitch blog)

NCAA Blocks 23 Teams From Postseason Play for Poor Academic Performance
(Chronicle of Higher Education)

Testing College Readiness (Education Next)

Program to Offer High School Students Grants for College Classes (Wall Street Journal)

44 Colleges to Participate in Pell Grant Dual-Enrollment Experiment (Morning Education)


2  Bring Back Standardized Tests  Bucking the current zeitgeist, James Piereson, president of the William E. Simon Foundation, and Naomi Schaefer Riley, senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum, argue that admissions tests for college are more crucial than ever.  “High school grades are useless,” they write. Not the SAT and ACT tests, which Piereson and Schaefer argue are needed because “Policy makers and educators have effectively eliminated all other ways of quantifying student performance.” Victor Davis Hanson, a historian at Stanford, goes a step farther, suggesting that not only should there be standardized entrance exams for college, there should be ones after graduation as well—so the world can see what a particular college did for students who fork over $100,000 for their higher education.   TO THE TOP



Here’s Why Tests Matter (Wall Street Journal)

Hold Colleges Accountable to the Real World (National Review)


Further Reading

Why Test Scores Matter in College Admissions (

Race and the Testing Wars (New York Times)

3  Not All College Degrees Are Created Equal  It’s no secret that some college grads earn far more than others. Mark Schneider of the American Institutes for Research has been digging deeper by studying data from seven states (Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Minnesota, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia). Some of his key findings as summed up by The Washington Post: Earnings vary widely among grads from the same school but who studied different majors; students who learn how to fix things or help people stay healthy are generally well paid, while those in the most popular programs of study, especially the arts, often “start low, end low”; the “S” in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) is worth less in the marketplace than “TEM” degrees; some associate’s degrees are worth more than bachelor’s, explaining why one in 14 community colleges students already has a bachelor’s degree. Given this trend, community colleges could become the new grad school! TO THE TOP



What’s A Degree Worth? Depends On What You Study—And Where (Washington Post)

Graduates of 4-Year Universities Flock to Community Colleges for Job Skills (U.S. News)


Further Reading

Accountability In Higher Ed Metrics (Morning Education)

On The Note Of Measuring Colleges’ Value (Morning Education)

Economic Success Metrics (ESM) Program (College Measures)


4  What’s the Point of College?   As the academic year winds down, this is an especially good time to consider the purposes of higher education. Four new books do it well. The Path: What Chinese Philosophers Can Teach Us About the Good Life   suggests that students need to follow their interests but should also purposefully cultivate unfamiliar interests so that they “are training [themselves] not to fall into the trap of seeing [themselves] through one fixed perspective.” James Axtell, humanities professor at William and Mary, “covers much ground” but “does so lightly” in his history of higher education, Wisdom’s Workshop, writes Jonathan Cole of Columbia University, while then criticizing Wesleyan president Michael Roth’s Toward a More Perfect University as having “the feel of a long memo from a central administrative office.” Cole does praise both authors for not being “smug disruptors” and for reminding us that improvement “will occur through the evolution of [universities’] capacity for producing new knowledge and disseminating it.” Finally, Michael Young and Johan Muller’s new book, Curriculum and the Specialization of Knowledge, fixes the question of “what to teach, rather than how to teach, at the heart of the educational debate,” according to reviewer Joanna Williams, and considers the “ability to pass on collective knowledge from one generation to the next [as] what differentiates people from animals.” Hearty reading, indeed, on the purpose of knowledge and the universities that impart it.  TO THE TOP



The College of Chinese Wisdom (Wall Street Journal)

What is a University For? (Wall Street Journal)

The Enlightenment: Knowledge Matters (Spiked Review)


Further Reading

Should Everyone Go to College? (Chronicle of Higher Education)


5  What Do Employers Really Want? Schools Use Data to Find Out  In today’s ever evolving job market, employers and educational institutions often speak different languages. To help close the gap, more schools are turning to data analysis, with the help of firms like Burning Glass Technologies, LinkedIn, and CareerBuilder, to better align course offerings with employers’ needs.  Macomb Community College in southeastern Michigan, for example, is using granular real-time data, scraped from online job boards, to refine its engineering curriculum. The disconnect between what employers want and the skills schools teach has helped push U.S. job vacancies to 5.4 million, a near historic high, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. TO THE TOP



Colleges Drill Down on Job-Listing Terms (Wall Street Journal)

Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary: Economic News Release (Bureau of Labor Statistics)


Further Reading

Demand For Computer Science Forces Washington Colleges to Ramp Up (Seattle Times)

Colleges Lock Horns Over Nursing Programs (Wall Street Journal)


6  Just Say No—to Western Civ  Stanford University students, by a six-to-one margin, have rejected a proposal to establish a new Western Civilization class requirement. If it had passed, the measure would have required all freshmen to complete a two-quarter course in “the politics, history, philosophy, and culture of the Western world.” This would have replaced the school’s current one-quarter “Thinking Matters” undergraduate humanities requirement, which covers subjects such as race, empathy, food and love, according to the course catalog. The petition, which managed to garner 370 signatures, sparked outrage and name-calling on campus. And, in the end, the initiative failed, with 342 votes in favor and 1992 against. Western civilization used to be a bedrock requirement in undergraduate education, but a survey by the National Association of Scholars found that it had all but disappeared by 2010 (even history majors aren’t required to take it). TO THE TOP



Stanford Students Reject Western Civilization By a 6-To-1 Margin

(Daily Caller News Foundation)

2015-16 Thinking Matters Catalog (Stanford University)

Petition to Establish Western Civ Requirement Sparks Outrage at Stanford (Washington Free Beacon)

The Vanishing West: 1964 to 2010 (National Association of Scholars)


Further Reading

The Case for a Western Civilization Requirement at Stanford (Stanford Review)

Why the Humanities Still Have Purpose (Public Discourse)

Notable & Quotable: Restore Western Civ at Stanford (Wall Street Journal)

Curricular Conundrums (Harvard Magazine)




7  Name Games: What’s a 21st century university to do?  John C. Calhoun and Woodrow Wilson had much in common: statesmen, segregationists, men with schools and buildings named for them.  In the era of diversity and “black lives matter,” Yale and Princeton, like many universities and public institutions, have had to face a new reality: there are limits to the tributes paid to great men with racist blotches on their records.  Princeton ended up keeping the name of the 28th president on its respected school of public and international affairs; Yale kept the name of the twice-elected vice-president and ardent proponent of slavery on its residential hall, Calhoun College. Another twist to the name-changing furor comes from  activist students who don’t like the benefactors of new or name-changed buildings and monuments. George Mason University (fortunately, named after one of the fathers of the Bill of Rights) had two renaming problems when it decided to rechristen its law school the Antonin Scalia School of Law, in honor of the recently deceased Supreme Court justice. First, there was the unfortunate acronym (ASSoL), which was quickly fixed (it is now the Antonin Scalia Law School); then came the revelation that the name-change was triggered by a $30 million gift to the school by the arch-conservative Charles Koch Foundation, a punishable offense in this hyper-partisan world. But such controversy might not be an issue in the future as crowdsourcing becomes a more viable means of fundraising. Massachusetts’s College of the Holy Cross recently amassed almost $2 million in 43 hours—that’s almost faster than you can say “old school”—using  TO THE TOP



Princeton to Keep Woodrow Wilson’s Name (The Wall Street Journal)

Yale Retains Calhoun Name (Inside Higher Ed)

Donor Beware: The New Realities of Philanthropy (Wall Street Journal)

George Mason Tweaks Scalia Law School Name (Inside Higher Ed)

University in Turmoil over Scalia Tribute and Koch Role (New York Times)

Colleges Are Going Online To Crowdsource Donations, And They’re Raising Millions 
(The Washington Post)


Further Reading

Woodrow Wilson (Wall Street Journal)

Harvard Law to Abandon Crest Linked to Slavery (New York Times)

Princeton will keep Woodrow Wilson’s name on buildings (Washington Post)

Decisions on Residential College Names and "Master" Title (Yale Messages)

House Master, Law School Shield (Harvard Magazine)

Harvard to Drop Law School Shield Linked to Slavery (Harvard Magazine)

University Critics Draw Line at Naming a Law School for Scalia (New York Times)

How Big Was GMU’s Scalia Law School Name Gaffe? (

George Mason U. Changes Name of Scalia Law School (Washington Post)

George Mason Gets Go-Ahead for ‘Scalia Law School’ (Wall Street Journal)

Catholic University Receives $47 [million] to Boost Business School (Education News)

Larry Ellison Pledges $200 Million for USC Cancer Center (Wall Street Journal)

What is a University For? (Wall Street Journal)

University of Miami Creates Chair for Study of Atheism (New York Times)


8  Shouting “Fire” (when there is no fire)  When does free speech stop being “free?” asks reviewer Roger Scruton, a philosopher and fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. The answer: when close-minded students demand ‘safe spaces’ as protection from abhorrent ideas. Writing in Spiked-Online, Scruton adds perspective to the ongoing campus fracas between the free speech crowd and the hate speech throng. Robert Boyers, editor of Salmagundi and a professor of English at Skidmore, argues that political correctness may be  stifling the needed debate over ideas by, for example,  denying a racist his campus speech, but could also be seen as yelling fire in a public place.  Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt believes that a campus “victimhood culture,” where “microagression complaints are most prevalent,” is so powerful that both libertarian and conservative students “feel they must keep quiet” lest they “trigger” someone. That trigger, says David Clemens at the Pope Center might be an Ovid poem describing a rape, or the Vietnam War  movie “Apocalypse Now.”  The questions related to these issues — do professors have to warn students that the class is a potential unsafe zone? — are persistent and many.  TO THE TOP



Academic Freedom in Conformist Times (Spiked Review)

How ‘Safe Spaces’ Stifle Ideas (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Why Williams College’s President Canceled a Speech (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Victimhood Culture Explains What is Happening at Emory (Heterodox Academy)

In (Limited) Praise of Trigger Warnings (Pope Center)


Further Reading

How I would Have Handled John Derbyshire’s Appearance on Campus (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Supreme Court Strengthens Free-Speech Rights of Public Employees (LA Times)

A Lawsuit, Unmet Demands, and Coloring Books: Inside Duke’s Sit-In (Chronicle of Higher Education)

I was Disinvited on Campus (Wall Street Journal)

Inside How Missouri’s Leadership Scrambled to Quell a Campus Crisis (Chronicle of Higher Education)

University of Missouri Rejects Appeal by Professor After Protests (Wall Street Journal)

Read It and Weep (Financial Times)

Koch and Bloomberg: Why Free Speech Matters (Wall Street Journal)

Does Anybody Still Care about Free Speech? (Wall Street Journal)

Safe from “Safe Places” (New Criterion)









9  A Survival Anniversary for Sweet Briar  As trustee challenges go, the troubles at Sweet Briar College don’t get much harder. The 115-year-old all-women’s institution nestled at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains announced last year that it was closing for good because of “insurmountable financial challenges.” But alumna rallied, raised funds and sued, and three months later, an agreement was reached allowing the school to remain open for another year. With a total enrollment of only 236 (well short of the 800 students it needs), Sweet Briar is still in a fragile position, but with applications up 50 percent this year, its story shows that small, liberal arts schools still have relevance.  TO THE TOP



Sweet Briar College Marks One Year of Survival After Closure Scare (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading

Two Languages and the Chasm Between Them (StandPoint)

Why Many College Students Never Learn How to Write Sentences (Pope Center)

Glaciers and Sex (New Criterion)




10 Creative Ways to Belt-Tighten With high costs challenging everyone, more colleges seem to be  thinking out of the box. Some are forgoing elaborate recreation centers; others are using smarter marketing programs and collaborations (Franklin Pierce and the Boston Herald. Still others have eliminated intercollegiate sports (Temple) or encouraged their administrators to forgo a pay increase (University of Cincinnati). The University of Idaho is making the unprecedented move to leave the prestigious Football Bowl Subdivision and return to the more mundane (and less lucrative) Football Championship Subdivision, starting with the 2018 season, something no other FBS school has done. In Minnesota, St. Cloud is the latest school to announce sports cutbacks. Budget woes are forcing the school to drop six sports after the current academic year: men’s and women’s tennis, women’s Nordic skiing, men’s cross country and men’s track and field. Roster reductions will also be coming to football and baseball. The move will save $250,000, or about five percent of the athletic department’s general fund allocation in fiscal year 2017, the Star Tribune reports.  TO THE TOP



Why Are Higher Education Subsidies Going Toward Lazy River Rides? (Daily Signal)

At Small Colleges, Harsh Lessons About Cash Flow (New York Times)

Cutting Costs is Possible. These Schools Did It  (Governance)

Leaving the Big Time (Inside Higher Ed)

Citing Budget Concerns, St. Cloud State Drops 6 Sports (Chronicle of Higher Education)

In All-Sport Meeting, St. Cloud State Athletes Told 6 Programs Being Eliminated (Star Tribune)




11  Cracking Down on Sexual Harassment at UC  University of California President Janet Napolitano directed a new review committee to find ways of speeding up investigations of sexual harassment, amid mounting criticism that punishments were too light in two recent high-profile sexual harassment incidents. Gabriel Piterberg, a history professor at UCLA, was accused by two graduate students of sexually harassing them over a period of years. Piterberg, who did not admit to allegations, was fined $3,000 and suspended for 11 weeks following an investigation into the case. Last summer, Sujit Choudhry, dean of UC Berkeley’s law school, was found responsible for sexually harassing his executive assistant.  TO THE TOP



UC President Calls For Stronger Steps in Faculty Sexual Harassment Cases (Los Angeles Times)

Berkeley Is Under Fire, Again, for How It Handled Sexual Harassment (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Berkeley Law Dean Resigns Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations, Lawsuit (Daily Californian)


Further Reading

UCLA Community Protests Professor's Punishment For Sex Harassment: $3,000 Fine and
11-Week Suspension
(Los Angeles Times)

Berkeley Law School Dean Was Harasser, a Suit Says (New York Times)

At UCLA, Anger Builds Over Pending Return of a Professor Accused of Harassment
(Chronicle of Higher Education)

Former Berkeley Law Dean Files Grievance Over Disciplinary Process Amid Sex Harassment Allegations (Daily Californian)


12   Harvard Nixes All-Male “Final Clubs”   Starting in the fall of 2017, both male and female students who are members of Harvard’s fraternity like single-sex “finals clubs” will be prohibited from holding leadership positions on campus. They will also be barred from receiving official recommendations for postgraduate fellowships and scholarships such as the Rhodes and Marshall programs. The university made the bold move in response to the recommendations of a Harvard task force on sexual assault prevention and after months of debate about the misogynistic culture of male final clubs, with statistics linking them with an elevated risk of sexual assault.  It’s not clear how administrators will enforce the new rule, other than relying on the honor system, since membership in the groups isn’t public. Calling the move “an outrageous act of bullying,” some students wonder how forcing young men and women (and alcohol) together in social situations will prove safer for women.  TO THE TOP



Harvard Will Bar Members of Single-Gender Clubs From Official Leadership Roles
(Chronicle of Higher Education)

Grappling with Campus Sexual Assault, Harvard Looks to Expand Prevention Efforts
(Harvard Crimson)

Harvard’s Exclusive Single-Gender Social Clubs Won’t Die Easily (Wall Street Journal)

Sexual Assault Report Lambasts Final Clubs (Harvard Crimson)

Harvard to Bar Members of Single-Gender Clubs From Leadership in Official Groups
(Wall Street Journal)

Pressure Mounts on Harvard’s All-Male Clubs to Admit Women (Wall Street Journal)



Further Reading

Harvard Sex Fair Is OK, Single-Sex Clubs, No (Wall Street Journal)

Harvard’s Final Insult (Wall Street Journal)

Harvard Is Trying to End Clubs’ Sexual Abuses (Wall Street Journal)

Harvard, Clubs and Freedom of Association (Wall Street Journal)

Reports of Sexual Assault Rising Sharply on College Campuses (Wall Street Journal)


13  Diverse Views on Handling Diversity  The debate about diversity on American college campuses has become so commonplace that we can play spin the globe to find examples of it. Lawmakers in Tennessee, for example, are routing funds from the Knoxville campus’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion to minority engineering scholarships. Emory’s senior VP and dean of campus life, Ajay Nair (who himself was a student of color at a white school) is meeting student demands to improve race relations by including a student protestor in a working group. In Washington D.C., however, John Hasnas, professor at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business and executive director of the Georgetown Institute for the Study of Markets and Ethics, complains that too many search committees never seems to include political or ideological diversity, claiming that prospective employees are routinely discounted because of “association with libertarian or conservative institutions.” If other new writing is any indication of Hasnas’ wisdom, a bevy of new writings about campus partisanship would indicate that partisan skirmishes persist.  Two political science professors, Jon Shields from Claremont McKenna and Joshua Dunn Sr., University of Colorado, have written a new book, Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University, that Jonathan Marks, professor of politics at Ursinus, says is an example of professors who “keep their beliefs in the closet.”  On the other hand, UCLA history professor Russell Jacoby, writing in the Chronicle, believes the Academy is not as partisan as some would think, pointing out that while liberals abound in humanities and social sciences, the numbers even out in STEM courses. John Rosenberg, an author with the National Association of Scholars, takes Jacoby to task for his mamby-pambiness. “Jacoby’s fundamental fallacy is that he denies the existence of the disease — the disturbingly small number of conservatives in many areas….” And we’ll give liberal columnist  Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times the last word: “Maybe we progressives could … incorporate values that we supposedly cherish — like diversity — in our own dominions.”  TO THE TOP



What Lawmakers in One State Talk About When They Talk About Diversity
(Chronicle of Higher Education)

One University’s Response to Students’ Demands on Race: Radical Transparency
(Chronicle of Higher Education)

The One Kind of Diversity Colleges Avoid  (Wall Street Journal)

Elephants on the Quad  (Wall Street Journal)

Academe Is Overrun by Liberals. So What? (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Is the Glut of Liberals In Academia Benign? (Minding the Campus)

A Confession of Liberal Intolerance (New York Times)


Further Reading

If Philosophy Won’t Diversify, Then What? (New York Times)

Building ‘Bridge Leaders’ for Minority Professors and Students (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Who’s Teaching Stanford?   (National Review)

The Real Victims of Political Bias on Campus  (Bloomberg View)

Campus Unicorns: Conservative Teachers  (Wall Street Journal)

Are College Diversity Efforts Putting Students in Silos?  (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The End of Men (In Literature) (Weekly Standard)




14   Does Gender Matter?  While the bathroom battles earned most of the headlines in May (see Bathroom Battles below),  quieter discussions and events about gender were taking place all over the country. Starting in the 2016-17 academic year, the Common Application and the Universal College Application will feature updated language and optional questions making it easier for applicants who do not identify with their “birth” or “legal” sex, or who don’t conform to one gender, to describe how they wish to be identified. Cornell researchers have found a positive relationship between the number of women in key leadership positions on campus, particularly a female president, and the number of full-time tenure-track female professors in the humanities. In the sciences, however, subtle gender gaps remain, with women doing more of the day-to-day work and men getting credit for “big-picture thinking.” (See As Tenure Disappears, below) This didn’t stop Scott Yenor, a professor of Political Science at Boise State, from asserting that equality between men and women on the athletic field will never happen, because men are bigger, stronger and faster, and, consequently, “men’s athletics will always be more popular.” One author argues that big-time college sports make both men and women equally “indentured.” At  Marquette University in Milwaukee, meanwhile, the administration’s campaign to affirm LGBTQ causes has some Catholics concerned. The College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts and the University of San Francisco, both Jesuit institutions, will begin assigning housing in accordance with students’ gender identity, despite the fact that Pope Francis, himself a Jesuit, has called gender ideology a threat to the family.  TO THE TOP



Common Application to Change Gender-Identity Options (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Change From the Top (Inside Higher Ed)

The Subtle Ways Gender Gaps Persist in Science (Chronicle of Higher Education)

A Sporting Difference: On Men’s and Women’s Athletics (The Public Discourse)

‘Indentured,’ by Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss (New York Times)

Marquette’s Gender Regime (First Things)

Catholic Colleges Embrace Gender Ideology in Housing Policies (Cardinal Newman Society)


Further Reading

Beyond Male/Female (Inside Higher Ed)

Gender is More than Just Anatomy (New York Times)

The Complex Role Of Gender In Faculty Hiring (Science)

Two Women Named to Lead Cal State Campuses Chico and Channel Islands (Los Angeles Times)

Let’s Not Pay College Athletes (Wall Street Journal)




15   As Tenure Disappears, Higher Ed Drifts Away From Core Values Over the past four decades, the number of full-time tenure-track faculty has been decreasing, while the number of part-time faculty has increased by 70 percent. According to the to the Delphi Project out of the University of Southern California, the loss of tenured jobs on college campuses has had many unintended and largely negative consequences. For students, this means lower graduation rates, lower grade-point averages, lower first-year retention rates, lower transfer rates from two-year to four-year colleges, not to mention a harder time getting letters of recommendation from adjunct faculty. For the remaining tenured faculty, this trend translates into heavier workloads and a loss of academic freedom. The American Association of University Professors’ 2015-16 annual report advocates returning to tenure-track hiring, while the Delphi Project is open to alternative options.  Apparently, neither approach has done Marquette professor John McAdams much good. The tenured 69-year-old Harvard Ph.D. was suspended for a blog post he wrote in 2014 chiding a fellow professor for “using a tactic typical among liberals now. Opinions with which they disagree are not merely wrong, and are not to be argued against on their merits, but are deemed ‘offensive’ and need to be shut up.” Marquette is holding fast, saying McAdams won’t get his job back unless he apologizes (something his lawyer hints he’s “highly unlikely” to do).  TO THE TOP



Tenure Is Disappearing, Much to the Detriment Of Higher Ed (Education Dive)

“The Delphi Project on the Changing Faculty and Student Success” (Delphi Project)

“Higher Education at a Crossroads: The Economic Value of Tenure and the Security of the Profession,” American Association of University Professors
Punished for Blogging at Marquette (Wall Street Journal)

If You Say You’re Sorry (Inside Higher Ed)


Further Reading

Tenure is Crucial to Academic Freedom (Wall Street Journal)

Non-Tenure Track Faculty Stage Two-Day Strike (American Federation of Teachers)

Big Investors Question Corporate Board Tenures (Wall Street Journal)

California Court Sides With Teacher Unions, Protecting Tenure (Wall Street Journal)

Wisconsin Regents Approve New Layoff and Tenure Policies Over Faculty Objections
(Chronicle of Higher Education)

George Orwell Call Your Office: Marquette Demands Ritual Apology From Embattled Professor (National Review)

Doesn’t Professorial Tenure Exist for Things Like This? (Wall Street Journal)

Stripping a Professor of Tenure Over a Blog Post (The Atlantic)









16  ACTA President Retires  After twenty years in the driver’s seat of the high-octane Association of College Trustees and Alumni, Anne Neal is stepping down this June.  In an April email sent to friends, colleagues, and ACTA members, Neal, who built the organization from what The Chronicle of Higher Education called “a polarizing force” that had “achieved growing relevance in core debates” in Washington, DC and beyond, plans to serve as first vice president of the Garden Club of America, but will remain a senior fellow with ACTA. Good luck, Anne.  TO THE TOP



A Higher-Ed Needler Finds Its Moment (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Further Reading

The Business of Running a University (The Guardian)




17   Bathroom Battles Heat Up Across the Country  A controversial North Carolina law mandating that people use public restrooms that match the gender on their birth certificate, could cost the state billions of dollars in federal education funding if the U.S. Justice Department has its way. The feds have repudiated North Carolina’s House Bill 2, passed in April, saying it violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX.  Margaret Spellings, the former Secretary of Education and now president of the University of North Carolina, has been drawn into the battle, with some $2 billion in federal education dollars for the Tar Heel state’s K-12 and higher education schools at stake.  (See Gender, above.)  TO THE TOP



‘Bathroom Battles’ Erupt Over Transgender Issue (Wall Street Journal)

US Justice Department: HB2 Violates Civil Rights Act (Charlotte Observer)

Yes, The Feds Could Pull North Carolina’s Education Funding For Violating Transgender Civil Rights (Washington Post)

Former Education Secretary Margaret Spellings (Morning Education)


Further Reading

Transgender Teen in Virginia Bathroom Case Wins in Appeals Court (NPR)

Transgender Students Win on Restroom Rights (New York Times)

New War Over Transgender Students’ Rights (Morning Education)

NC Leaders Divided on Whether They’ll Meet Obama Administration’s Deadline on House Bill 2  (Charlotte Observer)

Conflicting Messages From North Carolina in Title IX Battle (Morning Education)

White House Says Not Behind DOJ Warning on Transgender Bathroom Law (Morning Education)

Tennessee Bill on Counselors is Latest Battleground on LGBT Issues (Wall Street Journal)

51 Families Sue Feds, Chicago-Area School District For Violating Student Privacy
(Alliance Defending Freedom)

Margaret Spellings Is Caught Between State and Feds (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Obama’s Transgender ‘Guidance’ (Wall Street Journal)

The Shelter of Federalism (New York Sun)


18  Taxing Endowments: A Bi-Partisan–Bad or Good?—Idea  College and university endowments have traditionally been tax-exempt because of their association with their universities and because the purpose of endowments, according to the Association of American Universities, “is to directly support and sustain teaching, research, and public service.”  The State of Connecticut has floated the idea of taxing universities with endowments over $10 billion, which means taxing just Yale, with its $25.6 billion worth of bequests, one of the richest in the country. And while some commentary may blame the Democrats in Hartford, Rep. Tom Reed (R., NY), on the House Ways and Means Committee, is on the same track, suggesting that endowments larger than $1 billion should “pay one quarter of their annual earnings to working class families.” Even billionaire Warren Buffet has an opinion about endowments. He didn’t like the idea that the small college at which he was a trustee (Grinnell), saw its endowment grow while tuition “didn’t… come down.”  TO THE TOP



Myths About College and University Endowments (Association of American Universities)

One New Fix for Connecticut’s Budget Crunch: Yale University (Wall Street Journal)

Is Taxing Harvard, Yale and Stanford the Answer to Rising College Costs? (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading

Taxing Yale’s Endowment (Wall Street Journal)

Homeowners near Princeton University File Suit to Challenge University's Tax-exempt Status (Bloomberg)


19  Guns on Campus  While recent school shootings (in Oregon and Virginia) shocked the nation, the response to them has not been what many had expected: an increase in laws allowing guns on campus. Even before the recent outrages, colleges were moving in that direction. In 2013, at least 19 states introduced legislation to allow concealed carry on campus. Georgia Governor Nathan Deal may be trying to buck the trend by vetoing a state “campus carry” law that would have allowed licensed gun owners 21 and older to bring concealed weapons to public college campuses.  Said the Peach State Guv, “From the early days … colleges have been treated as sanctuaries of learning where firearms have not been allowed. To depart from such time honored protections should require overwhelming justification.”  TO THE TOP



Georgia Governor Vetoes Campus Carry Bill (CNN)

Georgia: Lawmakers Advance Bill Allowing Concealed Guns on Campus (New York Times)

Guns on Campus Overview (National Conference of State Legislatures)


Further Reading

Texas Academics Told to Avoid ‘Sensitive Topics’ if Gun Law Goes Into Effect (The Guardian, US edition)

Campus Carry  (Morning Education)

Meanwhile, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam let a campus-carry bill become law
(Morning Education)


20  Bracing For Obama’s Overtime Overhaul  Millions of white-collar workers may soon be getting a raise, courtesy of President Barack Obama, who announced last summer a change to Department of Labor overtime regulations which would make roughly five-million salaried workers earning under $50,440—including many postdocs, residence hall directors, admissions counselors, librarians and coaches—eligible for time-and-a-half. Slated to go into effect on December 1, the new rule would require schools to pay these employees for any time worked over 40 hours a week—or raise their salaries to over $47,476TO THE TOP



Overtime: It's About Time  (U.S. Department of Labor)

Proposed Overtime Changes: Too Much For Higher Ed (The Hill)

White House Increases Overtime Eligibility by Millions (New York Times)


Further Reading

Colleges Brace for Overtime Overhaul (Wall Street Journal)

Overtime Woes (Insider Higher Ed)

The Obama Education Profit Seekers (Wall Street Journal)

Why Americans Hate Government (Wall Street Journal)

Overtime Rules Among Most Destructive (FEE Daily)


21  Little Sisters of the Poor: When Catholic Universities Hire Non-Catholic Workers  Not happy about the government’s argument in the Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell law suit, John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America, argues that Catholic institutions should not have to pay for preventive contraceptive measures. It would force a religious institution to do something it believes to be immoral, even though non-Catholic employees would be denied a benefit afforded other citizens under the Affordable Care Act. In a May decision, the Supreme Court remanded the case to the lower courts.  TO THE TOP



ObamaCare vs. Little Sisters of the Poor (Wall Street Journal)

Supreme Courts Sends Case Back to Lower Courts (TipSheet)


Further Reading

Court to Weigh Birth-Control Rules (Wall Street Journal)


22  Revamped College Scoreboard Loses Again  The U.S. Department of Education’s revamped College Scoreboard, unveiled in September of last year, was supposed to help make it easier for students and their families to choose the right school. But some critics are giving the new site a failing grade, calling its earnings information inaccurate and “often downright misleading.” For example, the Scorecard excludes part-time and transfer students, and salary data is presented for a school as a whole rather than being separated into various fields of study.  So who’s at fault? The Obama Administration, some contend, for choosing politics over meaningful information.   TO THE TOP



College Scorecard (U.S. Department of Education)

Weekly Address: A New College Scorecard (The White House)

The College Scorecard Strikes Out (Wall Street Journal)

The College Scorecard: A Government Failure (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading

Eleven Higher Education Institutions Unite to Improve Graduation Rates (Education Trust)

‘Engines of Anxiety’ (Inside Higher Ed)







23  Lies, Damned Lies and Student Debt  If you listen only to presidential candidates, you might think that our nation will be swamped by a student debt tsunami.  In fact, nobody really knows. The government says that by the end of 2015 the percentage of indebted students who are behind in their student loan payments dropped from 22.2 percent to 19.7 percent. Reasons suggested by Josh Mitchell in the Wall Street Journal are job market growth and income-based repayment plans. But that’s the good news. The federal Department of Education says that more than $200 billion is owed and that 3.6 million borrowers have gone a year without a payment.  Some critics say the government has made loans too easy to get: no serious credit checks, no co-signing. A possible answer to some of these problems may be the new Parents Plus Loan, which allows parents to borrow the money. Nevertheless, depending on those statistics, the government is either losing $170 billion, a number derived from the fair value discount, or if calculating through the filter of the standard estimate with the low discount rate, the government makes a $37 million profit. Another renegade truism is that all students pay off their student debt the same way. In fact, some students get lucky in having debts forgiven; others are good citizens who make money and pay their bills. While it’s crass to say severely disabled students have gotten lucky, the fact is the Obama Administration is forgiving $7.7 billion of their debt because “some borrowers’ disability checks [were] improperly garnished.” For students who attended Corinthian Colleges, the Department of Education is offering a program for loan dismissal because the schools made false employment promises.  On the other hand, some former students who attended graduate or professional schools actually do pay back their loans while holding mortgages and car loans. And Americans who earned a bachelor’s degree last year landed a job with an average starting salary of $50,651, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Finally, some employers offer student debt payment as a perk and are lobbying for a tax law change which would extend the tax exclusion that currently applies to employer-provided tuition assistance to include employer contributions to employees’ student loans. The proposal also provides incentives to employers to subsidize student-loan repayments. TO THE TOP



Student-Loan Delinquencies Decline (Wall Street Journal)

More Than 40% of Student Borrowers Aren’t Making Payments (Wall Street Journal)

Federal Student Loans Will Cost Taxpayers $170 Billion (Forbes)

U.S. to Forgive Billions in Student Debt For Disabled (Wall Street Journal)

More Former Corinthian Students Can Apply for Debt Forgiveness (Wall Street Journal)

Student Debt Is Holding Back Millennials? Not So Fast (Wall Street Journal)

Student Debt Is About to Set Another Record (Wall Street Journal)

Hot New Perk: Paying Down Student Loans (Fortune)


Further Reading

Student Loan Defaults Are Up, New Data Show (E21)

Doubling Pell Grants Is a Terrible Idea (MI)

Educational Savings Accounts Are a Win for Public and Private Education (Liberty Blog)

Clinton and Sanders Say Student Loan Rates Are Too High; Here’s What’s Going On 
(Wall Street Journal)

Higher Education Act Reauthorization  (Education Week)



F O R - P R O F I T


24  For-Profit Colleges Competing for the Best Students  In what appears to be a new focus for for-profit colleges, some are paying attention to the caliber of the student as well as to the bottom line. San Francisco-based start-up Minerva Schools at KGI , which boasts former Senator John Kerrey as chairman of its sister organization, the Minerva Institute, also boasts an acceptance rate of 1.9 percent. That’s more selective than Harvard, which admits only  5.2 percent of its applicants. Meanwhile, Udacity, started by Stanford University professor Sebastian Thrun and Google director of research Peter Norvig has built a for-profit school whose “nanodegrees are the only credential built for and by industry, according to Shernaz Daver, CMO of Udacity.  And lest one mistake the exception for the rule, a new study from the Century Foundation shows that many for-profit colleges still require students to sign (often unwittingly) binding arbitration clauses that would offer students no legal recourse for over-promised and under-delivered jobs.  TO THE TOP



Minerva Schools at KGI (company website)

San Francisco start-up Minerva ‘more selective than Ivy League’ (Financial Times)

Are Start-Up Schools Like Minerva and Udacity Changing the Higher Education Model?
(Education News)

It’s Almost Impossible For Students To Sue A For-Profit College. Here’s Why. (Washington Post)


Further Reading

How College Enrollment Contracts Limit Students’ Rights (The Century Foundation)

Apollo Education Loss Nearly Doubles From Year Earlier (Wall Street Journal)

Apollo Global Management Boosts Bid for Apollo Education (Wall Street Journal)

For-Profit Colleges Buying Up Coding Bootcamps (Morning Education)

Trump U Can Take Fraud Case to New York’s Highest Court (Wall Street Journal)

School Once Run by Jane Sanders Plans to Close After Expansion Fails (Wall Street Journal)

The Sorry Legacy of the For-Profit College Boom (New Yorker)

Nine Universities on One Small Campus (Washington Post)




26  Richard Linklater Captures College Freshness  Described by one reviewer as “America’s poet of the present tense,” Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, 1993) has produced a new movie, Everybody Wants Some!!, about the coming of age in college in the 1980’s, that delivers superb character development and acting charisma, but may be, as one headline had it, “dazed and enthused.”   TO THE TOP



‘Everybody Wants Some!!’: Dazed and Enthused  (Wall Street Journal)

Fun and Games  (The New Yorker)




26  Personalized Learning: The Wave of the Future? AltSchool—the part school, part start-up promising an uber personalized learning experience for Pre-K through 8th grade students and backed by Silicon investors—has big plans. Five more schools (each one a “micro-school,” with small learning communities and mixed-age classrooms) are scheduled to open by the end of 2017, in San Francisco, Manhattan and Chicago, with the ultimate goal of expanding throughout the country. Proponents of personalized learning argue that we’ve outgrown our current factory-like school system. However, as some critics say, isn’t the purpose of standard education “to realize how much we don’t know?”  TO THE TOP



Learn Different (The New Yorker)

Maybe Free-Range Students Isn’t the Way to Go (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading

The Mark Cuban Effect: How a Vocal Billionaire Is Betting on Higher Ed’s Disruption
(Chronicle of Higher Education)


27  Could Higher Ed Go the Way of the Local Newspaper?  Newspapers were among the first industries to jump on the Internet bandwagon, but a combination of slow-shifts in practice and fast-moving technology soon turned even the oldest, most venerable news institutions into shadows of what they were. Could the same fate await the American university? In a recent Forbes article, Frederick Singer, a founder of and an early employee at AOL, says that forward-thinking institutions can make “smart, competitive choices without disrupting their values or upsetting faculty”—e.g., by protecting their most profitable courses and creating more interactive channels for students.   TO THE TOP



What Higher Education Can Learn From the Fall of the Newspapers (Forbes)


Further Reading

Dr. Clayton Christensen Discusses Disruption in Higher Education (Academic Partnerships)

Zuckerberg and Chan Hire Education Leader to Run Philanthropic Effort (New York Times)

The Digital Campus: Tech Innovators 2016 (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Mark Zuckerberg's Foundation Has a New Education Chief (Fortune)


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Bathroom battles in North Carolina…. Just say No to Western Civ… Harvard nixes all-male “Finals Clubs”…. Name games…  Does gender matter?...   ACTA prez retires… High court punts Little SistersCollege scoreboard loses…. More guns on campus…. and more Diversity.

Creative Belt-Tightening  From Franklin Pierce to St. Cloud  10


Cracking Down on Sex Harassment  California leading the way  11


Harvard Nixes All-Male “Final Clubs”  Hot beds of sex assault are neutered  12


Diverse Views on Diversity Play spin the globe 13


Does Gender Matter?  Yes, No, and Maybe  14


Tenure is Disappearing Just ask John McAdams  15


PUBLIC TRUST | ACTA President Retires  Anne Neal built powerhouse advocacy group for college trustees  16


The Feds Push into the Bathroom  A NC law starts a transgender war  17


Taxing Endowments  What’s next?  18


Guns on Campus  It’s legal in many states  19

Obama’s Overtime Overhaul  Coming soon to 5 million people near you  20


SC Punts Little Sisters  The Supreme Court sends case back to lower courts  21


College Scoreboard Loses Again  Inaccurate and misleading  22



Lies, Damned Lies, and Student Debt  Who knows what to believe  23


For Profits Wooing Best Students  So say Minerva and Udacity  24


“Poet of the Present Tense” is Back  Richard Linklater has a new movie  25


Personalized Learning is Back – Again  Call it Uber-education  26


Will Higher Ed Go the Way of the Local Paper? Forbes says  The Internet genie is out of the bottle  27


P U R P O S E  |   Student Achievement Hits a Wall Only 37% of HS grads are ready for college   1


Bring Back Standardized Tests  High school grades may be useless  2


Not All Degrees Are Created Equal Data from 7 states from AIR  3


What’s the Point of College? Four good books shed some light  4


And What Do Employers Want? The data is coming in  5


Just Say No—to Western Civ  So says Stanford  6


Name Games Beating up on John Calhoun and Woodrow Wilson  7


Shouting “Fire!” Are there limits to free speech? 8



G O V E R N A N C E  |  A Survival Anniversary for Sweet Briar  Applications up 50%  9