Inside Higher Ed

Paper compares the economic benefits and costs of a big college completion project

Wed, 2017-10-25 07:00

Research has shown that creating a more educated work force by increasing college completion can both improve the economy and help more people enter the middle class. But a substantial increase in national completion rates will likely be expensive.

A new paper from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences seeks to determine when the economic benefits to individuals and the national economy of such a completion boost would begin to outweigh investment costs.

“The analysis shows that beginning in the 11th year of the program, the cost-benefit balance begins to turn around, and in every year thereafter output and earnings in the economy are higher than they would have been without the investment,” said Michael S. McPherson, who co-chairs the academy’s Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education.

That bottom-line finding comes with plenty of caveats. The paper is based on a wide range of assumptions about wage and productivity gains. And questions remain about how best to boost completion at a large scale, the paper said, and how much those efforts would cost.

McPherson, an economist who is president emeritus of the Spencer Foundation and the former president of Macalester College, said “no precise or definitive answer to this question is possible.” However, he said, it was worthwhile to attempt a well-informed estimate of the costs and benefits of a “systematic program of investment in improved college completion.”

The paper is part of the broader commission’s work, which will include a final report on college quality, completion and affordability, which is slated for release in late November.

For this study, the commission partnered with Moody’s Analytics, an economic consulting and forecasting firm. Moody’s compared a baseline model, where recent trends in college completion and degree production continue, with a scenario where completion rates increase significantly.

Currently, at four-year institutions, just 60 percent of first-time, full-time college students earn a bachelor’s degree, the paper said, with an average time to completion of six years. Likewise, 30 percent of students who enroll in a certificate or associate-degree program earn a credential within three years.

The economic benefits of attending college tend to require getting to graduation. And students who drop out with even relatively small amounts of debt face a substantial risk of default, previous research has found.

Some institutions have been successful in improving completion rates. And lessons learned by those colleges became part of the college completion push led by the Obama administration, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Lumina Foundation.

As examples, the new paper cites programs from Georgia State University and the City University of New York, which feature scholarship funding, transportation assistance and having trained advisers monitor student progress and intervene when necessary.

With these and other investments applied nationwide, the study assumes a gradual increase in completion rates over a 10-year period. Colleges with a completion rate under 50 percent increase their rates by half, the paper assumes, while those with completion rates over 50 percent see noncompletion decreasing by half.

Big Gains, Big Investments

The baseline model estimates that the proportion of the U.S. population with a bachelor’s degree will rise from 31 percent in 2016 to 40 percent in 2046. Under the higher-completion scenario, 46 percent of Americans would hold a bachelor’s degree by 2046.

The share of Americans with an associate degree would rise to 15 percent from 10 percent currently, compared to 12 percent for the baseline estimate.

Benefits of such an increase would be particularly important for students from low-income backgrounds and minority groups, the paper said, as they disproportionately attend colleges with low completion rates.

In addition, McPherson took on the increasingly common argument that too many students are attending college.

“Some people claim that we are already educating nearly everybody who can benefit,” he wrote, “but that claim is dubious in light of the fact that a number of other countries now have a larger fraction of their younger cohorts completing college than the United States does.”

Even so, a moon-shot style investment in getting many more students to graduation comes with an estimated price tag that would make NASA blush.

“While schools and colleges, even as they make these investments, may be able to save money in other ways, perhaps through technology or cutting back on lower-priority programs,” said McPherson, “it would be wishful thinking to assume that we can substantially improve educational success for disadvantaged students without investing money in the effort.”

Direct costs for completion programs during the first decade of such a project would come from both private and public sources. And with dropout rates down, more students would be in college and out of the work force, while older students would leave jobs to invest in going to college. Those indirect costs also would put a drag on the economy, the paper said.

As for government spending, the analysis assumes that additional completion funding would be financed by debt rather than tax hikes. The estimated greater spending on higher education would result in a peak impact on the federal deficit of $138 billion in 2025. The increase in U.S. debt related to the effort would peak at $1.9 trillion in 2041.

However, the effect on the deficit would begin to decline in 2026, due to employment and wage gains, and eventually be lower than the estimated baseline deficit. The debt impact also would decline to $1.6 trillion by 2046, an increase of 2.6 percent compared to the baseline. (A lower-cost model found less impact on deficits and debt.)

“Increased earnings and productivity will expand the economy in the long run, translating to higher wages, employment and gross domestic product,” the report said. “However, using illustrative estimates of the likely costs, the net effect on the federal government deficit will be negative for some time.”

Average earnings would increase by 3.1 percent under the higher-college-completion model, according to the paper, while employment would increase by 0.5 percent. Likewise, total real GDP would be 2.5 percent larger than under the baseline.

McPherson compares the long-term impact of an ambitious completion push to physical infrastructure investments like the federal government’s creation of the Interstate Highway System in the 1950s and 1960s. That project also came with big costs, disruptions and dislocations.

Over time, however, the speed and reliability of highway travel and commerce yielded economic benefits that far outweigh the costs.

“We can expect to see the same pattern again should we embark on new infrastructure programs like repairing the nation’s bridges, improving urban transit systems or combating global warming through developing cleaner energy sources,” McPherson said. “And education investments are among the longest lasting in economic terms. A student taking a few years out of the work force to earn a degree will typically receive an earnings benefit (and the economy will receive a productivity boost) that will continue for 30 or 40 years -- longer than most bridges or highways last.”

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Memphis College of Art announces that it will close

Wed, 2017-10-25 07:00

The Memphis College of Art announced Tuesday that it will no longer admit new students and will shut down operations.

The announcement cited "declining enrollment, overwhelming real estate debt and no viable long-term plan for financial sustainability."

The college is small and nonprofit. It has long played a key role in the arts in Memphis, Tenn., and surrounding areas. The Commercial Appeal reported that while the college has been enrolling around 380 students in recent years, this year's enrollment is much lower, at 307, including 25 graduate students. The college has 26 full-time faculty members.

While small art colleges have particular financial struggles, the news comes at a time of challenges for many small colleges that lack financial resources. The statement said, "The college’s situation is not unique -- small private colleges face financial challenges across the country. Over the last months, the school’s leaders have cut costs to operate as efficiently as possible, but it wasn’t sufficient to sustain operations beyond the current academic year without continued significant community support."

Memphis College of Art is the second small private institution to announce closure plans this month. Grace University, in Nebraska, also announced plans to shut down.

Several other small institutions have been re-evaluating their futures recently. In August, Marygrove College in Detroit announced it will shut down undergraduate programs and only offer master’s degree programs as of January. Also this month, Wheelock College announced plans to merge into Boston University.

Alumni took to social media to express their sadness at the news. "As a 1985 graduate, I am absolutely shocked and saddened with this news. Wonderful instructors and unbelievable experience, I will forever be grateful for all that I learned there," wrote one alumnus on Facebook.

In 2014, the Corcoran College of Art & Design agreed to become part of George Washington University.

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Battle broadens over archives for scholars to share papers

Wed, 2017-10-25 07:00

Though the research-sharing platform ResearchGate recently began to remove papers shared on the site from public view, after coming under fire from big publishers for allowing researchers to share copyrighted papers, it seems the saga is far from over. Now complaints have spread from ResearchGate to other research-sharing platforms, with scholars posting unauthorized content being asked to take it down.

Last week, all the scholarly societies that work with the publisher Wiley were sent an update on the publisher’s ongoing battle with ResearchGate. As part of the update, Wiley informed its partners that content from their journals was appearing without publisher permission on the ResearchGate website.

Wiley is part of a coalition of publishers that last week began issuing formal takedown notices to ResearchGate, which had earlier begun to remove some research papers from public view, apparently in response to pressure from the publishers.

In response to Wiley’s message, one society -- the American Anthropological Association -- decided to consider exactly how many of its research papers were being shared without authorization on ResearchGate and another for-profit research-sharing platform,

With assistance from Wiley, the AAA calculated that more than 1,000 papers from its journals were currently being shared in violation of author agreements on the sites. An email was then sent to all AAA members, asking anyone who “knowingly posted full-text PDFs of copyrighted articles” to remove them immediately and replace them with a link to the final published article, which might not be immediately accessible to the reader if behind a publisher paywall.

The AAA’s message was not requested by Wiley, but a spokesperson for the publisher said that Wiley “fully supports the association in sharing the information.” The Wiley spokesperson added that the AAA email was “not a legal takedown notice, but a request from the AAA to their members that included details on how authors can share responsibly.”

The AAA email, shared on the blog Savage Minds, said while the author agreement allows final versions of articles (which are defined as pre-copyediting and typesetting) to be posted on an author’s personal website, or in institutional or discipline-specific repositories, neither ResearchGate nor falls into this bracket.

Ryan Anderson, an anthropologist who wrote the Savage Minds blog post, expressed some confusion about where exactly AAA members can post their research, since there is no master list of acceptable sites. “If the AAA publishing agreement states that authors have a right to post their work in certain repositories, why not clarify which ones are acceptable? Why all the mystery?” asked Anderson.

Anderson said that one place he would consider posting his work is SocArXiv -- an open-access preprint repository for research in the social sciences, but would this be considered by the AAA to be “discipline specific”? The AAA told Anderson no.

In an interview, Ed Liebow, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, explained that currently there are no repositories that the association would consider “discipline specific.” So why present this as an option?

Liebow explained that when the author agreements were drawn up, the association was in discussions with the Social Science Research Network to create its own discipline-specific repository. After the SSRN was bought by Elsevier, Liebow said, the association decided to abandon this idea, due to the lack of confidence of some scholars in the purchase. The association is still considering plans to create its own repository, possibly with support from another partner, according to Liebow.

Liebow clarified that while researchers may post preprint versions of their articles on preprint servers like SocArXiv, authors may not post final versions to the site. Liebow added that while he did not consider SocArXiv to be in the same category as ResearchGate and, he said he felt that “anthropology’s interests would be served best by something more specific to the discipline.” Liebow said that the association would be looking to clarify the language in its author agreements at the next annual meeting, and was relying on the goodwill and professionalism of its members to take down work that was shared incorrectly.

Anderson said in an interview that it was “good to know” that the AAA is OK with preprints being posted to SocArXiv, but said that more clarity from the organization on these issues would be welcomed. While Anderson welcomed the idea of a new anthropology repository, he wasn’t sure why this might preclude researchers from sharing their work on SocArXiv. “Ideally we want more options, and a broader infrastructure, not less,” he said.

Philip Cohen, director of SocArXiv, said that the AAA’s policy was unusual. He noted that the American Sociological Association did allow authors to post final versions (but not journal PDFs) to the site after one year. Cohen said he hoped that AAA’s note would be a “wake-up call” to anthropologists “reminding them of the rights they have signed away” when publishing their work. He noted that the bad press generated by Elsevier’s takeover of SSRN had “led a lot of people to consider nonprofit, open-access alternatives like SocArXiv.” The site is still small, noted Cohen, with a total of just over 1,500 papers and around 110 tagged as related to anthropology.

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Kenyon College suspends club rugby teams

Wed, 2017-10-25 07:00

Kenyon College has reported five concussions among its varsity athletes this year. Its men’s and women’s club rugby teams have almost double that number.

Nine concussions were recorded this year between the two teams, and “that set off alarms, fairly loud alarms,” said Meredith Bonham, vice president for student affairs. Both teams' activities have been suspended as the private liberal arts institution reviews safety procedures for the team at a time of increased attention surrounding contact sports and their link to concussions and brain damage.

“The decision to suspend them was completely based on health and safety concerns that we had for those teams,” Bonham said.

However, there were also indicators that the teams might not be fulfilling the best practices set by the insurance policy covering them, provided by Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators.

Among the best practices -- which are guidelines, and not formal requirements for coverage -- is having athletic trainers at every game. While Kenyon provides athletic trainers for home games, the college realized that it wasn’t sure if athletic trainers were being provided by other institutions during away games.

“If something truly catastrophic happened, it would be hard to justify why we weren’t following those guidelines,” Bonham said.

“We don’t know whether we are sending our students off to matches at other institutions where they have that same [athletic trainer] requirement. There are some issues at the league level we need to address, or certainly discuss.”

Bonham maintained that the college moved to “hit pause” on the teams because of the high rate of concussions, rather than the insurance policy guidelines, which had changed over the summer and were discovered after the college started scrutinizing the program.

The insurer had deemed rugby a “very high-risk” sport over the summer, Bonham said. A representative from the insurer was not available for comment.

Rugby has sometimes been lauded as a safer alternative to football, which has seen dropping popularity among youth leagues due to concerns about links between the sport and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a concussion-linked brain injury. However, links between concussions, CTE and rugby have also been documented.

Varsity sports, by their nature, have more resources available, while club sports tend to be more student-led. The football team, for example, brings an athletic trainer along for its away games and also has athletic trainers at practices. It also has a paid, professional coach, unlike the rugby team.

“Speaking to our rugby student athletes, they weren’t necessarily enthusiastic about the idea of having an adult coach for the team,” Bonham said, adding that having a more structured coaching staff might be a necessary change going forward. “They really wanted this to be a student-driven organization. But you get to a point where … we as administrators have an obligation to step in and say, ‘We hear you, but these are steps we need to take.’”

“I really want to support the program, but I can’t support the program given the rate of concussions,” she said.

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Maybe there isn't a peer-review 'crisis,' at least in terms of quantity

Tue, 2017-10-24 07:00

The word “crisis” is often used to describe the peer-review system, not only in terms of quality of reviews but also quantity. To hear some academics tell it, fielding peer-review requests is a nearly full-time job. But preliminary research on the input-output balance in peer review suggests there is no real crisis, at least as far as quantity is concerned. That is, the professors who are writing the most get asked to review the most, meaning the system is in balance -- sort of.

“Most academics get few peer-review requests and perform most of them,” reads a new write-up of the research shared with Inside Higher Ed. “Reviewing is strongly correlated with academic productivity -- research-productive scholars get more requests and perform more reviews. However, the ratio of peer reviews performed to article submissions is also lower for more productive scholars.”

The authors of the paper disagree as to whether peer review should be more “democratic,” encompassing a greater share of academics, or whether professors who feel overtaxed by the peer-review system just need to adopt a more obligation-oriented view of it. Specifically, the authors estimate that academics -- at least social scientists -- should be reviewing approximately three papers for each one they submit.

“The data point to the natural human tendency to overestimate the cost of things, negatively, without really thinking of paying it forward into a system,” said co-author Amy Erica Smith, an assistant professor of political science at Iowa State University. “If somebody sends out, say, seven articles in a year, then that would imply that you need to do 18 or so journal reviews in a year to make up for those seven manuscripts.” The figure accounts for the fact that each submission likely will be read by multiple reviewers, give or take initial rejections by journal editors and revisions.

Beyond human tendencies, Smith said, academics aren’t “socialized to think of doing reviews and doing research as part of the same system we benefit from. We think of them as two different things.”

Those conclusions are based on an online survey conducted earlier this year of 900 faculty members in political science departments nationwide, and on a second, similar survey of 958 sociology professors. The median political scientist and median sociologist in each survey reported receiving five review requests per year. The median political scientist completed four of them, while the median sociologist completed three.

Some social scientists do receive many more requests: in both political science and in sociology, the top 10 percent of those surveyed said they received 20 or more requests per year. Those professors also tended to be less likely than their other peers to accept all or most to them. Yet some at the high end of the request curve are prone to accept even more than reviewers in moderate demand.

What drives this tremendous inequality in peer reviewing, the authors ask. Why do a small proportion of potential reviewers end up with so many requests? Their answer is academic productivity. People who submit and publish more work get asked to review more. In sociology, according to the survey, 18 percent of peer reviewers do half of peer reviews. In political science, it’s 16 percent of reviewers doing half the work.

“The fact that the most visible -- and probably vocal -- individuals in the two disciplines get the most review requests certainly exacerbates the perception of a crisis,” wrote Smith and her co-authors, Paul Djupe, an associate professor of political science at Denison University, and Anand Edward Sokhey, associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Djupe in an interview had some succinct diagnoses for why the quantity problem seems to persist: visible, in-demand “squeaky wheels” making lots of noise -- sometimes in the form of a “humble brag,” as in, “‘I do so many, but I can’t imagine saying no.’”

Some 25 percent of sociologists surveyed submitted no research in the last year but performed reviews anyway, as did 23 percent of political scientists. The authors say that these academics could be paying back accumulated past peer review "debts," but that the review system nevertheless depends on their "generosity." Those who had submitted just one article in the past year had a “credit” of between 1.1 and 1.9 reviews in sociology and between one and 1.7 reviews in political science.

By contrast, the authors note, those who submitted a lot of work to journals tended to be “in the hole.” Depending on modeling assumptions, researchers ran out of review “credits” when they submitted between two and five articles, in both fields.

The most productive political science scholars, however, were more generous than their moderate-reviewing peers. Sociologists who wrote the most owed the most number of reviews, however.

Imagining a more “equitable distribution of reviewing,” Djupe and Smith exchanged friendly arguments. Smith said she worried about overzealous efforts to democratize reviewing, in that those who don’t write much and therefore don’t get asked to review much might have jobs that require a disproportionate emphasis on teaching versus research. So asking them to do more peer reviewing would place additional burdens on them.

Djupe, meanwhile, favored democratization, in part because it could improve social science by reducing the role of “gatekeepers” and introducing new voices to the field.

The recent survey isn’t the first to question fairness in the peer-review system. In a co-written 2010 paper, Jeremy Fox, a professor of ecology at the University of Calgary, even proposed a form of currency -- the “PubCred” -- by which professors who submit reviews can “earn” the ability to submit articles.

Fox said Monday that the new data didn’t surprise him, and that he’d observed similar input-output patterns within ecology. The big, open question, he said, is “what exactly would constitute a crisis in the peer-review system?” Many journals are finding that they have to invite more reviewers to get at least two to agree to review a given manuscript, for example, he said. In response, journals are not only inviting more reviewers per submission, they're also starting to broaden their reviewer bases. That means including more postdoctoral fellows or senior Ph.D. candidates, he said. And more journal editors are rejecting more submissions they consider to be unpublishable at the desk, with no reviews at all.

Does all that constitute a crisis, Fox asked? “I personally don't think it does,” he said, noting his opinion had changed somewhat since 2010.

Andrew Gelman, a professor of political science and statistics at Columbia University, has in the past argued against peer review as a wasteful system and instead proposed postpublication review. He said via email Monday that he still opposes traditional peer review in that “every paper, no matter how crappy, gets reviewed multiple times (for example, consider a useless paper that gets three reviews and is rejected from journal A, then gets three reviews and is rejected from journal B, then gets three reviews and is accepted in journal C).” Traditional peer review’s only virtue, he added, is that it would be hard to recreate any other system that attracts the unpaid labor of thousands of people.

By contrast, Gelman said, even “the most important papers don't get traditional peer review after publication. Postpublication review makes more sense in that the reviewer resources are focused on the most important or talked-about papers.”

Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of Maryland at College Park First, directs SocArXiv, an open-access archive of social science research that seeks to improve the transparency and efficiency of peer review. He didn’t propose ending prepublication peer review but suggested serious changes, including not discarding reviews when a paper is rejected. That way, the review process doesn’t have to start over again when an author submits to a new journal. “Why can’t reviews travel with the paper, or even better, be posted on a central repository for editors and other reviewers to consult?” he said.

Cohen further proposed that all reviews be made public, or at least that the option be available. Reviews are scholarly work and should therefore be part of the scholarly record, he said. And making them public would not only help readers get credit for their work but might also push them to write reviews of a higher quality.

“Writing reviews is work we do out of professional obligation and interest in the quality of scholarship,” Cohen said. “But we get basically nothing for it. Being a good reviewer, in quality and quantity, is a tremendous service that goes unrecognized.”

Smith said she didn’t see a reason that the broad arguments of her paper wouldn’t apply to other disciplines. Similar studies in other disciplines have already yielded parallel results. A 2016 paper, for example, found that 20 percent of life scientists completed between 69 percent and 94 percent of a reviews. While the paper called these academics “peer-review heroes,” it also noted that the overall supply of life scientists was rising faster than the demand for reviews. (Data in that study were taken from Medline, bibliographic database for the life sciences.)

At the very least, Smith said, the social sciences could stand to somehow recognize the work of peer review.

Crediting the initiative Publons for attempting to do just that, the new write-up says, “We can only begin to make headway on problems with peer review from a position that is well informed by accurate data. Documenting and rewarding peer review is a great step in that direction.”

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Study finds high school teachers have differing expectations of black and white students

Tue, 2017-10-24 07:00

Near the beginning of a new study on racial attitudes and college attainment, the authors note the story of Desiree Martinez, who attended a high school in a low-income part of Los Angeles and longed to enroll at the University of California, Los Angeles. She confided her ambitions to a teacher. The teacher frowned and said, “I don’t know why counselors push students into these schools they’re not ready for … Students only get their hearts broken when they don’t get into those schools, and the students that do get in come back as dropouts.”

Martinez, crushed, told another teacher, who encouraged her, and said she should not let people like the first teacher “hold you back.”

The discouraging teacher was white. The encouraging teacher was Latino.

The new study suggests that what Martinez experienced is a reality for many students -- and may in fact result in some minority students never meeting their potential to succeed in college.

The study is being released today in the journal Education Next. The study is based on data from a longitudinal database of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. These data are from the tracking of 6,000 students who were in 10th grade in 2002. The study also features data on the students' academic ability, socioeconomic status and the expectations of two teachers they had in 10th grade on whether they would graduate from college.

The study found that high school teachers expect 58 percent of white high school students, but just 37 percent of black high school students, to go on to obtain a four-year college degree (and then perhaps a graduate education).

Given that many black children grow up in low-income neighborhoods and attend schools that lack resources, the gap in expectations would not by itself indicate a racial gap in the fairness of teacher perceptions of students.

But the database used for analysis has the views of two teachers for every student, and demographic data on the teachers as well as the students. And here the researchers focused on gaps in the expectations of black and white teachers of the same black and white students.

When teachers of different races evaluated the same black student, white teachers were nine percentage points less likely than their black colleagues to expect that student to earn a college degree. This gap was more pronounced for black male students than for black female students.

Then the study compared teachers' expectations to reality to see if the white teachers were more realistic. They weren't. The study found that all teachers are a bit on the optimistic side regarding students' chances of later success. But the gap between optimism and reality is far greater for white teachers and white students than for other teachers and black students, meaning white teachers' high expectations of white students could be giving them an edge.

Finally, the study looked at whether teacher expectations matter. And the study found that they do. White or black, students with similar preparation are more likely to graduate from college if their high school teachers believe that they will. This is why teacher expectations, and any racial bias, matter so much, the authors say.

The authors are Seth Gershenson, associate professor of public policy at American University, and Nicholas Papageorge, assistant professor of economics at Johns Hopkins University.

"In sum, our analysis suggests that teacher expectations do not merely forecast student outcomes, but that they also influence outcomes by becoming self-fulfilling prophecies," the authors write. "Moreover, we find that the nature of white teachers’ expectations places black students at a disadvantage. For a student with a given objective probability of college completion, white teachers are less optimistic when the student in question is black."

The authors suggest that their findings show the importance both of increasing the number of nonwhite schoolteachers and also of educating all teachers about bias and the importance of high expectations.

As for Martinez, whom the authors discuss at the beginning of their paper, she made it to UCLA and succeeded there. Her story is known because she wrote an open letter about it to one of her high school teachers. The letter was called, "Dear High School Teacher Who Tried to Discourage Me From Applying to UCLA, I’m a Bruin Now!"

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Likely end of Perkins Loans sets off scramble by aid administrators

Tue, 2017-10-24 07:00

When a student encounters a serious financial emergency midsemester, such as a family medical emergency or sudden loss of income, Heather Boutell has often turned to the Perkins Loans.

Boutell, director of financial aid at Bellarmine University, in Kentucky, said despite the additional debt, students are happy to find additional resources to keep them in college.

“It makes a difference for them to be able to stay in school,” she said.

Most other aid programs can't be tapped midsemester in the same way. But that flexibility -- and the ability to fill gaps in aid at the beginning of the year -- will likely vanish after this year, barring last-minute action by Congress. The Perkins program expired at the end of September, after a two-year extension in 2015. And despite broad support in both parties in the House and Senate for extending Perkins for another two years, the chances appear slim.

Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate education committee, is a longtime opponent of extending the Perkins program and has argued keeping it only maintains an overly complex financial aid system. Alexander blocked a Perkins extension bill from Senator Tammy Baldwin, a Wisconsin Democrat, from advancing last month.

But aid administrators who use Perkins, among a number of aid options, to meet student need say letting the program die outside a comprehensive overhaul of financial aid will make their jobs more difficult without leading to greater simplicity. Alexander has argued students would benefit from having one grant and one loan program. But critics note he has effectively killed Perkins without adding to existing aid programs.

Those administrators say should the program go away for good, as many increasingly expect, they will look to fill the gap with other campus-based grants or loans. At smaller institutions with fewer resources, they’ll likely look to work with private loan companies to meet students’ financial needs. That's less preferable to financial aid officials than keeping Perkins, because private loans lack many of the protections for borrowers of federal student loans.

Perkins is unique among federal financial aid programs because colleges and universities act as the lender and the servicer of the loans, which have a maximum value of $5,500 for undergraduates. Congress hasn’t paid into the program since 2004, so new lending is paid for when colleges collect on existing loans. The loans are used to cover remaining gaps in the cost of attendance after a student is awarded federal aid. (While some colleges will likely transfer outstanding Perkins loans to the Department of Education in the event the program expires, others will opt to continue servicing the loans.)

Although critics have labeled Perkins as a program primarily of elite Northeast institutions, many of the roughly 1,400 participating colleges and universities -- like Bellarmine -- are located elsewhere and don’t have the ability to cover the loss of the loans on their own.

Wrestling With Options On Campuses

At Bellarmine, the Perkins portfolio is about $100,000, with a typical loan size of $1,000, Boutell said. Emergency Perkins loans are much smaller.

“We’re not a big player, obviously. Some of your larger publics -- it’s going to mean more to them,” Boutell said. “But that $1,000, while it may not seem like a lot, it makes a difference for students to attend here.”

She said the administration at Bellarmine will have discussions about whether the university has the resources to launch its own campus-based loan program. Barring that, the financial aid office will have to resort to directing students to private loans, Boutell said.

At the University of San Francisco, the size of the Perkins program is about $1.1 million and serves about 250 students. Mary Booker, assistant vice provost for student financial services at the university, said the end of Perkins is causing discussions there about whether San Francisco will still be able to admit as many low-income students as it has.

“Can we still afford to bring in low-income students, knowing they may have to go into a private loan option? And is that the right thing to do?” she said. “That’s probably going to be the first decision we have to make.”

Booker said the university will also look into whether it can find institutional funds -- hopefully through grant aid -- to cover the gap in need for students. If that’s not possible, San Francisco’s only option would be reaching out to private lenders, she said.

The university would attempt to find lenders who would be willing to modify their loans as well as repayment options -- a task aid administrators think they are better prepared for than individual students navigating financial options on their own.

One solution to the quandary posed by Perkins’ expiration would be to grant colleges flexibility in the maximum amount of Federal Direct Loans they award to students, Booker said.

The University of Michigan has one of the largest Perkins portfolios, at $13 million -- although only about $9.9 million in loans was awarded in the last academic year. Students typically receive loans between $4,000 and $5,000, said Pam Fowler, executive director of financial aid at the university.

Michigan charges varying tuition rates based on division level and college. Students taking upper-level courses in engineering, business, kinesiology and art in particular will see a hole in their financial aid packages without Perkins. Fowler said the university has the funds to cover that gap -- but they’re spread across 400 different campus-based loan funds.

“I can’t just throw it into a big pot and make an award,” she said. “I have to match up the student with the fund before I can make an award.”

That process promises to create a big headache for financial aid administrators at the university. And students themselves would still be making separate loan payments after graduation to the federal government and their college -- one of Alexander’s complaints about the system now.

Fowler said many times discussions of financial aid at the federal policy level lose sight of the fact that colleges and universities aren’t fully covering student need in the first place. She agreed with Booker that the simplest way to address that reality without adding complexity to the financial aid system is to lift borrowing limits on Federal Direct Loans for some students to give them the amount they need for a full academic year.

“Right now, most schools are giving students Pell, the Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant, Work-Study and Direct Loans, and it is not meeting the cost of education,” she said. “What happens is they start to work more, their grades suffer and they end up taking fewer credit hours per semester -- which means they’re in school longer and borrowing more.”

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Western accrediting agency picks unconventional new leader

Tue, 2017-10-24 07:00

As she prepared to leave her role as the Education Department's assistant secretary for postsecondary education in late 2015, Jamienne S. Studley characterized the quest to strengthen how the federal government, states and accrediting agencies measure student outcomes and gauge colleges' performance as the "hardest [thing] to step away from."

She didn't step away for long -- only now, she's going to work on the issues from the inside.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges' Senior College and University Commission, the smallest and in some ways the most aggressive of the country's seven regional accreditors, is announcing today that it has chosen Studley as its new president, beginning in January. Before her job in the Obama Education Department, Studley headed Public Advocates, a consumer advocacy group, was president of Skidmore College, and for a time was the Clinton Education Department's chief lawyer.

Leading up to her time in the Obama administration, Studley headed the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, the federal panel that advises the education secretary on accreditation issues. Through those roles, she had her share of conflict with accrediting agencies and many college leaders over efforts to hold higher education accountable, most notably the administration's failed initiative to rate colleges and the data-rich College Scorecard that was left when the ratings plan collapsed of its own weight.

Despite the occasional flare-up (like Studley's infamous comment some viewed as comparing higher education to a blender -- more on that later), she and her colleague at the Education Department, then Under Secretary Ted Mitchell, largely managed to stay on good terms with many college officials even amid their disagreements about their wisdom of some of the administration's policies. Most college leaders viewed Mitchell and Studley as trying to find a way to turn a bad idea conceived by the White House into reality, and as taking their views seriously.

"Both of them I found willing to listen to us," said Barbara Brittingham, president of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, like WSCUC a regional accrediting agency. "They clearly had an agenda, which I had a lot of respect for even as I disagreed with parts of it. But they always made themselves available to listen to us."

Now, both Studley and Mitchell, who just took the reins of the American Council on Education, the association of college presidents that is higher education's main advocacy group, are rejoining the industry they first worked in and then regulated.

In an interview, Studley said the roles are far more similar than different, and that she doesn't see herself sitting, as a reporter suggested, on the "other side of the table" from where she sat before.

"To me, it's a round table," she said. "I have the same commitment in everything that I've done, a student-focused commitment. I ask the same questions: What can we do better for students of every field, age, background, part of the country? How can we advance the same issues I pursued at the department: access, affordability, outcomes. What can each player in the ecosystem contribute so it can be done smoothly, effectively, in a nuanced way with as little burden as possible."

Studley acknowledges that the administration she was most recently a part of put a lot of pressure on accreditors and the colleges that make up their members; in July 2015, then Education Secretary Arne Duncan called accreditors "the watchdogs that don't bark" (mimicking the title of a harshly critical article in The Wall Street Journal), and steadily upped the pressure on them to scrutinize colleges' success in helping students get jobs and repay loans.

Many accrediting officials and college leaders pushed back, arguing that the federal government was continuing a decade-long push to transform the agencies into federal regulatory bodies rather than peer reviewers focused on institutional self-improvement.

Studley admits to a misstep or two of her own. Her comment to a group of private college presidents that a rating system for colleges might draw from other regimes that assess products based on a complex mix of multiple dimensions -- like Consumer Reports or Cook's Illustrated's reviews of blenders -- became a mini cause célèbre.

But ultimately, Studley believes that she maintained a good relationship with her new peers in the accrediting world during this contentious time, and that the "sense that I was candid, professionally respectful and looking at how we could do things better in the interest of students came across."

"The conversations that the department and accreditors had back in fall 2015 made us all realize that there's room for improvement on every side" -- states, the feds themselves, and accreditors and colleges, Studley said.

And she asserts that accreditors have responded. "As we saw with the Scorecard, once you get people's attention, and start asking the right questions and focusing on things that really matter," she said, "people who are in this enterprise because they care about students, about colleges and universities, will move in positive directions."

At least one accreditor -- Brittingham, of the New England group -- says she's "thrilled" that Studley will be a peer, and that having her and Mitchell representing higher education "will be of great benefit."

Under Studley's predecessors, Ralph A. Wolff and Mary Ellen Petrisko, the Western association, which accredits roughly 200 four-year colleges and universities in California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands (wholly separate from the troubled agency that accredits California's community colleges), has in many ways been out in front of pushing the boundaries of accreditation accountability. Under Wolff, the agency became the first regional accreditor to post all of its institutional reports publicly, and under Petrisko, the Western agency pioneered a graduation rate dashboard for all of its institutions.

"[WSCUCU] means to continue to be a leader and to play a constructive part in the wider conversation," Studley said of the agency she is inheriting. But she thinks her peers are buying in, too.

"I think there's been a recognition of the urgency of doing better on these issues," she said. "One reason I think it's a good time to do this is that [WSCUC] has been a leader, but it's not alone in being prepared to accelerate effective practices, to demonstrate confidence that accreditation serves the role it has and to make the case for the value of the higher education."

Reed Dasenbrock, former vice chancellor for academic affairs and now a professor of English at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, is chairman of WSCUC. He called the selection of Studley a "sit up and take notice hire," designed to signal, in response to what he called a "broadly based, bipartisan critique," that "we’re not our father’s accreditor."

Dasenbrock said accreditors are at what he called both a "fork in the road" and, at the same time, a bit of a "false dichotomy."

"There's this sense that we're faced with two choices: either hunker down and tend to our own garden, ignoring the swirls of controversy around us, or lean into the public conversation about our value" and change dramatically in response to it, he said.

Some of the criticisms of accreditation are well founded, and others less so, Dasenbrock continued. The appropriate response, he said, is to "continue to change as we've been, because higher education is changing and institutions are changing, and at the same time to contest criticisms that are based on inaccurate information."

In selecting a new leader, he said, the commission's leaders thought they might have to choose between "someone who knows how accreditation works and why it matters and wants to continue doing all the innovative things we've been doing," and that can "be a voice in the national conversations about how accreditation needs to improve, which we can't afford not to be part of."

Choosing Studley as president, Dasenbrock said, essentially allowed the accreditor to follow the brilliant advice of the late Yogi Berra: "When you come to the fork in the road, take it … She can help us simultaneously defend the institution and critique the institution, do the work of improving it. She's the perfect president for the moment."

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Alabama partners with manufacturing industry council for statewide certifications

Tue, 2017-10-24 07:00

Manufacturing is big business in Alabama, where a new partnership seeks to strengthen the relationship between community colleges and industry.

Earlier this month Kay Ivey, the state’s governor, announced that the Alabama Community College System is teaming up with the Manufacturing Skills Standards Council to offer industry certifications. Alabama will be the first state to offer the council’s certification across its public colleges, state officials said.

A significant number of people in the state -- about 22 percent of the state’s work force -- are in manufacturing and transportation, said Jeff Lynn, vice chancellor of work force and economic development for the community college system. Yet more coordination was needed, he said.

“Around the state, I didn’t see a steady, strong work-force pipeline plan,” said Lynn.

Out of 2.1 million working adults in Alabama, he said about 450,000 are employed in manufacturing, logistics and transportation.

Alabama decided to buy a statewide license, which will benefit the 24 community colleges, starting in January. Officials from the system declined to comment on the price or to give an estimate for how much the state paid to partner with the council.

The MSSC certification includes the Certified Production Technician and Certified Logistics Technician certificates, which address front-line material handling and distribution workers in supply-chain facilities like factories and warehouses.

“In the South, there has been a focus on attracting manufacturers to facilities there, and the Southern states have been quite successful at that,” said Bryan Wilson, director of the work force data quality campaign for the National Skills Coalition. “Their strategy has been focused on skills training and that they will provide a middle-skills work force.”

The nation’s largest work-force gap exists in middle-skills jobs, which require more than a high school degree but less than a four-year degree.

According to the coalition, between 2014 and 2024, 48 percent of job openings nationally will be of the middle-skill variety. In Alabama, that figure is 55 percent.

The colleges will continue to offer other industry certifications in career and work-force programs, in addition to the council’s certifications.

“It’s a phenomenal curriculum and the standards we need to teach as a baseline,” Lynn said, adding that the state chose to work with the council after talking to business leaders.

The council’s standards initially were created by a group of companies because K-12 schools and colleges weren’t training enough skilled workers, he said, adding that they address four specific areas -- safety, maintenance, quality and manufacturing process, and production.

“It’s interesting that Alabama went with MSSC,” said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center for Education and Skills at New America, adding that more states are working with industry credentialing bodies to negotiate lower assessment costs for their students, or to get the data on who did or didn’t pass them.

McCarthy said Florida, North Carolina and Tennessee also are bargaining with industry groups on behalf of students in career and technical education programs.

Eventually the credentials in Alabama will be available to students through dual-enrollment programs, sometimes as early as ninth grade. The Legislature provides $11.3 million a year for career and work-force dual-enrollment programs, Lynn said.

The two-year system will pick up the certification assessment cost for the student and the high school teachers, Lynn said, adding that the program has already rolled out at some high schools and colleges. The cost for community college students is included as tuition and would be covered by federal financial aid or other scholarships and grants, he said.

“We need to do a great job of providing companies what they need,” Lynn said. “The hard part is the marketing … so parents understand their son or daughter can have a great career in manufacturing.”

As for dual-enrollment programs, those that are focused on career training have become popular with both Republicans and Democrats.

“In the career and training education space, there is a bipartisan consensus for creating opportunities for high school students so after high school they move to a certificate or applied degree,” McCarthy said. “These programs they’re going into aren’t four-year degree programs, they’re career focused and shortened.”

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Roundup of colleges starting or concluding fund-raising campaigns

Tue, 2017-10-24 07:00

Starting Off

  • Colby College has started a campaign to raise $750 million and has already reached $383 million. There is no official end date for the campaign, which Colby says will be the largest ever by a liberal arts college. (In 2015, Williams College made that claim with the launch of a $650 million campaign.)
  • Colorado College has started a campaign to raise $435 million by 2021. A major priority will be scholarships, with the goal of endowing 180 of them.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has announced a $1 billion campaign. The major goals are student scholarships, faculty support and campus enhancements.
  • University of Florida has announced a campaign to raise $3 billion by 2022. About $1.3 billion has been raised in a three-year quiet phase. Among the goals are more endowed chairs and adding $1 billion to the university's endowment.
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is starting a campaign to raise $2.25 billion by 2022. The university has already raised just over $1 billion.
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has started a campaign to raise $4.25 billion by 2022. The largest single target within the campaign is $1 billion for scholarships.
  • University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee has announced a $200 million campaign. In a five-year quiet phase, it has already raised $170 million.

Finishing Up

  • Providence College has finished a campaign that brought in $185 million. The campaign, started in 2014, originally had a goal of $140 million.

Has your college started or completed a campaign? Email info and links to

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University of Wisconsin ‘Considering Future’ of M.B.A. Program

Mon, 2017-10-23 07:00

Feeling changes in the M.B.A. market, the University of Wisconsin at Madison is considering changes to its M.B.A. program that would “increase accessibility, flexibility” and be “responsive to the changing needs of students and employers.”

That was the message delivered in a vague statement posted by the School of Business Friday, and -- as business schools across the country shake up their M.B.A. programs -- it leaves more questions than answers.

The Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel was unable to shake out any details of what those changes might mean, although a source told The Wall Street Journal that full-time M.B.A. programs might be coming to an end -- a trend that Virginia Tech, the University of Iowa and Wake Forest University, among others, have picked up on already -- in favor of shorter, more specialized programs.

Corroborating the Journal’s source was an email sent to students Wednesday -- cited by Poets & Quants, an outlet that specializes in business schools -- in which Donald Hausch, associate dean for M.B.A. programs, said shutting down the full-time program was seriously being considered. Students were invited to a town hall meeting this week, and a faculty vote on the matter is expected in November.

Wisconsin's announcement noted that the executive and part-time M.B.A. programs would continue to be offered. That news comes as Washington University in St. Louis recently reined in its executive M.B.A. program, moving to close branch offerings in Denver and Kansas City, Mo. The executive M.B.A. program still has international branch offerings, but the move to scale back the domestic program was seen as result of a multitude of factors chipping away at the executive M.B.A. market, and the M.B.A. market as a whole: employers reluctant to pay, the proliferation of online courses and what some are saying is a declining interest in M.B.A. programs from U.S. students.

At Madison, those factors might be aligning to mean an end of the full-time M.B.A. program. It wouldn’t be the first time a business school took that route: in August, the University of Iowa announced that its full-time program was being cut, to focus on specialized degrees -- which is what the Journal reported could possibly happen in Madison.

In addition to Wake Forest and Virginia Tech, Simmons College has also closed its full-time M.B.A. program. In light of the news from Madison, a Fortune article published Friday attempted to explain “what’s killing U.S. business schools,” citing declining applications across the board and increased applications to legacy institutions such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Yale University and the University of Chicago. Indeed, no one is predicting the demise of full-time M.B.A. programs at the most elite universities. In addition, Fortune cited stats showing a declining interest in U.S. M.B.A. programs from foreign students and climbing student loan debt as factors shaking up business schools.

"The [Wisconsin] program may become the latest casualty in a string of closures of M.B.A. programs around the country," the report read.

Still, Poets and Quants called Wisconsin’s move a surprise, although it noted a drop in the business school’s rankings, according to U.S. News & World Report, and weak marketing and promotion of the program in recent years. The analysis was bleak.

“The fact that the proposal to close down the program is now public may very well make it a self-fulfilling prophecy,” the Poets & Quants article said. “This is a critical time for candidates to apply to M.B.A. programs, and the news is likely to dampen any enthusiasm left for applying to a program that may not be around in the near future.”

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Emory revamps chemistry curriculum

Mon, 2017-10-23 07:00

Students taking up science majors at Emory University won’t have to worry about the horrors of organic chemistry their sophomore year anymore. The chemistry department has scrapped the course for current first-year and incoming students.

But that doesn’t mean students won’t be learning the principles behind organic chemistry. In fact, they’ll be exposed to some of those concepts even earlier in their academic career.

Emory’s chemistry department is on its way to a new curriculum. Previously, students took two semesters of general chemistry and two semesters of organic chemistry as the basis for their major. Now, as part of a sweeping curriculum reform, those classes have been replaced with what the department hopes will be a more interdisciplinary and holistic approach.

General chemistry I and II have been replaced by the courses Structures and Properties and Introduction to Reactivity. Organic chemistry I and II have been replaced by Advanced Reactivity and Macromolecules.

The old program “is a program you’ll see at many if not most of the institutions in the U.S., and we’ve been doing it for a long time,” said Doug Mulford, a senior chemistry lecturer and director of undergraduate studies for Emory’s chemistry department. “It’s not that it doesn’t work, right? Because we’re producing chemists. But that doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to do it. It wasn’t ever rationally designed -- this curriculum just kind of built up over the years.”

Additionally, Mulford said, the original curriculum emerged as a way to teach chemists who then would go straight into industry. Now, not only are more non-industry-minded students taking up chemistry, he said, but most students can’t get a private-sector job with merely a bachelor’s degree.

The changes apply to non-chemistry majors -- especially those planning to go to medical school -- as well. The courses were designed with Medical College Admission Test guidelines in mind, Mulford said, and with the blessing of Emory's medical school dean.

The move, 10 years in the making, sets Emory's apart from most chemistry departments in the world, bucking the notion of how people think chemistry “should” be taught.

Though the traditional trajectory of chemistry education -- general courses followed by organic courses, before delving into specialized courses -- has been in place for decades, the actual scientific field has not been nearly as stagnant. More and more, Emory professors said, the field has diversified and become more interdisciplinary, leading professors to wonder why the curriculum wasn’t reflecting that reality.

“We had become very divisional in the way that we teach chemistry,” Mulford said. “I almost feel like we have focused so much in these specialties and divisions, we’ve lost the bigger picture, the connections between the parts.”

The new program instead aims to “tell a more interesting and more connected story of chemistry,” he said.

Tracy McGill, who taught a pilot version of Structures and Properties and Introduction to Reactivity last year, said that the new course system examines chemistry from a conceptual level instead of by rigorously defined subjects.

“We don’t have the same population [of students who took chemistry in decades past], we don’t have the same goals, so we went to a curriculum that was more blended at the introductory level,” said McGill, a senior lecturer in chemistry. “It kind of dismantled the barriers before general and organic chemistry, and physical chemistry, and said, ‘Chemistry is chemistry.’”

If few of her colleagues would consider themselves solely one type of chemist, McGill asked, then why would they teach students in such siloed classes?

While other colleges have overhauled a class or two, Mulford and McGill said that, in order to really accomplish the department’s goals, a complete overhaul was necessary. When designing the first course in the new series, professors focused on the atom and concepts surrounding it -- whether based in organic chemistry or general chemistry. Building the next class, professors then asked what students would be able to learn given that knowledge, once again, regardless of the prior divisions between subjects.

But like any change, it didn’t come easily. McGill said that discussions around changing the curriculum were happening 10 years ago, although it wasn’t until 2013 that she and others were able to convince the faculty and the department to consider the changes in earnest.

“[Chemistry education] has been the same for 80 years, and we all grew up in that same system,” she said.

McGill, who was part of the steering committee that designed the new curriculum, said that the results from the pilot were impressive. Students were asking better questions, having deeper discussions and engaging more in the classroom.

Ashley Diaz took the pilot courses last year. Now she’s back in the old track -- current freshmen are the first year to go through the new class structure as a whole -- taking organic chemistry. She said that the pilot courses have prepared her better than her traditional-track peers. Additionally, she said, she came out of those courses with a comprehensive understanding of chemistry, rather than a fragmented view.

Instead of learning -- and being expected to memorize -- that “A plus B equals C,” Diaz said she learned “why you are mixing A and B.”

“My main takeaway is it’s not memorization, it’s all critical thinking and problem solving,” she said.

In fact, the pilot course is already coming in handy for Diaz, a sophomore studying chemistry and neurobiology and behavioral biology. She was offered a spot in a lab based on her exposure to organic chemistry her freshman year. On the previous track, she would have had to wait until her junior year to take the position.

Being a science department, of course, means relying on more than just anecdotes. The department is tracking student data as the new courses are implemented to see how well the new curriculum works, and if students are learning better than they used to.

“In my interactions with colleagues at other institutions and faculty at other institutions, people oftentimes ask why in the world I would take on that responsibility,” said Stefan Lutz, chair of the chemistry department. “One of the aspects is, of course, that I believe this new way of exposing students to chemistry is not just kind of a wan thing, but that it actually will set a new trend.”

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Nursing textbook pulled over stereotypes

Mon, 2017-10-23 07:00

Education in the health professions has for many years included instruction on the importance of asking patients about their backgrounds and beliefs, which may relate to understanding conditions they are experiencing and inform possible treatments. But those who teach future nurses and doctors stress that background is but one characteristic of a person, and that assuming too much based on such backgrounds can be insulting and even dangerous to patients.

Best practice is not to simply offer health professions students lists of stereotypes by racial, ethnic and religious groups. So when word spread last week about a section of a nursing textbook that did just that, many were horrified. Pearson, the publisher, pledged to remove the content.

In a section on pain, Nursing: A Concept-Based Approach to Learning offered the following guidance:

  • "Hispanics may believe that pain is a form of punishment and that suffering must be endured if they are to enter heaven."
  • "Jews may be vocal and demanding of assistance."
  • "Native Americans may prefer to receive medications that have been blessed by a tribal shaman."
  • "Blacks often report higher pain intensity than other cultures."
  • "Indians who follow Hindu practices believe that pain must be endured in preparation for a better life in the next cycle."

Such advice didn't come cheap. Amazon is selling new hardcover copies of the book for $234.98, although there are a variety of less expensive rental, ebook and used possibilities as well.

Onyx Moore, a wellness advocate, appears to be the person who first spotted the material and shared it online. In a post that has been widely shared on social media, she noted that the recommendations are not just based on stereotypes, but could be harmful if relied upon in patient care.

Calling the material "racism across the board," Moore wrote, "These assumptions are not evidence based; they encourage nurses to ignore what a patient is actually saying (if someone tells you their pain level is high, you need to believe them), they list common behaviors as culturally specific (most people are more comfortable being honest about their pain with family members/those close to them), and they don't actually teach nurses how to engage in a culturally sensitive way."

Many others quickly joined in, saying that they were stunned that a major nursing textbook could be teaching such stereotypes. People involved in health professions education were particularly vocal.

Where is racism reinforced in health care professions education? Here's one example. Thread:

— UHN Libraries (@UHNLibraries) October 20, 2017

Pearson responded in a series of tweets, apologizing and pledging to remove the material in question.

The company also pledged to review all of the materials it offers in nursing education to see if there are similar problems elsewhere. Late Friday, the company posted a video from Tim Bozik, Pearson's president for global product development. In the video, he apologized twice and said that the material in question "reinforced a number of stereotypes" and "was wrong." He said that the company would "recall" any other material with similar problems, and would seek "a greater level of sensitivity" in producing educational materials.

We plan to work with experts to help improve our curriculum, and will update the public on our progress.

— Pearson (@pearson) October 20, 2017 DiversityNursing EducationEditorial Tags: DiscriminationTextbooksIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Diversity Newsletter publication date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Email Teaser: Anger Over Stereotypes in Textbook

Nine lessons learned after Richard Spencer's talk at University of Florida

Mon, 2017-10-23 07:00

In August, white supremacists marched on the University of Virginia, winding around campus wielding torches and chanting Nazi refrains. The next day, a woman would die as protests in the city of Charlottesville, Va., turned violent.

University of Florida President Kent Fuchs feared a repeat of the bloodshed in Charlottesville when Richard Spencer, a figure in the right-wing fringe movement that calls itself the alt-right appeared on the campus last week.

Spencer framed the event, his first campus appearance since Charlottesville, as the free speech moment of the students’ lifetime, something that would shake the establishment and its indelible grasp on academe. He predicted a wave of at least 1,000 “antifascists,” what he called the liberal counterpart to the alt-right, who would cause campus mayhem.

But largely, because of the university’s careful planning, such a scenario was avoided, aside from a few scuffles. Two arrests were made for more minor incidents, one because a man hired by a media outlet as security brought a gun onto campus; the second was a man who resisted police orders. Three other men were arrested after Spencer had already left the campus -- they pulled up in a Jeep to a group of protesters near a bus stop and heckled them with Nazi slogans. One then fired a gunshot into the small crowd, and the Jeep sped off. All three were charged with attempted murder.

Compared to scenes in Charlottesville, this was relatively mild, to the relief of the university. And unlike many of the other events featuring controversial speakers, Spencer was able to appear -- and couldn't make himself out to be a free speech martyr.

Spencer likely won’t be halting his tour of college campuses. Colleges will need to brace for him, and other controversial conservative speakers, such as the inflammatory former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. What can academe learn from the University of Florida?

Be prepared.

Earlier in the year, it was clear that colleges weren’t equipped or were drastically underprepared for the vehement backlash and demonstrations that some speakers would generate. The University of Virginia was operating as it would for the typical types of protests it had encountered, and after the events of Aug. 11 and 12, it outlined in a detailed report how it fell short in responding to the atypical situation. The University of California, Berkeley, also couldn’t stop the destruction of its campus in February following a planned talk by Yiannopoulos -- fires were lit, stones were thrown, Molotov cocktails hurled. (Berkeley has had more success with recent events, spending heavily on security.)

In addition to behind-the-scenes planning, the University of Florida clearly communicated everything to the public, creating a question-and-answer webpage that meticulously addressed every aspect of the event -- who Richard Spencer was and why he would be allowed to speak, the university’s views on his message and everything else down to road and bus stop closures.

In part, UF found some success because it started planning weeks ahead of the event, and it bought a little time because it denied Spencer's first request after the events of Charlottesville, citing safety concerns. But that wasn’t permanent, because …

Public higher ed institutions (almost always) can’t legally stop Spencer from speaking.

Public institutions covered by the First Amendment must accommodate speakers. They can regulate them, to a degree, and they don’t have to adhere to every request about time or date, but they must host speakers like Spencer -- the exception being if the university has in place some sort of content-neutral policy that limits who can speak on campus (more on that in a minute).

Spencer threatened to sue Florida in the weeks after it initially rejected him -- again, because it was so soon after Charlottesville. Lawyers said at the time this was likely a credible and legally sound reason to block Spencer, but only for a time.

But the institution didn’t attempt a court battle with Spencer later when he again asked to appear.

Auburn University in Alabama told Spencer no last spring, also citing safety considerations, but it was sued by a student on Spencer’s behalf -- and the student won. The judge issuing the order clearing the way for Spencer’s speech then couldn’t find any examples of concrete threats that would justify Auburn’s cancellation.

Certain policies restricting speech can pass legal muster if they’re content neutral -- such as one that requires speakers be invited by either a student group or faculty member. Texas A&M University imposed such a policy after Spencer’s visit to the campus last year. (While most public institutions appear to feel that they must let Spencer appear, Ohio State University is trying to prevent him from appearing, and a lawsuit by Spencer is expected there.)

Check your rules.

Just as Texas A&M changed its rules shortly after Spencer, some other colleges’ guidelines on outside speakers may not be designed for the likes of Richard Spencer. Such open-door policies haven’t proven problematic in recent years, but they are vulnerable now.

At the University of Florida, the amount of power given to Spencer and his crew puzzled some reporters and the public. Spencer’s group handled ticketing and approved the journalists who were allowed to cover the event -- a Florida spokeswoman said that this was consistent with leasing rules at the university, and told a Guardian reporter, "It’s their event, so they’re the ones that are allowing media in … that’s why they can have whomever they want to."

University representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment about if UF would now be reconsidering some of its polices.

You can try to convince students to stay away, but not all of them will listen.

UF President Fuchs urged students to avoid the area of the speech and the protest sites, both for their safety and because the white nationalists crave the attention.

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan did the same -- she said that it would only play into the white nationalists’ desires, and likely lead to the students being provoked into a spectacle.

Neither leaders’ pleas fully worked. Students say that standing on the sidelines doesn’t feel sufficient, and that they must confront those whose views they find abhorrent.

Simply because of the hype and potential danger, though, many Florida students who weren’t protesting stayed far away from the campus. (Thousands of protesters, some of them external to the college, did gather.)

Listen and involve your students. And let them know you care.

Though not every student was pleased with the university allowing Spencer onto campus, or the administration’s response generally, it was clear that president and the upper echelon were talking to students in the buildup to Spencer's visit and on the day he appeared.

Fuchs and the university widely promoted a student-created digital campaign under the hashtag #TogetherUF. It's a series of videos and statements on race relations on campus.

♥️ #TogetherUF

— FLORIDA (@UF) October 18, 2017

The Black Student Union released a statement plugging #TogetherUF as well, and instead of criticizing the administration directed anger toward Spencer, which has not been the case at many other institutions, where equal ire was levied toward administrators.

"Your safety and physical well-being takes precedence over the ignorance that will be spewed from the termites in the foundation of togetherness that embodies the Gator Nation," the statement reads.

Numerous gestures made clear to students that the university understood how hateful Spencer's message is, especially to members of minority groups. As Spencer arrived on campus, a professor played the civil rights anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing" from the university's bell tower.

"Lift Every Voice and Sing" - J. Rosamund Johnson (1873-1954), arr. Courter

Performed by the University of Florida Carillon Studio.

— FLORIDA (@UF) October 19, 2017

Separation of opposing forces is key to crowd control.

Going in, it was the university’s strategy to separate Spencer’s supporters from the protesters with physical barriers and police.

Fuchs said in an interview that most of the violence colleges have seen started not immediately before or after an event, but as the attendees headed back to their cars -- when it appears everyone has dispersed, and they’re not under the supervision of law enforcement.

The strategy of physical separation appeared to be quite successful at Florida, and seemed to minimize violence.

Proving what a powder keg campuses have become in these situations, though, when Spencer was at Auburn just a few months ago, police there were able to defuse tensions by allowing both sides to intermingle and scream at each other a bit. But that probably wouldn’t work anymore.

Now, a huge showing of law enforcement appears to be required to keep peace.

It’s expensive to pull this off successfully (for now).

And such a police presence doesn’t come cheap. As of now, the university is estimating at least $600,000 spent on security. Berkeley dropped upwards of $800,000 on security for a recent appearance by Yiannopoulos.

No college administrator knows quite how to address this problem yet. Certainly after every visit, colleges tend to re-evaluate and try to trim back costs, but no one has found a silver bullet for addressing the broader problem of stress on institutions’ bank accounts.

Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, said institutions face a new budgetary question. How do they pay for both their core educational mission and the new expense of these costly outsiders? “It’s an expensive proposition, and there’s no easy answer.”

University administrators need to say they don’t want this. And repeat it. (Even if they're legally obligated to play host.)

Easier though, is university leadership taking a visible stand against the message of white supremacists. Fuchs did so quite successfully. When a reporter quoted Spencer saying that Fuchs “stood behind” him, Fuchs tweeted, “I don’t stand behind racist Richard Spencer. I stand with those who reject and condemn Spencer’s vile and despicable message.”

While college presidents do have a First Amendment obligation to host these speakers, their constitutional rights don’t vanish. They can say exactly how they feel, which can in a sense, reassure the campus.

Conversely, when Sullivan at the University of Virginia was first discussing Spencer and his followers’ arrival on campus, she didn’t name his group or refer to him as a white nationalist -- she was criticized then for a “raceless” response.

Controversial speakers want a riled-up crowd.

Spencer and the right-wing fringe have been quite clear -- college campuses are targets. During Spencer’s speech, a majority of the audience attending tried to drown him out with jeers and boos of “Go home.”

To Spencer, that simply played into the narrative he’s promoting -- that many college students are trying to squash freedom of expression on campus if it doesn’t align with a left-leaning point of view.

White nationalists in some cases play victim -- they’re simply trying to exercise a fundamental right, they say, and it’s the other side spurring violence and hatred. They are not the cause.

One of Spencer’s representatives took the microphone during the speech and actually thanked the crowd members, even while insinuating they had been “brainwashed” by anti-white propaganda from professors and the media.

“This right here, what you’re doing, is the best recruiting tool that you could possibly ever give us,” he said.

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State-funded student financial aid totaled $12.5 billion in 2015-16

Mon, 2017-10-23 07:00

Levels of state-funded student financial aid changed remarkably little from 2014-15 to 2015-16, according to a new survey released today.

State-funded student financial aid totaled about $12.5 billion across the country, according to an annual survey from the National Association of State Student Grant and Aid Programs. Aid totals increased by less than 1 percent from $12.4 billion in 2014-15 on a nominal basis and were essentially even after adjusting for inflation.

Growth in aid slowed from the previous year. From 2013-14 to 2014-15, NASSGAP measured year-over-year growth at 6 percent nominally and 5.8 percent after factoring in inflation.

“It’s sort of a steady-state situation,” said Frank Ballmann, director of NASSGAP’s Washington office.

Most state aid was awarded in the form of grants -- states made 4.1 million grant awards worth $10.7 billion in 2015-16. Grants accounted for 86 percent of all state aid awarded.

The $10.7 billion in grants represents an increase of 2.2 percent from 2014-15. That suggests some states are strengthening their programs, according to Ballmann.

About two-thirds of grant money awarded in 2015-16, 76 percent, was need based, with the remaining amount being non-need based. The breakdown between need-based and non-need-based aid was virtually unchanged from the previous year.

Need-based aid is considered the most specifically tailored form of financial aid for helping low- and middle-income families pay for college. The theory is that need-based aid can encourage students to attend college who might otherwise not consider postsecondary education, or who might not be able to pay for it without assistance.

Non-need-based aid, sometimes referred to as merit aid, is often seen as targeting students from wealthier families who will be able to pay for college -- and will likely plan on doing so -- regardless of whether they receive aid. It is also considered a way to attract high-achieving students -- it more typically changes where someone will go to college than whether they do.

The percentage of grant money awarded as need-based aid had been on an upward trend in previous years before leveling out in recent data. Various factors are likely affecting the statistic in different ways, according to Ballmann.

“The economy is stronger, so ultimately people qualify for less need-based aid,” he said. “FAFSA filing rates being higher means more people are paying attention to the possibility of going to college.”

Another factor that could be depressing state aid is demographic downturns in some high-population states, which could be putting downward pressure on the number of enrolled students.

Nongrant student aid came to about $1.7 billion, down from $1.9 billion in the previous year. Nongrant student aid includes loans, loan assumptions, conditional grants, work-study and tuition waivers. Loans and tuition waivers represented 72 percent of nongrant awards.

Since the latest NASSGAP survey tallies data from 2015-16, it does not show the effects of large-scale policy changes going into effect in later years, like students’ ability to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid earlier in the college admissions cycle. The survey does include funding under the highly watched Tennessee Promise free community college program.

Undergraduate need-based grant aid rose by less than 2 percent, to about $8 billion, in 2015-16. Just eight states awarded $5.5 billion, or 70 percent, of all undergraduate need-based grant aid. Those states were California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington.

Still, most states said they had undergraduate aid programs with a need component. Only two states, Georgia and New Hampshire, reported no need-based aid programs. Meanwhile, 26 states listed undergraduate programs making only non-need-based awards.

Nearly half of all aid awarded to undergraduates, 46.1 percent, came under exclusively need-based programs. Exclusively non-need-based programs awarded 17.6 percent of aid awarded to undergraduates. The remaining 36.3 percent of aid awarded fell under other programs and programs with both need-based and non-need-based components.

Four southern states -- Georgia, Louisiana, South Carolina and Tennessee -- awarded the most grant aid per capita. Three of those states -- Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee -- had the highest ratios of undergraduate grant dollars versus undergraduate full-time equivalent enrollment. All of those states skew heavily toward non-need-based aid.

The highest ratios of total expenditures for state-funded grants versus state fiscal support for higher education were recorded in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

The following is a breakdown of total aid awarded by state and type.

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Spencer's talk at Florida met by protests and attempts to shout him down

Fri, 2017-10-20 07:00

When Richard Spencer stepped out on stage at the University of Florida Thursday, it was following weeks of preparation, hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on security, and repeated condemnations by administrators and professors who said they deplored Spencer’s brand of white supremacy but were constitutionally bound to let him speak.

He was instantly met with boos -- members of the crowd attempting to shout him down.

Anxieties both among students and university leaders abounded for weeks. This was Spencer’s first event since he helped direct the deadly demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., where white nationalists marched onto the University of Virginia campus and then the city, and one drove his car into a crowd, killing a woman.

But there were few reported scuffles and injuries in Gainesville. Spencer was able to address the crowd shortly after the scheduled 2:30 p.m. starting time. By a little after 4 p.m. Thursday, he had departed, though protesters still lingered. To those who worried about large-scale violence, or a legal dispute if Spencer had been unable to talk, there was relief on both counts.

W. Kent Fuchs, the Florida president, urged students to stay away from the Spencer talk. He spent part of the day in a booth set up by the Chabad Jewish Student Center to encourage students to respond to Spencer's hateful message by doing good deeds for others. At the end of the day, Fuchs tweeted a link to an article about that activity, and his take on it: "Love and good deeds always overcome hate and evil."

In a column published today in The Independent Florida Alligator, Fuchs cited the program to promote good deeds and other efforts Thursday as the ideal ways to push back against Spencer and his ideas. Fuchs praised the use of the social media hashtag #TogetherUF and discussions students had about diversity and race relations. Fuchs wrote that it was important to focus on strategies that "thwart Spencer’s movement, not just for the few hours he was on campus, but forever."

And he wrote that trying to ban Spencer from campus (which he said wouldn't have been viable legally) or trying to prevent him from being heard are both strategies doomed to fail.

"I argue old strategies of protest, which include shutting down Spencer and chasing his followers out of town, are exactly what white supremacists need to attract attention and followers," Fuchs wrote. "For Spencer and his ilk, I believe the right strategy is to 1) shun the speaker, his followers and his events, and 2) as loud as possible, speak up with acts of inclusion and love and messages rejecting racism and white nationalism."

‘Go Home’

From the moment Spencer began speaking at the campus arts center, the audience jeered. He was greeted with expletives and cries of “go home.” A steady drumbeat of chanting continued throughout his talk, which soon morphed into a question-and-answer discussion after it was clear the crowd would not remain entirely hushed. Spencer was able to be heard and the chants were not so nonstop he couldn't make his points, though the audience overwhelmingly rejected them.

Spencer seemed to relish the reaction, casting his naysayers as “childish,” calling them at one point a “mob” and “grunting morons.”

“Why do you think that you need to suppress speech?” Spencer said as some members of the audience stood starkly giving him the middle finger. “The answer is because you know that what I am saying is true. You know what I am saying is powerful. You know what I am saying is going to change the world. And therefore, you all want to stop it. You’re going to fail.”

“Do you not want to hear something, poor little babies, that might contradict something your professor told you? Aw. Might you have to think a little bit, child?”

The university tried to maintain normalcy for the day, with classes initially proceeding as scheduled. But with protesters (most anti-Spencer) arriving, many professors called off classes. The scene outside where Spencer spoke was anything by normal. Snipers were positioned on building roofs, and more than 500 law enforcement members were spread across the campus.

The list of items forbidden at the event was lengthy -- no bags or purses, bottles or laser pointers, masks or bandannas. And no weapons.

A nearby hotel parking lot was flooded with police vehicles. Roads close to where Spencer was speaking were shut down. One student posted to Twitter that her bus stop had been shut down, and she arrived late to class only to find it had been canceled.

The demonstrations, however, remained relatively peaceful. Thousands of protesters gathered on the campus of more than 50,000 students -- one group screamed “Nazis not welcome here” as they marched down a sidewalk, a banner unfurled before them.

Two people were arrested Thursday. Sean Brijmohan, 28, brought a gun onto campus, according to the Alachua County sheriff’s office. He had been hired by a media organization as security, police said. And David Notte, 34, was arrested for resisting law enforcement.

During the talk, which Spencer claimed was the biggest free speech event of the students’ lifetime, almost none of the questions he fielded were serious inquiries of his platform -- in his words, promoting “white identity” and the creation of an ethno-state in America.

A couple of audience members asked why Spencer insisted on speaking to campus when its constituents clearly didn’t want him there. Another asked him how it felt to be punched in the face, a reference to the infamous incident at President Trump’s inauguration, in which Spencer was socked during a live interview.

One self-identified Florida alumna referenced Charlottesville when she addressed Spencer. She had asked how Spencer would respond to people who say that he should take responsibility for violent acts committed in his name and the name of the so-called alt-right, the far-right-wing movement characterized by racist and anti-Semitic views that Spencer helped create.

“Name a single incident in which some alt-rightist went out and murdered someone,” Spencer said.

The alumna responded, “Charlottesville,” citing the death of Heather Heyer, who police said was struck by a car driven by James Alex Fields Jr., a reported white nationalist from Ohio.

Her killing “remains unclear,” Spencer said.

The crowd screamed back, “It’s your fault.”

“All I demand is that he receive a fair investigation, and a fair trial,” Spencer said, referring to Fields. “Which I fear he may never get because he is used as a scapegoat. The fact is his vehicle was attacked. His vehicle rammed into another vehicle mysteriously, that rammed into other people, then other people were injured as he was attempting to escape. This is a very strange method of committing murder.” (Spencer's account differs considerably from those of onlookers and law enforcement.)

An attendee asked Spencer why he felt multiculturalism was a determent to society.

Spencer launched into a nostalgic story of “peak America” that his parents knew in the 1950s, with diners, ice-cream dates and drive-in movie theaters -- a “white America in the midcentury.”

He said that his generation was born “strangers into our own land,” a country defined by the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which ended immigration quotas.

“All institutions have been a part of … what’s called ‘the great erasure,’” Spencer said.

Though a line of Spencer’s fans sat in the front row, many in plain white shirts, almost none took a turn at the microphone. They left through a side door shortly before Spencer ended his talk. One of his supporters did ask him how to stop religious infighting within the alt-right, especially when some of its more devout followers couldn’t look to Spencer, a self-professed atheist, as a leader.

Spencer responded, “That’s unfortunate,” and said he wouldn’t deny Christianity its place in European history.

The university spent weeks arranging Spencer’s visit after first denying his request to appear in the wake of Charlottesville, citing safety considerations, but he was eventually allowed him to reschedule, amid his threats to sue if he was not permitted to speak.

Auburn University earlier this year canceled a talk by Spencer for the same reasons, but a graduate student from Georgia State University filed a lawsuit on Spencer’s behalf then, and with a judge’s court order he was able to address the Alabama public institution.

Shortly after Charlottesville, white nationalists publicly linked the events there to planned campus rallies, giving colleges and universities a legal route to block Spencer, lawyers have said in interviews.

The university has spent upwards of $600,000 on security, bringing in the additional police presence from across the state. Florida Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, declared a state of emergency in part to help coordinate those forces.

Spencer himself spent a fraction of what the university paid -- a little more than $10,000. Per a Supreme Court case decided in 1992, Forsyth County, Georgia v. The Nationalist Movement, institutions are not allowed to pass high security fees along to a speaker, as it’s a potential way of restricting free speech.

Florida administrators were deliberately vocal in denouncing Spencer’s message, while simultaneously trying to explain their obligation, as a public institution, to accommodate him. Members of a faculty union at Florida and students had created petitions urging the university to stop his speech.

But President Fuchs tweeted before Spencer’s talk, “I don’t stand behind racist Richard Spencer. I stand with those who reject and condemn Spencer’s vile and despicable message.”

Spencer thanked police and the university at the end of his talk before once again turning to the crowd, telling them he and the alt-right would continue “to fight.”

“The world is going to look at this event, and the world is going to have a very different impression of University of Florida because you acted this way. And let me tell you, the world is not going to be proud.”

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Penn grad student says she's under attack for teaching technique to encourage all to talk in class

Fri, 2017-10-20 07:00

Anyone who’s ever taught a class knows some students say more than others. And most professors eventually develop some way of encouraging quieter students to contribute. In one more formal discussion-management technique, called progressive stacking, professors call on students who may be -- for a variety of reasons -- less likely to have their say. While every student is different, the reasons typically reflect the implicit biases observed outside the classroom, such as those related to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation or disability status. So, according to progressive stacking, a professor would call on a black or Latina woman before a white man, for example.

There’s the rub, at least in one class at the University of Pennsylvania. Stephanie McKellop, a graduate teaching assistant in history there, says she is under attack by fringe-right groups for using progressive stacking in her classes and then tweeting about it. Worse, she says, the university is cowing to such groups instead of supporting her. She’s claimed on social media that her classes were canceled this week and she may be asked to leave her program.

Here's some of what McKellop tweeted earlier this week. Her social media accounts are private, but the posts have since been shared by her supporters, some of whom have contacted Penn on her behalf. The trouble apparently began with a post in which she wrote, "I will always call on my black women students first. Other [people of color] get second-tier priority. [White women] come next. And, if I have to, white men." In a later post, she wrote, "Penn thinks I'm racist and discriminatory towards my students for using a very well worn pedagogical tactic which includes calling on [people of color]."

Steven J. Fluharty, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, refuted some of those claims in a statement Thursday, saying that McKellop has not been removed from her program and that Penn has “and will continue to respect and protect the graduate student’s right to due process.”

Penn knows and values the “importance of ensuring that students in groups that were historically marginalized have full opportunity to participate in classroom discussions,” Fluharty added. “Penn is strongly committed to providing respectful work and learning environments for all members of our community.”

Yet Fluharty seemed to validate McKellop’s claim that Penn has taken issue with her teaching style, saying that Penn is “looking into the current matter involving a graduate student teaching assistant to ensure that our students were not subjected to discriminatory practices in the classroom and to ensure that all of our students feel heard and equally engaged.”

McKellop did not immediately respond to an interview request Thursday. A spokeswoman for Penn said that McKellop has not been barred from teaching, but she provided no further details. McKellop’s adviser did not respond to a request for comment.

A number of academics expressed support for McKellop on social media and for progressive stacking. In general, it doesn't mean excluding men or white students from conversations, or forcing underrepresented students to talk. Instead, it means calling on students who want to talk in the reverse order that one might predictably do so, based on social biases.

Jessie Daniels, a professor of sociology at Hunter College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, said progressive stacking has been around at least since she was in graduate school in the 1990s. She still uses it informally, to right her own tendency to call on men more frequently than women.

“If I have a class of 40 students, since Hunter is predominantly young women, I may have four or five young men in class,” Daniels said. “There’s still implicit bias, where we value men’s voices more than women’s voices, or men’s voices are deeper and carry more in a class. So I’m always trying to overcome my own bias to pick on men in class more than the women.”

As to whether purposely asking a woman to answer a question over a man was a kind of discrimination, Daniels said, “That gets it the wrong way around. This is a way of dealing with discrimination that we as professors can introduce into the classroom. It’s a good strategy, if you can do it.”

Daniels said she thought that the online backlash against McKellop seemed ripped from the “playbook” of the far right, which has attacked numerous professors involved in issues of race in recent months. Worse still, she said, McKellop, as a graduate student, is a particularly vulnerable target.

Cathy Davidson, director of the Futures Initiative at CUNY’s Graduate Center, has long advocated for inclusive teaching methods, including via the Humanities, Arts, Science and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory, which she co-founded. Davidson said Thursday that she didn’t particularly like progressive stacking, and that other methods seem “far better to me than making judgments on others’ privilege.”

Davidson instead recommended "inventory" methods that require participation by all students in the classroom, such as thoughtful "exit tickets" from a session, think-pair-share exercises or asking everyone to write down and then share a memorable sentence from a given reading.

Daniels said she didn’t know how pervasive progressive stacking is, but underscored that it’s nothing new. As for the situation at Penn specifically, Daniels said it would be unfortunate for the university to punish someone trying to “uphold its values. It would be a very misguided step on the part of Penn.”

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FTC settlement says rankings of 'military-friendly' colleges were deceptive promotions

Fri, 2017-10-20 07:00

The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced a proposed settlement with a website whose "military-friendly" rankings of colleges and universities allegedly promoted institutions that paid to be included.

Victory Media runs a number of magazines and websites targeting service members and their families and operates a tool and rankings to help prospective students find the right postsecondary program. But the FTC found that those publications basically functioned as paid advertisements for institutions.

Under the terms of the settlement, Victory is required to prominently disclose to readers that its rankings are paid endorsements. No financial penalty was included in the order, but each violation could result in a fine of up to $40,654.

“Service members and their families put themselves on the line every day to protect our nation,” the acting FTC chairwoman, Maureen K. Ohlhausen, said in a statement. “We owe it to them to make sure that when they look to further their education, they get straight talk instead of advertising in disguise.”

The proposed settlement is open to public comment for 30 days. The commission will decide whether to finalize it after Nov. 20.

Carrie Wofford, president of Veterans Education Success, said the group plans to monitor Victory Media websites and publications closely to make sure they comply with the terms of the settlement. VES documented the alleged deceptive promotions in a 2016 report. That report found that for-profit colleges, in particular, paid for exposure to service members through Victory's "military-friendly" designation.

Wofford said further steps should be taken by military installations, including the removal of Victory's "military-friendly schools" list and its GI Jobs magazine -- which includes education, transition, and job assistance for veterans -- from bases and Department of Veterans Affairs hospitals.

"It’s terrible for VA and DOD to be taken in by what FTC has now exposed as a fraudulent pay-to-play scheme," she said.

Wofford also said Congress should take action to reinstate GI Bill benefits for defrauded veterans.

Suzanne Treviño, a Victory Media spokeswoman, said the company had fully assisted the FTC and addressed every concern by the commission.

"GI Jobs readers benefit by learning more about different higher-level educational institutions that can help them transition from military to civilian life," she said. "Victory Media, a service-disabled veteran-owned business, looks forward to continuing to advocate for military-friendly schools and employers because we want to make life better for veterans."

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Author makes case for 'surprising power' of liberal arts education

Fri, 2017-10-20 07:00

Robots are taking over the world (and the job market). Majoring in anything but a science or engineering discipline is foolhardy. A humanities or social science degree will get you a great job -- as a barista.


Read enough internet headlines and all of those might seem not only feasible but inevitable. But like many sweeping, future-looking statements, those and other proclamations about the decline and fall of the liberal arts should be taken with a truckload of salt.

George Anders's You Can Do Anything (Little, Brown and Company) is the latest book (others here and here) to make the case that students (and colleges and universities) should not shun the liberal arts. While designed mostly to help students arm themselves for the world of work -- Anders, a contributing writer at Forbes, brings a consumer focus to You Can Do Anything -- the book's use of job-market data and plentiful anecdotes about students, institutions and programs will probably prove compelling to career services administrators, faculty members and anyone else hoping to encourage a liberal arts major they know.

Via email, Anders answered questions about the book, which follow.

Q: You Can Do Anything is among a set of new books that challenge the prevailing narrative that technology and artificial intelligence threaten to make the liberal arts and they skills they build irrelevant. Yours doesn’t run from job or salary data to make that case, but cites them directly to make the case that the “new pessimism” about those fields is “out of step with what broad economic data tell us.” How so?

A: A close look at the data shows good news on two fronts. First, the U.S. economy has created at least 626,000 jobs -- and perhaps as many as 2.3 million -- since 2012 in what I’m broadly calling “the rapport sector” or the “empathy economy.” These arise in areas such as project management, digital marketing, graphic design and genetic counseling. Such work not only pays quite decently; it also requires an ability to solve problems by understanding different points of view. This work is tailor-made for liberal arts graduates.

Second, broad-based earnings data from PayScale, a Seattle labor-research firm, shows that many liberal arts majors achieve strong midcareer incomes even if they start slowly at first. It’s a mistake to focus only on starting salaries, which highlight the short-term value of preprofessional degrees in fields such as nursing or accounting. Take the longer view, and you’ll find that philosophy or political science majors pull ahead after a decade or so. Their midcareer earnings average about $80,000 a year, noticeably ahead of RNs or CPAs.

Q: You compare analysis of the job market in today’s environment to studying the topography of Hawaii’s Big Island, where volcanic eruptions constantly alter the coastline, with new fields cropping up that “prize the strengths that emerge from a robust liberal arts curriculum: curiosity, discernment, adaptability and a prepared-for-everything gusto that can turn chaos into triumph.” You make the case that while technological change may be driving the emergence of these new fields, many of the needed positions are what you call “bridge-building jobs” that marry C. P. Snow’s “two cultures.” Can you explain this phenomenon?

A: The eye-opener for me involved a series of visits to OpenTable, the online restaurant-reservation company. It makes much of its money selling customer-behavior data to restaurants. OpenTable needs only 14 data experts to crunch the numbers nationwide, but getting restaurateurs to accept and embrace these findings is much more challenging.

So OpenTable employs more than 100 restaurant relations managers to fan out across the U.S. with iPads, meeting the proud, prickly people who run high-end restaurants and suggesting ways of putting this data to use. Many of these specialists happen to have majored in English, psychology or similar nontechnical fields in college. Small wonder; the key skill in such jobs involves a knack for lucid communication and an ability to win the restaurateur’s trust. Such jobs are quite new; they didn’t exist a decade ago. And they bear out the notion that rapid advances in software are creating huge demand for people who can humanize tech in ways that make it usable (and even appealing) for the rest of us.

Q: We are in an era in which “success” (for students, academic programs, colleges and universities) is increasingly being judged by short-term job outcomes and incomes. Parents of current and prospective students, especially, seem to be focused on that, to the point that counselors for low-income high school students tell me they often hear parents pushing their children into business and vocational fields over the humanities and social sciences. Yet you advise readers of your book that “the greatest payoff for your college education is likely to be years away, perhaps in your fourth job, perhaps in your seventh.” Will students and parents be that patient? Will the politicians and policy makers who are devising accountability systems (which often focus on short-term outcomes)?

A: This quandary worries me. Other countries admire America’s creativity, which comes largely from giving people room to roam around a lot in their educations and in their careers. Yet we seem to have lost confidence in one of our greatest strengths. We’re wanting higher education to be a source of career stability -- when it’s actually much more valuable as a source of career mobility.

It’s important to acknowledge how much the student-debt explosion has shortened people’s time horizons. A lot of the exciting, meandering career paths that I describe are a lot more feasible if you’re not one missed paycheck away from financial ruin. I’m glad to see that some (well-off) colleges are making it easier for students with limited means to graduate with little debt. A bigger rethink of higher education finances is needed, so that the freedom to explore doesn’t seem like an unaffordable luxury.

Q: Why do defenders of the liberal arts and nonvocational higher education struggle so much to explain the value of terms like “critical thinking”? Can you describe the analysis you undertook to try to improve on those arguments? And in a (partially) related question, do you believe there are labeling problems with terms like that and “liberal arts”?

A: Within academia, critical thinking is celebrated as a process. That resonates poorly with employers -- whose world is defined by results, results, results -- even though they want what critical thinking can accomplish. We’ve got a translation problem on our hands. To illuminate this, and to offer a way out, I rounded up thousands of job ads from big employers (Apple to Allstate) that asked for “critical thinking” and paid at least $100,000. Poring through them, I found five ways that the abstractions of critical thinking get translated into the realities of employers’ needs. The key elements: a willingness to work in uncharted areas, the analytic skills needed to generate strong insights, expert decision making, a knack for reading the room and persuasive communication.

The more that liberal arts graduates can demonstrate that their time with diphthongs or Descartes has imbued them with these five skills, the easier it will be to impress potential employers.

I started this book with the belief that the “liberal arts” name encapsulated so many valuable strengths that recent labeling anxieties could be overcome. I haven’t abandoned that view, but I’m open to alternatives.

Q: Are colleges and universities as a collective group doing enough to prepare their graduates for a life of work? Are they (and should they be) focusing more on long-term rather than short-term skills and competencies? To what extent are the campus career services improvements that you highlight at places like Wake Forest, Brigham Young, Indiana and Rutgers Newark representative of broader trends or outliers? And to what extent is workplace readiness a domain of the faculty (and appropriately embedded in the curriculum) as opposed to a co-curricular matter best left to career services?

A: Each academic department is its own story, but the message from student enrollment trends is stark. Academic disciplines that are seen as career useful will attract more students. Ones that are seen as career useless will atrophy. Fortunately, it’s possible to celebrate learning for its own sake and weave in a sufficient amount of career readiness, too. BYU’s initiatives with Humanities Plus are exemplary. Career services departments alone can’t carry the whole load, but I’m impressed with the way that a single career class -- or more active bridges to recent grads in the work force -- can help current students in any discipline graduate with a good shot at a collegeworthy job.

Solutions are embryonic but developing rapidly. In the book, I chose to highlight schools making rapid progress, with the hope that good habits will spread. We still have a lot of faculty that are puzzled, brittle and defensive about what it takes to get a job in the real world -- and we can’t turn all of them into part-time career counselors. But I came away convinced that young-alumni networks are a vital, untapped resource. Recent grads know how to get that first job, and they’re eager to share. I’d like to see alumni-relations offices spend less time hunting for giant donations and more time fostering life-changing connections that span the graduation-day divide. This can be hugely helpful for first-generation students, who might arrive on campus with less social capital than their peers -- but who shouldn’t leave that way.

Q: Is the current disdain/lack of respect for the liberal arts a momentary or a permanent condition -- and if the latter, is it serious enough to degrade them such that we see them vanish for all but the privileged?

A: Ah, the ultimate dystopian scenario! I’ll take the challenge. Even in the bleakest future, people’s desire to learn can’t ever be crushed. I’m imagining a noisy cybercafé, full of degenerates playing first-person shooter games, in which a few patrons slip into a back room, bolt the door and draw the curtains. They are janitors, hospital orderlies and nannies by day. But at night, it’s a different story. One of them pulls out a tattered copy of Rousseau’s The Social Contract. And the spirit of intellectual discourse takes hold again.

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Advocates hold vigil at Education Department for survivors of campus assaults

Fri, 2017-10-20 07:00

WASHINGTON -- Survivor advocates who have repeatedly claimed they were shut out of a process to shift existing federal policy on campus sexual assault gathered outside the Department of Education's headquarters Thursday to raise their voices on the issue.

Nearly a month after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded 2011 Obama administration guidelines on handling charges of campus assaults, advocates held a vigil to protest the rollback of those federal policies and to show continued support for survivors of assault. A crowd of between 100 and 150 gathered to hear statements from fellow survivors and declare their resolve in pushing back against the new direction under DeVos.

Survivor advocates say the 2011 guidance pushed colleges and universities to take sexual assault seriously for the first time by making clear their responsibilities to investigate and adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct. Jess Davidson, the managing director of End Rape on Campus and an organizer of the vigil, said in an interview that the Thursday event was a demonstration to survivors that advocates would not let the issue fall to the wayside.

"We were really seeing that survivors across the country were just feeling devastated. We were getting calls from clients who didn't know if they should stay in school or what this meant for their cases," Davidson said of reactions to the rescinding of the Obama-era guidelines. "We wanted to take a minute to honor and recognize what survivors are feeling right now."

Davidson said activists have seen success pushing campus leaders to maintain existing policies since DeVos rescinded the Obama guidance and issued new interim guidance to colleges and universities. Davidson said the secretary has yet to seriously incorporate the needs of survivors in her decision making.

"There is a really consistent pattern here where DeVos is locking survivors and survivor advocates out of the room and so they take to the streets," she said.

Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the department, said DeVos has been focused on bringing all voices to the table in discussing campus assault policies. "To say that anyone has been kept out of the conversation is just false," she said. "The secretary and the Office for Civil Rights has met with numerous survivors and their advocates."

Hill said DeVos has said repeatedly that campus assault must be confronted head-on but that accused students must also know guilt is not predetermined. "Unfortunately, under the previous administration’s directives, too many students were being failed by the system that was in place to adjudicate these horrific cases," she said.

Laura Dunn, executive director of SurvJustice, one of the group's involved in organizing the vigil, told attendees Thursday night that serious work is ahead for advocates of survivors. But she said they are organized in a way they were not before the Obama administration issued its guidelines.

"I remember distinctly how alone I felt as a survivor on campus," she said. "Look around you -- none of us are alone right now."

Editorial Tags: Sexual assaultImage Caption: Vigil at Education DepartmentAd Keyword: Campus AssaultIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 


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