Higher Education News

Professor says AU Cairo wronged him in canceling his chair after he resisted donor's demands

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

A professor at the American University in Cairo is in a dispute with the university over the cancellation of his endowed chair after, he says, he refused to accede to the requests of the original donor’s son that he send him lectures in advance and that he encourage his non-Muslim students to convert to Islam.

Adam Duker came to AUC in fall 2016 fresh out of graduate school, after earning a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame, to accept a position as an assistant professor and the Abdulhadi H. Taher Chair in Comparative Religions. After the provost informed him in July 2017 that the university would no longer fund the chair at the donor's request, Duker has continued to use the Abdulhadi H. Taher chair title, defying senior administrators’ demands that he stop.

In April, Duker submitted a letter of resignation, saying in his letter that the university has been in breach of his contract since July 2017 by denying him the title included in his contract and retaliating against him for his refusal to stop using it.

In December, Duker was accused by his dean of a “prima facia [sic] case of faculty misconduct” for continuing to use the endowed chair title “despite clear and repeated instructions and requests to the contrary.”

The University Senate’s grievance committee determined that Duker did not commit faculty misconduct, and instead expressed its concern that the provost unilaterally changed Duker’s title without providing “an alternative and satisfactory option that would compensate him for being stripped of his hard-earned title.” The grievance committee also registered its concern “that the donor was allowed to interfere in academic matters and influence the provost’s decision to strip Dr. Duker of his title.”

It is common for colleges and universities that seek endowed chairs to specify the general topics of the chairs with donors, and to keep donors and their families engaged with the college after the gift is given. But donors of endowed chairs are not typically allowed to oversee a professor's work or cancel a chair if they disapprove. Typically, endowed chairs are just that -- endowed -- and so once set up cannot be revoked.

In written answers to questions provided by an AUC spokeswoman, AUC says that the funding for the chair was not withdrawn but that it was redirected at the donor's request to fund scholarships.

"No member of AUC's faculty or administration has interfered at any time or in any manner with the complainant's courses, curriculum, teaching, outside activities or freedom of expression," the university said. "AUC required him to desist from using the name of the deceased donor of the funds that originally had supported his work, and AUC stepped in to provide full direct funding for that work when we redirected the original funding to scholarships. Until the complainant's unsolicited and voluntary resignation in 2019, he has continued to enjoy his full rights and privileges as a faculty member. The university is deeply committed to religious and academic freedom and has stayed true to those values."

Duker maintains that AUC, a nonsectarian university with American accreditation that receives funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, infringed his religious and academic freedom by revoking his chair title at the donor's request.

“It is illegal for an academic institution receiving U.S. taxpayer money to strip a professor of his position because a Saudi billionaire objected to his refusal to favor Islam over other religions,” Duker wrote in his letter of resignation.

Donor Demands

The Abdulhadi H. Taher Chair in Comparative Religions was established in 2002 by a Saudi Arabian businessman of that name who has since died. Duker was the fifth professor to hold the chair, and he says he came to AUC in large part because of the prestige of holding an endowed professorship and the academic doors it would open for him.

“My research doesn’t pertain at all to the Arab world,” Duker says. “I work on the French wars of religion in the 16th century; there was no obvious research advantage to me coming to Egypt. The two major factors were the endowed chair and the opportunity to build a comparative religions and comparative religious history program at the most prestigious university in the Muslim-majority world.”

Within his first year of arriving at AUC, Duker says he was asked by AUC president Francis J. Ricciardone to travel to California to meet with the son of the donor, Tarek Taher, at his home in Malibu, Calif. They met in January of 2017. During that meeting, Duker says, Taher expressed concerns that the chair had previously been vacant -- it was vacant for one year before Duker’s arrival -- and made multiple demands on his teaching that were inappropriate.

“He demanded that I show him all of my lectures in advance before I give the lectures so that he be allowed to preapprove and vet my lectures. I told him he’s always welcome in my classroom, if ever he would like to stop by, but no, I wouldn’t be sending my lectures in advance,” Duker recalls.

“He demanded that I discontinue teaching Hinduism and Buddhism, that I could only teach the Abrahamic religions, and of the Abrahamic religions, I can only teach Judaism and Christianity in such a way as to show the superiority of Islam,” Duker says.

Duker says the donor was upset to learn Duker was exposing his students to the Jewish community in Cairo. “I was not allowed to expose my students to living Jews, to Jewish sites, such as synagogues, cemeteries, and most importantly he was concerned that I never take my students to Israel,” Duker says.

“He insisted that I teach a course on the truth of the miracles of the Quran. He wanted me to teach that the miracles of the Quran are true and provide evidence for that,” Duker continues.

“He also made it very clear that he wanted me to use my authority as a professor and my position as chair to encourage any non-Muslim students that I have to convert to Islam.”

In addition, Duker said, Taher objected to the English translation of the Quran he used in his class -- an Oxford University Press translation -- because it translated “Allah” as “God” and, in his view, took Allah out of the Quran.

Taher did not respond to requests for comment. Inside Higher Ed sent Taher multiple emails as well as a Facebook message and made several calls to a phone number that Duker said was valid at the time of the January 2017 visit (there was no answer and the voice-mail box was full; text messages sent to the number were undeliverable). Inside Higher Ed also sent an email to Taher's family company requesting that it be forwarded.

Duker says he tried to gently sidestep Taher’s requests and objections. “I did tell him he’s welcome to my classroom any time to attend, or if he ever wants a platform to explain why his family wants to invest in religious education, I would be happy to have him speak in my class or give a guest lecture. I wanted to accommodate him if I could, but the things he was asking for were so far out there that it would be a violation of my professional responsibilities to do that,” he says.

Duker says that despite the demands, the meeting ended on a positive note, “with kisses and hugs all around.” He returned to Cairo and kept in touch with Taher, even extending an invitation to his wedding.

Six months later, the following July, he was surprised to receive an email from the provost, Ehab Abdel-Rahman, saying that after numerous conversations, Taher “has formally requested that he no longer wants the Abdulhadi Taher Endowed Professorship in Comparative Religions. To honor his request, we will stop funding of that professorship as of July 1, 2017 … Going forward, kindly remove any reference to this endowed professorship. This may include but not limited to removing reference to it on websites, email signature, business cards, etc.”

In a subsequent email, shared with Inside Higher Ed, the provost said that Taher “clearly mentioned that he does not want his family name to be associated with this professorship … As of your contract, you will remain a faculty member in AUC but you are no longer the Abdulhadi H. Taher Chair of Comparative Religions as this professorship no longer exists.”

Contractual Obligations

It is not clear what the precise terms of the original gift agreement were, and Duker says he has not seen it. In response to a question about whether the terms of the agreement allow a donor -- or an heir to the donor -- to revoke the gift or to change its purpose, AUC said that "AUC policy, acting under law, permits the university from time to time to adjust the terms of gifts by donors, whether living or deceased, striving always to keep faith with the donors' original intent under the changing circumstances of a dynamic world."

Asked what concerns Taher had expressed to the university in asking for the revocation of the chair -- and what AUC administrators' responses to those concerns were -- the university responded, "The heir to the original donor may respond for himself to the public allegations of the complainant. The representations he made directly to us were substantially different from the core allegations made publicly by the complainant. The heir immediately and without challenge accepted that in accordance with our rigorously nondenominational university's commitment to academic and religious freedom, we would continue not only the employment of the complainant, but also the full content of his course and associated programs."

Duker’s position was that even if Taher requested that he no longer be called the Taher chair, the university couldn't grant the request without his consent because AUC had a contractual obligation to him. In an Oct. 20 email outlining his position, he said that he was willing to negotiate another title, but that would “require the university to either grant me a new nonrevocable endowed chair, provide financial compensation for the Taher title or buy me out of my contract.”

Duker says that instead of negotiating, AUC has retaliated against him for continuing to use the title, both in the form of the formal charge of faculty misconduct and in the form of legal threats. In February he received an email from AUC’s attorney, Sunanda K. Holmes, accusing him of being in breach of contract for continuing to use the Taher chair title. Holmes wrote, "Your continuous demands and threats and the continuous use of this title is causing financial and reputational damage to AUC, for which we intend to hold you fully liable under the law."

Duker says that without the chair there is technically no comparative religions program at AUC. "The simple fact is if there is no chair, there is no program -- then I’m just a history professor," Duker says. "I didn’t come here to be a history professor. I came here to teach Egyptian students to understand different religions."

Pascale Ghazaleh, the chair of the history department, Duker’s departmental home, says the situation amounts to a contractual dispute rather than a situation in which Duker's academic freedom is being violated.

“It’s unfortunate that the chair was canceled and it would have been wise of the university administration to renegotiate his contract with him, but that is not the same thing as persecution or violating academic freedoms,” Ghazaleh says.

“He wasn’t pressured to do anything,” Ghazaleh adds. “If you work anywhere and your job is canceled, I guess you could say it’s unjust in the greater scheme of things, but that doesn’t mean you’re being persecuted. No one asked him to publish anything that was different than what he was working on. Maybe the donor said, ‘this is what I want the chair’s purpose to be,’ but to my knowledge at no point was there actual pressure on Adam to conform to that.”

A Tense Environment

Duker describes a hostile environment for him at AUC. He has clashed both with senior administrators and with colleagues in his department during his three-year tenure at AUC.

His third-year review report -- he shared a copy with Inside Higher Ed with the caveat that had abridged the document to delete confidential student information but had not added anything -- is mixed. It says that his student evaluations over all are "very positive" and adds "there is little doubt that Dr. Duker is a devoted and knowledgeable instructor, able to communicate even the most sophisticated concepts in his field effectively to his students." But the report cites conflicts between Duker and his current and former department chairs and colleagues and characterizes him as having a "belligerent manner and assumption of entitlement."

The report also discusses Duker’s involvement advocating for religious minorities in Egypt, including his involvement with the Mustard Seeds Foundation, a Christian organization. “While faculty members are of course free to exercise their freedom of belief and indeed to engage in political activity if they so choose, Dr. Duker is perhaps unaware of the vulnerability of the communities he purports to defend, and the grave damage he can do them,” the third-year review report states. “This is particularly so in an authoritarian and xenophobic political context, in which Western Europeans and North Americans in particular have been associated in the past with colonial interference and missionary work. Given AUC’s place in Egyptian society, Dr. Duker’s claims of advocacy could harm far more than they will help -- not only the institution that employs him, but also those he purports to defend.”

Duker said in written response to the review that there is “a demonstrated religious and political bias” against him. He wrote that relations with several department faculty members and staff, including Ghazaleh, soured after he requested leave to attend his brother's wedding in Israel (Ghazaleh denies this was the source of any hostility, saying she only learned Duker had a brother in Israel after he accused her of being hostile to him because of it). He wrote that while there have been tensions around his refusal to accept the revocation of the chair, he has good relations with professors from other departments and with students, "who have supported me in the defense of my contract and of religious and academic liberty."

Duker also objected to the review’s description of his work with religious minorities and described the association with missionaries and colonialists as “offensive and unprofessional.”

“The leaders of the minority faith communities with whom I work certainly do not perceive me as doing more harm than good,” he wrote.

Duker says he no longer feels safe in Egypt. On a student field trip to a synagogue last fall, he was circled by police and interrogated by an official who claimed to be from the Ministry of Antiquities but who he suspects may have been from State Security (Duker says the official knew his phone number and the names of family members and mentioned the Tahers several times).

“It’s in our judgment not safe for us to be here,” he says of his family. “When I was just a single professor, that was one thing, but now that I have a wife and a son, we need to be in position where we don’t have these sorts of threats, where my work life isn’t clouded.”

He is leaving Egypt this weekend, and his last official day at AUC is Oct. 2, the day incomplete grades are due for the spring semester. “I was pretty sure that if I continue to do this that I was going to be fired or arrested,” Duker says of his decision to resign. “I didn't think this would be a long-term position once the president and provost and the dean made the decision to submit to the will of Tarek Taher.”

Duker thinks it is a shame, because the work he came to Egypt to do is so important.

“I came here to do the difficult work of teaching Muslim students how to understand Christians on the terms of Christianity, how to understand Jews on the terms of Judaism, how to understand Hindus on the terms of Hinduism, how to understand Buddhists on the terms of Buddhism,” he says. “This is incredibly important work, and no one is doing it.”

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University of St. Thomas kicked out of sports league after winning too many games

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

The decision raised eyebrows among athletics pundits: a conference forcing out one of its member institutions over issues of “competitive parity.” Translation: the University of St. Thomas, a Roman Catholic college in Minnesota, was winning too much for its peers’ liking.

But St. Thomas’s “involuntary” separation from the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference speaks to problems plaguing the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division III that harken back a decade. Then, Division III institutions faced a schism: the small private colleges that traditionally dominated the division versus relative newcomers, which were often larger, more affluent institutions, some of which were interested in models akin to the upper leagues and doing away with athletic scholarship bans in Division III.

Dan McKane, commissioner of the MIAC, said the conference presidents felt that they and St. Thomas had clashing “philosophies” around athletics, which meant something different depending on which administrator you talked to. He said, though, that the conflict was similar to the one from 10 years ago.

“In Division III, there are more 450 institutions that don’t all look alike,” McKane said. “Every school has their own advantages. I think through the lens of our presidents, [St. Thomas’s] advantages were too great.”

St. Thomas was a charter member of the MIAC, helping found the conference in 1920. Rumblings about the university leaving began a long time ago, but presidents more formally started discussing the idea about two years ago, McKane said.

The debate largely centered around St. Thomas’s enrollment of roughly 6,200 undergraduate students, double many MIAC institutions, which many felt was unfair.

All 13 members of the MIAC are private colleges in Minnesota. In the last several years, St. Thomas “made some great choices,” said McKane -- investing money in athletics facilities and bringing in high-caliber coaches. The most significant of these hires was in 2008 with the football coach, Glenn Caruso, who has led the team to six conference titles and participation in two national championship games.

The Tommies’ football prowess did not go unnoticed, particularly after a brutal game in 2017, when St. Thomas trounced St. Olaf College, 97-0. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that this match was a catalyst for trying to kick out the university.

Being larger than the other MIAC members (with more money) meant that St. Thomas could attract physically stronger, more talented football players -- to the point that some other presidents felt that the “the safety and well-being” of their teams were jeopardized, McKane said.

The St. Thomas men’s and women’s basketball teams, and the volleyball and softball teams, have also dominated the conference, winning more league championships than any other MIAC institution. St. Thomas won 47 percent of all MIAC championships -- both team and individual sports -- from 2003 to 2018.

St. Thomas wanted to stay. President Julie H. Sullivan met with other conference administrators, trying to persuade them that St. Thomas best fit in the MIAC. Her appeals didn’t work. Though an official vote never took place to remove it, St. Thomas was booted out, officials announced Wednesday.

“While this decision is extremely disappointing, we will continue to prioritize the welfare and overall experience of our student athletes,” Sullivan said in a statement. “They embrace and represent both academic and athletic excellence and are important contributors to our university’s culture. Additionally, our coaches share the values of advancing comprehensive excellence and are among the best in the country.”

Institutions would have left the conference en masse had St. Thomas not.

Nine institutions were needed to formally vote to remove St. Thomas, but most of them threatened to break off and form their own league, leaving three or four colleges with less money and resources to fend for themselves. St. Thomas administrators essentially saved the conference by agreeing to the other presidents’ demands.

“It does look wonky, but knowing the whole background, institutions need to find a good fit,” McKane said. “We want to make sure that the institutions that we’re with can find success. Ultimately that was the presidents’ goal. And clearly this does look very off, but that was not the intention.”

St. Thomas will be allowed to play in the MIAC through spring 2021. It did not break any rules and leaves the conference in good standing, the MIAC said in a statement.

The university now must find a new conference or play independently, which would make scheduling difficult. If it remains in Division III, a likely home would be the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, which only has Wisconsin institutions but does not forbid out-of-state institutions from joining.

Administrators at St. Thomas do not favor joining Division II or Division I -- the jump to Division I would be particularly costly. An institution must stay in Division II for five years before even attempting to move to Division I.

Dan Dutcher, vice president for Division III, forwarded a request for comment to the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which did not respond.

St. Thomas’s dilemma recalls the split 10 years ago in Division III, because at the time, some institutions wanted to break off and create a Division IV, or a subdivision with a lesser designation.

Division III institutions were already diverse in terms of enrollment, with some universities having 400 undergraduates and some having up to 40,000 at the time. And while Division III colleges can’t offer athletic scholarships, they can extend merit-based scholarships, which have been used to lure athletes to certain institutions. Some Division III colleges have been accused of bending the rules by offering athletes large merit-based scholarships, which deepens the divides between the haves and have-nots among Division III institutions.

Many institutions at the time did not want to be associated with a Division IV because Division III is already considered less prestigious than the upper two divisions, and the shift would likely have made recruitment even harder for less wealthy institutions.

“The larger schools, generally among the newest to the division, wanted to offer athletic scholarships and also to do more to emphasize athletic competition, moving closer to the DI approach,” said Josephine R. Potuto, former member of the NCAA Division I infractions committee and Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. “The smaller schools wanted to retain what they saw as an integrative model of academics and athletics -- athletics offered because of the benefit to students from participation and not to attract fans and donors and etc.”

John Thelin, professor of higher education and public policy in the University of Kentucky College of Education, said that some ambitious small colleges have tried joining the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics, which does allow its institutions to have athletic scholarships

“What a shame that such a historic conference has this problem,” Thelin said.

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LSU ends Elsevier bundled journal subscription

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

Louisiana State University will terminate its “big deal” with publisher Elsevier at the end of this year, joining the growing list of U.S. institutions that have recently decided not to renew their bundled journal subscription deals with the publisher.

LSU is just the latest of several institutions, including the University of California system, Temple University and Florida State University, to announce its intentions to end its business relationship with Elsevier in the last two years.

“For decades, LSU has subscribed to a package of some 1,800 electronic journal titles from Elsevier,” Stacia Haynie, LSU's provost, said in a statement Monday. But “dramatic increases” in subscription costs have made the deal unsustainable, she said.

Renewing LSU’s current five-year contract, which is due to end in six months’ time, would cost the institution at least $2 million annually, said Haynie. Instead, the institution will allocate $1 million to subscribe individually to a smaller number of Elsevier journals on a one-year contract basis.

To access journals LSU no longer subscribes to, the library will offer two options -- an interlibrary loan service that takes about 24 hours and incurs no cost to the library, or an expedited delivery service called Reprints Desk, which takes about two hours and costs the library a fee. The fee is less than what it would cost to purchase the journal article from the publisher directly, which is typically around $30, said Stanley Wilder, dean of LSU libraries.

LSU’s Faculty Senate approved a resolution recommending the cancellation of the subscription package in April. Though the approval was near unanimous, with just one faculty member voting against it, the meeting minutes illustrate that several faculty members have concerns about how the process will be managed. Some faculty members questioned how the library would cope with more interlibrary loan requests and complained that a 24-hour wait could feel like “a lifetime” to busy academics. Others asked for details on how the library will decide which journals to subscribe to, and which not.

Wilder said he is prepared to hire more staff to handle interlibrary loan requests. Over the next six months, the library will be working with faculty to assess to which Elsevier journal titles it should continue to subscribe.

Unlike the University of California system and several European countries that also have recently canceled their Elsevier deals, LSU is not trying to make a point about open access, Wilder said. LSU simply doesn’t have the leverage to try to change the scholarly publishing landscape, he said.

“LSU is not the UC system. We’re not Germany or Hungary trying to break away from the big deal,” he said. “LSU is tiny in comparison.”

Wilder said the decision not to renew the big deal with Elsevier comes down to cost; the Elsevier deal currently accounts for almost a third of the library’s annual $6 million budget.

“We’ve reached a point where our serial expenditures are just not sustainable,” he said.

With subscription costs increasing annually by 5 percent, the library has to find an extra $300,000 in new funding each year.

“I’ve been asked why I don’t just ask for more money, and I’ve explained that the issue is not that LSU administrators are reluctant to support collections,” he said. “This is an unsustainable financial model that has to be brought under control.”

Wilder said he purposefully avoided getting into a lengthy negotiation with Elsevier over the bundled subscription.

“We know what to expect out of negotiations -- nobody gets to where they want to go,” he said. “I didn’t see a way out of our situation through the negotiation of a price reduction.”

Tom Reller, vice president of global communication at Elsevier, said the company is willing to offer universities flexible subscription options.

“University strategic objectives change and customers sometimes need to reallocate their funds, so Elsevier provides different options for its customers, including all-access options as well as title-by-title options that provide customers flexibility to choose the most appropriate titles for their collections,” he said in an emailed statement. “We value LSU’s investment in our services and look forward to working with them on the options that best meet the balance of their collection needs and costs.”

Though staff at the LSU library have been working hard to keep faculty members informed of potential changes, Wilder said there are still members of the campus that may be unaware of what is happening.

“We’ve been reaching out to all sorts of LSU departments, attending meetings, having lots of conversations, by phone, email and in person,” he said. “But we still assume the vast majority of faculty don’t yet know. It’s just hard to reach people.”

Wilder said increased press coverage of the scholarly publishing landscape over the past year due to several high-profile cancellations has helped to make faculty members more aware of the issues the library is facing. And many faculty members have a very sophisticated understanding of the scholarly publishing landscape as a result and are largely supportive of the decision to end the subscription deal.

“There were plenty of concerns raised, and almost without exception, they were legitimate and reasonable,” he said. “They were also easily answerable.”

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Categories: Higher Education News

Authors discuss their new book on 'moral mess of higher education'

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 24, 2019 - 5:00pm

A new book about higher education spares no players in academe today. The book criticizes administrators as wasteful, professors as more concerned about their own disciplines than student needs and students for cheating. Yes, Cracks in the Ivory Tower: The Moral Mess of Higher Education (Oxford University Press) likely will anger many Inside Higher Ed readers, even if different chapters may anger different readers.

The authors are Jason Brennan, the Flanagan Family Professor at Georgetown University, and Phillip W. Magness, senior research fellow at the American Institute for Economic Research.

They responded via email to questions about their book.

Q: Your book criticizes many players in higher ed as responding to the wrong incentives. Let's start with administrators -- what do you see as the major flaw in their thinking?

A: Most administrators, we think, care about their jobs and the purpose they serve. Nevertheless, they face a common incentive problem.

Any given administrative unit has a clear sense of what it’s doing but only a vague sense of what else the university does. If administrators had purely altruistic motives, they would still have limited knowledge. They’d have an incentive to increase their budget, add new members and expand their mission. They would see the good they do, but they wouldn’t easily see the opportunity cost of such expansion -- the way it drives up costs for students or comes at the expense of other valuable pursuits. Since university resources are scarce, any money spent by one administrative unit must come from somewhere, and that means less money to do other things. But in real life, administrators are normal people. Like most people, they are predominantly if not entirely selfish. Many work in fields where it’s difficult to measure their output or get a clear sense of their value added. For any given administrator, the easiest ways to justify a salary increase, a promotion and/or increased status for yourself is to a) add additional staff beneath you, b) expand the kinds of things you and your office work on, and c) try to be as busy as possible. The same goes for entire units, which have an incentive to maximize their discretionary budget.

So every administrator and every unit has a selfish incentive to add people, activities and work. Since others pay the costs, they have little incentive to engage in cost-benefit analysis -- that is, to ask whether the marginal value of what they do is higher than the marginal value of the resources they consume to do it.

The result: the total number of full-time faculty at American universities has essentially doubled since the mid-1970s, but administrators have quadrupled in the same period. Today, there are more nonexecutive administrators in higher ed than faculty …

Q: Your book says universities are admitting too many Ph.D. students. Why do you think this is?

A: Everyone likes to blame the poor state of the academic job market -- especially in the humanities -- on alleged cuts to faculty lines … The problem is not that humanities jobs are disappearing, but that many academic fields are graduating new Ph.D.s even faster than their full-time job market grows.

U.S. Department of Education data (see, e.g., IPEDS tables 315.20 and equivalent in earlier reports) show that the total number of tenure-track assistant professors in four-year colleges has grown steadily since 2002, and is keeping pace with student enrollment … Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that the total number of humanities professors (excluding part-timers) has not only increased by about 60,000 between 2000 and 2015, but that humanities professorship employment grew faster than any other field except all the health sciences.

The annual Survey of Earned Doctorates shows a similar pattern. In 2015, the humanities reported 1,383 full-time hires among newly minted Ph.D.s. The social sciences showed 1,215 hires (excluding psychology, which is sometimes categorized as a preprofessional discipline); life and agricultural sciences posted 920; math and computer science posted 441; engineering posted 399; and physical sciences posted 246 faculty commitments from the newest class of Ph.D. students …

The real problem is that while the humanities jobs are growing, Department of Education and other data sources show that the rate at which humanities departments graduate new Ph.D.s is even faster. So, the job market “shortage” is really job market glut of our own creation.

Both administrators and faculty have perverse selfish incentives to churn out Ph.D.s. (For example, professors in doctoral programs get free grading, higher salaries and more prestige.)

Q: Your book accuses professors of using general education as a tool to drive enrollments in certain disciplines. Isn't it possible that faculty members genuinely believe that a degree should be accompanied by more than the major, and that general education prepares a student for the future?

A: We believe that all college graduates should have a wide range of skills and knowledge not captured by any one major. But, unfortunately, empirical work shows gen eds don’t deliver the promised skills or knowledge. Most students do not gain any significant increase in their soft skills such as critical thinking or writing ability from gen eds -- and they generally become worse at mathematics unless they actively study it in their majors. Students forget most of what they learn outside of the narrow areas of their majors. Students don’t learn how to transfer their knowledge. College education falls far short of what most academics, including we, want it to achieve.

If faculty were genuinely interested in educating students, they’d pay great attention to work in educational psychology. They’d want to test to see what works and what doesn't, and they’d modify their methods accordingly. But most don’t do that. They just do the same old thing everyone’s done since the dawn of time, and they either yawn or get mad when you show them the scary studies saying it fails.

We also found that the more financially insecure a department is -- e.g., by having a high faculty-to-major ratio, declining enrollments, a bad job market or few opportunities for outside grants and revenue sources -- the more often its classes seem to appear as gen-ed requirements. Also, mandatory gen-ed credits have gotten more stringent over the years -- especially in writing composition, foreign languages and the “first-year experience” classes that many universities now require. Keep in mind that in most universities, the more butts in seats, the more money your department gets. If you can’t get volunteers to take your classes, you can always force students to take the classes instead and say it’s for their own good. It’s also pretty easy to convince yourself it really is for their own good.

A learning objective that looks good on paper ends up actually becoming a way to prop up departments that need enrollment, even though students are not learning much in their courses. And the students -- or others -- end up footing the bill through tuition payments on a largely ineffective product.

Q: Many of your criticisms seem to apply to institutions that have lots of money, many students, many programs, etc. I imagine a professor at a community college, or an adjunct or someone who works at a poorly resourced institutions that serves low-income students, saying that you are tarring them with the same brush. What would you say to that critique?

A: We focus mostly on four-year colleges, both rich and poor. Both face the same basic problems: they make promises they don’t know if they can keep, and that independent research shows they often fail to keep. They incentivize students to cheat, and students take the bait. They respond to perverse incentives to increase their budgets irrespective of actual value delivered. The primary form of feedback they issue to students is grades, even though psychological evidence shows that grades generally hinder learning, and even though, as we explain in the book, the mathematics of grade point average calculations are literally incoherent.

We suspect the problems are generally worse at institutions with weaker finances. Poorer colleges unfortunately draw a greater number of less prepared and lower-income students. You may know that there is a significant college wage premium. But you secure this premium only if you actually finish college. The sad fact, which we don’t know how to rectify, is that the bottom 50 percent or so of high school students (in terms of preparedness/aptitude/etc.) who begin college actually get a negative return on investment because they don’t finish. They spend time and money, often taking on significant debt they cannot repay, but don’t get the return of a completed degree. Unfortunately, many of these students also tend to be lower-income students, so the financial loss is very serious. Money isn’t the only thing that matters, sure, but it’s sure easier to say that when you have lots of it.

The adjunct issue is complex because, while adjunct faculty use has markedly increased in recent decades, it’s also typically tied to supplemental instruction, additional course offerings and reducing the teaching loads of other tenured faculty -- recall the stable 24-to-one ratio of full-time professors to enrolled students.

One point we stress in the book is that many of the unethical behaviors we see in higher ed also impose the heaviest costs upon underprivileged students. We might ask: Is it worth building a rock-climbing wall in the campus rec center, running a green sustainability drive on campus or doubling the staff of the advising office if these costs are also passed through onto students in tuition hikes and fees? Should we subsidize more faculty careers in unpopular majors if it also means saddling a first-generation college student from a lower-income background with decades of student loan debt?

Q: Are there colleges you think are well run today?

A: Brown University, Jason’s former employer, doesn’t have gen eds. The University of Chicago and Columbia University have specialized core programs which escape the criticism we make in our book, though that doesn’t mean these programs work. (We don’t know if they do.)

Hampshire College used narrative evaluations instead of grades, to its credit.

But, beyond that, our general answer is no, we can’t think of any institutions that are in general well run. Every institution we can think of makes the same basic mistakes and has the same failings.

Q: With "moral mess" in the subhead of your book, I have to ask about the admissions scandal. How does that relate to the issues you raise?

A: Jason works at Georgetown University, one of the schools involved. Georgetown’s former tennis coach allegedly accepted $2.7 million in bribes to help place about 12 students.

Universities are perplexing places. They are filled with left-leaning faculty (like Jason) and even more left-leaning staff and administrators who profess a commitment to social justice. Yet most universities work hard to increase their status by becoming ever more exclusive and elitist. Universities are hierarchical in their own operations, and reinforce other social hierarchies in their outcomes. They serve as gatekeepers of prestige, power and status. Many top institutions have plenty of physical capacity to expand the number of students they admit, but they instead work to keep admissions rates and the number of undergraduates as low as possible, all to enhance the elite status of their brand.

The main value of the Ivy League or equivalent degree is not increased learning. Indeed, the main reason Ivy League students do better than others when they graduate is not that they actually went to those Ivy League schools but that they were impressive enough to get in.

The ratio of, say, Ivy League undergrad spots to the general population is much lower now than 50 years ago, which means in turn that special status attached to having an Ivy League degree is much higher. For every student an Ivy admits, it probably has another six or so competent and qualified to attend. As a result, people have a stronger incentive to cheat their way in.

The scandal also reveals that many people believe it’s far more difficult to be admitted to an elite school than to graduate from it. Parents wouldn’t pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to game the admissions system if their kids had little chance of graduating.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Colleges add new academic programs

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 24, 2019 - 5:00pm
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Rejecting the requirement to publish dissertations online

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 23, 2019 - 5:00pm

Rob Schlesinger is not your typical college student. A lawyer who worked in higher education administration for more than 25 years, he decided to take time off from his day job two years ago to pursue a doctorate degree in education at Manhattanville College in Purchase, N.Y.

Getting an Ed.D. degree is a lifelong dream for Schlesinger. He defended his dissertation proposal, “Ethics Education in the Undergraduate Curriculum: An Action Research Analysis,” earlier this year. He said his experience at the college has been mostly positive, but it recently took an unexpected turn.

In an article published on the blog The Scholarly Kitchen last month, Schlesinger wrote of the shock he felt upon learning that all doctoral students at Manhattanville are required to submit their dissertations to an online database run by for-profit library services company ProQuest.

Schlesinger was even more surprised by the reaction he received from faculty members, administrators and fellow students when he voiced his objection to this policy.

“One would think that I was Oliver Twist asking for more porridge or I had said that I was writing my opus in crayon,” he wrote.

Requiring students to publish dissertations, particularly online, may put vulnerable students who have been victimized, threatened or stalked at risk, said Schlesinger. He believes it could also jeopardize the safety of people mentioned in the research, even if they are anonymized. ​

“My legal -- and moral -- concerns about this practice stem from the issues it raises with privacy and intellectual property rights, as well as contract law,” he said.

Aside from privacy concerns, Schlesinger believes that as the author of his dissertation, he should have the right to decide how his work is published and distributed. He also questions whether it is defensible under contract law for colleges to make the publication of a dissertation a degree requirement.

“My argument here is not against publishing online; rather, it is for giving dissertation authors -- the doctoral students themselves -- a say in the disposition of their work,” wrote Schlesinger.

Ray Harris, director of the law firm Fennemore Craig, said Schlesinger raises valid concerns about privacy, but Harris notes issues around anonymity in qualitative research can usually be identified and resolved early on through discussions about appropriate research design.

If the candidate and the university cannot reach agreement, then the candidate is left with a “Hobson’s choice” of risking harm or withdrawing from the degree program.

Harris expects that most universities would be willing to accommodate serious concerns about publishing students' work online because it is the right thing to do, and because of the liability risk institutions face if harm results from a publication.

“If the university insists on publication in exceptional circumstances where publication is objectively inappropriate, then I believe courts should deal with that situation under traditional contract doctrines,” he said.

The requirement for students to upload their doctoral theses to ProQuest is “bordering on universal” at U.S. institutions, said Rick Anderson, associate dean for collections and scholarly communications at the Marriott Library at the University of Utah.

“This practice amounts to outsourcing the digital archiving of locally produced theses and dissertations,” Anderson said in an email. By putting dissertations in a virtual space that is curated by another entity, institutions can free up institutional server space and staff time for other uses, he said.

“I don’t have a problem with this system being the default arrangement, but I think students should have the option to decline,” said Anderson. “A thesis or dissertation is the author’s original work, and it should be treated as such -- not institutional property. At the very least, if the institution is going to impose such a requirement on its graduate students, that fact should be made very clear before the student matriculates, and an agreement to that effect should be made in writing.”

Barbara Fister, a librarian at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota (who also blogs for Inside Higher Ed) noted that this is not the first time scholars have voiced concern at the requirement to publish their work with ProQuest. In the past, scholars have been surprised to learn that their work was being sold by ProQuest through third-party retailers such as Amazon. ProQuest stopped selling dissertations on Amazon in 2014 following a number of complaints.

People forget that it is a long-standing practice for hard copies of doctoral theses to be made available in libraries for anyone to read, Fister said by email. “It’s public proof of your attainment of knowledge and your membership in the discipline. It was never controversial so far as I know,” she said.

When dissertations started to become widely available online, however, the situation changed. Some publishers became hesitant about publishing commercial books from authors who had recently published their doctoral thesis on the same topic, said Fister.

“Ownership per se is not at issue here. Authors retain copyright,” said Fister. “The issue is the nonexclusive right to distribute copies of a dissertation. ProQuest pays royalties on sales and dissertations may be embargoed, but that appears to be a decision made by institutions rather than individual authors or ProQuest.”

Jessica Horowitz, director of academic relations at ProQuest, said the company publishes dissertations and theses from more than 3,100 universities.

“The universities we work with set their own policies on publication requirements, and while we can’t give exact numbers, we find that many do require their students to publish with ProQuest,” she said in an email.

Publication with ProQuest benefits universities because it boosts the visibility of their graduate programs and makes their research widely available, said Horowitz.

“Most dissertation authors welcome the added visibility that dissemination through ProQuest offers,” she added.

ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global, as the database is officially called, has been a designated off-site dissertation repository for the U.S. Library of Congress since 1999. All dissertations sent to ProQuest become part of the official national collection.

ProQuest is committed to offering flexibility to authors, said Horowitz.

“Authors’ agreements are nonexclusive with ProQuest. Authors retain copyright and full control of their work and may submit it anywhere they wish,” she said. “ProQuest is governed by any embargo that the author or university places on a work and can, upon request, remove online works within 24 hours.”

After speaking with his advisers, Schlesinger was granted an exception to the requirement to publish with ProQuest. He has encouraged other students to request the same but said none have yet done so.

Students should be made aware of the requirement to publish with ProQuest at the beginning of their studies, said Schlesinger. He also objected to the college encouraging students to have their work professionally edited to meet ProQuest’s standards, which he considers an unfair and costly expense.

Schlesinger said he objected to publishing his work online because it hampered the ability of his research interviewees to speak openly with him. When he shared this concern, his supervisors suggested he was “not masking his data well enough.” He argued it is often very easy to unmask anonymous sources in educational research, particularly if they are identified as college presidents or deans.

By not publishing online, Schlesinger is not saying he doesn’t want others to benefit from his research. In fact, he wants the opposite.

“For practitioners, dissertations and journal articles aren’t that helpful,” he said. “If I identify useful information in my dissertation, I want to boil it down into articles and practice guides that will likely be much more widely read.”

Manhattanville's School of Education has since revised its dissertation policy to say that “should a student appeal electronic filing, then a bound copy would be required.”

Tracy Muirhead, interim vice president for institutional advancement at Manhattanville, said in an email that filing with ProQuest is "not a graduation requirement" but doctoral students are "very strongly encouraged to use the electronic filing option."

She said the college's doctoral faculty members will be discussing the issues raised by Schlesinger at an upcoming retreat. But faculty members generally support uploading dissertations to ProQuest and believe it "helps to share with others, both externally and internally, the research that Manhattanville doctoral students have undertaken."

While he is happy he doesn't have to publish his dissertation online, Schlesinger said he wants the college to make it clearer to other students that they also have the option to make an appeal. Many students are still under the impression that filing with ProQuest is mandatory, he said.

"I can see the argument for encouraging students to publish their dissertations on ProQuest, and have spoken with several faculty members who believe that it is a really good thing for the students' careers," said Schlesinger. "But to gloss over the situation does not do the issue, or the college itself, justice."

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Categories: Higher Education News

Feds release broader data on socioeconomic status and college enrollment and completion

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 23, 2019 - 5:00pm

The federal government on Wednesday released a wide range of updated and new data on postsecondary education, including broader measures of college completion and several indicators that show how much family wealth contributes to college students’ odds of enrolling and graduating.

For example, among people who were ninth graders a decade ago, those from the highest quintile of socioeconomic status (parental education and occupations and family income) were 50 percentage points more likely to be enrolled in college in 2016 than were their peers from the lowest quintile -- 78 percent compared to 28 percent.

Money also played a big role in which college and level of degree program students enrolled in, according to the new report from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Students from the lowest quintile who attended college were more likely to first pursue an associate degree (42 percent) than a bachelor’s degree (32 percent). Their peers from the wealthiest quintile, however, were much more likely to first seek a four-year degree (78 percent) than a two-year degree (13 percent).

Likewise, the percentage of higher-income students who first enrolled at a highly selective college or university (37 percent) easily outpaced that of lower-income students (7 percent).

Wealthier students also were much more likely to enroll at a four-year college than at a community college or for-profit institution. More than half of students from the top quintile first enrolled at a public four-year institution (54 percent), while 26 percent enrolled at a four-year private college. The report found that 18 percent enrolled at a community college while less than 2 percent attended a for-profit.

Among students in the lowest quintile, however, 51 percent first enrolled at a community college (or program length of shorter than two years) compared to 28 percent at a four-year public, 8 percent at a four-year private and roughly 13 percent at a for-profit.

The report found that lower-income students from that ninth-grade Class of 2009 were less likely to enroll in college within one year of graduating from high school.

Roughly one-third of students from the lowest quintile of that cohort enrolled within one year of graduating high school and were still in college or had earned a credential by 2016, according to the report, compared to 79 percent of students from the top quintile. Likewise, 53 percent of students from the lowest quintile either never enrolled or delayed their enrollment by more than a year, compared to roughly 11 percent from the top quintile -- 88 percent from this group enrolled in college within one year after high school.

“These numbers are sobering,” said Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, director of upskilling policy at the National Skills Coalition, who called the new report an “affirmation of how diverse the higher education cohort is, and how different the college-going experience can be.”

Completion Rates for Part-Time Students

The new data arrived as the higher education sector has been rocked by scrutiny of its role in perpetuating economic inequality, thanks to a high-profile admissions scandal and unflattering data on social mobility.

As with the Varsity Blues scandal, the federal numbers pull back the curtain on how higher education is stacked in favor of white and wealthy students, said Phil Martin, a spokesman for the Education Trust.

"Students from the least affluent families who enrolled in college were more than three times as likely to start at a community college than their wealthier peers. Community colleges are starved for resources. No surprise their outcomes aren't great," Martin said via email. "Students from the most affluent families were about five times as likely to enroll in a selective college as students from the least affluent families. Selective colleges are typically the ones with lots of resources. So the wealthiest students get the richest campus experience."

The Education Department's annually released report, dubbed "The Condition of Education 2019," features updated and improved measures of student success. Some of those indicators can be broken out by the relative wealth and race and other characteristics of students, including whether they attended college full-time or part-time.

As was the case with students’ enrollment patterns, socioeconomic status had a big impact on those outcomes, according to the data.

For example, the report includes updated completion rates for Pell Grant recipients (data that did not become available until the department recently broadened its completion metrics). The federal grants are need based and represent a subset of lower-income students within the general undergraduate population, the report said.

Completion rates after eight years for the 2009 cohort were lower for Pell recipients who attended four-year colleges across all levels of selectivity except for open-admissions institutions.

For colleges that accepted 90 percent or more of applicants, the new federal completion rates were about 12 percentage points lower for Pell recipients than for nonrecipients (35 percent compared to 47 percent). Among colleges that accepted less than a quarter of applicants, completion rates for Pell recipients lagged by 10 percentage points (79 percent compared to 89 percent).

NCES recently began publishing college completion rates that include part-time students, an improvement from the much-criticized previous limitation of only tracking graduation and transfer rates for full-time students who attend college for the first time.

“This provides the clearest picture yet of how colleges are doing in providing all of their students a credential,” said Michael Itzkowitz, president of the Edvisors Group, a consulting firm, and a former Education Department official during the Obama administration. “This is much more representative of all students who are attending college today.”

For example, the report said just 22 percent of students attended public colleges on a full-time, first-time basis, compared to 42 percent who attended part-time and had previously enrolled at another postsecondary institution.

Yet the addition of part-time students to colleges' completion report card doesn’t make them look better.

The full-time, first-time rate was the “most generous” measure, Itzkowitz said. The new report found that most institutions have eight-year graduation rates of less than 50 percent, he said, although those numbers improve substantially when transfer numbers are added.

“The typical institution leaves students with a mere 50-50 chance of graduating from the institution where they started,” he said, adding that a high percentage of part-time students are “leaving without any credential in hand.”

The “nontraditional” student is the norm for the two-year sector, with three-quarters of the 4.7 million community college students who enrolled in 2009 attending either part-time or not for the first time, meaning they were not included in traditional graduation and retention rates.

Graduation rates for students who enrolled at a community college in 2009 were higher among those who attended full-time (30 percent of first-time students and 38 percent of non-first-time students earned a credential at that college within eight years) than for part-time students (16 percent for first-time students and 21 percent for their non-first-time peers).

Transfer rates for community college students eight years after entry were higher among students who had previously enrolled elsewhere (37 percent for part-time students and 30 percent for full-time students) than among their first-time peers (24 percent for both full-time and part-time).

Part-time students also make up large shares of enrollments at four-year institutions. The report found that 44 percent of students who enrolled at a four-year public in 2009 attended full-time and first time, as did 57 percent of students at four-year privates.

Part-time students at four-year colleges were unlikely to graduate within eight years. Just 19 percent of part-time, first-time students who enrolled at a four-year public or private graduated within eight years, according to the report, compared to 32 percent of part-time students at publics who previously attended another institution and 43 percent at privates. (In most cases, similar portions of those students transferred to another college.)

The report should be a call to action for policy makers, said Martin.

"Students from low-income families are underserved at every level of the U.S. education system," he said. "That's obviously not the kind of system anybody would set up if the goal was equal opportunity."

New Data on Wages

The federal data also included updated employment outcomes for bachelor’s degree holders.

Unemployment rates for young adults (ages 25-29) with a bachelor’s degree were lower in 2017 than in 2010, when the recession was in full swing (3.1 percent compared to 5.6 percent). But median annual earnings (inflation adjusted) were not measurably different.

The median annual earnings for young adults with a bachelor’s degree were $50,500, according to the report, which included both wages and unemployment rates by selected fields of study.

Earnings ranged from $38,400 for graduates with degrees in social work and human services ($39,000 for those with degrees in liberal arts and humanities) to slightly more than $70,000 for holders of bachelor’s degrees in electrical and mechanical engineering.

Graduates with liberal arts and humanities degrees had an unemployment rate of 5.8 percent, which was the highest among fields covered by the data.

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Pew study finds more poor students attending college

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 23, 2019 - 5:00pm

A growing number of college students are from poor families, but they’re mostly attending less selective institutions, which may decrease their chances of earning a bachelor’s degree.

A new report from the Pew Research Center released Wednesday found that the overall number of undergraduates at U.S. colleges and universities has increased during the past 20 years, with students of color and those from low-income families making up much of that growth. Those students are mostly attending the least-selective colleges and universities, which tend to have fewer resources to help students succeed.

The total share of undergraduate college students who come from poor families increased from 12 percent in 1996 to 20 percent in 2016, according to the report. The number of undergraduates who are nonwhite also increased from 29 percent in 1996 to 47 percent in 2016. The report focused on the financial status of dependent students who are under age 23, unmarried and childless.

“This is a positive development of something that had been a concern, and what the data shows are that many more students from poor families are attending colleges and universities,” said Richard Fry, a co-author of the report and a senior economist at Pew. “On the other hand, when we look at what employers pay, there is a premium for bachelor's degrees … and you’re more likely to get a bachelor’s degree at more selective institutions or at a four-year college rather than a community college.”

While there are more students from low-income families attending all types of colleges and universities, Pew found that their growth at selective institutions is less pronounced than at less selective four-year, two-year and for-profit colleges.

The percentage of low-income, dependent undergraduates attending “very selective” institutions increased from 10 percent in 2016 to only 13 percent in 2016, according to the report. Meanwhile, at public two-year colleges, the number of low-income students increased by 14 percentage points, to 27 percent, over the same 20-year time period.

Although the report focuses on young, dependent students who presumably receive financial assistance from their parents or other family members, it also shows that there are more independent students living in poverty compared to 20 years ago. Among independent students, 42 percent were living in poverty in 2016 compared to 29 percent in 1996.

Jason Delisle, a resident fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, said selective universities should receive more credit from the Pew researchers for enrolling more low-income students today than they did 20 years ago. Furthermore, these institutions also are enrolling more independent students, who tend to be poorer than dependent students, he said.

The Pew study found that among independent students at four-year institutions, 52 percent were poor and attended a “very selective” institution in 2016, which reflects a 20 percentage point increase from 1996.

“For all the hand-wringing about affordability, it appears that … a larger proportion of the student body is low income despite all these scary stories about affordability,” Delisle said. “One thing we do know is that the selective colleges are keeping prices really low for these students. The net price after inflation that students pay for tuition at really selective colleges has barely budged in 20 years.”

According to the College Board, the average annual net tuition and fees over time for full-time students at private nonprofit universities declined from $15,500 a year in 2007 to about $14,600 in 2018. At public, four-year colleges, the average net tuition and fees increased by about $600, from $3,100 per year in 2007 to about $3,700 in 2018.

For-profit institutions saw the share of dependent low-income undergraduates increase, as well, from 23 percent in 2016 to 36 percent in 2016 -- a 13-percentage-point gain.

“Selectivity does matter,” Fry said. “It is noteworthy that students from lower-income backgrounds are in higher education but disproportionately at least-selective colleges and universities, and that will impact their likelihood of getting a degree.”

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University, said this trend is concerning.

“These are the [institutions] with fewer resources, and among the public [colleges] they get less in state funding even as their students come with greater need,” he said.

Kelchen said states ultimately need to rethink how they fund their colleges and universities.

“It’s not enough to get a small number of low-income students into a flagship university,” Kelchen said. “How are states funding their colleges in a way that helps reduce gaps in degree attainment?”

A recent report from the Century Foundation called for more public investment in the country’s community colleges because of the growing number of low-income students enrolling. The report blamed low completion rates on a lack of state higher education funding. The report states that private, four-year colleges spend an average of $72,000 per full-time student each year, which is five times more than the $14,000 community colleges typically spend per student. Public universities spend $40,000 each year on each full-time student.

Even when research spending is excluded, private universities spend triple what community colleges do, and public four-year institutions spend 60 percent more.

“The research suggests going to a flagship public university pays off in the long term, but for many students, going hundreds of miles to a flagship isn’t possible,” Kelchen said. “The open-access institution is what’s close by, and that’s why they’re going. Even giving students more financial aid to go to a selective college may not be enough to change their decision if they have to go 300 miles away.”

Even with significant numbers of low-income students going to college, they are no more likely to take out loans than any other undergraduate, according to the Pew report. Borrowing has increased the most among higher-income students, the report said.

Thirty-three percent of students in poverty borrowed for their education in 1996, compared to 8 percent of higher-income students. But in the years since then, borrowing increased among high-income students to 30 percent, while 38 percent of poor students took out loans in 2016.

"High-income families are choosing to attend very expensive schools, and they may need the loans to do it," Delisle said. "The student loan program is as much a loan program for high-income families attending elite institutions as it is low-income families attending less selective ones."

Delisle said another reason low-income students' borrowing habits haven’t changed much is that they’re attending less selective, lower-cost colleges and receiving financial aid packages that will cover their tuition and fees.

“The amount of loans they have to take out is covering living expenses, and the decision around how much to borrow can be flexible,” he said.

Despite the increased numbers of poor students attending community college over the past 20 years, the overall share of undergraduates at two-year colleges has decreased. Community colleges educated 44 percent of the undergraduates in college in 1996, but only 36 percent of all students attended a two-year college in 2016, according to the Pew report.

“What used to be classified as a two-year college or community college has shifted over the past 20 years, and now, they’re granting bachelor’s degrees,” Fry said. “But I don’t think it explains it all -- there have been some other demographic changes in the nation’s undergrads. More of them are traditional age, 18 to 24, fewer are older or nontraditional students, and that sort of demographic shift lends itself more to a four-year college than community college.”

The Pew report also found that the growth of nonwhite students in colleges and universities reflects the growing number of Hispanic students pursuing education beyond high school. And for the first time, Hispanics are now the largest minority group among the nation’s undergraduates over all; there are now as many Hispanic undergraduates as African Americans at moderately selective institutions.

Fry said there shouldn’t be much surprise that the population of Hispanic undergraduates has grown, since they became the largest minority group among high school graduates in 2008. But another reason why more Hispanics are attending college is that high school dropout rates among this group have decreased.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the Hispanic high school dropout rate decreased from 27.8 percent to 8.6 percent from 2000 to 2016.

“Both higher education and K-12 can take some credit for this,” Fry said. “Yes, the high school dropout rates have come down a lot, but among the high school graduates, there is a notable increase in the share of Hispanic graduates going on to college.”

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Athletics officials question role of top college leaders in disciplining coaches

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 23, 2019 - 5:00pm

WASHINGTON -- National Collegiate Athletic Association representatives on Wednesday touted reforms that followed the men’s basketball scandal of 2017. But other officials involved in college sports questioned why top administrators hadn’t stepped in to punish bad actors -- namely coaches.

NCAA leaders presented at a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, describing a "significant" slate of changes, including much stiffer penalties for breaches of association rules and a new entity that would investigate the most complex violations.

These changes and others -- which passed the association membership with relative speed, given the usual lag in approving NCAA policy -- were in response to a pay-for-play scheme federal law enforcement officials revealed in September 2017.

At the time, 10 men -- including Adidas executives and assistant or associate coaches at prominent institutions -- were arrested for allegedly guiding recruits to certain teams in exchange for cash payments. In the past two years, coaches and players in top programs all across the country have been implicated in the controversy.

A committee appointed by the NCAA, led by Condoleezza Rice, who was formerly U.S. secretary of state and Stanford University's provost, made recommendations last year that were largely adopted by the association and were shared with the Knight Commission on Wednesday.

But one panelist at the commission meeting, Mike Brey, the head men’s basketball coach at the University of Notre Dame and president of the National Association of Basketball Coaches, questioned why athletics directors and presidents hadn’t fired corrupt coaches. Brey was responding to Michael Crow, a commission member and president of Arizona State University, who asked why basketball coaches couldn’t be more self-regulating, akin to the medical or legal professions. Crow said he was confused why the onus needed to be on the NCAA when coaches have such an understanding of their field.

Brey initially agreed with Crow, that coaches should take that responsibility, but then turned the question back on Crow with questions of his own.

“Why hasn’t an athletics director or president acted in some of these current cases already?” Brey said. “I think a lot of our coaches want to know, why hasn’t the hammer come down? Again, I’m a little naïve to it -- is it legal stuff? … I think our profession would love to see the hammer be dropped on some of these situations.”

Other coaches, Brey said, have been waiting for “an explosion back.”

In an interview, one of the commission's chairs, Arne Duncan, former U.S. education secretary, said, “There has been an absence of strong leadership” -- not just by athletics directors and presidents, but college governing boards, institutions and the NCAA.

“We would urge institutional leadership -- presidents, chancellors and others -- to look seriously at opportunities to send those strong signals,” said Carol Cartwright, president emeritus of Kent State University and Bowling Green State University and the other commission chair. “Because tone at the top really matters. And when you release a coach for reasons other than [wins], you send a pretty important signal about the values in your program.”

Earlier in the meeting, Cari Van Sensus, the NCAA vice president of policy and chief of staff, had introduced a pilot program in certifying basketball coaches. It is being modeled off a program in Division II athletics called Division II University, in which coaches take online classes on concepts such as sexual assault and mental health. Van Sensus didn't specify how institutions would administer the certification or if it would be required for coaches to keep their jobs. She said many of the details have yet to be ironed out, but that the NCAA was working with the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association.

The top NCAA governing panel, the Board of Governors, in January endorsed the pilot program for Division I basketball coaches with the intention that it may eventually spread to other sports. After a series of felony convictions in the men’s basketball scandal in October 2018, the Knight Commission had suggested that the NCAA develop such credentials.

Brey said that education for coaches should be ongoing. To advance in their careers -- to the spot of head coach -- a certain level of credentialing should be required, he said.

Credentialing will likely not avoid the problems that arose in the men’s basketball scandal, Josephine R. Potuto, former member of the NCAA Division I infractions committee and Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, told Inside Higher Ed.

She said that the program might teach interpersonal skills, which is a worthy goal, but it would not address coaches' ethical lapses.

“The scandal emanated not from a failure to understand rules or appreciate ethical behavior but from efforts to circumvent rules,” Potuto wrote in an email. “There have been people for many years arguing that it should be a requirement for coaches that they show they have adequate background and training to warrant their opportunity to work with students.”

Many of the reforms following the scandal will be in place in time for the next season. Cartwright and Duncan praised the NCAA for "stepping up" and approving the changes quickly, though they said the association could do more, including making public contracts with shoe and apparel companies.

University presidents and athletics staffers must now commit in their contracts to cooperate with NCAA investigations, and the NCAA now has the power to suspend coaches and staff immediately if they fail to do so.

NCAA investigators and adjudicators can also use findings from other administrative bodies -- courts, police or other governing agencies -- in rules violations cases. This will be particularly helpful in disciplining coaches or institutions implicated in the men’s basketball scandal.

And in particularly complicated cases, a separate, independent body from the NCAA can investigate.

Five new members were also recently added to the Board of Governors, with no ties to individual institutions or NCAA conferences. They are:

  • Kenneth Chenault, chairman and managing director of General Catalyst and former chairman and chief executive of American Express.
  • Mary Sue Coleman, president of the Association of American Universities.
  • Grant Hill, former college and National Basketball Association athlete, now a partial NBA team owner and a broadcaster.
  • Dennis McDonough, senior principal and chairman of the Rework America Task Force for the Markle Foundation and former chief of staff to President Obama.
  • Vivek Murthy, the 19th surgeon general of the United States.
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Categories: Higher Education News

University of Kirkuk took in students fleeing the Islamic State

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 23, 2019 - 5:00pm

When the Islamic State began taking control of swaths of Iraq in 2014, seven universities were forced to shut their doors. But 50,000 of the students displaced were welcomed by the University of Kirkuk, which provided support for them to complete their studies, a refuge from terror -- some had fled with tales of people being drowned in cages by IS -- and an alternative to the prospect of being forced to join the jihadists.

The remarkable achievements of Kirkuk, which had 26,000 students before its humanitarian expansion, won the university the Outstanding Support for Students category in the recent inaugural Times Higher Education Awards Asia.

Abbas Hassan Taqi, Kirkuk’s president, highlighted that a young university founded only in 2003 had played “a vital role in rescuing … students from IS gangs,” helping to address “big dangers for the whole world, not Iraq only,” given that students who remained in their home cities would have been potential recruits for IS.

“I don’t think there is any [other] university in the world that is capable of rescuing more than 50,000 students, hosting them, providing them with all the facilities, all the instruments in the labs, all the financial assistance, for … nearly four years,” he told Times Higher Education.

The university opened its doors to students displaced from seven universities across three provinces of Iraq, including the Universities of Mosul -- Iraq’s second-oldest institution -- Tikrit, Anbar and Fallujah.

As IS rule wore on, increasing numbers of people sought to escape these provinces, often driven by horror at the “different, incredible ways of executing people” used by the jihadists, said Safwat Al-Bazzaz, head of the English department at Kirkuk and a member of the university’s team at the awards ceremony, which took place early this month in Abu Dhabi. “They [IS] were putting them in a closed cage [and] by use of a crane drowned them in a river … as we heard from our colleagues from the University of Mosul,” he added.

At the peak of its power, IS occupied about one-third of Iraq, encompassing territory with a population of 10 million.

The aim of IS “was to damage everything in Iraq,” said Al-Bazzaz. “They know that the youth is the basic component of the society.” The choice that IS gave to young people was “either to join them or be punished,” he added.

To accommodate the influx of students, Kirkuk allowed its classrooms and labs to be used by counterpart departments from the seven institutions on its days of closure -- Fridays and Saturdays -- as well as at the end of normal working hours. Some Kirkuk professors worked after hours, without pay, to teach these classes.

Other displaced students were taught alongside Kirkuk students. The university’s libraries were opened to the newcomers. And the university constructed new buildings to cope with the expansion.

Students were provided with accommodation, often for free, and financial assistance as well as food, thanks to donations. Some Kirkuk staff allowed displaced colleagues and students to live in their properties for free. Social events helped to combat any isolation the students, far from home, might feel and served “to raise their spirit,” said Al-Bazzaz.

There was “a very successful and strategic plan to embrace all these students” that was supported by “a lot of administrative efforts to help them continue their studies,” he said.

“So instead of making [perhaps] 30,000 terrorists, we made 50,000 graduates,” he said. “This affects [Iraqi] society a lot. Instead of reinforcing the [IS] gangs, we reinforced education.”

Kirkuk is an ethnically diverse city, with a mixed population of Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and Assyrians.

Iraq’s ethnic mix has often led to tension and violence. But Al-Bazzaz said that different populations could live together peacefully in Kirkuk, pinpointing this as a factor that allowed the university to welcome students from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Friendships and “even marriages” have blossomed between students at Kirkuk as a result of its hosting the displaced, he said. Students from Mosul and Tikrit, and from Mosul and Kirkuk, were married after meeting at the university.

With the displaced students now graduated and the IS “caliphate” ended, Kirkuk has returned to its normal level of 26,000 students.

But the new buildings and a new spirit will leave a legacy for the university, the city and the region, said Al-Bazzaz. “Our capability improved during this time, and our experience in teaching improved in this time,” he said.

The hosting of the displaced students happened while the city of Kirkuk itself was close to the front line of conflict. “Kirkuk was in danger,” said Al-Bazzaz. “But Kirkuk citizens didn’t leave the city … even though sometimes we were hearing the sounds of explosions near Kirkuk. But because of the high spirit of the citizens, of the Kirkuk university students, we remained there. We were able to continue our mission and our study.”

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Brown University and others consider lessons of its open curriculum, now 50 years old

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 6, 2019 - 5:00pm

PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Fifty years ago, Brown University adopted a "New Curriculum," in which distribution requirements were dropped and course selection was left in the hands of undergraduates who could define their own educational goals. The changes were adopted based on a 400-page report drafted by students and debated by hundreds (most of them students) in lengthy conversations on campus, most of them long outdoor sessions.

The process played out in a time of turmoil at many campuses, an era in which many college leaders agreed to demands to calm things down. Brown is notable, however, in that the curriculum adopted then remains in place. Perhaps realizing the difficulty of calling something that is 50 years old "new," Brown now calls it the "open curriculum." And the university sees the curriculum, and the philosophy of that 50-year-old report, as central to Brown's identity.

On Friday and Saturday, Brown leaders gathered with academics from other colleges -- mostly elite private institutions -- to consider the relevance of the Brown curriculum today. Only a few colleges have adopted similarly open curricula, and some have criticized the curriculum for not sufficiently guiding students to make good educational decisions. But many here see elements of the Brown philosophy -- particularly in viewing undergraduates as active learners, able to make key decisions for themselves -- as relevant for many colleges, including those with much more structure in the curriculum than Brown has.

At the same time, many here expressed fears that innovation may be more difficult today than it was when Brown adopted its changes in 1969, and that society may be less supportive of liberal arts education in any form than it was then.

Rashid Zia, dean of the college at Brown, said that the ideas from 1969 are "enduring" at Brown and noted that they were codified in Brown's official rules and regulations -- even if the statements there seem more rules to prevent the faculty from taking too much control away from students.

The rules state: "At Brown University, the purpose of education for the undergraduate is to foster the intellectual and personal growth of the individual student. The student, ultimately responsible for his or her own development in both of these areas, must be an active participant in framing his or her own education. A central aspect of this development is the relationship of the student with professors and fellow students and with the material they approach together. Structures, rules, and regulations of the university should facilitate these relationships and should provide the student with the maximum opportunity to formulate and achieve his or her educational objectives."

Zia and others here stressed that elements of the report that led to reforms at Brown were not just about requirements -- even if the end of distribution requirements received the most attention.

Indeed parts of the report seem ahead of the curve on other issues. There is a lengthy section on lectures that reads like a call for flipping the classroom (even if online options wouldn't have been available at the time for any part of the flipping).

"If a lecture is dully delivered it can be the deadliest experience a student will encounter in college," the report says. "Some professors, no matter how good they are as scholars and teachers, do not have the abilities necessary to be good lecturers, abilities which may involve such nonscholarly traits as showmanship and humor. Other problems with lectures result when students must note-take to the point where listening, and comprehension, is impossible. Being afraid to miss any of the 'important material' that the professor is presenting, the students write down as much as they possibly can; yet often when students emerge from a lecture with pages of notes, they do not know what the lecture was about."

The report goes on -- in ways that were shocking then, but not today -- to say, "Being a good lecturer is not the equivalent of being a good teacher. It is our belief that these professors should perhaps use other teaching methods, such as the discussion group or the tutorial, or should modify the basic three-lecture-per-week structure of the course. Some possible modifications would be the use of a discussion section … the increased implementation of a question and answer period, or possibly even the increase of office hours."

What Is Student-Focused Innovation Today?

In an era when discussion sections don't count as innovation, what does?

Peter Felten and Sophia Abbot, both from Elon University, led a discussion on viewing students as "partners" in learning.

Felten acknowledged that this is not simple. He recalled a discussion with a faculty member who said, "I have a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and my students do not."

That comment "is fair," Felten said. But he argued that "the job" of teaching organic chemistry is "not for the faculty member to demonstrate her expertise."

By listening to students about the learning process, and making adjustments, more learning will take place -- without sacrificing the substance of what is taught.

Felten and Abbot -- along with Brown students -- discussed Brown programs (far more recent than the curricular reforms of 50 years ago) that have undergraduates assist professors with writing and other tasks in courses. These students are not teaching assistants in the model of many research universities. They don't grade or lead classes. They focus on helping students, one by one, and sharing information with faculty members on what is and isn't working in class. The Brown students said that the experience of doing so made them stronger students.

A topic that came up throughout the conference was about whether ideas in play at Brown, however successful there, could be used elsewhere.

Felten said that some in the audience were probably thinking, "Yeah, you can do this at Brown, where you have brilliant students in small classes. But can you do this at a huge state institution or a community college?"

He also said that many students -- particularly those who may not have attended good high schools -- have been taught to be "receptacles," not active learners able to teach their instructors a thing or two.

All of that's true, he said. But he added that he hoped people with different student populations and different missions consider what they can learn from Brown.

"Context matters," he said, "but that doesn't mean you can't partner with your students. There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to this."

One participant here from a liberal arts college said he loved the ideas behind this role for students, but he stressed that there are many obligations for the colleges. The moment undergraduates are playing a role in class beyond just being a peer, colleges need to be sure they are trained on issues of sexual harassment and discrimination, mental health and more. Just because students may be aware of their duties as students doesn't mean they will know their obligations if they are playing any formal role in class.

Who Gets to Participate?

Brown and other elite colleges are receiving considerable criticism these days for policies and practices many see as favoring the wealthy -- in admissions and the student experience. Brown's president, Christina Paxson​, last month announced a review of policies on "fairness" in admissions and in student life.

One presentation here argued that the spirit of student engagement hailed by Brown in celebrating the golden anniversary of curricular reform needs to go further -- into thinking about which students get to participate in engaging programs.

Timothy Eatman, dean of the Honors Living-Learning Community at Rutgers University at Newark, described the academic and nonacademic programming that participants in the program receive. The student population is largely from Newark and low income. Students are from every ethnic and racial group. They include community college transfers. They include the formerly incarcerated.

Eatman argued that you cannot limit innovation in the liberal arts to those who could get into Brown. Those who apply to the program come together in groups of eight or so to work on problems together with a faculty member or someone else observing. Then some are invited for interviews. Standardized testing and other traditional measures of worthiness for an honors program are not used.

"Honors is as diverse as you can get at Rutgers," he said.

Attendees from elite colleges generally said that they admired Eatman's program and saw it as consistent with some of the values of Brown 1969. But these participants also said that they couldn't imagine making decisions about students at their institutions (or being permitted to do so) the way Eatman and his colleagues do.

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Doane U suspends library director over exhibit that included 1920s-era students in blackface

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 6, 2019 - 5:00pm

Doane University in Nebraska shuttered a library exhibit and put a librarian on leave over historical photos of students in blackface. The university says the images ran counter to its values and, as presented, served no educational purpose. Some of the librarian’s faculty supporters disagree and say that Doane interfered in a learning moment, albeit a painful one, that their colleague was already working to right. 

“Were some of our students genuinely offended or hurt by the library display? Yes,” said Brian Pauwels, associate professor of psychology at Doane and vice president of the campus’s American Association of University Professors advocacy chapter. “Was suspending the librarian in response to that hurt heavy-handed and in violation of the academic freedom that is necessary to do her difficult job every day?”

Pauwels continued, “Can’t the answer to both questions be yes? Because lots of people want us to pick one or the other. These are values that are hard to define, and now they’re colliding with one another.”

Other professors think Doane made the right call. 

Mark Orsag, professor of history, said this is "primarily a common sense and respect issue and not an academic freedom issue.” As the photos in the display were not "contextualized at all,” he said, there "was really no education taking place.” 

The director of the Crete campus's Perkins Library, Melissa Gomis, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Doane’s AAUP chapter just approved a statement condemning Gomis's suspension and Doane's actions against the exhibit as censorship.

According to that statement and other accounts, Doane’s library staff in March curated an exhibit of historical photographs and other memorabilia from student scrapbooks housed in university archives. In late April, a student complained about two photographs in a display called "Parties of the Past." The photos showed students attending a 1926 Halloween party, apparently in blackface. A blurb from a local newspaper at the time indicated it was a campus masquerade party. But there was no accompanying note from the curators explaining why the photos were included.

Many historians have argued that there is value in showing the presence of racism at universities and in other parts of society, even if such visibility makes people uncomfortable today. Many also argue for contextualizing this kind of content.

After speaking with the concerned student, Gomis decided to remove the blackface photos due -- according to the AAUP -- “to genuine concern for the student while also recognizing the current atmosphere of elevated sensitivity on many college campuses.” Indeed, a number of campuses have this year been forced to acknowledge blackface incidents in their own not-so-distant pasts.

Then last week, under orders from the provost, the entire exhibit was removed. That same day, Gomis was told to collect her things from her office and suspended indefinitely.

Gomis's suspension, AAUP says, is the “consequence of a grievance complaint about the exhibit, prior to initiation of an investigation.”

Citing censorship guidelines from the American Library Association, Doane’s AAUP chapter describes the university’s forced removal of the exhibit as “an unambiguous example of censorship,” coming from “outside the library performed by a person with no training in library and archival science.” That’s in contrast to Gomis’s initial self-censorship, which was “driven by her genuine concern to respond to the student and to avoid external censorship.”

When an educator "is pressured to remove content from a lecture, lesson or display that was created according to the current methods of the profession, then a violation of academic freedom has occurred,” AAUP also says.

Academic Freedom and Censorship

Also last week, President Jacque Carter sent an all-campus memo saying that blackface “has a history of dehumanization and stereotyping, which perpetuates systemic racism in society.” He apologized for the photos and the hurt they’d caused.

“Such an insensitive action is unacceptable and will not be tolerated now or in the future,” Carter wrote.

Doane's AAUP took issue with that statement, saying that an environment in which a president can judge exhibits as "sufficiently controversial or offensive that they must be removed partially or in their entirety at the president’s discretion" constitutes "an infringement of the academic freedom that is essential to the work of Director Gomis, all other faculty and, by extension, the students of the university."

Much of the criticism of Gomis has centered on the fact that the exhibit itself did not acknowledge that the photos showed students in blackface. Did Gomis intend that, for some educational purpose, or was it professional negligence?

Pauwels said Gomis made the professional judgment not to include an explainer, and that the university should have deferred to her expertise. “Carelessness was not an issue here.”

What would have been appropriate, sufficient language to note that students at Doane once thought blackface was fun, he asked rhetorically.

Asked if that was an implicit argument against trigger warnings of any kind, Pauwels said no -- and that that choice should be left up to educators. The guiding principles in such matters should be deference to disciplinary expertise and commitment to letting the process of educational dialogue play out, he said, however undervalued those principles are outside college and university settings of late.

“The university should have exercised some restraint, and I just fail to see why that didn’t happen here.”

A Failure of Common Sense?

Orsag, the historian, said the photos, without context, were "clearly disrespectful to the African-American faculty, staff and students on this campus.” Given national controversies over similar pictures, he added, "putting those photos up in that manner was tone-deaf in the extreme and demonstrated a fundamental lack of common sense.”

Academic freedom "carries with it the responsibility to act respectfully, with fairness and with common sense," he added, arguing that "such offensive displays" are explicitly against Doane's anti-harassment policy.

Amanda McKinney, executive director of Doane’s Institute for Human and Planetary Health and director of its Open Learning Academy, said the key issue is not content but context. 

"Words matter, including their omission,” McKinney said. "There was nothing there with the pictures to indicate whether this was right or wrong, racist or not, condoned by the librarian or not.” Given the display title, one "might even think we were celebrating it. That's the crux of the issue,” she added. 

McKinney also noted that the display was located immediately outside the library, in a high-traffic area, where there is no opting in or out of the viewing experience.    Quoting AAUP’s policy on academic freedom, McKinney said that teachers "are entitled to freedom in the classroom in discussing their subject, but they should be careful not to introduce into their teaching controversial matter that has no relation to their subject.” Additionally, she continued, quoting the AAUP, professors’ "special position in the community imposes special obligations. As scholars and educational officers, they should remember that the public may judge their profession and their institution by their utterances.”   McKinney said that Doane was within its rights to suspend Gomis under its anti-harassment policy, pending the investigation. Saying she thought it was unlikely that Gomis would be fired, McKinney called for "a university-wide conversation about this issue that includes all its many facets.”    Of the ongoing investigation, Orsag said, “Let the facts, as revealed, guide the decision.”   Melissa Clouse, director of pre-health programs at Doane,  said she doesn’t "shy away from difficult discussions" when they're "beneficial to the learning objectives that I have for my students within the context of the classes I teach.” At the same time, Clouse said she has a "responsibility to be guided by respect for my students, and to provide context and an environment where learning can occur within explorations of difficult topics.”    As someone who is "keenly aware of the innate power differential between faculty members and the students that we work with," Clouse said that any "semblance of disregarding or abusing that power dynamic is detrimental to learning and to a healthy educational environment."   Librarians and Free Inquiry   Do librarians have academic freedom? The AAUP endorses granting librarians faculty status, mainly so that they’re guaranteed it.   Doane’s AAUP statement says that some observers "may object that a library is not a classroom and therefore librarians do not require academic freedom. However, we assert that the library is a fundamental classroom, where knowledge and learning begin."   The document cites a joint a joint statement by the AAUP and the Association of College and Research Libraries asserting that college and university librarians “share the professional concerns of faculty members. Academic freedom, for example, is indispensable to librarians, because they are trustees of knowledge with the responsibility of ensuring the availability of information and ideas, no matter how controversial, so that teachers may freely teach and students may freely learn."   Key to the Doane case, that joint statement also said that as members of the academic community, "librarians should have latitude in the exercise of their professional judgment within the library, a share in shaping policy within the institution and adequate opportunities for professional development and appropriate reward."   Doane’s AAUP chapter further argues that librarians “are particularly vulnerable to sanctions resulting from public disapproval of their collections and exhibits,” since they deal with an “enormous range of materials that inevitably will include items that some, and perhaps even many, will find objectionable.” And unlike professors in a dynamic classroom setting, the chapter wrote, librarians can’t “respond instantly to questions or reactions from their audience, or explain in the moment their decision-making process in presenting such materials.”   Pauwels argued that the broader issue is that one instance of even well-meaning censorship sets the stage for worrisome instances of censorship going forward. Defending academic freedom “here and in the long term” ultimately ends up benefiting students, he said.   Carter declined an interview request, citing the ongoing investigation. A spokesperson reiterated that Gomis was not escorted off campus by security.   The university said in a statement that a display of photographs placed outside the library “included offensive photos -- taken in the 1920s -- showing some students in blackface. There was no context around the photos and it was not used in an educational way.”   After a “concerned student expressed a complaint about the photos, the photos were removed,” Doane said. “We apologize for the display of those photos and for the pain they have caused. Blackface is hurtful and racist and has no place at this institution without educational context surrounding it.”   Doane also said that the photos “ran counter” to its “beliefs and values,” and that the university strives “to be an inclusive university that welcomes students, faculty and staff members from all backgrounds and walks of life.”   The university has made “important progress over the years, but events such as this remind us of the work that lies ahead,” it said. “We intend to use this as an opportunity for growth within our entire campus community.” Academic FreedomFacultyLibraries and PublishingEditorial Tags: Academic freedomFacultyLibrariesRacial groupsImage Caption: Melissa GomisIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
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Far-right government in Brazil slashes university funding, threatens cuts to philosophy and sociology

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 6, 2019 - 5:00pm

First, they announced they were considering withdrawing funding from sociology and philosophy programs. Writing on Twitter a week ago Friday, Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro said, “the goal is to focus on areas that will have immediate return to taxpayers, such as veterinary medicine, engineering and medicine.”

Then, they said there would be 30 percent cuts to three major federal universities: the University of Brasília, the Fluminense Federal University and the Federal University of Bahia. Brazil’s new minister of education, Abraham Weintraub, said the three universities -- all three of which are respected internationally -- are underperforming academically and hold "ridiculous" and partisan events. "The university must have a surplus of money to be making such a mess and organizing ridiculous events," he told the O Estado de São Paulo. The newspaper reported that he gave as examples of this mess "Members of the Landless Workers' Movement inside the campuses, naked people inside the campuses."

Then, they announced that the 30 percent cuts would apply not just to those three universities, but to all of Brazil’s federal universities. Higher education policy experts clarified that the proposed cuts do not affect faculty salaries -- faculty at the federal universities are civil servants -- but instead target the maintenance budgets of the universities, things like electricity and staff travel.

It has, in short, been an eventful 10 days for Brazilian higher education. Experts see the cuts to federal university budgets and threatened cuts to specific programs as ideologically motivated and part of a broader effort by the Bolsonaro government to roll back the signature achievement of former left-wing president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of expanding access to higher education.

“Bolsonaro campaigned on ending supposed leftist indoctrination in schools, so he’s going to make that happen,” said Jason Stanley, the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University and author of How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them, in which he wrote about international attacks by far-right governments on higher education (Penguin Random House, 2018).

“What we’ve been waiting to see is when there would be changes in policies for budgeting. It’s now coming,” said James N. Green, the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Professor of Modern Latin American History at Brown University.

“First, they were singling out the universities [seen] as particularly intransigent, the Federal University of Bahia, the University of Brasilia and Fluminense Federal University. These are excellent universities, some of the top universities; they also have people within them who have organized events criticizing Bolsonaro,” Green said.

“Then it was made clear that you couldn’t target the universities to cut the funding without any real basis; they decided to expand it to 30 percent across the board, but the intentions were very clear,” Green said. “It’s to punish universities.”

The Estado reported that the initial 30 percent cuts to the three federal universities were part of about $1.5 billion in cuts to the Ministry of Education. "I can cut and unfortunately, I have to cut from somewhere," Weintraub, the education minister, said.

Weintraub, who was nominated for his post in April and is the second education minister since Bolsonaro assumed the presidency in January, has also said that the government’s priority is elementary and secondary education. “In the government plan that elected President Jair Bolsonaro, it was very clear, it was explicit, that our priority was basic education and preschool,” he said in a video posted on Twitter seemingly in response to protests regarding the cuts. “An undergraduate student costs 30,000 reais per year; a student in a day-care center costs 3,000 reais per year. For each undergraduate student I enroll in college, I could have 10 children in a day-care center -- children who are generally in a low-income family, poorer, more needy and who do not have day care for them today. What would you if you were in my position?”

In Brazil, however, the federal government has a relatively limited role in financing K-12 education, which is primarily financed by states and municipalities. “There is a real situation of budget constraints,” said Simon Schwartzman, an expert on Brazilian education and a member of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. “But this kind of decision to cut 30 percent across the board [at federal universities] combines the need to make cuts with anti-intellectual reasons.”

“Announcing this specific set of cuts -- the 30 percent cut -- is absolutely ideologically motivated. There’s no other way to see it, because it wouldn’t be enough money to make a difference in public financing,” said Justin Axel-Berg, an associate researcher of higher education policy at the University of São Paulo. He added that the topic of cuts hadn’t been discussed until two to three weeks ago after Weintraub took office.

“This is a man who has been in his job for less than a month wanting to make an immediate impact,” Axel-Berg said.

Weintraub, an economist who before becoming education minister was a professor at the Federal University of São Paulo, has been a proponent of countering leftist ideology in universities and overcoming what’s described as “cultural Marxism.” He recently defended what he sees as the right of students to film their teachers in the classroom.

“This new minister has adopted this anti-cultural Marxist rhetoric of the entire Bolsonaro administration,” said Stephanie Reist, a postdoctoral researcher in education policy at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro. “They just say ‘cultural Marxism.’ It doesn’t mean anything, but they’re very much against any kind of critical race theory or feminism, or any sort of critical studies writ large.”

The proposal to defund philosophy and sociology programs has attracted worldwide outrage, though Axel-Berg cautioned that in the era of Bolsonaro it is difficult to separate proclamations on social media that may or may not have substance behind them from serious policy proposals. “How this is going to be achieved, nobody has any idea,” Axel-Berg said. “These aren’t people who have any kind of experience with higher education, with universities. It’s noise on Twitter being played to their electoral base.”

International academics are, however, taking the threat seriously. The American Philosophical Association and the American Sociological Association joined with several other groups in writing a letter protesting the move. Thousands of international academics have signed open letters. One such letter describes the attack on philosophy and sociology as “an attack on the very fabric of a democratic society.” Another letter says Bolsonaro’s “intent to defund sociology programs is an affront to the discipline, to the academy and, most broadly, to the human pursuit of knowledge. This proposal is ill conceived and violates principles of academic freedom that ought to be integral to systems of higher education in Brazil, in the United States and across the globe.”

Stanley, the Yale philosophy professor and author of How Fascism Works, said what’s happening in Brazil should be “a canary in the coal mine” for American academics. “This is not some exotic thing,” he said. “This is an international, worldwide far-right attack on the universities that is if anything more mainstream in the United States than in Brazil.”

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Colorado State, citing potential sex assaults, tries to shut down Undie Run

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 6, 2019 - 5:00pm

In an annual tradition, the students of Colorado State University strip to their underwear at the end of the academic year and dash across the campus in what is known as the Undie Run. This is a celebration before final exams, a way of students airing stress in a way that many of them perceive to be harmless.

But administrators want to shut it down.

One of their primary reasons? That participants, particularly women, have reported being sexually assaulted during the run and at parties held afterward -- an argument, students and other critics say, that smacks of victim blaming.

Online and in interviews with Inside Higher Ed, these Undie Run supporters say that linking students’ (admittedly minimal) attire to sexual violence promotes the idea that the survivors were somehow asking to be assaulted if they ran around publicly in their underwear.

Campus rape has been a long-standing issue for colleges and universities, though administrators’ handling of such cases has come under new scrutiny.

Though few colleges have radically changed the way they investigate and judge these cases, they are under new pressure to respond to sexual assault.

“I think that, primarily in my experience, that schools are motivated by press,” said Faith Ferber, a student engagement organizer with activist group Know Your IX. “And if a lot of people are assaulted at this Undie Run, and there’s an article about it, that their school is getting bad press, they have a rape problem, schools are afraid of that. They want to do whatever they can shut those things down.”

Organizers of the run have been hyping it up far before its scheduled date on May 10. But administrators have engaged in a full-court press against the event, saying they will ask police to monitor illegal activity and have emailed parents an explanation of why they are intent on stopping it.

One official, Jody Donovan, the assistant vice president for student affairs and dean of students, even wrote on the Undie Run Facebook event from her personal account, listing all the reasons the university will not allow it. She also has responded to students who said that the university’s policies can’t stop them from participating.

“If there is an indication that there will continue to be plans to assemble, there will be a heightened police presence on campus and off campus,” Donovan wrote on Facebook. “If there are plans to assemble off campus, police and university volunteers will also respond. If people assemble, police will take video of the area. Images will be used to follow up on complaints and potential criminal incidents to identify individuals who behave inappropriately.”

An identical message was sent to students and their families -- as well as other colleges in the area, said spokeswoman Dell Rae Ciaravola. This detailed how students could report sexual assaults.

In addition to concerns about sexual violence associated with the run, administrators said they have observed outsiders photographing or filming the run, and they have posted those images online or used them without students’ consent.

Colleges should inform students about potential risks outside sexual assault, said Jess Davidson, the executive director of advocacy group End Rape on Campus. Administrators can flag the potential for students’ pictures to be taken, but ultimately, they’re making the decision, Davidson said. She also said that she thinks the focus on photo taking is a bit of a red herring.

“Most students know if they’re running around in their underwear outside, people are going to be posting it to social media,” Davidson said. “There will be friends taking pictures and putting it up; Instagram stories are going to be happening with the Undie Run. Students are aware of that.”

The university said it estimates the run has forced officials to pay about $150,000 to cover property damages and security, too.

Ciaravola did not respond to additional questions from Inside Higher Ed, including the college’s response over the sexual assault criticism.

Students online blasted administrators and complained the event had gone off without a hitch in previous years.

“My favorite part is when they said it makes it easier for girls to get groped by men when rapists literally hurt women fully clothed,” Andrea Goff, a student, wrote on Facebook. “It’s not about what you're wearing and that’s just another excuse. Don't blame the victim because they wanted to participate in a tradition where we should all be respectful of each other, regardless of how much or little we're wearing. Underwear doesn't change that.”

The organizers of the Undie Run did not respond to request for comment.

Ann M. Little, a history professor at Colorado State, posted to Twitter after she received the emailed warnings for students -- she agreed with administrators

“I understand and agree mostly with the public and personal safety issues our campus police raise about the Undie Run,” Little wrote, adding, jokingly, the easiest way to shut down the jaunt around campus would be to send out administrators and faculty sans clothes.

Races involving partial nudity are certainly not confined to the Colorado State campus. Colleges across the country hold similar rituals, and there are videos online to prove it -- among them the University of California, Los Angeles; UC Irvine; Oregon State University and Northeastern University.

Davidson said that such events always inspire debate about whether they facilitate rape. But she said if Colorado State wanted to help its students, it wouldn’t impose a full ban on the Undie Run. Officials should be teaching students about “bystander intervention” -- how to step in when you witness sexual violence, or offer a ride service so students who have been drinking have a way to arrive home safely, Davidson said.

“It just sends the message that it is the fault of the individual who is running in their underwear,” Davidson said.

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 6, 2019 - 5:00pm
  • Alfred University: Marlin Miller, business leader and philanthropist.
  • Baruch College of the City University of New York: Carl E. Heastie, speaker of the New York State Assembly.
  • Boston University: Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences.
  • Chaffey College: Yasmin Davidds, CEO of the Multicultural Women’s Leadership Institute and the Women’s Institute of Negotiation.
  • Cranbrook Academy of Art: Carole Harris, the artist.
  • Drury University: Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of the late Reverend Oliver L. Brown, namesake of the Brown v. Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
  • East Tennessee State University: Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission; and Scott Lillibridge, senior medical adviser to the International Medical Corps.
  • Loyola University Chicago: Ellen Alberding, president of the Joyce Foundation; and others.
  • Manchester Community College, in Connecticut: Connecticut attorney general William Tong.
  • Maria College, in New York: Sister Marilyn Lacey, founder and executive director of Mercy Beyond Borders.
  • Monroe Community College, of the State University of New York: Tokeya C. Graham, associate professor of English and philosophy at the college.
  • Park University: Reggie Robinson, vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas.
  • Ramapo College of New Jersey: Tiki Barber, the author and former New York Giants football player.
  • Randolph-Macon College: Alan B. Rashkind, a lawyer and the college's outgoing board chair.
  • Rollins College: Robiaun Rogers Charles, vice president of advancement at Agnes Scott College; and others.
  • St. John’s University, in New York: Margaret M. Keane, CEO of Synchrony.
  • University of Miami, in Florida: Drew Gilpin Faust, former president of Harvard University; and others.
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North Carolina press seeks sustainable open-access model for monographs

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 3, 2019 - 5:00pm

The University of North Carolina Press is leading an experiment to significantly lower the cost of producing scholarly books -- an important step toward a sustainable open-access publishing model for monographs.

Many university presses have experimented with open-access monographs, but few have transitioned away from charging fees for most work, as they are unable to do so sustainably, said John Sherer, director of UNC Press.

A big part of the problem is that monographs are incredibly expensive to produce. A 2016 Ithaka S+R study found that monographs can cost anywhere from $15,140 to $129,909 to publish depending on overhead, staff time, design, production and marketing costs. In contrast, a typical science journal might charge around $2,000 to make an article free to read.

While there are some libraries, universities and research funders willing to offer generous subsidies to university presses in order to help them publish OA monographs, many are unwilling to prop the system up at scale, said Sherer.

One ambitious OA monograph initiative, Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem (TOME), offers university presses subsidies of $15,000 per book. Sherer’s project aims to demonstrate that a subsidy of $7,000 could suffice.

By streamlining workflows, Sherer believes university presses could make their processes much more efficient and cost-effective. He also hopes that by making digital copies of monographs free for anyone to download, university presses might actually sell more print copies of books than before.  

Presses Participating in the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot: 

  • University of British Columbia Press
  • University Press of Colorado
  • Cornell University Press
  • Fordham University Press
  • University of Georgia Press
  • University of Hawaii Press
  • Kent State University Press
  • Liverpool University Press
  • Louisiana State University Press
  • Manchester University Press
  • University of Michigan Press
  • University Press of Mississippi
  • University of Nebraska Press
  • University of New Mexico Press
  • University of North Carolina Press
  • Oxford University Press
  • University of Rochester Press
  • University of Virginia Press
  • University of Washington Press

To test scholars' appetite for digital books, each title will be published initially only in a digital format. After a 90-day embargo period, scholars will be offered the option to buy a print copy. 

“Our hypothesis is that making monographs open and digital might actually help to expose them to new audiences,” said Sherer. “If that gets proven -- and we’ll be testing it pretty heavily -- it could mean the books sell better than if the digital version had been paywalled.”

It is unclear whether, given the option to access the digital content for free, many people will choose to purchase print, acknowledges Sherer. But there are several studies indicating that scholars in the humanities prefer engaging with print texts over digital ones, he said. 

Sherer was awarded $950,000 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in July 2018 to support the pilot, which will focus on work by historians. The project, called the Sustainable History Monograph Pilot, has so far recruited 19 university presses to participate. The presses will work collaboratively with Longleaf Services, a not-for-profit publishing services provider owned by UNC Press.

The project’s aim is to publish 75 OA monographs over the next three years. With match funding from authors' home institutions, the project could publish up to 150 books. 

Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Each university press involved in the project will carry out the same acquisition and peer-review process, said Sherer. But rather than creating a custom cover and formatting the text for each book as they have before, participating university presses will be encouraged to use the design templates and automated typesetting provided in web-based monograph production platform Editoria -- an open-source tool developed by the University of California Press, the California Digital Library and the Collaborative Knowledge Foundation.

The books may not have the design flair some scholars have come to expect, and that may be off-putting for some authors, said Sherer. But he argues for specialized titles, which are likely to have a small audience, it simply doesn’t make sense for the press to spend a fortune on appearances. The important thing is to disseminate the scholarship as widely as possible.

“The crucial thing with the OA History Monograph project is that the simplified format is the first iteration, but the door is left open for a more elaborate edition later should the reception of the simplified version be particularly positive,” said Charles Watkinson, director of the University of Michigan Press, which is participating in the pilot.

The book cover and formatting may follow a template, but that doesn’t mean it has to be ugly, said Watkinson. “It is necessary and possible to create a handsome-looking simplified OA version; cover templates, for example, can be very beautiful if done well.”

Aside from aesthetics, there is another hurdle to overcome in persuading authors to participate in the project -- a lack of knowledge about open-access publishing, said Seth Denbo, director of scholarly communication and digital initiatives for the American Historical Association.

“Most historians don’t spend a lot of time thinking about scholarly communication. We write books, and publishers publish them,” said Denbo, who is advising the pilot. Though awareness of open-access publishing is growing, Denbo suggests many authors might not fully understand what open access publishing means or believe it holds negative connotations. “There’s a perception that it’s not good quality, that it’s thrown up on the web with no peer review.”

Historians are unlikely to make great fortunes from authoring monographs, but the fact that they won’t make money from the digital sales of their book could give some scholars pause, said Denbo. On the other hand, the pilot "could allow us to publish scholarship that was previously unpublishable," he said, particularly if the work is an obscure field. 

"That's one big difference with monographs, authors get money when a book sells, which doesn't happen for journals ever," said Jeff Kosokoff, assistant university librarian for collection strategy at Duke University. But he doesn't think the loss of income would be a huge deterrent to authors considering making their work open-access. "I think most authors will tell you that income is very small." 

In both journal and book publishing, though the sales model is very different, the objective of the author is usually the same, said Kosokoff. "Authors want to get tenure, have an impact, engage in conversations, raise their stature and become known and acknowledged for being good scholars." 

The stripped-back approach to formatting being tested in the OA monograph pilot might not be right for everyone -- particularly those working in the digital humanities, said Denbo. There are other monograph initiatives, such as Lever Press, that are pushing the boundaries of what monographs can be -- incorporating images, videos and 3-D models.

There is room for lots of experimentation and a variety of approaches, said Denbo. The most important objective is to make historians' work more accessible and visible, he said.

“We have a real problem with the broad discoverability of our ideas."  

Challenging Economics

It can often take university presses two to three years to recoup the costs they put into producing a book, and many operate on tight budgets, said Sherer. Just this week, Stanford University threatened to pull financial support for Stanford University Press.

“Creating affordable, high-quality monographs is inherently deficit publishing, and yet it’s at the core of what university presses do,” said Sherer. “That doesn’t mean presses shouldn’t be striving for sustainability, even if it requires a significant change in how presses operate. And that’s exactly the type of intervention we’re attempting.”

“The scaling and standardization and digital-first features we’re embracing make many people uncomfortable,” he said. “While our project is simply a pilot with limited funding, we do believe that in the long run, institutions might be more willing to fund high-quality monographs that are produced at lower costs and harness the power of the web to distribute exponentially more broadly than we’ve ever been able to before.”

Open access monographs often rely on patronage from libraries, universities or research funders, but this patronage can be hard to come by, said Don Waters, senior program officer for scholarly communications at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. 

While the Mellon Foundation has been happy to support experiments that build publishers' capacity to produce open access books, it doesn't want to become the funding mechanism for publishing these books in the long-term, said Waters. 

"We are not as passionate about open access as we are about providing the means for scholars to use the digital environment to communicate their ideas. That's really the objective of our funding," said Waters. "To do that in a way that is affordable for all the parties involved is a really delicate balance."

For many university presses, the digital publishing realm is still new, and "actually pretty expensive" because it is not yet familiar, said Waters. "With practice and imagination, we expect the costs to come down."

Not only will the OA history monograph pilot introduce new digital publishing practices to university presses, but it will also help them gauge interest and demand in new titles before going to print, said Waters. "That is a really wonderful idea." 

Martin Eve, professor of literature, technology and publishing at Birkbeck, University of London, said the economics of monographs make open-access publishing challenging, even for the most well-funded presses.

There are lots of interesting OA monograph initiatives out there, but many have limited resources, said Kosokoff. "I think people haven't been willing to take the risk to lead a real transformation." 

There are several open-access initiatives, such as Knowledge Unlatched, which have crowdsourced funds from libraries to make scholarly books open access. This model has “shown great promise in mitigating the economic challenges,” said Eve. But when Knowledge Unlatched became a for-profit company, it lost some support from librarians, he said.

Groups like ScholarLed, punctum books, Open Humanities Press and Open Book Publishers are making encouraging progress but are still operating on a small scale, said Eve.

“I hope for a universal open-access ecosystem for books, but the economics remain tough,” said Eve. “That said, we manage to pay for the books that are published at present (they are, after all, published). Figuring out how to redistribute those costs for OA, in a fair way, is the core challenge in my view.”

The nature of monograph publishing and a shortage of funding in the humanities and social sciences “makes it tough to find a sustainable model” for OA publishing, agrees Watkinson. That said, there are open monograph publishers, such as LuminosOA from the University of California, which have been successful in seeking funding from a mixture of sources -- institutional support, print sales and membership schemes. 

“There is such a strong move toward open-access journals and articles at the moment. I worry that if specialist monographs don’t go open access, the work of humanists and qualitative social scientists who work in long-form modes will become less visible,” said Watkinson.

“I don’t want monographs to be left behind.”

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Poll: Support for free college among young people

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 3, 2019 - 5:00pm

More than half of young adults, many of them in the traditional college age range, support plans to make public universities free, even if it costs billions of dollars, according to new data from Harvard University.

The Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School has released an annual poll -- notable in that it’s created by undergraduates -- for two decades. The poll asks about many of the issues du jour, and the students with the institute this year included questions about free college plans, which have come under new scrutiny as candidates for the 2020 presidential election ramp up their campaigns.

The students polled more than 3,000 people ages 18 to 29. About 51 percent of those who answered the poll said they to some degree supported free college.

Proposals for tuition-free college can vary. In their question, the students posed making community college free and four-year institutions free for all families who earn $125,000 and under a year. Even with the $47 billion price tag the students estimated for the plan, more than half still agreed. An earlier version of the poll had asked about free college without a cost estimate and support only dropped by five percentage points, from 56 to 51 percent.

About 29 percent of respondents said they didn’t support free college. The remainder of the poll takers either were unsure or declined to answer the question. Unsurprisingly, adults who identified as Democrats were more supportive of a prospective free-college plan than were their conservative counterparts. About 65 percent of Democrats backed free college versus 32 percent of Republicans.

In a statement, Mark D. Gearan, the institute’s director, noted how influential a role students played in policy making and the just-past midterm election.

“This presidential election serves as a consequential moment in time to shape how young Americans engage in politics, and I hope candidates thoughtfully listen and engage with their agenda,” Gearan said in his statement.

A new poll from Quinnipiac University found that voters (across age groups) were mixed about free college -- about 52 percent were against plans, and 45 percent were in favor of them.

The Harvard poll posed other higher education-related questions, too.

Roughly 53 percent of respondents said they trusted their college or university administrators all or most of the time. Other research has shown a declining confidence in higher education, particularly among conservatives, however, the Harvard poll revealed little difference depending on party. About 59 percent of Democrats reported they trust college officials, compared to 55 percent of Republicans.

Only 7 percent of the poll takers said they never trust their college administrators.

Confidence in elected officials was particularly low -- 19 percent of young adults said they trusted Congress all or most of the time, and only 23 percent trusted the president. About 21 percent reported trusting the federal government. Trust with media was also mixed -- 14 percent said they trusted news all or most of the time, but 47 percent said they trusted it sometimes.

The respondents on the ease of securing a job after graduating college were split.

About 55 percent of the adults said it was difficult to find a job, and 42 percent found it easy. Three percent did not answer the question.

Differences did emerge with party affiliation for this question -- 65 percent of Democrats said it was hard to get a job compared to 33 percent of Republicans. And 66 percent of Republicans reported they thought it was easy to find a job versus 35 percent of Democrats.

Women also reported they found it harder than men to find a job -- 60 percent of women indicated that they thought it was difficult and 48 percent of men did.

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Iceland's universities worry about the small numbers of male students they attract

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 3, 2019 - 5:00pm

It may be a vision of the future of the university. At the University of Iceland’s campus in central Reykjavik, every male student has on average two female course mates. At the master’s level, the ratio is nearer to one to three.

“We are seeing this concern in many countries,” says Jón Atli Benediktsson, the university’s president and rector. But the campus gender imbalance has reached an extreme extent in Iceland, a country that tops global lists for gender equality.

In Iceland as a whole, 64 percent of tertiary education students are women, according to European Union statistics. This is more than any other E.U. country, but across the bloc, women make up 54 percent of students. In only a handful do men remain the majority.

The gulf in Iceland is now so wide that Benediktsson would like to see special initiatives to get boys interested in higher education, with universities working alongside other parts of the education system such as high schools.

“We would like to have it closer to 50-50 all over,” he said, “in order to be more representative of the society as a whole.”

But the root causes of the imbalance are hard to tackle. And a focus on male disadvantage is not uncontroversial in a country where men still earn far more than women and the professoriate remains overwhelmingly male.

Iceland, surrounded by fisheries, has long offered plentiful stereotypically male work opportunities that do not require high levels of education. “Young men have better job prospects without university education than the young women,” explained Thamar Heijstra, an associate professor of sociology at the university. Men can earn more out on a fishing boat than women can in female-dominated areas such as caring and teaching, she explained, so women gravitate toward universities to boost their earning prospects.

Female-heavy campuses are also the result of pent-up demand, explained Katrín Ólafsdóttir, an assistant professor at Reykjavík University, who has written about gender inequality. Women in their 40s and 50s are studying for degrees for the first time, she said, having grown up when it was far less common for women to go to university.

“Some boys may not see the value in going to college,” said Benediktsson, and they drop out of high school in far greater numbers, moving on to places such as trade schools. Some researchers are investigating whether the dearth of men on campus has roots beyond the economic, and if boys have become disillusioned with the idea of higher education, he warned. Certainly, they need more role models in areas such as teaching and nursing, he added.

Iceland’s male graduate deficit has not yet become a political or media flashpoint, Ólafsdóttir said. “It hasn’t been politically correct to say, ‘We need to do something for the boys,’” she said. But she warned, “We should be more worried than we are.”

Courses with scarcely any men, such as playschool teacher education and social service counseling, have started to award male-only scholarships to redress the balance, explained Heijstra. “However, the effect is minimal, with only few of these scholarships being available,” she said. Legal prohibitions also make positive discrimination by universities difficult, said Benediktsson.

The nursing profession has disseminated on social media images of and interviews with male nurses, she added. But at the University of Iceland’s nursing faculty, women outnumber men 31 to one.

There is, however, still one part of the university where men are very much in the majority. In a mirror image of the student body, just under a third of full professors are women, according to the most recent statistics, from 2017.

This has improved by three percentage points since 2013, and in the same period, associate professors have become majority female. “There has been a change, but it’s been very gradual,” said Benediktsson.

Critics say Iceland basks in an “aura of gender equality,” said Heijstra, despite the persistence of inequality below the surface. “Many people in Iceland are somewhat tired of the discussion on gender equality, as it is assumed to be water under the bridge,” she said. Instead, the discussion has moved on to ask, “How about the men?” she lamented.

According to the E.U., in 2017 Icelandic men still earned 15.5 percent more per hour than women. Despite female preponderance in the lecture hall, the promise of equal wages has yet to materialize, pointed out Ólafsdóttir.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 3, 2019 - 5:00pm

Bellingham Technical College

  • Anita Peng, mathematics
  • Jan Richards, English
  • Rachael Wright, welding

Cedar Crest College

  • Joshua Harrington, mathematics
  • Lindsey Welch, chemistry

Quinnipiac University

  • Iddrisu Awudu, management
  • Ruby ElKharboutly, software engineering
  • Margaret Gray, nursing
  • Mary Ho, mechanical engineering
  • Stephanie Jacobson, social work
  • Stephen McGuinn, criminal justice
  • Martine Mirrione, biomedical sciences
  • Sheila Molony, nursing
  • Rachida Parks, computer information systems
  • Jeffrey Saerys-Foy, psychology
  • Therese Sprinkle, management
  • Molly Yanity, journalism
  • Robert Yawson, management

University of Kansas

  • Subini Ancy Annamma, special education
  • Nazli Avdan, political science
  • Jordan Bass, health, sport and exercise science
  • Katie Batza, women’s, gender and sexuality studies
  • Joseph Brewer, environmental studies
  • Jonathan Brumberg, speech-language-hearing: sciences and disorders
  • Hui Cai, architecture
  • Marco Caricato, chemistry
  • Juliana Carlson, social welfare
  • Haiyang Chao, aerospace engineering
  • Andrew Denning, history
  • Abbey Dvorak, music therapy
  • Jessica Gerschultz, African and African American studies
  • Farhan Karim, architecture
  • Minyoung Kim, international business
  • Kevin Leonard, chemical and petroleum engineering
  • Remy Lequesne, civil, environmental and architectural engineering
  • Jian Li, civil, environmental and architectural engineering
  • Lin Liu, mechanical engineering
  • Lindsey Ward Lyles, urban planning program
  • Ahreum Maeng, marketing
  • Corey Maley, philosophy
  • Brittany Melton, pharmacy practice
  • Patrick Miller, political science
  • Martin Nedbal, musicology
  • Eileen Nutting, philosophy
  • Matthew O'Reilly, civil, environmental and architectural engineering
  • Bradley Osborn, music theory
  • Betsaida Reyes, librarian
  • Alessandro Salandrino, electrical engineering and computer science
  • Benjamin Sikes, ecology and evolutionary biology
  • David Slusky, economics
  • Terry Soo, mathematics
  • Daniel Tapia Takaki, physics and astronomy
  • Dai “Dan” Tran, civil, environmental and architectural engineering
  • James R. Walters, ecology and evolutionary biology
  • Amber Watts, psychology
  • Heechul Yun, electrical engineering and computer science
  • Liqin Zhao, pharmacology and toxicology
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Study: When it comes to research output, where Ph.D.s get hired matters more than where they trained

Inside Higher Ed - News - May 2, 2019 - 5:00pm

A 2015 study found that “social inequality” across a range of disciplines was so bad that just 25 percent of Ph.D. institutions produced 71 to 86 percent of tenured and tenure-track professors, depending on field.

The effect was more extreme the farther up the chain the researchers looked, based on their own program ranking system: the top 10 programs in each discipline produced 1.6 to three times more faculty than even the next 10 programs. The top 11 to 20 programs produced 2.3 to 5.6 times more professors than the next 10. In theory, this reflects the quality of those programs. But critics say in-group hiring is also about snobbery.

Now computer scientists at the University of Colorado at Boulder who led that earlier study say academic pedigree isn’t destiny after all -- at least in terms of future productivity.

“Our results show that the prestige of faculty’s current work environment, not their training environment, drives their future scientific productivity,” says the new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Current and past locations, meanwhile, "drive prominence.”

That is, when it comes to actual research output, where one works is more important than where one trained.

For this new study, researchers looked at productivity and prominence (measured in number of published papers and scholarly citations, respectively) for 2,453 tenure-line faculty members in 205 Ph.D.-granting computer science departments. The analysis was based on a matched-pairs experimental design. As opposed to a completely randomized design, matched pairs involve one binary factor and blocks that sort the experimental units into pairs.

The relevant time period was five years before and five years after the Ph.D.s’ first faculty appointments. The professors together accounted for over 200,000 publications and 7.4 million citations.

Regarding prominence, Ph.D.s from more prestigious programs tended to continue to accumulate citations from their work as trainees (similar to the 2015 paper, prestige here was based on an original, placement-based ranking system). But the prestige of the training programs played little to no role in how many papers the Ph.D.s wrote after their faculty placements.

For matched pairs of faculty members with appointments at similarly prestigious institutions, the person with the more prestigious Ph.D. pedigree was not more productive in the first five years posthire. That person did receive 301 more citations, on average, however.

By comparison, among matched pairs of professors with similarly prestigious training and with similar productivity and prominence, the person with the more prestigious appointment wrote 5.1 more papers during the first five years posthire. Those with more prestigious appointments also received 344 more citations, on average.

Professors at the top 20 percent of institutions in the ranking produced, on average, 17 more publications in their first five years and got 824 more citations than the faculty members at the bottom 20 percent of institutions.

Source: Samuel Way

The new study’s lead author, Samuel Way, a postdoctoral researcher in computer science at Boulder who earned his doctorate there, has said that if both he and a Ph.D. from a top program such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ended up at, say, computer science powerhouse Stanford University as professors, their research output would be the same, based on the analysis.

Why is that? Way and his co-authors -- Aaron Clauset, associate professor; Allison C. Morgan, Ph.D. candidate; and Daniel B. Larremore, assistant professor, all computer scientists at Boulder -- considered hiring criteria, such as productivity during the Ph.D., along with program expectations for faculty and retention of productive professors. There was only weak evidence for each, however. Prestige of the current program was strongly correlated with productivity. 

The findings “have direct implications for research on the science of science, which often assumes, implicitly if not explicitly, that meritocratic principles or mechanisms govern the production of knowledge,” the paper says. “Theories and models that fail to account for the environmental mechanism identified here, and the more general causal effects of prestige on productivity and prominence, will thus be incomplete.”

Asked whether they thought their results might hold across disciplines, Way and Clauset said in a joint email that past work -- including their own -- suggests that most other disciplines have similar patterns in faculty hiring and in productivity, "so we see no reason not to expect similar effects across fields due to environment."

That said, Way and Clauset added, the degree to which the results hold in other fields "likely comes down to whether the underlying mechanisms that drive the observed correlates of productivity in computer science also hold in those fields.” For example, a scholar's productivity could be "directly affected by access to institutional resources than it is in computer science -- things like laboratory equipment and supercomputers for biologists, libraries for historians, etc.” Advising and publishing norms, such as whether Ph.D. students tend to be co-author papers with their advisers, may also matter.

Does where you got your Ph.D. still matter? Yes, Way and Clauset said, since the prestige of one’s degree is highly predictive of where one will likely to be hired as a faculty member. But that fact "presents a puzzle,” they said, as to what actually drives higher productivity of researchers at elite institutions.   As for implications for hiring, Way and Clauset said that competition is high for faculty jobs in every field, and their own past work shows that most people who are "lucky enough to get faculty jobs will place at an institution that is less prestigious than where they received their Ph.D.” But these new results indicate that doctoral prestige "should probably play a more limited role in predicting scientific contributions, including at the hiring stage,” they said.   Because what actually drives productivity remains something of a mystery, Way and Clauset said that figuring out which departmental characteristics matter is a key direction for future work. Resources, such as a large number of graduate students, preliminarily appear to make a difference, at least in computer science. New Hiring ModelsResearchFacultyEditorial Tags: Computer scienceFacultyGraduate educationGraduate studentsResearchImage Source: iStock Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Links to SuccessTrending order: 2Display Promo Box: 
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