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First-of-Its-Kind ACE Report Finds MSI Completion Rates Higher Than Federal Data Indicate

American Council on Education - 11 hours 28 min ago
A paper released by ACE utilizes data from the National Student Clearinghouse to examine enrollment and outcomes at MSIs, painting a more complete picture of the contributions MSIs make to the communities they serve.

College tuition and fees moderating, could rise again

Inside Higher Ed - 13 hours 58 min ago

Average published tuition and fees at public two- and four-year colleges dropped by the smallest of margins between 2017-18 and 2018-19, the College Board reported Tuesday, with costs at private nonprofit four-year colleges rising slightly.

Meanwhile, the typical undergraduate last year received just marginally higher levels of aid.

Adjusting for inflation, the average price for a year at a public two-year college dropped $10, or 0.3 percent, from $3,670 to $3,660, according to new findings from the College Board, which reports annually on both college pricing and student aid. The figure represents the first drop in two-year college pricing since 2008-09, near the beginning of the Great Recession.

Four-year public institutions saw a similar small price drop, from $10,270 to $10,230, or 0.4 percent, the first downturn since the College Board began publishing tuition and fee data in 1990.

Private four-year colleges’ average tuition and fees rose 0.3 percent, from $35,720 to $35,830.

Over all, tuition and fees have moderated since the recession, said Sandy Baum, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute and a co-author of the report. “But over the long run, prices are still going up a lot,” she said. “And you can’t look at those prices without looking at what’s happened to student aid.” For the most part, she said, it has not kept pace with larger trends in the price of college.

In a companion report, the College Board said total aid for the typical undergraduate rose just slightly between the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years, from $14,620 to $14,790, or 1.2 percent; meanwhile, the average federal loan dropped 3.6 percent, from $4,680 to $4,510.

The new student aid figures lag one year behind the new tuition and fees figures.

Baum said that even with steadily rising prices, the new statistics belie the popular idea that college costs are out of control. “People still think that prices are rising really rapidly -- and they’re not.”

Student debt is shrinking as well, she said. Last year, the total amount of student loans dropped for the seventh consecutive year. Over all, the figure has shrunk from a high of $127.7 billion in 2010-11 to $105.5 billion in 2017-18, a drop of 17.4 percent -- to lower than pre-recession levels. Total student aid, including nonfederal loans, while higher than the previous year, has dropped 7.8 percent since its high in 2010-11, accounting for inflation. The decline in the for-profit sector "probably contributes to the decline in borrowing, since for-profit students borrow more on average than others," Baum said. 

But like most indicators, she said, both prices and student debt are cyclical and could well shift again. While state funding is rising in many cases, she said, lawmakers need to more closely consider the relationship between funding and student need. States like Georgia and South Carolina, she said, are investing heavily in student aid, but it’s not necessarily going to students with the greatest need.

Over all, she said, more than half of the aid dollars that public four-year institutions distribute are not based on need.

At private institutions, a different narrative is emerging, Baum said. Just as aid at elite private nonprofit institutions has evolved to become “very progressive,” with generous grants to low-income students, other private institutions “just don’t have the money to make it that cheap for low-income students. They are pretty much discounting the same amount at all income levels,” using aid to entice a broad swath of students to attend.

“It’s not very progressive,” she said.

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Student affairs administrators even more liberal than professors, survey shows

Inside Higher Ed - 13 hours 58 min ago

While the liberal leanings of professors have been well documented, the political affiliations of administrators have not been explored so thoroughly -- at least until now. And perhaps unsurprisingly, this new research suggests that student affairs officials wing even further to the left than do faculty members.

The analysis comes from a moderate-conservative professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence College, Samuel J. Abrams, who wrote in an essay in The New York Times on Tuesday that he was taken aback at “politically lopsided” programming at his institution that he said seemed to only capture a liberal viewpoint.

He decided to survey student affairs professionals -- 900 “student-facing” administrators across the country, at public and private colleges and universities both large and small, and two- and-four year institutions, to identify political affiliation. Abrams found that liberal student affairs leaders outnumbered conservatives 12 to one, with only 6 percent of administrators indicating they were conservative versus 71 percent identifying as liberal or very liberal.

In an interview with Inside Higher Ed, Abrams said he worked with the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago this year to carefully develop the survey sample. Previously, he has relied on data from Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, to determine that liberal professors are far more common than conservatives by a six-to-one ratio.

Abrams said in his interview that early on, students are exposed to an entirely liberal tenor, starting with orientation week classes.

“This warped ideological distribution among college administrators should give our students and their families pause,” Abrams wrote in the Times. “To students who are in their first semester at school, I urge you not to accept unthinkingly what your campus administrators are telling you. Their ideological imbalance, coupled with their agenda-setting power, threatens the free and open exchange of ideas, which is precisely what we need to protect in higher education in these politically polarized times.”

In defense, Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, said that traditionally the field has attracted progressives who are interested in promoting equity and inclusiveness for students of all races, sexual orientations and gender identities.

But still, among those professionals is a strong desire to create “an equal and open dialogue across ideologies,” Kruger said. Simply because administrators hold a certain set of beliefs doesn’t mean they are bleeding into their professional lives, he said. Kruger said he also didn’t see a need to try to balance more conservative-centric events with liberal programming.

“Are students treated fairly? Are different perspectives given equal footing? I would say there is no evidence to suggest that students affairs professionals block more conservative speech,” Kruger said, adding that at times, administrators come under fire from the more progressive student activists who question why they would allow conservative speakers on campus.

Chris Moody, acting executive director of ACPA: College Student Educators International, declined to comment for this story.

But Matthew C. Woessner, an associate professor of political science at Pennsylvania State University Harrisburg, disagrees. Woessner, a Republican who has written about ideological diversity in higher education, said that student affairs administrators are not shy about overtly sharing their political beliefs, compared to professors, who are less inclined to do so. Even though faculty sometimes inject their politics into the classroom, administrators without an academic background don’t always see the same need to balance viewpoints or inspire debate, he said. Sometimes administrators aren’t even aware of how insular their beliefs are, Woessner said.

These narrow beliefs are disenchanting for half of the country -- the GOP -- and reflect poorly on higher education, Woessner said. Recent research shows conservatives especially don’t appreciate higher education.

“I don’t think it is in the interest to develop a reputation for being one-sided,” Woessner said. “Putting aside whether it’s desirable whether you have liberal or conservative speakers on campuses, it’s harmful to the college’s mission in being overtly political. You alienate half of the taxpayers, and make higher education be an arm of the Democratic National Committee.”

Abrams suggested involving faculty members from other ideologies who could bring more rounded perspectives to certain issues. He said many professors simply teach and focus on research when they could be more involved with university dealings.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, a civil liberties watchdog group in academe that has criticized many student affairs leaders for denying opportunities to conservatives, said groups that don’t diversify their viewpoints are at risk for developing “groupthink.”

“Student life administrators aren't immune to this effect, and as they have taken on a greater role in regulating all aspects of students' lives, this myopia has become an increasing reason for concern,” Robert Shibley, FIRE’s executive director, said in a statement.

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More than a year later, Obama student loan rule takes effect

Inside Higher Ed - 13 hours 58 min ago

A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a challenge from a for-profit college group to an Obama administration rule governing loan forgiveness for defrauded borrowers, clearing the way for the rule to take effect. 

The ruling on the regulation, known as borrower defense, is seen as a major win for students by consumer groups. The rule would ban colleges from enforcing arbitration provisions of enrollment agreements. And it could make it easier for many student borrowers to receive loan forgiveness. But those benefits will also depend on how the Education Department, which has sought for the past two years to roll back the regulations, carries out provisions of the rule.

Tens of thousands of borrowers -- most of them former for-profit college students -- are waiting for rulings from the department on loan-forgiveness claims under the rule, which also encompasses actions of institutions far beyond student loan forgiveness.

“Countless borrowers around the country have been counting on this rule to go into effect,” said Julie Murray, a lawyer at Public Citizen who helped argue a lawsuit brought against the department by several consumer groups and state attorneys general. “Today is a huge victory for them.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced she would block the rule last year and undertake a rewrite accounting for the concerns of institutions. However, a federal district court judge, Randolph Moss, found last month that the 2017 rule delay was unlawful. And the Education Department said later that it wouldn’t seek to further justify the delay. The ruling on the for-profit association’s challenge clears the way for provisions of the rule to take effect although the judge did not issue further directions for the department. 

A spokeswoman for the Education Department said DeVos respected the court’s ruling but didn’t offer details on plans to carry out the 2016 regulation.

“The secretary continues to believe the rule promulgated by the previous administration is bad policy, and the department will continue the work of finalizing a rule that protects both borrowers and taxpayers,” said Liz Hill, the spokeswoman for the Education Department. “The department will soon be providing further information regarding the next steps for implementation of the 2016 borrower-defense regulation.”

In addition to the arbitration bans and the financial responsibility provisions, the rule provides for automatic discharge of student loans for borrowers whose colleges closed three years ago and who never re-enrolled elsewhere. And it provides for group discharge when widespread fraud is found at an institution. But getting that loan relief will require action from the department.

Data released by Senate Democrats last month showed that more than 100,000 borrower-defense claims were pending at the department as of June 30, prompting those lawmakers to claim the department is ignoring struggling borrowers.

Rolling back the borrower-defense rule, along with gainful-employment regulations, had been a top priority for the Trump administration as well as the for-profit college sector. The Education Department released draft borrower-defense regulations in July that would be more restrictive than the Obama rule. But administration officials said earlier this month that they will miss a Nov. 1 deadline to issue a final rule for 2019.

That missed deadline means the earliest a DeVos borrower-defense rule could take effect is July 2020 -- more than a year and a half after the Obama rule takes effect.

But what happens with those provisions of the rule now depends on the actions of a department that’s admittedly hostile to the regulations.

“I worry a lot that they will intentionally slow walk or just refuse to do certain things,” said Ben Miller, senior director of postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress.

Miller noted that before proposing to rescind gainful-employment regulations in August, the Trump administration had spent more than a year repeatedly delaying provisions of that rule. He said it’s incumbent upon the Education Department to get out the necessary guidance to colleges on borrower-defense provisions like the arbitration ban as quickly as possible.

“The department is obligated to follow the rules on the books,” he said.

While Moss ruled against the California Association of Postsecondary Schools, the for-profit group that sought to block the regulations, he did not assess the substance of the group's objections and said, "This is not the first (and presumably not the last) chapter in a dispute about the fate of regulations."

Steve Gunderson, president of Career Education Colleges and Universities, said in a statement that the ruling was disappointing and would create further confusion for students and institutions.

He argued that there was precedent of the Obama and Bush administrations choosing not to enforce rules they did not agree with and said DeVos should use the same discretion.

"But for now, my hope is the Trump Education Department will provide as much guidance as possible to schools on how to operate amidst the current regulatory confusion caused by the decision to implement the Obama era regulation while they are in the final steps of creating a new, and much more balanced regulation providing due process to both students and schools," he said.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: At Harvard Admissions Trial, a Dean Defends Decades of His Work

William R. Fitzsimmons, who has led the university’s admissions program for more than 30 years, was questioned on Tuesday by lawyers in a case that is challenging Harvard’s race-conscious policy.

Chronicle of Higher Education: There’s a Newfound Enthusiasm for Women’s Colleges. But Can They Keep It Going?

Social changes like the #MeToo movement have opened students’ eyes to the benefits of women’s colleges, their leaders say.

Chronicle of Higher Education: 2 Academic Groups Urge U. of Michigan to Use Restraint in Clash Over Letters of Recommendation

The American Political Science Association and the American Association of University Professors asked the university to rethink its response to faculty members who decline to support students bound f

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Chronicle of Higher Education: DeVos Calls Democratic Senator’s Public Criticism of Draft Title IX Rules ‘Unbecoming and Irresponsible’

In a clash of tweets, the education secretary said Sen. Patty Murray was seeking to “sow fear and falsehood.”

Chronicle of Higher Education: Can an Innovative Online College Help Adults Stay Employed?

Foundry College is designed to prepare adults for middle-skill jobs that won’t leave them vulnerable to losing their livelihoods to a robot in the years to come.

Can an Innovative Online College Help Adults Stay Employed?

Foundry College is designed to prepare adults for middle-skill jobs that won’t leave them vulnerable to losing their livelihoods to a robot in the years to come.

Ex-Navitas CEO part of surprise takeover offer

The PIE News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 05:37

Global education provider, Navitas Group, has received an unsolicited AUD$1.97bn bid from a consortium, including former Navitas chief executive Rod Jones, to take over the publicly-listed company and move it into the private RollCo.

The consortium, which is made up of BGH Capital, AustralianSuper and Jones, proposes to acquire 100% of outstanding Navitas shares, either via a buy-out at $5.50 per share, or $2.75 per share and an offer to shareholders of one share in RollCo for every two shares currently held in Navitas.

“I believe this is a fair and equitable deal… in the best interests of all Navitas shareholders”

Navitas, which was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange as IBT Education in 2004, currently has a stock price of $5.21.

Jones, who co-founded the organisation and was recently replaced as chief executive by David Buckingham, has been excluded from his responsibilities as a board member and had his access to private company information suspended.

According to its ASX (the Australian stock exchange) announcement, the Navitas board is reviewing the proposal and considering shareholder feedback.

“While the Board undertakes its review of the Indicative Proposal, it is important that management are not distracted by this review process,” Navitas chair Tracey Horton said in a statement.

“The Board has already received a range of differing views from shareholders and other stakeholders in the days since the Indicative Proposal was announced, and will consider these views fully as it completes its assessment… with the highest priority,” a new statement released on Tuesday October 16 revealed.

“[We must] remain focused on maintaining our strong relationships with our partners despite the uncertainties created by the Indicative Proposal, delivering outstanding educational experiences for our students, and delivering future business momentum, including addressing historic performance issues.”

“I believe this is a fair and equitable deal, struck at an appropriate premium to Navitas’ prevailing share price, and is in the best interests of all Navitas shareholders,” Jones said in an email to Reuters.

“I remain passionate about the Navitas business and the education sector, which is why I have agreed to vend half my shareholding into the new holding company.”

Navitas’ board made clear the comments were Jones’s personal view and “the Board is yet to form a view on the merits of the Indicative Proposal”.

According to report, Jones approached the consortium to be included in the bid, and if successful, would see him sell half of his 12.6% stake in Navitas for cash and roll over his remaining shares into the newly formed RollCo.

BGH Capital’s bid to acquire health provider, HealthScope, was rejected in early 2018.

The post Ex-Navitas CEO part of surprise takeover offer appeared first on The PIE News.

More international graduates in the Netherlands staying after five years

The PIE News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 05:13

Numbers of international students choosing to stay after graduation in the Netherlands is rising, according to Nuffic, the country’s internationalisation body.

Surveying the 85,880 international students who graduated between the 2007 and 2013 cohorts, researchers found that around 22,000 graduates remained in the country, five years after graduation.

“There are significant positive effects of having international graduates in the Dutch labour market,” Nuffic research consultant Mark Vlek de Coningh argued. 

“We must create the right conditions and make joint efforts actually to retain this talent here”

For the 2006 graduate pool of 8,915 international students, 2,610 were still in the Netherlands five years after completion, compared with 3,515 graduates remaining from 15,940 international students graduating in 2012, the Stay rates of international graduates report found.

More than half the international student graduates leave the Netherlands within a year of graduating, and after five years around 25% remained, the report suggested.

In 2016, Nuffic reported that 38% of 2008 student cohort remained in the country five years after graduation, with one factor in particular playing a key role, Vlek de Coningh noted.

“A factor that is most definitely playing a role is the economic crisis which hit in 2008 and took multiple years to fully recover from,” he said.

“All cohorts in the study were impacted by the crisis which without a doubt has made it harder for them to stay, as being able to work is known to have a significant impact on the likelihood to stay.”

Although the total number staying per year increased over the study, the percentage dropped from 29.3% of 2006’s total, to 22.7% of the graduates in 2012-13.

The statistics however indicate that higher education is a key supply source for knowledge workers in the Dutch labour market, according to Nuffic. At least 72% of international alumni secured gainful employment within five years of graduating – comparable to the gross employment rate of the Dutch population in 2016.

International grads from technical programs choose to remain in the Netherlands most often, according to the report, along with education, health care and natural sciences graduates.

“[International students] contribute to both our economy and our state finances through taxes and expenditures, and they tend to study programs that are likely to lead to work in areas in which we have shortages of qualified workforce,” Vlek de Coningh added.

If the country managed to retain all of the graduates surveyed who are still living here after five years, this annual total would reach €2.08 billion, according to the internationalisation body.

“They contribute to the quality of our education and are an economic asset”

The report also found that graduates do not always continue living in the region where they studied, with graduates drawn to the Randstad and Eindhoven regions for a number of reasons, according to Vlek de Coningh.

“There’s the Amsterdam effect, which alone counts for 25% of the graduates. Then there’s also most work in these areas and Eindhoven in particular has a local scheme for talent attraction and retention (Brainport), which is paying dividend,” he explained.

“One of the recommendations in our publication is to make more use of these kind of schemes to attract and retain talent throughout the Netherlands.”

Nuffic’s policy officer Floor Van Donselaar previously told The PIE that the country’s ‘orientation year‘ during which students and researchers can look for a job and then seek sponsorship is a “unique selling point”.

Nuffic previously estimated that 25% of graduates would stay lifelong, according to Vlek de Coningh, but this report differs in the way it shies away from lifelong predictions and rather sticks to looking at five-year stayrates.

“International students are important for our country”, said Freddy Weima, Director-General of Nuffic.

“They contribute to the quality of our education through the international classrooms, while they are also an economic asset to our knowledge economy and treasury. For this reason, we must create the right conditions and make joint efforts actually to retain this talent here.”

The post More international graduates in the Netherlands staying after five years appeared first on The PIE News.

The Common App to integrate with providers

The PIE News - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 03:06

The Common Application, a tertiary institution membership organisation, has launched a new integration platform which allows college counselling software providers to integrate their services with the existing online application system.

The Common Application system currently enables students to apply to over 800 institutions worldwide.

“We are enabling…providers that serve counsellors and students to lower the barriers in applying to college”

In addition to long-standing collaborations with Hobson and Parchment, the Common App will include four new providers, BridgeU, Cialfo, FolderWave and MaiaLearning, offering college counselling services international students as well as secondary institutions in the US.

The integration will allow third-party providers to offer “seamless” support for applicants by, for example, facilitating the exchange of data between the Common App and third-party college counselling systems. It will also provide status updates to college counsellors based on their students’ progress within the App.

“We are enabling a broader ecosystem of providers that serve counsellors and students to lower the barriers in applying to college by making it easier…to navigate this critical process from whichever system they choose,” Jenny Rickard, president and CEO of The Common Application, said in a statement.

Founded 40 years ago by 15 institutions as the Common Application Experiment, the Common App’s online platform today allows students to apply to different institutions across its 800 members by completing one ‘common’, and crucially, free application.

More than one million students globally each year use the platform, and for the past 10 years the Common App has collaborated with third-party software solutions to support university and career counselling services at secondary schools around the world, Daniel Obregon, senior director of marketing and communications told The PIE News.

“The launch of this new integration service makes that capability available to a larger number of providers servicing the international students applying to Common App member institutions located in the US and across 19 other countries,” he said.

Obregon explained that it will make it easier for applicants to start the application process, streamline the collection of teacher and counsellor recommendations, and automate the transmission of supporting documents and transcripts to the relevant institutions.

The post The Common App to integrate with providers appeared first on The PIE News.

ACE to Launch Multi-Year Initiative to Examine Equity Gaps in Higher Education

American Council on Education - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 02:30
ACE today announced an initiative to examine gaps and progress in educational attainment for historically underrepresented student populations.

Elizabeth Warren and the pressure to justify academic success

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 00:00

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s personal data dump on Monday, including the genetic nonbombshell that she is Native American, six to 10 generations removed, probably had more to do with her 2020 presidential ambitions than anything else. After all, the Massachusetts Democrat would face an incumbent who’s called her “Pocahontas,” to mock her past claims about her heritage.

But the information Warren shared this week still says something -- intended or not -- about how she and society in general see underrepresented people working in academe.

“Fact: Elizabeth Warren’s heritage played no role in her hiring,” her new Fact Squad website boldly declares in block print. It quotes a recent Boston Globe investigation that found, in the newspaper’s words, that Warren’s “claim to Native American ethnicity was never considered by the Harvard [University law faculty], which voted resoundingly to hire her, or by those who hired her to four prior positions at other law schools. At every step of her remarkable rise in the legal profession, the people responsible for hiring her saw her as a white woman.”

Driving home the point -- presumably that Warren never benefited from any hiring preference based on minority status -- Warren’s website says that she graduated from the University of Houston and Rutgers University Law School to become “one of the country’s top experts in bankruptcy, commercial law and the financial pressures facing working families.” And those who recruited her to her teaching jobs “all confirm” that they “hired her because she was an award-winning legal scholar and professor and they were unaware of her family’s heritage,” it concludes.

An accompanying video on Warren’s site includes short interviews with noted law professors who have worked with Warren, all describing her faculty work in flattering terms and saying that ethnicity played no role in her hiring.

Warren endorsed Fact Squad on social media, saying, “I never expected my family’s story to be used as a racist political joke, but I don’t take any fight lying down. I want you to have the power to fight lies with the truth, so here's a new site for you to review every document for yourself.”

I never expected my family’s story to be used as a racist political joke, but I don’t take any fight lying down. I want you to have the power to fight lies with the truth, so here's a new site for you to review every document for yourself. https://t.co/900SsAMNjb

— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) October 15, 2018

The website includes a statement from Carlos Bustamante, professor of genetics at Stanford University, confirming that Warren is all but certainly Native American (Bustamante also makes a cameo in her video). The document has already been criticized by Native American scholars who say that Warren continues to rely on a colonial, not tribal, standard of proof of heritage. But it is at least clear that this is a direct response to President Trump’s antagonism and doubts about her lineage. And anticipating some of that criticism, Warren says in the video that she understands tribal distinctions about heritage, but that she is concerned about preserving the integrity of her family’s history. Her late mother always said she was part Cherokee, she says.

But is the notion that racial preference may have played a role in Warren’s academic success something that must be aggressively countered? It appears Warren thinks so. The video quotes Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House spokesperson, criticizing Warren for using her background to get ahead. Warren then recounts her family and personal history and says, “I used my mama’s grit to help me get through commuter college and law school” and “used my daddy’s relentless optimism when I was balancing babies and books. But my background played no role in my hiring.”

Many women and minority scholars say that they must constantly deal with those who doubt they've earned their academic successes. But the issue is more complicated in some ways for Native American professors. It’s arguably a case of having one’s cake and eating it, too: affirming one’s Native American heritage but denying to have ever been professionally evaluated as a nonwhite person. And Adrienne Keene, assistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies and Brown University, and Kim TallBear, associate professor of Native studies at the University of Alberta in Canada, among others, find it distasteful.

Source: Twitter

“My initial gut reaction is to feel nauseated by the entire video -- the white patriarchs sitting around the living room with Warren waxing nostalgic about family lore that actual Cherokee genealogists have refuted, and they have the documentation to prove it,” TallBear said Monday evening, describing a scene with Warren’s family. “And the insistence that affirmative action did not allow her to get ahead.”

TallBear said she didn’t know what the scene was “supposed to convey, except that those who do get hired where there is no controversy around our Native American identity -- where we have always lived as Native Americans -- are somehow unqualified, despite our considerable educational attainment.”

Native Americans are not the only group to have their achievements undercut by suspicions about diversity-based hiring. It's a common problem for many underrepresented minorities, experts say. But TallBear said that Warren was guilty of the all-too-common "settler" tactic of using indigenous histories and peoples as pawns.

Tall Bear added, “This whole scene is playing out today for the benefit of everyone but indigenous people.”

Crystal Fleming, an associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and author of How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy and the Racial Divide, said in an emailed statement that while Warren “(now) positions herself as white woman with regard to her career advancement, she still does not acknowledge how her whiteness (within a settler-colonial state) informs her offensive decision to bypass Native people and the Cherokee Nation in particular, with regard to her claim to indigenous ancestry and identity.” She said she deferred on that point to indigenous scholars, including TallBear.

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Historically black Georgia college defiant amid loss of accreditation

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 00:00

The president of a small historically black college in Augusta, Ga., said its officials will seek a new accreditor -- and fight for its survival -- after a federal judge ruled that a regional agency can withdraw its accreditation over financial deficiencies.

Paine College, a private HBCU affiliated with the United Methodist Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, was on probation with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) pending a final ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas H. Thrash Jr. in a lawsuit surrounding the issue. On Thursday, Thrash denied the college's request for a partial summary judgment and granted the commission's motion for a summary judgment. That means Paine "will be removed as an accredited institution" of SACSCOC, the accreditor said in a statement.

In a statement Monday, Paine president Jerry L. Hardee said lawyers for the college “are carefully reviewing the order and evaluating the next steps in this litigation.” But he said Paine still has a claim pending before the court and that an injunction that restored Paine as a SACSCOC member “is still in effect.” He said Paine “will remain a member of SACSCOC until the court orders otherwise.”

Belle S. Wheelan, the Southern accreditor's president, said that assertion misrepresents the ruling: “The judge dismissed the injunction,” she said. “Unless they appeal, they are no longer accredited.” A document filed by the district court's clerk on Saturday describes the case as "dismissed."

Speaking to reporters Monday afternoon, Hardee began his remarks defiantly, repeating three times, “Paine College is accredited.”

The college, facing tight financial straits, has faced possible loss of accreditation for several years. While it can continue to operate without it, losing accreditation means forfeiting access to federal Title IV funding -- which could be devastating, since nearly all of its students rely on financial aid.

“We always hate to see an institution lose membership with us,” said Wheelan. “I don’t like to see students negatively impacted for any reason, but when they are heavily dependent on Title IV, it makes it more difficult to deal with.”

She said the college will “have to make some financial changes in order to continue to operate.” Reached at a meeting in Washington, Wheelan said she had not recently been in touch with Hardee, so she didn’t know if Thrash's Oct. 11 ruling could force the college to close. She said Paine can reapply for accreditation with her agency or with another accreditor.

In his remarks, Hardee said the college was in talks to do just that with the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools (TRACS). “They did a campus visit,” he said. “They indicated a couple of recommendations, and they’ve invited us to Dallas, Texas, two weeks from now to meet with their accrediting committee for a recommendation up or down in terms of Paine College’s accreditation.”

But he said that the college had "taken care" of the financial issues that SACSCOC raised, and that the TRACS team “didn’t find anything” that would prevent the college from earning accreditation with them.

Wheelan couldn't comment on the differences between the two organizations' standards, but she said that seeking TRACS accreditation is "a logical option" for Paine.

“We encourage an institution to do what they have to do in the best interests of their students,” she said.

Speaking to reporters, Hardee said he told students early Monday, “The good news is we’re accredited. The better news is we may be, in two weeks, accredited by two accrediting bodies.” Indicating the group of gathered reporters, he added, “The bad news, of course, for you is it’s hard to get a story when there really isn’t a story. The story is, we’re still accredited. Nothing has changed, other than the fact that we have to address the order handed down by Judge Thrash.”

He said the college was still debating whether to drop the case, but that eventually it would seek to regain full accreditation from the regional agency, which carries more prestige, even after it earns TRACS accreditation.

He repeated his assertion that while the court case proceeds, the college retains its SACSCOC accreditation. “We can easily appeal,” he told reporters. “In other words, the case is ongoing and as long as that case is ongoing, Paine College is accredited.”

Helene Carter, assistant vice president of institutional advancement, later clarified that Paine College "is a member of TRACS having secured applicant status" as of Aug. 1. She said it is active for five years.

Enrollment Declines

Loss of accreditation can often be a death sentence to HBCUs -- since 1986, at least six private HBCUs have lost SACSCOC accreditation: Bishop College, Mary Holmes College, Morristown College, St. Paul’s College, Knoxville College and Morris Brown College. With the exception of Knoxville and Morris Brown, the others have closed.

At Paine, accreditation has been an open issue since 2014, when SACSCOC, also based in Georgia, placed it on probation. In June 2016, the college said it would appeal the commission’s finding that it had not satisfied deficiencies in three areas: financial resources and stability, financial stability, and control of sponsored research/external funds.

At the time, Paine enrolled 534 students, with more than 95 percent receiving financial aid. Enrollment has slipped below 500 since then, Hardee said Monday.

The association had raised questions about the college's finances as early as 2011, after The Augusta Chronicle reported on a whistle-blower’s findings that Paine hadn’t returned unused financial aid for students who withdrew, and that it had bounced financial aid checks, among other issues.

In 2014, the college reported a $2.9 million loss and said it had drawn $5.4 million from a line of credit. In 2015, Paine suspended its football program as it sought to shore up its financials. Later that year, it was unable to make payroll for employees.

Hardee became president in April 2017, and last January he announced that he planned to raise millions to get the college back into compliance. He also said the college would build three new dorms and launch a night school, among other plans.

He said the college had recently brought in $1.5 million in federal Title III grants that hadn't been previously accessed, The Augusta Chronicle reported. “We just needed someone to make the decision, to pull the trigger to get it done,” he said.

Hardee also said he planned to double enrollment between the fall of 2018 and 2019 -- and that the college was beginning to reconnect with donors who had given up on it because of financial instability.

“There are so many people that love Paine College that had shut down in terms of their communication with the college, in terms of their giving to the college,” he said. “So we’re getting those people back. It’s going to take a little time, but we are going to get it done.”

Paine, which calls itself a “church-related liberal arts institution,” was founded in 1882 to provide an education that emphasizes “academic excellence, ethical and spiritual values, social responsibility, and personal development to prepare spiritually-centered men and women for positions of leadership and service.”

On Monday, Hardee said HBCUs are key to the survival of the U.S.'s African American community. “Instead of getting rid of them we ought to have 100 more,” he said.

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Racial divisions on campus portrayed in play getting New York debut Off-Broadway

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 00:00

As The Niceties opens, a professor is offering a detailed critique of writing issues in a draft of a paper turned in by one of the students in her history course. The professor, Janine, has clearly spent real time with the draft and wants to help, offering explanations about a particular missing comma and the importance of parallelism. Zoe, her African American student, is appreciative, while also checking her mobile phone to make plans to meet up with friends when the conference is over.

It turns out that Janine is just starting her critique, explaining that she takes seriously her obligation to teach writing, even if that's not her discipline. When meeting with students about papers, she says, she starts with writing and then proceeds to the rest. She questions the central thesis of Zoe's paper. And it soon becomes apparent that this student-professor meeting at an elite liberal arts college in the Northeast is not going to end quickly or civilly.

Janine is an expert on the history of revolutions, and she views the American revolution as exceptional in that it established a democracy and also as exceptionally good in that it avoided the mass violence and anarchy of revolutions in France, Russia and elsewhere. Zoe's paper argues that the United States avoided a radical revolution because of the common interests of wealthy and poor white people in preserving slavery. So the nature of the American Revolution is not something of which to be proud, she argues. In fact, the revolution perpetuated oppression, she says.

This horrifies Janine, who questions where the primary source materials are that would conclusively show this to be true. We know that John Adams hated Paris because he wrote letters home saying that he hated Paris, Janine says. Where are the letters that illustrate Zoe's theory, she wants to know. Zoe points out that the wealthy white people didn't put these ideas down, and that no one bothered to document the views of poor white people, let alone the slaves. And Zoe, a young black woman, asks why the only evidence acceptable to Janine is evidence that would exclude anyone like her?

Some people "couldn't leave evidence behind," she notes.

The argument starts as an intellectual one but quickly degenerates. On one of Janine's many tangents, she talks about how George Washington received his commission from the Continental Congress and says she would give anything to go back in time and be there. She asks Zoe if she agrees, assuming she will, and Zoe says no, she wouldn't want to be there. That's hardly a surprising view, given that a black woman would likely have been a slave back then, but that wasn't something Janine even considered. Zoe then stuns Janine by telling her that she mispronounces the names of several students in the class, and that Janine shouldn't rely on students to point this out to her. And when Janine goes on about the glories of the liberal arts college, Zoe notes that many of the wealthier white students see the college not as an educational institution, but as a tool to get them good jobs in finance.

Janine wants everyone to know that she's a liberal. The play takes place in 2016, and while Zoe fears the end of the Obama presidency, Janine is excited that the country is about to elect (she believes) its first female president. She drinks coffee from a Hillary Clinton mug. Her office art not only includes a portrait of George Washington, but one of Nelson Mandela and another of suffragettes. She reads Ta-Nehisi Coates and professes admiration for his ideas, but can't come anywhere close to pronouncing his name.

Soon Janine is talking about the way students these days don't want to do real research (with books in the library) and the way (black) people hold on to grievances. She says things she shouldn't. As the discussion turns from awkward to ugly, the play touches on campus protest movements, affirmative action, trigger warnings and more.

For most of the first act, Janine, as the professor, is in control. But Zoe finds her voice -- and power -- in a twist that could be drawn from real campus dramas and left some audience members at a recent preview gasping.

The Niceties -- currently in previews at Manhattan Theater Club for its New York City debut -- seems the kind of play campuses will stage during orientation week or amid efforts to promote frank discussions about race, perhaps after explosions of the sort portrayed. A Washington Post review of a production of the play at last year's Contemporary American Theater Festival said that Niceties was "destined to be staged everywhere."

Eleanor Burgess, the playwright, describes the inspiration for her play in an author's note in the program. She says the work was inspired by incidents at Yale University in the fall of 2015. That was the fall of a debate over Halloween costumes and the way some students and faculty members interacted.

Burgess writes that, watching the events at Yale unfold, "I became obsessed with how dysfunctional those conversations became -- and how deep the divisions in this seemingly unified community really ran."

As the play goes on, Janine continues to reveal ways in which she is blind to her privilege and tone-deaf on how she sounds to Zoe. But the audience also learns other facts about her that make Janine more sympathetic -- or at least as someone who has also been a victim of oppression.

"I've always been fascinated when good people fight," writes Burgess. "Conflicts between good and evil can be fun fodder for action films. But I'm more intrigued by times when smart, well-meaning people, with great values and the best of intentions fundamentally can't agree on the best way to behave. Kindness or honesty? Idealism or caution? Forgiveness or punishment?"

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Colleges find innovative partnerships with housing authorities to combat student homelessness

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 00:00

Officials at Tacoma Community College knew they had a problem when they surveyed students four years ago and learned that nearly 100 of them reported being homeless or near homeless.

The survey underscored what, at the time, was becoming a crisis for the region. The IT boom in Seattle had driven demand for housing to accommodate new workers moving to the area. Rental housing costs and home sale prices shot up.

Residents priced out of the Seattle housing market were willing to pay for rentals about 40 miles south in Tacoma. Meanwhile, Tacoma property managers increased their prices and welcomed the demand from former Seattle residents who could afford the higher rates, said Marybeth McCarthy, who oversees the college's student housing program.

“We had mass migration to Tacoma and Pierce County,” she said. "Tacoma rent went up and displaced people. Our folks that were struggling became homeless, and the City of Tacoma declared a state of emergency.”

The college administrators searched for ways to help students with housing problems and found a unique solution. They partnered with the Tacoma Housing Authority and started the College Housing Assistance Program in 2014.

The program provides federal rental assistance vouchers to students who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless because they can't pay their rent and utilities. The program served about 50 students,76 percent of them with children, in the first year it started. It now provides vouchers for about 150 students annually.

Erica Anthony, 35, a sophomore and full-time student studying information technology, said the voucher helped her find stable housing in the Tacoma area. Before she applied for the program, she and her two children lived with family members in a small apartment.

"Trying to support all three of us and go to school was increasingly difficult," Anthony said. "I struggled a little bit trying to find a place to accept the voucher, but once I did, it made it possible for us to move to a safe, clean and not dangerous place. It's amazing what that does for your state of mind and ability to concentrate."

The housing authority covers the costs of the voucher, which provides about half of the monthly price of a rental unit based on household size. The average monthly rental assistance from the housing authority is $460.29.  Anthony said she gets a $570 monthly voucher and her rent is about $1,300 a month.

“Our job is not only to house people but to do it in a way that helps them and their children succeed,” said Michael Mirra, executive director of the Tacoma Housing Authority.

The College Housing Assistance Program is just one of 15 education projects the housing authority operates to help the public schools and colleges in the region succeed at graduating students, Mirra said. He noted that Tacoma educational institutions serve a large population of low-income students.

“Students who grow up deep in poverty bring challenges through the schoolhouse door, and the best-trained teacher cannot overcome those challenges on their own. Housing instability and homelessness are at the top of the list.”

Students in the voucher program must be enrolled in credit-bearing courses and maintain a 2.0 grade point average. They also must meet the housing authority's eligibility standards for income and residency. Although part-time students can enroll in the program, they must become full-time by their third quarter in college.

The voucher is also available to students who are “near homeless,” which means they may be staying with relatives or friends, living in a motel temporarily, or have received an eviction notice from their current landlord.

McCarthy gets weekly updates of rental prices in the area through popular sites like Zillow. In the past month, one-bedroom apartments were priced at about $1,100 a month, she said. She gives every student who requests a voucher a list of rental properties that may accept them and the voucher.

“Rents are cooling now,” McCarthy said. “I’m seeing more studios for under $1,000. They may not be in the best locations, and that’s what gets tricky. Cheaper apartments are in places that don’t have bus routes, and then we get into a transportation crunch.”

Tacoma is one of many colleges across the country trying to help the neediest students reach graduation by removing housing and transportation barriers and other obstacles such as not having enough to eat. Tacoma Community College officials, along with those from City Colleges of Chicago and the Chicago Housing Authority, were among the more than 550 faculty, college presidents, foundations and students who attended the second annual Real College conference at Temple University in Philadelphia last month to address student poverty on campuses across the country.

“Our focus is to work with the residents we currently have and help them become self-sufficient by completing a degree,” said Cassie Lynn Brooks, an education specialist with the Chicago Housing Authority.

The housing authority partnership with City Colleges of Chicago, called Partners in Education, is slightly different from the one in Tacoma. The Chicago Housing Authority provides scholarships to housing authority residents to cover tuition, books and fees not covered by other state or federal aid.

Last year, 604 housing authority residents enrolled in the city’s two-year college system; 70 percent enrolled in an associate-degree program.

Brooks said many of the residents tried to attend college in the past but never completed.

The Chicago and Tacoma housing agencies can partner with their local community colleges thanks to their designations as Moving to Work authorities. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Moving to Work program allows 39 housing agencies across the country to use federal dollars to help residents find employment and become self-sufficient.

Mirra said the HUD program does not provide more funding to the agencies but allows them to be more flexible and innovative with the money they receive. In 2015, Congress approved 100 additional public housing agencies to receive the Moving to Work designation over the next seven years.

“We’re buying up apartment complexes around the campus and renting those units to homeless TCC students,” Mirra said. “We’re also contacting private owners of another complex to reserve units.”

But even with the voucher, there are other financial obligations, such as rental deposits and screening fees, that may hinder homeless students.

Anthony, the Tacoma student in the program, said that because she was using the voucher to rent an apartment, she wasn't viewed as an "ideal applicant" by her landlord, and so her deposit was double the normal amount. Anthony sought additional help through the housing authority for a grant that partially covered her deposit.

McCarthy and the Tacoma housing authority have been in conversations with housing managers and are trying to find solutions to these problems. For example, they've asked housing managers to consider allowing students to hold off on paying a deposit and first month’s rent up front and instead let them make those payments based on when they’re awarded financial aid.

McCarthy said she’s also talking to students about how they’re going to pay the portion of their rent not covered by the voucher. Mirra said the housing authority does not fully cover the cost of rent for students in the program because not doing so allows more students to be served through the program.

These students are receiving federal financial aid and may receive the state’s need-based aid, which provides $1,200 a quarter, she said.

Some students end up not using the rent vouchers after receiving them because of other challenges in their lives.

As of August, 14 vouchers expired before students could lease housing, 16 students stopped attending the institution and three students had criminal histories that prevented them from signing a lease, according to Tacoma Community College data.

Students may not pass the rental property’s screening process or the property may not have passed inspection with the housing authority.

“One of the realizations and the hard truth is that the housing vouchers don’t solve homelessness,” McCarthy said. “About one-third to half of them end up using the vouchers effectively. We still have a large number of vouchers come back unused. So, we’re trying to address those barriers.”

Mirra said the housing authority is open to more partnerships with other colleges, but for now, they're focused on the relationship with TCC and expanding it to provide immediate housing assistance to incarcerated students once they are released.

"We expect the other colleges would have a similar experience with a similar survey, so we are alert for what kind of partnerships would make sense for other colleges," he said.

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2018 Jefferson Lecture focuses on the contribution of the humanities to medicine

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 10/16/2018 - 00:00

Many humanities professors these days feel besieged. Departments are being eliminated on some campuses. The job market is terrible. Politicians and pundits regularly question the importance of the humanities, especially in comparison with science fields.

On Monday night, the 2018 Jefferson Lecture featured an argument that the humanities are needed more than ever, and in particular in medicine.

Being selected to give the Jefferson Lecture is considered the highest honor the federal government bestows in the humanities, and this year that honor went to Rita Charon, a pioneer in the field of narrative medicine. Charon, a Harvard University-trained physician with a Ph.D. in English literature, is the founding chair and professor of medical humanities and ethics and professor of medicine at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

"I am here to suggest that there is much beyond the fixable that doctors must learn to see," Charon said, according to her prepared text. "Beyond the bleeding and the seizing, we need to see the complex lived experience of the person facing a health problem. If we don’t, we miss the very reasons that persons visit us -- their symptoms, their fears, their awareness of fragility. I am convinced -- with evidence to support my conviction -- that study and practice in the humanities is the most direct means to enable doctors to see the suffering that surrounds them."

Charon argued that the skills of a doctor are in some ways similar to those of a humanities scholar. "We critique and analyze the work at the same time that we are summoned into its world and moved by its meanings. How similar this is to my medical work: I pay attention as an internist to signs and symptoms of disease, ruling in or out their possible causes and deciding what to do," she said. "At the same time, I open myself to behold the patient’s singular situation, to hear the story, to imagine the world being described. This is what allows patients to feel heard, to feel recognized, to enter whole into care."

To illustrate the point about how the humanities allow doctors to "see the suffering" of patents and to understand them, Charon interspersed lessons from art.

One of the paintings she discusses is "Sea and Rain: Variations in Violet and Green," a small 1865 painting at right by James Abbott McNeill Whistler.

"The palette and the scale seem at odds with one another -- one soft, the other grand. Notice what reaches you, what you find yourself wondering about," Charon said. "Does it have plot and characters? What is the mood of the painting, and what mood do you find surfacing in you as you look at it?"

Her answer: "I imagine that some of the words that come to mind are vastness, solitude, loneliness, maybe independence, autonomy, or mastery. I hope some of you noticed that the human figure is translucent -- it is a quite striking detail in the original. You can see through the figure, especially the legs. As I stood in front of this painting, I had two conflicting senses: all this sea and sky and strand is here for this one guy -- the profusion, the bounty, the surfeit, the delicacy of the planet. On the other hand, the human figure is just an afterthought, barely there, expendable, maybe in the process of being erased."

Charon was so taken with the painting that she hired a painter to copy it, and the reproduction now hangs in her home. Her interpretations of the painting change from day to day, she said.

The body in the painting is important, Charon said, and illustrates her view of why narrative medicine is so vital, and why medicine needs the humanities.

"Whistler gives us a body to contemplate. Medicine treats bodies, and bodies are not things," she said. "Well, they are things and they are also more than things. In committing a Jefferson Lecture to medicine and the humanities, the endowment is making a powerful statement about the centrality to the culture, not just to medicine or science, of the problem and the gift of the body. We in the humanities are, in a subversive way, reappropriating the body from the sciences. Not only is the human body a piece of biological equipment, fixable when it breaks down, and to be discarded when it reaches the end of its functional lifespan. It is the singular expression of the time/space coordinates of one being, whose very identity exhales with each breath."

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