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Court finds Christian college engaged in illegal discrimination in firing pregnant, single instructor

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 00:00

A federal judge has ruled that Northwest Christian University engaged in illegal discrimination based on marital status when it told an unmarried, pregnant instructor to either marry the father of the child she was carrying, stop living with him or lose her job. She refused the first two options and was fired.

The basic facts in the case are not in dispute. The ruling was about how much leeway a religious college has in enforcing its religious teachings. That's an issue that could soon receive more attention, given that President Trump has said that the Obama administration and the judges appointed by the former president did not show appropriate deference to religious institutions -- and Trump has vowed to appoint judges and officials who will do so.

The case dates to 2011, when Coty Richardson, an instructor of exercise science at Northwest Christian University, in Oregon, informed her supervisors that she was pregnant with her third child. According to evidence in the case cited in the decision by Judge Ann Aiken, her supervisors then discussed their understanding that she was not married.

When they determined she was not, they gave her the three options for how to proceed. She was fired when she turned down the first two options -- and so she was out of the job when her third child was born. She sued the university, citing discrimination based on marital status and pregnancy. Richardson and the university both asked for summary judgment; Richardson won on the issue of marital status, and the university won an order that it could not be found to owe punitive damages. Judge Aiken found that the pregnancy discrimination claims should go to trial.

Northwest Christian urged Judge Aiken to dismiss the entire case based on its First Amendment rights to religious freedom. Those rights, the university said, include the "ministerial exception," which is a legal tradition that bars federal courts from intervening in disputes over members of the clergy and some other employees of religious institutions. The Supreme Court upheld the concept of the exception in 2012 but did not define which employees would be covered. The court's ruling came in the case of a teacher at a private school who was not a member of the clergy but had some religious instruction duties and led students in prayer. She was covered, the Supreme Court ruled, but the decision suggested that not all employees of religious institutions are covered.

Judge Aiken rejected the idea that the ministerial exception applied in this case.

"First, plaintiff's title, assistant professor of exercise science, was secular," the judge wrote. "Second, plaintiff did not undergo any specialized religious training before assuming her position. Third, although there is ample evidence plaintiff held herself out as a Christian, there is no evidence she held herself out as a minister. With respect to the fourth factor, there is evidence plaintiff performed some important religious functions in her capacity as a professor.

"She was expected to integrate her Christianity into her teaching and demonstrate a maturing Christian faith. But any religious function was wholly secondary to her secular role: she was not tasked with performing any religious instruction and she was charged with no religious duties such as taking students to chapel or leading them in prayer. If plaintiff was a minister, it is hard to see how any teacher at a religious school would fall outside the exception."

With regard to marital discrimination, Judge Aiken ruled in Richardson's favor based on evidence that she was treated differently from others because she was unmarried.

On pregnancy discrimination, the judge found evidence on both sides. The university cited cases in which it had fired three other employees for living with a partner to whom the employee was not married. None of these cases involved pregnancy. So the university argued that it was simply enforcing its moral standards.

But the judge found evidence that a jury might consider Richardson's firing to be based on more than those standards. One of the letters sent by the university said that as Richardson's pregnancy progressed, students and others would be aware of it and aware that she had sex outside of marriage.

The judge found that this could be evidence that the university was "less concerned about its employees having sex outside of marriage and more concerned about people knowing its employees were having sex outside of marriage -- a concern that arguably amounts to animus against pregnant women."

Joseph Womack, president of the university, said via email that officials there were studying the decision and determining a response.

Daniel Kalish, Richardson's lawyer, said he is continuing to try to draw attention to the case -- and has organized a petition for people to express concern for his client. He said that the case will now go to trial over damages in the marital discrimination case and to resolve the pregnancy discrimination charges.

Kalish said the key part of the ruling was rejecting the use of the ministerial exception. The ruling shows that religious colleges "don't get a free pass" on discrimination, he said.

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New paper proposes framework for supporting pretenure faculty members' needs

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 00:00

Both hiring and signing on as a new assistant professor involve risk; if the commitment doesn’t work out, both the institution and the faculty member denied tenure have lost valuable time and resources. Naturally, then, there’s a large of body of literature on how to promote junior faculty members’ success, and a new study builds on three recurring themes: balance between research, teaching and service and between work and home; clear expectations about professional responsibilities; and collegiality.

The study’s authors proposed and tested a conceptual model of pretenure faculty success that incorporates additional research on motivation -- namely self-determination theory. The gist is that when pretenure faculty members’ social-environmental concerns are addressed, “their basic psychosocial needs will be satisfied, resulting in optimal motivation and greater reported success in teaching and research.”

Self-determination theory asserts that human motivation is a continuum, with inherent or intrinsic motivation being the ideal. And intrinsic motivation is hypothesized to occur when a setting fulfills one’s senses of autonomy, competence and “relatedness,” or feeling connected. So the new study’s authors guessed that balance, clear expectations and collegiality generally predict pretenure faculty success because they support feelings of autonomy, competence and relatedness -- which, of course, promote intrinsic motivation and success.

Source: The Journal of Higher Education

The authors evaluated their model by analyzing 105 pretenure faculty members’ survey responses from two unnamed public research universities in the Midwest. Because success is difficult to define, they in their survey asked faculty participants about their perceptions of their teaching and research success, respectively, in relation to their personal standards, departmental standards and, finally, other faculty members. They also asked faculty members how successful they expected to be based on their own standard.

Participants rated their level of agreement with statements on balance, clear expectations and collegiality, such as, “I have been able to balance my work and home/personal life,” and “There is a colleague in my department whom I can ask for advice and guidance.”

To assess faculty members’ perceived levels of satisfaction in terms of autonomy, competence and relatedness -- which set the stage for intrinsic motivation -- additional survey items included, “In my [teaching/research], I feel a sense of choice and freedom” and “I feel confident that I can do things well on my [teaching/research].”

Additional items assessed faculty members’ source of motivation for various tasks. Possible answers corresponded with internal or external factors. “Because it is pleasant to carry out this task” was intrinsic, while “Because I am paid to do it” was not, for example.

Through path (or extended multiple regression) analysis, the authors observed relationships between social-environmental factors and basic psychological needs, as suspected. Unsurprisingly, the strongest pathway was the connection between collegiality and relatedness, especially in terms of teaching. Collegiality was positively correlated with perceptions of autonomy and competence in teaching.

Teaching "can be highly collaborative as faculty members within departments work together on curriculum development, which often involves exchanging materials, and assessment,” the study says. “Furthermore, because pretenure faculty typically have limited training in teaching upon starting their position, they regularly require support from colleagues to be successful.”

In contrast, perceived balance was most strongly related to autonomy and competence in terms of research. Why? “Establishing a good routine and finding time for research appears to be most important for research motivation,” the paper says.

As much as shifting performance targets can rile faculty members, clear expectations were not significantly related to the basic psychological needs or intrinsic motivation of pretenure professors with regard to teaching or research. They were, however, correlated with extrinsic motivation in both domains. That’s possibly “due to faculty expectations (e.g., for tenure consideration) typically being ‘externally’ set by university administrators, thus aligning more closely with introjected and external motivation."

An unexpectedly significant path, meanwhile, was the negative relationship between clear expectations and perceived success in research. The finding suggests that for some faculty members, “a clearer understanding of the criteria for research success may be demotivating, as perhaps identifying challenging goals for tenure contributes to feeling a lack of accomplishment in the present,” the study says. 

In support of self-determination theory’s application to pretenure success, the paper says that survey participants who perceived their basic psychological needs as being satisfied also tended to report higher levels of intrinsic motivation. Specifically, relatedness mattered in terms of teaching, and perceptions of autonomy and competence mattered to research.

One note: faculty members at the institutions studied had average workloads of 50 percent teaching and 35 percent research. These relationships are “likely to differ for faculty at institutions in which greater relative emphasis is placed on research activities,” the study warns.

Intrinsic motivation was also linked to higher expectations of future success. That is, pretenure faculty members who reported engaging in teaching and research because they found it enjoyable or interesting tended to say they felt more successful and also expected to be successful in the future, according to the study.

Also noteworthy is that extrinsic motivation was not significantly related to pretenure faculty success. That’s not surprising, the authors say, given that few enter academe to become rich or due to other outside pressures.

The authors call for further study but say that support for their model “will allow researchers, faculty development officers, university administrators and faculty members themselves to more fully understand the ideal pathway to success and perhaps lead to better understanding of how to assist those who are falling short.”

Even more practically, they say, their results suggest that university administrators -- including department chairs -- “could promote teaching effectiveness in pretenure faculty by fostering supportive relationships among departmental colleagues that, in turn, contribute to perceptions of relatedness, teaching-related enjoyment and reports of greater success.”

For example, pretenure faculty members could be assigned a teaching mentor willing to share existing course materials, review course syllabi, discuss textbook options or observe them in class, the study says.

“Alternatively, our findings suggest that efforts to promote pretenure faculty research should ideally encourage autonomy as well as a balance (teaching/research and work/life) through provisions such as teaching releases for research purposes, gym memberships for health promotion or designated periods when faculty need not respond to email (e.g., weekends). Such initiatives would be expected to contribute to sustained faculty interest in research and, in turn, greater research-related success.”

“Testing a Model of Pretenure Faculty Members’ Teaching and Research Success: Motivation as a Mediator of Balance, Expectations and Collegiality” was published this week by The Journal of Higher Education. Asked about the stickiness of collegiality in academe -- the American Association of University Professors opposes its use as a criterion in personnel decisions, for example -- co-author Robert H. Stupnisky, associate professor of education and human development at the University of North Dakota, said he could only point back to his finding that collegiality is an important predictor of faculty motivation and perceived success in the teaching domain.

Stupnisky's co-authors are Nathan C. Hall, associate professor of educational and counseling psychology at Canada's McGill University; Lia M. Daniels, associate professor of educational psychological at the University of Alberta in Canada; and Emmanuel Mensah, of the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

Cathy Trower, an independent consultant on higher education who has studied faculty success extensively, said the new model seems to have broad applicability, and theoretical grounding enough to “pass the sniff test.”

“This research is some of the best I have seen on this subject,” she said. “It appears well conceived, well executed and thoughtful.”

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 03/23/2017 - 00:00
  • DePauw University: Jim Alling, CEO of Toms.
  • Franklin & Marshall College: Wanda Austin, former CEO of Aerospace Corp.
  • Guilford College: Patricia Timmons-Goodson, the first African-American woman to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court.
  • Le Moyne College: John Langdon, professor of history at the college.
  • Liberty University: President Trump.
  • Michigan Technological University: Paula L. Wittbrodt, vice president for international business operations at the Estée Lauder Companies.
  • Olin College of Engineering: Patrick G. Awuah Jr., founder and president of Ashesi University, in Ghana.
  • Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology: Robert L. Wilkins, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia circuit.
  • University of Houston: Arnold Schwarzenegger, the actor and former governor of California.
  • University of Mississippi: Jon Meacham, the journalist and historian.
  • University of New Orleans: Air Force Brigadier General Chad Franks.
  • University of North Carolina at Asheville: Ko Barrett, deputy assistant administrator for research for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
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Students end 150-day protest over for-profit campus

University World News Global Edition - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 17:15
A five-month student protest over plans for a for-profit branch campus at South Korea's most prestigious university came to an end after the university administration turned a water hose on the s ...

Brazil’s CI cites success with two offshore offices

The PIE News - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 08:11

Opening two off-shore offices to better serve their clients’ ongoing study needs has been a good business move for one of Brazil’s largest student travel agencies, CI, according to owner Victor Hugo Baseggio.

Speaking exclusively with The PIE News, he explained that opening offices in Sydney in September and Dublin in October last year has enabled the company to help their clients with “re-enrolment” in an overseas country.

Observing that both Australia and Ireland offer post-study work options, Baseggio said this was a “great opportunity” for an agency to continue to service their current students and expand their client base in a new market.

“We are seeing a slow movement of staying more in a destination”

“In Ireland, [students] can work up to seven years, once they have engagement at higher education levels,” he said. “And in Australia, opportunities are also good.”

Jan Wrede, director of sales at the company, pointed out that the new offices enable CI to offer orientation services, walking tours and general help with settling into life in a new country, as well as job search support.

“In our Sydney office, we have a lounge area where we offer our clients (and non-clients) computers/internet, a chill-out area and a room where we train clients for the hospitality industry,” he explained.

He said that other Brazilian students, not originally CI clients, were using their services in both Australia and Ireland.

“It’s premature to assume it, but we are seeing a slow movement of staying more in a destination and exploring more, once [students] have guidance and inspiration provided by our local staff.”

Speaking about business in Brazil generally, Baseggio said that there was also a more optimistic mood about the business climate.

“The worst is definitely over, we feel,” he said. “We believe unemployment will go down and while the economic reality is still tough, there is a more positive outlook and there are reasons to be optimistic now.”

CI, which counsels thousands of students per year, has diversified its product range in Brazil. It now offers a sports tour product, Amaze Sports, which took nearly 400 clients to Gothenburg to participate in the Gothia Cup, world’s largest football competition for 10-18 year olds.

“This was a great success, and we also did a big deal with Barcelona for their football camps,” said Baseggio. “So we’re very optimistic about that.”

Graduation tours have also become a promising product for CI. Baseggio said nearly 2,000 CI clients descended on Florianopolis in Brazil for one week, for a “spring break” style tour with excursions and parties organised.

The agency is also building its reputation for full undergraduate placement overseas. “More and more [Brazilians] are willing to try for undergrad study overseas – from 3-5 years, so a long-term programme,” said Baseggio.

The post Brazil’s CI cites success with two offshore offices appeared first on The PIE News.

UK considers education exports in response to ‘tumultuous times’ 

The PIE News - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 07:48

The UK’s parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for International Trade, Mark Garnier, opened Universities UK’s International Higher Education Forum this week claiming the government aims to “harness the power of the UK’s education sector” in future trade deals.

Garnier’s comments set the tone for the event that marked a shift in focus for the sector towards education exports beyond Europe as Brexit negotiations loom.

To help the higher education sector thrive, Garner told delegates DIT intends to build on the country’s success in exporting education and has recruited its own HE specialist to “support the sector’s global ambitions”.

“The Department for International Trade will support the sector’s global ambitions”

Without commenting on immigration policy post-Brexit, Garnier instead said the government would support transnational education activities pointing to China, Brazil and Malaysia as countries “where the GREAT campaign is pursuing thousands of export opportunities”.

“Ninety percent of global growth will take place outside of Europe and educators must be open to that,” he said, adding that “education is one of the truly global industries” and the government “won’t be turning its back on our trade partners in Europe”.

Eliciting successful examples of exporting education was Paul Wellings, vice chancellor at the University of Wollongong in Australia where education is the third largest export and there is a clear government mandate to increase offshore enrolments.

Wellings noted education’s prominence in Australia’s 2003 free trade agreement with Singapore. A 2014 bilateral agreement with China also extended the number of Australia’s private HE institutions on the Chinese government’s Jiaoyu Shewai Jianguan Xinxi Wang or “white list” of quasi-approved institutions.

Cooperative research and credit transfer agreements were among ways Wollongong forges agreements with overseas partners, Wellings said.  However, he added the “sticky subjects of student and staff mobility” would be “deal breakers” in any collaboration with UK universities.

In response to how to ensure confidence in higher education’s international activities in communities who might be shunning globalisation, Wellings said Australia has implemented a “sophisticated community strategy that sits alongside the global strategies”.

Robin Grimes, professor at Imperial College London and chief scientific advisor to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, spoke about the role of science in building diplomatic relations. He cited the Fukushima nuclear disaster and Ebola and Zika outbreaks as events resulting in international collaboration through science. And he reminded delegates of government-backed research funds and the UK Science and Innovation Network which work to connect universities with international stakeholders.

“Sticky subjects of student and staff mobility will be deal breakers in any collaboration with UK universities”

Rolf Tarrach, president of the European University Association, also noted the role scientists and researchers have in supporting the value of internationalisation. “We have to fight against Trumpian twitter by having a much closer relationship with society, explaining how we do science…we should do better science and better publishing to defend our way of getting new knowledge.”

In response to how universities should react to the current “tumultuous times”, Allan Goodman, president of the Institute for International Education, offered a perspective from the US.

“We’ve seen this movie before,” he told delegates highlighting the historical resilience of universities during previous uprises of nationalism and said “universities create their own foreign policy”.

Discussions also shifted to existential questions about the future of international higher education in the UK. Vivienne Stern, director of UUKi, pondered how the event’s push for education as a trade commodity would be interpreted by foreign colleagues.

Providing one response, Ihron Rensberg, vice chancellor at the University of Johannesburg warned delegates of the nationalistic tone of the morning’s sessions. “I noted a hankering for a return to the great, hegemonic period of the UK,” Rensburg said. “This turning point provides an opportunity to rethink that idea and look beyond economics and market share.”

Meanwhile, Abdi-Aziz Suleiman, former president of Sheffield Students’ Union and international student from Somalia told educators to show the value of international education to the people who “feel left behind”.

The post UK considers education exports in response to ‘tumultuous times’  appeared first on The PIE News.

Lesley McDonald and Mary Ann Seow, ISANA, NZ and Aus

The PIE News - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 07:14
Sister organisations ISANA Australia and ISANA New Zealand both represent international education sectors experiencing significant growth underpinned by governmental policy changes. New Zealand president, Lesley McDonald, and Australian president, Mary Ann Seow, discuss their organisations’ relationship, the future of student services and international education natives.

The PIE: What role do your organisations play in international education?

LM: I think we are the voice of the students. We know a lot of our practitioners are working at the grassroots level and they are interacting with students, so they get to know what students want, and we provide a forum to escalate that.

MAS: ISANA Australia and New Zealand memberships are basically staff who work at the coalface with students. Not only do they get to be the voice of the students, and that’s more so in New Zealand where they don’t have an organisation like the Council of International Students Australia, we deal with students day-in-day-out.

We are able to give feedback of critical information on the effect of any policy changes. With policy legislation changes, we can say ‘hang on a second, if you want to do this, these are the implications it will have’ because we are the ones who will actually be implementing it. So we’re the voice of the students but also the voice of the staff who work with the students.

“Our international student numbers have increased and once they are here we want to retain their skills and knowledge”

LM: Also, with a lot of international student support staff, there’s no formal training and so ISANA is there to provide professional development. Anyone can go into the role, but there’s all these transferable skills we’re looking for, and a lot of them are intuitive skills which are very warm and fuzzy, but that’s what you need in student support. A lot of those people do not have formal training so we provide professional development throughout the year.

The PIE: What is the relationship between ISANA Australia and ISANA New Zealand?

MAS: Sisters. The structure is very different because New Zealand doesn’t have states and territories, they have regions so they don’t have the branches that Australia has. But the constitutions are very similar. Australia has a much bigger national council than New Zealand as we have state branch representation.

In national planning days, ISANA Australia invites the New Zealand president to come over. It’s great to have New Zealand be part of our planning sessions; they’re like a voice from across the Tasman that says ‘why are you doing this?’ Then you almost have to justify it but when you do that, you do realise it’s a very good question. It’s not for any other reason than sharing information, getting a different perspective because there are similarities and there are differences.

LM: There are alignments and things we do separately. I believe there are alignments in government policies that are coming through.

The PIE: With those government policies, why do you think both New Zealand and Australia are now looking inward at how they can become sustainable in the future?

LM: I think with the [New Zealand government] policy to increase student numbers, our international student numbers have increased and once they are here we want to retain their skills and knowledge so they don’t go off to Australia, Canada, wherever, to work.

“We can’t just keep on bringing students here and not have anything to underpin their welfare now and in the future”

I think there’s this realisation that we’ve got these students and they’re going to be looking at what they want to do after university, so we really have to get together and think about how to support those students into work and everything else if they want them to remain.

I think there is a realisation that we can’t just keep on bringing students here and not have anything to underpin their welfare now and in the future. There has to be something in place.

MAS: The success of international education in both our countries is why it’s on the agenda. So why we’re talking about sustainability is because suddenly it matters, whereas before, there were other things that mattered. As the economies of China decide they are not going to use our steel or use our coal, suddenly we start to ask ‘where’s our money coming from?’ and then we start looking at the service sector.

The whole reason we have been discussing sustainability is because the international education sector financially matters. You can’t just ignore it and hope that it’s like a snowball rolling down a hill that’s just going to go and get bigger and bigger and bigger.

The PIE: Are you noticing a shift towards an “international education native” as an industry professional?

MAS: The interesting thing with some international students, once they start, they do the volunteer work, they represent staff, and they fall in love with the sector. Increasingly, one of the things I’ve noticed, people actually do want to work in the sector. Not necessarily marketing and recruitment, but student services, etc. There’s something about being in the sector that people really, really want to engage with.

If you look at the profile of staff, and I think if you look at the ISANA delegates, the length of time people work in the sector: people don’t leave the sector, they retire from it.

“In the early days, about 25 years ago, there was exploitation and there just wasn’t that support there”

LM: I’m quite the same, I came into it through hosting international students and you learn about them and I thought ‘why are organisations not supporting them better?’ Then I went into a student support role at a high school, and I progressed since, just wanting to help them.

In the early days, about 25 years ago, there was exploitation and there just wasn’t that support there. However, nowadays we have a code of practice for international students to ensure their pastoral care needs are met.

The PIE: Do you think that passion can push back against concerns of commoditisation of the sector?

LM: In the past, government policy was about bringing more students here and suddenly they’ve woken up to the fact that ‘we’ve got them all here, where’s the support for those students?’ If we are wanting them to progress to internships, working and everything else, then we have to have that support when they arrive as international students so they feel they’re included in the community. The Australian and New Zealand governments are waking up to that.

MAS: I think on one level it helps if you have very passionate people in the sector. We become the advocates, the liaisons, the go-betweens for the students. We’re up against challenges where mainstream communities, businesses, government policy people don’t have the experience that people who work in the sector do and are passionate about students as human beings.

Therefore, when you only look at data and you put a dollar sign next to those numbers and you don’t actually talk to people involved in international education, you may lose sight of that.

LM: Pastoral support is a key factor for marketing because parents overseas are not going to send their child to a country where there’s no support. If marketers have that pastoral support knowledge, they can tell it to the parents; it broadens that perspective from a marketing view.

Everybody is a marketer! But you get some academics saying: ‘Education is not a business. We are not a business’. In some respects they can’t get their heads around how they are marketing on a daily basis and anything they do in their interactions with students in the classroom says something [towards marketing].

The PIE: So ISANA harnesses that passion and skills-up the sector for its continued success over the next few years?

LM: And supports those students. From my point of view, I came from Scotland over 30 years ago and even though I was English speaking, I had culture shock for two years. Everyone spoke too quickly, they had their own sayings. Britain is much more formal, New Zealand is much more casual, so for me I take that with me into the role and I can understand what these kids are going through.

“I think on one level it helps if you have very passionate people in the sector”

MAS: It’s a feedback loop. We work with the students, so we know where the needs and challenges are for the students, we develop strategies and then with that information, you train and up-skill staff who come into the sector and work in the sector.

The PIE: Do you think the Australia/New Zealand region will strengthen in the coming years?

LM: I think so. I think also with our economic policies surrounding the specific area, we have that commonality. And then taking into account Brexit and Trump, I think we will have increased migration in both countries. We’re at a common stage.

The post Lesley McDonald and Mary Ann Seow, ISANA, NZ and Aus appeared first on The PIE News.

Government recommits to long-term support for science

University World News Global Edition - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 07:06
The Australian Government has unveiled its new National Science Statement, which emphasises the long-term importance of science to the nation's economy and society, with Minister for Industry, Inn ...

ACE Names 33 Emerging Higher Education Leaders to ACE Fellows Program

American Council on Education - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 03:01
ACE has selected 33 emerging college and university leaders for the 2016-17 Class of the ACE Fellows Program, the longest running leadership development program in the United States.

U Chicago committee proposes ways of dealing with those who shout down invited speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 00:00

As obstructionist protests of controversial speakers spread, some say the future of the trend depends on how colleges and universities respond -- namely what, if any, disciplinary action they take against participants. But just what action to take, and when, is tricky business. Practically, it can mean sorting through the chaos that often surrounds such events to find specific perpetrators; politically, it can mean wading into murky waters.

The University of Chicago has some ideas on how to proceed. Two years after the institution adopted a statement affirming free speech that has since been adapted by a number of other colleges and universities, a committee at Chicago has published a new report on discipline for disruptive conduct. The committee of faculty-led committee was charged by Chicago’s provost with reviewing and making recommendations about procedures for “student disciplinary matters involving disruptive conduct including interference with freedom of inquiry or debate” last summer -- long before Charles Murray was shouted down at Middlebury College or a controversial Canadian professor who opposes using gender-neutral pronouns was drowned out at McMaster University, for example. But its recommendations now seem prescient to some. Others find them lacking.

Perhaps most significantly, the committee recommends that disruptive conduct, which is currently addressed at Chicago within individual academic units, be covered by a centralized disciplinary process. While the committee’s hope is to provide “greater consistency across cases,” it does not propose prescribed actions for specific offenses. Rather, it seeks to create a voting committee of five members -- three professors, one student and one staff member drawn from a larger pool appointed by the provost -- to mete out discipline on a case-by-case basis. So while leaving punishments to a committee and designated administrative support office, it's clear that protests that prevent someone from talking violate university rules.

“It was clear to us in meetings on campus with students and faculty that there were a wide range of views on how speech should be approached at the university, and so we didn’t try to hardwire particular punishments,” Randal C. Picker, committee chair and James Parker Hall Distinguished Service Professor of Law at Chicago, said via email. “I expect that to play out in particular cases if we reach that point, but of course I hope that we don’t.”

The committee also proposes that the university “should revise its procedures for event management to reduce the chances that those engaged in disruptive conduct can prevent others from speaking or being heard.” Namely, it suggests naming and training “free-speech deans on call” to deal with disruptive conduct as it happens, and preauthorizing some process by which disruptive individuals can be removed from events, if necessary. Why? “The current rules, which often force deans on call to try to contact other administrators at the university in the middle of a free-speech disruption, are simply unworkable,” the committee says.

Similarly, the committee recommends that Chicago “provide greater clarity on the roles and responsibilities of hosts, speakers, audience members, event staff and the university police at events to improve understanding of the university’s commitment to free expression and clarify the consequences of disrupting the free-speech commons.” That could including creating more explicit audience guidelines, increasing staffing of deans at events and more training for other staff, according to the report.

Regarding transparency for students and other groups, the committee says that audience guidelines, along with the roles of various staff members charged with protecting free speech and the consequences of disrupting it should be readily available to students. “We recommend that the Student Manual include examples of protests that are likely to be regarded as nondisruptive as well as those that are likely to be disruptive. Nondisruptive protests include: marches that do not drown out speakers; silent vigils; protest signs at an event that do not block the vision of the audience; and boycotts of speakers or events," the report says.

Disruptive protests, meanwhile, include “blocking access to an event or to a university facility and shouting or otherwise interrupting an event or other university activity with noise in a way that prevents the event or activity from continuing in its normal course.”

When disrupters are not affiliated with the university, the committee says that they should be treated like they are part of campus life, whenever possible. When that’s not possible, unaffiliated individuals who engage in disruptive conduct “can be barred from all or part of the university permanently or for discrete periods under standards and processes,” according to the university’s existing no-trespass policy.

In terms of prevention, the committee says the university needs a more robust education program to ensure that students “understand the rights and responsibilities of participating in the free-speech commons.” It recommends new, targeted outreach measures for students and recognized student organizations, which build on existing student-centered programs and resources but are coordinated by the Office of Campus and Student Life and developed with the faculty.

Finally, the committee recommends that the university amend an existing statute on disruptive behavior to include nonmembers of the university community, as well as members, and to clarify that  interfering conduct may include behavior at one or more events. That’s because “serial conduct may in the aggregate rise to the level of disruptive conduct even if a single instance of such conduct does not,” the committee says. It also points out that disrupters may be individuals or groups.

Here is the statue, with proposed changes in strikeouts and additions in bold.

The University Council must weigh in the report before Chicago adopts it, and discussions could begin as early as this month.

The report has already received praise from some off campus. Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, wrote in the Federalist, for example, that it’s “a welcome step for all of American higher education,” since “it restores to the campus authorities charged with maintaining order the tools they need to do their jobs.” He praised the committee for recognizing that both individuals and groups may be responsible for blocking free expression or inquiry.

Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, and co-author of a recent statement denouncing those who interfere in campus speech, also approves. He said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that the report’s value will ultimately hinge on the consistency and "content neutrality" with which discipline is administered -- meaning, for example, that a person who shuts down a pro-Israel rally should be punished similarly harshly to one who shuts down an anti-Israel one. Otherwise, he said he wasn’t really “in the mood to criticize this kind of moral seriousness and leadership.”

One again, George said, referring to the 2015 statement on free speech, which Princeton promptly adopted, “Chicago has taken the lead in ascending core academic values. … They’re thinking about how to put teeth in the obligation of everyone on campus to respect the rights and freedoms of thought and expression of everyone else on campus.” He said he hoped other institutions would follow suit.

John K. Wilson, an independent scholar of free speech and co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ “Academe” blog, shredded the report in a post, however. While he approves of a centralized disciplinary system, Wilson wrote that the report as a whole “fails to address serious problems with free speech and due process in Chicago’s rules, and mostly makes proposals to reduce free expression on campus by aiming to suppress protest.” 

Among other criticisms, Wilson wrote that the committee offers definition poor definitions of misconduct, including, to quote the report, “blocking access to an event or to a university facility and shouting or otherwise interrupting an event or other university activity with noise in a way that prevents the event or activity from continuing in its normal course.”

There’s a “fundamental difference between ‘interrupting’ an event and shutting it down,” Wilson says. “A protest can disrupt the ‘normal course’ of an event without preventing it from continuing altogether.” He also disapproves of the notion of cumulative offense, saying that if "a single incident does not justify punishment, then repetition of it at different events should not be punished." And if the statute is indeed changed to potentially allow for assigning penalties  “individually or as part of a group," he says, it suggests that "if a person is part of a group that breaks the rules, even if the individual doesn’t, that person can be punished."

Picker, the committee chair, said Wilson’s critique includes pre-existing policies, not just those his group suggests. Wilson said he does disagree with Chicago's approach to such issues, not just the committee's. But the new report is problematic on its own, he said, and the committee should have urged bigger changes to the statute -- like getting rid of it.

The committee says its work was primarily informed by two university values enshrined elsewhere, in previous reports on free speech (including that from 2015). First, Chicago's "fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the university community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed." Second, “[d]issent and protest should be affirmatively welcomed, not merely tolerated." 

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Ideas for improving higher education's primary role in work force development

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 00:00

In a rare point of agreement, the Trump administration and many academics would like to see less focus on colleges as work force development centers.

The administration has said too many students are being prodded toward bachelor’s degrees over apprenticeships and other noncollege options.

“We must embrace new and effective job-training approaches, including online courses, high school curriculums and private-sector investment that prepare people for trade, manufacturing, technology and other really well-paying jobs and careers,” President Trump said last week during a meeting on vocational training with U.S. and German business leaders.

“These kinds of options can be a positive alternative to a four-year degree,” he said. “So many people go to college, four years, they don’t like it, they’re not necessarily good at it, but they’re good at other things, like fixing engines and building things.”

Likewise, many in higher education, mostly at four-year institutions, resist pressure for colleges to be more attuned to their occupational role, arguing in defense of general education and decrying the transactional view of college as being primarily a means to a job.

College and faculty leaders also tend to dislike performance metrics that are based on graduates’ employment and earnings.

Yet higher education has been the federal government’s primary work force system for decades. And that is unlikely to change, experts said.

Just 6 percent of the roughly $114 billion the federal government spends annually on work force development and education goes toward noncollege job-training programs, according to data from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce. (See graphic, below.)

Higher education gets a much larger share of that funding -- roughly 34 percent -- with K-12 receiving a similarly large portion.

“We’re spending more on job training than ever before. It’s just that the funding has moved to education,” said Mary Alice McCarthy, director of the Center on Education and Skills with the education policy program at New America and a former official at the U.S. Education and Labor Departments.

This was not always the case. Anthony Carnevale, the Georgetown center’s director, said job training and employment programs outside higher education and K-12 accounted for 40 percent of the federal work force budget in 1978.

One reason for the shift is that at least 60 percent of jobs now require at least some college education, according to the center, up from 28 percent in 1973. The trend will continue, Carnevale said.

In addition, federal spending on higher education is an easier political sell than paying for occupational or vocational programs that train workers outside college.

“It’s not the thing middle-class people want for their kids,” said Carnevale.

So higher education became the preferred system for job training, he said, a trend that began in the 1980s and accelerated during the Clinton administration, which shuttered federal job-training programs in exchange for higher education subsidies aimed at the middle class. (Employers spend $177 million a year in formal job training, the center has said, an amount that is increasing, but less quickly than overall spending on higher education.)

“Higher education became the chicken in every pot,” said Carnevale. “It moves votes.”

‘Time for a Reboot’

Yet nobody seems particularly happy about the federal government’s current approach to job training.

Bipartisan angst about the skills gap has become more urgent, as employers say they struggle to hire work-ready employees. Meanwhile, a wide range of experts said noncollege federal work force programs are inefficient, duplicative and lacking in incentives.

The current $18 billion annual federal work force budget is divvied up among roughly 50 programs.

“It’s spread across a wide range of programs for niche audiences,” said Jason Tyszko, executive director of the Center for Education and Workforce at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, who describes federal work force programs as being “stretched thin.”

The Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), which was enacted in 2015 and replaced an outdated predecessor law, is the largest of the federal job-training programs. Its $3.4 billion annual budget is intended to extend across education, training and job-support services, with a goal of helping job seekers and employers as well as setting priorities for local, state and regional work force investment priorities -- a big ask.

The program’s task won’t get easier, at least if the Trump administration’s budget plan takes hold in the U.S. Congress.

The White House has called for a $2.5 billion, or 21 percent, cut to the Labor Department’s $9.6 billion in annual funding. While Trump’s budget document was relatively light on details, the National Skills Coalition projected that it would result in as much as a 50 percent cut to WIOA’s budget.

The White House plan also would decrease “federal support for job training and employment service formula grants, shifting more responsibility for funding these services to states, localities and employers.”

A broad coalition of work force and labor groups criticized the proposed cuts, calling them unnecessary and inconsistent with the Trump administration’s job-creation goals.

But Tyszko, citing two 2011 Government Accountability Office reports that described wasteful overlap and fragmentation of federal work force programs, said funding levels aren’t the main problem.

“Throwing more money at these programs and how they run could actually have diminishing returns,” he said.

Likewise, a broad range of experts agreed with Tyszko that the time is ripe for the federal government to reconsider its approach to occupational training.

“There really needs to be a fundamental reconciliation between higher education and work force development,” said Maria Flynn, president and CEO of Jobs for the Future and a former official with the Labor Department’s Employment and Training Administration.

Better coordination between the Labor and Education Departments is needed, she said, with particular attention to the interplay between WIOA and the Pell Grant program, which is the primary federal grant for low-income students. (The Trump budget would cut $3.9 billion from the Pell program’s reserves.)

There are some signs that the two systems are being steered together, Flynn said.

For example, she cited a bipartisan legislative proposal in the U.S. Senate that would allow students to use Pell Grants for short-term job-training credentials, such as college-issued certificates. Currently Pell can be applied only to programs that take more than 15 weeks or 600 clock hours to complete.

Other promising ideas Flynn mentioned include an Education Department experiment that is granting temporary access to federal financial aid for noncollege training entities, including skills boot camps and online course providers, under partnerships with accredited colleges on job training in high-demand fields.

Likewise, Flynn said the college and career pathways approach championed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the American Association of Community Colleges can help students follow a more structured route to completion and a job.

Structured pathways share some resemblance to the German model of nudging students toward an occupation earlier in their academic career, she said, without the controversial student “tracking” that’s a tough sell in this country.

“In the U.S. there’s some middle ground we can get to,” she said, “by really emphasizing the idea of pathways.”

Likewise, McCarthy and others said the federal government could do more to prevent students from having to spend more time and money than is necessary on vocational training.

Perverse incentives, she said, encourage colleges to make academic programs credit bearing and longer than might be ideal. For example, some medical assistant and early childhood programs were noncredit in the past. But to make those offerings financially viable, McCarthy said, many community colleges and for-profits began offering credit-bearing options in those fields.

One overarching fix to the lack of coordination on job training, according to McCarthy, would be for some Labor Department programs to be folded into Congress’s looming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which is the law that oversees federal aid. She said that shared focus could benefit college-based occupational training, too.

“We have to bring what we know about good training quality to the higher education side,” said McCarthy. “It’s definitely time for a reboot.”

Market for Apprentices

Apprenticeships in particular appear to be in vogue as the GOP dominates both federal and state policy making.

The president and Ivanka Trump, his daughter, met last week with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and a group of corporate executives from the U.S. and Germany to discuss vocational training. Ivanka Trump said the executives would form a task force that would produce a report on training programs that should be expanded.

President Trump reportedly has embraced a call by one of those executives to create five million apprenticeships within five years. That would be a steep increase from the current number of apprentices -- roughly 450,000 -- who are enrolled in Labor Department-registered programs, according to McCarthy.

The White House has pushed for private funding for apprenticeships and job training, with Ivanka Trump reportedly saying last week that “ingenuity, creativity often comes from the determination of the private sector.” And last year Congress added $90 million in funding for apprentice programs.

The Trump budget says it will help states expand apprenticeships, although it doesn't specify new money for them. But the $1 trillion in infrastructure spending the White House has said it is mulling probably would include funding for apprenticeships and other job training. (Carnevale's center projects that 55 percent of jobs created under such a program would not require any college, with 60 percent of new infrastructure jobs requiring no more than six months of on-the-job training.)

Some observers said the current structure of the Labor Department’s apprenticeship program can be balky. To participate, companies often must file voluminous applications and wait months for the feds to respond.

“It’s a bureaucratic process where those who are good at filling out papers get the funds,” said Ryan Craig, co-founder of University Ventures, an investment firm. “Government is ill positioned to pick winners.”

As a result, Craig is focused on job-training “intermediaries” between colleges and employers, where the money comes from job seekers or from employers themselves. Examples include Revature, an employer-funded training firm, and boot camps like Galvanize and General Assembly.

Yet there’s a role for government in promoting apprenticeships, Craig said.

He cites the United Kingdom’s apprenticeship levy, which goes into effect next month. The U.K. is requiring all employers with an annual payroll of more than 3 million pounds ($3.74 million) to pay a tax of 0.05 percent of their payroll amount on apprenticeships, with the government kicking in an extra 10 percent “top-up” to those apprenticeship funds.

Craig called the levy an exciting idea, which, if combined with the right incentives and outcomes requirements, would be worth a look in this country.

“We need to figure out how to spawn a market here,” he said.

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Barry and St. Thomas Universities explore strategic alliance amid pressures in South Florida

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 00:00

At first glance, Barry University and St. Thomas University might seem to be better positioned for the future than many other small private institutions.

The two Roman Catholic universities are both located to the north of the city of Miami in fast-growing Miami-Dade County. They both enroll large numbers of Hispanic students at a time when projections suggest growth among numbers of Hispanic high school graduates in Florida.

But the two institutions in South Florida aren’t immune from the pressures pushing small nonprofit colleges and universities to change.

Early this month, word circulated that Barry and St. Thomas are exploring a "strategic alliance." The process is still in its early stages, so the details of what such an alliance would look like aren’t clear. In theory, it could run the gamut from sharing back-office tasks to a full merger.

What is clear is that the two universities, which are located about eight miles apart, have been up against many similar challenges in recent years. They’ve faced enrollment strains and pressures on net prices in a competitive market for students. They’ve also dealt with financial stresses, sometimes prompting midyear adjustments to their annual budgets.

University officials reject the idea that budget challenges forced them to explore an affiliation. Instead, they point to broad trends sweeping across small private institutions and a call from the universities’ Roman Catholic supporters to explore a change.

Barry University is sponsored by the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Mich. St. Thomas is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Miami. The two organizations asked the universities to start talking, and several weeks ago, the universities’ boards approved the move.

The next step is to hire a consultant to start discussions. But there is no firm timeline, according to university representatives.

“It’s really not about finances at all,” said Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, St. Thomas University’s president (left). “It’s about creating whatever kind of synergies we can create in order to strengthen the institutions to a point where we can be seen as leading Catholic institutions -- whatever form that takes.”

No organizational changes are on or off the table at this point, said Sara B. Herald, Barry's vice president of institutional advancement and external affairs. She said she could think of many forms a strategic alliance could take that would not be a full merger.

“I’m a lawyer, and I’ll tell you there are a lot of different ways it could unfold,” she said. “A merger is one of maybe 60 to 70 options I could think of.”

The discussions take place at a time when private Catholic institutions are facing steep competition from public universities in Florida that sharply undercut their tuition rates. Many out-of-state institutions are also increasingly recruiting in Florida as they see drops in the pool of high school students they can recruit closer to home, according to Herald.

At the same time, Catholic institutions are less able to rely on highly educated priests and nuns to teach classes on low-cost stipends, because the number of priests and nuns is dropping, Herald said.

Further, Catholic institutions enroll a large number of students who don’t have the resources to pay full tuition. And the institutions don’t have large endowments -- Barry’s was reported at $36.6 million and St. Thomas’s at $24.2 million in the latest survey from the National Association of College and University Business Officers and the nonprofit asset-management firm Commonfund.

That leaves the institutions stuck between upward pressure on expenses and downward pressure on prices.

“This is about an environment in which you have sort of the perfect storm,” Herald said. “You can’t keep raising the price and expect people to be able to pay for it. That’s true nationwide. You have a declining population of traditional college-aged students.”

Barry University has attempted to break out of that situation recently, in part by shifting financial assistance more toward highly qualified students. It expected some decline in enrollment as its tuition discount rates fell but missed an enrollment target for transfer students and students in its graduate and professional programs last year.

The university’s total enrollment dropped from 9,030 in the fall of 2013 to 8,518 in 2014 and 7,971 in 2015, according to federal data. In 2015 it enrolled 3,776 undergraduates and 4,195 graduate students. Most of its undergraduates -- 84 percent -- attended full time.

Barry University reported that 27 percent of its students in 2015 were Hispanic, 25 percent were black non-Hispanic, and 7 percent were international. About 90 percent of full-time undergraduates received some form of financial aid.

Meanwhile, 61 percent of Barry University’s full-time undergraduate freshmen received federal Pell Grants in 2014-15. Federal Pell Grants are typically considered a proxy for students from low-income families.

The financial situation at Barry has come under local scrutiny lately, with The Miami Herald reporting on steps the university is taking to close an $8.6 million budget gap this year. The university reported more than $210 million in annual revenue on its most recently available federal tax forms.

Cuts being put in place include a hiring freeze, the elimination of about 25 staff positions and a temporary reduction in retirement-plan matching. The university is also consolidating an adult-education delivery site about 20 miles away in Davie, Fla., which is one of numerous locations it lists around Florida and in the Bahamas.

Barry University President Sister Linda Bevilacqua (left) recently sent an email discussing strategies being considered, which include re-examining tuition discounts. That letter called discussions about reducing expenditures “distressful,” saying “the decisions to do so are agonizing when they involve colleagues with whom we work,” according to The Miami Herald.

Fitch Ratings has previously noted Barry’s difficulties. In October the ratings agency affirmed a BBB rating on $67.3 million of revenue and refunding bonds, keeping the bonds on the lower end of investment grade. But Fitch revised the bonds’ outlook from stable to negative, noting declining enrollment and a revenue shortfall for the year ending in June 2016.

Historically, Barry University’s enrollment has fallen short of expectations, Fitch noted.

The university relies on tuition for more than 90 percent of its total revenue but has been unable to lower its tuition discount rate. Fitch said its tuition discount rate was expected to hit 29.8 percent for the 2016 fiscal year, up from 25.6 percent in 2015 and above its 2014 discount rate, which was 27 percent.

St. Thomas, in contrast, is a smaller institution, with 4,662 students as of the fall of 2016. Most of those students, 2,752, were undergraduates. Officials noted that many of the institutions’ students are dually enrolled at area Catholic high schools. The overall enrollment is down from 4,918 in 2015.

The university’s undergraduate students are 61 percent Hispanic/Latino and 9 percent black or African-American, according to federal data. Pell Grants went to 44 percent of full-time freshman undergraduates in 2014-15. The university says more than 90 percent of its students currently receive some type of financial assistance.

St. Thomas has collected around $60 million in revenue annually in recent years. It posted surpluses of more than $3 million in the years ending in June 2016 and 2015. It reported a deficit of $332,842 the previous year.

Currently, St. Thomas is in the midst of some belt-tightening, including voluntary separation plans offered to interested staff and faculty members, according to Hilda Fernandez, vice president of university advancement and marketing and communications. But she said its finances are strong.

“The university has never had to borrow money,” she said. “At the end of the day, the university has reserves, and it’s not borrowing money to operate. By far, it’s doing well. What it’s not doing is sitting still.”

St. Thomas discounts tuition, with aid packages for students averaging about $11,000 to $12,000 against its quoted undergraduate tuition of $28,800 per year for full-time undergraduates, Fernandez said. That’s about a 40 percent discount rate.

Talks with Barry University aren’t the only major changes on tap at St. Thomas. Monsignor Casale, who has been the university’s president for more than two decades, plans to retire in January 2018. It’s a natural time to discuss strategic direction, Fernandez said.

Monsignor Casale acknowledged that the South Florida market is competitive for students. But he argued that St. Thomas and Barry provide better access for students and a focus on service they cannot find elsewhere.

“We have a different student-to-faculty ratio,” he said, referring to the university's advertised 14 to one student-to-faculty ratio, which is lower than those at area public institutions. “There’s a much more personalized environment at both institutions than there are at other institutions.”

Faculty members want to be a part of the talks between St. Thomas and Barry, according to Craig E. Reese, a professor of accounting and taxation who is a member of the Faculty Forum at St. Thomas and chairs the department of accounting, business administration and finance in its school of business. But so far, any affiliation talks appear to have been at the executive and board levels, he said.

St. Thomas's efforts to balance the budget left some faculty positions unfilled. It currently has about seven fewer faculty members than it did last year, Reese said.

Reese thinks a merger could be a logical outcome of the engagement with Barry University. But he added that it is not likely to take place within the next year or two. The institutions involved -- including the church -- move slowly, he said. The work of consolidating duplicate programs would take time.

For instance, both Barry University and St. Thomas University have law schools. The Barry University School of Law is in Orlando, while the St. Thomas University School of Law is located on its campus.

There are reasons to believe that the two universities can find common ground. The two institutions’ presidents have discussed collaborations for years. They also have a history of partnering. Before they became coeducational -- Barry was founded as a women’s college and St. Thomas as a men’s college -- they shared classes and hosted events jointly.

“We tell the students clearly: we’re open for business,” Reese said. “We’re not closing down. What we’re going to have to do is rationalize what the two Catholic institutions do. We should not be in direct competition.”

Some think a full merger is unlikely, however. Ed Moore, president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, believes the two institutions are looking for ways to share background and back-office operations.

“I think they’re both looking for efficiencies, shared services,” he said. “If you can do them less expensively, then certainly that’s the best thing to do.”

Barry and St. Thomas are important to South Florida but face challenges, Moore said.

“They’re located in some areas that need the access from these institutions,” he said. “They admit somebody knowing full well that they can’t pay, and that’s what they’re up against.”

The talks between Barry and St. Thomas come at a time when other Roman Catholic universities have reconsidered their position or been forced to make concessions to finances. Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn., recently said it was making deep cuts to focus on training Dominican sisters as teachers. St. Joseph’s College, in Rensselaer, Ind., said in February said it had to suspend nearly all operations after the spring semester because of a funding crunch.

Like any other tuition-dependent institution, most Catholic colleges or universities are going to face problems if they encounter dropping enrollments over multiple years, said Michael James, director of the Institute for Administrators in Catholic Higher Education at Boston College.

“These are front-and-center issues,” James said. “Over the last decade that I’ve directed the program, we’re seeing an increased number of participants that want to talk about and engage the questions we’re presenting around mission -- but with a lens of how does this bolster our competitiveness, and how do these become part of our strategic sustainability plans?”

Catholic universities can be uniquely qualified to forge collaborative models between institutions because they have shared characteristics and missions, James said. But institutions are also reflecting about their individual missions and responsibilities, he added. In many cases, they are thinking about what they can do to provide resources and access to the growing Hispanic population in the United States.

“How do they serve those student populations that are increasingly not being served well?” James said. “I think Catholic colleges are sort of asking that question very honestly.”

Editorial Tags: Business issuesMergersImage Source: Barry UniversityImage Caption: Barry University, whose officials are talking with counterparts at St. Thomas University about an allianceIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Republican member of Congress says Pell Grants discourage marriages

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 00:00

Toward the end of a nearly three-hour hearing on improving the federal student aid system Wednesday, Representative Glenn Grothman identified an issue with Pell Grants that doesn't get much attention. "Anecdotal evidence" in his district, the Wisconsin Republican said, indicated people are choosing not to marry so they can have incomes low enough to qualify for the need-based aid program.

Asked to respond by Grothman, the panel of witnesses testifying before the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development was for several seconds stunned into silence.

Grothman also argued that first-year students should be barred from receiving Pell Grants to make sure the federal government is not "wasting money" on those who don't graduate. And he suggested that low-income recipients are spending the grant aid on "goodies and electronics." Those students could pay for college by taking out loans, he said.

Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said taking Pell from first-year students gets the issue "upside down" when most scholarly and policy discussions have begun to focus on front-loading grants. As for Pell's impact on marriage, he said there is anecdotal evidence for "everything under the sun."

"I'm not in a position to deny he ran into two people who told him that, but I'm not sure what to do with that information," Nassirian said.

Grothman's comments did not receive a favorable response from hearing observers online.

@rkelchen Oh. How many aid offices has he worked in? How many students has he sat with while they cried?

— Shannon Gallagher (@sgallagherhe) March 21, 2017

.@RepGrothman goodies like a roof over my head, textbooks, and electronics like the ones required for school?

Yah I spent my Pell on that. https://t.co/79HCqKmDOe

— KE✌IN F☮RCH (@kevinforch) March 21, 2017 Editorial Tags: Financial aidImage Caption: Representative Glenn GrothmanIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Pulse podcast features interview with founder of an app to teach algebra

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 03/22/2017 - 00:00

This month's episode of the Pulse podcast features an interview with Michael Eiseman, founder of Algebra by Hand, an app that helps teach the mathematics discipline.

In the interview with Rodney B. Murray, the Pulse's host, Eiseman discusses his background as a DuPont scientist, how his app can teach procedural fluency and his passion for socioeconomic and other equity in mathematics.

Murray is executive director of the office of academic technology at University of the Sciences. The Pulse is Inside Higher Ed’s monthly technology podcast. Find out more, and listen to past Pulse podcasts, here.

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$45m needed to set up foreign university in Vietnam, says draft decree

The PIE News - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 09:00

A decree has been drafted in Vietnam which will require foreign investors to have a higher amount of capital to set up universities in the country. It will also uncap the proportion of Vietnamese students able to enrol in foreign-invested institutions below higher education level, and raise the degree prerequisites of university lecturers.

The draft decree is expected to replace the existing decree 73 on foreign investment and cooperation, originally implemented in 2012.

“The draft decree is simply responding to current market conditions”

Foreign investors who wish to set up universities in Vietnam will be required to have a minimum investment capital of around US$45m, or one trillion dong, according to the draft decree. This is an increase from 300 billion dong under the current decree, and excludes the land value for construction of the university.

Projects in the pipeline, however, will remain under the current regulations.

This increased amount of money, according to Nguyen Dang Vang, director of the international cooperation department and the Ministry of Education and Training, is a reasonable raise in order to ensure the quality of the university training.

Brian O’Reilly, managing director of Vietnam-based SEA Management Consulting Company, which provides services to domestic and overseas tertiary educational institutions, said raising the bar of the capital needed is to ensure that “reputable investors and educational institutions enter the market”.

“There have been some issues with institutions in the past,” he told The PIE News. “It is not seen as being overly excessive by prospective investors.”

And Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, said increasing the minimum investment capital for establishing a university is “more in line with reality”.

“In that sense, the draft decree is simply responding to current market conditions,” he commented.

Tang Bui, faculty director of the Vietnam Executive MBA programme, at the University of Hawaii Shidler College, which offers courses in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City through partnerships with Vietnamese public universities, said he hopes to recruit more students to its programmes as a result of the new decree.

“Generally speaking, raising the minimum investment capital for setting up a foreign-owned university in Vietnam to VND one trillion would dramatically set higher barriers to entry for smaller private foreign education institutions,” he said.

“However, as there is a plethora of licensed private education institutions in Vietnam, the draft decree would allow international schools to partner with local institutions.”

“Raising the minimum investment capital … would dramatically set higher barriers to entry for smaller private foreign education institutions”

Another arm of the decree in place at the moment caps the number of Vietnamese students permitted to study at schools built through foreign investment, to 10% for those at primary level, and 20% at high school level.

Under the new draft decree however, each individual school will be able to decide on the proportions of international and domestic students by themselves.

This has the potential to increase enrolment, said O’Reilly.

“It will also provide an opportunity to establish institutions in smaller regional centres where the numbers of foreign students would not have been that great,” he added.

The decree will also permit foreign investors to hire local education facilities already in place in the country, rather than having to establish them from scratch before recruiting students, under decree 73.

And lecturers of foreign-invested universities will be required to hold at least a master’s degree, and around half should have a doctorate. This is up from around 35% who have been required to hold a doctorate.

This new framework has overall been welcomed by stakeholders in the country.

“I see it as a step in the right direction,” said Ashwill. “And a recognition that decree 73 was outdated and needed to be replaced with a framework more attuned to the realities of contemporary Vietnam.”

Bui said the focus of this decree seems to be encouraging only legitimate investors.

“There have been problems in the past with higher education institutions closing down under dubious circumstances,” he said.

“The new decree should help to ensure that this does not reoccur.”

The post $45m needed to set up foreign university in Vietnam, says draft decree appeared first on The PIE News.

Kenya School of Law to admit foreign students

The PIE News - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 04:35

Hundreds of postgraduate law students from the eastern Africa region have won a major victory after a Kenyan court reversed a decision by the government to stop foreign students from taking legal training at the Kenya School of Law.

In a decision arrived at earlier this month, a Kenyan high court ruled that a 2015 Kenya government decision to stop admitting students from the region to enrol on the school’s Advocates Training Programme, a one-year diploma programme, was discriminatory and against Kenya’s constitution.

Through the Council of Legal Education, in 2015 the government stopped students from 10 regional countries – including Uganda, Zambia, Botswana and Rwanda – from enrolling at the law school on grounds that they failed to return home after studies, opting to practice law in the country. The decision was announced in 2016.

“A decision which violates the Constitution [of Kenya, 2010] is null and void”

This elicited protests from the legal fraternity in the region, with the Uganda Law Society president Francis Gimara noting that the directive went against the region’s spirit of a liberalised legal system.

“Kenya took the lead and autonomously amended its Advocate Act to recognise and permit advocates from the region to practice law in Kenya, an act that was progressive and demonstrated good faith,” noted the president.

Hundreds of students from Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi moved to court late 2016 to have the decision reversed, resulting in the latest victory.

“A decision which violates the Constitution [of Kenya, 2010] is null and void, it offends the petitioners’ constitutionally guaranteed rights,” stated the court in quashing the decision.

The ruling means that at least 300 foreigners enrolled at the school who were stopped from completing their studies in 2016, including 75 from Uganda, can now continue their training.

The Kenya School of Law offers diplomas in law studies under its Advocates Training Programme based on the commonwealth legal training model. It is the most popular law school in the region, preferred by students from more than 10 west African countries and trains over 1,000 students each year.

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Shouting down of a controversial speaker at McMaster raises new concerns about academic freedom in Canada

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 00:00

Has American-style “campus illiberalism” reached Canada? That’s what some are wondering this week in the aftermath of the shouting down of an invited speaker at McMaster University in Ontario.

Jordan Peterson, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto and an outspoken critic of what he calls “compelled speech” -- including the mandatory use of gender-neutral pronouns such as the singular “they” -- was invited to McMaster by a student group to participate in a panel Friday on free speech and political correctness. Peterson ended up being the only participant out of four slated panelists, however, after news of protests spread.

Various videos of the event have been posted online. One posted by Peterson shows dozens of protesters gathered at the back and to one side of the lecture hall, using various tools -- from cowbells to air horns to a megaphone -- to disrupt his speech. Peterson attempts to deliver his talk to a larger group of interested students, but he is nearly inaudible at times due to ongoing chants, such as “This is where we draw the line” and “Trans rights are human rights.”

Members of the audience ask the protesters to stop, to no avail. After approximately 30 minutes, Peterson takes his talk outside. The protesters follow, but he continues to speak, explaining that he opposes a controversial Canadian bill to move to protect gender identity and expression in a non-discrimination human rights law and in the national criminal code. That's because, in his view, in part, the proposed legislation has implications for the use of certain kinds of language and enshrines an insufficient definition of identity. 

He says the protesters are inspired in part by a “radical postmodern” philosophy in which there is only group, not individual, identity, and in which dialogue between groups can never lead to consensus. He urges those listening not to go “down that road.”

Peterson, who is no stranger to controversy, in an interview with Inside Higher Ed called the event “theater of the absurd” that left him speech speechless -- almost.

“The borderline between uncivil and violent behavior is very thin, and what happened at McMaster, where someone with a bullhorn dominated the entire event -- repeating the same inane phrases over and over -- subjugated the desires of all the people who came there to listen,” Peterson said. “We’re talking about hijacking a fundamental right.”

Peterson has previously said that he opposes gender-neutral pronouns outright, including student requests that he use them. His home institution, Toronto, has supported his right to free speech while warning him to observe the provincial human rights code and his responsibilities as a teacher. He said Monday that he opposes being required by “fiat” to refer to anyone by anything, especially mandates from groups that say that they represent the interests of large swaths of individuals. He generally addresses trans people using pronouns based on how they present themselves, he said. Moreover, he said, there’s no clinical evidence to his knowledge that gender-neutral pronouns psychologically benefit trans people.

Peterson has many critics within academe, and he’s been compared by fellow professors to the late John Philippe Rushton, whose work on race and intelligence earned him a reputation in the eyes of some as Canada’s Charles Murray. (Murray, of course, was at the center of the recent Middlebury College protest that turned violent.) But Peterson denied that he was transphobic or racist or any number of other things he’s been accused of, saying if there was evidence of that out there it would already have been unearthed by his critics. The pronoun debate and others are essentially a way in which “the radical postmodern left is using the trans issue to push their political agenda forward,” Peterson said, adding that activist academics have had a hand in that. (For the record, he said he’d be equally opposed to such activism coming from the academic right.)

McMaster’s president, Patrick Deane, released a statement about the incident Monday, saying that “defending academic freedom is not always easy to do,” and that the university was pressured by various people and groups prior to the event to denounce Peterson or the protesters or cancel the event altogether.

“I chose to do none of those things,” he wrote. “The event was framed and organized as a discussion of political correctness and freedom of speech on campus, which I regard as an important and entirely appropriate topic for discussion at an institution of higher learning. The fundamental mission of the university is to provide opportunities for education, both within and beyond the classroom. Taking the opportunity to listen to a speaker, even one with whom one may vehemently disagree, is an important aspect of education and a cornerstone of academic debate.”

Deane said he reaffirmed the university’s commitment to diversity, including that brought by trans people. So, he added, “the presence on campus of a speaker who may challenge the rights of any particular group should not be seen as undermining the university’s commitment to inclusivity but merely as an opportunity to explore and debate the topics under discussion.”

Peaceful protest is welcome, he said, but in the event that “the tactics employed by such protesters violate the laws of our land, or the codes of conduct of our community, appropriate sanctions can and will be applied.”

Gord Arbeau, a spokesperson for McMaster, said the university expects one nonstudent with no affiliation to the university who was involved in the protest to face unspecified criminal charges.

Two professors who bowed out of the event declined immediate interview requests. The third, Philippa Carter, teaching professor of social psychology and religion, said she canceled due to safety concerns only.

“I think his views are wrong,” Carter said of Peterson, saying that “language evolves” and academics should, too. “But my decision didn’t have anything with not wanting to be in the same room with him. I had heard there were going to be protests, and I wasn’t persuaded that the [student] organization had taken enough precautions around security at the event.”

Carter said the protest confirmed her decision was the right one, and that having to be concerned about her physical security at an academic event “really pisses me off.”

“I don’t think [Peterson] should have been invited, but once he had, then he had the right to speak,” she said. “We are not a high school. I don’t think that universities or colleges are obliged to protect students from having their feelings hurt -- primarily because that’s impossible to do. How do we know what’s going to hurt someone?”

In Canada, she added, “We have a fairly widespread affirmation of diversity and multiculturalism, and universities should try to protect that diversity, to include diversity of opinion.”

Campus protests surrounding inclusion issues haven’t reached the pitch they have in the U.S. in Canada, Carter said, likely because of that ingrained multiculturalism: there’s less controversy surrounding diversity because diversity is less controversial. So concerns about academic freedom aren’t as heightened as they are in the U.S., either, she said.

“But if stuff like what happened at McMaster keeps happening, I think people will start to voice a little more concern,” Carter added.

Peterson is no stranger to controversy, and students at Toronto protested against him at a free speech rally in October. But he said the event at McMaster was the worst behavior he'd seen. Also this month, Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, who has argued in favor of abortion and euthanasia for severely disabled infants in some instances, was interrupted by disability rights protesters throughout an appearance via Skype at the University of Victoria in British Columbia.

David Robinson, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers, said student protests of invited speakers come up “now and again,” but not with the same frequency they seem to of late in the U.S. “But oftentimes what happens in the U.S. spills over very quickly.”

Similar to the American Association of University Professors, Robinson's association's view is that “no matter how provocative or offensive someone may be, they have a right to speak.” Protesters have rights, too, he said, and may express their disagreement by turning their backs or heads, handing out leaflets or, especially, sharing their views during questions-and-answer periods -- not by shouting someone down.

“One of the few places in our society where we can really engage in adult conversations about controversial issues” are college campuses, he said. “Doesn’t mean we agree with them. On the contrary, the more we shine the light on and speak about the issues we find offensive, the more we put them to the test.”

Peterson said Canadian students tend to be more politically "sedate" than older Canadians or nonstudents, in that they're focused on job preparation in what looks like a challenging economy. But going forward, he said, much will depend on how colleges and universities respond to incidents like the one at McMaster.

“The more these provocations are allowed to manifest themselves” without sanctions for those involved, “the higher the probability that someone is going to get hurt."

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Trump budget protected institutional aid for black colleges but not programs that help black college students

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 00:00

The Trump budget proposal released last week promised to maintain institutional support for historically black colleges. But it does so while dealing a blow to grant-based and work-study programs on which black colleges and their students depend.

And that's not the vision many leaders of black colleges had when they met (and posed for photos with) President Trump -- and heard him talk about how much of a priority black colleges would be in his administration.

More than 55,000 students at those institutions would be affected by the elimination of the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, a federal program serving those with very low income levels, which was zeroed out in the Trump budget blueprint. And 26,000 with work-study jobs would be affected by slashing that program, said United Negro College Fund President and CEO Michael Lomax in a letter last week to Mick Mulvaney, Trump's budget director.

Students on HBCU campuses uses programs like the Pell Grant and SEOG, which benefit many of the same students, at higher rates than the national average. John Silvanus Wilson Jr., president of Morehouse College, said he and other leaders of historically black colleges didn't go to meetings with President Trump and congressional leaders in Washington last month intending to assure level funding for a program for minority-serving institutions.

"It's hard for me to say you value me because you didn't cut me," Wilson said. "The only way to value someone -- especially when using terms like 'historic' and 'outdoing' one's predecessors -- is to increase their support." (Trump said repeatedly in the build-up to his meetings with HBCU leaders that he would do more for them than the Obama administration did.)

Dillard University President Walter Kimbrough said the Trump proposal was the opening round of the budget process. HBCU leaders should be unified now in making the case that they need even more support, both in funding to institutions and in student financial aid programs, to serve the most vulnerable populations, he said.

"The case that we've been trying to make is that we already don't have enough resources to do the work that needs to be done," Kimbrough said.

Dillard students would lose about $180,000 from the proposed elimination of SEOG and another $368,000 from the work-study program, he said. Although Pell funding was kept flat, Kimbrough said the reality is that the value of the grant has declined as the maximum award has failed to keep pace with inflation. The so-called skinny budget offered by the administration doesn't specify if it will change the current $5,920 maximum award amount but promises "level funding" for the program.

"I'm not ready for the silver lining," he said. "We're still in really strong negotiation mode. So let's not look for wins already."

The UNCF is aiming to shape the approach of the administration and Congress to spending by providing more information on the value of those programs. Figures in the administration may not yet realize how much students at historically black colleges rely on programs like SEOG, said Cheryl Smith, senior vice president of public policy and government affairs at UNCF.

"They may not have fully realized how significant that is for our institutions," Smith said. "We are going through the data set and trying to paint a picture here so people understand the significance of these programs."

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, said after the budget proposal was released last week that while much work remains, the initial outcome could have been worse for HBCUs in the context of a 13 percent overall cut for the Department of Education. Taylor said those institutions are in a better position now than they would be if they had to fight for a restoration of Pell funding.

Taylor said he is also looking beyond student aid dollars or institutional aid through the department to sources of funding for HBCU institutions in other federal agencies.

"We've had to dig out of holes every year," Taylor said. "We're holding the current president to a standard that we simply were not willing to hold the former president to."

Other grant award programs that fund nonprofits and community organizations working with low-income and first-generation college students would be slashed under the Trump budget -- TRIO would be cut by 10 percent and GEAR UP by about a third. Kimberly Jones, a spokeswoman for the Council for Opportunity in Education, which works on behalf of those programs, said TRIO serves about 36,000 students -- including students at almost every HBCU. Of the 790,000 low-income students nationally served by the program, 35 percent are African-American.

"This includes both undergraduates who are enrolled in these institutions along with youth and adults in their neighboring communities," she said. "Thus, any potential cuts to TRIO would most definitely inflict harm on our HBCUs. COE is committed to working with our supporters in Congress -- on both sides of the aisle and across both sides of the Capitol -- to make sure that this doesn’t happen."

Smith and Taylor are both hoping that the spotlight focused on historically black colleges thanks to face-to-face time spent with Trump as well as GOP lawmakers will provide a boost to advocacy efforts.

It's clear the White House is concerned about the way the budget is perceived by HBCUs -- in part because of early missteps by the administration, said Clare McCann, a senior policy analyst with New America's education policy program.

"The fact that they explicitly protected that funding for the institutions at the expense of student aid dollars is, I think, a significant indication of where their priorities are," said McCann, who worked at the Department of Education during the Obama administration.

But she said cuts like eliminating SEOG would have a serious impact on access for students attending HBCUs.

"At the end of the day, these cuts are going to affect students at their schools and are going to have a significant impact on affordability at HBCUs, where many students have unmet need and rely on these dollars," she said.

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U of Maryland University College pursues strategy of 'unbundling'

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 00:00

The University of Maryland University College is tearing itself apart -- on purpose.

The university, which gets nearly all of its funding from tuition revenue, has long relied on enrolling large numbers of students associated with the military for financial stability. After teaching students at military bases across Asia and Europe for decades, the university was quick to realize the potential of the internet and became a pioneer in the field of distance education.

After an enrollment dip earlier this decade, however, UMUC has begun a process of unbundling, paring the institution down to what President Javier Miyares calls its “academic core” to monetize its own services, grow its endowment and keep tuition rates low.

“We believe that if you look at higher education, there is a core -- what you teach, who teaches it and how we teach it,” Miyares said in an interview. “That is the existential, essential core of the university. Everything else are business processes that do not have to be run in the traditional way within the university.”

UMUC has already spun off its Office of Analytics, which in 2015 became the data analytics company HelioCampus. It has plans to do the same with its IT department and the 100 or so staffers in it, who will form a company called AccelerEd. Other units may follow.

The university’s unbundling strategy is controversial, and it has already attracted questions about how a public institution can justify privatizing parts of what it does. UMUC, in response, points to the governance structure it has set up with the state to ensure that the university and other public institutions in Maryland will be first in line to benefit from the changes.

Moreover, Miyares said, the changes are necessary in order for the university to fulfill its mission of providing higher education to working adults as long as only about 10 percent of its funding comes from the state.

“In higher education today, almost every institution is looking at its business model, and those who are not should be doing that,” Miyares said. “I would argue -- and I think a lot of folks would agree -- that a public institution that bets its future on increasing public dollars is putting itself at risk.”

Rebounding From the ‘Perfect Storm’

UMUC’s decision to spin off units and offices not directly related to teaching students dates back to strategic shifts the university made following a period of decline earlier this decade.

“We found ourselves in what I called at the time ‘the perfect storm,’” Miyares said.

There was sequestration -- the automatic federal budget cuts triggered in 2013 when a “super committee” of lawmakers in Congress failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. Then the federal government shut down for 16 days in October, forcing the branches of the military to stop processing tuition assistance applications.

Those events compounded with longer-term developments, including the military drawdown and increased competition in the online education market.

The result: UMUC lost thousands of students, especially at military bases in Asia and Europe, which posted double-digit enrollment declines. The university cut its work force by about 300 and its budget by around $60 million, and tasked a working group of entrepreneurs and board members with reviewing its business model.

The group, known as the Ideation Team, produced a grim conclusion: “UMUC is no longer well positioned for long-term sustainability in this new environment.”

UMUC’s enrollment has since begun to rebound. Its worldwide unduplicated head count during the 2016 fiscal year was 85,122, down about 12,000 since its peak in fiscal year 2012 but up about 3 percent from fiscal year 2015.

The university’s share of students connected to the military -- active-duty service members, veterans and their families -- has also grown. Those students now comprise between 50 and 60 percent of its total enrollment, yet they are not the answer to UMUC’s long-term challenges, Miyares said.

“There is no future there,” Miyares. “We certainly want to keep expanding our market share of military enrollments for many reasons -- among them the historic identity of UMUC -- but our future is in the civilian space.”

Spinning Off to Grow

UMUC has a number of ways to market itself to adult learners, including low tuition rates ($248 per credit hour for in-state students, $499 for out-of-state students) and generous transfer credit policies. Last year, the university did away with commercial textbooks and replaced them with free open educational resources. It is also redesigning several of its academic programs to emphasize practical, “experiential” learning, Miyares said.

However, it is the university's proposed changes on the administrative side that may insulate it somewhat from the effects of ups and down in its enrollment.

The Ideation Team evaluated seven potential business models, ranging from UMUC merging with another public institution in the state to selling it to a competitor. The model that the team recommended, which the university is now pursuing, aims to combine the security of being a public institution with the risks and rewards that the private sector affords.

UMUC has set up a nonprofit, UMUC Ventures, which functions like a holding company whose purpose is to benefit the university. It, in turn, controls AccelerEd, HelioCampus and whatever companies the university will spin off in the future.

As those companies sell their services to other colleges, the university hopes to use some of the profits to grow its endowment. At around $16 million, the endowment is much smaller than national median of about $120 million.

“We believe that one of the benefits of this new construct is that it provides an avenue to significantly grow [our] endowment,” Miyares said. The university doesn’t have endowed chair positions or a prestigious research institute that it could promote to encourage alumni to donate, he pointed out (generally, the university’s faculty members are on three- to five-year contracts).

Miyares declined to say which other university functions may be spun off, adding that it is “fair to say that [the IT department] will not be the last.” But that depends on whether the units can be turned into profitable businesses, he said.

“What is totally untouchable is what we call the academic core of the university -- the faculty, the schools, the curriculum, the library, the registrar and the military contracts we have with the Department of Defense to provide overseas education,” Miyares said. The university “will consider anything else … that can offer opportunities, first, in a more flexible way outside of state constraints and, second, that offers the possibility of capitalizing, monetizing that intellectual property,” he said.

Privatization and the Public Mission

UMUC’s unbundling strategy has its supporters, particularly among people who say colleges are becoming too bloated.

Ryan Craig, managing director of the investment firm University Ventures, argued in College Disrupted: The Great Unbundling of Higher Education that college spending on efforts not directly related to academics -- including athletics and research -- is making higher education unaffordable to many students.

“UMUC recognizes that higher education institutions have an obligation to students to reimagine how they achieve their missions,” Craig said in an email. “Too much of college and university spending is currently allocated to functions that do not directly serve the interests of tuition-paying students. Isomorphism of organizational structures, processes and even credentials has produced a self-referential system that is failing too many students at too high a price. In unbundling the university, UMUC will complete the prerequisite to [provide] faster, cheaper and more effective educational pathways for students.”

But the strategy also has its critics. George Kroner, a former UMUC employee, in a blog post expressed concern that the university appears to be gambling with public funds.

“As much respect as I have for the university president, he seemed quite enamored with finding ways to use public resources to found private educational-technology start-up companies -- instead of with the core academic mission of the university,” Kroner wrote. “The thinking was that the university might use excess income from these start-ups, or the proceeds from selling them off, to fund scholarships. This is a noble goal, but the business of ed tech is extremely risky at best and can result in losing hundreds of millions of dollars for even the largest and most successful educational-technology companies.”

Kroner added that he likes the idea of harnessing the talent in UMUC’s IT department, but that he disagrees with the university’s approach.

“As a taxpayer of Maryland, I think of UMUC as a state treasure,” Kroner wrote. “The university has a special academic mission, and I hate seeing it put on the back burner. I don’t want to see the great work of UMUC privatized.”

Miyares said UMUC spinning off its analytic and IT units is no different than a college outsourcing its food or facilities management services. “The public mission is providing access to higher education,” he said. “The public mission is not if we get IT services from an affiliated private company.”

Miyares pointed to the hierarchy that connects the spun-off companies to the university and the state. UMUC Ventures is governed by its own Board of Ventures, members of which are named by the university president, who is named by the University System of Maryland Board of Regents.

The arrangement still creates some distance between the university and the companies under its control. If HelioCampus were still the Office of Analytics, the administration could tell it what to prioritize. Now, those priorities have to be carefully detailed in the university’s contract with the company.

Miyares acknowledged that the university is still tweaking the model and learning as it goes along, but that it is so far satisfied with the results.

“For the regents, it was important that there was a really clear line of control,” Miyares said. “We are very satisfied that what we are getting from [HelioCampus] in terms of analytics services is what we were getting before, but that involved very well-crafted service-level agreements. The same thing will have to be done with IT … to make sure we continue to get what we need. At the end of the day, if we don’t, well, I can appoint new directors at any time.”

And if the regents have issues with the university’s strategy? “In Maryland, presidents don’t work on contract,” Miyares said. “We can be fired tomorrow.”

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Author discusses his new book on vision, values and higher education

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 03/21/2017 - 00:00

Inside Higher Ed is full of articles on colleges and universities debating budget cuts and financial questions, issues that dominate the lives of many administrators. But what about vision?

Mark William Roche is trying to make vision and values more central in discussions about the future of higher education, nationally and at individual colleges. Roche is a professor of German language and literature at the University of Notre Dame and also served for 11 years as dean of the College of Arts and Letters there, so he has firsthand experience on the administrative side. His ideas about higher education are the basis of his new book, Realizing the Distinctive University: Vision and Values, Strategy and Culture (University of Notre Dame Press).

Q: Your book makes clear that you never gave up your faculty identity, even during more than a decade serving as dean. These days there are many administrators who have risen through the ranks outside the faculty. How important is it for the values your book promotes to have administrators who have spent real time on the faculty and who identify with that role?

A: Remaining active as a scholar ensured that I would always be viewed as a faculty administrator. After settling into the role, I taught a course every year. Teaching gave me a common topic with faculty members and a window onto our current students. It was also good for my soul. No less important, remaining active as a faculty member gave me the freedom to make difficult decisions based on what I thought was right. I did not need to worry about keeping my job, since I would have always been happy to return to the faculty.

I couldn’t possibly have done my work as dean without deep experience as a faculty member. Administrators constantly make decisions that presuppose intimate knowledge of academic matters. A nonfaculty administrator is likely to struggle articulating a nuanced academic vision and making layered assessments of academic quality. Moving away from faculty governance is also not the best way to foster a shared sense of community. An institution that elevates nonfaculty members for leadership positions presumably sees advantages in such appointments, but the institution’s values would certainly be affected. My book implicitly makes the case that universities do not need to shift to corporate governance models or nonfaculty leaders in order to ensure ambitious and effective administration and that indeed such moves can easily be counterproductive. Nonfaculty support persons, however, are indispensable.

Q: Your book stresses the role of vision. Obviously American higher education includes different kinds of institutions with different visions -- what kind of vision should cross sectors and missions? What do you mean by vision?

A: The diversity of American higher education is one of its greatest strengths. This diversity is linked with the sense of competition that has helped ensure the vibrancy of American higher education. Because institutional identities differ and research aspirations vary across institutions, the one aspect of vision that remains common for all of higher education involves quality of student learning, an area in which institutions can learn from one another irrespective of mission.

By vision I mean an ambitious but realistic ideal that determines priorities and motivates a community. Notre Dame’s distinctive vision emerged from what I called our triadic identity: a residential liberal arts college with a traditional emphasis on student learning; an increasingly dynamic and ambitious research university; and a Catholic institution of international standing. Our vision involved enhancing and synergistically interweaving all three aspects of our identity so as to make us distinctive in the twofold sense of excellent and different. Of course beyond the overarching vision, one needs to sort out priorities, set goals, assess progress and address obstacles, but the idea is always to be animated by the vision. A compelling vision attracts students and faculty; forms the community of current faculty, staff and students; and inspires graduates, donors and other supporters.

Identifying a vision has an obvious normative moment. What has such intrinsic value or value for society that we should make it our primary obligation? A vision should stretch an institution, but the vision should also be tempered by realism. A vision that does not tap into existing strengths or is not backed with requisite resources breeds cynicism.

Q: Your career has been at an institution with more resources than is the case at most institutions. How much more difficult is it to promote vision when administrators may be consumed by budget shortfalls?

A: Because a vision must be to some extent doable, vision and resources need to be linked. I once participated in a curriculum review at Ohio State University that was animated by a profound vision of what a liberally educated person in the 21st century should know and be able to do and what courses would lead to that outcome. I expended political capital getting my colleagues on board, and then after we had devoted countless hours to developing the new curriculum, the university decided for lack of budgetary resources to abandon extensive parts of the already approved reform, including the language and culture component on which we had been working. The lesson I took from this travesty was clear: vision and budget must always work in tandem. Although some reforms can be accomplished without any adjustments in resources, budget is one of the best ways to advance a vision. With severe budget shortfalls, administrators have to scale back or recast their vision.

Q: Your roots are in the liberal arts, and a previous book was about the liberal arts. Do you think your book is applicable to professionally oriented institutions?

A: Yes. While much of the book is about vision, and in particular a vision shaped by the value of the liberal arts, it is no less about generic strategies that can help any institution realize its vision. Every vision must be linked to its embodiment in rhetoric, support structures and community. Every vision encounters obstacles. No vision succeeds without an administrator thinking through how to make appropriate use of incentives, flexibility, accountability and other such categories. Most of the topics I explore apply not only across the higher education landscape; they are relevant up and down the academic ladder. The kinds of puzzles faced by chairpersons, deans, provosts and presidents have remarkable similarities, and while their specific content will differ, the formal tools for solving them are for the most part analogous. The best practices I introduce along with the personal missteps I discuss can be a source of learning for all kinds of administrators.

Q: Are there institutions today (aside from Notre Dame) where you are impressed with the vision from the top?

A: One of the presuppositions of the book is that all institutions are at some level distinctive, though along a spectrum, with some more interchangeable and others more distinct. To give a few examples across types of institutions, I have been impressed by former Vassar President Catharine Hill, who moved dramatically and successfully to enroll a relatively high percentage of students from lower-income families. Freeman Hrabowski, president of the University of Maryland Baltimore County, has introduced support structures, including extra advising and mentoring, that have helped ensure student success across disciplines and also raised student ambitions. Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania, stands out for her advancement of the Penn Compact, which, by way of three core ideas, has transformed many aspects of the university. But one could name visionary leaders at many colleges and universities, and not only at the level of president.

Q: You note the increasing reliance of many colleges on non-tenure-track professors. How damaging is the reliance on a nonpermanent faculty, without job security, to the goals you outline?

A: For many reasons full-time faculty are best suited to advance vision. If a university has many nonpermanent or part-time faculty members, the best ways to get them on board would seem to be, first, to develop a vision with such intrinsic appeal that they want to contribute and, second, to offer support structures and a welcoming intellectual environment such that they are more likely to identify with the community.

Unfortunately, the reliance on temporary faculty has much to do with the elevation of business principles at the expense of academic vision. It is surely more efficient to have part-time teachers, just as it is more efficient to order fewer books for the library, assign faculty heavier teaching loads, expand class sizes and refrain from teaching subjects with smaller enrollments, such as advanced seminars in foreign language departments. But such efficiencies come at the cost of higher values, and so are incompatible with an intelligent accountability. Accountability always presupposes assessing action in accordance with an ideal. Pure efficiency can violate all kinds of ideals, which is why business practices in a university setting, as important as they are, are always subordinate to academic vision.

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