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Harvard will end deanship of professor who is defending Harvey Weinstein

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 00:00

Harvard University on Saturday announced that it will not renew the dean position of a law professor, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., who has (with his wife) been leading one of the university's residential colleges.

Sullivan has been widely praised in his career for his work on behalf of people who have been unfairly incarcerated. And the professor and his wife are the first African Americans to lead one of Harvard's residential colleges. But students have been demanding Sullivan's ouster since he joined the legal team defending Harvey Weinstein, the film executive who is facing sexual assault charges and has become for many the personification of the abuses revealed by the Me Too movement.

The nonrenewal of the college deanship does not affect Sullivan's faculty position in the law school, where he is the Jesse Climenko Clinical Professor of Law and director of the Criminal Justice Institute. The position of dean of a residential college was previously called a "house master" position, and is considered an honor, one with key out-of-the-classroom educational functions. The calls for Sullivan to be removed have raised questions of academic freedom and of whether undergraduates respect the idea that everyone accused of crimes is entitled to a legal defense.

Rakesh Khurana, dean of Harvard College, announced that he would not renew the deanship of Sullivan and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, in an email message to students in Winthrop College, where Sullivan and Robinson have been deans.

The email suggested that the decision was made for reasons not having to do with Sullivan's work defending Weinstein.

"My decision not to renew the faculty deans was informed by a number of considerations. Over the last few weeks, students and staff have continued to communicate concerns about the climate in Winthrop House to the college," Khurana wrote. "The concerns expressed have been serious and numerous. The actions that have been taken to improve the climate have been ineffective, and the noticeable lack of faculty dean presence during critical moments has further deteriorated the climate in the house. I have concluded that the situation in the house is untenable."

He added, however, "This is a regrettable situation and a very hard decision to make. I have long admired your faculty deans’ commitment to justice and civic engagement, as well as the good work they have done in support of diversity in their house community. I know that some of you are also proud of these efforts. I also know that some of you have been greatly helped and supported by your faculty deans in difficult situations. This decision in no way lessens my gratitude to them for their contributions to the college."

In a joint statement, Sullivan and Robinson criticized the decision.

"We are surprised and dismayed by the action Harvard announced today. We believed the discussions we were having with high-level university representatives were progressing in a positive manner, but Harvard unilaterally ended those talks," they said. "We will now take some time to process Harvard’s actions and consider our options. We are sorry that Harvard’s actions and the controversy surrounding us has contributed to the stress on Winthrop students at this already stressful time."

Much of Sullivan's career has been spent fighting for those many Harvard students would want their professors helping. He represented the family of Michael Brown in reaching a settlement with the city of Ferguson, Mo., on a wrongful death claim, for example.

Sullivan has been credited with securing the release of thousands of wrongfully imprisoned people through his work with various criminal justice agencies.

A 2017 column in The Huffington Post called him an "unsung hero" and "the man who dealt the biggest blow to mass Incarceration."

A petition calling for Sullivan's removal as dean says that while Weinstein has a right to a lawyer, Sullivan's work on the case makes it impossible for him to effectively be a college dean.

"For victims of sexual assault and rape on this campus who already feel disempowered by the sheer lack of activity in reprimanding such behavior, the developments of Dean Sullivan's professional work are not only upsetting, but deeply trauma inducing," the petition says.

"To be perfectly explicit: I am not saying Dean Sullivan should not be defending Weinstein," adds the petition. "I am saying that in his role as a house dean, his defense of such a figure induces a great amount of fear and hurt in victims of the crimes that Weinstein is accused of, and although anyone facing the law is innocent until proven guilty, the scope of the Weinstein case still literally shakes people on this campus to this day. His role on Weinstein's team, and position as a community leader, are not mutually exclusive and the former has incredibly harmful implications for the latter."

An editorial by student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, said that Sullivan could no longer offer support to women in the house who have issues related to sexual assault. "Sullivan has made himself available to his students through holding office hours to address students’ concerns. Even so, when a mentor and authority figure makes a decision to defend an individual facing allegations of sexual misconduct, he has in effect closed his doors to any student who might look to him for support or solace regarding these issues," said the editorial.

Samantha Harris, writing about the controversy over Sullivan on the website of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, before the university opted not to renew his deanship, said that the "evils" of which Weinstein are accused do not justify "dispensing with our society’s fundamental belief that even the worst criminals are innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to a robust defense."

Harris said Harvard should have been strongly defending Sullivan. "Certainly, those calling for Ronald Sullivan’s removal from his faculty dean position are not arguing that he shouldn’t be permitted to defend Harvey Weinstein," Harris wrote. "But making pariahs of people who defend the accused sends the dangerous message that those who choose to do that work -- work that is foundational to our system of justice -- do so at their own peril."

In an email Saturday, after Harvard's announcement, Harris said, "It is difficult to see Dean Khurana's decision to remove Prof. Sullivan and his wife from their positions at Winthrop House as anything but a shameful capitulation to the pressure to drop Sullivan over his decision to represent Harvey Weinstein. While the university is suddenly pointing to older concerns about the climate at Winthrop House, the timing of Dean Khurana's announcement -- in the midst of student protests over Sullivan's representation of Weinstein, and just days after he personally attended an anti-Sullivan sit-in -- speaks for itself."

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Portland State president, under fire, quits

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 00:00

After less than two years in office, and months of criticism of his performance, Portland State University president Rahmat Shoureshi on Friday announced that he would step down Dec. 14. He will be on paid administrative leave until then, Portland State's board announced.

His announcement listed various accomplishments, such as the launch of a fund-raising campaign and new academic centers, and made no mention of the various controversies he has faced. As to why he is leaving, Shoureshi said only that "the time has come for me to focus on my family first." The board's statement also did not reference the controversies.

The extent of the concerns about Shoureshi first became public in March, when The Oregonian published a long, detailed article about them. The article reported that:

  • Portland State has seen "an exodus" of administrators, many of them women. Many of those who left said that Shoureshi was not just demanding, but engaged in -- in the words of one complaint -- " “bullying and degrading" treatment of employees.
  • Shoureshi had demanded and received an increase in his monthly housing stipend from $6,000 to $9,200 a month. His total compensation topped $720,000, which struck many as high and tone-deaf at a time of tight budgets at the university and in public higher education in Oregon.
  • In 18 months on the job, he went through four provosts.
  • A memo from the board chair to Shoureshi in November 2017 expressed serious concerns about his leadership and said he needed to either improve or leave.

Shoureshi stayed. He gave a statement to The Oregonian at the time of its article saying, “As part of my annual review, the board gave me feedback on my first year as president with direction and goals going forward. I believe that focusing on the specifics we had during that confidential review is between the board and myself.”

In April, The Oregonian revealed that Shoureshi had been destroying hundreds of his email messages -- in violation of Oregon law.

He clashed with students last summer after campus police officers shot and killed a Navy veteran in a campus sports bar. Many students said that the shooting demonstrated the dangers of having armed campus police. Shoureshi defended the practice.

On Saturday, The Oregonian reported that Shoureshi agreed to leave after days of negotiations with board members who had lost confidence in his ability to lead the university. He was offered "a big severance package to convince him to go," the newspaper reported. His contract specified that he would receive $800,000 if fired "without cause."

Before arriving at Portland State, Shoureshi had been provost and interim president of New York Institute of Technology.

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 05/13/2019 - 00:00
  • Agnes Scott College: Jordan Casteel, the artist.
  • Beloit College: Ruth Hamilton, a lawyer at the Criminal Defense Practice at the Bronx Defenders.
  • Grinnell College: Amy Tan, the author.
  • Kalamazoo College: Ken Elzinga, the Robert C. Taylor Professor of Economics at the University of Virginia.
  • New England Institute of Technology: Chris Herren, a former Boston Celtics star.
  • Phoenix College: Cece Peniston, the singer.
  • Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine: Clinton E. Adams, president and CEO of Rocky Vista University.
  • University of Illinois at Chicago: Aleksandar Hemon, the journalist; and others.
  • University of Maryland University College: U.S. representative Jamie Raskin; and others.
  • Washington & Jefferson College: Alexa Hirschfeld, co-founder and CEO of Paperless Post.
  • Wesleyan University: Saidiya Hartman, a professor of English and comparative literature and women’s and gender studies at Columbia University.
  • Westchester Community College, of the State University of New York: Larry D. Woodard, a business leader.
  • Xavier University of Louisiana: The three physicians who co-authored Pulse of Perseverance, Pierre Johnson, Maxime Madhere and Joseph Semien.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: U. of Oklahoma’s Chief Will Retire, Putting a Sudden End to a Rocky Tenure

The former oil-industry executive was hired to fix the institution’s finances, but quickly found himself mired in a series of controversies.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Harvard Law Professor Ousted From Deanship, Leaves Weinstein Defense Team

The dean of the college said Harvard would not renew the appointments of its first two African-American faculty deans. One of them, Ronald S.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Private Colleges Set New Record on Tuition Discounts

Colleges are awarding more grants and scholarships as their sticker prices rise, according to an annual study. Here are five other findings about how institutions make and spend their money.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Student Who Accused Professor of Sex-for-Grades Harassment Is Arrested on Related Charge

A sexual-misconduct inquiry at the University of Illinois’s flagship campus was supposed to be over when the accused professor retired. But a criminal charge against his accuser adds a new twist.

Chronicle of Higher Education: After Protests, Swarthmore Will End All Greek Life on Campus

A sit-in and a four-day hunger strike by student activists led the college’s president to close all fraternities and sororities.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Its City Was Hurting. The Schools Were Strapped. So This University Took Charge.

A controversial law giving Ball State University control of its city’s schools will soon be a year old. Can a state university confront long-term threats by focusing closest to home?

Chronicle of Higher Education: After Ethical Lapses, Georgia Tech Surveyed Campus Culture. The Results Weren’t Pretty.

The findings suggest a level of distrust that that exceeds the university’s initial investigations, pervading parts of the campus far beyond the realm of the implicated employees.

Ireland: ELT student numbers down, but total weeks reach record high

The PIE News - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 05:20

After 2017 marked the third year of strong growth for English language student numbers in Ireland, last year saw total enrolment in Irish ELT programs decline by 4.8%. However, total student weeks reached a record high 806,503 in 2018 – marking year-over-year growth of more than 5%.

According to new data released by Marketing English in Ireland, the total number of students that were attending programs at MEI schools in 2018 reached 121,462 (down 4.8% on 2017) with almost three-quarters students (72%) coming from the European Economic Area.

“This [record] is mainly attributed to an increase in the average number of weeks stayed on adult programs from non-EEA countries”

Some 24,864 students (20%) were revealed to have come from non-EEA, non-visa requiring counties, with Brazil being the most prominent source, followed by Japan and Mexico.

The remaining 8,783 students came from visa-requiring countries including Russia, Saudi Arabia and China.

A total of 64,447 students attended a junior or stage (typically, a course for students aged 12-16 staying one-week off season) program within MEI schools in 2018, with approximately 94% coming from EEA countries.

A further 2% came from the Non-EEA countries where no visa was required (1,327 students) with the remaining 4% coming from visa-requiring countries.

Overall, students from 30 different countries in the EEA region were represented in MEI’s data, with students from Italy and Spain accounting for 72% of the total.

However “this proportion rises to 89% for junior students,” added the authors, while “a higher proportion of students on stage (closed) program come from Austria.”

According to the data, students from non-EEA countries where visas are not required generally partook in adult programs, with students from Brazil accounting for 61% of those from the non-EEA region.

The findings coincide with a recent report from BELTA, which revealed that, despite the economic crisis and political instability in Brazil, the number of Brazilian language students abroad increased by 20% in 2018, with Ireland high on the list of the popular destination countries.

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Overall, students were found to be remaining longer in Ireland, as the number of weeks they stayed in the country rose by 5.3% on 2017 figures to reach a record 806,503.

“This is mainly attributed to an increase in the average number of weeks stayed on adult programs from non-EEA countries where no visa is required, in particular, Mexico, Brazil and Japan,” explained the authors.

EU students were shown to have stayed on average 2.4 weeks, while students who require a visa stayed on average 20 weeks. By comparison, students who do not require a visa were revealed to have stayed an average of 11 weeks.

“With Brexit approaching, we need to prepare ourselves for challenging times”

Speaking about the findings of the report, MEI CEO David O’Grady said the opportunity to study in Ireland has many long-term benefits for international students, who can then progress with ambition towards their future career.

“That said we need to heed the dip in numbers recorded over 2018,” he added.

“With Brexit approaching, we need to prepare ourselves for challenging times…the opportunity for Ireland to become the number one destination in Europe to study English is there but we need to ensure we remain competitive to ensure that we retain the numbers and grow them in time.”

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US: Three more Confucius Institutes closed

The PIE News - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 02:24

Three more Confucius Institutes attached to US universities have been closed, as a result of The National Defense Authorization Act which prohibits the institutions from receiving federal funding for Chinese language programs if they host an CI.

The University of Oregon, San Francisco State University, and Western Kentucky University have joined at least 12 other US HEIs in closing the centres, which are run by the Chinese government and have come under intense scrutiny of late.

“We would have very much preferred to retain both programs”

Although institutions applied to the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Department of Defense, for possible waivers to the law, it is understood that the department declined all waivers.

Speaking to its campus newspaper, Around the O, the University of Oregon’s vice provost of the Division of Global Engagement Dennis Galvan said the closure was a “regret”, but it “was necessary in order to protect the funding for the Chinese Flagship program,” he explained.

In the statement, the university explained how it’s internationalisation department was forced to choose between the CI and funding for the university’s National Security Education Chinese Flagship. The National Security Education Program is described as “a pipeline program to promote foreign language and cultural expertise”.

“It has helped us campus-wide to foster mutual understanding, constructive dialogue and evidence-based comprehension of China, its global emergence, its culture and its people. We would have very much preferred to retain both programs,” Galvan added.

Since the ban has been in effect, federal officials have “withheld” $343,000 from the west coast institution, which would have supported students studying or working on internships in China, Around the O reported.

In 2018 FBI Director Christopher Wray told Congress of “concerns” over Confucius Institutes, and confirmed investigations had been launched.

“It is something that we’re watching warily and in certain instances have developed appropriate investigative steps,” he said at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing.

The University of Hawai’i at Manoa and the Arizona State University also have Institute’s on campus, but while the University of Hawai’i has not offered comment on the matter, ASU said it was “exploring options” to keep the K-12 services available to the local community.

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Estonian schools adopt Cambridge C1 Advanced

The PIE News - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 01:11

The Estonian ministry of education will offer school leavers the chance to take the C1 Advanced qualification from Cambridge Assessment English instead of their school-leaving English test, which is set at a B2 on the CEFR.

It’s a move the minister said will promote mobility and international cooperation.

The test will be offered free of charge as an option for students with English language skills higher than B2, adding English to the languages students can take a higher-level international qualification in. Only those studying French, German and Russian had the option so far, according to a ministry statement.

“The government is making an important investment in the country’s economic competitiveness”

A pilot carried out by Foundation Innove involving 20 schools will take place this spring.

“Hundreds of young people in Estonia take internationally recognised English language tests and pay a considerable fee. The state wishes to give students from families that cannot at present afford such fees the same opportunity,” education minister Mailis Reps explained.

“This is undoubtedly an investment in the future, and at the same time a gift from the state to young people starting their independent life.”

She added that having access to international English language certifications will bring benefits for employers and the higher education sector, promoting mobility and international cooperation.

The move has been welcomed by the Estonian Teachers Association, whose leader Margit Timakov said this is an important development for English language teachers as well.

“The state examination we have today doesn’t… measure higher levels of skills and it’s great that now students have an opportunity to get an adequate evaluation of their skills,” Timakov said in a statement.

“This is a challenge for English language teachers as well – they definitely need to gain more knowledge and skills to be able to support their students in a best possible way.”

But according to Alistair Starling, head of strategic development for Cambridge Assessment English in Europe, Estonia already delivers a very high standard of English language teaching, and B2 is one of the highest school-leaving standards in Europe.

“In Cambridge we regularly see Estonian students achieving higher average scores in high-level Cambridge English exams than candidates from any other country in the world. We are delighted that students whose English language skills exceed the B2 level will be able to choose Cambridge English’s C1 Advanced exam,” he said.

“The government is making an important investment in the country’s economic competitiveness.”

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NACUBO report shows tuition-discounting trend continuing unabated

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 00:00

Al national study of college tuition discount rates has found that private colleges and universities offered incoming freshmen discounts higher than 50 percent during the last academic year and projects record high discounts this year.

According to an annual study by the National Association of College and University Business Officers, or NACUBO, discount rates surpassed 50 percent in 2017-18 and are on course to hit 52 percent in 2018-19. The rapidly rising rates are the result of continued efforts by colleges and universities to aggressively recruit and retain more freshmen. The trend is occurring as college enrollment is declining nationally and competition for students is intensifying.

The 2018 NACUBO Tuition Discounting Study, which reports final discounting data for the 2017-18 academic year and preliminary estimates for 2018-19, found that the average tuition discount rate -- “defined as institutional grant dollars as a percentage of gross tuition and fee revenue” -- for first-time, full-time freshmen reached 50.5 percent in 2017-2018 and is expected to jump to 52.2 percent in 2018-19, a new record high.

“The discount rate for all undergraduates in 2018-19 is estimated at 46.3 percent, also an all-time high,” the report states.

“While the overall average discount rate for first-year undergraduates is above 50 percent, a number of institutions have rates exceeding the average; about one-quarter of the participating institutions had a freshman discount rate of 57.5 percent or higher,” the report said. “On the other hand, one-quarter of schools had rates that were 40.3 percent or lower.”

NACUBO’s study measured tuition discount rates and other grant awards to first-time, full-time freshmen and all undergraduates enrolled at private institutions. The study results are based on survey responses from 405 private, nonprofit four-year colleges and universities that were members of NACUBO as of September 2018.

“Over the past decade, these private colleges and universities have increased their average institutional grant for first-time freshmen by 91 percent, from $10,586 in 2008-09 to $20,255 in 2018-19,” said NACUBO’s press release about the study. “This year, an estimated 89.8 percent of freshmen received financial aid from their private colleges and universities, which covered nearly 60 percent of the listed tuition and fees. More than three-quarters was awarded as need-based aid or was merit-based aid that helped meet demonstrated financial need.”

Although public institutions also award institutional grants, the NACUBO study focuses on private colleges and universities because they award larger amounts of aid to a larger portion of undergraduates.

Ken Redd, senior director of research and policy analysis at NACUBO, said the report findings were “a mixed bag.”

“In terms of what it means for students who are in private colleges and universities or contemplating entering private colleges or universities, it’s good news,” he said. “It shows that colleges are really trying to provide financial aid for their students. We’re getting close to 50 percent of students being given aid in the form of grants and scholarships.”

The not-so-good news is concerning, however. Even as discount rates are rising quickly, net tuition revenue, the money colleges receive to support their operations, is declining or stagnant.

“This gives us pause,” Redd said. “What that means is that a number of institutions are trying new strategies, whether they’re related to price freezes or reductions, or focusing on new recruitment and retention strategies, as opposed to just increasing financial aid.”

He said it’s too early to tell if those alternative strategies are working or will work over time. “In our survey, we asked them to talk about new strategies of the past fiscal year,” he explained.

Kent John Chabotar, president emeritus and professor of political science at Guilford College, is working with three other institutions to help them develop new strategies and establish targets to stabilize or increase tuition revenue by focusing on such things as class size, faculty-to-student ratios and staff-to-student ratios.

“Benchmarking is the goal,” he said, “The main source of revenue is tuition -- if it’s going down, you have to cut costs. And in every case, that means cutting staff, which is hard to do. Overstaffing is a major reason for deficits, and when you have deficits it’s harder and harder to let the net tuition drop.”

Chabotar likened the increasing pace of tuition discounting to “a race to the bottom.”

Higher ed institutions must “change the business model to become more efficient,” by having smaller class sizes, for example, or finding partners to either merge with or combine programs to spread the overhead costs between two or even three colleges.

“I think we’re going to see more of that,” he said.

Redd said in the NACUBO press release that students' and parents' understanding of the concept of net price “is more important now than ever.”

“Recent polls show that many Americans consider higher education unaffordable, but the private institutions that participate in our survey are providing substantial financial aid to most of their students, year after year, which significantly reduces the actual price students and their families have to pay and may put a college education in reach.”

William Hall, president and founder of Applied Policy Research Inc., an enrollment and pricing advising firm, predicted the study would stimulate useful discussions about net price and how higher ed institutions structure their business and delivery of services.

“This study suggested that any number of institutions have developed efficiencies that have allowed them to survive in a buyers’ market defined by too few bodies and too many seats,” he said.

He said he advises colleges wanting those results to focus not on trying to escape discounting, but on doing it in a disciplined way.

“You will have pricing power in circumstances when there’s a balance of supply and demand,” he said. “If we’re going to fill our classrooms, we have to price it right, and the price to pay attention to is the net price. More targeted net pricing for various people. The discounts have to be focused, and the focus obviously must address the issue of need.

“Our typical strategy is moderate rates of tuition inflation and then moderate increases in discounting. You will still make money per student,” he said. “The secret is to find a balance that doesn’t give it all away. You have to be efficient in what you do. You can’t lose money and stay in business for a long time.”

Hall spent seven hours discussing this very issue in a meeting with administrators at a college in the Great Plains yesterday. He declined to identify the college but said it is neither affluent nor particularly selective and is typical of other colleges “troubled by the national trend of diminished tuition revenue.”

He said the discount rates of many of these colleges exceeded 50 percent at the height of the recession in 2009 and now average 60 percent.

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Harvard revokes emeritus status and retirement privileges from professor who harassed women for decades

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 00:00

After determining that a once-respected professor of government used his job to harass women for nearly 40 years, Harvard University banned him from campus and off-campus events and revoked his emeritus status and retirement privileges.

Claudine Gay, Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, on Thursday announced the findings and sanctions against Jorge Domínguez, former Antonio Madero Professor for the Study of Mexico, Emeritus, and onetime vice provost for international affairs.

Harvard’s Office for Dispute Resolution conducted “a thorough and careful review of all formal allegations” against Domínguez and concluded “that he engaged in unwelcome sexual conduct toward several individuals, on multiple occasions over a period spanning nearly four decades,” Gay said.

The findings “reveal a long-standing pattern of behavior that, at several points, violated policies designed to ensure a safe and nondiscriminatory educational and work environment,” she added. “I am appalled by the report’s findings and heartbroken for those who had to endure the behaviors described.”

The findings weren’t exactly a surprise. A committee of professors, staff members and students said last week that their own review of the case found a “deplorable situation” and a “prolonged institutional failure” in Domínguez’s former department, government.

Domínguez’s behavior was an "open secret" but ignored, the committee wrote in a letter to Harvard’s president, Lawrence Bacow, and other administrators. And the fact that Harvard kept promoting Domínguez signaled that his misconduct didn’t matter, the committee said. It called for an external review of the case to better “analyze what went wrong.”

Domínguez could not immediately be reached for comment, and he has not commented publicly about the committee's findings against him.

Yearlong Inquiries

If Domínguez’s behavior was an open secret inside Harvard, it become an open secret outside Harvard last year, when several women publicly accused him of harassment. The accounts spanned from 1979 to 2015. The women, former junior colleagues and students, said Domínguez repeatedly tried to kiss them, put his hand up their skirts, made inappropriate sexual or threatening comments, and more, despite their objections to his advances.

Harvard reportedly disciplined Domínguez in 1983, but his star continued to rise.

He retired last year, soon after he was implicated in Me Too. Since that time, many on campus have criticized Harvard as being too lenient with harassers.

Gay in her announcement said that “there is always a tension between the privacy of the impacted parties and the needs of the broader community” in such cases. But with Harvard’s investigation complete, she said, sharing the outcome is “vital for the safety and well-being of our students, faculty and staff.”

Following policies and procedures “has resulted in a set of sanctions that, in effect, removes Jorge Domínguez from our community.”

Sanctions for documented violations of Title IX of the Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex-based discrimination, are determined by the relevant school, Gay explained, and they “should be proportionate to the seriousness of the violations.”

Gay said her own decision-making process also was informed by the belief that “sexual harassment constitutes a form of discrimination that is both personally damaging for those who experience it and is an assault on our faculty’s fundamental commitments to equity and academic excellence.”

She praised those who came forward as part of the investigation, as well as the government department for “affirmative steps taken” to “better understand the concerns being expressed within their community and to engage their faculty, students and staff in defining interventions to strengthen their culture.”

Steve Levitsky, a professor of government who led the joint committee’s review of his department, told The Boston Globe that there remains “a major trust deficit between students and faculty.” Of the Domínguez case, he said, “Either we didn’t know and were incompetent or knew and covered it up,” and, “This weighs heavily on all of us.”

Reforms Ahead

Levitsky’s committee recommended training and reporting-related reforms, among others. Harvard will soon pilot a universitywide anonymous reporting system, according to the Globe.

While the report focused on sexual harassment, it found grave disparities in tenure rates for men and women in the department and a questionable overall climate for women, racial minorities, LGBTQ people and conservatives. Why does that matter? A major 2018 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine found that harassment is more likely to occur in poor learning and research climates, where incivility and disrespect are tolerated.

Members of Harvard’s United Auto Workers-affiliated graduate student union recently protested the university’s response to sexual misconduct, including Domínguez’s, on campus. The students, who are negotiating their first agreement with the university, want contractual protections against sexual harassment and assault.

Rachel Sandalow-Ash, a second-year law student and research assistant, said Thursday that “Harvard failed to manage this growing crisis on its campus for 42 years. The system is broken.”

Harvard “can't be allowed to police itself,” she said. “We need strong protections against discrimination and harassment in our union contract, including a neutral third-party grievance procedure.”

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Judge demands Michigan president appear for sexual misconduct lawsuit hearing

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 00:00

A federal judge has demanded that the University of Michigan's president appear in his courtroom to address a lawsuit by a student accused of sexual assault.

The order, a highly unusual step, underscores the increased national attention around campus rape investigations and fairness for accused students in the court system. Experts said that they expect judges and lawyers to employ similar legal strategies in the future.

“This is a highly unusual case,” said Laura Dunn, a lawyer and founder of advocacy group SurvJustice.

Michigan officials argued Mark Schlissel, the president, should not have to attend a hearing in June, saying that such duties have historically been delegated to other administrators, that Schlissel is not primarily responsible for the university’s sexual assault rules and that his time was better spent running the state’s flagship institution.

The judge, Arthur J. Tarnow, disagreed.

“Yes, he can delegate,” Tarnow said in a conference call on May 1 with Deborah Gordon, the lawyer representing the accused student, and Josh Richards, the university’s counsel. A transcript of the conference call was included in court documents.

“Obviously, with such a large institution, there are all sorts of delegations made. But I don't think he would characterize himself as a figurehead. And I think he would, and I would agree, that the person down the line in charge of discipline or however it's structured knows more about the day-to-day operation and so on. But that person reports to the president, and the president will be here.”

The undergraduate student first sued in U.S. District Court last June, asserting that the university had violated his due process rights while administrators investigated the sexual assault allegations against him.

The student, named John Doe in court filings, was nearing graduation and had been accepted into a graduate program in Michigan's engineering college, among other programs, when he was accused of assaulting a female student. Doe said the encounter was consensual and that the two continued to communicate after the incident in question.

University officials froze the accused student’s transcripts even before the investigation ended, with no ruling against him, which prevented him from transferring. Tarnow directed the university to release the student’s transcripts. The university never made a determination in the case. In his lawsuit, the student also stated that he had no notice of the allegations against him when he was interviewed by an investigator, and so he was unable to properly respond to major claims.

During the conference call in May, Tarnow insisted that Schlissel appear, telling Richards that as president, Schlissel needed to explain the university’s positions to students, professors, the public and journalists.

When Richards asked if Schlissel could participate in a phone call instead, Tarnow shot him down immediately.

“No. That is an easy question. It's not like you are a plane trip away. I won't tell you how fast I used to be able to get to U of M,” Tarnow said as the two negotiated a date that wouldn’t conflict with Schlissel’s responsibilities.

“Let me say this. This should be more important to him than almost anything going on at the university. I understand the importance of the Board of Regents meeting, and that is why I have no problem giving alternative dates. But I am not sure I would understand anything else being more important than resolving what is a hot-button issue at every university in this country.”

Several days later, the university filed an official motion with the court requesting that Schlissel not have to attend a hearing. The institution wrote in its filing that the court had “exceeded the bounds of its discretion” when another administrator could take Schlissel’s place and that the president “had no duty” to justify the university’s sexual assault policies. A spokeswoman said the university had no comment beyond what it included in court documents.

“The court asserts that the university president’s responsibilities require him to 'defend' the university’s sexual misconduct policy, but, respectfully, the court does not define the president’s responsibilities: the regents of the University of Michigan do. The court’s conscription of the university’s president -- an officer of the state -- to perform a task the president would not otherwise be required to perform by the regents is 'fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty' and violates the 10th Amendment,” Richards wrote.

Tarnow turned down the request.

Michigan, the state, has been an epicenter for issues of campus sexual assault.

Last year, in a separate lawsuit against the University of Michigan, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled that universities must allow students in these cases -- or their representatives -- to directly question their accuser in a live hearing. This is a particularly unpopular practice among sexual assault survivor advocates -- nevertheless, Michigan changed its policies to fall in line with the ruling, and observers said it had to reshape the court district’s notion of due process.

And Michigan State University for years has grappled with the fallout from Larry Nassar, a former doctor who sexually abused hundreds of women both at Michigan State and in his role as the USA Gymnastics physician. Lou Anna K. Simon, the former MSU president, resigned from her position and was charged with lying to police in their investigation of Nassar, who is currently in jail. Michigan State settled with Nassar’s victims for $500 million.

“Consider that the mood in Michigan with respect to presidents of its public universities is different now as a result of the Nassar case,” said Brett Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination. “Are they respected pillars of their communities or bureaucrats covering up widespread misconduct?”

Institutions in Michigan in particular have been criticized for “siloing,” or delegating duties among administrators so much that “the campus becomes incredibly divided,” said Taylor Parker, a consultant with Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses and a deputy Title IX coordinator at the Ringling College of Art and Design.

Parker said that the court is arguing that the president should be present for the hearing, scheduled for June 11, so that he can make decisions immediately concerning the case and the court can avoid a delay that would come with other administrators getting approval from higher-ups.

“Ultimately I think this speaks to the burden that the courts have been under to litigate, negotiate and settle these types of issues and to preside over enforcement after handing down a ruling,” Parker said, adding that the U.S. Department of Education has become less likely to intervene in sexual assault cases.

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Technical college in Kansas pays for students to relocate and study aviation maintenance

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 00:00

When Romar Tallie saw the Wichita Promise Move advertisement on Instagram last year, he thought the program was too good to be true.

The Hattiesburg, Miss., resident read the Promise Move website and learned that WSU Tech in Kansas would pay his tuition, fees and moving expenses to Wichita if he enrolled in one of the college's aviation maintenance programs. Tallie applied for the scholarship immediately and then encouraged his brother, Robert, and mother, Mardavi Howard, to apply.

"After I finished my application, I woke up my brother and told him, 'This is our chance,'" he said in a written statement.

The three family members received the scholarship and moved their lives from Mississippi to Kansas.

"It just all fell into place. It was amazing," Tallie said in a promotional video for the program (see below). "Great move."

A work-force shortage in the aviation maintenance industry was the driver of the technical college's experiment with paying potential students to move from across the country to enroll at the two-year institution.

Wichita is known as the Air Capital of the World because of the number of aircraft manufacturing companies that have facilities there, including Textron Aviation, Learjet, Airbus and Spirit AeroSystems. But local colleges aren’t producing enough graduates with the certification and training needed by these companies. According to Boeing, North America will need 189,000 aircraft maintenance technicians over the next two decades.

WSU Tech, the largest technical college in Kansas, created the Wichita Promise Move last year to help address the problem. Like most college promise programs across the country, Wichita Promise Move is a last-dollar scholarship that covers tuition and fees beyond what federal aid covers. But the program also pays for relocation and housing expenses for students who move to the Wichita area from more than 50 miles from the campus.

"There are all kinds of opportunities in manufacturing and aviation here,” said Sheree Utash, WSU Tech's president.

The college, with the help of a one-time $500,000 grant from the Wichita Community Foundation, wanted to test whether people would move to the area if nearly all the financial barriers to relocation and enrolling were eliminated.

Last year, after receiving more than 1,000 applications, WSU Tech offered the Promise Move scholarship to 50 individuals from 20 states. Only nine of those students were from Kansas. This year, using internal funding from the college, WSU Tech offered the scholarship to 47 students from 15 states. Some of the students are from Massachusetts, California, Florida, New York and Washington, said Mandy Fouse, a spokeswoman for WSU Tech.

“This program has been amazing for me,” said Matt Salyer, 26, a Promise Move recipient from Garden City, Kans. “Everything was taken care of and set up so that any doubts I had were taken care of … I have no doubt that in two months I’ll be in a job I love and know what to do.”

Salyer is part of the second group of 47 students to receive the scholarship. His hometown is about three hours from WSU Tech. Before seeing the scholarship ad on Facebook, he was working up to 30 hours per week in two minimum-wage jobs. He’s now enrolled in the college’s six-week aviation sheet-metal assembly program. The eight-week process mechanic program also is eligible for the scholarship. Students can earn a technical certificate in both programs.

Besides tuition, fees and moving expenses, students receive a weekly stipend that can help them pay for other living costs such as gas or daycare. The college provides a shuttle to help students get to classes, as well as housing and furniture for new students.

The program costs the college on average about $8,000 per student, Utash said.

“If this concept proves to be successful, a relocation package of about $8,000 a person to put a person in your work force is pretty reasonable, and it’s a great return on investment for the students taking advantage of the program,” she said.

The Promise Move scholarship also comes with a guaranteed job interview with Spirit and Textron. Every student who received the scholarship last year was hired by one of the companies, Utash said.

“Our success is predicated on having an educated work force,” said Rachel Williams, a spokeswoman for Textron. “This gives us a more knowledgeable group of employees who have been through very specific training.”

Textron, a general aviation company, is known for manufacturing Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker aircraft. The company works with WSU Tech to be sure the classroom training students receive matches the production and maintenance work Textron needs. Williams said recent graduates the company hires come in better prepared for the additional training they receive from the company.

“Everybody doesn’t need to go to a four-year college, and if everybody does, we would continue to have a massive shortage of employees,” she said. “That’s why we did programs like this to make sure we’re pulling people into the industry.”

Textron announced last week that it will attempt to hire at least 1,000 people this year, the same number it hired last year. And Spirit announced in December that it needed 1,400 new employees, Utash said.

“The number of people that are flying is increasing,” Williams said. “But fewer people are going into specific programs for production and maintenance of those aircraft when we need them more than ever.”

The Promise Move scholarship is expensive for the college, Utash said. And WSU Tech is seeking to raise funds for it to continue. College administrators also want to collect more data on the success of graduates once they are placed in these jobs so they can show potential funders the program’s worth.

Utash said that despite the funding challenge, WSU Tech has big plans for the scholarship, saying the goal is to "put together a program we could scale and maybe create a national model to encourage people to gravitate toward markets where this is an industry need."

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 05/10/2019 - 00:00
  • Bloomfield College: Ras J. Baraka, the mayor of Newark, N.J.; and Margaret H. Marshall, the chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
  • California State University at Los Angeles: Antonia Hernández, president and chief executive officer of the California Community Foundation.
  • Colby College: David E. Kelley, the television writer.
  • College of the Holy Cross: Jane McAuliffe, senior adviser to the librarian of Congress.
  • Dominican College, in New York: Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York.
  • Franklin Pierce: Jamie Trowbridge, president and CEO of Yankee Publishing.
  • Juilliard School: Camille Zamora, the co-founder and co-executive director of Sing for Hope.
  • Lasell College: U.S. representative Joseph Kennedy III.
  • Massachusetts College of Art and Design: Elizabeth Lowrey, director of interior architecture at Elkus Manfredi Architects.
  • North Carolina Central University: North Carolina Supreme Court chief justice Cheri Beasley; and the Reverend William J. Barber II, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church.
  • Saint Anselm College: Robert K. Weiler, an executive vice president of Oracle Corporation.
  • Texas Tech University: Susan Graham, the opera singer; and Barry Lopez, the author and essayist.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: Ken Burns Says Hampshire College ‘Rearranged All of My Molecules.’ Now He’s Trying to Save It.

The filmmaker is chair of a committee to help the college raise $90 million over the next five years. He spoke with The Chronicle about why the struggling liberal-arts institution is worth preserving.

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