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Latinx, black college students leave STEM majors more than white students

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 01:00

College administrators have long debated how to attract minority students -- black and Latinx men and women -- to science and technology fields.

It turns out these students already have an interest in those fields, at least according to a new study. But black and Latinx students enrolled in STEM programs are either switching majors or dropping out of college at higher rates than their white peers, the study concludes.

The study was published this month in the journal Educational Researcher. The authors are Catherine Riegle-Crumb, associate professor in the University of Texas at Austin's department of curriculum and instruction, her colleague Yasmiyn Irizarry, an assistant professor of African and African diaspora studies, and Barbara King, assistant professor of teaching and learning at Florida International University.

Using federal data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the researchers looked at more than 5,600 students, black, Latinx and white, who attended college for the first time in the 2003-04 academic year. They included students who started at four-year institutions and those who began at two-year colleges and transferred to four-year institutions.

The researchers found that there was little difference at the beginning of the students’ studies. About 19 percent of the white students declared as a STEM major, compared to 20 percent of Latinx students and 18 percent of black students.

But the minority students left the major at far higher rates than the white students -- about 37 percent of the Latinx students and 40 percent of the black students switched majors versus 29 percent of the white students.

And 20 percent of Latinx and 26 percent of black STEM majors left their institutions without earning a degree, the research showed. Only 13 percent of white STEM majors dropped out.

Previous studies have identified this trend before but had never compared STEM dropouts to dropouts who majored in other disciplines, a contrast that the professors thought was important, said Riegle-Crumb, the report’s lead author.

Among business majors, another field perceived as competitive, relatively equal numbers of white, Latinx and black students switched majors, the study found. The report did not reference Asian students, because despite being overrepresented in STEM majors, their sample size in other majors was not large enough that the researchers felt comfortable including them, Riegle-Crumb said.

Though the study identified a troubling trend, the researchers did not pinpoint exactly why the students of color were dropping STEM studies, Riegle-Crumb said.

The researchers also adjusted their data to account for the fact that Latinx and black students typically perform worse in high school and come from poorer backgrounds, she said.

“We definitely need more investigation into these things, what’s actually happening within classrooms, to be able to measure the experiences of youth of different backgrounds,” Riegle-Crumb said.

The professors did theorize why some students of color may leave college without completing their studies. Other research has found that STEM programs are often structured in a way in which students have to essentially prove their intellectual worth to stay, the study states. Essentially, they may be forced out if they don't meet high academic standards.

Minority students already face unfair stereotypes about being intellectually inferior, and this is likely exacerbated in STEM programs, according to the study. This issue was explored in a book by Maya Beasley, an associate professor at the University of Connecticut, called Opting Out: Losing the Potential of America's Young Black Elite (University of Chicago Press). Beasley interviewed black students and white students at two prominent universities and unearthed these sorts of obstacles faced by the students of color.

Riegle-Crumb said research has proven that minority students are also more inclined to pursue majors and careers that are aligned with social justice issues, and they may find that the STEM fields are incompatible with those interests.

She said that leaders in STEM education should push back on the narrative that STEM fields do not provide students opportunities to be engaged in such issues. Engineering, for instance, is about building “new things that improve the quality of life,” Riegle-Crumb said.

“The narrative that black and Latino students are choosing to leave for occupations that make less money and have less status, well, I’m wary of that,” she said. “Why do they feel they have to make a choice for their preferences when white men feel they don’t?”

The study's findings were unsurprising to Darryl A. Dickerson, associate director of the minority engineering program at Purdue University and president of the National Association of Multicultural Engineering Program Advocates.

Dickerson said that many students of color in STEM programs feel excluded at their institutions and have to form their own communities.

He recommended that institutions look at their own data on this issue. If students of color are exiting STEM majors at higher rates, then officials should be questioning why and addressing the problems that are driving students away.

“Ask those questions on a regular basis, ask the questions of students, of those who have graduated, and figure out the reasons they are leaving,” Dickerson said. “Consistently do those checks. It can’t be something that is happening every so often -- it has to be part of continuous quality improvement.”

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University of Redlands to acquire San Francisco-area seminary

Inside Higher Ed - Tue, 02/26/2019 - 01:00

Two private California institutions -- one secular and in Southern California, the other religious and in Northern California -- are merging.

The University of Redlands on Monday said it plans to acquire the San Francisco Theological Seminary, a 150-year-old Presbyterian seminary. The presidents of the two institutions on Monday said they had signed a memorandum of understanding that will create a graduate school within Redlands that essentially establishes a new campus in the San Francisco Bay Area.

The new Graduate School of Theology will also be the location for course work in a range of fields already offered at Redlands and its other regional campuses, said President Ralph W. Kuncl.

The merger must be approved by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, which accredits both institutions, and by the Association of Theological Schools.

Also, California’s attorney general must sign off on the deal; U.S. Department of Education approval must also be in place to allow students to use federal loans to help pay for their education.

Frank M. Yamada, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, said that the merger would, if approved, be like most of the 26 other mergers of his members over the last seven years – into a larger university. Such arrangements now comprise about one in 10 ATS schools -- the association accredits 276 institutions.

Most notably, he said, Claremont School of Theology in Los Angeles announced a possible merger with Willamette University in Salem, Ore. And Andover Newton Seminary, one of the nation’s oldest theological schools, is now embedded in Yale Divinity School.

In most cases, he said, the partner school or organization has some sort of religious affiliation, but that’s not a hard-and-fast rule, as with the newest merger.

The merger talks began in late 2017, when SFTS began exploring partnerships, said President Jim McDonald. “We talked to seminaries, we talked to divinity schools -- but we also talked to a couple of colleges and universities,” he said. McDonald met Kuncl in early November and “We immediately hit it off.”

Redlands has a $167.2 million endowment, enrolls nearly 5,000 students and operates six regional campuses in addition to its main location. But it was also looking for new partners. SFTS fit the bill, Kuncl said.

“They of course didn’t begin in the last decade thinking that their path to future success would be through acquisition,” he said. “But it turns out that in this era, that’s a great strategy by which a 150-year-old, venerable institution can preserve its identity and preserve its brand name and all of its values for its students, by becoming embedded and part of a larger institution.”

McDonald, for his part, agreed. “I would say, ‘Absolutely yes’ to that,” he said.

The leaders did not provide financial details on the merger. In a statement, Kuncl later said, “While the boards of both institutions have approved the agreement in principle, several financial details remain privileged. However, both institutions have substantial assets that make this transaction feasible.”

‘What on Earth Would You Be Thinking?’

The two institutions are in different regions of California and basically worlds apart: Redlands is in San Bernardino County, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, while SFTS is in the Marin County bedroom community of San Anselmo, north of San Francisco.

The seminary actually opened a Pasadena campus in 1990 but closed it in 2011 as part of what it called "a larger and urgent effort to reach financial equilibrium."

Eight years later, Kuncl said the two institutions are a good fit. “I believe we are of the right size to partner with SFTS, sort of ‘Goldilocks size,’ because we’re not so big that we wouldn’t need them or want them -- and we’re not so small that we wouldn’t be financially feasible to embed them within us. So being a midsized university helps, I think, to envision incorporating another school.”

Kuncl noted that there’s a long history of graduate schools of theology being embedded in major universities. “It’s not an unusual thing,” he said. “So we felt like that was actually a visionary and obvious thing to do, not a mysterious thing to do.”

But he admitted that a Presbyterian seminary an eight-hour drive northwest was not an obvious choice.

“That would be the first question asked by any trustee or alumnus or donor,” he said. “‘What on earth would you be thinking about merging with, acquiring a seminary, which is a sacred institution, when the university is a secular institution?’ And that requires a leap of vision into thinking about what we two institutions could create together that is new.”

He said the new graduate school will operate “on equal footing” with Redlands’ other graduate programs in business, education, music and continuing studies.

The campus will also likely offer traditional programming from Redlands’ graduate schools of education, business and music. Redlands also intends to offer an adult student baccalaureate-completion program in conjunction with local community colleges -- he wouldn’t say which. The expansion will also allow it to offer a share of 14 new academic degree programs it already plans to introduce at its various branch campuses in Southern California.

“This increases the footprint of the university into Northern California as well as Southern California,” Kuncl said.

Redlands’ tradition of a broad-based liberal arts education with an emphasis on service is “completely congruent with the values of San Francisco Theological Seminary,” he said. “But the product is going to be much more than practicing ministers in pulpits. It will produce leaders and people with lives of service.”

Both institution’s Boards of Trustees have already approved an eight-page agreement in principle laying out how they’ll eventually operate. Over the next four months, they’ll create a final merger document for the boards to approve in May, Kuncl said.

In the meantime, faculty from the two institutions have already begun meeting quietly -- about 40 Redlands faculty and literally the entire SFTS faculty, which numbers just nine instructors, have formulated models for new multidisciplinary graduate programs that neither institution could have offered previously. The two institutions hope to offer a handful of hybrid degrees such as a master’s degree in divinity and education, in divinity and business, and in divinity and organizational leadership.

Instructors at SFTS’s Applied Wisdom Institute and Redlands’ School of Education have already developed a joint continuing studies program, dubbed the mental health and spirituality certificate, that will begin holding classes next month, the institutions said in a statement.

Kuncl said he has enjoyed watching faculty collaborate across the two cultures. “It’s the fuel that is driving this,” he said.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: ‘We Need Leadership’: Athletes’ Protest Draws Attention to Lingering Confederate Symbol at Ole Miss

Supporters of the Old South are drawn to a place like the University of Mississippi, says one student, in part because a prominent statue to the Confederacy still stands there.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Most Americans Think Government Support for Public Colleges Is Rising or Flat. They’re Wrong.

In survey results released on Monday, 27 percent of respondents said funding had grown since 2009 and 32 percent said it had stayed the same. In fact, it has dropped by $9 billion.

Chronicle of Higher Education: U. of Michigan Just Expanded Its Ban on Student-Instructor Romance. Here’s Why.

The three-campus system overhauled its policy, heralding an age of airtight rules on such potentially problematic relationships.

International education “number one priority” for US bureau

The PIE News - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 09:59

US assistant secretary of state for ECA, Marie Royce, has promised to do more to support the sector, saying, “We cannot continue with business as usual any longer. We must step up our game.”

International education is the number one priority for the US Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, she underlined.

Her deputy, Caroline Casagrande, confirmed that “additional resources” have been secured to promote outbound and inbound study abroad, as they used the IIE Summit in New York City to speak directly to the sector.

In a rousing address, Royce endorsed different routes to US education, noting that a community college or 2+2 route was a viable options open to those without deep pockets.

“Seeing more international students enrol into US colleges and universities is the number one priority for our bureau,” Royce told delegates.

“International education makes America stronger”

“Education is a critical asset to US diplomacy,” she explained, as she emphasised the economic value international students offer the country.

They collectively contributed more that $42bn to the US economy, and supported an estimated 450,000 jobs  in 2017.

Royce, whose office at the ECA received the first IIE centennial medal at the conference, praised IIE’s work as “vital to building a more peaceful and prosperous world”, and said the Washington DC government is fully behind its mission.

“International education makes America stronger,” she stated, noting the fact that 58 current heads of state of government studied in the US. “One-third of the world’s leaders… better understands the US, the values of our society and our people because of their time as students here”, she said.

However, she admitted educators in the US need to do more to keep up with competition from other countries.

“We face growing international competition to attract the world’s globally mobile students. While we are already making great strides to respond to these new challenges, we must step up our game.”

The third consecutive year of hosting more than 1m international students also saw a decrease in new student enrolments by 6.6%, according to the Open Doors survey.

“[President Trump] really encourages students to come here to the US and for our students to go out and study abroad”

“At ECA our goals are clear,” said Royce, underlining that US government is committed to both outbound and inbound exchanges – and explaining that president Donald Trump began penning letters to all US Department of State exchange participants in 2018.

“This is the first time any president has ever done anything like this,” she noted.

“[President Trump] really encourages students to come here to the US and for our students to go out and study abroad. In the letter, president Trump encourages participants to use their time on exchange to teach, learn, grow and make connections that will last a lifetime.”

President Trump sends letters to participants of exchange students.

ECA also “actively supports” America’s competitive education advantage through its Education USA network, which operates in 180 countries, with 435 centres and 550 advisors to promote American colleges and universities abroad, she reminded.

However, cost is a “leading reason that students decide not to pursue US study” Royce said, and ECA “wants to raise awareness abroad that there are study options at many price points”.

Community colleges and 2+2 models that combine study at community college and a four-year institution to earn a bachelors degree are a good option for prospective students, she added.

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International students fall short at Oscars

The PIE News - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 04:06

At least two international students were involved in several films nominated for the Oscars, but neither came away with the famous prize this year.

Marta Baidek and Guy Lubin, both international graduates of the MetFilm School in London, were involved in the production of three Academy Award nominated films – ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’; ‘Ready, Player One’; and ‘Isle of Dogs’.

“Our philosophy is to minimise the difference between study and industry”

Baidek, who is Portuguese, studied a bachelor’s in Practical Filmmaking at the London institution and went on to specialise in visual effects and animation.

She worked on both ‘Solo: A Star Wars Story’ and ‘Ready, Player One’, as a visual effects assistant coordinator and animation coordinator, respectively.

“It was one of my favourite experiences of my life so far. The team was just brilliant! I had the chance to see Steven Spielberg work and be a part of a movie that tried to break convention and dared to go further in visual storytelling,” she said.

Both the films were nominated in the Best Visual Effects category, but both were beaten by ‘First Man’ – the biopic of Neil Armstrong.

Lubin, who is Israeli, still splits his time between London and Tel Aviv after graduating from the same course at Baidek in 2013.

He was also working on a an animated film, Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’. It was up for Best Animated Feature, but lost out to ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’.

Jonny Persey, Director at MetFilm school said the HEI designed courses to be as much like industry as possible, for international or domestic students moving into the various filmmaking careers available.

“Our learning philosophy is to minimise the difference between being a student and being in industry. It’s about make, make, make – feature films, short films, web series, documentaries, etc. And, doing so under the guidance of professional filmmakers in an organisation that also makes films professionally, and at Ealing Studios, a filmmaking hub steeped in history.”

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Aarhus boosts outbound, EMI courses drop

The PIE News - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 02:00

Business Academy Aarhus is boosting its outbound mobility program in a bid to sustain international experiences, as government regulation has resulted in a reduction of English medium instruction courses.

With an MOU signed with Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, Business Academy Aarhus reached a total of 70 university partners in January 2019, and the school is placing added importance on its Go Abroad program and summer school places overseas.

“We are also very worried about how many full-degree students we will be able to attract”

“Students need to be able to experience other cultures and learning styles, something which can be achieved by taking an entire semester abroad or a shorter summer school program,” said Mads Hedelund, head of Career and Internationalisation.

“As we are obliged (by political considerations) to reduce the number of English-language programs, we are delighted that our Go Abroad opportunities are growing,” he added.

Since 2015, EMI study places have decreased by 25% in the country, affecting all Danish higher education institutions, according to Sharon Wilkins, international project manager at Business Academy Aarhus.

The reduction of EMI courses was largely seen as a bid to discourage international graduates from returning home to work after their studies. All incoming exchange only take English-language program at Business Academy Aarhus.

Up until now, the school has not seen a drop in numbers, but 2019 marks the first time it can only offer 10 EMI programs.

“I am a little worried about how many incoming exchange we will get. We are also very worried about how many full-degree students we will be able to attract,” Wilkins noted.

“Since 2015, we have gone from 900 international students to 700 international students. Outbound experiences, especially summer schools, have become more important to promote internationalisation.”

Many Danish SME companies that the school collaborates with often want graduates with an international mindset, Wilkins added, but government policy doesn’t necessarily foster those opportunities.

“They removed all quotas for sending students abroad and this is no longer a strategic goal, this obviously means that the individual program heads do not have internationalisation as top-of-mind. Summer schools are becoming more and more popular and obviously, we, at International Office, are promoting summer schools as a viable international experience,” she explained.

“In general, we have made Canada a hot spot so have really intensified our exchange agreements there and obviously all the Erasmus programmes are popular.”

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Azusa Pacific cutting faculty but preserving term tenure amid financial crunch

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 01:00

Azusa Pacific University is cutting teaching faculty positions and considered ending a system of multiyear contracts that has offered some professors job security, moves officials say were driven by financial considerations but that also sparked fear the evangelical Christian University in California was preparing to purge progressives from its ranks.

The university has decided to cut about 6 percent of its teaching faculty positions through a combination of voluntary retirements, vacant positions not being filled and contracts not being renewed, according to a spokeswoman. Decisions were based upon “the fiscal viability of programs” and not faculty performance, she added.

Azusa Pacific’s board also signaled it wanted to eliminate a contract system known as term tenure, faculty leaders said. The university does not offer faculty traditional tenure. Instead, it uses a system of contracts stepping up between one-, three- and five-year terms, which is seen as offering some protection and freedom for faculty members. Concerned faculty worried everyone was being moved to one-year contracts, no matter how long they had been with the university or how well they had performed their duties.

The board, administration and Faculty Senate last week reached an agreement to maintain three- and five-year contracts. But the cuts and talks of changing contract structures dredged up other concerns, especially from some already worried about Azusa Pacific’s attitudes toward gender and sexuality.

A letter circulated from an anonymous professor linking the elimination of term tenure with faith statements faculty members were being asked to affirm.

“I thought you might be interested to know that APU is moving to eliminate term tenure for all faculty and will now require faculty to affirm new faith statements against LGBTQ people,” the letter begins.

It went on to defend term tenure as providing a “modicum of job security.” New faculty started with one-year contracts, then moved up to three- and then five-year contracts if they were well evaluated over time. Term tenure was supposed to be an incentive for faculty to publish more and help raise the university’s reputation, it said.

Moving faculty to one-year contracts was “absolutely a purge” to drive out progressives and cut salary expenses at the same time, the letter charges.

“They want to cut off the brewing unrest and ensure that those who stay won’t keep pushing faculty governance of curriculum,” it says. Many of the letter’s allegations have also been detailed at Rewire.News.

The letter contained numerous inaccuracies, according to Rachel White, Azusa Pacific’s associate director of public relations. Faculty contracts not being renewed are in programs or departments deemed underperforming, she said in an email. The university is not releasing a list of programs underperforming “to safeguard the confidentiality of impacted faculty who will carry out their contract through the end of the academic year,” she said.

“In early January, each dean was tasked with completing a midyear fiscal viability analysis of the programs in their college or school,” she wrote. “The worksheet includes a number of data points that assess the fiscal functioning of a program. They used an analysis conducted by the Austen Group of Ruffalo Noel Levitz to provide information on the demand, cost and yield of each program in a matrix presentation. They also used comparative data from the Delaware study, as well as internal program analytics related to average class size, number of students, etc. The Academic Cabinet used this data to inform their decisions.”

The university has not declared financial exigency and is seeing “modest growth” in areas like nursing, behavioral and applied sciences, and some emerging professional programs, she added.

Azusa Pacific has an estimated 520 full- and part-time faculty contracts. Those not being renewed will expire at the end of the academic year. The 6 percent cut in teaching faculty is calculated on a full-time-equivalent basis.

Roughly half of the university's faculty are on one-year contracts. Remaining faculty are split about evenly between three- and five-year contracts.

Talk of cuts seems to have combined with discussion about contract length and other tensions at Azusa Pacific to raise concerns from faculty members about firings based on ideology. Tensions over same-sex relationships flared just a few months ago, when the university published a revised statement on human sexuality that did not forbid romantic same-sex relationships for students. The university continued to say sex should only occur within a marriage, defined as being between a man and a woman.

Soon afterward, the university reversed course, reinstating a clause against romantic same-sex relationships. The university’s Board of Trustees issued a statement saying it had never approved the initial change.

Then in December, two trustees resigned from the university’s board, reportedly because they were concerned faculty members and administrators were promoting progressive ideology.

The way the faculty position cuts unfolded has been frustrating for Azusa Pacific faculty members, said Loren Martin, a professor and research director in the university’s department of clinical psychology who is also the moderator of its Faculty Senate. The discussion about cuts has been playing out for about a month, and many saw them as being put in place in a top-down manner, he said.

“I think what happened is basically, the board, when they announced the contract decision that has now been rescinded, they announced a number of things,” Martin said. “People put two and two together and assumed it was a coordinated effort. I’ve been assured that is not the case.”

One group of faculty, liberal or conservative, didn’t seem to have been targeted, based on Martin’s observations.

“It does appear to be financial decisions that were made,” Martin said. “The frustration is that faculty would have liked to have been a part of that through the senate process.”

An agreement to preserve term tenure is important, he added.

“For one thing, that’s how we’re able to recruit and retain a high-quality faculty,” Martin said. “And if we were to change to a model of one-year contracts, then we’re not going to be able to recruit high-caliber faculty, and we’re going to struggle to retain those faculty we currently have.”

The university’s financial performance has been flagged in recent months. In September, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Azusa Pacific’s bond rating into junk territory because of weakening operating performance, issues meeting a debt covenant, weak internal reporting and weak expense control.

Azusa Pacific told bondholders in October that it ended the 2018 fiscal year with a $9.9 million operating deficit and was pursuing numerous efforts to cut costs and put new controls in place. The 11,000-student university has collected about $230 million per year in tuition, fee and room and board revenue in recent years.

On the question of faculty being asked to affirm faith statements, the university has long required faculty and staff to annually sign a commitment to uphold its mission, values and beliefs, according to White.

She provided an excerpt from the Faculty Handbook saying faculty members are expected to sign a university statement of faith and that faculty members “affirm, support and sustain APU’s identity as an evangelical Christian university” as described in a multipage booklet titled “What We Believe.” Faculty members who “no longer subscribe” to the statement of faith are expected to resign from the university, the Faculty Handbook says.

“The language has been a part of the Faculty Handbook for many years,” White wrote. “I believe the board has recently emphasized the importance of signing this as a means to ensure that all faculty and staff are in alignment with the university's evangelical Christian mission, values and beliefs.”

Some of the content in the “What We Believe” booklet has changed in recent years. An archived version from August 2017 contains a section on human sexuality with eight bullets. They stated in part that, “In Scripture, several sexual behaviors are expressly forbidden, which include but are not limited to: fornication, adultery, incest, unnatural sexual intercourse and homosexual acts.” They also stated, “Heterosexuality is God’s design for sexually intimate relationships. Sexual union between a man and a woman is only to take place within the marriage covenant.”

The latest version the university posted only contains six bullets and contains no reference to several behaviors being expressly forbidden. It continues to say, “Sexual union is intended by God to take place only within the marriage covenant between a man and a woman.”

Azusa Pacific’s president since 2000, Jon R. Wallace, has announced plans to become president emeritus this summer. In October he took a medical leave of absence as he battled cancer.

Recent discussions about the faculty cuts and term tenure give the Faculty Senate moderator, Martin, hope for more coordination and engagement in the future.

“It’s been a very challenging experience,” he said. “But in recent weeks, our board has been really receptive to faculty input, and I feel like they’ve learned to recognize the value of our faculty voice.”

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Community colleges focus on equity as the next piece to completion agenda

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 01:00

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Colleges have been focused for more than a decade on accelerating the completion movement to increase graduation rates and improve student outcomes. Community colleges especially have worked on improving career opportunities for their students, reforming remedial education, encouraging students to attend full-time and offering tuition-free programs.

But achievement gaps between black, Hispanic and low-income students and their white and wealthier peers persist even as each group continues to graduate at better rates. Achieving the Dream, the national organization focused on student success, is encouraging colleges to put racial and wealth equity at the center of their efforts to help more students graduate. The group held its first Equity Institute last week during its 15th annual national conference and announced a new partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to eliminate equity gaps using adaptive learning technology in courses.

“We will never make progress in moving the needle on student success for students of color if we don't get real and understand the totality of factors that undermine their success on our campuses,” said Shaun Harper, executive director of the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center, who gave the opening speech at ATD's Equity Institute. “I’m delighted that Achieving the Dream is intentionally focusing on racial equity. It would seem to me that any attempt to improve student success and outcomes and experiences at community colleges -- especially given the racial diversity of community colleges -- will always be incomplete if it’s not done through the prism of equity.”

About 40 percent of all community college students who started their education in 2012 graduated within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. But only 35.7 percent of Hispanic students and 27.5 percent of black students graduated from a two-year institution within that same time period. Furthermore, nearly 55 percent of black students who started at a community college in 2012 did not complete their studies and were no longer enrolled at any institution.

ATD’s new partnership with Gates, known as Every Learner Everywhere, is introducing adaptive courseware to two-year colleges so they can stop students, especially minority and low-income students, from dropping out.

Gates is expanding the adaptive courseware to more colleges by providing $13.3 million to the initiative. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) is overseeing the Every Learner Everywhere network, which includes experts from groups such as Educause and the Association of Chief Academic Officers. Even as ATD prepares to begin connecting community colleges to the program, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities has already been working with Gates to expand the technology to four-year institutions.

Adaptive courseware uses technology to personalize classroom instruction based on how students respond. The expectation is that racial and income-based equity gaps will decrease, especially in gateway math and English courses, and retention and graduation rates will increase, said Stacey Vanderheiden Guney, the director of Every Learner Everywhere for WICHE. The program is expected to launch this fall in Texas, Florida and Ohio and will eventually reach more than 200 colleges nationwide.

“We cannot support retention and student success and increasing graduation rates for people if we don’t look at those first courses, which are traditionally seen as ‘weed-out’ courses,” Vanderheiden Guney said. “When you are trying to serve a bunch of people from a variety of backgrounds, the use of the adaptive courseware, when effectively implemented, can allow for people to come up to the same speed and be supported in unique ways in the classroom.”

Karen Stout, ATD's president, said the organization wants to make equity “actionable” for colleges. And that work begins with college leaders being honest about the racial and income disparities on college campuses.

Eduardo Padrón, the retiring president of Miami-Dade College in Florida, said racial inequality in education worries him tremendously because too many talented students of color are not earning a college credential when most well-paying jobs require one.

“Ethnic minorities are the work force of tomorrow,” he said. “It’s a national security imperative that the achievement gap is reduced every year until it no longer exists.”

But there hasn’t been enough recognition by national and state leaders of how racial disparities affect graduation rates among colleges, Padrón said.

At times, Harper said, it seems as if college leaders think closing the racial achievement gap will be easy and can be fixed with a single program or by spending a weekend participating in a diversity program. Some college presidents, provosts and faculty casually use the word “equity” without taking the time to develop a strategy for how they’ll achieve equity on their campuses, he said.

“People understand the value of having equitable campuses, but they don’t know how to do it, and that work requires very serious study,” Harper said. “It requires a cultural change, collaboration, deep study, incentives, accountability and assessment.”

The next, and difficult, stage for many colleges and faculty will be taking what they learned at the Equity Institute to their campuses and having honest conversations that address the achievement gaps for students of color and low-income students, Stout said.

Harper said there aren’t many national education organizations that are attempting to combat racial inequity.

“This moment affords ATD an extraordinary opportunity to lead and to leverage its network to show other networks and associations and other higher education groups how to really institutionalize equity,” he said.

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Hate incidents still on the rise on college campuses

Inside Higher Ed - Mon, 02/25/2019 - 01:00

Incidents targeting students of color and of different sexualities and religions continue to plague campuses, and the number of incidents appears to be increasing, according to a new report.

Because these episodes are on the rise -- white supremacist literature proliferating at colleges and universities, racial slurs written in public places and dormitories, for example -- advocates are urging administrators to be vocal in denouncing them and suggest they have a plan in place for when they occur.

Two groups worked on the report -- the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Fund for Leadership, Equity, Access and Diversity, or LEAD Fund, part of the American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED).

They created a survey with 30 questions to send to professionals on the AAAED mailing list asking about hate- or bias-related incidents on their campuses. The survey was also made available at the AAAED annual conference last year.

A total 69 staffers, whom the groups called “equal opportunity professionals” -- generally employees of a university’s diversity or student affairs offices -- answered the survey. Most came from public, four-year institutions (64 percent) while 25 percent worked at private colleges or universities. Roughly 9 percent were from two-year institutions, and 2 percent reported "other" institutions.

Almost all the survey participants -- 84 percent -- were from predominantly white institutions, with the remainder at minority-serving institutions.

They were asked whether certain acts had occurred on their campus, ranging from a hate crime, hate speech or conduct prohibited under an institution’s antidiscrimination policy to behavior that is “uncivil” -- rude, but perhaps not motivated by bias.

About 84 percent of the participants indicated they knew of some sort of behavior violating an antidiscrimination policy, and 82 percent had encountered a hate crime.

Roughly 65 percent of staffers knew of a report of what they considered hate speech.

The groups did not independently verify the hate incidents reported in the survey, said Christopher Jones, a co-author of the report and assistant vice president and director of equity in the Office for Inclusion, Diversity and Equal Opportunity at Case Western University. But these reports were based on the last two years and would not have included incidents that later turned out to be not true.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, though, said in November that nearly 280 hate crimes had been reported to the agency by campus police forces in 2017. This was an uptick from 257 in 2016 and 194 reports in 2015.

Three-fourths of those who took the AAAED survey said some sort of hate-bias episode occurred within the last two years. And 38 percent reported that in the last two years, a hate-bias incident happened once per semester.

In terms of types of hate-bias acts, about 64 percent of the professionals reported that in the last two years they encountered some sort of bias in the form of leaflets or pamphlets with racist or Nazi symbols. About 54 percent indicated in the past 24 months they knew of hate speech on campus.

Jones said "it stood out" how frequently these incidents were happening.

"That was particularly telling," Jones said.

Most often with hate-bias incidents, administrators are finding outside groups -- such as those geared toward white nationalism -- are coming onto the university grounds and distributing literature.

This has been previously documented by other groups. The Anti-Defamation League documented 107 incidents of hate or bias during the 2016-17 academic year, and a majority of them concerned fliers on campus.

But minority students are also finding evidence of bias in classrooms, said Shirley J. Wilcher, executive director for AAAED. Professors might be calling out black students to answer questions about race, or women to address perspectives on gender, Wilcher said. Also common is displays of hate inside residence halls, or on social media, which can spread quickly. But leaflets are among the most major issue, Wilcher said.

The groups developed a tool kit for universities to use to plan for such episodes.

Colleges need to develop a communication strategy to address an incident as soon as possible, said Richard Baker, assistant vice chancellor and vice president for equal opportunity services for the University of Houston System.

Officials should make clear what each individual person’s role is during such a crisis, what their job would entail, Baker said. Administrators, even if they run into First Amendment issues where speech or an act would be protected, can denounce the activity in the harshest of terms, which will often ease student concerns.

“Students in particular want action -- they don’t want silence,” Wilcher said.

This strategy was employed successfully in 2017 at the University of Florida, which was one stop for white supremacist Richard Spencer on his tour of campuses nationwide. He was attempting to rile the student body with his fringe views, Spencer said publicly. (He has since ceased his countrywide circuit after encountering financial problems.)

When Spencer proclaimed that the university president, Ken Fuchs, “stood behind” him, Fuchs replied on Twitter, “I don’t stand behind racist Richard Spencer. I stand with those who reject and condemn Spencer’s vile and despicable message.”

The tool kit also suggests that officials set up an easy way to report incidents, such as providing a complaint form online and also a hotline, and then advertising those avenues to the campus.

Establishing a hate-bias team is also an option -- these have become quite common on campus, and they often are charged with investigating a problem and also providing support for students who feel marginalized or attacked.

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After a day of drama, a stalemate over aid to Venezuela

Economist, North America - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 08:22

BY ABOUT 11am on February 23rd, four lorries, each loaded with 20 tons of food, medical supplies and toiletries, had arrived at the Simón Bolívar and Francisco de Paula Santander bridges, which link the Colombian border town of Cúcuta with Venezuela. At the Simón Bolívar crossing south of the city, used by thousands of people on a normal day, Colombian police opened a metal barricade they had erected and thousands of Venezuelans poured through, hoping to clear a passage for the supplies to enter Venezuela. Chanting “liberty”, they headed towards riot police, who had arrayed themselves behind transparent shields on the Venezuelan side of the bridge. Minutes later, the first tear-gas grenade fell on the advancing Venezuelans. They fled. Many were hurt in the stampede.

The attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to Venezuela, orchestrated by Juan Guaidó, who is recognised as the country’s interim president by its opposition-controlled legislature and by most Western and Latin American democracies, had three objectives. The first was publicly to shame the dictatorial regime of Nicolás Maduro. Its corruption and incompetence have inflicted years of hardship on Venezuelans. The second was to relieve that hardship by delivering some 600 tons of aid, most of it provided by the United States. The third and most important was to bring the regime down by driving...

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Inside Higher Ed - Sun, 02/24/2019 - 01:00

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