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ACE Awards Grants to Advance Innovative Adult Education Demonstration Projects

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
ACE has awarded grants to six higher education institutions for innovative adult education demonstration projects.

New College Access KnowHow2GO PSAs to Debut at US Open

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
The Ad Council, in partnership with ACE and the U.S. Tennis Association, will debut new TV public service advertisements (PSAs) at the US Open today on behalf of the national KnowHow2GO campaign designed to encourage low-income and first generation students to take the steps necessary to prepare for college.

ACE Submitting U.S. Supreme Court Brief Supporting University of Texas Admissions Policy

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
ACE today is submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the University of Texas at Austin (UT), urging the court to reaffirm the constitutionality of the university's use of race and ethnicity in its admissions process.

ACE Partners With Mount Holyoke College, WAMC on Nationally Syndicated Radio Show, The Academic Minute

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
ACE is pleased to join with producers Mount Holyoke College (MA) and WAMC Northeast Public Radio by underwriting a radio segment that promotes research in higher education, The Academic Minute.

Many Colleges and Universities Ramping Up Programs for Military and Veteran Students

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
A survey of 690 higher education institutions finds that responding colleges and universities have increased services and programs for veteran and military students over the past three years.

Campuses Report Internationalization Is Accelerating, but Progress Is Mixed

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
The majority of colleges and universities perceive that their efforts to internationalize have increased in recent years, but the data present a mixed picture, according to a new report from ACE.

Minnesota Supreme Court Rules in Favor of University of Minnesota in Student Discipline Case

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
The Minnesota Supreme Court today upheld a lower court decision in favor of the University of Minnesota in the case Tatro v. the University of Minnesota, which dealt with the university’s right to enforce academic codes of conduct and professional ethics.

Innovative Practices in Faculty Retirement Honored With $100,000 Grants

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
ACE and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation today recognized 15 colleges and universities that demonstrate cutting-edge approaches to supporting faculty before, during and after their retirement transitions. Awardees will each receive $100,000 grants to accelerate innovative practices.

New ACE Directors, Programs Highlight Ongoing Focus on Leadership Initiatives

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
Following the 2011 reorganization of its leadership programs, ACE has hired directors for the Inclusive Excellence and Executive Leadership groups and this summer will launch two programs for senior and emerging administrators, reflecting the Council’s continued emphasis on the professional development of campus leaders and greater inclusivity in higher education.

ACE Releases Accreditation Task Force Report

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
In the report of the ACE's National Task Force on Institutional Accreditation released today, academic leaders urge the higher education community to strengthen and improve the quality and public accountability of the institutional accreditation process.

ACE Launches National Search for Lifelong Learning Innovator

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
ACE is searching for an innovative higher education leader as part of a multipronged national initiative to ensure more adults in the United States obtain college degrees.

ACE to Enhance Online Toolkit Helping Institutions Serve Student Veterans

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
A Kresge Foundation grant will enable ACE to enhance the resources available through ACE’s online Toolkit for Veteran Friendly Institutions and further ACE’s mission of supporting higher education programs that ensure veterans are college- and career-ready.

ACE Names 57 Faculty and Administrators to Fellows Program

American Council on Education - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 02:30
ACE has selected 57 college and university senior faculty and administrators for the 2012-13 class of the ACE Fellows Program. Established in 1965, the ACE Fellows Program—the longest running leadership development program in the United States—focuses on identifying and preparing senior leadership for the nation's colleges and universities.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Transitions

James W. Dean Jr. will lead the University of New Hampshire; Benjamin Akande became director of the Africa initiative at Washington University in St. Louis

How Lawrence University is pushing to meet students' full financial need

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:00

Lawrence University embarked on an ambitious plan in 2014 to join the exclusive ranks of so-called full-need colleges -- those that provide financial aid to cover all tuition and fees for admitted students with “demonstrated financial need.”

Entering a space occupied by Ivy League and other elite colleges with hefty endowments and socially conscious bona fides was a bold move for the small liberal arts college in Wisconsin. Only 65 universities nationwide are designated full-need institutions. But Lawrence president Mark Burstein was undaunted; he knew the need among some of the 1,500 students.

He launched an effort to raise $85 million in endowed scholarship funds in five years -- the amount the university estimated it would need to make the commitment. The “Full Speed to Full Need” campaign was an instant hit, widely embraced by students and alumni -- and an anonymous donor who initially gave $25 million and later kicked in another $5 million for good measure.

The university raised $74.3 million in four years. The support has already been used for additional scholarships or grants to 182 students, 138 of them currently on campus. Officials believe they have enough momentum to meet the goal by next year.

The collective financial status of Lawrence students has changed dramatically as a result. During the 2014-15 academic year, 74 percent of the students on financial aid had an average funding gap of $6,000 in their awards, which included all federal grants and loans for which they were eligible, as well as financial support from the university. The gap meant students had to find the money elsewhere. This academic year, 48 percent of the students have a funding gap, and the average dropped to $4,200, according to Burstein.

“We’re really trying to help every student on this campus and especially the families that have the largest gap,” he said. “This resonated with the Lawrence community and our values. We’ve been historically a place where students of need come for a transformative educational experience.”

The path to full need was not a direct one for Burstein, however. A student inadvertently but fundamentally redirected his thinking about financial aid.

The mental shift occurred during the launch of “open office,” one of many student outreach events on the main campus in Appleton, Wis., when individual students visit with Burstein to tell him what’s on their minds.

One student, a sophomore, laid it all out.

“He said, ‘I love it here,’” Burstein recalled. “‘I have a B-plus average. I’m working close to 40 hours a week. I already owe $30,000 in student loans. My mom works in retail and my dad is being evicted from his apartment. What should I do?’”

Burstein suggested the young man transfer to a state college in the student’s hometown, which would likely be less expensive than Lawrence, where annual tuition and fees at the time totaled nearly $50,000. (Tuition and fees for the 2018-19 academic year will be $57,816. Tuition has increased about 3 percent for the last four years.)

The student pushed back. “He said, ‘I’m sorry, but maybe you didn’t hear me. I love it here,’” Burstein said.

The university found additional money for the student, who did not want to be identified, and he graduated from Lawrence in 2016. But Burstein, who still considers the meeting with the student “the most pivotal one for me,” was left wondering how many others on campus were in similar straits and how many would end up leaving Lawrence without graduating because the university could not afford to help them all.

“It started to make real for me what it means not to be a full-need university, not to support these students,” he said.

Stephen Burd, a senior analyst with the education policy program at New America, a Washington think tank, believes more college administrators should ponder such questions -- and seek to address them. “It’s a nice change to see a school trying to go to full need,” he said. “Most private colleges are going in the opposite direction and providing more non-need-based aid, more merit aid, and meeting less need. It sounds like Lawrence is doing the right thing.”

Burd, an expert on student financial aid, has studied the growth of non-need-based aid and merit aid by American universities and written extensively about how the “pursuit of prestige and revenue” by colleges hurts low-income students.

“Schools are becoming less generous to poor students and trying to get more wealthy students,” he said. “And the share of students who are low income is dropping.”

At Lawrence 21 percent of students receive Pell Grants, a federal subsidy for low-income students.

Sarah Flanagan, vice president for government relations at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, said other universities should follow the example set by Lawrence.

“It’s a noble goal but a hard one to reach, especially if you’re a small college and don’t have a massively huge endowment,” she said. “When everything is smaller in scale … your cost per student is more expensive to deliver.”

Those are “the economics of providing a small, personal, liberal arts education” faced by Lawrence and similar institutions, she said.

If 40 percent of the student body is in poverty, she said, “you gotta have backup money and be able to pay for it from another revenue stream. You have to make up for the tuition that the students would otherwise have to pay. The money has to come from somewhere.”

That Lawrence is well on its way to becoming a full-need institution “is an amazing story,” she said. (The college is not need blind.)

“They were clearly able to make their alumni and donors understand why this is important. It means not only was the college visionary and generous, but so were their donors. It’s impressive and transformative.”

Lawrence’s endowment was $318.2 million as of June 30, 2017. While its endowment is higher than those of most universities its size, it is not well endowed compared to other full-need universities.

Nonetheless, the move by Lawrence to become full need is hugely consequential, said Susie Kane, an alumna and chairwoman of the university’s Board of Trustees.

“It will be transformational for the students and also transformational for the institution,” she said.

“Raising $85 million was a tall order, and lo and behold, we raised most of it in a year and half,” she said. “We were astounded at what we were able to pull off.”

Kane said the infusion of cash means the university won’t have to pull funds from faculty salaries or programs to fill the gap in student financial aid.

“It will allow us to focus on other things as well,” she said. “We can be focused on broader initiatives.”

Kane credits Burstein for much of the success of the campaign but notes that Lawrence has a long tradition of supporting students with scholarships. She and her husband, John, fund three scholarships at the university.

“Attending Lawrence changed who I was,” she said. “It gave me the confidence that I could think things through and do whatever I needed to do in life. It’s a lifelong gift.”

Full Speed to Full Need is part of the university’s wider comprehensive fund-raising efforts and the most popular of the university’s overall campaigns, said Cal Husmann, vice president for alumni, development and communications.

“I’ve never seen anything like it in my career,” said Husmann. “I’ve been here since 1994 and seen a lot changes and difficulties, and I’ve never seen the community rally around one strategic point like this. It feels like a community project.”

Burstein said while all the donations, which have ranged from $5 to $5 million, have made a difference, the $25 million from the anonymous donor was a game changer.

He asked the donor to make it a matching grant with a five-year deadline with hopes of raising $5 million a year. The money was matched in a year, prompting the donor to contribute the additional $5 million.

Part of Burstein’s motivation was to increase Lawrence’s graduation rate from 80 percent to 90 percent.

“The No. 1 factor with students not persisting to graduation was the gap in the financial aid awarded,” he said. “The larger the gap, the less likely the student was to graduate.”

“A lot of young alumni are also getting excited about” the campaign, he said.

Lewis Berger, a senior and past president of the Lawrence University Community Council, or LUCC, the campus's shared governance council, said a lack of financial aid support also has other consequences.

“Our main focus in student government is that students get to be students and not have to work 40 hours a week, or all summer, and not be able to do an internship” because they have to earn money to help pay for college, he said.

“I myself have gotten aid, which has been helpful and allowed me to play soccer and be on student government without having to work,” he said. “I know a lot of people who were worried about not being able to continue their education, and Lawrence helped them out.”

Cory Nettles, an alumnus and a member of the university’s board, said he found the idea of becoming a full-need institution “very compelling.”

“I was one of those students who relied on financial aid when I was at Lawrence,” he said. “I was the poorest of the poor students. Lawrence was very generous in financial aid and grants.”

After Nettles graduated, became an attorney and then the founder and managing director of a private equity firm, he and another Lawrence graduate started a scholarship fund for African-American students in 1997. He and his wife made a six-figure donation to the university several years ago and gave an additional six-figure amount in 2016 in response to the full-need campaign.

“It was a no-brainer,” he said of the most recent donation. “It was an opportunity to pay forward the investment that Lawrence had made in me.”

He believes many, if not all, of the 968 donors who’ve given to the campaign feel the same way.

People understand “emotionally and viscerally” the need to equip another generation of students with the education they will need to succeed in life, he said.

“I was amazed at how much money we raised and how quickly we raised it in response to the president’s challenge,” Nettles said. “It made us wonder why we didn’t do it sooner.”

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Appeals court sides with Lafayette College after former professor accused of harassment alleges he was fired for being emotional in front of students

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:00

Lafayette College did not discriminate against Andrew Kortyna or otherwise violate the former physics professor's rights when it fired him over harassment and retaliation allegations in 2015, a federal appeals court said.

“The record supports the College’s decision to fire Kortyna because he had retaliated against his students after they complained that he had sexually harassed them,” Chief Judge Lawrence F. Stengel wrote in his opinion for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, affirming a lower court’s decision. “Any college would have done the same to protect its students.”

Kortyna’s Claims

Stengel’s opinion is straightforward. But Kortyna argued in a lawsuit against Lafayette that the case was anything but simple. He claimed that two female students levied vague claims of sexual harassment and retaliation against him, including that he’d defied gender norms by crying in front of them, in 2013. In response, he said, the college tried force him to accept dismissal. He refused and Lafayette proceeded with a consistently biased investigation against him on the basis of his sex, he alleged.

As a result, Kortyna said, he suffered acute anxiety attacks and was formally diagnosed with depression and panic disorder. A psychiatrist said that Kortyna would therefore require accommodation in the form of legal counsel at his disciplinary hearing. Yet the college “flatly” denied that request on multiple occasions, according to the lawsuit. He was therefore unable to properly defend himself and ended up taking medical leave due to the stress, he said.

Lafayette allegedly continued to retaliate against Kortyna after he returned to campus, including by denying requests for information about any and all of his accusers’ prior complaints about faculty members.

A second hearing process in late 2014 was similarly biased and deviated from established policies and procedures, Kortyna argued, such as by not allowing him to present witnesses on his behalf. A faculty committee ultimately recommended termination for Kortyna’s alleged actions against one student and a two-year unpaid suspension for his alleged actions against the other.

An appeal failed, and Kortyna was fired in 2015. Continuing a series of legal actions against Lafayette -- including a first, ultimately unsuccessful lawsuit alleging discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act -- he soon sued the college for sex and disability discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract, and interference under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

More to the Story

Key to the faculty committee’s termination recommendation was the finding that Kortyna had retaliated against the students who complained about him. And additional court documents give -- in Stengel’s words -- “color” to those and other claims against Kortyna.

In a series of emails he sent to one of the student complainants in 2013, Kortyna wrote, for example, “It must be obvious to you that I like you. One would have to be blind not to notice this … I could easily see that you might think I’m trying to draw you into an inappropriate relationship.”

He also wrote that “Your way of acting of late is a really really [sic] crappy way of treating another person” and “I have obviously created an intimidating situation where you are not able to be open with me … I have no idea if our relationship is strong enough to withstand my words.”

And this: “Unless we wanted to completely turn our backs on each other, we needed to renegotiate our relationship such that prickly parts of one person didn’t stick into the sensitive parts of the other person. And I think that we both have prickly and sensitive parts.”

While Kortyna was warned not to discuss the allegations with the students involved, he also sought one of them out, crying -- ostensibly to apologize -- saying he was “probably going to get fired.”

In his opinion, Stengel said that the faculty committee and other administrators saw that act as a “manipulative ploy to induce guilt,” not some failure of masculinity, as Kortyna alleged under sex discrimination.

The committee also objected to Kortyna’s later declaration at a public lecture that he was being “forced” off campus, and found additional evidence that Kortyna and his attorney had warned both student complainants that their allegations put them at legal risk.

The appeals court opinion further says that “Kortyna alleges no facts that plausibly suggest that he was fired even in part because he seemed stereotypically unmasculine, was disabled, or had complained of discrimination. Nor do we perceive any plausible link between his termination and either his use of medical leave or any breach of contract.”

Regarding breach of contact, Stengel added, Kortyna’s allegations “that were more than conclusory asserted modest procedural irregularities that would not plausibly have affected the outcome” of his case.

Kortyna had no immediate comment Thursday. The college said it does not comment on active litigation.

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Growing number of community colleges focus on diversity and inclusion

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:00

For many two-year institutions, it didn't take a racist incident, protest or controversial guest speaker to jump-start efforts to promote more diverse and inclusive campus environments.

Many community colleges are heralded for having diverse student populations. But that perception hasn't made them complacent, especially as many go beyond their campuses and see cultural clashes happening in their communities.

Quietly, more two-year colleges are investing in cultivating an on-campus culture focused on inclusion, equity and diversity, and some are demanding that their employees fall in line.

"If you have a core set of beliefs, you simply state your core set of beliefs and live by them," said Michael Carter, chief diversity officer at Sinclair Community College in Ohio. "You can believe what you want to believe, but here at Sinclair, this is what we believe."

Those who have a problem with Sinclair's focus on inclusion and diversity don't have to work there, said Carter.

One way community colleges are becoming more proactive about diversity is with the increasing emergence of the chief diversity officer role. And a growing number of diversity officers in the sector serve as more than a federally mandated Title IX coordinator or a director in human resources who focuses on equity. These administrators, at colleges like LaGuardia Community College in New York and Portland Community College in Oregon, have a direct line to the president as cabinet-level administrators and are holding academic departments on campus accountable for being inclusive.

Carter and Sinclair are focusing more on equity and inclusion by carrying out the college's first diversity audit, which was organized by an independent consultant. They're hoping the audit will measure how well Sinclair is doing when it comes to promoting diversity in everything from recruiting faculty members and administrators to student supports and community relations.

The audit also will inform the college on where it needs to improve and how to be truly equitable, although the administrators have already begun to examine areas where Sinclair can improve.

"Working with [the vice president of human resources], we've talked about and really want to make movement on redacting names from employee applications so that it's not a barrier if your name doesn't fit certain mental criteria for hiring," Carter said.

When it comes to its employees, Carter said on a surface level, Sinclair is a very diverse institution and comparable to its student body. But the challenges appear once you disaggregate the numbers.

For instance, 61 percent of Sinclair students identify as white and 14 percent identify as black, according to 2016 data from the National Center for Education Statistics. Among Sinclair's employees, 78 percent identified as white and 14 percent identified as black in 2015, according to the institution's payroll data.

But those numbers shift when the college examines demographics of its faculty members -- both full-time and part-time. Among instructors, 85 percent identify as white, 10 percent are black and 1 percent are Hispanic. However, the administrative staff is comparable to the student body, with 34 out of 44 of Sinclair's administrators identified as white, with eight black administrators, one Asian and one Hispanic.

The audit asks:

  • "Is there at least 25 percent representation by women on all of the institution's committees?"
  • "Are mentorship programs available specifically for students from underrepresented groups?"
  • "Are suppliers and vendors asked to provide proof of their commitment to diversity and a diverse work force?"
  • "Does the school have a flexible working policy?" or "Does the school have an equal pay policy?"

"It's asking the questions we need to ask in a lot of different areas," Carter said. "And there's nothing asked that's unreasonable."

This level of introspection isn't unique to Sinclair.

"Community colleges serve the majority of minorities in higher education and deeply value diversity as a tenet of their mission," Martha Parham, a spokesperson for the American Association of Community Colleges, said in an email.

Parham said she isn't certain whether there is a growth in the ranks of diversity officers or "if we are seeing more awareness of diversity issues and working toward finding solutions that serve the campus and community."

Recognizing a Problem

Two years ago, John Sygielski, president of Harrisburg Area Community College, realized the importance of having a chief diversity officer in his cabinet at the college, which is located in central Pennsylvania.

"Dr. Ski is the most social media president you'll ever want to meet," said Warren Anderson, chief inclusion and diversity officer for the college. "He would post something in support of Black Lives Matter, and the reaction and response in the comments he'd get back showed we have a lot of work to do with this. Central Pennsylvania is not the most progressive place in Pennsylvania, so the reaction we get even from internal folks shows us society still has some significant challenges."

Anderson said it was the reaction to news coverage of cultural and racial issues by people who worked, studied or interacted with the college that encouraged Harrisburg to buckle down on diversity initiatives.

"Going back to the beginning of the Obama years, a lot of people thought because we elected a black president we were in a postracial society," Anderson said, adding that people felt emboldened to say what they wanted, whether it was good or bad, and that led to more people recognizing the country isn't postracial.

And if Harrisburg was going to get serious about diversity and inclusion, Anderson said it couldn't be just surface level, but instead had to be embedded in the college's policies. The college, for instance, rewrote its strategic plan to include diversity as a priority.

"We know not every space in the community and not every space in the workplace you go into as a student is 100 percent ideal," Anderson said. "But we want to do our best to minimize and mitigate any environment [where] someone feels they're not being treated equally."

Unlike four-year university campuses, which have seen protest after protest, often on racial issues, along with a host of controversial speakers and guests, in recent years, community colleges tend to avoid these sort of high-profile flashpoints. Anderson pointed to the residential nature of some universities as a reason why community colleges seem to have been spared from those issues.

Kim Baker-Flowers, the chief diversity officer at Portland Community College, agrees with him. She previously worked as the diversity officer at a four-year university before moving to her current two-year institution and said the demographic differences between most universities and community colleges play a role: two-year colleges tend to serve more older adults, low-income and first-generation students and to not have residence halls.

Anderson said community college students are a part of their communities, so if they're active in social-justice issues, their activism isn't limited to the college campus.

"We're starting to see now that regardless of institution, people are becoming more advocates for change," he said.

But Harrisburg faced resistance to having a chief diversity officer, Anderson said, adding that he may be the only chief diversity officer with a cabinet-level position among the state's 14 community colleges.

"I can't worry about if people like me," he said. "People say, 'Is this necessary?' They say we could've hired more faculty members instead. The fact that you don't think we need a diversity officer is proof we do."

Anderson said Harrisburg does try to provide a platform for those who disagree with the college, but college administrators don't allow those disagreements to deter the institution from its goal.

"It's been made pretty clear that diversity is the cornerstone of what we're doing," he said. "If you want new funding, a new position, you want to augment something, you have to talk about diversity and how it impacts what we're doing."

Harrisburg is the oldest and largest community college in Pennsylvania, which means other colleges pay attention to the moves it makes. And Anderson has been approached by other institutions about the diversity work Harrisburg is doing.

"We hope that everyone is on board with this, but if you're not, we want to make sure that island you're on is increasingly lonely. And it is," Anderson said. "A lot of people are feeling targeted now because they don't agree with diversity. Our goal is to make sure you operate within the values of the college. Independently you can believe what you want."

Need for Diversity in a Liberal Haven

Across the country, in the blue state of Oregon, officials at Portland saw a need to step up efforts to increase diversity and to provide an equitable education to all students.

Baker-Flowers, the chief diversity officer, said when she started in the role in 2014, there was pushback to her efforts to create forums to allow people to discuss diversity on campus.

"Portland advertises itself as this liberal, sustainably focused mecca, and I think a lot of people that live here buy that marketing … so when I first got here, there was a lot of that rhetoric," she said. "But in terms of action, I think there was a lot of unconscious biases."

Baker-Flowers said it took the Ferguson, Mo., protests for people in Portland to realize that the country wasn't as postracial as many thought.

"We started trying to roll out things and do self-awareness-based things around 'Who am I, how do I walk through this world, what are my power and privileges and let's try to understand that,'" she said.

Portland also revamped its strategic plan and included critical race theory as a method of setting expectations and priorities at the college. The college also is building a faculty diversity internship program to broaden its full-time faculty ranks, and it now offers an inclusion advocates program that trains faculty and staff members to sit on hiring committees and ensure they're hiring applicants from diverse backgrounds while recognizing any biases in the process. College-sponsored training also helps employees recognize their biases and triggers.

"I'm seeing a cultural shift," Baker-Flowers said. "Even when running programming … I don't see crossed arms, people leaning back or people who don't want to be there. It feels like people are more open and they understand. We're slowly but surely getting to a shared understanding."

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Even with second chance at federal recognition, for-profit accreditor has unclear outlook

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:00

A national accreditor at the center of the collapse of two for-profit college chains got another lease on life after a court ruling kicked back to the Department of Education a 2016 decision withdrawing federal recognition and, later, the Trump administration restored that recognition pending further review.

Even with another shot at restoring federal recognition, though, the long-term outlook for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools remains murky.

ACICS oversaw Corinthian Colleges, which collapsed in 2015, and ITT Technical Institute, which closed its 130 campuses in 2016. The Obama administration subsequently took the unprecedented step of withdrawing federal recognition of the accreditor, setting off a scramble for its nearly 270 colleges to find a new home.

Recent analyses have shown that by this point all but a handful of ACICS colleges have taken steps to find new accreditation -- either receiving approval from another organization, filing an application for recognition elsewhere or finding themselves at some point in the process.

ACICS in the final years of the Obama administration became a bellwether for how the federal government would hold the for-profit college sector accountable for poor outcomes for students -- or outright fraud and abuse, as documented at many Corinthian campuses. The agency's potential return has likewise been seen by many as evidence of a more lax approach to the sector by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos -- or a more fair one, as critics of the previous administration view it.

After the decision by District Court Judge Reggie Walton, the Department of Education will be tasked with reviewing additional documents that the judge found were improperly overlooked in 2016. And the order issued by DeVos last week laid out additional details for that review process that will mean the accreditor must meet fewer requirements before accreditation is restored.

But some higher education observers believe that even if the department ultimately restores the accreditor’s recognition, it won’t be around for the long haul. That skepticism is due to the number of colleges that have already made moves to depart ACICS and to the damage the accreditor's brand has sustained as regulators have scrutinized its failures in oversight.

“I think that ACICS is too far gone at this point,” said Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor higher education at Seton Hall University who studies education finance and accountability.

Kelchen said ACICS will not only have to persuade colleges to stop leaving for other accreditors -- it will have to attract new schools. The loss of membership dues from institutions that have already departed will have long-term consequences for the organization’s financial health, he said.

After its recent troubles with the federal government, some institutions seeking accreditation may also be scared off by uncertainty surrounding ACICS, Kelchen said.

“I don’t see colleges being willing to take that risk at this point,” he said.

A February analysis from the Center for American Progress found that just 19 institutions accredited by ACICS had not taken any steps to be recognized by another accreditor. Twenty-six had already been approved elsewhere and another 118 are somewhere in the process of review by a new accreditor but haven’t gotten full approval.

A handful of institutions are also in the process of being acquired via merger by already accredited higher ed institutions.

The order issued by DeVos last week said the department would review the status of ACICS based on its original 2016 application for renewal, rather than its 2017 appeal of the department’s decision. That means a less strenuous process with fewer requirements to be recognized. The DeVos order also threw out an 18-month timeline originally set by the department for other ACICS institutions to find recognition elsewhere before they lose access to federal aid.

Michale McComis, executive director of the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, said his organization expected to process 95 percent of applications from former ACICS schools by the original June deadline to maintain Title IV eligibility.

After its fellow accreditor originally lost federal recognition, ACCSC added substantial resources in anticipation of a number of programs hoping to be recognized. His organization’s primary interest, McComis said, was ensuring that access to Title IV federal aid wasn’t interrupted for the thousands of students enrolled in those programs.

“We weren’t looking to accommodate the schools,” he said. “Students were the primary consideration.”

There is a large overlap between the kinds of colleges overseen by both accreditors -- including many career programs training students for jobs like medical assistant or dental hygienist. And McComis said that applications from former ACICS schools have been treated the same as those from anywhere else.

The review process has ranged widely for each program, he said. Some sailed through to approval while others have had final decisions deferred until they can meet additional benchmarks. The process also involved a fair number of rejections in a prescreening process, McComis said. Those that failed to advance past that stage were typically either under investigation or sanction by regulators or had stressed financial conditions.

He said “just a couple” institutions had notified ACCSC since DeVos issued her order that they would not continue with the accreditation process.

Trace Urdan, an analyst who follows the for-profit education sector at Tyton Partners, said he thinks it’s unlikely that more colleges abandon the process of accreditation elsewhere to stick with ACICS. That’s in large part because it’s not in those colleges’ competitive interest to do so, he said, as rival institutions have used their struggles at the federal level for negative recruiting purposes.

“They’ll use that when they’re talking to prospective students who may be looking at an ACICS school,” he said. “They have political and regulatory risk that could resurface in the event an administration changes.”

If ACICS is forced to raise its standards to get restored recognition, he said, that would also erase any advantage from sticking with them over another oversight body with a stronger reputation, Urdan said. The court ruling and decision from DeVos are basically a reprieve for colleges still recognized by the accreditor, he said.

But Antoinette Flores, a senior analyst of postsecondary education policy at the Center for American Progress, said it’s too soon to count the accreditor out.

Although only a handful of institutions haven’t yet applied elsewhere, there are well over 100 colleges that have not yet been approved by other oversight bodies, she said.

“It’s not certain that they would be approved by another accrediting agency,” Flores said.

Another point in ACICS’s long-term favor, she said, is that a number of institutions it oversees don’t receive Title IV funds. That means their revenue isn’t affected by their accreditation status -- and they will continue to pay membership dues to the organization.

Flores said the uncertainty surrounding ACICS thanks to the long battle to sustain its federal recognition makes it likely that many schools will continue pursuing accreditation elsewhere. But there are realistically a fair number of schools that won’t meet the requirements elsewhere, she said.

Some of those colleges may see fewer incentives for seriously improving on standards if the accreditor sticks around, Flores said.

“The urgency has gone away,” she said.

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Inside Higher Ed - Fri, 04/13/2018 - 00:00
  • Cooper Union: Martha Nussbaum, the Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago.
  • Edinboro University, in Pennsylvania: Xavier Williams, an executive at AT&T.
  • Lesley University: U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren.
  • Linfield College: Susan D. Hyde, a professor of political science at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Mount Holyoke College: Representative Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Saint Anselm College, in New Hampshire: Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, archbishop of Boston.
  • Saint Michael's College, in Vermont: New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu.
  • Thomas Aquinas College: The Reverend Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, Wis.
  • University of Arizona: Ray Mabus, former governor of Mississippi.
  • Wells College: Christin Schaaf, senior global learning consultant at Cargill.
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Chronicle of Higher Education: The 5 Types of Professors: Which One Are You?

A study classifies faculty members based on the time they devote to research, teaching, and service.