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Tuition freeze raises Purdue's profile -- at what cost?

15 hours 49 min ago

A high-profile multiyear tuition freeze has catapulted Purdue University to the top of many observers’ lists of well-managed public universities, casting President Mitch Daniels as a budget cutter without peer.

Bloomberg Businessweek last December summed up public sentiment, asking, "Can Mitchonomics Fix the Broken Business of Higher Ed?"

The university is understandably proud -- it even created a page on its website to crow about media coverage of the feat.

Last week Daniels said the tuition freeze, which began upon his arrival in 2013, will stretch into the 2019-20 academic year, meaning that at his planned departure from the renowned land-grant university in June 2020, Daniels will be able to boast that he never raised in-state tuition -- period.

But the move has also led Purdue to focus more on serving students from outside Indiana and pushed academic departments to consider difficult cuts.

Tuition freezes are often derided as short-term budgeting gimmicks that ultimately force institutions to raise tuition or severely trim offerings. For five years now, Purdue seems to have largely avoided the first fate. Whether it escapes future cutbacks is an open question, but Daniels's ability to enact and sell the idea has even skeptics curious about the outcome.

“People think there’s some voodoo in here. There’s not.”
-- Mitch Daniels, Purdue's president

Holding tuition flat since 2013 has raised the land-grant university’s profile and helped it grow: undergraduate applications and enrollment, graduation rates and several other key indicators have risen, in a few cases to record levels. Since Daniels arrived, enrollment on its flagship West Lafayette campus has grown to 41,573, up about 7 percent since 2013.

Last fall, Purdue’s in-state tuition clocked in at just under $10,000 -- $9,992, to be precise, after Daniels eliminated a $10 gym fee that was bugging him.

In the real world, students are paying less, the university said: adding up tuition, fees, books and living expenses, Purdue's actual sticker price last fall dropped to $22,812, down from $23,242 in 2013. Since the freeze went into effect, Purdue students and their families have saved more than $400 million, according to the university. Purdue did not immediately respond to a request to provide its discount rate.

But even as enrollment has grown, Purdue has enrolled fewer students from Indiana in West Lafayette: last fall, about 600 fewer Indiana students showed up than in 2013, a 3 percent drop. Meanwhile, the number of students from nearly every other state rose. Over all, out-of-state student enrollment has risen 34 percent since 2013. The percentage of California students, for instance, is up 65 percent since 2013 to nearly 1,500, according to a university database.

Out-of-state tuition last fall stood at $28,794, also frozen at 2013 levels.

Meanwhile, Purdue enrolled more than 9,100 students from about 125 countries other than the U.S., including nearly 3,700 students from China and about 2,000 from India, according to Purdue data. International students made up about 22 percent of enrollment. About 46 percent of international students are graduate students.

International tuition last fall stood at $30,954, more than three times what Purdue charges Indiana students and slightly higher than in 2013.

In all, Indiana residents accounted for just under 47 percent of students in West Lafayette last fall, according to university figures.

By contrast, about 51 percent of students at the Indiana University system's flagship Bloomington campus last fall hailed from within Indiana, according to university statistics. About 18 percent were from outside the United States.

David H. Feldman, an economics professor at the College of William & Mary who studies the economics of higher education, said Virginia caps the college's out-of-state enrollment at 35 percent. Other big Midwestern flagship universities, he said, have also added out-of-state students. "Purdue just has done it a bit more intensely. That generates extra revenue. What you do with that revenue is a choice."

Purdue has chosen to "freeze list price," he said. "Other schools have chosen to make tuition completely free for certain income ranges."

In an interview, Daniels predicted that as much as 54 percent of the incoming freshman class this fall would be Indiana residents, and that going forward, Purdue will actually lower its percentage of international students.

“We are educating more Hoosier students -- significantly more,” he said.

The university maintains that a more accurate way to look at Purdue’s demographics -- and its demographic strategy -- is to analyze the recent freshman class, which included 627 more Indiana students than in 2013, despite the fact that Indiana’s high school graduating class has remained fairly flat. In the five years before Daniels’s arrival, from 2009 to 2013, the university noted, the number of Hoosiers in the freshman class dropped by 355.

Daniels has earned high marks for finding waste and cutting it by implementing better procurement systems, more financial transparency and a less costly health-care plan, among other changes. He has insisted on “budget targets based on reality,” he said.

“People think there’s some voodoo in here. There’s not.”

But he said much of the trimming has been hidden from view. Daniels used a butcher’s metaphor, noting, “The fat is marbled through the animal -- you look in vain for too many great big strokes. There may be a few -- the health-care plan was one -- but mainly it’s the accumulation of small economies, and that comes just from putting our students and their families at the top of our list. It’s not more complicated than that.”

David Sanders, an associate professor of biology and immediate past chair of Purdue’s University Senate, said the tuition freeze has been popular with students and their families.

“I speak with a lot of them,” he said. “They’re very happy. They’ve saved thousands of dollars.”

He applauded Daniels’s ability to keep housing and meal costs down, saying the former Indiana governor and one-time director of the federal Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush “was able to make that a more efficient, more economical enterprise.”

And Sanders, who is also a West Lafayette, Ind., city councilor, said the tuition freeze has likely attracted a larger number of talented students.

He actually applauds the rise in out-of-state and international enrollment.

“Bringing outside students can potentially enhance the experience for our Indiana students,” Sanders said. “We’re in a global marketplace. We’re more than just a state university. We’re one of the top science and engineering universities in the country.”

Most students, he said, are in favor of the freeze, but many faculty and staff members are “largely resigned to these straitened circumstances.”

The freeze has meant higher health-care costs, he said, though the university said employees now pay lower premiums. For the first time, it said, Purdue has added dental insurance and autism coverage. Purdue projects that employees will pay just 25.9 percent of health-care costs this year versus 31.7 percent in 2014, but Daniels didn’t immediately have information on whether co-payments or other out-of-pocket costs are going up.

Sanders also said the freeze has contributed to tightened revenue for instruction, pitting department against department. “It’s become a less collegial place,” he said. It has also pressured instructors to eliminate small classes that hew closely to students’ interests. “If you don’t know they weren’t there, you don’t miss them,” he said.

In a few cases, professors have been forced to forgo teaching assistants. As a result, he said, they must often rely on more rudimentary assessments, among other measures.

And Purdue’s rise in enrollment has affected student life, he said, forcing resident assistants to share rooms -- a move that compromises student privacy and makes fraught conversations with troubled students more difficult.

In general, Sanders said, he wishes Daniels would match his budget-cutting skills with more forceful advocacy for funding from state lawmakers.

“The revenue from the state is just not keeping pace with historic contributions,” he said. “I wish our president, who is the former governor, would be a stronger advocate for us with the state Legislature. I think he and potentially our Board of Trustees also do not feel like it is an important part of his tenure at Purdue.”

Actually, Daniels, who disagrees with most of Sanders's criticisms, might agree on that last point. He said leaders of many public universities are “too quick to assign all [their] financial difficulties to state authorities.”

When he addresses lawmakers every two years, he vows to operate Purdue “within whatever you deem an appropriate level.”

Feldman, the William & Mary economics professor, said Daniels’s tuition freeze is “clearly not a parlor trick. The question is whether this is truly sustainable and there are predictable consequences five years from now.”

He added, “Obviously you can hold costs constant, but you can’t hold quality constant unless you have discovered the secret sauce” of cutting systemic waste.

The university noted that it has added 52 tenured or tenure-track positions since 2013, and that faculty over all have received 11 percent merit pay raises since 2016.

Daniels actually balked at the “Mitchonomics” question, which asks whether his approach holds the secret to fixing “the broken business of higher ed.” He admitted that he’s “very shy” about the experiment’s larger implications.

“We’re just simply trying to do what we think is right for this institution,” he said.

But Purdue’s Board of Trustees clearly believes in Mitchonomics. On Tuesday it extended Daniels’s employment agreement, allowing him to stick around “until such time either party gives one year's notice.” In a statement, board chair Mike Berghoff said Daniels “is enhancing the reputation of Purdue nationally and worldwide through leadership and a steady stream of successful initiatives and innovations.”

William & Mary’s Feldman suggested that observers stay tuned.

“The question is: Once he’s gone, is it possible there will be a small explosion as all the pent-up needs finally bubble up to the surface and get addressed?”

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Editor of prestigious political science journal uses website to deny harassment allegations

15 hours 49 min ago

The American Journal of Political Science is of one of the field’s most esteemed publications. So visitors to the journal’s main webpage were everything from incredulous to irate about what they saw there earlier this week: instead of just political science news, editor William G. Jacoby had posted a message denying the sexual harassment allegations he’s facing.

“It is apparently widely known that allegations related to sexual harassment have been made against me,” began the editorial note from Jacoby, a professor of political science at Michigan State University. “The allegations are untrue. I never engaged in the behaviors described in the allegations.”

Jacoby also used the highly visible space to announce that he’d be stepping down as editor of the journal at the end of December, of his own accord but due to “circumstances.”

In so doing, he continued to refute the allegations. While he is cooperating with several ongoing investigations into his conduct, he said, the charges are not going away, “despite their false nature.” Therefore, Jacoby wrote, “I do not want any questions about me as an individual (rather than as a scholar or editor) -- unfounded as these questions are -- to have any detrimental impact on the incredible, great things that have been accomplished at the journal so far.”

Jacoby’s public troubles began in January, when Rebecca Gill -- a former student of his who is now an associate professor of political science at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas -- shared a personal account of harassment during a mentoring panel at the Southern Political Science Association and on social media. A professor once asked Gill to have an affair, she said, making her doubt if he’d ever actually been interested in her graduate work at all.

Gill did not mention Jacoby by name and told Inside Higher Ed at the time that her main motivation in speaking out was to help faculty mentors and students understand how harassment can contribute to impostor syndrome. That’s the feeling -- common among graduate students -- that one doesn’t belong or hasn’t earned the right to be in a certain setting.

Followers of Gill’s story soon named Jacoby in discussions online and off, however. After hearing from at least one other complainant who was encouraged to come forward by Gill’s account, the Midwestern Political Science Association -- of which the journal is an official publication -- eventually hired an investigator.

The association said in a recent, now-deleted statement on its own website that the investigation of Jacoby is complete, but its governing council was unable to reach a consensus about what to do about the findings. So instead of any announcing any conclusion, it said it had accepted Jacoby’s resignation while agreeing to let him remain editor during a transition period, through the end of the year. Alternative arrangements could be made for anyone who did not wish to work with Jacoby as editor, it said.

Many association members nevertheless objected publicly and in private emails to the association, saying it was unacceptable to retain Jacoby as a gatekeeper for one of political science's top journals while it remained unclear whether he had harassed women in his field. Reasonable doubt existed as to whether or not he could be impartial to his accusers and their allies, they also said.

We request transparency and a response from MPSA leadership.

-- MPSA Women's Caucus (@mwcps_tweets) April 18, 2018

Powerful Platform, Personal Message

In the interim, on Tuesday evening, Jacoby published his note in the editor’s space on the journal’s landing page. In his telling, the Midwest association “conducted an investigation which I believe has been completed. Theirs is internal and I have been told that no report will be issued.”

Jacoby said he also reported the initial allegation -- presumably Gill’s -- to the appropriate authorities at Midwest, Michigan State and the University of Michigan, where the incident is alleged to have occurred during a Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research summer institute.

Michigan State’s investigation is ongoing, Jacoby said, as is Michigan’s, "although I have not yet been contacted about it.”

Jacoby’s statement didn’t stay up long -- he removed it Wednesday morning and replaced it with a short apology, saying he was “merely trying to explain the course of action that I planned to follow.”

But it was visible long enough to earn him and the association furious rebuke online, with many commenters saying that Jacoby used his continued position of power to assail his accusers’ credibility, effectively retaliating against and harassing them further.

1)…reinforces the power dynamic that harassers thrive on. HE has the power to place his claim on the front page of one of the top journals in political science. HIS ACCUSERS do not.

-- Mirya Holman (@prof_mirya) April 18, 2018

1) Journal editor accused of multiple instances of harassment.

2) Journal editor gets to publish denial IN HIS JOURNAL

3) Accusers did not. Duh.


-- Prof Dynarski (@dynarski) April 18, 2018

Jacoby’s clear abuse of his platform erases any doubt that he must be fired immediately. The damage of him remaining far exceeds any reasonable concerns about potential disruption to the journal.

-- Nathan Kalmoe (@NathanKalmoe) April 18, 2018

I suspect that some men don't feel Jacoby did anything wrong by declaring his innocence on the AJPS website, but his actions highlight subtle ways that power is wielded by the powerful: He has access to that prestigious outlet, but his accusers don't. That's how inequality works.

-- Steven White (@notstevenwhite) April 18, 2018

As a former co-editor of the American Political Science Review, but speaking as an individual, I condemn in the strongest possible terms William Jacoby's statement today on the AJPS website.

-- Michael Chwe (@michael_chwe) April 18, 2018

Kathleen Dolan, distinguished professor and chair in the department of political science at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Jennifer Lawless, a professor of government at American University, co-wrote a letter that was signed by 85 scholars last week, asking the association to terminate Jacoby’s editorship, effective immediately.

On Wednesday they announced their resignations from the organization. Lawless also resigned as a newly elected council member.

Jacoby “used the venue to defend himself, undermine the women who accused him, and send a clear signal that his editorial discretion has been severely compromised,” they said. “Although that letter has since been taken down, the fact that it was posted at all epitomizes the problem of allowing him to remain at the journal’s helm.”

Numerous other members have indicated online that they, too, plan to resign from the association.

A spokesperson for the association said Wednesday via email that Jacoby’s note “was not authorized by MPSA and doesn't represent the position of the organization or its members. We regret any offense that Jacoby's action in posting that notice may have caused.”

Any further response will be decided at an emergency council meeting at the end of the week, the spokesperson said.

Elisabeth Gerber, president of the association and Jack L. Walker Jr. Professor of Public Policy at Michigan, addressed the matter in a separate statement Wednesday, saying the emergency meeting had been scheduled due to the “firestorm” over Jacoby.

Regarding Jacoby’s post, Gerber said that the association is ultimately responsible for overseeing the journal but “not involved in any of the operations or editorial decisions.” While association officers may not act on such matters without the approval of the council, she said, they asked Jacoby to “suspend all editorial operations until the council can take formal action later this week" and he agreed.

“We regret any harm this temporary action may cause to submitting authors and intend for this suspension to last only a few days until an interim editor is in place,” Gerber added.

Jacoby told Inside Higher Ed via email that the two sets of public allegations against him "are being considered in an investigation and I cannot comment in detail, other than to say that I deny both sets of allegations and have presented to investigators evidence in support of my denial. Beyond that, I have to respect the investigative process and withhold further comment."

Filling the Void

Gill said Wednesday that she was “gobsmacked” by Jacoby’s note, but felt that “the way the MPSA handled this, it was obviously an option as to what could happen.”

Beyond Jacoby, Gill said the bigger question going forward is “how we want to organize ourselves as a discipline and what kinds of behaviors we’re going to tolerate.” For example, she said, “Do we want to treat editing a journal as a right that certain people have, or as a privilege, a service that people do for their discipline?”

Gill said she has become aware of a third Jacoby accuser, via a university investigator. That could not be immediately confirmed. But in an interview Wednesday, Valerie Sulfaro, a professor of political science at James Madison University, said she was the second accuser and that she'd shared her account of harassment with Michigan, Michigan State and, again, the association.

Sulfaro said she engaged in a consensual relationship with Jacoby when she was a 23-year-old graduate student at the University of South Carolina and he was a professor there (they allegedly continued their relationship at the same summer institute at Michigan that Gill attended).

She explained that she used the term "consensual" loosely, in that Jacoby -- the only specialist in her subfield on campus -- propositioned her in 1991 after developing a close academic connection with her, and she did not turn him down. He said he was “laying his cards on the table,” that he knew she’d been sending him “signals,” and then he kissed her in her office with the door shut, she said. The relationship allegedly continued for several years, with many awkward moments -- including Jacoby criticizing other men Sulfaro dated and for not acting appropriately happy in front of his wife.

Several years later, in 1996, Sulfaro encountered Jacoby at a Midwest meeting, she said. He allegedly offered her nude pictures of himself on a computer disc and became angry when she rejected them. He also kissed her without her consent at a later Midwest meeting during a discussion in a hotel room, she said.

Sulfaro said she confided in others on campus around the time of the relationship but didn’t file a formal complaint until she heard about Gill’s case.

Reading Jacoby’s post was a reminder of the dynamic of their relationship, she said, blaming the Midwest association for granting him the space to assert she's a liar.

“An absence of a summary [of findings] does not mean he’s been exonerated," Sulfaro said. "But he saw the void and stepped into it."

Lawless said Wednesday that she’s been involved with both the association since graduate school and has published in a reviewed papers for the journal. She’s therefore “deeply disappointed that we’ve reached this place,” she said. Yet she would consider rejoining the association if Jacoby were removed and the council took “steps to correct their missteps.”

“Little bandages and a less than heartfelt mea culpa, however, won’t be sufficient,” she said.

Regarding the broader academic Me Too movement, Lawless said the situation demonstrates there’s still “a lot of work to do.”

“I would have thought that the movement had taken sufficient hold outside of political science that we wouldn’t have to work so hard to convince people in positions of authority to do what seems so basic and decent” and typical in other industries, she said. “That’s not the case, but there’s no shortage of people willing and ready to work for change.”

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Campus police officers only in some cases equipped to deal with mental health crises, experts say

15 hours 49 min ago

During a Harvard University student’s arrest by Cambridge police for running down a street naked last week, he was tackled and punched repeatedly in the stomach, an act the institution’s president and other local officials deemed “disturbing.”

It’s one in a series of incidents over the last seven months in which the public has questioned police officers’ use of force against college students who may have mental health issues. While the incidents differ, many students on the affected campuses have been alarmed by the way police treated those students.

In September, a suicidal Georgia Tech student was shot dead by a campus police officer who hadn’t completed required crisis training. The shooting led to riots and student demands for more investment in mental health services. And earlier this month, a University of Chicago officer shot and wounded a student who was having a psychotic episode.

While experts say college and university law enforcement personnel are generally being trained well and are equipped to handle such emergencies, they stressed that not enough money and time has been spent on helping students before they reach a point in which police would need to intervene.

Campus police widely are learning to de-escalate such scenarios, but students in those circumstances can be unpredictable and out of control, said Alexa James, executive director of the Chicago branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“Mental health science and symptoms can be demonstrated through behaviors that are often mistaken by criminal behaviors,” James said. “When students come in contact with police, there is the opportunity for tragedy, which is why it is so critically important that they feel well trained.”

Ideally, university police forces would be trained with a deep 40-hour program called the Memphis model, in which they’re taught how to ease the stress of a student experiencing a mental health break, James said. Developed by the University of Memphis’s Crisis Intervention Team Center, the training introduces cops to victims of mental health crises. The Atlantic reported that officers trained in this method are much less likely to use force when dealing with people with mental health problems.

James said after the training, officers report being “forever changed” in how they police. Breaking down the stigma of mental health problems and no longer demonizing these people is effective, she said -- but not every department can afford to take their officers off the streets for a full workweek.

The professional organization for campus police forces, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators, has recently tried to help on this front. It’s sponsoring a mental health training for law enforcement -- a day-and-half-long session, said Josh Bronson, IACLEA's director of training.

At the University of Chicago, about 85 percent of the officers -- including the officer involved in the recent shooting -- have completed the 40-hour crisis intervention training, said spokesman Marielle Sainvilus. The institution intends to train all its officers, Sainvilus said.

The 21-year-old student, Charles Thomas, suffered a broken shoulder blade and a collapsed lung when the officer shot him -- his family said he likely was having a psychiatric episode. Thomas was holding a metal stake when he faced the officer in an alley -- the officer attempted to back up, but Thomas kept advancing. He had smashed parts of several cars and a glass apartment door.

In the case of the Georgia Tech shooting, the student, Scout Schultz, was simply holding a pocketknife, but it was not extended.

Schultz had left a suicide note and then called police to make a false report of a suspicious person skulking around campus with a weapon. Video reveals Schultz screaming, “Shoot me,” to the officers. It was later revealed that the officer who shot Schultz hadn’t finished his mental health training.

At the time, the university’s critics questioned why Georgia Tech hadn’t equipped the officers with stun guns. The University of Chicago’s department -- like most campus police forces -- also doesn’t use Tasers.

Georgia Tech did not provide a comment in time for publication.

While police aren’t always perfect in handling situations, they have improved in identifying when someone might be experiencing a mental health problem versus a drug or alcohol overdose, said Sue Riseling, IACLEA executive director.

Ten years ago, officers wouldn’t know how to react to a person with autism, for instance, but now they learn to work in hushed ways with a student on the spectrum, Riseling said. Instead of screaming commands, an officer might sit down with the student and talk softly.

This is standard practice with any student who is having an unstable moment -- removing stimuli, such as other loud people in the area, and using direct, respectful verbal commands.

“University police departments are very open to learning, and officers are usually very engaged in what’s new and what’s the best way to do things,” Riseling said.

Crisis intervention training -- the Memphis model -- emerged in the late 1980s but didn’t “start running through the country’s veins” until a few years back, said James.

IACLEA stresses in its training partnering with campus counseling centers and other administrators, Bronson said. He recalled an incident about five years ago when he was employed as an officer at McDaniel College, a private institution in Maryland.

A student was publicly shrieking profanities and threats. When Bronson approached him using the established techniques, he was able to quiet the student and then call a counselor with whom he was on good terms to handle the situation. Working with counseling centers closely, particularly on issues of sexual assault, can help establish this relationship, Bronson said.

But counseling centers nationwide are overburdened, and more students are relying on their services, research shows.

Police should be part of the team of people who can help students who have experienced a mental health crisis, said Lisa Adams, director of counseling at the University of West Georgia and the president of the American College Counseling Association.

She said she did not agree with police knowing the students by name, but being in the loop and understanding their backgrounds in an emergency.

“Counselors are trying to underreact, to be calm, to create an environment that even when the client world’s is spinning out of control, that there is a peaceful place,” Adams said. “Police officers are trying to react quickly to de-escalate. There is a disconnect in how we approach situations, but there are cases we overlap very well.”

James, of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, in an opinion piece in the Chicago Tribune wrote that police should not be the safety net in a mental health crisis, but that politicians and other decision makers have poured money not into mental health treatment but into paying for better police training.

In an interview, she described how even an officer’s presence can unnerve a student, and so putting that student at ease could prove more difficult.

“Mental health illness should be addressed with the same forthright courage we now afford cancer,” James wrote. “In a better world, we would not talk about mental health only after crises. Until then, the harsh reality is that the system worked as designed.”

An emerging trend is a trained crisis officer accompanying a social worker to a scene, said Bronson. The two work in concert to help an individual who is experiencing a psychotic break -- but this can be pricey.

“There’s always room for people to look at what officers are doing, and scrutinize us, and there’s always room to improve,” he said.

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Study examines the research that never receives a citation

15 hours 49 min ago

Academics publishing in particular fields of chemistry or neuroscience are virtually guaranteed to be cited after five years, but more than three-quarters of papers in literary theory or the performing arts will still be waiting for a single citation.

These vast differences in the rates of work going uncited in different disciplines have emerged from an analysis of bibliometric data from Elsevier’s Scopus database by Billy Wong of Times Higher Education’s data team.

According to the analysis, which looked at disciplines in which at least 10,000 pieces of research were published between 2012 and 2016, almost 77 percent of publications from 2012 in the visual and performing arts were still uncited by 2017.

In literature and literary theory, the share was 75 percent, while in the professional health area of pharmacy (rather than pharmaceutical research) it was 70 percent, and in architecture it was 69 percent.

Most of the subjects with the highest rates of uncited research over the period were in the arts and humanities, with major disciplines such as philosophy and history having more than half of research without a single citation several years later.

However, some science, technology, engineering and math subjects also had relatively high rates of uncited work: in industrial and manufacturing engineering, for instance, 44 percent of 2012 publications were still uncited, while automotive, aerospace and ocean engineering all had uncited rates above 40 percent.

At the other end of the scale, just 3 percent of 2012 papers published in the catalysis subfield of chemical engineering or in colloid and surface chemistry were still uncited at the end of the period. In these fields, almost half of scholarship published in 2016 had already garnered a citation.

For researchers in different disciplines, the huge variation simply demonstrates how citation culture can differ between subjects, rather than being evidence that there is a problem with the quality of research in certain fields.

Marco Caracciolo, assistant professor of English and literary theory at Ghent University, who received the most citations in the subject between 2012 and 2016, according to Scopus data, said that the reasons behind the high share of uncited work in the discipline were “likely to be quite complex.”

For instance, monographs and book chapters “carry a lot of weight in this area of the humanities” and it was much more likely that these -- rather than any journal article that first expressed an idea -- would be cited.

“The general expectation is that articles pave the way for monographs, which will contain the ‘final’ version of an argument -- not the other way around,” said Caracciolo.

He added that the citation culture was also different for scholars on the more theoretical side of literary theory. Here, citation “works by signaling affiliation with a certain movement or theoretical trend.”

“Scholars position their approach not through a comprehensive literature review but by way of strategic citations -- which may result in a relatively small number of highly influential publications (typically in book form) receiving the vast majority of citations,” Caracciolo said.

“This is quite different from what happens in the sciences, where the logic would appear to be more incremental,” he said, adding that his own citation rate could be higher because of his primary field of narrative theory having “a more science-like logic.”

Harriet Barnes, head of higher education policy at the British Academy, also emphasized that “different disciplines will publish and cite research in different ways.”

She said that “for many disciplines in the humanities and social sciences, five years is not enough time to capture the use and impact of research. Some research will have a very long shelf life and continue to have considerable impact for 10 years or more.”

Of course, low-quality research still may exist. The results of peer-review exercises such as the research excellence framework, for instance, suggest that plenty of scholarship is deemed to be of a lower standard.

However, academics question the usefulness of uncited rates as a way to measure quality between disciplines. Even in STEM subjects, the rate of uncited work may be influenced by discipline-specific factors.

Frede Blaabjerg, a highly cited academic in the field of industrial and manufacturing engineering and a professor at Aalborg University in Denmark, said that in engineering there was often a “focus on making artifacts, detailed testing and also bringing that into real application -- that takes time and publication is not first priority.”

Different subdisciplines of engineering were also quite narrow, he added, meaning that there may be a “relatively low volume of researchers who can cite a paper.”

Blaabjerg said that many areas of engineering were also driven by conferences “in order to present things fast and first,” and papers submitted to such events may not be cited in quite the same way.

This is a point that tallies with the data analysis if conference papers are removed and only original or review articles are counted. In this case, industrial and manufacturing engineering has a much lower uncited rate for 2012 papers -- 29 percent -- while the engineering subdiscipline with the highest rate becomes aerospace engineering (30 percent).

Naturally, the uncited rate falls across most subjects once conference papers and other publications less likely to receive citations, such as editorials, are removed.

However, even with this approach -- which is one that has been favored in other recent attempts to quantify rates of uncited scholarship -- there are still 12 disciplines, again mainly in the arts and humanities, in which more than half of papers were uncited after five years.

Even with the caveats about the citation patterns seen in different disciplines, there is a danger that such figures could be seized upon by those wanting to question the value of publicly funded research.

Certainly, funders are wary of this possibility. Recent moves such as the decision of Britain's research councils to back an international declaration on the responsible use of metrics suggest a wider drive to represent impact as more than just citation counts.

“The research community is growing ever more conscious about the limits of citation metrics as proxies for quality or impact,” said Barnes. “Research impact is often complex and citations alone will not tell the full story that the effect a piece of research has on academia and on wider society.”

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Roundup of colleges starting or finishing fund-raising campaigns

15 hours 49 min ago

Starting Off

  • Amherst College has launched a campaign to raise $625 million over the next five years. More than $333 million has already been raised. Major goals include student aid, faculty support and improved science facilities.
  • California State University at Los Angeles has launched a $75 million campaign, with a goal of finishing by 2022, when the university will mark its 75th anniversary. The campaign is the first for the university, Already, $45 million has been raised.
  • University of La Verne is starting a campaign to raise $125 million by 2021. The university has already raised $82 million. Major goals will include financial aid and funds to attract and retain faculty members.
  • University of Pennsylvania is starting a campaign to raise $4.1 billion by 2021. Student aid and faculty support are major priorities for the campaign. The university has already raised $2.7 billion.

Finishing Up

  • Auburn University has completed a campaign, started in 2008, raising $1.2 billion, more than the $1 billion original goal. The campaign created 2,108 new scholarships for students and 106 new endowed chairs for faculty members.
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President apologizes for not taking a stand against sexist talk

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 00:43

The president of the University of Portland on Tuesday apologized for not doing more when a sexist speech led others to walk out of an awards banquet honoring athletes at the university.

The speech was by a tennis player -- since removed from the university team roster -- who was by the emcee of the event. Multiple press accounts indicate that he focused on his goals as an undergraduate of having sex with white women, and that he used explicit, degrading language to describe these goals. The speaker focused on his experience as one whose parents moved to the United States from India, and talked about how this shaped his desire to sleep with white women.

Some female athletes and university officials were so angered that they walked out. But the president remained. An initial university statement condemned the speech. But the president -- the Rev. Mark L. Poorman -- issued a new statement on Tuesday in which he apologized for not doing more.

As word of the incident spread on campus, Father Poorman sent an email that condemned the talk, but seemed to offer an explanation for why he stayed put during the talk. "These offensive statements do not reflect us, and they do not reflect our mission," he wrote. "This important tradition was the purpose of the evening, and I did not want what happened on stage to take away from the recognition of others in attendance. I apologize to all of you that this occurred."

But on Tuesday he issued a new statement.

"As president, I was in a unique position to stop the proceedings, and I should have done more. I am deeply sorry for what happened and for what should have happened, but did not," Father Poorman wrote.

He added: "In a community where we work so hard to ensure all members feel safe and respected, sometimes it is through experiencing events like this firsthand that we can truly learn. Sometimes we teach our students, and sometimes our students teach us. As members of our community have so eloquently stated, it is our collective duty to stand up and make our voices heard. We cannot afford to remain bystanders. If we see or hear something that violates our standards of conduct, we must speak up, speak out, and ask questions. We all must take responsibility for each other."

Father Poorman added that he has asked university leaders to set up forums for students and others to discuss the incident, and its implications.

The previous day, the Associated Students of the University of Portland issued a statement that condemned as misogynistic and that said students needed to take leadership in tacking issues of sexism and sexual assault on campus.

"Having the courage to do the right thing, to stand up for yourself, for your peers, and for your community in situations similar to what happened last night, is difficult," the statement said. "It is all too easy to watch, to critique, to say how shocked we were. We too often look toward our leaders -- toward the top -- for direction, but in moments like last night, the responsibility to do what is right and just lies with each and every one of us."

An essay in the student newspaper by Olivia Sanchez, a senior at Portland who was at the event as an athlete. She described how she felt unable to remain in the room as the remarks went on and why she walked out.

"Tonight, I had two options. I could stand by and listen to [the speaker] perpetuate rape culture and violence against women, or I could stand up and walk out, and risk coming off as a 'crazy lady' who 'can’t take a joke.'" Sanchez wrote. "I felt trapped. This event was mandatory. I had friends who were being honored. I have woken up at 5:00 in the morning nearly every day of my college career. I have pushed myself physically, mentally and emotionally to achieve success. This night was supposed to be about me. About all of us."

Sanchez's essay noted her appreciation for others who walked out -- including male athletes, not just female athletes. But she noted that the university president "remained seated in the front of the room."

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Federal experiment in nontraditional providers stumbles out of the gate

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 00:00

In October 2015, the Obama administration announced a radical experiment to give low-income students access to boot camps, massive open online courses and other nondegree credentials, mostly from for-profit alternative providers.

The experiment, called Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships (EQUIP), planned to give unaccredited providers access to federal financial aid in a controlled setting. The idea was to see whether these nontraditional providers could deliver "high standards of quality and positive student outcomes" -- conceivably opening the door for them to receive federal funds. The program also aimed to develop new ways of assessing quality in higher education -- potentially providing alternatives to traditional accreditation, Education Department officials hoped.

The program's goals were beyond ambitious -- and so far it has achieved few if any of them, leading even strong supporters to say that it has "floundered." Eight pilot programs were selected in August 2016, but it was not until this month that the first program received final approval to launch -- a year later than expected. And three of the eight programs have dropped out.

“It’s been a slog,” said Marc Singer, vice provost of the Center for the Assessment of Learning at Thomas Edison State University, a participant in one EQUIP project.

Unforeseen Challenges

While it's hard to pinpoint exactly why EQUIP developed so slowly, its ambition and complexity almost certainly have a lot to do with it. Each of the eight programs selected represents a partnership between a traditional university or college, a nontraditional provider, and a quality-assurance entity (QAE). In every case, the partners had to interpret federal rules and guidelines as they went along, and in many cases, the partners had not done similar work before. The Thomas Edison partnership is instructive.

The New Jersey institution is participating in EQUIP with, a for-profit company that offers online courses for college credit, and Quality Matters, a nonprofit organization that sets standards for online learning. Singer is approaching the institution’s participation in EQUIP as a research opportunity. The university focuses on degree completion and already accepts students who have obtained college credit through

Participation in EQUIP will allow the institution to test whether students who have used have comparable knowledge to those who obtained their credit elsewhere. “It’s a way for us to validate what we’ve been doing for a long time,” said Singer.

The process has been more onerous than Singer expected. He praised the work of Quality Matters as the partnership’s quality assurer. “They have been very clear on what the goals should be,” he said. “They hold us to high standards.” Those high standards take time, however. Quality Matters has evaluated’s courses, and it has taken time for to respond to feedback. Additionally, the university has had to “make a lot of changes to our processes” to enable it to distribute financial aid to students taking courses at

“We had to modify our systems, fill out forms for Title IV purposes, and we had to spend time getting approval from our regional accreditor, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education -- which seemed odd because the feds already approved it,” said Singer.

There was also a clarification of the rules just a few months ago that caused a substantial setback, said Singer. operates a subscription model that enables students to take as much time to complete courses as they need, but the Department of Education decided that in order to qualify for financial aid, all courses must have a beginning and end date. “ hadn’t done that before, and we didn’t go in thinking they would have to. In fact, one of the advantages for me was to see if a non-term-based approach would work,” said Singer. “It took some time to figure that out.”

While Thomas Edison is still pending approval to launch its pilot, one program has already been given the green light by the Department of Education. Students at Brookhaven College, which is part of the Dallas County Community College District, will soon be able to complete more than 50 percent of their course work for an online associate degree through StraighterLine -- a for-profit online course provider. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation will be the quality-assurance entity.

Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine, said the launch of the pilot allows the partnership to recruit up to 600 students to start this August. Though he hopes the offering will be popular, Smith notes that there is some risk. Two of the features that make StraighterLine popular with students -- the subscription pricing model and the ability to start classes at any time -- won’t be possible under the financial aid rules. As with, it took StraighterLine some time to work out how to implement this change.

As a safeguard, StraighterLine will ask students to complete a free trial course for credit before they can start using financial aid. “This should ensure that the Title IV funding is used appropriately. It will also identify students who might be better suited to a different program,” said Smith.

EQUIP is a significant recognition of companies like StraighterLine by the Department of Education, said Smith. “It’s an acknowledgment that alternative providers have business models that should be subsidized like traditional colleges,” he said. “But how that happens remains an open question. EQUIP is a first baby step to try and figure it out.”

Currently students pay out of pocket or use credit cards to take StraighterLine courses, said Smith. “The financial aid pathway expands the potential for students to take advantage of our services.” StraighterLine courses start at $59, with a monthly $99 subscription fee.

The Ones that Got Away

Three of the eight programs selected for EQUIP are no longer taking part.

The University of Texas at Austin pulled out due to concerns that it “would not be able to develop the necessary infrastructure for the program within the expected timeline,” a spokesperson said. Sheila Sharbaugh, assistant vice president of academic affairs at Wilmington University, said that her institution withdrew from EQUIP because “we simply chose to go in a different direction.” Colorado State University-Global described its participation in the program as “on hold” but didn’t say why.

An analysis by the education consultancy EAB, published in early 2017, said that many participants in EQUIP were “unclear” about what metrics would be used to determine the success of the program. This lack of guidance made it difficult for both the quality-assurance entities and traditional accreditors to grant approval, the report suggested.

Bethany Little, a principal at the consultancy EducationCounsel, has been working to analyze the early results of EQUIP with the support of the Lumina Foundation. Little has focused on the role of the quality assurers in her research, which is forthcoming.

Little said that the clearest early lesson from EQUIP is that the program has been challenging for the quality-assurance entities, particularly for those that had to design a framework from scratch. Each QAE has developed its own unique set of quality indicators, but none of the quality-assurance approaches are ready to be rolled out at scale.

“I think it’s been harder than anyone expected,” said Little. “Putting in place a structure to judge quality has been challenging. The ones that have gotten the furthest seem to be the ones that are doing things in a much more traditional way.”

Status of the Eight EQUIP Programs Institution Nontraditional provider Quality-assurance entity Type of Program Status Colorado State University Global Campus Guild Education Tyton Partners Certificate in management and leadership fundamentals. Credit can be applied toward bachelor's degree. On hold Dallas County Community College District StraighterLine Council for Higher Education Accreditation Associate's degrees in business or criminal justice Approved Marylhurst University Epicodus Climb Certificate in web and mobile development Pending approval Northeastern University General Electric American Council on Education Bachelor's degree in advanced manufacturing Pending approval State University of New York Flatiron School American National Standards Institute Certificate in web development Pending approval Thomas Edison State University Quality Matters Bachelor's degrees in business administration or liberal studies Pending approval University of Texas at Austin Hack Reactor Entangled Solutions and Moody, Famiglietti & Andronico, LLP Certificate in web development On hold Wilmington University Zip Code Wilmington Hacker Rank Certificate in software development On hold

Split From the Start

Aside from allowing low-income students to access new providers, EQUIP allows universities and colleges to outsource more than 50 percent of their education programs to nonaccredited third-party providers (which currently is prohibited under the Higher Education Act), and it explores new models of quality assurance that would focus more on outcomes than traditional accreditation.

From the outset, EQUIP has been controversial. Some have praised the Department of Education’s willingness to try innovative new models, while others have warned it could be a dangerous loophole that would allow for abuse of government funding.

Writing for Inside Higher Ed in 2016, Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, said that EQUIP had been poorly designed, with “no apparent safeguards against consequences of failed experiments.”

Paul LeBlanc, president of Southern New Hampshire University, helped to design EQUIP while on sabbatical at the Education Department in 2015. LeBlanc said that even within the department, there was a lot of resistance to EQUIP. “There were harsh critics who thought this was opening the door to for-profits and bad actors again, and then there were those, like myself, who thought that the quality assurance mechanisms were very robust.”

Though EQUIP continues to be supported by the Trump administration, and may serve as a model for further distribution of financial aid to nontraditional providers, LeBlanc said he felt the EQUIP experiment had "floundered."

“I think it’s fair to say that when we designed EQUIP, we thought by now the partnerships would be stood up and we would be learning a lot about new ways of doing quality assurance,” said LeBlanc. “It feels like the program just isn’t coming together in the way that we originally hoped.”

LeBlanc said he would like to see an assessment of why EQUIP hasn’t made more progress so that any issues can be addressed and the program expanded. “Or if it’s too broken, then we need another approach.”

There is still a lot of interest in the pieces that EQUIP tried to bring together, said LeBlanc: nontraditional providers, outcomes of competency-based learning and quality assurance.

LeBlanc said he believes higher education is moving toward greater program granularity, with more providers and more ways for students to demonstrate what they know.

"If that’s the big vision," he said, "then we’re going to need more EQUIPs, or something like it, to make sure we get it right."

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University of Maryland removes guide for teaching assistants amid uproar over sexist advice

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 00:00

A guide for teaching assistants in computer science at the University of Maryland at College Park notes that the women in the group may be subject to sexist treatment from male students who may try "to challenge your authority, to trip you up, or (more subtly) to try to compromise your status by flippancy or suggestive remarks."

That female TAs in a traditionally male field may experience sexism is hardly a controversial statement. But the advice on how to deal with such a situation angered many when excerpts from the guide were posted to Twitter Tuesday.

Female TAs were advised to defend themselves in "friendly but firm" ways. While dealing with this kind of sexism can be "annoying," the guide said, "be patient" and the behavior will likely pass.

Male TAs, meanwhile, were advised to be aware that "a few female students" might try to flirt with them for advantage. The men were advised to remember "it's very likely the lure of your position" that is leading to this admiration.

As the tweet that featured the quotes shows, many found the advice sexist, out of date and demeaning.

Straight out of UMD’s handbook for TAs:
Female TAs should expect to have their authority challenged more than males, yet they have to be “patient” and tolerant and constantly have to prove their worth. Why do we accept and normalize this discriminatory behavior?

— annie (@_anniebao) April 16, 2018

As outrage grew on Twitter, the department took down the guide.

Ming C. Lin, the chair, issued this statement: "The TA Handbook posted on the CS website contained highly inappropriate, stereotypical characterizations of women. The handbook has been removed from the site, and we apologize for its offensive contents. While the origin of this handbook is not immediately known, it does not reflect our department’s values or beliefs. We denounce all misogynistic attitudes toward women and will continue to work diligently to provide all students a warm and welcoming environment to learn and succeed."

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A New Jersey community college is investigating a professor who swore at a conservative student who argued that men are sexually harassed, too

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 00:00

Brookdale Community College is investigating a professor of sociology who cursed at a conservative student.

The incident, which was captured on video by a second student and has since been shared online, happened last week during a class on intercultural communication. 

The context of the discussion is unclear from the video. But Howard Finkelstein, the professor, can be heard asking the student, “Did you really take the time to think about how that might impact [inaudible]?” 

When a student asks if Finkelstein wants a real-life example of the topic, the professor says, “No, I’m asking you. Fuck your life.” 



Christopher Lyle, the student, told that he’d angered Finkelstein that class session by insisting that both men and women can be sexually harassed. Beyond last week, Lyle said, Finkelstein routinely seeks to argue with him about his stated conservative political leanings.

"I am being discriminated against at my school because of my beliefs," Lyle said. ”It's a shame."

Finkelstein did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Avis McMillon, a college spokesperson, confirmed that Brookdale is investigating the matter.

“College officials are investigating the allegations made by the student so that we can understand the full context of the incident,” she said via email. “No action will be taken until the investigation is complete.”

Brookdale does not have a policy against recording professors in the classroom, McMillon said. 

Lyle also told that he was pulled out of class by an administrator the day after the recorded discussion, and asked about the fact that he has guns.

McMillon defended that decision, saying that it is in the best interest “of all members of [the] community for the college to do its due diligence when a student or employee mentions firearms during the process of an investigation.” That matter has already been investigated and closed, she said.

One other student has publicly accused Finkelstein of repeatedly calling out Lyle for his political views during class. 

John K. Wilson, an academic freedom expert and co-editor of the American Association of University Professors’ "Academe" blog, said that, in general, a professor “should not have his entire teaching record judged on the worst few seconds of a class taken out of context.” 

Sometimes good professors "say provocative things, or even pound a table, as a teaching technique to get the attention of students," for example, he said. Using the F-word in the classroom “is not unprofessional or deserving of punishment,” Wilson added, and directly confronting the views of students is “not inherently unprofessional," either.

In the Brookdale case, Wilson said, “everyone should be subject to criticism, but no one should be punished for expressing their opinions. If the full context of Finkelstein's comments in this class reveal that he behaved badly — and taught the class badly — then he deserves criticism for it. But we should not be so quick to jump to conclusions from 34 seconds of video taken out of context.”


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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Wed, 04/18/2018 - 00:00


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Universities work to offer complete Wi-Fi coverage on campus

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 00:00

Gaming consoles, tablets, smart speakers, minifridges that text you when you run out of beer -- these are just some of the internet-connected items students are now bringing with them to their residence halls.

Not every device is for entertainment, however -- phones, tablets and laptops might (at least sometimes) get used for academic purposes.

But with so many Wi-Fi-enabled devices, colleges are struggling to keep up with students’ expectation that wireless internet should be free, fast and everywhere.

“We used to hand out a thousand ethernet cables each year; now students don’t need them,” said Christopher Waters, chief information officer at Elon University. The institution is midway through converting all its residence halls to wireless only.

Instead of bringing two or three wireless devices with them to college, students are now bringing eight or nine, said Waters. “When students come to campus, particularly at private institutions, they expect Wi-Fi to be ubiquitous.”

With such high demand for bandwidth, how can institutions avoid scenarios where students trying to work are slowed down by their neighbors playing video games? At Elon, the institution has created two Wi-Fi networks -- one for primary devices like mobile phones and printers, and a second just for smart devices and gaming consoles.

Keeping up with the latest Wi-Fi standards is a constant challenge, said Waters. Elon has tried to update its network in phases as the campus has grown, thinking about what future needs might be. Performing a campuswide upgrade on Elon's 636-acre campus could quickly become an "unwieldy" project, Waters said.

Josh Piddington, vice president and chief information officer at Rowan College at Gloucester County, a community college in New Jersey with a 266-acre campus, said that he had taken a similar approach -- updating Wi-Fi space by space to avoid a campuswide overhaul.

Prior to 2010, Piddington said, Wi-Fi at Rowan was spotty. Now every building has Wi-Fi, but with more students using multiple wireless devices, heavy-traffic areas such as the cafeteria have experienced high demand.

Classrooms, too, have had issues, said Piddington. As more students bring laptops and phones to class, internet speeds go down. The college recently upgraded the Wi-Fi in its nursing auditorium after doubling the size of its nursing class, at a cost of around $3,000 for new wiring and hardware. “As a community college, we negotiate hard on those costs,” he said.

At some of the largest institutions in the country, however, Wi-Fi upgrades can run into millions of dollars. Last week Ohio State University’s Board of Trustees approved a $18.6 million campuswide update.

The project will improve and expand Wi-Fi access across Ohio State's 1,777-acre campus. Inside buildings, the number of wireless access points will increase from 10,000 to 23,000. In outside areas, access points will increase from 32 to 1,000. The upgrade has garnered significant media attention, because it will also bring Wi-Fi to the stands of the Ohio Stadium, which seats over 100,000 fans.

The update is not a case of athletics over academics, stressed Diane Dagefoerde, deputy chief information officer at Ohio State University. “This is a comprehensive strategy. It’s about creating a seamless experience across campus,” she said.

The University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus also embarked on an ambitious multimillion-dollar Wi-Fi upgrade five years ago. The $24.5 million project is now nearing completion. “What we really wanted was wall-to-wall, basement-to-penthouse coverage,” said Andy Palms, executive director of information and technology services infrastructure at Michigan.

The project started with the library, followed by heavily used public spaces, then the rest of the academic, residential and research buildings on campus. Though the focus has been on interior spaces, Palms said it had become clear in the last year that students also want Wi-Fi outside.

The upgrade at Michigan has required meticulous planning. In some areas the wired network had to be extended, and new wireless access points needed new power supplies. Work had to be done with minimum disruption to the campus, and working in heritage buildings (which are numerous at Michigan) was expensive. But the university estimates that it won't need to upgrade the network again for another five years, and next time it will require much less work and cost half as much.

Unlike Ohio State, the University of Michigan doesn’t have any immediate plans to put Wi-Fi in the stands of its stadium. The university has done tests, but they didn’t go very well. Because the stadium is partially underground, with no tiered structure to attach Wi-Fi access points to, the work would be disruptive and expensive -- likely in the range of several million dollars. The Sports Business Journal has reported that many college football stadiums face similar challenges.

Chad Kainz, an educational consulting director and principal strategist at Blackboard, said that it is difficult to talk today about a quality student experience without also considering the digital experience that an institution offers.

“Fifteen to 20 years ago, we were investing in wired networks and ‘ports-per-pillow,’” he said. “Now we don’t talk about ports anymore -- we think about Wi-Fi coverage, wireless bandwidth and equitable access.” He added, “Wi-Fi on campus is as essential as light and water.”

Meeting students’ expectation that they’ll be able to stream Netflix shows or tweet at football games is important from a recruitment perspective, but Kainz notes that Wi-Fi is also essential to many teaching and learning experiences.

Students might have data plans on their phones, but they often don’t have the bandwidth to access the digital content that many of their classes require, said Kainz. “If students and faculty struggle with fundamental access to what they need for learning and teaching, the student experience is adversely impacted and diminished.”

Joretta Nelson, senior vice president at Credo, a higher education consulting firm, said that investments in technology are important to signal to prospective students and their families that an institution is progressive and aware of students’ desires. But she agreed that keeping student learning at the center of investments is vital, particularly if resources are scarce.

Improving the digital learning experience was a key motivation for the Ohio State upgrade, said Dagefoerde. The university recently launched a Digital Flagship initiative that will see each student receiving an iPad Pro that will form an integral part of their learning. “It can’t happen without a robust Wi-Fi network,” said Dagefoerde.

Amy Novak, president of Dakota Wesleyan University, said investments in Wi-Fi at her institution have been driven in part by student survey feedback. Students living in residence halls were asked if they would be willing to give up cable TV subscriptions for better Wi-Fi. Around 90 percent said yes. “I was surprised by the strength of their response,” said Novak.

Like Dagefoerde, Novak said the investments Dakota Wesleyan makes in Wi-Fi are about meeting student expectations, but also adapting to changing pedagogy. Students register their attendance in class via Wi-Fi and take online polls in class. And faculty are working with digital textbooks and communicating with colleagues via Skype. “Wi-Fi is an integral part of our institutional strategy,” said Novak.

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Labor Department answers questions on academic employees and overtime

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 00:00

The Labor Department answered some outstanding questions about academic overtime pay last week, putting such compensation officially out of reach for adjuncts teaching online, among other workers.

The department has already determined that adjuncts who teach face-to-face classes are generally not eligible for overtime. But questions remain about online or remote instructors and postdoctoral fellows who do work other than teaching, for example.

While higher education’s largest association for human resources professionals lauded the guidance, faculty groups said it was more of the same for chronically underpaid part-time instructors.

“I’m not surprised at all,” said Rudy Fichtenbaum, president of the American Association of University Professors and a professor of economics at Wright State University. “This is just a continuation of that rolling back [of protections for workers] and making sure that adjuncts continue to revive the same shitty pay they’ve been getting.”

The federal Fair Labor Standards Act requires that nonexempt employees receive minimum wages, as well as overtime pay for working beyond 40 hours per week. Professors, as historically salaried professionals whose primary work is teaching, are exempt from the act -- meaning they don’t get overtime. Yet many faculty advocates have pointed out that adjuncts now do much of the teaching across academe but lack the benefits and pay typically afforded to their full-time counterparts.

Moreover, faculty advocates say, lawmakers and administrators alike underestimate how much time adjuncts dedicate to teaching by looking at the number of hours they log in the classroom alone. There are papers to grade, student emails to monitor, lectures to prepare, advising and more, all outside classroom hours. Many adjuncts are in fact working “overtime” but not compensated for it.

The Obama administration sought to address some of the criticism of the labor standards act in 2016, not by lifting the controversial teacher exemption but by doubling the salary threshold for the so-called white-collar overtime exemption for executive, administrative and professional workers, to about $47,000 annually or $913 per week. The administration said millions more workers would have been eligible for overtime with the change, but the idea proved controversial with employers -- colleges and universities among them. Many institutions said they wished they could pay their employees more, but that doubling the salary threshold in one leap threatened their financial stability. A federal judge blocked the rule just before it was set to take effect.

New Exemptions

A new overtime rule proposal is expected later this year from the Labor Department. In the meantime, academic institutions and workers continue to have questions about who is eligible for overtime. Some institutions have asked if online instructors or those who work remotely are exempt, based on the teaching exemption. Many have also asked if postdocs who primarily do research or work other than teaching are eligible for overtime, as the Obama-era rule said they were not covered by the teaching exemption. Rather, it said they were professional employees subject to the new salary threshold for exemption from overtime.

To answer such questions, the Labor Department published a new fact sheet on the applicability of white-collar exemptions to common academic jobs.

A teacher is exempt, the fact sheet affirms, if their primary duty is teaching, instructing or lecturing to “impart knowledge” at an educational institution. That includes professors, instructors and adjunct professors, it says.

And, clearing up some long-standing ambiguity regarding online learning, the department said faculty members who teach online or remotely also may qualify for the exemption.

“The exemption would therefore ordinarily apply, for example, to a part-time faculty member of an educational establishment whose primary duty is to provide instruction through online courses to remote non-credit learners,” the department wrote. “The exemption could likewise apply, for example, to an agricultural extension agent who is employed by an educational establishment to travel and provide instruction to farmers, if the agent’s primary duty is teaching, instructing or lecturing to impart knowledge. To determine a teacher’s primary duty, the relevant inquiry in all cases is the teacher’s actual job duties.”

Athletic coaches also may qualify for the teacher exemption, since “teaching may include instructing student-athletes in how to perform their sport,” the notice says.

The department lists examples of exempt nonteacher “learned professionals,” such as librarians, psychologists, public accountants and certified athletic trainers. Learned professionals are defined as those who do work requiring advanced knowledge in a field of science or learning, "acquired by a prolonged course of specialized intellectual instruction."

Postdoctoral fellows -- many of whom who stood to gain much from the proposed Obama-era salary rule, due to their long hours and relatively low pay -- are also generally considered exempt learned professionals, provided they are salaried employees who make at least $455 per week (the current salary threshold), the memo says. As before, they may also qualify for the teacher exemption if teaching is their primary duty.

Regarding student employees, the department wrote that most students working for their institutions are hourly workers laboring under 40 hours per week. Yet some student employees are clearly exempt under the act, it says -- namely graduate teaching assistants whose primary duty is teaching. Research assistants studying under a mentor are not so much employees as trainees, it says, and student residential assistants are generally not employees, either. The Obama-era rule said much the same.

Students whose work is not part of an educational program -- such as dishwashers or ushers at campus events -- are employees entitled to minimum wage and overtime compensation, however, according to the department's memo.

Public institutions that qualify as public agencies under the act may compensate nonexempt employees with compensatory time off instead of overtime pay.

Andy Brantley, president and CEO of the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, called the announcement “great news for higher ed” in an email.

In a blog post discussing the fact sheet, CUPA-HR highlighted the department’s new guidance on adjuncts who teach online or remotely, agricultural extension agents and coaches, and academic administrative personnel.

“The fact sheet issued today answers many of the lingering questions higher ed institutions encountered when they were preparing to comply with the [department’s] 2016 final rule and questions that have persisted since the rule was struck down by a federal district court,” CUPA-HR's post said.

Maria Maisto, president of the New Faculty Majority, a national adjunct advocacy group, said the guidance appeared to be “the next chapter in the saga of the effort by the Obama administration to revise the overtime rule and the pushback against that needed reform.”

Echoing her organization’s official comments on the 2016 final rule discussion, Maisto said that the long-standing teacher exemption was “ironically devised with the assumption that teachers from K-12 through higher ed would receive, as we put it, ‘professional wages commensurate with the educational preparation, responsibility and workload that this important occupation requires.’” Instead, she said, it has become one of the education’s “most reliable tools of exploitation, ensuring instead that faculty can be legally denied a living wage.”

One only need look at the ongoing K-12 teacher protests and adjunct activism for evidence, she said.

Fichtenbaum, of AAUP, said of the online teaching exemption in particular that people generally underestimate what it takes to teach a distance learning course. “Teaching them takes more preparation than maybe even walking in and doing a class face-to-face.”

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Problems in the classroom for students suffering even mild concussions, study finds

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 00:00

The devastating effects of repeated concussions on college athletes have been well documented -- brain disease that can lead to mood changes, concentration problems and even suicidal tendencies. What researchers haven’t captured much -- until now -- is how milder brain injuries can do the same (to a degree).

Athletes and veterans may not present overt symptoms from more minor brain injuries, but that damage can still interfere with their academics, a new study from the University of Montana and the University of Vermont has found. These students might have memory loss, issues focusing in class or vision problems -- and might not even know it. The findings were published this month in Scientific Reports, a branch of Nature Research Journal.

“Our main role hopefully is to help students with asymptomatic concussions,” said Sambit Mohapatra, one of the authors of the study and an assistant professor in rehabilitation and movement science at Vermont. “These students might have a whole hidden inner gamut of problems, but not have any symptoms.”

The researchers worked with 72 subjects, half of whom had experienced some sort of brain trauma -- either being hit directly, such as during a sporting event or in a car accident, or being exposed to some sort of blast. The average length of time since the participants experienced their concussion was about 43 months.

Researchers analyzed the eye movements of the participants and found that those with a history of mild brain trauma couldn’t track a moving laser target as well as their counterparts -- their reaction time was slowed. Their eyes also jerked erratically.

Though the students might not be aware of their eyesight problems, this is a reason for not being able to absorb information as well during lectures, Mohapatra said. Veterans especially might come back from deployment experiencing a level of post-traumatic stress that can exacerbate problems associated with concussions and other injuries, Mohapatra said. He said the two conditions share many of the same symptoms and can start a “vicious cycle” that can affect the concussed person's academics.

The study adds to the growing debate over when veterans should allowed to enroll again in active duty, and when and if athletes should be cleared to go back on the field after a blow to the head.

Both the National Football League and the National Collegiate Athletic Association have faced lawsuits alleging negligence when they permitted players to return to practice and games even after they suffered from concussions.

The professional and collegiate leagues have had to shell out hefty settlements in the past. The NFL agreed to a $1 billion settlement for former players who proved lingering effects from concussions and brain injuries. And the NCAA four years ago paid $75 million in a class-action settlement, most of which was used for medical monitoring for former athletes.

But the NCAA’s money has never been for treatment, and another legal front against the association is mounting.

While concussion protocols for both college and professional players have been revised, they remain under fire -- the NFL still allows players back on the field the same day or within a few weeks.

The NCAA instructed all its member institutions in 2010 to develop plans for what happens after a concussion. The standards prior to that had been inconsistent. The NCAA did not provide comment for this article in time for publication.

Mohapatra said that colleges and universities should train their professors to help identify the symptoms associated with brain injuries. These might be subtle -- fatigue or difficulty paying attention -- but identifying and supporting these students can help them, he said. Erasing the stigma around concussions, and understanding them, knowing that they aren’t just caused by a blow to the head, is important, Mohapatra said.

He suggested that advisers talk with their athlete and veteran students about possible problems, or in the case of a larger institution, hold some sort of seminar for them.

“The brain cannot heal,” Mohapatra said. “But certain other things -- balance problems -- can easily be trained. And eye tracking can be trained. These things can be changed.”

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Former adjunct turned city councilman banned from St. Louis Community College campus

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 00:00

St. Louis Community College doesn't want a former adjunct professor on its campus, and that decision is affecting its relationship with the City of Wildwood, Mo.

The college has not dropped its no-trespass order against Steve Taylor, an adjunct math professor who said he was fired by the institution last October.

Taylor was arrested in October during a Board of Trustees meeting after he allegedly charged toward the area where the board members and the chancellor were sitting. The incident led to the no-trespass order by the college; Taylor was eventually cleared of all charges by a judge.

Taylor was elected to the Wildwood City Council earlier this month, but the ban is keeping him from attending council and committee meetings, sometimes held on the Wildwood campus to accommodate more people when there isn't enough space in city hall.

The ban is forcing Wildwood, a suburb of St. Louis, to seek other options.

"They are refusing to listen, and I don't think there is any reason or grounds for an actual no-trespass order," Taylor said. "My violation was resisting arrest and disturbing the peace, and I was totally cleared of all charges. That this is even happening is ridiculous."

A media representative for the community college declined to comment on the issue.

The incident between Taylor and STLCC officials was just one of several clashes between college administrators and students or faculty members amid a series of layoffs and voluntary buyouts. At the October board meeting, Taylor was upset by the ground rules laid out by the administration, including that applause wasn't allowed. When he approached the table where board members sat to voice his opinion, a St. Louis police officer grabbed Taylor and tackled him to the floor, where he was handcuffed. Taylor has filed a lawsuit against the college.

The tensions between the administration and the college's employees led the full-time faculty union to cast a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Jeff Pittman in January.

The no-trespass order can only be modified or rescinded by the chancellor. Taylor said Pittman hasn't given any indication he will do so.

Ryan Thomas, the Wildwood city administrator, said it's rare for the council to rely on the college for meeting space, although so far this year there have been about three instances when a Wildwood meeting was held on the campus.

"I don't think it'll be a big issue for us … there are other places in the city of Wildwood we can use," he said, adding that the meeting space arrangement between the city and the college has been around for about 10 years.

There are other community events the city and the college partner on, but Thomas said it's unclear if Taylor would be able to participate.

"Hopefully this can be resolved at some point and become a complete nonissue," Thomas said. "We're hopeful something will get fully resolved at some point."

Taylor said the ban has interfered with other, more personal situations -- he was recently barred from helping his wife, a sociology professor at the college, move items from her office, for example. Taylor is also an adjunct professor at three other colleges and hasn't had any problems with those institutions.

"I'm in good standing at other institutions I teach at," Taylor said. "I'm in such good standing with my community so that I've been elected to represent my ward. I'm in good standing with the court system. The only problem seems to be with St. Louis Community [College] … The only real crime in the eyes of the college was my helping to form an adjunct union and they need to stop besmirching my name. I have been elected to do a job and they need to allow me to do it."

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New presidents or provosts: Bluffton Bowling Green Dearborn Martin Lubbock Shreveport Union UNE UNF UT-Martin W&M

Tue, 04/17/2018 - 00:00
  • Philip Acree Cavalier, provost of Lyon College, in Arkansas, has been appointed provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
  • Domenico Grasso, provost and chief academic officer at the University of Delaware, has been selected as chancellor of the University of Michigan at Dearborn.
  • Joshua Hamilton, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Rhode Island College, has been named provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of New England, in Maine.
  • David R. Harris, provost and senior vice president at Tufts University, in Massachusetts, has been named president of Union College, in New York.
  • Paul Hutchins, president of Sampson Community College, in North Carolina, has been chosen as president of Martin Community College, also in North Carolina.
  • Nancy S. Jordan, associate provost and accreditation liaison at Texas A&M University Texarkana, has been selected as provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at Louisiana State University at Shreveport.
  • Foy Mills Jr., professor and program leader of agribusiness at Sam Houston State University, in Texas, has been appointed provost and chief academic officer at Lubbock Christian University, also in Texas.
  • Rodney Rogers, interim president of Bowling Green State University, in Ohio, has been named president there on a permanent basis.
  • Katherine A. Rowe, provost and dean of the faculty at Smith College, in Massachusetts, has been named president of the College of William & Mary, in Virginia.
  • David Szymanski, dean of the Carl H. Lindner College of Business and professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati, has been appointed president of the University of North Florida.
  • Jane Wood, vice president of academic affairs and dean at Mount Marty College, in South Dakota, has been chosen as president of Bluffton University, in Ohio.
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Hobart president undercut by anonymous email

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00

Anonymous allegations challenging Gregory J. Vincent’s academic integrity quickly proved too much for his presidency to survive at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

Now comes the fallout from the departure of a recently named leader who was identified as an expert on campus culture, civil rights and social justice.

When Vincent was named Hobart and William Smith’s next president last April, he brought a high-profile background to his new employer. He had been vice president for diversity and community engagement at the University of Texas at Austin, where he helped defend the use of affirmative action in the landmark Fisher v. Texas Supreme Court case, which upheld race-conscious admissions policies as constitutional.

He also had close ties to Hobart and William Smith, small, private liberal arts colleges in Geneva, N.Y., that were founded as separate institutions but now operate under a single administration. Vincent graduated from the colleges in 1983 and spoke at their convocation in 2016. In between, he earned a law degree from Ohio State University and an Ed.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Questions over that doctorate from Penn were what ultimately undid Vincent’s presidency at Hobart and William Smith. On March 21, an anonymous tipster started circulating an email to academic leaders and members of the press, alleging Vincent had plagiarized portions of his 2004 dissertation. Twenty-three days later, on Friday, Vincent told Hobart’s Board of Trustees he was resigning, effective immediately.

The resignation was in the best interest of both Vincent and the colleges, he said in a statement. The anonymous allegations had caused a distraction and he wanted to avoid “further stress” to the campus.

“After a great deal of thought and consideration, in the best interests of my family and myself, and for the love of Hobart and William Smith, I have decided to tender my resignation in order to explore new opportunities,” Vincent said. “This has been a difficult decision because I believe strongly in the value of a Hobart and William Smith education and the trajectory that we have been mapping during the past year.”

Now Hobart and William Smith are back where they were a year ago: searching for a new president.

“We are thankful to Greg and his family for their service to the Colleges during the past year,” said Thomas S. Bozzuto, chair of the colleges’ Board of Trustees in a statement. “I and the rest of the Board respect Greg’s decision and have accepted his resignation with appreciation for his dedication and commitment.”

The colleges plan a national search for a new president. A professor emeritus of economics, Pat McGuire, will serve as interim president.

As they search for a new chief executive, Hobart and William Smith also have to grapple with the aftereffects of an anonymous email upending a nascent administration. The original email tip alleged that Vincent took lengthy direct quotations from works without proper attribution in his 2004 dissertation. The tipster, identified only as “HWSProfessor,” claimed to have found “at least six instances of substantial direct quotation from other works without proper attribution.”

The findings were cause for concern because faculty members hold themselves and students accountable under ideals of academic integrity, the tipster wrote. Vincent was also the “final arbiter of tenure” under faculty bylaws and procedures, and the tipster questioned how he could fairly and competently evaluate faculty members given his dissertation.

“As I have no desire to comment further on this case or become any part of this story, I am submitting this report anonymously,” the tipster wrote. He or she did not reply to an email seeking comment last month. An email sent Friday to the tipster's email address was returned as undeliverable.

After the email tip, Hobart and William Smith began investigating the matter.

Inside Higher Ed was able to evaluate three of the six instances the tipster cited. In each case, Vincent’s dissertation contained sentences that were identical or mostly identical to passages in other works, but those sentences were not enclosed in quotation marks. The dissertation passages did appear in paragraphs with parenthetical citations to the original works.

The Herald, the student newspaper at Hobart and William Smith, performed its own analysis, finding that “in the six passages of the dissertation questioned by the email -- and even on other pages not critiqued by the email -- President Vincent copied what was written in other books verbatim and without quotation marks. In some cases, he used parenthetical citations to give credit to these authors, in other cases he did not, and in some sentences he misattributed credit to completely different authors.”

Vincent submitted a statement to the student newspaper addressing the issue, The Herald reported.

“As my dissertation advisor recently confirmed, I had to change the citation style within a very short period of time after my committee approved the dissertation, which led to inadvertent errors in how some of the work was quoted and paraphrased,” his statement said. “I deeply regret the extent to which this has caused confusion or misled anyone. I eagerly await the findings of the investigation. In the meantime, I have remained focused on my duties as president and on moving the Colleges forward.”

The Herald also noted that a 1995 amendment to Hobart and William Smith’s Faculty Handbook “repudiates and disavows the sending of anonymous ad hominem letters to the faculty as a whole or to individual members thereof.” The risks of harm outweigh any valid purpose of such communications, the handbook says.

Faculty leaders at Hobart and William Smith did not return requests for comment Friday. Nor did the dean of Penn’s Graduate School of Education. Reached by phone Friday afternoon, Scott Brophy, a philosophy professor who is the presiding officer of Hobart and William Smith’s Faculty Executive Committee, said he was unable to talk or comment because he had to be on a conference call and then teach a class immediately afterward.

But commenters on social media quickly made note of the resignation. One Facebook commenter listed Vincent’s qualifications and argued that his credibility was being questioned “because of a few sentences in his dissertation” written before computerized plagiarism tools. The commenter said the situation reflected institutional racism.

With Vincent’s resignation, trustees will end the investigation into the plagiarism allegations, WXXI radio reported.

Vincent isn’t the first college president to come under fire amid allegations of plagiarism in a dissertation. Glenn Poshard, the president of Southern Illinois University, faced charges in 2007 that he plagiarized parts of his 1980s doctoral dissertation. But he remained president at Southern Illinois through 2014, after a university committee determined his dissertation contained “inadvertent plagiarism” and recommended he replace it with a corrected copy.

Poshard went on to become president of Morthland College in West Frankfort, Ill., in 2017. He resigned after just two months on the job, saying he hadn’t been notified of serious personnel and financial issues when he started as president and that those issues could only be resolved by another authority. But the college said Poshard resigned for health reasons.

Closer to Hobart and William Smith, the president of Hamilton College in upstate New York resigned in 2002 after admitting not properly attributing sources used in a speech. Eugene M. Tobin had been president for nine years but said he was "anguished over the embarrassment" he brought to Hamilton.

Presidents can show leadership in how they react to such allegations, said Gary Pavela, past president of the International Center for Academic Integrity and a co-founder of the Academic Integrity Seminar.

"I think 'leadership' is the right word," he said. "There are different ways people approach this. The more defensive approaches to the transparent or obvious kinds of failure to make attribution do the most harm."

In certain instances, it's possible to have "a fair amount of sympathy and respect" for the way leaders handle such situations, he said. For instance, leaders can be candid, transparent and clear about their professional obligations.

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Guest lecture on free speech at CUNY law school heckled

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00

Josh Blackman is a regular guest lecturer on college campuses and writes regularly for conservative publications. A law professor at the South Texas College of Law, he focuses on legal issues. Of late, he has been talking about the legal and philosophical reasons to support free speech on college campuses.

Last week he shared video of an appearance he made in late March at the City University of New York law school, where he couldn't give his planned talk on free speech as he was repeatedly heckled and shouted down during the first 10 minutes. During that time period, there were far more students in the room shouting at him than the handful gathered to hear his lecture. After the protesters left, other students arrived to hear him, and Blackman says some told him that they were intimidated from coming in because of the protesters.

The protesters stood all over the room, including at the front, where Blackman was attempting to talk. He said he wouldn't have been bothered by their standing there -- with signs denouncing him -- had they remained quiet. But until they all left, they interrupted from all around the room.

The students protesting the event called Blackman a white supremacist and racist, and some shouted, "Fuck the law." Many said that CUNY should not have permitted Blackman to speak, given the law school's mission, which focuses on the public interest, public service and diversifying the legal profession.

The video of the incident arrives at a time when many higher education leaders have expressed concern about the impact of such incidents on the image of higher education. Even if the overwhelming majority of campus speakers, including those expressing conservative views, are not heckled, such incidents have attracted widespread attention from political leaders.

Higher education leaders have argued that there is a wide consensus among their ranks to support free speech and to oppose the shouting down of speakers. And a new poll from the American Council on Education backs that view. But when incidents happen, college leaders do not seem to agree on the steps to take to prevent a disruption or whether to punish those who disrupt.

Most of the incidents of speakers being shouted down have involved undergraduates, but some observers have expressed particular concern when shouting down takes place at law schools, given the importance of the First Amendment to higher education and to American society. In March, such an incident took place at the law school of Lewis & Clark College, where Christina Hoff Sommers, whose writings attack feminists, was shouted down.

At CUNY, Blackman was invited by the student chapter of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group. When the society started to promote the event, some students objected. The law school sent a campuswide email stating that Blackman had a right to speak, and that protests were welcome, but not if they disrupted his appearance. At the beginning of his lecture, a law school official came to the event, repeated that message and then left.

Those objecting to Blackman cited several reasons. They noted that his support for free expression on campuses includes support for the right to appear of people like Milo Yiannopoulos and Ann Coulter, whose speeches on campuses regularly feature insults against various groups.

The students said that CUNY law was effectively giving a platform for the idea that those speakers -- whose presence causes pain to some students -- should be allowed to appear on campus.

Free speech is not an invite for hate speech. Get it away from our campus!!!

— CUNY NLG (@cuny_nlg) March 29, 2018

My Existence > Your Opinion #BlackLivesMatter #Not1more #ICEoutofcourts #antifa

— CUNY NLG (@cuny_nlg) March 29, 2018

Others cited Blackman's support for President Trump's decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Here, however, Blackman's position may be more nuanced than the students have acknowledged.

Blackman has written that Trump made the right decision, but he said that is based on Blackman's view that President Obama exceeded his legal authority in creating DACA. Trump has only sometimes said that he would back legislation to restore DACA in a way that does not face legal challenges (and he doesn't say that now). Republican leaders in Congress have opposed a legislative fix for the situation.

But Blackman has called on Congress to restore the DACA program. And he told the CUNY law students of his position, although it was unclear if they believed him.

Via email on Sunday, Mary Lu Bilek, dean of the law school, said that the protest was reasonable because the disruptions ended relatively early in the time frame of the appearance.

"For the first eight minutes of the 70-minute event, the protesting students voiced their disagreements. The speaker engaged with them. The protesting students then filed out of the room, and the event proceeded to its conclusion without incident," Bilek said.

"This non-violent, limited protest was a reasonable exercise of protected free speech, and it did not violate any university policy," she added. "CUNY Law students are encouraged to develop their own perspectives on the law in order to be prepared to confront our most difficult legal and social issues as lawyers promoting the values of fairness, justice, and equality."

Protest at Duke

At Duke University on Saturday, President Vincent Price was shouted down by a student protest during a speech he was making to alumni, The News and Observer reported. The students made numerous demands on a range of university policies. Price said he admired the students' commitment but questioned the tactic of interrupting an event.

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New crowdsourced student affordability guide goes viral at University of Michigan

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00

Early this year, University of Michigan’s student government published on affordability guide that some on the campus found particularly tone-deaf -- there were suggestions like not buying the newest clothes, canceling a maid service, or cooking at home (when some students probably can’t even afford food).

It was panned and eventually no longer made public. It inspired, however, a different document -- a road map called Being Not-Rich at UM, tips written by students and alumni who had financial difficulty in college.

In contrast to the student government’s suggestions, these tips were much more practical and direct -- the crowdsourced guide told students where they could go to find day-old bagels and bread that could be purchased at a lower price than normal. It detailed the best campus jobs and why working in food service could be particularly beneficial because of the free meals students could get with every shift.

“Ours is focused specifically on lower- and middle-income students,” said Lauren Schandevel, a junior and creator of the guide. “It’s very honest in some of the struggles we face.”

Schandevel grew up in Warren, a working-class suburb of Detroit, and neither of her parents attended college. Though she went to school in a more affluent neighboring district and felt academically prepared entering the university, she struggled in some college basics because of her background -- she didn’t really take advantage of her professors’ office hours, for example, because she wasn’t quite sure what they were about.

“Culturally, it’s a thing for working-class people to not ask for help,” Schandevel said. “They’re stubborn and do things on their own. I didn’t know if it was a ‘get to know’ your professor or what, and it was something I missed out on.”

When the student government released its guide in January, Schandevel was among those critical of it. She said while the work the student government does on behalf of low-income students does go underappreciated, generally, its members are from a higher income bracket than most students at the university. And it’s “difficult” to get the attention of university administrators on these issues, Schandevel said.

So she posted to Facebook -- would anyone be interested in drafting a guide for poorer students with basic information about work-study, scholarships and unpaid internships?

“I mean, I’d read the shit out of it,” one of her friends responded.

It started out with bare-bones information. Schandevel wrote the introduction, in which she acknowledges some students might feel a little inferior not having been born and raised with a silver spoon.

“Why can’t you land that prestigious internship?” she wrote. “Why didn’t you spend your adolescence being classically trained in piano? Why does everyone seem so much more impressive than you? This guide is for anyone who has ever felt marginalized on campus.”

Though it started out basic, the guide grew quickly after Schandevel's Facebook post went viral around the campus and was written about in the student press there. About a month ago, interest was renewed when Schandevel helped form a new group, the Michigan Affordability and Advocacy Coalition, an extension of the guide that’s working with existing groups catering to low-income students.

Schandevel said the goal is by the end of the summer to clean the guide up as a Google document and publish it in a slicker, more official capacity. It’s already been noticed elsewhere around the country, too, with a version being replicated for students at the University of Texas at Austin.

The document is lengthy -- 70 pages -- and 24 authors were credited in helping create it. It touches on all aspects of college life, including textbooks, clothing, housing, mentorship, study abroad programs and student social dynamics.

For instance, the guide encourages students to have fun on a budget, listing the cheapest happy hours and pushing readers not to be intimidated by some of their more advantaged peers.

“Shitty as it may be, it’s probably best to be honest with your close friends about your financial situation to some degree. They then hopefully won’t overly pressure you to partake in expensive activities,” the guide states.

Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, said in an interview he found the guide “super cool,” especially since it was written by students and alumni.

Student affairs work in the last several years has moved toward a more social services-oriented approach, dealing with individual students and cases, rather than just solutions for the entire student population, he said. Making sure these students are identified is important because research shows that financial difficulties most often lead to students dropping out of college and never returning, Kruger said.

While he said institutions are doing better at helping low-income students, some of them, such as elite colleges and universities, haven’t historically dealt with many impoverished students. He said he found the guide exciting because it bypassed the “bureaucratic challenges” some institutions deal with.

“One of the challenges of higher ed is that we sometimes make this a little unintelligible,” Kruger said.

Schandevel said that she thinks the guide succeeds in that respect -- it’s clearer than some of the language the university uses to describe low-income students and the problems they encounter.

“We’re trying to come together, acknowledge these situations, let the university know we exist and how we can be successful on campus,” she said.

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Stanford seeks to improve graduate student advising

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00

In changes aimed at improving the quality of graduate student advising, Stanford University’s Faculty Senate last week voted to require departments to spell out advising expectations for both professors and students.

The body also voted to limit who can serve as a principal dissertation adviser for Ph.D. candidates to current Stanford professors who are active members of the campus’s Academic Council.

Advising remains a key area of concern for Stanford’s 9,400 graduate students, as revealed during a recent planning process for graduate education and four years of student exit survey data, Patricia J. Gumport, vice provost for graduate education, told the Senate at its meeting Thursday.

“Our students’ daily experiences are impacting their education and academic progress as well as their well-being,” Gumport said, according to information from Stanford. “We take seriously all that they are telling us, and we are working together.”

Some 40 percent of students surveyed reportedly cited “availability of faculty” as an obstacle to their academic progress, while 27 percent cited advising as another roadblock.

Faculty members who are leaving Stanford for various reasons may now only serve as co-advisers with a current Stanford professor serving as principal adviser.

Faculty members emeriti recalled to active duty may serve as principal advisers.

Stanford students aren’t alone in their concerns about advising. Graduate students nationwide commonly cite poor advising -- from not feeling like a priority to one's adviser to advising that doesn’t relate to one's career goals -- as a major challenge.

A widely cited study published last month in Nature Biotechnology also linked lackluster advising across academic disciplines to mental health concerns. Among surveyed graduate students with anxiety or depression, half did not agree that their immediate mentors provided “real” mentorship. Responses were similar to questions about whether advisers and principal investigators provided ample support and whether they positively impacted students’ emotional mental well-being. More than half of respondents who experienced anxiety or depression did not agree that their advisers or PIs were assets to their careers or that they felt valued by their mentor.

“These data indicate that strong, supportive and positive mentoring relationships between graduate students and their PI/advisors correlate significantly with less anxiety and depression,” the study’s authors concluded.

“Advising is, along with teaching and research, one of the most impactful things we do here,” David Goldhaber-Gordon, committee chair and professor of physics, said during the meeting. “We hope this will spur conversations among faculty, and between faculty and students, about how the advising relationship works.”

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Colleges announce commencement speakers

Mon, 04/16/2018 - 00:00
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