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Major higher education research journal suspending submissions to clear out two-year backlog

Inside Higher Education - Hace 21 hours 10 mins

Those looking to submit an article to Review of Higher Education this summer probably saw this message on the journal’s website:

 Due to the large number of high-quality manuscripts received to date, and with a commitment to ensuring a reasonable publication timeline for authors, RHE is temporarily closed for manuscript submissions. Manuscripts already in process are unaffected. Please check back for updates.

The missive has proven jarring, given that Review is one of the field's most prestigious publications and the official journal for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. It’s also led to interesting discussions among scholars about what it means when a top journal is too swamped to take on more papers -- and is wiling to admit it.

“We’re victims of our own success, a little bit,” said Gary Pike, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Indiana University at Bloomington and editor of Review. “We’ve had a significant increase in the last four years in numbers of submissions, and an increase in the quality of submissions. What’s happened is we’ve developed a substantial backlog of accepted articles.”

A two-year backlog, to be exact. And telling scholars soon going up for tenure that their articles would be published in 2020 wasn’t a big help to them, Pike said. So the tentative plan -- which ASHE must still approve -- is to suspend submissions through early 2019, and begin to publish 10 articles per quarterly issue instead of the current five.

Once the initial backlog is cleared, seven articles per issue might be a more sustainable count, Pike said, noting that every editor wants some reserve of articles (just not two years’ worth). Pike also said he’s talking to Johns Hopkins University Press, the journal’s publisher, about expanding the use of its online-first platform for accepted articles, to make them publicly available sooner.

Still, for the time being, a major journal coming off-line is big deal for higher education scholars.

“This is one of the top three to five journals in our field,” Kevin McClure, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, said in an interview Wednesday. “And it’s the expectation at some bigger research universities that scholars will not just be publishing in one of these journals but all of them.”

Put another way, “People have struggled to get anything in these journals to begin with,” McClure said. “[Review] accepts less than 10 percent of submissions, so now something that was hard to do is impossible. That affects people’s ability to advance in their careers.”

McClure wasn’t condoning academe’s emphasis on publishing in a tiny share of elite journals, just describing it. And many other scholars have urged disciplines beyond education to value publication in a more diverse set of quality journals, especially with respect to tenure and promotion.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University who has blogged about Review, said in an interview that while members of one’s own department might recognize and reward publication in a broader set of journals, collegewide committees from different disciplines might not. So in his own tenure application, he said, he’s including information about the impact factors of journals that might not have instant name recognition outside his field.

“I think it’s up to people applying for tenure to teach and showcase that there are other journals that are selective and impactful.”

Pike said that Review now publishes 5 to 7 percent of submitted manuscripts. Asked if he agreed with McClure, Kelchen and others who say that there’s too much emphasis in academe on getting published in a small fraction of journals, Pike laughed and said, “Now you’re asking me to go against my own economic interests.”

Turning serious, Pike said he’s currently shopping papers on the impact of high school training in science, technology, engineering and math on college STEM performance with engineering journals. So “there is merit in counting publications from a diverse set of high-quality journals,” he said. “Of course I would like to see everyone have at least one publication in our journal.”

In discussions on social media, some have attributed Review’s backlog to a common problem in academic publishing: trouble finding reviewers. And many journal editors report that finding reviewers for papers is getting harder, given increasing submission rates, more demands on faculty members’ time at work and the fact that reviewing is not compensated beyond a karmic notion of “review and be reviewed.”

As McClure said, “It is weird that the entire academic publishing industry rests on this volunteer service, so of course complications are going to arise.”

Jenny Lee, professor of higher education at the University of Arizona and an associate editor at the journal, said on Twitter that more than 25 scholars “rejected/ignored my request to review a single manuscript. Each takes weeks and some never respond. Not a challenging piece just ‘busy.’”

Lee on Twitter also raised questions about the role of journals’ editorial boards, suggesting that members should be expected to do more, presumably reviewing. It’s not the first time that the role of editorial boards has been called into question. Last year, for example, half of the editorial board of Third World Quarterly resigned, asking why they hadn’t been asked to weigh in on a controversial piece on colonialism.

 

This response raises an important issue that has bothered me for some time. We need to rethink how we select editorial board members. There are some who do nothing but sit on their prestige. https://t.co/6hhHhT3mPL

— Jenny Lee (@jennyj_lee) August 15, 2018

 

Robert K. Toutkoushian, a professor of higher education at the University of Georgia and editor of another similarly named journal, Research in Higher Education, said that that publication has a consulting editorial board of 40 academics who have agreed to review between four and eight manuscripts per year, or about two-thirds of all reviews. Still, he said, he often has to go beyond the board to find reviewers with a particular expertise. And his success rate there isn’t too high. 

“Often I never hear back from the person that I invited to review,” he said via email, noting it can take weeks or months to find someone with the right qualifications.

At the same time, Toutkoushian added, “there are individuals in our field who go above and beyond the call of duty to review manuscripts. I am amazed -- and deeply appreciative -- of the efforts that they make to not only conduct reviews, but provide thoughtful and constructive feedback to authors.”

Lee didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Pike said the tweet about finding reviewers was in reference to a very particular manuscript: his own. Despite the fact that papers go out for review stripped of authors’ names, Pike said he suspected the some potential reviewers were otherwise able to identify the paper as his and therefore sought to avoid reviewing an editor.

In Pike’s own experience, a very bad day recruiting reviewers means approaching nine and getting two to say yes. But Review doesn’t typically have such a hard time finding reviewers, and the current crisis is about placement in the journal, he said.

For reference, four years ago the journals received 250 to 275 manuscripts over the course of a year. This year, the journal was projecting about 350 submissions. Toutkoushian said his journal received 672 submissions last year and published about 40 articles.

Similar increases in other fields have been attributed, in part, to increasing pressure for graduate students to publish. J. David Velleman, professor of philosophy at New York University, even suggested last year that graduate students should not be published, to free up the review and publication pipeline. Velleman also alleged that the quality of publications was declining as a result of the overall pressure to publish.

But that is not what Pike says is happening at Review, where submission quality remains high. The journal doesn’t get too many single-authored papers from graduate students, anyway, he said. Still, Kelchen said that when he was hired five years ago, he didn’t have any publications. Today, unpublished graduate students probably wouldn’t get an interview. That means faculty members have to step up and do the work of reviewing them where there is a dearth of reviewers, he added. (McClure also suggested that good reviewers be recognized by professional associations or invited to join editorial boards based on their reviewing records.)

Ultimately, though, Kelchen said, journals either have to become even more selective, in part by rejecting more papers before they even go out for review, or by publishing more articles. 

Brendan Cantwell, associate professor of higher at Michigan State University and coordinating editor of Higher Education, an international journal, said Wednesday that it publishes two volumes and 12 issues per year. It got 1,100 submissions in 2017, but it has more space than some other publications. And its impact metrics are competitive with top journals in the field, Cantwell said. 

In contrast to journals that believe exclusivity or "restricting access" signals "status or quality," he said, “Our approach is to publish a higher volume of good peer-reviewed work.”

Lori Patton Davis, professor of urban education at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and president of ASHE, said via email that the Review backlog “actually reflects an increased volume of high-quality scholarship, coupled with the desire to have one’s work featured in the premier journal for higher education research. With high volume comes significant requests for more reviewers and a speedier review process.”

ASHE’s goal is to reopen the submission portal “as soon as possible, while also being responsible about addressing the backlog. We certainly value the work of scholars who view [Review] as the publication venue of choice,” she said.

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New research shows extent of gender gap in citations

Inside Higher Education - Hace 21 hours 10 mins

Research into the gendered citation patterns of academics has confirmed what many have long suspected -- that male authors tend to cite other men over women in their article bibliographies. But such underlying biases can apply even in a journal with a majority of female authors, and may spread to papers co-authored by women with men, the work suggests.

Analyzing every article published across three political science journals and three social science methodology journals between 2007 and the end of 2016, researchers from McMaster University in Canada and the Universities of Iowa and Minnesota matched up the gender of the authors to the gender of the researchers who produced each study cited in their bibliographies, using the analytical tool genderizeR.

In this way, they were able to determine the “gender gap in citations” in articles by women and men, as well as those co-authored by women and men.

The goal of the project, according to Sara Mitchell, professor of political methodology at Iowa and co-author of “Gendered Citation Patterns Across Political Science and Social Science Methodology Fields,” published in Political Analysis, was to analyze how the overall representation of women in a research field influences the gender citation gap.

Comparisons were also made between different subject disciplines to determine whether a higher representation of women in one area might help to close the gender gap in citation practices.

“The least surprising aspect of our findings was the confirmation of our earlier analyses showing a gender gap in citations, with men citing work by men significantly more often than work by women,” Mitchell told Times Higher Education.

But although the proportion of women working within the social sciences had increased notably in the decade analyzed, the group found “no indication of a trend” toward women being cited more often.

Even when the researchers focused on the citation patterns for the journal Politics and Gender, in which more than 75 percent of the total published articles were authored by women, a gender citation gap was observed.

“It was surprising to us that male authors cited women’s work at a rate of 14 percent lower than their female peers in [these] journals,” Mitchell said.

But more surprising, she added, was that when women co-authored with men, their articles adopted similar citation practices, failing to cite women as often. Women working on their own or with other women were significantly more likely to cite work by women.

“Even in a journal with a majority of female authors like P&G [Politics and Gender], the gap between female authors (82 percent) and female references (61 percent [of citations in that journal being to female authors]) is fairly large,” the paper concludes. “Given the gender dynamics we see when pairing author to reference citations, this suggests that most of the citation gap is driven by men and mixed author teams underciting work by women rather than women overciting work by other female scholars.”

Although the underrepresentation of women in some fields will play a factor in the number of times they are cited, Mitchell said, “implicit biases may influence citation practices by scholars in the social sciences."

“Even though female scholars represent a higher percentage of scholars in these fields today than in the past, women’s research is still less likely to be cited than their male peers’ research. This has important implications for tenure and promotion cases, salaries, awards, invitations to give talks [and so on],” she warned.

But there is good news: the findings have already influenced one journal, International Studies Review, to start analyzing the percentage of women cited in its papers, giving authors 100 extra words to explain any citation gap.

“The development of new tools to calculate gender balance can be useful for checking gender representation in journal article bibliographies and syllabi,” said Mitchell. “We [also] note that the gap gets smaller as more women enter a field, so mentoring programs for female scholars can help to recruit and retain more women in research fields.”

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Students are spending less than ever on course materials

Inside Higher Education - Hace 21 hours 10 mins

A decade ago, students spent an average of $701 per year on required course materials. Now, according to the latest data from the National Association of College Stores, they are spending under $500.

The reason for the spending drop is the “increased use of free and lower-cost digital and rental materials,” according to Estella McCollum, vice president of research and consulting at NACS.

In its latest annual report on course material spending, published Wednesday, NACS said students were still more likely to buy course materials than not, but that the number of students using free course materials is increasing.

This year, 32 percent of students reported using free course materials, compared with 25 percent last year and 19 percent in 2016, according to the NACS data. Just under 60 percent said their professors had provided them with the free materials. About 17 percent of students admitted to perhaps illegally downloading course materials from torrent or peer-to-peer sharing sites, quite possibly in breach of copyright restrictions, though students were not asked to specify.

The report, which compiled responses from more than 34,000 students at 63 two- and four-year institutions in the U.S. and Canada, found that students are waiting longer to purchase course materials as they try to determine whether they will really need them.

The number of students buying, renting or borrowing course materials has stayed relatively flat for the last four years. This year, NACS said that 83 percent of students purchased course materials, 44 percent rented and 12 percent borrowed.

Though many students reported preferring print to digital course materials, most said that they would shop for whichever was cheapest.

NACS, perhaps unsurprisingly as an advocate of college bookstores, found that the bookstores are still the No. 1 destination for students looking to rent or buy course materials.

Phil Hill, co-founder of Mindwires Consulting and co-publisher of the e-Literate blog, said that NACS has demonstrated “the value and validity” of its survey over the years, despite its natural bias. Hill noted that the organization's spending figures are in line with the U.S. Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study published in May.

Hill described the drop in student spending as a “surprise” but said that “more interesting” is the increase in students who don’t acquire course materials until after the first week of class.

“This is not good news for education, as we are realizing more and more how important it is to have materials from day one.”

In the report, two reasons were suggested for students not getting materials right away -- price, and not thinking materials are necessary. “Both speak to market and instructional problems,” said Hill.

Mike Hale, vice president of education for North America at digital content provider VitalSource, said that textbook and course material costs are going down, but “more must be done to help ensure postsecondary education is accessible and affordable to all.”

He pointed to the success of digital course materials obtained through inclusive-access programs as a “common-sense opportunity to save an average of $295 per student per semester.”

Though students may appear to be spending less on course materials, that does not necessarily mean that the price of course materials is coming down, said Nicole Allen, director of open education at SPARC, an advocacy group that promotes the use of open educational resources.

Allen said there are many factors that could be affecting student spending. “Some are positive, like the expanded use of freely available open educational resources,” she said. “Others are negative, like the significant number of students who skip buying some of their materials due to cost.”

Referring to average costs for students can be deceiving, said Allen. “There are still many students facing extraordinarily high textbook bills, even if the average is lower.”

“As with all of these studies, it only tells one part of the story,” she said.

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Under new NCAA rule, basketball players will have expenses covered if they leave, return to college

Inside Higher Education - Hace 21 hours 10 mins

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has made a new promise to Division I basketball players: under certain conditions, if a player leaves and returns to the same university, the institution must pay for the player's degree and other expenses. 

Though this appears to be a positive shift in the package of reforms that the NCAA announced last week in the wake of an alleged kickback scheme in men's basketball, the association could not immediately confirm how many athletes might take advantage of the new rule -- or how much it will cost institutions. A few prominent programs and athletic conferences have already started complying, even though it doesn't take effect until next year.

“To some extent it constitutes an acknowledgment that the previous system was deficient” in assuring players an education, said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and professor at Smith College. He said the move was “a good step.”

Under the new rule, effective August 2019, Division I colleges and universities must pay for tuition, fees and books for basketball players, both men and women, who leave an institution and come back within a decade. Players must have been on scholarship, enrolled at the institution for at least two years and must have "exhausted all other funding options" to be eligible, the NCAA said. They must also meet all NCAA academic requirements.

An NCAA spokeswoman, Meghan Durham, said the association doesn’t know how many athletes might use the program, but said that in the past 14 years more than 1,300 Division I men’s basketball players have come back to finish their degrees.

The NCAA will establish a fund for “limited resource” institutions to help pay the new expense. “Limited resource” status is based on funding in an athletics department, other institutional expenditures and Pell Grant aid. Durham also didn’t immediately respond to a question about how much money the NCAA would dedicate to the new fund.

Many of the policy changes the NCAA approved elicited scorn for being too small to be of any significance, and this one was no exception: Marc Edelman, a professor of law at Baruch College and a sports law specialist, said that while the association can tout the new rule as major, in reality it will rarely be invoked. While the NCAA's announcement said the change does not specifically apply to players who turn professional, Edelman said most athletes who do turn professional early in their careers are unlikely to ever return to college.

“The NCAA is doing the absolute minimum possible to spin public relations in a positive light,” Edelman said. “And this means coming up with measures that still do not allow athletes financial freedom or more sincerely allow them to balance their time.”

Over the years, several institutions and athletics conferences have announced that they would honor “lifetime” scholarships for athletes. The University of Maryland College Park was the first do so, shortly after joining the prominent Big Ten Conference in 2014. Previously, Maryland athletes were offered a single-year scholarship subject to renewal every year -- the “lifetime” scholarship also covered books and fees in addition to tuition for any athlete who left in good academic standing. At the time, former athletics director Kevin Anderson said the program wouldn’t “cost in the millions of dollars.”

Both the University of South Carolina and Indiana University offer similar “lifetime” deals.

“I think all schools should find a way to provide this opportunity for student athletes in all sports,” said Kenneth Shropshire, chief executive of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University.

Dave Ridpath, president of the ethics watchdog organization the Drake Group, agreed. He believes that all athletes’ scholarships should last a lifetime so they can come back and complete their degree anytime.

“I have always said we should not care when they get an education, just that they have an opportunity for a viable one,” Ridpath said. “A lifetime scholarship is a much better way to ensure access to a real education … It is fine that an athlete wants to focus on athletic utility when it can be maximized. However, that ends, and these kids who were used for institutional advancement, marketing, enrollment management, etc., should be given that opportunity without restrictions.”

The NCAA also offers some help for Division I athletes who can’t complete their degrees within five years -- called, aptly, the Degree Completion Award Program. Since 1989, the program has given out more than $30 million, according to the NCAA. Athletes must be within 30 semester hours of graduating to be eligible.

This new program and fund from the NCAA will especially benefit those institutions with fewer resources, said Josephine R. Potuto, former member of the NCAA Division I infractions committee and Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Any fund that applies to NCAA institutions across the board is in essence a subsidy to those less wealthy institutions, Potuto said. This is because most NCAA revenue comes from the men’s basketball championship, which is generally dominated by institutions in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Power 5 Conferences, she said.

“I think the new NCAA rule is more an acknowledgment … that some student athletes are in school primarily as a way to get a pro career, whether that goal is realistic or not, and a statement that schools owe them an opportunity for a degree if the pro career falls through,” Potuto said.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Education - Hace 21 hours 10 mins

Agnes Scott College

  • Jennifer Larimore, biology
  • Robin Morris, history

DePaul University

  • Enrico Au-Yeung, mathematical sciences
  • Shayna Connelly, cinematic arts
  • Sarah Connolly, health sciences
  • Sonya Crabtree-Nelson, social work
  • Maria DeMoya, communication
  • Ben Epstein, political science
  • Wendy Epstein, law
  • Maria Ferrera, social work
  • Andrew Gallan, marketing
  • Stan Chu Ilo, Catholic studies
  • Jalene LaMontagne, biological sciences
  • Karl Liechty, mathematical sciences
  • Enid Montague, computing
  • Lisa Mahoney, history of art and architecture
  • Eric Norstrom, biological sciences
  • John Psathas, cinematic arts
  • Alexander Rasin, computing
  • Brad Riddell, cinematic arts
  • Rachel Scott, anthropology
  • Carolina Sternberg, Latin American and Latino studies
  • Lisa Thomas, hospitality leadership
  • Nicholas Thomas, hospitality leadership

Winthrop University

  • Maria Aysa-Lastra, sociology
  • Eric Birgbauer, biology
  • Tara Collins, psychology
  • Amanda Hiner, English
  • Stacy Davidson, fine arts
  • Jeffrey McEvoy, music
  • Sarah Reiland, psychology
  • Meg Schriffen, dance
  • William Schulte, mass communication
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Diez universidades españolas están entre las 500 mejores del mundo

El País - Educación - Mié, 15 Ago 2018 - 06:28
La Universidad de Barcelona vuelve a entrar en el top 200 del 'ranking' de Shanghai

Sentarse con las piernas en forma de W y otras catástrofes universales

El País - Educación - Mié, 15 Ago 2018 - 03:43
Si hay algo que pediatras, traumatólogos, fisioterapeutas y podólogos escuchamos cada dos por tres es: “Mi hijo mete los pies al andar” o “Se pisa cuando anda”

Suspension of St. Lawrence graduate certification programs leaves some asking why

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 15 Ago 2018 - 02:00

Many a liberal arts institution has attempted to diversity revenue streams and student pools by opening graduate programs, but at least one in New York State moved in the opposite direction this summer.

St. Lawrence University, a private institution located about 18 miles from the Canadian border in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, said this summer that it has suspended admissions for graduate certification programs in mental health counseling, school counseling, general studies and education leadership. University leaders say no final decision has been made on the programs’ future, but some faculty leaders seem resigned to the idea that the programs will be shuttered.

University leaders said the decision not to accept new students was made after a spring faculty committee review. They also acknowledged the programs in question were small and costly to run on a per-student basis.

More broadly, the decision comes as universities large and small grapple with finding ways to prepare for an uncertain future while holding on to their core identities. The tensions have played out in different forms at the undergraduate level, like debates over adding adult degree-completion programs, and at the graduate level, as even wealthy universities shuffle offerings like executive M.B.A. programs.

The changes come as St. Lawrence is “seeking ways to continue to serve our local schools and communities while focusing on our primary mission of excellence in undergraduate education,” according to a spokesman. The university is not making changes to its largest graduate program, a noncertification program in education leadership that typically enrolls about 40 to 50 students.

Still, faculty members who coordinated the certification programs that are not accepting new students say those programs served an important role in a part of the state where students have few other options. Some faculty members would have liked to have heard more from administrators about the decision.

Rumors of changes have been circulating for years, said Peter Ladd, coordinator of the mental health counseling program and an associate professor.

“Over the last four or five years, those types of things floated around,” Ladd said. “There was no real definitive statement made about getting ready for this. And it happened very quickly.”

The decision to suspend admissions came after St. Lawrence’s academic affairs committee studied which programs were costing more money than they were generating, the Watertown Daily Times reported in July. The decision will not affect tenured or tenure-track faculty positions, it reported, citing an email from Karl Schonberg, who is vice president of the university and dean of academic affairs.

Schonberg’s email also briefly outlines the process leading up to the decision.

“Just before commencement the university’s Academic Affairs Committee completed a report based on a semester-long review of our programs in education, recommending consideration of phasing out some tracks within the department,” says the email, which St. Lawrence shared with Inside Higher Ed. “In order to allow full consideration of those recommendations, admissions have been suspended for the coming academic year to the graduate certification programs in mental health and school counseling, general studies, and education leadership for students who have not begun coursework in those programs.”

Schonberg was not available for an interview, but he answered emailed questions through a university spokesman. Students who are still enrolled in the certification programs have been advised to plan on completing course work by August of 2019 “to anticipate any possible changes to their programs,” but no student will be required to complete degrees by the end of the 2019 academic year, he said.

“Enrollment in these programs was small and had declined over recent years,” Schonberg wrote. “In May 2018, we had only two master’s in school counseling graduates, two with certificate of advanced studies (CAS) in school counseling, and one graduate in teaching certification.”

But Ladd, the coordinator of the mental health counseling program, said demand had been strong in recent years.

“We had expanded it quite a bit because of the need for mental health counselors, and so it was a pretty robust program,” he said. “It’s not like it’s a dying industry, mental health.”

Students came from about a 100-mile radius, Ladd said. They came from working in human service fields or directly from their undergraduate education. The program enrolled between 20 and 25 students at a time and took two years full-time to complete.

A review of St. Lawrence’s recent enrollment data shows that the university’s graduate programs are just a small slice of its overall operations -- and have remained that way over the years. In 2011-12, its graduate head count totaled 96. Graduate head count rose to 102 in 2014-15 before dropping back down to 87 in 2016-17.

In contrast, the university’s undergraduate head count during that period ranged between a low of 2,361 in 2011-12 and a high of 2,435 in 2015-16.

Financially, St. Lawrence is in a stronger position than many of its peers, even though it is not among the country’s handful of wealthiest institutions. The university’s endowment totaled $296 million in 2017. That translates into more than $126,000 per student, placing St. Lawrence within the top quarter of colleges and universities ranked in the United States and Canada in the latest annual endowment study from the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

The university also posted consistent surpluses in recent years, growing net assets from $314.3 million at the beginning of 2014 to $402.4 million at the end of 2017.

Even against that backdrop, some experts think it would be wise for an institution like St. Lawrence to prepare for an uncertain future. Population projections show a declining number of traditional college-aged students in New York State, and demographics generally do not favor institutions in cold climates, like a part of upstate New York known as the North Country.

“The circumstances facing a rural college or university in terms of graduate programs is very different from what a college in the Colleges of the Fenway might have,” said Brian C. Mitchell, a former president of Bucknell University and Washington & Jefferson College who has written about higher ed operations in a changing climate and is now a consultant based in Boston.

Sometimes colleges and universities have to evaluate which programs can pay for themselves or which programs are likely to grow. They also have to consider whether certain programs don’t fit with their public face.

“There has to be an identifiable brand,” Mitchell said. “Mission matters.”

While St. Lawrence may have decided to focus on undergraduate education, individuals in its programs are still going to have to deal with the fallout. Some students who had been planning to graduate from certification programs after attending part-time over multiple years are having to change plans, said Kyle Blanchfield, a visiting assistant professor of education who is program coordinator for educational leadership.

“The problem we’re running into is the finances,” she said. “People were asked to come up with money they were expecting to wait three years to get ahold of. Now they’re told they need to finish, to graduate, in a year.”

The leadership certification program enrolls public school teachers who are looking to move into administration, Blanchfield said. They have had to teach for a number of years before they could enroll, and many are approaching middle age.

“They’re mostly local people from the North Country,” Blanchfield said. “There are a few that travel and relocate, but usually they have jobs on campus or something that supports that, so they get some tuition help.”

Blanchfield described the programs that have stopped enrolling students as long-standing and successful. Applicants had to be turned away. Some alumni have pushed back against the idea of closing them, Blanchfield said.

St. Lawrence suspended applications well before they were due in order to give prospective students as much time as possible to plan, according to Schonberg, the dean.

Faculty members still wish they could have heard more about the programs’ fate, and at an earlier date.

“It’s a private place and they have a right to do whatever they want to do,” said Ladd, coordinator of the mental health counseling program. “I told them that -- it’s your place. It’s not my program. It would be nice to know why, but that seems to be a very elusive answer.”

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Accreditors pressured to apply more scrutiny as for-profits look to change tax status

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 15 Ago 2018 - 02:00

Grand Canyon University enrolls nearly 20,000 students at its Phoenix campus, has among the fastest growing online enrollments in recent years and this past spring qualified for the National Collegiate Athletic Association's men's basketball tournament for the first time.

But as a for-profit institution, Grand Canyon could not accept charitable contributions, apply for federal research grants or take part in NCAA governance, the school's president and CEO Brian Mueller told investors last year.

So when the university’s accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, said in 2017 that it would adopt new guidelines governing outsourcing of various university functions, Grand Canyon jumped at an opportunity to pursue a corporate restructuring that it would allow it to operate as a nonprofit entity. The change would also mean fewer federal regulatory burdens for the company, although Mueller and Grand Canyon have insisted that was not a factor in the decision (as it has been for some other recent converts).

The accreditor had rejected an earlier proposal from GCU because it did not believe its standards allowed for an arrangement Grand Canyon proposed: to set up a nonprofit that would outsource a range of services to a separate for-profit company. But the new guidelines helped clear the way for one deal in a series of recent transactions in which large for-profit entities have sought to change their tax status.

Mueller noted to investors in the 2017 earnings call that HLC could approve the deal, reject it or kick a decision down the road.

“It would be difficult for us to believe it would be the last two because the thing is so similar to what is going on everywhere in the industry,” he said.

That corporate restructuring trend has attracted the notice of consumer advocates and Democratic lawmakers as well. Those critics see pursuit of nonprofit status as attempts to dodge federal regulations and have increasingly focused their attention on the role played by accreditors, pushing those organizations for tougher scrutiny of the deals. 

As the approving agencies for higher ed institutions, accreditors are among several entities that must give the OK to such transactions. And under the Trump administration, skeptics of for-profit conversions say their role has become even more crucial as the Department of Education has backed off previous skepticism of nonprofit conversions.

Accreditors aren’t necessarily responding to the new scrutiny by taking a tougher stand publicly on those deals, to the dismay of for-profit critics. The WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC) clarified its standards in response to a string of applications from for-profit colleges to restructure several years ago and says it’s well positioned to evaluate those deals now. HLC added to its guidelines where they previously did not conceive of the outsourcing deal, known as shared services agreements.

“The regionals have definitely paid inadequate attention to this issue,” said Bob Shireman, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation and a former Obama administration official. “And a few years ago that was understandable.”

Changing Regulatory Landscape

Grand Canyon's corporate overhaul comes as a number of for-profit colleges have pursued similar deals. Purdue University, a public state institution, announced last year that it would acquire the for-profit Kaplan University. The nonprofit Dream Center Foundation said in 2017 it would purchase the chain of campuses operated by Education Management Corporation. And Ashford University said earlier this year it would pursue plans to go nonprofit.

In previous years, those transactions could expect to face more regulatory hurdles at the federal agencies that oversee such transactions. The IRS in particular devoted more resources and manpower to reviewing new applications for nonprofit status. But the unit responsible for reviewing nonprofit applications has dramatically reduced enforcement activity thanks to political pressure in recent years. That means accreditors can't rely on IRS scrutiny to safeguard the public interest, wrote Brian Galle, a Georgetown University law professor, in comments to the federal panel that oversees accreditation.

In announcing the denial of an application for nonprofit conversion by a Utah-based for-profit college chain in 2016, the Obama administration said explicitly that those looking to avoid oversight by reclassifying shouldn’t waste their time. Trump's education secretary, Betsy DeVos, however, has praised the Purdue-Kaplan deal as the kind of arrangement that promotes necessary innovation in higher ed.

Early reviews of the Purdue-Kaplan proposal appeared to signal that HLC was open to the more novel corporate arrangements, another signal to Grand Canyon on top of the new guidelines that it should make another go of converting to nonprofit status. The accreditor eventually approved the Purdue-Kaplan and Grand Canyon proposals in March.

(The Education Department said it is considering the Grand Canyon request to convert to nonprofit status in its review of the change of ownership transaction.)

The new Purdue University Global is a novel partnership between public and private institutions. The Grand Canyon deal would involve selling off the academic units of the university to a new nonprofit that would contract a range of functions to a for-profit in exchange for 60 percent of tuition and revenue.

Those involved in the proposal say HLC has begun to recognize wider changes in the higher ed sector. The larger context of the GCU transaction is the growth of online program management companies -- known as OPMs -- that distribute online courses and provide other services like enrollment management, said Neil Lefkowitz, a lawyer who advised Grand Canyon on its application. Restructuring deals where colleges contract out services to outside providers, proponents argue, would allow them to expand access and improve affordability.

“You want to recognize trends in the market. Accreditors don’t want to be the ones saying, ‘We’re inhibiting access and affordability,’” Lefkowitz said.

Supporters expect other for-profit institutions to take their cue from the Grand Canyon deal in pursuing similar arrangements.

Steve Kauffman, a spokesman for HLC, said the accreditor developed the standards in recognition that “higher education is shifting as new and innovative forms of structure and control evolve.”

The new guidelines clarified which types of agreements would require the accreditor's approval, including a scenario where a college creates a separate corporation that would provide a number of services to the accredited institution. And the guidelines require that an institution upgrade its conflict of interest policies and that it be allowed to terminate an agreement with or without cause.

What was critical about HLC's new guidelines is they explicitly addressed the kinds of arrangements that the accreditor's rules hardly conceived of previously. And although they don't even mention the terms "for-profit" or "nonprofit," they set out in detail how an institution could restructure its organization in a manner similar to the one pursued by Grand Canyon. Rather than converting its entire operation to a nonprofit, the university under those guidelines could contract out many of its operating functions from a new nonprofit university to a separate corporate entity.

But the details of the Grand Canyon arrangement came under fire anyway for the role the president, Mueller, would play -- he would continue to serve as company’s CEO and board chairman and also remain as president of the university and serve on the nonprofit board. The HLC guidelines allowed for those dual roles, but critics called them a conflict of interest.

A university spokesman said its December 2017 proposal amended its previous application to address each component of the guidelines governing shared services agreements but said there was nothing materially different between the two proposals.

Long History of Attempts to Reclassify

Democratic lawmakers put a spotlight on nonprofit conversions this year after a string of recent applications from large for-profit institutions. Before conversions involving large institutions attracted the attention of lawmakers, though, smaller educational entities sought to reclassify as well. Two years ago, the Obama administration blocked an application by Utah-based Center for Excellence in Higher Education to reclassify as a nonprofit, a decision that prompted a lawsuit from the for-profit’s owner.

An earlier round of nonprofit conversions drew scrutiny from Shireman, who labeled those institutions “covert for-profits” in a Century Foundation report. Among them were Herzing University, Remington Colleges and Keiser University, whose president, Art Keiser, chairs the board that oversees accreditors.

Keiser said that institutions have been changing tax status since for-profit colleges became part of higher education.

“They key is looking at the governance [of the institution] to make sure it’s done for the right reason,” he said.

But Kevin Kinser, a professor of education at Pennsylvania State University who studies accreditors, said those organizations are being asked to play a larger role in the regulatory and oversight process than they were originally designed to take on.

“I am not sure that accreditation agencies have the expertise to make these kinds of judgments in the ways they're being asked to do it when regulatory implications that are not about accreditation are so significant,” he said.

That perspective is shared by the Education Department's top higher ed official. Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy under secretary, announced recently that the department wanted to rethink the proper role of accreditors through a new rule making. Jones told Inside Higher Ed that accreditors have been asked to do too much that goes beyond their core mission -- including oversight of complex financial transactions. 

"The job of the accreditor is to make sure the school continues to operate well and its students continue to be served and that there are adequate resources to keep the thing running," she said. "They've been asked to do a lot more and to opine on financial conditions that are really the expertise of accountants and financial managers."

Jones said the department itself is better suited to provide the scrutiny of conversion deals that many want to see from accreditors.

"Those at the department absolutely have not been scrutinizing [those transactions]," she said. "That is where the department has expertise, and that is where the department has to take responsibility." 

The structure of nonprofit conversion attempts has changed as well. Antoinette Flores, associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said that a decade ago accreditors were reviewing proposals from for-profit companies for to simply purchase nonprofit colleges. More recent classifications have become increasingly complex.

If corporate higher ed restructuring is becoming more sophisticated, regional accreditors say they’ve taken steps to build up their own expertise on areas well outside academics and curriculum. The teams reviewing restructuring proposals at the WSCUC are versed in corporate organization issues, said Jamienne Studley, the president of the organization.

“For complex transactions involving structural changes, we deliberately choose accreditation teams made up of individuals with sophisticated expertise in organizational governance, financial and business arrangements,” she said. “We further backstop these teams with advice from leading lawyers and finance consultants experienced in these issues.”

Studley said accreditors have long been under the microscope at the federal level -- whether for their scrutiny of conversion transactions or for monitoring of poor institutional outcomes. As an Obama administration education official, she spent considerable time examining those agencies herself.

“Given accreditors’ responsibilities and the consequences of our work, that attention is appropriate,” Studley said.

WASC three years ago issued a policy on agreements with unaccredited entities as well as a corporate restructuring questionnaire.

The guidelines the organization already has in place as well as the expertise of its staff prepare it to evaluate those proposals, WASC says.

Other accreditors have taken more recent steps to update their own guidelines for the transactions. The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges, the national accrediting body that accredits CEHE, in July approved a policy change barring anyone with a financial stake in a for-profit provider from serving on the board or being a member of a nonprofit entity.

Those deals aren’t just a question of what may happen soon. WASC gave its approval last month to a merger of Ashford University and the University of the Rockies, two online for-profits owned by Bridgepoint Education. That deal is part of broader plans at Bridgepoint for Ashford to eventually go nonprofit.

Shireman, of the Century Foundation, doesn’t believe either accreditor has done enough, though. And he said the problem has gotten worse, not better.

“Consumers trust colleges labeled ‘public’ and ‘nonprofit’ because public and nonprofit control has been effective in preventing predatory behavior, making the schools safer places for students to enroll by separating institutional control from the financial stakes of investors,” he said.

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Author discusses his new book on anti-intellectualism and fascism

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 15 Ago 2018 - 02:00

A country that is not fascist may still experience fascist politics. And those politics are based on efforts to divide society and demonize groups. That is a major theme of How Fascism Works (Penguin Random House), by Jason Stanley, the Jacob Urowsky Professor of Philosophy at Yale University. Stanley identifies 10 "pillars" of fascist politics, among them "the mythic past," propaganda and appeals to the heartland. One of the pillars is anti-intellectualism. Stanley discussed that pillar in the following email interview, which has been edited.

Q: Anti-intellectualism has been present throughout much of American history. How is the kind of anti-intellectualism linked to fascist ideas different? Or is it the same?

A: Our suspicion of elites and what could be seen as anti-intellectualism can be healthy at times; we can see the American philosophical traditions of pragmatism and empiricism in this light, which can in fact serve as counterweights to the grandiose myths of fascist politics. But even this version has proven to be a weakness, one that makes us more susceptible to being manipulated politically. We have seen this play out in the case of climate change, where essentially apolitical scientists were successfully demonized as ideologues. We also have a history of what I think of as more classically fascist anti-intellectualism.

Fascist anti-intellectualism sets the traditions of the chosen nation, its dominant group, above all other traditions. It represents more complex narratives as corrupting and dangerous. It prizes mythologizing about the nation’s past, and erasing any of its problematic features (as we see all too often in histories of the Confederacy and the Reconstruction period, or of the treatment in history books of our indigenous communities). It seeks to replace truth with myth, transforming education systems into methods of glorifying the ideologies and heritage of the members of the traditional ruling class. In fascist politics, universities, which present a more complex and accurate version of history and current reality, are attacked for being places where dominant traditions or practices are critiqued. Fascist ideology centers loyalty to power rather than truth. In fascist thinking, the university is simply another tool to legitimate various illiberal hierarchies connected to historically dominant traditions.

Q: You mention David Horowitz and his various books and websites that offer names of professors for criticism as liberal, something also supported by Turning Point USA. Why are such lists a sign of a dangerous kind of anti-intellectualism?

A: Above all, the mission of the university is truth. Fascist ideology, by contrast, traffics in myth; for example, the myth of the cultural or ethnic superiority of certain groups, the myth of patriarchy, various historical myths about the nation’s past, and the erasure of any sins done in the name of the dominant national ideologies. Fascist politics requires the demonization of certain groups that are the enemies, which of course requires spreading simplifications and falsehoods about them (for example, in the U.S. today, those of the Muslim faith).

The organizations you mention specifically target academics who deviate from the myths that support American far-right ideology. They try to intimidate into silence scholars whose work reveals the complexities and contradictions of capitalism; they target gender studies scholars, scholars of Islam and the Middle East, and those for example in African American studies and indigenous studies whose work threatens the rosy picture of the past they wish our education systems to present as objects of veneration. By harshly attacking those who seek to show the truth in its full complexity, the organizations you mention undermine the search for truth. This is the essence of anti-intellectualism; it is an attack on truth.

Q: Historically, many professors who have been targets have been either real or imagined Marxists. Today many of the targets in the United States are scholars of race or gender. What is the significance of that shift?

A: In illiberal far-right ideology, equality is rejected, and hierarchy is embraced in its stead. Liberalism (and Marxism) in contrast each have some notion of equality as an ideal. So those whose work criticizes failures of equality are targets of reactionary illiberalism, whether that failure is systematic economic inequality, racial inequality or gender inequality. The goal is to delegitimize those who call attention to unjust inequalities along any dimension. Fascist ideology specifically focuses on hierarchies of race and gender, and so increased attacks that focus on those who defend equality along these dimensions are a particularly worrisome sign.

Q: You note attacks on scholars in Hungary, Russia and elsewhere. Do you see similarities between those attacks and those against scholars in the United States?

A: Yes, as I emphasize in my book, we are seeing very similar attacks on universities in the United States as we have seen in Eastern Europe, where universities such as Central European University and the European University of St. Petersburg have been attacked specifically for spreading liberalism -- a charge we are familiar with in the United States. As I document, harsh attacks on gender studies are a common feature of attacks on universities in both Eastern Europe and in the United States.

Q: Do you believe we are in a period in which fascist ideas pose a danger to the values of academe?

A: There is an unprecedented tidal wave of money directed at universities to help promote unfettered free market capitalism -- that remains, I think, the greatest danger to the autonomy of the university in the United States today. But there is also a worldwide nationalist attack on liberalism, which includes attacks on universities with a global, cosmopolitan ethos. I’m concerned about their convergence. Fascist politics are often useful tools for business elites, who are often not committed to the ideology behind them, but may find them useful as strategically useful weapons (think for example of the way that powerful elites in the United States have used racist appeals to attack government programs such as the Affordable Care Act).

My concern is that we could see a consensus forming that universities should be solely for job skills training, together with “Great Books” programs that glorify the various values of the ruling class -- from European identity to unfettered free market capitalism. We also cannot forget our history, that professors with voices critical of dominant ideologies have long been targets. Even David Bohm, one of the greatest physicists who ever lived, lost his position at Princeton University during the Red Scare, robbing the United States of a substantive connection to his legacy. It is far from impossible that those days will return. If universities are to retain their values, it will be key for university administrators to hold the line, specifically to protect controversial faculty members -- of whatever ideological stripe -- who challenge the status quo.

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Free college tuition for day care center workers -- with strings attached

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 15 Ago 2018 - 02:00

With a growing body of research showing the benefits of early-childhood education and increasing pressure on childcare centers to hire more educated and skilled workers, one of the largest childcare providers in the country is offering free college tuition assistance to its employees.

Bright Horizons Family Solutions announced last month that the company is launching a tuition assistance program for all full-time employees who want to pursue an associate or bachelor’s degree in early-childhood education. The program will also cover fees and textbooks.

“We really see this as an investment in our people,” Bright Horizons chief executive officer Stephen Kramer said. “Our view is that we’re going to be driving higher quality to our programs.”

The move by Bright Horizons follows the steps taken by other companies, such as Walmart, Starbucks, McDonald's and Fiat Chrysler, to offer employees free or low-cost tuition to help improve their skills and knowledge base, while also reducing turnover and fostering company loyalty. It's also an opportunity for employees to increase their wages.

Bright Horizons' tuition-free program is largely viewed as positive, but there are some strings attached to the deal. Employees who participate in the program are expected to stay employed with Bright Horizons for 18 months after they complete the program and receive their degrees. Employees who decide to leave the company during that period will be required to pay back Bright Horizons for a portion of the cost of their education.

Kramer would not say how much the free tuition program will cost the company, but he said he expects Bright Horizons will “invest millions of dollars each year” on it. “And we believe our teachers are worth it.”

A representative for the company said Bright Horizons employees who complete the program would see a bump in salary.

Bright Horizons is partnering with Northampton Community College in Pennsylvania and three for-profit institutions, Walden University, Rasmussen College and Ashford University, to administer the program. Kramer said the universities met the company's criteria for teaching employees and helping them earn two- or four-year degrees in early-childhood education. All four colleges have early-childhood education programs accredited or recognized by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. The colleges also offer degrees online, meeting the company’s need for flexible schedules. A significant number of Bright Horizons employees have attended the same institutions in the past to earn degrees in early education.

Bright Horizons officials were motivated to act after local lawmakers in cities such as Washington and New York took steps to increase education requirements for staff at childcare centers, Kramer said.

The District of Columbia last year became one of the first cities in the country to require lead teachers in childcare centers have at least an associates degree by the end of 2020. While it’s common for childcare workers not to have college degrees, a 2015 report from the National Academy of Sciences found that the childcare workers' level of education and training have not kept pace with what research in children’s learning and early development defines as ideal qualifications.

“Our goals have been to get out front and ensure our teachers certainly meet and, in most cases, exceed the expectations of whatever a municipality has,” Kramer said. “The vast majority of the nation does not have these stringent requirements, but obviously in those places, we’re still looking to push the boundaries on academic qualifications.”

But some education analysts have criticized government-imposed education requirements as unnecessary and too costly for workers.

Kramer said there is a diminishing pool of academically qualified staff available to fill these positions, but that hasn't stopped the company from hiring workers for its day-care centers.

“We believe that we hire for aptitude and train for skill,” he said. “We felt it’s our opportunity and responsibility to upskill our staff.”

About 1,000 full-time Bright Horizons employees have signed up for the program so far, and more than half of them are over age 35, Kramer said. The company employs about 15,000 full-time workers in 750 childcare centers worldwide.

Returning to College

One of those teachers is Sara Vanderhoof, of Flanders, N.J., who has been teaching children under age 5 for about 30 years, 22 of them at Bright Horizons. Vanderhoof, who got an associate degree in applied sciences in early-childhood education in 1989, had always wanted to continue her studies and earn a bachelor’s degree.

But after getting married, paying off college loans and starting her own family, Vanderhoof said going back to college would have created a financial hardship for her.

“With Bright Horizons offering this, it’s so amazing that I’m kind of giddy about going back to school,” she said. “I’m looking at Walden University, because they would allow me to be in my classroom and do all of my teaching, but also go to college on my own time.”

Vanderhoof said it’s easy to think that with all her classroom experience there is no need to go back to college, but a lot has changed in early education in the last three decades. For instance, when Vanderhoof first started teaching prekindergartners, they typically just learned the alphabet. But now she’s the lead teacher in a Handwriting Without Tears program for the preschoolers.

“If there is anything that can help me be a better teacher and help them learn and grow more, I’m ready for it,” Vanderhoof said. “Things are changing in the public school systems so fast and so much. The group I teach is a kindergarten prep class going into the school system. I want to make it so they’re prepared when they go into that kindergarten class.”

Kramer said the company was pleasantly surprised to learn that many of the 1,000 teachers who signed up for the tuition-free program were older and had years of classroom experience, like Vanderhoof.

“When people think of education, they think of people early in their careers,” Kramer said. “What we’re finding is many of our experienced people have recognized the value of going back to school. The challenge for them has been financial and getting into an appropriate program.”

The Bright Horizons program was designed to eliminate the financial barrier for employees and the roadblocks many adult students encounter when juggling work, family responsibilities and college, Kramer said.

The company is also training directors at each center to help employees participating in the program manage work and college, Kramer said.

The company will also assign each employee an educational adviser to help them understand academic requirements, counsel them about course credits and degree paths, and help them navigate college. The adviser will be provided to employees through EdAssist, a tuition assistance management company owned by Bright Horizons.

“We recognize that each employee has to balance their work and their life,” Kramer said. “We want people to take it at a pace that works for them, so we tried to put as few restrictions on the program as possible.”

More Education, More Wages

Despite the research pointing to the need for more early-education teachers with at least an associate degree, part of the problem of achieving that goal is the market structure built around the childcare sector.

“The National Academy of Sciences clearly state that the incumbent work force should be supported and work toward higher education and that the cost burden shouldn’t fall upon them,” said Lea Austin, co-director of the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment at the University of California, Berkeley. “It speaks to this need to think about and finance our system differently. Where is higher compensation going to come from unless you’re raising parent fees, and parents, for the most part, can't afford more than what they’re paying.”

Austin said families that rely on childcare centers shouldn't have to pay for upskilling the centers' workers, especially when the cost of childcare already takes up 20 percent or more of the budgets of low-income families. Instead, Austin said early education should be publicly funded, much like K-12 education.

Regardless of education level, early-education teachers in public preschools make more money than those in private childcare centers. The average wage for an early-education teacher with a bachelor’s degree in a public school-sponsored program is about $22 an hour, compared to $15 an hour in a private preschool program, according to CSCCE. Over all, college students who major in early-childhood education have the lowest lifetime earnings projection of all college majors, according to the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution.

Austin said supporting early education means supporting the education and service that preschool teachers provide.

“I don’t want to lose the importance of supporting teachers to earn college degrees,” she said. “We should find ways to do that and we should ensure they’re adequately compensated in a way that doesn’t displace families.”

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New presidents or provosts: Canterbury Delaware State Emily Carr Great Bay Guam Houston Jamestown Jefferson Missouri Ottawa Redeemer St. Mary

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 15 Ago 2018 - 02:00
  • Steven J. Berberich, associate provost for faculty and staff affairs and professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Wright State University, in Ohio, has been appointed senior vice president for academic affairs and provost at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.
  • Keith Brown, interim president of Jefferson State Community College, in Alabama, has been named to the position on a permanent basis.
  • Cheryl de la Rey, vice chancellor of the University of Pretoria, in South Africa, has been appointed vice chancellor of the University of Canterbury, in New Zealand.
  • Daniel DeMarte, executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Tidewater Community College, in Virginia, has been selected as president of Jamestown Community College, in New York.
  • Robert J. Graham, provost and vice president of academic affairs at Grove City College, in Pennsylvania, has been chosen as president of Redeemer University College, in Ontario.
  • John F. Healy, associate vice president for academic affairs at Minnesota State University Moorhead, has been appointed vice president for academic affairs at the College of St. Mary, in Nebraska.
  • Thomas Krise, president of Pacific Lutheran University, in Washington, has been named president of the University of Guam.
  • Wilma Mishoe, interim president of Delaware State University, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Pelema I. Morrice, vice provost for enrollment management and strategic development at the University of Missouri at Columbia, has been named president of Great Bay Community College, in New Hampshire.
  • Latha Ramchand, dean of the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston, has been appointed provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Missouri at Columbia.
  • Gillian Siddall, vice president academic and provost at the OCAD University, has been selected as president and vice chancellor of Emily Carr University of Art + Design, in British Columbia.
  • Reggies Wenyika, president of Southwestern Christian University, in Oklahoma, has been chosen as president of Ottawa University, in Kansas.
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Coaching pressures likely led to 'toxic' environment in football at U of Maryland

Inside Higher Education - Mar, 14 Ago 2018 - 02:00

Four years ago, the University of Maryland at College Park officially joined the NCAA's prestigious and affluent Big Ten Conference, departing from its place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

With the move came criticism that the institution was alienating its fan base by leaving behind a tradition-rich relationship with the ACC. Supporters were worried that the programs that would generate the most revenue -- men’s basketball and football -- would struggle competitively. That in turn created concerns among faculty members and that coaches would feel intense pressure to do whatever was needed to succeed. 

Today, Maryland is the subject of a scandal alleging that coaches were exceptionally abusive toward players -- stemming, perhaps, from that need to win, experts said in interviews with Inside Higher Ed.

ESPN detailed in a report Friday a “toxic” environment for Maryland football players, in which they would have small weights hurled at them and were verbally put down. In one case, a player said he vomited after the coaching staff forced him to overeat.

Most troubling in the ESPN reporting were details of a football player’s death in June, reportedly from heatstroke after a team workout in which his temperature reached at least 106 degrees. The outlet attempted to interview head football coach, D. J. Durkin, and three other coaching staffers who were at the heart of the accusations, but were unsuccessful. 

“After the guy died a few months ago, you would think the university administration would be all over this damn program and making sure this never happened again,” said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and professor at Smith College. “To me, that is a really damning outcome -- that this has continued, and that the coaches have been able to get away with this. It’s like turning Bill Cosby loose at a nightclub. You just shouldn’t do it.”

Details leaked out in the Maryland case before the university acted. The institution kept Durkin, Rick Court, the football team’s strength and conditioning coach, athletics trainer Wes Robinson and Steve Nordwall, an assistant athletics director, in their jobs until the ESPN story aired the issues.

ESPN, citing current and former players and employees, some anonymously, reported that Durkin and Court were particularly demeaning and would often verbally abuse players. One former staffer recalled Court knocking a plate of food out of a player’s hands as the player was rushing from a meal to get to a team meeting. Once an injured player was forced to do a tug-of-war competition with the entire defensive back unit until he passed out.

A former offensive lineman who was struggling with his weight was forced to eat candy bars as a form of humiliation and told ESPN that the coaching staff made him eat plates of food in front of them, sometimes until he vomited.

ESPN also described the death of Jordan McNair, the 19-year-old, 6-foot, 4-inch, 325-pound redshirt freshman who died after collapsing at a practice May 29. After sprint workouts, McNair was unable to control his breath, which led to a seizure, various news media reported. He died in the hospital 15 days later, on June 13.

Though Maryland is perhaps the most severe case in recent history of an alleged abusive culture, there are many more examples -- even within the Big Ten. Most prominently, Mike Rice, the former head men's basketball coach at Rutgers University, was fired in 2013 after a video of him surfaced calling players "faggots" and throwing basketballs at them. In February, the fiery men's basketball coach at Colorado State University, Larry Eustachy, resigned after the institution started investigating the program's "climate." The former athletics director had recommended Eustachy be fired several years prior to that, but the university president at the time overruled him, despite an investigation that found that Eustachy had emotionally abused his players and assistant coaches.

At Maryland, the investigation into McNair's death started with the help of an outside consultant, but ESPN reported that interviews with players were brief and conducted near Durkin’s office. It was easy for him, then, to figure out who had signed up to speak with the lawyer Maryland hired, even though the interviews were supposed to be anonymous.

Even if an athlete dies, it is unusual to put staffers on leave, and so Maryland was not outside the norm for not immediately doing so with Durkin, said Christian Dennie, a lawyer and partner at the Texas-based Barlow Garsek and Simon, who specializes in sports law cases. Only when there is the potential for liability would someone be placed on leave, Dennie said.

"Or in the alternative, you are attempting to remove someone influential from being influential over other people in the investigation -- trying to separate them to get the true and honest facts of the case," Dennie said.

Maryland likely did not suspend or fire Durkin outright after the ESPN story because it did not want to give the appearance of being unfair to him, Michael McCann, director of the Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire, noted in a Sports Illustrated column. In case the institution eventually did terminate Durkin, administrators would not want him to say that they did so unlawfully, McCann wrote. Firing him without cause would also cost the university a lot of money, McCann indicated.

Durkin’s type of behavior is not isolated, though it certainly is extreme, said Kenneth L. Shropshire, chief executive of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University. He said that even back in the early 1970s, when he was a football player at Stanford University, coaches would curse and use inappropriate language to the team -- a model of intimidation and dominance, testing players’ masculinity, seems to be the norm, Shropshire said.

Durkin was hired away from the University of Michigan, where he worked as the defensive coordinator under Jim Harbaugh. Durkin also worked with Urban Meyer at Ohio State University. Meyer was also recently put on leave while the university investigates allegations that one of Meyer's former assistant coaches, Zach Smith, abused his wife, and that Meyer potentially knew about it. Durkin has reportedly tried to put his stamp on the Maryland program and deliberately tried to schedule practices during some of the hottest days, news media have reported.

Maryland's athletics director, Damon Evans, is also relatively new in his position -- and was a controversial pick. Before he left his job as athletics director at University of Georgia in 2010, he was arrested for drunk driving and told police, "I am not trying to bribe you, but I am the athletic director of the University of Georgia."

The coaches at Maryland were likely pressured to win because of the institution’s fairly recent entry into the Big Ten, Smith College's Zimbalist said. While theoretically the Big Ten’s TV contracts would yield Maryland more money, if the football team constantly loses games to powerhouses in the conference such as Ohio State University and the University of Michigan, fans and donors would be turned off, he said.

Creating a credible team would ensure the coaches stayed longer, and eventually likely lead to a better offer from another institution, Zimbalist said.

“Overwhelmingly, there are incentives to win,” he said. “I think that’s what’s going on.”

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Former professor at New School accuses it of failing to live up to its own progressive reputation

Inside Higher Education - Mar, 14 Ago 2018 - 02:00

The New School is known as a forward-thinking institution. Yet a new federal lawsuit alleges that it denied tenure to a scholar who is a sexual and racial minority because she was doing too much work on diversity.

The university denies that but says it’s limited about what it can say about an ongoing legal matter. Either way, the contours of the case are familiar in an era of big institutional diversity initiatives, in that a university allegedly wooed a faculty member who could help it meet its diversity goals but failed to adequately support her once she was hired. It's also something of a cautionary tale for interdisciplinary scholars with creative media projects seeking tenure in more traditional academic departments.

Robin J. Hayes, a black lesbian filmmaker who was Yale University’s first Ph.D. in a joint program in political science and African American studies, says the New School denied her tenure on the basis of race and sexual orientation. Her lawsuit alleges that the New School historically lacks faculty diversity and that no black lesbian has earned tenure since before 1997, when students protested the denial of tenure to M. Jacqui Alexander, a black lesbian who is now a professor emeritus of women's and gender studies at the University of Toronto. Hayes’s lawsuit also says that the New School’s nonwhite student statistics are skewed by the campus’s large number of international students.

The New School referred questions about its ethnic makeup to public sources, including College Factual, which reports its nonresident “alien” undergraduate population as 33 percent. That’s more than most other institutions in the country. Of U.S. resident students, 12 percent are Hispanic, 9 percent are Asian and 6 percent are black, according to the federal College Scorecard.

The university's faculty is 8 percent black, according to College Factual. That puts it ahead of many other campuses in terms in terms of representation, but far behind the share of the U.S. population over all that is black (13 percent).

A Promising Start

Essentially, Hayes’s lawsuit alleges she is a victim of the New School’s scramble to diversify its faculty following a 2009 internal report identifying a lack of tenured and tenure-track faculty members and leaders of color and little oversight and support for ongoing diversity efforts. In its haste to hire Hayes in response to public criticism of the university based on the report, the lawsuit alleges, the New School did not pay adequate attention to the other key part of any successful faculty diversity initiative: climate. And indeed, many scholars of the academic work force have cautioned amid diversity efforts nationwide that it’s not enough to simply hire underrepresented minority faculty members. Rather, climate must be monitored and other supports offered so that these scholars stay and succeed.

Regarding that controversial internal report on diversity, the university said it was published online in 2010. That same year, according to the lawsuit, Hayes was thriving in a tenure-track position at Santa Clara University. But the New School recruited her, promising her a position at what are now the Schools for Public Engagement and asking her to promote learning and scholarship about inequality. Her formal appointment was to the Milano School of Management and Urban Policy as an assistant professor of nonprofit management and urban policy, with courtesy appointments in international affairs and media studies.

Evaluations of her work by both students and faculty members were consistently strong, according to the lawsuit. Among her achievements, Hayes counts the establishment of a successful New Leaders for Social Change internship program, in 2011, and the release of an award-winning feature film, Black and Cuba, in 2014.

Yet Hayes says she was consistently denied mentorship, a partner hire for her same-sex partner, an early tenure review, workload relief for a faculty-student collaboration on which she says she spent 25 hours per week and even a replacement computer -- unlike her heterosexual white colleagues in similar positions. She also says she was paid less than similarly situated professors but was denied information about peer salaries when she asked whether her pay was fair.

Disappointing Climate

In 2012, she says, her assigned faculty mentor met for lunch with her just once and offered some feedback on a draft article. Despite that failure of mentorship, the mentor was soon promoted to an associate deanship. She failed to notify Hayes that she no longer considered herself her mentor, however, according to the lawsuit, leaving Hayes in the lurch when it came time to prepare for a major pretenure review. After that, a new assigned mentor, who is white, allegedly expressed surprise that the New School hadn’t assigned Hayes a mentor of color. Hayes found the comment offensive, a classic form of "racial marginalization," according to the lawsuit.

In 2014, Hayes says, the New School also resisted her plan to teach a summer-term hip-hop, media-making and democracy lab, despite the fact that hip-hop has a footprint at other, highly regarded institutions. Additionally, she says, a white administrator with whom Hayes met about the proposed lab said during the meeting -- allegedly with no prompting -- that she was planning to attend a conference on white privilege and that she regretted having adopted a child of another race because of the pressures her child faces. At a later meeting, that same administrator is alleged to have said that “senior faculty” members would not "appreciate" the hip-hop course.

Hayes says that while she was eventually approved to teach the lab, she was granted lower pay than is typical for summer courses -- about 50 percent less.

She also says that she was told to do “less around diversity” regarding service during her postprobationary review. She was also advised to build relationships with the faculty and do more service in media studies, where she only had a courtesy appointment. Hayes says she took that to mean that she’d need to start her tenure process over, in that she’d be denied tenure in her primary appointment.

“Instructing Hayes to take time away from her scholarship and perform ‘housekeeping’ services for the university further telegraphed the university’s discriminatory intention,” reads the lawsuit, echoing research on gendered and racialized expectations for service.

Another administrator also allegedly advised her to write a book to gain tenure, which Hayes says was never otherwise expressed to her or written. Previously, Hayes understood that her film work would count toward tenure.

In fall 2015, after being denied the opportunity to apply for tenure early, Hayes says, she told another associate dean about her concerns about discrimination. That dean also allegedly advised Hayes that she should abandon her creative work in pursuit of tenure -- even though New School’s Faculty Handbook states that creative work is tenure-eligible scholarship. That same dean allegedly called Hayes on her personal mobile phone at a later date and asked her why she was working on a separate television project, telling her he thought she’d agreed to “forget the whole media thing.”

Termination

In 2016, Hayes -- allegedly upon the advice of the dean -- sought an outside job offer and approached the New School with it to complain about how she’d been treated and potentially renegotiate a contract. Administrators allegedly said they did not want her to leave but asked her to sign a contract stating she would complete two projects to be eligible for tenure, a tougher standard than what is outlined in the Faculty Handbook.

Hayes also made several complaints about discrimination, which she says were never investigated. At the same time, she says, the university was attempting to terminate her. In 2017, it finally did, citing her “protest” over the alleged discrimination, the fact that she’d informed students that a class might be canceled due to low enrollment and her failure to meet with administrators in a timely manner to discuss course scheduling. The university also said that she’d failed to report to a class and that she’d resigned, both of which she denies. Her last day of employment was in March 2017, and she hasn’t been allowed to schedule a hearing to appeal the termination.

The New School said in a statement that "the allegations set forth in the complaint are false and completely without merit, and we look forward to vigorously contesting them in a court of law."

Benjamin Dictor, Hayes’s attorney, said she was unavailable for comment on the pending case. But he said that case is about more than just Hayes, in that “institutions like the New School have long been able to hide behind their progressive veneers to avoid scrutiny of policies and practices that contradict their public images.”

The New School “had many opportunities to support Prof. Hayes and failed to do so,” he added. It “not only discriminated against Prof. Hayes in the context of her employment and scholarship,” but also “retaliated against her when she complained about that.” Such treatment is only the most recent example “of a culture and history of discrimination” at the institution.

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