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At first glance, Grinnell College’s Ignite Program seems like an unlikely source of controversy.
The program has local students in prekindergarten through sixth grade coming to campus for courses crafted and taught by college students, according to its description online. The younger students gain exposure to a college atmosphere, helping them get ready for higher education in the future. In its first three years, the program hosted 580 students taking 105 different classes.
Ignite, the description says, is funded by “a generous gift from Helen Redmond and Pete Brownell, the Grinnell Careers in Education Professions program, and Grinnell College's Office of Community Enhancement and Engagement.” It all seems very fitting for a college that proudly proclaims its historical roots as a center for abolitionist activity and continues to tout its commitment to social responsibility.
Except Pete Brownell is the president of the National Rifle Association.
Brownell’s name caught the eye of several Grinnell alumni who are in favor of gun control and thus in opposition to the NRA’s agenda. In their estimation, the gift from Brownell -- and Redmond, to whom he is married -- helped to whitewash a reputation stained by his leading position in the gun lobby. By accepting the money and publicly recognizing the man, Grinnell bestowed upon him a fig leaf of respectability with which to hide the indecency of the organization he leads, they argue.
The flap over Brownell helped to push the college to revise its gift acceptance policy this month. New language was added saying Grinnell can consider the source of funds when deciding whether to accept or decline a gift. Also added was language calling for specific constituencies to be involved in screening gift proposals if those gifts would benefit particular programs, and the president of Grinnell’s Alumni Council was added to a Gift Acceptance Committee for screening funds.
Not everyone at Grinnell shares the opinion that accepting Brownell’s gift was inappropriate -- some professors included. In an environment where colleges are always scrambling for money, some have worried the college will struggle to find donors deemed acceptable, that it has staked out a moral high ground that leaves little room for associating with anyone else. After all, it does not seem to bother recipients of Nobel Prizes that the prizes were created by the inventor of dynamite. Nor are Rhodes Scholarships going unclaimed because they were created by a leading imperialist of his day.
The situation at Grinnell stands out because it is intertwined with the particularly inflammatory topics of guns and politics at a time when the campus has been the home of much activity by anti-gun-violence activists. Recent school shootings like the one last week in Florida -- which predates this debate -- also add to its resonance. But it strikes at issues not related to firearms.
Grinnell’s debate over accepting gifts is hardly the only one playing out recently. Many have wondered whether colleges confer legitimacy when they recognize donors, or whether they are being played by big-money muscle without even realizing it.
Recently, the University of California, Irvine, found itself under fire for taking a $200 million gift from a couple critics allege back junk science. Donations to universities by the Sackler family, which largely draws its fortune from prescription drugs, including opioids, have been scrutinized. Money from David and Charles Koch, the principal owners of the petrochemical company Koch Industries, always seems to cause an uproar because of concerns about their money coming with strings attached.
In such a climate, it should come as no surprise that many institutions are considering adding or updating gift acceptance policies to account for institutional values or reputational risk of being affiliated with donors. Even discounting policies, many gift agreements now include provisions for renaming or denaming buildings and programs should a donor become involved in a scandal that would compromise the reputation of an institution.
The movement comes with very real concerns, however. Determining who is an acceptable donor is a difficult, imprecise task, because a personal donation is different from one made in an official capacity. And if you don’t take money from the president of the NRA, do you also refuse money from all card-carrying members?
Separating the Individual Donor From the Organization
Those who criticize the Brownell donation say the president of the NRA is different.
“He is really in a position to exercise direct, official action,” said Alana Smart. “You cannot separate the individual from the organization, in my mind, because of his role. It is so prominent.”
Smart is a member of Grinnell’s Class of 1968, one of the loudest voices pushing for changes to the college’s gift policy. She is also co-chair of a group called Colorado Faith Communities United to End Gun Violence.
She has heard the argument that Brownell made his donation on a personal check, not a check from the NRA. It wasn’t a check from his company, Brownells, which has its retail store a few miles from the college campus and bills itself as the “World’s Largest Supplier of Firearms Accessories and Gunsmithing Tools.”
Smart added that she would not object to Brownell coming on campus to speak or start a dialogue.
“That’s what Grinnell is there for,” she said. “The issue is putting that Grinnell Good Housekeeping seal of approval on Pete Brownell.”
Other alumni from the Class of 1968 say they’ve heard pushback based on the idea that Brownell should be exempted from scrutiny of his national role because he and his wife are good members of the local community. Redmond is president of the local Board of Education. Many say Brownell is a “good guy” and that their children go to school with the couple’s children, said Charles Connerly, a member of the class who is now director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Iowa.
In response, Connerly brings up the history of Grinnell. The college was staunchly opposed to slavery, even relocating to be in an abolitionist town, he said. It is in its character to take stances that are not consistent with its neighbors.
Connerly acknowledges there might be a line where it’s difficult to decide whether it’s appropriate to differentiate between a leader’s behavior and the behavior of the organization they head. But this isn’t it, he said. Regardless of where you draw the line, the NRA has crossed it.
“There is a difference," he said. ”There is a clear record of the NRA, and there is a clear record of Brownell as president in the NRA. There is no innuendo.”
Supporters of this position can point to what they say is inflammatory rhetoric. The NRA posts memes, for instance, saying things like, “My door isn’t locked for my protection, it’s locked for yours” and encouraging viewers to pick one: victim or gun owner.
But they can also point to the way the NRA has written about Brownell and his relationship to Grinnell College. He was profiled on a “Ring of Freedom” section on the NRA’s website. In part, it described him leaving faculty members “giddy with excitement” at firing a handgun.
Pete and his family live in Grinnell, a town of around 10,000 east of Des Moines in central Iowa. The spick-and-span community likes to refer to itself as the “jewel of the prairie” and is home to Grinnell College, an excellent Midwestern liberal arts school. Brownell likes to point out that the college hasn’t always been a bastion of pro-gun sentiment, and this omission of pro-gun common sense presented Pete with an obvious hometown problem to rectify.
“We started by opening up a dialogue,” Brownell said. “It wasn’t that the folks on the faculty really hated guns, it’s just that they didn’t know anything about them.”
So Pete volunteered to lecture on Second Amendment issues and, in time, managed to start a shooting club on campus. Then, when several of the professors expressed a desire to help with wildlife habitat enhancement on Brownell land bordering the company shooting range, the CEO sensed an opportunity to open even more philosophical doors. When the educators finished with the hands-on work involving plants, seed and soil, Pete introduced them to the shooting range.
For most it was a first. And, as is generally the case, the majority of the faculty left Brownell’s property giddy with excitement over having actually fired a real handgun. Today these same educators are regulars at the range. The newly committed gun owners have been known to take their guns with them when they return to New York for civic events. The professors hate to miss out on even a few minutes of range time, and the previous anti-gun sentiment at the college has been offset by an open-mindedness that never would have exited without a little push from Pete.
The passage in question is no longer in Brownell’s profile, but an online archive still exists from June 2017. The NRA did not respond to a request for comment or to interview Brownell for this piece.
Adam Laug is director of development and interim co-leader of development and alumni relations at Grinnell. When asked on Friday, he said he did not have any information about whether Grinnell was involved in the changes to the NRA profile of Brownell.
Laug declined to answer questions about Brownell’s donation. Grinnell does not release information about how much was given or the length of a gift agreement without approval in a gift release, he said.
The college is not endorsing its donors, even by naming them in association with a program, he said.
“We’re fortunate to benefit from such a wide variety of donors, volunteers and activities,” he said. “I don’t think that recommends any sort of endorsement, but rather an expression of gratitude.”
Laug was willing to speak in greater detail about the changes Grinnell made to its gift acceptance policy.
Additions include guiding principles that Grinnell accept gifts that have a reasonable expectation of benefiting the college’s mission and that it will not encourage gifts “inappropriate in light of the donor’s disclosed personal or financial situation.” Changes also add alumni representation to a gift acceptance committee that reviews the appropriateness of accepting certain gifts and add a provision that “in cases where gift proposals would benefit a specific program, department, or unit on campus, leadership of relevant campus constituencies will be involved in proposal screening.”
The changes do not expand provisions under which Grinnell should return gifts in certain situations, something some critics had wanted. Gifts can be returned if “deemed prudent” by the vice president for development and alumni relations.
It’s too soon to say whether Grinnell will stop taking money from any donors as a result of the policy, Laug said.
“I think that is something we have not yet encountered,” he said. “As we formulate our process for future gifts, we’ll know more.”
Experts predict more institutions will have discussions about evaluating future gifts. Concerns have been growing about potential donors attempting to use gifts to influence organizations, said David Bass, senior director of research at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. Universities aren’t only being challenged on new gifts, he said. They are being challenged about buildings, statues and programs named for donors decades ago.
“In an environment where we are seeing increasing numbers of institutions be challenged to change the names of buildings, change the names of programs, it may be more common for institutions to take some of that into account right at the start,” Bass said.
Clearly, morals and opinions change over time. The optimists hope new mechanisms like those being added to Grinnell’s gift acceptance policy can help colleges deal with those changing morals.
Not everyone is an optimist, though. Some worry Grinnell will be bogged down running background checks on every small gift. Samuel Rebelsky, a professor of computer science, wrote an extensive blog post on such possible drawbacks. He also argued there are few sources of large donations not tainted in some way, and that policies can be interpreted differently over decades.
“If we had the policy in place in the 1950's, would we follow the inclinations of the Senator from the state north of us and choose to refuse donations from those who are friends with communists or who had socialist tendencies?” he wrote. “The ‘You're not moral enough to give to Grinnell’ attitude worries me.”
In a telephone interview Friday, Rebelsky said he would not want to be an employee in Grinnell’s development office deciding whether to accept gifts. Everyone feels the college has absolutely clear morals, he said. But individual cases are complex in surprising ways, and acting on clear morals is often a cloudy proposition.
As for Brownell’s gift, Rebelsky said he is able to separate the man from the NRA. The Brownell-Redmond gift funds a program enriching education for students who aren’t wealthy, he said.
“It aligns with the college’s goals and with community goals,” he said. “They make a big, positive difference in town, and so I have trouble saying because of a different hat that one of them wears, we need to say no to them.”
Others feel differently. Eliza Willis is a professor of political science who helped organize a discussion of the gift acceptance policy changes. One of a college’s most valuable assets is its reputation, she said. Any gift that would seem to hurt that reputation should at least be discussed.
“It’s a hard debate, but we can’t just take money from everyone,” she said.
“As a political scientist, it’s a bit of a legitimation exercise,” she said. “There is some exchange that’s happening here, and I think we need to acknowledge more publicly what we’re giving these organizations is legitimacy, and that is a very valuable asset for them -- especially when we’re talking about very powerful organizations that have a lot of resources.”
Faculty and alumni are still worried for a number of reasons. Some didn’t get the rejection clause they wanted in the new policy. Many worry how it will be implemented. Grinnell first added its gift acceptance policy at the end of 2015, but the gift acceptance committee it created has yet to meet, they say.
Keep in mind, these issues are complicating the discussion at Grinnell. Thanks to its history and stated values, it should arguably be more unified about which donations to accept than the average liberal arts college or public institution with many disparate constituencies.
“There is a heritage going back to the origins of the college,” said Connerly, of the Class of 1968. “It’s what gives Grinnellians a degree of distinctiveness. There is a sense of identity that is being challenged by the source of this gift.”Editorial Tags: Development/fund-raisingImage Caption: Pete BrownellIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Gift From NRA PresidentTrending order: 2
Since early this month, President Ron Langrell has been on paid administrative leave from Bates Technical College, in Washington State. No one has said why he is on leave. But on Friday, The News Tribune revealed the reason.
The college and its board are investigating charges that Langrell has been intimidating and demeaning employees. One of the charges is that he engages in "unwanted hugging," and the investigation was prompted by a complaint from an employee who described being hugged by the president in November when their paths crossed in a hallway. He has acknowledged that he hugged her, and that he may have said that she "looked nice," but he has denied the employee's statement that he said she had "sexy" legs.
The interaction was caught on security cameras, and The News Tribune published video from which the above photo comes. The video suggests that the woman at one point hugged him back, but she told investigators (and colleagues to whom she spoke immediately after) that she was shaken and upset by a hug she said she did not seek, from the top official at her college. “I was shocked that, with all the news about sexual harassment, the president of the college thought it was somehow OK to hug me,” she told the investigator, according to a summary of documents by the newspaper. Those documents indicated that a number of other women employed at the college complained of unwanted hugs and what they considered inappropriate comments.
The president's lawyer told investigators that "Dr. Langrell was shocked and disheartened to learn of the recent allegations and the incidents reaching back to 2012 and 2013 … To the extent any complainant suffered due to his uninformed or unknowing actions, he accepts that his conduct must change and only wishes he was adequately advised on it sooner and given the opportunity to learn and adjust his behavior.”
Langrell and the college did not respond to requests from Inside Higher Ed for comment.
But several experts on college presidencies did. While not commenting on Langrell, they said that, as a general rule, handshakes are a better default greeting for a president to use than a hug. There are situations where a hug may be appropriate, they said, but they are the exception.
And while the Me Too movement has people more aware of gender and power dynamics than many have been in the past, these experts stressed that the issue isn't new.
"Unwelcome hugging has, of course, always been a problem," said Susan Resneck Pierce, president emerita of the University of Puget Sound, a consultant to colleges and presidents, and author of On Being Presidential: A Guide for College and University Leaders.
"I would advocate that, under normal circumstances, presidents greet their faculty and staff colleagues and their students with handshakes rather than hugs," she said.
Hugs may be appropriate, she said, at "public moments of celebration as commencement, retirement events and award ceremonies," but then "only when they have reason to believe that such hugs would be welcome." Further, she said, students, faculty members and other employees sometimes come to presidents "for advice and even comfort in moments of distress." In such situations, "a hug might be especially welcome and a handshake an inappropriate and distancing gesture." As with most things presidential, she said, "it is a matter of judgment."
But she said that the Bates Technical College case is an important reminder that "college presidents are always in positions of authority and power when it comes to all members of their campus community."
Roger Hull, president emeritus of Union College of New York, a consultant and author of Lead or Leave: A Primer for College Presidents and Board Members, said via email that he never addressed the hug issue in his writing. Sometimes he hugged faculty members and students when they hugged him in his office. But Hull said presidents need to always be aware of perceptions.
Common sense, he said, is the key rule. "My office door was always open, which meant not only that folks could approach me but also no one could ever accuse me of anything because we were not behind closed doors and conversations could be heard by my assistant," he said.
Judith S. White, president and executive director of HERS: Leadership Training for Women in Higher Education (and a regular contributor to Inside Higher Ed), said via email that she has noted differing expectations about hugging for people from different parts of the country. As a Southerner, she said, she sees in the region "high cultural expectations for hugging as a greeting." But she said she has "learned to use the two-handed handshake. Maybe one hand on the person's arm while I speak."
"Hugging is a pretty intimate physical gesture," she said. "It can be read as connecting or as controlling. The issue is whether a person with more status and power -- a president -- is attentive to how those around them respond. If they are not paying attention and just assert that they mean well, they are invading other people's space against their wishes."
White noted that she realizes that "presidents greet lots of people and have to make quick reads." But for that reason, she added that "they are better off not presuming a hug is the only way to convey a welcome."
Joey King, president of Lyon College and co-author of How to Run a College, said that context matters a lot, especially at a residential college. "At residential colleges and universities, the students are literally our wards," he said. "The younger ones, 17-18, are more child than adult. I have been in situations where they have literally cried on my shoulder. That would probably have been a bad time to insist on a handshake."
But King was quick to add that those situations are "more the exception than the rule." The bottom line, he said, is that when interactions involves presidents, there is "always a power dynamic at play."
King said that he knows "plenty of huggers, male and female, who are presidents and provosts." He said that they "tend to overdo it, in my opinion. My advice would be to stick with more professional salutatory behavior but for exceptional circumstances."
Judith Block McLaughlin, senior lecturer on education at Harvard University and education chair of the Harvard Seminar for New Presidents, which runs every summer, said "experienced presidents who teach in the seminar often warn new presidents that their behavior will be closely observed and interpreted, with meanings assigned that are far different than were intended. Hugging certainly is one current example."
She said that "we haven’t talked specifically about hugging, but it does seem like a topic worthy of conversation this summer."Editorial Tags: College administrationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Presidents and HugsTrending order: 1
A Department of Education reorganization plan whose broad themes were shared with employees last week would collapse multiple units with higher ed functions into one office whose leader would answer directly to the secretary.
The plan also calls for eliminating the office of the under secretary, which has played a key role in shaping higher education policy during the previous two presidential administrations.
Those moves would be part of a larger shake-up of the department that officials say is intended to make lines of decision making more clear, improve policy coordination and reduce the total number of political appointees. It would also be Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's clearest imprint yet on the agency after spending much of the last year reversing Obama administration initiatives.
"You can view this as a vision document," a department spokeswoman, Liz Hill, said via email. "It’s the beginning of a conversation with staff, the public and Congress about the secretary’s vision to make the department more efficient and responsive on behalf of students, parents, educators and taxpayers."
The overhaul plan came about after President Trump last year issued an executive order directing the Office of Management and Budget to propose a reorganization of the federal government to "eliminate unnecessary agencies, components of agencies, and agency programs."
To comply with the order, the Department of Education last May set up an internal committee to take advice on potential changes and outline how to overhaul the agency. A separate committee within the department has, meanwhile, met to identify regulations to propose for elimination.
Some of the changes being proposed by the department would require congressional approval. Others, such as the elimination of the office of the under secretary, the department could accomplish on its own.
Perhaps just as critically as that step, the plan calls for rolling the Office of Postsecondary Education and the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education into one Office of Postsecondary Education and Lifelong Learning. The assistant secretary heading that office would answer directly to the secretary. That would mean going from three top political appointees down to one.
Jared Bass, senior counsel for education and strategy at New America and a former senior policy adviser at the department, noted that the White House budget released last week cited administrative capacity as its rationale for proposals to eliminate several programs within the department. Yet at the same time the department is seeking to cut political staff positions, he said.
"That seems counterintuitive to me," he said. "Political and career staffers by design work together."
But two former high-ranking officials at the department said that taking the step to consolidate postsecondary offices may serve the department well.
Vickie L. Schray, former acting deputy assistant secretary for higher education programs under President George W. Bush, said that consolidating the two postsecondary offices would send a clear message about the need to recognize and value multiple pathways to student success -- and would be consistent with the administration's stated priorities.
"Bringing these two offices together could create some new efficiencies in the awarding and administration of grants and better align efforts to increase access to postsecondary education and improve programs and services," she said.
David Bergeron, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who previously served as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education under President Obama, said it was hard to judge the proposal without seeing the full plan. But he said combining the Office of Postsecondary Education and the Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education wasn't necessarily a bad idea.
"What OPE has long lacked is a strong relationship with state government actors, which OCTAE has long had. Using that as a lever to strengthen relationship with states would be helpful," he said. "Therefore, eliminating the assistant secretary for CTE isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It would, however, eliminate a voice specific to career and technical education and potentially for states in policy decisions."Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
The mass shooting at a Florida high school last week is hitting two colleges hard. Two of the victims had been admitted to and committed to attend their institutions. They were the oldest of the high school students who were killed.
Nicholas Dworet, 17, was a champion swimmer with Olympic ambitions. He was a recruited athlete who was going to enroll at the University of Indianapolis this fall.
Robert L. Manuel, president at Indianapolis, said in a statement that he (and the coach who recruited Dworet) had been in touch with the teenager's family. "Nick’s death also reminds us of the far-reaching impact of these national acts of violence. We will find ways in the coming days to help Nick’s family -- and I hope our Greyhound family can come together to engage the questions raised by these shootings and ensure that our community continues to be a safe place for all of our students, faculty and staff," Manuel said.
Meadow Pollack, 18, was a senior who planned to attend Lynn University. The university's admissions office posted this statement on Facebook: "Our thoughts go out to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims, to their families and friends, and especially to the Pollack family. Meadow Pollack, an 18-year-old from Parkland, Florida, was admitted to Lynn University and was due to join us this fall. She was a lovely young woman and full of energy. We were very much looking forward to having her on campus. We will keep Meadow in our hearts and memories."
Past tragedies involving gun violence have prompted discussion of the role of higher ed in studying and preventing gun violence.
- In October, the mass shooting in Las Vegas led to discussion of why federal agencies avoid studies that might illuminate policy on gun violence. A key reason is part of an appropriations bill enacted in 1996, provisions of which remain law. The key provision bars the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using funds to support research that “may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” Social science groups have long pushed to repeal the 1996 provisions, although Republicans in Congress have resisted any change. The American Educational Research Association, in the wake of the Florida school shooting, renewed its call for a change in the law.
- In 2012, in the wake of the murders of 20 children and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, two open letters from college presidents, calling for national action on gun violence, circulated and attracted hundreds of signatures. But as one of the organizers noted 18 months later, no policies changed.
Image: Reality Sandwich, 2015
Lederman, D. (2018) The uncertain landscape for online legal education Inside Higher Education, January 24The situation in the USA
This is a useful report about the current situation in the USA regarding the accreditation or otherwise of online courses in law. Does the American Bar Association (ABA) recognise qualifications where some or all the courses were taken online?
The answer is: maybe but in most cases so far, no.
In late 2013, the American Bar Association gave a private nonprofit law school in Minnesota permission to create a part-time Juris Doctor program that blended online courses heavily with face-to-face instruction. The Minnesota law school, now called Mitchell Hamline School of Law, just turned out its first two graduates this month.
A handful of law schools, including those at Seton Hall University, Loyola University Chicago and Touro University, have recently introduced part-time programs that allow students to take up to 15 credits online (out of a minimum of 83 credits), the maximum now allowed by the American Bar Association.
However, several other law schools have had their petitions for “variances”(as the ABA calls them) to allow some online learning rejected, including some quite prestigious law schools, including those at Syracuse University and Rutgers.
As the article states:
The mixed results about the fates of law schools seeking to expand their online footprints left some legal education observers uncertain about the prospects for online and other innovations in legal education. The ABA is expected to consider as soon as next month some loosening of its rules on online learning, but exactly how remains unclear.What about Canada?
In Canada, the provinces have delegated accreditation to provincial Legal Societies, such as the Law Society of Ontario/Upper Canada (similar to other professions in Canada, such as engineering.)
To qualify for admission to the Lawyer Licensing Process, an applicant must typically have acquired credentials through one of the following options:
- Graduates of an Accredited Law School (Common Law);
- Graduates of International or Non-Accredited Canadian Law Schools who must apply to the National Committee on Accreditation (“NCA”) to have their legal education credentials evaluated before they can enter the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Lawyer Licensing Process;
- Lawyers qualified in other provinces who meet the inter-provincial mobility standards.
Most of those applying for licensing in Canada will come as a result of graduating through an accredited Canadian law school. The Legal Society of Upper Canada provides a list of 20 accredited law schools. These are almost entirely within the provincial public university system, covering all provinces except Newfoundland and the territories.
I could find no statement on the Legal Society of Ontario site about courses taken at these schools through online learning. If anyone can provide me with such information, I would be grateful. However, in most Canadian public universities, online students take the same exams as classroom-based students, and as a result degree transcripts rarely indicate the mode of study.So are there online courses in law programs in Canada?
According to the recent national survey of online and distance learning in Canadian post-secondary education (2017), just under 20% of responding institutions (or at least 10) offered some credit courses online in law. This was more than in forestry, dentistry or medicine, but somewhat surprisingly, less than in engineering, a profession that so far has refused to accept any ‘distance’ qualifications. eCampusOntario lists at least 13 online courses in law from accredited law schools in Ontario.
A couple of Canadian universities offered a whole online program in law, but not necessarily a full degree. For instance Ryerson University offers the Law Practice Program. The program, approved conditionally by the Law Society of Upper Canada, adopts a hybrid approach, with a four month practical training period consisting of 14 weeks online and three separate weeks on campus. During these seventeen weeks, candidates work on simulated files developed by practising lawyers. This training is then followed by a four month work placement, where participants work on actual files. However, you already need a degree in law before taking this program.
Similarly once you have a degree, as part of the licensing process in Ontario, during an Articling placement, the candidate is expected to study the online Professional Responsibility and Practice Course (PRP). Therefore it appears that the largest law accreditation agency in Canada is not opposed in principle to online courses. If there is a reluctance to move to online courses or programs in law in Canada, it is more likely to come from the law schools themselves.
So my belief – and it is no more than this – is that currently there are some courses available online in law in Canadian universities, and some hybrid programs with a substantial online component, but no fully online degree yet accredited by a Canadian law society.
However, I would really like to hear from those of you working in law: what if any are the requirements or limitations in studying law online in Canada?
When Harvard University announced Lawrence S. Bacow as its president-in-waiting on Sunday, the institution focused heavily on his illustrious academic history, past presidential experience at Tufts University and family story as the son of immigrants.
Less discussed was Bacow’s age. He’s 66, about four years older than the average college president. If he stays at Harvard for 10 years -- the tenure he has previously said is about right for a president -- he will be stepping down in his mid-70s.
And Bacow is just one of several presidents in their mid- to late 60s or 70s to take prominent leadership positions at major universities in recent years. Last year, the University of California, Berkeley, named Carol Christ its next chancellor; she was 72. When E. Gordon Gee returned to West Virginia University’s presidency in 2014 first as an interim and then on a permanent basis, he was entering his seventh decade. Ronald Crutcher was 68 when he was chosen to lead the University of Richmond in 2015.
These prominent older hires come as the university presidency has been graying for years, a fact often attributed to colleges and universities valuing past presidential experience over youthful ideas during trying times. It seems search teams often adhere to the adage that with age comes wisdom.
Critics might see generational attitudes at play. Remember, baby boomers have often been pigeonholed as an attention-seeking generation putting off retirement planning until absolutely necessary. So why should they be expected to eschew pinnacle career positions, even as many enter their 70s?
But other forces are likely at work. Simply put, life expectancy has risen, and many people are healthy later in life. A considerable pool of older, experienced presidents exists, and a sizable number of ex-presidents are willing to think about one more stint in a job they love: leading a college or university.
Nonetheless, advanced age can also bring a host of other considerations, even for presidents. Those issues echo past debates about mandatory retirement age for faculty members. They can be surprisingly hard for colleges and universities to address head-on.
From the presidents’ perspective, age-related health issues really do exist. Presidential jobs are known to be packed with travel, stress and unforeseen challenges that take a toll on even the most resilient of leaders. From a broader point of view, older cohorts of leaders tend to be less diverse than students who are currently enrolled in college, and there are concerns that those now rising through the pipeline have had their presidential options limited by older, entrenched leaders on their second or third go-rounds.
Who Wants to Take a Presidency at 70?
In light of those concerns, it’s worth asking why someone who is past the traditional retirement age would even want to go back for another stay in the fishbowl of the presidency. Those who returned for presidencies while in their 60s or 70s say they did so because they are passionate about higher education -- not because they needed a job.
“Probably for each of the individuals in the jobs, there is a different backstory,” said Crutcher. “But I would say to all of us, it’s how we are as individuals. I’d parse it as the passion for the mission.”
Crutcher did not have to take another presidency after spending 10 years leading Wheaton College in Massachusetts. He interviewed for the presidency of a symphony before realizing he didn’t feel as strongly about leading such an organization as he did about the classical music it produces. Still, he did not immediately seek another university leadership position. When a search firm called about the Richmond presidency, he initially responded with a no.
In the end, he was attracted by the chance to lead a university striving for a diverse community. Richmond’s student body has grown remarkably more diverse in the last decade. Its freshman class jumped from 11 percent students of color a decade ago to 38 percent this year, said Crutcher, who is the institution’s first black leader.
“I saw that as a real opportunity to continue to do something I’m passionate about,” he said.
Even experienced leaders can feel more comfortable in their second presidencies. Crutcher shared some insight he learned from Bacow: if, as a president, you want to be liked, buy a dog.
The lesson -- that presidents are often unpopular -- can be hard to learn in a first presidency. Experienced presidents report that it can be different the next time around.
Or, in the case of Gee, it can be different the next times around. Gee had completed six other presidencies when he was named West Virginia University’s permanent leader in 2014. He’s done multiple stints at the university.
He thinks serving as a president at the age of 74 allows him to try some ideas with urgency. He’s cognizant of the fact that his time is limited.
“I can try it without a lot of fear about what’s going to happen next,” Gee said. “Obviously, I will not be going on to any kind of a next job.”
Gee’s return to West Virginia was about feeling a sense of purpose and possibility. Some people want to move to Florida when they hit 65 years old. Others see 70 as the new 50 and want to work as long as they feel they can do a job the way they believe it needs to be done.
“I have a particular way, in terms of energy and commitment, I want to be part of the university,” Gee said. “I don’t want to have to reinvent the way that I do it. I enjoy doing it the way I want to do it.”
The Presidential Pipeline and Diversity
Research has already noted a growing preference for older, experienced presidents. It was one of the key findings from the latest version of the American College President Study from the American Council on Education, which covered years up to 2016.
The average president was 62 years old when the study came out in June. That was 10 years older than the average president’s age when the study was published for the first time 30 years ago.
A quarter of all presidents had experience in the role, ACE found. At doctorate-granting universities, like Harvard, 27 percent of presidents held a presidential or chief executive position in their most recent job -- up from 21 percent in 2011 and rebounding to about the same level seen in 2006. And 29 percent of presidents at doctorate-granting universities had held two or more presidencies during their careers, suggesting elite institutions place a premium on past presidential experience.
A preference for experienced presidents has real ramifications on diversity at the position. Older generations tended to offer fewer women and minority candidates opportunities to rise through leadership positions. As a result, colleges and universities drawn to older presidents today are hewing more closely to the model of hiring aging white men than they might otherwise.
“By prioritizing experienced presidents, colleges and universities further skew the pool of candidates toward white men, which works against efforts at diversifying the presidency,” the ACE survey found.
Such a dynamic may have been on display at Harvard, at least according to conversations playing out in public this week after Bacow was announced as the university’s next president. The news set off biting criticism -- not necessarily aimed at Bacow -- that Harvard had replaced its first woman president with its third president named Larry.
The ACE study contained another interesting wrinkle related to rising presidential age: college presidents are getting older largely because of growth in the numbers of the oldest presidents, those over 70. The share of presidents over age 60 held steady between 2011 and 2016 at 58 percent, while the share over age 70 more than doubled, from 5 percent to 11 percent.
In other words, the real graying hasn’t been driven by presidents of Bacow’s current age. It’s because of presidents who are Gee’s and Christ’s age.
Gee thinks it is important for older presidents to mentor future leaders. But he also pointed out that the presidency isn’t for everyone.
“I think we’re all discovering there are not a lot of people who want to have these jobs,” Gee said. “They are the best jobs in the country, but they are also very challenging. I think because of that a lot of people believe there’s an easier way to make a living.”
How Important Is Experience?
Regardless of whether the candidate pool has evolved, many say the characteristics sought by search committees and trustees have changed.
At a time when higher ed is challenged by shifting student demographics, financial pressures, regulation and some political hostility, colleges and universities want to hire presidents who have experience. That often means interviewing and hiring candidates who are in their 60s, said Jessica Kozloff, senior consultant and former president at Academic Search.
“That old rubric of, ‘You’d better get that presidency before you hit the big six-oh,’ that’s just gone out the window, as long as everybody’s convinced this is somebody who is really coming to do the job,” she said.
Sometimes, those on search committees fear older candidates are looking for a soft landing before retirement. But it’s a sensitive subject, because search committees and boards of trustees try to stay as far away as possible from the possibility of being charged with age discrimination.
Concerns about a candidate’s age can often be assuaged through conversations about their depth of experience, energy level or planned length of stay in a position.
Questions about health are also off-limits. Health can be addressed in contracts calling for presidents to have a physical, but a candidate can’t be asked up front about their condition, said Rod McDavis, managing principal of AGB Search.
Ultimately, each board extending a hiring offer decides whether the benefits of an older, experienced president outweigh any possible drawbacks -- even if that decision isn’t openly discussed or made consciously.
“I think it’s good for higher education,” McDavis said. “I think it’s good for people who feel like they can still make contributions. Other countries across the world see the value of people who are in their 60s or 70s, and I think in America we’re just beginning to see the value.”
It should be noted that this type of conversation has played out before in higher education. When the mandatory retirement age for tenured faculty was eliminated in 1994, younger professors worried their career pathways were being blocked.
Some, however, took a longer view that may be connected to the phenomenon of older presidents today.
“It takes so long to get a Ph.D. these days -- 10 years at Columbia or Berkeley -- that people in the humanities tend to start their careers later,” Daniel Gordon, who was then a 33-year-old assistant professor of history at Harvard, told The New York Times in 1994, after federal law changed to stop mandating faculty retirement at 70 years old.
“For that reason, I'm glad about the change in the law, because I myself may not wish to retire when I'm 70,” Gordon said.Editorial Tags: College administrationImage Source: Harvard GazetteImage Caption: Lawrence S. Bacow, 66, is Harvard's next president.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Aging College PresidentsTrending order: 1
For the third time this month, scholars are questioning the integrity of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the world’s largest professional organization for the advancement of technology.
Last week, scholars criticized Alexander Magoun, an outreach historian at the IEEE, for comments he made on the organization's official Twitter account about the work of a female junior scholar that he later admitted he hadn’t read. Some called the comments he made about Google search returns for “white girls” and “black girls” dismissive, inappropriate or racist.
Magoun eventually apologized, saying he was criticizing the marketing of Safiya Umoja Noble's book on how search engines reinforce racial biases, not the book itself. But then all his original tweets related to the incident -- including his apology -- disappeared from the @IEEEhistory account.
In response to academics’ questions about why IEEE’s history arm would delete the historical record of a major public relations incident, IEEE posted a tweet reiterating an earlier statement that Magoun's social media posts had been “unauthorized.” (That idea struck some as odd, since Magoun is an outreach historian at the institute.)
IEEE is aware of the series of unauthorized tweets posted by @ieeehistory that were not appropriate. Because these tweets were unauthorized, they were removed. Unfortunately, the apology that was included in the series of unauthorized tweets was removed as well. 1/2— IEEE History Center (@IEEEhistory) February 13, 2018
The newest controversy involves allegations of plagiarism. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, IEEE’s news service, The Institute, published an article titled “Did You Know? Computer Matchmaking Started in the 1960s,” about Joan Ball, a little-known English shopkeeper who founded a matchmaking service in England and eventually the first computerized matchmaking system.
The original IEEE post referenced an article in Logic magazine, without naming its author, Marie Hicks, an assistant professor of history at the University of Wisconsin at Madison who uncovered Ball’s story while researching her recent book called Programmed Inequality: How Britain Discarded Women Technologists and Lost Its Edge in Computing (MIT Press). (Note: This sentence has been updated to reflect Hicks's current institution and that Programmed Inequality is not about Ball.)
Beyond criticizing the article for failing to name Hicks and note her original work on Ball, readers of the IEEE piece familiar with Hicks’s research also said the writing itself sounded familiar.
For example, here’s what Hicks wrote in Logic: “A ‘people person’ and quick study when it came to character, [Ball] found that when trying to make matches you didn't ask people what they wanted in another person -- you asked them what they didn't want [emphasis hers]. The rest was negotiable. Within a few years, Joan decided to start her own marriage bureau.”
And here’s what the IEEE piece said: “Ball began asking clients what they didn’t [emphasis IEEE's] want in a partner -- assuming the rest was negotiable -- and had them write down their responses in a standardized way that could be compared and quantified. In 1964 she helped design the first computerized matchmaking system.”
Hicks said Thursday that she was alerted to the IEEE piece by someone who follows her work. “It looked like plagiarism of my ideas and possibly text,” she said. “The original version of the article never referred to me by name, never quoted me even though it used words from my article in almost the same exact phrasing, and never credited me with uncovering this story through my 2016 research written up for the open access media studies journal Ada.”
Why does it matter? Before that article, Hicks said, “very few people, other than Ball herself, knew about her trailblazing role in computer dating, and it was not widely acknowledged -- in fact it was not it acknowledged anywhere that I could find, other than in her own memoir -- that she was the first person to create a successful computer dating business in either the U.S. or [Great Britain].”
People tend to think it was the Operation Match men from Harvard University or others who were the first in the business, Hicks said. Moreover, Ball didn’t “help” set up her own computer service, as is stated in IEEE -- she founded it outright.
“So it's the worst of both worlds,” Hicks said. “My research gets lifted but also gets made inaccurate in the process.”
Ben Tarnoff, an editor at Logic, agreed.
This article is lifted entirely from a @logic_magazine piece by @histoftech and never once mentions Mar's name. That piece draws on years of original scholarly work by Mar. I know it's hard out there for content creators, but this is very uncool. https://t.co/EiDb7WCpTC— Ben Tarnoff (@bentarnoff) February 14, 2018
The author of the IEEE article, Amanda Davis, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Monika Stickel, an IEEE spokesperson, defended Davis's work, saying that IEEE has a “strict editorial policy and we take any violation seriously.” In this case, she said, IEEE’s editorial policies were followed and the article is “in compliance.”
One of the sources cited in the article -- presumably Hicks -- “reached out and requested a more significant attribution, which IEEE gladly provided,” Stickel added via email.
The IEEE article now states Hicks’s name but doesn’t note the significance of her research.
Sarah T. Roberts, an assistant professor of information studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was following the debate online, said she remained concerned about the article because it “follows a disturbing trend of the work of women historians being inappropriately rewritten without attribution due.”
Computing history goes well beyond the actual writeup of the findings and involves primary research in the field, archives, sites or interviews, she said. “The true test is to the ask the reappropriating author, ‘Where did you find your evidence?’ and ‘How did you come to your conclusions?’”
It’s doubtful that IEEE would be able to answer those questions, Roberts said.
Other scholars used the incident as a teaching moment on the value of citations.
Read thread! For those in #evm441 writing blog posts, take special note of this when you write your own posts & how you may or may not be properly attributing someone’s work!! VERY IMPORTANT! (For anyone, really) #plagiarism #writing https://t.co/mw4ehZRXz7— Elaine Venter (@el_venter) February 15, 2018
More generally, Roberts said that women and other historically marginalized groups whose “pathbreaking scholarship and very identities challenge the status quo find themselves frequently in the multiple binds of having their contributions minimized -- unless and until that work attains a certain popular acceptance.”
And even then, she said, it runs the risk of having its origins erased “while being revived into popular consciousness as if it had always been known and therefore is up for grabs for anyone to appropriate.”
Saying she was “frustrated and distraught,” Roberts said it “hasn’t been a good few weeks for women scholars and the IEEE. I’m trying to figure out what my takeaway from all of this should be.”
“Here we are again,” she added.ResearchFacultyEditorial Tags: HistoryInformation systems/technologyResearchTechnologyIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Engineering Society and SexismTrending order: 2
Tucked into last week's U.S. Senate budget deal was $4 billion for student-centered programs that aid "college completion and affordability."
Congressional leaders who struck the deal kept that language vague to avoid another prolonged government shutdown. As result, it's up to House and Senate appropriators to determine the specific uses for that money.
A summary document describing the funding -- it mentions steering the money toward programs "that help police officers, teachers and firefighters" -- hints that one specific intended purpose could be a fix for eligibility issues encountered by borrowers expecting to get Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
But the amount needed to make that fix is unclear, and various higher education groups are offering their own ideas for how the funds should be spent.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, has made oversight of student loan servicers a top priority. Along with Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent, she's pushed for federal money to be spent on addressing eligibility issues for borrowers who expected to qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program but did not, she said, because of poor servicing and other bureaucratic obstacles.
“Congress promised nurses, teachers, police officers and other public servants a future without crushing student loans. Bad loan servicing, program technicalities and bureaucratic nonsense are no excuse for going back on our commitment,” Warren said in a written statement. “I’m going to keep working to make sure funding I fought for in the budget is used to honor that promise.”
The U.S. Department of Education said this week that, as of last month, it had received about 7,500 applications from borrowers for the forgiveness program. But fewer than 1,000 borrowers are expected to be eligible for loan discharge this fiscal year, in part because of the limited number of income-based repayment programs available in the early years of the program -- a requirement to make qualifying payments -- and the lengthy 10-year timeline to become eligible for loan forgiveness.
Well before the first students formally sought the relief on their loan debt, higher ed groups expressed concern about the number of borrowers who would actually qualify this year. Others have said subpar guidance from servicers and capriciousness by the department have created doubt among borrowers who for years expected to qualify.
The American Bar Association filed a lawsuit against the department in 2016 over the denial of PSLF to several attorneys. ABA argued that the borrowers relied on information from their loan servicer and "had the rug pulled out from under them" when the department said their employers did not qualify for the program.
It's those kinds of eligibility issues that Warren has made a priority of addressing, although she's talked about public-sector workers like teachers and police officers more often than the lawyers represented by ABA.
Other Options for the Money
Sen. Patty Murray, the Washington Democrat who serves as ranking member on the appropriations subcommittee for education spending, said in a written statement that she is pleased GOP members have agreed to new federal investments "to get students and borrowers much-needed relief."
"Students should be able to earn a college degree -- especially low-income students and those who have dedicated their careers to public service, including teachers and first responders -- without crushing financial burden," she said. "This budget deal is a step in the right direction to addressing our country’s massive student debt crisis, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to ensure we’re spending this money in the smartest way possible to truly help struggling students."
Appropriators will have a number of other higher ed priorities to juggle as they decide where to spend the funds before a March 23 deadline and how much money, if any, goes to Public Service Loan Forgiveness.
Several advocacy groups said new funding for higher education should go to traditional priorities like a more generous Pell Grant, which for the 2017-18 academic year topped out with a maximum award amount of $5,920. Jessica Thompson, policy and research director at the Institute for College Access and Success, said the group is focused on ensuring that Congress revisits prior proposals in the House and Senate to cut money from the Pell Grant reserve fund. The group is also pushing for an increase of $100 for the maximum Pell Grant, a measure Senate appropriators agreed to last fall.
"A modest yet meaningful one-time increase will help offset -- for at least one year -- the loss of the grant’s annual inflation adjustment after this year," she said. "While we are still thinking through the many productive ways Congress could invest that money, we commend leaders in both the House and Senate for recognizing the urgent need for new funding to help struggling students better afford college or more effectively manage their debt."
Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, also backs a Pell increase. But she said the funding is an opportunity to help students in new ways.
"Instead of using new funds only to reverse a prior rescission to Pell Grant program funds," she said, "lawmakers should keep Pell money for Pell and increase the buying power of this cornerstone of federal student aid."
Others have floated ideas about how Congress could amplify new funding by using it as an incentive for additional state support of public colleges.
"You could use it to increase the Pell Grant, or to index the Pell Grant to inflation for a couple of years. Or you could use it some other way, for some version of need-based or campus-based aid," said Clare McCann, deputy director of higher education policy at New America. "Or you could also invest in a state-federal partnership, to get some ripple effects from the additional funding."
David Deming, a professor of education and economics at Harvard University, suggested in a blog post this week that Congress make grants directly to institutions and require matching state funding. Such a measure, he wrote, would help push back on a trend over the last decade in which state investment in higher education has declined even as federal support has grown in the form of direct financial aid to students.
Deming said using the $4 billion to fund a matching grant program could provide a template for a successful national program.
"Ideally a smaller matching grant program could act as a pilot -- perhaps to collect evidence on how the matching funds get spent and what (if any) implementation problems arise," he said in an email.Editorial Tags: Federal policyFinancial aidAd Keyword: Public Service Loan ForgivenessIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
WASHINGTON -- The splay of fault lines running through nearly every facet of higher education widens in sometimes unexpected places.
Yes, there are the stalwart tensions: liberal arts versus job training, free speech versus inclusive campuses, public institutions versus privates, colleges versus regulation. Then there are the less obvious, yet still very real divides: educating adult students versus traditional 18- to 22-year-olds, giving colleges more public funding versus demanding they control costs.
Underneath it all are the esoteric issues, like the gulf between the high-quality education colleges and universities believe they are imparting to students and what many companies' chief executive officers think are poorly prepared graduates entering the work force.
Issues like the hazy gulf between higher education's perception of itself and reality.
Numerous fault lines came into focus Thursday during a series of sessions at “Higher Ed in an Era of Heightened Skepticism,” the first installment in Inside Higher Ed's 2018 leadership series. In both on- and off-the-record discussions, speakers covered public confidence in higher education, leadership, branding, strategy and possible paths forward.
Some of the tensions discussed have been exposed by shifting demographics, as populations in many parts of the country grow more diverse. Others have been exposed by economics, as income inequality grows and state budgets continue to tighten.
Politics hung heavy over most conversations. And rising tension between conservatives and higher education proved to be of great concern.
Also evident was the aftermath of the populist wave that lifted Donald Trump to the presidency. It left some speakers obviously leery of the new-look Republican party and others chiding blue lines of academics on the nation's coasts who dismiss the great red swaths in its middle. Still others railed against the excesses of Ivy League spending.
Dean Zerbe was senior counsel to the U.S. Senate's finance committee when Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, scrutinized wealthy university endowments a decade ago. He characterized a new tax law that targets large university endowments as a case of colleges and universities resisting reasonable attempts to change their behavior for so long that Congress ultimately acted in spite of their protests.
Zerbe also took aim at what he sees as a broader culture of not controlling costs.
“You all can say, ‘We’re trying,’” he said. “Stop. Stop. You've been trying for years. You've got to make improvements. You've got to make them now, today.”
He was far from the only one criticizing costs -- and the prices students pay for postsecondary education.
Zakiya Smith, strategy director for finance and federal policy at the Lumina Foundation and a former Obama administration official, pointed to problems with the way Americans view higher ed.
“They think they need it,” she said. “They aspire to it, and they are frustrated by how expensive it is and how unattainable it can seem.”
With the perception of higher ed such a focus, it might have been tempting to call for a branding campaign to wash away criticism. But the idea that such an effort is possible without changes in behavior was ultimately rejected.
“To think that we can have a better brand if we don't change is ridiculous,” said Elizabeth Johnson, a partner at SimpsonScarborough, a higher education marketing firm. “It's one of the real problems. Higher education has been so slow, so slow like a snail, to adopt even the basic principles of marketing and branding.”
In spite of the challenges, some tried to strike more optimistic chords. Joseph E. Aoun, president of Northeastern University, called for meeting students' needs, building a curriculum based on outcomes and delivering when and where education is needed. To paraphrase, higher ed should be much, much more flexible.
“That's a new world for us, but the world needs us,” he said.
If a single theme can be drawn from the many tensions discussed Thursday, it is that in a rapidly evolving world, nearly everything in higher education is unsettled. If one question can capture them all, it is whether higher ed, long organized to be insulated from the whims of the outside world, can adapt fast enough to its remarkable new demands.
The longer the question goes unanswered, the more the fault lines seem to spread.Editorial Tags: Adult educationCollege costs/pricesFederal policyImage Caption: Speakers at Inside Higher Ed's Feb. 15 meetingIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Fault Lines on Higher EdTrending order: 3
The local public library is a treasured (if sometimes forgotten) American institution, free and open to all. Recognizing this, Bard College has opened a satellite college in the main branch of the public library in Brooklyn, N.Y., offering disadvantaged students a free pathway to higher education.
The so-called microcollege, run by the private liberal arts college and Brooklyn Public Library, welcomed its inaugural class in January. Seventeen students, all of whom have each confronted hurdles to higher education -- including poverty, homelessness and incarceration -- were accepted to the two-year associate degree program.
The microcollege offers only one associate degree, in the arts. Students in the initial cohort will take the same three classes this semester, however, courses will multiply as the college grows, Madhu Kaza, the microcollege program director, said. The microcollege is taught entirely in person at the public library. Kaza was a writing professor at Bard’s prison initiative, a higher education program run by the college for inmates in six New York correctional facilities. The microcollege is modeled on this prison initiative, which began in 2001.
Delia Mellis, the prison initiative writing program’s director, is overseeing an intensive writing course, Susanna Kohn is teaching grammar, while Lara Pellegrinelli will lead an ethnomusicology class. The courses are similar in structure and level to those offered at Bard’s main campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y., Kaza said.
In keeping with the college’s unconventional nature, the application process was conducted in an alternative way, too, devoid of standardized test scores and requests for extracurricular activities. Applicants were required to interview in person and write an essay on a text given to them at the library.
Of 1,000 applications, 17 students were selected, based on need, ambition and intellectual curiosity. Most of the students have a connection to Brooklyn, Kaza said, although some live as far away as the Bronx. The student body is diverse, ranging in age, nationality, race, gender and sexuality, Kaza said. In this semester’s class, nine students are women while eight are men.
The program pays for several costs associated with studying in addition to tuition, including transportation, textbooks and a Google Chromebook.
The majority of costs will be paid for using a $450,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as well as through Pell Grants. Brooklyn Public Library is in the process of fund-raising to supplement other costs.
Max Kenner, executive director of the Bard prison initiative, said the university “shopped around” for microcollege locations, weighing museums and social services in Manhattan, but landed on the Brooklyn library for its cultural significance and its aesthetic appeal.
“Brooklyn Public Library was trusted by the kinds of people that we teach,” Kenner said. “We think we have something to offer the Brooklyn community, and we know they have something to offer us.”
At the beginning of last year, Kenner and Linda Johnson, Brooklyn Public Library’s president and CEO, met to discuss opening a microcollege together. Johnson was thrilled by the idea and the two immediately got to work, turning the concept into a reality in almost exactly one year.
“We have the collections, we have all the materials that students need to study, we have a space that is not dissimilar from a campus,” Johnson said
Next semester, administrators aim to increase the intake at Bard’s Brooklyn microcollege by three times.
Brooklyn’s microcollege is Bard’s second: the first opened in August 2016 in Holyoke, Mass.
At Holyoke, classes are held at the Care Center, a nonprofit that offers services to young mothers completing their high school diplomas. While the Care Center sees positive results, as three-quarters of the program's high school graduates go on to college, only 15 percent of these students complete their tertiary degrees. By opening a microcollege at the Care Center, students are able to continue studying without struggling with the burdens of money or parenthood.
The microcollege concept was modeled on Bard’s prison initiative, conceived in 1999 by then-Bard sophomore Kenner. About 300 inmates are currently candidates for an associate’s or bachelor’s degree across New York. The initiative is grounded in data: prisoners who receive a higher education while incarcerated are more likely to find a job when they’re released and are less likely to return to prison, according to a RAND Corporation study published in 2013. Among Bard graduates, 97.5 percent who were released from prison haven't come back.Editorial Tags: High schoolsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: