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Purdue to play key role in Infosys U.S. hiring and training push

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Purdue University unveiled another outside-the-box move Thursday, announcing a five-year deal with one of India’s largest technology outsourcing firms, Infosys, under which the university will perform joint research and provide training and classes for the company's employees.

The two parties cast the deal as a significant step in work-force development in both Indiana and the U.S. Given Purdue’s high profile as a public research university, it could also prove to be a notable step for higher education, moving four-year institutions further into job training more typically performed by community colleges and for-profits.

Purdue administrators hope the partnership addresses a feared talent gap in Indiana between the state’s available workers and the technically skilled candidates employers are seeking. Leaders at Infosys, which has traditionally relied heavily on importing foreign workers on visas to meet U.S. labor market needs, see the agreement as a linchpin in an effort to hire 10,000 American employees across the country over the next several years.

Leaders at Purdue are signing on to the agreement with Infosys just months after announcing the controversial acquisition of the online Kaplan University in April. The fruits of that pending acquisition, which will have Purdue taking the for-profit chain’s academic operations and turning it into a Purdue-branded nonprofit online university, could potentially be used for Infosys training.

Some Purdue faculty members are already unhappy with the new partnership, because they were not consulted about it beforehand. They were previously unsettled by not being brought to the table as the Kaplan acquisition was being formulated, and they see the Infosys deal as another infringement on their role of controlling curriculum.

But outside experts found a lot to like. They note that the agreement between Purdue and Infosys appears to approximate practices already in place at many community colleges and employers across the United States. Infosys also follows a similar training model in India, they said.

Purdue announced the partnership Thursday after Infosys earlier this year said it would locate a significant portion of its U.S. expansion efforts in Indianapolis. The company generates $9.5 billion in annual revenue and employs about 200,000 people worldwide, including a reported 27,000 in the United States.

It has said it could hire as many as 2,000 people in Indianapolis by 2021, spending millions to create what would essentially be a U.S. headquarters. State officials lured the company with an incentives package that could be worth as much as $31 million in training grants and conditional tax credits. The company plans to hire 10,000 American workers over two years at four U.S. hubs.

The U.S. hiring was seen as a concession to both changing demand for skilled workers and political realities in the United States. Infosys is one of the largest petitioners for H-1B visas for skilled workers in the country, hiring engineers from India and then outsourcing them to a wide range of companies in the United States for services like engineering and programming. That practice has sometimes been criticized as using foreign workers to undercut U.S. workers’ wages. President Trump has criticized the H-1B program, and his administration has said it will take measures against fraud and abuse in the system.

Infosys leaders have also said their U.S. clients want more locally based employees. Skilled labor is reportedly becoming harder to find in India.

“We have to create, organically, talent for the future,” said Ravi Kumar S., Infosys's president and deputy chief operating officer, in a telephone interview. “The company’s core DNA and culture is focused on training and learning and education.”

Infosys will be hiring employees who graduate from Purdue, so it made sense to work with the university for training, he said. The university’s Kaplan acquisition could also help it craft online training for employees.

Purdue released few details of its agreement with the company Thursday. The university will provide classes and training for “many” of the 10,000 American employees that the company plans to hire over the next two years. New employees will receive much of the training at the university’s campus in West Lafayette. “Lifelong learning” opportunities for existing Infosys employees will also become available online.

The university and company also plan to perform joint research and development of course materials. Those efforts will be focused on areas of strength at Purdue, like artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, biopharma analytics, digital agriculture and data analytics. A center is also planned at Purdue that will seek interdisciplinary ways to solve problems faced by Infosys clients.

Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The partnership could mean “millions of dollars in joint research,” according to a press release.

Training of Infosys employees at Purdue has already started, according to Suresh Garimella, the university’s executive vice president for research and partnerships and a professor of mechanical engineering. About 75 employees began training last month under a program that is about eight weeks long.

Purdue is merely hosting the training right now -- Purdue faculty members are not teaching the courses, Garimella added. As the partnership evolves, the university will likely enrich training offerings and provide some training itself, potentially with faculty members. Infosys will pay Purdue for services the university provides.

“There is new employee training, but also, one of the exciting things is they would like us to co-develop training or lifelong continued education for their employees in specialist courses,” Garimella said. “Those would be both online and on-site. We’re planning them right now, and those would be in computer science and engineering management and so on.”

Garimella hopes Purdue can develop course materials to be used for Infosys across the U.S. and in India. The company plans three U.S. hubs outside Indiana in its U.S. hiring push where training will likely be required.

Infosys has already announced one of those hubs as being in North Carolina. It plans to hire 2,000 in Wake County over five years under a plan that includes state incentives of as much as $22.4 million. The company’s state incentives package in North Carolina also includes job training from the North Carolina Community College System.

The 58-college system does not yet have a concrete plan for Infosys, said Maureen Little, vice president of economic development. Because of the number of jobs involved, the effort will be a major project for the system. But much of the system’s activity is customized training for employers. It was founded around the concept of work-force development, she said.

“That’s how we got brought to the table,” she said. “Being able to work with a company, develop, design and deliver a training plan that is specific to that company’s needs.”

The Research University Role

The type of arrangements Infosys is setting up are more common at the community college level in the United States. But even elite four-year institutions have some element of work-force development.

“It does occur in research universities, it’s just more upscale,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce and a research professor at the university.

The term "training" can sound too vocational for many in higher education, he said. But many programs in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and health care have elements of employer training. They just often have more highbrow names, like "internships."

What’s different about Purdue is that the university appears to be publicly contracting out the relationship and casting it as work-force development.

“It is a well-established market,” Carnevale said. “The question is, will this market spread at four-year institutions?”

Another unanswered question is on the financial end. Training can be a cash cow. And that can be helpful for universities like Purdue, which are operating in an environment of constrained state funding -- providing contract terms are generous enough.

“I think it’s smart,” Carnevale said. “I don’t know what comes of it. Clearly it’s a good contract to get. The question is, do you get full overhead? That’s always the issue, at least in my experience.”

Left Out

Some Purdue faculty members do not like the deal, however. They raised questions about the arrangement almost as soon as it was announced. Will Purdue be hiring new instructors? If so, where? Will some professors receive extra compensation?

The overriding issue is that faculty members cherish their traditional role as stewards of the curriculum. But the faculty’s governance body was not consulted about the deal, according to David Sanders, the immediate past chair of Purdue’s University Senate and an associate professor in its department of biological sciences.

“It seems that we’re going to be negotiating with an outside source about what is our curriculum,” he said. “The Senate leadership was not, a far as I know, involved.”

Faculty with relevant expertise took part in discussions with Infosys, said Garimella, Purdue’s executive vice president for research and partnerships. Many were excited about the coming possibilities, he said.

But for Sanders, the Infosys deal is one more blow against faculty governance at Purdue. He was unhappy when the university moved on the Kaplan acquisition without consulting the Faculty Senate.

Moreover, more and more Purdue research seems to be funded by corporations, Sanders said.

“I have long been concerned about the direction that our president and Board of Trustees are taking the university,” he said. “I believe they are just trying to make us a corporate training ground. That, I do not think, is the role of a place like Purdue University.”

Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels, is a Republican former governor of Indiana. He has been willing to try out new strategies since taking over at Purdue, not only with the Kaplan acquisition and the Infosys deal, but with income-sharing agreements and competency-based education. Daniels has also taken to speaking in soaring rhetoric about Purdue’s mission as a land-grant university for many state residents.

A partnership between Purdue and Infosys seems sensible, said Peter Cappelli, a professor of management and the director of the Center for Human Resources at the University of Pennsylvania. Cappelli has researched skills gaps and shortages in the United States and is familiar with Infosys and other business services outsourcing companies based in India.

Infosys mainly operates by hiring people in India and training them in information technology, Cappelli said. There, they tend to be aggressive about rolling out curricula and bringing in teachers.

“They’re pretty used to this,” Cappelli said. “The interesting question is, why don’t U.S. companies do this?”

Editorial Tags: Job trainingResearch universitiesImage Source: Megan Huckaby, Purdue News ServiceImage Caption: Ravi Kumar S., Infosys president and deputy chief operating officer, and Suresh Garimella, Purdue University’s executive vice president for research and partnerships and a professor of mechanical engineering, sign an agreement Thursday.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Report questions whether elite colleges do enough to enroll low-income students

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and its leaders, with some regularity, draw attention to a disconcerting reality of American higher education: many academically talented low-income college students who could succeed at the most elite American colleges and universities don't apply and don't know about the availability of aid that would make enrolling possible. The foundation criticizes the way many colleges recruit (with insufficient attention to those in low-income neighborhoods) and policies such as the use of binding early decision. Because applicants who apply under binding early decision programs must commit to enroll if admitted, many low-income students feel excluded, as they need to compare multiple aid offers to decide where to enroll.

A report issued Thursday -- "Opening Doors: How Selective Colleges and Universities Are Expanding Access for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students" -- praises some colleges for doing more to recruit these students, and suggests that there is much more to be done. The report recommends eliminating early decision, ending admissions preferences for athletes and alumni children, and limiting the use of standardized admissions tests.

But the report also gets a bit more granular and calls out colleges by name for some of their admissions and aid policies -- for the way they describe fee-waiver rules, how they introduce tools to let potential students figure out aid eligibility, and for the practice of many top institutions of blocking the use of a tool that the foundation says could help many prospective students and families.

The foundation starts off with evidence of why there is a problem in admissions -- based on a survey of the kind of high school students most colleges say they very much want to recruit: those from low-income families who have a grade point average of 3.8 and SAT or ACT scores in the top 15th percentile nationally.

The survey results show that concerns about college costs discourage one in three high-achieving low-income students from applying to any college. Further, 44 percent of these students never visit their top-choice college and 23 percent apply with no help from parents, teachers or counselors. These types of statistics point to all kinds of lost opportunities, the report says, and other research backs up. For instance, not visiting a top college means that these potential students don't know their opportunities there, but also -- as a recent study illustrated -- that their chances of admission may be diminished.

Fee Waivers, Beyond Just Offering Them

Most colleges and universities charge application fees ($65 is common, and some fees are higher). While the fees may seem small in the context of the total price of attending a private college, many low-income students report that they don't have the money. Colleges that have dropped application fees or made waivers automatic for many applicants have reported significant gains in the number of low-income students who apply, and who enroll.

Almost all colleges participate in programs that allow applicants to seek a waiver for application fees. But the foundation's survey suggests that this isn't working as well as it could.

Thirty-five percent of those in the group of low-income students never applied for a fee waiver, with most of them saying that they didn't know they would qualify. The report recommends that colleges do a better job of publicizing the availability of waivers and make waivers simple and easy to get. And to drive home its point, the report cites language on some college websites that it says illustrates the problem, not the solution.

For example, here is the policy the foundation found at the University of Miami: "The University of Miami accepts fee waivers from the College Board, NACAC or ACT. UM does not grant fee waivers for applicants. University of Miami employees or dependents of employees may apply using the option 'School-specific fee waiver.' If you have questions about receiving a fee waiver, you should speak to your guidance counselor."

The foundation's analysis: "The University of Miami does not grant fee waivers across the board. It appears that each waiver must be sought separately. This is especially burdensome."

The university issued this statement: "The University of Miami grants application fee waivers for all students who demonstrate financial hardship. Students can work with their high school counselor to obtain a fee waiver from College Board, NACAC, or ACT. One of the University's roadmap initiatives is to meet 100 percent of students' demonstrated financial need by our centennial in 2025, so it is evident that socioeconomic diversity in the student body is a priority."

Net Price Calculators

The report reviews net price calculators -- which in theory let a potential applicant know roughly how much aid they should receive -- at many college websites. Reviewing the calculators of Yale University and Wellesley College, the report finds the latter much more friendly to low-income students. (The Yale site is here and Wellesley's is here.)

The foundation's critique: "Observe that the first example from Yale makes certain assumptions about students that may not be true for those from low-income families: that students have access to their parent’s tax returns; that families have savings, checking, investment and retirement accounts; that family assets may exceed $200,000. Contrast these assumptions with the simpler, more welcoming language of Wellesley’s."

Yale did not respond to a request for comment.

The report also strongly endorses use of the Pell Abacus, a tool that allows low-income students, without much detail about their family finances, to get a sense of aid eligibility at various colleges. The simplicity of the tool, and its ability to allow for comparisons, makes it ideal for many students, the report says.

But 31 elite colleges, the report says, block use of the tool (which requires some connection to a college's website). The New York Times reported last year on the trend of blocking Pell Abacus, and also noted that few colleges doing so provide detailed information on their rationales.

Many of these colleges still aren't anxious to provide detail.

A spokesman for Princeton University said via email, "Princeton has its own financial aid calculator, which is available to the public and is more accurate in presenting cost and aid calculations for prospective students. Therefore, we do not see the need for an external tool."

One institution among the 31 is considering a possible change. A spokesman for Bowdoin College said via email, "The topic of whether to provide access to [Pell] Abacus is on the table and we are certainly willing to consider it. Our goal here is transparency. We want to encourage families to use our [net-price calculator] and to contact us directly if they have questions or concerns about the results. As you know, Bowdoin is need-blind. We meet 100 percent of a student’s demonstrated need for all four years with grant aid and a small work award (no loans), and we’ll talk with anyone about their situation, but we also want to be careful to protect their data. If we open the door to [Pell] Abacus -- which says it does not sell data -- what prevents another less scrupulous company from offering another tool that is not as safe? So, we’ll talk about this, and I would be happy to let you know if we make a change."

Jennifer Glynn, director of research and evaluation at the foundation and author of the report, acknowledged in an interview that calling out colleges was a new approach for the organization. She noted that much of the report is a positive look at policies working at various colleges.

"I think the focus is on what colleges should be doing and highlighting examples that highlight specific schools," she said. But the critiques were also important, and were not designed to pick on any college.

"Every school has something that it can change," she said.

 

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San Jose State criticized for return to campus of professor found to have harassed a student

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

More and more institutions are taking a zero-tolerance approach to harassment by faculty members. So some at San Jose State University are wondering why the university is welcoming back to campus a professor found guilty of repeatedly asking a graduate student to date him. An additional complaint was lodged against the professor in 2014.

The professor, Lewis Aptekar, is scheduled to teach two classes this fall in the graduate program in counseling education: one on research methods and -- ironically, say his critics -- one on trauma counseling and crisis intervention. He’s also slated for advising, admissions and curricular duties.

An earlier investigation by The Mercury News found that Aptekar remained chair of his department for five months after he was found to have harassed his student, by asking her repeatedly in class whether she was single and inviting her on dates (the investigation reportedly turned up allegations that he’d done the same to another student, in 2013, asking her to come to his office for “personal counseling”). Aptekar was put on paid leave in 2016, after the newspaper began its investigation.

Aptekar did not respond to a request for comment. The university said in a statement this week that it “thoroughly investigates allegations of employee misconduct” and takes action based on “what the facts tell us.”

San Jose State said it investigated two separate complaints, from 2014 and 2015, respectively, of sexual harassment against Aptekar. The more recent case came to light first, it said, and the allegations were substantiated -- resulting in a two-week suspension without pay and mandatory diversity training for Aptekar. He also stepped down as chair, the university said.

Aptekar was later placed on leave as the 2014 complaint was investigated, but the allegations were not substantiated and no appeals were filed, according to San Jose State. Thus, “Aptekar’s administrative leave has been lifted,” the university said, though he will not be serving as an adviser to students and has “elected a reduced workload as a first step toward retirement.” (He’ll still be involved in advising efforts, including an all-student advising meeting, according to a department memo, however.)

Elisa Stewart, Aptekar’s lawyer, previously told The Mercury News that Aptekar “has based his career on educating students to be excellent education counselors” and that he felt “vindicated" by the university’s investigation.

Others on campus aren’t so happy about Aptekar's return. Valerie Lamb, a student in the department, said via email that "we are all very infuriated with the situation." A protest is being planned.

One of Aptekar's department colleagues, Jason Laker, has sued San Jose State, alleging a cover-up of claims against Aptekar.

“They should not have allowed him back on campus,” Laker said in an interview. “And the irony is that now he’s teaching a counselor-education course in trauma counseling -- is this comedy?”

Laker said he was approached by a student in 2015 who alleged that Aptekar had harassed her, and he helped her launch a complaint. He says he was called a liar and otherwise retaliated against by colleagues involved in the case for his efforts, and so filed his own lawsuit -- but only after trying to resolve the issue internally, he said.

“I’ve spent 25 years in higher ed and never sued anybody,” Laker said. “I tried to meet with the president and provost, and at this point, excuse my French, I’m sort of out of fucks.”

Laker’s suit alleges that the university knew about the 2014 complaint prior to the 2015 case, but failed to investigate it -- or use it as evidence in the later case. The university has said administrators did not know about an earlier complaint by students. But a complaint was in fact filed by an associate dean on behalf of two students who wished to remain anonymous.

The university said it does not comment on pending litigation.

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Paper looks at gender norms' role in disparities in majors

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Women and men are, in theory, free to choose their college majors without any interference. So why do majors -- and in turn, certain jobs and roles in society -- remain segregated?

Many women in STEM fields, for example, have cited discrimination and discriminatory attitudes as hardships they face in academia and in the private sector, and a new paper adds another factor to the mix: feminine norms, and how women perceive and adhere to femininity.

“Cultural perspectives on college major choice posit that the gender norms, stereotypes and beliefs individuals internalize contribute to persistent gender segregation in college majors,” the paper, authored by Oklahoma sociologists Ann Beutel, Stephanie W. Burge, and B. Ann Borden and published in the journal Gender Studies, reads. “Yet relatively little attention has been paid to how young women’s adherence to feminine norms may be associated with college major choice.”

The researchers found that conformity to feminine norms was associated negatively with a woman’s odds of choosing STEM and common pre-med majors, as well as arts and humanities majors. Conformity had a positive relationship with a woman’s odds of choosing majors in the social sciences, education and social services.

And while the study sampled 1,100 women enrolled at an unnamed four-year public university in the south-central U.S., its implications go far beyond just the male-to-female ratio of a classroom, department or college.

“In sum, although women’s participation in higher education has increased, persistent gender stratification in college majors contributes to gender stratification in the contemporary labor market, with women generally faring worse than men in terms of employment and earnings,” the paper reads.

The paper argues that because culture, media and literature emphasize women’s role in caregiving, for example, they also affect women’s preferences.

“Through socialization processes, children and adolescents learn and internalize these gender norms, stereotypes and beliefs, and in turn develop their own gendered preferences,” the paper reads. Additionally, women’s gendered expectations about their futures -- having roles as a wife and a mother -- might influence them to choose majors that would lead to occupations that would be more compatible for caring for a family.

That being said, the paper argues, it would follow that how women perceive their femininity can change how they view what major they should choose. The researchers measured how much their sample group adhered to norms associated with women’s role in U.S. society, among eight subsections:

  • Being nice in relationships
  • Caring for children
  • Thinness
  • Sexual fidelity
  • Modesty
  • Romantic relationships
  • Domesticity
  • Investing in appearances

Factors such as respondents’ race and ethnicity, year in college, as well as their parents’ education, were controlled.

The more that women perceived themselves as adhering to feminine norms, the more likely they were to avoid majors such as STEM or common pre-med majors. However, there were also variations in which subsections were associated with which majors.

For example, while one of the feminine norms was niceness in relationships, higher scores for adhering to that norm were associated with higher odds of choosing a major from the arts and humanities -- a section of majors that women who adhere to the norms had less odds of choosing overall.

“We found that, with background factors controlled, general (overall) conformity to feminine norms, as measured by the total [Conformity to Feminine Norms Inventory] scale score, was associated negatively with women’s odds of choosing STEM and doctoral-track medicine majors, as well as arts and humanities majors, relative to choosing majors in social sciences, education and social services,” the paper reads. “Total CFNI scale scores had no significant associations with choosing a major from clinical and health sciences, business, and communication and journalism relative to choosing a major from social sciences, education and social services.”

The authors note that the study does face some limitations -- namely, that the data can only point to associations, not causations. Additionally, the authors posit what data could be gleaned from measuring women’s conformity to masculine norms, using the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory as a complement to the CFNI.

“Yet, as the results of our study suggest for feminine norms, associations between specific masculine norms and majoring in a specific field of study could be complex … Clearly, our understanding of the role of gender norms in the lives of contemporary young women and young men would be enhanced if we could examine how specific feminine and masculine norms are associated with their choice of college major.”

Despite these limitations, however, the paper could be a jumping-off point for further study of gender disparities among majors and in employment.

“Though young women have made tremendous strides in their overall level of educational attainment, gender segregation of college majors has persisted,” the paper concludes. “Our results suggest that at least some of the barriers to increased gender integration of academic fields of study may come from cultural norms about gender, and in particular femininity, which have been durable in spite of increases in gender egalitarian ideology and women’s educational attainment and labor force participation.”

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Eastern Michigan and other universities tell international students '#YouAreWelcomeHere'

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 18 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Eastern Michigan University is going all out to recognize its international students.

The university is installing 108 banners featuring 108 students from more than 40 countries. The banners, which are being installed on light posts across the campus and into the surrounding city of Ypsilanti, include the hashtag “#YouAreWelcomeHere” and are one manifestation of a national campaign by that name to communicate American universities’ openness to international students.

“The overall message of being a welcoming environment for international students has just been received very positively,” said Walter Kraft, Eastern Michigan’s vice president for communications.

Banner on Eastern Michigan campus with "That's true, you are welcome here" and photo of an international student from India.Eastern Michigan changes out its light-post banners annually to recognize various groups on campus. Last year the banners featured the university’s Honors College students, and in past years they’ve featured faculty members and alumni. This is the first time the university has recognized its international students in this way.

Eastern Michigan, which is in the greater Detroit area, enrolls nearly 1,000 students from more than 80 countries, with the largest groups coming from India, China, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Nigeria, Iran, Brazil, France, Taiwan and Turkey.

In addition to the banners, Eastern Michigan is promoting the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign on its social media channels, with a typical post featuring the picture, name and major of one of the 108 students featured on the banners and a quote about why they chose Eastern Michigan. The university also plans to install a 23-foot-tall, 80-foot-wide banner featuring all 108 images on the wall of a parking garage in the center of campus.

The university has also created a video as part of the campaign (below).

“We had kind of an open casting call or whatever you might want to call it late last spring while students were still on campus,” Kraft said. “We just invited anyone who wanted to participate to come out for a video shoot and these photographs.”

“We ended up with 100, 200 people who came out,” he said. “Many students who were not international students wanted to come out and have themselves videoed saying, ‘You are welcome here.’”

Eastern Michigan banner showing Veronica Konglim, an international student from Cameroon.One of the students featured in the campaign is Veronica Konglim (right), a Ph.D. student from Cameroon who is studying education. Konglim first came to Eastern Michigan on a Fulbright scholarship to pursue a master’s in teaching English to speakers of other languages in 2009. After graduating in 2011, she returned to Cameroon, only to come back to Eastern Michigan to take up a Ph.D. two years later.

“I came back because I loved it here and I wanted to do a Ph.D.,” she said. “I had built a community here and I love the campus and the city of Ypsilanti, and besides studying I also did a lot of volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. It’s something that I really enjoyed. When I had the opportunity to come back, I did not hesitate.”

“I truly do feel welcome here, so I thought maybe this is something I should really be a part of,” she said. “It was an opportunity for me to say thank you and to confirm, that yes, this is really true, I really do feel welcome here, and if anyone out there is thinking about coming here and is hesitant, my story should be a testimony that this campus is really welcoming.”

More than 250 colleges and universities have joined the national #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign, which is being coordinated out of Temple University and has received the support of organizations including the National Association for College Admission Counseling and NAFSA: Association of International Educators. The State Department's Bureau of International and Cultural Affairs has also promoted the hashtag on its Twitter feed.

A similar campaign in the U.K., #WeAreInternational, has the support of more than 160 universities there. That campaign started in 2013 after international students expressed concerns about negative media coverage and certain political statements about immigration, according to the #WeAreInternational website.

Many colleges participating in the U.S. campaign have created videos like Eastern Michigan's conveying the YouAreWelcomeHere message. The first such video -- and the first use of the hashtag for this purpose -- came from the international education company Study Group, which published a video last November featuring some of its partner universities.

The #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign developed in the wake of last year’s presidential election and gained steam after President Trump’s executive order barring travel to the U.S. by nationals of certain Muslim-majority countries (after the ban was halted by the courts, the Supreme Court ruled earlier this summer to allow a modified version of the travel ban to go into effect). Many in international education have reported hearing concerns from international students about feeling unwelcome in the U.S., as well as concerns about their physical safety and ability to secure a visa.

"The reason this struck me as an important message is that it's simple and it’s positive and it’s kind of a countervailing message to a lot of the other negative images and messages that are out there," said Jessica Sandberg, the director of international admissions at Temple and the person leading the campaign.

“At the time that this idea came to light, we were facing a flurry of concerns form students, prospective and current international students, and also there was an awareness, I think, among international educators that a lot of the stories and the news and the images that were coming out of the United States at that time and unfortunately have continued until now have been very negative,” said Sandberg.

She continued, “If you work in international student admissions, then talking about safety is not new -- that’s always been a concern for international families -- but it’s escalated this year. They see that there’s a lot of internal disagreement in the United States, and concerns about xenophobia and general unrest.”

Sandberg said the videos that many universities have created as part of the campaign “show what daily life is like. If you watch the news and you see this unrest, you forget the fact that people are just going to work and school and studying in classes and going to social gatherings. We wanted to show this is what it really looks like on a day-to-day basis.”

“The other piece that I think is important is, generally, international prospective students are hearing from people like me who work in international admissions,” she said. “We wanted the campaign messages and videos to show that the support for international students isn’t just isolated to people who work in this profession, but it’s university presidents, the cheerleader and the football player and the faculty members.”

A list of participating universities -- and links to the videos they've produced -- is available here.

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Virginia students "take back" their campus with march for unity and inclusiveness

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 03:10

Thousands marched at the University of Virginia Wednesday night, retracing the route white supremacists took Friday but with a very different message.

Students, joined by faculty members, employees, alumni and local residents, spoke about their outrage at the hateful ideas of those who marched Friday. That march included Nazi chants.

During the march on Wednesday night, participants sang “We Shall Overcome,” “Amazing Grace,” “This Little Light of Mine,” “This Land Is Your Land” and “Lean on Me” -- as well as University of Virginia songs.

One of the speakers was Ryan Keen, who is starting his senior year.

“The greatest power we have to heal is our ability to support each other,” he said. “We have to show what we stand for and what it means to be inclusive. We will not stand for the hate that has been shown here.”

The event included a moment of silence for Heather Heyer, a local resident who was killed when a car slammed into anti-supremacist protesters on Saturday, and for state troopers H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates. They were helping to monitor the events organized by supremacists on Saturday when their helicopter crashed and they were killed.

Some at the event spoke about how angry they were to see white supremacists at the center of the UVA campus, and how they wanted to make a statement and to "take back the lawn," as the space on campus is known.

The university has a full account of Wednesday night's march here.

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New data explain Republican loss of confidence in higher education

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Not only do Republicans and Democrats have different levels of confidence in higher education, but they are coming at the issue by focusing on different issues, a new poll by Gallup shows. Republicans who distrust higher education focus on campus politics, while the smaller share of Democrats who distrust higher education tend to focus on rising college prices, the pollster found.

The data were released a month after a report from the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Republicans say colleges have a negative impact on the direction of the United States. The shift was dramatic. Two years ago, Pew found that 54 percent of Republicans said colleges had a positive impact on the direction of the United States, while this year 58 percent said colleges had a negative effect. Among Democrats, 72 percent this year viewed colleges as having a positive impact on the direction of the country.

Gallup set out to see if it would find similar partisan shifts in the view of higher education, and -- if so -- why members of the two major parties were splitting in this way. Gallup's findings largely confirm those of Pew -- a growing partisan divide on higher education.

First Gallup asked people if they have confidence in colleges and universities. (The question did not specify two-year vs. four-year, public vs. private, etc.)

How Much Confidence Do You Have in Higher Education?

  Great Deal/Quite a Lot Some or Very Little All 44% 56% Republicans (or leaning) 33% 67% Democrats (or leaning) 56% 43%

Then Gallup asked those with little or no confidence in higher education to identify reasons for their lack of confidence. Here Republicans focused on political issues and Democrats focused on more practical issues (such as paying for college). The question here was open-ended and Gallup grouped similar responses and provided the top answers.

What Are Some of the Reasons You Do Not Have a Lot of Confidence in Higher Education?

  Republicans (or leaning) Democrats (or leaning) Too expensive 11% 36% Too liberal/political 32% 1% Not allowing students to think for themselves, pushing an agenda 21% 6% Students not properly educated/education not relevant 13% 9% Poor leadership/not well run 9% 14% Graduates unable to find jobs 7% 10% Overall quality is going down 4% 11% Not focused on education/too much focus on sports 2% 5% Poor quality of professors or other employees 4% 2% Too easy to get an education/students don't take it seriously 3% 2%

Gallup also asked those with high confidence levels in higher education why they felt that way, again grouping together open-ended responses. The answers show that many Republicans seem to feel good about their own or their relatives' experiences in higher education, and that they are more likely than Democrats to believe that earning a college degree is essential for career success.

What Are Some Reasons Why You Have a Lot of Confidence in Colleges and Universities?

  Republicans (or leaning) Democrats (or leaning) Personal experience/family member/myself enrolled or graduated/college employee 32% 24% Higher education is essential to the country 16% 17% Students are well trained/educated and doing a good job 12% 20% U.S. colleges are advanced and among the best in the world 9% 10% Need a degree to get better jobs/opportunities 15% 6% Prepares students for real life/to get ahead 7% 9% Teaches students to have an open mind/to appreciate other ideas/diversity 5% 7% Good professors/instructors/administrators 2% 6% Trains students to think for themselves 2% 5%

To be sure, some Republicans have long criticized higher education for being too liberal. Jesse Helms, the late senator who was long a hero to the far right, once said of plans for a zoo in North Carolina, "Why build a zoo when we can just put up a fence around Chapel Hill?" And bashing universities -- the University of California, Berkeley, or Harvard University, or the Ivy League generally -- has long been a part of Republican rhetoric.

But perhaps more quietly, support for much of higher education -- public and private -- has been bipartisan. Democrats might have been more generous with funding in some years, or more focused on low-income students. But Republicans have been strong proponents over time of building up universities' research capabilities. And support for community colleges and many regional institutions comes from lawmakers of both parties working to support local colleges.

In this context, the Pew and Gallup findings suggest a shift in attitudes in which Republicans have a much stronger aversion to the direction of higher education, which they see as too liberal. The questions asked in the Gallup study were so general (without any definition of "college") that many may not have thought of parts of higher education (community colleges, evangelical colleges or professionally oriented online programs) that look nothing like the residential liberal arts colleges that are mocked -- many times inaccurately -- in the conservative blogosphere on a daily basis.

An analysis released by Gallup, while not endorsing the views of the Republicans surveyed, says that their attitudes could have a significant impact on higher education.

"The effect of this divide on views of higher education -- a pivotal element of the American dream for so many -- raises questions about the future of higher education in this country," the Gallup analysis says. "To what degree will diminished confidence in higher education among Republicans lead to decreased public support and funding for colleges and universities? Or, will Republican families be less likely to send their children to traditional colleges and universities, and instead seek other ways to educate them? Will various colleges and universities begin to align their brands and curricula increasingly along party lines? Is there any hope that this partisan divide on views of higher education will diminish -- and if so, what would bring that about?"

Indeed, regardless of what one thinks of Republican attitudes, Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. Of particular relevance to public higher education, 34 of the nation's governors are Republicans.

Brandon H. Busteed, executive director for education and work-force development at Gallup, said in an interview that he thought it was important for colleges to think about their "marketing and communication messages" on a range of issues. For example, many competitive colleges consider race and ethnicity in admissions -- and polls suggest majorities of white voters favor the end of such forms of affirmative action.

Busteed said that colleges need to think about the way many critics of affirmative action believe that admissions are based on a pure academic meritocracy, except for minority students. He said colleges should talk about the edge in admissions enjoyed by athletes, children of alumni, people from some parts of the country, and many other groups. This information might change attitudes about affirmative action, he said.

He also said it's not likely to be enough for colleges to just assume that Republican attitudes are incorrect. Rather, colleges need to engage the discussion, he said. For example, many colleges bemoan that some prospective students and their families judge colleges by "sticker price" and don't take into account the aid offered by institutions. Colleges are relentless in encouraging people to think about college prices beyond sticker prices, he said. They need to be equally active on qualities -- real or not -- that make many Republicans think they are liberal.

On the theme of rebranding, Busteed published an essay Wednesday urging colleges to stop using the term "liberal arts."

"Putting the words liberal and arts together is a branding disaster, and the most effective way to save or defend the liberal arts may be to change what we call them. Note, the problem isn't with the substance of a liberal arts education but with the words we use to describe it," he wrote.

"Although there is certainly a difference between the meaning of a liberal arts education and being 'liberal' politically, it helps no one to fight to the death defending the term 'liberal arts' in the context of today's climate. Let's face it: other than people in higher education or liberal arts graduates themselves, who understands what the liberal arts are anyhow?" he added.

Busteed's essay will probably rankle more than a few liberal arts professors. But it may be worth considering that Republicans are not the only ones who are challenged by the term "liberal arts."

A 2015 study by Caroline Hoxby and Sarah Turner, professors of economics at Stanford University and the University of Virginia, respectively, asked academically talented, low-income high school students why they didn't apply to certain kinds of institutions. With regard to liberal arts colleges, the answers suggested a lack of knowledge of what they are. Among the responses they heard from students about why they weren't applying to liberal arts colleges:

  • “What is a private liberal arts college?”
  • “I don't know what this is.”
  • “I don't like learning useless things.”
  • “I am not liberal.”
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Charlottesville tragedy and Trump remarks revive focus on statues of Confederates and other racists

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 02:00

The gathering of white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend originated -- at least on the surface -- from the groups’ opposition to the planned removal of a Confederate monument to Robert E. Lee in the college town. And although the violence in Charlottesville has subsided, Confederate monuments remain on college campuses across the South.

President Trump's criticism Tuesday of efforts to remove Confederate monuments from public spaces further inflamed tensions, and many white supremacists reported feeling emboldened afterward. Additionally, Trump spoke of a slippery slope -- that removing Confederate monuments would lead to removing monuments and statues dedicated to Thomas Jefferson or George Washington, since they owned slaves. Perhaps unknowingly, Trump in fact touched on criticisms that have been directed at the University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary, among other institutions, for their close association -- and alleged whitewashing -- of Jefferson's past.

Much of the protest movement against Confederate monuments has played out on college campuses, and it has branched out to include other historical figures who are venerated on campuses -- with building names and statues -- and in American history at large, despite their dark histories regarding race. As the coverage of Charlottesville subsides, and students across the country return to campus, those efforts can be expected to continue. In some states, however, legal roadblocks might abound, as state legislatures have taken power over public monuments and their removal, fearful that college administrations might remove them under pressure from students.

“These monuments have a gigantic bull's-eye on them,” said W. Fitzhugh Brundage, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which boasts its own controversial ties to white supremacists.

The events in Charlottesville -- and, more significantly, Brundage said, two years ago, in Charleston, S.C., where Dylann Roof killed nine people at an African-American church in hopes of starting a race war -- have also shaped the hotly debated narrative around what these monuments stand for.

“We can see these monuments are now de facto shrines for white nationalists,” Brundage said. “If you’re a white nationalist who wants to find a public space in which to profess your beliefs, what better place than a Confederate monument.”

Statues, Monuments, Buildings on Campus

Changing anything at UNC, however, remains a challenge. In 2015, a month after the Roof shooting, a law was enacted in North Carolina that vests the authority to remove public “objects of remembrance” with the state Legislature.

For UNC Chapel Hill, this includes the memorial, known as Silent Sam (below), to undergraduate students who fought for the Confederacy.

While Silent Sam might be out of UNC’s hands, the university's trustees put a self-imposed 16-year restriction on renaming buildings after a split vote changed the name of Saunders Hall to Carolina Hall. William L. Saunders, for whom the building was first named, was born in 1831 and attended UNC. He was also a prominent member and organizer of the Ku Klux Klan. Some took issue with the renaming, since other names were floated, such as Hurston Hall, which would have honored Zora Neale Hurston, a black novelist and anthropologist who audited classes at UNC from 1939 to 1940, before the university was desegregated.

The University of North Carolina's Silent Sam.

The renaming freeze, which drew criticism at the time of the vote -- a month before the Roof shooting -- limits what UNC can do in light of events like Charlottesville. At the time, trustees said insulation was the point: during the freeze, UNC is working on methods to provide more historical context for Silent Sam, as well as Carolina Hall, and has launched a campaign to provide more accurate, encompassing history around the university’s ties to slavery.

Regardless, Silent Sam, as well as Aycock Residence -- named after former North Carolina governor and avowed white supremacist Charles Brantley Aycock -- will remain for the time being, to critics' dismay.

Just a few miles away, Duke University -- which, until recently, also had a building dedicated to Aycock -- is home to its own homage to the Confederacy. Among the statues adorning the entrance to the university chapel is one of Robert E. Lee.

Following the events at Charlottesville, the statue is receiving fresh scrutiny.

“As a Methodist pastor, someone who went to the school, as someone who stood in the pulpit this Sunday and took a stand against racism, it’s disheartening,” Richard Bryant, a 1999 Duke Divinity master’s program graduate, told The News & Observer in Raleigh.

How Lee got there is a mystery of sorts, and his presence has been debated since the chapel was unveiled in the 1930s, university spokesman Michael Schoenfeld told Inside Higher Ed. The chapel borrowed inspiration from the Gothic cathedrals of Europe, but, in line with Duke’s Methodist orientation, the architect swapped statues of saints for statues of figures from Protestant and Methodist traditions, as well as figures from the American South. In addition to Lee, Thomas Jefferson is also present.

“The Duke endowment board at the time … had a discussion about this,” Schoenfeld said. “And they passed a resolution that indicated that the statues ‘should be decorative, symbolic figures, and not as representing, or known as representing any specified person.’”

Although there aren’t any immediate plans to remove the statue of Lee, Schoenfeld said that the university is aware of the controversy its presence brings.

“The short answer is yes, of course, people are thinking” about Charlottesville, Schoenfeld said. “For something like this, we think it is important to study the history, and the particular context, but also to involve the university community in a thoughtful and deliberate discussion.”

“It’s not the first time that questions about, how did these statues get into the vestibule of a house of worship, in particular the chapel, and what should be done about them,” he said.

For many, removing monuments -- or renaming buildings -- is akin to erasing history, which should be remembered no matter how uncomfortable. However, at least in North Carolina, public displays of history seem to be tilted toward white supremacy.

According to a database Brundage has helped compile, there are fewer than 30 monuments dedicated to black and white North Carolinians who fought or advocated for the Union.

“It would be safe to assume there were probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 North Carolinians, who, in some way, shape or form, contributed to the Union cause in meaningful ways,” he said. “You could travel from one end of the state to the other end [today], and unless you were really looking for it, carefully … you would see nothing that acknowledges their historical contribution.”

Daina Berry, an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin -- which recently removed some Confederate monuments after finding they lacked a historical connection to the university, though others remain -- also said public displays of history are imbalanced.

“What about the sons and daughters of enslaved people who survived slavery and made it out of the institution, who were on the winning side of the war?” she said. “What about monuments to honor them? What about statues and monuments to honor Native Americans … who survived the Trail of Tears?”

Thomas Jefferson

While Trump posited criticism of Jefferson as a hypothetical slippery slope, some students at UVA, which Jefferson founded, and the College of William and Mary -- where Jefferson went to college -- had already beaten him to the punch.

William and Mary was in the news in 2015 when students covered a statue of Jefferson with sticky notes, calling him a rapist and a racist. UVA has also received pushback from students for its close ties, and its president's penchant for quoting the founder.

"A university setting is the very place where civil conversations about difficult and important issues should occur. Nondestructive sticky notes are a form of expression compatible with our tradition of free expression," a William and Mary spokesman said at the time. A request for comment on the university's association with Jefferson in light of the violence at Charlottesville and Trump's most recent comments was not returned on Wednesday.

"The University of Virginia has acknowledged that controversy has been part of its history, and we continue to strive to learn from it and to improve our current environment through open and constructive dialogue," UVA spokesman Anthony P. de Bruyn said in an email. De Bruyn cited efforts such as the 2013 President's Commission on Slavery and the University, as well as the Memorial to Enslaved Laborers, a proposed on-campus monument that had its design approved by UVA officials in June, as examples of addressing slavery's role and sometimes-ignored association with Jefferson and UVA.

The University of Virginia’s founder "made many contributions to the progress of the early American republic," de Bruyn said. "He served as the third president of the United States, championed religious freedom and authored the Declaration of Independence. In apparent contradiction to his persuasive arguments for liberty and human rights, however, he was also a slave owner, and he did not abolish slavery as president."

Across the Country

Of course, American leaders who were known racists are not just found on campuses in North Carolina, or even in the South. Yale University and Princeton University found themselves questioning their associations with the pro-slavery Senator John C. Calhoun and President Woodrow Wilson, who resegregated the federal work force, respectively.

Wilson, an alumnus of Princeton and namesake of the school of public and international affairs, has a documented history of racism, and the institution received pressure to remove his name from the school and one of its residential colleges. Addressing the issue in 2016, Princeton didn’t remove its association with Wilson but pledged to provide more context for Wilson’s history of racism in order to paint a more accurate, if uncomfortable, picture of him.

Earlier this year, Yale removed Calhoun’s name from one of its residential colleges. Calhoun, a Yale alumnus, will remain associated with other parts of the university, however.

“Unlike other namesakes on our campus, he distinguished himself not in spite of these views but because of them,” Yale president Peter Salovey said at the time. “In making this change, we must be vigilant not to erase the past. To that end, we will not remove symbols of Calhoun from elsewhere on our campus, and we will develop a plan to memorialize the fact that Calhoun was a residential college name for 86 years.”

Both Yale and Princeton have gone on to establish systems for addressing name changes, hoping to add a sense of due process and equality for all considerations going forward.

Calhoun’s name remains associated with multiple colleges in the U.S., including Clemson University in South Carolina and Calhoun Community College in Alabama.

At Clemson, the honors college remains named for Calhoun, and a spokesman said that renaming the college has not been brought up since the events at Charlottesville. Clemson and other South Carolina public colleges, like universities in North Carolina, are blocked by state law from changing the names of physical buildings, including one named after Benjamin Tillman. Tillman led a white supremacist paramilitary organization in the 1870s and boasted of personally killing African-Americans. Representing South Carolina in the governor's mansion and the U.S. Senate, he is also credited with disenfranchising African-Americans through the South Carolina Constitution of 1895.

Despite having an objectively despicable role in history, his legacy at Clemson is protected.

"Regarding Tillman Hall itself, any possible action related to the name of the building is beyond the university’s control," spokesman Mark Land said in an email. "The building is covered by the South Carolina Heritage Act, which says that no historical structures on public property can be altered or moved without a two-thirds vote in both chambers of the General Assembly."

Clemson has attempted to correct the record on Tillman -- who also has a hall named after him at Winthrop University -- in recent years, Land said.

"Regarding the legacy of Benjamin Tillman, the university has done a lot of work over the past two years, at the direction of our Board of Trustees, to tell the complete, nonromanticized and authentic history of Clemson, including stories that are hard to hear and tell. Tillman and his legacy are part of that effort."

A history task force has been created, biographies of influential South Carolinians connected to the college are "updated, detailed and frank," and plaques mark what used to be slave quarters that housed the men and women who built the university, Land said. While Tillman Hall's name won't change, the roadway in front of it has been named after Harvey Gantt, the first African-American to enroll at Clemson.

Off Campus

Though the movement against certain monuments has significant ties to campus activism, the activism has also been apparent off campus. Following the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, the city of Baltimore took down four Confederate statues.

From symbols to systems of white supremacy, they must ALL be dismantled. A small battle won today but the war is far from over. #onamove pic.twitter.com/AErXG6C0FG

— Baltimore BLOC (@BmoreBloc) August 16, 2017

Among those praising the decision to remove the statues was the president of Johns Hopkins University, who noted that two were in sight of campus.

"I commend Mayor Catherine Pugh and the city council for their decision to remove Confederate monuments. We all witnessed the events in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, where such statues continue to be rallying points for white supremacists’ racism, and, ultimately, violence,” Ronald J. Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins University, said in a statement. “We share the belief that the statues and what they represent have no place in our city and applaud this action as a way to affirm the values of diversity, equity and inclusion that strengthen our university, our city and our nation.”

In Durham, N.C., citizens toppled a statue memorializing Confederate soldiers Monday, and earlier this year New Orleans removed the final Confederate statue in that city.

“What happened in Durham, what happened in New Orleans, what happened in Baltimore is in some ways even more significant,” Brundage said. “We had debates prior to New Orleans … but now we have communities, or people in communities, making a decision, [saying] ‘Enough of the conversation.’”

Those actions, as well as the memories of Charlottesville, will likely invigorate more campus activism -- and, potentially, conflict -- around monuments and statues, Berry said.

“The events of this weekend confirm to me that a monument does not equate to historical understanding, or even the desire to know the historical context behind the individuals that are being displayed,” she said. “I have great concern, because states like Texas have open carry, and certain campuses, like UTA, have concealed carry.”

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Public universities are on solid ground to cancel Richard Spencer events, legal experts say

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 02:00

When Auburn University said it would block Richard Spencer from speaking on campus in April, the white nationalist sued -- and won.

A federal judge in Alabama rejected Auburn's argument that the speech would be unsafe, and it took place.

This precedent has not deterred the University of Florida or Texas A&M University, both of which this week have canceled plans for events where Spencer was slated to speak on their campuses, citing the violence at white supremacist events last weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

Legal experts say that though public institutions are obligated to preserve campus free expression, the tragedy that played out in Virginia over the weekend likely gives presidents more concrete grounds to bar Spencer and his affiliates -- at least in the short term. They warn, however, that the reasoning the institutions gave for canceling -- ensuring student and locals’ safety -- should be applied as judiciously possible.

Auburn, a public institution, tried to halt Spencer’s talk in April, but the man who rented out a university building on Spencer’s behalf filed a lawsuit in U.S. district court, claiming the administration was squashing his First Amendment rights. A federal judge sided with the man, and Spencer was able to proceed with his speech, in which he suggested white people had lost their identities and black students on campus sexually abused white women -- just the kind of rhetoric his fans love and that many consider racist.

The University of Florida’s President, W. Kent Fuchs, released a statement Wednesday calling Spencer’s white nationalist message “repugnant.” Social media threats had called for Gainesville to be the next site for violence after Charlottesville, leading to the decision, Fuchs said.

Both the University of Florida and Texas A&M stressed in their statements the potential for violence and that they were not acting based on the offensiveness of Spencer's views.

“The University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse. However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others. The likelihood of violence and potential injury -- not the words or ideas -- has caused us to take this action,” Fuchs said in his statement.

The University of Florida’s policy, similar to Auburn’s, allows outsiders to rent campus space if they pay the required expenses, including for security, if necessary.

Auburn lost in court in part because it permits anyone to rent its spaces and so it could not tell Spencer no, Michael A. Olivas, the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston Law Center, said in a previous interview.

Texas A&M, meanwhile, forbids external campus lecturers from reserving a facility without the backing of a student group -- this is a change in practice from when Spencer spoke to students there last December. Spencer, with his group National Policy Institute, had announced he would target colleges, with Texas A&M as one of his first.

Given how recent the events of Charlottesville are, presidents could reasonably assume the violence could be replicated, Olivas said Wednesday.

Damaging the white supremacists’ case for the right to speak was their public association of Charlottesville with the prospective events in September.

A press release advertising the now canceled “White Lives Matter” rally at Texas A&M was headlined “Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M." Similar language was used to promote the planned Florida speech.

“Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus. Additionally, the daylong event would provide disruption to our class schedules and to student, faculty and staff movement (both bus system and pedestrian),” the statement from Texas A&M reads.

The judge in Auburn’s lawsuit found no imminent threat to that campus, which is “clearly” not the case now, said Robert M. O’Neil, a former president of the University of Virginia, where the white nationalists, bearing torches, marched on Friday. O’Neil is a First Amendment scholar who also serves as a senior fellow at the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities.

“If you look more closely at the Auburn situation, the judge did not find any evidence of incitement or the propensity for it on Spencer’s part at that time,” O’Neil said. “The situation is dramatically different today.”

Olivas, in the interview Wednesday, said he believes the legal situation could change in a few months.

“If nothing like this happens again and no one is harmed seriously, the season will turn and they’ll come in around Thanksgiving,” he said. “It’s very difficult to say no to them forever.”

Canceling these sorts of events comes after a great deal of reflection and insider knowledge of prospective threats, said Peter McDonough, vice president and general counsel for the American Council on Education. He was formerly a lawyer for Princeton University.

“The other challenge is one is trying to predict might happen, based on the activities of folks that you do not control,” he said. “Trying to predict what others may or may not do, how various folks may or may not react, that’s a tough job.”

McDonough said he couldn’t speculate whether a lawsuit was imminent for either institution.

Spencer hasn’t publicly announced legal action, but he has taken to Twitter to praise Trump’s response in Charlottesville and retweeted one user criticizing the University of Florida.

What is @UF thinking? Its officials signed an agreement and can't do this under the 1A. @RichardBSpencer. Silly. https://t.co/cNdMaNJqCp

— Evan McLaren (@EvanMcLaren) August 16, 2017

Ari Cohn, a representative of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which generally criticizes institutions that it perceives to limit free speech, was much milder in his critiques of the University of Florida and Texas A&M.

Cohn, the director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Defense Program, said that colleges should not as a first resort halt events simply because of a possible safety risk.

Administrators should disclose as many details as possible about potential threats without compromising the work of law enforcement, Cohn said. He said courts have ruled that “hyperbole” such as the kind displayed in the press release for "White Lives Matter" did not by itself constitute a reason for shutting down an event.

Threats need to reach a level of specificity, he said. Cohn cited a Supreme Court case, Hess v. Indiana, decided in 1973, involving a protester at Indiana University, Gregory Hess, who was initially convicted of disorderly conduct for lewd remarks before the court reversed the decision.

Hess had said something roughly like, “We'll take the fucking street later,” but the court ruled that this was not concrete enough to be considered a real threat, which had an ambiguous time frame.

“If somewhere, someone else reacted violently, then we’d find ourselves pretty hamstrung when it comes to speaking,” Cohn said.

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Campus group proposing broad countermovement against white nationalism and racism

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Given that college campuses have been central to activism by the so-called alt-right, is it time for a campus-based countermovement? Scholars behind the proposed Campus Antifascist Network, or CAN, think so.

“The election of Donald Trump has emboldened fascist and white nationalist groups nationwide, on campus and off, and their recent upsurge requires antifascists to take up the call to action once again,” reads an invitation to join the group, posted on social media this week by David Palumbo-Liu, the Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor and professor of comparative literature at Stanford University.

“As we wrote this letter,” it says, “hundreds of torch-bearing white supremacists were marching on the campus of University of Virginia chanting ‘Jews will not replace us’ and other vile slurs. An antifascist activist was murdered by these same forces in Charlottesville, raising the stakes of resistance to new heights.”

Network co-organizer Bill Mullen, a professor of American studies at Purdue University, on Wednesday called CAN a “big tent” that “welcomes anyone committed to fighting fascism.”

“We are diverse in our political points of view but unified by our fight against fascism,” he said. The idea is “to drive racists off campuses and to protect the most vulnerable from fascist attack.”

And of objections made by some that Trump is not a fascist? Palumbo-Liu said that is “literally an academic argument in the worst sense of the word. We need to pay attention to what is happening, not the labels that we feel are most fitting.”

Mullen said the network started with about 40 members concerned about alt-right campus activity and the recent set of death threats against professors -- many of them women and minorities -- who have spoken out publicly against racism.

Since Charlottesville, the network has jumped to 200 members and 1,000 followers on its Facebook page, Mullen said. Antifascist branches are being formed on campuses and the group is preparing teach-ins and self-defense materials for faculty and students who may meet with white supremacist protesters.

The network has been endorsed by writers Junot Díaz and Viet Nguyen, as well as graduate student unions. In addition to faculty members, graduate students and some undergraduates have joined.

Network members across the country already have expressed their solidarity with Charlottesville counterprotesters and published an open-access syllabus on fascism for educators. They’re asking other interested parties to support or join CAN, and offering to help organize local antifascist chapters. Such chapters will “support, educate and defend faculty, students and staff, and share information on fascist organizing in the U.S., planned fascist activities and organized antifascist responses,” they say.

Palumbo-Liu said that the political right has framed the issue of alt-right provocateurs, neo-Nazis and white supremacists being allowed on campus as a simple matter of free speech. And if all they did was talk, that would be their right, he said. Instead, CAN is worried about such activists’ “propensity to physical violence, aggressive confrontation and provocation, and violations of others’ civil rights.”

Historic Roots, Contemporary Concerns

Antifascist activism against ethnonationalism and general racism dates early-20th-century Europe. But its shorthand, “antifa,” has become part of mainstream American political discussions since the rise of the alt-right -- and as white supremacist groups began to support Trump’s candidacy.

While experts say that antifa organizing is mostly nonviolent, the movement sees violence against those racists who would hurt others as ethically justifiable. Case in point: the antifa protests at the University of California, Berkeley, in February, ahead of a talk by then-Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Protesters -- largely unaffiliated with the university -- lit fires and threw rocks at police, drawing widespread condemnation from the right and a tweet from Trump threatening to cut off Berkeley's funding.

Even many on the political left criticized the antifa tactics on campus, noting that the damage was fixed and paid for my Berkeley, not Yiannopoulos.

Of Yiannopoulos, Palumbo-Liu said that he’d come to Berkeley promising to reveal the identities of undocumented students -- leaving them potentially vulnerable to all kinds of danger. And prior to that, he said, an anti-Yiannopoulos protester was shot ahead of his appearance at the University of Washington.

A couple was charged in the Washington crime. According to the charges, the husband, Marc Hokoana, messaged a friend on Facebook the day prior, saying that “if the snowflakes get out off [sic] hand I’m going to wade through their ranks and start cracking skulls.”

Charlottesville, of course, resulted in the death of antifa activist Heather Heyer and the wounding of many others.

Even free speech champion John Stuart Mill “drew a line on speech meant solely to incite,” Palumbo-Liu said.

Mullen said CAN’s approach to protests will be to protect those most vulnerable to attack and “to build large, unified demonstrations against fascists on campuses when they come.”

Asked specifically about the possible use of violence, Palumbo-Liu said antifa activists include those whose tactics CAN would reject. “We would advocate self-defense and defense in various forms of those who are being threatened by fascists, but not violence,” he added, saying his group can’t control the antifa label or who ascribes to it.

Labels aside, Mullen said “shying away” is the wrong approach. The alt-right has already tried to claim university campuses as recruiting grounds, he said, recalling that his own campus was covered with racist, neo-Nazi posters in November by the group American Vanguard. Identity Evropa has stated it is specifically targeting college and college-educated men as the future leaders of the movement.

Mark Bray, an historian of human rights, terrorism and political radicalism in modern Europe and a lecturer at Dartmouth College, wrote a Washington Post op-ed criticizing Trump’s comments this week comparing the “alt-left,” or antifa, to white supremacists. (The piece is based in part on a forthcoming book, Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook, authored by Bray, who is a cousin of Scott Jaschik, co-editor of Inside Higher Ed.)

“Years before the alt-right even had a name, antifascists were spending thankless hours scouring seedy message boards and researching clandestine neo-Nazi gatherings,” Bray wrote. “Agree or disagree with their methods, the antifa, who devote themselves to combating racism, are in no way equivalent to alt-right trolls who joke about gas chambers.”

Bray said in an interview Wednesday that he’d heard of CAN and thought that any political risk of professors identifying with antifascism was worth forming a broad campus movement against the alt-right.

Safety in numbers and routinization of response to white supremacy -- especially now that the alt-right has been so clearly aligned with neo-Nazism -- could make it much easier for administrators to defend their faculty members against attacks by the alt-right, he said. And eventually it could stifle the alt-right on campus altogether.

“A Campus Antifascist Network is totally rational if you look at what kind of organizing the political opponent is doing,” he said. “Right now the alt-right wants to make neo-Nazi politics seem more palatable and middle-class and intellectual -- they’re trying to put khakis on it by recruiting on campuses, pushing back on what they see as cultural Marxism or ‘PC’ politics. So organizing against it on campus makes complete sense.”

Asked about future of the campus alt-right, Bray said there "are still plenty of people out there who think white people are superior or who think that women are inferior." Yet, "in a certain sense I’m optimistic, or at least hopeful, that this is sort of the beginning of the end," he added.

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American ban on travel to North Korea could kill Western-style university there

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 17 Ago 2017 - 02:00

North Korea’s only Western-run university may be forced to shut down when the U.S. bans its citizens from traveling to the secretive state, one of its senior academics has warned.

Amid growing unease over the rising nuclear threat posed by North Korea, the U.S. has confirmed that it will ban all of its passport holders from visiting the nation, starting Sept. 1, advising all American nationals to leave before that date.

Any travel ban may prove a “showstopper” for Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), the only privately run university in North Korea, said Colin McCulloch, its director of external relations.

In an interview with Times Higher Education in London, McCulloch explained that the university’s faculty largely consists of visiting academics who hold both U.S. and South Korean passports, who are likely to be barred from travel under the U.S. State Department decree announced last month.

“Of the 80 or so faculty who visit us every semester, about half are U.S. passport holders,” said the British-born academic, who has taught international finance and management at the university for the past seven years.

The university’s senior leadership is even more heavily dominated by Korean-American staff and would therefore be harder hit, said McCulloch, adding that the ban, which allows exceptions only for journalists and humanitarian workers on a case-by-case basis, would “seriously undermine the teaching program and operations of the university.”

PUST is now seeking foreign academics from other countries to join the university and will delay the start of some courses until October or November to allow time to find new faculty members, he added.

The ban comes amid heightened tension between the U.S. and North Korea, which some analysts believe to have a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland. President Trump has promised “fire and fury” if North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, persists with his nuclear threats, including a potential plan to launch missiles toward American Army bases in Guam.

The death of American student Otto Warmbier, who was sentenced last year to 15 years’ hard labor in North Korea, has also stoked tensions. The University of Virginia student was detained after allegedly stealing a propaganda poster from a Pyongyang hotel in January 2016 during a five-day tour of the North Korean capital. After 17 months in prison, the 22-year-old was returned to the United States in June in a comatose state, having apparently suffered a heart attack shortly after his incarceration, and died a few days later.

Two Korean-American academics who were working at PUST are also currently detained -- Kim Hak-song, who was teaching agricultural techniques, and accounting professor Kim Sang-duk, also known as Tony Kim.

However, the university has largely been hailed by both North Korea and Western countries as a force for good, offering a rare opportunity to expose students to Western education.

It was established in 2010 by Kim Chin Kyung, a Korean-American economics professor who has dedicated his life to peace and reconciliation after fighting for South Korea in the Korean War of the 1950s.

Known as James Kim in the U.S., the professor has been instrumental in bringing Western academics to Pyongyang, with three Nobel laureates -- chemists Richard Roberts and Aaron Ciechanover, and economist Finn Kydland -- visiting last year.

Most of those working at the university, which is jointly funded by North and South Korea, are either unpaid or receive only small stipends through foreign aid agencies, said McCulloch.

“We do it for love rather than money,” he explained, adding that unpaid temporary lecturers are “vital for bringing a new style of education” to North Korea.

“The motivation is to create a group of alumni who can take their place in the country’s businesses, universities and farming industry and approach them in a creative and innovative way,” he said.

While many staff visiting the university were evangelical Christians, all of them wanted to teach there for humanitarian reasons, said McCulloch.

He described his work as “great fun," particularly teaching the university’s “incredibly hardworking students."

Asked why the largely insular nation had permitted the existence of a foreign-dominated university, McCulloch said that it was entirely in line with North Korean thinking, despite the country’s perceived hostility to the West.

“There is a Korean saying that says ‘Plant your feet firmly on the motherland and look out to the world,’” he explained. “It means, for students, that they can make a difference within their own country by learning from other nations.”

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University of Florida rejects request for white supremacist to speak

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 16 Ago 2017 - 08:14

The University of Florida announced this morning that it will not let Richard Spencer, a leading white supremacist and "alt-right" organizer, speak on campus in September.

The move comes just days after the university said that the First Amendment might require it to rent space to Spencer's group, the National Policy Institute, regardless of the hateful messages associated with the organization. But Florida is citing safety issues, not Spencer's message, to justify turning down the request to reserve space on campus.

“This decision was made after assessing potential risks with campus, community, state and federal law enforcement officials following violent clashes in Charlottesville, Va., and continued calls online and in social media for similar violence in Gainesville such as those decreeing: ‘The Next Battlefield Is in Florida,’” said a message from W. Kent Fuchs, president of the university. “I find the racist rhetoric of Richard Spencer and white nationalism repugnant and counter to everything the university and this nation stands for. That said, the University of Florida remains unwaveringly dedicated to free speech and the spirit of public discourse. However, the First Amendment does not require a public institution to risk imminent violence to students and others. The likelihood of violence and potential injury -- not the words or ideas -- has caused us to take this action.”

On Monday, Texas A&M University -- which permitted Spencer to speak on campus in December -- made a similar announcement that it would not permit him to return in September. Texas A&M also cited safety issues, not Spencer's message.

Organizers of the planned Spencer event at Texas A&M have vowed to sue over the refusal to permit him to appear.

Spencer attracted attention after the election, as he was videotaped shouting "Hail Trump" at supporters, some of whom responded with Nazi-style salutes.

In November, Spencer announced that one of the targets for his efforts would be college campuses, and that he was planning an appearance at Texas A&M University in December. The university permitted that appearance but organized a series of events as alternatives to attending the Spencer talk. Members of religious and racial and ethnic minority groups spoke out against Spencer, as so did many white Texas A&M alumni and students. Texas A&M is proud of its military traditions, and during World War II many of its students and alumni fought (and many died) in the war against the Nazis. As a result, there was widespread disgust for a speaker linked to white supremacist ideas.

To understand why so many people are upset about Spencer, consider these background reports from the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, both of which note that he has called for the creation of a white state of America. He regularly includes references in his speeches that suggest his admiration for the Nazis. For instance, he says that most journalists are part of the Lügenpresse, a term the Nazis used to mean "lying press."

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Experts: College presidents' call for students to avoid white supremacist rallies not always the best

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 16 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Eight days before the protests in Charlottesville, Va., that left a woman dead, the president of the University of Virginia beseeched her campus: don’t go to the rally.

President Teresa Sullivan released a statement Aug. 4, telling students (most of whom had not returned for classes) and local residents that her foremost concern was their safety. Their attendance would only gratify the organizers of the Unite the Right demonstration -- those who sought a spectacle and to draw attention to their white nationalist cause, Sullivan said in her statement.

“They believe that your counterprotest helps their cause,” she said. “One advocate of the rally said, ‘We should aim to draw the SJWs [social justice warriors] out in Charlottesville and create a massive polarizing spectacle in order to draw as huge a contrast as possible. They will reveal themselves to be violent, intolerant, opposed to free speech, the insane enforcers of political correctness, etc.’ The organizers of the rally want confrontation; do not gratify their desire.”

Ahead of a planned talk in September by Richard Spencer -- who is largely credited with coining the term “alt-right,” designating a movement characterized by white supremacy and racism -- at the University of Florida, the president there has put out a message similar to Sullivan’s.

“I encourage our campus community to send a message of unity by not engaging with this group and giving them more media attention for their message of intolerance and hate,” President Kent Fuchs posted to Facebook.

This “stay away” plea is an attempt by university leaders to recognize that they can’t control student choices, but they want to warn them.

Sullivan’s warnings about potential violence in Charlottesville turned out to be correct. Brawls broke out in Charlottesville on Saturday afternoon, culminating in a white nationalist driving his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman.

Not all students bought the president’s message. Wes Gobar, president of UVA’s Black Student Alliance, is among the skeptical. He witnessed the skirmishes but not the car crash -- he said he caught tear gas to the face several times and that white men heckled his friends.

Gobar said students felt disappointed with the university’s response. Though he understood the administration’s interest in the safety of students, urging them to avoid the rally would only benefit and allow these white nationalist groups to grow unchecked, Gobar said.

“This ‘stay away, it’ll be fine’ narrative, well, I know the university may have a different view, but there’s more that needs to be done,” Gobar said.

A UVA spokesman declined to make officials available for interviews Monday.

Such demonstrations are not likely to slow soon, particularly with the fall semester for most institutions imminent.

In addition to University of Florida, Spencer initially had pledged to return to Texas A&M University in September, but the university canceled the event, citing security concerns.

Spencer took delight in aggravating the Texas A&M campus, said Lecia Brooks, outreach director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks bigotry nationwide. He has also spoken at Auburn University in Alabama, where he successfully sued for the right to appear on campus.

The so-called alt-right and similar racist campaigners have “hijacked” free speech on college campuses with these rallies, attempting to goad the liberal population -- students, but even more so outside “antifascist” activists and radical left-wing groups -- into igniting fights, Brooks said.

Many of the white supremacist-related activities, and the more radical counterprotests, result from outsiders, not those tied to institutions.

Brooks said the center advocates for universities to sponsor alternative events to appropriately combat the white nationalists’, which could pull away the media focus that they crave. Texas A&M did this for Spencer’s first talk. Protests weren’t halted, but nothing turned violent.

She urged college presidents to strongly denounce and identify these people as white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Doing so would ensure that young white college men would not be poached by the movement. She acknowledged that both the UVA and Florida presidents had, in forceful terms, condemned white nationalists in their statements, but said it will take some time for students to recognize the success of nonviolent resistance, like that present during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

“If you want to confront them head-on, do it silently, don’t feed into their desperate need to get attention,” Brooks said, citing the “angels” who donned gigantic white wings and, without speaking, blocked the Westboro Baptist Church from protesting the funerals of victims of the 2016 shooting at an Orlando, Fla., gay bar.

A University of Florida spokeswoman emailed a statement about the upcoming Spencer talk. “We are still assessing security needs, particularly in light of the events over the weekend. Student affairs is in contact with individuals at Auburn University and Texas A&M to learn what we can from the folks who were on the ground in those university communities during similar events. Our strategy right now is to be transparent with the greater university community about this request, and we will provide additional information as it is available,” the statement reads in part.

Dwayne Fletcher, president of Florida’s Black Student Union, said he understands why the president has urged students not to interact with protesters. The “lunatics” in Charlottesville displayed no regard for human life, and like UVA and the surrounding area, Gainesville has a significant racist past, he said. Fletcher said he could see the events of Charlottesville being replicated. A Confederate monument was just taken down in the city Monday, and similarly to the Robert E. Lee statue in Charlottesville, its slated removal drew the ire of the white nationalists.

The University of Florida’s president in his social media post named Spencer and the white nationalists, something Sullivan did not do in her Aug. 4 statement.

Dan Horner, an assistant professor of criminology at Ryerson University in Ontario who specializes in the history of protests in public spaces, said UVA’s tactics evolved. At first, Sullivan did not recognize the protesters as white supremacists, but she more explicitly did so after Saturday. He said he believed the university was hoping the event might fizzle and not be well attended, and that the mention of white nationalists would likely alarm students and their families.

“This fuzzy, soft-focused kind of language was a way to keep everybody calm, but as the situation kind became impossible to ignore, there’s clearly a desire to put herself on the correct side of the story,” Horner said.

He said he was unsure whether advising students to avoid the rally was the proper call.

But Fletcher, at University of Florida, said telling students not to recognize white supremacist demonstrations is more strategic. On Monday, he was in a group text message chat with representatives from nine of the largest and most visible campus student organizations, many representing minority populations. He said they planned to organize a town hall event next week to discuss strategy, and couldn’t say yet whether they would advocate for their membership to appear at the Spencer rally.

“Honestly, I don’t think I’d be able to attend these protests. I know the type of crowd they bring. I’d rather advocate on behalf of the students instead of being in the hospital or dead. I’d rather be smart about it and have a visible presence and stay active and engaged,” Fletcher said.

When students arrive on campuses across the country in the coming weeks, the dynamic will shift entirely, said Angus Johnston, a historian of student activism and assistant professor at Hostos Community College of the City University of New York. He noted that the UVA campus was largely devoid of students, but at the University of Florida and Texas A&M, Spencer’s speech and the backlash will be inescapable for them.

Douglas McAdam, Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, has studied student advocacy in depth. He recently ended a longitudinal study on student activism and in 2014 co-authored a book, Deeply Divided: Social Movements and Racial Politics in Post-War America (Oxford University Press), that touches on the partisanship also bleeding into college campuses.

McAdam said that the students most devoted to activism likely won’t heed advice to ignore white supremacy. In fact, it may inspire the opposite effect, as many of these students are often critical of university practices.

“The idea you’re going to be able to control actions of the activist segment of the student body is a fiction,” he said.

Barring campus outsiders from the grounds and refusing to rent facilities would more effectively minimize the problem rather than trying to separate students from massive and sometimes bloody rallies, Johnston said. At Auburn, Spencer only successfully won his lawsuit because the university’s policies explicitly allowed any outsider to pay for use of a building, he said.

“There’s a reason why he chose a campus over a local hotel or conference center,” Johnston said, referring to Spencer. “Speaking on a campus is a symbolic significant act. It has a lot of cultural salience in the United States.”

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Rejection from state regulator seals fate of Charlotte School of Law

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 16 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Charlotte School of Law, a for-profit institution based in North Carolina, appeared to abruptly shut down Tuesday, just days after losing its license to operate in the state.

No one associated with the law school publicly commented. But its website was taken down and a letter from the president of Charlotte’s alumni association published by local media confirmed it would close.

The North Carolina attorney general’s office, which opened an investigation last year into misrepresentations to students, said in a statement that it would ensure the law school remains closed. Attorney General Josh Stein said many Charlotte students have been successful, but for the Class of 2016 fewer than one in five admitted students graduated, passed the bar and got a job that required a law degree. That’s despite a promise from the law school that students would be “ready to practice upon graduation” and the $100,000 cost of their legal education, he said.

Charlotte was in negotiations with the Department of Education over conditions for restoring federal student aid. Its abrupt closure now means that the federal government could be on the hook for the federal loans taken out by students enrolled at the law school.

Charlotte shut its doors just weeks after reports surfaced that the department would consider restoring its access to Title IV federal aid, which include federal student loans -- the latest indication to some critics that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos would take a more lenient approach to for-profit institutions. The Obama administration cut off Charlotte’s Title IV access in December, citing the law school’s failure to meet standards set by its accreditor, the American Bar Association, and substantial misrepresentations to students.

The ABA had earlier placed Charlotte on probation for failing to admit applicants who were likely to succeed in the program and pass the bar exam.

The Department of Education, the ABA and the University of North Carolina System, which approves state licenses of for-profit institutions, are the three bodies that provide the authorization or revenue for the law school to operate. But in recent weeks it came up short with all three.

In June, the UNC System’s Board of Governors said that by Aug. 10, Charlotte must have a teach-out plan approved by the ABA and a determination from the department that students still enrolled could participate in Title IV federal student loan programs. As that date passed, though, negotiations with the department were still ongoing.

The ABA Monday notified Charlotte that it had rejected its proposed teach-out plan, a document required of a closing institution spelling out how students will be treated fairly to finish their education. The ABA rejected the plan in large part because it wasn’t clear that it would continue as a degree-granting institution. And the next day, the UNC board rejected a request from Chidi Ogene, the president of the law school, that the board hold an emergency meeting to extend Charlotte's license.

Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, said late Tuesday that the department has received official notice of Charlotte's closure.

"The department is committed to ensuring that students of CSL, who are the ones most impacted by this closure, are protected, treated fairly and are made aware of all of the options available to them," she said.

In the coming days, Hill said, the department will work with law school officials, the state and the bar association to give students information about their options and how they can obtain student records. The department will also post answers to frequently asked questions about school closures to the Federal Student Aid website and contact Charlotte students directly about their options.

In an email to students reported by local media Tuesday, the Charlotte administration said the UNC System's licensure unit had notified the law school it could continue to assist students by, among other activities, conferring degrees or credit to students who completed course credit before Aug. 11. 

While no one from the law school or its parent company, InfiLaw, responded to requests for comment on its status, Stein, the North Carolina attorney general, said Charlotte is now required to close.

“I want to express my disappointment for the students and their families affected by Charlotte School of Law's failure,” he said in a statement. “While good lawyers have graduated from Charlotte School of Law, the school too often failed to deliver for its students.”

Stein wrote a letter to DeVos Tuesday asking that she declare exceptional circumstances exist with the school’s closure, which would expand loan forgiveness rights to all the students who left the law school during or after the fall 2016 semester. He also said his office would be available to help students understand their rights and that an investigation into the law school’s adherence to state consumer protection laws is ongoing.

Charlotte appeared to be dead in the water earlier this year after losing access to Title IV funds in December. But it opted to remain open, even taking measures like offering institutional aid to students so that they could remain enrolled, while insisting there was a path back to viability. Critics, however, said keeping the school open -- and steering students to transfer to other InfiLaw programs -- meant that the company was delaying the inevitable while protecting its bottom line. By not closing after losing access to federal aid, Charlotte could protect its liability for costs related to closed-school discharges sought by students. Meanwhile, options were limited for students who otherwise could have transferred elsewhere or immediately applied to have their student loans forgiven.

The prospects for the institution still didn't look good before the department indicated it would consider restoring Title IV access. In the meantime, Charlotte hired Podesta Group lobbyist Lauren Maddox, who helped DeVos navigate confirmation hearings, to make its case to Congress and the administration. 

Among the conditions the Department of Education had sought to attach to Title IV revenue for the law school were a refund of tuition and fees to students who had not completed their first year by December and a $6 million letter of credit to protect students and taxpayers.

A big lesson from the negotiations with Charlotte is that the department should always obtain that letter of credit before anything else, said Clare McCann, the deputy director for federal higher education policy with New America’s education policy program and a former Obama administration official. The department failed to use its leverage over federal aid to obtain that letter, and now it’s on the hook for the cost of student loans taken out to attend Charlotte, she said.

“I’m not impressed with the oversight work,” she said.

Kyle McEntee, the founder of Law School Transparency, a nonprofit that advocates for reforming practices in legal education, said closure appeared to be inevitable after the Board of Governors refused to budge on a license extension.

He said the ABA should have taken action sooner, but its hands were tied by a standards framework ill equipped to handle enforcement. As the group refined its standards, they were able to take action that drew the interest of the state and Department of Education.

“We’ve made good progress with the ABA, but we’re not all the way there yet,” McEntee said.

The fate of Charlotte could be a wake-up call to other law schools with spotty records. As fewer students have applied for spots in law programs in recent years, some institutions made the bet they could enroll whoever they wanted and not be held accountable, McEntee said.

“There’s been a tremendous amount of public pressure to hold those schools accountable,” he said. “Now I think there are several dozen law schools who are going to be frightened as to their future. It’s becoming real now.”

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Community colleges push work-force agenda amid doubts about college from working class

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 16 Ago 2017 - 02:00

As the country divides more fervently across partisan lines, skepticism about the benefits of college is growing among some segments.

As a result, colleges, particularly those in the two-year sector, are feeling the pressure to prove that their institutions can deliver better work-force outcomes.

In recent weeks, surveys have shown that skepticism about the value of college is high not only with Republican voters but also among white working-class voters from all political affiliations. For instance, a poll commissioned by a Democratic political action committee found that 83 percent of white working-class voters said a college degree was “no longer any guarantee of success in America.”

The survey of white working-class voters also found strong support for job-training programs, just like the sort that community colleges offer.

Research shows that jobs in the new economy tend to go to people with at least some college education or an associate’s degree, instead of to workers who hold just high school diplomas. And that’s why some critics feel community colleges should be working harder to advertise and market the career and technical programs they offer.

Wisconsin, for instance, has a broad public education system, between the University of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Technical College systems. But for decades, residents could graduate from high school, go directly into the work force and have a family-sustaining career, said Morna Foy, president of the technical system.

But that has changed dramatically, she said.

“We’ve done a lot and our employers in the state have done a lot to change that narrative,” Foy said. “Maybe there are some people who don’t like that reality, but we don’t talk about it that much anymore as a reality.”

One way the technical college system works to eliminate the disconnect some people may have between college and the work force is by publishing reports that make the connection clear to the public, in the form of how much their graduates make at least six months after graduation.

Between 86 percent and 98 percent of graduates get a job in their field depending on the academic program, Foy said, and the system makes sure to market and promote that information for the public and for policy makers.

Industries like manufacturing didn’t completely go away, Foy said, but instead transformed into advanced manufacturing, where unskilled workers previously would operate an assembly line, but now they’re using robotics and smart technology.

Today there are about 30 million “good” jobs available for people who don’t have a bachelor’s degree and where workers can earn on average about $55,000 a year, according to a recently released report from Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

Some community and technical colleges, however, are focusing on building work-force partnerships and confronting the narrative that their programs don’t lead to job opportunities.

“When we talk about college or with people outside of higher education, they think of residential liberal arts colleges or research universities -- they don’t think of a two-year degree or a one-year certificate,” said Anne Kress, president of Monroe Community College in the State University of New York system. “We work closely with employers and we know they’re looking for a fully trained employee who can walk in on day one and start work, because they don’t have the capacity to do a lot of professional development.”

Kress said the college has been intentional in how it works with community-based organizations to raise awareness about what the college can provide.

“If we sit here and wait for them to come to us and find what we offer, it’s not going to happen,” she said.

In Wisconsin, administrators in the technical college system spend time educating people on the value of a technical credential, Foy said.

“There’s a pretty good understanding in this state that you can improve your economic condition by going to a technical college,” she said, adding that they don’t limit outreach on that value to associate degrees, also promoting stackable credentials, short-term programs and apprenticeships that appeal to older students who still want to work and attend classes part-time.

But Foy said people generally are aware of the work-force programs the colleges have to offer.

“There’s always going to be someone who says, ‘Why should I go back to college to get a job I used to have,’ and it can be a lack of finances, a lack of awareness of how accessible it can be to get the credential that has value,” she said, adding that investing two or more years as an adult student can seem daunting. “You have to get them over that hump of thinking, ‘I’ve been out of school so long I don’t remember any math I took in high school,’ or thinking everyone will be younger than them, or they don’t know how to use a smartphone or they don’t have a smartphone. Those are real-life barriers.”

Comments from people questioning the need for college aren’t uncommon in Tennessee. But that state has found some success in creating a college-going culture.

“That’s not accidental,” said Mike Krause, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “Tennessee faces a situation, not unlike virtually every Southern state and Appalachian state, and that is connecting our residents to an understanding of all the college has to offer.”

While traveling across the state to promote the much-heralded Tennessee Promise program, Krause said a significant concern he heard from parents was that their children would go to college and never return home. So state officials turned to data that could be translated into “kitchen table conversations” and presented them to families.

“The single most powerful piece of data is what happens in real time to students who didn’t go to college in Tennessee,” he said. “If you don’t go to college in Tennessee right now, you’re making $9,000 and have an 84 percent chance of earning minimum wage. That’s not a common piece of data people share publicly, and I don’t think it’s somewhere higher education starts, but for us it’s been pivotal to tell and share with parents because no parent hears that and thinks they want their child to just make $9,000.”

Economic Realities

Seventy-five percent of “good jobs” in the 1980s required less than a bachelor’s degree, but that number has decreased to 55 percent today, said Anthony Carnevale, a research professor and director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

“You can’t move forward by looking in the rearview mirror,” he said. “There is a lower quantity of those jobs … there is still a certain number who can make it without postsecondary education, but they do need postsecondary education.”

The current political climate seems focused mostly on white men, but working-class black and Latino men have been just as affected by the loss of jobs that could be filled by high school graduates alone, Carnevale said.

“We lost a ton of them in manufacturing, construction, farming, fishing, forestry … since the 1980s, but there has been growth in these jobs in the skilled-service sector, computers and health care,” Carnevale said, adding that women have done well in those latter professions.

Some educators, particularly at community colleges, have argued that Pell Grant funding for short-term programs that lead to a technical certificate would help more working-class people find new or better employment.

“We know we can offer short-term programs to connect our students to employment, but those very same students can’t go to college without financial aid,” Kress said.

Foy said colleges could do a better job of marketing their work-force programs.

“Higher education needs to do a better job of making the case for why it’s important,” she said. “We have to tell people and be honest about job prospects, the pay, the likelihood of placement, and it’s not enough to say ‘we’re colleges and universities so you should want to come to us.’”

Foy said she’s noticed some regional universities have started moving in this direction by the promotion of their graduates’ outcomes, similar to the way the Wisconsin technical system does.

“Even justifying why someone should come to university is a new way to think, especially for four-year schools,” she said. “But for transfer-based community colleges -- and we already do -- we have to market ourselves as having value.”

Community CollegesEditorial Tags: Career/Tech EducationImage Caption: Monroe Community College student Vincent Owens assembling a tool holder for a drill with his instructor, Anthony McCollough. Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: 

Author discusses new book on gender and value of higher education

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 16 Ago 2017 - 02:00

If most undergraduates are women, does that mean women have the upper hand in today's economy? Should lagging enrollments of men (or of minority men) be discussed as a problem? These are some of the questions raised in Degrees of Difference: Women, Men and the Value of Higher Education (Routledge). The author is Nancy S. Niemi, director of faculty teaching initiatives at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Yale University.

She responded via email to questions about the book.

Q: It is common in higher education these days to talk about the "problem" of women making up a majority of students, as undergraduates and in many professional fields. Is the declining share of male enrollment a problem? Are there problems with talking about gender imbalances in this way?

A: What constitutes a “problem,” in higher education or otherwise, usually favors the perspectives of the powerful. So, when the majority of U.S. college students were male, few named it as problematic. It’s important to note that the number of men in college has not decreased, but their share of the enrollment is lower because so many more women have enrolled. With that greater share came the “problem” label. Labeling the declining share of male college enrollment as a problem is a misnomer, I think, because it misleads us into thinking that balanced gender numbers in college lead to equitable outcomes for men and women once they graduate. The power of a college degree is dependent on its holder’s identities, and one of those is gender.

Q: This issue intersects with discussions of enrollment patterns by race, with many colleges (historically black and predominantly white) talking about the "problem" of two-thirds enrollment of black students being made up of women. Thoughts on those discussions?

A: Again, I refer to the issue of what is named as a problem. I doubt we would be naming black and Hispanic men’s college enrollment as problematic if their numbers were higher; in fact, I think colleges would be displaying those numbers as proof of their commitment to diversity and inclusivity. That minority student college enrollment is largely female seems to offer evidence to some that the “woman problem” crosses racial and ethnic barriers without distinction, while ignoring the issues that such attendance signals.

For example, recent federal data show that black women and men are overrepresented in for-profit master’s degree programs, and black women’s enrollment in those programs is more than three times white women’s enrollment. By pursuing more higher education credentials, women of all races and ethnicities are responding to the cultural mandate that they have to prove their intellectual competence in ways that men do not. Women who are also part of racial and ethnic minority groups have even more to “prove” than white women do.

Q: In many academic fields, women achieve as much or more academic success as do men, but they lag in being hired for the most lucrative and prestigious positions after they graduate. Why is this the case?

A: The Ginger Rogers challenge of having to do everything Fred Astaire did but also do it backward and in high heels still applies: college women excel in academic achievement in part because we know we have to. We know we need to gain higher GPAs, have more leadership positions and more and better college accomplishments just to compete with men. Women also know they need well-connected internships, fellowships and acceptances to prestigious postgraduate placements, which open doors to further success after graduation, but at that point we are subject to still prevalent and sexist notions about who belongs in the most lucrative fields and who can handle the demands of high-status positions.

The recent story of the Google employee who circulated the memo stating, in part, that men have an inherently higher need for status and women are biologically more prone to anxiety and want more work-life balance (making them less than ideal tech workers, in his mind) is just one of the extraordinary number of ways in which women are still told that no matter how successful they are, they’re not good enough. The criteria for money and prestige changes by industry and field, but the bias remains.

Q: In analysis of the Trump electoral victory, many pundits said that educators (and Democratic politicians) failed to see the problems facing white men with little if any higher education, men who are unemployed or underemployed. What do you think of this narrative?

A: I think that what educators and politicians across the spectrum failed -- and fail -- to see is that white men with little or no higher education are afraid of the economic and social changes they see around them. When they found a presidential candidate who offered the possibility of renewing dependable blue-collar jobs, while simultaneously channeling chest-thumping masculinity and downplaying the power of academic degrees and diversity, it was easy to follow Trump’s angry lead.

Men with little or no higher education have traditionally been less willing as adults to go back to school or other training programs (like nursing, teaching and HVAC repair), even when industries are in need of workers. Part of the reason for this seems to be men’s resistance to enter fields that are coded feminine, and part may be their belief that schooling is “what girls do.”

What I also find fascinating (and infuriating) are politicians who assert that universities negatively impact the state of the country, while they themselves possess a number of college degrees. My biggest worry is that college degrees are becoming the equivalent of an unfunded mandate for U.S. women and their employment, even as men either eschew degrees altogether in favor of either under/unemployment, or use elite credentials to create even more entrenched power bases.

Q: What steps should colleges take to confront the issues you raise in your book?

A: Colleges alone will not solve the issues of differential value of women’s and men’s college degrees. That said, they can be much more proactive and constant about discussing the ways in which gender, education and race/ethnicity influence the lives of their graduates. For example, campus leaders from presidents to deans to heads of custodial unions can and should note their own institutions’ gender representations within and across units; roughly equal representation in leadership and learning is not sufficient, but it is necessary.

College advisers of all kinds can be urged to discuss the sexism and the sexist assumptions that still face young women and men as they consider college majors, work opportunities and careers and family. Many women still do not assume, for example, that they will ever be the primary wage earner; choosing majors that lead to potentially well-paying careers is a smart idea to discuss. Further, colleges can and should counter the cultural norms that lead too many young men to believe that they do not need a serious commitment to schoolwork in order to be successful; faculty and staff should have this conversation early and often with the men in their care.

Finally, colleges should find the courage to speak about the powerful -- and political -- ramifications of their work as it relates to gender equity. When they admitted only men, institutions of higher education were clear that they were producing future leaders, creators and power brokers. It’s time for them to unabashedly declare that including women in this vision should produce a more equitable society as well.

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Tool from Union of Concerned Scientists to report political interference

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 16 Ago 2017 - 02:00

Since President Trump's election, science advocates have become increasingly vocal in opposing actions by his administration, from signing letters of condemnation to marching in the streets and jumping into campaigns for political office.

The Union of Concerned Scientists this month, however, launched an effort that it hopes will promote quieter efforts to defend the independence of science and research. Dubbed the Science Protection Project, the group aims to create an outlet for federal employees and contractors to securely report attempts at political influence over science in the policy-making process.

UCS has set up a SecureDrop server, as well as protected email and text message accounts. It's also advertising a hotline that will be staffed Wednesday afternoons to take tips and a physical mailing address to seek legal advice. Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the group isn't seeking classified information or unlawful disclosures.

"If a scientist is having trouble getting information or getting their research out, we want to know about it," he said. "This will be a conduit for information to make it to the public that should be in the public domain."

Disclosures through the project may also point UCS in the right direction to file Freedom of Information Act requests or make reports to inspectors general about allegations of political interference in scientific work.

Among the kinds of reports the group is seeking: removal of public access to scientific data, pressure to alter or "water down" reports, and violations of scientific integrity policies.

Halpern said UCS did much of the same kind of work under the Obama administration, including the use of FOIA requests to scrutinize industry's influence in shaping the work of the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking. "The sidelining of inconvenient facts is not unique to any one administration," he said.

But the group believes the number of cabinet-level officials who have declared themselves in opposition to the mission of the agencies they lead, as well as the increasing surveillance of federal employees, makes a project like this one important now.

The project has already received backing from other pro-science advocacy groups. The March for Science has promoted the project to its followers through social media.

"We wanted to shed a light on this project because we believe science -- whether conducted within the federal government or not -- should be defended from partisan attacks," a spokeswoman for the March for Science said. "Our community is not made up entirely of scientists, but if our sharing a resource like this leads to even one federal scientist in our network finding the support they need to protect their research from partisan meddling, we will have productively used the March for Science platform to further our movement's efforts to support science in the public interest."

UCS and other science advocacy groups have long worked with scientists to protect their legal rights. The American Geophysical Union and the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund for the past five years have run a legal education program for scientists. Chris McEntee, the executive director and CEO of the American Geophysical Union, said the concerns all of those efforts are addressing are not new.

"I would say that there is increasing fear and trepidation that scientists will not be able to share information in an open and objective manner," she said.

Robert Proctor, a professor of the history of science at Stanford University, praised the project as a tool to push back against ignorance.

"If we can trace the mechanisms by which ignorance is being spread, we have a chance of getting the truth out and keeping science alive," he said.

Halpern said his preference is that there would be little reason for complaints about improper political meddling. UCS wants government to function, he said, but efforts like the project could make government officials think twice about censoring or otherwise undermining federal scientific capacity.

"The fact that it exists sends a signal to federal employees that there are entities out there that have their back and support them," he said.

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New presidents or provosts: Berkeley Bethany Chipola Glenville KSU UMass-Dartmouth UW-La Crosse Viterbo

Inside Higher Education - Mié, 16 Ago 2017 - 02:00
  • M. Christopher Brown II, executive vice president for academic affairs and provost at Southern University and A&M System, in Louisiana, has been appointed president of Kentucky State University.
  • Carol T. Christ, former president of Smith College and director of the Center for Studies in Higher Education, has been named chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Sarah Clemmons, senior vice president of instruction and interim president of Chipola College, in Florida, has been appointed president on a permanent basis.
  • Robert E. Johnson, president of Becker College, in Massachusetts, has been selected as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
  • Joseph Lane, Hawthorne Professor of Politics and chair of the department of politics, law and international relations at Emory & Henry College, in Virginia, has been chosen as provost of Bethany College, in West Virginia.
  • Betsy Morgan, interim provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs at the University of Wisconsin at La Crosse, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Tracy L. Pellett, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the College of Coastal Georgia, has been selected as president of Glenville State College, in West Virginia.
  • Tracy Stewart, provost at Alaska Pacific University, has been appointed vice president for academic affairs at Viterbo University, in Wisconsin.
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White Supremacists Still Exist. Here's What White Parents Can Do About It.

Huffington Post - Mar, 15 Ago 2017 - 16:30
How to raise kids who stand up for what is right.

Family Rewrites 'In Da Club' To Celebrate Back-To-School Season

Huffington Post - Mar, 15 Ago 2017 - 10:12
"In Da Tub" sums up the sweet freedom and jubilation parents feel on the first day of school.

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