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The social network Gab isn’t the same as more mainstream platforms like Twitter or Facebook.
At Gab, without the rule book that governs other social media, users can freely spew white supremacist-laced vitriol, hailing “the end of the Jewish century” and calling their critics “faggots.”
It’s there that the alleged shooter of 11 Jewish men and women -- whom he murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last month -- often felt comfortable posting blatantly anti-Semitic hate speech. His bio on the website read, “Jews are the children of Satan.” He wrote on Gab just minutes before the attack.
Another one of the website’s more prolific users, known as Jack Corbin, is ideologically allied with the suspected killer, Robert Bowers, 46, who would often repost Corbin. And Corbin -- whose real name is unknown, but has generated a following of more than 2,000 people on Gab -- has been harassing college students online, notably activists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, near where Corbin says he lives.
The university has not directly addressed Corbin’s actions, publicly only saying that students who feel unsafe should report threats to police.
Corbin maintains both his Gab and at least two Twitter pages. On both sites, he often discusses UNC students by name -- those involved in protests around campus -- and has attempted to hassle them directly. He has been particularly interested in those who have pushed to bring down Silent Sam, the controversial Confederate monument on campus.
On Gab, Corbin took delight in coming up with a nickname for a graduate student who has protested Silent Sam -- calling her “lampshade.” One of Corbin’s followers had taunted the student, saying he would take her to the lampshade factory, apparently a reference to stories of Nazis who made lampshades from human skin. The student declined to be interviewed but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Corbin has posted comments about her “looks, ethnicity and background” since August and she had started learning cardio kickboxing because she feared potential violence.
The graduate student was also interviewed for a report on Corbin by the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. When the article was published, Corbin immediately began targeting the student journalist who wrote it, Charlie McGee.
Corbin wrote online that McGee’s reporting was a “hatchet job” and goaded him directly on Twitter, sending him tweets, calling him “fake news,” President Trump’s common refrain, and emphasizing the last three letters of McGee’s first name -- “lie.”
“You can't spell Charlie McGee without LIE!,” Corbin wrote in a tweet, adding that the Tar Heel should fire him. He also tweeted at a Tar Heel editor asking how to contact McGee.
McGee said in an email he was concerned about anonymous rhetoric such as Corbin's has become increasingly directed toward the UNC campus.
"The activist community on campus has reacted strongly to the article," McGee wrote in an email. "They see it as an issue that has not been discussed nearly enough ... their fear is that a mainstream conversation will only be held after something tragic happens."
According to an analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- which tracks bigotry and hate crimes across the country -- of Corbin’s and Bowers’s social media, Bowers interacted with Corbin the most out of all the alt-right figures on Gab.
Bowers shared posts from Corbin that contained deeply homophobic sentiments -- one read, “Whites have a right to exist, faggots do not. Faggots are not human beings, they are AIDS carrying flesh muppets,” according to the SPLC. In July, Bowers reposted Corbin following riots in Portland, Ore., that were led by far-right groups, including one called the Proud Boys. One member of that group was recorded knocking out an antifascist protester, a video that went viral among extremists and helped boost recruitment for the Proud Boys. Bowers shared Corbin’s commentary on the incident:
“I hear there’s a 75 percent chance he might die,” Corbin wrote, referencing the protester who had been attacked. “One less Antifa terrorist and one less loose end if that happens!”
Corbin did not respond to a request for comment sent to his Gab account.
Derek Kemp, UNC’s associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management, said in a statement that the institution “takes the safety of our students and employees very seriously and relies on information from the community to keep our campus safe.”
“Anyone who is receiving threats should call or email UNC police so that they may assist,” Kemp’s statement reads. “When university police receive any report from a member of our campus community who is concerned about their safety, they follow up with the individual who made the report to learn more, and if the reporting individual wishes, will investigate further.”
The media relations office at UNC did not respond to a question whether officials were concerned by Corbin’s behavior. But since the Pittsburgh shooting, students have been speaking out about hate they have experienced, and their fears that the insults could translate into real violence.
A doctoral student from the university, Calvin Deutschbein, said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that activists tend not to report to law enforcement or administrators for fear they will instead be retaliated against.
Deutschbein is one of Corbin’s frequent targets. Corbin began harassing Deutschbein a couple months ago when he participated in a campus demonstration around the sexual assault accusations against newly installed Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, then a nominee. Deutschbein was featured in a photograph of the protest posted to Twitter, which Corbin apparently saw. Since then, Corbin has latched on to Deutschbein, referring to him as an “antifa leader” and sharing personal details. Corbin also made fun of his hairline.
The harassment ramped up shortly after the Pittsburgh shooting, Deutschbein said. But he said he knows Corbin bullies women more, with “psychological and misogynistic abuse.” For instance, with the graduate student, Corbin mocked her about her brother’s recent death.
Deutschbein said he sometimes reports Corbin on Twitter (Gab allows hate speech, but not threats of violence). He doesn’t want to block Corbin because some of his followers do share insinuations of violence after Corbin posts about him, and Deutschbein said he wants to make sure he knows about them.
“I don’t know if that makes me safer or not,” he said.DiversityEditorial Tags: DiscriminationImage Caption: GabIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Faced with tight budgets, a nagging deficit and a reduced endowment, Drew University, a small, private liberal arts institution west of New York City, has opted to expand -- not trim -- academic offerings. To reduce its operating budget, Drew is cutting, among other line items, cops and sippy cups.
President MaryAnn Baenninger (right) said the university has refused to cut virtually any student-facing programs. “Our plan has been to grow and then get more efficient,” she said.
On the chopping block: nonacademic expenses and fringe benefits for faculty and staff ranging from public safety to retiree health-care subsidies to daycare.
Baenninger said aggressive cost-cutting should close Drew’s funding gap in three years. But instead of cutting academics, Drew has pushed to woo new students by creating new undergraduate majors in media and communications, public health, and cybersecurity, as well as master’s-level programs in finance and education. It added men’s and women’s golf teams and is redesigning its theological school curriculum.
Earlier this month, Baenninger told students, faculty and alumni that a new undergraduate program, dubbed Launch, slated for fall 2019, will guarantee “real-world, résumé-ready experiences” such as internships, hands-on research and residencies in cities like London, New York and Washington. (The effort’s motto: “Put the ‘Hire’ in Higher Education.”) She didn't publicly announce the anticipated cuts.
In a message to the campus, Baenninger said Launch arose, in part, from an effort to understand why some prospective students don’t choose Drew -- and how others who do “experience more difficulty than others in translating their successes at Drew into a meaningful career arc.”
The only actual programmatic cut that Baenninger has recommended: a low-residency, master’s-level poetry program that enrolls nine students. They’ll complete their degrees, but the program will not accept new recruits. Otherwise, she said, Drew plans cuts in mostly non-student-facing areas. It doesn't foresee any faculty reductions.
When Baenninger arrived four years ago, the college’s plan was to tame its growing deficit and shrinking endowment by cutting several academic programs.
“It didn’t actually make sense to me,” Baenninger said, noting that many of the majors then on the chopping block had high market demand. Instead, her staff searched “in a surgical way” for areas that had large numbers of employees but that weren’t contributing to instruction.
Among the two biggest areas: public safety and childcare.
The university plans to outsource operation of a long-standing, highly subsidized childcare center that serves dozens of campus and area families, but that “loses six figures every year -- some years it costs us $300,000,” Baenninger said. Those funds, she said, come almost entirely from undergraduate and graduate tuition proceeds. Drew expects to cut 56 childcare positions.
“In my view, as much as I understand why day care is very, very important -- and we’ll look at that moving forward -- I have to steward our tuition dollars as best I can,” Baenninger said.
The childcare center won’t go away -- Drew will find ways to outsource its operation. The university hasn’t yet figured out whether it will subsidize the new entity.
Addressing the safety issue, Baenninger said Drew, which sits on a wooded 186-acre campus in Madison, N.J., a tony suburb 25 miles west of New York City, is already safe -- in an interview, she said with a little laugh that she could anticipate the next question: Isn’t Drew safe because it spends so much on keeping trouble out?
“We’re a very, very safe campus, but we were putting more resources into that than our peer institutions were,” she said. A benchmarking study found that Drew had about twice as much public safety staff as comparable colleges, meaning that on occasion small skirmishes or incidences of misbehavior are met with an overwhelming response.
She has also combined the university’s career center with its study abroad, civic engagement and student research offices, in the process hiring a new director.
And Drew will consider cutting staff tuition benefits and retiree, spousal and dependent health-care subsidies.
Reducing these bedrock benefits is difficult for the community, she said, “but they were a long time coming” and had to be considered to keep academic programs afloat.
“Everything we’re cutting is not mission-central,” she said. “There are things that had been part of our ethos and our culture for a long time -- we want to shift the resources that we used for them towards student-focused programs.”
Professor Sarah Abramowitz, who chairs Drew's math department, said she has spoken to colleagues who are “very sad to lose some of these benefits that they really care about,” especially valuable childcare subsidies that many younger faculty and staff have come to rely upon. But she said most see the bigger picture. “Other schools are experiencing the same problems, but the way they’re doing it is by cutting programs,” she said. Those can easily create a “downward spiral” that spells the end of institutions like Drew, making them less, not more appealing to new students.
“As we grow our enrollments, we’re going to solve our fiscal problems,” Abramowitz said.
The changes follow several years of bleak financial news for Drew, which was established in 1867 as a Methodist seminary and eventually became a small college for men.
Former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean led the school for 15 years, from 1990 to 2005, expanding the campus while growing Drew’s endowment. But by the time Baenninger arrived in 2014, the university had an $11.1 million operating deficit -- which soon grew to $13.7 million, or about 15 percent of spending.
In 2015, as she pushed to reinvigorate the university, Baenninger told faculty, "The ocean liner has stalled, and it's facing the wrong direction. It will take us four or five years to recover."
Since then she has spent heavily to turn Drew around, spending down the university’s endowment in the process -- it dropped 19.1 percent between 2015 and 2016, to $172.2 million, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund. The trend has since reversed: the endowment now stands at $177.8 million, a 3.2 percent gain.
In March 2017, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Drew’s bonds for the second time in 15 months, dropping one series from Ba3 to B2 and two others from Ba3 to B3. Moody’s said Drew’s operating deficits would likely last longer than expected -- analysts predicted that Drew’s financial outlook would remain “challenged” for several years, making a return to financial stability “very difficult.”
Drew later took its debt private, removing it from Moody’s gaze.
Reflecting on the downgrades, Baenninger said the ratings agency “would have felt better if we cut first and then grew -- but the board and I didn’t believe that would work.”
As part of her plan to bring in more revenue, Baenninger hired Robert Massa as senior vice president for enrollment and institutional planning. Massa had previously helped Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College turn around its enrollment and revenue.
Since his arrival, freshman enrollment has grown, from 302 in 2015 to 420 this fall, just short of Drew’s goal of 430.
Next fall, Baenninger said, Drew needs 470 new students to meet anticipated expenses. By 2021, the university needs a “steady state” of 500 new students each fall.
Drew also reset tuition this fall to 2010 levels, lowering it 20 percent. Its discount rate, meanwhile, has fallen, from 67 percent in 2015 to 57 percent this fall -- discount rates typically fall when institutions reset tuition.
Baenninger said more revenue and lower spending could wipe out Drew’s deficit by 2021. The following year, she said, she anticipates making larger deposits to the endowment.
“It’s going to be a few years before we start to recover from the stagnancy because of the dollars we’ve had to use,” she said. “And our budget plans to make extraordinary deposits to the endowment starting in 2022.”
In the meantime, she said, alumni giving is up -- Drew’s annual fund grew 37 percent this year, to $1.6 million. One donor challenged the university to raise an additional $4 million within six months. If they did, he promised, he’d add $1 million to the total.
“We did -- and he did,” Baenninger said.
Brett Frazier, chief commercial officer at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, the enrollment management and consulting company, said he couldn't comment specifically on Drew's changes. But he said more generally that institutions like Drew shouldn't just propose new offerings “every decade or two” -- they should re-evaluate both their offerings and price “on a more consistent and frequent basis.”
Universities that remain student-focused, regardless of how markets are changing, “typically do quite well and come out ahead of their peers,” he said. He also said universities that focus on personally appealing to everyone from prospective students to alumni "and everyone in between" are typically more successful.
“We expect personalization in every other aspect of our lives, and we know that personalization is possible primarily through data and analytics,” Frazier said.
His colleague Brian Gawor, Ruffalo's vice president for research, said asking students and families “what they want and how they want it delivered” is a huge key to success. Families like those that consider Drew are looking for institutions that focus on individual student success, not just recruitment, he said. "Americans are demanding more of higher education."
One of the key metrics universities should consider, he said, is student engagement -- not just in course work but in everything, from clubs and organizations to how often a student uses campus dining facilities and, on a deeper level, how engaged a student is with classmates who are different than she is.
“If we’re going to provide a life-changing experience, let’s talk about the things that are truly life-changing,” Gawor said.
David Strauss, a principal at Art & Science Group, a Baltimore-based consulting firm that advises universities on strategy, said each institution must preserve the “core of your reason for being.” Other expenditures -- even those that employees have come to expect and rely upon -- aren’t necessarily worth keeping if they don’t accomplish this. “That often means that an institution has to prune at areas that are not at the core of its reason for being,” he said. Such cuts can be painful, especially if they serve the greater public or are highly valued, like day care or dependent health care. “But we have to take a step back strategically and realize that not all institutions can afford to be doing all things.”
Like Frazier and Gawor, Strauss wouldn’t comment specifically on Drew’s efforts -- he said all institutions are “idiosyncratic,” and that virtually no solution will work across all of them. “Suffice to say that whenever you hear people say, ‘Institution X is doing this and it’s really working for them -- we should go do it too,’ they’re almost always wrong.”Editorial Tags: AlumniLiberal arts collegesImage Source: Drew University/Lynne DeLadeImage Caption: Statue of Francis Asbury, a Methodist bishop, on the campus of Drew UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Drew University
A wide-ranging investigation into the administrative practices of a Texas community college found that the institution improperly changed students' grades and did not have a policy for doing so.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or THECB, released a report of the findings of its investigation of Coastal Bend College earlier this week. The report also outlined how the college failed to properly administer a state nursing grant program.
Officials at the college are disputing parts of the report, although they wouldn’t go into detail about which parts they believe are wrong.
“The Coastal Bend College Board of Trustees will review the results of THECB report at its upcoming board meeting and CBC administration will then consider further comment,” Bernie Saenz, director of marketing and public relations for the college, said in an email. “CBC administration will say that it believes the report contains inaccuracies. We will also note that the report makes no findings of illegality or fraud.”
Saenz said college administrators take the report seriously and are working to improve Coastal Bend's processes and procedures.
The investigation found that 275 grade changes were made for 124 students on nursing exams administered in the fall semester last year. The grade changes occurred 45 days after the end of the semester.
Of those grade changes:
- More than half, or 139, were not signed off by a faculty member, which was required by the grade change form.
- Thirty-one were not processed and, as result, do not appear on students’ transcripts.
- Sixteen grade-change forms did not explain the reasoning for the change.
- Eight were changed from a failing to passing grade, including three for which forms did not include a faculty signature.
- Seven grade change forms could not be "tested" because a completed transcript wasn’t available.
Another 21 grade changes occurred earlier this year in the spring semester; eight of them had an incorrect letter grade and moved the student from failing to passing.
Kelly Carper Polden, a spokeswoman for the higher education coordinating board, said in an email that the board has not yet determined the effect the grade changes had on student outcomes, such as graduation.
The investigation also found that the college didn’t comply with the requirements of a state nursing grant. The college is being asked to refund $260,287 to THECB.
“Weak controls over both grant administration and grade changes indicate weak institutional integrity and could result in numerous impacts including accreditation issues,” according to the report.
The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission. The institution's next reaffirmation is in 2024.
THECB launched the investigation after Matilda Saenz, a former interim vice president of instruction and economic development at Coastal Bend, accused administrators of committing fraud by changing the grades of nursing students without faculty consent. She was fired in August after initially making the allegations and reporting to board members a climate of intimidation at the college.
The investigation found that some administrators, staff, faculty and students failed to meet with investigators out of fear of retaliation.
“A common theme communicated to the auditors by these individuals was that staff felt intimidated and threatened by the possible loss of their job if they were found to have been providing information or otherwise cooperating with the auditors,” according to the report.
Representatives from the Texas Community College Teaching Association could not be reached for comment.
THECB will discuss the report and any follow-up steps during the next board meeting in January, Polden said.Community CollegesEditorial Tags: AssessmentNursingTexasIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
Which of Mr. Darcy’s portraits is Elizabeth’s favorite? How would Lady MacBeth describe her style? What inspired the paint color of Dorothy’s rural Kansas home?
In her new book Decorating a Room of One’s Own (Abrams Books), Susan Harlan, an English professor at Wake Forest University, answers these questions and others through Apartment Therapy-style interviews with some of literature’s most famous characters.
The idea for the book was born out of an essay, a “house tour” with Jane Eyre, that Harlan wrote for The Toast, an online humor and feminist writing website.
“Thornfield Hall became an accidental decorating inspiration, an idea that struck me as darkly funny, given the tragedies and horrors that the house holds. I grabbed my laptop and started to take notes while I watched the movie,” she wrote in the book’s introduction. “What if Jane were interested in paint colors and cushions? Maybe scorched-by-a-fire-set-by-your-husband’s-doomed-secret-wife is the new shabby chic.”
Her first essay turned into a series for The Toast, and after the site shut down in 2016, she decided to turn the essays into a book.
“Literary houses are just so important, and there’s so many books that we can’t even think about without thinking about where these characters lived,” Harlan said. One of those homes is Pemberley, Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s home, which Harlan teaches about when her students read Pride and Prejudice.
For a year, Harlan bought subscriptions to many popular decorating and home design magazines and revisited her favorite books to imagine how each character would plan, talk about and decorate their own space. Some books had already laid out the characters’ homes in great detail. For others, she got more creative.
“In some cases I wanted to be really faithful to the descriptions in the book, but of course, parody operates with exaggeration and license, so some [chapters] are more fanciful than others,” Harlan said. “Howards End by E. M. Forster … is more strict. In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, I think I’m just kind of playing around a little bit more and imaging this knight/fertility god having a house filled with plants.”
Each chapter begins with an introduction to the characters that also gives readers a reminder about the book’s plot. Then, Harlan “interviews” the character about their style, important influences and favorite pieces à la an Apartment Therapy house tour. Harlan’s real-life Winston-Salem home was featured on the site in 2016.
"I am quite skilled at tablescapes. I love a good centerpiece heavily overhung with cobwebs and infested with speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies. My real pièce de résistance was for my wedding. You think I was going to let all that go to waste? Christ, no. You don’t throw out a perfectly good wedding cake just because you don’t actually get married," Harlan wrote in the voice of Miss Havisham from Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. "The moldering bride cake really ties the room together, and one day, when I die, my corpse will be laid out on the table, too -- in what you might call the ultimate tablescape."
Harlan's interview with Father from Swiss Family Robinson about the family's elaborate treehouse home reflects his personality and the time period.
"Ship chic meets tiki, with a soupçon of colonialism, although we haven’t found any savages," Father said about the family's style. "It is important to control the natural world, to transform nature’s bounty into useful things that make your life more comfortable and meaningful. There’s no limit to what a man can do! And by that I really do mean a man."
Harlan strives to embody the character’s voice in each interview.
“Characters that I really admire like Elinor Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility or Jo in Little Women … I wanted them to be themselves,” she said. “Think about what kinds of things they would actually like.”
Along the way she pokes fun at the format of modern home decorating media, which, she said, promotes certain styles or items as “fetish objects that everyone is supposed to want.”
“I wanted them to speak with that voice as well, since the joke, obviously, was kind of imaging the way that these literary characters talk about their homes the way that HGTV does,” she said.
She also included interviews with characters she didn’t particularly like, such as the Professor in C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In the book he comes off as distant, snobbish and old -- traits that are reflected in his style.
"The perfectly splendid property boasts a wireless, a lot of books, an odd-looking front door, a balcony, long passages and rows of doors leading into empty rooms, a Green Room, and the relentless sound of owls," Harlan wrote.
Designing a home for a stereotypical “professor” was an interesting exercise for Harlan, who is often told she doesn’t look the part.
"I have had so many people tell me I don’t seem like a professor or don’t look like a professor, which is something that so many women and people of color in the field deal with," Harlan said.Books and PublishingEditorial Tags: EnglishFacultyImage Source: Abrams BooksImage Caption: At left, Pemberley.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Wake Forest University
Scholars have warned that the state of academic freedom in China is “going from bad to worse” after the president of one of the country’s leading universities was ousted and replaced by a Communist Party chief.
Last month, Lin Jianhua was suddenly removed from his position as president of Peking University, with state officials claiming that he was “past retirement age.” He was replaced by Hao Ping, a professor and former Communist Party secretary of the institution who had previously served as a vice minister of education in the country.
The university has received criticism in recent months over its handling of a decades-old allegation, which came to light as a result of the Me Too movement, that a former lecturer raped a student who later died by suicide. Alumni had called for Lin to resign, but it is unclear whether this was a factor in his removal.
Christopher Balding, an American academic and critic of the Chinese government who lost his post as an associate professor at Peking University HSBC Business School earlier this year -- and subsequently left the country, citing fears for his safety -- said that there has been “increasing party control over universities for some time."
“Academic freedom in China is clearly on the retreat,” he said. “I have been told of other universities where the party has taken significantly more control and taken action against foreign or Chinese academics. The idea that the party is not pre-eminent in the management of a university is just false.”
Kevin Carrico, lecturer in Chinese studies at Australia’s Macquarie University, said that “academic freedom was already in quite dire straits in China” but “the recent personnel changes at Peking … suggest that the situation is going from bad to worse -- even worse than pessimists like myself would have expected.”
“The fact that someone with such close links with the party-state apparatus -- the same apparatus imprisoning millions in Xinjiang and eliminating civil society throughout China -- should become the head of Peking University, one of the best universities in China and ostensibly a top global university, highlights just how serious the already quite distressing political environment in China has become, and makes a mockery of hardworking academics there who simply want to think and speak freely like their colleagues elsewhere,” he said.
Hans van de Ven, professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Cambridge, said that universities in China are “being purged and have to toe the party line,” adding that “it is tragic that Peking University, the most important university that has done most to make the case for academic autonomy, is now suffering the consequences of these developments.”
Jonathan Sullivan, director of the University of Nottingham’s China Policy Institute, said that the “coupling of party and university administration” has previously “been avoided” and Hao is “well qualified for the job politically and as an education professional.”
However, he added that the presidential reshuffle, “if it were designed to signify closer party control in higher education, would be compatible with the broader atmosphere of increasing circumscriptions in the sector.”
“Given that this is Peking, not only the top university but the most politically symbolic, it could be interpreted as giving the green light to other institutions to follow suit, but that is speculation on my part,” he said.GlobalEditorial Tags: CanadaTimes Higher EdIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
It’s common advice: to increase faculty gender diversity, increase the gender diversity of institutional leaders. But what about department chairs, a kind of middle-management position -- do they make a difference? And beyond gender diversity, does having a female chair help improve the success of female academics?
The answer to much of the above is yes, according to a new working paper finding that in departments with female chairs, gender gaps in publication and tenure rates are smaller among assistant professors. The pay gap also shrinks. After departments replace a male chair with a female chair, they see an increase of about 10 percent in the number of incoming female graduate students, with no change in students’ ability levels.
Yet the takeaway is not that it’s “always necessarily better for a woman to work in a female-chaired department, or that chairs show favoritism towards individuals of their own gender,” the paper cautions. Rather, it says, the results reinforce other findings suggesting that “managers from different backgrounds often take different approaches, highlighting the value of diversity among decision-makers.”
Further work is needed to understand the management practices that may “help all individuals and academic departments achieve their full potential, regardless of gender or other characteristics.”
The paper, “Female Managers and Gender Disparities: The Case of Academic Department Chairs,” was written by Andrew Langan, a Ph.D. candidate in economics at Princeton University who has previously found that graduate economics programs with better outcomes for women tend to hire more female professors, enable adviser-student contact, offer “collegial” research seminars and employ senior faculty members who are aware of gender issues.
Langan said this week that he wanted to study female department chairs in particular because academe is, “in many ways, an ideal setting to look at the impacts women have in management and how they differ from men.” That’s a major of area of research with many unanswered questions, he added, and academe is an “especially nice place to look for answers.” Why? Academe has long-run data on individuals' background and outcomes, to often include public salary data.
From a policy perspective, there’s big “interest at universities in reducing gender and other disparities in things like pay and promotion,” he said. And government, business and academe alike seek to increase gender balance in certain fields.
What A Chair Does
Langan said his results indicate that “something about how the department is managed actually matters,” whoever the chair happens to be. Again, these results don’t seem to merely come from having a female chair, but rather what that chair does, he said.
“I think departments who are interested in changing their outcomes would do well to take that into account, and to look at their practices.”
For his study, Langan collected a database of department chairs in economics, accounting and political science across nearly 200 institutions, spanning 35 years. (He estimates that his paper represents the largest compilation of faculty rosters to date.) He then examined cross-department variation in the timing of transitions between department chairs, along with variation within a department of the chair's gender over time.
Among assistant professors, working more years under female department chairs is associated with smaller gender gaps in publication and tenure rates. The wage gap across a department also shrinks in the years after a woman replaces a man as chair. And female chairs raise the number of women in incoming graduate student cohorts without affecting the number of men, or proxies for ability.
Interestingly, Langan found no increase in women’s representation on the department faculty under female chairs. There was also no effect, either way, of a female chair on the number of top papers published per person at the department level.
As to why female chairs appear to have some positive effects, Langan in his paper guesses that chairs act as mentors or role models “and steer the culture and tone of the department.” Having a female role model as chair might “increase women’s demand for spots on the faculty or in the student body,” he adds. That assertion is supported by many other studies on role models. But Langan said more is at work than seeing oneself in a mentor, namely the chairs’ wheelhouses: dividing and negotiating for departmental resources, staffing admissions committees, and dealing with professors who have received outside offers.
Langan's paper includes an advanced analysis to estimate the change in gender representation that would result from a policy that replaced some male chairs in economics with women. Even a major effort to replace male chairs at 25 percent of departments would result in “fairly small impacts on the number of female faculty 20 years in the future, relying on mechanical effects alone,” he says.
“So while female chairs meaningfully increase gender equity in outcomes, this exercise suggests some other important factors lay behind long-run demographic shifts observed in some fields.”Editorial Tags: Graduate educationGraduate studentsImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
After weeks of speculation, tech giant Amazon confirmed yesterday that it would be building not one but two new headquarters in the U.S. -- one in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, N.Y., and the other in Arlington, Va.
College presidents and business leaders in both locales expressed relief and excitement at the news. But the pressure is now on to quickly establish a talent pipeline for the more than 50,000 new jobs expected to arrive with the new headquarters. In a press release, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said the company plans to establish 25,000 jobs in each location, with an average salary of $150,000. Hiring will begin next year.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University yesterday announced ambitious plans to support this expansion by building a $1 billion Tech Innovation Campus in Alexandria, Va. -- less than two miles away from Amazon’s chosen 105-acre site near Reagan National Airport. University administrators said in a press release that the planned project was part of a "comprehensive higher education package that was cited as a key reason Amazon selected Virginia for a new headquarters site."
Tim Sands, president of Virginia Tech, said his institution began planning the one-million-square-foot Innovation Campus four years ago, but “considerably accelerated” its plans to support Virginia’s Amazon HQ2 bid -- which beat out competition from more than 200 localities across the country.
Ambitious Plans In Virginia
The new campus will be built with $500 million in seed funding -- half of which will come from the state and half from the institution, said Sands. The other $500 million is yet to be secured but will come from a mixture of philanthropic grants and industry partnerships over the next decade. "We're thinking big because the challenge and the opportunity is huge," said Sands
The Innovation Campus will focus on computer science and software engineering majors, and 500 master’s degree students are expected to be studying there within five years. The campus will eventually be home to 750 master’s degree students as well as hundreds of doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows.
Virginia Tech is not the only research institution in the state gearing up to support Amazon’s work-force needs. George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., plans to triple its computer science graduates -- by growing undergraduate and graduate enrollment to 10,000 and 5,000 students respectively over the next five years -- said Ángel Cabrera, president of George Mason. George Mason also plans to create a new School of Computing and build a 400,000-square-foot Institute for Digital InnovAtion (IDIA) on its existing Arlington campus.
Like Virginia Tech, George Mason's expansion will be supported with state funding. Virginia governor Ralph Northam announced yesterday that Virginia Tech and George Mason will share a pool of performance-based state funding worth up to $375 million over the next 20 years, subject to one-to-one matching by the institutions. In addition, Northam plans to invest $50 million in tech internships for K-12 students. Additional funding to develop bachelor’s degree programs in computer science and related fields will be available to other public universities and community colleges in the state subject to negotiation.
“Already, Northern Virginia is a data science hub in terms of entrepreneurship and density of talent,” said Cabrera. But the Amazon HQ will have a “multiplying effect” -- attracting new companies, investment and talent to the area, and making institutions like George Mason more attractive to potential students. “It will be game-changing,” he said.
A Big Role for Community Colleges
Scott Ralls, president of Northern Virginia Community College, anticipates that his institution’s already strong relationship with Amazon could be “deepened and broadened” by the new HQ.
The college has been partnering with Amazon for some time, and last year announced an apprenticeship program with Amazon Web Services, or AWS -- the first of its kind on the East Coast. The first group of students in the program, all of them U.S. military veterans, are scheduled to complete their training Thursday and to be hired by Amazon as full-time cloud consultants.
The college was already planning to scale up enrollment in its cloud computing degree program, designed collaboratively with AWS, as well as its cybersecurity degree program, but is now poised to do more, said Ralls.
“AWS has said we are a college that is bold in terms of moving quickly and scaling to meet their demands.”
New York universities and colleges stand ready to partner with Amazon, too. In prime position is LaGuardia Community College, located just minutes away from Amazon’s proposed HQ in Long Island City.
Gail Mellow, president of LaGuardia Community College, said she was “delighted” by Amazon’s choice.
“One of the biggest challenges that the tech sector faces is a lack of diversity,” she said. As one of the most diverse colleges in the U.S., with students from more than 150 countries, “LaGuardia would be able to provide that diverse employee pipeline,” said Mellow.
Mellow hopes LaGuardia can work closely with Amazon to “build the ladders” that will allow graduates to “move into increasing levels of responsibility” at the company.
“It would be great if we could arrange an internship strategy,” she said.
Mellow also wants to work with Amazon to create technical education programs for incumbent workers who may need training to update their skills and knowledge. “Technical education changes so fast,” she said.
Mellow looks forward to building a relationship with Amazon. “Geography matters even to tech companies,” she said.
Sean Gallagher, founder and executive director of Northeastern University’s Center for the Future of Higher Education and Talent Strategy, said Amazon’s picks for HQ locations were not surprising. Amazon made clear that it was looking for “proximity to talent and a strong supply of people with college degrees.”
“From the beginning, D.C. and New York were being speculated as potential winners,” he said.
Josh Hartmann, chief practice officer at Cornell University's Cornell Tech campus, which offers graduate engineering courses, said he was excited to see Amazon recognize the potential of New York City’s rapidly expanding tech industry and “solidify New York’s ranking as the nation’s most diverse tech hub.”
“This is good news for New York City,” he said.
A Growing Backlash
Although colleges close to the new headquarters locations welcomed Amazon’s announcement, there is mounting criticism of the chosen locations. Residents of Queens and Arlington voiced concern about expected rent increases and construction disruption. And some politicians slammed plans to offer Amazon large taxpayer subsidies.
We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this.
The community’s response? Outrage. https://t.co/Jl4OIfa4gC
“Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need more investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here,” tweeted Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was recently elected to Congress and will represent a congressional district that includes the Bronx and Queens.
Ron Kim, a Democratic New York assemblyman, vowed to introduce legislation that would block the city from offering taxpayer money to Amazon and instead use the money to reduce student debt for New Yorkers. He said the return on investment would be “tangibly greater.”TechnologyEditorial Tags: TechnologyImage Source: Istockphoto.com/jetcityimageIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: CUNY LaGuardia Community CollegeGeorge Mason UniversityVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
An overwhelming majority of community colleges saw increased enrollments of Pell Grant recipients last summer, suggesting that the federal government's reinstatement of year-round Pell eligibility last year may be helping to stem overall enrollment declines in the two-year sector.
Just three years after its creation, the Obama administration, with the backing of the U.S. Congress, in 2012 eliminated summer Pell eligibility, meaning the ability for students to access two grants in a year to help pay for courses during the summer. Bipartisan concern about rising costs of year-round Pell -- $2 billion at the peak -- led to its demise.
But Congress and the Trump administration reinstated the program last year, after a strong push by community college leaders. The first year of that eligibility concluded at the end of June.
The American Association of Community Colleges conducted a national survey of its members to gauge the impact of year-round Pell's return. The survey yielded responses from 109 community colleges and statewide responses representing another 77 colleges, for a total of responding institutions that enroll 1.9 million students, or 34 percent of the sector’s total enrollment.
The survey’s results show year-round Pell has had a major impact. Almost 83 percent of responding colleges reported increases in Pell Grant recipient enrollments this past summer compared to the previous one. And half saw increases of 15 percent or more.
“We are pleased that the survey documents what we have heard from campuses across the country, that the reinstated year-round Pell Grant has had a truly dramatic impact,” David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis at AACC, said in a written statement. “In particular it appears to have helped students stay continuously enrolled, and accelerating time to degree has always been a prime reason to provide aid 12 months of the year.”
Community colleges have been hit hard by enrollment declines in recent years, following the catastrophic enrollment collapse of the for-profit college sector.
Such declines are common in a strong economy, particularly at open-access and career-oriented colleges, as people return to the work force. But the substantial dips at community colleges during the last four years have worried many in the sector.
The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, for example, found a 2 percent decline at public community colleges this spring compared to the previous spring, and a 3.3 percent drop in 2016.
While AACC cautioned against drawing a causal link between summer Pell’s return and enrollment trends, the association said the survey’s results show that community college enrollments last summer “improved in a robust way that might not have been anticipated absent the new year-round Pell Grant.”
For example, the survey found that 62 percent of responding colleges saw an enrollment bump last summer compared to the previous one. While most reporting increases saw upturns of 5 percent or less, more than 17 percent of responding colleges saw an enrollment increase of at least 10 percent.
Community colleges are using summer Pell eligibility to try to attract students, according to the survey, with 70 percent of responding colleges reporting that they explicitly marketed about the new funding eligibility or otherwise highlighted it.
“AACC continues to advocate aggressively for increased support for the Pell Grant program in addition to year-round eligibility, including increasing the maximum grant, adding eligibility for short-term workforce development programs, providing support for some incarcerated students and in other areas.”
Previous research found that for each $1,000 of additional year-round Pell funding, summer enrollment increased by 27 percentage points and associate degree completion grew by 2.2 percentage points.
The study's author, Vivian Lu, a postdoctoral research associate at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College, said she was surprised that the AACC survey didn't find larger enrollment growth. And Lu said the fact that 20 percent of colleges saw a decrease or no enrollment change suggests that students are unaware of summer Pell.
"I would say it is a step toward the right direction but the battle is not over," Lu said in an email. "It's essentially free money. Why aren't more people taking advantage of it? And how can we get more enrollment in the summer?"Community CollegesEnrollmentEditorial Tags: EnrollmentFederal policyFinancial aidCommunity collegesImage Source: Suffolk County Community CollegeImage Caption: Students at Suffolk County Community College in New YorkIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending:
UT San Antonio investigates whether student escorted out of class for having feet propped up was discriminated against
A black student at the University of Texas at San Antonio was escorted out of her biology class by police for purportedly putting her feet up, the latest incident to go viral in the phenomenon of African American men and women having law enforcement called on them for everyday activities.
The episode is being investigated as potential discrimination, according to the university.
Apurva Rawal, who said on Twitter he was a student at UT San Antonio, posted a one-minute video to the website of police taking his classmate out. Rawal wrote that the student had put her feet up on the seat in front of her. Students say that the faculty member, identified as Anita Bonds, senior lecturer in the department of biology, stopped the lecture to “go on a tirade” about how the class was uncivil and not paying attention.
Bonds, who did not respond to Inside Higher Ed’s request for comment, apparently then called the police on the student.
The video as of Tuesday evening been retweeted more than 15,600 times. It had been viewed more than two million times.
“I chose to attend this university because of its welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, and today's events genuinely make me concerned for not only my fellow students, but any future Roadrunners that may choose to attend this institution in the future,” Rawal wrote on Twitter.
The student in the video also posted to Twitter but did not identify herself by name. She wrote that she was told she would need to leave or she would be escorted out by police.
“I never disobeyed the student code of conduct,” the student wrote. “Not once,” adding that a police report over the incident had been filed.
UT San Antonio officials responded quickly to the video, writing on Twitter that they were “aware” of the situation and were investigating. Officials posted to Twitter on Tuesday to say they had met with both the professor and the student. The university said on Tuesday that the professor's classes will be taught by another faculty member for the remainder of the semester. The student has been "welcomed back" to class and offered support services.
President Taylor Eighmy released a statement to campus acknowledging that a professor had called the police on a student. Eighmy said that “while the facts aren’t fully known,” the Office of Equal Opportunity Services was investigating the incident as possibly discriminatory.
Howard Grimes, the interim dean of the College of Sciences, also will be inquiring about the classroom’s “academic management,” Eighmy said in his statement. He also noted that a new vice president for inclusive excellence, Myron Anderson, would be arriving on campus soon.
“Beyond this particular incident, I am very much aware that the circumstance represents another example of the work we need to do as an institution around issues of inclusivity and supporting our students of color,” Eighmy said. “This concerns me greatly, and it’s incumbent upon us as an institution to face this head-on. It’s something that we need to address immediately as a university community.”
Eighmy said in a separate statement that the instituion needed more faculty, staff and administrators of color on campus and have "accelerated" the search to diversify the university's employees.
Provost Kimberly Andrews also posted on Twitter that she was “concerned” and that “creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning is our priority.”
Despite administrators’ assurances that the video would be investigated, the institution garnered widespread anger on social media.
Prominent academic Tressie McMillan Cottom wrote on Twitter to her nearly 70,000 followers that she was so angry she was “about to black out.”
Another Twitter user, who said she was a university instructor, responded to Rawal to say she doesn’t care if students sit or stand.
“I don't get too excited about petty seating, but worry more if my students are not successful,” the professor wrote. “Empowerment has no correct seating position to capture it.”Editorial Tags: Racial groupsStudent lifeIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of Texas at San Antonio
Northeastern University in Boston plans to acquire the New College of the Humanities, a London-based institution with 210 students founded by the philosopher A. C. Grayling in 2012.
NCH prides itself on offering an education that melds aspects of the Oxford tutorial system and the American liberal arts college and boasts a roster of superstar visiting professors like Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker who give guest lectures. From its start the private institution has been a controversial player in the United Kingdom’s heavily public higher education system, in large part because it is controlled by a for-profit company, Tertiary Education Services Limited.
Pending regulatory approvals, NCH will soon be known as NCH at Northeastern. Northeastern president Joseph E. Aoun declined to share the details of the financial terms of the transaction but said the current shareholders will transfer their shares to Northeastern, a large not-for-profit research university with more than 20,000 students.
Northeastern is most well-known for its signature co-op program in which students alternate between full-time work placements and classroom study. NCH at Northeastern would become the sixth campus for Northeastern, which in addition to its main campus in Boston has campuses in Charlotte, N.C.; Seattle; Silicon Valley and Toronto and is in the process of opening one in Vancouver.
“We are building a global university system,” said Aoun. “The whole idea is that this global system will allow the learners to access our education wherever they are and wherever they need it and also allows mobility so the students can start in Boston, move to Silicon Valley, go to Vancouver and London, and in each place they will have a different curriculum and a different experience.”
Aoun said that Northeastern has 600 students in London each year. In an email to Northeastern faculty, administrators and staff, he wrote that the proposed acquisition will “pave the way for Northeastern to become the first U.S. university with a college in its global network that can confer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the U.K.”
However, NCH currently lacks the authority to grant its own degrees, and teaches degrees that are validated by a public university in Southampton, Solent University. Aoun said NCH is in the process for applying for a license to grant its own degrees. “Because they will be part of Northeastern, we will have the authority through them, through NCH, to offer degrees in the U.K.”
“Their application [for degree-granting powers] is very much strengthened, they believe, by this new partnership,” added Michael Armini, Northeastern’s senior vice president for external affairs.
NCH’s executive dean, Martin Smith, declined to comment on the licensing issue, but said the tie-up with Northeastern “fast-forwards us considerably in terms of what we can do. One of the driving factors is the student experience. The ability to be able to travel and to take their degree elsewhere is hugely appealing to our students.”
An announcement from the master of the college, Grayling, says that in addition to the ability to study at multiple Northeastern campuses, NCH also expects its students to have access to Northeastern's career development department, "including internship and career development opportunities with a global network of more than 3,000 graduate employers."
Nick Hillman, the director of the London-based Higher Education Policy Institute, said that the deal is somewhat puzzling from another perspective. “Some people are asking what is in it for Northeastern given the small size of NCH and the fact that it doesn’t have its own degree-awarding powers,” he said.
“It has been struggling as an institution -- and I don’t say that with any relish, because I’m very pleased it exists. I think diversity of institutions is a good thing and we don’t have small specialist liberal arts colleges the way that you do in the U.S., so I’m glad it exists. I don’t want to see it fail, but we’re a bit confused.”
The most recent statement of accounts from the company that controls NCH, Tertiary Education Services, suggests that the college has struggled to meet its recruitment and financial targets, pushing the projected date on which it would become financially self-supporting further into the future. "Whilst student numbers are growing and the college is achieving excellent exam results, the present student numbers are not sufficient to meet all the costs of the college,” the corporate filing says.
The college dropped its U.K. and E.U. student tuition rate in September 2017 to bring it into line with tuition rates for other British universities; at 9,325 pounds (a little more than $12,100), annual tuition is now about half what it was when the college opened in 2012 (its original annual price tag of £18,000, or about $23,400 at today's currency conversion rate, was eye-popping in the British higher education context, attracting many critics who dismissed it as an intellectual playground for the rich).The TES filing says that the company received additional funding in the form of a loan from the college’s largest shareholder and that the shareholder “has confirmed their willingness to provide further funds if necessary to take the College through to break-even which is forecast to be in the financial year 2023/24."
The filing also notes that the directors "have been discussing a transaction with an overseas institution" -- presumably Northeastern -- "that would provide further assurances in terms of ongoing financial support."
"With any start-up organization there’s always going to be challenges, and one of the challenges has been around recruitment," said Martin. "Saying that, though, we’ve doubled the number of our first-year students from where we were in 2015."
Aoun said that NCH was an attractive partner for Northeastern because of the compelling vision of its founder, Grayling.
“He believes that the one-on-one attention to the students and the personalized education is key, hence the one-on-one tutorial; he also believed that it is possible and imperative to build a liberal arts college that has [a focus on] entrepreneurship and is experiential, and this is where we saw a fit with what we’re doing. We saw that this marriage between the two institutions will allow us to put together the best of U.K. education with the best of U.S. education," Aoun said.GlobalInternational Higher EducationEditorial Tags: International higher educationForeign Students in U.S.Image Caption: Northeastern and its new London campusIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Northeastern University
During her husband's campaigns and eight-year tenure in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama remained fairly silent about her experience at Princeton University.
In her autobiography Becoming (Penguin Random House), released Tuesday, Obama disclosed for the first time details about her experience at the Ivy League university, one marked by feelings of otherness and a strong determination to disprove the negative racial stereotypes held by some of her professors and classmates. She graduated in 1985.
“If in high school I’d felt as if I were representing my neighborhood, now at Princeton I was representing my race. Anytime I found my voice in class or nailed an exam, I quietly hoped it helped make a larger point,” she wrote.
While she was a student, Princeton was "extremely white and very male."
Because of this, Obama quickly made friends with other students of color and discovered that the harmonious diversity portrayed in college brochures didn't translate to her own college experience.
“I imagine that the administrators at Princeton didn’t love the fact that students of color largely stuck together. The hope was that all of us would mingle in heterogeneous harmony, deepening the quality of student life across the board. It’s a worthy goal. I understand that when it comes to campus diversity, the ideal would be to achieve something resembling what’s often shown on college brochures -- smiling students working and socializing in neat, ethnically blended groups," Obama wrote. "But even today, with white students continuing to outnumber students of color on college campuses, the burden of assimilation is put largely on the shoulders of minority students. In my experience, it’s a lot to ask.”
Obama graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class and participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including serving as class treasurer, that made her a good candidate for top universities. But, early in the book, she recounted a meeting with a high school college counselor that she had, for the most part, “blotted out" of her memory.
“It’s possible, in fact, that during our short meeting the college counselor said things to me that might have been positive and helpful, but I recall none of it,” she wrote. “Because rightly or wrongly, I got stuck on one single sentence the woman uttered. ‘I’m not sure,’ she said, giving me a perfunctory, patronizing smile, ‘that you’re Princeton material.’”
Even after Obama was admitted, some questioned her belonging at the university.
"It was impossible to be a black kid at a mostly white school and not feel the shadow of affirmative action. You could almost read the scrutiny in the gaze of certain students and even some professors, as if they wanted to say, 'I know why you’re here.' These moments could be demoralizing, even if I’m sure I was just imagining some of it," she wrote. "It planted a seed of doubt. Was I here merely as part of a social experiment?"
During her freshman year, Obama lived in a triple in Pyne Hall with two white students, whom she remembered as nice for the most part, although she didn't spend much time hanging out in their room. Midway through the year, one of her roommates, Cathy, moved into a single, and Obama discovered many years later that "her mother, a schoolteacher from New Orleans, had been so appalled that her daughter had been assigned a black roommate that she'd badgered the university to separate us."
Other parts of her life at Princeton came out during the campaigns, including her senior thesis, a survey of African American alumni about their perceptions of race and identity after having attended Princeton. Obama wrote that right-wing media used the thesis to paint a picture of her as a radical determined to "overthrow the white majority" and to further alienate her and her husband in the eyes of American electorate. "For reasons I’ll never understand, the conservative media was treating my paper as if it were some secret black-power manifesto, a threat that had to be unburied. It was as if at the age of twenty-one, instead of trying to get an A in sociology and a spot at Harvard Law School, I’d been hatching a Nat Turner plan to overthrow the white majority and was now finally, through my husband, getting a chance to put it in motion," she wrote.
Obama included little about affording college, but did mention that her parents “never once spoke of the stress of having to pay for college, but I knew enough to appreciate that it was there.” At Princeton she received a financial aid package that required she have a work-study job, and throughout her four years she served as an assistant for the Third World Center, a support center for students of color that Obama described as “poorly named but well-intentioned.” The center was renamed 20 years later as the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, which it is still called today.
As a first-generation college student, Obama remembers the steep learning curve required to pick up college lingo.
“What was a precept? What was a reading period? Nobody had explained to me the meaning of 'extra-long' bedsheets on the school packing list, which mean that I bought myself too-short bedsheets and would thus spend my freshman year sleeping with my feet resting on the exposed plastic of the dorm mattress,” she wrote.
Obama also noted how different life on campus was to her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, which she proudly announced whenever anyone asked where she was from.
“At Princeton, it seemed the only thing I needed to be vigilant about was my studies. Everything otherwise was designed to accommodate our well-being as students,” she wrote. “The dining halls served five different kinds of breakfast. There were enormous spreading oak trees to sit under and open lawns where we could throw Frisbees to relieve our stress. The main library was like an old-world cathedral, with high ceilings and glossy hardwood tables where we could lay out our textbooks and study in silence. We were protected, cocooned, catered to. A lot of kids, I was coming to realize, had never in their lifetimes known anything different.”Books and PublishingEditorial Tags: BooksImage Source: Penguin Random HouseIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Princeton University