Inside Higher Education

Late researcher's work on potential herpes vaccine was promising, but he used risky human trial with no oversight

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A professor who knows he might be dying flouts research protocols and teams up with a Hollywood producer to test a highly experimental herpes vaccine on human subjects. The patients -- some of whom traveled to a house in the Caribbean for injections -- start reporting adverse side effects. The professor largely dismisses the patients’ concerns and later dies, leaving his apparently unwitting institution to answer for him.

It sounds like the stuff of fiction, but it’s Southern Illinois University’s reality.

Between 2013 and 2016, William Halford, a late professor of medical microbiology, immunology and cell biology there, injected patients with a herpes vaccine, both preventative and therapeutic, in hotel rooms near campus and in St. Kitts -- all without approval from an institutional review board overseeing research on human subjects.

Many details about the research and the vaccine itself remain unclear. Southern Illinois is nevertheless facing questions from patients, the public and even Congress about how a professor using its facilities was able to go rogue.

“This came upon us really unexpectedly,” said Jerry Kruse, dean and provost of Southern Illinois’s School of Medicine. “There’s been a lot of publicity about it, and I can’t quantify the effect that that has had on public confidence in us. But I regret that this has happened.”

Promising Findings

Kruse, who became dean in early 2016, met Halford in October of that year at a university innovation conference in Chicago. Halford, a presenter, introduced himself as a professor but quickly clarified that he was speaking for his independent company, Rational Vaccines. Then he shared what Kruse recalls as promising findings about a potential cure for genital herpes, from the St. Kitts trial.

“That obviously stirred a lot of enthusiasm,” Kruse said. “There was nothing for me to do but shake his hand.”

Less than year later, in July 2017, Halford died, after a long battle with nasal cancer. Weeks after that, Kruse said, both he and the university’s IRB first learned of serious research “irregularities and improprieties” during a meeting with Rational Vaccine’s CEO, a movie producer named Augustin Fernandez.

Prior to the St. Kitts trial, and before the formation of Rational Vaccines, Halford had given a series of shots to at least eight patients at hotels near campus, including the Holiday Inn Express. Halford apparently believed in the vaccine so much that he’d been injecting himself, too, even though he did not have herpes.

But such activity -- by university policies and the basic dictates of medical science -- would have required the oversight of the institutional IRB, which Halford did not seek.

Around the same time, there were rumblings that the St. Kitts trial also lacked oversight, which would have been required even though Halford ran it in his capacity as a private researcher. The Food and Drug Administration says that human trials of drugs intended for the U.S. market must be approved by an institutional review board. St. Kitts has said should have been asked to vet a plan for a trial involving a live virus, but was not. Southern Illinois also shares the patent to the vaccine and its related agreement with Halford says that proper research oversight will be obtained.

Kruse said the institution soon launched an internal investigation to see what had gone wrong, and how. Southern Illinois also shared information on the matter with the federal Office for Human Research Protections, at the office’s request, in October 2017. An initial report by the campus IRB found serious noncompliance, prompting a more in-depth internal investigation. Both that inquiry and the federal investigation are ongoing.

Southern Illinois, for its part, is reviewing the particulars of the Halford case -- including the extent to which university resources were involved and if Halford accurately represented the efficacy of his vaccine -- along with existing policies and procedures for research involving human subjects.

Kruse said such policies have worked well in the past, and that by all accounts Halford was a great teacher who worked “by the book” in his research with animal subjects. Yet one clear outcome of the investigation will be that the university works harder to raise awareness of compliance requirements for research involving human subjects, he said.

“How do we identify people who go off the beaten path and intentionally and willfully hide activities like this from the university? How can we better get to that earlier?”

Held to Account

Kruse said that if Halford were alive, he would certainly be suspended from research activities during the university’s investigation. He didn’t rule out termination. But all of that is, of course, moot. The problem is largely Southern Illinois’s now.

Much of the story has played out in the public eye, through a series of investigative reports from Kaiser Health News. Several patients, who have thus far remained anonymous, told the news service that they complained about painful new herpes outbreaks or severe discomfort after the injections, and Halford brushed them off as minor or unrelated to the trial.

Kaiser also has raised questions about exactly when the university was made aware of Halford’s misconduct. Kruse insisted this week that neither he nor the IRB knew that anything had happened outside St. Kitts -- let alone just off campus -- until the summer meeting with Fernandez. A spokesperson for Rational Vaccines said in a statement Monday that Fernandez did not meet Halford until 2014 and that neither he nor the company had anything to do with research prior to that.

Earlier this month, the university responded in writing to a series of questions from Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary. Among other questions about the case, Grassley wanted to know what corrective action has been taken to ensure IRB compliance going forward.

Given that Halford is dead, Southern Illinois president Randy J. Dunn wrote to Grassley, disciplinary options are few. But he said the university will act on recommendations from its Misconduct in Science Committee, which continues an in-depth review of the case.

In general, Dunn said, reports of potential misconduct trigger investigations by the IRB, and the board notifies relevant federal agencies of any serious findings of misconduct.

Southern Illinois’s IRB has received three reports of potential unapproved research within the last five years, Dunn said. All those reports resulted in review, he said, with findings of misconduct in two cases, including Halford’s.

In the other instance of misconduct, the researcher’s privileges and protocols were suspended, and the OHRP approved of the university’s unspecified corrective action. Of all three cases, only Halford’s involved an unapproved protocol -- meaning that wholly unvetted research projects remain rare, at least at Southern Illinois.

Kruse oversees about 350 faculty members as dean, and professors are trained annually about appropriate research conduct. Administrators at Southern Illinois and elsewhere generally trust that professors will do the right thing when it comes to human subjects research. Still, some critics have suggested that Halford's institution ought to have known more about what he was doing for years.

Interestingly, Halford's attempt to publish his trial St. Kitts findings in 2017 failed, with an anonymous reviewer for Future Virology calling the paper "partly a vision, partly science, and partly wishful thinking." Halford "believes, based on little data, that this vaccine will provide both a therapeutic and a prophylactic benefit," the reviewer wrote. 

Robert Klitzman, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University who studies medical ethics, said Monday that all institutions “have responsibilities to ensure that their faculty, students, administrators and staff know about needs for protections of human subjects in research.”

Given that Southern Illinois shared the vaccine patent with Halford, doing “due diligence” would have meant making sure that proper oversight had been obtained, he said. Klitzman noted that the research was sufficiently high-profile for the university to announce when tech billionaire Peter Thiel funded it. 

Klitzman also said that vaccine research is “high risk and invasive, and many human study participants have, historically, died in such studies.” 

Kruse said the university has engaged with Halford's patients who contacted it directly. Outreach to the others is planned, he said.

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University of Alabama may have violated First Amendment by kicking out racist student, experts say

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Note: This article contains explicit and potentially offensive terms that are essential to reporting on this situation.

The cases were similar and the punishment was the same.

Not even three years ago, many Americans applauded as the University of Oklahoma kicked out two fraternity members for their role in helping lead a racist chant that was recorded and went viral. But despite popular support for that decision and the shuttering of the campus chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, legal experts said the institution had actually flouted the students’ First Amendment rights, which protects even the vilest of speech.

Now, a student at the University of Alabama has been expelled after she posted videos to Instagram rife with racial slurs, also earning her national condemnation. The same arguments arise again -- did the university, a public institution operating as a government representative, break the law?

“I think the student would have a strong case for suing the University of Alabama for violating her First Amendment rights,” said Erwin Chemerinsky, a constitutional scholar and dean of the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. “Her speech is protected by the First Amendment, though it is offensive and uses epithets.”

The student, Harley Barber, published videos to Instagram on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. As she stands near a sink in an initial video, she says that “we don’t waste water because of people in Syria.”

“I love how I act like I love black people, because I fucking hate niggers,” Barber rants in the video, repeating the epithet multiple times.

In a second post, seemingly responding to critics of the first video, Barber says that she’s wanted to join her sorority, Alpha Phi, since high school (as a result of the backlash, she has since been removed from the sorority). She looks directly at the camera and declares that she “doesn’t care if it’s Martin Luther King Day” and screams “nigger” over and over.

“I’m in the South now, bitch,” she says.

The university told reporters that the videos had been referred to its Office of Student Conduct. Then, on Wednesday, President Stuart R. Bell released a statement saying Barber was no longer enrolled and that he found the videos “highly offensive and deeply hurtful.”

“We hold our students to much higher standards, and we apologize to everyone who has seen the videos and been hurt by this hateful, ignorant and offensive behavior,” Bell said in his statement. “This is not who we are. It is unacceptable and unwelcome here at UA.”

Barber has not given any interviews except to The New York Post, in which she apologized profusely.

“I feel horrible,” she told the Post. “I feel so, so bad and I am so sorry.”

Courts have determined that though colleges and universities can discipline students for speech they consider threatening or harassing, they cannot punish them simply because the speech is offensive.

In Papish v. Board of Curators of the University of Missouri, for instance, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1973 that Barbara Papish, a graduate student, shouldn’t have been dismissed for distributing a newspaper with a crude cartoon showing policemen raping the Statue of Liberty and the goddess of Justice, with the headline “Motherfucker Acquitted.”

“State colleges and universities are not enclaves immune from the sweep of the First Amendment,” the justices wrote in another free speech case, cited in their decision in Papish.

Colleges have argued that displays such as Barber’s constitute prejudice that -- per Title VI of the U.S. Civil Rights Act -- institutions must quash.

University of Oklahoma president David Boren alluded to the law when he booted the former Sigma Alpha Epsilon brothers for their racist song. It was sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” replacing the title and what follows with “there will never be a nigger in SAE.”

“You will be expelled because of your leadership role in leading a racist and exclusionary chant which has created a hostile educational environment for others,” Boren wrote in the students’ expulsion letters.

It is unclear what piece of Alabama’s student conduct code Barber may have violated. University spokeswoman Monica Watts said federal privacy laws prohibited Alabama from commenting further. The conduct code describes harassment as any communication -- face-to-face, written or electronic -- that discriminates, is directed at an individual and is “so severe, pervasive or objectively offensive that a reasonable person with the same characteristics of the alleged victim would be adversely affected.” This is in line with the definition determined by the Supreme Court.

The policy also prohibits cyberbullying -- behavior designed to “intimidate or intentionally harm or control another person or group.”

Despite Barber’s offensive statements, organizations and individuals that support civil liberties have called for Bell to reverse his decision.

Former officials with the American Civil Liberties Union wrote to Bell, urging him to reconsider.

The letter is signed by Ira Glasser, former ACLU national executive director; Norman Siegel, past executive director of the New York branch of ACLU; and Michael Meyers, president and executive director of the New York Civil Rights Coalition and a former ACLU vice president.

The men wrote that the impulse to punish Barber is understandable from an emotional standpoint. But they pointed out that at different times in history what has been deemed “offensive” has shifted. In the 1960s, during the peak of the civil rights movement, the sight of King and his followers marching on certain Southern streets deeply troubled the locals -- and the protesters were arrested. The First Amendment was invoked to stop state agencies from interfering.

“But if the First Amendment allows the state to punish someone for ugly remarks that are profoundly offensive, as in this case, then it acquires the power to do the same for other speech that is offensive to those in power,” they wrote.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, a watchdog group in academe, also railed against the university.

Ari Cohn, a lawyer and director of FIRE’s individual rights defense program, wrote that Barber’s behavior does not qualify as harassing. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people may find opposition to same-sex marriage offensive, Cohn wrote, but that does not mean that that opinion isn’t protected by the First Amendment.

“To be sure, many are certainly outraged and offended by Barber’s speech. But any argument that Barber’s expressions deprives [sic] UA students of access to the university’s educational opportunities or benefits collapses under its own weight,” Cohn wrote.

Robert O’Neil, a First Amendment expert, former president of the University of Virginia and senior fellow with the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, offered a dissenting opinion.

He said that given the intensity of Barber’s offense, he could see justification for her expulsion.

“Particularly, Martin Luther King Day makes it worse,” O’Neil said.

Students who have been accused of racism and then penalized by their universities have won court battles.

The George Mason University chapter of Sigma Chi fraternity filed a lawsuit against the institution in the early 1990s after the brothers held an “ugly women contest” in which one of them dressed up as the caricature of a black woman, with his face painted and a stringy wig adorned with curlers on his head.

The skit was decried as sexist and racist, and public pressure mounted for George Mason administrators to act. They eventually suspended the fraternity from social activities for the rest of the spring 1991 semester and put it on probation for two years.

Sigma Chi sued to get the sanctions removed, and a district court sided with the fraternity. The university appealed, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit also agreed with Sigma Chi, citing free expression considerations.

“A public university has many constitutionally permissible means to protect female and minority students. We must emphasize, as have other courts, that ‘the manner of [its action] cannot consist of selective limitations upon speech,’” the appeals court wrote. “The university should have accomplished its goals in some fashion other than silencing speech on the basis of its viewpoint.”

A Georgia State University freshman, Natalia Martinez, also recently left her institution after she posted a racial epithet on social media. She was initially just suspended from the soccer team there, but later withdrew from the university.

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Colleges and states scramble to comply with instructor credential rules for dual-credit courses

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Dual-enrollment programs, in which high school students receive credit for college-level courses, have been growing rapidly.

But a recent accreditor clarification about the required credentials for instructors who teach early-college-credit programs has highlighted problems relating to equity, insufficient data and the pipeline of instructors for some colleges and states.

In 2015, the country’s largest regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, issued a policy clarification stating that high school teachers of dual-credit courses, along with instructional college faculty members, are required to have a master’s degree in the specialty they’re teaching, or at least 18 graduate-level credit hours within that specialty.

Some states and institutions, particularly those with significant numbers of dual-credit students, like Indiana and Minnesota, pushed HLC for an extension so they could meet the requirements. The accreditor then pushed the deadline to September 2022 for any institution or state that applied for one. For those that didn’t apply, the clarification went into effect this past fall.

“Each state is starting from widely varying places as they address the teacher credentialing problem,” said Jennifer Parks, director of innovation for the Midwestern Higher Education Compact. “Data is a key issue. It is difficult for a state to address an issue if there is no reliable information on the number of teachers affected, the numbers of credit hours or master’s degrees they need, and the subject areas in which those teachers need those credits or degrees.”

Parks is studying the response to the HLC guidelines within MHEC, which includes 12 of the 19 states HLC oversees.

She found that while it may appear that some states are not responding to the instructor credentialing issue, it could be that they are only beginning to address the full scope of the problem. In states where there isn’t a central higher education agency, it falls to colleges to craft their own plans, Parks said.

Some states were never far off from meeting the new standard. Illinois, Iowa and Ohio, for instance, already had established standards that require instructors to have the master’s-level specialty credentials that HLC requires or standards that closely resembled HLC’s clarification, said Adam Lowe, executive director of the National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships.

For example, a few years ago Iowa moved to require a master’s degree plus 15 graduate-level credits in the subject area instructors teach. And Lowe said most instructors in the state meet the HLC minimum of 18 graduate credits.

“Some states were caught unaware of the HLC changes to faculty credentialing standards,” he said. “HLC had been steadily making noise over the years about faculty credentials. Their guidelines going back 10 years were quite vague, and they were slowly increasing the specificity of them. “

But once HLC clarified the credentialing rules, things changed, he said.

Take Illinois, where dual-credit instruction has been growing for the last 10 years despite a statewide budget crisis. Last year, 9.2 percent of all credit enrollments in Illinois were dual-credit students -- an increase of more than 7 percent since 2015.

“This is why HLC is paying so much more attention to and scrutiny of faculty qualifications, particularly on the dual-credit side,” said Brian Durham, deputy director for academic affairs for the Illinois Community College Board. “We have to ensure we have qualified faculty by HLC standards in dual-credit courses as we continue to blend that high school-college experience.”

Challenges for Rural Institutions

Parks said leaders of state agencies and institutions have told her about new concerns that have arisen because of the HLC clarification. One issue, for instance, is the difficulty in recruiting high school teachers with the qualifications to teach college courses.

Although Illinois already had standards in place that were similar to HLC’s, a handful of colleges pursued the extension, Durham said.

“Certainly, there is an effect and ongoing issue for every community college in Illinois and in the country about meeting faculty qualifications in rural areas where they have trouble recruiting faculty,” Durham said.

Concurrent-enrollment teachers or faculty members tend to be experienced veterans and work in places where class sizes are increasing, Lowe said. And because education is underfunded and salaries are low, those instructors aren’t sticking around long.

The state’s community college board does a five-year recognition process for colleges where they examine the dual-credit qualifications of instructors. Those that aren’t in compliance have to create a plan to address the issue, Durham said.

“It is impacting campuses -- particularly small, rural community colleges -- already since it went into effect [last] fall,” Lowe said. “But it is disproportionately affecting concurrent dual-enrollment programs, because they represent a larger share of the adjunct pool and that’s your largest pool of minimum-qualification people.”

Purdue University Northwest, for instance, saw enrollment in its dual-credit programs decline dramatically in 2016 because the institution had a shortage of high school instructors who could meet the HLC guidelines, Lowe said. Indiana, however, was one of the states that was granted an extension to comply.

Durham said the Illinois community college board has had recent discussions with universities and the school districts about offering online courses for teachers to help them meet the qualifications, but nothing has moved beyond the discussion stage.

Ohio, which had similar standards in place for faculty members, still found a pipeline issue for high school teachers with credentials for dual-credit courses. So in 2015 the state spent $10 million to help teachers get the appropriate graduate course work.

Half of the $10 million went directly to the teachers, while the other half went to colleges and universities to create “teacher-friendly” programs such as online or weekend classes, said Stephanie Davidson, vice chancellor of academic affairs for the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

However, the scholarship money ran out and new money wasn’t allocated, Davidson said.

Meanwhile, the University of Wisconsin Colleges and Extension’s early-college instructor requirements are similar to HLC’s. And the two-year system goes a step further by pairing dual-credit high school teachers with college faculty members, who work with them as mentors.

But the system is facing a similar problem to others that cover largely rural areas -- finding qualified instructors. So it’s launching a pilot program where high schools identify qualified students who are taught a dual-credit English course online by the colleges’ faculty instructors, with a high school teacher available in the classroom as an academic coach, said Cathy Sandeen, the system’s chancellor.

Sandeen said there aren’t enough incentives for high school teachers to meet HLC’s guidelines.

“In this case, it won’t come with a salary increase,” she said. “There is a shortage … and we get concerned about rural areas and small schools, because we want them to have equal access.”

The state’s two-year colleges also have seen significant growth in its early-college-credit programs. Last year more than 2,500 high school students were enrolled in dual-credit programs at the UW Colleges compared to about 1,560 students in 2015.

“We need to be much more innovative in how we provide access, because it’s not fair to have this sort of disparity,” Sandeen said. “There are very talented, motivated students everywhere and they deserve the opportunity.”

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New partnership between WeWork and 2U aims at lifelong learners

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The online program management company 2U on Monday announced a partnership with the co-working space behemoth WeWork that takes aim at the burgeoning marketplace of workers looking to burnish their career prospects through a widening array of credentials.

Through the partnership, which also incorporates technology from the WeWork-owned boot camp Flatiron School, the companies hope to gain a significant foothold in the lifelong learning market, in direct competition with companies such as General Assembly and Galvanize, which also offer non-degree-level credentials and short courses in hip shared office spaces that the companies call campuses.

As part of the partnership deal between 2U and WeWork:

  • WeWork spaces are available to 2U students enrolled in graduate degree programs.
  • WeWork members and employees can access $5 million in scholarships to enroll in 2U programs.
  • WeWork will license Flatiron School's Learn.co technology in perpetuity.
  • WeWork and 2U will work together to create a physical learning space at a WeWork location next year.

According to federal filings, 2U will be paying over $13 million to lease the Flatiron School’s Learn.co online learning platform. The Flatiron School is a coding boot camp that WeWork acquired in October 2017, marking the company's first deliberate step into the business of education. (Plans to create a private elementary school to foster “conscious entrepreneurship” followed a month later.)

The Learn.co technology will become the front end of 2U’s online graduate degrees, for which it is best known, and the short certificate courses that it has begun offering as it expands its footprint in postbaccalaureate education. For several years, 2U has been working with universities to help them provide online master's degrees, and the company began offering nondegree credentials following its purchase of GetSmarter last May.

Chip Paucek, CEO and co-founder of 2U, described the partnership with WeWork as a “transformational collaboration.” He said 2U would gain a new learning management system, which he described as “like going from Outlook to Slack.” In addition, 2U will be offering WeWork members and employees access to its courses through a $5 million scholarship fund over three years.

Another facet of the deal is a plan to create a “Future of Learning and Work” center at an as-yet undecided WeWork location in 2019. A press release from 2U and WeWork said that the center would provide a physical space for students and faculty and staff members from 2U programs to take part in master classes, lecture series and “other events designed to showcase the future of work and learning.”

Adam Enbar, CEO and co-founder of the Flatiron School, said WeWork’s partnership with 2U was a “giant leap forward” in “creating a global campus” that would help people get the most out of online education. One of the problems of online education is that there is a gap between the technology and human interaction, said Enbar. As a company, 2U has been “far ahead of the curve” in thinking about solutions to bridge that gap, he said.

By partnering with WeWork, 2U is tapping into a ready-made community of over 175,000 WeWork members in 65 cities around the world, said Enbar. He added that the Learn.co platform, which 2U is leasing under an exclusive license in the education space, was developed to help students interact with their classmates online and “learn by doing.” When students log in, they can see who else is online and interact in study groups, said Enbar. “I think the 2U team were kind of blown away by it,” said Enbar.

Ryan Craig, co-founder and managing director of investment firm University Ventures, which has invested in Galvanize, said that he thought the partnership between 2U and WeWork was a smart move for 2U, allowing it to promise students networking through WeWork that could lead to employment opportunities.

“Online degree programs are now so expensive, providers have to promise positive employment outcomes to justify the price tag,” said Craig. “2U is smartly trying to get closer to employers through this partnership -- WeWork hosts thousands of employers in their office space.”

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New presidents or provosts: Bath Spa Camden Elon Jamestown Luxembourg Montana Muskingum Pratt Smith Union

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  • Clarence D. Armbrister, president of Girard College, a boarding school in Pennsylvania, has been chosen as president of Johnson C. Smith University, in North Carolina.
  • Seth Bodnar, senior executive for strategy and transformation at GE Transportation, in Illinois, has been selected as president of the University of Montana.
  • Constance Ledoux Book, provost of the Citadel, in South Carolina, has been appointed president of Elon University, in North Carolina.
  • Frances Bronet, senior vice president and provost at Illinois Institute of Technology, has been named president of the Pratt Institute, in New York.
  • David Edwards, vice president of academic affairs at Mercer County Community College, in New Jersey, has been selected as vice president of academic affairs at Camden County College, also in New Jersey.
  • Nancy J. Evangelista, associate provost and dean of the College of Professional Studies at Alfred University, in New York, has been named provost at Muskingum University, in Ohio.
  • John Netland, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Union University, in Ohio, has been promoted to provost there.
  • Stéphane Pallage, dean of the School of Management at the University of Quebec, has been chosen as president of the University of Luxembourg.
  • Polly Peterson, executive vice president at the University of Jamestown, in South Dakota, has been promoted to president there.
  • Susan Rigby, deputy vice chancellor at the University of Lincoln, in Britain, has been selected as vice chancellor at Bath Spa University, also in Britain.
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State support for higher ed grows 1.6 percent in 2018

Lun, 22 Ene 2018 - 02:00

States’ financial support for higher education grew only slightly between the 2017 and 2018 fiscal years, with more than a third of states decreasing their funding and another dozen increasing it only slightly, according to an annual survey released today.

Across the country, state fiscal support for higher education grew by just 1.6 percent, according to the Grapevine survey, which provides an early look each year at states’ funding for higher education. That was down sharply from a 4.2 percent increase last year and represents the lowest annual growth in the last five years.

National Annual Percent Changes in State Fiscal Support For Higher Education

Fiscal Year Change From Previous Year 2014 5.9% 2015 5% 2016 2.4% 2017 4.2% 2018 1.6%

“We’ve seen only anemic growth nationwide, with the exception of a few states,” said James Palmer, Grapevine editor and a professor of higher education at Illinois State University. The Grapevine survey is a project of the university’s Center for the Study of Education Policy and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

“This probably suggests the struggle of many states to sustain the revenue needed to increase funding for colleges and universities,” Palmer said of this year’s slow growth in higher ed funding. “In other words, the fiscal capacity to increase funding for colleges and universities doesn’t seem to be there.”

Still, funding conditions vary significantly from state to state. A total of 19 states reported decreases between the 2017 fiscal year, which spans 2016-17, and the 2018 fiscal year, which spans 2017-18. Ohio was home to the smallest of the decreases, 0.1 percent. North Dakota’s was the largest, a drop of 14.6 percent.

Another 12 states increased funding by less than 2 percent, and 18 reported increases of more than 2 percent. Florida showed the largest increase in funding -- the Sunshine State boosted higher ed funding by 11.3 percent.

Meanwhile, funding in one more state, Maine, was essentially flat. Washington, D.C., which is being included in the survey for only the second year, increased funding by 2 percent. Data for Puerto Rico, which was included for the first time last year, was not yet available following the upheaval there caused by Hurricane Maria.

This year’s survey did include data for Illinois, which broke out of a multiyear budget impasse that prevented it from being included in Grapevine tables last year.

Regardless of whether 2018 funding is sufficient for the year, the national picture could cause some concern for those worried about adequate money for public higher education over the long run. The national economy performed well last year, which theoretically should have provided more tax revenue for states and allowed them to spend more. Some of the connection might be lost in individual state budgeting and timing details, but the fact remains that higher ed funding generally rose only incrementally.

And reporting last year from the National Conference of State Legislatures found that for the first time since the Great Recession, a significant number of states were facing budget shortfalls. Most states' budgets were stable, but growth in state revenues was often not keeping pace with demand for government services. Nor have revenues been keeping pace with the rest of the economy.

“It’s really hard, sometimes, to be optimistic about increased funding for higher education when we juxtapose the anemic growth this year against the background of what seems to be an otherwise OK economy,” Palmer said.

Many states seem to be stuck between competing priorities. On one hand, the free tuition movement has grown from two-year colleges to include a free four-year program in New York State. On the other hand, states generally do not seem to be inclined to raise taxes to pay for free tuition.

“Much will depend on the political will,” Palmer said. “How do you balance those competing priorities?”

Amid that discussion, it should be pointed out that New York’s support for higher education only grew by 1.9 percent between 2017 and 2018, to $5.9 billion. The fall semester was the first for the state’s Excelsior Scholarship, a free-tuition program for full-time students from families earning less than certain income thresholds. The scholarship is being implemented over several years with income limits increasing, but nonetheless it has gone to tens of thousands of students.

When pushing to enact the scholarship program last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office budgeted a cost of $87 million in its first year because New York already has other generous grant programs for students. The estimate seemed low to some, meaning the state’s spending on higher ed will be closely watched.

Cuomo has already drawn fire from education advocates over funding for public universities, both at the end of last year and after he unveiled a new budget proposal this year.

The Down States

Of course, New York did increase funding in 2018 -- something not every state can say. Officials in North Dakota attributed the fact that the state had the largest year-over-year higher ed funding drop in the country to a state budget hurt by the energy and agricultural sectors.

“The largest economic drivers in our state are agriculture and energy, which includes oil and coal,” said Tammy Dolan, vice chancellor of administrative affairs at the North Dakota University System. “As the last few years have not been kind to those industries, they have had an impact on the amount of state funds that are available.”

North Dakota has a biennial budget, so officials know state funding will not increase next year. They’ve put in place several strategies to deal with the decreased funding, including task forces to find efficiencies at the system and institutional levels. Since 2016, about 500 full-time staff positions have been cut across 11 institutions, Dolan said. The university system has a total of about 7,000 full-time employees.

Examining several years of data for North Dakota shows the state's higher ed funding dropping back down after a brief increase. The state's higher ed funding totaled $358.5 million in 2018 after coming in at $419.7 million in 2017 and $405.7 million in 2016. Funding is now closer to its 2013 level, which was $343.8 million.

Nationally, comparing the latest state funding picture to one from two years prior shows some long-term gains in state funding. State appropriations to higher education across the country grew by 5.9 percent between the 2016 and 2018 fiscal years. The growth is skewed upward because of an extreme 30.2 percent two-year increase reported by Illinois, which rebounded from its institutions receiving a diminished amount of stopgap funding during the state budget standoff.

A total of 34 states besides Illinois show two-year gains in funding, with Arkansas recording the lowest increase, 0.1 percent, and Hawaii reporting the highest, 18.7 percent. The other 15 states decreased support for higher ed between 2016 and 2018 by amounts ranging from a slip of 0.1 percent in New Jersey to a drop of 13.3 percent in Mississippi.

Comparing the 2018 data to figures from five years in the past reveals that, nationally, state support for higher education has risen by 20.7 percent. A total of 40 states had five-year increases since 2013. The smallest increase, 1.1 percent, was in Arizona. The largest, 52.5 percent, was in California.

The other 10 states dropped funding for higher ed over the five-year span. Of that group, New Mexico had the smallest decline, 0.5 percent. West Virginia had the biggest plunge -- 20.6 percent.

Grapevine data cover tax and nontax state support for college and university operations. They also include support for other higher ed activities. States are asked for information on their funding for four-year institutions, community colleges and vocational-technical colleges, as well as appropriations to coordinating and governing boards, appropriations to state student financial aid, funding bound for higher ed but appropriated to other state agencies, and appropriations for private higher ed institutions. They are asked not to include appropriations for capital costs, debt service, money drawn from most federal sources, funds drawn from student fees and auxiliary enterprises.

Grapevine warns that the data are an early, tentative look at higher ed funding and that some estimates are subject to change. The data are broad -- figures don’t indicate any single institution’s funding.

Nor does the survey account for changes in the number of students enrolling, which can vary significantly from state to state and institution to institution. That means per-student analyses aren't possible -- an important point since declining funding can mean a very different thing in a state where overall enrollment is falling than it does in a state where enrollment is rising. Nationally, college enrollment has been declining for six straight years, although four-year public institutions have fared much better than other types of institution. Community colleges and especially for-profit institutions have seen the most significant loss of students.

The report typically comes a few months before a more comprehensive State Higher Education Finance report issued by the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

Percent Change in State Appropriations by State

State Total Support, 2017-18 (dollars) 1-Year Change 5-Year Change Alabama 1,618,261,945 3.9% 15.0% Alaska 327,222,500 -2.5% -12.2% Arizona 852,217,100 1.3% 1.1% Arkansas 990,308,071 1.2% -2.4% California 14,300,823,000 3.8% 52.5% Colorado 887,037,491 2.3% 39.0% Connecticut 1,143,736,037 -1.0% 28.9% Delaware 237,069,500 1.0% 9.5% Florida 5,051,738,013 11.3% 51.3% Georgia 3,423,355,485 6.6% 30.4% Hawaii 716,718,368 7.4% 36.2% Idaho 478,997,900 4.1% 33.0% Illinois 4,349,491,603 -5.5% 1.3% Indiana 1,773,727,687 1.6% 13.9% Iowa 816,055,053 -1.6% 3.6% Kansas 764,547,532 -0.6% -3.9% Kentucky 1,173,159,100 0.2% -1.2% Louisiana 1,156,078,487 6.7% -1.5% Maine 301,805,964 0.0% 13.5% Maryland 1,992,867,551 0.6% 23.2% Massachusetts 1,564,337,918 1.3% 24.6% Michigan 1,917,024,500 2.1% 19.2% Minnesota 1,653,249,000 7.1% 28.6% Mississippi 900,155,014 -11.2% -2.7% Missouri 988,536,584 -2.3% 6.2% Montana 243,920,115 -3.3% 20.6% Nebraska 760,198,501 0.9% 15.3% Nevada 622,021,005 8.9% 31.7% New Hampshire 127,935,617 2.2% 49.4% New Jersey 2,065,933,000 -0.8% 9.4% New Mexico 828,197,600 -3.1% -0.5% New York 5,860,223,303 1.9% 14.6% North Carolina 4,020,836,353 1.2% 7.2% North Dakota 358,491,256 -14.6% 4.3% Ohio 2,300,904,761 -0.1% 12.2% Oklahoma 829,597,660 -3.9% -20.6% Oregon 859,469,660 5.5% 48.0% Pennsylvania 1,651,732,000 -2.4% 1.2% Rhode Island 198,291,070 5.7% 21.1% South Carolina 1,097,979,545 0.3% 20.6% South Dakota 233,805,655 -2.0% 19.1% Tennessee 1,844,857,699 6.5% 26.8% Texas 7,493,114,733 -1.6% 18.0% Utah 1,025,936,100 4.8% 37.0% Vermont 94,462,556 2.3% 5.7% Virginia 2,013,572,522 -1.9% 17.6% Washington 1,906,810,000 1.5% 35.5% West Virginia 470,910,031 -2.7% -14.5% Wisconsin 1,509,157,200 2.4% 29.7% Wyoming 373,759,707 -2.2% -2.5% Washington, D.C. 78,180,000 2.0% 3.7% Editorial Tags: Business issuesState policyImage Caption: Data: GrapevineIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

NSF report documents declines in international enrollments after years of growth

Lun, 22 Ene 2018 - 02:00

The number of international students in the U.S. fell by 2.2 percent at the undergraduate level and 5.5 percent at the graduate level from fall 2016 to 2017, according to a new report from the National Science Foundation, “Science and Engineering Indicators,” released last week.

The analysis is based on government-held student visa data and excludes students who are participating in optional practical training, a program that allows international students to stay and work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduating while remaining on their university's sponsorship.

  2016 2017 Percent Change All Fields            Undergraduate 450,850 440,720 -2.2%      Graduate 389,310 367,920 -5.5% Science and Engineering Fields            Undergraduate 176,570 176,930 0.2%      Graduate 244,040 229,310 -6% Non-Science and Engineering Fields            Undergraduate 274,280 263,790 -3.8%      Graduate 145,270 138,610 -4.6%

The declines come on the heels of years of steady growth (see line graph below) in overall international enrollments at U.S. universities and amid widespread concern that prospective new students could be deterred by the current political climate and uncertainty about immigration policies in the United States.

The declines, if they were to continue, could have negative implications for U.S. competitiveness and the health of American graduate science and engineering programs, which are heavily populated by international students. In 2015, international students made up 36 percent of all science and engineering graduate students in the U.S. and received more than half of all doctoral degrees awarded in computer science, economics, engineering, and mathematics and statistics.

 International enrollment in U.S. higher education. Graph shows total enrollment rising from about 600,000 in 2012 to a peak of near 800,000 in 2016 before declining. Undergraduate and graduate enrollments followed a similar trend.

The student visa-sourced data provide the first comprehensive national picture of international enrollments for the current academic year. It differs from an annual report on international enrollment conducted by the Institute of International Education, called Open Doors, which surveys universities about their international enrollments and reports the data on a one-year lag.

In November, Open Doors reported a 3.3 percent decline in new (as opposed to total) international students in the 2016-17 academic year and an overall flattening of growth.

A companion "snapshot" survey IIE conducted in association with other academic groups asked about 500 institutions about their international enrollments for the current academic year. Over all, the universities in the survey reported an average decline in new international enrollments of 7 percent. But the declines weren't being felt across the board: while 45 percent of institutions responding to the snapshot survey reported declines in new international students, 31 percent reported increases and 24 percent reported no change.

Among the reasons university officials have given for the declines in international student enrollments are the political and social environment in the U.S., the high cost of U.S. higher education, visa denial and delays, increasing competition from other countries, and changes to other governments' scholarship programs, such as Saudi Arabia's.

Here are a few of the international enrollment-related highlights of the NSF report:

  • At the undergraduate level, the number of international students increased in computer sciences (11 percent) and mathematics (5 percent) and declined in engineering (-5 percent), social sciences (-3 percent) and nonscience and engineering fields (-4 percent), from 2016 to 2017.
  • The top five countries sending international science and engineering undergraduates to the U.S. in fall 2017 were China, Saudi Arabia, India, South Korea and Kuwait. From fall 2016 to 2017, the number of undergraduates studying science and engineering increased from China (3 percent), India (11 percent) and Kuwait (4 percent), while the number decreased from Saudi Arabia (-18 percent) and South Korea (-7 percent).
  • At the graduate level, the number of international students decreased in the computer sciences (-12.9 percent) and engineering (-7.6 percent) between fall 2016 and fall 2017. The number of international students increased in mathematics (by 14.6 percent),and remained fairly stable in other science and engineering fields.
  • The top countries sending international science and engineering graduate students to the U.S. were China and India -- which together account for 69 percent of all international graduate students in science and engineering fields -- followed by Iran, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Taiwan. From 2016 to 2017 the number of graduate science and engineering students increased from China (4 percent) and Taiwan (5 percent), and decreased from India (-19 percent), Saudi Arabia (-11 percent), Iran (-1 percent) and South Korea (-1 percent).
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Tarrant County College suspends astronomy instructor who talked about the Koran in class in the dark

Lun, 22 Ene 2018 - 02:00

Tarrant County College in Texas suspended an astronomy instructor last week after he reportedly entered a classroom late with his head, face and hands covered, turned off the lights, and spoke about Islam.

Some students said they thought the incident was a joke. But others were frightened and called the police. Campus officers searched and questioned in the instructor, Daniel Mashburn, but did not arrest him.

“I thought I’d start this year a little differently,” Mashburn told police, according to a student video shared with local news station KDFW.

Mashburn isn’t the first faculty member to open a new semester in an unorthodox manner. Columbia University reviewed the conduct of a physics professor in 2013, for example, after he stripped to Lil Wayne’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” showed images of Sept. 11 and “executed” a stuffed animal during a lesson on quantum mechanics.

Emlyn Hughes, the Columbia professor, kept his job, and some supporters urged critics to be open-minded. Open-mindedness was, in fact, the point of the lesson, Hughes said at the beginning of class, warning students that “to learn quantum mechanics, you have to strip to your raw, erase all the garbage from your brain and start over again.”

It remains unclear what, if any, academic connection exists between Mashburn’s conduct and a course on the solar system. He did not respond to a request for comment over the weekend.

“Well, the class is about astronomy, it’s about the stars, and the Koran is about the stars,” he told KDFW last week during a quasi interview from his apartment balcony, still covered with a hat, scarf and gloves. “It is the book of stars, the book of love, the book of life.”

Asked why he’d covered his face, head and hands, Mashburn said it was the custom to do so in many countries. He said he'd kept his teaching philosophy "secret" while interviewing for his position.

"I do my best, but I am tired of hiding in the shadows. I am tired of fearing their law. I fear Allah," Mashburn said. Of students, he added, "I do not know why they fear me. Why are they afraid? I'm a man who covers his face in his hand. I offer you nothing but the Koran, a book, and the universe. The universe is in my hand right here. You can look at it."

Mashburn was fidgeting in class with something in his pocket, according to student reports. Police found no weapons. Most students left the classroom. A few stayed until the end of the session, which Mashburn moved outdoors.

The college has since assigned the course to a new instructor. College spokespeople said that Mashburn was suspended from teaching, pending the outcome of an investigation into his conduct. This was to be his second semester as an adjunct at Tarrant County. According to his LinkedIn profile, Mashburn worked at Tarrant County for an additional semester as an instructional associate and served as a teaching and research assistant at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee while earning his master's of science in physics, through 2015.

A widely followed American Association of University Professors policy says that professors should only be removed from the classroom during an investigation of their conduct if they pose a safety risk.

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NCAA allows Mexican institutions to join Division II, with one aiming to be first

Lun, 22 Ene 2018 - 02:00

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cetys University could be the first Mexican college to join the National Collegiate Athletic Association, a move now possible under a new rule allowing Mexican institutions to apply for membership in Division II.

Centro de Enseñanza Técnica y Superior University, a private institution based primarily in Mexicali and Tijuana, has long angled to join the NCAA, crossing the border for matches with American institutions at least once a year.

Cetys is unusual in that it is one of few Mexican colleges and universities to be accredited by an American agency, a requirement of NCAA membership. Its campuses are within an hour or so driving distance of the border, and students often travel back and forth for athletic and academic purposes.

At the NCAA's annual convention Saturday, delegates from Division II institutions voted 253 to 45, with seven abstentions, to allow Mexican colleges to petition to join the division. The proposal takes effect immediately, meaning Cetys, and any other institution, could apply for a three-year provisional membership by a Feb. 1 deadline.

But Fernando León-García, president of Cetys, said in an interview that the university intends to wait a year to make sure it meets the requirements to join the NCAA. The institution must ensure that its sports program has an equitable gender balance. This is particularly true because the university fields a football team, a sport that has more male athletes than most, and could require Cetys to field six women's teams and four men's teams as a result.

The university currently offers men’s and women’s basketball, women’s and men’s volleyball, baseball, softball, men’s soccer, cheerleading and football, and it's in the process of developing track and field for men.

Cetys also needs to ensure that it has certain staffers in place, including designating one woman in a senior leadership position.

It appears though, that Cetys is well positioned to glide through the application process. It has garnered particular support from members of the California Collegiate Athletic Association, its prospective conference, and gained a champion in the president of San Francisco State University, Leslie E. Wong, who helped lobby for it to become an NCAA member.

“We’ve done our homework with expert help as well as with the support of the universities with whom we have academic collaboration,” León-García said. “This did not arise out of athletics talking to athletics; it arose out of university presidents talking to each other.”

León-García was unconcerned with the unique complications that come with competing with American colleges. While border security has been politicized, particularly during the election cycle, León-García said Cetys athletes are accustomed to allowing enough time to cross into the United States and that the university will need to confirm all of them have the necessary documents.

He pointed out that some American athletes might have more difficulties going back into the United States in some cases. American athletes who are covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for instance, can’t enter Mexico because they wouldn’t allowed back. In that case, Cetys’ competitors would need to figure out if they should remain behind or if Cetys could use another college’s facilities across the border, León-García said.

“The most important thing, of course, is we have here an additional initiative where universities are coming together to collaborate on both sides of the border,” he said.

The NCAA last year turned permanent a decade-long pilot program that allowed any division to invite Mexican or Canadian institutions to join. The association’s first international member was Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia -- also in Division II. It joined in 2012.

“Higher education now more than ever before must lead the way in helping build inclusive communities and foster diverse learning communities and learning opportunities,” said Gayle E. Hutchinson, president of California State University at Chico, during a meeting of Division II delegates. “Many of our schools already have academic programs that cross cultural and country boundaries. Adopting this legislation adds similar opportunity for our intercollegiate athletics programs.”

Cetys enrolls a little more than 3,000 students, and its athletics budget was about $1 million last year, which is relatively low compared to other Division II institutions.

Back in 2013, Division II delegates had denied membership to Mexican institutions in a 141 to 138 vote.

Canadian institutions were given the opportunity to apply for membership in 2008.

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Impact of government shutdown on higher education

Vie, 19 Ene 2018 - 18:54

Congress failed to reach a last-minute agreement Friday night to avoid a government shutdown. That won't mean immediate consequences for federal student aid recipients or institutional funding. But institutions and students depending on Education Department programs could see an impact if the shutdown drags on.

For academics and institutions that receive grants from research agencies, funds already awarded are not affected, but peer review and other activities to select new grants may halt, and new funds will not be going out. The impact on academic science may be minimal if the shutdown lasts just a few days, but would get significant in a longer shutdown.

Other functions of the Department of Education will be immediately curtailed or frozen, however, from work awarding special grants to the enforcement of civil rights at campuses across the country. 

While the shutdown means no new federal dollars can be spent until lawmakers reach a funding deal, federal funding has already been disbursed for student aid in 2017-18. 

Much of the funding for Pell Grants is mandatory -- meaning it is unaffected by a shutdown -- as is funding for federal student loans. 

But David Bergeron, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress who previously served as acting assistant secretary for postsecondary education, said the longer a shutdown goes on, the more unanticipated problems can arise. 

"Certainly there’s the potential for something to fall through the cracks," he said. "When you have 90 percent of your work force not here, making sure things are getting done, it can result in things not happening that are critical."  

A prolonged shutdown could have a long-term impact for the department's grant-making work involving Title III funds, TRIO and GEAR UP programs, as well as graduate fellowships. A shutdown can slow the work of selecting grant recipients, Bergeron said. It can also create questions about the availability of future grant funds. 

As part of the Department of Education's contingency plans released this week, more than 90 percent of total staff would be furloughed during the first week of a shutdown. Even with exempt employees called back to work on a partial or rotating basis, no more than 6 percent of total staff would be working at any one time during a longer shutdown. 

If the shutdown drags out, institutions themselves would begin to feel an impact, Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a memo this week. 

"Colleges rely on higher education funds to pay ongoing expenses of staff running programs for disadvantaged students seeking to enter and stay in college," she said. 

Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, urged lawmakers to reach an agreement avoiding a shutdown in a statement Friday.

"We have been pressing for months for a bipartisan budget agreement which will lift the discretionary caps – defense and non-defense caps similarly – and thereby clear the way for House and Senate appropriators to write bills that Congress will approve and that will provide needed support for higher education and research," he said. "That budget agreement is necessary to move FY2018 funding forward and must materialize quickly. After all, we are already in the fourth month of the fiscal year!  In the interim, we call on Congress and the president to act quickly and responsibly and not shutter government’s many vital functions, among them important research and education projects and programs."

A shutdown will also mean an immediate suspension of most civil rights activities conducted by the department. Catherine Lhamon, the former assistant secretary for civil rights under the Obama administration, said when the government shutdown for 16 days in 2013, her office could no longer conduct planned investigations.

"We could not conduct investigations that had long been planned," she said. "We could not conduct site reviews. The staff of the office for civil rights could not do any work."

As a Senate confirmed employee, Lhamon could continue to work along with one staffer from her 600-person division. But the office's work investigating violations and enforcing civil rights was effectively suspended. 

"The costs that follow from that shutdown can never be recouped," she said. "You don’t get those days back. You don’t get that time back. You don’t get those rights back."]

Research Impact

The National Science Foundation announced that researchers who have received funds may continue to use them, but new payments will not be made during the shutdown. Many NSF grant recipients receive their funds in portions, so some may miss funds due soon. While the shutdown continues, no new grants will be awarded and peer review panels won't meet, delaying new grants after the end of the shutdown.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced that National Institutes of Health would continue patient care for those in clinical trials at the NIH. The HHS guidance did not discuss grants awarded to universities.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science issued a statement saying that the shutdown "impedes the U.S. scientific enterprise," which has already been hurt by limits on funding for research programs.

 

 

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Feds find Buffalo State failed to investigate alleged sexual assault, created hostile environment

Vie, 19 Ene 2018 - 02:00

In the spring of 2015, a female athlete withdrew from the State University of New York's Buffalo State College, later saying the college failed to take her allegations of sexual assault by a male athlete seriously.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights last year confirmed the woman’s claim that she had suffered gender-based discrimination when Buffalo State created a hostile environment by not properly responding to her complaint.

A November letter outlining OCR’s findings, released via a public records request, shows that despite knowing about the alleged sexual assault, campus officials in 2015 were operating under the assumption that a proactive investigation wasn’t necessary because the incident took place off campus and they never received a formal complaint. Neither assumption accurately reflected federal Title IX law or regulations.

College officials also didn’t act on several requests by the woman, including for excused absences from the classroom, which led her to withdraw, the civil rights office found.

An agreement reached between OCR and Buffalo State in October called for the college to make several steps, including a reimbursement of the student’s non-tuition-related expenses for the semester she dropped out (she was already reimbursed for the cost of tuition) and retraining of key staff members on Title IX requirements.

Catherine Lhamon, the department's civil rights chief under the Obama administration from 2013 until January 2017, said she was glad to see the Office for Civil Rights aggressively enforcing the law. And she said after some confusion following the release of new federal guidance last year on sexual harassment and assault, the letter reconfirms institutions' obligation to investigate incidents that occur off campus.

Details of Complaint

The female student (referred to in the OCR letter as the complainant) in January 2015 reported to Buffalo State police that she was sexually assaulted by another student, a member of a men’s athletic team. Campus police originally took the complaint and, because the alleged incident took place off campus, referred the case to the Buffalo city police department.

The complainant, her mother and an advocate from an off-campus crisis services center requested several measures from the college before the student returned to campus, including her alleged assailant’s removal from a course section they both attended and the excusing of absences accrued while she was at home recovering.

Buffalo police eventually would conclude that there was not sufficient probable cause to make an arrest for the alleged assault. OCR’s findings describe campus officials’ own handling of the incident as inadequate and say they created a hostile environment for the woman.

Although college officials eventually arranged for the student’s alleged assailant to enroll in a different course, that information either wasn’t conveyed to the complainant or she didn’t believe assurances from college officials, leading her to avoid attending the course entirely, even after returning to campus. The college apparently failed to issue a no-contact order to the alleged assailant. And although college officials indicated they would address her absences from class, the woman later found out from professors that the absences and work she missed while recovering at home would not be excused.

OCR found that Buffalo State’s communication with the female student about Title IX grievance procedures was limited and confusing, leaving her without a clear understanding of the process and an impression that college officials were seeking to convince her not to file a complaint.

“The complainant asserted that she withdrew from the college because the college made [her] feel unsafe, like the assault was [her] fault, and that [she] should just get over the fact that [she] was sexually assaulted and move on,’” according to the OCR letter.

The woman also alleged that her coach notified the coach of her alleged assailant's athletic team about the assault. (OCR said it could not find evidence of the claim. And the complainant’s coach, as well as the men’s coach, disputed that the complainant was identified in conversations.)

The documented failings of college officials were numerous, though, OCR found.

After the alleged sexual assault was reported to Buffalo State police, the civil rights office said, college officials had an obligation to immediately investigate what happened, regardless of whether the female student directly reported the incident to administrators. But officials failed to do so, under the belief that they were not required to take action when an alleged incident occurred off campus or if an individual did not file a formal complaint.

Federal investigators also linked the failure to act on measures sought by the student -- such as the excusing of absences -- to her eventual withdrawal. And college officials couldn’t provide a reasonable explanation for not having taken action on the absences, OCR found.

“The documentation provided to OCR by the college indicates that it not only failed to investigate the complainant’s allegation of sexual assault, the college failed to conduct any assessment of whether the complainant was subjected to, or continued to be subjected to, a hostile environment,” the determination letter said.

Those failures occurred despite an agreement reached between OCR and the State University of New York system just two years before the alleged incident in January 2015. That resolution followed a Title IX compliance review of multiple SUNY campuses, including Buffalo State, and called for each campus in the system to provide Title IX training to appropriate staff and students. OCR received reports documenting that staff training in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

That training, as of 2015, should have tackled how to address allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment as well as the resources available to students who experience harassment or assault. Yet Buffalo State officials failed on all of those counts, according to OCR’s findings.

In a written statement, a Buffalo State spokesman said the university has a “steadfast commitment to conducting prompt, equitable and complete investigations of all reports of sexual violence.”

“College staff members regularly receive training regarding Title IX and related procedures, and the most recent training related to the OCR resolution agreement served as a worthwhile reinforcement of the policies and proactive practices that are in place to provide a safe learning environment for our students,” said Jerod Dahlgren, a college spokesman.

Clarifying the Role of Colleges

As part of the October resolution agreement with the Education Department, Buffalo State has provided documentation of reimbursement of the complainant’s expenses for the spring 2015 semester, the college and department officials said. It also has obtained outside consulting for the university’s Title IX coordinator and training on sexual harassment for university staff.

An outside investigation -- at the university’s expense -- of the complainant’s alleged assault required by the resolution agreement is still in progress. The Office for Civil Rights also will seek detailed reports from Buffalo State of its handling of sexual harassment complaints, including sexual assault, for the current academic year and the 2018-19 academic year.

Lhamon, the former civil rights chief, said she is a strong believer in OCR maintaining an active enforcement role for a number of years after reaching an agreement that identifies any compliance issues. And although she has been critical of other steps taken by the department, she said the agreement was a positive sign.

"I do think it's really encouraging to see OCR still taking appropriate steps, to see leadership still entering resolution agreements that are consistent with the law," she said. "This looks to me like good work from OCR and that's encouraging."

Lhamon said the letter detailing civil rights investigators' findings should also clarify for colleges their obligations to investigate incidents that occur off campus and involve allegations of sexual harassment and assault. The Education Department last year rescinded 2011 and 2014 guidance on colleges' responsibilities for handling sexual harassment and assault. Department officials said they would craft a new regulation addressing campus assault and issued new interim guidance to colleges in September.

That document, Lhamon said, created confusion among advocates and higher ed institutions about their obligations to investigate misconduct that occurs off campus. She said OCR's findings at Buffalo State confirm that colleges are required to investigate a report of sexual assault regardless of whether it occurred on or off campus.

Alexandra Brodsky, a fellow at the National Women’s Law Center, said when a survivor does not want to pursue a formal disciplinary complaint, a college should respect that decision. Buffalo State officials, however, appeared to discourage the student from making a complaint at all, she said.

Even if the student had been well informed about the discipline process and made a decision not to report, Brodsky said, details about college officials' handling of accommodations requested by the student were troubling.

“In our conversations about Title IX and sexual assault, including those conversations that this department has led, we are so focused on discipline,” Brodsky said. “But for many survivors, accommodations like classroom changes and excused absences will make the difference between them staying in school and dropping out or falling behind.”

Based on the OCR report, she said, it’s hard to believe that other students at the college -- including students who may never have come forward to OCR -- have not been similarly mistreated.

Lhamon said the broad remedies put in place by the agreement between the Office for Civil Rights and Buffalo State should address concerns about the failures in this case being repeated. And she said that, thanks to the 2013 agreement between the SUNY system and OCR, investigators should have the information they need to determine if individual remedies are necessary for other students.

"They must look into it and they do have the information available," she said.

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Women are underrepresented in economics textbooks, says a new analysis, with implications for the field's gender imbalance

Vie, 19 Ene 2018 - 02:00

Economics remains dominated by men, both in terms of faculty members and students. New research suggests that while economics textbooks aren’t necessarily to blame, they’re not helping close the field’s gender gap.

A study of leading introductory economics textbooks, presented last week at the annual meeting of the American Economic Association, found that three-quarters of the people mentioned in the books (77 percent), real or imagined, are male. Some 18 percent of mentions are female and 5 percent are gender neutral.

The real-life economists mentioned tend to be men, but not because they’re key historical figures, according to the study. And when these textbooks do mention women in relation to economic principles, they’re more passive than their male counterparts and more likely to be involved in food, fashion or household tasks. Men are more likely to be appear in relation to business or policy.

“In any kind of teaching material that we’re creating as instructors, we’re using the body of knowledge we have about the world we’ve experienced -- and that means that teaching materials, almost by definition, are backward-looking,” said the lead author, Betsey Stevenson, associate professor of public policy and economics at the University of Michigan.

Reasonable people might disagree as to whether that’s a good, bad or neutral proposition, Stevenson said. But if instructors want their teaching materials to instead be “forward-looking,” she added, they should craft and choose examples that describe “the world their students are going into -- not the world they’ve lived in the past.”

Such an argument could be made about teaching tools in many fields. But the last year has seen a particular focus on gender dynamics in economics. One study found that female economists write more readable papers than their male peers but take significantly longer to get published, for example. A separate paper found that the field has different standards for men and women when it comes to co-authorship, and that the standards favor men. Yet another study found that a popular online forum for economists is, well, pretty sexist.

Stevenson said economics as a discipline needs to do more “to understand why women aren’t attracted to the field and why the field is not attracting women.” But it’s already clear from the existing literature that when students don’t see themselves reflected in role models and examples, “they stop and think, ‘Maybe this isn’t for me,’” she said. As an example, she cited a recent study saying that a female role model intervention program in introductory economics courses had no impact on male students but significantly increased women’s likelihood of expressing interest in majoring in economics and taking future courses in it.

Stevenson conducted her study with Hanna Zlotnick, a master of public policy candidate at Michigan. They included seven top principles of economics textbooks in their study presented at AEA, and have since incorporated an eighth book. The original textual analysis found that 30 percent of the people mentioned in textbooks are economists. Among those, men outnumber women 12 to one. No female economist appears in every book studied.

Some of that makes sense. Economists, historically, have tended to be men. But even when Stevenson and Zlotnick excluded all economists from their analysis, 70 percent of people mentioned were still men. Analyzing only examples of ordinary, made-up people -- where textbook authors have the most creative leeway -- 59 percent of gendered examples were male. Some 15 percent were explicitly written to be gender neutral. The rest were women.

Few female business leaders are mentioned -- just 11 across seven books. Six percent of policy makers listed in the books are female. Federal Reserve Board Chair Janet Yellen accounts for 55 percent of those mentions.

Stevenson disclosed that she’s under contract to write an economics textbook by one of the publishers considered in her study (though it didn’t get special treatment, she said). She’s also preparing her study for publication, to include the eighth textbook and some feedback to criticism she’s received since AEA.

N. Gregory Mankiw, the Robert M. Beren Professor of Economics at Harvard University (and a former professor of Stevenson’s), for example, has questioned on his blog whether Stevenson drew the right conclusions from her data. Namely, Mankiw -- who wrote one of the textbooks studied -- asked whether the findings really expose textbook authors' implicit bias.

Worldwide, just 4 percent of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are women, Mankiw wrote. So is Stevenson’s finding that just 6 percent of “real business leaders” mentioned in textbooks are women really an “underrepresentation of women in textbooks or an accurate reflection of reality?”

Similarly, he said, policy makers mentioned in texts are most often presidents or Federal Reserve chairs. “Historically, only one woman has been a member of this group. Economists mentioned in texts are most often important historical figures (Smith, Ricardo, Keynes) or prominent modern economists, such as Nobel laureates. Once again, 8 percent is higher than for the population being sampled.”

To be sure, he said, “the role of women in society is changing, and in some circles there is some bias. But measuring the amount of bias is hard.”

Stevenson said Thursday that she’s since found that textbooks still underrepresent women as CEOs. And instead of Adam Smith and other historical figures, she said, the vast majority of male economists mentioned are “alive and well.”

While much bias on the part of textbook writers appears to be implicit, most if not all writers make conscious choices to include sports and other contemporary references to engage students, she said. So part of that decision-making process can also be about engaging women with meaningful examples and role models.

"There are those with more libertarian perspectives who will shrug their shoulders and say, 'If they want to come, they can.' But that fails to recognize there are defaults to the ways we're attracting some students and not others."

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Lever Press gets ready to publish first digital scholarship books

Vie, 19 Ene 2018 - 02:00

Librarians have been talking excitedly about Lever Press, an open-access publisher for digital scholarship led by liberal arts colleges, for several years. While interest in the press remains high, progress has been slow. Early discussions about the project began around six years ago, and despite the press launching in January 2016, it has yet to publish any works.

This year, however, that looks set to change. The press hired a senior acquisition editor in August and now has several works under contract, pending approval from the press's editorial board. Though the press said it could not yet reveal authors or titles, it did share some details of works in the pipeline -- which cover topics such as silent film in Japan, black women singers, feminist presses and digital memorials.

Mark Edington, director of Amherst College Press and publisher at Lever Press, said that he expects the press to publish its first titles this year, and it is on schedule to meet its goal of publishing 60 titles by 2021. Edington added that in the last year, the press has transformed from a start-up idea into “a press that is actually doing its work.”

The work that Lever Press has set for itself is ambitious. A collaboration between Amherst College Press, the University of Michigan Library and liberal arts colleges, Lever Press aims to “push existing boundaries” in digital scholarship. In a statement of values published last week, the press said it wants to “lead the way in establishing best practices for born-digital, peer-reviewed, open-access monograph publishing.”

With financial support from 54 libraries at liberal arts colleges (many belonging to the Oberlin Group) in the shape of five-year pledges, Lever plans to operate a fully open-access model that it describes as “platinum.” Works will be made immediately available at no cost to the reader, and neither academics nor their institutions will incur any charges. The press said it anticipated that print versions of more “traditional” titles (with fewer digital elements) would be made available, but more innovative works may be offered as print on demand only, for a fee.

Because of the significant investment made in each publication, Lever says that it wishes to publish only the “highest-quality scholarship.” Each work will be subject to a vigorous peer-review process and must meet the approval of the press’s editorial board. The focus is on cutting-edge scholarship in the arts and the humanities, but because the press is funded by liberal arts colleges, it is also looking to publish works that will be of particular interest and benefit to these institutions. To that end, Lever has solicited works on the impact of study abroad, social justice pedagogy, pipeline programs, approaches to teaching and the use of special collections in courses.

As Lever is new and trying to do something different, Beth Bouloukos, senior acquisition editor, said she frequently has to reassure academics that the works they produce with the press should be taken seriously and counted toward tenure, as the peer-review process at Lever Press is just as rigorous as that of traditional publishers.

Despite some trepidation, Bouloukos said, many academics were excited to explore how they might present their work outside traditional print confines, particularly those who work with multimedia content such as video games, graphic novels or street art. Bouloukos added that scholars in disciplines such as gender and sexuality studies were eager to see their research become more accessible to practitioners out in the field, and “not stuck in a cloth-bound book.”

Lever Press is working with publishing platform Fulcrum, currently under development by the University of Michigan Press and Michigan Publishing, to present its works, which will allow works with digital content to be displayed as ebooks.

Charles Watkinson, director of University of Michigan Press, said Fulcrum was created in response to calls from authors in the humanities and social sciences to find a new way to present digital research objects such as video, images, 3-D models, etc., in monographs.

Durability and discoverability are two key priorities for Fulcrum, and in turn for Lever Press, Watkinson said. Each multimedia item presented on Fulcrum will receive a permanent digital identifier that allows it to be cited. Content published through Fulcrum will also appear in library catalogs -- ensuring that academics will be able to use impact metrics to show the reach of their work.

Kathleen Fitzpatrick, director of digital humanities and professor of English at Michigan State University, said that assuring sustainability and discoverability were some of the biggest challenges for presses looking to work with “born-digital” scholarship. Not only do such presses have to continue to support and maintain the platforms they work with, they also have to ensure the works they produce can be properly indexed and preserved.

Fitzpatrick said that recent demise of Vine, and shortly Storify, illustrates how fragile work that scholars do digitally today can be. Nonetheless, Fitzpatrick said, she is very eager to see how Lever Press progresses, and praised its statement of values. “The scholarly publishing landscape needs more experiments like this, and I think many presses will benefit from the path that Lever carves out.”

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NCAA president, board pledge swift changes in men's basketball

Vie, 19 Ene 2018 - 02:00

INDIANAPOLIS -- Cynicism about higher education, and athletics, runs rampant, only inflamed by the continuing federal investigation into men’s college basketball -- a sport that National Collegiate Athletic Association president Mark Emmert proclaimed must be reformed by the start of next season.

In a frank address to the thousands of NCAA delegates gathered at the association's annual convention, Emmert did not skate over one of the most significant revelations in the world of collegiate athletics last year. The Federal Bureau of Investigation unearthed an alleged scheme by coaches at some of the most prominent men's basketball programs in the country to direct recruits to certain institutions in exchange for cash. Four coaches and six others, including high-ranking Adidas executives, face federal fraud charges, among others, with hints from law enforcement officials that the corruption is more pervasive.

Emmert said NCAA critics had seized on the scandal, which he deemed “disgusting,” as a way to prove that the association had failed. Those cynics asserted that “everyone knew” about this system, Emmert said, an accusation he refuted, while pledging action to clean up men’s basketball.

“We know it’s not widespread like people assumed it was,” Emmert said. “We know what really goes on in the world, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t bad things out there that we've got to deal with. And it makes everybody in this room’s job harder. It doesn’t matter what division you’re in, what sport you’re in. When there’s things like that out there, and we don’t respond appropriately, it makes your job that much harder. We’ve got to respond to those things -- directly and forcefully. Not nibbling around the edges.”

The scandal had eclipsed the good accomplished by the NCAA and snagged all headlines, Emmert said.

Emmert referenced an NCAA-created independent commission charged with investigating college basketball, led by former U.S. secretary of state and Stanford University provost Condoleezza Rice -- another step that Emmert conceded might draw the scorn of NCAA detractors (“Oh, that’s what the NCAA does -- got a big problem, form a commission”).

The group will deliver recommendations on men’s basketball to the NCAA in April. Shortly after Emmert’s remarks wrapped up Thursday evening, the NCAA announced its leaders, the Board of Governors, had set aside $10 million in reserve cash to help carry out the commission’s suggestions. Beginning in the next fiscal year, $2.5 million will be devoted annually to reforming men’s basketball.

“It is imperative that the NCAA leadership move swiftly on the commission’s recommendations,” G. P. Peterson, chairman of the Board of Governors and president of Georgia Institute of Technology, said in a statement. “To this end, we have approved a tentative review and implementation process that will allow us to act on the recommendations of the commission in a timely fashion. We may well have some difficult decisions to make in the areas of academics, well-being and fairness and are both prepared and committed to do so.”

The board intends to approve any final changes on men’s basketball in August.

During his speech, Emmert walked a stage in front of extravagant, multicolored curtains, and flipped back and forth between touting progress and a positive long-term vision for the NCAA and acknowledging its deficiencies.

He paused periodically to bring to the stage men and women who are heading association initiatives -- among them recent graduate and former basketball player Alaina Woo, now an assistant coach at Tufts University and one of the heads of the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committees.

Emmert said that the association must acknowledge the voices of athletes, which are now being heard louder than ever before, and questioned Woo on the progress her committee has made.

Woo told the crowd that her committee has a direct line to the Board of Governors and said a “wonderful” group of athletes had talked with the NCAA leaders about key problems -- among them sexual violence among college athletes. An NCAA think tank will meet next week in Washington to discuss a possible associationwide rule for athletes who are found to have perpetrated sexual assault. The NCAA has historically skirted making a broad policy on many social issues such as this, saying it preferred to leave such matters to individual campuses.

The NCAA will also launch a new strategic planning period, a set of comprehensive goals last undertaken in 2004 -- long before the advent of social media giants, Instagram, YouTube and more, the leader of that work, Henderson State University president Glendell Jones, pointed out to the audience.

In explaining why the NCAA needed to redo the plan, Jones said the rise of these digital phenomena has affected the way society and athletes behave and react. The world faces a new set of problems now -- 14 years ago no one was heavily debating matters of diversity, or sexual harassment, he said.

“All of these things have come on the horizon and I think they’ve resulted in the NCAA being on the defensive and being very reactionary,” Jones said to the crowd. “I want to use this as a process to really propel us into the role of a leader.”

As a result of the NCAA’s last strategic plan, graduation rates among athletes soared, an association priority, Emmert stressed during his speech. The graduation rate among athletes jumped by more than 10 percentage points from 2002 to 2017 -- from 74 percent to 87 percent, according to the most recent NCAA data.

Emmert said that institutions have endured major pressures to perform well athletically and to please donors and alumni, pressures that at times incrementally started moving programs away from the values the NCAA espouses.

“We have to fight against that drift,” he said. “Because the core values of college sports are worth protecting. It’s what allows half a million students to have the experience they have.”

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Colleges start new academic programs

Vie, 19 Ene 2018 - 02:00
  • Mary Baldwin College is starting a bachelor of arts program in autism studies and applied behavior analysis.
  • Northeastern University is starting a master of science in media advocacy.
  • Rocky Mountain College is starting a doctor of occupational therapy program.
  • Schenectady County Community College of the State University of New York is starting a certificate program in bank financial security and money laundering prevention.
  • Valencia College is starting an associate degree in residential property management.
  • Yeshiva University is starting a master of science program in biotechnology management and entrepreneurship.
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Ithaca College president in the spotlight years after court case

Jue, 18 Ene 2018 - 02:00

More than 16 years ago, Shirley M. Collado pleaded no contest to a count of misdemeanor sexual abuse in D.C. Superior Court.

She had been charged with allegedly touching in a sexual manner a therapy patient she was treating. The patient had also lived with Collado for a short time after she had been treated by Collado.

Today, Collado is the president of Ithaca College. She acknowledges inviting the patient into her home, and she has publicly confirmed pleading no contest in court. But she says she delivered the plea under extreme circumstances and did not commit the touching or other acts that were alleged. On the contrary, she was trying to help someone in need at a time when she herself was suffering her own intense emotional pain, she says.

The court case and surrounding allegations have been thrust into the limelight this week after student newspapers published detailed accounts of allegations and events said to have taken place when Collado was training as a trauma therapist at the Center at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington. The Ithacan published an extensive piece Tuesday. So did The Vanderbilt Hustler, which covers Vanderbilt University, where Collado is a member of the Board of Trust. Both publications wrote about the case after receiving anonymous packages in the mail containing court documents.

It is a harsh turn of events for a president who received attention for her exceptional personal history when she was hired last year. Collado, the daughter of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, has been noted as the first college president who entered higher education through the Posse Foundation, which sends groups of disadvantaged students to enroll together at colleges.

In response to the new scrutiny of Collado’s past, Ithaca College’s Board of Trustees has voiced strong support for her. Trustees say they were well aware of the case when they hired Collado and that it was part of vetting that took place before she was publicly named Ithaca’s incoming president in February. Collado has posted her own lengthy statement denying any sexual impropriety and saying that she pleaded no contest at a time when she was pressed financially and emotionally.

The situation is notable because it comes at a time when allegations of sexual assault, harassment and impropriety -- some of them dating back many years -- have rocked numerous college campuses and leadership teams. But it also stands out because it offers an unexpected reflection at the top levels of higher ed of a criminal justice system some say is tilted against the poor. Unlike many college presidents, Collado comes from a background of limited means and says money played a factor in her plea at a time when her career was just starting many years ago. In addition, Collado’s and Ithaca’s willingness to address the situation head-on has caught the attention of many crisis communication professionals.

“This is not new news,” Collado said in a telephone interview with Inside Higher Ed. “This is a story that I shared very, very openly before I became president. It’s public record, highly visible.”

Publicly Discussing a Plea

Collado has publicly referenced the case virtually from the moment she was announced as Ithaca College’s incoming president in February. The college posted a Q&A with Collado on March 1 that explained some of the history. A former patient who “struggled with significant psychological disorders” sought Collado for help when she didn’t have anywhere to go, she said in the Q&A. Collado said she “went out of my way to help her” but that it backfired because she was not in a position to help. The incident took place shortly after Collado’s husband committed suicide about three years into their marriage, Collado wrote.

The former patient made “claims against me,” Collado said in the Q&A. She said she fought the claims for a while but did not have the resources or social capital to continue.

“I was in my 20s, and I had just tragically lost my husband, so I decided to take steps to end the legal action so that I could focus on taking care of myself and moving on with my life,” she said in the Q&A. “It was a very difficult decision, but it’s the kind of decision that young people face daily when they feel they have no options, no resources, and no outside support.”

The Ithacan included far more detail in the article it published this week. Collado pleaded nolo contendere, or no contest, in August 2001 to a single charge of placing a hand on a patient’s clothed breast with sexual intent, the student newspaper wrote. Collado was a 28-year-old recent graduate of Duke University and the patient’s therapist at the time the incident was alleged to have taken place.

The nolo contendere plea meant Collado was accepting conviction but not admitting guilt. After such a plea, a case continues as if a guilty plea was entered. Collado received a 30-day suspended sentence, 18 months of supervised probation, an order to complete 80 hours of community service and a $250 fine. She was ordered to stay away from the patient.

The student newspaper’s account also details allegations that the patient and Collado kissed and had other sexual encounters. Court documents from prosecutors show employees at the center believed the patient’s allegations, The Ithacan wrote.

Collado denied the allegations again in her interview with Inside Higher Ed. Her plea covered one situation: putting a hand on the body outside of clothing, she said. She pleaded no contest because of financial and emotional constraints but denies all allegations through and through. She did not have a sexual or romantic relationship with the patient -- and the patient was no longer her patient during the short time when they lived in the same home, she said.

Although she tried to help the patient by offering her a place to live, it became clear to Collado that she had not made a good choice, she said. A therapist allowing a former patient to live with her violates professional norms.

“I was going through my own grief and loss, and I needed to move on, and I did my very best to make that transition as smooth as possible,” Collado said. “Shortly after that, and only after that decision, this person got in touch with the Center and made allegations about behavior that had occurred on the unit, and I was floored.”

Scrutinizing a Presidential Candidate’s Past

Those most familiar with the search process that led to Collado’s hiring say they were aware of the case early on. It came up “in conjunction” with a background check, said Jim Nolan, a trustee who chaired the search committee and chairs the Ithaca Board of Trustees’ governance committee.

Nolan declined to describe in additional detail how the case was discovered -- if the then candidate for president brought it to the college’s attention or if it was discovered by the college in the due diligence process. But he said both the board and search committee had comprehensive discussions about the issue.

“There was a point in time we felt it was really important for Shirley to have the conversation with all the search committee members,” he said. “As board members, we had access to the court documents. And we talked to the on-campus members of the search committee about the pertinent details and made them aware.”

Some of the information was sensitive and needed to be put into context, Nolan said. Collado’s references were also fully checked.

Several faculty members who were on the search committee felt that the process was the right one to follow, given the sensitive and painful nature of the allegations and the time of Collado’s life in which they took place.

The committee needed to be told about the case, said Claire Gleitman, an English professor and president of the Faculty Senate for Ithaca’s School of Humanities and Sciences, who was on the search committee. Committee members were given an appropriate amount of information for making a recommendation, she said.

Seeing the new details does not change Gleitman’s belief that the process and recommendation to hire Collado were appropriate.

“These days, the past is never past,” Gleitman said. “The people I’ve heard from -- and I’ve heard from a fair handful -- have been expressing very strong support for President Collado and regret on her behalf.”

Asked whether a therapist living with a former patient was a lapse in judgment, Gleitman said it is clear in retrospect the action was a mistake. But it was made at a time when Collado had lost her husband and was trying to act out of compassion.

“I think it was an error of judgment that is both understandable and also, as far as I can tell, an entirely isolated incident,” Gleitman said. “I don’t think we see any evidence whatsoever of further errors in judgment that would lead us to think it was a character flaw. I think it’s really important to emphasize that this was an isolated event that happened in her past.”

A Way Forward?

College presidents are expected to set the agenda, inspire students, faculty and staff, and raise money from donors. Those are tasks that might be difficult given the unwelcome attention foisted upon Collado this week. Yet her backers do not think her ability to lead will be compromised.

The president is carrying on during a brief but intense period of scrutiny, Gleitman said. Nolan, the trustee and search committee chair, described the events from 2000 and 2001 as formative experiences for the president.

“I would say the life events that people experience form, over time, their judgment,” Nolan said. “It becomes part of the fabric of how people make decisions.”

Meanwhile, broader faculty reaction has been muted. Few have reached out to discuss the topic with Thomas Swensen, a professor and chair of Ithaca’s department of exercise and sport sciences who chairs the college’s Faculty Council and was also on the search committee that selected Collado.

“The lack of comments right now is maybe a statement,” he said. “I’m not quite sure how to interpret it.”

The attempts to share information and be open have likely helped the college in the public eye, according to crisis communication experts. In many ways, they have made moves that are right out of the playbook for handling potentially damaging information.

Leaders sometimes have an instinct to hide in similar situations, said Susan Jacobson, president of the Philadelphia-based public relations firm Jacobson Strategic Communications.

“It’s not a time to hide,” she said. “This is a time when she’s really got to show strength through adversity. People are really watching her.”

The student newspapers’ reporting has provoked strong reactions on social media from a range of commenters, some arguing in support of the president and some debating the way the situation adds to ongoing discussion about sexual abuse. Still others have been critical of Collado’s past actions.

Collado continues to be bothered by the fact that someone anonymously sent details about the case to student newspapers. She feels targeted, she said.

But she still thinks she can lead the college. Some of her closest colleagues in higher ed leadership have penned letters in support of her.

Nancy Cantor, the chancellor at Rutgers University Newark, wrote that Collado shared facts about her early career when she was executive vice chancellor and chief operating officer at Rutgers, the position she held before coming to Ithaca.

“Shirley remains a treasured colleague of profound integrity and compassion, admired by those who have had the privilege to work closely with her,” Cantor wrote. “We have every confidence in her and consider the Ithaca College community very fortunate to have her as its leader.”

Collado wanted to come to Ithaca and treat it as a place where she could lead and be herself, she said. She wants to draw strength from her past.

“Yes, many of us have narratives that are complicated and hard and challenging,” she said. “This was an experience, like college, that was formative for me. And it’s an experience I wish on no one.”

Collado came to Ithaca after the college’s former president, Tom Rochon, decided to leave following intense criticism of his handling of racial incidents on campus. Collado has also been executive vice president of the Posse Foundation.

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First-round faculty job interviews, which once took place at disciplinary meetings, are increasingly done by video

Jue, 18 Ene 2018 - 02:00

Each year, graduate students and recent Ph.D.s brave crowds, weather, nerves and their bank accounts to travel to academic conferences for interviews. The experience is valuable in some respects -- especially if it leads to a job. But it’s also been described as a dehumanizing cattle call. At the very least, conference interviews are costly and potentially awkward. Do they have to be this way?

Departments increasingly are saying no. First-round interviews via Skype, Zoom or other videoconferencing services have been on the rise for some time, but they’ve become especially popular within the past several years. And they may have gotten an assist this month, with meetings of major disciplinary associations happening during the near-national deep freeze and accompanying storms.

Paula Krebs, executive director of the Modern Language Association, said she’s not sure exactly how many candidates or search committees didn’t make it to the MLA’s convention in New York during the first week of January. But the “bomb cyclone” could perhaps be what convinces search teams that it's better to conduct video interviews from campus and then to go to the MLA meeting to participate in sessions, "instead of shutting themselves in a hotel suite with two or three of their colleagues and a succession of job candidates," she said.

MLA is one the largest disciplinary associations, representing fields with some of the most competitive tenure-track job markets. As for graduate students, Krebs said the association would love to see them look forward to the annual meeting “as a place to hone their skills and hear the latest research in their field instead of a place to collect horror stories about the job-search process.”

Skype, Zoom and More

The American Historical Association also held its annual meeting this month in Washington. James Grossman, AHA’s director, said more departments are conducting preliminary interviews via video conference, with or without weather concerns. The last decade has seen two major drops in these interviews: between 2013, when there were 154 search committees at AHA, and 2014, when there were 95. The number dropped again between 2015 and 2016, from 89 to 52, respectively. There were 47 committees interviewing this year.

Edward Liebow, executive director of the American Anthropological Association, said his organization doesn’t have hard evidence of a trend one way or the other, but demand for on-site conference interviews at its annual meeting around Thanksgiving actually increased in 2017 over the year before. At the same time, he said, some academic screening interviews are conducted by videoconference -- something that’s been the norm for nonacademic employers for a while.

Lego Grad Student, an anonymous recent social sciences Ph.D. in California’s Bay Area who expresses the highs and lows of academic life in quirky Lego tableaux, said he’s only done one Skype interview, so far -- as a follow-up to a physical interview. In general, in his field, however, it’s become “slightly more common to also do preliminary interviews by Skype before narrowing down which people to fly out for a formal interview," he said.

“I see no issues with that,” he added, “since it helps reduce costs and gives more applicants a chance to have more face-to-face time, even if remotely, with a committee.”

Karen Kelsky, a former tenured professor and now an academic career coach at The Professor Is In, said she’s noticed departments holding more first-round interviews via video conference, across fields. Faculty members are simply more aware of the “ethical issues behind requiring candidates to pay $1,000 plus just to have a preliminary interview,” she said.

This year in particular, Kelsky said she was asked on Twitter what to do about a missed interview due to weather on the East Coast. Kelsky encouraged the candidate to follow up with the search committee about a proposed redo via Skype later, “so as not to fall off their radar.”

Beyond scheduling concerns, do graduate students who interview in person have a leg up on the remote competition? Kelsky said that some job seekers and even faculty members still tend to believe that’s the case. But that notion is increasingly in flux, she said, “with the technology becoming more and more accepted and normative.”

As of 2018, “I see the in-person and the Skype option as roughly equivalent both in numbers” and perceived “legitimacy,” she added. “And that's an excellent thing.”

The MLA has formally and informally encouraged departments to embrace videoconferencing, including via its “Guidelines for Search Committees and Job Seekers on Entry-Level Faculty Recruitment and Hiring.” The document says, in part, that “all candidates for a position should have the same conditions for the screening interview” and those who “interview remotely must not be held at a disadvantage.”

The AHA doesn’t endorse or discourage video interview formats. But Grossman said it’s discussing changing its relevant policy document to include guidelines on these interviews, “since they clearly are becoming more widespread.”

Krebs, of MLA, said that first-round interviews at MLA evolved to fill a need: leveling the playing field in what was still an “old boys’ network” in terms of hiring through the late 1960s. Now, she said, “technology has changed the landscape of the job search process, and it can offer ways to create yet more equitable conditions for candidates, as well as for the institutions doing the interviewing.”

If all institutions eventually opt to conduct every first-round interview via video, she said, “candidates who can afford to make the trip to the convention would no longer have an advantage” over those can’t.

The Academic Conference: Beyond Interviews

One byproduct of the decline of conference interviews is rebranding: If academic meetings aren’t all about interviews, what are they for?

Grossman said that AHA has had to reconsider “both the meeting and the marketing of it,” since it can “no longer depend on attendance driven by interviews.” In some ways, he said, it’s an opportunity to save a generation of scholars from negatively associating the meeting with pre-interview jitters.

Beyond that, Grossman said AHA has revamped the annual gathering as something more than a “research conference.” While research is still central to the experience, the meeting is equally concerned with teaching and such professional issues as employment landscapes, career paths and ethics.

AHA also has worked to attract more graduate students who attend out of “interest rather than a job search,” Grossman said, via a career fair and special events. Some 100 undergraduates also attended this year, with some participating in an undergraduate poster session.

“A decade ago some observers were predicting that digital communication would undermine academic conferences,” Grossman said. “We're finding that this is not necessarily the case.”

Liebow, of the anthropological association, said changes to U.S. visa policies led the association to experiment with remote presentations and distance participation on a limited scale. (He also noted that two of the association’s larger sections, the Society of Cultural Anthropology and the Society for Visual Anthropology, will stage a virtual meeting in April, with registration thus far proceeding at a rate comparable to face-to-face meetings.)

Krebs said MLA will continue to offer travel grants for graduate students to attend the convention, “as we think it's a crucial opportunity for professional development of many kinds.” This year offered sessions on everything from the job market to working at teaching-intensive institutions to writing book proposals to seeking professional jobs off campus.

Quoting a 2014 column by former MLA executive director Rosemary Feal, Krebs said the MLA convention was long seen as synonymous with the job market, but it's "time for that to change.”

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NCAA think tank will mull associationwide rule on athletes with ties to sexual assault

Jue, 18 Ene 2018 - 02:00

INDIANAPOLIS -- As the country continues to be roiled by continued revelations of sexual assaults perpetrated (mostly) by powerful men, the National Collegiate Athletic Association will take initial steps toward considering a blanket rule on athletes with a history of such acts.

While individual colleges and an NCAA conference have created policies barring athletes who have been tied to sexual violence, so far the association has resisted adopting a broader decree.

At the NCAA’s annual convention Wednesday, a member of its Commission to Combat Campus Sexual Violence, Cindy Aron, told a crowd that select commission members would meet in Washington next week. They will discuss, she said, a prospective associationwide policy on athletes with a history of sexual assault. Nothing concrete has yet been developed.

This “think tank” will also involve higher education experts from across the country who work on sexual violence initiatives on campuses, Aron said.

Aron is not an NCAA representative but rather a social worker by trade. She said in an interview that the group wants to discuss next week how institutions can open communication between athletics departments and other college departments.

“Universities and athletics departments in particular tend to be siloed off,” Aron said. “So how can we work together to use resources that are already there and then build upon it with one another?”

Asked to confirm the topic of next week's meeting and the possible development of an associationwide policy, NCAA officials did not provide a response in time for publication.

Advocates for survivors of sexual assault applauded Indiana University at Bloomington last year for its new policy that suspends athletes, both first-year students and transfers, who have a history of sexual violence. Critics of the policy said it was discriminatory and disadvantaged the university.

Per the policy, Indiana students who have either been found guilty criminally or pleaded no contest to a felony sex crime, such as rape or domestic violence, are disqualified from participating in intercollegiate athletics-related financial aid, practice or competition.

If an athlete is accused of rape or a similar offense, then a university panel meets to decide whether to suspend the athlete from play -- but the athlete might not necessarily be removed from campus.

“You have to have these conversations,” Mattie White, senior associate athletic director for academic services at Indiana, said during a convention session on athletes’ health. “And they’re hard, right? When you’re recruiting someone, it’s not the first conversation you’ll have -- ‘have you done something really terrible and bad?’ But we want to make sure we are looking at their digital footprint, trying to figure out who these individuals are before we bring them to our campus.”

Colleges aren’t required to track sexual assault convictions or cases at other campuses. The NCAA hasn’t given any direction on this issue, either.

Indiana’s policy was inspired by a narrower Southeastern Conference rule that bans only transfer students with a record of sexual assault. SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey told Inside Higher Ed that a group of athletics directors, college presidents and other administrators discussed expanding the prohibition, but so far the conference is satisfied with the policy approved in 2015. Sankey said at the time that first-year students sometimes have offenses that are “shielded” because they were minors.

On the NCAA leadership's part, the Board of Governors adopted a new policy last year on campus sexual violence saying athletics departments should know about campus policies on sexual assault and when a student is accused or found guilty of sexual violence.

Colleges' sexual assault processes and contact information for an institution’s Title IX coordinator (named for the federal anti-gender-discrimination law Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972) should be provided to athletes, the policy states. Coaches, athletes and sports administrators should receive prevention training, according to the policy. The NCAA also publicizes a tool kit for mitigating sexual violence.

At Grinnell College, an Iowa institution that competes in the NCAA's Division III, administrators encourage buy-in from students on sexual assault prevention campaigns, Jen Jacobsen, assistant dean of students and director of wellness and prevention, said during the health session.

Jacobsen said the college seeks out students with “social capital” on campus. And when recruits visit campus, some current athletes are encouraged to tell their coaches if they see those visitors doing “creepy things” or being “predatory.”

Often the athletes will observe behavior the coaches don’t, Jacobsen said.

“They know they can tell their coach, ‘This is not someone I want as part of our team,’” she said. “And our coach stops recruiting them. No matter how talented they are athletically. That’s a values piece that’s about student engagement.”

A Grinnell football player, Carson Dunn, told the audience at the convention that he leads sexual violence prevention initiatives among students -- to great success.

Grinnell has developed multiple groups, including Student Athletes Leading Change and Student Athlete Mentors, to fight the current culture, Dunn said. On one particular night, he said, another group of students marched around campus to talk about campus sexual assault and challenge students.

“We want you to step up and change something about your life to help this fight,” he said. “Whether it’s educating yourself on the topic, or … it’s when that person makes that uncomfortable rape joke, you step in and you stop that. It’s small things that really help change.”

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How academic blog 'Monkey Cage' became part of the mainstream media

Jue, 18 Ene 2018 - 02:00

Just over a decade ago, a small group of academics started a political science blog called the “Monkey Cage.” In an inaugural post, the academics wrote that they were tired of political science research being overlooked by the media and policy makers, and set out on a mission to get more people interested in their research.

It worked. In the following years, the blog's pool of contributing authors grew substantially. It won awards. And in 2013, the blog attracted the interest of The Washington Post, resulting in a three-year hosting deal.

At the time, the reaction from “Monkey Cage” readers was mixed. Many were supportive, but others had concerns about how moving to the Post might affect the blog’s content, and some didn’t like that the content would be placed behind the Post’s paywall.

Speaking to Inside Higher Ed, John Sides, a co-founder of the blog and associate professor of political science at George Washington University, admitted the blog might have lost some of its original readers to the Post’s paywall, but he said the story of its move to the Post was ultimately one of “unprecedented growth.”

The blog now has “more contributors, more funding, more audience,” than ever before, Sides said. At the Post, “Monkey Cage” receives more views on a daily basis than even the most popular posts at the old blog did, including those written at the peak of the 2012 election. The blog signed a second two-year deal with the Post in 2016, and its creators hope to stay there.

The blog’s content has shifted over time. It's more layperson friendly, but it still maintains a solid research foundation, said Sides. “The Post didn’t want us to change our stripes,” he said. The articles are more reactive to the news cycle than they used to be, and the blog consciously tries to attract a large audience by posting articles that are timely. In the last week, the blog has featured analyses on the prospect of a U.S. war with North Korea, protests in Iran and “Why Trump administration officials try so hard to flatter him.”

Publishing under the umbrella of a mainstream media outlet “does force you to work and write and plan in particular ways,” said Sides. “You have to figure out how to use the medium to its fullest extent. No one reading the Post on their phone is going to want to spend 20 minutes thumbing through 6,000 words.” While the blog has mostly stuck to its political science roots, academics who contribute to the blog now come from all over the world and have expertise in a much broader range of subdisciplines. There have been over 2,839 contributors to the blog since it moved the Post, 958 of whom who have written multiple times.

The blog has substantially expanded its editorial team since it joined the Post. Some early contributors are now editors rather than writers, and the team is supported by some experienced nonacademic editors. “They spot things that I would miss,” said Sides. Particularly the inclusion of academic jargon. As the blog has an independent contract with the Post, it still maintains editorial control, but copy is checked by Post employees to ensure it meets house style.

E. J. Graff joined “Monkey Cage” as managing editor over two years ago as a result of its “exponential growth.” Though she has frequently worked with academics in her career as an intellectual journalist, she is not an academic herself. She described her role as “watching the planes and making sure they don’t all land at the same time.” A big part of Graff’s job is ensuring the blog’s content is accessible to nonacademics. “It’s not listicles about ‘Five things you didn’t know about Steve Bannon’ -- it is still very intellectual.”

The blog editors receive so many submissions that they rarely have to seek out content, but sometimes they solicit posts on newsworthy topics, said Sides. “Scholars are willing to write for us at the drop of a hat,” he said. In this sense, the blog has become more of a publishing platform for academics than a traditional blog.

“It’s a different animal now,” said Joshua Tucker, a “Monkey Cage” editor and professor of politics at New York University. Asked to reflect on what had changed at the blog, Tucker said he did miss some aspects of the old format -- the informality, the engagement in niche academic debate -- but what the blog does now is “incredibly valuable,” he says. “It’s become such a public good for the discipline.”

Tucker said the blog provided a “truly unique” opportunity to academics who “wake up and realize their work is relevant.” Tucker said he was particularly proud of the blog’s coverage of international elections, conflict in Ukraine and the Arab Spring. “In the past, if you had something to say, you might write an op-ed, and it would likely be rejected,” said Tucker.

In terms of impact, blog content has been cited in Supreme Court decisions and referenced in speeches from prominent politicians, though Sides said he would be reluctant to draw a straight line between content on the blog and policy decisions. For individual academics, the blog is a real opportunity to share their expertise with the public and get eyeballs on their research. Chris Gilson, the managing editor of the “American Politics and Policy” blog at the London School of Economics and Political Science, said that frequently academics are offered speaking engagements on the strength of blog posts they write, but that such activities might not be counted toward tenure.

Gilson, a long-term reader of “Monkey Cage,” said that he was a fan of the blog, but not of the paywall, as he felt it restricted access to what is often publicly funded research. Another academic blog hosted by The Washington Post, called “The Volokh Conspiracy,” recently left the Post to a paywall-free spot at Reason.com. Writing on the decision, founder Eugene Volokh said the blog, which covers legal and political issues from a libertarian perspective, had enjoyed four “mostly very happy years” at the Post, but was principally moving to “be freely available to the broadest range of readers.”

While academic political science blogs like Duck of Minerva and Crooked Timber have remained as stand-alone productions, others, like, “Mischiefs of Faction,” which is hosted by Vox, seem to sit happily at mainstream publications. With such a move, Gilson said that sometimes blogs were at risk of losing some of their identity. “I liked the orangutan, it was quirky,” said Gilson, referencing the original web design of “Monkey Cage.” That said, Gilson understands why the blog moved. “I’m not sure I would say no if the Post came knocking at my door,” he said.

Asked how much time he spends working on “Monkey Cage,” Sides said he didn't “want to add it up.” But despite the extra work the blog’s expansion demands, Sides said working with the Post had been a “great opportunity.” Asked if, on reflection, there was anything the blog should have done differently, Sides hinted perhaps he would have chosen “a less silly-sounding name.”

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Researcher proposes marriage in acknowledgments section of journal article

Jue, 18 Ene 2018 - 02:00

Many a researcher will surely have thought about testing their loved ones as to whether or not they really did read their work -- but one statistician from China appears to have gone a step further by leaving a romantic message to his partner.

In his paper “Performance analysis for minimally nonlinear irreversible refrigerators at finite cooling power,” published in Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and Its Applications, Rui Long, a Ph.D. student in engineering at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, left a subtly placed marriage proposal to his partner, Panpan Mao.

Alongside an acknowledgment of funding support received for the research, the paper states, “Rui Long wants to thank, in particular, the patience, care and support from Panpan Mao over the passed [sic] years. Will you marry me?”

Highlighting the proposal on Twitter, Jess Wade, a postdoctoral researcher at Imperial College London, said, “Romance is not dead, it’s just behind a paywall.”

Long is not the first to use academic publishing as a medium for popping the question. A paper published in Current Biology by Caleb Brown and Donald Henderson in 2015 includes a similar line hidden among details of a newly discovered horned dinosaur.

In “A new horned dinosaur reveals convergent evolution in cranial ornamentation in certopsidae,” the acknowledgments read, “CMB would specifically like to highlight the ongoing and unwavering support of Lorna O’Brien. Lorna, will you marry me?” (She said yes).

Long had a similar result, reporting, “Panpan said yes!”

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