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ACE President Molly Corbett Broad Announces Plans to Leave Post

American Council on Education - 16 hours 59 min ago
ACE President Molly Corbett Broad, who became ACE’s 12th president in 2008 and is the first woman to lead the organization since its founding in 1918, has announced that she will step down on Oct. 31, 2017.

Federal complaint against Dartmouth says the college repeatedly ignored reports of three professors' 'Animal House' behavior

Inside Higher Ed - 18 hours 29 min ago

Three professors of psychological and brain sciences left Dartmouth College this year under a cloud of alleged sexual misconduct. But the exact allegations against them have been unclear. A new federal lawsuit against Dartmouth brought by seven former students may be filling in the blanks, with serious claims of misconduct on the part of the professors, up to and including assault, and negligence on the college’s part.

Dartmouth “knowingly permitted three of its prominent (and well-funded) professors to turn a human behavior research department into a 21st century Animal House,” reads the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire. For more than a decade, it continues, female students in the department were “treated as sex objects by tenured professors Todd Heatherton, William Kelley, and Paul Whalen. These professors leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated, and even raped female students.”

Dartmouth denies mishandling student complaints. All three professors were on a yearlong administrative leave prior to departing Dartmouth over the summer, following an investigation and recommendations by both the administration and a faculty committee that they lose their tenured positions. Kelley, the last to leave, resigned in July. Whalen resigned in June and Heatherton retired that same month.

President Philip J. Hanlon said at the time that Dartmouth did not enter into separation or nondisclosure agreements with any of the professors, and that they’d continue to be prohibited from entering campus property or attending any Dartmouth-sponsored events, on campus or off. The former faculty members are not named in the suit, and Kelley and Whalen could not be reached for comment. Heatherton, through his lawyer, told The New York Times Thursday that he “categorically denies playing any role in creating a toxic environment at Dartmouth.” He has previously apologized for acting “unprofessionally in public at conferences while intoxicated.”

But the lawsuit, per the frat house reference, describes a pattern of misconduct on and around campus, and of “conditioning faculty mentorship and support on students’ participation in the alcohol-saturated ‘party culture’ they perpetuated.”

The professors' “predatory club" was arguably “founded” by Heatherton, a prolific researcher who in 2005 was a co-principal investigator on Dartmouth’s biggest-ever peer-reviewed grant, according to the lawsuit. The faculty members conducted lab and one-on-one meetings at bars. Drinking alcohol, often to excess, was expected at department gatherings, and Kelley allegedly labeled one student who refused to drink a “bitch.” Comments about students' anatomy were commonplace; one student was told she didn't need a "boob job," for example, and another student was told a colleague had a "big penis." The professors allegedly asked students to late-night hot tub, or “tubby time,” parties at their homes, encouraged female students to stay overnight and invited undergraduates to use real cocaine during class lectures on addiction as part of a “demonstration.”

As for Dartmouth, the lawsuit says that it has known about the professors’ behavior, via student reports, since at least 2002. “But Dartmouth did nothing and ignored” them, it says, “thereby ratifying the violent and criminal acts of its professors.”

Allegedly emboldened by Dartmouth’s failure to respond to complaints against the department, Whalen announced to a group of students in 2010-11 that one female complainant’s action had “backfired” and that she’d lost “resources” and “steam in her career,” the suit says. The complainant “got what was coming to her, of course -- you don’t bite the hand that feeds you,” Whalen allegedly said.

Finally, in April 2017, according to the lawsuit, a group of female graduate students together contacted Dartmouth’s Title IX Office, which is responsible for complying with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, prohibiting gender-based discrimination. But Dartmouth again “did nothing” to immediately alleviate the situation and even encouraged students to continue to work with the professors so as not to disrupt their studies. As a result, it says, Whalen sexually assaulted one of the complainants 20 days later, after he allegedly forced the graduate student into a night of drinking with him.

The student says she attempted to leave Whalen's home several times, but he did not let her. When he allegedly forced her into intercourse, she says she begged him to wear a condom and he refused. Kelley also allegedly pressured another plaintiff, also a graduate student, into sex in 2015. After she confronted him about it, he allegedly tried to coerce her into leaving Dartmouth early, saying she wasn’t getting “anything done here” and was “really bitter.”

The plaintiffs and the other women in the department continued to have to work with the professors for four more months, with the sexual harassment “unabated,” until they were placed on leave. Dartmouth did not publicly acknowledge the suspensions, causing some students to post fliers on campus asking about their “missing” professors, according to lawsuit.

Eventually, some 27 complainants became involved in a Title IX investigation, the lawsuit says. Soon after Dartmouth was forced by news media to publicly acknowledge the case, last fall, New Hampshire’s attorney general opened a criminal investigation into the allegations.

Dartmouth later hired an outside attorney to conduct a third-party investigation, but the college stopped the inquiry and allowed the professors to retire or resign, some 15 months after the group of graduate students’ initial complaints, the lawsuit says.

“The seven plaintiffs, each an exemplary female scientist at the start of her career, came to Dartmouth to contribute to a crucial and burgeoning field of academic study,” reads the lawsuit. “Plaintiffs were instead sexually harassed and sexually assaulted by the department’s tenured professors and expected to tolerate increasing levels of sexual predation.”

The women are seeking $70 million in damages and to force Dartmouth to adopt “meaningful reforms that will permit women to engage in rigorous scientific study without fear of being sexually harassed and sexually assaulted.”

“Sexual misconduct and harassment have no place at Dartmouth,” the college said in a statement. As a result of the misconduct it found earlier this year, it said, “we took unprecedented steps toward revoking their tenure and terminating their employment. They are no longer at Dartmouth and remain banned from our campus and from attending all Dartmouth-sponsored events, no matter where the events are held.”

While applauding the “courage” it took to the students bring the misconduct allegations to Dartmouth’s attention last year, Dartmouth said it “respectfully, but strongly” disagrees with the characterizations of its actions in the complaint.

Dartmouth remains “open to a fair resolution of the students’ claims through an alternative to the court process,” it added.

Michael Barasch, managing partner of Barasch McGarry, who has represented thousands of clergy sex-abuse victims, said Dartmouth’s lawsuit “should be a loud and clear warning to institutions of higher education that ignoring sexual misconduct could have serious financial consequences. Even for a college like Dartmouth, with a $5 billion endowment, $70 million amounts to an enormous liability.” Barasch said the case also underscores that institutions must create processes by which survivors can report abuse "without the threat of retaliation, for both moral and financial reasons.”

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Faculty at Kean U China campus won't be Kean employees for much longer

Inside Higher Ed - 18 hours 29 min ago

The Kean Federation of Teachers is raising alarms about a plan to change the fundamental terms of employment for faculty members teaching at Kean University’s campus in China. Currently, faculty who teach at the Wenzhou-Kean University campus are employees of Kean, a public university in New Jersey. Starting July 1 they will be employees of Wenzhou-Kean.

Kean says that it will continue to control academics at the institution and that as Wenzhou-Kean has grown, it has become more efficient for its Chinese branch to pay faculty members directly. But James A. Castiglione, the president of the Kean Federation of Teachers and an associate professor of physics at the New Jersey campus, said the change raises a whole host of questions, including questions about how academic freedom will be protected and whether there will be changes to the pay, benefits and tenure status of faculty teaching at the Wenzhou-Kean campus. Kean says it intends to provide comparable pay and benefits to faculty at WKU after the change, but Castiglione said that since faculty will no longer be eligible for union membership and covered by the union's contract, there is no guarantee of that.

“The president says the only change is they’re being paid by China, but it’s a little bit like saying we’re moving your address to the moon -- that’s all, that’s the only change, you’re moving to the moon,” Castiglione said. “There’s a whole cascade of problems that flow from that.”

Castiglione said the change will effectively make faculty members at Wenzhou-Kean employees of the Chinese government. A press release from the American Federation of Teachers New Jersey bears the striking headline “Kean U. Hands Over Overseas Faculty to Communist China.”

“To say that you’re an employee of Wenzhou-Kean versus an employee of the government -- there’s no distinction,” Castiglione said. “The government bought the land; it paid for the construction of the building; it provides the money that runs the university … If you go to the Wenzhou-Kean website and you print out an organizational chart of Wenzhou-Kean, what you’ll see is that the very top of the organizational chart is the CCP secretary -- that is, the Chinese Communist Party secretary.”

Kean’s vice president of university relations, Karen Smith, said that Wenzhou-Kean is a joint initiative between Kean and its Chinese partner, Wenzhou University. She said Kean will retain academic control over the institution after the change in the employment structure. “That’s part of the agreement for the establishment of Wenzhou-Kean University in the first place and that is what will continue,” Smith said.

A letter from Kean president Dawood Farahi says that Kean will continue to set academic policies and that "senior academic managers" -- which Smith defined as administrators at the associate dean level or higher -- will continue to be employed by Kean even though the faculty they manage will soon be Wenzhou-Kean employees. (Castiglione was skeptical: “Does anyone really believe the Kean academic managers will have any authority?” he asked).

“To be clear, academic management, standards, policies, assessment and accreditation will be managed by Kean USA, with all senior academic managers remaining Kean USA employees,” Farahi wrote. “Moreover, no Wenzhou-Kean faculty member can be appointed or reappointed without the recommendation of the Kean USA president/provost, which will only occur following the normal Kean USA evaluation process via the provost’s office.”

The letter does not specify the converse of that: whether approval from the Kean president or provost will be required for a faculty member to be terminated. Officials at Kean, which closed at 4 p.m. Thursday for snow, did not provide clarification on whether that would be the case.

"While we understand some people may purposely misconstrue information about this transition, the administration is focused on communicating the facts directly with faculty," the letter from Farahi states. "Our objective is to focus on what benefits our students both at WKU and Kean USA and to provide faculty at WKU with comparable salary, benefits and other privileges as those who work here at Kean USA. In a recent meeting Kean University leadership clearly stated that faculty will receive comparable tenure status, benefits and compensation in Chinese currency."

The letter continues: "It is worth noting that our sister institutions in China, [New York University] Shanghai and Duke Kunshan, are already using the local employment model, and have been successfully for a few years.” A spokesman for Duke University confirmed that faculty hired at the Duke Kunshan campus are Duke Kunshan, not Duke, employees. A spokesman for NYU did not clarify which entity, NYU or NYU Shanghai, employs the university's faculty in China.

Kevin Kinser, a professor and chair of education policy studies at Pennsylvania State University, said via email that faculty members at Kean “are right to resist this move, and I would expect this to get the attention of Kean’s accreditor.”

“Given China’s increasing restrictions on free speech and dissent, I would be interested in how Kean is assured that the new model won’t affect academic freedom,” Kinser, an expert on international higher education, said via email. He said he was not comforted by the fact that other institutions with branch campuses in China might have similar employment models.

“In fact, I wonder how they are addressing the exact same issues,” Kinser said. “China is changing in terms of how open it is to Western ideas and challenges to [the] government agenda. This is new. Branch campuses can’t assume that the original agreements still hold. In this case, Kean needs to understand whether it still has levers of control. And I think it owes it to its constituents and stakeholders to explain how it still maintains academic control and what it will do if the Chinese government tries to restrict faculty and student autonomy.”

Kean’s hiring policies in China have come under scrutiny before. In 2015 the faculty union raised concerns about job postings for two student affairs positions that stated preferences for Chinese Communist Party members. A spokeswoman for Kean said at the time that per its agreement for the campus, "All academic personnel are hired and employed by Kean University in accordance with the same laws, policies and practices at all Kean campuses. Operations personnel are hired by our Chinese partners in accordance with their laws."

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David Warren, longtime head of private college group, to retire

Inside Higher Ed - 18 hours 29 min ago

David L. Warren, who as head of the nation's association of private nonprofit colleges earned a reputation among admirers and critics alike as higher education's power lobbyist, will retire next summer after 25 years.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities announced this morning that Warren would retire as its president. Warren came to NAICU in 1993 after a decade as president of Ohio Wesleyan University. His career, which also included senior administrative posts at Antioch College and Yale University, included a stint in city politics in New Haven, Conn.

Warren's chief accomplishments during his tenure at NAICU included:

  • Spearheading the Student Aid Alliance, which emerged when congressional Republicans working to implement the Contract for America in 1994 sought to cut student financial aid, and which has been activated whenever federal funds for students are threatened.
  • Co-chairing the National Campus Voter Registration Project, which has encouraged and driven student participation in the electoral process.
  • Creating UCAN, the University and College Accountability Network, which is designed to provide comparable information about institutions as an alternative to federal accountability systems that Warren considered too intrusive.

Warren's time at NAICU is notable as much for what did not happen as for what did.

Longtime observers of higher education will recall indelible images of Warren, back problems and all, folded into a chair at every meeting of then Education Secretary Margaret Spellings's Commission on the Future of Higher Education, for which Warren was a leading voice against what he considered federal overreach. College leaders, with support from Congress, blunted the impact of the Spellings Commission.

Warren's fierce advocacy for his group's members and their students sometimes put him at odds with Washington's other sectors of higher education. While federal support for higher education doesn't have to be a zero-sum game, since budgets for financial aid and other needs can go up, it frequently is, and the priorities of different types of institutions (public versus private, two-year versus four-year, higher priced versus lower, etc.) can vary.

Critics sometimes asserted that Warren's lobbying success for independent colleges -- which make up about a third of the nation's colleges even though they enroll about 15 percent of all students -- offered policy makers a skewed perspective of what higher education and college students wanted and needed.

A 2014 report from New America asserted that NAICU enjoyed an “outsized influence” over federal policy, generally, as well as within the “Big Six” associations of college presidents. The report focused on NAICU's opposition to a proposed federal student-level database that would provide more expansive data about how colleges are performing, which public colleges have generally supported.

Private colleges have been fortunate to have Warren in their corner all these years, Andrew Benton, president of Pepperdine University and chair of NAICU's board, said in a prepared statement.

“During the past 25 years, David has been able to organize and mobilize an extremely diverse membership, one that has grown in every year he has been president, representing schools of all sizes and missions from around the country," he said. "In a time of immense partisanship in Washington, D.C., NAICU, together with its members, has been able to realize significant federal policy results for private, nonprofit colleges and universities and, more importantly, the students they serve.”

Added Ted Mitchell, president of the American Council on Education, “David Warren is a remarkable leader. Throughout his career, David has stood for the very best that American higher education represents. He has been a champion for equity and access, and has promoted initiatives that ensure that higher education remains an engine of social mobility. All of us are in David’s debt.”

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Who Else Will Get Sued Over Their Admissions Policies?

A lawsuit filed in California on Thursday seeks admissions and enrollment data from the University of California system.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Instructors Spend ‘Emotional Labor’ in Diversity Courses, and Deserve Credit for It

For most faculty members, moderating heated discussions and hearing students’ personal tribulations are part of the job. That could be OK, a new paper says, if it were recognized and rewarded.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Political Tensions With China Put Pressure on American Universities’ Research Commitments

Escalating rhetoric has forced colleges to walk a fine line between protecting national security and promoting ideals of openness.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Lecturer Who Called Police on Student Wasn’t Biased but Needs Training, University Says

An investigation at the University of Texas at San Antonio cites escalating classroom tensions, poor judgment, and a missent email as factors in an incident seen in a viral video.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Transitions: Alderson Broaddus U. Names President, U. of Texas Campus Appoints Inclusive-Excellence Chief

Alderson Broaddus's new president has been interim chief for three years. Myron Anderson will be UT-San Antonio's first vice president for inclusive excellence.

Sri Lanka outlines ambitions to be an education hub

The PIE News - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 11:33

Sri Lanka is keen to establish itself as an education hub in Asia, trading on its strategic location, tourism appeal and significant development planned – which includes a US$1.4 billion ambitious port city project, funded by Chinese investment.

Indeed, the boards masking the building activity around the port city site – a major land reclamation project – declare that a world class international school will be part of the major investment and infrastructure project.

Prof. G L Peiris, former vice chancellor of the University of Colombo and until very recently, minister of foreign affairs in the Sri Lankan goverment, spoke exclusively to The PIE News about Sri Lanka’s plans and its “long history” of tertiary education.

Noting that the country is already attracting students from Pakistan, India and Malaysia, Peiris said the country was keen to ensure its 13 universities offered career-ready education.

“Sri Lanka is involved in a very ambitious program of innovation in education and one of the features of that program is closer links with the business sector,” he said.

“Universities are no longer isolated from the mainstream…, on the contrary, a conscious attempt is being made to ascertain the needs of the marketplace; what are the skills and aptitudes for which there is a commercial demand?”

An illustration of what the new Colombo port city could look like.

He added that private institutions are being encouraged to set up in Sri Lanka because “the state university system is reaching saturation point”.

And he said that the sizeable investment into Sri Lanka would help the country be noticed: “Students, universities, academics will be encouraged to look seriously at Sri Lanka as a place to study and to work.”

Peiris was speaking at the Navitas Business Partners Conference, held in Sri Lanka to coincide with the 20th anniversary celebrations of ACBT, a private college which is co-owned by Navitas and a local shareholder.

Erath Karunaratne, executive director of ACBT – which has three campuses in the country – told The PIE that Sri Lanka’s safety and rising tourism appeal would help enhance the country’s study hub ambitions.

“There are not many locations that you can compare [Sri Lanka with] for cultural experiences, nightlife, beaches and it is cost-effective,” he said.

He added that with high literacy rates and English spoken by 90% of the population, it is easy to navigate linguistically.

ACBT enables students to study in Sri Lanka and earn a degree from Australia’s Edith Cowan University, transferring to Australia for the final year of study.

“What has proved very popular in recent years are these ‘sandwich courses’,” acknowledged Peiris, explaining that many students complete a foreign degree in part in Sri Lanka and then with the partner institution in countries such as Dubai, Malaysia. “That is becoming exceedingly popular,” he said.

The post Sri Lanka outlines ambitions to be an education hub appeared first on The PIE News.

Canada debates a gun ban

Economist, North America - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:50

WHEN A MAN with a rifle charged into Canada’s parliament in 2014, Michelle Rempel, a Conservative politician, was among the people who fled from a caucus room as gunfire rang out around them. Security guards killed the intruder, who had shot a sentry outside.

Deeply unsettled by the attack, Ms Rempel pondered a friend’s claim that a ban on guns could have prevented it. She delved into regulations, studied crime data and came to an unexpected conclusion. The young politician from Alberta bought a handgun, joined a sports-shooting club and became Canada’s most prominent proponent of gun ownership—as a responsible pastime, she says.

Ms Rempel is at the forefront of a debate that has gained urgency. In July a gunman killed an 18-year-old woman and a ten-year-old girl, and wounded 13 other people, on a shopping street in Toronto. In 2017 a bigot killed six worshippers and injured 19 at a mosque in Quebec City.


Why Latin American governments spend money badly

Economist, North America - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:49

IN COSTA RICA’S rainy season, bright mornings yield with deceptive suddenness to tropical downpours. So it was on September 10th, when the country’s civil servants went on strike. They oppose a fiscal reform that raises some taxes and limits automatic wage increases. Universities and public offices were deserted. After blocking roads and a railway, many went home before the afternoon shower. Two months later, some are back at work. But teachers are still on strike and many state schools remain shut. With reform stalled, the currency is under pressure and investors have pushed up the cost of servicing the public debt. Unless Carlos Alvarado, a social democrat elected as president in April, wins this trial of strength, Costa Rica may follow Argentina into the arms of the IMF.

This is in a country that, like its weather, in many ways sparkles. Its long-established democracy and new industries, such as ecotourism and medical instruments, make it a model for Latin...

Colombia’s biggest corruption scandal gets more complicated

Economist, North America - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:49

ON THE NIGHT of November 8th, Jorge Enrique Pizano’s wife found him lying on the bathroom floor in their house north of Bogotá, the capital, wrapped in a towel and breathing heavily. He died on his way to hospital. The cause was a heart attack, said forensic experts. Three days later, his son, Alejandro, who had returned from Spain for his father’s funeral, took a sip from a water bottle on Mr Pizano’s desk. He complained of a foul taste, fainted and died moments later. Doctors said he had been poisoned with cyanide. His stomach, they said, was destroyed by the toxin. Alejandro’s apparent poisoning raises questions about whether his father was the victim of foul play, too.

The death of the Pizanos is the most dramatic twist yet in Colombia’s biggest corruption scandal. The case involves Odebrecht, a Brazilian construction firm that has bribed officials in a dozen Latin American countries, and Grupo Aval, Colombia’s biggest financial group. The two firms were partners in a $1.6bn contract to build Ruta...

Grand Cayman is overrun with green iguanas

Economist, North America - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 08:49

Blue is the new green

THE CAYMAN ISLANDS, a British territory, does not tax companies. So Grand Cayman, its largest part, has more companies (106,000) than people (61,000). Its population of green iguanas greatly outnumbers both. There are perhaps 1.3m of them, more than 6,000 per square kilometre. The lizards, which can be up to 1.5 metres (five feet) long, are a nuisance. They defecate on cars, chomp up crops and gardens, eat the eggs of wild birds and short-circuit electricity transformers. The burrows in which they lay eggs damage roads and golf courses.

The pests arrived on the island about 25 years ago as pets. In their native habitats in South and Central America, snakes and birds of prey feast on iguana eggs and babies. In Grand Cayman they face few threats besides cars; iguana roadkill is a frequent sight. So the Cayman Islands’ environment department has intervened. On October 29th it began a cull of green iguanas, paying $6 per dead lizard to a few hundred people who...

British Council launches UK-East Asia TNE advisory

The PIE News - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 06:08

The UK is entering a new era of collaboration with East Asian countries, says the British Council, as it announces a new advisory group for transnational education (TNE) in the region.

With one-third of all students on UK TNE programs coming from East Asia, the British Council is keen to build on existing foundations and models.

QAA is part of the advisory group and also jointly developing and administering a UK TNE student satisfaction survey with authorities in Singapore and Dubai.

“We are committed to increasing international collaborations in TNE so that even more students in our countries can benefit from our excellent educational resources and quality partnerships,” said Alison Barrett, the British Council’s director for education and society in East Asia.

“The setting up of the UK-EA TNE Advisory Group takes a multi-lateral approach to tackling key issues in transnational education,” she added.

A forum was held in Kuala Lumpur last month which launched the UK-EA TNE advisory group and brought together 50 representatives of regional authorities and practitioners.

Through discussions with policy makers and practitioners, the UK-EA TNE Advisory aims to identify ways to work together to “make a valuable contribution to higher education.”

Universities UK International stated that 84% of UK universities are now delivering TNE to over 700,000 students worldwide, which has been increasing since 2007.

Matt Durnin, global head of research and consultancy, British Council, noted that TNE “is shifting away from a relatively narrow focus on aiding mobility to the major study destinations. Instead, the next phase will be more focused on building longstanding presence in key markets”.

“Regions that were once very outwardly focused will start to look inward at the economic and academic opportunities in their backyards.” 

The post British Council launches UK-East Asia TNE advisory appeared first on The PIE News.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Dartmouth Allowed 3 Professors to Sexually Harass and Assault Students, Lawsuit Charges

Current and former students say that the faculty members groped them, plied them with alcohol, and, in some cases, raped them, and that the college was slow to respond to their complaints.

IES film fest showcases study abroad

The PIE News - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 04:47

A US student who studied in Morocco has walked away with this year’s top prize at IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival in Chicago.

The not-for-profit study abroad organisation hosted its fifth annual festival, where “Tangier to Casablanca” took top prize.

“Each year we are surprised, delighted, and inspired by the storytelling abilities of our students”

A jury of directors, editors, producers and screenwriters, who are IES Abroad alumni, film studies faculty from the organization’s international Centers, or film industry leaders, narrowed 96 entries down to three.

The overall winner Philip Baites produced a film featuring an original song which he said encapsulated his nine-month study abroad with IES Abroad Rabat in Morocco.

“Two months after I arrived in Morocco, my host mother received news that her father unexpectedly passed away in Canada,” Baites commented.

“Ultimately, this tragedy led to a bond to be formed between us, while also teaching me a valuable lesson. We are all on a journey. And it’s not the places or sites seen that have a lasting impact on us. It’s the people.”

A biochemical engineer from the University of Rochester, NY and a student from the University of Texas at Austin came runner-up.

Happiness is Only Real When Shared” by Erik Patak from the University of Rochester detailed his IES Abroad studies in Auckland, New Zealand, while “One Night in Barcelona by Penn Harrison, a Radio, Television, and Film major at the University of Texas at Austin was set in his host city Barcelona, Spain.

“Each year we are surprised, delighted, and inspired by the storytelling abilities of our students, but this year’s films were unlike any we have seen in the past,” says Amy Ruhter McMillan, senior associate vice president of Marketing and founder of the IES Abroad Study Abroad Film Festival.

“We were thrilled to host our fifth-annual event with these compelling student films– it was a truly inspiring event and we can’t wait to see what next year’s film festival competition brings.”

“I was blown away by the quality of these films,” said film critic, Richard Roeper.

“Everything from the storytelling techniques to the camerawork to the editing to the use of music–all of it was so impressive. Each student demonstrated a unique and original way of sharing their experiences abroad–and all of these stories were told with heart and honesty and originality.”

The post IES film fest showcases study abroad appeared first on The PIE News.

UNC Chapel Hill students targeted by white nationalist figure online

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 01:00

The social network Gab isn’t the same as more mainstream platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

At Gab, without the rule book that governs other social media, users can freely spew white supremacist-laced vitriol, hailing “the end of the Jewish century” and calling their critics “faggots.”

It’s there that the alleged shooter of 11 Jewish men and women -- whom he murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh last month -- often felt comfortable posting blatantly anti-Semitic hate speech. His bio on the website read, “Jews are the children of Satan.” He wrote on Gab just minutes before the attack.

Another one of the website’s more prolific users, known as Jack Corbin, is ideologically allied with the suspected killer, Robert Bowers, 46, who would often repost Corbin. And Corbin -- whose real name is unknown, but has generated a following of more than 2,000 people on Gab -- has been harassing college students online, notably activists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, near where Corbin says he lives.

The university has not directly addressed Corbin’s actions, publicly only saying that students who feel unsafe should report threats to police.

Corbin maintains both his Gab and at least two Twitter pages. On both sites, he often discusses UNC students by name -- those involved in protests around campus -- and has attempted to hassle them directly. He has been particularly interested in those who have pushed to bring down Silent Sam, the controversial Confederate monument on campus.

On Gab, Corbin took delight in coming up with a nickname for a graduate student who has protested Silent Sam -- calling her “lampshade.” One of Corbin’s followers had taunted the student, saying he would take her to the lampshade factory, apparently a reference to stories of Nazis who made lampshades from human skin. The student declined to be interviewed but told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that Corbin has posted comments about her “looks, ethnicity and background” since August and she had started learning cardio kickboxing because she feared potential violence.

The graduate student was also interviewed for a report on Corbin by the student newspaper, The Daily Tar Heel. When the article was published, Corbin immediately began targeting the student journalist who wrote it, Charlie McGee.

Corbin wrote online that McGee’s reporting was a “hatchet job” and goaded him directly on Twitter, sending him tweets, calling him “fake news,” President Trump’s common refrain, and emphasizing the last three letters of McGee’s first name -- “lie.”

“You can't spell Charlie McGee without LIE!,” Corbin wrote in a tweet, adding that the Tar Heel should fire him. He also tweeted at a Tar Heel editor asking how to contact McGee.

McGee said in an email he was concerned about anonymous rhetoric such as Corbin's has become increasingly directed toward the UNC campus.

"The activist community on campus has reacted strongly to the article," McGee wrote in an email. "They see it as an issue that has not been discussed nearly enough ... their fear is that a mainstream conversation will only be held after something tragic happens." 

According to an analysis by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- which tracks bigotry and hate crimes across the country -- of Corbin’s and Bowers’s social media, Bowers interacted with Corbin the most out of all the alt-right figures on Gab.

Bowers shared posts from Corbin that contained deeply homophobic sentiments -- one read, “Whites have a right to exist, faggots do not. Faggots are not human beings, they are AIDS carrying flesh muppets,” according to the SPLC. In July, Bowers reposted Corbin following riots in Portland, Ore., that were led by far-right groups, including one called the Proud Boys. One member of that group was recorded knocking out an antifascist protester, a video that went viral among extremists and helped boost recruitment for the Proud Boys. Bowers shared Corbin’s commentary on the incident:

“I hear there’s a 75 percent chance he might die,” Corbin wrote, referencing the protester who had been attacked. “One less Antifa terrorist and one less loose end if that happens!”

Corbin did not respond to a request for comment sent to his Gab account.

Derek Kemp, UNC’s associate vice chancellor for campus safety and risk management, said in a statement that the institution “takes the safety of our students and employees very seriously and relies on information from the community to keep our campus safe.”

“Anyone who is receiving threats should call or email UNC police so that they may assist,” Kemp’s statement reads. “When university police receive any report from a member of our campus community who is concerned about their safety, they follow up with the individual who made the report to learn more, and if the reporting individual wishes, will investigate further.”

The media relations office at UNC did not respond to a question whether officials were concerned by Corbin’s behavior. But since the Pittsburgh shooting, students have been speaking out about hate they have experienced, and their fears that the insults could translate into real violence.

A doctoral student from the university, Calvin Deutschbein, said in an interview with Inside Higher Ed that activists tend not to report to law enforcement or administrators for fear they will instead be retaliated against.

Deutschbein is one of Corbin’s frequent targets. Corbin began harassing Deutschbein a couple months ago when he participated in a campus demonstration around the sexual assault accusations against newly installed Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh, then a nominee. Deutschbein was featured in a photograph of the protest posted to Twitter, which Corbin apparently saw. Since then, Corbin has latched on to Deutschbein, referring to him as an “antifa leader” and sharing personal details. Corbin also made fun of his hairline.

The harassment ramped up shortly after the Pittsburgh shooting, Deutschbein said. But he said he knows Corbin bullies women more, with “psychological and misogynistic abuse.” For instance, with the graduate student, Corbin mocked her about her brother’s recent death.

Deutschbein said he sometimes reports Corbin on Twitter (Gab allows hate speech, but not threats of violence). He doesn’t want to block Corbin because some of his followers do share insinuations of violence after Corbin posts about him, and Deutschbein said he wants to make sure he knows about them.

“I don’t know if that makes me safer or not,” he said.

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After expansion, Drew University plans nonacademic cuts

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 01:00

Faced with tight budgets, a nagging deficit and a reduced endowment, Drew University, a small, private liberal arts institution west of New York City, has opted to expand -- not trim -- academic offerings. To reduce its operating budget, Drew is cutting, among other line items, cops and sippy cups.

President MaryAnn Baenninger (right) said the university has refused to cut virtually any student-facing programs. “Our plan has been to grow and then get more efficient,” she said.

On the chopping block: nonacademic expenses and fringe benefits for faculty and staff ranging from public safety to retiree health-care subsidies to daycare.

Baenninger said aggressive cost-cutting should close Drew’s funding gap in three years. But instead of cutting academics, Drew has pushed to woo new students by creating new undergraduate majors in media and communications, public health, and cybersecurity, as well as master’s-level programs in finance and education. It added men’s and women’s golf teams and is redesigning its theological school curriculum.

Earlier this month, Baenninger told students, faculty and alumni that a new undergraduate program, dubbed Launch, slated for fall 2019, will guarantee “real-world, résumé-ready experiences” such as internships, hands-on research and residencies in cities like London, New York and Washington. (The effort’s motto: “Put the ‘Hire’ in Higher Education.”) She didn't publicly announce the anticipated cuts.

In a message to the campus, Baenninger said Launch arose, in part, from an effort to understand why some prospective students don’t choose Drew -- and how others who do “experience more difficulty than others in translating their successes at Drew into a meaningful career arc.”

The only actual programmatic cut that Baenninger has recommended: a low-residency, master’s-level poetry program that enrolls nine students. They’ll complete their degrees, but the program will not accept new recruits. Otherwise, she said, Drew plans cuts in mostly non-student-facing areas. It doesn't foresee any faculty reductions.

When Baenninger arrived four years ago, the college’s plan was to tame its growing deficit and shrinking endowment by cutting several academic programs.

“It didn’t actually make sense to me,” Baenninger said, noting that many of the majors then on the chopping block had high market demand. Instead, her staff searched “in a surgical way” for areas that had large numbers of employees but that weren’t contributing to instruction.

Among the two biggest areas: public safety and childcare.

The university plans to outsource operation of a long-standing, highly subsidized childcare center that serves dozens of campus and area families, but that “loses six figures every year -- some years it costs us $300,000,” Baenninger said. Those funds, she said, come almost entirely from undergraduate and graduate tuition proceeds. Drew expects to cut 56 childcare positions.

“In my view, as much as I understand why day care is very, very important -- and we’ll look at that moving forward -- I have to steward our tuition dollars as best I can,” Baenninger said.

The childcare center won’t go away -- Drew will find ways to outsource its operation. The university hasn’t yet figured out whether it will subsidize the new entity.

Addressing the safety issue, Baenninger said Drew, which sits on a wooded 186-acre campus in Madison, N.J., a tony suburb 25 miles west of New York City, is already safe -- in an interview, she said with a little laugh that she could anticipate the next question: Isn’t Drew safe because it spends so much on keeping trouble out?

“We’re a very, very safe campus, but we were putting more resources into that than our peer institutions were,” she said. A benchmarking study found that Drew had about twice as much public safety staff as comparable colleges, meaning that on occasion small skirmishes or incidences of misbehavior are met with an overwhelming response.

She has also combined the university’s career center with its study abroad, civic engagement and student research offices, in the process hiring a new director.

And Drew will consider cutting staff tuition benefits and retiree, spousal and dependent health-care subsidies.

Reducing these bedrock benefits is difficult for the community, she said, “but they were a long time coming” and had to be considered to keep academic programs afloat.

“Everything we’re cutting is not mission-central,” she said. “There are things that had been part of our ethos and our culture for a long time -- we want to shift the resources that we used for them towards student-focused programs.”

Professor Sarah Abramowitz, who chairs Drew's math department, said she has spoken to colleagues who are “very sad to lose some of these benefits that they really care about,” especially valuable childcare subsidies that many younger faculty and staff have come to rely upon. But she said most see the bigger picture. “Other schools are experiencing the same problems, but the way they’re doing it is by cutting programs,” she said. Those can easily create a “downward spiral” that spells the end of institutions like Drew, making them less, not more appealing to new students.

“As we grow our enrollments, we’re going to solve our fiscal problems,” Abramowitz said.

The changes follow several years of bleak financial news for Drew, which was established in 1867 as a Methodist seminary and eventually became a small college for men.

Former New Jersey governor Thomas Kean led the school for 15 years, from 1990 to 2005, expanding the campus while growing Drew’s endowment. But by the time Baenninger arrived in 2014, the university had an $11.1 million operating deficit -- which soon grew to $13.7 million, or about 15 percent of spending.

In 2015, as she pushed to reinvigorate the university, Baenninger told faculty, "The ocean liner has stalled, and it's facing the wrong direction. It will take us four or five years to recover."

Since then she has spent heavily to turn Drew around, spending down the university’s endowment in the process -- it dropped 19.1 percent between 2015 and 2016, to $172.2 million, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers and Commonfund. The trend has since reversed: the endowment now stands at $177.8 million, a 3.2 percent gain.

In March 2017, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Drew’s bonds for the second time in 15 months, dropping one series from Ba3 to B2 and two others from Ba3 to B3. Moody’s said Drew’s operating deficits would likely last longer than expected -- analysts predicted that Drew’s financial outlook would remain “challenged” for several years, making a return to financial stability “very difficult.”

Drew later took its debt private, removing it from Moody’s gaze.

Reflecting on the downgrades, Baenninger said the ratings agency “would have felt better if we cut first and then grew -- but the board and I didn’t believe that would work.”

As part of her plan to bring in more revenue, Baenninger hired Robert Massa as senior vice president for enrollment and institutional planning. Massa had previously helped Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College turn around its enrollment and revenue.

Since his arrival, freshman enrollment has grown, from 302 in 2015 to 420 this fall, just short of Drew’s goal of 430.

Next fall, Baenninger said, Drew needs 470 new students to meet anticipated expenses. By 2021, the university needs a “steady state” of 500 new students each fall.

Drew also reset tuition this fall to 2010 levels, lowering it 20 percent. Its discount rate, meanwhile, has fallen, from 67 percent in 2015 to 57 percent this fall -- discount rates typically fall when institutions reset tuition.

Baenninger said more revenue and lower spending could wipe out Drew’s deficit by 2021. The following year, she said, she anticipates making larger deposits to the endowment.

“It’s going to be a few years before we start to recover from the stagnancy because of the dollars we’ve had to use,” she said. “And our budget plans to make extraordinary deposits to the endowment starting in 2022.”

In the meantime, she said, alumni giving is up -- Drew’s annual fund grew 37 percent this year, to $1.6 million. One donor challenged the university to raise an additional $4 million within six months. If they did, he promised, he’d add $1 million to the total.

“We did -- and he did,” Baenninger said.

Brett Frazier, chief commercial officer at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, the enrollment management and consulting company, said he couldn't comment specifically on Drew's changes. But he said more generally that institutions like Drew shouldn't just propose new offerings “every decade or two” -- they should re-evaluate both their offerings and price “on a more consistent and frequent basis.”

Universities that remain student-focused, regardless of how markets are changing, “typically do quite well and come out ahead of their peers,” he said. He also said universities that focus on personally appealing to everyone from prospective students to alumni "and everyone in between" are typically more successful.

“We expect personalization in every other aspect of our lives, and we know that personalization is possible primarily through data and analytics,” Frazier said.

His colleague Brian Gawor, Ruffalo's vice president for research, said asking students and families “what they want and how they want it delivered” is a huge key to success. Families like those that consider Drew are looking for institutions that focus on individual student success, not just recruitment, he said. "Americans are demanding more of higher education."

One of the key metrics universities should consider, he said, is student engagement -- not just in course work but in everything, from clubs and organizations to how often a student uses campus dining facilities and, on a deeper level, how engaged a student is with classmates who are different than she is.

“If we’re going to provide a life-changing experience, let’s talk about the things that are truly life-changing,” Gawor said.

David Strauss, a principal at Art & Science Group, a Baltimore-based consulting firm that advises universities on strategy, said each institution must preserve the “core of your reason for being.” Other expenditures -- even those that employees have come to expect and rely upon -- aren’t necessarily worth keeping if they don’t accomplish this. “That often means that an institution has to prune at areas that are not at the core of its reason for being,” he said. Such cuts can be painful, especially if they serve the greater public or are highly valued, like day care or dependent health care. “But we have to take a step back strategically and realize that not all institutions can afford to be doing all things.”

Like Frazier and Gawor, Strauss wouldn’t comment specifically on Drew’s efforts -- he said all institutions are “idiosyncratic,” and that virtually no solution will work across all of them. “Suffice to say that whenever you hear people say, ‘Institution X is doing this and it’s really working for them -- we should go do it too,’ they’re almost always wrong.”

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Investigation finds Texas college allegedly changed nursing students' grades

Inside Higher Ed - Thu, 11/15/2018 - 01:00

A wide-ranging investigation into the administrative practices of a Texas community college found that the institution improperly changed students' grades and did not have a policy for doing so.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, or THECB, released a report of the findings of its investigation of Coastal Bend College earlier this week. The report also outlined how the college failed to properly administer a state nursing grant program.

Officials at the college are disputing parts of the report, although they wouldn’t go into detail about which parts they believe are wrong.

“The Coastal Bend College Board of Trustees will review the results of THECB report at its upcoming board meeting and CBC administration will then consider further comment,” Bernie Saenz, director of marketing and public relations for the college, said in an email. “CBC administration will say that it believes the report contains inaccuracies. We will also note that the report makes no findings of illegality or fraud.”

Saenz said college administrators take the report seriously and are working to improve Coastal Bend's processes and procedures.

The investigation found that 275 grade changes were made for 124 students on nursing exams administered in the fall semester last year. The grade changes occurred 45 days after the end of the semester.

Of those grade changes:

  • More than half, or 139, were not signed off by a faculty member, which was required by the grade change form.
  • Thirty-one were not processed and, as result, do not appear on students’ transcripts.
  • Sixteen grade-change forms did not explain the reasoning for the change.
  • Eight were changed from a failing to passing grade, including three for which forms did not include a faculty signature.
  • Seven grade change forms could not be "tested" because a completed transcript wasn’t available.

Another 21 grade changes occurred earlier this year in the spring semester; eight of them had an incorrect letter grade and moved the student from failing to passing.

Kelly Carper Polden, a spokeswoman for the higher education coordinating board, said in an email that the board has not yet determined the effect the grade changes had on student outcomes, such as graduation.

The investigation also found that the college didn’t comply with the requirements of a state nursing grant. The college is being asked to refund $260,287 to THECB.

“Weak controls over both grant administration and grade changes indicate weak institutional integrity and could result in numerous impacts including accreditation issues,” according to the report.

The college is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission. The institution's next reaffirmation is in 2024.

THECB launched the investigation after Matilda Saenz, a former interim vice president of instruction and economic development at Coastal Bend, accused administrators of committing fraud by changing the grades of nursing students without faculty consent. She was fired in August after initially making the allegations and reporting to board members a climate of intimidation at the college.

The investigation found that some administrators, staff, faculty and students failed to meet with investigators out of fear of retaliation.

“A common theme communicated to the auditors by these individuals was that staff felt intimidated and threatened by the possible loss of their job if they were found to have been providing information or otherwise cooperating with the auditors,” according to the report.

Representatives from the Texas Community College Teaching Association could not be reached for comment.

THECB will discuss the report and any follow-up steps during the next board meeting in January, Polden said.

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