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Ithaca College president in the spotlight years after court case

Inside Higher Ed - 16 hours 3 min ago

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

Inside Higher Ed - 16 hours 3 min ago

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 graduate student in the social sciences 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

Inside Higher Ed - 16 hours 3 min ago

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

Inside Higher Ed - 16 hours 3 min ago

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

Inside Higher Ed - 16 hours 3 min ago

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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Chronicle of Higher Education: A President’s Newly Revealed Sexual-Abuse Case Stirs Controversy at Ithaca College

Shirley M. Collado said she had been transparent about the episode, in 2001, but the student newspaper revealed new details.

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At an emotional hearing, victims share their stories of abuse by the university’s team physician.

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Chronicle of Higher Education: Florida State President Praises Charges Against Students in Death of Pledge

John Thrasher says the arrest warrants strengthen the university's determination to confront the concerns of “student indifference, reckless conduct and irresponsibility.” 

Scotland HE and FE bracing for Brexit impact

The PIE News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 10:38

The Scottish further and higher education sector is bracing for the impact that Brexit will have on student enrolment, staff recruitment and funding – and calls for a more student-friendly immigration bill in recognition to the contribution of international students and staff to universities and society as a whole.

“This is a significant issue for when we leave [the EU]”

Speaking to the Scottish Affairs Committee of the UK parliament in London, Universities Scotland Convener Andrea Nolan said: “I’d like us to look at a new immigration system as a whole that supports the mobility of talented people and attracts talented students into Scotland. We value them hugely.”

The committee heard from representatives of Scottish FE and HE on the impact of Brexit on the sector as part of its inquiry into immigration in Scotland.

Approximately 12% of international students and 11% of staff in Scottish universities are from the EU, Nolan said.

“This is a significant issue for when we leave [the EU],” Nolan added. “They [EU students and staff] populate subject areas that are really important to Scotland, such as STEM.”

When asked what will happen if EU students are included in the same process as international students after Brexit, Nolan said she is “concerned on many levels.”

“Scotland would lose out. The systems we have for accepting international students in are very rigorous, quite bureaucratic, but we adhere to them, we take very seriously… To apply [international student systems] to EU students would be a huge additional cost and administrative burden onto the HE sector.”

“It’s not to say we don’t approve of stringent controls, but it is a huge additional cost and our EU student population would probably decline.”

Another problem would be fees. EU students would lose their ‘home’ status, which grants them the right to pay the same fees as Scottish students, and would have to pay the much higher international fees.

“In Europe there are many countries that don’t charge fees – for example Germany. If we charge fees, we would be in competition. I would imagine that’s where they would choose to study.”

The college sector is also concerned about loss of enrolments and EU funding – such as funding for ‘employability training’, which Colleges Scotland director of sector policy Andrew Witty said help over 4000 full time students to get back into the workforce.

“We would expect to see a significant reduction in applications. We need an immigration system that allows us to retain the benefits we have now, and allows colleges to skill up the workforce, including at regional level,” Witty said.

“Also, there would be changes to work rights for students if we had to apply international students rules to EU students and this would present a challenge for colleges to recruit.”

The debate touched on the topic of the inclusion of international students in the net migration figures.

Nolan said that would be ‘very helpful’, and mentioned the new evidence provided by the HEPI report of international students’ contribution to the UK economy.

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Accused in TOEIC cheating scandal have right to appeal in UK says Court

The PIE News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 10:28

The Court of Appeals in London has ruled that those accused of cheating in a 2014 investigation into two ETS test centres have the right to challenge the original ruling from within the UK. The courts had previously ruled that out-of-country appeals were a fair route for the TOEIC cases, but the ruling by Lord Justice Underhill on December 5 overturns that claim.

A BBC Panorama investigation uncovered fraud in the ETS test centre at Eden College International, in east London, in conjunction with Studentway Education in west London. Studentway purported to be experts in the TOEIC test, which immigrants to the UK must pass to show their English proficiency.

“To assume that everybody that went through a test with this  organisation obtained a certificate fraudulently, is completely unjustified”

Subsequently, the Home Office (then under the control of now-prime minister, Theresa May) led a crackdown on what it termed ‘bogus’ colleges, and up to 28,297 students were served with “refusal, curtailment, removal decisions” according to a Home Office report.

This was after a Home Office investigation into the scale of the abuse, conducted alongside test company ETS, which was later condemned by an immigration tribunal for being based on “hearsay”.

However, the Home Office approach has been seen a heavy-handed by some, including by some MPs.

Labour MP and former education and work and pensions minister Stephen Timms told The PIE News that the government’s actions were puzzling, and the treatment of the students was a “disgrace”.

“Clearly, there was a problem, there’s no dispute about that, there was some fraud, but to just assume that everybody that went through a test with this particular organisation obtained a certificate fraudulently, is completely unjustified,” Timms added.

“An out-of-country appeal would not satisfy the Appellants’ rights”

In his ruling on Ahsan v Secretary of State for the Home Department, Lord Justice Underhill told the court that in line with the human rights claim made by the defendants, a judicial review while the alleged cheats remained in the UK was the fair outcome of this appeal.

“An out-of-country appeal would not satisfy the Appellants’ rights, either at common law or under article 8 of the Convention, to a fair and effective procedure to challenge the decisions to remove them,” Underhill said.

In his summary of the decision, Underhill made it clear that the allegations of cheating were not the primary concern in this appeals hearing, but as it is fair to expect oral evidence would be needed in any challenge of the Home Office’s decision to deport the people in question (and as “facilities for him or her to do so by video-link from the country to which they will be removed are not realistically available”), the persons in question should be allowed to challenge the ruling by judicial review in the UK.

After the ruling, the lawyer representing Mr Ahsan, Greg Ó Ceallaigh, commented that his client was successful because an out-of-country appeal was not judged to be “an adequate alternative remedy”.

Ó Ceallaigh added that this would have been the case whether Lord Justice Underhill had consulted either common law or Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

However, this is not the end of the case, and the process of appeals and reviews will continue.

Underhill added that the conclusion of this appeal was far from satisfactory.

“[The situation remains a] very messy and unsatisfactory state of affairs… a yet further illustration of the difficulty and complexity of the law in this area,” he said.

A timeline of the Home Office investigation can be found here.

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David Comp, Assistant Provost for Global Education, Columbia College Chicago

The PIE News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 09:24
David Comp is the assistant provost for global education and Columbia College Chicago. He talked to The PIE News about the impact of social media on international education, and how it can be best utilised by key stakeholders including HEIs and government departments.

The PIE: Your talk focussed a lot on the federal use of social media. Could you briefly talk about the start of that?

David Comp: From a US perspective, there has historically been a lot of focus on the value of public diplomacy. In terms of social media use and public influence, I think the federal government has been really engaged in that process. The bureau of education and cultural affairs and even in the Department of Education have Twitter and Facebook accounts where they are really trying to promote the value of international student mobility.

I think that’s changing with the current administration. We still see some posts from these accounts as well as individuals in the federal government but … it’s a different focus. It’s changing dynamic that is for sure.

The PIE: Can you speak a bit about that internationally, compared with other governments?

DC: In many ways for a long time the US was leading in that effort in terms of sheer volume of tweets and the influence they would have and the ability to produce a lot of content.

“Malaysia [is now] not only a sending country. In all honesty we could be competing against them as a destination”

It seems in other countries that there is a lot more [cooperation]. Looking at the public diplomacy strategic plan that Australia had from 2014-2016, there was a focus on education throughout that strategy, but there was a lot of focus on collaboration and really duplicating efforts. Accounts within the government [had freedom] to tweet or post as needed to be proactive. There’s a strategic component that they are really trying to do, which I think happens a lot less in the US.

The PIE: People talk about Twitter as an echo chamber. Is that magnified in the international education sector?

DC: I think so. There’s different reasons why people are in the field, but overall, we all value it. We have a captive audience. We tend to publish in journals that are focussed on the international education sector. We don’t do as much expanding outside of that to engage others and inform what we’re doing. I think that’s a challenge and a problem.

While we might disagree on certain aspects of it, we are all in the same sector so there is certain value in people retweeting international educators but we need to get that out to others and that’s a challenge for sure.

The PIE: Do you have any ideas or solutions to that?

DC: People need to be strategic and intentional. I try to be intentional but I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily to reach out or have this advocacy effort be on international educators.

But it’s trying to reach a wider effort with my literature and the research I’ve done and trying to put this on others’ radar. It is hard.

The PIE: What do you see as a new emerging trend in social media or in the way information is communicated? There is a US university that has gone out to China with VR head-sets and said “look, this our campus”. Do you see that new media having any influence?

DC: I am all for trying things. Each school will have to determine on their own whether there’s value in that.

Sometimes I think we are too technical. We try too many things. Sometimes simple is good. That’s all people want. They don’t need the razzle-dazzle of a nice defined website; they just want the information.

“[We should] have open dialogue. The problem is I don’t think a lot of people are open to it”

VR can be helpful but I’m not sure what the difference would be with watching a well-produced video on YouTube, that can easily be shared as well.

Things are changing in terms of the tools, we need to be aware of who’s using what to reach the audience and students. I look at my daughter who is 16 now, and they are all Instagram and Snapchat. She’s on Facebook, she doesn’t go on it at all. She has email, she hardly checks it. The attention span of users is shrinking in terms of what they were.

There is so much information that it’s hard to retain. Things need to be shorter. The longer they are, the greater chance of losing a captive audience. All that fits into how universities interact with this next incoming generation of students.

They’re not going to watch an eight-minute video.

The PIE: You talk quite a lot about the social media campaigns, the #WeAreInternational and these various slogans along the lines of “we are open”.

Where do you think the openness campaigns can go from here?

DC: Well I think there is a lot of room for growth and [we need to] get it into the hands of those key stakeholders. Sometimes presidents or provosts don’t know what is necessarily happening on the ground level.

They are very supportive; they understand the value that international students bring but getting them involved [is difficult]. I think the next step is really trying to engage the community.

[We should] have open dialogue. The problem is I don’t think a lot of people are open to it. I think the current climate, at any time, there is something that you disagree with. It’s fake news or it’s inappropriate. It’s put down without any forethought.

The PIE: You mentioned campus life and concerns in the US for international students. What are the big concerns?

DC: Big concerns are economic drivers for the student. How is this degree going to help me and what are the options available to me in country to stay and get more experience.

Within the US I think the big thing specifically for international students [is immigration]. What is going to happen if I go home to visit my ailing mother? Then I can’t enter and finish the last year of my program after I spent three years and a lot of money to get this degree.

They may have interest in working in that country where they studied. Everyone comes for a credential for career advancement. You are spending a lot of resources, time and money as you figure that out. It will have an impact on where you are going to go.

The PIE: We are seeing Chinese and South Asian investment in places like Africa and the Middle East, which are populations seen as targeted by the Trump administration, as far as immigration is concerned. Are you concerned that those populations are going to get drawn East rather than West over the next 10 years?

DC: Everyone thinks of the big four – the UK, the US, Australia and Canada – but… you have all these other countries that are developing these English-medium programs.

For example, Malaysia [is now] not only a sending country. In all honesty we could be competing against them as a destination. We need to be aware of that.

Things change too. After September 11, I was doing the immigration side of international students. There was a lot of scrutiny on students. A lot of things that weren’t working right and things were unnecessarily delayed.

Like when US and Turkey mutually suspended non-immigrant visas. Turkish students are not a huge segment, but that is lowering the numbers right there. If this is going to continue with other countries, it’s going to have an impact. These kinds of changes are unfortunately happening.

I am hopeful that the world will be a better place. I am a firm believer the value [of] international education. We don’t have to agree, we just have to have an understanding that that’s respectful.

I think we are losing that across the world, but I think things will change. We have gone through major world wars and we have come together. Look at the US and Vietnam and look at that relationship now.

Relationships can be mended. But it’s a tough environment and it has been since the Gulf War, at least with the Middle East and having that mutual understanding and respect with what’s going on.

The post David Comp, Assistant Provost for Global Education, Columbia College Chicago appeared first on The PIE News.

Study Group Australia under further scrutiny

The PIE News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 06:58

Despite denials of wrongdoing and an ongoing appeal process, further investigations into Study Group Australia have come to light following The PIE News report that ASQA has revoked the registration of SGA’s vocational training arm.

It has now emerged that Australia’s Tertiary Education Quality and Standards Agency is also assessing SGA, but importantly its investigation focuses on the provider’s higher education offering.

The questions are again being asked about SGA’s “compliance” with the Australian agencies’ regulations and standards.

“We will continue…assessment of Study Group Australia’s compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework”

SGA’s operations in Australia are focused on HE, and the organisation has not enrolled any new students in its VET programs since mid-2017.

A spokesperson for the agency revealed to The PIE this assessment was taking place outside of regular provider re-accreditation or re-registration timeframes and began in August 2017.

“TEQSA is aware of the ASQA decision to cancel Study Group Australia’s registration as a Registered Training Organisation,” TEQSA said in a statement.

“We will continue to work with ASQA and Study Group Australia to determine the impact of this decision on its higher education activities and students as part of an assessment of Study Group Australia’s compliance with the Higher Education Standards Framework.”

The agency did not comment on what prompted the decision to begin the assessment.

Speaking to The PIE News on January 16, the day prior to TEQSA developments, CEO David Leigh said that only the VET division of SGA is affected by the AQSA decision.

“The key point I’m making is that this doesn’t relate to any part of our organisation that we’ve been enrolling students in during the course of 2017 and 2018.”

“It would be a mistake for anyone to infer from this anything about the rest of what Study Group is doing,” Leigh continued.

However, the statement released by TEQSA links the two inquiries into SGA, raising questions as to which parts of the Study Group business may have been non-compliant in 2017.

The PIE News has contacted SGA in regards to the latest revelations.

The post Study Group Australia under further scrutiny appeared first on The PIE News.

Edvisor and Book&Learn partner up

The PIE News - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 04:38

Study travel booking platforms, Edvisor and Book&Learn, have announced a partnership to give schools a single channel to reach agents. An integrated application programming interface will connect Book&Learn agents with Edvisor schools, according to bosses.

The companies say that the web tool will provide greater efficiency and accessibility for its members in a partnership that will have a combined reach of more than 3,500 agents.

Agents will be able to access real-time information, such as pricing, promotions, and marketing materials, and process student enrolments through Edvisor. Book&Learn agents will continue to access through the Book&Learn portal.

“It may seem like an unlikely partnership… but we were keen to simplify things for our schools”

Developers claim it will streamline the way member schools work with agents through both firms.

Across Europe, Canada, US, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China and Japan, 455 language schools have joined Edvisor, according to Nicolas Miller, CEO of Edvisor.

He thinks the move will make operations easier for schools, despite Edvisor and Book&Learn continuing to individually offer their agency products.

“It may seem like an unlikely partnership as we have competing agency products, but we were keen to simplify things for our schools and give them a single place to reach more agencies and drive more efficiency across their B2B channel,” he said.

“Our mission is to empower agents and schools through technology, and we are taking a big step forward with a partner like Book&Learn by our side,” Miller added.

Gregorio Nieto, CEO of Book&Learn says technology should be used as a tool to streamline operations.

“We have built a strong agency network in the past two years and we wanted to simplify things for schools in order for them to reach all their agencies using technology in a single channel,” he said.

Edvisor launched its study travel booking platform in 2014.

The companies are currently working on the technical integration and expect to complete it in the second quarter of 2018.

The post Edvisor and Book&Learn partner up appeared first on The PIE News.

ACE, Strada Education Network to Explore How Effective College Instruction Can Lead to Greater Student Success

American Council on Education - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 02:30
ACE and Strada Education Network today announced a groundbreaking collaboration to examine higher education instruction and assess the connections between quality teaching and student success.

ACE and ACUE Announce Landmark Collaboration to Advance Student Success Through Effective College Instruction

American Council on Education - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 02:30
The shared goal of the collaboration is to dramatically expand the use of effective teaching practices to benefit students, faculty and institutions.

Investor's $75M gift to Hopkins philosophy department shows breadth and potential of fund-raising

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 01:00

At a time when the humanities have come under fire from critics alleging irrelevance in today’s economy, a well-known stock picker has given Johns Hopkins University tens of millions of dollars for its philosophy department.

William H. Miller III, an investor widely recognized for beating the Standard & Poor’s 500 index for 15 consecutive years, committed $75 million to the Johns Hopkins University Department of Philosophy, the university in Baltimore announced Tuesday. The department is being renamed for Miller and will grow substantially because of the money.

Although Hopkins has had well-chronicled success raising money from big-name donors, notably drawing $1.5 billion over the years from alumnus Michael Bloomberg, the $75 million toward philosophy represents a substantial fund-raising victory for the university. It is the largest gift Hopkins has ever received for a humanities department. Leaders also think it is the largest ever made to a university’s philosophy program.

Academics reacted to Miller’s donation with hope that it provides validation and a path forward for philosophy at universities. Philanthropy experts said it reflects a climate in which a diversifying pool of donors is willing to give to unexpected causes even as fund-raisers are challenging old assumptions about which donors are willing to give -- and for what.

Word of the donation comes as both public and private colleges and universities have ramped up their fund-raising efforts. But it runs against a public narrative that is often hostile toward the humanities. It also stands in contrast to financial and enrollment trends that have led some struggling colleges to consider the taboo idea of cuts to their philosophy departments.

With Miller’s gift, Hopkins will boost its philosophy department from 13 full-time faculty members to 22 within 10 years. The department is also starting an endowed professorship for its chair, along with eight additional endowed professorships and endowed support for junior faculty members. And the gift is pouring $10 million into endowed support for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. University leaders say they want the gift to power the philosophy department to new heights and spark collaboration between philosophers and other academics.

Miller doesn’t necessarily fit the profile of a big-name donor to philosophy at Hopkins. He studied economics and European history as an undergraduate at Washington and Lee University and has said he took only a single philosophy course in college.

But he also said he read philosophy while in the Army during the Vietnam War. Miller decided to apply to a Ph.D. program and subsequently studied in the Hopkins philosophy program in the mid-1970s. He withdrew before earning his degree, entering the business world.

Now, he is crediting a large portion of his success in business to his time at Hopkins. In a news release, he pointed to the “analytical training and habits of the mind” he developed as a graduate student. Philosophy influenced Miller’s investing decisions and his life outside business, he told The New York Times.

Miller earned widespread fame for beating the S&P 500 from 1991 to the mid-2000s before struggling during the financial crisis. After spending more than three decades at the investment firm Legg Mason, in 2016 he bought two mutual funds he started at the company and now runs his own firm based in Baltimore, Miller Value Partners.

A Hopkins spokesman described Miller as a “longstanding friend of the philosophy department.” One of the university’s trustees, Heather Murren, helped to start the conversation about him giving a sizable gift.

Miller told The New York Times he wanted his donation to have a major effect.

“I wanted the gift to go to something where it would have a significant impact and change the trajectory,” he said. In a statement, he said he wants the department to become one of the best in the country, although he didn't say specifically how he wants that to be measured.

‘Philosophy Matters’

Meanwhile, his donation can also be read as an affirmation of the liberal arts at a time when many fear the public has soured on the disciplines. Hopkins officials certainly seem to interpret it that way. They issued statements emphasizing the value of philosophy and the liberal arts and said they have raised almost $250 million to support humanities and social sciences during the university's current campaign.

“Philosophy matters,” the university’s president, Ronald J. Daniels, said. “Philosophy defines what it is to be human, to lead lives that are meaningful and to create societies that are just and humane. The contemporary challenges of the genomics revolution, the rise of artificial intelligence, the growth in income inequality, social and political fragmentation, and our capacity for devastating war all invite philosophical perspective. Bill Miller’s unprecedented commitment to our Department of Philosophy underscores the continuing vitality and relevance of the humanities.”

The dean of Hopkins’s School of Arts and Sciences drew a line between Miller and the liberal arts.

“Bill Miller, like so many members of our Johns Hopkins family, greatly appreciates the extraordinary value of traditional liberal arts disciplines for our students, the university and the world,” said the dean, Beverly Wendland. “His dual perspective as a business leader and an intellectually curious lifelong student of philosophy is so important.”

News of Miller’s gift traveled quickly on Tuesday, provoking reactions from those in philosophy departments. Some expressed hope the gift will draw the attention of other philanthropists to the field.

The gift could also help public perception, according to Justin Weinberg, an associate professor at the University of South Carolina who runs the blog Daily Nous, which is focused on the philosophy profession.

“A highly successful investor has decided that philosophy is worth investing in,” he said via email. “That’s a strong signal to the public that there’s something of value in philosophy, and fits with an increasing number of testimonials from those in the business world about the advantages of studying philosophy. These employment-related benefits would not be the whole story of philosophy’s value, but it is good for the public -- including students and their parents -- to hear.”

Implications for Fund-Raising

Fund-raising experts believe Miller’s gift reflects several developments. Some buzz is building about donations for the humanities, they said. Donor pools are also diversifying by gender, cultural background and job background, they added.

Institutions should be careful about assuming a fertile donor pool is limited to graduates of a certain college or program, said Brian Gawor, vice president for research in consulting firm Ruffalo Noel Levitz’s fund-raising management division. Not everyone who gives to a particular department majored there, and the potential for finding a mega-donor can be unexpectedly wide.

That includes donors who may have studied one subject but made large sums of money in an entirely different field.

“They may have made their money doing things very differently than what they studied,” Gawor said. “But many people believe that their liberal arts background gives them the skill to do better than their peers.”

The number of major gift prospects is far greater than what most colleges and universities consider it to be, said Jeff Martin, a senior consultant at EAB’s Advancement Forum. So while some might believe the medical school or business school at a university is best positioned to draw major donations, Miller’s gift shows that the right donor can be willing to give to an unexpected cause.

“Our assumptions about which units on campus are best positioned to benefit from donors’ largesse may be incorrect,” Martin said. “That philosophy department may have quite a bit of untapped potential.”

Editorial Tags: PhilosophyFund-Raising/DevelopmentImage Caption: William H. Miller IIIIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Study: College students don't have confidence they'll land a job

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 01:00

Few college students feel expressly confident that they have the skills and knowledge to find a job or succeed in a workplace, according to a new study.

The report from Gallup and Strada Education Network, the former loan guarantor turned nonprofit, represents one of the most comprehensive compilations of students opinions’ on this subject -- and the results are “disappointing,” representatives from the organizations say.

“Students are not nearly as prepared as they could or should be, and they actually know it while they’re in college,” said Brandon Busteed, executive director of Gallup’s higher education division.

More than 32,500 students from 43 randomly selected four-year institutions, both public and private, responded to the survey last year. About 34 percent of those students indicated they were confident that they would graduate with the know-how to succeed in the job market, and 36 percent said they believed they had the skills and knowledge to be successful in their careers.

A little more than half of students thought their major could lead to a “good job.”

Students who studied liberal arts were the least confident in their knowledge and skills and their job prospects. Only 28 percent of liberal arts students reported they were confident that their knowledge and skills could lead to success in the job market, per the study. Science, technology, mathematics and engineering majors expressed the most confidence that their major would lead to a job (62 percent). While the study categorized STEM as separate from liberal arts, it's also the case that some science and mathematics majors are considered liberal arts majors by many.

Also of note was that as students progressed through college, their confidence in their skills and possibly landing a job diminished. About 56 percent of first-year students were assured their major could result in a good job, but that dropped to 51 percent for senior students.

Many students reported they didn’t take advantage of the traditional services to help them in these areas, such as career centers. Nearly 40 percent of students never visited their college’s career center, according to the report. The report did not address why students didn't visit the career centers.

Students expressed more confidence when they had talked to an academic adviser or a faculty member about their careers, though. About 57 percent of the students who said a professor or another staff member started a conversation with them about a job felt confident in finding a job after graduation.

First-generation college students, students who aren’t white and students over the typical college age -- defined in the report as older than 24 -- all took advantage of their institutional resources more than others did, or reported that they were more helpful for them.

For instance, both black and Hispanic students reported more than white students that their academic advisers were helpful in selecting courses, choosing a major and identifying career opportunities.

About 39 percent of white students said their adviser was helpful in picking a major, versus 45 percent of black students and 40 percent of Hispanic students.

Colleges should invest in training for their faculty so they can discuss careers with students, said Busteed.

“These are not high-cost things that universities can do,” he said. “Educating faculty, telling faculty you can make a big difference.”

But colleges should not entirely move away from the formal channels of helping students, such as career centers, said Carol D’Amico, executive vice president of mission advancement and philanthropy at Strada, which focuses on underserved populations.

Many of these minority populations rely on advisers and the centers, as the data reveals, D’Amico said.

Asked how much responsibility the institutions have to remedy this issue, or if it is primarily student perception, Busteed said that data not included in the report showed that institutions vastly vary in how well they handle career help.

He declined to name which colleges had more success with their programs.

“The fact that there is a huge spread in performance, that there are some doing very well on these metrics -- meaning students reporting positive interactions with staff and faculty -- there are institutions that value and emphasize very intentionally moving the needles on these aspects,” Busteed said.

Other findings from the report:

  • Students 24 years old or older believed they had the skills to successfully navigate the job market (41 percent) more than did their younger counterparts (32 percent).
  • Only 44 percent of students younger than 24 said they would enroll in the institution they selected if they had to pick again.
  • About 53 percent of students younger than 24 would select the same major if they could have a redo.
  • A small number of students have visited their career center frequently -- about 7 percent have gone four to five times, and another 9 percent have dropped in more than five times.
  • About 18 percent of students said the career center was helpful in applying for a job for after graduation.
Editorial Tags: Student lifeImage Source: Getty ImagesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Report: LGBTQ students enroll in long-term counseling services the most

Inside Higher Ed - Wed, 01/17/2018 - 01:00

Students struggling with their gender identity or sexual orientation have the longest-term counseling treatment while in college, according to a new report by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health. Students considering self-harm or suicide also participate in more counseling sessions -- and the number of students who reported they purposefully injured themselves or attempted suicide continues to rise.

The annual study draws data from nearly 150 colleges and universities and a little more than 161,000 students who sought mental health treatment at those institutions -- it is not a survey, but rather an analysis of more than 1.2 million clinical appointments during the 2016-17 academic year.

The center, housed at Penn State University, found that students who reported their primary concern was their gender identity participated in an average of 10.6 counseling sessions. Students who expressed anxiety over sexual orientation scheduled an average of 8.4 sessions. However, while these students did engage in the most long-term treatment, matters of gender and sexual orientation occupied little of counseling centers’ time -- 0.5 percent of sessions were devoted to talking about students’ gender identity, colleges reported, and 0.4 percent for sexual orientation.

About 0.6 percent of students in the study -- or about 620 people -- identified as transgender.

Most counseling centers focused on students’ reported depression and anxiety. Nearly 19 percent of sessions dived into matters of depression, and more than 23 percent focused on anxiety. Students who entered treatment for depression or anxiety participated in an average of 6.5 counseling sessions.

The report states that the increasing number of students grappling with anxiety and depression means that institutions need to develop more options to educate students about the offerings at counseling centers and resources for the general student body.

“While counseling centers treat dozens and dozens of complex mental health concerns, the data increasingly suggest that the demand created by anxiety and depression dramatically exceeds all other concerns -- and is continuing to grow,” Ben Locke, senior director of Penn State’s counseling and psychological services and executive director of the center, said in a statement. “Effectively addressing this trend will require a range of large-scale efforts aimed at helping the general student body successfully navigate the developmentally normative experiences of anxiety and depression common to this age group while also making more intensive treatment available to those in need.”

Students who indicated they had thoughts about hurting themselves participated in a little less than eight sessions, on average, and students with suicidal thoughts had an average of about 7.5 sessions.

The number of students who reported injuring themselves without suicidal intent, such as cutting, has steadily risen every year since 2010. In the 2010-11 academic year, of those students in treatment, 21.8 percent indicated they had purposefully hurt themselves. That number has since jumped more than five percentage points to 27 percent.

The percentage of students who attempted suicide, and were in treatment, rose by two percentage points between 2010 and 2017 -- from 8 percent to 10 percent.

It is also worth noting that the number of participating institutions has also increased since the 2010-11 year -- from 97 colleges to 147, and thus the number of students on which the data is based has nearly doubled, from 82,611 students to more than 161,000.

Mental health experts have also said that more students may be seeking treatment for and reporting suiciding, rather than a true increase in the number of deaths.

Last year’s report from the center found that colleges have devoted more time to more emergency-like services -- 28 percent more “rapid-access” hours in the 2015-16 year -- and 7.6 percent fewer hours to the more routine counseling, such as scheduled sessions.

In this year’s report, the center indicated that a vast majority of students attend between two and five appointments. Besides a single session, the largest number of students participated in four sessions -- a little more than 6,000 students.

“Colleges and universities are currently grappling with the question of how to respond effectively and efficiently to the rather sudden and dramatic increase in demand for mental health services nationwide,” Locke said. “The growing demand includes the full range of risk, need, diagnoses and many other factors that can make it difficult to define policies that work. Sometimes, the pressure to identify short-term solutions under pressure can result in overly simplified or rigid approaches that inhibit the potential positive effects that counseling center treatment has to offer.”

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