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Proposed split of United Methodist Church over LGBT issues is welcomed by Methodist college leaders

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 01:00

Leaders of Methodist colleges welcomed a recent proposal to split the United Methodist Church as a possible resolution to conflict over whether to remain affiliated with the church after it moved last year to strengthen prohibitions on the ordination of LGBT individuals and the performance of same-sex marriages.

The proposal to separate the church, announced on Friday, would allow for the spinoff of a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination while enabling a new U.S. regional conference of the UMC to repeal the LGBT-related prohibitions.

Methodist colleges and seminaries broadly oppose the restrictions on LGBT clergy and same-sex marriages. Three institutions, Baldwin Wallace University, Randolph College and the University of Mount Union, formally disaffiliated, describing the church’s stance on LGBTQ issues as incompatible with their own institutional values of inclusion and nondiscrimination.

If the separation protocol is approved at the church’s general conference in May, it will likely prevent other colleges from also disaffiliating from the UMC, Methodist college leaders said.

"There is widespread hope among Methodist college presidents that this proposed resolution will be adopted," said Rock Jones, president of Ohio Wesleyan University. Ohio Wesleyan previously requested a postponement of its decennial site visit by the church's University Senate -- a condition for continued affiliation -- "in hopes that a resolution would be achieved that would preserve the United Methodist Church as a fully inclusive institution and thus one that Ohio Wesleyan would wish to remain affiliated."

"This proposed resolution seems to do that," Jones said.

Jones added, however, "The anxiety that I hear is among presidents who are in regions of the country where the majority of Methodists would choose to not remain United Methodist but move away with the traditionalist denomination, and presidents of colleges in those regions are feeling an anxiety that the rest of us don’t feel as strongly."

Methodist college leaders have publicly spoken in a unified voice in calling for more inclusive policies within the church. The 93 college presidents in attendance for a meeting of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) in January 2019 unanimously issued a statement opposing the church’s adoption of new restrictions on LGBT+ clergy and same-sex marriage.

The leaders of the 13 theological schools also unanimously opposed the restrictions, which were approved by a vote of the church’s general conference last February.

“The presidents feel like the action of February 2019 put us in a situation of making a determination regarding affiliation with the church,” said Scott D. Miller, president of Virginia Wesleyan University and of NASCUMC. “The feeling was that the policies and the penalties that were associated with it really were a form of discrimination, and United Methodist higher education stands for inclusiveness and fair treatment of all.”

Miller said that in addition to the three institutions that disaffiliated, at least 12, including his own, put their relationship with the church on hold in hopes there would be an amicable resolution at this year’s general conference.

At their meeting on Jan. 4, 85 NASCUMC college presidents signed a statement endorsing the creation of a U.S. conference of the Methodist church, which is one aspect of the proposed separation protocol. Miller said this step would "bring renewed hope to our schools for a future United Methodist Church that supports the kind of open and inclusive environment that’s so vital for our campuses and the work that we do to shape principled leaders of the future."

“A lot of things can happen between January and May,” when the church's general conference meets, Miller said. “But we are very much encouraged and supportive of the protocol that came from the mediation.”

Miller noted, however, that if a separation is reached, the church that emerges will be smaller, and Methodist-affiliated colleges will likely receive less financial support from the church.

And while it's clear that Methodist higher education institutions, as a whole, support more inclusive church policies, Miller said about five Methodist-affiliated institutions may choose to depart the United Methodists and affiliate with the "traditionalist Methodist" denomination after its establishment.

“While the presidents of those institutions are strongly aligned with us on the NASCUMC statement and position, they understand that some of the characteristics of their own institutions may lead them to be with the new denomination,” Miller said.

It's unclear if some colleges that disaffiliated in protest of the church's stance on same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy may choose to affiliate with the United Methodists again in the future.

A spokesman for Baldwin Wallace, Shawn Smith Salamone, declined to comment on whether the university might choose to reaffiliate if the proposed separation becomes a reality. He noted the absence of a final decision.

"At the current time, we continue to believe that we can best support our values and the active faith lives of our community as an independent university," Salamone said.

W. Richard Merriman Jr., president of the University of Mount Union, which also disaffiliated, said it’s probably too early for the university’s Board of Trustees to consider reaffiliating with the United Methodists. However, he said a university committee on ministry and mission will recommend next week to the board that Mount Union rejoin NASCUMC, the Methodist college group. NASCUMC member presidents voted on Jan. 4 to open membership to colleges that are formally affiliated with the church as well as colleges that have been historically related to the church.

Meanwhile, Southern Methodist University, which in November amended its bylaws to make clear that its Board of Trustees, and not the church, is the university's sole governing authority -- the subject of an ongoing lawsuit -- said it would not revisit that action.

"The Board of Trustees’ action was taken to bring SMU into compliance with state law and our own policy of nondiscrimination," said Dianne Anderson, a spokeswoman. "SMU is committed to maintaining close connections with the church, including all branches of Wesleyan theology."

Presidents of two theological schools -- which train future United Methodist Church ministers -- praised the proposed separation plan as good for Methodist higher education.

"The younger generation will not want to continue to be involved in a church that continues to discriminate against the LGBQIA community," said the Reverend Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, the president of Claremont School of Theology. "This will allow for our seminaries to focus on our mission in training leaders regardless of human sexuality."

Lallene J. Rector, the president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, said the institution's LGBT students "have been very anxious about whether they would have a place to serve as ordained persons in the church."

“I am so heartened by the prospect of getting this resolved in a way that is respectful and that leaves the United Methodist Church intact with a capacity to keep educating and being part of higher education without this horrible blanket of worry," she said. She added that the reputations of church-affiliated colleges have been hurt by the ban on gay marriage and ordination.

"With regard to the higher education institutions, in particular, I do think that if indeed this process plays itself out, such that the protocol winds up being adopted and implemented … that would likely stem most further action regarding disaffiliation by educational institutions," said Mark Hanshaw, associate general secretary for higher education at the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, a UMC agency. He said specific details still need to be ironed out.

"The protocol provides some broad-brush guidance around the future structure of the denomination, and there will need to be a lot of work done to further define the details that flesh that structure out, so we will have to see how that plays out," Hanshaw said. "But I will say that the denomination has really been divided over the issue of human sexuality since 1972. That was the year in which exclusivist language related to LGBTQ individuals was inserted into the Book of Discipline.

"This issue has really been a point of contention within the denomination ever since, and it has taken a lot of energy out of the denomination, energy that could have been well spent in other places," Hanshaw said. "So I don’t think anyone is excited or happy about the prospect of seeing a portion of the community break away. However, I think on almost all fronts there is a desire to try to figure out how to move past this issue in a way that can allow individuals to continue to work together and to continue to support projects that have been important to the denomination, like educational accessibility."

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Iowa State University policies stifle free speech, lawsuit says

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 01:00

Students and free speech advocates are accusing Iowa State University of stifling speech by banning political messaging on campus less than one month away from the state Democratic caucuses. ​

The university implemented an interim policy on Nov. 11 to limit chalking, a popular practice in which students write political commentary and slogans in chalk on the sidewalks of the campus in Ames, Iowa. Only registered student organizations will be permitted to chalk under the policy, and messages can only advertise upcoming events and consist of the organization’s name and the location, time and title of the event -- in no more than seven words.

The university said that chalking that does not meet the guidelines would be erased and the students or groups who violate the policy punished. The policy allows for sanctions such as fines and loss of status as an officially registered and recognized organization.

The Democratic caucus is scheduled for Feb. 3.​

President Wendy Wintersteen said in a written statement that Iowa State “does not punish individuals for their constitutionally protected rights to expression, nor do we have policies or practices that prohibit expression based on the content of the expression or the viewpoint of the speaker.”

She said that as a public institution, “Iowa State University fully embraces its role as a First Amendment campus and is deeply committed to constitutional protections of free expression” and “the ‘free marketplace of ideas’ that is a fundamental characteristic of university life … Unfortunately, our campus has also experienced bigoted, hateful, racist and anti-Semitic messaging that, while protected by the First Amendment, is also hurtful and harmful to many students.”

Ryan Hurley, president of the College Republicans chapter on campus, said the organization opposes the restrictions. He described chalking as a significant part of students' political activism.

"I don’t mind when I walk to campus and I see Bernie [Sanders] things or Elizabeth Warren things, because that’s how I know that my fellow students are engaging in politics," Hurley said. "At this point in time, everyone needs to be, and this is an amazing way to show off and help others be aware."

The College Democrats chapter uses chalking as a strategy to encourage students to vote during election season, said Taylor Blair, former president of the chapter. But chalking is only one strategy, he said, and if restricting it can reduce incidents of hate-filled messages on campus, the organization would prefer students feel safe, Blair said.

"People did chalk, 'Steve King 2020' and 'Trump 2020,' and those messages were right alongside 'It’s OK to be white,'" Blair said. "They would say 'Trump 2020,' then right next to it there would be, 'HH' for 'Heil Hitler.' To say that it’s all about writing 'Trump 2020' ignores the fact that it was always paired with hateful and demeaning things."

The chalking policy was put in place by the university after neo-Nazi and transphobic messages were found written in chalk on campus sidewalks in October 2019, said Mason Zastrow, a sophomore and representative in the Student Government Senate. The incidents were followed by days of student protests. ISU Students Against Racism, which was formed in response to the hate messages, delivered a list of demands to Wintersteen, calling on administrators to implement a “zero tolerance policy to hate speech” that included chalking, according to the demands published on Iowa State’s Campus Climate website.

The chalking policy was unanimously approved by the 33-member student senate after it heard from ISU Students Against Racism about how the hateful messages affected students at whom the messages were directed, Zastrow said. The student representatives were willing to sacrifice one aspect of political activism to prevent future slurs and conflict, he said noting that. a student senate committee is drafting a permanent chalking policy that it will suggest university administrators adopt.

“If you’re trying to say that this policy makes it more difficult for students to express their ideas, that’s in part true, because it’s a medium that they can no longer use,” said Zastrow, who was speaking for himself and not the Student Government Senate. “But if you’re trying to change minds, [chalking] is not going to be as effective as in-person anyways, and we’re not discouraging that. We’re discouraging the medium itself, which we think is more distracting than it’s worth … If there’s a slur that targets someone’s identity, they now have the choice not to see it.”

The policy is only the first step to remedying the struggles of underrepresented students on campus, ISU Students Against Racism said in a statement.

"Under various administrations the university has repeatedly failed to take leadership on the issue of white supremacy on campus … The priority has always been to deny and suppress the underlying issue of white supremacy," the statement said. "Therefore, Students Against Racism stands on its position that the chalking policy is a response -- but not a solution to the continuous activity of white supremacists at Iowa State."

Speech First, a national advocacy association for student, parent, faculty and alumni members concerned about free speech on college campuses, started getting complaints about the chalking ban soon after the policy was announced, said Nicole Neily, president of the organization. Most of the students who complained have been “right of center” politically, which Neily found disappointing because of the impact the policy has on all campus speech, she said.

The proper response from Iowa State to counter the hateful messages would be to allow for more speech, Neily said.

“There is going to be unpleasant language on college campuses,” she said. “This is not language I support, but the right solution to dealing with this is not to ban it. It’s an opportunity for dialogue, education, programming … The point of college is to have those arguments.”

Neily said the ban would not change the minds of students who believe the racist, transphobic and anti-Semitic sentiments that led to the policy.

“I understand the impetus behind it, but I don’t think it’s a good method, and unfortunately, it’s an unconstitutional method,” she said.

Chalking has been a common way for students to get involved in local politics, Hurley said. The policy “can be used to stymie free speech on both sides,” he said.

“From what I’ve seen, essentially every political activist is upset with it,” Hurley said. “They’ve had their freedoms stripped, and I think that’s been done very maliciously because it’s such a vague policy.”

Chalking was one of the major ways Rachel Junck, a 20-year-old senior at Iowa State, garnered support for her 2019 election to the Ames City Council, Hurley said. Junck became the youngest woman ever to be elected to public office in the state, according to the Des Moines Register.

Chalking is also often used to advertise opportunities for students to meet U.S. presidential candidates visiting Ames ahead of the Iowa caucuses, Neily said. The chalking restrictions could limit students’ knowledge about political campaign events and their ability to plan protests, Neily said.

The College Democrats said in a written statement that it would like to work with administrators to form a permanent policy that offers an exception for political speech and focuses more directly on hate speech.

"Making sure our campus is a safe and welcoming place for all, but particularly for people of marginalized identities, is extremely important to the ISU College Democrats," the statement said. "We welcomed the temporary chalking policy as an immediate solution to stop the hateful, racist, neo-Nazi, transphobic, homophobic and anti-Semitic messages that were overwhelming our campus this past fall … Iowa State does not have a free speech problem -- we have a white supremacist problem."

Speech First filed a lawsuit against the university on Jan. 2 and requested a preliminary injunction on Jan. 6 to challenge three of Iowa State’s policies and practices: the chalking restrictions, a 2012 policy that prohibits using university email addresses to “solicit support for a candidate or ballot measure” and the university’s Campus Climate Reporting System, which is used to respond to incidents of bias. In the lawsuit, the Washington, D.C.-based organization argues the university's definition of a bias incident -- speech seen as “demeaning,” “taunting,” “bullying,” “verbal harassment or “intimidation” -- is a "content-based and viewpoint-based restriction."

“Iowa State and its officials have created a series of rules and regulations designed to restrain, deter, suppress, and punish speech concerning political and social issues of public concern,” the lawsuit states. “And they do so despite Iowa’s central role as the ‘first in the nation’ to weigh in on presidential primary elections. The university’s policies plainly violate the First Amendment.”

Both Hurley and Zastrow said they were unaware of the university email policy until it was publicized in the lawsuit, and they have doubts it is enforced.

Students Against Racism said Speech First does not represent the interests of Iowa State students and "wants to have a role in shaping policies that disproportionately affect students from minority communities."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, supports Speech First's lawsuit and hopes it "results in policies at ISU allowing broad space for student discourse and debate, as the Constitution requires," said director of litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon in a statement.

"This is particularly crucial in a presidential election year when robust political discussion among college students will play an important role in shaping our democratic future," Beck-Coon said.

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New polls document opposition to Chinese enrollment quotas

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 01:00

Academics have called on China to phase out its university enrollment quotas after a rare study explored the depth of public opposition to the policy.

Xiaolei Qin of Nanjing Normal University and Ross Buchanan of the University of Texas at Austin describe the provincial quotas linked to the notoriously stressful gaokao admissions tests as “a blatant violation of citizens’ rights to educational equality granted by China’s constitution."

Writing in Higher Education Policy, they say the quota system “strongly favors” students from the three big cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin, who can typically enter top universities with “dramatically lower” gaokao scores than those from 23 provinces, even though provincial students already have “fewer education resources at their disposal.” About 10 million young people take the test each year.

The inequalities are particularly marked when considering admission to universities in the top-tier Project 985 excellence initiative and the second-level Project 211 scheme: for example, about 5.6 percent of gaokao entrants from Shanghai entered Project 985 universities in 2016, say Qin and Buchanan, compared with 1.2 percent of their counterparts from Henan Province.

The disadvantages have given rise to “gaokao migration,” where families leave low-quota provinces and move to more privileged cities, and have been a factor in some wealthy parents’ decisions to send their children to study overseas.

At times, unrest has spilled on to the streets. In 2016, the Ministry of Education ordered cuts to enrollment quotas in many populous provinces but not in the big cities, resulting in thousands of parents protesting in Hebei, Hubei, Henan and Jiangsu Provinces.

The authorities swiftly moved to reassure parents that the admission rate for first-tier provincial universities would not be lower than it was the year before, Qin and Buchanan write.

However, despite modest reforms, the government “still mostly preserves the jealously guarded privileges of the regime’s favored constituencies,” the pair continue. In supplementary materials, they note that a “large segment of China’s political and economic elite live in Beijing, Tianjin and Shanghai,” giving them “obvious incentives … to preserve their privileged status.”

Lacking high-quality surveys from which to gauge public opinion, Qin and Buchanan -- who, in an unusual twist, received funding from a Chinese government agency, the National Planning Office for Philosophy and Social Science -- turned to sources such as the search index of Baidu, a popular Chinese search engine.

They found widespread unhappiness with the quota system outside the three favored cities. Participants in online communities “loudly express their grievances on social media,” referring to big cities as “paradise” and some provinces as “hell,” according to Qin and Buchanan, who found that changes in quotas could be linked directly to outpourings of complaints online.

Qin and Buchanan call for “deep reform” to phase out the quota system, with the exception of preserving modest advantages given to ethnic minority autonomous regions with “especially poor higher education resources.” Recruitment to first-tier universities should better reflect the proportion of gaokao takers in each province, adjusted for local government investment, they say.

Furthermore, they argue that changes should be made publicly and openly, and by an independent body that takes in and acts on input from academics and the public.

Yu Zhu, professor of economics at the University of Dundee, said several studies had shown that “less privileged students are finding it increasingly difficult to enroll in the most selective universities.”

He is the co-author, with academics from Shanghai Lixin University of Accounting and Finance, of a separate study that showed the effects of those inequalities on Chinese graduates by calculating the increases in monthly salaries associated with each extra year of higher education.

Students attending colleges and “ordinary universities” had returns of 8 percent to 10 percent, while those from key prestigious universities enjoyed returns of 12 percent to 16 percent.

The study, published last month in Studies in Higher Education, shows that the expansion of China’s tertiary sector over the last two decades has resulted in reduced returns for all graduates, except students of certain subjects at leading universities.

“While higher education has become more accessible in China as a whole due to expansion, it is probably also getting more competitive than before for the most prestigious institutions and/or subjects,” Zhu said.

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Colleges award tenure

Thu, 01/09/2020 - 01:00

Colby College

  • Megan Cook, English
  • Christel Kesler, sociology
  • Dale Kocevski, physics and astronomy
  • Damon Mayrl, sociology
  • Loren McClenachan, environmental studies
  • Gianluca Rizzo, Italian studies

Williams College

  • Michelle Apotsos, art
  • Corinna Campbell, music
  • Charles Doret, physics
  • Susan Godlonton, economics
  • Leo Goldmakher, mathematics
  • Pamela Harris, mathematics
  • Greg Phelan, economics
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Virginia's plan to cover tuition and basic needs for community college students

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

Advocates for increasing college attainment and equity say that free college programs need to cover more than just the cost of tuition.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has a proposal that would do just that, although some are criticizing the proposal’s eligibility restrictions.

The Get Skilled, Get a Job, Give Back, or G3 program, was included in Democratic governor Ralph Northam’s $138 billion biennial budget proposal. The $145 million program would make community college tuition-free for low- and middle-income students, as well as provide grants for other costs like transportation and food.

Addressing Need

Megan Healy, chief workforce development adviser for the state, said she looked at other states offering free community college and saw that while the federal Pell Grant usually covers tuition costs, students still have unmet needs for living costs.

With this plan, students will get up to $1,000 per semester for those extras, which is based on the amount they would earn for working 10 hours per week at the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

“Now these students are working two part-time jobs and not three,” Healy said.

While a growing number of states have announced free community college programs, they tend to be “last-dollar” models, meaning the state will cover tuition after a student uses up all other grants and aid. Many advocates support a “first-dollar” approach that would cover tuition first and let students use Pell Grant money for books, food and other expenses.

But first-dollar programs tend to be the most expensive. Virginia’s proposed program seeks to split the difference by being “last-dollar plus,” adding basic needs coverage to the standard tuition grants.

Colleges also would get incentives to enroll more Pell recipients. When a student attending a college on a full Pell Grant completes 30 credits, the college would get $500 under the proposal. When that student graduates, the college would get $400. The money would be put back into student advising and other supports.

The program is limited to families who earn up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which was $25,750 for a family of four in 2019. Unlike many other plans, adult and returning students would have the opportunity to take advantage of the program. The average age of students getting short-term credentials is 36, according to Healy, and about two million Virginians have some college credits but no degree.

Healy estimates that roughly 40,000 students could take advantage of the program if it’s passed.

Reid Setzer, director of government affairs at the Education Trust, said the state should be applauded for trying to address the issue of outside costs for students.

The proposal includes a few caveats. Students would have to sign a “community engagement agreement” that states they would complete two hours of work experience, community service or public service for each credit hour they are enrolled. Healy said she expects to count the time students spend working if they don't have any time to provide other service. This aspect of the program aims to connect students with the community so they'll stay, as well as to provide opportunities for them to build soft skills.

It’s also limited to students who are enrolled in certain fields. The budget language doesn’t call out specific areas, Healy said, so it can shift over time. The fields would be chosen based on short- and long-term economic projections, employer input, and the number of job openings, she said. Right now, it includes health care, information technology, public safety, early childhood education and skilled trades.

So far, Healy said there is bipartisan support for the program. The proposal would receive final approval in March and then begin in the fall.

Better Understanding of Basic Needs

Research from the Education Trust found that Virginia has an affordability gap of $3,400 for community colleges -- meaning that students on average are unable to cover that gap -- so this proposal won't solve everything, Setzer said. The assumption that students will still have to work multiple jobs also is troubling, he said, as research has shown that working 10 hours or less while in college is ideal for student success​. The community engagement requirement, even if does accept students' regular work, could still serve as a psychological barrier that could hurt participation, he added.

Mark Huelsman, associate director of policy and research at the think tank Demos, said the program has some “good elements,” but he’s “skeptical” of how narrowly tailored it is.

“I don’t know that today’s policy makers always have a great handle on what the skills and jobs of the future will be,” Huelsman said. “We should let students choose their own path; if we overly prescribe it, it’s complicated and leaves students out.”

He also said that adding an income-level limit makes it “overly complicated.”

Healy said they looked at doing a blanket free community college program, but it would cost half a billion dollars over the biennium​. While the state’s economy is doing well and income and sales tax revenues were higher than expected, that still only goes so far.

“For our first step out of the gate in this area, we wanted to think about, what does our economy need? What do employers need?” she said.

Healy also said they needed to devise a plan that would get bipartisan support, and only Democrats would support blanket free college programs.

Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign, also supports the inclusion of need-based grants, citing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a psychological theory that people need to secure physiological and safety needs before moving on to bettering themselves.

“If you don’t take care of food, shelter, clothing, transportation -- just basic needs in the 21st century -- then the burdens on students and their families become unmanageable,” Kanter said.

Huelsman also supports this part of the proposal.

“At community colleges, tuition is only 20 percent of the total cost of attendance,” he said.

But, while the $1,000 grants are a “good start,” Huelsman added that the state may need to think bigger.

As the newly Democratic General Assembly gets its footing, Healy expects the state’s minimum wage to one day get an increase, which could trigger an increase in the grant size.

Whether including funds for basic needs will become a trend in free college programs is yet to be seen. Kanter said she didn’t know free college would be a trend a decade ago.

“I think people are more aware of the basic needs of students and families now than they were 10 years ago,” she said, “and I think business leaders and communities are coming together to make that available.”

Huelsman said the free college conversation needs to move forward to encompass this idea.

“It’s quite clear to me that if we care about increasing attainment, if we care about making college more affordable, then meeting that cost of living, whatever that entails, is vital to that effort,” he said.

Those in higher education need to broaden their financial understandings of the modern American household, said Huelsman. It’s important for those making policies or running colleges to understand what’s happening with wages, health-care costs and inflation. Right now, leaders seem to focus mostly on higher education economics, like the Pell Grant and tuition increases.

“It’s very siloed,” he said. “Meanwhile, we are seeing an economy in which wages are stagnant. A better understanding of that and a better incorporation of that can’t be a bad thing.”

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Private college presidents gather to talk challenges and opportunities as decade begins

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. -- An annual gathering of private college presidents proved to be a story of many different disconnects this year.

Disconnects between markets, domestic and international. Disconnects between different institutions, stressed and strengthening. Disconnects between campuses and the public, or at least a public narrative of skepticism toward higher education that many presidents desperately want to change.

The gathering -- the Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute -- began with an announcement that it had grown to its largest size ever, with 851 participants including 360 presidents and 175 of their spouses and partners in attendance. But the very next topic at its opening event was a keynote speech with a different tone, as attendees heard about population trends that are placing a significant burden on their financial and enrollment outlooks.

To be sure, not every institution at the conference is under financial or enrollment stress. Some attendees were reporting their largest-ever fundraising campaigns or great successes attracting students with smart marketing, recruiting and pricing campaigns.

Still, the conference is heavily populated with representatives of small, nonwealthy private colleges that draw most of their students locally. They are exactly the type of institution most likely to struggle with enrollment or balancing the books. And in recent years, CIC has been providing more programming to help them address their concerns.

Even as many attendees acknowledge the sector's problems, they feel a disconnect between the value they offer students and what they see as a public narrative unfairly attacking them as unaffordable and out of touch.

“Public, the journalists, officials have come to doubt the value of our demonstrably effective institutions,” CIC president Richard Ekman said as the conference opened Saturday. “So restoring public confidence in higher education and in private colleges must be a top priority for all of us here. We know that doing so requires more than rebutting our critics point by point, although we must be relentless in correcting false facts.”

Ekman was followed by Nathan Grawe, social sciences professor at Carleton College in Minnesota and the author of the ubiquitous 2018 book Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education (Johns Hopkins University Press). Grawe has become an in-demand speaker sharing research findings from the book that project many colleges will have a difficult time enrolling traditional-age students in coming years because of a post-recession “birth dearth.”

Large drops in numbers of high school graduates enrolling in regional four-year colleges after 2017 are expected to plateau in the next few years. But a return to the annual demand growth of the past seems unlikely for such colleges, and the sector is likely to experience sharp declines again by the second part of the decade.

Grawe expressed optimism because of constructive energy private colleges are harnessing as they try to address the enrollment challenge. There are other reasons to be optimistic, such as rising numbers of Latinx students attending college and a Latinx population that is generally becoming more wealthy -- providing a ray of hope for cash-strapped institutions that rely on tuition revenue to stay in operation.

Optimism aside, Grawe cautioned against people's instinct to double down on old assumptions when confronted with unpleasant information.

“They will try to avoid,” he said. “And it turns out, the more letters you have after your name, the more likely you are to engage in this.”

Presidents asked many questions about Grawe's projections: Would adding adult students to his analysis change regional colleges' outlook? What would happen if economic conditions change, pushing more students to enroll in college when they can't find jobs? What would happen if institutions addressed concerns about affordability? How might graduate enrollment change?

The what-ifs might not change the outlook for many colleges that are heavily dependent on local 18- to 24-year-old populations. From a strategic standpoint, though, they might make sense for presidents trying to prepare institutions for the coming decade.

“When you're on that plateau, you're in a different world,” Grawe said. “You're in something of a world of scarcity, where there aren't just more students you can go recruit. We have to think differently, as a result.”

In sessions and in conversations throughout the conference, presidents demonstrated some of the ways they're trying to prepare for the future. They discussed corporate partnerships, outreach to adult learners and finding ways to better meet student needs. Some discussed the overcoming challenges facing rural institutions, like isolation and regional economic development.

Presidents were also buoyed Monday by talk of employers needing the critical thinking and learning skills that their institutions emphasize.

And they heard from a global higher education leader who sees opportunity in international students. Mariët Westermann, vice chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi and former executive vice president for programs and research at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, spoke Sunday of a disconnect between the stresses small colleges in the U.S. are feeling and rising demand for education in regions like Africa, the Middle East and India.

“All I hear is of unmet need, versus in America we're headed obviously for a situation where we're having too low a birth rate to fill our seats,” Westermann said. “So I think there is an opportunity coming no matter what happens in our political landscape.”

She acknowledged broad challenges, however.

“While global citizenship -- this idea of global citizenship -- seems a necessary ideal for a planet as under duress as it is, the shine has gone off of that idea a little in recent years,” she said.

Indeed, talk of opportunity contrasted with some presidents' insecurities, concerns and discomfort. A session on building a senior leadership team for stressed institutions was heavily attended. Presidents grilled members of the press about free college proposals from Democratic presidential candidates and on what some see as an unfair public narrative about out-of-control student debt.

Presidents are arguably feeling the stress of forces much bigger than their own institutions bearing down on private, regional, nonwealthy colleges. Those forces include income inequality, a suddenly skeptical public, leery policy makers and, some whisper in private conversations, campuses where complacency dominates. Some boards or faculty members wish to return to the past, one president confided. But the past is not coming back.

Under such conditions, it should be no surprise that presidential tenures have been shortening. Those short tenures create a challenge for presidents themselves and the boards tasked with guiding institutions over time.

The closing plenary included talk about who is responsible for improving financial conditions at colleges when presidential turnover is high.

“I think when the presidents are churning, the board has a different set of responsibilities than it had when you used to have long-term presidents,” said Lawrence M. Schall, president of Oglethorpe University in Atlanta. Schall is an exception to the trend of shortening tenures, having been president of Oglethorpe since 2005 and planning to step down in June.

Not everyone would agree that boards should push for changes in times of presidential turnover. Some would prefer to see boards empower presidents to make changes themselves.

Separately, some argue against using finances as the only marker of institutional health.

“To me, it is the mission that drives the health of the organization,” said Mary Dana Hinton, president of the College of Saint Benedict in Minnesota.

Missions vary widely by institution, as do conditions on the ground. It could be said that, as much as they share, small private colleges must overcome disconnects between each other in order to find strategies that will work for all of them.

As a result, meeting the challenges of the next decade is a difficult, complicated problem. Hinton may have summed it up best:

“I cannot think of a single question in higher ed right now for which there is one perfect answer.”

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Universities stick to .edu domain names

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

Most U.S. university websites have ended in “.edu” since the dawn of the internet, but in recent years the number of domain name options has exploded.

New extensions such as “.university,” “.college,” “.degree” and “.education” present an opportunity to modernize the online branding of higher education institutions that, in many cases, selected their web address in the '80s and '90s. But it’s an opportunity few institutions have embraced, said Bob Brock, president of the Educational Marketing Group.

Many institutions are buying these new domain names but aren’t actively using them, said Brock. Colleges are purchasing these addresses simply to protect their brands and prevent third parties from snapping them up.

Many education-related domain names can be purchased for less than $20 a year, though prices vary widely. The expense and administrative burden can quickly start to add up for institutions the more web addresses they buy, said Brock. The domain name www.stanford.degree was available for around $66 a year on Tuesday afternoon, while www.yale.mba was being offered for $30,000.

Which domains institutions should buy or not is a tricky question, said Liz Gross, founder and CEO of Campus Sonar, a company that develops social media strategies for higher education institutions. Taking some preventative measures to protect your institution’s reputation is sensible. "When the .sucks domain name came out a few years ago, the easiest way for many brands to deal with it was to buy it," she said.

Even wealthy, elite institutions that are very protective of their brands can sometimes miss opportunities to prevent pranksters from co-opting their name -- this week Inside Higher Ed purchased www.harvarduniversity.wtf for just $5.17, including tax.

While it’s unlikely any prospective student would mistake a “.wtf” website for a genuine university website, many more legitimate-sounding names are readily available. Inside Higher Ed purchased www.berkeley.mba for $19.99. Using free website design templates, it’s possible to create something that might pass as authentic in minutes.

Bill Pearce, chief marketing officer and assistant dean for marketing and communications at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, said the school had purchased some domain names but noted, “We have to draw the line somewhere.”

“Copyright laws help clarify what’s Berkeley and what’s not. We come down hard on any other site offering a Berkeley M.B.A. or other degree, or using the Berkeley Haas logo without permission,” he said.

Pearce said the school has previously identified fraudulent websites using their branding.

“We send an immediate cease and desist and will get our campus legal department involved, if necessary,” he said.

Fraudulent websites may initially confuse prospective students, said Pearce. “But any serious applicants would quickly realize they are not on Berkeley Haas’s site.”

“Any time you muddy the waters with limitless options, you make it harder for users to find the information they are looking for,” said Pearce, reflecting on the new domain names. “Qualified educational institutions should confine themselves to the .edu domain to avoid confusion.”

Higher education institutions are not alone in being slow to abandon traditional domain names such as .edu, .com or .org. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) opened up the possibility of companies creating their own branded domain names in 2012. Hundreds of companies, including Nike, Target and Netflix, paid the $185,000 application fee but seemed unsure what to do with their new domain names. In 2016, ICANN threatened to end their .brand agreements if the companies didn’t use them.

Michael Diamond, academic director of the integrated marketing communications department at the New York University School of Professional Studies, agreed it makes sense for higher education institutions to stick with their established .edu websites and “not dilute their brand.”  

Diamond says it’s unlikely that prospective students seriously looking to pursue a four-year degree at a traditional institution would be fooled by a spoof website.

“A lot of investment goes into the content and web experience of a university website, a fraudulent site isn't going to make that investment," he said. 

He is concerned, however, that people pursuing a nontraditional education pathway could be more easily tricked by fraudulent websites. There are plenty of consumer-oriented sites ranking colleges' academic offerings. The same level of information doesn't exist for companies offering unaccredited nondegree credentials and certificates.

While the .edu domain name holds a lot of weight for consumers, it is not guaranteed that every institution using an .edu website is accredited.

Joseph Crook, certification coordinator for private postsecondary education at the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia, has identified several unaccredited institutions using .edu web addresses. Many of these sites are from defunct schools that appear to be “trying to either trick someone into thinking they are one and the same as an accredited institution, or something more nefarious,” he said.

The University of Northern Virginia, for example, a for-profit institution now based in South Dakota, was stripped of its accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in 2008. The university still holds its unva.edu web address.

“I do find it concerning that there are unaccredited institutions that are able to use the .edu domain name,” said Crook. He said many prospective students and their parents view the .edu domain as a “quality benchmark” and don’t realize there may be unaccredited institutions using it.

Jim Burnett, director of membership at higher education IT organization Educause, manages the team responsible for approving new .edu web addresses. He explained that prior to 2001, there was no requirement for institutions to be accredited to obtain an .edu website.

According to the terms of an agreement struck by the U.S. Department of Commerce and Educause, all .edu names in existence prior to Oct. 29, 2001, were not impacted by the new eligibility requirements. This “grandfathering” process explains why some companies and unaccredited institutions continue to hold on to their .edu addresses, said Burnett.

There are some companies, such as research-sharing platform Academia.edu, that have been criticized for their use of the .edu domain. But the company registered the web address in 1999 -- before the current criteria were introduced.

Burck Smith, CEO and founder of StraighterLine, a for-profit company offering low-cost pathways to degrees, said he felt it was important his company used a .com web address to make clear it is not a university. Using .org or another domain name associated with education could confuse consumers, he said. “We didn’t want to be deceptive.”

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UVA decides to save its library card catalog

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00

The card catalog for the University of Virginia’s Alderman Library was once the only way to find needed books. Over four million cards cataloged each book’s location and from where it was donated.

Today, students and researchers use a digital catalog to find library materials, as is typical with most academic libraries. The card catalog, all 68 cabinets of it, was taken out of commission in 1989.

The university's library is set to undergo major renovations over the next three years, and for a while, the future of the card catalog seemed uncertain.

“There was no real disagreement on the potential research value of the card catalog,” said John Unsworth, dean of libraries at Virginia. “The question wasn’t, ‘Is it worth saving?’ It was, ‘Can we afford to save it?’”

There wasn't going to be enough room in the renovated Alderman Library for the massive set of cards, and scanning each card was estimated to cost almost half a million dollars. The university's administration planned to discard the collection.

Neal Curtis and Sam Lemley, two graduate students at the university who had worked previously with the card catalog, felt compelled to act. They presented a plan to load the card catalog into boxes, store it at a facility in Waynesboro, Va., during renovations, and then keep it in university-owned high-density storage. The estimated cost of this proposal was around $75,000, a good deal less than scanning the cards would be, although it would require about 180 hours of labor.

The two organized volunteer manpower to assist with the move and solicited donations to the library to pay for the project. They’ve so far raised about half of the needed funds.

The two Ph.D. candidates, who are both writing dissertations on literature, said that contrary to what some may believe, the project is not motivated by nostalgia. They said preserving the catalog is a gift to future researchers and historians.

“We’re not arguing for the superiority of the Alderman card catalog,” Curtis said. “[The card catalog and the digital catalog are] different. They tell us different things.”

“It’s a document of the history of the university,” Lemley said. “Who knows what’s lurking undiscovered?”

For example, if one wanted to find out how the library holdings changed as the university admitted its first women and first African American students, the card catalog would be the only place to find that information, they said. Ascertaining when a book and its card were added to the collection is not an exact science, but a combination of looking at the type of paper used and the assigned number can help.

“This is a snapshot of the library at the end of an era of analog discovery tools,” said Unsworth. “Our electronic catalogs don’t give us a way to reconstruct past states of the collection.” Once a book is gone from the stacks, it’s also gone from the digital catalog.

The boxes are set to be barcoded by library staff so future researchers can request boxes and read through them in the reading room. Unsworth said he's happy the catalog will be preserved for the future, but he noted that a digitized version, though more expensive, would probably still be preferable. That's because researchers could search through the holdings much more easily.

John Ulmschneider, dean of libraries at Virginia Commonwealth University, said he understands the decision by UVA to save the catalog, although VCU did not make the same decision. His institution has saved some cards related to its health and medicine collections, but disposed of most others. Though cost and space played into the decision, so did the relative research potential of the cards.

“VCU’s collections in health and medicine are extensive and deep,” Ulmschneider said via email. “That’s because those collections extend from its founding as the Medical College of Virginia in 1834.” But collections at the university for other disciplines often date back only to 1968. The cards for those collections didn’t have handwritten notes or other vital information on them, as UVA's cards often do.

“VCU has saved space and money by eliminating most of its card records,” Ulmschneider said. “But the richness and depth of collections and the card surrogates that describe them at older, distinguished universities like UVA may make it impossible to make the same choice.”

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Colleges launch new programs

Wed, 01/08/2020 - 01:00
  • Northern Vermont University is starting an online M.A. in education with a concentration in digital media instruction.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is starting an undergraduate degree in biological neuroscience.
  • University of the Cumberlands is starting a master of science in digital forensics degree with an optional criminal justice specialization, and a master of science in justice administration with digital forensics.
  • Virginia Tech is starting a major in cybersecurity management and analytics.
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AU administrators and students disagree on extent of racial problems on campus

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00

Zach Mills was preparing to head out to a meeting with fellow doctoral students at American University when two officers from the Washington, D.C., police department showed up at his front door.

The officers told Mills they had been contacted by the university's police department and asked to check in on him. He invited them into his apartment, which is located about a mile and a half away from the campus.

Officer Adam Sotelo entered the apartment while the other officer waited in the hall, as is customary practice for such "wellness check" visits. Mills and Sotelo sat in Mills’s living room and talked. Things were going fine -- both Mills and Sotelo said they had a normal, friendly conversation -- until two officers from AU's police department arrived and entered Mills's unlocked apartment. According to Mills, the AUPD officers were "aggressive" and "threatening." They barged in without his consent, yelled at him and repeatedly demanded to see his university-issued identification card. He said he felt confused and fearful but sat calmly with his hands in his lap and asked the AU officers to leave his apartment several times.

Mills said the AU officers ignored his requests until Officer Sotelo, a certified crisis intervention officer, explained that things were under control and that they could go. The university officers complied, but Mills was left deeply unsettled. To him, the encounter was a continuation of a pattern of discriminatory acts he’d experienced as an African American doctoral student at AU’s School of International Service. The Aug. 28 incident also reinforced his belief that he was being targeted by faculty members and university administrators for lodging various complaints about discrimination in his department at the school, commonly referred to as SIS.

Mills's interaction with campus police was far different from a highly publicized wellness check on another black AU student that resulted in her being forcibly removed from her university-managed apartment. That incident occurred in late September, just a month after the episode with Mills, and was captured in a disturbing video that showed Gianna Wheeler being carried out of the apartment and surrounded by multiple university officials and D.C. fire department personnel. Wheeler had been suspended from American after being accused of assaulting another student, a charge for which she was found not guilty after a disciplinary hearing by the university. The video, which went viral on social media, prompted outrage on and off the campus and led to student protests and allegations that university administrators had shown racial bias in their handling of the wellness check.

Mills, a doctoral candidate in his fourth year in the SIS program, said he saw similarities between how he and Wheeler were treated and felt both cases were rooted in racial bias.

American administrators have forcefully defended the university against these allegations of racism and pushed back on the criticisms leveled after the video of Wheeler's removal surfaced. They said the outrage was misplaced and the circumstances misunderstood. But coming after several years of repeated racial controversies on campus, AU students of various racial backgrounds believe their university has a serious race problem. ​

As other colleges and universities around the country grapple with racial tensions on their campuses and growing public perceptions that higher ed institutions are cauldrons of racial strife, AU administrators are clearly aware that perceptions can sometimes become reality. They appear to be redoubling their efforts to address the problems and protect the university's reputation. ​But like other higher ed institutions, AU is operating in a racial climate on campus and in the larger society in which an accumulation of racial controversies leads to more and more events being viewed through the prism of race. Whether or not each incident is actually about race is a matter of perspective and lived experience.

“I did actually develop medically diagnosed PTSD after this and was having blackouts over the last eight weeks,” Mills said of the wellness check. “I’ve been having a really horrible time since all that happened. I just remember people yelling at me and standing over me, and being very fearful.”

Mills believes the wellness check was the result of an orchestrated campaign to discredit his complaints about racial discrimination in the program and undermine his academic standing.

American University representatives said they could not comment on any specific wellness checks because of privacy laws. They said wellness checks, in general, are guided by university policy and are prompted "when the Office of the Dean of Students receives information or reports of concern about the general well-being of a student, from a fellow student, faculty or staff," according to a written statement. The checks are part of AU's Care Reporting system, the statement said, and the first step is to try and contact the student directly.

"Should there be an immediate threat to the individual’s safety, or if the student does not respond to attempted communications, AUPD is then asked to do a wellness check at the student’s residence," the statement said. "AUPD only has authority to conduct welfare checks on American University housing owned or leased. If a student lives off-campus in private housing, AUPD will contact the DC Metropolitan Police Department for assistance and will accompany them on the check if that department requests it."

From Mills's perspective, the arrival and confrontational style of campus police, after AUPD had already asked D.C. police to conduct the check, was no coincidence.

"It was extremely traumatic," he said. "After the police left, I was furious."

University administrators say wellness checks involve complex and sensitive issues guided by policies meant to protect the privacy of students who may be experiencing personal problems or mental health crises. The administrators note that every wellness check involves unique circumstances and that generalizations made by outsiders not privy to all the particulars are often inaccurate. They say this was precisely the case with the video of Wheeler being forcibly removed from her apartment.

After several days of sustained criticism for its handling of the incident, two university vice presidents emailed a long statement to the campus defending the university's action.

"We take the concerns about these complicated situations seriously, especially given our national climate and the lived experiences of communities of color and other marginalized communities across this country," the statement said in part.

In written responses to questions about Mills's allegations, the AU representatives said the university "is committed to fostering an inclusive community based on mutual respect where our educational pursuits can thrive. We do not tolerate or condone discrimination in any form. If a student feels he or she has been discriminated against, they are encouraged to file a formal complaint."

That's exactly what Mills did.

Things Come to a Head

After several years of what Mills described as repeated microaggressions and discrimination in the SIS program, he'd had enough. He filed a formal complaint about a professor in the program and later decided to enlist classmates to hold a vote of no confidence in the program director. Mills acknowledged it would be a purely symbolic move; university officials said there is no policy or procedure for students to take such an action. In any case, Mills made no secret of his plan to call for the vote.

It was a Wednesday afternoon, and Mills was getting ready to meet with students to discuss the vote. That's when Officer Sotelo and his colleague came calling.

In Sotelo’s account of the events that day, nothing about the wellness check stood out to him. He said once he determined Mills was not in crisis, he felt there was no need for the AU officers to go through the process with Mills again. He said Mills was calm when they first spoke but seemed "aghast" that the AU police showed up at his apartment. Sotelo also said that while he did not observe the AUPD officers closely, he didn't feel they were overly aggressive. He said there seemed to be points of contention between the university and Mills.​

AUPD did not respond to a request for comment.

It's not clear that the campus officers were legally allowed to visit Mills's apartment, which is neither owned nor managed by the university.

D.C. law stipulates that "no person appointed as a campus or university special police officer … shall display a badge, weapon, or other evidence of authority in any place other than the property owned by, or under the control of the academic institution of higher education upon whose account he or she was appointed and by whom he or she is paid."

A university spokesperson said in a written response to questions about the incident that Mills invited the AU officers into his apartment. Mills categorically denies this, and Officer Sotelo's account also does not support this.

A Show of Concern or a Show of Force

On Aug. 27, three professors in the doctoral program in which Mills is studying all separately filed what the university calls care reports about him. Mills said this was after he'd made known his plan for the no confidence vote.

One of the care reports was submitted by Boaz Atzili, the program director Mills was planning to name in the vote. Another report was submitted by Susanna Campbell, an assistant professor at the school. Both reports said Mills had told the professors of feelings of depression he'd had in the past. Mills said that these dark feelings stemmed from the end of a long-term relationship and that he later regretted telling the professors about his feelings because he was being "dramatic." The relationship ended in May 2019, and Mills said the emotional fallout made it difficult for him to update professors over the summer about the project on which he was working. He said he also told three other AU professors, two of whom were not white, about these feelings, and none of them submitted care reports.

The third care report outlined an email Mills had sent to Sharon Weiner, an associate professor, which she described in the report as “uncharacteristic of past communications” and filled with “rage” and “anger.”

Mills said he'd made Weiner aware of some of the discrimination he experienced at AU and she "waved them off."

Weiner wrote, “I am worried about him and that he might harm himself or create disturbances on campus. He accuses a couple of people of being white supremacists and states that he will publicly accuse them because everyone needs to know ‘the truth.’”

The three professors who filed care reports were all contacted for comment but did not respond. Representatives from AU's office of communications instead answered all questions about Mills's case.

Mills considers the incident a "politically motivated wellness check” and akin to being swatted, or having police called on you under false pretenses. He said after the wellness check took place, he told a dean he wanted to file formal complaints against the professors who'd filed the care reports, the AUPD and two students who confronted him about his views. He wanted it all investigated.

However, he was warned against taking such action because of the possibility of retaliatory accusations or claims of slander by the professors.

A friend who saw and spoke to Mills in the days following the wellness check described him as “in shock.”

A note dated Sept. 18 from a doctor at AU's student health center stated that Mills “is currently being treated for symptoms of acute stress, related to a recent traumatic experience.” The note referenced the wellness check. The doctor also noted that the symptoms “appear to be significantly interfering with his academic functioning.”

Recent studies have shown that various types of discrimination experienced by college students exact an emotional and physical toll and lead to heightened feelings of anxiety, loneliness and discrimination. A report published last year by the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Fund for Leadership, Equity, Access and Diversity showed that hate incidents against minority students have increased in recent years.

Officer Sotelo said he cautioned Mills against using such strong language and hyperbole to express his feelings to administrators, because once someone speaks of being suicidal, “hands are tied.”

The university said in a statement that there were 289 wellness checks in 2019 as of December. That number is comparable to recent years; there were 260 checks in 2018 and 277 in 2017.

Mills said his problematic interactions with faculty and department heads go far beyond the wellness check.

He said one of his earliest racial encounters occurred on the first day of a course he took during his second year in the program. The course was Politics and Policy-Making in International Relations, and Mills said the professor, Daniel Esser, used Mills, the only black student in the class, as an example when Esser referred to the potential consequences for students doing poorly and not submitting assignments. Then, during a class break, Esser approached Mills and commented on his not thinking all black people were lazy, Mills said. The professor also said in class that he had an antiblack bias, Mills and other students who took the class said.

A classmate who did not want to be identified said Esser was problematic. The student, who is white, said Mills was treated differently than other students and held to a “double standard.” While the student was “absolutely appalled,” she said she wasn’t surprised because there's no accountability by the administration for such overt displays of racism beyond empty references to the university’s official diversity statement. She said there also is no mechanism for students to report racism without retaliation.

Calling Out Racism by Name

Mills said he resisted complaining about Esser at first.

“I didn’t want to make waves,” Mills said. “If you develop a reputation in the department, you could have issues down the line -- people don’t want to work with you, or people don’t like you. I didn’t really push anything. I knew it was definitely wrong but I was trying to ignore it back then.”

Mills said he didn't file an official complaint immediately because he was worried about retaliation, but he eventually filed a complaint about Esser.

Lisa Leff, acting dean of academic affairs and senior vice provost at AU, summarized the investigation of Mills's complaint about Esser in a letter about the conclusion and findings of the investigation. The letter was dated Sept. 4, 2018, a year after the alleged incidents took place. The findings were sent to Esser and Mills, who separately shared copies of their letters with Inside Higher Ed.

"Based on my review and analysis of the information gathered in this process, I have determined that your actions do not constitute racial discrimination, nor do they constitute discriminatory harassment as defined in American University’s Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Policy," Leff wrote in a section directed at Esser.

"On the first day of class, you singled Zach out and used him as a hypothetical example of a student not completing his work, and then later in class, acknowledged that you did that because of 'biases' that you 'tr[y] to keep in check.' On another class day, October 19, you again spoke of having 'biases.' These events did occur, and I have no doubt they caused serious discomfort to Zach."

"In the first allegation above, you expressed unconscious bias, and then once you realized what you had done, you took steps to remediate its effects by taking responsibility for it and apologizing for it. In other words, once you became conscious of your unconscious bias, you worked actively to counter its effects. While such conduct does not erase harm done -- and in these instances, may have in fact exacerbated the pain or discomfort caused by calling attention to it -- it does not in itself rise to the level required by the Policy for a determination that discrimination occurred."

Mills had alleged in his complaint that Esser had tried to “sabotage” him academically by, among other things, altering assignment guidelines applied only to Mills. Leff's investigation found that the mistakes made by Esser were the “kind of mistakes faculty make routinely in the course of their work.”

Mills said he'd noted in his original complaint the difference between how Esser treated him in person and how the professor communicated with him by email, which has a “paper trail.” But Leff only reviewed emails between Esser and Mills as part of the investigation. Mills said Leff’s investigation waved off too many of Esser’s “mistakes,” calling it “statistically improbable” that a professor could make this many mistakes regarding one student.

Esser said he was "incredulous" when he learned that Mills filed the complaint against him.

"At no time have I ever intentionally discriminated against Mr. Mills or any student based on race or any other factor," he wrote in an email response to questions about Mills's allegations and the university's investigation. "Racism is one of the central challenges facing humanity and I was stunned that I was being accused of racism. I also note that Mr. Mills had not approached me in this matter prior to requesting a formal investigation."

Esser said he felt "exonerated" by the investigation. As for the determination that he had exhibited microaggressions and unconscious bias toward Mills, he cited research by Eric Kandel, a Nobel Prize-winning Austrian American neuroscientist, which "shows that almost every person holds unconscious biases."

"Countering such biases requires responsive and responsible action," Esser wrote, noting that he took responsibility for his actions and apologized.

He said he has taken antibias and inclusive excellence training and noted that he and the three professors who submitted care reports about Mills had all signed an open letter to students following the 2016 U.S. presidential election expressing support for minority students and diversity at AU. The original writers of the letter were all professors from the SIS department.

Mills said faculty members' concerns about his implied emotional fragility and supposed preoccupation with racial issues are examples of how racial hostility that students of color regularly encounter on predominantly white college campuses is invalidated and minimized.

Mills described conversations with Atzili, the program director, regarding the investigation of Esser. Atzili told Mills that Esser could retaliate and laughed about the prospect of that happening. Mills said Atzili also blamed Mills’s problems on the absence of his "black father" and denied that racism existed at American. Mills believes Atzili should have done more.

“He’s been well aware of lots of stuff that’s happened, and he doesn’t interpret any of it as racism, so he would never go report it in the first place,” Mills said. “I don’t even know if he understands what he’s doing when he tries to insinuate that me growing up without a black father has something to do with any of this stuff … I think it’s so deep in the culture of SIS that some people don’t even know they’re fully participating in discrimination.”

Atzili, like the other professors who filed care reports about Mills, did not respond to a request for comment.

A week after the investigation's findings were released to Mills, he got an email from AU president Sylvia Burwell in which she apologized for the “frustration and anxiety” he experienced while the complaint was being investigated.

Burwell wrote that she confirmed that AU followed “its normal process in investigating and resolving” the complaint and that it was “fully investigated.” Mills disputes these points, noting that the witnesses he provided as having knowledge of the racist events were not contacted by the university.

President Burwell also said in the email that her chief of staff and the vice president for campus life would meet with Mills about his concerns. Mills said he skipped the meeting because there were preset conditions for discussion points.

"They refused to discuss anything about me and just wanted to talk with me about racism in general and how diversity can be improved generally on campus," he said in an email. "I have no interest in helping the school fix its toxic racial climate while it is ignoring what happened to me."

There are 41 students in the SIS Ph.D. program, but far fewer in Mills’s program, in which only two are black, including Mills. Every student in the program interviewed noted how few black students had been in the program over the years.

Some of those students questioned whether a wellness check on a young African American man was the best course of action, given that police wellness checks on black Americans elsewhere have resulted in trauma and even death. The shooting death of Atatiana Jefferson during a police wellness check several months ago is a recent example.

“In general I think sending the police is never an appropriate response,” said ​Cherie Saulter, a classmate of Mills. She said in her six years in the program, she can only remember six black students, three of whom have left.​

Saulter, who is white, described Mills’s treatment as disappointing. She said AU's response to racist incidents on campus is insufficient and often involves little more than issuing statements or creating committees to promote inclusiveness.

Multiple students also noted the lack of diversity in the SIS program as one of the potential contributing factors to the success or struggles of African American students and the incidents of discrimination. They also noted the lack of black faculty and limited access to mentorship for black students.

"The SIS Ph.D. program is small, and admits only about six to 10 students a year," university representatives said in written responses. "Over the past 10 years, of the 93 students enrolled in the program, 7 percent have been Asian, 5 percent Black or African-American, 3 percent Hispanic, 33 percent International, 3 percent Multiracial, 7 percent unknown and 37 percent White. Diversity in Ph.D. programs is a challenge nationwide. Faculty in the Ph.D. program rotate annually, so the makeup is ever-changing. SIS is committed to diversifying its faculty … This is a concern and an issue nationwide."

Some of the students who corroborated Mills’s statements asked not to be identified and cited concerns about upcoming dissertation defenses and about losing funding.​

A white student in the program, who requested anonymity because of fear of retaliation, said the lack of black or Latinx professors at SIS makes it difficult for minority students to find mentors or allies who can help them succeed. The student also said professors seem out of touch on diversity issues and that the program has not done the necessary work of building inclusive classes or championing minority voices.

“There is a general climate of racial hostility at American University,” the student said, adding that administrators seem apathetic, incompetent or only interested in preserving their own jobs.

“We know that any institution faces challenges and we always recognize there is room for improvement in any program,” AU representatives said in their written response. They said that the SIS's Ph.D. committee has met with students and faculty over the past year to develop opportunities for improving diversity and inclusion in the program. “Those include proactive recruitment of minority students, revamping first-year qualifying exams to reduce stress, establishing a mentoring system, and requiring faculty discussions on diversity and inclusion in the classroom at the start of each semester,” they wrote.

“These are fantastic efforts, but what it shows is these are not enough,” said Adrienne Pine, an associate professor of anthropology, who also cited the university's new Antiracist Research and Policy Center. Pine said that past incidents exposed a long-standing problem of structural racism at AU.

AU representatives also point to the university's inclusive excellence program that launched in 2018 as another important effort. The program is focused on increasing and supporting diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. More than 500 faculty and staff have participated in optional inclusive excellence training over the past two years. AU is also trying to recruit and hire more diverse employees and is reworking the curriculum to ensure inclusiveness. The university also created a Bias Response Working Group last semester to update and improve its bias reporting system. What's more, freshmen are now required to take a class on power, privilege and inequality.

Alexis Arnold, a senior and co-editor of the online campus publication The Blackprint, believes efforts to improve the campus climate are better under President Burwell.

"However, I think that the gravity of the incidents encouraged the university [to] understand that it has to do more with inclusivity beyond a mandatory class … But there is still a lot of work to do to make sure black students always feel safe in a predominantly white space," she said in an email. "Black students need to remain vocal to get the full changes they hope to see."

In the interim, ​Mills said he now only comes to campus to teach his classes -- he conducts office hours over Skype. He worries about being shadowed by AU police officers, which he alleges happened in the days following the wellness check.

Mills is one class away from completing the coursework required before he can defend his dissertation prospectus. His funding runs out at the end of the year, and he has also reached his lifetime cap on student loans. He says he may not be able to complete his degree.

“I feel like I’ve been given a bunch of really horrible options while the university refuses to acknowledge what happened,” he said.

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Historians approve anti-ICE resolution but vote down anti-Israel proposals at their annual meeting

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00

NEW YORK -- Members of the American Historical Association approved a resolution condemning college and university contracts with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, 70 to 60, at their annual meeting over the weekend. They approved an additional statement in support of professors teaching off the tenure track, but voted down two resolutions expressing concern about academic freedom in Israel.

The successful resolution on ICE now goes to the AHA’s governing council for further consideration. Per association policies and procedures, the council may accept it, refuse to concur or exercise a veto.

Since its formation in 2003, ICE has inked handsome contracts with various institutions to offer cultural competency, medical and other training to federal workers, and to partner in research. Just a handful of universities currently have such contracts, and few to none of the projects relate to ICE’s most controversial functions regarding immigration. But these agreements have attracted increased scrutiny in recent years, as public disapproval of ICE’s methods -- including family separation -- grows.

Johns Hopkins University, for example, recently said that its School of Medicine Center for Law Enforcement Medicine will not renew its long-standing contract with ICE to provide emergency medical response training. Students and some faculty members previously urged the university to cut ties with ICE. Those tensions factored into a major campus protest last year.

The AHA resolution on ICE cites “serious and systematic violation of human rights committed by both ICE and the U.S. Border Patrol in recent years” and “their presence on U.S. university campuses for recruitment and research purposes.” It urges “university faculty, staff and administrators to sever existing ties and forgo future contracts with ICE and USBP” and to support “sanctuary movements on campuses that seek to protect immigrant students and workers.”

Alexander Avina, associate professor at Arizona State University, was the first to speak in favor of the resolution, saying that his own parents were undocumented migrants and that he now teaches such immigrants in the borderlands. He urged the AHA to take “a stand against ongoing state terrorism” and the idea that universities should make millions of dollars by working with agencies that perpetrate it.

Ashley Black, a visiting assistant professor of history at California State University at Stanislaus, said she teaches students who were part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and who now live in a “state of fear and insecurity.” She asked the AHA to endorse campuses as sanctuaries in the interest of student safety and learning.

ICE had no vocal fans in the room, but a number of historians spoke out against the resolution on the grounds that it strays from AHA’s mission and established rules and practices. Mary Beth Norton, former AHA president and Mary Donlon Alger Professor Emerita at Cornell University, said she might support a resolution that adhered to the AHA’s Guiding Principles on Taking a Public Stance, highlighting threats to historical sources, academic freedom and historians’ movement. Yet she did not support the resolution as written.

Norton said later that the document said "nothing about historical scholarship or historians. Accordingly, it is outside the purview if the AHA as an organization, even though expressing outrage about ICE is entirely appropriate for individual historians in their capacity as citizens."  

Avina said that he and his colleagues behind the resolution hope that the council will "accept and publicly support" it.

Prior to the business meeting, the AHA Council approved a resolution on what departments can do to support historians working off the tenure track. Unsurprisingly, members also approved the document with no objections. The resolution says that many department chairs “can influence change in such important areas as the integration of [non-tenure-track faculty] members into departmental life and cultures.”

Chairs should make clear that non-tenure-track professors’ participation in service and governance are seen as “opportunities for professional development rather than as new expectations,” for example, and also ensure adjuncts’ access to resources, constructive teaching feedback and input on their syllabi. Chairs can also promote the interests of non-tenure-track colleagues with administrators, in an effort to enhance job stability and economic security via multiyear contacts and other means, according to the AHA.

Voting Down Anti-Israel Resolution

The AHA also rejected anti-Israel resolutions at the meeting, as it has several times during the ongoing boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. The two resolutions up for a vote this year condemned Israel for restricting the academic freedom and travel of Palestinian scholars and the foreign nationals -- including U.S. citizens -- who wish to teach, confer or do research with them.

Recalling other disciplinary society debates over BDS proposal, several speakers at the AHA meeting described the resolutions as unfairly singling out Israel among many other nations with questionable records on academic freedom and human rights. Proponents of the resolutions, in turn, asserted that the AHA has, over time, singled out other countries for violations of academic freedom. Some also pointed to U.S. federal aid to Israel, saying that the special relationship between the two nations should translate to special concern.

Sharon Musher, associate professor at Stockton University and a member of the Alliance for Academic Freedom, said that the resolution on protecting the right to education "singles out Israel, neglecting academic freedom violations by worse offenders, including China, Singapore and the Gulf Emirate with whom American universities ally."    While Israel merits criticism for some of its actions, the resolution would harm the AHA, she also warned. "Endorsing this politicized resolution today will tarnish the professionalism of the association. It will also create needless division within the AHA. The association should remain a welcome home to all historians, whatever their politics."   The academic freedom resolution was amended during the meeting to be sent out to all members of the AHA, had it passed. But it died before it could even be forwarded to the governing council, with 41 members in favor and 80 opposed. The second proposal, on the rights of U.S. academics visiting Israel and Palestinian areas, failed with 36 members in favor and 61 opposed.

Proponents of the Israel-related resolutions made clear during the meeting that they would not be deterred by failures.

The AHA has no bylaws against repeat proposals. Jim Grossman, executive director of the association, said after the meeting that the issues raised in the petitions will be the subject of annual meeting sessions in coming years.

“Since everything has a history,” he added, “all issues in historical context are appropriate for proposals to our program committee.”

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Conference speakers stress value of liberal arts skills to small college presidents

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00

MARCO ISLAND, Fla. -- Whenever presidents of private liberal arts colleges gather, the topic of their graduates' career readiness is near the top of their minds.

This year's Council of Independent Colleges Presidents Institute is no different. Since the program officially began Saturday, presidents in various settings have touted their institutions' track records preparing students for careers and what they believe to be strong long-term prospects for students who earn degrees in the liberal arts.

But among this group, worries run high that the liberal arts are being marginalized in America and the workplace. Some presidents are concerned that parents, students and employers are overlooking their institutions and instead turning toward campuses that tilt more heavily toward science and technology majors.

So it was notable Monday when a managing director at one of the world's largest investment firms told presidents that the leaders who are its best employees are the ones who have the ability to operate outside of silos and to speak to many different types of people.

“That sounds roughly like a liberal arts education,” said the speaker, Jonathan McBride, managing director and global head of inclusion at the investment management company BlackRock.

If the companies BlackRock invests in seek the same characteristics, it suggests liberal arts colleges are right to tell students about the long-term benefits of their education. The characteristics in demand add up to the ability to avoid sameness or not to favor the familiar. And it might be easier to teach those instincts when a student is on campus, surrounded by ideas, instead of at the workplace for only a part of the day.

The discussion also suggests some changes liberal arts colleges could make to keep employers happy. At some point, institutions could start certifying skills that contribute to what McBride calls inclusive leadership, just like some institutions provide certificates for coding skills.

McBride urged college leaders to fight the urge to promote too much specialization. The next big skill will be learning itself, he said.

Nonetheless, some liberal arts college presidents feel they struggle to communicate their value to students and families.

“No matter what research we put out there on outcomes, nobody seems to be hearing it,” said Ann McElaney-Johnson, president of Mount St. Mary's University in Los Angeles, which draws many of its students from its local area and has a large percentage of Pell-eligible students.

McElaney-Johnson spoke at an afternoon session about promoting the labor market outcomes of the liberal arts. Like many small private institutions, Mount St. Mary's isn't entirely disregarding technical skills as it teaches human skills or soft skills. It's trying to embed technical skills into students' educational experience.

But institutions have to help students understand and tell others why their mix of skills is valuable, McElaney-Johnson said.

Communicating the value of a liberal arts degree is made more difficult by the fact that liberal arts graduates have nonlinear career paths.

About 70 percent of liberal arts graduates do something completely different when they go from their first stable job to their second, said Rob Sentz, chief innovation officer at the labor market analytics firm Emsi. But even technology majors change paths between first and second jobs more than half the time.

“It almost doesn't matter what kind of degree you have,” Sentz said. “You're moving in the market.”

The labor market is demanding skills such as project management, strategic planning, marketing, writing and sales, Sentz said. Why? When a company hires someone to build a new machine, it also has to hire someone to talk about that machine and someone to sell it. It has to hire a manager to oversee teams involved in production.

How can colleges bridge the gaps between employers and campuses -- and between what students think they want and what the labor force is demanding?

The experience of Brandman University in California might offer some insight. Brandman is part of the Chapman University system, with 25,000 degree and certificate students, classes offered online, and campuses in California and Washington. It is also heavily involved in employer-funded degree programs and competency-based education.

Brandman's chancellor and chief executive officer, Gary Brahm, described what he called "backwards program design." It involves designing degree programs by looking at the knowledge, skills and capabilities that will help employment outcomes.

Competencies from professional certifications can also be important, whether they are drawn from the Institute of Supply Management or Microsoft. Competencies can be acknowledged through credentials other than a degree, such as badges students can earn.

Degree programs can be validated by employers and outside sources of workplace data, such as Burning Glass, to ensure the skills really match employer needs and wants.

Brahm also stressed a need to make sure students are picking up the competencies.

“Because we will embed these competencies across the curriculum, we need to have institutionally developed standardized testing to measure how well you're doing,” he said.

Much of that is a way for colleges to learn from employers and about the job market. It may be necessary work and work that some institutions are already doing -- and it may be largely new for some institutions.

Many of the college presidents in attendance Monday were happy to hear an employer, BlackRock, valuing what they already do.

“In a world where in fact the most important expertise is learning, how much do we have to learn from you all?” McBride said. “Everything.”

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Maine College Republican group moves to the right, alienating some members

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00

When the University of Maine College Republicans asked Amy Fried to be their faculty adviser, the group knew Fried was a Democrat who writes a progressive column in the Bangor Daily News.

Fried, the university's political science department chair, became the adviser for the UMaine College Democrats and the libertarian Young Americans for Liberty chapter at the university in October 2019. UMaine's College Republicans asked for her oversight shortly thereafter, when their previous adviser moved to another state. She agreed, but didn't last long. Fried resigned after a month, saying she wanting to disassociate with UMaine College Republicans’ hardline anti-immigration stance and use of social media to "get a rise out of people."

The group invited Michelle Malkin, a conservative columnist who was cut off from speaking at future Young Americans for Liberty, or YAL, events in November 2019, after she praised Nick Fuentes, a broadcaster who has been criticized for anti-Semitic remarks, Holocaust denial and interrupting speakers, The Hill reported. Fried takes issue with the way Fuentes and Malkin speak about immigration policy, and drew the line when student members of UMaine College Republicans appeared to show support for them, she said.

“There’s a difference between disagreeing on immigration policy and talking about immigration in these ways that are very negative, denigrating, demeaning and inaccurate,” Fried said. “At the same time [UMaine College Republicans] have every right to have their views and express their views … They have every right to exist and the best answer is for people to engage with them and express their own views, but I also have my own freedom of association.”

It was an “overwhelming support for free speech and free expression” that led Fried to agree to be listed as the group’s adviser, she said. Fried had overseen the same chapter from 2015 to 2018. But UMaine College Republicans have adopted a different set of politics since then. Fried described the group as "very Trumpy to alt-right."

Jeremiah Childs, the group's vice president, said they identify with President Donald Trump’s “America First” movement and are more socially conservative than the previous iteration of UMaine College Republicans.

“It’s really fallacious linking us to Holocaust denial,” Childs said. “The whole thing is very hyperbolic. We believe the Holocaust happened … I would not say that [Fuentes] represents us whatsoever. Our goal is to promote conservatism, the agenda, this is what we do. He is one person and is not representative of us. They’re doing this to delegitimize us because we’re popular.”

Some former members left the group to join other conservative organizations on campus, such as YAL. Some are considering forming a new College Republicans chapter, Fried said. About six members left last year. Childs said some joined Maine's chapter of Turning Point USA, another conservative campus group.

UMaine College Republicans take conservative stances on immigration, homosexuality and gender relations, and climate change. The group’s Facebook page had about 400,000 views in December, Childs said. In October, UMaine College Republicans published to Facebook a controversial post calling indigenous South American people “brutal societies … corrupted by rampant ritual sacrifice and cannibalism” in protest to the state’s renaming of Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day.

The post drew a response from administrators, who in a universitywide message said that the post uses 15th-century Spanish propaganda and dehumanizes indigenous people, some of whom who have close ties with Maine, said John Bear Mitchell, coordinator of the university’s Native American waiver and educational program. Mitchell is a citizen of the Penobscot Nation, which is located nearly six miles from Maine’s Orono campus in Indian Island, Me.

“We fully understand that this sort of material is upsetting to many members of our community, and it does not align with our values or the stated values of the university,” the university’s message said. “UMaine is a community brought together in our differences, and some of our most highly held values are civility, inclusion, compassion, understanding and respect. When those values are called into question by the words or actions of others, the reverberations are real and widely felt.”

Mitchell questioned Maine’s decision to note UMaine College Republicans’ right to free speech in the university’s initial statement on the offensive Facebook post, which suggested “the best remedy for speech we do not like or disagree with is more speech.” But in addressing the post head-on and engaging in discussion with concerned students and the Native American community, Mitchell said the university helped make their voices heard.

“Racism and racial awareness is really out there, it’s really visible now,” Mitchell said. “Because it’s so visible and we see it happening, people feel visible.”

Fraught Relations With College Democrats

An indigenous student organized a protest of about 100 people on campus in response to the Facebook post. Members of UMaine College Republicans attended to disrupt it, Mitchell said. Later, members harassed and physically threatened the student organizer, and out of fear she did not attend classes for a week, Mitchell said. Margaret Nagle, senior director of public relations, said Maine does not comment on matters of student conduct when asked about the accusation of harassment. The group denied those allegations.

“This is not true at all, we’ve never harassed anybody,” Childs said. “Nobody in our group has ever been found guilty of anything … My members always treat everyone with dignity and respect.”

Fried, who has taught at the university since 1997, said the discourse between college Democratic and Republican groups has gone downhill since her oversight of the group from 2015 to 2018, when leaders were friendly with each other and participated in constructive debate.

The Democratic group’s debates and conversations with UMaine College Republicans have been fraught, said Liam Kent, president of UMaine College Democrats.

“We have conversations but they’re not productive … they’re faux conversations to pass the time,” Kent said. “We try to be nice to them, we try to be cooperative with them and we try to keep it amicable between the groups, but they have stepped way over the line many times.”

Kent, who is gay, said his members do not feel safe in the same room as members of UMaine College Republicans and “fear that they will face repercussions for being who they are” when engaging with the group’s members. The only forum UMaine College Democrats will engage in is a formal debate, because those events are a “somewhat safe zone” with university security personnel, he said.

Because Fried resigned, the chapter of UMaine College Republicans is considered inactive by the university’s student government. It will need to reapply for recognition and be approved by a committee of student organizations and the Student Senate, Nagle said. Childs said the group has multiple candidates interested in becoming its faculty adviser.

UMaine College Republicans remains recognized by the College Republican National Committee, or CRNC, under the Maine Federation of College Republicans, said Childs, who is the federation's vice chairman. The CRNC did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Nagle said Maine had not spoken to the CRNC about the chapter’s behavior.

While the group is no longer recognized by the university, they can easily reorganize once they meet the student government requirements, Mitchell said.

“Any group that partakes in any racism or hate or direct threats to any students should be easily removed. But they’re not -- they’re protected,” he said. “I wouldn’t say that we should eliminate any Republican club. But anybody who engages in hate and racism should be removed, without question.”

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New presidents or provosts: New School Northeast CC NMC Paine Rockford Southwestern Michigan Tidewater Weber

Tue, 01/07/2020 - 01:00
  • Leah Barrett, vice president for student affairs at Northern Wyoming Community College District, has been selected as president of Northeast Community College, in Nebraska.
  • Marcia Conston, vice president for enrollment and student success services at Central Piedmont Community College, in North Carolina, has been chosen as president of Tidewater Community College, in Virginia.
  • Cheryl Evans Jones, interim president of Paine College, in Georgia, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Ravi Krovi, dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Akron, in Ohio, has been selected as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Weber State University, in Utah.
  • Dwight A. McBride, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Emory University, in Georgia, has been named president of the New School, in New York.
  • Nick Nissley, executive director of the School for Creative & Performing Arts, in Ohio, has been selected as president of Northwestern Michigan College.
  • Joseph L. Odenwald, vice president of student services at Southwestern Michigan College, has been chosen as president there.
  • Michael A. Perry, interim provost and vice president for academic affairs at Rockford University, in Illinois, has been named to the job on a permanent basis.
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