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In Hungary And Russia, Western-Style Universities Are Under Threat
Inside Higher Ed | News
The president of Central European University has vowed to fight proposed legislation that imperils the university’s future operations in Hungary. The new threat to the George Soros-founded, U.S.-accredited university in Budapest comes at the same time that the European University at St. Petersburg, in Russia, is fighting an arbitration court’s decision to revoke its license.
“We’re on the front line on an important battle for academic freedom that is now very international,” said Michael Ignatieff, CEU’s president and rector. “Mr. Erdoğan is closing down universities [in Turkey]; Mr. Putin is closing down universities [in Russia]. We very much don’t want Hungary on that list. We want to keep it on the right path.”
The threat to CEU’s continued operations in Hungary has provoked an outcry of support on social media from international scholars under the hashtags #istandwithceu and #defendCEU. The private university, founded in 1991 at the time of the Soviet Union’s collapse, offers master’s and doctoral degrees taught in English in the humanities, law, management, public policy and the social sciences. Its president is prominent internationally as a longtime Harvard professor and Canadian politician.
According to a statement from CEU, the amendments proposed to a national higher education law “would make it impossible for the university to continue its operations as an institution of higher education in Budapest, CEU's home for 25 years.” Specifically, the legislation would require the university, which is accredited in Hungary and the United States, to open a second campus in New York State, where it is chartered -- an action that the university maintains “would have no educational benefit and would incur needless financial and human resource costs.”
The university says that another provision of the legislation would, in effect, prevent it from issuing non-European -- in this case, American -- degrees. “They’re saying you can be a Hungarian institution in Hungary but you can’t be a Hungarian institution in Hungary that grants American-certified degrees, and that’s what we’ve been doing for 25 years. That’s what effectively puts us out of business,” Ignatieff said.
In a letter he sent to students, alumni, faculty and staff Tuesday, Ignatieff described the proposed legislation as being “targeted at one institution and one institution only. It is discriminatory. It strikes at the heart of what we have been doing at CEU for over two decades. We are in full conformity with Hungarian law and have been for more than two decades.”
Hungary’s education minister, László Palkovics, disputed that CEU is being singled out. According to reports from the BBC and the Associated Press, Palkovics told reporters that the proposed law was the result of a review of 28 foreign universities operating in Hungary, of which only one, CEU, lacks a campus in its home country. Palkovics said the government does not want the university to leave Hungary and that it would support a bilateral agreement with the U.S. enabling it to remain open.
"This is not an anti-CEU investigation and not against Mr. Soros," Palkovics reportedly said. "We don't have any concern about the quality of the diplomas."
The New York Times reported earlier this month that the election of Donald J. Trump had the effect in Eastern Europe of emboldening opponents of Soros, the liberal financier and philanthropist who promotes democratic, transparent government and freedom of expression through the Open Society Foundations. Anti-Soros sentiment has been strong in Hungary, where the populist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has pursued a path of what he has called “illiberal democracy.”
“I wouldn’t want to take this too far, but I’ve noticed a significant darkening of the tone since November 2016,” said Ignatieff. “Before that relations were sunnier; after that they got darker. I think the government has had this in mind for a long time and thinks it’s going to get a green light from certain people."
A statement issued Wednesday by the U.S. embassy in Budapest expressed concern about the legislation proposed in Hungary's Parliament, however. The statement from the chargé d’affaires of the Embassy of the United States to Budapest, David Kostelancik, registered the opposition of the United States “to any effort to compromise the operations or independence of the university.” The statement described CEU as “a premier academic institution with an excellent reputation in Hungary and around the world” and “as an important center of academic freedom in the region.”
“I think if they think the Trump administration is looking the other way, they’re mistaken,” said Ignatieff.
The European University at St. Petersburg
Meanwhile, in Russia, the European University at St. Petersburg is appealing a March 20 ruling by an arbitration court to revoke its license. Another graduate-only institution in the arts and humanities, EUSP was founded in 1994 and offers master's and Ph.D. programs taught in English and Russian.
At issue in the court dispute, the university’s rector, Oleg Kharkhordin, said in an interview, is whether the university responded adequately to alleged rule violations uncovered in a series of inspections over the summer. The university says the inspections were prompted by a complaint against the university by Vitaly Milonov, a St. Petersburg politician known internationally for his role in promoting Russia’s much-maligned law banning "gay propaganda."
Milonov, a member of the Russian Parliament, could not be reached by Inside Higher Ed. But in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, Milonov said he was passing along complaints of citizens and students, including a complaint about the teaching of gender studies at the university. "I personally find that disgusting, it's fake studies, and it may well be illegal," Milonov told The Christian Science Monitor. "But I'm not qualified to judge, so I handed it on to the proper authorities."
EUSP, Kharkhordin told Inside Higher Ed, is home to “the biggest gender studies center in Russia. Most of the textbooks in the last 20 years are written by our professors.”
The university endured inspections from 11 regulatory agencies and was cited for 120 violations of licensing standards, “most of which,” the university said in a December statement, “related to the presence or absence of certain documents in the university departments.” After the university worked to remedy the concerns, Kharkhordin said, the initial list of 120 violations -- which included things like the lack of an on-site gymnasium and failure to display anti-alcohol literature -- shrank to 32, then four -- and now one. Kharkhordin said the one remaining area of active dispute with the Federal Service for Supervision of Education and Science, known as the Rosobrnadzor, relates to whether the university meets licensing requirements in terms of the percentage of its political science faculty who are doing practical work in their field. Kharkhordin said government officials have failed to provide a clear definition of what they mean by this. The Russian government's English-language press office did not return Inside Higher Ed's requests for comment.
"In our view Rosobrnadzor’s decision is wrong, frivolous and without merit," EUSP's board said in a statement Wednesday. "Moreover, the specific reasons for annulment of the EUSP license are minor, technical and have already been fully remedied."
The revocation of EUSP's license does not take effect until after appeals are exhausted. The board said university administrators and trustees "are working diligently through all official and direct channels to seek to void or reverse the annulment decision as soon as possible."
The Rosobrnadzor previously suspended EUSP's educational license in December, but that suspension was temporarily put on hold by a court in what the university described as a decision "in accordance with the instruction of the president of the Russian Federation." EUSP officials wrote to President Vladimir Putin last November asking that he "instruct the government to review the circumstances of the case and take the necessary measures to ensure that the educational process at the European University is not interrupted."
Apart from the ongoing hearings involving the university's educational license, EUSP is also facing a parallel dispute over its building lease with the city government in St. Petersburg over allegations that it made certain altercations to the palace building it occupies without the approval of the historical commission.
Numerous international universities and organizations have come out in support of EUSP, which, as The Moscow Times has reported, Russia’s own rankings place first among the country's universities in terms of research productivity.
"The European University at St. Petersburg is unquestionably a leader in Russia education and scholarship," the president of the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages, Kevin M. F. Platt, wrote in one such statement of support posted on the group's website. "Its professors are globally recognized authorities in a range of social-scientific and humanistic disciplines, whose publications appear in the most visible and highly rated scholarly journals and presses of the world. The graduates of the EUSP go on to become important and productive professionals in business and government, and also to pursue careers as successful scholars in their own right at other leading institutions in Russia and elsewhere. The EUSP’s programs for foreign students are among the most important centers offering the riches of Russian scholarship and culture to the world."GlobalInternational Higher EducationEditorial Tags: Academic freedomRussiaInternational higher educationImage Source: Central European UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Report Urges Data Science Course Work For All Undergraduates To Close Growing Skills Gap
Inside Higher Ed | News
A shortage of job candidates with fluency in data science and analytics is among the nation’s most yawning of skills gaps, one requiring substantial changes by higher education institutions and employers alike.
That’s the central finding of a new report from the Business-Higher Education Forum, a nonprofit membership group of Fortune 500 CEOs and college leaders, and PricewaterhouseCoopers, a large consulting and audit company.
An estimated 2.72 million new job postings in 2020 will seek workers with skills in data science and analytics, according to an analysis from Burning Glass Technologies that the forum and PwC commissioned. (The report defines data science as the extraction of “actionable knowledge” from data and analytics to be the synthesis of knowledge from information -- such as creating visualizations from raw data.)
And in 2015, the report said, there were more job postings looking for these skills -- 2.35 million -- than the total number combined that were seeking registered nurses and truck drivers.
Data science skills are sought for much more than just jobs in computer science or technology.
The demand touches many sectors, according to the report, including finance and insurance, manufacturing, retail trade, and professional services. Data science and analytics-enabled jobs include human resources managers, business analysts, geographers and marketing managers.
The report compares this growth to the workplace revolution that began 30 years ago with the personal computer. Yet it identifies a “fundamental disconnect” between colleges and employers that threatens the nation’s economic competitiveness.
A Gallup poll, conducted for the forum, found that 69 percent of employers expect candidates with data science skills will get preference for jobs with their organizations. But just 23 percent of college leaders said their graduates will have those skills.
One reason for this gap is “an educational culture where both faculty and students devote little time outside of their own specialties,” the report said. So while data scientists with graduate degrees have the chops, business majors typically do not.
Likewise, employers have not changed their hiring practices to adequately respond to the disconnect.
“The time-honored practice of treating degrees as proxies for skill sets doesn’t work with data science and analytics,” the report said.
Colleges are adding degrees and certificates in this discipline, with 303 new accredited data science programs in the U.S. since 2010, a 52 percent increase. But most are too new for employers to get a good sense of the job candidates they produce, according to the report. Meanwhile, business schools offer few programs that include related course work.
“Business and higher education aren’t on the same page,” the report said.
Data science also has a serious problem with a lack of diversity. As is the case in STEM fields, it attracts relatively few women and underrepresented minorities.
Another concern, according to the report, is little outside financial support to expand data science training. Only 30 percent of college leaders said state funds meaningfully back their programs, the Gallup survey found, and only 2 percent said private money is a main source of support.
The report includes several recommendations for colleges and businesses to close the data science gap.
One step is agreement on common skills students will need to prepare for jobs requiring some data science skills. The forum created such a profile for undergraduates, which describes the “foundational data science and analytics skills every graduate walking out of our colleges and universities should have.”
The group hopes colleges will use the framework to guide curriculum choices around course work for data literacy, communication of data and how students can link data to business value.
That means accepting that the demand in data science isn't just leading to the creation of new professional disciplines, the report said, but also altering established disciplines.
There is much work to be done if, as the report argues, all undergraduate majors should require some foundational knowledge of analytics and the data science process. For example, the Gallup poll found just 21 percent of college leaders reported that their institutions require data science and analytics course work for mathematics and science majors.
The forum suggests that more institutions follow the lead of Drake University, which offers a minor in data analytics to undergraduates in any field of study.
Likewise, the report includes ideas for colleges to try boost diversity in data science. They include training for faculty, teaching foundational skills in a broad number of degree programs and creating engaging introductory courses, such as breaking up a course into three tracks, with one that requires no computer programming background.
Lynn Pasquerella, president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, said she backs the group’s suggestions.
“Programs in data science, like the ones recommended in the report, recognize the crucial importance of cross-disciplinary thinking and the need to close the divide between knowledge and experience in preparing all students to address the unscripted challenges of the 21st century,” Pasquerella, the former president of Mount Holyoke College, said via email. “They require integrative learning frameworks that adopt holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to addressing real-world problems.”
The report also calls for businesses to put their money where their mouths are by helping colleges develop multidisciplinary programs in data science.
It argues that the private sector should focus first on supporting applied and experience-building academic tracks, like Northeastern University’s master of data science, which offers students up to a year of pregraduation work experience through co-ops and internships.
“This report provides an unprecedented opportunity for collaboration between business and higher education,” said Brian Fitzgerald, the forum’s CEO. “Higher education’s appetite to engage with business is high, and I encourage business leaders to create more partnerships that integrate high-value skills into the educational experience.”Teaching and LearningEditorial Tags: Computer scienceTeachingTechnologyIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
'The Devil And Webster' Is A Fictional Tale Of A Liberal College President Facing A Student Protest
Inside Higher Ed | News
Naomi Roth never set out to be a college president. A gender studies scholar at (fictional) Webster College, she finds herself placed on the search committee for a new president when she is drafted to successfully handle a campus controversy.
Roth is the central figure in The Devil and Webster, by Jean Hanff Korelitz, who has skewered academe before. She wrote Admission, which was turned into a film starring Tina Fey (with considerable change from the novel). And the world of elite college admissions -- Webster is a New England liberal arts college in the Amherst and Williams tradition -- continues to play a role in her work. Roth must steel herself when admissions decisions go out to deal with disappointed parents who have connections to the college.
As the story opens, one of the students in a women’s residence hall announces his transgender status and identification as a man. Other women in the dormitory protest. “This is a case of male penetration of a designated women-only space,” complains one. As the controversy becomes a national media sensation, Roth handles the press attention (and the transgender student opts to leave). Other search committee members see Roth’s potential as an administrator, and she embraces the job. Still, her secretary -- inherited from her predecessor -- is able with a glance to shame her over not dressing or acting appropriately presidential.
The trouble for Roth begins when she notices students starting to camp out in the center of campus in a protest. Proud of the college's progressive ideals and actions, Roth wonders what students could possibly be protesting. "The college burned clean fuel and recycled every substance known to man, and Webster Food Services had even weeded out factory-farmed animals and genetically modified produce. What was getting them sufficiently worked up to forswear their beds and showers and sleep out?"
As a veteran of campus protests herself, Roth assumes she'll be sympathetic and is stunned that the students haven't come to see her to discuss what's on their minds -- so she seeks them out (including her daughter, a student and one of the protesters). She finds the issue upsetting the students is the denial of tenure to an anthropology professor popular with students, who note that he is a "professor of color." Roth tries hard to understand the students' motives, especially those of Omar Khayal, the Palestinian student who is the leader of the protest.
Roth knows why the professor was denied tenure. His skimpy publishing record is marred by plagiarism issues. And his popularity with students appears in part related to his ease in grading, as suggested by one student review: "Professor Gall is a smooth dude. I totes played World of Warcraft all semester and I still passed the final."
As president, Roth feels she can't reveal anything about Gall to protesting students or inquiring reporters, but she is convinced that the college did the right thing in denying tenure.
Indeed, the book constantly portrays the between-a-rock-and-a-hard-place reality of the life of a college president. Another student grievance is that Webster has canceled its study abroad options in Kenya and Vietnam. Roth actually wanted more students to go to those countries (over the oversubscribed Florence option) but only a handful chose those countries over several years, and one student came home with malaria, forcing Roth to deal with a potential lawsuit as a result. Students protesting don't much care about those details.
Via email, Korelitz responded to some questions about the novel.
Q: What prompted you to move from admissions to the college presidency as your point of perspective for the novel?
A: I didn’t really consider it a move. For me, a novel is first and foremost about the story. In this case the story was about a confrontation between a woman who considers herself ideologically in line with her own younger self and an enigmatic student who appears to see her very differently, and who forces her to rethink who she is and what she actually believes. What happens when radicals grow up and actually occupy positions of power? That was the question the novel began to coalesce around. The admissions elements began to creep in as I wrote the novel -- I guess I haven’t outgrown my own fascination with the process. (But neither has anyone else, so that’s OK!)
Q: Do you think a Naomi Roth could rise through the ranks in academe today?
A: I don’t see why not. Her academic credentials are solid. She’s a well-liked teacher in the classroom and she strives to get along with everyone -- fellow faculty, administration, alumnae, students. She also has real affection for her adopted institution, Webster College. I was a faculty spouse at Princeton when Shirley Tilghman went from popular (and deeply respected) professor to member of the presidential search committee to president of the university. That seemed to go very smoothly, and she was a marvelous president.
Q: Did any particular protests inspire you?
A: My essential feeling is this: colleges are right to invite controversial speakers to campus, and members of the community are also right to peacefully protest, if that’s what they want to do. An even better idea, though, would be to actually attend these events, listen to opposing viewpoints and vigorously challenge them. Education should not be about having one’s positions unchallenged, or -- even worse -- never allowing other opinions to be aired in the first place. One of the reasons I have enjoyed living in academic communities and writing about academic communities is that I think of them as places where ideas come to meet one another. This is a good thing.
Q: A reader might think you have a cynical perspective on campus protests, given the facts that are clear to the reader of your novel (but not the fictional students). Do you think the Webster Dissent (as the student protest is called) is typical of the current state of campus protest?
A: I’m a little cynical about everything, not just the student protesters in The Devil and Webster. Another effect of living in proximity to a university (Princeton, where my husband has taught since 1987) is that however much things may be changing, they also remain the same. The students are eternally lovely, interesting, talented, curious … also ridiculous, adolescent, insufferable and petty. The trigger issues may change, but college students are also engaged in the process of growing up, leaving home and separating from Mom and Dad. How much of student protest comes from those utterly banal impulses, rather than heartfelt advocacy of a political cause? It’s not a put-down, just an observation. We were exactly the same when we were in college!
Q: If this novel becomes a film, who would you recommend to play Naomi?
A: Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve been asked or even thought about this question. Still, it took me a mere nanosecond to come up with the answer: Maggie Gyllenhaal. But nobody will care about my recommendation. They never ask the writer!Books and PublishingNew Books About Higher EducationEditorial Tags: ArtsCollege administrationIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Career-Services Platform Handshake Sees Quick Growth, But Also Questions About Data Privacy
Inside Higher Ed | News
College career centers are seeing big boosts in interactions between students and potential employers -- a development they credit to Handshake, a talent-recruitment start-up. But many students who have profiles on the platform say they don’t remember listing their grades or even signing up, and some privacy experts are raising questions about the site's terms of service.
Handshake was founded in 2014 by three engineering students at Michigan Technological University in an effort to give students access to a larger number of potential employers, no matter their location, head of business Jonathan Stull and co-founder Garrett Lord said in an interview.
Lord said he founded the company because of a problem many of his classmates at Michigan Tech faced: the university is located in the state’s Upper Peninsula, a quarter of a day’s drive from Minneapolis and Milwaukee. “A lot of my smart, talented computer science friends didn’t have the opportunities that my West Coast, East Coast friends were having,” he said.
For students, Handshake works a lot like LinkedIn, the professional networking site. Students can build profiles highlighting their academic accomplishments, skills and extracurricular activities, and then make those profiles visible to companies on Handshake that have connected with their university.
Inside Higher Ed on Monday morning activated an account and invited 10 universities to connect on Handshake. Within three hours, six universities approved the requests, granting a reporter access to more than 47,700 student profiles.
Many students appear to have spent time and effort fleshing out their profiles, adding head shots, student clubs, work experience and other pieces of information designed to market themselves to potential employers.
But many other students appear never to have touched their profiles. Those profiles contain only basic information such as major, year and intended graduation date, and, in the case of many universities, grade point average.
Some of those students, contacted by Inside Higher Ed, said they were not aware of Handshake.
“I do not remember even signing up for the service, let alone allowing it to list my GPA,” a former student at the University of Rochester said in an email.
A student at Emory University said the same: “I do not remember giving Handshake permission to list my GPA.”
A recent alumnus of Boston University added, “I wouldn’t know how to take [the information] off, because I don’t remember signing up.”
Disclosing information about thousands of students’ grades without their written consent would be a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. When reached for comment, however, the universities all said the same thing: at some point, the students gave Handshake permission to display that information.
"Based on the University of Rochester’s agreement with Handshake, a student’s information is only available to potential employers after the student signs up for the Handshake system," a spokesperson for the University of Rochester said in an email. "Once students join, they can customize the settings of their profile according to their privacy preferences. Without a University of Rochester student’s active permission, employers are not able to view that student’s details through Handshake, including his or her GPA."
Following the requests for comment, three of the universities revoked Inside Higher Ed’s access to student profiles.
‘A Huge Win for Students and Employers’
Handshake has gained traction over the last three years. Now headquartered in San Francisco, the start-up has raised $34 million in venture capital funding, according to Crunchbase. Today, more than 160 colleges use the start-up’s platform to run their career centers.
Colleges typically see the number of companies interacting with students double or triple after switching to Handshake, and a 30-40 percent increase in students interacting with the career center, Lord said.
The University of California, Berkeley, began using Handshake in 2016. Thomas C. Devlin, executive director of the career center, said in an email that the platform “substantially increases student engagement with the career center.” He was traveling and could not provide exact numbers, but added, “Simply, we find Handshake to be the new superhighway for career-minded students.”
The University of San Francisco plans to make the switch to Handshake on June 1, said Alex Hochman, senior director of the career services center there. The center made the decision after consulting with Berkeley, Stanford University, Villanova University and other Handshake customers, he said.
“The feedback that I got was that Handshake is a huge win for students and employers,” Hochman said in an email. “They all said that student engagement was 30 percent-plus higher, and that they were seeing a large increase in employers on campus.”
Handshake also touts the benefit it offers to employers. Box, an online storage provider based in the Redwood City, Calif., in 2016 used the platform to hire three students from Morehouse College, a historically black institution in Atlanta.
When a college begins using Handshake, it uses software provided by the start-up to upload basic information about students -- first and last names, year, major, and so on -- and keep it up-to-date. The information remains private until students activate their accounts, Lord and Stull said. Some institutions, like Villanova, include student GPA in that upload; others, like Princeton University, do not, they said.
“When [it is] uploaded, never, ever is that that student information ever shown to anybody else outside the career center,” Lord said. “The only time a student profile -- name, GPA -- is shown to an employer is when a student logs into Handshake and goes through an onboarding process.”
Lord and Stull shared screenshots of the onboarding process. Students are first asked whether they want to make their profile public or private, then about where in the U.S. they could see themselves working, their skills and extracurricular activities. Finally, students are given an opportunity to edit their profiles, which includes checking boxes to hide their cumulative and department GPAs (that information is visible by default).
Only about 24 percent of students who chose to make their profiles public hide their GPA, Stull said. Most students on Handshake have public profiles, he added -- just 9 percent of students have private profiles.
“There would be no situation where a student would have information released about them without their explicit consent,” Lord said.
‘Committed to Make It as Clear as Possible’
It could be that the students surprised to find themselves listed on Handshake simply forgot that they signed up. Perhaps they did it as freshmen, quickly clicking through the onboarding process without reading the instructions. Another culprit: not reading the terms of service, an issue so common that South Park once built an episode around it.
However, LeRoy Rooker, who for two decades headed the U.S. Department of Education’s Family Policy Compliance Office, which oversees FERPA, said in an interview that the specific language in the terms of service, combined with fact that colleges upload information about students, is important.
In an interview, Rooker pointed out that Handshake’s terms of service state that users “agree that [the] company may share your personally identifiable information, contact details, education history and grades, and other information you enter through the services with your school(s) and potential employers.”
In other words, students agree to share information that they themselves entered, not the college.
“If the student puts it in there, then it’s fine,” Rooker, a senior fellow with the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, said. “But if [Handshake is] getting this from the school and putting it out there, then that’s where the consent needs to come into play.”
Steven J. McDonald, general counsel at the Rhode Island School of Design, said that language, while not perfect, suggests Handshake is “on the right path” to complying with FERPA.
"I assume that the [terms of service] is an effort to obtain student consent for Handshake to then share that information with employers (just as schools themselves would need such consent)," McDonald said in an email.
Coincidentally, Lord said, Handshake is preparing to update its terms of service ahead of the National Association of Colleges and Employers conference in June to make them easier for the average user to understand.
“If it’s not as clear as it should be today, we’re committed to make it as clear as possible,” Stull said. “It is 100 percent our intent that students are 100 percent in control of their data.”
Since Handshake’s platform has been active for only two years, the start-up has not yet performed a purge of accounts that appear to be inactive. Stull said the company may do so in the future.
“We don’t want students on the system who aren’t getting value out of it,” he said.TechnologyEditorial Tags: Career servicesImage Source: HandshakeIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
U Louisiana Monroe Getting Rid Of Two Major Natural History Collections To Make Way For A Sports Field
Inside Higher Ed | News
Count flora and fauna -- at least on display in academe -- as the newest casualties of Louisiana’s higher education budget crisis. The University of Louisiana at Monroe recently said it could no longer house the major plant and fish collections in its Museum of Natural History, and science Twitter raged over a shared Facebook post from the museum saying that it had been given “48 hours to suggest an alternate location for the collections on campus.”
Some took the post to mean that the collections would be destroyed within hours -- which they won’t be. Facing backlash, the university allegedly asked the museum to clarify the situation in another Facebook post, which reads, in part, “State appropriations have been cut more than 50 percent since 2008 and [the university] has struggled to provide public services. … A 48-hour deadline was set only to find space on campus to relocate the collections. If no space is found, the collections need to be donated to other institutions.”
Still, the new post reads, the collections need to be disposed of if no new homes are found -- to meet construction deadlines for the renovation of the Brown Stadium for track and field.
You can probably imagine some of the public reaction to a university ditching academic collections for another sports facility. But if you can't, here are some examples.@john_overholt @KingTherapy @ULM_Official Well it IS Louisiana we're talking about here, folks. No surprise here.— Corporate Buddhism (@Ganbare_Gincun) March 29, 2017@john_overholt @geetadayal @ULM_Official Kayaking into oblivion pic.twitter.com/ZCYSqcbDUo— Samely, Nports (@OtherSideShows) March 29, 2017@lolotehe @john_overholt @ULM_Official pic.twitter.com/M2O0PhTJm4— Joshua Danowitz (@therealjoshudan) March 29, 2017
Thomas Sasek, associate professor of biology and curator of the R. Dale Thomas plant collection, said in an interview that he wrote both Facebook posts after hearing the collections news from administrators within the College of Arts, Education and Sciences, which manages the museum. He said the collections are currently housed in the Brown stadium due to a lack of space, and that their use has declined over the years as faculty and student interest in taxonomy and natural history has given way to all things molecular.
Yet the herbarium in particular has historical and scientific relevance, he said, in that it includes examples of some 99 percent of all the plants in Louisiana and is bigger than all other plant collections in the state combined. Monroe is deep in the bayou, which has long been a part of the biology department’s identity.
“These two collections were each started by one person, from nothing, and built up to major collections -- the biggest collections [of their kind] in the South. They’re very complete.”
Sasek has painstakingly helped to digitize the herbarium within the last few years. Whether everyday use of the specimens might increase were they more accessible -- housed in the actual museum instead of at the edge of campus in the stadium -- seemed like a “chicken or egg thing," he said.
As such questions go, it doesn’t look like he’ll get the answer. Eric A. Pani, vice president for academic affairs and the administrative lead on the collections transfer, said in a statement released to a local newspaper that the collections will hopefully be donated somewhere by mid-July.
“Unfortunately, the fiscal situation facing the university over the years requires us to make choices like this,” Pani said. “We can no longer afford to store the collections and provide all of the public services we have in the past.”
Pani told Inside Higher Ed late Wednesday that the "research collections of plants, fish, amphibians and reptiles have not been used by our students and faculty much in the last few years, except for instructional purposes. Research use has largely been confined to people outside [Monroe] from loans we have made to them and visits they have made here. However, we have still had to maintain the collection."
Thus, he said via email, "I have concluded that the scientific integrity of the museum’s research collection will be better preserved at another institution that has the resources needed to house and care for it adequately. While this decision in not my ideal, it makes the most sense for preserving this important resource. The [university] will do everything in its power to find the right fit for the collection, which we hope will be in Louisiana or at least in the southeastern U.S."
Monroe has suggested that a classroom-sized sample of the collection remain on campus for teaching needs.
Pani has also said that renovations and improvements to Brown Stadium will begin this summer. “The work will raise the track to sanctioned status, allowing meets to be held there and other schools to host track and field competitions,” he told the newspaper. “Thus, it will provide an economic development boost for the region.”
Sasek said he’s received many offers of support and interest in the collections in the past few days, and that they will not be discarded. “We’re very proud the collection and hate to give it up, but if it goes someplace where it’s used more, that’s perfectly reasonable.”
Scott H. Harris, director of the James Monroe Museum at the University of Mary Washington and southeast regional representative for the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries, said divesting collections always raises concerns over responsibilities to any donors and “the potential loss of the collection to the public.”
But academic museums face many of the same financial pressures as nonacademic ones, such as generating sufficient operating income, securing funding for capital improvements and managing costs, Harris said. And with respect to fund-raising, academic museums usually operate within the framework of their parent institution's development program, which “can be challenging if the museum is not one of the university's primary fund-raising goals.”
For museums within public universities in particular, Harris said, cuts to state funding are a major concern. That’s true in his state, Virginia, he added, all the way to Louisiana, which has seen some of the nation’s deepest cuts to higher education.
The picture only gets worse under the Trump administration’s proposed federal budget, Harris said, which seeks to reduce or eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
“If any or all of this occurs,” he said, “it will be devastating to all museums, including academic ones.”Editorial Tags: Sciences/Tech/Engineering/MathIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Thu, 30 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Anxiety And Depression Are The Primary Concerns For Students Seeking Counseling Services
Inside Higher Ed | News
More than half of the college students who visited their campus counseling centers during the 2015-16 academic year reported symptoms of anxiety, according to a survey by the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors.
This marks the seventh year in a row that anxiety has been the top complaint among students seeking mental health services. This year, 51 percent of students who visited a counseling center reported having anxiety, followed by depression (41 percent), relationship concerns (34 percent) and suicidal ideation (20.5 percent). Many students reported experiencing multiple conditions at once.
Since 2009, when anxiety overtook depression as the No. 1 concern among college students, the number of students experiencing anxiety has steadily increased.
This survey was conducted between September 2015 and August 2016. In total, 529 counseling center directors representing that many institutions responded to the survey, with an even split between public and private institutions. The majority of respondents came from four-year colleges, but community colleges, professional schools and art schools were also included.
In an effort to reflect the makeup of their student bodies, counseling centers have diversified their clinical staff members. Of new hires, 62.2 percent are white, 15.3 percent black, 7.5 percent Latino and 10 percent Asian. This compares to current clinical staff, who are 70.9 percent white, 10.1 percent black, 7.3 percent Latino and 7.9 percent Asian.
“Student populations have become more diverse,” said Micky Sharma, president of the AUCCCD and director of counseling and consultation services at Ohio State University. “Counseling services work to create a staff that represents their student bodies.”
At Ohio State, for example, the counseling center now offers clinical services in nine different languages to meet the needs of their international students, who make up about 12 percent of the student body, Sharma said.
Regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, “anyone could show up with anxiety or depression or a relationship issue,” Sharma said. “A university counseling center is charged with providing help for everybody.”
Another key finding in the survey is that 41.6 percent of counseling centers hired additional staff members in the last academic year, compared to about 26 percent in 2011 and 36 percent in 2016.
College counseling centers continue to grow to match the demands of their students, according to David Reetz, the lead researcher and coordinator for the 2016 survey and director of counseling and psychological services at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
“More students are seeking services because we continue to be more and more aware that a student’s health and well-being have a lot to do with their success in their academic programs and the quality of their student life experience,” Reetz said.
In fact, of the students surveyed, about 72 percent who used counseling services said it helped their academic performance in some way.
As more students continue to seek out mental health services and campus counseling centers try to keep up with new hires, the question of student wait times becomes key.
For the first time, this year’s survey asked counseling center directors about average wait times for students based on the number of business days between when the appointment was scheduled and when it occurred.
The survey team found that, on average, students waited between six and eight business days for counseling services. However, as might be expected, institutions with a lower ratio of professional staff to students saw shorter wait times.
Reetz noted that the wait-time average is a “tricky number,” given that some students opt to schedule their first appointment farther out to accommodate their own schedules.
“Students don’t necessarily want to be seen right away,” Reetz said, adding that, generally, “the more staff a center has, the shorter that wait time is between initial contact and first appointment.”Health ProfessionsTransforming the Student ExperienceEditorial Tags: CounselingStudent lifeMental healthIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Christian Professors Circulate Letter Pledging Support To Marginalized And Vulnerable Students
Inside Higher Ed | News
Academics largely lean to the political left. It’s unsurprising, then, that so many have spoken out against threats facing undocumented and otherwise vulnerable students in recent months. But a new letter circulating in support of marginalized students is unusual in that it’s from a subset of academics not always visible in debates about academe: professors at faith-based institutions.
“The U.S. has experienced a contentious election and postelection season marked by fear, polarization and violence,” reads the statement. “The current political climate reveals longstanding national sins of racism, misogyny, nativism and great economic disparity. As faculty members of Christian institutions of higher education who represent varying degrees of privilege and power (but who are not representing those institutions in this document), we, the undersigned, join our voices with those who are most vulnerable.”
Regardless of where Christians stand politically, the letter continues, “the gospel demands we recognize vulnerable populations among us.” And as Christian educators, it says, “we affirm our deep resolve to pursue truth, to reason carefully and to rely on sound evidence. While now ‘we see through a glass darkly’ (1 Corinthians 13:12), we stand resolutely against any falsehood that seeks to undermine truth and any propaganda intended to obscure it.”
The statement asserts that a large portion of the community “is weeping” and that the “fear of deportation is real,” as is the “anxiety of being assaulted” or “the fear of being forgotten or mistreated.” Many people of color, women and other marginalized groups “feel increasingly alienated not only in the current national context but in much of the white evangelical culture as well,” it says.
“Acknowledging that pain and woundedness may take many forms, we humbly entreat the Christian community to seek healing, reconciliation and justice. ...We confess that we have, too often, failed in calling out injustice, in loving and knowing our neighbors, and in properly stewarding God’s creation. We pray for genuine conviction to undo the harm we have caused."
The letter has been signed by hundreds of faculty members at dozens of Christian and Roman Catholic institutions and theological schools on secular campuses. It was inspired by two earlier, institution-specific statements: one from faculty and staff members at North Park Theological Seminary and one from faculty and staff members at Westmont College in California.
Lisa DeBoer, a professor of art at Westmont, a Christian liberal arts institution, said drafting the statement -- originally for students and alumni -- was a group effort. Gathering additional names was largely a face-to-face endeavor, she added. But soon after the letter reached its initial audiences, signers were contacted by those at other campuses who wanted to add their names.
DeBoer said while there are many Christians teaching and studying at more stereotypically liberal campuses, those who signed this letter did so “explicitly as scholars and as Christians who work in institutions whose mission is in part to deepen and bear witness to Christian faith in all its variety,” in the U.S. and beyond.
Such professors face “additional responsibilities regarding what we say and do,” she added. Not only responsible “to the standards of the academy and our guilds, we are also responsible to the highest calling of our faith.”
Hence the necessity for confession as well as commitment, she said; the letter is officially called “A Statement of Confession and Commitment.”
Christopher Gehrz, chair of history at Bethel University, an evangelical Christian college in Minnesota, said he noticed the letter last week and encouraged a group of campus colleagues to sign on.
“My first reaction was that the statement was just stating basic Christian beliefs,” he said -- namely that all humans are created in the image of God, called to be good stewards of creation, valuing truth and humility, and grieving with the suffering. Because of those convictions, he said, cautioning that letter signers represent the political spectrum, “I’m deeply troubled by the current state of American politics, starting with the rhetoric, behavior and policies of our president.”
While Christians and especially evangelicals are increasingly associated with the “politics of anger, fear and injustice,” he said, “someone needs to scream out that to be Christian is not to hate Muslims or to demonize immigrants.” To be Christian is not to ignore the problems of racialization or climate change, he added, nor to put “America first” or pledge “total allegiance” to any nation or its leader.
As to why Christian professors, specifically, need to speak out, Gehrz said their primary job “as scholars and educators is to seek truth,” especially in what’s been called a “post-truth” age. But if they bear the name of Christ, he added, “then we're also called to bring about peace, reconciliation and justice.”
He noted that Confessing Faculty, the domain name for the letter site, alludes to the historical Confessing Church that opposed Nazism during the 1930s. Over all, Gehrz called the statement “significant precisely because it's surprising.”
Kathryn A. Lee, chair of political science at Whitworth University, a Christian liberal arts institution in Washington, said she was impressed by the statement's "comprehensiveness." It draws attention "to the treatment of marginalized groups by white evangelical culture, as well as to structural injustices," she added. "I am grateful for that because in seeking justice, not just Christians, but all human beings, show love for our neighbors."
The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities wasn’t involved in the drafting of the letter but did share it on its Facebook page. Shirley Hoogstra, president, said via email that she couldn't speak for the signers, but that citizens and “followers of Jesus believe that using one’s voice for those with less voice is a duty that comes with privilege.”
The Confessing Faculty letter “reflects the engagement in the public square by those whose job it is to think, write and teach about issues of Christian faith that undergird healing, reconciliation and justice,” she added. Letters are “rarely perfect or complete. But they do speak about commitments, ideals and aspirations and are the actions of a democratic process that listens to voices of concern.”
Hoogstra said her own organization “expects that others with differing voices will also speak into the democratic context.”
Nancy Phinney, a spokeswoman for Westmont College, said faculty and staff members work closely with students inside and outside the classroom and “seek to support them and serve them in all areas of their lives, especially when they face personal challenges.” No current student faces deportation, to the college’s knowledge, she said, but “we will always strive to balance upholding the law of the land with seeking to build a community that embodies the life and spirit of Jesus.”The Presidential RaceReligious CollegesEditorial Tags: Academic freedomImage Caption: North Park UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Study Finds Connection Between Alumni Legislators And Public Higher Ed Funding
Inside Higher Ed | News
It pays to have friends in high places -- and for public colleges and universities, it pays to have alumni in state legislatures.
A new study from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business found a positive relationship between state funding levels for higher education and the share of legislators who attended the public colleges and universities in their states. In other words, legislatures where more lawmakers have ties to in-state colleges and universities provide more funding to those public institutions.
In fact, every legislator who has attended an in-state public college or university is associated with an additional $3.5 million in funding, according to the study’s authors.
Authors added that it’s not clear what, specifically, alumni legislators are doing to drive up funding. They could be lobbying fellow legislators. They could be voting on funding bills. They could be teaching universities about the best way to win state funding.
To reach their conclusion, the study’s authors analyzed data covering 96,010 legislators over the years from 2002 to 2014. Their findings don’t prove that adding a public-college graduate to a particular state assembly will directly cause a bump in public higher ed funding. But they clearly show a correlation between the number of legislators who were educated in public higher ed classrooms and funding for public colleges and universities.
The study also showed that the relationship was stronger in the six years after the Great Recession. And it was stronger among publicly educated legislators representing the districts in which their alma maters are located. Such legislators were likely not only supporting the institutions because they felt connected to them, but they were hearing from voters who support those institutions and the jobs they generate, said author Ryan C. McDevitt, an assistant professor of economics.
“Then you get the double whammy where they’re loyal to their school, plus they have their constituents,” McDevitt said.
Additionally, the study found that increases in the number of women representatives are associated with higher funding for state higher education. It found that the positive connection between funding and legislators who attended public institutions is stronger in states with smaller populations and smaller gross state products. And it found a stronger positive link between funding and legislators who attended public institutions in liberal states than in conservative states.
The findings are important at a time when state funding for higher education varies widely between states -- and after state funding for higher ed generally took a huge hit in the recession years.
“It’s a fascinating issue for two reasons,” said Aaron Chatterji, a report author who is an associate professor of business and public policy at Fuqua and Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. “One, the funding in higher education at the state level has been such a hot-button policy issue. Two, as March Madness reminds us, there is such school spirit. People are almost irrationally attached to their schools.”
Personal experience matters as legislators make decisions, he said.
“While we can’t show that adding another University of North Carolina graduate to the North Carolina General Assembly is going to result in higher funding, it does make you question whether universities should be more actively encouraging their graduates to run for public office and advocate for public education if they believe that will benefit their lives,” Chatterji said.
The study also found major differences in legislators’ educational backgrounds between states and regions. The Midwest had the highest portion of legislators with ties to four-year institutions in their states, 77.4 percent. It was followed closely by the South at 74.8 percent and more distantly by the West at 59.3 percent and the Northeast at 58.8 percent.
The authors suggested future research into other political interests that could affect the connection between state funding and alumni legislators, such as their membership on committees or campaign contributions received.Editorial Tags: State policyImage Source: North CarolinaImage Caption: Study from Duke University finds a connection between legislators who attended public colleges and support for public higher ed.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Wages Earnings Increase Significantly For Associate-Degree Holders
Inside Higher Ed | News
While some states and colleges are focused on boosting certificates as a way to increase work force development, associate degrees continue to increase graduates’ earnings more than shorter-term credentials.
A new paper from the Center for Analysis of Postsecondary Education and Employment at the Community College Research Center, at Teachers College of Columbia University, found that women on average receive a boost of about $7,200 a year for an associate degree, about 26 percent more than the earnings of women who have some college but no degree. For men, the earnings premium is about $4,600, 18 percent more than men with some college and no degree. The earnings gains and the time frame for when they appear for both men and women vary depending on the career.
The gain for certificate holders, however, is somewhat smaller. The average earnings increase for women who hold certificates is about $740 a year, and about $530 a year for men. The researchers state that longer-term certificates are more valuable than short-term ones, but the earnings boost may fade away over time. The researchers also considered the income losses connected to attending college.
“Over the long run, it is better to get an associate degree than a certificate in terms of earnings,” said Clive Belfield, an economics professor at Queens College of the City University of New York, who co-wrote the paper. “It’s also better to get a certificate than drop out … the idea is more is better.”
The report examines research from eight states that looked at students who completed degrees from 2002 to 2008. Their earnings were tracked for at least three years after college, until as late as 2014.
Belfield said the research is pretty consistent across state lines, but the gender differences have to do with the fields in which students pursue their certificate or degree.
Women may get paid less than men on average, but over a few years they gain more earning power than men, he said, adding that women tend to choose allied health or nursing fields to complete a certificate or degree.
“That’s kind of surprising, because males could choose those fields, too, but male students tend to choose subjects that either pay off or don’t pay off -- they take more risky choices,” Belfield said, adding that those riskier careers tend to be in areas like construction.
Some states are encouraging more students to pursue certificates. For instance, Indiana is offering two years of free tuition to students who pursue high-demand certificates. Meanwhile, Arizona, Kentucky, Louisiana and New Mexico have seen increases in the number of certificate holders, as the economies in those states are centered around fields that may only require a certificate at most.
Last year, the Lumina Foundation started counting high-quality credentials as part of the nationwide goal to reach 60 percent degree or certificate attainment by 2025. The foundation uses Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce metric of "high quality" as a certificate that gets a student a job with earnings 20 percent above the median wage for holders of high school diplomas.
“The more education you have the more you can earn, but at least having a high-quality credential is like life insurance,” said Courtney Brown, vice president of strategic impact for the Lumina Foundation. “It's something that shows you know something or you're able to do the job, and if you lose that job … you can take it to get another job or further education.”
Brown said the foundation will be reporting soon on the status of degree and certificate attainment in the country, but early numbers are showing certificate attainment remains about the same as it was last year, although it is increasing for those who already have a credential.
“It’s important that states are considering what are the most important credentials for their states,” Brown said.
Whether those credentials are certificates or degrees, states should be counting that they are high quality, protect workers and close equity gaps, she said.Community CollegesEditorial Tags: College costs/pricesFoundationsTuitionIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Wed, 29 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000
Study Suggests Scientific Work Force Is Aging -- As Younger Scientists Struggle To Find Good Jobs
Inside Higher Ed | News
Blame the boomers -- sort of. While the scientific work force is indeed getting older as baby boomers continue to work past traditional retirement age, the work force will continue to age even after boomers are gone, according to a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study, by David Blau and Bruce Weinberg, both professors of economics at Ohio State University, found that the average age of employed scientists increased from 45 in 1993 to nearly 49 in 2010. Scientists aged faster than the U.S. work force in general, and across fields -- even newer ones, such as computer and information science. The study includes those with natural and social science, health and engineering degrees.
The trend will only continue, with the average scientist’s age increasing by an additional 2.3 years within the near future, without intervention, according to a model included in the study.
Blau and Weinberg looked at data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Doctorate Recipients, tracking about 73,000 scientists aged 76 or younger. Roughly 40 percent were academic scientists, from tenured professors to staff researchers. The study also relied on some U.S. Census data.
The authors attribute much of what they observed about the graying work force to the baby-boom generation, but also to the revocation of the mandatory retirement age for university professors in 1994. "In 1993, the shape of the retirement hazard was similar to, but lower than the typical age pattern of retirement, with a substantial increase in the exit rate between ages 60 and 62, a jump at age 65, and a very large spike at age 70," the study says. "The most recent data show a much slower and more gradual increase in the exit hazard rate, and no major spikes. In particular, the large spike at age 70 in 1993 completely disappeared by 2008."
In 1993, 18 percent of scientists were 55 or older. By 2010, that statistic had jumped to 33 percent. By comparison, the U.S. general work force also aged, but less dramatically, from about 15 percent 55 or older to 23 percent over the same period.
Gender and other demographic shifts had no real impact on the age question, the authors say.
Weinberg said in an interview that he’s interested in the intersection of age and productivity, with the general perception being that one’s scientific contributions decline past a certain age. “That’s at best an oversimplification and maybe wrong, though,” he said -- so an aging population doesn’t necessarily mean less innovative science.
The argument recalls that made in a 2016 paper in Science: that a scientist’s impact is randomly distributed within their papers and is not linked to age.
Still, Weinberg and Blau’s paper raises questions about what the aging work force means for junior scientists -- many of whom are already waiting out faculty or other position as postdocs. He said his study can’t speak to that question directly. But a basic analysis suggests that scientists working longer means not only a more difficult entry-level academic job market, but also a more competitive funding environment for those trying to keep faculty jobs or be promoted, he added. And that’s even before proposed cuts to the federal science budget.
“This operates on two levels,” Weinberg said.
The funding question is of concern to a number of academic groups, including the National Academics of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, which recently launched the Next Generation Researchers Initiative. The following slide, presented at a January committee meeting by Michael Lauer, deputy director for extramural research for the National Institutes of Health, shows that rates for successful grants are going up for those over 60, but down for both early- and midcareer scientists.
Gary McDowell, a biophysical scientist and resident at Manylabs open science workspace, advocates for junior scientists as executive director of the nonprofit Future of Research (he's also on the committee for the new initiative). He said he left academe at 31 after a series of research positions, in part because the notion that “things wouldn’t be safe for the next 30 years” was “pretty intimidating.”
Over all, McDowell said Weinberg’s data add “to an overwhelming message right now that academia is incredibly tough to persist in.” The question going forward, he added, is “whether the scientific establishment will respond to these data in implementing recommendations that have been suggested over decades of reports, or continue as it has been, with an unsustainable, ever-increasing trainee population being pushed towards stable academic jobs that are neither being created nor vacated.”
Still, McDowell said he wouldn’t want to bring back mandatory retirement for professors. Weinberg also said it wouldn’t be a panacea to the employment and funding problems, or necessarily good for science, since many professors, again, are innovative into older age. And while unproductive professors with tenure may not be fired, he said, academic science can be highly inhospitable to those who hang on past their prime; labs, for example, can be taken away.
“I’m not 100 percent sure what the problem is, but, in terms of a solution, even if we could go back to mandatory retirement, that seems off.”FacultyEditorial Tags: Sciences/Tech/Engineering/MathFacultyGraduate educationPostdocsImage Source: Getty ImagesIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Tue, 28 Mar 2017 07:00:00 +0000