U. of Virginia Lifts Greek Ban, Adopts New Safety Agreement

The University of Virginia has lifted the ban on Greek social activities that was imposed last semester after an article in Rolling Stone detailed an alleged gang rape at a campus fraternity. The article's accuracy has since been questioned, but the university chose to keep the ban in place while it worked with Greek leadership councils to create new safety policies. The university adopted a new fraternal organization agreement on Tuesday, authorizing safety practices submitted by the Greek councils. Reflecting the concerns of the university's Board of Visitors, the precautions largely focus on alcohol consumption.

A minimum of three fraternity brothers must be "sober and lucid" at each social function, with at least one member present wherever alcohol is being distributed and at stairways leading to bedrooms. Fraternities must provide one additional sober member for every 30 members of the chapter. The new agreement allows for beer to be served unopened in its original can, but wine must be poured by one of the sober monitors. At parties where the number of guests exceeds the number of members present (what are called "Tier I events"), hard liquor cannot be served unless the fraternity hires a licensed bartender. Bottled water and food must be provided. Sororities, too, enacted new safety practices, including adopting an "Inter-Sorority Council Women On Call" program, where chapter leaders sign up in shifts to be the lead contact person for members in "unsafe situations."

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Essay about how a college president decided to discuss her struggle against breast cancer

On September 9, a breast cancer diagnosis shattered my plans for the new academic year. At the moment I heard the words spoken by the radiologist, my vision of the future simply dissolved. Later in the day, as my surgeon described the treatment plan, I was thinking about how it would affect me, my family, and my work at Simmons College. With barely any time to consider it, I made the instinctive decision to live my new future publicly, sharing my experience with the Simmons students, professors and staff in a real-time fashion. I am convinced this was the right decision for me.

Why I arrived at that conclusion so quickly is, I think, self-evident: I am president of a university that has an all-women's undergraduate college, graduate schools serving women and men, and a culture that emphasizes gender equality and celebrates diversity and inclusion. In this environment, how could I imagine maintaining a leadership role while combating a challenging disease in secret? Further, how could I not share my new and evolving learning about an affliction that affects 12 percent of the women in the United States? I could not. I would live this battle publicly.  

Each week, I write to the Simmons community about things that are on my mind; it has become the natural way to share my breast cancer journey, and I have found the response to be overwhelmingly supportive. If I had a moment's hesitation over my decision to go public, it faded quickly once I recognized the opportunity to reassure my community that it is possible to contend with a challenging diagnosis and to continue meaningful work, as have many before me. I hope that by writing candidly, I can help make a difference for those who may be experiencing similar challenges.

As the semester moved along, I tried to keep the same robust schedule I’ve always maintained with a few modifications for my treatment. For example, many people are shocked to find themselves scheduled in a meeting with me the day after chemo. It’s two to four days after these treatments that become challenging for me because the steroids in my system are wearing off. Through the generosity of the college’s trustees, I am now driven to work and to my daily professional appointments. It was difficult for me to accept such support given how much I value self-reliance, but not having to personally drive has made a huge difference in my ability to maintain my working schedule.

One aspect of my treatment that I find particularly difficult is the requirement that I avoid large groups because of my weakened immune system. For a college president who regularly meets with students, faculty, alumni, staff, community members, and donors, this was a tough change. However, there is really no way to get around this important requirement. I have had to make adjustments such as canceling my annual fall community meeting and missing the annual faculty and staff holiday party.

A cancer diagnosis of any kind constitutes an unspeakable event for many people. There is no escaping the facts: cancer affects one in two American men and one in three American women, according to the American Cancer Society. Changing societal attitudes about cancer so that we talk about it in honest and authentic terms and arm ourselves with knowledge can only help us in dealing with the No. 2 cause of death in the United States.      

Fear of breast cancer plagues patients, survivors and women who do not have the disease. Even women who acknowledge knowing that heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States fear that they will most likely die from breast cancer. Such fear too often leads to avoidance of screening or even seeing a physician for self-identified symptoms, creating great risk of more serious disease.  

I have generally shared these fears, particularly as I visited the Avon Foundation Comprehensive Breast Evaluation Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) every year for several decades for my annual mammogram. Many who participate in this important test will say that the waiting room is a quiet and sober place. All of us know why: Most of us will leave with a clean bill of health, while others require further review. This year I was in the second group, and while the anticipation was terrifying, it prepared me for my important learning that putting my life before my fear was the best way for me to handle the fear. 

During diagnosis, surgery, and now chemotherapy, I have seen that my single greatest source of fear is lack of any sense of understanding or control over what will happen. My response has been to be as engaged a patient as I can be while soliciting as much information about my treatment from my care team as I can handle. Facing the fear head-on is empowering, oddly enough, and finding role models who have done so in any circumstance has been especially helpful. When I write about my experiences with breast cancer, I try to be as explicit as possible about how I am dealing with the fears associated both with the disease and the treatment. 

In addition to the fear factor, I have observed what I consider is the diabolical confusion in the marketplace about the efficacy of mammography screening. The American Cancer Society advises annual mammograms for all women age 40 and over, while the United States Preventative Task Force (USPTF) a government agency, recommends biennial mammography after age 50 until age 74. In addition to confusion, this government advice opens the door to changes in reimbursement for testing done outside guidelines, particularly worrisome as we consider the ongoing national concerns about health care affordability.

Daniel Kopans, a physician at MGH, has been a particularly committed advocate for mammography in the face of this confusion, and cites both the poor quality of the Canadian studies, which are the basis for the USPTF guidelines, and the lack of media attention to the new Canadian studies, which demonstrate results supporting the value of mammography. As a woman who clearly benefited from annual mammography, I think anything less is a disservice to all of us.

My primary care physician has steadfastly advised me to have annual mammograms over the course of our 20-year relationship, and I have never missed one. All previous tests revealed nothing abnormal, but in the fall, the test revealed a stage 1, grade 3 tumor. Stage 1 is an early finding of a tumor less than 2 centimeters in size, while a grade 3 tumor is the most aggressive kind of tumor. Had I delayed this mammogram, the progress of the disease was inevitable. My story is the classic scenario in support of annual mammograms. However, women in the United States face great confusion due to significant differences in the recommendations of key advisers. 

My battle with breast cancer is now fully engaged, and I am committed to all aspects of the fight – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation and long-term medication – and to doing everything in my power to defeat this disease. One of the unexpected gifts of this experience is that I see life with more clarity and in a more intense light than ever before and I feel a sense of urgency in everything that I do – for myself, for my family, for the college. We just need to get on with it – face our challenges squarely and make every minute count. There is no time to waste.   

I trust that by sharing my experiences with those in the Simmons College community, I can help them face the challenges in their lives, too, whatever those are, and inspire them to engage their own challenges with tenacity.


Helen Drinan is president of Simmons College.

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Adjuncts at Washington U. Vote to Form SEIU Union

Adjunct professors at Washington University in St. Louis voted to form a union affiliated with Service Employees International Union, they announced Monday. More than 400 adjuncts will be part of the new bargaining unit, which is the first in St. Louis affiliated with SEIU's Adjunct Action metro-wide organizing campaign. Some 62 percent of adjuncts turned out to vote; 138 voted yes and 111 voted no. Michael O’Bryan, an adjunct instructor of English, called the vote an "important step toward improving the labor conditions of university faculty and, consequently, the learning experience of the students taught by those faculty" in an announcement. The university said in a statement that it is "committed to working with the union on matters of mutual importance."

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New presidents or provosts: Antioch DeVry Florida IIT Ivy Tech Lake Forest Lehigh Montana United Tribes

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  • Jeffrey J. Anderson, associate dean for leadership development at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, in Illinois, has been named president and CEO of Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, also in Illinois.

Michigan coaching situation shows presidents lack control over big-time sports (essay)

Yesterday my daughter – a graduate student in social work at the University of Michigan, with enough student loans for a down payment on a modest Ann Arbor house – asked me what I thought about the university’s $35 million (not counting various add-ons) contract agreement with its new football coach, Jim Harbaugh. Having closely followed the continuing dramatic rise in college football and basketball coach compensation levels, I wasn’t particularly surprised.

Some observers would argue that Harbaugh -- after wildly successful head coaching stints at Stanford and with the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers -- was not merely a candidate for the job, but the only candidate. A three-year starter at quarterback and Heisman Trophy finalist for the Wolverines, he was known for a fiery demeanor and competitive streak that matched his coach, the legendary Bo Schembechler.

When asked about Michigan’s chances against Ohio State in a 1986 game that would decide the Big Ten champion and Rose Bowl representative, Harbaugh guaranteed victory, defiantly declaring, “It’s a great feeling to beat Ohio State and we’re going to have that feeling Saturday. I don't care where we play the game. I hate to say it, but we could play it in the parking lot. We could play the game at 12 noon or midnight.” (Michigan went on to win the game.)

The label “favorite son” might be an understatement in how the Michigan faithful view Harbaugh. Given the hard times that have befallen the university’s storied football program, some prefer “savior.”

Enter the newly inaugurated Michigan president Mark Schlissel, who may believe that since assuming his present position, he has arrived in some sort of alternate universe. Schlissel, a physician by training, came to Ann Arbor after a stint as the provost at (in terms of athletics, the  comparatively pristine) Brown University, where a typical home football game attracts around 4,000 spectators. As Michigan fans would see it, that’s a decent tailgate turnout.

Schlissel had barely gotten comfortable in his new office chair before realizing that his first challenge wasn’t raising money for one of Michigan’s nationally renowned academic programs or providing leadership to attract world class faculty, but rather dealing with – gasp – a now competitively mediocre football program.

Early in his tenure, Schlissel – perhaps thinking he was still in Providence, not Ann Arbor – addressed the university’s Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs. He raised concerns about various academic issues relating to athletics, including graduation rates of football players and lowered admission standards for athletes – issues that should be on the mind of any president whose school sponsors Division I football and basketball.

But faster than you could say “Go Blue,” Schlissel – under pressure from various constituencies – reversed field, apologizing to then-head football coach Brady Hoke and to Michigan coaches and athletes en masse, while offering a “clarification” of his previous remarks. Weeks later, answering a question on the search for a new Michigan athletics director, a somewhat shell-shocked Schlissel remarked, “I've really learned that this whole athletic sphere and the usual way you approach things just doesn't work.”

What Schlissel really learned is what we have known for some time. One reason college athletic reform has never taken hold is because the very people responsible for making sure academics and research are the university’s highest priorities simply aren’t in charge.

One wonders how hard Schissel had to swallow before agreeing to pay Harbaugh an annual salary of $5 million – roughly seven times what Schissel is paid to lead the entire university. And does anyone really believe that Harbaugh – as competitive/Type A as they come among his coaching peers – agreed to come to Michigan without some assurances from the university regarding “flexibility” in admissions standards for football players?

In 2004, the esteemed Yale scholar Richard Brodhead assumed the presidency of Duke University. On one of his first days in office, Brodhead was advised that Duke’s legendary basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was being wooed by the National Basketball Association’s Los Angeles Lakers.

Brodhead was advised that he had to do everything in his power to convince Krzyzewski to stay in Durham – that Coach K’s departure would do irreparable damage to the university and surely doom his presidency. Brodhead complied, going as far as to join students in “Coach K, please stay” chants and to help fill a human chain forming the letter “K” outside the building that housed Krzyzewski’s office.

Krzyzewski chose to stay, but not before putting Brodhead through what one Duke professor termed “ritual humiliation.” Some believed it was the coach’s way of showing the new boss who was really in charge.

Ten years later, Schissel finds himself in a similar position. When it comes to athletics, very few new university leaders have any idea of what they are getting into. Athletic departments are so financially leveraged that presidents often feel obligated to grant the wishes of fan bases and powerful donors, some of them trustees with far more interest in attracting top coaches than renowned teachers and researchers.

And if history is any indicator in the spend all you make world of college sports, an infusion of cash from the $7.3 billion ESPN college football playoff television contract will not likely lessen this dependency.

Make no mistake about it, if Jim Harbaugh returns Michigan to gridiron glory he -- like Krzyzewski at Duke -- will report to no one at the University of Michigan except himself.

Bob Malekoff is a lecturer in the department of exercise and sport science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Oregon Players Chant 'No Means No' to Mock Fla. State

Some University of Oregon football players celebrated their Rose Bowl win Thursday night by singing "No Means No" to the tune of the war chant of the Florida State University Seminoles, the team Oregon had just defeated, Sports Illustrated reported. The chant was not seen as a sign of understanding the importance of respecting the rights of women, but as a way to mock Florida State's star quarterback, Jameis Winston, whom a woman accused of sexual assault in 2012. Authorities didn't bring charges against him and Florida State cleared him of violating student conduct rules, but many have questioned whether the local police and the university properly investigated the charges, which Winston has denied. Oregon's coach, Mark Helfrich, released a statement about the post-game chant. "We are aware of the inappropriate behavior in the postgame," he said. "This is not what our programs stand for, and the student-athletes will be disciplined internally." The University of Oregon has also faced criticism about allegations involving athletes and sexual assault. In June, the university suspended three former men's basketball players from campus for as long as a woman who says they sexually assaulted her remains on campus.




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Essay on how to change - and how not to change - the Carnegie Classifications

The Lumina Foundation and Indiana University’s Center for Postsecondary Education will be taking over the important Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Lumina announced that its Degree Qualifications Profile (DQP) will inform the 2015 edition of the classification. This development is yet another step away from the original intent of the classification -- to provide an objective and easy-to-understand categorization of American postsecondary institutions.

In recent years, the Carnegie Foundation made its categories more complex: in part to suit the foundation’s specific policy orientations at the time, and in part to reflect the increased complexity of higher education institutions. As a result, the classification became less useful as an easy yet reasonably accurate and objective way to understand the shape of the system, and the roles of more than 4,500 individual postsecondary institutions.

Among the great advantages of the original classification were its simplicity and its objectivity, and the fact that it did not rank institutions but rather put them into recognizable categories. Unlike the U.S. News and World Report and other rankings, the Carnegie Classification did not use reputational measures—asking academics and administrators to rank competing colleges and universities. It relied entirely on objective data.

It is not clear how the classification’s new sponsors will change its basic orientation, and its new director says that the 2015 version will not be fundamentally altered. Yet, given Lumina’s strong emphasis on access, equity, and degree completion, as well as designing a new national credential framework — highly laudable goals of course — it is likely that the classification in the longer term will be shaped to be aligned with Lumina’s policy agenda, as it was more subtly changed in its later Carnegie years.

The original Carnegie Classification contributed immensely to clarifying the role of postsecondary institutions and made it possible for policy-makers as well as individuals in the United States and abroad to basically understand the American higher education landscape as a whole and see where each institution fit in it. The classification was also quite useful internationally — it provided a roadmap to America’s many kinds of academic institutions. An overseas institution interested in working with a research university, a community college, or a drama school could easily locate a suitable partner. We are likely to lose this valuable resource.

A Historical Perspective

The classification dates back to 1973, when the legendary Clark Kerr, having devised the California Master Plan a decade earlier and leading the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education, wanted to get a sense of America’s diverse and at the time rapidly expanding higher education landscape. The original classification broadly resembled Kerr’s vision of a differentiated higher education system, with different kinds of institutions serving varied goals, needs, and constituencies. It included only five categories of institutions — doctoral granting, comprehensive universities and colleges, liberal arts colleges, two-year colleges and institutes, and professional schools and other specialized institutions, along with several subcategories.

Because the classification was the first effort to categorize the system, it quickly became influential — policy-makers valued an objective data based categorization of institutions and  academic leaders found it useful to understand where their own institutions fit. The classification had the advantage of simplicity, and its sponsor was trusted as neutral. Although the classification was not a ranking — it listed institutions by category in alphabetical order, many came to see it in competitive terms. Some universities wanted to join the ranks of the subcategory of “research university–I,” those institutions that had the largest research budgets and offered the most doctoral degrees — and were overjoyed when their institution was listed in that category. Similarly, the most selective liberal arts colleges were in “liberal arts colleges­–I,” and many wanted to join that group. Over time, the classification became a kind of informal measure, if not of rank, at least of academic status.

Fiddling and Changing

The classification’s categories and methodology remained quite stable over several decades of major transformation in American higher education. In 2005, with new leadership at the Carnegie Foundation, major changes were introduced. Foundation leaders argued that the realities of American higher education required rethinking the methodology. It is also likely that the foundation’s focus changed and it wanted to shape the classification to serve its new orientation and support its policy foci. The foundation revised the basic classification, added new categories such as instructional programs, student enrollment profiles, and others. The classification became significantly more complex, and over time became less influential. People found that the new categories confused the basic purpose of the classification and introduced variable that did not seem entirely relevant. The basic simplicity was compromised. Indeed, people still refer to “Carnegie Research 1” (top research universities) even though they have not existed in the Carnegie lexicon for two decades.

There may well be more fiddling — the U.S. federal government’s desire to rank postsecondary institutions by cost and degree completion rates may add a further dimension to the enterprise. A further dilemma is the role of the for-profit higher education sector — these entities are fundamentally different in their orientations and management from traditional non-profit institutions — so also are the new online degree providers. Should these new additions to the higher education landscape be included in the classification? These elements will contribute to “classification creep” — a bad idea.

What Is Really Needed

It is surprising that, in the four decades since Clark Kerr conceptualized the Carnegie Classification, no one has stepped forward to provide a clear and reasonably objective and comprehensive guide to the more than 4,500 postsecondary institutions in the United States. Resurrecting the basic purpose and organization of Kerr’s original Carnegie Classification is not rocket science, nor would it be extraordinarily expensive.

It is of course true that the postsecondary education has become more complex. How would one deal with the for-profit sector? Probably by adding a special category for them. Many community colleges now offer four-year bachelors degrees, but their basic purpose and organization has not essentially changed. There are a larger number of specialized institutions, and many colleges and universities have expanded and diversified their degree and other offerings. Technology has to some extent become part of teaching programs of some postsecondary institutions — and the MOOC revolution continues to unfold. Research productivity has grown dramatically, and research is reported in more ways. Intellectual property of all kinds has become more central to the academic enterprise — at least in the research university sector.

Yet, the basic elements of the original classification — those that help to determine the main purposes and functions of postsecondary institutions — remain largely unchanged, if somewhat more complicated to describe. The key metrics are clear enough:

  • Student enrollment
  • Degrees awarded
  • Types of degrees offered
  • Number of faculty, full-time and part-time
  • Income from research and intellectual property
  • Research productivity
  • Internationalization as measured by student mobility.

A few more might be added — but again, simplicity is the watchword.

The types of institutions — six main and eight major subcategories — seem about right. These might be expanded somewhat to accommodate the growth in complexity and diversity of the system. Later iterations confusingly expanded the categories, in part to reflect the policy and philosophical orientations of the foundation. The basic purpose of the classification will be best served by keeping the institutional typology as simple and straightforward as possible.

While it is clear that these metrics may not provide a sophisticated or complete measure of each institution — and they require additional definitions — they will provide basic information that will make reasonably categorization possible. They lack the philosophical and policy orientations that have crept into the Carnegie Classification in recent years, and return the enterprise to its original purpose — describing the richness, diversity, and complexity of the American higher education landscape.


Philip G. Altbach is research professor and director of the Center for International Higher Education at Boston College.

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Atheists Ask Troy U. Chancellor to Apologize for Video

The president of American Atheists has demanded that the chancellor of a public university apologize for sending an email to all students and employees with a video that argues that democracy requires religion, reported. Chancellor Jack Hawkins of Troy University, in Alabama, sent out a video (below) featuring Clay Christensen in which he argues that democracy requires a religious society. Christensen is a prominent business professor at Harvard University, and the video is below.

The letter from American Atheists said that it was being sent on behalf of a student at Troy who was concerned after receiving the email from the chancellor. "On behalf of the student who contacted us, the Alabama members of American Atheists, the thousands of atheists at Troy University, and the hundreds of millions of atheists worldwide who live productive, law-abiding lives without religion, we demand an apology from you for using the public university email system and your publicly funded position to disparage atheists and minority religious groups as well as perpetuating the discrimination and anti-patriotic sentiment against atheists in the United States," the letter said.

UPDATE: Troy sent Inside Higher Ed this statement on Friday: "The purpose of this email was to spur introspection and encourage thoughtful discussion as we transition from the challenges of 2014 to the opportunities ahead in 2015. Troy University is an international university that contributes regularly to the global marketplace of ideas. This message and video were shared to provide the university community with information and insights for healthy consideration and debate about our country’s democracy, the role it plays in the world and the challenges America faces going forward."



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What Oregon State Knew on 1998 Gang Rape Allegation

Oregon State University this year apologized for not taking seriously allegations of a gang rape made by a woman about four men, two of them Oregon State football players, in 1998. The Oregonian revived interest in the case with an interview this year with the woman who brought the charges. And that led the university to apologize, and to note how difficult it would be today to revive the case in any legal sense. A new article in the newspaper details just how much information Oregon State had at the time the charges were first made (it turns out a very detailed account), and why no prosecutions took place. A summary from the article puts it this way:

"The school never responded after she reported the assault. Pervasive conflicts of interest clouded judgment. The betrayal included hasty and questionable decisions made by local police and the district attorney's office. Evidence was destroyed years before the statute of limitations expired -- despite the strong urging by a deputy district attorney to preserve it. OSU insiders acknowledged problems in the way sex assaults were reported and handled back then, but no one seemed to care deeply enough about Tracy [the woman who made the charges, and who spoke to the newspaper with her name] to do anything about it. Officials involved portrayed a campus administration consumed with fundraising and with protecting its own image as it tiptoed around the controversy."


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UNC Seeks to Fire Faculty Leader Over Fake Classes

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill revealed Wednesday that it is seeking to fire Jeanette Boxill, former chair of the Faculty Council, for her role in a scandal in which athletes and some other students were steered to phony courses in which they were assured of good grades. The depth of the scandal stunned UNC, and Boxill's involvement has been particularly upsetting to many there. A report released in October found that, as an adviser for women's basketball players, Boxill steered students to fake courses with suggestions about what grades they needed.

UNC officials have resisted until now revealing the disciplinary actions they were taking until all appeals had been exhausted. But facing lawsuits from media organizations, the university agreed to reveal those who have been fired or who the university is seeking to fire, including Boxill. The university statement said that Boxill still has an appeal pending. But the statement said that revealing the punishment being sought was appropriate. "In light of the extraordinary circumstances underlying the longstanding and intolerable academic irregularities ..., as well as her role as chair of the faculty council during a period of time [in which the fake courses were offered], the chancellor has determined that in order to preserve the university’s integrity, it is necessary to disclose that, on October 22, 2014, the University informed faculty member Jeanette Boxill, Ph.D., of an intent to terminate her employment based on evidence accompanying the report. Dr. Boxill responded by requesting a hearing before a committee of the faculty — a decision we fully respect. While that process is pending, and after extensive reflection and deliberation, the chancellor determined that disclosing this information relating to Dr. Boxill is necessary to maintaining the level and quality of services Carolina provides as well as our integrity as we continue to move forward."

Boxill did not respond to an email from Inside Higher Ed.

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