administrators

Mary Baldwin alumnae rebel against idea of undergraduate men living on campus

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Can a women’s college house undergraduate men on campus and still be a women’s college? Many Mary Baldwin alumnae answer no.

ISIS Claims Ohio State Attacker as 'Soldier'

The Islamic State claimed Tuesday that the Ohio State University student who drove his car into a group of pedestrians and then attacked several people with a butcher knife was inspired by the terror organization.

Calling the student "a soldier" of ISIS, the group said that he "carried out the operation in response to calls to target citizens of international coalition countries." The organization, which released the statement through its news service, did not claim to have advance knowledge of the student's actions, though it has repeatedly called on its followers to conduct independent "lone wolf" attacks similar to what took place at Ohio State. The student, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, had posted a message on Facebook prior to the attack, urging the United States "to make peace with 'dawla in al sham,'" referring to the territories controlled by ISIS.

U.S. officials have not confirmed Artan's motive, but Josh Earnest, White House press secretary, said Tuesday that the student “may have been motivated by extremism and may have been motivated by a desire to carry out an act of terrorism.”

Artan injured 11 people on Monday before being shot and killed by an Ohio State police officer. The injuries suffered by the victims -- who included undergraduate and graduate students and at least one university staff member -- are believed to not be life threatening, university officials said.

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Montgomery College President's Spending Scrutinized

DeRionne Pollard, president of Maryland's Montgomery College, since 2013 spent roughly $130,000 in college funds on travel, meals and entertainment, according to a report by a local NBC affiliate. The two-year college, which is located in suburban Washington, also spent $70,000 on private security for Pollard, including an armed driver.

The news report quoted several students at the college who were critical of the spending by Pollard, who receives $281,000 in annual salary. But the college's governing board defending her in a written statement, saying Pollard's travel improved the college's visibility and helped "foster strategic opportunities and partnerships that yield grants, scholarships, employee training agreements and more."

Earlier this month the board's chair, Marsha Suggs Smith, published an opinion piece in Inside Higher Ed where she discussed the decision to hire a security detail for Pollard, saying she had been the subject of explicit threats.

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College leaders must speak out in the wake of the election (essay)

In the wake of the election, our nation’s colleges and universities are experiencing divisive incidents, which requires higher education leaders to quell tensions by making strong vocal calls for tolerance, inclusivity and free speech. While these waters may be difficult to navigate, I hope these leaders will also take up the difficult challenge of speaking out on our nation’s higher education policy agenda, an issue of central importance to all Americans.

Postsecondary education is crucial to addressing income inequality and sustaining our nation’s commitment to democracy and equal opportunity. A diploma yields a more prosperous future for most Americans, and is a public good for societal stability and prosperity. Despite this, the public has grown increasingly distrustful of higher education, especially given concerns that college costs have risen so rapidly. This is manifest in increased calls for evidence on the earnings impact of a college degree, for greater assessment of student learning outcomes and for information on the uses of large endowments.

Higher education leaders, political leaders and the public have been polarized, but we must work together to understand the issue of increasing income inequality and the role of higher education in addressing it. It is imperative that we forge a new path forward for higher education, but given the election results and today’s constraints on college and university presidents’ speaking out, it is unclear if that will happen.

It is ironic that many of those people affected the most by increasing income inequality, and the fear about the future that it engenders, have chosen Trump for president when his stated policies are unlikely to improve either income inequality or postsecondary educational attainment. In fact, tax cuts, rolling back the Affordable Care Act, reducing regulations, increasing protection and the likely increases in interest rates and inflation will all probably exacerbate income inequality rather than reduce it. Right now, there is no telling exactly what Trump’s policies directly addressing higher education will be, absent any substantive discussion during the campaign.

Higher education leaders have been largely silent about various policies throughout the election, consistent with the fact that the visibility and influence of university and college leaders on national issues has been muted in general in recent years. Leaders of public institutions must walk a fine line, as they are not able to support particular candidates, but the broader absence of these voices from public debate is also a function of the continual demands of fund-raising and the harsh light of social media.

Colleges depend increasingly on donors to meet operating expenses as well as to build endowments and fund capital projects. Many institutions are in perpetual comprehensive campaigns and annual fund drives run by large offices of development professionals. Donors, and alumni in general, are important constituencies with valid institutional interests. Alumni support their colleges in many nonfinancial ways, as well as with gifts that allow colleges and universities to do things they couldn’t otherwise. And with reductions in state appropriations and lower earnings on endowments, donors are more important than ever in supporting higher education expenditures. But relying on donors to do so can have important implications.

If a college president takes a strong position on a national issue, she can cost her institution financial support if alumni who disagree close their checkbooks. Over the last few years, alumni have threatened to withhold support when higher education leaders have made decisions or taken positions with which they disagree. Those include policies on divestment from fossil fuel companies, calls for boycotts of certain speakers and academics, efforts to support student demands for trigger warnings and more aggressive confrontation of racism, and even decisions to cull campus deer to reduce overpopulation. Having had these experiences directly, or having read about them, presidents weigh the value of adding their voices to an important national conversation against their continued ability, and responsibility, to raise funds to support campus programs. They often make the choice not to jeopardize those programs, particularly if the issue is one that is only tangentially related to higher education and to their own institution.

Social media has made that choice even more likely. While it has democratized the influence various constituencies have, it has also significantly complicated these relationships. The positions that college leaders take, or even just the daily decisions they make, on a wide variety of issues are more readily available than in the past and can be more easily and loudly criticized. Responding to questions and challenges about those positions, often publicly and rapidly, is both complex and time consuming. Comments and events that would have passed unnoticed in the past now live on and on -- and often go viral.

That was not always the case. For generations, college and university presidents were intellectual participants in the life of the nation, playing active roles in debates on major issues. Henry Noble MacCracken, Vassar College’s president from 1915 to 1946, was a strong advocate for women’s suffrage and then for isolation in the 1930s. Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University from 1902 to 1945, played a significant role in the 1933 repeal of Prohibition. Kingman Brewster, Yale University’s president from 1963 to 1977, took a strong public stance against the Vietnam War.

Can we get there again? Now is the time. We need higher education leaders to take positions on the issues. And we need them to address the concerns of those who elected Trump by making higher education more affordable for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds, not just for the very poor or the very rich. Our college and university presidents will need the support of their boards of trustees to do so, as well as understanding and trust from their donors, alumni and the public. To influence our nation’s path going forward, both words and actions are needed from the higher education community and its leaders. I hope they will rise to the challenge and that Americans and our president-elect will be listening and watching.

Catharine Hill is managing director at Ithaka S + R and president emerita of Vassar College.

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Udacity and boot camps offer money-back guarantees for job placement

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Udacity and some boot camps offer money-back guarantees despite state bans on job-placement promises in higher education. But some say the offers are a form of risk sharing worth considering.

Liberty U Hires Former Baylor Athletics Director

Liberty University has hired Ian McCaw -- the former Baylor University athletics director who resigned amid widespread claims that his athletic department mishandled reports of sexual assaults committed by football players -- to serve as its new athletics director, the university announced Monday. The university said it hired McCaw with the goal of one day transforming its football team into a top-tier Football Bowl Subdivision program.

“Ian’s success really speaks for itself,” Jerry Falwell Jr., Liberty's president, said in a statement. “You look at what Baylor was able to do during his tenure -- it fits perfectly with where we see our sports programs going. This is an exciting time for us.”

McCaw resigned as athletics director at Baylor in May. His resignation came days after Baylor's Board of Regents fired the university's head football coach and forced out its president following allegations that the world’s largest Baptist university mishandled -- and sought to suppress public discourse about -- reports of sexual assaults committed by its football players and other students. Baylor officials said earlier this month that, in total, 17 women reported 19 sexual or physical assaults involving football players since 2011, and that four of the reports involved gang rapes. Baylor said McCaw was told about at least one of those gang rapes, which involved five football players, but he did not report the allegations to the university's judicial affairs office or anyone else outside the athletic department, as required by federal law.

Last week, Baylor reached an undisclosed settlement with two women who reported being gang raped by football players in 2012. 

"Liberty to me represents a pinnacle of professional and personal opportunity where we’re going to be able to develop champions for Christ, develop a world-class student-athlete experience and achieve victory with integrity," McCaw, echoing comments made by Baylor officials before the sexual assault scandal there came to light, said in a statement."We certainly want Christian student athletes to grow up dreaming of competing for Liberty University.”

When asked why Liberty would hire McCaw after what took place under his watch at Baylor, the university said in an email to Inside Higher Ed that McCaw "is a godly man of excellent character." Regarding Title IX and campus sexual assault, the university added, "We can’t think of an athletic director in the country who is more sensitized to the importance of complying with the intricacies of Title IX than" McCaw.

"There will be time, no doubt, for Ian and his attorneys to address questions about what happened at Baylor, but we don’t intend to litigate those facts with the press," the university said. "If he made any mistakes at Baylor, they appear to be technical and unintentional, out of line with an otherwise distinguished record. We are completely satisfied that Ian McCaw is a good man and a great athletic director."

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Sanctuary campuses won't provide real sanctuary for immigrant students (essay)

I do not live in a bubble, and one of the ways I work things out is to write. So I have put this piece together as a means of expiating my own grief over the results of the recent presidential election.

At first, I wanted to keep my mourning private, especially as my current role as a college president requires me to tread carefully and not give an institutional patina to my personal thoughts. I have also not wanted to invite the various trolls who consider my views like catnip. But I have come to the view that silence will probably cause greater harm to our country's immigrant students, particularly those "DREAMers" -- the hundreds of thousands of students in the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, who were brought to this country as children and have been allowed to attend college. The 1982 Supreme Court case Plyler v. Doe allowed them to stay in school, while DACA gave them employment authorization, lawful presence and Social Security numbers. It is by no means legalization, but it has been a transformative program while Congress has fiddled over immigration reform.

Indeed, I have dedicated my entire life to many ideals, but the ones that matter the most were repudiated on election night. Since then, I have arranged over a dozen conference calls with DREAMers, immigration lawyers, college presidents and reporters. Many know I helped write the Texas statutes that give many of the DREAMers resident Texas tuition and financial aid. Inasmuch as I have taught higher education law and also immigration law for 35 years, these are my fields. I have won many more contests in this terrain than I have lost, but this one hurts, and I feel as if we all let down my students, a dereliction of duty that I feel deeply. I fear for the DACA students, many of them in my own institution, who placed their lives and hopes in higher education and the polity. I urged them to trust we would do the right thing if they took responsibility for their own lives by studying and coming forward. They have done so, but now we have not held up our part of the bargain.

In the wake of the election, a number of colleges and universities are declaring themselves "sanctuary campuses," saying they will limit their cooperation with federal immigration authorities. However, the various proposals for carving out sanctuary campuses have occasioned even more vexation for me, and this viral-fed option is what finally moved me to write this article.

These well-intentioned efforts to establish a sanctuary use the term in its root ecclesiastic meanings, such as providing safe harbor. But from whom?

"Sanctuary" is also a contronym -- an example of a single word that has opposite meanings. ("Sanction" is another.) To many folks, the term depicts a defiance of law and serves as a trope for unauthorized immigration and liberal pieties. That it has become tinged with racist and anti-Mexican sentiment renders the term even more poisonous. One person's safe harbor is another person's harboring, in the dueling metaphors, if not the actual immigration law.

My view on these proposals is that they provide a chimerical outlet for people who are frustrated and have no other pathways to ameliorate the situation. But the term "sanctuary" is a term that is too fraught with restrictionist meanings or misunderstandings about the difference between "defying the law" or choosing not to implement discretionary practices, for policy, efficacy or other reasons. Worse, it has no legal meaning and the admonitions are vague and impossible to implement, which will only frustrate people more.

I have urged all those people who have called me to be very cautious in suggesting that a legal cocoon is possible or even needed for students -- who, after all, are not lawbreakers. Of course, institutions should provide support and services, as they would for all their students, especially vulnerable ones. But exacting pledges that cannot be kept will do no one any good.

And there are longstanding rules of engagement, or, in this context, nonengagement in higher education, such as the current Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy on such enforcement. As it notes, schools and colleges are exceedingly low priorities, and forms of this policy have been in place for many years. Virtually no campus has ever been raided for students in unauthorized status or undocumented campus workers, and they are unlikely to be.

But just as I cannot tell you how to react to any rollbacks of the Affordable Care Act, I cannot tell people what could happen and what the alternatives are. I know it will not be good, if for no other reason than it has already exposed vulnerable populations -- who are not "criminal," and who actually may be lawfully present (such as DACA holders) or in legal status (such as F-1 students from Muslim countries).

And I cannot promise these students that positive results will come of all this. I have urged them to be careful in expressing themselves in ways that might give rise to thermodynamic reactions, as have begun to surface. Getting arrested and convicted of any transgressions would give real rise to possibilities of deportation. And they should be careful about using social media in a way that might expose their parents to possible harm. I will not urge them to march into the valley of death or to put themselves at risk, although I will agree that the peaceful marchas galvanized public attention in 2006. American citizens who urge this option for DREAMers should examine their consciences and not encourage these students to put themselves in harm's way. At the very least, we should do no harm.

Feel-good actions and solidarity are fine and have an important place in the civil-rights narrative. But I do not hold out hope that the sanctuary proposals will make any genuine change or provide actual sanctuary -- whatever that empty vessel means to anyone on either side of the issue. And so I prefer more meaningful actions, such as working with student groups and their supporters: advocacy groups, bar associations, social service agencies, philanthropies and the usual support infrastructures for colleges and communities. The University of Houston Law Center, where I have spent most of my professional life, has stepped up, and my colleagues and law students are providing technical assistance and advice, as have many of my immigration law professor colleagues.

We will know more closer to the change of administrations, and all of us should keep perspective so as not to frighten or to give false hope to these students, who have kept their part of the bargain. And we should work to support those who do this over the long haul, such as the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and the National Immigration Law Center, which have posted useful FAQs.

I ride with my students in the university's elevators every day, and it always is a life-affirming experience, as so many are first-generation students, immigrants and students of color. When they recognize me, they relate their experiences and their triumphs and concerns. In the last two weeks, they have actually cheered me up -- not for the first time. I have dedicated my entire life to them, and they have reciprocated. One of them sensed my own dread and said to me, "Llegamos tan cerca (We came very close)."

What can we do? We still have more than 20 states in this country that provide resident tuition for the undocumented. But the students' trajectory would clearly be altered if DACA were abolished or allowed to expire. It would be a foolish and tragic policy to demonize and deport these DREAMers, even as their parents have been criminalized in the narrative. We need these students, and they surely need us now. Can't we all agree that comprehensive immigration reform is overdue 30 years since the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986? If we want to do something constructive, such advocacy has never been more necessary.

That will be a tremendous fight, under the circumstances. But these students in whom we have invested should be at the front of that line, when Congress recognizes its responsibilities. That is where we should all focus our efforts.

Many community groups work to assist immigrants; two of them are directed by formers students of mine, and two others employ former students. All are 501(c)3 organizations, and donations to them are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Michael A. Olivas is the William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston Law Center and is serving as acting president of UH Downtown. These remarks are his own.

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Dual enrollment on the rise for Texas community colleges

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Community colleges across Texas are finding tens of thousands of high school students who are eager to take free dual-credit courses, an approach favored by the state's mostly Republican lawmakers.

John Ebersole, Former Excelsior President, Dies

John F. Ebersole (at right), until recently president of Excelsior College, died last week, at the age of 72. He had been president since 2006 and used the position to promote the education of nontraditional (typically older) students through online and competency-based education. He also played an active role in encouraging higher education policies that reflected the needs of those students.

He took a leave from the college this year as he was fighting myelodysplastic syndrome. A statement from the college may be found here.

Ebersole wrote several essays for Inside Higher Ed, including this piece about the need for evidence of learning in massive open online courses, and this one calling for a distinction between competency-based education and the idea of mastery.

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Chancellor of North Carolina Central Dies of Cancer

Debra Saunders-White, chancellor of North Carolina Central University since 2013, died Saturday. Saunders-White, 59, had been battling kidney cancer and took a medical leave in August.

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