administrators

Washington State U Settles with Wolf Researcher for $300K

Robert Wieglus, director of the Carnivore Conservation Lab at Washington State University, will accept a $300,000 settlement to leave the institution, the Associated Press reported. Wieglus sued the university over alleged violations of academic freedom, in relation to his research on wolves. He has argued that Washington’s policy of killing wolves who prey on cattle actually increases cattle predation because it destabilizes packs. Recommending non-lethal options instead, Wieglus angered some local ranchers who support the killing of wolves. 

Facing complaints from ranchers, the Washington State Legislature cut Wielgus’s funding and demanded he be removed as principal investigator on a project, according to the Associated Press. Wielgus later sued the university, saying it punished him for political reasons. The university said in a statement that Wieglus will resign at the end of this semester and “release all claims and employment rights in exchange for two payments totaling $300,000, with funds coming from the state.” In reaching this agreement, it said, neither party acknowledges any wrongdoing.

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U of Akron Professor Wanted to Boost Women's Grades

The University of Akron told a professor of information sciences not to award higher grades to women on the basis of gender, according to Fox-8. In an email to students in his systems analysis and design class that has since been made public, Liping Liu reportedly wrote that women “may see their grades raised one level or two” as part of a “national movement to encourage female students to go [into] information sciences.”

Rex Ramsier, university provost, said in a statement that the institution “verified that there were no adjustments to grades based upon the gender of individuals in the class.” While Liu’s intentions may “be laudable, his approach as described in his email was clearly unacceptable,” he added. “The University of Akron follows both the law and its policies and does not discriminate on the basis of sex. The professor in question has been advised accordingly, and he has reaffirmed his commitment to adhering to these strict standards.” 

Nine of 68 students majoring in information systems at Akron this spring are women. Of 484 students majoring in computer information systems, 68 are women, Fox-8 reported.

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Career Training Groups Encouraged by Trump Pick for CTE Job

Career and technical education groups said they are pleased to have one of their own nominated for assistant secretary for career, technical and adult education -- the top job dealing with work-force issues at the Department of Education.

The White House this week said it would nominate Scott Stump, an executive at learning services firm Vivayic Inc., for the job. Previously, Stump worked for more than a decade in the Colorado Community College System, where he served as assistant provost of career and technical education.

"From the perspective of someone in the field of CTE, he is someone we know, we trust, we think has incredible knowledge about the system of career and technical education," said Kimberly Green, executive director of Advance CTE, which advocates for high-quality career training programs. "He has dedicated his entire professional career to this area."

Stump also has a connection to the organization, having served as a board president of Advance CTE. Green said she wasn't aware of another pick for the assistant secretary job in recent memory who had a direct connection to career training. Others have had backgrounds in adult education -- which deals mostly with basic academic competencies -- or policy backgrounds with little connection to career training.

The Trump administration pulled the nomination of its first pick for the job, Michigan state representative Tim Kelly, after years-old blog posts came to light that included offensive remarks about women and Muslims. In contrast with Kelly, Stump has a deep professional background in the area covered by the office.

Kermit Kaleba, federal policy director at the National Skills Coalition, said that's a positive, given uncertainty over the position at the department.

"I'm heartened to see they've got someone who is conversant with different players in the system and who, I think, will have the best interests of the student and other stakeholders in mind," he said.

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Essay on small percentage of public universities that are affordable for low-income students

When applying to colleges, students are commonly told to include a “safety school” to ensure they are accepted to at least one institution. For low-income students, such as those who receive advising from college access programs like members of the National College Access Network, they also need a different type of a safety school: a financial one to which they are not only accepted but also are reasonably sure they can afford.

As parents’ concerns about college costs surpass even their worries about having enough money for retirement, whether an affordable college option exists -- particularly for low-income students -- is a crucial question. To answer it, NCAN designed an affordability measure to see whether a low-income student can reasonably expect to successfully piece together all of the possible sources for funding a four-year degree in today’s public higher education system.

Why, specifically, a four-year degree? Because it’s the surest path to the middle class for low-income students and students of color. And why examine public institutions in particular? Because they were founded to serve all students in their state. Their missions are based on ensuring access. At the very least, low-income students need a single affordable college option.

But unfortunately, only 25 percent of public, four-year residential institutions are affordable for the average first-time, full-time Pell Grant recipient who is working in a minimum-wage job. This percentage plummets to approximately 10 percent when examining public flagship institutions.

This measure of affordability is detailed in NCAN’s new white paper, “Shutting Low-Income Students Out of Public Four-Year Higher Education.” It weighs the cost of attendance at an institution -- plus $300 to cover emergency expenses -- against students’ average total grant aid from federal, state and institutional resources; the institution’s average federal loan amount; the average Pell Grant recipient’s expected family contribution; and an approximation of students’ earnings from part-time work while in school and full-time summer work. Combining all of these aid sources -- which requires an adept navigation of the financial aid system -- still does not allow students to afford 412 of the 551 (75 percent) residential public four-year institutions in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

This was not always the case, and NCAN members are seeing the impact of the shift in the field.

“When I started in this work in 2004, I could confidently say that if we did our jobs right and our students did their work as well, then paying for college wasn’t a barrier to their success,” Traci Kirtley, chief program officer at College Possible, told NCAN. “That’s no longer true today. Even if students do everything right, many in 2018 are finding that they still can’t afford to pursue a college degree.”

This is a significant equity issue for our country. It’s also a timely one, as policy makers question whether college is “for everyone” and promote shorter-term programs whose outcomes are typically less beneficial. High-income students are already more than four times more likely to complete a bachelor’s degree than are low-income students -- 60 percent versus 14 percent, respectively. Additionally, low-income students are almost twice as likely as their high-income peers to obtain a postsecondary certificate or associate degree.

Sub-baccalaureate degrees and credentials are valuable, but the concentration of low-income students in these programs is surely a sign that students do not have equitable choices when picking their career paths. As the definition of postsecondary education expands, it’s important that low-income students -- like their higher-income peers -- retain the option to choose their postsecondary and professional paths based on skills and interests, not finances alone.

This reality of college affordability should not be acceptable to either our federal or state policy makers. It should serve as a wake-up call that policies meant to improve our nation’s higher education system must address all pathways, thereby helping low-income students pursue a four-year degree should they desire one.

Solutions to college affordability must address multifaceted issues: the complexity of the system, affordability at the access point to all pathways -- especially the four-year degree -- and the debt burden of those who can afford to enroll in the first place. Policy makers and advocates must increase their focus on a cohesive plan to address college affordability. Without a holistic approach, the share of low-income students completing four-year degrees will remain inequitable as they continue to lack at least one viable, affordable college option.

Carrie Warick is director of policy and advocacy at the National College Access Network.

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How to create opportunities to pivot in your career (opinion)

When you want to make a difference in higher education, pivotal opportunities for leadership can occur all around you, writes Judith S. White, who provides advice for helping prepare for them.

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Quincy College President Resigns Amid Tumult Over Nursing

The president of Quincy College resigned Tuesday, saying he had lost the confidence of the Massachusetts college's governing board amid a state shutdown of its nursing program, The Boston Globe reported.

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing last week revoked its approval of Quincy's nursing programs, citing the low scores of its graduates on clinical exams.

At a meeting Tuesday of Quincy's Board of Governors, President Peter Tsaffaras announced his resignation, saying he had lost the support of "some members" of the board last June, when the problems regarding the nursing program first arose.

Quincy's mayor was named to replace Tsaffaras on an interim basis.

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Blended master's program proves ideal fit for indigenous student population

Residents of First Nations communities can earn a master's degree in school psychology thanks to a blended program that accounts for their needs.

Tips and resources for instructional designers entering the field

Tips, links, resources and words of wisdom for early-career instructional designers.

Crime scene simulation uses virtual reality to unite disparate police courses

Police officers in the making at George Washington University can tap into a virtual crime scene as the foundation for learning across multiple courses.

Hiram College redesign would nix majors in math, philosophy, economics; add interdisciplinary arts and criminal justice programs

Leaders at Ohio’s Hiram College are proposing a sweeping redesign of the liberal arts college, with plans to discontinue several bedrock majors including mathematics, philosophy, economics, art history, music and religious studies.

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