Reports of libraries' demise, based on flawed jobs data, are greatly exaggerated

A widely shared article declaring libraries and archives to be among the fastest-declining industries in America has been debunked.

Best Practices for Supporting Postdocs

Institutions that employ postdoctoral fellows should increase support for offices of postdoc affairs and offer postdocs better pay and benefits equal to those of other campus employees, according to a new report from the National Postdoctoral Association. The report, which is based on a 2016 survey of 130 association member institutions that hire postdocs, also recommends that campuses establish more generous parental leave and other family-friendly policies and track the careers of past postdocs.

“Improvements have been made in the postdoc experience,” Kate Sleeth, past chair of the association’s Board of Directors, said a statement. “However, there are still areas for growth.” The association says that its newly released data on postdoc stipends, benefits, appointment policies and access to training programs will help postdoc support services officers and other administrators identify best practices and improve working conditions for postdocs.

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Kansas Counties Help Residents Pay Student Debt

Most of the counties in Kansas are offering to pay off up to 20 percent (or up to $15,000 over five years) of the student debt of new residents who hold college degrees, according to CNBC. To qualify for the recruitment perk, which the Kansas Department of Commerce is administering to help give a boost to rural areas, applicants must have an employer or county "sponsor" that agrees to match half of the repayment. So far 58 employers are participating. The state has received 3,400 applications, CNBC reports, with one-third coming from out of state.

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At University of Mississippi, harassment policy breaks the norm

University of Mississippi’s general counsel has drafted a harassment policy that allows students to be punished for a single incident, atypical among colleges.

North Park pastor suspended after officiating same-sex marriage


For officiating a same-sex wedding and then having her credentials revoked, the North Park campus pastor has been put on leave.

Missouri Expands Performance Funding for Public Colleges

Missouri's Coordinating Board for Higher Education this week voted to expand a performance-funding formula for public institutions, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

The state had performance funding in place during previous budget cycles, but the formula only applied to new money. The just-approved version would tie 10 percent of state funding to performance measures such as degree completion, job-placement rates and how colleges spend money, according to the newspaper.

Roughly 35 states have tried a version of performance funding, with a wide range of approaches and amounts of money involved. Missouri's new version follows a 9 percent budget cut ($88 million) last year to its public institutions, which resulted in hundreds of layoffs.

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For-Profit Group Wants Extension for ACICS Colleges

Career Education Colleges and Universities, a trade group for the for-profit college sector, this week called on the U.S. Congress to give colleges that are accredited by an agency the Obama administration terminated more time to find a new accreditor.

Shortly before the Trump administration began, the U.S. Department of Education ended federal recognition of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, a national accreditor for roughly 270 institutions, most of them for-profits. That move was due largely to the Obama administration's view that ACICS failed to adequately oversee the failed Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute. ACICS has challenged the decision in court and also sought to have its recognition restored, saying it has fundamentally changed.

In the meantime, the ACICS-accredited colleges have been scrambling to find a new accreditor in the 18-month time frame allowed under federal law. The for-profit group, however, said this week that colleges should be given more time. Other accrediting agencies lack the time and staff to move fast enough to process applications from ACICS institutions, CECU said. A Senate committee in September voted to back an 18-month extension, but that bill has not moved forward.

“Early in this process, a group of accreditors wrote to the department making clear they would be unable to consider all the requests for new accreditation within the current timeline. The only way we can protect the more than 235,000 students attending these institutions is to give the schools and the accreditors more time,” wrote Steve Gunderson, CECU's president and CEO, in a letter to congressional leaders. “Unfortunately, this requires legislative action. We continue to work with the Congress to include such legislation in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill. But that legislation keeps being delayed.”

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New presidents or provosts: Calhoun CUHK Marymount Mohave Singapore Texas Southmost UTSA Virginia Union West Florida

  • Tan Eng Chye, provost of the National University of Singapore, has been chosen as president there.
  • Stephen B. Eaton, vice president of academic affairs at Barstow Community College, in California, has been selected as chief academic officer at Mohave Community College, also in California.

A president seeks perspective after a difficult 2017 (opinion)

The fall semester, and the past four months in the nation, held a mix of tragedy, heroism, anger and despair. As we begin a new year and reflect on the one just past, there is value in the tradition of taking stock.

The cumulative toll of events over the last few months is undeniable. Few places felt the toll as completely as college campuses like mine -- small enough to know almost everyone not only by name but by personal biography, large enough to be directly impacted by nearly every major event.

As the fall semester began, so did the onslaught. Tragedy and division in Charlottesville, Va., were followed by incendiary posters and conflict on our campuses. Hurricane Harvey hit Texas; students from Houston faced evacuation and the loss of family homes. The next week, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was rescinded, putting another group of students in distress. Hurricane Irma hit Florida, and more of our students’ families were impacted. Federal Title IX guidelines were withdrawn. The California Legislature passed a sanctuary bill. The Las Vegas gunman rained terror on a crowd that included more of our students. The national climate penetrated college and university communities. Anxiety and uncertainty led to a dramatic increase in demands on campus counseling services.

And midway through the semester, the fires began. Napa and Sonoma Counties, our near neighbors, endured the most devastating wildfires in California history. More than 400 of our students, faculty and staff members live in the region. A number of them lost homes, and dozens were evacuated. The Red Cross moved into our gym for two weeks. Everyone involved with our college was affected.

How does a community -- how does a country -- manage the burden of such seemingly relentless tragedies? Beckett wrote, “I can’t go on. You must go on. I’ll go on.” Some days, we in higher education simply go on. But we must also nourish the soul. We must reaffirm our purpose. We must take the long view

Earlier this year, I was in Washington to seek support for our DACA students. I had a morning on the National Mall, that national autobiography masquerading as a series of monuments. I began at the Lincoln Memorial, symbol of our greatest internecine convulsion and also the seat of this nation’s greatest healer. The walk proceeded through the Korea and Vietnam memorials, holding our county’s hubris, venality and loss in equal measure. Along the reflecting pool to witness the heroism and sacrifice of World War II. Across the street to pay respects to George Washington, who decreed that he, and those who followed, would serve a republic, not a monarchy. Across another street, past the testament to our nation’s original sin, the new National Museum of African American History and Culture. And on, past the Smithsonian Institution and the National Archives, repository of some of this nation’s greatest creations and achievements. Finally, to the foot of the Capitol. Inside they may govern in prose -- and sometimes in profanity -- but outside, the dome is all poetry.

A walk on the Mall tells us to take the long view. This country has endured through great tragedy and crisis. The long view tells us it will endure again. As we start a new year and a new semester, the question is what form that endurance will take.

My campus is taking the long view. Dominican University was founded over 125 years ago on little more than faith, a belief in education and a good eye for real estate. It was decades before we conferred our first degree. We have conferred thousands since. The founding order saw their Mother House burned to the ground. They rebuilt. The first lay president of the university was killed six months into his tenure. We hired a new president, grew and strengthened.

Today, facing the most recent set of challenges, through the series of crises that we have shared with the nation, we have a renewed sense of mission. Our students look like California, which means they look like the future of the United States: highly diverse, often first generation, from all walks of life and indeed all parts of the country. They are at a campus that is an agent of social mobility, and they know it. They are eager and also afraid, curious but uncertain, innocent and yet oh so worldly. And they are watching, even as they help define, our national discourse. If we can summon their bias for integration rather than separation, if we can engage their intellects and their commitment to justice, if we can build in them a sense of national purpose leavened with critique, then we will have gone a considerable way to shaping a positive future -- not only for them but also for the nation.

The long view tells us we are crafting such a future. The long view tells us it is time to recommit to mission, and to common ground. History tells us that when we prioritize human dignity and equity, when we embrace a range of voices and offer opportunity across that diversity, education has a way of changing the world for the better.

The last few months have tested the nation and every citizen in it. A walk on the mall, or on a college campus, tells us we will endure. We must go on? Of course we must. The question is the how we go on, and how we shape the future in the process.

Mary B. Marcy is president of Dominican University of California.

Image Caption: 
The National Mall in Washington, D.C.
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Study: Counseling Boosts Completion Rates

Intensive college counseling provided to college-seeking, low-income students shifts their enrollment toward four-year colleges that are both relatively inexpensive and have better graduation rates than other institutions, according to a research paper published last week in Education and Finance Policy. Counseling also improves low-income students' persistence through at least the second year of college, the study found, which suggests a potential to increase degree completion rates for disadvantaged student groups.

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