administrators

Accreditation Trouble for ITT's Daniel Webster College

Daniel Webster College's regional accreditor last week told the small college, which the troubled ITT Educational Services owns, that it has reason to believe Daniel Webster may not meet accreditation standards and must "show cause" about why its approval should not be removed at a meeting later this month.

ITT, which is facing a raft of state and federal investigations as well as financial problems, recently froze all new enrollment after losing access to federal aid for new students. Roughly 45,000 students attend the for-profit chain's 130 campuses. Daniel Webster, which ITT bought in 2009 for about $40 million, enrolls 740 students at its campus in New Hampshire.

Indiana U Hire Criticized for Not Being Native American

Native American alumni of Indiana University at Bloomington are criticizing the hiring of someone who is not Native American for the position of director of the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center (logo at right), the Associated Press reported. Nicholas Belle, the new director, did volunteer at the center when he was a student and has also spent time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. But some students and alumni said they need someone who understands firsthand the kind of discrimination faced by Native American students. Belle did not respond to a request for comment, and the university released a statement noting that it does not discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity, among other factors, in hiring.

Three barriers to student transfer and how to overcome them

Earlier this year, we published a study that found that although the majority of students who enter higher education through a community college intend to earn a bachelor’s degree, nationally only 14 percent do so within six years of starting college. In comparison, about 60 percent of students who start college at a four-year institution earn a bachelor’s degree in six years.

Research we and others have done on transfer, together with years of visiting colleges and talking to students, has given us some insight into why transfer outcomes are so poor. But our colleagues Di Xu, Shanna Jaggars and Jeffrey Fletcher at Columbia University’s Community College Research Center recently released a working paper that illuminates some of the less understood barriers community college students face as they seek a bachelor’s degree. In the study, Xu and her colleagues examined outcomes over 10 years for students who started at a community college in Virginia and who intended to earn a bachelor’s degree. The researchers matched those students with those who started at a four-year institution based on their personal characteristics and their first-term grade point averages and course-taking patterns.

The study identifies five barriers that community college students face in trying to transfer and earn a bachelor’s degree. Two of these have been fairly well researched in the literature: the difficulty students have transferring credits, and posttransfer “academic shock.” The other three have received less attention from either researchers or practitioners. Yet they may pose even bigger barriers to transfer student success than the first two. Understanding them is critical for colleges that want to tackle this problem. Here is what Xu and her colleagues found.

Understudied Transfer Barrier 1: Lack of Early Momentum

One obstacle to transfer student success that has not been adequately studied is that, compared to students who enter college through a four-year institution, community college entrants earn college-level credits at a slower pace. Part of this is due to the fact that community college students are more likely to enroll part time or to take remedial credits, which do not count toward a degree. Xu and her colleagues try to account for these differences by comparing groups of two- and four-year entrants who were matched on numerous student characteristics, including whether or not they started college as a full-time student and if they had ever taken a remedial course. Even when using this matched sample, as is shown in Figure 1, four-year entrants on average take a higher course load each semester than do similar community college students. This, combined with the fact that community colleges students take more remedial courses, means that community college students fall farther and farther behind their four-year peers in earning credits over time (see Figure 2).

Understudied Transfer Barrier 2: Unclear Transfer Pathways

Many community colleges and universities have put a great deal of energy into developing articulation agreements intended to clarify the path for community college students seeking to transfer. Many states also have developed such agreements for their public higher education systems. Most of them are based on a 2+2 model, in which students take two years of lower-division, general education coursework followed by two years of courses in their major at the university. The study shows that few students follow this path. Over 40 percent of bachelor’s-seeking community college students in their sample transferred to a university with fewer than 60 college credits (the number typically required for an associate degree). While little more than a quarter (27 percent) of such students transferred to a four-year institution in the third year after entering a community college, some students transferred sooner (16 percent) and most (57 percent) transferred three years or more after starting at the community college.

As Xu and her colleagues say, there is no “well-trodden pathway” to a bachelor’s degree for community college students. This suggests that most students do not follow the articulation agreements developed by colleges, universities and state systems. Why this is so is unclear. However, hints about the answer come from research showing that students have a hard time understanding transfer agreements and our observation that most community colleges do not keep close track of students’ progress toward transfer goals.

Understudied Transfer Barrier 3: Students Make Progress, but Don’t Transfer

Perhaps the most surprising finding from the study is that many community college students who indicate a desire to earn a bachelor’s degree make substantial progress in their community college course work but do not end up transferring. About half of bachelor’s degree-seeking students in the sample earned at least 60 college-level credits at a community college but did not transfer. And almost a third of such students who earned an associate degree from a community college did not transfer. Thus, many students are leaving cards on the table. More research is needed into why this is the case.

Overcoming Barriers

The study of transfer student outcomes in Virginia by our CCRC colleagues suggests that, if transfer outcomes are to improve, community colleges and universities should work together to address these three less understood obstacles. How?

First, community colleges need to pay much more attention to early student momentum and work to encourage and support students to take higher credit loads (while also adopting acceleration strategies that minimize the time students spend in remediation). Second, two- and four-year institutions should more clearly map out the pathways to successful transfer and also help students choose a transfer path, monitor their progress and provide advising and support when their progress stalls or students go off track. Finally, practitioners and researchers need to examine why so many community college students who seek a bachelor’s degree make good progress at their two-year institution but fail to transfer to a four-year institution.

In partnership with the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence program, we recently published The Transfer Playbook, which describes how two- and four-year college partnerships can pursue these and other strategies to help students overcome the barriers they face to transfer. Continued work on all three of these fronts holds great potential to fix one of the leakiest parts of our higher education pipeline: students who start at a community college and never fulfill their dream of earning a bachelor’s degree.

Davis Jenkins is a senior research associate with the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. John Fink is a research associate with CCRC.

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Outrage over Penn State plan to honor Paterno

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University plans to commemorate 50th anniversary of his becoming head coach.

Boards at HBCUs should not micromanage their presidents (essay)

I have been researching and writing about both the history and current trends of historically black colleges and universities since 1994. When I first started, very few black women were leading these important institutions. Now, in 2016, roughly 30 percent of HBCU presidents are black women.

At the end of August, the board of trustees of Florida A&M University told one of those women -- Elmira Mangum -- that her contract would not be renewed. Mangum came to the university after a distinguished career at several majority-white institutions. She had served as vice president for planning and budgeting at Cornell University as well as in leadership positions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Buffalo. By all accounts, Mangum had a very successful and uneventful career in higher education until becoming president of FAMU.

I have been watching the controversies surrounding Mangum’s presidency since she was hired and have noticed two things: sexism and board interference.

First, let’s deal with the sexism. Mangum is a strong and talented black woman and that fact seems to be threatening to many members of her board, some former leaders of the institution and some alumni. She has faced scrutiny and micromanagement by her board that most presidents would never have to endure. For example, her day-to-day actions are micromanaged. Research on women and leadership demonstrates that women leaders are much more likely to be micromanaged by their boards and supervisors.

When I have brought this sexism to the surface over the past year, I am often greeted with, “There can’t be sexism; FAMU hired a woman.” Wrong. In fact, more sexism is likely to surface because she is a woman. If you don’t believe me, think about the election of President Obama. One could say, “There can’t be racism because we elected a black president.” Wrong again. We know that racism has increased in the public eye as a result of people being angry because we elected a black president -- twice.

Second, from the beginning of Mangum’s tenure, the FAMU board has been interfering with her leadership and drumming up anything and everything to discredit her. In reality, she has had many successes as president. She has garnered much respect and attention for the institution, been masterful at fund-raising, inspired campus spirit among students and young alumni, and worked to give FAMU more of a global presence. Unfortunately, those efforts and nearly anything she has done have been criticized by the board, former leaders and a subset of alumni.

Most recently, she was critiqued by the board and local media for spending too much money on travel. Anyone who knows anything about higher education is aware that a university president has to travel in order to raise money and visibility for the college or university. Presidents in the 21st century often spend the majority of their time talking to people outside their institution, while provosts are more focused on the day-to-day academics of the campus. If an institution’s president isn’t traveling, it’s a problem. Moreover, compared to most presidents, Mangum’s travel expenses have been relatively low.

I am deeply concerned about the treatment of Mangum. However, I am even more worried about the sexism felt by black women in the role of the presidency at HBCUs (and elsewhere) and the meddling of board members in the day-to-day activities of the institutions. Having served on many boards of trustees, including two HBCU boards, I know that my role is to examine big-picture policy, to raise money, to support the president (regardless of gender) and hold that person accountable for negotiated goals, and to promote the institution. My role is not to meddle, nitpick or interfere with the president’s ability to do the job.

In recent years, HBCUs have experienced rapid turnover and controversy in the presidency; they have struggled in many cases to find leaders. These facts beg the question: How will HBCUs attract highly qualified aspiring leaders to head their institutions when those leaders are likely to encounter meddling boards and a lack of support from various constituencies? The FAMU board’s relationship with Elmira Mangum is not an aberration and, in fact, is becoming all too common on HBCU campuses. How will HBCUs, where the majority of students enrolled are women, attract black women to lead these institutions when such sexism exists? How can HBCUs recruit innovative leaders when board members and some HBCU community members fear innovation and change?

Rather than beating down such new, energetic, highly talented presidents committed to leading HBCUs, boards and disgruntled alumni should donate more funds, promote their institutions, spend some time reading about higher education and the specific roles of the president and the board, and focus on the needs of students over their own egos. FAMU has all the makings of a leading university, but it will not reach its potential until it embraces and empowers its leaders.

Marybeth Gasman is professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania and director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions.

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Florida A&M President Elmira Mangum at the President's Convocation

Faculty Lockout Expected at Long Island U Brooklyn

Long Island University at Brooklyn may be locking out all faculty members as of midnight tonight, in an escalation of tensions over negotiations over a new contract. The faculty union, which is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, said that the administration is trying to avoid a vote of no confidence and to undercut faculty rights. The university says it will proceed with this plan unless the faculty union immediately ratifies a contract and that it has lined up new faculty members to teach. The university says its action will assure stability for students.

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San Francisco State Releases Report on Mishandled Protest

Four months after pro-Palestine protestors derailed a campus event at San Francisco State University by shouting down the mayor of Jerusalem, the university has released a report about how the incident was mishandled.

"The report makes exceptionally clear that the responsibility for the inadequate response prior to, during and following the event falls squarely on the shoulders of San Francisco State University administrators," Les Wong, the university's president, said in a campuswide email Thursday. "On April 6, we failed our students -- both the event attendees and the protesters -- through multiple inactions."

According to the report, which was compiled by an outside law firm hired by the university, those inactions included not providing enough lead time to properly plan the event, not clarifying whether the event should be open or closed and not adequately intervening once the protestors began chanting.

While San Francisco State's chief of police attempted to quiet the demonstrators, he was dressed in plain clothes and students said they did not realize he was acting on behalf of police or the university. The report also faulted the university's student affairs officials for not stepping in during the event and for not adequately handling student conduct decisions following the protest. "It seemed I did not get much support from student affairs," the chief of police told the law firm. "We are usually a team and one united voice. Where here, I was the only one saying stop."

The university on Thursday announced a series of changes to how it will handle demonstrations in the future, including providing training to police officers and student affairs employees and adopting a clearer policy for when students who disrupt an event should be punished by the university or arrested by police.

"Ensuring our campus is a safe environment for all students is my top priority for the coming year," Wong said. "We will continue to monitor the campus climate, and we will make every effort to respond to student concerns in a timely fashion. We will work to build trust with our students and the broader community so that we can fully embody our institutional mission and our values."

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Percentage of Colleges With Child Care Centers Shrinking

The number of college students who are also parents is increasing, but the percentage of four-year public institutions that have child-care centers on campus has dropped to less than half, according to a new report released this month by the Institute of Women's Policy Research.

In 2003, 55 percent of four-year public colleges provided campus child care, compared to 49 percent in 2015. The decrease at community colleges was even sharper: 53 percent offered campus child care in 2003, and only 44 percent offered it in 2015. Since 1995, the number of parents in college has jumped from 3.2 million to 4.8 million.

Georgetown Will Offer Admissions Preferences to Descendants of Slaves

Georgetown University will award preferential treatment in the admissions process to the descendants of the 272 slaves whose sale the university profited from nearly 200 years ago. The university announced the decision on Thursday, following the completion of a report by a working group that the university created to assess how best to atone for its involvement in slavery. The university will also establish a new Institute for the Study of Slavery and Its Legacies at Georgetown, rename two campus buildings, and create a public memorial to enslaved people. The university said it will seek out the descendants of other slaves whose labor the university benefited from, as well, and also offer them preferential treatment in admissions.

“As we join the Georgetown community, we must understand that part of our history is this history of slaveholding and the slave trade,” David Collins, the working group's chair, said in a statement. “And that opens our eyes to broader social issues that are still unhealed in our nation. History matters up to the present and into the future.”

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Advocates say UNC's hiring of coach accused of abuse points to lack of NCAA oversight

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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill came under fire last week for hiring a volunteer assistant who had been accused of abusing players at the University of Illinois. The NCAA has no rules against coaches mistreating their players. 

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