White House goes with nontraditional pick to lead HBCU Initiative

White House ends months of waiting by naming new leader of its HBCU initiative. Some observers cautiously welcome the pick, while others note his lack of experience working in academia or government.

Journal Will Publish AI Gaydar Study After All

After some additional review, the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology will publish a controversial study about training a computer to predict someone’s sexual orientation based on a photo. An editor for the American Psychological Association-owned journal last week informed co-author Michal Kosinski, an assistant professor of business at Stanford University, that it would proceed with publishing the already accepted paper. That seemed somewhat up in the air earlier in the week, when the journal said it needed to address the “ethical status” of the project -- namely issues related to copyright of publicly available photos and how Stanford’s Institutional Review Board had assessed the project.

Some viewed the journal’s additional review as a threat to academic freedom because it followed intense backlash against the paper, including by gay rights groups GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign. Kosinski said via email that he and his co-author, Yilun Wang, a computer scientist who studied at Stanford, "are glad that APA reconfirmed that the study was conducted with due ethical cautions set in place. We hope that that scientists, policy makers and LGBTQ advocacy groups can now focus on working together toward the urgent, common goal of protecting the civil and human rights of LGBTQ people." The paper is expected to be in print by sometime early next year.

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NACAC attendees consider implications of their largely white profession

At NACAC meeting, attendees consider how largely white makeup of their profession affects students.

White House to Name Head of HBCU Initiative

The Trump administration is expected to name Johnathan Holifield, an author and consultant, the executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

After saying earlier this month that it would delay its annual HBCU Week Conference, the administration plans to hold meetings with key leaders and students from historically black colleges this week. 

Although the White House would not confirm the appointment ahead of an official announcement, the United Negro College Fund released a statement Sunday saying it had learned Holifield would be named executive director. Michael L. Lomax, UNCF's president and CEO, said the group looked forward to hearing how Holifield would advance the interests of historically black institutions and ensure more African Americans get the opportunity to attend and graduate college. 

“As we have done since the start of the new administration, UNCF will seek every opportunity to present Mr. Holifield with our federal policy proposals and enlist his essential support of investments in HBCUs and, most importantly, our students," Lomax said in a statement. 

Organizations including UNCF and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, as well key members of Congress, had earlier called for the White House to delay the annual HBCU Week Conference scheduled for September 17-19. They cited the long delay in naming a new executive director, as well as other slow progress advancing priorities of historically black colleges since the signing of a presidential executive order in February. Some of those calls also followed intense controversy over President Donald Trump's reaction to a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. After a white nationalist drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing woman and injuring several others, Trump made comments suggesting "both sides" were to blame. 

Holifield frequently serves as a speaker on issues of innovation, especially how it can be more inclusive. He co-founded Scale Up Partners, a consulting firm that has worked with businesses as well as colleges and universities. Holifield has a history of involvement with the HBCU Innovation Summit. He Forbes in 2013, that HBCUs were disconnected "from the nation’s innovation ecosystems."

He holds a master of education and a law degree from the University of Cincinnati. Holifield also played Division I football for West Virginia University and later the Cincinnati Bengals in the NFL. 

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University of Texas at Austin adjusts downward the percent plan used in admissions

With number of high school graduates in the state growing, UT invokes state law that allows flexibility in requirement that top 10 percent be admitted.

At NACAC meeting, experts discuss allegations of discrimination against Asian-American applicants to elite colleges

Experts at NACAC meeting say perceptions of bias against Asian-American applicants, even if false, have an impact.



Speaker implores NACAC attendees to change practices he believes are racist

Racism hurts students throughout the college admissions process, leading scholar tells meeting of admissions counselors.

VMI Will Keep Stonewall Jackson Statue

Picture of Stonewall Jackson statue at Virginia Military Institute, behind a line of red cannons.Virginia Military Institute will keep up its statue of Stonewall Jackson, the Confederate general. VMI issued a joint statement from John William Boland, its board chair and General J. H. Binford Peay III, its superintendent, that did not name Jackson or use the word "Confederate."

"We will continue to learn from our history, yet be ultimately guided by our best judgment in how to achieve our mission," said the statement. "That is why, today, the VMI Board of Visitors endorses continuing to acknowledge all those who are part of the history of the Institute. We choose not to honor their weaknesses, but to recognize their strengths. We will continue to learn and not to repeat divisions. We strongly encourage all to move forward together in the defense and advancement of our nation."

The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that VMI officials said they might add more context to the Jackson monument. Some said VMI might add a plaque honoring its alumni who fought for the United States in the Civil War. VMI has abandoned other traditions with Confederate roots, such as singing "Dixie" and having cadets salute the Jackson statue, officials noted.

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Prominent journal that accepted controversial study on AI gaydar is reviewing ethics in the work

A prominent journal that already accepted a controversial study about using computers to "read" sexuality based on a photo is further scrutinizing the paper after intense public backlash.

ADL says to expect more white supremacist leaflets on campuses


After nearly 200 incidents of white supremacist propaganda on college campuses last year, Anti-Defamation League warns that one group is ramping up its activities.


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