Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

June 26, 2017

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation has committed $150 million to a joint effort with Johns Hopkins University to promote civic engagement worldwide. A new institute will support this work. The institute will recruit a director and 10 faculty members, and also have 10 visiting scholars.

June 26, 2017

The University of Missouri at Columbia announced Friday that it is revoking an honorary degree that was awarded to Bill Cosby before dozens of women came forward with allegations of sexual assault against the comedian. A statement from the university said, "Honorary degrees throughout the University of Missouri System are reserved for those who have ascended to the pinnacle of their fields while conducting themselves consistent with the university’s core values. The evidence presented during the recent criminal trial indicated that he engaged in behavior that is in direct conflict with the core values of the University of Missouri."

June 26, 2017

A report from New America released today examines the growth of college degree requirements for early childhood education workers.

The report comes on the heels of a new regulation in the District of Columbia that sets an associate degree as the minimum credential for a lead teacher in a child-care center. Although there are concerns surrounding the reliance on an associate degree, the report found that the decision to increase the qualifications for early-education providers was "grounded on evidence that well-trained educators can make a real difference in putting young learners on a solid path." And setting qualification requirements is a straightforward way to accomplish that.

But the report also argues for what the researchers describe as a more equitable and quality approach: apprenticeships. "Apprenticeships could be game changers in early education, front-line health care and other fields where a skilled work force is essential for reaping the rewards of public investment but where wages remain low and working conditions poor," the paper said. The researchers point to Philadelphia's Early Childhood Education Career Pathways Partnership as an example of how apprenticeships could transform the early-education work force in a more efficient, affordable and equitable way. The apprentices in the program will begin this summer working at an early-education center, while also enrolled at the Community College of Philadelphia.

June 26, 2017

Brandon Banks was found guilty of aggravated rape and aggravated sexual battery on Friday, The New York Times reported, making him the third former Vanderbilt football player to be found guilty of charges related to a 2013 rape case in which four athletes were charged.

Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey have also been found guilty of charges stemming from the sexual assault, which occurred on campus, and have been sentenced to 17 and 15 years in prison, respectively. Banks’s sentencing is scheduled for August.

The fourth teammate accused of being involved in the sexual assault, Jaborian McKenzie, has pleaded not guilty. He has not yet been tried and has testified against his former teammates.

June 26, 2017

Today on the Academic Minute, Richard Sadler, assistant professor in the department of family medicine at Michigan State University, explores avenues for concerned citizens to take to fight blight. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

June 23, 2017

The American Association of University Professors on Thursday condemned a recent pattern of threats against faculty members for their public comments. “We are dismayed that another faculty member, John Eric Williams of Trinity College [in Connecticut], has become the target of a flood of threats following reports about his social media postings by the right-wing media outlet Campus Reform,” AAUP said in a statement. “We support and stand with our colleagues and campus communities whose academic freedom is threatened. The free exchange of ideas is incompatible with an atmosphere of fear.”

Williams was threatened, triggering a temporary campus shutdown this week, after Campus Reform and other websites shared some of his Facebook posts about race; Williams has since said they were taken out of context.

“This is the second time this month that an institution of higher education has had to close down in response to threats, disrupting education and creating an environment of fear on campus,” AAUP said, referring to another temporary campus shutdown at Evergreen State College over threats related to a faculty member’s public questioning of a planned day of protest there. Several other faculty members on other campuses also have been physically threatened and harassed online in recent weeks.

“We condemn the practice, becoming all too common, of bombarding faculty members and institutions of higher education with threats,” reads AAUP’s statement. “When one disagrees with statements made by others, threats of violence are not the appropriate response. Such threatening messages are likely to stifle free expression and cause faculty and others on campus to self-censor so as to avoid being subjected to similar treatment. Targeted online harassment is a threat to academic freedom.”

The association earlier this year released a set of institutional recommendations for dealing with targeted online harassment of professors.

June 23, 2017

The Association of American Medical Colleges called on senators to reject the health-care reform bill Republican lawmakers released Thursday. AAMC President and CEO Darrell Kirch said the bill would upend the health-care marketplace and cripple the Medicaid program.

The association said the legislation failed to meet the benchmarks it laid out for any replacement of the Affordable Care Act: that it maintain current levels of coverage, maintain Medicaid and be the result of a transparent process.

“We are extremely disappointed by the Senate bill released today. Despite promises to the contrary, it will leave millions of people without health coverage, and others with only bare-bones plans that will be insufficient to properly address their needs. As the nation’s medical schools and teaching hospitals see every day, people without sufficient coverage often delay getting the care they need. This can turn a manageable condition into a life-threatening and expensive emergency," Kirch said in a statement.

In a separate statement, Olivia Golden, executive director of the Center for Law and Social Policy, said the Medicaid cuts in the Better Care Reconciliation Act would put pressure on state budgets and likely lead to cuts to education budgets.

"The proposed cuts to Medicaid would deeply impact state budgets, and state policy makers are very likely to respond by reducing funding for public colleges and universities," Golden said. "This would deeply harm millions of students as they pursue a pathway toward economic mobility, and ultimately would be detrimental to our nation’s future."

June 23, 2017

A state audit issued Thursday blasted Pennsylvania State University for substantial increases in out-of-state applicants, especially international applicants, admitted. Data released in the audit showed that Pennsylvania resident enrollment at the flagship campus dropped from 76.5 percent in 1990 to 56.2 percent in 2015. Further, in 11 of the last 16 years, including the most recent seven, the admit rate was higher for out-of-state students than in-state students. Penn State officials said that they did not favor out-of-state students but did see them as a source of revenue since they pay more than do in-state students.

The audit rejected this logic. "While using nonresidents to subsidize the resident tuition may be viewed as a smart business decision, it is not without a cost -- underrepresentation of low-income and historically underrepresented racial/ethnic minority students," the audit said "PSU must remain committed to its primary mission as a public, land-grant university for Pennsylvania residents."

June 23, 2017

Women who take on substantial student debt to attend law school have different marriage patterns than do other women who enter the law, according to a new report by the National Bureau of Economic Research (abstract available here). The women with substantial debt marry at later ages than do others. Further, when they do marry, their spouses have lower wages than do the spouses of those without much debt. The study controls for various factors such as hours worked that may influence careers.

June 23, 2017

National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I institutions spend about double on their men’s teams what they do on women’s sports, according to a new report the association released this week to mark the 45th anniversary of the federal law prohibiting gender discrimination.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 reaches its 45th year on Friday. The law traditionally focused on equity in athletics -- though that has shifted in recent years to include protections against sexual violence and assault.

About 42 percent of Division I college and university athletic funding is channeled to men’s sports and 21 percent to women’s -- the NCAA considers about 36 percent of the money unallocated or coed.

The gap in spending at Division II and Division III institutions is much smaller, but it still exists.

Little progress has been made diversifying coaching staffs and the leadership of athletics departments, the report shows.

In 1996, nearly 43 percent of women’s teams were led by a female head coach -- by 2016 that percentage had dropped to about 40 percent.

On women’s teams, the female head coaches were, and remain, overwhelmingly white.

About 92 percent of head coaches of women’s teams were white women 20 years ago, and in 2016, about 86 percent were white women.

Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer, released a statement about the report on Wednesday.

“While it is very encouraging to see progress has been made over the last 45 years with respect to the federal law Title IX and opportunities for women, the data also shows that there is still much to be done to increase equity and diversity, and to create a more balanced scenario in intercollegiate athletics for our student athletes and administrators. The report provides our membership and others who have influence with an up-to-date summary on where we can place our resources and support. I encourage all college presidents, athletics directors and conference commissioners to read this report and determine where their actions and voice can be best utilized in the support and progression for female administrators and our student athletes both now and in the future.”

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