Inside Higher Ed

More Pell recipients attended community college last summer after return of year-round Pell

Wed, 2018-11-14 08:00

An overwhelming majority of community colleges saw increased enrollments of Pell Grant recipients last summer, suggesting that the federal government's reinstatement of year-round Pell eligibility last year may be helping to stem overall enrollment declines in the two-year sector.

Just three years after its creation, the Obama administration, with the backing of the U.S. Congress, in 2012 eliminated summer Pell eligibility, meaning the ability for students to access two grants in a year to help pay for courses during the summer. Bipartisan concern about rising costs of year-round Pell -- $2 billion at the peak -- led to its demise.

But Congress and the Trump administration reinstated the program last year, after a strong push by community college leaders. The first year of that eligibility concluded at the end of June.

The American Association of Community Colleges conducted a national survey of its members to gauge the impact of year-round Pell's return. The survey yielded responses from 109 community colleges and statewide responses representing another 77 colleges, for a total of responding institutions that enroll 1.9 million students, or 34 percent of the sector’s total enrollment.

The survey’s results show year-round Pell has had a major impact. Almost 83 percent of responding colleges reported increases in Pell Grant recipient enrollments this past summer compared to the previous one. And half saw increases of 15 percent or more.

“We are pleased that the survey documents what we have heard from campuses across the country, that the reinstated year-round Pell Grant has had a truly dramatic impact,” David Baime, senior vice president for government relations and policy analysis at AACC, said in a written statement. “In particular it appears to have helped students stay continuously enrolled, and accelerating time to degree has always been a prime reason to provide aid 12 months of the year.”

Community colleges have been hit hard by enrollment declines in recent years, following the catastrophic enrollment collapse of the for-profit college sector.

Such declines are common in a strong economy, particularly at open-access and career-oriented colleges, as people return to the work force. But the substantial dips at community colleges during the last four years have worried many in the sector.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, for example, found a 2 percent decline at public community colleges this spring compared to the previous spring, and a 3.3 percent drop in 2016.

While AACC cautioned against drawing a causal link between summer Pell’s return and enrollment trends, the association said the survey’s results show that community college enrollments last summer “improved in a robust way that might not have been anticipated absent the new year-round Pell Grant.”

For example, the survey found that 62 percent of responding colleges saw an enrollment bump last summer compared to the previous one. While most reporting increases saw upturns of 5 percent or less, more than 17 percent of responding colleges saw an enrollment increase of at least 10 percent.

Community colleges are using summer Pell eligibility to try to attract students, according to the survey, with 70 percent of responding colleges reporting that they explicitly marketed about the new funding eligibility or otherwise highlighted it.

“AACC continues to advocate aggressively for increased support for the Pell Grant program in addition to year-round eligibility, including increasing the maximum grant, adding eligibility for short-term workforce development programs, providing support for some incarcerated students and in other areas.”

Previous research found that for each $1,000 of additional year-round Pell funding, summer enrollment increased by 27 percentage points and associate degree completion grew by 2.2 percentage points.

The study's author, Vivian Liu, a postdoctoral research associate at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College, said she was surprised that the AACC survey didn't find larger enrollment growth. And Liu said the fact that 20 percent of colleges saw a decrease or no enrollment change suggests that students are unaware of summer Pell.

"I would say it is a step toward the right direction but the battle is not over," Liu said in an email. "It's essentially free money. Why aren't more people taking advantage of it? And how can we get more enrollment in the summer?"

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UT San Antonio investigates whether student escorted out of class for having feet propped up was discriminated against

Wed, 2018-11-14 08:00

A black student at the University of Texas at San Antonio was escorted out of her biology class by police for purportedly putting her feet up, the latest incident to go viral in the phenomenon of African American men and women having law enforcement called on them for everyday activities.

The episode is being investigated as potential discrimination, according to the university.

Apurva Rawal, who said on Twitter he was a student at UT San Antonio, posted a one-minute video to the website of police taking his classmate out. Rawal wrote that the student had put her feet up on the seat in front of her. Students say that the faculty member, identified as Anita Moss, senior lecturer in the department of biology, stopped the lecture to “go on a tirade” about how the class was uncivil and not paying attention.

Moss, who did not respond to Inside Higher Ed’s request for comment, apparently then called the police on the student.

The video as of Tuesday evening been retweeted more than 15,600 times. It had been viewed more than two million times.

“I chose to attend this university because of its welcoming and inclusive atmosphere, and today's events genuinely make me concerned for not only my fellow students, but any future Roadrunners that may choose to attend this institution in the future,” Rawal wrote on Twitter.

The student in the video also posted to Twitter but did not identify herself by name. She wrote that she was told she would need to leave or she would be escorted out by police.

“I never disobeyed the student code of conduct,” the student wrote. “Not once,” adding that a police report over the incident had been filed.

UT San Antonio officials responded quickly to the video, writing on Twitter that they were “aware” of the situation and were investigating. Officials posted to Twitter on Tuesday to say they had met with both the professor and the student. The university said on Tuesday that the professor's classes will be taught by another faculty member for the remainder of the semester. The student has been "welcomed back" to class and offered support services. 

President Taylor Eighmy released a statement to campus acknowledging that a professor had called the police on a student. Eighmy said that “while the facts aren’t fully known,” the Office of Equal Opportunity Services was investigating the incident as possibly discriminatory.

Howard Grimes, the interim dean of the College of Sciences, also will be inquiring about the classroom’s “academic management,” Eighmy said in his statement. He also noted that a new vice president for inclusive excellence, Myron Anderson, would be arriving on campus soon.

“Beyond this particular incident, I am very much aware that the circumstance represents another example of the work we need to do as an institution around issues of inclusivity and supporting our students of color,” Eighmy said. “This concerns me greatly, and it’s incumbent upon us as an institution to face this head-on. It’s something that we need to address immediately as a university community.”

Eighmy said in a separate statement that the institution needed more faculty, staff and administrators of color on campus and has "accelerated" the search to diversify the university's employees.

Provost Kimberly Andrews also posted on Twitter that she was “concerned” and that “creating a classroom environment that is conducive to learning is our priority.”

Despite administrators’ assurances that the video would be investigated, the institution garnered widespread anger on social media.

Prominent academic Tressie McMillan Cottom wrote on Twitter to her nearly 70,000 followers that she was so angry she was “about to black out.”

Another Twitter user, who said she was a university instructor, responded to Rawal to say she doesn’t care if students sit or stand.

“I don't get too excited about petty seating, but worry more if my students are not successful,” the professor wrote. “Empowerment has no correct seating position to capture it.”

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Northeastern plans to acquire humanities college in London

Wed, 2018-11-14 08:00

Northeastern University in Boston plans to acquire the New College of the Humanities, a London-based institution with 210 students founded by the philosopher A. C. Grayling in 2012.

NCH prides itself on offering an education that melds aspects of the Oxford tutorial system and the American liberal arts college and boasts a roster of superstar visiting professors like Richard Dawkins and Steven Pinker who give guest lectures. From its start the private institution has been a controversial player in the United Kingdom’s heavily public higher education system, in large part because it is controlled by a for-profit company, Tertiary Education Services Limited.

Pending regulatory approvals, NCH will soon be known as NCH at Northeastern. Northeastern president Joseph E. Aoun declined to share the details of the financial terms of the transaction but said the current shareholders will transfer their shares to Northeastern, a large not-for-profit research university with more than 20,000 students.

Northeastern is most well-known for its signature co-op program in which students alternate between full-time work placements and classroom study. NCH at Northeastern would become the sixth campus for Northeastern, which in addition to its main campus in Boston has campuses in Charlotte, N.C.; Seattle; Silicon Valley and Toronto and is in the process of opening one in Vancouver.

“We are building a global university system,” said Aoun. “The whole idea is that this global system will allow the learners to access our education wherever they are and wherever they need it and also allows mobility so the students can start in Boston, move to Silicon Valley, go to Vancouver and London, and in each place they will have a different curriculum and a different experience.”

Aoun said that Northeastern has 600 students in London each year. In an email to Northeastern faculty, administrators and staff, he wrote that the proposed acquisition will “pave the way for Northeastern to become the first U.S. university with a college in its global network that can confer undergraduate and graduate degrees in the U.K.”

However, NCH currently lacks the authority to grant its own degrees, and teaches degrees that are validated by a public university in Southampton, Solent University. Aoun said NCH is in the process for applying for a license to grant its own degrees. “Because they will be part of Northeastern, we will have the authority through them, through NCH, to offer degrees in the U.K.”

“Their application [for degree-granting powers] is very much strengthened, they believe, by this new partnership,” added Michael Armini, Northeastern’s senior vice president for external affairs.

NCH’s executive dean, Martin Smith, declined to comment on the licensing issue, but said the tie-up with Northeastern “fast-forwards us considerably in terms of what we can do. One of the driving factors is the student experience. The ability to be able to travel and to take their degree elsewhere is hugely appealing to our students.”

An announcement from the master of the college, Grayling, says that in addition to the ability to study at multiple Northeastern campuses, NCH also expects its students to have access to Northeastern's career development department, "including internship and career development opportunities with a global network of more than 3,000 graduate employers."

Nick Hillman, the director of the London-based Higher Education Policy Institute, said that the deal is somewhat puzzling from another perspective. “Some people are asking what is in it for Northeastern given the small size of NCH and the fact that it doesn’t have its own degree-awarding powers,” he said.

“It has been struggling as an institution -- and I don’t say that with any relish, because I’m very pleased it exists. I think diversity of institutions is a good thing and we don’t have small specialist liberal arts colleges the way that you do in the U.S., so I’m glad it exists. I don’t want to see it fail, but we’re a bit confused.”

The most recent statement of accounts from the company that controls NCH, Tertiary Education Services, suggests that the college has struggled to meet its recruitment and financial targets, pushing the projected date on which it would become financially self-supporting further into the future. "Whilst student numbers are growing and the college is achieving excellent exam results, the present student numbers are not sufficient to meet all the costs of the college,” the corporate filing says.

The college dropped its U.K. and E.U. student tuition rate in September 2017 to bring it into line with tuition rates for other British universities; at 9,325 pounds (a little more than $12,100), annual tuition is now about half what it was when the college opened in 2012 (its original annual price tag of £18,000, or about $23,400 at today's currency conversion rate, was eye-popping in the British higher education context, attracting many critics who dismissed it as an intellectual playground for the rich).The TES filing says that the company received additional funding in the form of a loan from the college’s largest shareholder and that the shareholder “has confirmed their willingness to provide further funds if necessary to take the College through to break-even which is forecast to be in the financial year 2023/24."

The filing also notes that the directors "have been discussing a transaction with an overseas institution" -- presumably Northeastern -- "that would provide further assurances in terms of ongoing financial support."

"With any start-up organization there’s always going to be challenges, and one of the challenges has been around recruitment," said Martin. "Saying that, though, we’ve doubled the number of our first-year students from where we were in 2015."

Aoun said that NCH was an attractive partner for Northeastern because of the compelling vision of its founder, Grayling.

“He believes that the one-on-one attention to the students and the personalized education is key, hence the one-on-one tutorial; he also believed that it is possible and imperative to build a liberal arts college that has [a focus on] entrepreneurship and is experiential, and this is where we saw a fit with what we’re doing. We saw that this marriage between the two institutions will allow us to put together the best of U.K. education with the best of U.S. education," Aoun said.

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Michelle Obama talks about her experience at Princeton for the first time in new book

Wed, 2018-11-14 08:00

During her husband's campaigns and eight-year tenure in the White House, former first lady Michelle Obama remained fairly silent about her experience at Princeton University.

In her autobiography Becoming (Penguin Random House), released Tuesday, Obama disclosed for the first time details about her experience at the Ivy League university, one marked by feelings of otherness and a strong determination to disprove the negative racial stereotypes held by some of her professors and classmates. She graduated in 1985.

“If in high school I’d felt as if I were representing my neighborhood, now at Princeton I was representing my race. Anytime I found my voice in class or nailed an exam, I quietly hoped it helped make a larger point,” she wrote.

While she was a student, Princeton was "​extremely white and very male."

Because of this, Obama quickly made friends with other students of color and discovered that the harmonious diversity portrayed in college brochures didn't translate to her own college experience.

“I imagine that the administrators at Princeton didn’t love the fact that students of color largely stuck together. The hope was that all of us would mingle in heterogeneous harmony, deepening the quality of student life across the board. It’s a worthy goal. I understand that when it comes to campus diversity, the ideal would be to achieve something resembling what’s often shown on college brochures -- smiling students working and socializing in neat, ethnically blended groups," Obama wrote. "But even today, with white students continuing to outnumber students of color on college campuses, the burden of assimilation is put largely on the shoulders of minority students. In my experience, it’s a lot to ask.”

Obama graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class and participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including serving as class treasurer, that made her a good candidate for top universities. But, early in the book, she recounted a meeting with a high school college counselor that she had, for the most part, “blotted out" of her memory.

“It’s possible, in fact, that during our short meeting the college counselor said things to me that might have been positive and helpful, but I recall none of it,” she wrote. “Because rightly or wrongly, I got stuck on one single sentence the woman uttered. ‘I’m not sure,’ she said, giving me a perfunctory, patronizing smile, ‘that you’re Princeton material.’”

Even after Obama was admitted, some questioned her belonging at the university.

"It was impossible to be a black kid at a mostly white school and not feel the shadow of affirmative action. You could almost read the scrutiny in the gaze of certain students and even some professors, as if they wanted to say, 'I know why you’re here.' These moments could be demoralizing, even if I’m sure I was just imagining some of it," she wrote. "It planted a seed of doubt. Was I here merely as part of a social experiment?"

During her freshman year, Obama lived in a triple in Pyne Hall with two white students, whom she remembered as nice for the most part, although she didn't spend much time hanging out in their room. Midway through the year, one of her roommates, Cathy, moved into a single, and Obama discovered many years later that "her mother, a schoolteacher from New Orleans, had been so appalled that her daughter had been assigned a black roommate that she'd badgered the university to separate us."

Other parts of her life at Princeton came out during the campaigns, including her senior thesis, a survey of African American alumni about their perceptions of race and identity after having attended Princeton. Obama wrote that right-wing media used the thesis to paint a picture of her as a radical determined to "overthrow the white majority" and to further alienate her and her husband in the eyes of American electorate. "For reasons I’ll never understand, the conservative media was treating my paper as if it were some secret black-power manifesto, a threat that had to be unburied. It was as if at the age of twenty-one, instead of trying to get an A in sociology and a spot at Harvard Law School, I’d been hatching a Nat Turner plan to overthrow the white majority and was now finally, through my husband, getting a chance to put it in motion," she wrote.

Obama included little about affording college, but did mention that her parents “never once spoke of the stress of having to pay for college, but I knew enough to appreciate that it was there.” At Princeton she received a financial aid package that required she have a work-study job, and throughout her four years she served as an assistant for the Third World Center, a support center for students of color that Obama described as “poorly named but well-intentioned.” The center was renamed 20 years later as the Carl A. Fields Center for Equality and Cultural Understanding, which it is still called today.

As a first-generation college student, Obama remembers the steep learning curve required to pick up college lingo.

“What was a precept? What was a reading period? Nobody had explained to me the meaning of 'extra-long' bedsheets on the school packing list, which mean that I bought myself too-short bedsheets and would thus spend my freshman year sleeping with my feet resting on the exposed plastic of the dorm mattress,” she wrote.

Obama also noted how different life on campus was to her childhood on the South Side of Chicago, which she proudly announced whenever anyone asked where she was from.

“At Princeton, it seemed the only thing I needed to be vigilant about was my studies. Everything otherwise was designed to accommodate our well-being as students,” she wrote. “The dining halls served five different kinds of breakfast. There were enormous spreading oak trees to sit under and open lawns where we could throw Frisbees to relieve our stress. The main library was like an old-world cathedral, with high ceilings and glossy hardwood tables where we could lay out our textbooks and study in silence. We were protected, cocooned, catered to. A lot of kids, I was coming to realize, had never in their lifetimes known anything different.”

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New international student enrollments continue to decline at U.S. universities

Tue, 2018-11-13 08:00

New enrollments of international students fell by 6.6 percent at American universities in academic year 2017-18 compared to the year before, marking the second straight year in declines in new enrollments, according to new data from the annual Open Doors survey.

New enrollments fell 6.3 percent at the undergraduate level, 5.5 percent at the graduate level and 9.7 percent at the nondegree level from 2016-17 to 2017-18.

A separate survey of institutions found that the decline in new international enrollments is continuing this fall, though the drop was less severe than that reported last year.

Institutions that responded to this fall's enrollment survey reported on average a 1.5 percent continuing drop in new international enrollments, a drop that comes on top of last year's declines. However, while about half (49 percent) of respondents reported declines in new international enrollments this fall, another 44 percent reported increases, and 7 percent said their numbers were stable.

“This is very much a mixed picture,” said Rajika Bhandari, a senior adviser for research and strategy and director of the Center for Academic Mobility Research & Impact at the Institute of International Education, which conducts the survey with funding from the Department of State. “We’re seeing those new enrollment numbers really vary based on institutional characteristics.”

Unlike in past years, IIE did not release the full findings of the current fall enrollment survey to reporters in advance along with the Open Doors data, but Bhandari and Peggy Blumenthal, a senior counselor to the president at IIE, shared several top-line findings in an interview last week with Inside Higher Ed. Among the findings, institutions in the center of the country -- specifically the South Central region, which includes Texas, and the West North Central region -- are seeing sharper declines than are institutions on the coasts. Less selective institutions are also seeing steeper declines.

"The large research institutions, many of them are seeing growth," Blumenthal said. "The less well-known abroad schools and the schools giving associate degrees are seeing much sharper declines."

Full results of the enrollment survey for this fall were posted on the IIE website early this morning. 

Notable Shifts

Over all (as opposed to new) international enrollments did increase by 1.5 percent from 2016-17 to 2017-18, according to the Open Doors survey, which collected data from 2,075 institutions. But that growth is being driven by a boom in the number of students participating in the optional practical training program, OPT, which enables graduates of U.S. colleges to stay in the country and work for up to three years after graduating while remaining on their student visas. A change in 2016 to the duration of OPT for students studying STEM fields means that students are staying in the OPT pipeline for longer after they graduate from their program.

The increases in OPT participation by recent international graduates can mask declines in the number of international students who are currently enrolled in degree programs -- the number that really matters to colleges when it comes both to their financial bottom lines and their goals of building diverse campuses. The total number of students participating in OPT grew by 15.8 percent from 2016-17 to 2017-18, while the total number of enrolled international students increased by 0.8 percent at the undergraduate level and decreased by 2.1 percent at the graduate level. The number of nondegree students -- a category that includes students in intensive English programs -- fell for the third year in a row, by 10.1 percent.

Among the big changes in the Open Doors data for academic year 2017-18 was an 8.8 percent drop from the prior year in the number of graduate and professional students from India, the second-largest country of origin for international students in the U.S. after China.

Another notable shift was a 6.4 percent drop in the number of international graduate students studying engineering, the most popular field of study for international students in the U.S.

Universities also saw a 15.5 percent overall decline in the number of students from the No. 4 sending country, Saudi Arabia. The number of Saudi students declined at all academic levels, a change that's largely attributable to the Saudi government scaling back a foreign scholarship program that has sent thousands of Saudi students to study at U.S. universities.

At the undergraduate level, higher education institutions reported double-digit year-over-year increases in students from the No. 6 sending country, Vietnam, No. 10 Brazil and No. 11 Nepal.

The number of students from the No. 1 sending country, China, continued to increase at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, by 4 and 2 percent respectively, but declined at the nondegree level. Chinese students account for 33.2 percent of international students in the U.S.; together with India, students from the two countries account for more than half (51.1 percent) of all international students.

Among other notable shifts involving top sending countries, the numbers of students from the No. 3 sending country, South Korea, fell for the seventh straight year, by 7 percent, a trend that Blumenthal attributes to the changing demographics of South Korea and to the improving quality of the Korean higher education system.

There were also declines in the overall number of students coming from America's neighbors, Canada and Mexico, two countries where President Trump is deeply unpopular. While there were drops at all academic levels for Canadian and Mexican students -- except for the OPT level -- the steepest decline was in the number of Mexican students coming for nondegree study, including intensive English, which fell by 39.1 percent.

This year's Open Doors data also provide a first glimpse of the impact on international enrollments of President Trump's various travel bans barring entry to the U.S. for citizens of a group of mostly Muslim-majority countries.

Iran, the No. 12 sending country, is the only country affected by Trump’s travel ban that sends substantial numbers of students to the U.S. Although an Inside Higher Ed analysis of State Department data showed a sharp drop in the number of student visas awarded to Iranians in the year after the first iteration of the ban went into place in January 2017, the Open Doors data do not suggest there was a big effect on Iranian student enrollments that fall. On the contrary, the Open Doors data show a 1.2 percent increase in the number of Iranian students at the graduate level -- significant, since about three-quarters of all Iranian students in the U.S. study at the graduate level. The number of Iranian students did decline at the undergraduate (-16.8 percent) and nondegree levels (-35.7 percent), but from a much smaller base.

Among other countries covered by the first and second versions of Trump's travel ban -- which were in effect for parts of the application cycle of the 2017-18 year -- there were drops in the total numbers of students from Iraq (-15.3 percent), Libya (-18.8 percent), Syria (-12.2 percent) and Yemen (-21.4 percent), and increases in the number of students from Somalia (+34 percent) and Sudan (+2.2 percent).

A third and current version of the ban bars all students from North Korea and Syria from applying for student visas unless they obtain a waiver. Nationals of the other affected countries are eligible to apply for student visas, though in practice they may have difficulty obtaining them.

Political and Social Factors?

International educators have been deeply concerned that international students could be deterred by more restrictive policies on visas coupled with the Trump administration's rhetoric on immigration. The president reportedly described most Chinese students in the U.S. as spies and entertained a proposal from a senior adviser to stop awarding student visas to Chinese nationals. The Trump administration has introduced new, enhanced visa questionnaires for certain applicants and has introduced a controversial new policy making it easier for international students to accrue what's known as "unlawful presence" in the U.S., a determination that can subject them to future three- or 10-year bars on re-entry.

There is also continuing uncertainty about what future changes may be in the offing to visa programs that let students stay in the U.S. and work, including the OPT program and the H-1B visa program.

"Institutions are reporting that the social and political environment continues to be a challenge for international recruitment," Bhandari said in relation to the survey of institutions conducted this fall. "Institutions are also reporting that they're concerned about recruitment from Asia."

She added, "We have about 43 percent of institutions saying that cost continues to be a challenge and that they are trying to ameliorate the situation through approaches like providing more tuition waivers and scholarships and waiving the application fee.”

In a press call with reporters, officials at IIE and the State Department seemed to want to downplay the degree to which political and social factors -- including a rise in mass shootings -- might be deterring international students. In the call IIE officials emphasized a number of other factors for the drop in new students, including the rising cost of U.S. higher education, increased competition for students from other countries and changes to foreign government scholarship programs, including Saudi Arabia's.

"It’ll always be a very, very mixed picture, and the international education consumer is always concerned about access, diversity, quality, cost, safety, but in the past couple of years for me the biggest new development is that there are real competitor countries out there that we've never had before," said Allan E. Goodman, IIE's president.

“This flattening started in 2015-2016, when applications were being filled out in 2014, so it’s quite frankly unwarranted to say that it is completely the result of a political environment," Caroline Casagrande, the deputy assistant secretary for academic programs at the State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, said during the press call. The Open Doors data show that new international enrollments at U.S. colleges increased in 2015-16, but by a slower rate (2.4 percent) compared to the prior year (8.8 percent). The first recorded drop in new enrollments came in academic year 2016-17.

Rahul Choudaha, the executive vice president of global engagement and research at StudyPortals, a company that offers an online international student recruitment platform, said it's difficult to gauge just how much of an effect political factors have had, but he believes the political climate has dampened growth potential from certain source countries. "It's a scenario of lost opportunity, because from the institution’s side there is clearly an interest to internationalize and attract more international students for a variety of reasons," Choudaha said.

Choudaha added that another phenomenon to note is "the big getting bigger."

"There are institutions in the Midwest that are facing a much sharper decline -- and a bigger effect of this Trump effect, you might say -- but then on the other side there are institutions in California, New York and Massachusetts, and if they are higher in the Carnegie classification, which means they are highly ranked, they are not seeing any effect."

Among the top 10 states hosting international students, there were increases in the total number of international students (including OPT participants) in No. 1 destination California (+3.2 percent), No. 2 New York (+2.4 percent), No. 4 Massachusetts (+8.4 percent), No. 5 Illinois (+2.2 percent), No. 6 Pennsylvania (+1.3 percent) and No. 7 Florida (+1.7 percent), and declines in No. 3 Texas (-0.9 percent), No. 8 Ohio (-2.8 percent), No. 9 Michigan (-0.7 percent) and No. 10 Indiana (-2 percent). 

Detailed tables from Open Doors showing changes in international enrollment by country of origin and field of study from 2016-17 to 2017-18 are below. Another table shows percent changes in total international enrollment in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia, and notes which candidate the state went for in the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton or Trump. 

Percent Change in Total International Enrollments from 2016-17 to 2017-18

From Top 15 Countries of Origin by Academic Level

  Undergraduate Graduate Nondegree OPT Overall World Total +0.8% -2.1% -10.1% +15.8% +1.5% 1. China +4% +2% -7.7% +9.8% +3.6% 2. India +6.2% -8.8% -16.6% +32% +5.4% 3. South Korea -8.1% -5.5% -16.1% -0.9% -7% 4. Saudi Arabia -15% -10.2% -34% -2.4% -15.5% 5. Canada -4.6% -5.9% -5.8% +2.7% -4.3% 6. Vietnam +10.9% +5.7% -3% +3.4% +8.4% 7. Taiwan +7% +3.2% -4.4% +6.5% +4.4% 8. Japan +1% -1.7% -2.4% +3.7% -0.1% 9. Mexico -6.3% -6.5% -39.1% +15.3% -8.1% 10. Brazil +16.6% +5.8% +17.1% +3.6% +11.7% 11. Nepal +17.9% +13.7% -50% +7.6% +14.3% 12. Iran -16.8% +1.2% -35.7% +14.3% +1.1% 13. Nigeria +1.5% +12.3% -23.5% +29.8% +8.4% 14. United Kingdom -1.5% -4.1% +1.9% +12.3% -0.3% 15. Turkey -1.3% -0.3% -33.1% +18.3% -0.6%

Enrolled International Students by Field of Study and Academic Level

  2016-17 Undergraduates 2017-18 Undergraduates Percent Change 2016-17 Graduates 2017-18 Graduates Percent Change Agriculture 4,026 4,151 +3.1% 6,281 5,852 -6.8% Business and Management 106,669 101,755 -4.6% 57,167 57,506 +0.6% Communications and Journalism 12,395 12,460 +0.5% 5,759 5,691 -1.2% Education 4,503 4,166 -7.5% 10,867 10,735 -1.2% Engineering 71,622 71,151 -0.7% 105,060 98,307 -6.4% Fine and Applied Arts 29,955 31,999 +6.8% 20,196 19,894 -1.5% Health Professions 12,331 12,410 +0.6% 16,454 16,475 +0.1% Humanities 5,037 5,077 +0.8% 9,877 9,555 -3.3% Legal Studies and Law Enforcement 2,321 2,226 -4.1% 9,053 10,092 +11.5% Math and Computer Science 43,847 49,566 +13% 76,113 76,352 +0.3% Physical and Life Sciences 26,965 27,902 +3.5% 37,056 37,098 +0.1% Social Sciences 42,761 43,579 +1.9% 28,188 27,734 -1.6%

Change in International Enrollments by State, Ranked by International Enrollments

  Candidate Supported in 2016 Presidential Election Percent Change in International Enrollments from 2016-17 to 2017-18

1. California 

Clinton

+3.2%

2. New York

Clinton

+2.4%

3. Texas

Trump

-0.9%

4. Massachusetts

Clinton

+8.4%

5. Illinois

Clinton

+2.2%

6. Pennsylvania

Trump

+1.3%

7. Florida

Trump

+1.7%

8. Ohio

Trump

-2.8%

9. Michigan

Trump

-0.7%

10. Indiana

Trump

-2.0%

11. Washington

Clinton

+2.4%

12. Arizona

Trump

+2.4%

13. Missouri

Trump

-1.1%

14. New Jersey

Clinton

+1%

15. Georgia

Trump

+5.9%

16. North Carolina

Trump

+4.9%

17. Virginia

Clinton

-0.8%

18. Maryland

Clinton

+0.9%

19. Minnesota

Clinton

+2%

20. Connecticut

Clinton

+3.9%

21. Iowa

Trump

 +7.0%

22. Wisconsin

Trump

-2%

23. Oregon

Clinton

-4.8%

24. District of Columbia

Clinton

+0.2%

25. Colorado

Clinton

+1%

26. Kentucky

Trump

+26.9%

27. Kansas

Trump

-6.5%

28. Alabama

Trump

-2.6%

29. Oklahoma

Trump

-8.6%

30.Tennessee

Trump

-10.9%

31.Utah

Trump

-3.1%

32. Louisiana

Trump

+0.7%

33. Delaware

Clinton

+33.2%

34. South Carolina

Trump

-6.5%

35. Nebraska

Trump

0%

36. Rhode Island

Clinton

+1.9%

37. Arkansas

Trump

-16.7%

38. West Virginia

Trump

+5.6%

39. New Hampshire

Clinton

-6.0%

40. Hawaii

Clinton

+3.1%

41. Idaho

Trump

-4.3%

42. Mississippi

Trump

-8.4%

43. New Mexico

Clinton

-4.7%

44. Nevada

Clinton

+1.9%

45. North Dakota

Trump

-8.9%

46. South Dakota

Trump

-0.6%

47. Vermont

Clinton

+5.8%

48. Montana

Trump

-13.7

49. Maine

Clinton

+0.1%

50. Wyoming

Trump

-4.3%

51. Alaska

Trump

-1.2%

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Study abroad numbers continue to grow, driven by continued growth in short-term programs

Tue, 2018-11-13 08:00

The number of American students studying abroad continues to steadily increase, growing by 2.3 percent in academic year 2016-17 compared to the previous year, according to new data from the annual Open Doors report released today by the Institute of International Education.

A total of 332,727 students studied abroad for credit in 2016-17. IIE estimates that about 10.9 percent of all undergraduate students -- and 16 percent of those earning bachelor’s degrees -- study abroad at some point in their undergraduate careers.

The profile of study abroad students continues to become more racially and ethnically diverse, though is still a long way from reflecting the diversity of enrollment in U.S. higher education, which is about 42 percent nonwhite. About 29.2 percent of students who studied abroad in 2016-17 were nonwhite, compared to 18.1 percent a decade earlier.

Study Abroad Participation by Race/Ethnicity

  2006-07 2016-17 White 81.9% 70.8% Hispanic or Latino 6% 10.2% Asian or Pacific Islander 6.7% 8.2% Black or African American 3.8% 6.1% Multiracial 1.2% 4.3% American Indian or Alaska Native 0.5% 0.4% Total Number of Students Studying Abroad 241,791 332,727

Women have historically studied abroad at higher rates than men, and the gap has only widened over the last decade. Women made up more than two-thirds (67.3 percent) of students studying abroad in 2016-17, compared to 65.1 percent a decade earlier.

Meanwhile, efforts to make study abroad appealing to a broader array of students outside those studying foreign languages or international studies have borne fruit. Slightly more than a quarter (25.8 percent) of study abroad students in 2016-17 were studying STEM fields, up from 17.5 percent in 2006-07.

Students studying STEM fields make up the largest group of students studying abroad by field. Rounding out the top five fields of study, about a fifth (20.7 percent) of students studying abroad are studying business, 17.2 percent are studying social science fields, 7.3 percent are studying foreign languages and international studies, and 6.3 percent are studying fine and applied arts.

The proportion of students studying on short-term programs continues to grow: 64.6 percent of all students who studied abroad in 2016-17 did so on summer programs or those that were eight weeks or fewer in length. "As you try to expand the diversity of study abroad, more community college students, more students of color, more students from different fields, you're going to get students who can only go for a shorter period of time," said Peggy Blumenthal, a senior counselor to the president at IIE.

Indeed, the growth in study abroad participation is being fueled by the growth in short-term programming. The absolute number of students studying on short-term programs has risen rapidly -- more than 40,000 more students studied on short-term programs in 2016-17 compared to five years before that -- while the number studying on medium-term programs lasting a quarter or semester in length rose much more slowly. And the absolute number of students studying abroad for a whole academic or calendar year has actually declined (see chart below).

Total Numbers of Students Studying Abroad by Duration of Study

  2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 Short-term (summer or eight weeks or fewer) 174,513 189,074 197,883 204,972 214,798 Midlength (one semester or one or two quarters) 105,634 106,259 107,559 112,126 110,269 Long-term (academic or calendar year) 9,261 9,134 7,973 8,241 7,660 Total  289,408 304,467 313,415 325,339 332,727

Europe remains the top destination for American students, accounting for more than half (54.4 percent) of all students studying abroad, the same proportion as last year.

Though the bases are much smaller for the other world regions, there was year-over-year growth from 2015-16 to 2016-17 in the number of students going to Asia (up 6.7 percent), the Middle East and North Africa (up 14.2 percent), Oceania (up 6 percent), and sub-Saharan Africa (up 5.5 percent). There was a decline in the number going to Latin America and the Caribbean (down 3 percent) and elsewhere in North America (down by 4.5 percent).

The five most popular countries students chose for study abroad were all in Europe: the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, France and Germany.

Notable shifts in country-specific destinations include a 4.4 percent decline in the number of students going to the No. 4 destination, France, following a 5.4 percent decline the year before that. Rajika Bhandari, a senior adviser for research and strategy and director of the Center for Academic Mobility Research & Impact at IIE, said the decline in the number of students going to France is likely attributable to concerns about student safety following terror attacks.

Also of note, the number of students going to No. 6 destination China increased by 1.9 percent after declining for four straight years.

The number of students going to No. 12 destination Mexico increased by 10.8 percent, the fourth straight year of growth following steep declines due to concerns about student safety.

The number of students going to No. 14 destination India increased by 12.5 percent.

Finally, the number of students going to No. 15 destination Cuba also increased following the opening of the U.S. embassy in Havana in 2015 and a loosening of restrictions on American travel to the island nation. The period the report covers -- academic year 2016-17, including the summer of 2017 -- would have largely been before the Trump administration moved to tighten up travel restrictions again.

Top Destinations for Americans Studying Abroad

  Total Students Studying Abroad in 2016-17 Percent of Total Percent Change from 2015/16 1. United Kingdom 39,851 12% +1.8% 2. Italy 35,366 10.6% +1.4% 3. Spain 31,230 9.4% +4.2% 4. France 16,462 4.9% -4.4% 5. Germany 12,585 3.8% +5.8% 6. China 11,910 3.6% +1.9% 7. Ireland 11,492 3.5% +3.8% 8. Australia 10,400 3.1% +9.1% 9. Costa Rica 8,322 2.5% -9.9% 10. Japan 7,531 2.3% +5.4% 11.South Africa 6,042 1.8% +4.5% 12. Mexico 5,736 1.7% +10.8% 13. Czech Republic 4,777 1.4% +3.6% 14. India 4,704 1.4% +12.5% 15. Cuba 4,607 1.4% +21.8% GlobalStudy AbroadEditorial Tags: International higher educationStudy abroadImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: 

Philosophers will launch interdisciplinary journal that allows authors to publish under pseudonyms, citing recent threats against polarizing academics

Tue, 2018-11-13 08:00

Academic freedom is meant to protect scholars with controversial ideas. But a group of philosophers says academic freedom isn’t protection enough in an era of campus speech debates, internet trolls and threats against professors -- and that academics now need a place to publish their most sensitive ideas pseudonymously.

That venue, The Journal of Controversial Ideas, will launch next year. Co-founder Peter Singer, Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, and no stranger to controversial ideas, mentioned the idea for such a journal in a 2017 interview. But plans for it took shape in a BBC Radio 4 documentary on viewpoint diversity, which airs for the first time this week.

Jeff McMahan, White's Professor of Moral Philosophy at University of Oxford, told the BBC that the need for more open discussion is “really very acute.” There's “greater inhibition on university campuses about taking certain positions for fear of what will happen,” he said, with the political right and left alike stoking that "fear." Threats to academic freedom and free speech from within the university tend to come the left, he added, while outside threats tend to come from the right.

McMahan told Inside Higher Ed Monday that the journal doesn’t have a confirmed publisher, but that it will be open access, from a “reliable and well-established” source. It will be peer reviewed, with an editorial board that is diverse, ideologically and otherwise. There will be no restrictions on academic disciplines, though organizers expect most submissions will be from researchers in the humanities and social sciences, perhaps tilted toward philosophy. Natural sciences submissions also are welcome, and McMahan said he’s received offers to help review from scientists in those fields. Possible ideas include moral issues in research on weapons technologies and animal experimentation, for example, he said.

Will anything be off the table? Say, eugenics, which many say doesn’t merit a place in academic discourse? McMahan said he guessed that even a pro-eugenics article, were it well reasoned, might find a home in The Journal of Controversial Ideas.

McMahan, Singer and their third collaborator, Francesca Minerva, a moral philosopher at Ghent University in Belgium, sit on the political left. But they envision their journal as a home for all well-reasoned, if dangerous, ideas.

“We want both left-wingers and right-wingers on the editorial board,” McMahan said. “Here’s the way I think about it: for any article we publish, we want some member of the editorial board who is from a background or tradition whose members would object to that article.”

That’s proving somewhat challenging: McMahan said that while some potential board members have welcomed the opportunity to participate, others have questioned the premise of author pseudonyms.

Asked if he was conceding something to those who would threaten or seek to silence professors with unpopular arguments, McMahan said yes. But his concerns are outweighed by what he described as an urgent need.

“There is a part of me that says we should fight all this out in the open -- that we shouldn’t be afraid of these people who want to silence us. On the other hand, there are too many instances of people who nowadays receive real threats to their families and careers, particularly young, vulnerable untenured academics,” he said. “They sometimes face a choice, or perceive a choice, between not publishing something and risking all these terrible consequences. We want to provide a way to avoid that dilemma.”

McMahan said he doubted that he or Singer, as senior scholars, would publish pseudonymously, but stressed that other academics need options.

The journal will help verify authorship to institutions in a secure way, so that contributors may receive credit for their work for promotion and tenure purposes, he said. And authors may shed their pseudonyms at any time.

Minerva did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the journal. But McMahan said she faced serious threats after she co-authored a 2012 article discussing whether the same arguments that apply to abortion can applied to “after-birth abortion.” (The article did not argue that the latter was a good alternative to the former.) McMahan mentioned the backlash against Rebecca Tuvel, an assistant professor of philosophy at Rhodes College who published a 2017 article comparing being transracial to being transgender in the journal Hypatia, as another example of why the new journal is needed.

Commenting on the general climate for academics, McMahan said that students at the American University of Beirut attempted to disinvite and then shout him down during a recent speech there, over a what he described as his vague affiliation with Hebrew University of Jerusalem, even though he has otherwise been a vocal critic of Israel's policies on Palestinians.

Other instances of threats against academics, some explicit, and attempts to censor their speech, abound.

In short, it’s hard out here for an academic. But is assuming a fake name a valid response?

Justin Weinberg, an associate professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina and editor of the philosophy blog Daily Nous, wrote in a post there that it’s thus far unclear whether the “creation of such a journal will foster more of ‘a culture of fear and self-censorship’ compared to other options,” or if it “plays into and reinforces expertise-undermining misconceptions about academia bandied about in popular media that may have negative effects.”

Yet, given that the founding team “is comprised of people noted for views that emphasize empirical facts and consequences,” he wrote, “one might reasonably hope for a public discussion of such evidence and arguments.”

Henry Reichman, professor emeritus of history at California State University at East Bay and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Committee on Academic Freedom and Tenure, said he didn’t know if the AAUP had ever before weighed in on the idea of pseudonymous publications. Yet the organization’s Statement on Professional Ethics clearly states that professors should “practice intellectual honesty,” he noted.

“That could be extended to mean a prohibition on pseudonyms, but not necessarily,” Reichman said. “And there is surely precedent.” Pen names are common in literature and have occasionally been used in scholarship, he said, citing George Kennan’s “X Article,” which turned out to be the seminal statement on containment. Kennan at the time did not have an academic position, however, he noted.

Reichman further mused as to whether there was a meaningful difference between assuming anonymity versus pseudonyms. Anonymity at least “makes clear that identity is being hidden,” he said. Of course, pseudonyms are the very public premise of the new journal.

Speaking for himself and not the AAUP, Reichman said he understood the motivation behind the journal, since “faculty members have been under vicious assault for their research.” But he said he doubted whether pseudonyms were an effective solution, since harassment of faculty members “rarely, I think, stems from what they've published in professional journals, but more from statements made to the media,” such as op-eds, letters to the editor and TV interviews, or on social media or in the classroom. That's indeed the case in many recent examples of threats against professors.

He also cited a risk of people trying to uncover authors’ real identities, which he guessed might not be difficult in some instances.

Aside from ethics, Reichman said there is “potential for abuse” of such a journal, in that “academic research is generally assessed by peers in open discussion and debate.” And what if any author publishes one view under one name and a slightly different one under a real one? Or self-plagiarizes? Still, Reichman said, “it seems an interesting if potentially dangerous endeavor.”

Heterodox Academy, a group of several thousand scholars working to promote viewpoint diversity, mutual understanding and constructive disagreement, has criticized some of the same academic and cultural dynamics that have birthed The Journal of Controversial Ideas. Debra Mashek, the group’s executive director and a professor of psychology at Harvey Mudd College, said in a statement that she applauded the journal organizers’ efforts to “advance scholarship that raises difficult questions and confronts readers with challenging findings.” It’s “unfortunate -- for scholars, as well as for the production and use of knowledge -- that the current climate in many disciplines doesn't unabashedly encourage, celebrate or enable such exploration,” she said.

And while a peer-reviewed journal with rigorous evaluation criteria “could provide anonymous scholars with a short-term mechanism for advancing open inquiry,” Mashek said, “the health of the academy ultimately depends on people engaging colleagues constructively and respectfully across lines of difference. Anonymity should not be an essential ingredient.”

Musa al-Gharbi, a senior fellow for Heterodox Academy and a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at Columbia University, also praised the mission of helping “get otherwise taboo ideas in the open.” That’s provided that the journal is open access with a rigorous peer-review process undertaken by experts in relevant subfields, he said -- something that could prove difficult with submissions coming from a range of disciplines.

Absent that kind of effective peer review, he said, such a project could end up “as a repository for inflammatory, half-cooked work that would not have made it through review in disciplinary journals for legitimate reasons,” not just problems related to bias.

As for pseudonyms, al-Gharbi said that taking a public position “is important because it helps create permission and a model for others to stand up, as well.”

Via email, he added that “Successfully changing the dynamics will require people not only to trade provocative ideas behind a veil of anonymity, but also to stand up and refuse to go along with the prevailing orthodoxies -- to leverage, and indeed stake, their social capital on holding the line, and even pushing back against censorious trends.”

Heterodox Academy, for instance, doesn’t allow for anonymous membership, since “membership is a meaningful commitment precisely because it is public.”

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Blue wave means new focus in House on climate change, research on science committee

Tue, 2018-11-13 08:00

Over the past eight years, the House science committee became a home to climate change denialism and attacks on the federal process for doling out research grant awards.

That promises to change in January when a Democrat takes up the committee gavel for the first time since 2010. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, the current ranking member, has already announced an about-face for the direction of the committee.

She’s outlined an agenda that includes addressing climate change, supporting STEM education and restoring the credibility of the committee on science issues. Johnson has also introduced legislation to deal with sexual harassment in science and has called for federal science efforts to be more inclusive of minority scientists and those who work at historically black institutions.

The pending retirement of Lamar Smith, the chairman since 2013, meant the committee would see at least one significant departure next year. But four other Republican members -- California representative Dana Rohrabacher, Illinois representative Randy Hultgren, Virginia representative Barbara Comstock and California representative Steven Knight -- also lost their re-election bids.

The incoming Democratic class, meanwhile, includes eight new members who campaigned on their backgrounds in science, engineering or medical fields and had the backing of organizers opposed to attacks on science by President Trump. Science advocates expect Congress to put a greater emphasis on science in policy making and are hoping the committee could once again become a plum assignment for House members.

“It’s kind of a novel idea to put scientists on the science committee,” said Yogin Kothari, a senior Washington representative with the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “I’d encourage all the new members who have scientific backgrounds -- whether they’re engineers or hard scientists -- to join this committee and give it the prominence it really deserves.”

Under Smith, the science committee issued subpoenas to the Environmental Protection Agency seeking raw data used for a landmark air pollution study. Opponents said it wasn’t possible to release the data without violating the privacy of program participants. Under the Trump administration, EPA officials have sought to require that new regulations be based only on research where data is publicly available. The rule would enact requirements that Smith had sought to impose for years. The agency argued it would advance data transparency, but science groups said it would let the government ignore important and credible studies.

Smith also subpoenaed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after researchers at the agency said in a paper that there had been no halt to global warming in decades. For years, he’s called the scientific consensus on global warming “climate alarmism” based on biased data.

Smith also targeted National Science Foundation grants for special scrutiny, asking the agency for detailed records -- including scientific and technical reviews -- of grants that he said had questionable intellectual merit. Johnson blasted that interference in the peer-review process in what became a rare public feud between the top leaders of the committee.

Rush Holt, CEO at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said that Smith and other top Republicans on the committee have prided themselves on being iconoclasts when it comes to the conventional wisdom of research and the scientific consensus.

“I think they would take that as a badge of honor,” he said.

Tobin Smith, vice president for policy at the Association for American Universities, said with Lamar Smith’s departure and Democrats in charge of the committee, he expects that social science research would not see its value questioned so heavily by the committee, as it has under Republican leadership. And Democrats will likely look more favorably on the kind of applied research -- especially on wind and solar energy programs -- where industry won’t take the risk.

The committee is also likely to use its oversight powers to scrutinize the administration’s management of the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Our hope is the committee will become more bipartisan,” Tobin Smith said. “It’s not at all clear that will be the case.”

He noted that Republican members who lost their campaigns for re-election included lawmakers praised for their support of science. Hultgren, for example, although a conservative Republican has been recognized for his support of basic research and STEM education by the American Physical Society.

But Hultgren lost a narrow contest to Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse and former senior adviser at the United States Department of Health and Human Services, where she helped implement the Affordable Care Act. Underwood was one of more than a dozen congressional candidates on the ballot last week who were backed by 314 Action, a group launched in the wake of the 2016 election to find and back candidates with science backgrounds.

Shaughnessy Naughton, the president of 314 Action, said those candidates were able use their backgrounds in STEM fields to talk about issues important to their communities in a credible way. One of those candidates, Joe Cunningham, pulled off a narrow upset of South Carolina representative Katie Arrington by making offshore drilling a key part of his campaign.

“They bring a lot of credibility to these issues,” Naughton said. “That’s what people want right now. They want problem solvers.”

Of 13 candidates backed by 314 on Election Day, eight were elected to Congress -- all of them in districts that flipped from Republican to Democrat. (Joseph Kopser, one of the 314-backed candidates, lost a bid for Lamar Smith’s open House seat to Republican Chip Roy, who has dismissed the threat of climate change.)

Naughton said the new leadership on the science committee should mean the chair no longer uses the position to intimidate and silence researchers “who are just doing their jobs.” She said she also hoped to see Congress pass the Scientific Integrity Act, which aims to prevent the suppression of data and findings at federal agencies. Johnson is a co-sponsor of the legislation, which was introduced last year.

Kothari of the Union of Concerned Scientists said he also hoped to see the committee start holding hearings featuring scientific experts on matters under review by the committee.

“We’re hopeful the committee next year will go back to defending and promoting science and its role in shaping policy,” he said.

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New report shows colleges how to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and the work force

Tue, 2018-11-13 08:00

A report being released today says higher education is not keeping pace with the ever-changing job market. The report examines the “translation chasm” between the skills graduates of liberal arts programs have and the skills employers say they’re looking for in an applicant. Turns out, they’re not all that different, but “liberal arts graduates are too often left to stumble upon the valuable mixture of layered skills” required for any specific career, according to the report.

While many reports suggest that students should focus on studying marketable skills, the new report identifies career value in liberal arts education, albeit with some tweaks.

Put together by Emsi, a labor market analytics firm, and the Strada Institute for the Future of Work, the report is based on more than 100 million social and professional profiles and applicant résumés and more than 36 million job postings to determine how to bridge the gap between what liberal arts students learn and what employers want. (Note: Strada Education Network is a sponsor of Inside Higher Ed events, but Inside Higher Ed did not participate in the creation of this report.)

The report examines liberal arts programs, not liberal arts colleges, although many liberal arts programs are found at liberal arts colleges. "Liberal arts” is broadly defined as bachelor's degree programs in the humanities, social sciences and interdisciplinary programs. Arts, business, health care and STEM majors were not included in this analysis.

“There are those who believe that the ‘hard’ skills of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are most critical to the future, and those who believe the uniquely ‘human’ skills of the liberal arts are the ones that will endure in the face of automation,” the report says. “We say, ‘both, and’: It is the integration of human and technical skills that will provide the best preparation for the future of work.”

Liberal arts graduates have successful careers. While their earnings never catch up to those of STEM graduates, liberal arts graduates earn more than workers with less education. “Among workers with liberal arts B.A.s, 82 percent are working (70 percent full-time), and the average full-time worker earns $55,000 annually, $20,000 more than high school graduates, but $5,000 less than the average college graduate,” the report says. “Two out of five liberal arts graduates, however, go on to earn graduate degrees, which further boosts their earnings to $76,000 annually, on average.”

In the past, such outcomes have not been translated for a wider audience of employers and students, and “as a result, depending on who you ask, these graduates are either headed for a lifetime as a barista or are capable of doing absolutely anything,” the report says.

Rob Sentz, chief innovation officer at Emsi and co-author of the report, hopes that students, employers and colleges will use the data to help clarify this discrepancy.

He thinks about the data as three overlapping circles: students can use the data to determine how their “human” skills -- communication, leadership and problem solving -- apply to different jobs, employers can use the data to advertise job openings to qualified applicants, and colleges can use the data to connect what students learn into the classroom to real-world job scenarios.

From their first career to the third, liberal arts graduates often transition into high-skill, high-demand careers in marketing, advertising, public relations, management and human resources.

Employers could be more specific in job postings about what they’re looking for, but matching up jobs to applicants is a “two-way street,” Sentz said.

“Employers are going to signal, ‘We want communication skills because we want you working on a social media campaign,’ and the student needs to look and say, ‘OK, how do I translate what I learned to this?’” he said.

Take communication, for example. Hundreds of thousands of job postings list “communication” as a desired skill, but how that skill is utilized varies greatly from job to job. A listing for a behavioral health position could require good communication skills for suicide intervention, grief counseling or crisis management. In a marketing position, employees will communicate via press releases, brand management or social media marketing. In human resources positions, communication is required for onboarding, performance appraisal or management training.

“The college itself can help fill a gap between student and employer,” Sentz said. “Break down some of things that employers are asking for, and don’t necessarily just teach and certify those things, but say, ‘Now we’re learning rhetoric, or we’re writing an essay, and in the world of employment this is [how you could use this skill].’”

The report utilizes national data, but Sentz would like to see colleges collect this data locally.

“If you’re in Chicago, what are liberal arts students from different colleges in the Chicago area doing, and are [you] building relationships with those employers?” he said.

Deans, administrators working in program development, institutional research departments and faculty advisers should all be focused on helping students "translate what they are learning into skills that the labor market needs and wants," Sentz said. "Once the college has researched the needs of the local or regional economy, has collected the data on what their students actually do in that economy, and developed curriculum that makes connections to the labor market, career services should take advantage of that."

Students should also be doing their own research about how their skills and interests could translate into a career.

“The blessing of it is that [liberal arts graduates] are very mobile, but the curse is that they could end up mobile into bad spots,” Sentz said. “You really do have a very diverse array of things you could do, and you need to be very smart about how you begin to think about how you apply it in the market, versus a STEM student whose path might be already paved.”

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Former Harvard dean's tweet against required faculty diversity statements sets off debate

Mon, 2018-11-12 08:00

The debate over required faculty candidate statements on diversity and inclusion heated up again over the weekend, after the former dean of Harvard University’s medical school shared his pointed criticism on social media.

“As a dean of a major academic institution, I could not have said this. But I will now,” Jeffrey Flier, Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor and Higginson Professor of Physiology and Medicine, tweeted Saturday. “Requiring such statements in applications for appointments and promotions is an affront to academic freedom, and diminishes the true value of diversity, equity of inclusion by trivializing it.”

Flier was commenting on a recent post on the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s website by Robert Shibley, that organization’s executive director. Shibley wrote in response to a recent news article on the political website Real Clear Investigations about required diversity statements at the University of California, Los Angeles, and elsewhere.

Shibley was critical of such required statements as chilling academic freedom, saying that by allowing “administrators to rely on broad, subjective and ideologically-loaded terms to influence hiring decisions,” the Los Angeles campus headed in the wrong direction, away from broad public support.

Many academic freedom watchdogs value FIRE’s commentary and advocacy. But Flier’s comment -- given Harvard’s perennial cachet and the fact that it’s currently embroiled in its own legal battle over how it factors in diversity in admissions -- attracted widespread attention. Comments went both ways, from describing Flier as a hero to someone painfully unaware of his own bias.

Here’s a sampling:

I completely agree with this. Some of these statements, particularly those required by UC schools, appear to be political litmus tests. I will never make such a statement myself and will aggressively oppose their introduction elsewhere@HdxAcademy

— Paul Bieniasz (@PaulBieniasz) November 11, 2018

As part of coming to your view that diversity statements trivialize diversity, did you listen to STEM PoC, women, LGBTQ voices? Because they don't seem to agree with you.
Good places to start:

— Benjamin de Bivort (@debivort) November 11, 2018

Well congrats you’ve got the tiki torch boys all reved up. But I’ll bite, how does a statement describing ones efforts towards diversity affect academic freedom? I also had to make statements about my teaching philosophy and research approach for tenure and my freedom survived.

— Jim Johnson, Ph.D. (@JimJohnsonSci) November 11, 2018

I read these statements as asking all faculty to make a commitment to educating every student that walks into your classroom, regardless of background. A university has not only a right but an obligation to expect faculty to adhere to this.

— Lexi Suppes (@suplexi) November 11, 2018

Flier said via email Sunday that the reaction to his initial tweet was “vastly bigger than any I had before. Most of the comments I saw were very supportive. Many new followers. Many people I greatly respect retweeted it. Many people reached out to me directly to thank me for ‘being brave enough to speak’ about this. I was very encouraged.”

As for the "expected" negative comments, Flier said he found nearly all of them “missed the point, and misunderstood why I was taking the view that I did. Also the requisite number of crazies.”

Asked whether he was bothered by the fact that diversity statements are required for many faculty candidates, or more about how they’ll be weighed by hiring committees, Flier said, “At this point nobody knows how they would be used today or in the future. I suspect in most cases they will not have much impact. Other more traditional factors will play the greatest role in decisions.”

But many professors likely “will be trying to figure out ‘what they are expected to do or say,’ to not have this held against them. That could lead to some beneficial things, and some bad behaviors.”

Flier summed up his primary objection to the “whole idea” as follows: what “should mainly be an objective evaluation of a faculty member's accomplishments and reputation will now potentially be influenced by a politically contentious set of factors that will likely be gamed. And even more, this opens up academic assessment to even further inroads from political influences, which was well known in prior history.”

None of the above has “anything to do with support for more diversity, which I fully support,” he added.

Shibley’s takedown of required diversity statements says that it’s “one thing to tell candidates that their work in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion will be credited to them and make sure these do not go unrecognized by departments.” But it’s “entirely another to indicate to candidates that their mandatory [statement] is going to be awfully lacking if they happen to spend too much time pursuing teaching, research and service goals that may be both worthy and excellent, but which simply don’t move the needle in the direction of equity, diversity or inclusion,” he wrote.

He also asked readers to imagine that diversity, equity and inclusion be replaced by values that might not make “mainstream Republicans" uncomfortable, such as “capitalism, freedom and patriotism.”

Shibley told Inside Higher Ed that he thought it was “obvious” that committees will be more likely to offer jobs to those with "better" statements, however better is defined, “just as they would with any other component of an application.” Otherwise, he said, what would be the point of such a requirement?

Shibley said he worried more about something else, though: that requiring such statements means “strongly nudging faculty to take a certain direction in their work,” violating their academic freedom.

“Some scholars may not, on their own, wish to pursue equality, diversity and inclusion, as defined by UCLA or by anyone else,” he said. But with mandated diversity statements, scholar have “enormous incentive to disregard” what their "scientific conscience" might be telling them -- if they want to advance in academe.

Statements describing one's interest in and evidence of work on equity, diversity and inclusion, are required from faculty candidates at the California university system’s Los Angeles campus, among several others. Ricardo Vazquez, a spokesperson for Los Angeles, noted that relevant campus policy specifically says that these statements will not compromise academic freedom. He also said that the university’s Academic Personnel Manual “explicitly marks academic freedom as a core institutional value.”

Vazquez said that asking candidates to submit an EDI statement, as they’re known on campus, doesn’t alter the main criteria for evaluating faculty candidates. Rather, the diversity statement requirement just “makes the process more explicit, accurate and salient, and offers the university a vehicle to gain better information about a candidate’s contributions to diversity and equal opportunity," he said via email. "It differs little from comparable requirements throughout higher education for a teaching statement or statement of research interests.”

University policy on that issue says contributions "in all areas of faculty achievement that promote equal opportunity and diversity should be given due recognition in the academic personnel process, and they should be evaluated and credited in the same way as other faculty achievements.”

Philip Kass, vice provost at the university’s Davis campus, is currently overseeing an open faculty search initiative that emphasizes the role of diversity work for certain hires. Individual hiring committees will still decide how to judge or weigh those statements, however.

Kass said that he found Flier’s statement “ridiculous,” and criticized Shibley’s argument as intimating that required diversity statements were part of some “leftist plot.” Instead, he said, they're an additive part of a portfolio, just like awards or other honors.

Using himself as an example, Kass said that when he comes up for a merit review, he may or may not submit an optional statement on his work on diversity and inclusion, with the assurance that it can only help -- not hurt -- him. The same is true of Los Angeles’s initiative, he said. (Davis also requires diversity statements for faculty candidates. Statements are optional for promotion and merit decisions.)

Saying there's no requirement for as to what the statements say, Kass said they "can document the sorts of things I’m doing that go beyond the bounds of expectations with regard to equity, diversity and inclusion. But the converse is not true. I’m not penalized for not doing these things and not writing about them.”

Critics' worst fears about diversity statements are simply not true, Kass continued, in that diversity work is not a new, fourth criterion for faculty evaluations, after teaching, research and service. But, especially in a majority-minority state such as California, he said, diversity work can be an important part of teaching, research and service.

“We are a public university, and that means providing students access to a diversity of ideas and diversity of peoples and never, ever lowering our standards for academic excellence.”

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Mary Baldwin U closes art exhibit after two days when students said they found the art racist

Mon, 2018-11-12 08:00

Mary Baldwin University last week shut down an art exhibit after some students said that the art was racist. The artists involved say their art wasn't racist at all -- but has been misunderstood.

The exhibit, "RELEVANT / SCRAP," is about the monuments, common in much of the South, to Confederate heroes. The two artists are white people who grew up in the South, and they say that the exhibit reflects their awareness that these monuments -- glorified by some -- are deeply hurtful to others and contribute to distortions of U.S. history. The art features images from statutes, turned into other images and mixed with other materials.

The current debates about such monuments, combined with "the current post-truth context in the U.S." add to the "complexity of the issue," the artists wrote in a document explaining the exhibit. (Three images from the exhibit are above.) The monuments that are the focus of the art are from Monument Avenue in Richmond, which includes statues of numerous Confederate heroes.

An anonymous group called Concerned Students of Mary Baldwin circulated an email calling the exhibit racist, and student leaders endorsed that view.

Mary Baldwin then held a forum for students, who again called the exhibit racist, and the university then took all the art down. A statement from the university said, "In accordance with our values as an inclusive, student-centered campus community, we take seriously the concerns about an art exhibition by two Richmond-based artists installed earlier this week in Hunt Gallery. As a result of student concerns and discussions with the artists, the installation has been removed as of last night." The statement was illustrated with an image of the empty gallery.

The statement added that the exhibit had been booked three years ago, before the art was created. "Moving forward, Mary Baldwin will review its policies and procedures for selecting and booking cultural exhibitions on campus, including facilitating student input," the statement said.

The artists -- Jere Williams and Pam Sutherland -- released a statement in which they said that they agreed that the art should have been removed. But they said that their work had not been understood.

"We assure you that we are neither in agreement with the ideology of the Lost Cause nor racist (as many of the students called us)," they wrote. "Our intention with this work is to use art making processes to create an aesthetic experience of the problematic challenge of reimagining the spaces where the monuments to the Confederacy currently reside in Richmond."

Their statement expressed regret not about their art but about the lack of understanding of it.

"One mistake that we made was being naïve in the assumption that viewers reading our statement and viewing the work would understand our position on both the nature of the monuments to the Confederacy and our constructive intentions," the artists said. "We wholeheartedly believe the Civil War was fought over slavery, that these monuments were installed to foster oppression and that they ought not remain installed exactly as they as are because they don’t represent what we value. In hindsight, it might have helped if we discussed this background information rather than quickly delving into an art process discussion as we did. As such, we seem to have been misunderstood as people, and in our estimation the presence of the work does not violate the safe embrace of shared experiences or differences as stated in the university’s inclusivity statement."

This is not the first time that artwork on a college campus about racism has been criticized as racist. Salem State University shut down an exhibit featuring works inspired by the 2016 election when students complained about work that featured an image of Ku Klux Klan members. The artist said he was drawing attention to similarities in the hate spewed by the Klan and President Trump, but students urged that the exhibit be closed. Salem State subsequently reopened the exhibit, but with curtains and a warning that would be seen before encountering the work that caused offense.

Jonathan Friedman, the project director for campus free speech at PEN America, said via email that he was concerned about what happened at Mary Baldwin.

"In the midst of a rise in hate crimes, and important national questions about the legacies of slavery and the Confederacy, students' reactions to the exhibit's content are understandable, and could have been better anticipated when the work was first revealed," he said. Further, he said that Mary Baldwin's "decision to host a listening session with students is the right idea; but they could have done so while also staunchly defending the artists' rights and the value of free expression. Engagement ahead of time to prepare the campus for the exhibit and hear from the artists about their creative process and aspirations might have helped to avert this regrettable result."

Friedman added, "Once the works were put up on display the decision to withdraw them puts the viewpoint of protesters above those of the artists who created the exhibit, the curators who developed it, and the audiences who may have wished to view it. Teaching students that censorship is the solution to provocative material is a dangerous lesson, one which should be of grave concern to the artistic and academic communities alike. It not only goes against the spirit of hallowed artistic traditions, but also creates a wide opening for others to call for censorship in universities and museums in response to content that provokes or offends, no matter the grounds."

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Spelman president tells students to confirm their votes counted

Mon, 2018-11-12 08:00

The gubernatorial race in Georgia has made national headlines due to a white Republican candidate, the secretary of state, who was allegedly using his power to block voting by many black citizens in a race where the Democratic candidate is an African American woman.

While some college presidents may have remained silent for fear of being portrayed as partisan, this was not the case for the Spelman College president, Mary Schmidt Campbell, the leader of Atlanta’s historically black women's college. On Thursday, Campbell sent out a letter titled “urgent” to the campus, instructing students and others how to make sure their provisional ballots were counted.

This involved an in-person trip to the county Election Registrars’ Office with state identification, and Campbell said that buses would take students there.

Spelman has close ties with the Democratic nominee for the governor’s seat, Stacey Abrams, an alumna. Students and other Spelman alumnae formed the 1881 for Stacey Abrams coalition, designed to raise money and campaign for Abrams.

Meanwhile, the Republican in the race, Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, has been accused of having a conflict of interest while continuing to oversee election results. Kemp has also carried out a massive purge of voter rolls and put 53,000 voter registrations on hold, largely black voters.

On Election Day, thousands of provisional ballots were distributed across the state amid mass reports of voter machine malfunctions and a shortage of machines, as well as lines into polling locations up to five hours long. Because of these issues, Georgia’s state chapter of the NAACP won a lawsuit to extend voting times at two polling places by three hours, one near Spelman and another near Morehouse College, another historically black institution. The two colleges are both located in the Atlanta University Center, a hub for black higher education and once a center of the push to assure black people voting and other civil rights during the Jim Crow era.

Campbell did not mention the race in her letter, stressing only the Nov. 9 deadline for voters to confirm their provisional ballots. A spokeswoman said Campbell was unavailable for an interview.

But students and activists applauded Campbell’s statement, saying that in a time when voters are actively being suppressed, this type of vocal support was needed.

Phyllis Thomas Blake, president of the NAACP Georgia State Conference, said that the campus chapters at Spelman and other HBCUs have been running campaigns to make sure students know how to vote provisionally. Blake said that students need to be involved with civic education because of the rampant voter suppression across the state.

Blake said she also supports Campbell and any college president being vocal about voting rights -- and they should be, given the tactics being used by certain candidates.

“We have to make sure the politicians doing it are no longer in office, because if they stay office, we may not end up having the right to vote,” Blake said. “All college presidents, especially those at the historically black colleges, need to be encouraging votes.”

Francesca Bentley, a sophomore and a political science major at Spelman, said she personally did not have any trouble voting, but she knew that many of her friends and classmates did -- either they had been stripped from the voter rolls or their absentee ballots weren’t counted for some reason.

Widespread problems with voting were also documented on social media.

My son is at student at Morehouse. He registered and coincidentally, he was not in the system and he had to complete a provisional ballot. How many other Morehouse, Spelman and CAU students did this happen to at Stacy’s alma mater? Most students would just leave without voting.

— Hillary Dunson (@DunsonHillary) November 11, 2018

Bentley said that because voter disenfranchisement is so common in Atlanta’s West End, a poor and primarily black area where Spelman is located, she was pleased that the president took such a prominent stand on voting.

“I would say that colleges and universities need to take a more prominent role in voting in general,” Bentley said. “I think the main reason that younger people voted in this election more than in years past was because we were more educated and we had that support and on social media.”

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APLU enlists 130 universities in collaboration on completion and equity gaps

Mon, 2018-11-12 08:00

A growing number of universities are trading notes on how to improve student success rates. And the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities wants to take this cross-institutional collaboration to the next level.

Over the weekend the group released details on an ambitious project involving 130 universities and systems that have pledged to work together in 16 “clusters” to boost their student access and completion rates while also curbing equity gaps.

“These are burning issues for everybody,” said Rick Miranda, provost and executive vice president of Colorado State University, which is part of the effort. “Working together is a way to do it better.”

The APLU and participating universities helped shape the clusters, each of which includes four to 12 universities grouped around geographic and other characteristics. For example, the project features an urban cluster, a group of technology-focused institutions, a cluster of universities with high percentages of Pell recipients and one that will seek to integrate data collection systems across six universities.

The 130 participating institutions collectively enroll three million students, one million of whom are eligible to receive Pell Grants. Under the project, which is dubbed Powered by Publics: Scaling Student Success, the universities are seeking to graduate several hundred thousand additional students over the next five years. APLU, which is holding its annual meeting in New Orleans, said specific completion targets are in the works.

Data sharing will be a key part of the effort, said Julia Michaels, deputy executive director of APLU’s Center for Public University Transformation, which receives funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is overseeing the initiative. She said the clusters will use standard metrics on student completion, retention and credit accumulation.

Nationwide, 61 percent of students who first enrolled at a four-year public institution graduate within six years, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Deep achievement gaps persist as well. Just half of black students and 56 percent of Latino students completed at four-year publics within six years, the center found, compared to 71 percent of white students and 76 percent of Asian students.

APLU has asked for a five-year commitment for participating universities. The group said it will be open about its goals, publicly releasing hard numbers about completion and other targets as well as how each university is faring. If the project is successful, the group said it will continue the work as part of its membership benefits.

Urgency about improving completion rates at public universities has been building in recent years, due in part to performance-funding formulas that more than 35 states have enacted, many of which include completion components.

But beyond nudges from policy makers, university leaders and faculty members also increasingly realize they must help more students get to graduation to avoid the catastrophe of taking on debt without earning a degree, which in turn contributes to high student loan default rates, particularly for borrowers from minority groups.

“It’s the right thing to do,” Peter McPherson, APLU’s president, said when the group unveiled the project in February.

Mind the Gap

Eight years ago, Wayne State University was widely criticized after a report from the Education Trust identified its relatively low graduation rates and a deep achievement gap between black and white students at the university, which is located in Detroit.

M. Roy Wilson became Wayne State’s president in 2013. He said improving completion rates has been the university’s top priority ever since.

“We went to work immediately,” said Wilson. “We decided we were going to take the approach of not making excuses.”

Wayne State has had impressive results, improving its graduation rate by 21 percentage points during the last six years. In the same time frame, the completion rate for black students tripled. While an achievement gap still exists, Wilson said that’s mostly because graduation rates are rising for all student groups.

“We really think the black-white gap disappears soon,” he said.

APLU honored Wayne State on Sunday for its momentum on completion, giving the university an award for its "remarkable gains," including the increase of its graduation rate to 47 percent from 26 percent over six years.

The key for Wayne State and other participating universities, said APLU officials and participating university leaders, will be the sharing of tactics that work on completion.

“The goal here is to learn from each other,” Wilson said. “There are certainly things we can learn from others.”

Miranda agreed, saying the plan is to “take the best ideas and see how they can scale.”

The structured approach of the clusters, he said, will carve out time for administrators and faculty members to collaborate more deeply than is typically possible. Colorado State’s project team, for example, will include six administrators who work on student success, ranging from the president to an official from the institutional research department.

“It’s not unusual for us to be working together to make progress on these problems,” he said. “But we’ve really taken this to a whole other level of scale.”

The rollout of the University Innovation Alliance four years ago was a major development in cross-intuitional collaboration between public universities on student completion. And the group of 11 large research universities has achieved substantial gains, producing 25 percent more low-income graduates over the three years since the collaboration began. The group has said it’s on target for an increase of 100,000 completers alliancewide by 2025.

Colorado State is part of APLU’s western land-grant cluster. Miranda said the group of 11 universities will start by exploring completion strategies in four areas: academic advising models, digital learning tools such as adaptive learning, professional development for faculty members, and corequisite support (meaning the use of additional supports for students in courses rather than steering less-prepared ones to prerequisite courses).

Miranda is excited about the work and said he’s confident the universities will stick to the five-year commitment, and potentially more. That’s because both the completion challenge and the strategies for tackling it are enduring, he said. “If anything, these are going to become more important.”

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U of Louisville Foundation sues professor it partnered with to a launch a personalized medicine lab

Mon, 2018-11-12 08:00

In a highly unusual move, the University of Louisville Foundation is suing a faculty member at the institution it was founded to support over a $3.5 million loan.

That faculty member, Roland Valdes, a longtime professor of pathology and laboratory medicine and of biochemistry and molecular biology, says the foundation’s move will chill the “entrepreneurial spirit and activities we as a university are trying to promote and seemingly support.”

Ahead of Its Time

Noting that the foundation was a part owner in the now-defunct Pharmacogenetics Diagnostic Laboratory, Valdes described the project as a “spin-out” from his academic research, including a university-owned patent. He said the both the university and the medical school’s administration encouraged his business.

Valdes co-founded PGXL, as the lab was known, in 2004, on the cusp of what is now known as personalized medicine. The lab’s initial focus was on genetic testing to help physicians improve selection and dosing of medications, and the enterprise was successful for a time. It generated tens of millions in revenue and serviced 120,000 patients nationwide, by Valdes’s accounting. It created about 250 full-time jobs and won millions in federal and in-state grants, he said.

Then the lab met its well-documented demise, caused largely by federal rule reversals as to what pharmacogenomics testing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would cover. Labs around the country struggled to adapt, and Valdes said that his was able to sustain itself longer than most. Medicare is now paying for some of the tests it stopped funding, as they became what Valdes called “standard practice,” he added.

Ultimately, though, Valdes said, PGXL didn’t have the capital to survive the transition. It filed for bankruptcy in 2016, due to Medicare overpayment claims.

Louisville’s foundation invested in PGXL and helped guarantee $3.5 million line of credit for it in 2014. It held a seat on the company’s board and was regularly involved in making decisions, Valdes said.

But the foundation is suing its former business partner, based on a personal guarantee that Valdes made before the foundation would guarantee a loan, as required by the bank.

Now that PGXL has defaulted on that loan, the foundation wants back the money it had to pay the bank as a result.

‘Most Unfortunate’

Both the university and Louisville’s medical school referred questions back to the foundation, which did not respond to requests for comment directly or through its public relations firm.

Valdes called the lawsuit “most unfortunate,” saying that the foundation failed to consider how much its involvement in the lab aligned with its mission “to help the local economy and benefit the [university] community. Most unfortunate not to see and recognize the whole picture.”

Valdes, who has been a professor at Louisville for nearly 30 years, says he’s conducted himself with “respect and loyalty,” and that he’ll continue to do so now.

Mark Linder, another professor of pathology and laboratory medicine at Louisville who co-founded PGXL, is not named in the suit and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The foundation's lawsuit is pending a Kentucky circuit court.

Michael Olivas, William B. Bates Distinguished Chair in Law at the University of Houston Law Center and former general counsel to American Association of University Professors, said he had no intimate knowledge of the Louisville case, but that the foundation is “a disaster waiting to happen, yet again.”

Louisville’s foundation has had a rocky few years, to put it lightly. James Ramsey resigned in 2016 as both university president and foundation president after several scandals. An independent 2017 report on the foundation’s finances, ordered after Ramsey’s ouster, detailed extreme mismanagement, financial and otherwise. And, earlier this year, the university and the foundation sued Ramsey and other former foundation officials. The university faces other troubles.

Olivas said he wouldn’t rule out a university foundation ever suing a professor, however bad a look it is. But here, he said, the Louisville foundation should be “lining up with other creditors,” perhaps in bankruptcy court -- not pursuing a civil case against an individual faculty member.

Olivas also said it’s not unusual for foundations to help faculty members with their start-ups, but that these are typically “arm’s-length agreements, lawyered up on both sides.” Offering a professor a $3.5 million line of credit does not seem like that kind of risk-controlled agreement, he added.

Yet, given the foundation’s history, Olivas said “the surprising thing to me isn’t that this happened -- surprising to me is that the foundation still exists,” without a major restructuring. “It’s sucked everybody into the tar pit with it.”

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Rowan University will allow women athletes to practice in sports bras

Mon, 2018-11-12 08:00

Rowan University clarified its long-standing verbal policy that required all athletes to wear shirts during practice after a viral article bashed the university for prohibiting female athletes from wearing only sports bras during workouts.

The old policy was created “as a matter of keeping a level of standards throughout its men's and women's programs,” according to the university statement, and applied to both men and women.

In her article for the Odyssey online, a popular college blog, Gina Capone, a Rowan University student, criticized the policy.

“In the world of professional athletics, all female elite runners are permitted to wear racing crop tops. Not only are they non-restricting, but they are a trendy, comfortable, and empowering part of the running culture,” she wrote. “As women, we are constantly reminded that we should be ashamed or embarrassed about our bodies. It's 2018, and yet women are still being objectified with their physical appearance.”

Capone's article was shared widely on social media.

“This is unacceptable, @RowanUniversity. Why would anyone (including my four daughters) ever apply to a college that treats women this way, promoting rape culture and prioritizing men over them?” one user tweeted alongside the article link.

"Wow, this is really putting us back even more and perpetuating rape culture yet again. As a runner and a woman, I am incredibly infuriated by how this all makes sense. Please explain your logic @RowanUniversity," another user said.

Following the criticism, the university said it was clarifying its policy, which it effectively ended.

“The university recognizes that while the verbal policy attempted to set standards, it could be misunderstood and does not accommodate today’s training practices across sports. We recognize this may stir debate within the university community and beyond,” the university's statement read in part. “By clarifying our support of women’s athletics and its student-athletes, Rowan strongly affirms its commitment to ensuring that women are able to train and perform at the highest levels.”

In addition to the brief policy clarification, the university plans to develop a written policy allowing women to wear sports bras without shirts during practices.

“Rowan Athletics will continue to follow National Collegiate Athletic Association guidelines for uniforms during competition. In the new formal policy, there will be no restriction of sports bras without shirts as practice apparel,” according to the statement.

Capone’s article also accused the university of forcing female runners to practice at the local high school instead of on the university track so they would not distract the men’s football team. This is false, and the university issued a separate statement on Facebook to address the accusation.

“As is common at many institutions, the policy dictates that teams use our athletic venues one team at a time. The article explained in error that the cross country team was no longer allowed to use the track at the Rowan stadium. The cross country team has a mixed practice schedule where it may do road work one day, followed by trail work on another and then track work on yet another day,” the Facebook statement read. “Preferring not to schedule practice later in the day, the cross country coach has historically made alternate plans for the team to use Glassboro High School’s track, which is directly across the street from Rowan’s stadium.”

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Some at Michigan asking why music professor was granted tenure soon after misconduct investigation that was later allegedly reopened

Fri, 2018-11-09 08:00

David Daniels is known for his “superlative artistry, magnetic stage presence, and a voice of singular warmth and surpassing beauty, which has helped him redefine his voice category for the modern public.” That’s according to Daniels’s faculty biography at the University of Michigan, which granted him a full professorship in music, with tenure, in the spring.

Over the summer, though, Daniels became known for something else: allegations of rape, made by a singer who said he was a graduate student at Rice University, near where Daniels was performing in Houston at the time of the incident, in 2010. Daniels has denied those allegations. But now he faces another set of accusations and a lawsuit -- this time from a graduate student at Michigan who says that Daniels drugged and groped him last year. The student also says Michigan turned a blind eye to rumors of sexual impropriety surrounding a faculty superstar, and even rewarded him with tenure after three years on the faculty.

Other students are now asking why Michigan granted Daniels tenure when it did, or at all. Is it appropriate to fast-track tenure for someone who has faced recent misconduct allegations?

“We call on the university to swiftly and transparently rectify its failure to adequately respond to the multiple allegations” against Daniels, reads an open letter from Michigan’s Central Student Government.

The university said in a statement that “when these allegations were made public in August, Daniels was not teaching classes and agreed to take a leave of absence.” He remains on leave for the term.

But what about before the former Rice student’s allegations were made public?

The new lawsuit says that Daniels invited one of his Michigan graduate students to his home one night last year, saying he was “lonely” and wanted to talk about the student’s career. Daniels allegedly gave the student drinks and what he called a Tylenol PM after the student said he needed to rest up for a performance. But the student says the pill was really the prescription sleep medication Ambien, and that Daniels soon took off the student's clothes to grope and touch his genitals and face.

The lawsuit alleges that Daniels also sent the student text messages asking for pictures of his genitals, a video of himself masturbating and other sexual content, along with a reference to their “Bourbon and Ambien night.”

In March of this year, according to the lawsuit, Michigan received a complaint that Daniels was contacting students on the dating app Grindr and offering them money for sex. Michigan allegedly investigated the report but did not interview students or ask to see Daniels’s social media accounts. No findings were made against Daniels, according to the lawsuit.

Daniels was granted tenure in May.

In July, someone posted on Michigan’s opera Facebook page that Daniels was a serial rapist who drugged his targets. University officials received a similar anonymous letter.

Daniels and his husband “drugged and raped a young singer” in 2010, the letter reads. “He never reported it because he was terrified that a famous and successful singer could derail his nascent career.” Besides sexual assault, the letter says, “dozens of young men are unwilling recipients of pictures of Daniels’s genitalia. He’s a known serial sexual predator.”

The communication apparently caused Michigan to look into the pay-for-sex allegations again, according to the suit. Screenshots of the discussion from Grindr, quoted in the suit, allegedly show Daniels saying “many of the same things” he said to the graduate student, including “I’m a HUGE FAN of yours” and “I think you’re a crazy talented singer! I want to help you in any way I can in this crazy business.”

Daniels also wrote, “I wanna make a hot Dad/son fantasy come true with you!! $$$$$$,” and sent a photo of himself seated naked on a toilet and a picture of an erect penis, according to the screenshots quoted in the suit. He's also alleged to have written, “Are you a U of M student? Cause I’m university affiliated … need to be WAY discreet” and “I’m one year from tenure.” The student allegedly blocked Daniels on the app after telling him, “This is not ok.” According to the lawsuit, Daniels continued to contact him via Facebook, saying, “I’m sorry! I’m such a big fan of your [sic]!” and “Academia is a new thing for me!”

In August, the singer Samuel Schultz publicly accused Daniels and his now husband, conductor Scott Walters, of inviting him back to where they were staying near Rice to drug and rape him. Both Daniels and his husband have denied the allegations.

Also in August, a faculty member became aware of the Michigan graduate student’s account, according to the lawsuit, and reported it to university officials. But “the Office for Institutional Equity did nothing. No file was opened,” according to the suit.

Asked about Michigan’s response to the allegations against Daniels both before and after his tenure decision, Kim Broekhuizen, university spokesperson, said it’s “important for you to know that with any allegation that could be criminal in nature, the university would typically defer to the law enforcement investigation” before starting its own inquiry.

Michigan “actively pursues all avenues to gather additional information in these situations, including those in which expressions of concern are anonymous,” Broekhuizen added via email. “We want to reiterate we take sexual misconduct allegations seriously. We always take appropriate action when there's enough information to move forward.”

The student is seeking damages and equitable relief via a trial by jury.

Daniels in a statement called the allegations in the lawsuit both “false and malicious. I have never had a physical relationship with the individual mentioned in this complaint.” He added, ”The events alleged here never happened and I intend to defend my reputation.”

Michigan is far from the only institution facing complaints that it mishandled a sexual harassment case. It isn’t the only institution to promote someone accused of harassment, either. The University of Rochester, for example, promoted the brain and cognitive scientist Florian Jaeger to full professor while he was being investigated for sexual harassment. The university has since said it was a mistake, even though Jaeger was eventually cleared of wrongdoing by the university and a separate outside investigation (a related lawsuit against Rochester continues).

Unlike Jaeger, Daniels was no longer under investigation for misconduct at the time of his tenure decision, according to the suit. And many faculty advocates say it’s important to maintain due process as more and more reports of abuse come to light.

But the Michigan student’s complaint also alleges that the university’s investigation into Daniels’s alleged solicitation of sex was inadequate, and that incriminating screenshots and messages from the professor to a student were readily obtained once the investigation was reopened. His tenure recommendation report includes no reference to the investigation. Regarding students, the report says that they enjoy and "benefit greatly" from working with him.

"I frankly think it was a mistake, and it was one where it’s not going to happen again,” Joel Seligman, Rochester’s former president, said last year of Jaeger’s promotion while he was facing harassment reports. "And it’s not that after an investigation one can’t be promoted if it’s justified on the merits, but in the pendency of a serious investigation of this nature, it was wrong to promote him."

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Cal State system sees record increases in graduation rates

Fri, 2018-11-09 08:00

Administrators at the California State University System worried two years ago when the system set ambitious goals for increasing graduation rates. They were concerned that low-income students and students of color would be harmed by the new targets. One criticism, for example, was that students would be pushed into courses they were not prepared to take.

Instead, the nation’s largest and most diverse public university system is seeing record levels of achievement and narrowed equity gaps among low-income and minority students.

“Everybody in our university community believes we should effectively serve students and improve graduation rates,” said James Minor, the system’s senior strategist for academic success and inclusive excellence. “People may have different opinions about how to do that, but everybody agrees with the goal. It’s impossible to do the same thing we’ve done for the last 50 years and expect gains in graduation rates and closing equity gaps.”

Preliminary data released earlier this month show the four-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time freshmen increased six percentage points over three years, from 19.2 percent in 2015 to 25.4 percent in 2018. The six-year graduation rate also increased by four percentage points, from 57 percent in 2015 to 61.1 percent in 2018. The system is scheduled to release final data later this month.

The graduation rate gap between students who receive federal financial aid, or Pell Grants, and peers who don't receive the aid decreased by one percentage point, from 10.6 percent in 2017 to 9.5 percent in 2018. Among African American, Native American and Latino/Hispanic students, the graduation rate gap narrowed by two percentage points from 12.2 percent in 2017 to 10.5 percent in 2018.

Graduation rates also increased for transfer students. The two-year graduation rate increased by seven percentage points, from 30.5 percent in 2015 to 37.6 percent in 2018. Four-year graduation rates for transfer students also increased four percentage points, from 72.9 percent in 2015 to 77 percent in 2018.

Minor attributes this success to Graduation Initiative 2025, which called for increasing the four-year graduation rate from 19 percent in 2015 to 40 percent by 2025. It would also raise the six-year graduation rate for freshmen from 57 percent in 2015 to 70 percent, raise the two-year goal for transfer students from 31 percent in 2015 to 45 percent, and raise the four-year goal for transfer students from 73 percent in 2015 to 85 percent.

The initiative also called for eliminating achievement gaps among students of color and those from low-income households.

Meanwhile, campus administrators are seeing their own success from the initiative. At San Diego State University -- one of the 23 universities in the Cal State system -- the graduation rate for Pell Grant recipients increased to 71 percent. Nationally, a little less than half of first-time, full-time Pell recipients earn a bachelor’s degree in six years from the college where they first enrolled.

“We’ve been focusing on enhancing guidance and academic planning and making sure our first-generation students and [Educational Opportunity Program students] are entering early with a support system,” SDSU president Adela de la Torre said. “And we’re working with our community partners, the K-12s and community colleges.”

De la Torre said there wasn’t just one program that helped push graduation rates in a positive direction. The same is true for the larger Cal State system, which has implemented a few education reforms in the last couple of years, including moving away from placement exams and replacing noncredit remedial courses with credit-bearing classes that offer additional academic support.

Minor said the system received about $150 million, or $75 million a year, for the graduation initiative during the last two state budget cycles. But he said the funding alone didn't drive the graduation rate increases.

“When you take $75 million and spread it across 23 campuses, it’s not game-changing money,” he said. “It’s enough for campuses to do things they otherwise would not. Campuses are investing percentages of their own budgets over and beyond what the appropriation is for student success.”

The graduation initiative involved campuses systemwide using data to identify learning gaps down to the classroom level, Minor said. Cal State campuses also added 4,300 new course sections to open more seats in classrooms and reduce the time it takes students to graduate.

Minor said CSU administrators questioned students about why they stayed in college for an extra semester or an additional year.

“It wasn’t because they wanted to hang out,” he said. “They couldn’t get the course they needed.”

Individual universities also made changes that went beyond what the system mandated, Minor said.

San Diego State, for example, extended the requirement that freshmen live on campus to sophomores, said Sandra Cook, associate vice president for academic affairs and enrollment at SDSU.

“Data shows students who live in residence halls and have that structure do better,” she said.

The university also created a center for commuter students that provides them a study and meeting space on campus and is building "learning communities" of students with similar backgrounds who attend the same classes and share academic advisers, Cook said. The hope is that these steps will improve students' academic outcomes.

System officials and Chancellor Timothy White say although they’re pleased to see graduation rates increase and achievement gaps shrink, there is still more work to be done.

Cal State wants to improve student advising and make changes that will allow a greater percentage of students to have a degree plan before they register for their first term. The system also wants to improve coordination between various offices and departments so students aren’t given conflicting information when they have questions or issues to address, Minor said.

“The opportunity to graduate from CSU should not be based on ethnicity or financial background,” he said. “So even an equity gap of 1 percent in our mind is too large and we would look to close it.”

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Students from several colleges were at Southern California bar where gunman opened fire

Fri, 2018-11-09 08:00

Southern California colleges feared for the worst when news spread that a gunman had opened fire at Borderline Bar & Grill, in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Wednesday night. The bar's weekly "college night" opens its doors to students as young as 18. The event attracts hundreds of young people, many of them students.

Among the 12 people shot and killed were Alania Housley, a freshman at Pepperdine University. The Los Angeles Times reported that she was studying English, hoped to go to law school and had a passion for music.

Pepperdine reported that it has identified 16 of its students who were present when the terror started at Borderline. The university is focused on helping those mourning Housley and also those experiencing trauma because of the mass shooting.

California Lutheran University announced that it was calling off classes Thursday and today and setting up special religious services and outreach efforts. A number of its students were present. Justin Meek, a recent graduate, was among those killed. Local television stations reported that he worked at Borderline but was there with friends, off-duty on Wednesday night. Witnesses said he was killed while trying to protect others.

Noel Sparks, a student at Moorpark College, was also among those killed. Press accounts described how her friends who were with her at the bar grew more and more worried as they couldn't reach her after the shootings.

Moorpark, which has confirmed that it had other students present at Borderline, is also reaching out to offer support.

Other Shootings

Wednesday night's mass shooting was hardly the first to have an impact on higher education. On Friday, a gunman shot and killed a student and a professor at Florida State University when he stormed into a yoga studio in Tallahassee. And that shooting came less than a week after an avowed anti-Semite killed 11 at a Pittsburgh synagogue. Those murdered included a professor and a retired researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.

The first prominent mass shooting at a college campus was in 1966, when Charles Whitman climbed to the top of a tower at the University of Texas at Austin and shot 43 people, killing 13. In 2007, a disturbed student shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech.

The following is a far-from-comprehensive list of some of the other shootings in recent years that have claimed students' and faculty members' lives:

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Colleges award tenure

Fri, 2018-11-09 08:00

Case Western Reserve University

  • Cristian G. Gomez Olivares, modern languages and literatures
  • Craig A. Hodges, pediatrics
  • Megan R. Holmes, applied social sciences
  • Ganapati H. Mahabaleshwar, medicine
  • Brian Michael McDermott Jr., otolaryngology
  • Paul Shin-Hyun Park, ophthalmology and visual sciences
  • Adam T. Perzynski, medicine
  • Abdus Sattar, population and quantitative health sciences
  • Vera Tobin, cognitive science
  • Matthew A. Willard, materials science and engineering

Prairie State College, in Illinois

  • Colleen Ivancic, accounting and business
  • Michelle Keane, nursing
  • Edward O’Donnell, nursing

Syracuse University

  • Shikha Nangia, chemical engineering
  • Makan Fardad, electrical engineering
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College-age students turned out big-time for 2018 midterm elections

Fri, 2018-11-09 08:00

Leading into the pivotal midterm elections this week, political activists were confident that turnout among college students would far outpace previous years. Their predictions were apparently correct; exit poll data revealed a surge among college-age voters that also seemed to contribute to Democrats taking back control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Preliminary projections put the number of young voters up by 10 percentage points since the previous midterm election in 2014. Experts predict the groundswell of energy among students, expressed at polling places across the country on Tuesday, will influence elections for decades to come. More politicians will take notice of this year’s results and more aggressively try to court young voters, the experts said.

Even as some GOP lawmakers were accused of trying to squash student participation and floated unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud, the youth turnout far exceeded that of the previous midterm election. The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, or CIRCLE, at Tufts University, projected that about 31 percent of young people age 18 to 29 voted in this election cycle, which is about 10 percentage points higher than in 2014.

That’s the highest turnout rate in at least 25 years, according to CIRCLE. The United States Election Project, a well-known source on the electorate run by Michael P. McDonald, associate professor of political science at University of Florida, estimated that more than 113 million people voted in total, representing a 48 percent turnout rate. This would mark the first time in U.S. history that a midterm election exceeded 100 million voters.

Nonpartisan voters’ rights groups and students themselves said the social and political polarization over the Trump presidency greatly boosted youth interest in the elections and led them to flock to the polls.

“Youth demonstrated newfound levels of engagement and enthusiasm that have historically been unusual in a midterm election,” CIRCLE researchers said in a written analysis.

This engagement was documented at colleges and universities in battleground states across the country, where many voting precincts were located on college campuses.

In Florida, for instance, where there were highly competitive races for governor and the U.S. Senate -- where Republicans hold narrow leads amid disputes about the count -- students voted at much higher rates than previous years, according to the New Voters Project of the Student Public Interest Research Group.

The organization monitored polling places on college campuses in Florida and 10 other states.

At the campus precinct at Florida State University, 3,036 ballots were cast compared to 1,035 votes in 2014, the group said in a written statement. At the University of North Florida, 2,825 total ballots were cast in this year’s election compared to 1,493 in 2014.

“When polls closed at Florida State University, the line was still over an hour long,” Bronte Payne, organizing director for Florida PIRG Students, said in a statement. “We talked to voters, gave out snacks, and made sure everyone stayed in line.”

Representatives from the group said turnout in California was so heavy that they worked with local officials to open additional polling places at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and UC Riverside, where one student apparently stood in line for three and half hours after polls officially closed.

One precinct at UC San Diego ran out of ballots.

“What the preliminary numbers from yesterday show us is that when we invest in helping students through the registration and voting process, it pays off,” SPIRGS said in a press release Wednesday. “Big time.”

College administrators and off-campus advocates have pushed students to vote in recent years by linking registration to orientation programs and other events, or allowing them to register to vote at the same time they're registering bikes or cars on campus. Students typically face barriers to voting because they are often doing so for the first time and on campuses where they may be unfamiliar with state laws. Some states require identification to vote, for example. And state officials have sometimes muddled the process by misinforming students about voting regulations or passing laws that voting rights advocates say intentionally make it more difficult for students with out-of-state addresses to register and vote. For instance, about two years ago, the Republican governor of Maine incorrectly informed college students they needed to establish state residency to vote. Voting rights activists say such tactics are almost exclusively used by Republicans who fear college students will vote for liberal candidates.

Young voters do tend to favor progressives, which was overwhelmingly the case in this election cycle. The Harvard Institute of Politics estimated that among the 14.7 million young people who voted in this election, about 67 percent of them preferred Democrats.

Voters younger than 30, which analysts believe comprised about 13 percent of the electorate in the midterm elections, were also credited as one of the key groups that helped Democrats win the House and made certain races -- namely the Texas Senate battle between Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke -- much more competitive than expected. Voters under 30 preferred O’Rourke to Cruz 71 percent to 29 percent, according to exit polls. And Cruz won by about two percentage points, an extraordinarily tight margin for deep-red Texas.

In Nevada, Democrats captured a Senate seat with a five-percentage-point win by Jacky Rosen. Among youth voters, which were an estimated 19 percent in the state, Rosen got 67 percent compared to Dean Heller's 30 percent, according to polling data.

Mark Gearan, director of the Harvard institute, said the influx of college students to the polls is unprecedented and can be attributed to a number of events, but most significantly the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which outraged young people and spurred them to become more politically active.

He said this generation of young people, motivated by gun violence and an increasingly widening political divide, has taken a keen interest in politics that he believes will continue. Gearan noted how youth voters significantly influenced some races and said politicians who previously did not make much effort to reach out to young voters will notice these results and adjust their campaign strategies.

“I think our elected leaders will be drawn to this,” he said of the election results.

Activists are brainstorming how to keep students interested in politics even in nonelection years. Because it’s documented that students are more interested in specific issues than in loyalty to political parties, keeping them engaged is a challenge for college administrators.

Mike Burns, national director for the Campus Vote Project, a nonpartisan offshoot of the Fair Elections Legal Network, said that on Election Day, his group sponsored parties on campuses to try to make the process more fun.

At James Madison University, music students sponsored an all-day concert Tuesday, and professors even canceled some classes, Burns said. He said this helps “build a culture of democratic engagement.”

While long lines at polling places on college campuses and elsewhere might appear to be the result of successful political activism, Burns said it actuality represents a failure by the government to help facilitate voting.

“We’re always going to be talking about how do we keep up this enthusiasm among first-time voters,” Burns said. “How can we continue to learn lessons from that and improve?”

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