Inside Higher Ed

A list of the 10 articles with the most readers in 2018

Fri, 2018-12-21 08:00

The state of the humanities, admissions, race relations and graduate student life were topics that attracted many readers in 2018. The following were the articles that attracted the greatest numbers of readers.

  1. Wait-Listed, Rejected and Frustrated in California
  2. An 'Easy' SAT and Terrible Scores
  3. Mental Health Crisis for Grad Students
  4. Was Saturday's SAT Compromised?
  5. Punishing Women for Being Smart
  6. Rejecting AP Courses
  7. Yale Police Called on Black Student Taking a Nap
  8. When a Temporary Visa Is More Temporary Than Thought
  9. Faculty Members at Wisconsin Stevens Point React to Plan to Cut 13 Majors
  10. Shocker: Humanities Grads Gainfully Employed and Happy
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New presidents or provosts: Birmingham Blackburn Bowling Green Davis Kalamazoo Northeast Riverside Saddleback Tennessee Tech Knoxville

Fri, 2018-12-21 08:00
  • Gregory Anderson, interim vice president of instruction at Mt. San Antonio College, in California, has been appointed president of Riverside City College, also in California.
  • Darin Brush, vice president of external engagement and economic development at Davis Technical College, in Utah, has been named president there.
  • Kelli A. Chaney, dean of career education and work-force development at Big Sandy Community and Technical College, in Kentucky, has been appointed president of Tennessee College of Applied Technology Knoxville.
  • Daniel Coleman, former CEO of KCG Holdings, in Alabama, has been chosen as president of Birmingham-Southern College, also in Alabama.
  • Bethany H. Flora, associate director of the Center for Community College Leadership at East Tennessee State University, has been chosen as president of Northeast State Community College, also in Tennessee.
  • Danette Ifert Johnson, vice provost at Ithaca College, in New York, has been selected as provost at Kalamazoo College, in Michigan.
  • Julie Murray-Jensen, vice president of enrollment and external affairs and executive director of the KCC Foundation at Klamath Community College, in Oregon, has been named president of Blackburn College, in Illinois.
  • Elliot Stern, vice president of instruction at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, in Washington, has been chosen as president of Saddleback College, in California.
  • Joe B. Whitehead, professor of physics at North Carolina A&T State University and senior adviser for research at the University of North Carolina System, has been appointed provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio.
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Department to focus on credit transfer, credential inflation in rule-making session

Thu, 2018-12-20 08:00

In a meeting with college presidents and association officials Wednesday morning, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos planned to outline principles for her plan to revamp higher education rules, with a focus on accreditation.

DeVos wants more flexibility for accreditors to approve emerging models, such as distance learning, instead of what she called a current “all or nothing” approach. DeVos also called for clearer delineations between the roles of accreditors, state licensing agencies and the federal government.

The department's priorities are wide-ranging and include issues that haven’t been primarily associated with accreditors, including credit transfer and credential inflation. DeVos wants recommendations on how the department can encourage colleges to accept more transfer credits and confer with employers before approving new graduate programs.

The principles she laid out Wednesday are part of a broad framework that will guide an upcoming rule-making process set to begin in January.

The department described its priorities in two white papers released Wednesday -- on rethinking higher ed generally and on accreditation reform. Recommendations in the brief papers are broad and don’t come with specific policy proposals attached. Department officials said some of the identified issues could be addressed through regulations or changes to current law. Others are a matter of changing the department’s current practices, Diane Auer Jones, principal deputy under secretary of education, said in an interview this week.

“We want to put on the table what we think the challenge is,” she said. “But we are doing negotiated rule making. It isn’t up to us to solve every problem. We would love for people to come to the table with some of their own ideas on how to solve these problems.”

Auer Jones said the department wants to give accreditors the ability to craft standards that match the institutions they accredit. It makes little sense, she said, to apply the same outcomes standards to Johns Hopkins University and a nearby community college.

“We want to focus on standards that make sense based on what the institution does,” she said.

That priority likely will be a matter of enforcement for the department. But others, like credit transfer or credential inflation, will be brought to the negotiating table in the upcoming rule-making process.

Jones said the department doesn’t want to require colleges to accept credits from other institutions. But it may try to encourage accreditors to scrutinize credit transfer policies more closely. She said the department sees issues in particular with regionally accredited colleges rejecting credits from nationally accredited colleges, as well as four-year institutions rejecting credits from community colleges.

The rule-making process will also address how accreditors can approve emerging models such as distance learning or competency-based education. The department says accreditors currently face a catch-22 where they can’t approve those programs without demonstrating to the federal government that they already oversee similar ones.

“You have to give an on-ramp when an accreditor wants to expand its scope,” Auer Jones said.

Reactions to Outline of Plan

The DeVos vision reflects the goals of college lobby groups, accreditors and a bipartisan task force led by Senator Lamar Alexander, the Tennessee Republican who chairs the Senate's education committee, that combed through higher ed regulation in 2015. DeVos wants to streamline the federal review process for accreditors, make their role as oversight bodies more clear and signal how they can encourage innovation without running afoul of federal standards.

Many involved in those previous efforts were busy Wednesday scrutinizing comments by DeVos and the two briefing documents to figure out what specific policy changes the department would later recommend. But the framework appears to be in line with the objectives of accreditors themselves.

“The proposals, I think, fit with several things a number of accreditors want,” said Judith Eaton, president of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation.

Even so, observers were guessing how the principles described in the two white papers would translate into specific proposals from the department.

“Of course everybody in the accreditation field is poring over them for hints of what the future might hold,” said Leah Matthews, executive director of the Distance Education Accreditation Commission.

And Barbara Gellman-Danley, who chairs the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions, said the devil would be in the details of specific policy changes.

A reform proposal must "make sure accreditors retain the authority necessary to carry out our central responsibilities to protect students and assure institutional quality," said Gellman-Danley, president of the Higher Learning Commission. "Above all, any regulatory changes must benefit our most vital stakeholder -- students -- and the council looks forward to working closely with the department to accomplish that goal."

Roy Swift, executive director of Workcred, said he liked most of the department's recommendations. But he said its intentions for items like “outcomes-based” accreditation needed more definition.

“It’s all over the place as to what that means,” he said via email. “Some process is important, such as involvement of appropriate stakeholders in curriculum development that truly represents the population being served.”

Swift also said innovation should be an expectation in higher education, and that accreditation standards must include language describing how it should be evaluated. Skeptics of the department have said that promoting innovation and flexibility while weakening protections could add risks for students and the federal government.

The danger, said Antoinette Flores, associate director for postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, is a system that “gives full freedom to institutions and accreditors to pursue their goals with little to no oversight.”

But Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said it’s unclear how much the department will be able to accomplish through regulation as opposed to changes in the Higher Education Act.

“Whether they can do enough to move the needle significantly is really, I think, an open question,” he said.

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Court revives lawsuit over online threats made to feminist students at U of Mary Washington

Thu, 2018-12-20 08:00

A federal appeals court ruled 2 to 1 on Wednesday that feminist students who sued the University of Mary Washington for failing to protect them from anonymous online harassment were entitled to pursue their lawsuit. The decision reversed a ruling by a lower court to throw out the lawsuit on First Amendment and other grounds. The suit, which says that an insufficient response by the university constituted illegal sex discrimination, could redefine how colleges respond to online threats on their campuses.

If the current ruling stands, some colleges may face pressure to do more than they do now when their students receive anonymous online harassment, a phenomenon common in higher education. The dissenting opinion warns that meeting the standard set by the majority could be difficult for many colleges and universities.

The appeals court ruling was not a final ruling on the case. But the majority decision suggested that the students who sued the university had a legitimate case, and some of the language in the decision suggested that the judges believed the case was strong. The case now goes back to a federal district judge.

At issue in the case is the harassment received in 2014 and 2015 by Feminists United, a campus group affiliated with the Feminist Majority Foundation, after students in the group took public stands on campus issues. First, they spoke out against the idea of bringing fraternities to campus. Then they criticized a sexist chant by members of the rugby team. When the team was suspended by the university, supporters of the team blamed the campus feminists.

Harassment came largely via Yik Yak, a now-defunct social media tool that used geotargeting to allow people on campus to make comments anonymously about others on the campus. In this case, the harassment was not the kind of mocking of feminists that is omnipresent online, but specific threats of violent acts, accompanied by the whereabouts of members of Feminists United, who were identified by name.

Among the comments: "Gonna tie these feminists to the radiator and [g]rape them in the mouth" and "Dandy’s about to kill a bitch … or two" and "Can we euthanize whoever caused this bullshit?" (The [g] before "rape" is believed to refer to gang rape, according to the majority decision.) Other posts on Yik Yak called the campus feminists group "femicunts, feminazis, cunts, bitches, hoes and dikes [sic].”

According to the court's opinion, the students who were harassed complained multiple times to various university administrators, who took what the lawsuit said were only minimal steps to stop the harassment. And the appeals court said the evidence backed the idea in the lawsuit that the university was "deliberately indifferent," or at least that there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial.

The university did condemn the harassment and organized forums to listen to the students talk about how the online comments made them feel unsafe. But much of the university's response, according to the court's opinion, was confined to rejecting the students' demand that Yik Yak be blocked on campus. The university said that doing so would violate the First Amendment (Mary Washington is a public university located in Virginia).

The majority decision doesn't say the university had an obligation to block Yik Yak. But it questions the way the university cited the First Amendment, in particular because of the specific violent threats made against specific students.

Says the decision: "First Amendment concerns do not render the university’s response to the sexual harassment and threats legally sufficient for two sound reasons: (1) true threats are not protected speech, and (2) the university had several responsive options that did not present First Amendment concerns."

The university, the decision says, "faces serious difficulties in its effort to convince us that the complaint does not sufficiently allege deliberate indifference." The university never tried to identify the students who were engaged in harassing the campus feminists, didn't speak out forcefully about what was going on and didn't offer much support to the victims of harassment, the decision said. The university might have tried mandatory assemblies on preventing sexual harassment, and university leaders could have made clear their opposition to the kinds of treatment experienced by the students who were harassed, the opinion said.

"UMW’s administrators, however, merely responded with two listening circles, a generic email and by sending a campus police officer with a threatened student on one evening after particularly aggressive and targeted Yaks," the decision says.

Judge Robert B. King wrote the 57-page decision, which was joined by Judge Pamela Harris.

G. Steven Agee filed a dissent in which he warned of the consequences of the decision. He explicitly invited Mary Washington to appeal (which it could do to either the full Fourth Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court).

Wrote Agee: "Make no mistake, the majority’s novel and unsupported decision will have a profound effect, particularly on institutions of higher education … Institutions, like the university, will be compelled to venture into an ethereal world of non-university forums at great cost and significant liability, in order to avoid the Catch-22 Title IX liability the majority now proclaims. The university should not hesitate to seek further review."

The Feminist Majority Foundation issued a statement Wednesday praising the decision.

"The Feminist Majority Foundation took on this case to help our affiliate, Feminists United, fight for a safe campus free from online sexual harassment and threats, but we are thrilled that the Fourth Circuit’s ground-breaking decision will benefit students nationwide," the statement said. "Unlike the current Department of Education under Secretary [Betsy] DeVos, the Fourth Circuit is committed to enforcing Title IX [of the Education Amendments of 1972] and protecting students from sex-based discrimination, including when the harassment and threats are made online. The court understands that whether harassment is online or in person, the impact is the same: targeted students are cheated out of a safe learning environment."

The university issued this statement: "The University of Mary Washington has just received notice of the ruling, and, with the help of the [Virginia] Attorney General’s Office, will be thoroughly reviewing the majority and dissenting opinions before determining how best to proceed. The university remains committed to the safety and well-being of its students."

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which advocates for free expression in higher education, backed the university in the appeals case and issued an analysis highly critical of the majority decision.

FIRE argued that the speech in question was protected. "Ultimately, it is almost impossible to conceive of this case being resolved without addressing this enormous elephant in the room; if the speech was constitutionally protected, and was not harassment, then the question of substantial control is irrelevant," FIRE said.

FIRE also warned of the "far-reaching implications for universities’ obligation to monitor and address the off-campus, online speech of … students."

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How do professors respond to regrade requests? One department encourages instructors to pass them up the chain

Thu, 2018-12-20 08:00

Tired of students asking for a grade change for no particular reason -- other than a non-A might ruin their holiday? Clemson University’s English department has an idea.

Rather, it has a template.

“Dear All (especially lecturers),” begins an email circulated by Jonathan Beecher Field, associate professor of English, during his stint as director of undergraduate studies. “As the semester winds down, it’s as good a time as any to remind you that the department supports you and your grading decisions. Grading writing is inherently subjective. Subjective is not the same thing as unfair. You teach in the Clemson English department because we trust your judgment. Assigning a grade is the end of teaching a class, not the beginning of a negotiation.”

As these “conversations go back and forth,” Field added, “they become less productive and more volatile. As a way of ending such conversations, feel free to respond to any and all undergraduate grade complaints with an email like this.”

Field included the following template for instructors to use with students asking for or demanding a final grade change.

Field’s tradition has been continued by the department’s current director of undergraduate studies, Walt Hunter, assistant professor of English, who sends out a nearly identical email (his template says students also may contact the associate chair).

Horror stories about students demanding better grades certainly exist, but neither Field nor Hunter had any to share this week (both said they were relatively rare).

Instead, Field said he was more inspired to write his original email by empathy for non-tenure-track professors. Across academe, these professors’ future course assignments are most reliant on positive student feedback (a major criticism of standard student evaluations of teaching). So they’re therefore more vulnerable to student complaints about grades. They’re also more likely to feel like they don't have departmental support.

As director of undergraduate studies, Field said he shared the message with his colleagues near the end of the semester “to let them know the department supported them.” Rather than have an unhappy student “go back and forth with an instructor, the instructor can refer them to someone else in the department. If the student is still unhappy, they can talk to the associate chair, and then chair and so on.”

Field didn’t recall a complaint going beyond the associate chair. But the idea, he said, “is to have a structure where the student can express their frustration without beating up an instructor.”

Hunter said the note makes clear to “faculty of all ranks that the department supports them in their daily work in the classroom.” A few students “inevitably” can be “unhappy or frustrated with their final semester grades and ask for further explanation. Usually this amounts to a small handful of cases each year. I always offer to meet with the students and listen to them.”

Chris Blattman, Ramalee E. Pearson Professor of Global Conflict Studies at the University of Chicago, has policy-like statements about his approach to Ph.D. advising and whether or not he’ll write you a letter of recommendation and more on his impeccably organized website. But he said Wednesday that he’d never received guidance from any department he’s taught in on handling regrade requests.

Calling Clemson English’s approach “interesting,” Blattman said, “It sounds to me like they are encouraging a conversation to happen, but recognize that sometimes that conversation has to end with the instructor simply saying that they followed common criteria for the entire class.”

Does Blattman entertain grade changes? He said he and most people he knows generally do. But short of a grading error, he said, most regrade requests are “really chances to clarify the grade in terms of the student's relative performance.”

Blattman added via email, “Implicitly the question is usually ‘Why didn’t I get an A?’ and then I provide more context and detail. This might be because my grading rubric wasn’t transparent enough. But seldom do I receive a well thought out regrading request.”

They're free to ask. I correct clerical errors. If they want regrading it's with fresh eyes, with the understanding the new grade could be higher or lower.

— Philip N Cohen (@familyunequal) December 19, 2018

Yes, but like @familyunequal I let them know their grade could go down when I reconsider. I'd add that I'm hardly ever asked. Also, in a twenty year career, I doubt I've made an adjustment up or down more than a few times.

— Jonathan Marks (@marksjo1) December 19, 2018

Yes. They have a right to make an argument. And we have to be able to rationally defend the grades we give based on course objectives. That being said, grade changes are rare. I’ve been known to make a math error now and then, but I’m otherwise careful about the grades I give.

— Mary Ellen Lane (@MaryEllenLane29) December 20, 2018

Jennifer Diascro, associate academic director at the University of California’s Washington Program, said she has required students who want her to change their grades to demonstrate their knowledge of the material and how they think they have been misjudged. It’s an exercise in making compelling arguments, she said, and a bit of a sincerity test, as it “takes time and energy.” 

Unless she’s made an “obvious mistake in grading something, I’m not inclined to change it,” however, she said. “Evaluating work, especially written work, is often subjective and it’s simply not fair to other students who are equally subject to my subjectivity to change grades for single students.” 

Diascro mused as to whether certain kind of institutions see more requests, namely private versus public. In her own experience, she’s had “loads” of grade requests in certain jobs and few to none in others. 

That said, Diascro added that she’s “pleasantly surprised” at how receptive students are to her arguments about fairness, and that most just seem to want to make sure they’re being treated fairly.

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Universal immunization against meningitis B not cost-effective, Johns Hopkins researchers find

Thu, 2018-12-20 08:00

Requiring every college student to be vaccinated against a relatively uncommon strain of meningitis would not be cost-effective, a new Johns Hopkins Medicine study has found, an assertion that has angered activists who have lobbied colleges and universities to require the immunization.

The Hopkins analysis was published recently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Researchers found that the universal immunization against serogroup B of meningococcal disease, or meningitis B, for college-aged students would only be beneficial if the vaccine cost less than $65. The average price for it is $324. The authors calculated the cost per “quality-adjusted life year,” which is a metric used to quantify the value of a medicine -- essentially how long a person lived after being treated and the quality of their health. The researchers developed a computer algorithm that would track the cost-effectiveness and cost per case prevented by universal vaccination of incoming students at a midsize, four-year institution.

The dangers of meningitis B on campus became widely known about five years ago, following outbreaks at Princeton University and the University of California, Santa Barbara, although it remains rare. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there are fewer than 300 cases in the country per year. Meningitis B is more common among college students, as it is spread through coughing, sneezing and kissing, and those who drink alcohol are more susceptible to it. It can be fatal.

Most recently, an outbreak was announced in the fall at San Diego State University, where officials urged students ages 23 and younger to be immunized against meningitis B after three cases were reported. Most colleges already require students to receive a vaccine that protects against meningitis strains A, C, W and Y, which can be covered with a single shot.

“Despite the poor prognosis of meningitis B infection and the fairly reasonable cost of meningitis B vaccination, the extreme rarity of this infection even amongst its peak in college-age individuals makes universal vaccination cost-ineffective,” Ira Leeds, the study’s lead author, and a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said in a statement. “Vaccinating 100,000 college students, for example, would prevent less than five cases of MenB.”

Earlier this year, medical professionals and other advocates launched a campaign called Beware the B, asking that 14 institutions that are a part of the Big Ten Conference mandate the vaccine, with the hope that other colleges and universities would follow.

Two of those activists were Patti Wukovits and Alicia Stillman, two mothers whose teenage daughters died from meningitis B. They helped create a group called the Meningitis B Action Project. In a statement -- a response to the study -- the women said that “it is time we stop looking at the meningitis B vaccine strictly from a cost-effectiveness perspective.”

“As parents, we cannot underestimate the threat of meningococcal bacteria to our children,” their statement reads. “What parent is willing to put a price on their child's life? We see it as our responsibility to educate students and parents about Men B and the Men B vaccine so they have the information they need to proactively talk to their doctor about whether the vaccine is right for them. People deserve to know that the vaccine is out there to help protect them.”

The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), which provides the government advice on vaccinations, states that traditional college-age students or teenagers may be immunized against meningitis B, but that it is not always necessary unless a student is at risk or they are suffering from a condition, such as a weak immune system, that could complicate the disease.

The American College Health Association does not advocate for colleges to require the meningitis B vaccination and includes the ACIP recommendations on the vaccine in the organization’s guidelines.

Susan Even is the executive director of the Student Health Center at the University of Missouri, chairwoman of ACHA’s Vaccine Preventable Diseases Advisory Committee and its liaison to ACIP.

Even said in an interview that the Hopkins study backed ACIP’s approach: that a universal immunization is not necessarily endorsed because meningitis B is so rare. She noted that there are always limited health resources.

But this shouldn’t deter medical professionals from discussing options with students and their families, Even said. Parents should be aware the vaccine exists, she said. This fits in with the discussion that every family should be having with their physicians: how high-risk behaviors, such as drinking, or other ways to catch diseases, can affect their students.

“Knowing about it truly is important and knowing [how] devastating it could be,” Even said.

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Duke VP criticized for Facebook post about China

Thu, 2018-12-20 08:00

Larry Moneta, vice president of student affairs at Duke University, has drawn the ire of students yet again, this time for an offensive Facebook post about China.

Moneta posted a series of photos to his personal Facebook page from his visit to Duke Kunshan University, a satellite campus in China that is a partnership between Duke and Wuhan University, alongside variations on the caption “Reasons to move to China … NOT!”

The photos -- of two bags of flavored potato chips, a poor air quality rating and a squat toilet -- were reposted to the Duke students’ meme page Duke Memes for Gothicc [sic] Teens. The Asian Students Association also reposted the photos alongside a statement condemning Moneta’s comments.

“These may seem like just ‘jokes,’ but these jokes reveal racist and orientalist assumptions that China and Chinese people are dirty and unsanitary,” the statement read in part. “As VP of Student Affairs, it is egregious Moneta would denigrate the cultural practices of many of the students he supposedly cares about and also disparage the home of many of these students. Moneta is the head of the very spaces at Duke that are supposed to foster multicultural engagement -- and yet he is making a mockery of it. Furthermore, it is simply inappropriate and hypocritical for Moneta as a high ranking university administrator to go to China, visit our partnership with Duke Kunshan University, and joke about reasons he would not want to move to China.”

Moneta has since deleted the post and his Facebook account. He did not respond to Inside Higher Ed’s request for comment.

This isn’t the first time Moneta has come under fire for his social media comments. In April, he tweeted that “Freedom of expression protects the oppressed far more than the oppressors” while criticizing campus hate speech bans and received significant pushback. Off-line, in May, he complained to the university about an employee at a coffee shop who played music that included the N-word, which resulted in her firing.

Moneta announced in August that he will retire at the end of the 2018-19 academic year after serving as vice president of student affairs for 17 years.

More and more university officials are creating social media accounts, which has resulted in occasional missteps. Eric Stoller, a student affairs and technology blogger for Inside Higher Ed, said that when officials do mess up on social media, humility is key.

“Humility goes a long way when it comes to being a senior leader on social media. If you do make a mistake, acknowledge it immediately and work towards understanding why a post (or posts) have caused harm to your community,” Stoller wrote in an email. “The worst thing (and often the first reaction) that a leader can do is build up digital walls that exacerbate a problem that they are responsible for creating.”

Despite the occasional (and very public) online blunders, Stoller still believes that social media are great tools for university officials.

“I am all for administrators using social media to build community, enhance the student experience and amplify their leadership capacity,” he wrote. “Digital channels create spaces for dialogue, resource sharing … as well as a broader means of communication. The benefits always outweigh the cons. Most of the time, admins are using social media in all sorts of positive, creative and uplifting ways.”

Duke University declined to comment for this story.

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University of Helsinki tries anonymized academic hiring

Thu, 2018-12-20 08:00

Finland’s leading university is trying the use of anonymized applications for academic roles as part of a nationwide push toward greater equality in hiring practices.

The University of Helsinki confirmed that it was conducting two pilot programs focused on academic recruitment, in which applications were stripped of candidates’ names, dates of birth, ethnicities and genders.

Universities are increasingly experimenting with name-blind student recruitment, and advocates of its use in the hiring process argue that it could help to limit the impact of unconscious biases that penalize women and minorities.

However, there are questions over whether it could catch on in academic departments, in which recruitment decisions are closely tied to a researcher’s publication record and scholarly reputation.

Helsinki said that it had conducted previous trials of anonymized recruitment and that the latest pilots were designed to produce reliable data on the practice’s efficacy by early next year.

Emmi Tammiluoma, a human resources recruitment adviser at the university, said that it was “extremely important to educate our hiring professors, managers and supervisors in the questions of implicit bias.”

“We are also testing anonymous recruiting practices in some of our academic recruitments [and] will evaluate the need for extending these practices in the future based on the feedback,” she said.

Details of the university’s pilots emerged after Helsinki’s city board agreed to gradually introduce the practice across municipal roles starting in 2019. The neighboring city of Vantaa voted to introduce anonymous hiring earlier this year.

However, experts have warned against relying on such practices to eradicate unconscious bias.

Roger Seifert, professor of industrial relations at the University of Wolverhampton, in the U.K., said that while some experiments resulted in “slight improvement in the balance of those short-listed” for jobs, “it mainly applies to large organizations recruiting well-educated white-collar staff in the finance and management sectors.”

Introducing anonymization risks costing more in time and effort as recruiters attempt to guess the identity of applicants, particularly in the intimate circles of academia, Seifert added.

“Over all [it’s] a nonstarter in my view, and another example of minor administrative measures used to cover up deeper problems of prejudice in the sector,” he said.

Gregor Gall, affiliate research associate in economic and social history at the University of Glasgow, also in the U.K., agreed that anonymized hiring in academia was impractical “because candidates will find it difficult to anonymize their work -- especially if it is sole authored -- and much of any candidate’s strength of their application will be based on published work, which is publicly traceable.”

“Even if candidates make it to interview as a result of anonymous recruitment, they may still suffer from the very same bias and discrimination … from selection panels,” he concluded.

But Pia Pakarinen, Helsinki’s deputy mayor for education, said that she expected anonymous hiring to catch on, including in universities.

“It is important to remove personal details about applicants if we want to improve diversity and fairness,” she said. “Once Helsinki tries something like this, the rest of the country usually follows.”

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Northwestern students want a controversial scholar off their campus

Wed, 2018-12-19 08:00

“Are All Women Essentially Prostitutes?” “Why Are Black Women Less Physically Attractive Than Other Women?” and “What’s Wrong With Muslims?” Those titles may read like some of Reddit’s worst hits. But they’re real articles written by Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist and reader in management at the London School of Economics and Political Science -- and current guest scholar at Northwestern University.

Kanazawa has quietly been on campus in Evanston, Ill., for a semester already. But many Northwestern students who were unaware of his presence until recently say they don’t want him there anymore.

“Kanazawa's fraud research and studies reflects modern eugenics, and Northwestern should be ashamed of approving his application to conduct research in Evanston,” reads a petition started by one Northwestern undergraduate that’s gathered more than 4,000 signatures in a few days. “If Northwestern is serious about its mission to help create and sustain a diverse, inclusive and welcoming environment for all Northwestern community members including students, faculty, staff and alumni, Kanazawa's approved request should be overturned, and denied.”

The petition asks that the psychology department revamp its screening process for visiting scholars -- and it already unanimously agreed to do so, according to a statement by Jonathan Holloway, provost and professor of history and African American studies. Describing the program's old vetting process for visiting scholars as “weak,” Holloway said that “the department was unaware of Kanazawa’s controversial views or his flawed scholarship.”

He added, “I applaud this change, and I expect this same level of basic rigor to be applied in every department at the university.”

But Holloway said that Kanazawa will remain on campus until the end of his appointment, at the end of the academic year.

While the university “is firmly committed to diversity, equity and inclusion,” Holloway said, at a “comprehensive research university, there will unfortunately be occasions when offensive ideas emerge and when people advance arguments that run afoul of well-established, peer-reviewed research findings.”

In meantime, he said, Kanazawa’s “scholarship presents ideas that are antithetical to values that Northwestern holds dear.”

Holloway said that Kanazawa is a visiting scholar on sabbatical with less than year left at Northwestern, and that he isn’t teaching, “collecting research data, or getting paid.” And like “all guest research scholars, he is entitled to express his personal views, including on his personal web pages, as long as he does not represent such opinions as the views of the university.”

To that point, he said that Kanazawa “has made clear that his opinions are his own.” Holloway added, “I believe that personally held views, no matter how odious, cannot be a reason to undermine the vital principle of intellectual freedom that all academic institutions serve to protect.”

The statement is similar to one the London School of Economics released when Kanazawa published his essay on black women’s attractiveness in 2011, in Psychology Today. "The views expressed by this academic are his own and do not in any way represent those of [the school] as an institution," it said at the time. “The important principle of academic freedom means that authors have the right to publish their views -- but it also means the freedom to disagree.”

The school did say it was investigating the matter. It eventually prohibited Kanazawa from publishing in any non-peer-reviewed journal for a year. But he remained a faculty member.

Psychology Today removed the blog post, in which Kanazawa wrote that the “race differences in the level of testosterone can therefore potentially explain why black women are less physically attractive than women of other races, while (net of intelligence) black men are more physically attractive than men of other races."

To the extent black woman are devalued by society, many scholars say that racism is at play, not hormones. Kanazawa has made other controversial assertions, such as that intelligent people are more likely to be gay and that feminism is "evil."

Kanazawa did not respond to a request for comment. Multiple members of the psychology department did not respond to requests for comment, or referred questions to their chair, who also did not respond to a request for comment.

Via email, Bob Rowley, university spokesperson, underscored that Kanazawa is not a visiting professor, but “a guest scholar spending time here on his sabbatical. He has a desk and access to the library. He is not teaching, he is not doing research and he is not being paid. He asked to come and we agreed.”

Rowley said the department’s old vetting procedure for guest scholars did not require a faculty discussion or vote. Now, a personnel committee will review candidates on a preliminary basis, followed by a full department faculty review and vote.

CBS 2 Chicago reported that professors said in an internal departmental email that they were “blindsided” by Kanazawa’s views and that “one faculty member (Mike Bailey) agreed to host Kanazawa …” and got two others “who were unaware of Kanazawa's history, to co-sign and support an application.”

If Bailey’s name rings a bell, it may be because he allowed a guest sex lecturer to use a vibrator on a naked woman during an after-class presentation in a course in human sexuality in 2011.

Bailey did not respond to a request for comment.

Some scholars have defended Bailey's presentation as protected by academic freedom. But dozens of Kanazawa's peers have called even his academic work "bad science."

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Little drama with Duke's random roommate policy

Wed, 2018-12-19 08:00

When Duke University announced that this academic year the incoming batch of first-year students would not be allowed to pick their roommates, the headlines exploded.

Pundits espoused the benefits of students interacting outside their cultural bubbles, and online debates raged whether Duke’s reasoning on the shift was sound: that when too many students self-selected, they were not exposed to the type of diversity that is a hallmark of the college experience at many institutions.

But one semester into the experiment, the university has been quiet -- intentionally so. Officials said the policy change never was intended for public debate, but rather they wanted to normalize the concept of two people from possibly disparate backgrounds living together.

Some students initially pushed back that forcing random roommates would somehow promote racial harmony on campus (the student newspaper delivered a particularly scathing editorial calling this a “hastily-created, quick fix solution”). But the new rule does not seem to have fulfilled detractors’ major concern -- the scenario of a minority or gay student being fearful of being paired with someone with bigoted views.

“We’ve had far few objectors and far more supporters than anything,” said Larry Moneta, vice president for student affairs. “We’ve seen nothing dramatic from students or their families.”

With the advent of social media, students had started finding each other far earlier than in previous years. Not uncommon were Facebook groups (generally unaffiliated with institutions) where first-year students could meet and chat before the semester began and quite often -- if they hit it off with someone -- pick their roommate. About 46 percent of students enrolling at Duke in fall 2017 selected their roommate, Moneta said.

Administrators there pair students by study and sleep habits, among other factors that the roommates indicate in a survey. The university does make special exceptions for students -- generally those with medical needs -- and to the chagrin of some, athletes.

While players can’t choose exactly whom they live with, the athletics department works to pair them together -- a basketball player would room with another basketball player, for example, because of schedule compatibilities.

Yahoo columnist Pat Forde blasted this practice in one of his pieces, writing that Duke was “taking another step toward Jock School status” by exempting athletes from the general random approach.

“Broadening horizons with a non-athlete roommate, opening eyes to opportunities and meeting entirely different people are only situationally important,” Forde wrote. “The school recognized a campus demographic problem, but won’t require athletics to be part of the solution.”

Moneta rebutted: the college “compensates” for having athletes room together in other ways.

“There’s extreme differences and diversity,” Moneta said of the athletes. “It’s not like they share the privilege attributes we were focused on.”

He said that the institution saw the same number of students in the first semester request a room transfer as officials did before the policy took effect. And administrators received no more than five questions about it, Moneta said.

Hadeel Hamoud, a Muslim first-year student, said at first she was uncomfortable with her roommate assignment because Islam dictates she pray five times a day, and by contrast her roommate was not religious (their lifestyles are relatively similar otherwise, although Hamoud said the university did not always produce accurate matches).

Ultimately, she said she benefited because it forced her to talk with someone (and her friends) whom she otherwise would not have -- they’ve discussed “contentious topics,” such as money, privilege, politics and race.

“This definitely would have been easier had I been matched with a roommate that is also Muslim, but I think it’s a blessing because it allows me and forces me to be comfortable practicing my faith and to educate others about practices of Islam,” Hamoud said.

Mashal Ali, a member of Duke’s South Asian Student Association, said that students didn’t bother using the Facebook group as much, or trying to get to know each other as much online anymore because they knew they couldn’t pick their own roommate.

Ali said that her roommate was an engineering student while she was in the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences.

“I am not sure if I would have known her if we were not roommates. I believe the program successfully exposed students to more diverse perspectives,” Ali said.

In a column to The Chronicle, Duke's student newspaper, sophomore resident assistant Nathan Heffernan wrote about his concerns for gay first-year students.

When he was entering Duke and was looking for a roommate in the class Facebook group, Heffernan found a spreadsheet where students could publish some basic information about themselves. Heffernan decided to add a question about whether they would feel comfortable with a gay roommate. He wrote in the column that he was surprised when a contingent of the students indicated "not sure" or "I'd prefer not."

Heffernan wrote that he'd spoken to many LGBTQ students who came to Duke worried.

"In a case of two roommates, one who is gay and the other who has no exposure to the gay community, there are two possible outcomes: the other student learns acceptance, or they do not," he wrote. "There is a potential for the straight student to grow as a person, but this is not guaranteed. On the flip side, there is absolutely no benefit for the gay student. Either they successfully teach their roommate not to hate gay people, or they live in an uncomfortable environment until something changes."

Duke hasn’t evaluated the policy yet, Moneta said. Officials will be waiting a few years, working with psychologists and other professors to track the effect on students, he said.

“This is just one thing,” Moneta said. “The sum total of an undergraduate experience is thousands of things. What groups students join, what classes they pick, what majors they choose … what faculty inspire them. We have not singled out [the roommate issue] as the panacea.”

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'Professional practice' doctoral category expands Carnegie system

Wed, 2018-12-19 08:00

A major reshuffling of how university graduate programs are categorized is quietly debuting this week, adding a growing “professional practice” doctoral category to existing research-based doctoral programs at universities nationwide. (UPDATE: This article has been updated to clarify the nature of the new doctoral category.)

It is the latest adjustment to the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, the basic way that colleges and universities are categorized -- a process that is likely to accelerate as the classification moves from a five-year cycle of re-examining classifications to a three-year cycle.

In a kind of soft opening posted to its website Tuesday, the Carnegie researchers, who since 2014 have been based at Indiana University, included “doctor's degree -- professional practice” in their methodology for the first time.

Carnegie will now categorize doctoral universities in one of three ways: “very high research activity” institutions with at least $5 million in research expenditures; “high research activity” institutions, also with at least $5 million in research expenditures; and “doctoral/professional universities” -- these report less than $5 million in research or don’t report such expenditures. The categories, respectively, were originally "highest," "higher" and "moderate" research universities.

The first two are equivalent to R1 and R2, while the third now includes those that confer 30 or more “professional practice” doctoral degrees in at least two programs. So-called first professional degrees -- which include the M.D., J.D., Pharm.D., D.Div. and others -- hadn’t previously been considered in the Carnegie listings.

The new categorization will allow 259 institutions to call themselves "high" or "very high" research universities, up from 222 in 2015, according to data from Carnegie. Over all, the recategorization shrank the number of doctoral research universities from 334 in 2015. Another 165 are now "doctoral/professional universities."

Victor Borden, project director for the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education and a professor of higher education and student affairs at Indiana, said the new categories were an attempt to “reshape” the classifications in a time of significant change. “It acknowledges the fact that universities have expanded their offerings,” he said. It also “reflects a little better” the current landscape of higher education.

This week’s announcement represents the second time that the classifications have been released since the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching gave Indiana's Bloomington Center for Postsecondary Research control of the process -- and one that will take place more regularly, Borden said, as college mergers, closures, reconfigurations and new online entrants emerge. "Things are changing much more quickly than they used to in terms of institutions," he said.

The reshaping means that a small handful of universities move up to R1 designation -- the classification now describes 120 institutions, up from 115 in 2015.

Auburn University president Steven Leath on Tuesday said the university’s elevation to R1 was “another affirmation of its drive forward to excellence.”

Robert Kelchen, of Seton Hall University’s Department of Education Leadership Management and Policy, said the distinction has become “a key marker of prestige” that, in reality, is “really more bragging rights than anything. Arguably the distinction that matters more for classification is whether you’re classified as a research university at all,” he said.

Kelchen noted that the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which just reached R1 status along with eight other universities, explicitly laid out that aspiration in its Top Tier Initiative, aiming to be “recognized as a top-tier public university in research, education and community impact” by 2025. The distinction is the first for a public university in Nevada.

In all, he noted, nine institutions moved up in the reclassification, while four moved down. “This change will scramble quite a few colleges’ peer groups -- and the peer groups are important for things like faculty and staff compensation -- and also who you’re comparing yourself to in terms of student outcomes.”

He noted that his university, Seton Hall, is moving from what was formerly R3 (a "moderate research" institution) to R2. “That changes, to some extent, the universities that we will compare ourselves to,” he said. “It does bring prestige, but it’s likely to bring more cost.”

For faculty, having one’s institution move up the research ladder has implications for tenure and promotion -- all of a sudden, Kelchen said, a professor at a place like Seton Hall “can be compared to people who have higher research intensity” at existing R2 universities. In a few cases, tenure decisions could be made by external personnel “from similar or higher Carnegie classification” universities.

Kelchen also said institutions find it difficult to figure out exactly how to maintain their status, since it is “based on a rather complicated analysis” that is hard to replicate. “You don’t know for sure where you end up standing. I think the best that colleges can do is predict where the cutoff line is, essentially.”

Asked whether the rise in the number of institutions labeled "high" or "very high" research universities suggests a kind of grade inflation, Kelchen said the R1 designation "still means a lot." R2 is meaningful as well, just not to as many universities.

"But what needs to be looked at is whether the colleges now considered research universities would have been so in the past without the new methodology," he said.

As at Auburn and UNLV, the change was met with excitement at Dartmouth College, which had slipped from R1 classification in 2015, only to regain it Tuesday.

Dean Madden, Dartmouth’s vice provost for research, said the development was “a really nice recognition that you can do student-centered research -- and do it at the highest level.”

But like Kelchen he admitted that the ranking algorithms are “really complicated,” which makes it difficult to figure out exactly how Dartmouth rose again to R1. “It’s just hard for us to get overly granular” without knowing more, he said.

But the effort, which coincided with a major capital campaign, saw Dartmouth strengthen research in STEM, social sciences, the arts and the humanities. “All of those factors together combined to give us a good outcome,” he said.

Kelchen said the bigger change over all may be the new “professional practice” classification, since students earning many of these degrees do no dissertation-based research. “It’s just advanced course work,” he said, part of a long-term trend toward accrediting bodies requiring higher-level academic degrees in areas like physical therapy and law, for instance -- despite a dearth of evidence that such degrees improve outcomes.

"It's appropriate to raise questions as to whether this additional investment is worth it to students," he said.

Carnegie’s Borden called the new system “a mechanism for better doing performance assessment,” saying that , as always, discourages using the system to rank institutions.

“There’s no way we can keep people from seeking rank and order -- that’s just human nature,” he said. “But we try to be a source and force that promotes the valuing of diversity and the promotion of more than one idea of quality in higher education.”

Image Caption: Auburn University, now in the highest level of research universities according to CarnegieIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Indiana University-Bloomington

Grand Canyon University's OPM business gets off the ground -- with a focus in health care

Wed, 2018-12-19 08:00

Just a few months in, Grand Canyon University’s spin-off education services company is already on the way to becoming a significant player in the online program management market.

Grand Canyon Education, a for-profit company formed when Grand Canyon University converted from a for-profit education provider to a nonprofit institution earlier this year, announced Tuesday that it would acquire Orbis Education, an OPM company focused on health care, for a cool $362.5 million.

In an intensely competitive OPM market, which some observers say has too many players and is ripe for consolidation, Grand Canyon Education's decision to acquire an existing business (and customer base) rather than try to build one makes sense.

But the price tag is notably high: Wiley Education Services paid $200 million this fall to acquire OPM company Learning House, which had 26 institutional partners and more than 460 online programs. Orbis Education, which has built a strong niche in the health-care education market, has 17 institutional partners and likely significantly fewer online programs.

Daniel Pianko, managing director of University Ventures, a higher education investment firm that has invested in health care-focused OPM Synergis Education, said the price paid by Grand Canyon “indicates that health-care assets trade at a premium.”

Orbis Education has a unique mix of university and hospital partnerships, which would be extremely difficult for Grand Canyon to build on its own, said Pianko. Additionally, online health-care programs are extremely complex and “notoriously difficult to scale because of regulators’ intense focus on quality,” he said.

The acquisition of Orbis Education is significant for Grand Canyon Education, which has experience managing Grand Canyon University's online programs but not those of other institutions. (Grand Canyon is a Christian institution that has a ground-based campus in Phoenix and a very large online enrollment.) “Going from one to 18 university partners makes them a real OPM, which is a significant move for them,” said Pianko.

Joshua Kim, director of digital learning initiatives at Dartmouth College's Center for the Advancement of Learning (and a blogger for Inside Higher Ed), said the acquisition “is a very smart move” by Grand Canyon Education.

“Orbis has established a strong reputation in the health-care education vertical,” said Kim, who wrote a blog post this summer praising the company's approach to online education. The demand for online health-care education is growing due to an “acute shortage of nurses and other health-care professionals” in the U.S., he said.

“Expanding the opportunities for people with jobs and families to access high-quality health-care training and certification through online learning will be essential if we are to fill this shortage of trained medical professionals,” said Kim.

Brian Mueller, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Grand Canyon Education, said that Orbis is an “extremely high-quality provider” that has identified “an area of real need in this country -- a shortage of health-care professionals, especially prelicensure nurses.”

“The current capabilities of universities to produce the number of nurses needed is not working,” said Mueller. Orbis Education identifies markets that have a shortage of health-care professionals, forms relationships with health-care providers and universities in that area, and invests to build training programs that help fill those jobs, said Mueller.

“It really fits philosophically with where we think higher education needs to go -- which is looking at where the economy is going, where the jobs are, where there are shortages, and creating programs that are going to help people access those jobs,” said Mueller.

If all goes to plan, the acquisition will be completed in early 2019. The Orbis Education brand will be phased out, but the company will continue to be run from its current headquarters in Carmel, Ind., with current Orbis executives and managers expected to stay in place. The company is on track to generate roughly $63 million in revenue for 2018 and is “currently financially break-even,” according to an analysis published yesterday by BMO Capital Markets.

Steve Hodownes, Orbis's chief executive officer, said in a news release that the company had been seeking a partner with “significant capital resources and cultural capability.”

“Although many companies expressed strong interest in our business, in the final analysis, Grand Canyon Education emerged as the best partner for our future growth,” said Hodownes.

But Kim said he has some unanswered questions about how the acquisition by Grand Canyon Education will impact its business. They include: how independent Orbis Education will be from Grand Canyon Education, and what will happen if Grand Canyon University has a program that directly competes with a program currently powered by Orbis.

Kim also wonders whether Grand Canyon Education will share Grand Canyon University’s Christian mission, “and if so what this will mean for existing and potential Orbis partners.”

“The decision to work with an OPM like Orbis is based largely on the degree to which schools feel like they are aligned in terms of culture, mission and values,” said Kim. “These long-term relationships between schools and OPMs require a great deal of trust. It will be interesting to see how this acquisition will impact these long-term relationships.”

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New presidents or provosts: Calgary Central Missouri Erie Houston-Downtown Queen's Rose-Hulman Rush St. Kate's Temple Terra

Wed, 2018-12-19 08:00
  • Roger Best, interim president of the University of Central Missouri, has been appointed president there on a permanent basis.
  • Robert A. Coons, interim president and senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, in Indiana, has been named president there on a permanent basis.
  • Patrick Deane, president and vice chancellor of McMaster University, in Ontario, has been selected as principal and vice chancellor of Queen's University, also in Ontario.
  • Sherine E. Gabriel, dean of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in New Jersey, has been named president of Rush University, in Illinois.
  • Eric Carl Link, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at Purdue University Fort Wayne, has been appointed provost and senior vice president for academic and student affairs at the University of Houston-Downtown.
  • Ed McCauley, vice president (research) at the University of Calgary, in Alberta, has been selected as president and vice chancellor there.
  • Christina Ponce, executive vice president at Lee College, in Texas, has been chosen as president of Temple College, also in Texas.
  • Douglas Scheidt, provost and vice president of academic affairs at the State University of New York at Canton, has been appointed provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Erie Community College, also part of SUNY.
  • Ronald Schumacher, interim president of Terra State Community College, in Ohio, has been named president there on a permanent basis.
  • Anita Jones Thomas, founding dean of the College of Applied Behavioral Sciences at the University of Indianapolis, in Indiana, has been chosen as executive vice president and provost at as St. Catherine University, in Minnesota.
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Professor at UC Irvine tweets to demand action on her complaint against a fellow instructor

Tue, 2018-12-18 08:00

A department chair at the University of California, Irvine, took to social media Monday to shame her institution, saying it had failed to protect her from a colleague’s harassment. She did so from home, saying she was unable to visit campus due to concerns about her safety.

The live tweeting attracted a major following, with commenters asking Irvine why it wasn’t doing more and why institutions don’t generally do more to defend the female academics -- and, in particular, female scientists -- they claim to value against harassment.

Irvine said Monday afternoon that it had addressed the situation and that it is "committed to providing an environment in which ideas and knowledge can thrive without fear of harassment, mistreatment or retaliation."

Kathleen Treseder, chair of ecology and evolutionary biology at Irvine, started her social media campaign against Irvine last week, saying she was staying home Thursday because she didn’t feel physically safe from a faculty member in biological sciences. She tagged the university and the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health to get their attention.

On Friday, dissatisfied with what she described as Irvine’s nonresponse, Treseder again tweeted at the university, asking her chancellor, “Please authorize your adminis [sic] to hire me a security escort so I can go to work today. I don't feel safe from one of your faculty members. Your admin has all the documentation. (You may remember me as one of Ayala's victims.) #metoo.”

Good morning, Chancellor Gillman @UCIrvine. Please authorize your adminis to hire me a security escort so I can go to work today. I don't feel safe from one of your faculty members. Your admin has all the documentation. (You may remember me as one of Ayala's victims.) #metoo

— Dr. Kathleen Treseder #MeToo (@KKTreseder) December 14, 2018

By “Ayala’s victim,” Treseder was referring to a high-profile harassment case in which she, two other female faculty members and a student accused Francisco J. Ayala, a longtime professor of genetics and major university donor at Irvine, of harassment. Ayala resigned over the summer after an investigation, with the stipulation that he not attend future university events. Some colleagues publicly defended Ayala, and he said his effusiveness had been misinterpreted. But Irvine announced that it would remove his name from university buildings, graduate fellowships, scholar programs and endowed chairs.

The Ayala case figures into Treseder’s new complaint in that she alleges another faculty member is retaliating against her for it.

Treseder declined an interview request Monday, saying she was too shaken to talk. But she posted to Twitter some of what her colleague, Richard Symanski, senior lecturer of ecology and evolutionary biology, has allegedly said to her.

The first note, left in my mailbox on Halloween

— Dr. Kathleen Treseder #MeToo (@KKTreseder) December 16, 2018

A handwritten note delivered on Halloween, which Treseder said was the first of multiple such missives from Symanski, is essentially an invitation to read his self-published memoir, Bad Boy Geographer. Sharing a copy of the book, Symanski wrote in the note, in part, “Since you found yourself in the middle of a highly visible sexual harassment issue, and now apparently strongly identify with the Me Too movement, you may want to read about the formal sexual harassment charge filed against me in 1995 at this very university, the very long chapter in this memoir titled, ‘The Inquisition.’”

He added, “Be warned that if you do not want to read about my life, and a good deal that revolves around sex and prostitutes, I strongly suggest you ignore the rest of the book … Based on the facts I have seen, I of course do have some thoughts and opinions on the Ayala case and the way it was handled.”

Treseder didn’t say what had happened between Halloween and now, only that it gets “worse.” But she shared parts of Symanski’s book, including a passage about a novel he once wrote that includes the murder of seven academics in an unnamed department at a Southern university. Symanski also said he’d been known to call himself by the name of the protagonist of that book.

Some on Twitter said the book was an implied threat, with a few linking the passage to former University of Alabama at Huntsville professor Amy Bishop’s real-life killing of three faculty members at a meeting in 2010.

“They were taken into a seminar room and, with one exception (a coward who jumped out the window instead of facing the killer’s humiliating charges), were killed with a sawed off shotgun,” Symanski's book says. “Nearly an entire academic department was eliminated.”

Other commenters remarked that the book included numerous derogatory statements about women, such as the following:

"All these 'poor' and 'victimized' and 'oppressed' and 'sensitive' women don’t have the intelligence to see that men saying they want to fuck them is an enormous compliment, and if they don’t like the compliment, they can simply say: Thank you very much, but I think you’re too ugly or too old or I’m simply not interested. The reason women can’t do this is that beside their precious 'dignity,' they have their victimhood to worry about, and their quite fragile angry feminist egos to worry about, and more than a small handful have an overriding desire to emasculate men and make up for all the poor treatment they believe they have received since Adam met Eve."

The NSF on Monday replied to Treseder to say it was listening and to advise her of its reporting mechanism for harassment. Earlier this year, the agency said it was moving forward with a plan to link funding to appropriate conduct.

Prof. Treseder, thank you for tagging NSF in your post. We have a no tolerance policy for harassment. Please be sure to reach out to:

— National Science Foundation (@NSF) December 17, 2018

Symanski did not respond to a request for comment. But he allegedly wrote in his Halloween letter to Treseder that he planned to file for retirement in March, although he’d rather not have teach for one last semester. Cynically, it appears he got what he wanted.

The university said in a statement Monday afternoon that its School of Biological Sciences and administration "intervened immediately as soon as we became aware of Treseder’s concerns” and that it’s been “working closely with all involved parties to reach a resolution for several weeks.” On its face, the account conflicts -- at least in part -- with Treseder’s in that it has in part responded to her requests.

The UCI police and admins say that they don't see anything of concern in the book or correspondence.

— Dr. Kathleen Treseder #MeToo (@KKTreseder) December 17, 2018

The university said it was unable to share many details about a “sensitive, personnel-related” situation. But it said it could “confirm that we arranged for a police escort this morning and contracted for private security services beyond today.” Symanski will not be teaching at Irvine in the winter quarter, beginning Jan. 7, it said.

More generally, the university said its police department offers a safety escort service.

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UW Whitewater chancellor resigns while the UW system investigates her husband

Tue, 2018-12-18 08:00

Beverly Kopper, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater, announced her resignation Monday amid allegations that she turned a blind eye when her husband sexually harassed female employees at the university.

In her campus announcement, Kopper did not say why she was resigning or mention the investigation by the University of Wisconsin System into the allegations against her husband. She did cite a request that she resign by the Board of Regents in her official resignation letter to Ray Cross, the University of Wisconsin System president, on Dec. 6.

“I am aware the Board of Regents would like different leadership for UW-Whitewater and thus I hereby render my resignation as chancellor effective December 31, 2018,” she wrote.

Cross accepted her resignation Monday.

“I have accepted Chancellor Beverly Kopper’s decision to resign,” he wrote in a brief public statement. “We appreciate her accomplishments during her time as Chancellor at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.” Kopper had served as chancellor since 2015.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the newspaper that first reported the story, Kopper hadn’t been seen on campus since Wednesday and did not preside over the winter graduation ceremony Saturday. Instead, Susan Elrod, provost, filled her place.

Kopper had been under pressure to step down since reports broke that her husband, Pete Hill, sexually harassed female employees, sometimes during university functions held at the chancellor’s house. In September, Hill was removed from his honorary role as associate of the chancellor and banned from campus after a UW System investigation concluded that he sexually harassed female employees. At the time, Kopper addressed the investigation's findings and concurred with the UW System's decision to remove Hill from his role, but she gave no indication that she would step down.

In September, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the UW System took up another investigation into allegations from Stephanie Vander Pas, a Whitewater Common Council member, who claims Hill sexually harassed her when she was a student. In a Facebook post, which has since been deleted, Vander Pas claimed Kopper "should have known" about Hill's misconduct and called for her resignation. Kopper had previously told the Journal Sentinel that the allegations against her husband took her "completely by surprise."

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Lamar Alexander's decision to retire could add urgency to pass higher ed law

Tue, 2018-12-18 08:00

Senator Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, said Monday that he will not seek re-election in 2020.

His decision could have big consequences for a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act as well as congressional approaches more broadly on issues like student loans and college accountability.

Alexander, 78, said earlier this year that he hoped to make quick progress on a new higher ed law. But even after a series of detailed hearings, talks with Democrats in the Senate never got serious. He was already facing a term limit as committee chairman in two years. Now Alexander’s retirement plans may add more urgency to reach a deal on the renewal of the key law governing financial aid and many other higher education programs and add another signature accomplishment he's long targeted as chairman.

“I will not be a candidate for re-election to the United States Senate in 2020,” he said in a statement. “The people of Tennessee have been very generous, electing me to serve more combined years as governor and senator than anyone else from our state. I am deeply grateful, but now it is time for someone else to have that privilege. I have gotten up every day thinking that I could help make our state and country a little better, and gone to bed most nights thinking that I have. I will continue to serve with that same spirit during the remaining two years of my term.”

Alexander is one of a handful of lawmakers with experience as a college president. Also before being elected to the Senate, he also served as Tennessee governor and U.S. education secretary under President George H. W. Bush. That résumé in education policy has gone unmatched by Alexander’s peers in Congress.

In the Senate, he’s been known as a bipartisan deal maker as a well as a legislator with an intense interest in the higher education system. His biggest legislative achievement was the 2015 passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act, a “fix” to the No Child Left Behind law, which he co-wrote with Senator Patty Murray, his Democratic counterpart on the HELP committee. More recently, he helped restore year-round Pell Grants last year.

But his relationship with Murray appeared strained after a tense confirmation process for Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last year. Murray and other Democrats argued for more hearings to scrutinize DeVos's record, a demand that Alexander rejected. For many observers, that process didn't bode well for bipartisan cooperation on a higher ed bill.

Terry Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, the top Washington lobby group for U.S. colleges, said that Alexander has made it clear for several years he would like to pass a new comprehensive higher ed law as well, and predicted that the decision to retire will only increase his desire to get it done.

“But the fact is they didn’t get too close last year with Republicans controlling both the House and the Senate,” Hartle said. “The bigger and the more complicated the legislation, the harder it is to do it in the current environment. That’s just the world we’re living in.”

One of Alexander’s long-running goals has been an overhaul of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, which students must complete to qualify for Pell Grants and student loans. He’s famously made the paper application a frequent prop in committee hearings and other public events to underscore how long and complicated it is.

Simplifying the process to apply for student aid is a goal shared by congressional Democrats as well. But disagreements over how to restructure student loan repayment options and accountability rules for colleges have slowed any serious talks about a bill. In February, Alexander released a white paper suggesting current government accountability measures were inadequate and unfair to for-profit colleges. House Democrats, by contrast, this summer introduced a plan to reauthorize the Higher Education Act that would preserve Obama-era higher ed rules like borrower defense and gainful employment.

If Alexander and congressional Democrats do reach a compromise on a new law, they’ll have a long way to go to reach middle ground.

But Tamara Hiler, deputy director of education at the think tank Third Way, said Alexander’s retirement announcement is the clearest indicator yet that the Higher Education Act renewal will be a priority in 2019.

“He has already demonstrated the ability to work well with Senator Murray in a bipartisan fashion, and without having to worry about the prospects of managing a political campaign and re-election, he will be even more focused to work across the aisle to get this legislation through,” she said.

Senate Leadership

Alexander’s departure will leave a big void in the Senate. But there are a handful of Republicans on the committee with a track record of bipartisan higher ed legislation, said Emily Bouck West, deputy executive director at Higher Learning Advocates and a former staffer for GOP senator Marco Rubio. Georgia senator Johnny Isakson has worked with Delaware Democrat Chris Coons on the ASPIRE Act, which would pressure wealthy colleges to enroll low-income students. And Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy was one of the earliest co-sponsors of the bipartisan College Transparency Act, which would produce more data on higher ed outcomes.

Alexander, though, brought to Congress a knowledge of the Education Department's earliest years and some of its biggest challenges. Bill Hansen, president and CEO of Strada Education Network, said he was the first to put in place national goals for education at the department.

“He was really a pioneer in helping to shape the Department of Education,” said Hansen, who served under Alexander at the department.

Alexander also entered the department when the federal student loan program was experiencing major turmoil. Loan default rates had risen throughout the 1980s as the Reagan administration starved the department of resources, said ACE’s Hartle. Default rates exceeded 20 percent before Alexander started at the agency. He responded by stepping up policing of the program and rebuilding the Education Department’s oversight capacity.

And Alexander in 1992 helped shepherd an HEA reauthorization bill that included reforms to the loan program designed to cut down on defaults.

“His retirement is a huge loss for America’s colleges and universities,” Hartle said. “There’s no other way to look at it.”

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Grinnell student union leaders end expansion effort

Tue, 2018-12-18 08:00

Students at Grinnell College have decided to nix a campaign to expand their union of undergraduate workers, fearing that their petition to a Republican-controlled federal board would ultimately erode the rights of other similar units nationwide.

The once-good relationship that the union enjoyed with administrators of the small, progressive college in Iowa devolved into a bitter battle over whether it would grow to represent more than just Grinnell’s dining hall workers to every student worker on campus.

Grinnell administrators opposed the move. They said it would infringe on student privacy (the union leaders likely would have had access to private financial information about workers) and would complicate the relationship between students and professors and other staffers who advise or hire them. According to the Associated Press, President Raynard S. Kington said that 93 percent of the current senior class had worked for the college at some point.

Despite deep administrator opposition, student workers voted last month to approve the union expansion.

The college had hired two anti-union law firms, Nyemaster Goode and Proskauer Rose -- the latter of which has represented nearly every American professional sports league in negotiations -- to try to block the effort. And this month, the college appealed to the National Labor Relations Board in an attempt to nullify the election.

But union leaders were concerned that the NLRB -- the majority of which was appointed by President Donald Trump -- would rule against them, which seemed likely considering the political leanings of the board. A loss for the Union of Grinnell Student Dining Workers could then affect the status of other student unions and their ability to bargain. And so the students filed last week with a regional branch of NLRB to remove their petition, calling it a “flimsy possibility” that they would have a fair outcome with the Trump board.

“Historically, the labor movement has advanced not through court decisions and government institutions, but through the collective power of working people,” the union said in a statement Friday. “We continue to call on Grinnell College to negotiate with us over a framework to move forward and protect students’ rights.”

Neither a union representative nor Grinnell officials responded to request for comment.

But the college posted a statement saying it supported the move to withdraw the petition.

“The college’s concern has always been about how the expansion of the student union could affect Grinnell’s distinctive culture and diminish educational opportunities for our students,” the statement reads. “We believe the actions we took to preserve our educational mission were in the best interests of the Grinnell College community.”

In 2016, when the NLRB was in the hands of Democrats, it found that Columbia University’s graduate students could serve as employees and allowed them to unionize. Union supporters fear that the NLRB now is itching to revisit and reverse that decision, which could have come as a part of the Grinnell students’ push. William Gould, a Stanford Law School professor and former NLRB chairman under President Clinton, told The Guardian that the board members “will do so at the first opportunity.”

The rulings from the NLRB tend to vacillate depending on which political party is in power. Prior to the 2016 Columbia decision, the board had determined in 2004 that Brown University graduate students were not employees, which was a reversal from its verdict in 2000 in favor of teaching assistants at New York University.

Grinnell’s student union was launched in 2016 in an attempt to secure more money and additional rights for the dining hall employees. The leaders have since negotiated a pay increase from $8.50 to $9.76 an hour.

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New presidents or provosts: Arizona Carroll Hilbert Keene KCPE Oshkosh Park Texas Tech UNC

Tue, 2018-12-18 08:00
  • Mark Blegen, dean of health sciences at St. Catherine University, in Minnesota, has been selected as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Carroll University, in Wisconsin.
  • Michael S. Brophy, former president of Benedictine University, in Illinois, has been chosen as president of Hilbert College, in New York.
  • John Koker, interim provost and dean of the College of Letters and Science at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh, has been promoted to provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs there.
  • Tedd L. Mitchell, president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, has been selected as well as chancellor of the Texas Tech University System.
  • Michelle Myers, interim provost at Park University, in Missouri, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
  • Patrick Robinson, dean of nursing and health sciences at Capella University, in Minnesota, has been chosen as vice president of academics and provost at Arizona College.
  • Aaron Thompson, executive vice president and chief academic officer at the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education, has been promoted to president there.
  • Melinda Treadwell, interim president of Keene State College, in New Hampshire, has been named president there on a permanent basis.
  • Kimberly van Noort, interim senior vice president for academic affairs and chief academic officer at the University of North Carolina System, has been appointed to the job on a permanent basis.
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Newbury College provides early notice in closing announcement

Mon, 2018-12-17 08:00

Newbury College had been through many changes and adaptations in its 56 years.

The small private college was founded in 1962 in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston as the Newbury School of Business. It moved multiple times, settling in Brookline, outside the city, in 1982. It became Newbury Junior College in 1971, changed its name to Newbury College in 1985, and became a baccalaureate college in 1994.

These days, Newbury branded itself to try to appeal to current students -- as a “liberal arts college providing career-oriented experiential education.”

But on Friday Newbury joined a steady drip of small private liberal arts institutions succumbing to financial pressures and falling enrollment. It announced it will close at the end of the spring 2019 semester.

Administrators and trustees at Newbury are still exploring the possibility of a partnership to keep the doors open. Nonetheless, they want prospective students, current students, faculty members and staff members to have time to plan for their futures, said the college’s president, Joseph Chillo, in a statement.

“Accordingly, we are providing this notice, before we are legally required to do so, because it is the right thing to do,” Chillo said. “Our people, the dignity of our mission, and the legacy of the institution are our most important concerns of today.”

By announcing in December that it would close months later, Newbury stood out. The timing of its announcement quickly drew support from state regulators.

Closing a college is never an easy decision, but it can be the right one for students, said Jillian Fennimore, a spokeswoman for Massachusetts attorney general Maura Healey, in a statement.

“The Attorney General’s Office expresses its appreciation to Newbury College’s board and senior leadership for making this difficult choice in an orderly way that helps maximize opportunities for students,” she said.

The state’s commissioner of higher education, Carlos Santiago, said in his own statement that his office was working with Newbury to put a closing plan in place that will help students explore their options. He anticipates Newbury will lay out transfer programs soon so that students and families can make plans well before the end of the academic year.

"It is a sad occasion when a college announces plans to close its doors,” Santiago said. “In this instance, I am pleased to see that campus leaders are working proactively and collaboratively with members of my staff to ensure an orderly closure process, which will benefit all members of the college community.”

Observers outside the state took note of the timing as well.

“If an institution really knows that it’s not financially viable, it is ethical to give students, faculty and staff that information as soon as possible so they can make the best choices available,” said Susan Resneck Pierce, a former college president who is now a college consultant and occasional columnist for Inside Higher Ed.

Those reactions are markedly different from the outcry that erupted in April when another Boston-area institution, Mount Ida College, announced that it would be closing at the end of the semester. Mount Ida’s announcement came after last-ditch merger efforts fell apart.

In the aftermath of Mount Ida’s announcement, faculty members complained that they had been blindsided and were left seeking jobs too late in the academic hiring cycle. Lawmakers attacked Mount Ida leaders’ decision making, and state officials started discussing possible regulatory changes. Students complained they were left with no clear teach-out plans for their programs and even went on to launch a lawsuit against the college and some of its former leaders.

After that outcry, it is perhaps no surprise that Newbury made its intentions clear at an earlier time.

The decision to close still isn't always easy, of course -- or widely accepted. The leaders of Sweet Briar College in rural Virginia decided to shut down operations in 2015, even though it had a sizable endowment, because they thought trends were not in the college's favor and did not see a path to keeping it viable over time. But alumnae reacted with outrage and soon won a deal to keep the college open under new management.

It had become clear that Newbury was struggling. Its audit for the year ending in June 2017 noted that the college's net assets had dropped by roughly $2.4 million, it ran a working capital deficit of about $825,000 and it recorded negative cash flow from operations of $442,000. In response, Newbury was marketing real estate with an estimated value of $2.8 million and discussing the terms of its line of credit with its lender.

"Management acknowledges that uncertainty remains over the ability to sustain the long-term financial stability of the College, however, they believe the above steps are viable and achievable and will enable the College to meet its funding requirements and obligations as they become due in the ordinary course of business, for a period of twelve months following the date these financial statements are available to be issued," the audit said. "For the long-term, management is considering all alternatives including revamping its curriculum and program offerings to increase enrollment and decrease expenses."

Then the college was placed on probation by its accreditor earlier this year because of concerns about its finances. At the time, the college’s leaders said they were exploring real estate transactions and strategic partnerships to try to bolster its position.

Options the college pursued were said to include a merger with another institution, according to sources familiar with the Boston higher ed market. On Friday, Newbury’s president said in his statement that the decision to close came only after a “tireless pursuit” of multiple options to remain open. Those options included affiliations.

Newbury declined to make officials available for interview Friday. But a review of publicly available data shows the college had been losing enrollment and fighting to bring in money for years.

The college lost roughly half of its enrollment between 2006 and 2017, according to federal data. In 2006, its head count totaled 1,282, but it fell all the way to 620 in 2017. Newbury reported 625 enrolled students Friday.

Adult students declined even more rapidly. In 2006, Newbury enrolled 326 students aged 25 to 64, federal data show. In 2017, it enrolled just 68. For colleges in regions like New England, where the population of traditional college-age students is shrinking, adult enrollments can be crucial.

Newbury posted an annual deficit twice in the three years from 2015 to 2017, according to its most recently available federal tax documents. It lost almost $2.8 million in 2017.

Almost 92 percent of Newbury students received financial aid, with the average institutional award totaling $18,217. Tuition for the 2018-19 academic year stickered at $33,940, meaning the college was offering deep discounts to the students who enrolled.

Meanwhile, the college posted other metrics that might have made prospective students look twice. Its six-year graduation rate was just 34 percent, it reported.

Whether such statistics show a college is serving its students is subject to debate and dependent on context. But the data clearly indicate an institution struggling to enroll students who are willing or able to pay.

Newbury is far from the only small college or university to publicly face closure in recent weeks. Bennett College, a private historically black women’s college in North Carolina, is appealing a decision announced this week by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to yank its accreditation over financial issues. Iowa Wesleyan University said in November it would be seeking new funding in order to keep its doors open.

Back in New England, the College of St. Joseph in Vermont must improve its financial situation by the beginning of April or lose its accreditation. This spring, St. Joseph said it might lack the money to stay open, then decided it would continue operations. But the college and its students are back on the ropes, as loss of accreditation would be a serious blow -- accreditation is required for a college’s students to be able to access federal financial aid, which is also a key source of funding for colleges and universities.

Newbury College’s closure is likely to resonate in the Boston area both because of its contrast with Mount Ida and because the institution had striking similarities to Mount Ida. The two institutions’ campuses are just five miles apart. They likely competed for some of the same students, observers say.

Still, some aren’t ready to say further consolidation in the Boston area or in New England is inevitable.

“The individual institutions that have been impacted and are being impacted each had very unique characteristics and challenges,” said Richard Doherty, president of the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts.

Some colleges in the market facing a bleak financial future have also tried to merge, Doherty acknowledged. Wheelock College did so last year when it agreed to merge into Boston University.

After each merger or closure, other institutions have tried to learn, Doherty said.

“I don’t feel as if it’s a foregone conclusion we’re going to be seeing a string of these,” he said. “I think schools have tried to take away many lessons learned and have tried to adapt and take a look at where their recruiting efforts are focused and where their academic offerings are directed and try to adapt.”

Newbury’s history, of course, is filled with adaptations.

And its leaders seem to have made one more adaptation -- in the way they went about winding down operations.

“That will make a huge difference for lots of folks who are going to be impacted by this,” Doherty said.

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Health sciences final exam question on gangs, race and graffiti rubs some the wrong way at Cal State Long Beach

Mon, 2018-12-17 08:00

California State University at Long Beach is reportedly investigating an instructor who included a question about gangs and graffiti on a health sciences final exam after a student publicly complained it was racist.

In between two questions about sexually transmitted diseases, lecturer Matt Fischer asked the following on the 75-question take-home exam:

“Which of the following gangs generally do the least graffiti? A. Black. B. Asian. C. Hispanic. D. White.”

A student tweeted a picture of the question last week, saying, “A taste of the kind of idiocy I’ve been dealing with in my health science education class. This is a question on my final exam … [I don't know] what the answer is or what it’s supposed to be.”

A taste of the kind of idiocy I’ve been dealing with in my health science education class. This is a question on my final exam...

— Jim... James... Jimothy? (@Al_RamBro) December 11, 2018

The student didn’t immediately allege that the question was racist. But he said he didn’t recall discussing gangs in class and didn’t understand how gang graffiti was relevant to a class on adolescent health for future high school teachers.

Commenters soon swarmed the post and connected the student’s dots, explicitly calling the question racist and demanding that Fischer explain himself.

In later public comments, including to the local Press-Telegram, the student, Alex Rambo, said, “The question was pretty offensive” on racial grounds. Rambo, who is black, reportedly said he felt that Fischer, who is white, was targeting minorities.

Rambo did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Via email, Fischer said Sunday that his course includes questions about health that "teachers may encounter during their careers as secondary educators." Topics include social and emotional learning, conflict resolution, recognizing and reporting suspected abuse, drug use, and bullying, he said.

The query in question referred “to one of the leading causes of death (homicide due to gang violence) among teens,” Fischer added, saying that the answer is Asian gangs. “Asian gangs are less likely to tag/write graffiti as they typically do not claim a geographical territory as some other gangs may.”

A 2016 analysis of decades of state homicide data by The Sacramento Bee found that youth murders peaked during the gang violence of the early 1990s and then dropped off, but that more than 100 children are still murdered in California each year. The most common motive for youth murders was gang violence, the analysis also found. Among cities, youth murders were most common in Compton, inland from Long Beach. And there was a racial dimension to the findings: blacks were nine times as likely as whites to be a youth murder victim and Hispanics were nearly three times as likely as whites to be a youth murder victim. Nationally, homicide is the third leading cause of death for people aged 10-24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But even if gangs are a public health issue of national and especially local import, it appears Fischer may not have done enough to connect those dots for his students. He’s since said that he never intended harm with his question and that he’ll change it going forward. On Sunday, however, he said that gangs were discussed in class as being a contributor to youth homicide rates. The phrasing of the question -- the only one on gangs -- required students to do some of their own research on the topic on the take-home exam, he said.

Jeff Bliss, a university spokesperson, said last week that Cal State Long Beach “takes these allegations seriously.” The Press-Telegram reported that Fischer’s dean had asked the health sciences chair to investigate the matter.

Fischer told Inside Higher Ed that in today’s teaching and learning environment, things can go “‘viral’ without consideration of context/facts/intent.”

While he would have preferred Rambo “share his concerns directly with me during class or via email/phone call, the First Amendment affords Mr. Rambo freedom of speech extending to his social media accounts,” he said. “I completely respect this freedom.”

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