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Goucher College says it's eliminating liberal arts programs such as math, physics and religion, in attempt to keep costs down

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 17 Ago 2018 - 02:00

Goucher College is the latest institution to announce a series of program cuts following an academic prioritization process. Majors and minors in math, music, physics, religion, Russian and elementary and special education are being phased out, as are majors in studio art and theater, the college said this week. Book studies, German and Judaic studies will also be eliminated as stand-alone majors.

All current and incoming Goucher students will be able to graduate with their intended major under the current program, but the changes take effect thereafter.

In an all-campus memo, President José Antonio Bowen said that Goucher will do "everything we can to keep disruption to a minimum, but it is imperative that resources are allocated in ways that best support as many students as possible."

There “is no financial crisis; in fact, after a very thorough review this summer, the Standard and Poor's retained its ‘A-’ bond rating for Goucher,” he added. “Raising costs and continuing to increase the number of options per student, however, is no longer a possibility. We are determined to offer the best education for a price more people can afford.”

This is not the first time that Goucher has undergone an academic program prioritization process, or a metrics-driven evaluation of degree tracks to make decisions about funding and resource allocation. But it is the first time such an evaluation at Goucher has resulted in the elimination of so many programs, and especially programs that are considered part of any liberal arts college’s mission.

Yet Bowen in his message said that Goucher remains grounded in the liberal arts.

“Despite many competitors shifting away from a traditional liberal arts model,” he said, “Goucher remains almost uniquely committed to being a modern liberal arts college. We have long resisted the temptation to adopt more of the vocational programs currently in vogue with segments of the American public. Any new programs we offer will be interdisciplinary and in the liberal arts tradition. We have chosen this path carefully and strategically.”

Bowen said Goucher will continue to offer “robust math and physics courses to prepare students for careers in science, computer science and medicine, but very few students were interested in them as stand-alone majors.” The college has plans for a new Science Research Center, and construction of “much-needed new lab space for biology, chemistry and environmental science” will begin next year.

As for the arts, Bowen said that they’ll be an “essential pillar of the liberal arts at Goucher.” But the vast majority of the students who participate in theater, music and art activities on campus “do not actually major in those fields.”

“We may even add more activities, opportunities, and ensembles, based upon student interest,” he said. “Dance is one of the largest majors on campus, and we have recently seen increased interest in film, digital art, and creative writing.” Individualized majors remain an option.

Some remain skeptical about Goucher's stated dedication to the liberal arts. A group of alumni and others criticized the college on social media.

 "hello world and young people applying for college, do not go to #gouchercollege it is not what it seems, they will take your money and then eliminate any credibility your degree holds." Tweet from @AyyHow: "As an alum, I hope one day you personally will be laid off because Goucher doesn't value math enough to do basic accounting. Only an asshole or a coward would post this today. You should be ashamed for your lack of solidarity with your colleagues. Disgusting." Tweet from @colinpriley: "Dear @gouchercollege, since you've decided to phase out the theatre major, I will go ahead and phase out my financial donations. It was a very difficult decision, but a 'liberal arts' institution that doesn't value the arts is regressive, not progressive. Sincerely, an angry alum." Tweet from @BLawrence 42: "I'll add here that I'm a @gouchercollege alumn, and the math degree that I earned ensured that I was employed throughout the entirety of the Great Recession."

A number of professors in the affected departments did not immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. Ann Duncan, professor of religion and chair of Goucher’s Academic Policies Committee, referred questions to comments she made to Goucher’s student newspaper, The Quindecim, in May. She described the prioritization process at the time as intended to be faculty led, but set in motion and ultimately decided by the college’s Board of Trustees. Duncan also told the newspaper that the prioritization process was complicated by an ongoing revision to the general education curriculum, which was passed by the faculty under the assumption that there would be steady staffing numbers.

“Faculty are incredibly excited about the new curriculum and the creativity and interdisciplinarity it allows,” Duncan said. “We passed this curriculum with a certain sized faculty and with even the promise that we might be able to grow a little.” Now, she said, “there are a lot of positions that have not been filled and we may be losing some positions.”

Sometimes colleges make major program adjustments because they’re struggling with enrollment. But that doesn’t seem to be the case at Goucher, based on a review of recent enrollment figures. In 2008, there were 360 incoming first-year students. Last year there were 420, and this year there are expected to be 439. The college started allowing video admissions in 2014. Its admit rate was 79 percent in 2017, with 15 percent of those enrolling, according to College Navigator.

Stephanie Coldren, spokesperson for Goucher, said that this year’s incoming class will be one of the biggest ever. She described the degree track changes as part of an “ongoing, faculty-led program prioritization process to strengthen the entire academic program and support the evolving interests of our students.”

Referring to the new curriculum, Coldren said that Goucher last year launched an “innovative and highly-praised new general education curriculum and this fall we will continue that process by looking at how we can enhance some majors, reconfigure or create other majors, and gradually phase out others.”

Bob Atkins, CEO and founder of Gray Associates, a higher education strategy consulting firm, said his group was not involved in the Goucher decision (the college is not a client). But typically, he said, colleges make Goucher-style changes because costs are rising as revenues decline. “Colleges are constrained across the board by students’ ability to pay, and increasing skepticism about the value of higher education.”

The more virulent strain of skepticism that scoffs at the liberal arts and attempts to “limit the academic agenda to something vocation-oriented” is misplaced, and worse, Atkins said. But even students and parents who are committed to the ideals of higher education wonder how degrees without “obvious links to jobs” will pay off.

Regarding Goucher, Atkins said it’s important to differentiate between majors and courses offered. Majoring in drama to become an actor may not lead to more than waiting tables, he said. But taking drama courses and learning to speak in front of a crowd will benefit students in any major in their eventual careers.

Using publicly available data, Atkins said that general math at Goucher -- one of the programs to be cut -- led to four degree completions in 2016. That means an entire major was supporting perhaps 12 students, or very few even for a relatively small college such as Goucher.

“It’s a tough decision; I wouldn’t want to make it,” Atkins said. “But when there’s actually no program in the first place? It’s not a cut if no one’s majoring in it.”

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Rutgers study: Pay doesn't affect students' major choice

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 17 Ago 2018 - 02:00

If college students knew how much money they’d make after graduation -- even if it's less than they thought -- would they still choose the same major?

Probably, according to a new report.

Michelle Van Noy, associate director of Rutgers University's Education and Employment Research Center, along with Alex Ruder, a nonresident visiting scholar at the university’s Heldrich Center for Workforce Development, surveyed more than 4,900 undergraduates, a range of students from freshmen to graduating seniors, at the institution's three campuses in New Brunswick, Camden and Newark, N.J.

The survey asked students to pick from six broad fields: business, education, health, humanities, social science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Then students were shown either the median salary in the field they picked, a range of pay and information on job security in that chosen field, or no data at all.

After students viewed the salary information, researchers asked them to estimate their future salary, as well as the likelihood that they would pick a major associated with that field.

The researchers found that being presented with salary data didn’t seem to affect whether the students would choose a major. Students who weren’t shown the data were about as likely to pick a given major as those who were, even if the salary was different than what they initially thought it would be.

Information on job security also did not seem to influence their decision.

“Students’ choice of major is a highly complex process influenced by many factors, and this information on earnings alone is likely to be insufficient to substantially sway students’ decisions,” the researchers wrote.

The results are specific to just Rutgers, the flagship public university of New Jersey. The percentage of students answering the survey generally matched Rutgers' demographics, with one exception: the percentage of women at the university is 52 percent, while 66 percent of survey respondents were women (and a total of 6,140 students filled out the survey, but only 4,900 completed it).

A similar survey of Duke University undergraduate men found that their knowledge of average earnings is not always accurate, and that better knowledge of pay would lead a small portion of students -- about 7.5 percent -- to change their majors.

In the new study, Van Noy and Ruder also found that showing students their earning potential lowered their expectations for how much they would make, especially among students in STEM and business fields. The researchers believe that the high-paying jobs in these fields cause students to form “pie-in-the-sky” conceptions about potential pay.

The students who viewed the median salaries in STEM and business ranked their potential salary roughly $10,000 lower than those who got no data on pay -- for instance, a typical business major who got no pay data pegged a starting salary at about $75,550 annually, versus one who saw the median salary ranking pay at $65,450.

Many students hold "higher-than-realistic views" of potential future earnings in these fields, the researchers wrote -- and viewing national data on earnings and employment "served to lower these expectations.”

They also warned that students’ "optimistic expectations about earnings in these fields may be cause for concern to the extent that these perceptions lead students away from other fields that they may prefer and may be more lucrative than they think."

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NYU scholarships cover medical school tuition as doctors' debt continues to raise concern

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 17 Ago 2018 - 02:00

As worries persist about high medical education costs and new doctors shouldering staggering debt loads, leaders of the New York University School of Medicine on Thursday announced new full-tuition scholarships for current and future students.

The scholarships cover M.D. students at the NYU School of Medicine, where the sticker price is $55,018. About 440 students across all classes will be covered at a total cost of $24 million annually.

NYU has for years been working to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in endowed funds necessary to pay for the scholarships. It is not the first prominent institution to announce a medical school affordability initiative in recent memory, but its new program stands out for its high level of funding, its scope and because it has been in the works for quite some time.

“We were planning this for 11 years,” said Dr. Rafael Rivera, associate dean for admissions and financial aid at the NYU School of Medicine. “This is not an issue that’s solely NYU’s problem. We hope medical schools across the country will figure out additional ways of addressing it.”

Several other medical schools have taken significant steps to cover medical school costs in recent decades. In 2008, the young Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University said it would pay tuition for its 32 entering students. Today, the college -- which remains much smaller than NYU -- provides full scholarships covering tuition and fees for all students.

The University of California, Los Angeles, in 2012 announced a merit-based scholarship that covers the full cost of attendance for in- or out-of-state students. That scholarship covers almost 20 percent of entering medical students every year.

NYU’s uptown rival, Columbia University, announced in April the launch of a new scholarship program for students at its college of physicians and surgeons. That program, for students who qualify for financial aid, replaces loans with scholarships. About 20 percent of students were expected to demonstrate enough need to receive full scholarships under that program. Columbia reported launching its program ahead of schedule after donors quickly built upon a $150 million scholarship fund endowment gift announced in December.

The NYU scholarship is expected to cover more students than those efforts.

“This effort is unique, and it’s big,” said Julie Fresne, senior director of student financial services and debt management strategies at the Association of American Medical Colleges. “How this particular offering from NYU is different from other ones is this offers a tuition scholarship for every single student, regardless of whether or not they’re the top two academically in the class or the top two who have the most financial aid.”

NYU will need about $600 million in endowed funds in order to support its full-tuition scholarships into the future. The university has raised about $450 million toward that goal, and leaders are confident in continued progress after they were able to raise $240 million in the last nine months alone.

“We’ve been pretty deliberate and focused on making sure that we could do this,” said Dr. Robert I. Grossman, dean of the NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health. “We’ve had amazing donors, philanthropists, et cetera, who actually believe this is a very significant issue and problem. Through their generosity, we are solving that problem.”

The already steep cost of a medical education has continued to rise in the United States in recent years. Tuition, fees and health insurance increased for most students by about 3 percent in the 2017-18 academic year, according to statistics compiled by the medical colleges' association. Charges at private institutions averaged $57,000 for residents and $59,000 for nonresidents. Charges at public institutions averaged about $36,000 for residents and $60,000 for nonresidents.

High costs have for years stoked concerns about how debt affects aspiring doctors. Leaders worry some of the best and the brightest students, particularly those from poor and immigrant communities, are dissuaded from attending medical school at all. Others fear that the need to pay for medical school dissuades many of the students who do attend from pursuing practices in fields where they are most needed, like primary care or pediatrics, and from locating in poor regions where doctors are scarce. Instead, they worry, the current economics of medical school effectively encourage students to enter high-paying specialties and set up practices in wealthy regions.

AAMC statistics make clear just how heavy the debt burden is on doctors: three-quarters of the class of 2017 had debt. Among those who had borrowed, median indebtedness rose 1 percent, to $192,000. About half of students, 48 percent, borrowed $200,000 or more -- and 46 percent planned to enter a loan forgiveness or repayment program.

Those who attended private institutions owed more than the class as a whole, although a slightly lower percentage, 72 percent, borrowed. Those who had borrowed to attend private institutions posted a median debt of $202,000. More than half, 57 percent, owed $200,000 or more. About a fifth, 21 percent, owed $300,000 or more.

NYU’s new scholarship will not cover costs besides tuition -- like living expenses, fees and health insurance. The university still expects first-year students to have costs totaling about $27,000.

But leaders say about 10 percent of each class will receive merit scholarships covering the full cost of attendance. While many students will still have to pay costs associated with their medical education, leaders say it is important that none will have to worry about tuition.

It will be worth watching how the already highly rated NYU School of Medicine’s admissions metrics change under the scholarship. The medical school has no plans to expand its class sizes beyond current levels. So it could very well become an even more sought-after seat for price-conscious students.

Medical education is difficult and has in many cases shifted away from an inpatient setting, making extremely large classes unrealistic, Grossman said. NYU’s goal is to “produce the best medical education we can for our students.”

While many hope lower costs will lead to more general practitioners, covering the cost of tuition isn’t necessarily an attempt to encourage any particular student to choose any specialty, according to NYU leaders.

“What we’re doing is providing freedom of choice,” Grossman said. “The freedom of choice enables students who, by and large, are committed and altruistic to go with their passion. If they want to do primary care, they’re not going to be burdened by debt.”

NYU touts other efforts designed to make medical school more affordable, like an accelerated three-year curriculum, which it decided in 2013 to offer. The idea is that doctors can begin practicing earlier with less debt.

“We talked about two ways of reducing debt,” Rivera said. “One is decreasing the cost of attendance for any given year, like we’ve done with the tuition-free initiative. The other is to shorten medical school.”

It’s possible that NYU’s new scholarship and some of the other recent scholarships announced at other medical schools are the start of a renewed effort to cover medical school costs. But it’s not that simple. It will remain expensive for institutions to educate future doctors, and not every medical school has the fund-raising expertise, history or deep donor pool needed to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in endowed funds for comprehensive scholarships.

“I would like to hope that there’s an ongoing momentum,” said Fresne, of the AAMC. “I think most schools would love to be in this position. Perhaps they will look to NYU as a model of how to make something like this happen. But, again, it takes a lot of pieces coming together to be able to make something like this happen. Some schools have larger endowments than other schools that may be newer and not have as far of a pool of alumni to call upon.”

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White House tell-all from Omarosa Manigault Newman blasts DeVos

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 17 Ago 2018 - 02:00

In her just-released White House memoir, Omarosa Manigault Newman paints herself as the biggest champion of historically black colleges in the Trump administration.

But that cause wasn’t backed by everyone on Trump’s team, according to her telling. And her chief nemesis in that mission was none other than Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Manigault Newman, a longtime confidante of President Trump and graduate of two HBCUs, served as director of communications for the White House Office of Public Liaison until a messy departure in December. Since then, she’s criticized the president and the administration in a series of TV appearances in the run-up to the release of her memoir, Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House.

She’s called Trump a racist and writes in the book that he frequently undermined her careful planning and preparation with thoughtless gaffes. But DeVos, whom she calls "woefully inadequate and not equipped for her job," emerges as her real adversary in her quest to promote HBCUs. The Trump administration, for its part, is denying the claims in the book.

The Trump White House is historically unpopular among African Americans but made it a point early on to court historically black colleges, partly at the urging of Manigault Newman, who earned degrees at Central State University and Howard University. Some HBCU leaders were still angry over their dealings with the Obama administration and ready to turn the page with a new president, even one with a toxic brand among many of their supporters. But the efforts of administration officials to build a rapport were damaged early on by verbal and visual missteps.

Trump, in a breakfast marking the start of Black History Month last year, displayed a stunning ignorance of Frederick Douglass, the 19th-century abolitionist. And weeks later DeVos referred to black colleges as "pioneers of school choice," a phrase that drew immediate criticism as tone-deaf and ill informed. As black college leaders pointed out, HBCUs were established because, for decades, segregationist policies shut black students out of other higher ed institutions.

But Manigault Newman felt personally sabotaged by the fallout from the now infamous visit of black college presidents to the Oval Office last year, describing the incident as being “tackled by my own teammate at the one-yard line.”

In the lead-up to President Trump’s signing of an executive order moving the White House Initiative on HBCUs from the Education Department to the executive offices, a group of presidents from black colleges was invited to the Oval Office for a brief meeting and photo op. That visit soon became best known for an image of Kellyanne Conway kneeling on a couch with her shoes off while the college presidents posed with Trump several feet away. (Conway had been standing on the couch to take a photo before that moment.)

"The next day the headline was about Kellyanne barefoot in the Oval and not about the historic meeting with HBCU presidents in the Oval Office. It was historic because in his eight years in office Obama had never invited all the presidents to the White House. But that point was lost because of Kellyanne," Manigault Newman writes.

Later, she complains, she was forced to fall on her sword and take responsibility for the offensive image that had gone viral after the meeting.

Just as Manigault Newman takes credit for organizing the White House meeting, she says she was the driving force in the administration behind the restoration of year-round Pell Grants, a policy change that will benefit many low-income students of color. Manigault Newman went directly to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, Mick Mulvaney, she writes, to push for the change. (The reinstatement of year-round Pell had long had bipartisan support in Congress and was included in a budget deal last year.)

Where Manigault Newman was on a mission for increased funding for HBCUs, she says DeVos has a different agenda -- one she thinks student protesters just don’t understand.

With many still upset by her comments linking black colleges to school choice, DeVos was booed last year throughout a 20-minute commencement address at Bethune-Cookman University, a historically black college in Daytona Beach, Fla. But she was unfazed by the reaction, Manigault Newman says.

“She said, ‘They don’t get it. They don’t have the capacity to understand what we’re trying to accomplish.’ Meaning, all those black students were too stupid to understand her agenda. I said, ‘Oh, no, Madam Secretary. They get it. They get it, and they aren’t happy about you or your goals.’”

Manigault Newman says the DeVos agenda, “in a nutshell, is to replace public education with for-profit schools. She believes it would be better for students, but the truth is, it's about profit. She's so fixated on her agenda, she can't give any consideration to building our public schools, providing financing for them, particularly their infrastructure needs.”

When Manigault Newman later reported to Trump that she was left behind at her hotel by the DeVos team on that trip, she claims the president referred to his education secretary as “Ditzy DeVos” and promised to push her out soon.

The Education Department didn't respond to requests for comment, but Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for DeVos, told Politico this week that Manigault Newman is "a disgraced former White House employee … peddling lies for profit. The book is a joke, as are the false claims she’s making about Secretary DeVos."

Manigault Newman also says DeVos was behind efforts to cancel the White House HBCU Summit last year. Some members of Congress and college leaders had called for the event to be postponed -- many of them disturbed and angered by Trump’s response to white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va., in which one neo-Nazi drove his car into a crowd of protesters, killing activist Heather Heyer. Trump had equivocated over who was responsible for the violence, saying there were “good people” on both sides of the protests.

Despite skepticism from allies in the HBCU sector, Manigault Newman insisted the summit should go on as planned. But DeVos was the biggest voice within the administration pushing for the event’s cancellation, she claims. Manigault Newman writes that she convinced White House chief of staff John Kelly to let the event go on over DeVos’s objections, although the summit was eventually pushed back until later in the fall.

“I heard from a member of the HBCU staff that DeVos was livid that the event was moving forward,” she said.

Manigault Newman claims DeVos attempted to shut down the event by announcing that it was off and then canceling the conference hotel, costing the federal government $75,000. She arranged to hold a scaled-down event at the White House instead.

The alleged foot dragging by DeVos included refusing to give opening remarks to the new class of HBCU all-stars, a group of undergraduate and graduate students selected each year to act as ambassadors of the White House initiative on black colleges. But Bill McGinley, the head of cabinet affairs, told DeVos she had to give the remarks, according to Manigault Newman.

"To the dismay of all the forces working against me, I had one person in my corner -- President Trump," she writes.

It was one of the few unambiguous high points for Manigault Newman in her White House tenure since Trump’s inauguration parade. Before the festivities, she helped secure the funding for the Talladega College marching band to attend and participate. That decision drew serious blowback for the school, but Manigault Newman appeared on Fox News to promote a GoFundMe fund-raiser for the band that eventually raised more than $600,000.

“I was cheering and filled with pride for them. Every one of those students was like me,” she writes, reflecting on the parade. “They’d gone to an HBCU for experience and opportunities and because of our efforts, they were here, and standing tall. I was just so proud of their determination and resilience. Despite all the protests and forces working against their coming to D.C., they’d made it. And now the eyes of the world were on them.”

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Duke will leave empty the spot in its chapel that previously had statue of Robert E. Lee

Inside Higher Education - Vie, 17 Ago 2018 - 02:00

A year ago, in the wake of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., set off by white supremacists, Duke University removed from its chapel a statue of Robert E. Lee.

The statue was one of 10 at the entrance to the chapel. It was seen by many as an affirmation of the Confederate cause. The removal of the statue left open the question of what to do with the empty space created by the decision.

On Thursday, the university announced that the spot will remain empty.

Vincent E. Price, president of Duke, said that the idea came from Reverend Luke Powery, the dean of the chapel, who said a year ago that the empty space could represent “a hole that is in the heart of the United States of America, and perhaps in our own human hearts -- that hole that is from the sin of racism and hatred of any kind.”

Price wrote in a statement, "I have concluded that Dean Powery’s suggestion is the right one, particularly when combined with the placement of a plaque in the foyer of Duke Chapel that explains why the space is empty. It will provide a powerful statement about the past, the present and our values."

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La escuela donde las madres pueden seguir con sus sueños

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Major higher education research journal suspending submissions to clear out two-year backlog

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 16 Ago 2018 - 02:00

Those looking to submit an article to Review of Higher Education this summer probably saw this message on the journal’s website:

 Due to the large number of high-quality manuscripts received to date, and with a commitment to ensuring a reasonable publication timeline for authors, RHE is temporarily closed for manuscript submissions. Manuscripts already in process are unaffected. Please check back for updates.

The missive has proven jarring, given that Review is one of the field's most prestigious publications and the official journal for the Association for the Study of Higher Education. It’s also led to interesting discussions among scholars about what it means when a top journal is too swamped to take on more papers -- and is wiling to admit it.

“We’re victims of our own success, a little bit,” said Gary Pike, a professor of educational leadership and policy studies at Indiana University at Bloomington and editor of Review. “We’ve had a significant increase in the last four years in numbers of submissions, and an increase in the quality of submissions. What’s happened is we’ve developed a substantial backlog of accepted articles.”

A two-year backlog, to be exact. And telling scholars soon going up for tenure that their articles would be published in 2020 wasn’t a big help to them, Pike said. So the tentative plan -- which ASHE must still approve -- is to suspend submissions through early 2019, and begin to publish 10 articles per quarterly issue instead of the current five.

Once the initial backlog is cleared, seven articles per issue might be a more sustainable count, Pike said, noting that every editor wants some reserve of articles (just not two years’ worth). Pike also said he’s talking to Johns Hopkins University Press, the journal’s publisher, about expanding the use of its online-first platform for accepted articles, to make them publicly available sooner.

Still, for the time being, a major journal coming off-line is big deal for higher education scholars.

“This is one of the top three to five journals in our field,” Kevin McClure, an assistant professor of higher education at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, said in an interview Wednesday. “And it’s the expectation at some bigger research universities that scholars will not just be publishing in one of these journals but all of them.”

Put another way, “People have struggled to get anything in these journals to begin with,” McClure said. “[Review] accepts less than 10 percent of submissions, so now something that was hard to do is impossible. That affects people’s ability to advance in their careers.”

McClure wasn’t condoning academe’s emphasis on publishing in a tiny share of elite journals, just describing it. And many other scholars have urged disciplines beyond education to value publication in a more diverse set of quality journals, especially with respect to tenure and promotion.

Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of higher education at Seton Hall University who has blogged about Review, said in an interview that while members of one’s own department might recognize and reward publication in a broader set of journals, collegewide committees from different disciplines might not. So in his own tenure application, he said, he’s including information about the impact factors of journals that might not have instant name recognition outside his field.

“I think it’s up to people applying for tenure to teach and showcase that there are other journals that are selective and impactful.”

Pike said that Review now publishes 5 to 7 percent of submitted manuscripts. Asked if he agreed with McClure, Kelchen and others who say that there’s too much emphasis in academe on getting published in a small fraction of journals, Pike laughed and said, “Now you’re asking me to go against my own economic interests.”

Turning serious, Pike said he’s currently shopping papers on the impact of high school training in science, technology, engineering and math on college STEM performance with engineering journals. So “there is merit in counting publications from a diverse set of high-quality journals,” he said. “Of course I would like to see everyone have at least one publication in our journal.”

In discussions on social media, some have attributed Review’s backlog to a common problem in academic publishing: trouble finding reviewers. And many journal editors report that finding reviewers for papers is getting harder, given increasing submission rates, more demands on faculty members’ time at work and the fact that reviewing is not compensated beyond a karmic notion of “review and be reviewed.”

As McClure said, “It is weird that the entire academic publishing industry rests on this volunteer service, so of course complications are going to arise.”

Jenny Lee, professor of higher education at the University of Arizona and an associate editor at the journal, said on Twitter that more than 25 scholars “rejected/ignored my request to review a single manuscript. Each takes weeks and some never respond. Not a challenging piece just ‘busy.’”

Lee on Twitter also raised questions about the role of journals’ editorial boards, suggesting that members should be expected to do more, presumably reviewing. It’s not the first time that the role of editorial boards has been called into question. Last year, for example, half of the editorial board of Third World Quarterly resigned, asking why they hadn’t been asked to weigh in on a controversial piece on colonialism.


This response raises an important issue that has bothered me for some time. We need to rethink how we select editorial board members. There are some who do nothing but sit on their prestige.

— Jenny Lee (@jennyj_lee) August 15, 2018


Robert K. Toutkoushian, a professor of higher education at the University of Georgia and editor of another similarly named journal, Research in Higher Education, said that that publication has a consulting editorial board of 40 academics who have agreed to review between four and eight manuscripts per year, or about two-thirds of all reviews. Still, he said, he often has to go beyond the board to find reviewers with a particular expertise. And his success rate there isn’t too high. 

“Often I never hear back from the person that I invited to review,” he said via email, noting it can take weeks or months to find someone with the right qualifications.

At the same time, Toutkoushian added, “there are individuals in our field who go above and beyond the call of duty to review manuscripts. I am amazed -- and deeply appreciative -- of the efforts that they make to not only conduct reviews, but provide thoughtful and constructive feedback to authors.”

Lee didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but Pike said the tweet about finding reviewers was in reference to a very particular manuscript: his own. Despite the fact that papers go out for review stripped of authors’ names, Pike said he suspected the some potential reviewers were otherwise able to identify the paper as his and therefore sought to avoid reviewing an editor.

In Pike’s own experience, a very bad day recruiting reviewers means approaching nine and getting two to say yes. But Review doesn’t typically have such a hard time finding reviewers, and the current crisis is about placement in the journal, he said.

For reference, four years ago the journals received 250 to 275 manuscripts over the course of a year. This year, the journal was projecting about 350 submissions. Toutkoushian said his journal received 672 submissions last year and published about 40 articles.

Similar increases in other fields have been attributed, in part, to increasing pressure for graduate students to publish. J. David Velleman, professor of philosophy at New York University, even suggested last year that graduate students should not be published, to free up the review and publication pipeline. Velleman also alleged that the quality of publications was declining as a result of the overall pressure to publish.

But that is not what Pike says is happening at Review, where submission quality remains high. The journal doesn’t get too many single-authored papers from graduate students, anyway, he said. Still, Kelchen said that when he was hired five years ago, he didn’t have any publications. Today, unpublished graduate students probably wouldn’t get an interview. That means faculty members have to step up and do the work of reviewing them where there is a dearth of reviewers, he added. (McClure also suggested that good reviewers be recognized by professional associations or invited to join editorial boards based on their reviewing records.)

Ultimately, though, Kelchen said, journals either have to become even more selective, in part by rejecting more papers before they even go out for review, or by publishing more articles. 

Brendan Cantwell, associate professor of higher at Michigan State University and coordinating editor of Higher Education, an international journal, said Wednesday that it publishes two volumes and 12 issues per year. It got 1,100 submissions in 2017, but it has more space than some other publications. And its impact metrics are competitive with top journals in the field, Cantwell said. 

In contrast to journals that believe exclusivity or "restricting access" signals "status or quality," he said, “Our approach is to publish a higher volume of good peer-reviewed work.”

Lori Patton Davis, professor of urban education at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis and president of ASHE, said via email that the Review backlog “actually reflects an increased volume of high-quality scholarship, coupled with the desire to have one’s work featured in the premier journal for higher education research. With high volume comes significant requests for more reviewers and a speedier review process.”

ASHE’s goal is to reopen the submission portal “as soon as possible, while also being responsible about addressing the backlog. We certainly value the work of scholars who view [Review] as the publication venue of choice,” she said.

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New research shows extent of gender gap in citations

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 16 Ago 2018 - 02:00

Research into the gendered citation patterns of academics has confirmed what many have long suspected -- that male authors tend to cite other men over women in their article bibliographies. But such underlying biases can apply even in a journal with a majority of female authors, and may spread to papers co-authored by women with men, the work suggests.

Analyzing every article published across three political science journals and three social science methodology journals between 2007 and the end of 2016, researchers from McMaster University in Canada and the Universities of Iowa and Minnesota matched up the gender of the authors to the gender of the researchers who produced each study cited in their bibliographies, using the analytical tool genderizeR.

In this way, they were able to determine the “gender gap in citations” in articles by women and men, as well as those co-authored by women and men.

The goal of the project, according to Sara Mitchell, professor of political methodology at Iowa and co-author of “Gendered Citation Patterns Across Political Science and Social Science Methodology Fields,” published in Political Analysis, was to analyze how the overall representation of women in a research field influences the gender citation gap.

Comparisons were also made between different subject disciplines to determine whether a higher representation of women in one area might help to close the gender gap in citation practices.

“The least surprising aspect of our findings was the confirmation of our earlier analyses showing a gender gap in citations, with men citing work by men significantly more often than work by women,” Mitchell told Times Higher Education.

But although the proportion of women working within the social sciences had increased notably in the decade analyzed, the group found “no indication of a trend” toward women being cited more often.

Even when the researchers focused on the citation patterns for the journal Politics and Gender, in which more than 75 percent of the total published articles were authored by women, a gender citation gap was observed.

“It was surprising to us that male authors cited women’s work at a rate of 14 percent lower than their female peers in [these] journals,” Mitchell said.

But more surprising, she added, was that when women co-authored with men, their articles adopted similar citation practices, failing to cite women as often. Women working on their own or with other women were significantly more likely to cite work by women.

“Even in a journal with a majority of female authors like P&G [Politics and Gender], the gap between female authors (82 percent) and female references (61 percent [of citations in that journal being to female authors]) is fairly large,” the paper concludes. “Given the gender dynamics we see when pairing author to reference citations, this suggests that most of the citation gap is driven by men and mixed author teams underciting work by women rather than women overciting work by other female scholars.”

Although the underrepresentation of women in some fields will play a factor in the number of times they are cited, Mitchell said, “implicit biases may influence citation practices by scholars in the social sciences."

“Even though female scholars represent a higher percentage of scholars in these fields today than in the past, women’s research is still less likely to be cited than their male peers’ research. This has important implications for tenure and promotion cases, salaries, awards, invitations to give talks [and so on],” she warned.

But there is good news: the findings have already influenced one journal, International Studies Review, to start analyzing the percentage of women cited in its papers, giving authors 100 extra words to explain any citation gap.

“The development of new tools to calculate gender balance can be useful for checking gender representation in journal article bibliographies and syllabi,” said Mitchell. “We [also] note that the gap gets smaller as more women enter a field, so mentoring programs for female scholars can help to recruit and retain more women in research fields.”

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Students are spending less than ever on course materials

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 16 Ago 2018 - 02:00

A decade ago, students spent an average of $701 per year on required course materials. Now, according to the latest data from the National Association of College Stores, they are spending under $500.

The reason for the spending drop is the “increased use of free and lower-cost digital and rental materials,” according to Estella McCollum, vice president of research and consulting at NACS.

In its latest annual report on course material spending, published Wednesday, NACS said students were still more likely to buy course materials than not, but that the number of students using free course materials is increasing.

This year, 32 percent of students reported using free course materials, compared with 25 percent last year and 19 percent in 2016, according to the NACS data. Just under 60 percent said their professors had provided them with the free materials. About 17 percent of students admitted to perhaps illegally downloading course materials from torrent or peer-to-peer sharing sites, quite possibly in breach of copyright restrictions, though students were not asked to specify.

The report, which compiled responses from more than 34,000 students at 63 two- and four-year institutions in the U.S. and Canada, found that students are waiting longer to purchase course materials as they try to determine whether they will really need them.

The number of students buying, renting or borrowing course materials has stayed relatively flat for the last four years. This year, NACS said that 83 percent of students purchased course materials, 44 percent rented and 12 percent borrowed.

Though many students reported preferring print to digital course materials, most said that they would shop for whichever was cheapest.

NACS, perhaps unsurprisingly as an advocate of college bookstores, found that the bookstores are still the No. 1 destination for students looking to rent or buy course materials.

Phil Hill, co-founder of Mindwires Consulting and co-publisher of the e-Literate blog, said that NACS has demonstrated “the value and validity” of its survey over the years, despite its natural bias. Hill noted that the organization's spending figures are in line with the U.S. Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study published in May.

Hill described the drop in student spending as a “surprise” but said that “more interesting” is the increase in students who don’t acquire course materials until after the first week of class.

“This is not good news for education, as we are realizing more and more how important it is to have materials from day one.”

In the report, two reasons were suggested for students not getting materials right away -- price, and not thinking materials are necessary. “Both speak to market and instructional problems,” said Hill.

Mike Hale, vice president of education for North America at digital content provider VitalSource, said that textbook and course material costs are going down, but “more must be done to help ensure postsecondary education is accessible and affordable to all.”

He pointed to the success of digital course materials obtained through inclusive-access programs as a “common-sense opportunity to save an average of $295 per student per semester.”

Though students may appear to be spending less on course materials, that does not necessarily mean that the price of course materials is coming down, said Nicole Allen, director of open education at SPARC, an advocacy group that promotes the use of open educational resources.

Allen said there are many factors that could be affecting student spending. “Some are positive, like the expanded use of freely available open educational resources,” she said. “Others are negative, like the significant number of students who skip buying some of their materials due to cost.”

Referring to average costs for students can be deceiving, said Allen. “There are still many students facing extraordinarily high textbook bills, even if the average is lower.”

“As with all of these studies, it only tells one part of the story,” she said.

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Under new NCAA rule, basketball players will have expenses covered if they leave, return to college

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 16 Ago 2018 - 02:00

The National Collegiate Athletic Association has made a new promise to Division I basketball players: under certain conditions, if a player leaves and returns to the same university, the institution must pay for the player's degree and other expenses. 

Though this appears to be a positive shift in the package of reforms that the NCAA announced last week in the wake of an alleged kickback scheme in men's basketball, the association could not immediately confirm how many athletes might take advantage of the new rule -- or how much it will cost institutions. A few prominent programs and athletic conferences have already started complying, even though it doesn't take effect until next year.

“To some extent it constitutes an acknowledgment that the previous system was deficient” in assuring players an education, said Andrew Zimbalist, a sports economist and professor at Smith College. He said the move was “a good step.”

Under the new rule, effective August 2019, Division I colleges and universities must pay for tuition, fees and books for basketball players, both men and women, who leave an institution and come back within a decade. Players must have been on scholarship, enrolled at the institution for at least two years and must have "exhausted all other funding options" to be eligible, the NCAA said. They must also meet all NCAA academic requirements.

An NCAA spokeswoman, Meghan Durham, said the association doesn’t know how many athletes might use the program, but said that in the past 14 years more than 1,300 Division I men’s basketball players have come back to finish their degrees.

The NCAA will establish a fund for “limited resource” institutions to help pay the new expense. “Limited resource” status is based on funding in an athletics department, other institutional expenditures and Pell Grant aid. Durham also didn’t immediately respond to a question about how much money the NCAA would dedicate to the new fund.

Many of the policy changes the NCAA approved elicited scorn for being too small to be of any significance, and this one was no exception: Marc Edelman, a professor of law at Baruch College and a sports law specialist, said that while the association can tout the new rule as major, in reality it will rarely be invoked. While the NCAA's announcement said the change does not specifically apply to players who turn professional, Edelman said most athletes who do turn professional early in their careers are unlikely to ever return to college.

“The NCAA is doing the absolute minimum possible to spin public relations in a positive light,” Edelman said. “And this means coming up with measures that still do not allow athletes financial freedom or more sincerely allow them to balance their time.”

Over the years, several institutions and athletics conferences have announced that they would honor “lifetime” scholarships for athletes. The University of Maryland College Park was the first do so, shortly after joining the prominent Big Ten Conference in 2014. Previously, Maryland athletes were offered a single-year scholarship subject to renewal every year -- the “lifetime” scholarship also covered books and fees in addition to tuition for any athlete who left in good academic standing. At the time, former athletics director Kevin Anderson said the program wouldn’t “cost in the millions of dollars.”

Both the University of South Carolina and Indiana University offer similar “lifetime” deals.

“I think all schools should find a way to provide this opportunity for student athletes in all sports,” said Kenneth Shropshire, chief executive of the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University.

Dave Ridpath, president of the ethics watchdog organization the Drake Group, agreed. He believes that all athletes’ scholarships should last a lifetime so they can come back and complete their degree anytime.

“I have always said we should not care when they get an education, just that they have an opportunity for a viable one,” Ridpath said. “A lifetime scholarship is a much better way to ensure access to a real education … It is fine that an athlete wants to focus on athletic utility when it can be maximized. However, that ends, and these kids who were used for institutional advancement, marketing, enrollment management, etc., should be given that opportunity without restrictions.”

The NCAA also offers some help for Division I athletes who can’t complete their degrees within five years -- called, aptly, the Degree Completion Award Program. Since 1989, the program has given out more than $30 million, according to the NCAA. Athletes must be within 30 semester hours of graduating to be eligible.

This new program and fund from the NCAA will especially benefit those institutions with fewer resources, said Josephine R. Potuto, former member of the NCAA Division I infractions committee and Richard H. Larson Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Any fund that applies to NCAA institutions across the board is in essence a subsidy to those less wealthy institutions, Potuto said. This is because most NCAA revenue comes from the men’s basketball championship, which is generally dominated by institutions in the Football Bowl Subdivision and the Power 5 Conferences, she said.

“I think the new NCAA rule is more an acknowledgment … that some student athletes are in school primarily as a way to get a pro career, whether that goal is realistic or not, and a statement that schools owe them an opportunity for a degree if the pro career falls through,” Potuto said.

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Colleges award tenure

Inside Higher Education - Jue, 16 Ago 2018 - 02:00

Agnes Scott College

  • Jennifer Larimore, biology
  • Robin Morris, history

DePaul University

  • Enrico Au-Yeung, mathematical sciences
  • Shayna Connelly, cinematic arts
  • Sarah Connolly, health sciences
  • Sonya Crabtree-Nelson, social work
  • Maria DeMoya, communication
  • Ben Epstein, political science
  • Wendy Epstein, law
  • Maria Ferrera, social work
  • Andrew Gallan, marketing
  • Stan Chu Ilo, Catholic studies
  • Jalene LaMontagne, biological sciences
  • Karl Liechty, mathematical sciences
  • Enid Montague, computing
  • Lisa Mahoney, history of art and architecture
  • Eric Norstrom, biological sciences
  • John Psathas, cinematic arts
  • Alexander Rasin, computing
  • Brad Riddell, cinematic arts
  • Rachel Scott, anthropology
  • Carolina Sternberg, Latin American and Latino studies
  • Lisa Thomas, hospitality leadership
  • Nicholas Thomas, hospitality leadership

Winthrop University

  • Maria Aysa-Lastra, sociology
  • Eric Birgbauer, biology
  • Tara Collins, psychology
  • Amanda Hiner, English
  • Stacy Davidson, fine arts
  • Jeffrey McEvoy, music
  • Sarah Reiland, psychology
  • Meg Schriffen, dance
  • William Schulte, mass communication
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