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Giving is colleges is up 7.2 percent

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 11 Feb 2019 - 02:27

Charitable giving to colleges reached $46,730,000 in 2017-18, a one-year increase of 7.2 percent, or 4.6 percent when adjusted for inflation.

The data are from the annual Voluntary Support of Education report, now run by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

While Michael Bloomberg's mega-gift of $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University came after the last academic year and so will influence next year's totals, there report covers a year of numerous large gifts. Seven institutions reported gifts of at least $100 million during the year studied, more gifts of that size than in any previous year.

More than half of the funds raised went to doctoral/research universities -- public and private -- which are raising billions of dollars in campaigns.

The University of Michigan, for example, recently announced the final results of its seven-plus-year fund-raising campaign, which brought in $5.28 billion. While there were numerous large gifts, 94 percent of gifts were under $5,000. Michigan says that the campaign is the first by a public university to exceed $5 billion. Two other institutions have $5 billion campaigns going on: the University of Washington and the University of California, San Francisco. (You can track colleges' fund-raising campaigns at Inside Higher Ed's database, here.)

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Linfield College is moving forward with a plan to cut its faculty -- apparently with or without professors' input

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 11 Feb 2019 - 02:00

Linfield College is planning to cut faculty members as it rethinks how it does business in a time of declining enrollment.

But some faculty members at the Oregon institution worry the process and timeline for the initiative thus far suggest disaster.

“There is a financial crisis in the sense that the budget is unbalanced. But it is going to be balanced by sending 25 tenured and tenure-track faculty to the chopping block?” said a professor of humanities who did not want to be named, for fear of losing his job. “Are there lots of other measures that could be taken to make up the deficit? Yes.”

Linfield maintains that it has not yet decided how many faculty members have to go, even though the Faculty Executive Committee reported that that figure was mentioned during a private meeting with President Miles K. Davis. But the college recently confirmed that it will cut faculty positions through an academic prioritization process. The college has relatively few non-tenure-line positions, so it's likely that those cut will be tenured or tenure track.

The announcement comes as the faculty resist participating in a culling process -- one faculty leaders have said they were initially asked to complete within a week. 

Linfield also says that it already has done all it can to shave costs, except for laying off professors.

“This is a pivotal time in our history, as in higher education overall,” Davis wrote in a campus memo explaining that Linfield is 92 percent tuition- and fee-dependent and that enrollment has fallen from 1,600 students to 1,240 in recent years. Over the past four years in particular, he said, Linfield has eliminated administrative and staff positions, frozen hiring, kept general salaries flat, reduced retirement benefits and capital spending, offered early retirements, and increased tuition. 

“Unfortunately,” said Davis, a former business dean who started at Linfield in July, such steps “do not fully address the underlying shift in enrollment patterns at Linfield College. We now find ourselves at a point where we must both meet present challenges and position Linfield for growth.”

The college has even made one-time transactions, such as the sale of property, Davis added. But Davis’s letter does not note that Linfield purchased a 20-acre new campus in Portland for its nursing program in the fall for $14.5 million. The University of Western States, the property’s former owner, plans to lease back the campus until 2020 as it looks for a new location.

Linfield’s most popular major is nursing, and the 72-seat-per-semester program is full in its current home at Portland’s Legacy Good Samaritan Medical Center.

But faculty members say that the college’s financial rhetoric doesn’t square with such a big purchase. They also point out that Linfield’s nursing reputation -- at least for majors who begin their undergraduate studies at Linfield -- is grounded in strong general academics for the first two years. Nursing applicants must have taken at least eight semester credits of lab science courses, for example, and the program markets itself as rich in both skills- and values-based training. For many professors, the values part of the equation speaks to the liberal arts.

“This is not the sign of a campus moving toward financial exigency,” said Reshmi Dutt-Ballerstadt, professor of English. Noting that the college’s Board of Trustees also recently approved an extra $5 million annual expenditure for growth, Dutt-Ballerstadt asked, “Why don’t we enhance the programs we already have?”

That November board resolution recommends preserving Linfield’s “core strengths, including the heart of its liberal arts education,” and focusing “available resources on those programs and disciplines that are most likely to be able to grow in enrollment.”

Professors also point out that the nursing campus transaction was made without talking to the faculty. That’s not unusual for an institution buying real estate -- especially as Davis called the deal a “once-in-a-century opportunity.” But the lack of consultation fits into what professors see as a larger abandonment of shared governance.

Members of the Faculty Executive Committee, for example, wrote in a December email to professors that they had met with Davis and been told 20 to 25 faculty positions would be eliminated to reduce the budget deficit by about $2.8 million, accounting for most of the approximately $3 million projected deficit. Davis said he was open to closing entire departments or laying off individual professors, according to the faculty account of the meeting. And he allegedly said on Dec. 7 that the cuts would need to be made by Dec. 15 to satisfy Faculty Handbook requirements about reappointment notifications.

“That was the first we had ever heard of this deadline,” the faculty email said. “Faculty were asked two main questions: 1. Do the faculty want to participate in choosing the 20-25 positions to be eliminated? 2. Do the faculty want an extension on helping make these decisions until January? Note that faculty would have to request this extension, violating the language of our handbook.”

The faculty representatives said that they were given an afternoon to decide and voted to extend the deadline. Davis called off the Dec. 15 timeline and said that a committee would be formed within a week.

“We now have a choice if we want to populate the committee, participate in the process, and thereby violate our own handbook … or simply refuse to participate until further budgetary options have been considered,” the faculty leaders said. “It is clear that if faculty do not participate in this process, decisions on cuts will be made unilaterally by the administration.”

The executive committee chair did not respond to requests for comment.

But other professors said that the faculty has decided it won’t participate in a retrenchment committee. The faculty is planning an on-campus retreat for later this month to discuss the challenges facing small colleges and what other institutions have done to address them.

Susan Agre-Kippenhan, provost, has urged faculty participation and said that the institution is being as transparent as possible. She said in a December interview that “we’d love to have a faculty that can be part of discussions about restructuring. Our hope is that faculty will share really good ideas about what that means.”

Asked about faculty concerns about the future of the liberal arts, Agre-Kippenhan said the comprehensive institution is “committed at heart.”

Davis said in his most recent email to the faculty that Linfield would proceed with faculty cuts through an academic prioritization process. On faculty participation, he said, “We seek to involve the faculty not only because it is the fair and ethical thing to do, but because it would produce better decisions with us working together.”

At minimum, Davis added, “shared governance requires the involvement of faculty in matters that impact the curriculum. I would extend that to include the idea that shared governance comes with shared responsibility and accountability when tough decisions have to be made regarding academic programs.”

Sharon Bailey Glasco, associate professor of history and president of Linfield’s American Association of University Professors advocacy chapter, did not respond to a request for comment. But she and the chapter’s vice president wrote in open letter last week that as Linfield “navigates its current enrollment challenges, we believe that it is critical to prioritize students. Our goal should be to continue to offer them an excellent education provided by the highest quality faculty members. For this to happen, we need to abide by the principles of shared governance, protect academic freedom and tenure, and defend our liberal arts core.”

Going forward, the letter says, “we encourage everyone in our community to continue to ask questions, seek facts, and listen to diverse perspectives. Seek evidence for claims made, and be careful to not buy into divisive rhetoric. We all need to work together to solve our current challenges and build an even brighter future for Linfield.”

The faculty member who did not want to be named said Linfield’s moves so far remind him of the College of St. Rose’s in 2015. The administration there eliminated 23 tenured and tenure-track faculty members outside its shared governance channels and without declaring financial exigency and was censured by the national AAUP.

According to widely followed AAUP standards that are included in Linfield's Faculty Handbook, tenured faculty members in good standing only may be terminated due to true financial exigency or faculty-backed curricular changes. At Linfield, those changes would have to be approved by the Faculty Assembly's Curriculum Committee.

A petition of support for Linfield's faculty has been signed by scores of professors on other campuses.

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Scandals over Virginia politicians have come to involve academics and institutions beyond the state

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 11 Feb 2019 - 02:00

The scandals involving Virginia's political leaders are attracting the involvement and attention of academics nationwide and setting off new debates over racist histories, sexual assault and more.

The furor started over the admission by Virginia governor Ralph Northam that he had worn blackface in the past. But as more reports of blackface and racist photographs linked to politicians' college days surface, so have allegations that Virginia's lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, committed sexual assault. One of his accusers is a professor at Scripps College, currently on a fellowship at Stanford University, who has been a prominent figure in academic discussions of sexual violence. A second woman has now come forward, saying that Fairfax raped her when they were both students at Duke University and that a Duke official did nothing when she reported this at the time.

Meanwhile, more colleges are confronting images of blackface and other forms of bigotry in yearbooks, many of them after colleges theoretically started to welcome black students.

Backing in Academe for Fairfax’s First Accuser

Recent days have seen hundreds of political scientists rally behind Vanessa Tyson, the Scripps professor who first came forward with a public accusation about Fairfax. She says that he assaulted her in 2004, when they both were in Boston at the Democratic National Convention. (Fairfax has repeatedly denied this accusation.)

Hundreds of professors have signed a statement drafted by the Women's Caucus for Political Science and #MeTooPoliSci.

Tyson "is known throughout the discipline for her willingness to stand up on behalf of the vulnerable, including early-career women, LGBTQ scholars, and scholars of color, and she has spent many years advocating for survivors of sexual violence," the statement says.

The statement added that "we write as political scientists to remind those listening that the status quo favors power and privilege. In addition to being political scientists, many of us are also scholars of the politics of race, gender, and sexuality, and as such, we recognize the all-too-familiar tropes that are being deployed to try to shame, silence, and delegitimize Dr. Tyson."

The statement also said, "As scholars we also know that decades of empirical evidence make clear that problems with reporting sexual violence are ones of under-reporting, not of fabrication, and that rates of reporting are particularly low for women of color. This evidence makes clear as well that people who report sexual assault stand to gain nothing and, in fact, risk a great deal. Vanessa has fought hard to carve out a career as a woman of color in academia. She has been incredibly successful, not only in terms of her external successes -- as a tenured faculty member and the author of an important book -- but more importantly, on her own terms. She has served as a mentor to many junior scholars and made a name for herself as what Representative Shirley Chisholm described so evocatively as an 'unbought and unbossed' person. Such a woman would not risk her career and reputation for anything less than a grave injustice. We therefore trust her when she says that a grave injustice has been committed."

Allegations About Incidents at Duke

Then on Friday, another woman, Meredith Watson, came forward with a statement saying that Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they were both undergraduates at Duke. She said she came forward in part because of the way Fairfax was questioning the account of Tyson. Watson said that she saw similarities in what Tyson described and the way Fairfax treated her. (Fairfax has denied this allegation as well.)

Further, Watson issued a second statement in which she said that Fairfax had revealed that she had been a rape victim, separate and apart from her accusation about what Fairfax did to her.

In the second statement, Watson's lawyer said in part, "We have heard from numerous press sources that in response to Meredith Watson revealing that Justin Fairfax raped her when she was a student at Duke, Mr. Fairfax has chosen to attack his victim again, now smearing her with the typical 'she’s nuts' defense. He revealed that Ms. Watson was the victim of a prior rape. That is true. Ms. Watson was raped by a basketball player during her sophomore year at Duke. She went to the dean, who provided no help and discouraged her from pursuing the claim further. Ms. Watson also told friends, including Justin Fairfax. Mr. Fairfax then used this prior assault against Ms. Watson, as he explained to her during the only encounter she had with him after the rape. She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out. She turned and asked: 'Why did you do it?' Mr. Fairfax answered: 'I knew that because of what happened to you last year, you’d be too afraid to say anything.' Mr. Fairfax actually used the prior rape of his 'friend' against her when he chose to rape her in a premeditated way. Like he is smearing Dr. Vanessa Tyson, Mr. Fairfax is now smearing Ms. Watson."

The statement did not identify the basketball player or the dean to whom Watson said she reported that she had been raped.

A Duke spokesman, via email, said, "We first learned of these allegations last night. The university is looking into the matter and will have no further comment at this time."

Until recently, Fairfax served on the Board of Visitors of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. He no longer appears on the website listing members of that body.

Judith Kelley, dean at Sanford, sent out an email to those affiliated with the school that said, "I am writing to let you know that Justin Fairfax will be asked to step down from the Sanford School Board of Visitors pending the resolution of the serious and deeply distressing allegations that have been made against him. Sexual assault is abhorrent and unfortunately can occur right around us. I urge everyone to take survivors of sexual assault seriously, and to help build an environment that is safe and supportive for everyone."

More Blackface in More Yearbooks

The scandals in Virginia started with the news that Governor Northam's medical school yearbook featured a photograph (on his page) of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. Northam initially acknowledged being one of the two (he did not say which one). He then denied being in the photograph, but admitted to having worn blackface on another occasion.

Students following the Virginia controversies have been looking at yearbooks at their institutions, and many are reporting that they are finding blackface and other racist images.

One of the institutions confronting these reports is the University of Maryland at College Park:

Found this in a UMD yearbook a few years ago

— Benjamin Bryer (@bbryer18) February 8, 2019

Wallace Loh, president of the university, responded to the students posting the images with a tweet that said, "The images of blackface found in past UMD yearbooks are profoundly hurtful and distressing. Traditions like this reflect a history of racial prejudice and do not convey what we seek to embody today."

Other universities facing reports about blackface images include George Washington University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

Wake Forest University announced that a review of old issues of The Howler, the yearbook there, found lynching references, racial slurs and photographs of students in blackface.

Nathan O. Hatch, the president, said in a statement that, as a historian, he was disheartened but not surprised by what was found. “Wearing blackface is racist and offensive -- then and now,” Hatch said. “The behavior in these images does not represent the inclusive university we aspire to be.”

While some educators and politicians have been unequivocal in condemning the use of blackface, past or present, others have not been.

In Mississippi, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves (a likely gubernatorial candidate) has been asked about photographs of a 1994 Kappa Alpha party at Millsaps College. He was a member of the fraternity at the time, and photographs as well as reports about the party indicate students were wearing Afro wigs and appearing in blackface.

Reeves declined to talk to The Clarion Ledger about the photographs, but a spokeswoman released this statement: "As a quick Google search will show, Lieut. Gov. Reeves was a member of Kappa Alpha Order. Like every other college student, he did attend costume formals and other parties, and across America, Kappa Alpha’s costume formal is traditionally called Old South in honor of the Civil War veteran who founded the fraternity in the 1800s."

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Middlebury fossil fuel divestment took 'generations' of students to pull off

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 11 Feb 2019 - 02:00

Middlebury College last week said it will sell its holdings in fossil fuel companies, phasing them out of its endowment over 15 years and making no new investments in the sector. The decision represents a major reversal of the college’s 2013 rejection of campus activists’ demand that it divest these holdings.

What has changed?

The weather, mostly. And perhaps the climate on campus and in Middlebury’s investment house.

A new president has welcomed what amounts to a years-long, ongoing debate on the issue, pushing to broaden the debate to include campus sustainability. Administrators and trustees have quietly engaged with a new and impatient group of students who see the effects of climate change more clearly than ever.

“We made this conversation about what we do about our energy use in the next 10 years,” said Laurie Patton, a religion scholar, poet and former Duke University arts and sciences dean who became Middlebury’s president in 2015. Framing the divestment debate more broadly was crucial to its success, she said in an interview. The broader conversation included a commitment, among others, to getting 100 percent of the college’s energy from renewables.

“Once people start thinking more collaboratively, and not based on a single issue, that changed the conversation on campus and allowed trustees to be more part of the conversation,” she said. It also allowed people who wouldn’t necessarily have seen divestment as “their issue” to consider it. “So people started to collaborate a lot more,” she said.

Alec Fleischer, a Middlebury junior from New York City who is majoring in environmental science, said the mood has changed considerably since he arrived on campus in 2016 with plans to help revive the divestment proposal. The response from college leaders at the time, he said, was “a resounding no. We were told to stop. ‘It’s never going to happen.’”

But a spring 2018 student referendum that found about 80 percent of students in favor of divestment -- and a faculty referendum last fall with 98 percent approval -- showed strong campus engagement in the issue, he said.

In the meantime, the urgency of the climate change debate has grown, said Jeannie Bartlett, a 2015 Middlebury graduate and veteran of the earlier divestment effort. “It was abundantly clear in 2013, but I think we continue to feel that closer to home every year.”

A seminal 2014 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made it “abundantly clear how fast we have to move,” said Bartlett, who now works for the Vermont environmental group She said the northern Vermont farmers she works with are seeing more frequent and intense rainstorms that are washing out their planted fields “in ways that didn’t used to happen.”

Middlebury students, of course, have long seen climate change as a serious problem -- the college was the first in the U.S. to offer an environmental science major. But Bartlett said it came down to new leadership: once President Ronald D. Liebowitz left for Brandeis University, she said, the conversation changed.

“I never got the sense that this effort was something that he thought the college should do, at least very soon,” Bartlett said. “Yeah, he helped create a dialogue and a platform for the conversation, but I didn’t get the sense that, in conversations between him and other administrators or investors or the board, that he was pushing for divestment at all.”

By contrast, she said, Patton seemed much more interested. “I think that her heart was behind it from sort of an earlier point.”

For her part, Patton said trustees, students, faculty and staff “remained in the conversation over years. Student generations came and went, trustees sometimes came and went, but everybody committed to staying at the table, even if they couldn't find consensus for years. I really want to underscore how powerful that is.”

New Tools to Track Investments

In 2013, Liebowitz said Middlebury’s Board of Trustees basically had no choice but to keep a small proportion of its endowment, then valued at $970 million total, in the fossil fuel sector. The college’s money managers had to stay the course, given “the lack of proven alternative investment models, the difficulty and material cost of withdrawing from a complex portfolio of investments, and the uncertainties and risks that divestment would create,” Liebowitz wrote at the time.

The college has since 2005 retained the services of the Virginia-based investment firm Investure, which by 2013 managed the endowments of 13 colleges, universities and foundations, with a combined fund of about $10 billion.

Middlebury’s funds by then were commingled with the others’, and it was “unlikely” that any of the 150 fund managers tasked with managing Middlebury’s portion “would adopt a policy of fossil-free investing,” Liebowitz said -- especially since the firm would have to reinvest more than half of its portfolio to do so. And he explained that Investure would have to gain the agreement of the other 12 institutions to do it. To pull out of the fossil fuel sector, he said, would require nothing less than withdrawing from the 13-member Investure consortium “at considerable cost now and in the future.”

Nearly six years later, Investure still manages Middlebury’s endowment, now valued at just over $1 billion. Suddenly, extracting its money from fossil fuels is not such a heavy lift.

David Provost, executive vice president for finance and administration, said that in 2013, Investure didn’t have systems in place that allowed it to understand “where every one of those dollars ended up. That has changed in the last two years.” Investure has made a significant investment “to be able to drill down into the investor's level -- we have a better understanding of where money sits,” he said. “The sophistication and the advances in the reporting, and the ability to look into the funds is making what was very difficult five [or] six years ago easier now.”

Another factor making the shift easier: the new plan calls for a years-long, gradual reduction in fossil fuel investments, with Investure phasing out direct investments by 25 percent over the next five years, 50 percent over eight years and 100 percent in 15 years. Later this year, the college said, Investure won’t make any new investments on Middlebury’s behalf in private investment funds that focus on oil and gas. At the moment, the investment in fossil fuels stands at about $50 million to $60 million, or about 5 percent of the endowment (other colleges that have "divested" have merely committed not to invest in the sector in the future, but didn't have any holdings subject to divestment).

Patton, Middlebury’s president, said the gradual drawdown “felt to us like a moderate approach that really minimized our risk financially. And that's a really different approach than, ‘We have to do it now.’”

Because of the slow drawdown, she and Provost said, the effect on the endowment will be minimal.

But Fleischer, the environmental science major from New York City, said his understanding is that the 15-year drawdown represents “a floor, not a ceiling.” In other words, he said, advocates will continue pushing for a faster timeline.

Hard to Make a Financial Case

Middlebury is by no means the only campus that has debated divestment over the past several years. The environmental group estimates that 1,029 institutions have divested from the sector or pulled back on certain types of investments, such as coal or coal and tar sands. In the process, the group says, they've withdrawn an estimated $8 trillion in fossil fuel investment. Of those, the group says, 15 percent, or about 150, are educational institutions.

Divestment fights have also played out with mixed results at Brown, Cornell and Harvard Universities, among others that hold large endowments. In 2013, then Harvard president Drew Gilpin Faust wrote a lengthy public letter explaining why the university shouldn’t divest, saying students should be “very wary of steps intended to instrumentalize our endowment in ways that would appear to position the University as a political actor rather than an academic institution.”

Faust added, “The endowment is a resource, not an instrument to impel social or political change.”

A 2018 Inside Higher Ed survey found that most colleges' chief business officers agree with Faust: 58 percent said decisions about investing endowment funds should be made primarily on financial considerations, rather than political or ethical ones. In prior surveys, the percentage has been near 60 percent.

In a few cases, courts have gotten involved in endowment conflicts. In 2016, a state appeals court rejected a move by Harvard students pushing for divestment who had filed a lawsuit to assert “special standing” so that they could be considered a nonprofit benefiting from Harvard’s endowment.

Also in 2016, a Barnard College task force stopped short of recommending that the college totally divest from fossil fuel companies. Instead it called for divesting from companies mining coal and tar sands, which are considered particularly harmful to the environment. And it recommended divesting from fossil fuel companies that deny climate science or that attempt to undermine climate change mitigation efforts. Barnard said it wanted to highlight scientific integrity and reward companies that follow best practices, while divesting from companies that ignore science. Among the educational institutions that have divested in some form, many have taken that route, according to

Robert Goldberg, at the time Barnard’s interim president (now its chief operating officer), told Inside Higher Ed that the move was an attempt to “shift the narrative and also to differentiate companies in the industry.” He added, “A more nuanced approach is potentially a more impactful approach.”

Barnard has since partnered with the consulting group Fossil Free Indexes and the Union of Concerned Scientists to evaluate 30 oil and gas companies' positions on climate science and climate change. A 2017 analysis found that none of the 30 companies denied the existence of climate change or made statements in direct opposition to the scientific consensus that human activity is a primary contributor to it. But Barnard said two-thirds of the companies -- including all 14 U.S.-based companies -- scored “poor” or worse on its analysis, either misrepresenting the science, downplaying the need to reduce emissions or providing no position on the science. Barnard said it was in the process of working with its investment group on a divestment approach based on the analysis.

Advocates for divestment have long said that the strategy will move the needle on climate change by effectively starving energy companies of funding. But Brad M. Barber, a professor of finance and the associate dean at the University of California, Davis, Graduate School of Management, said it’s not that simple. While there may be a moral case for divestment, he said, “the financial case is a little bit harder to make.” For one thing, other investors will almost certainly swoop in to buy shares. Even if share prices drop, he said, lower stock prices allow investors to buy them at a bargain and earn higher average returns. This is what happened when boycotts hit tobacco stocks, he said: “If a lot of people or investors eschew a particular investment, it's possible that that investment could be discounted and offer good returns.”

After the Middlebury announcement, environmentalist Bill McKibben, a founder who is also a Middlebury professor, wrote in The Guardian that the Vermont students “never gave up, passing on the activist torch to each new entering freshman class.”

He also offered kudos to Patton, who he said “proved an adept conciliator able to help her institution move.”

Like many at Middlebury, McKibben said a lot has changed elsewhere since 2013, with record-high annual temperatures in four of the past six years and “hurricane after firestorm after drought,” among other disasters. At the same time, he said, the prices of solar panels and battery storage have fallen sharply, making solar energy generation and storage “the cheapest way to produce electrons across most of the globe.”

And the fossil fuel sector, he said, “has underperformed the rest of a surging stock market.” He noted that if neighboring New York State had divested of such stocks in its pension fund, it’d be returning $19,000 more per retiree. Investure referred questions about performance of Middlebury’s endowment to the college.

Patton said environmentalists have made the so-called stranded asset argument, which posits that fossil fuels’ value will eventually go down as users move to alternative energy sources. "We are open to having that debate, where reasonable people could have different views," she said. "Ultimately we had to focus on risk assessment: What would happen if the value of fossil fuels went up? What would happen if the value went down? And we felt that, in both cases, our model could work to preserve the value of our endowment and allow us to fund our educational mission."

Barber, the UC Davis finance professor, said that while short-term downturns in one sector may have an effect, endowment investors generally operate on very long-term horizons, making it “hard to make a very clean financial argument” for divestment.

“Looking at the performance of any particular industry or sector over the course of a year or two or even five years is really difficult to draw [an] inference about whether it consistently outperforms or underperforms,” he said. Mutual fund managers “are really good” at thinking longer term. “The general public will look at what's happened in the last month or the last year and draw strong inferences. You just can't -- there's too much volatility in markets to do that.”

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U of Michigan housing officials can't remove free speech from dorm doors

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 11 Feb 2019 - 02:00

In 2017, student name tags on University of Michigan dormitory doors were vandalized with a racial slur. Black students said then they were being targeted. The incident restarted a vociferous debate on campus prejudices.

If this incident happened today, though, resident assistants and other housing staffers wouldn’t be able to take down the offensive language from the door. It’s the institution’s policy that employees can’t remove speech from a student’s dormitory door, even if it’s hateful or targeting a minority group, an unusual tactic for an institution given the relative frequency with which these episodes occur on campuses across the country -- reports of racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic comments on whiteboards abound.

This is apparently not a new rule for Michigan, but one that was recently clarified for housing staffers “as a part of evolving understanding in a community,” said Amir Baghdadchi, a spokesman with university housing.

But this new attention to the policy comes at a time when the institution’s guidelines on free speech are under scrutiny. A civil liberties watchdog, Speech First, sued Michigan last year, asking for an injunction against its Bias Response Team, which investigates incidents of hate speech and more on the campus. Speech First also took issue with the university’s definition of “bullying” and “harassment,” which it characterized as overly broad and likely to chill free expression.

While the lawsuit, which was backed by the U.S. Department of Justice, seems unlikely to be successful -- U.S. District Court judge Linda V. Parker rejected the group’s request for an injunction in August -- the institution did alter its definitions of bullying and harassment.

Baghdadchi also declined to definitely say whether the clarification of the dormitory door policy was related to the ongoing litigation, saying that “we are confidently revising and rethinking our trainings. We do it every single year.”

He said that resident assistants have expressed concerns about the policy and related issues, but pointed out that almost never would hate speech remain up. Students often take the initiative to remove speech they find distasteful or hateful, even if it was from someone else's door, and they would not be punished for that, Baghdadchi said.

“We don’t censure student resident[s] for removing a posting, for erasing things on a whiteboard,” Baghdadchi said.

While the student workers and others can’t take down a threat of violence, or something offensive, they can report the posting up the chain of command. In the case of a violent threat, the employee could go directly to the Division of Public Safety and Security, but often these incidents would be handled by the director of the residence hall or another official. The housing office also maintains a diversity and inclusion unit where students would report.

Baghdadchi said that the resident assistants and the housing officials can and should talk with both students who feel victimized and those students promoting hate speech so publicly. Housing employees were trained in how to treat these situations this summer, as they do annually, Baghdadchi said.

“Actually the choice isn’t between suppressing speech or ignoring it,” Baghdadchi said. “There’s lots of things we can do, and a lot of ways to respond. We can engage with the person who is responsible. Those things are more impactful. For an offensive message, if you go and suppress it … there is nothing fundamentally changed about the culture.”

With the rule, Michigan is meeting its First Amendment obligations, said Eugene Volokh, the Gary T. Schwartz distinguished professor of law at University of California, Los Angeles, and a constitutional scholar.

By allowing students to hang whiteboards and decorate their doors, Michigan has created a “limited public forum” that it cannot regulate with restrictions on viewpoints, Volokh said.

The institution could step in to halt certain types of speech, such as a violent threat, but even that can be murky territory, Volokh said. Racial slurs or other sorts of epithets would generally be protected speech if they didn’t specifically target one person.

But Lecia Brooks, outreach director at the Southern Poverty Law Center, an advocacy group that tracks bigotry nationwide, said that the free speech protections aren’t so clear cut.

If a student wrote a racial slur on a door, and there were only two black students living in a hallway, then they would likely feel targeted, Brooks said.

She said she was frustrated with the university’s approach to free speech, which she felt would unnecessarily burden resident assistants who couldn’t act to remove the offensive language and would need to handle the reporting.

"I think there’s room for further interpretation, and there are exceptions to the First Amendment," Brooks said.

Kevin Kruger, president of NASPA: Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, wrote that Michigan’s policy represents an example of the “shifting landscape” of how First Amendment issues are treated on campus. He said it was challenging to create open forums for divergent perspectives, but “feels very different” to permit racist or homophobic speech.

“It is a difficult pill to swallow -- to allow forms of hate speech, knowing that very speech is creating a hostile and harmful environment for many of the marginalized and minoritized communities on campus,” Kruger said. “However, in this case Michigan is getting it right -- creating the space or all speech to occur, even hate speech, but at the same time, developing a clear protocol by which the tenor of the speech can be examined, while ensuring that the students and communities most affected receive the support they need in the aftermath.”

DiversityEditorial Tags: Free speechRacial groupsImage Source: iStockIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

Roundup of colleges starting or finishing fund-raising campaigns

Inside Higher Education - Lun, 11 Feb 2019 - 02:00

Starting Out

  • Florida International University is starting a campaign to raise $750 million. The university has already raised $480 million.
  • New School is starting a campaign to raise $250 million by 2022. Already, $163 million has been raised. Student aid will be a major priority.
  • Santa Clara University has started a campaign to raise $1 billion over four years. So far, the campaign has raised $600 million. Key priorities are student aid and educational programs that reflect the university's Jesuit mission.
  • University of Colorado System has started a campaign to raise $4 billion. Student aid and research are top priorities. No firm end date for the campaign has been set.

Setting a Higher Goal

  • Norwich University in 2014 started a campaign to raise $100 million by the end of 2019. The university has raised the goal to $110 million, having met its initial goal.

Finishing Up

  • Centre College has raised $210 million in a campaign that started in 2015. The original goal was $200 million. New scholarship programs were a major priority.
  • Northeastern Illinois University has raised $12.9 million to finish a campaign started in 2017 to raise $10 million to support student aid.
  • University of Michigan raised $5.28 billion in a campaign that lasted more than seven years. More than $1 billion will go toward student aid.

Track colleges' fund-raising campaigns here.

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La universidad sale al encuentro del pueblo indígena

El País - Educación - Lun, 11 Feb 2019 - 00:44
Más de 420 jóvenes de comunidades del Caribe nicaragüense estudian cómo reactivar la región con más recursos naturales del país, pero con las mayores bolsas de pobreza

Padres en la escuela del deporte

El País - Educación - Dom, 10 Feb 2019 - 16:19
Talleres prácticos e intercambios de roles ayudan a desterrar la violencia y que los familiares gestionen sus emociones cuando acuden a partidos de sus hijos

La falta de confianza de las niñas arruina sus vocaciones científicas

El País - Educación - Dom, 10 Feb 2019 - 03:58
Solo una de cada cien adolescentes en España quiere dedicarse a las tecnologías de la información y la comunicación

El arte y su pedagogía

El País - Educación - Dom, 10 Feb 2019 - 02:26
“Todo pensamiento, toda propuesta, el proyecto que nos guía, cualquier acción que emprendamos cobran más sentido cuando los ponemos en relación con ideas, motivos y prácticas más englobantes.”

Aquí se canta, se baila y se actúa (a la vez)

El País - Educación - Sáb, 09 Feb 2019 - 17:30
Más de una decena de escuelas de Madrid se han especializado en formar actores de teatro musical para nutrir una industria que no para de crecer

“Hay que educar a los niños en el consumo ético y correcto, en lugar de comprar más y más”

El País - Educación - Sáb, 09 Feb 2019 - 17:25
Entrevista a Marie Czapska, Directora Artística de Playtime, y Sébastien de Hutten, Director de Playtime, la feria internacional de marcas de niños y de maternidad

Urge modernizar el ascensor social

El País - Educación - Sáb, 09 Feb 2019 - 17:10
Una persona que nazca en una familia de recursos bajos necesita cuatro generaciones para alcanzar la renta media

‘Speed’ | Siempre con prisas

El País - Educación - Sáb, 09 Feb 2019 - 17:08
Los niños no saben de calendarios, viven según sus impulsos, como pequeños paquirrines. Y odian la rapidez

Las ciudades medianas tienen menos desigualdad que Barcelona

El País - Educación - Vie, 08 Feb 2019 - 17:28
Investigadores de la Universidad de Vic analizan las 41 poblaciones catalanas de más de 20.000 habitantes, excluyendo la capital y su entorno

Un pasaporte para refugiados con formación

El País - Educación - Vie, 08 Feb 2019 - 17:18
El Consejo de Europa impulsa un documento que reconoce la cualificación de exiliados para que puedan estudiar o trabajar en lo suyo

Amigos y víctimas de abusos del profesor de Salesianos de Bilbao proclaman el fin del silencio

El País - Educación - Vie, 08 Feb 2019 - 13:53
El comunicado, redactado por los denunciantes, afea al colegio: “teníais conocimiento de los hechos y corristeis un tupido velo”

Cuando te obligan a empezar el colegio con dos años

El País - Educación - Vie, 08 Feb 2019 - 07:07
La Asamblea de Madrid pide que se permita a los padres escoger el año de escolarización de los prematuros y si los gemelos van juntos o separados


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