VOL. I,  NO. 1               winter 2016


T O P  S T O R I E S.... 

Catholics to the barricades....  Harvard going soft on admissions....  Yale still fretting over Halloween costumes.... Football not all it’s cracked up to be....  Who’s to blame for rising costs... The “College Premium” – explained... Using Title IX to fight sex assault....  and more.

Who to Blame for Rising Costs? We won’t tell  MORE


Football: Not All It’s
Cracked Up to Be
  And it’s
a money-loser 


College Finances are Bad; Donations at Record High
Go figure! 


How to Reduce Administrative Bloat?  Hint: more teachers  MORE


How to Fix Grad Schools? 
A couple new books tell all 


The Need for Research Transparency A brake on science progress?  MORE


Going Soft on Admissions Harvard opts for the common good  MORE


The College “Wage Premium”  It’s complicated MORE


Sex Assault Victims Have a New Ally  It’s Title IX  MORE


More Guns on Campus Nine states allow them  MORE



PUBLIC TRUST | Civic Illiteracy Judge Judy joins the Supreme Court  MORE

Feds Bring in Bigger Dogs With sharper teeth MORE


The Great Accreditation Debate  Call the Chamber of Commerce  MORE




Obama Friend Helps Apollo  From Regulator to Capitalist MORE


Public Libraries Hallmark of
a Civilized Society 


What’s Old is New  From “Open University” to MIT  MORE


Who Has the Most Influence on Curriculum?  The NCAA, of course! MORE


Thinkers, Thought Provokers, Left and Right Higher Education still still resonates with—well, higher education  MORE


A Wakeup Call for Parents Don’t treat kids like adults  MORE


Havens for Evangelicals They’ve spread to Yale, Duke and Cornell  MORE


The Best Campaign Quotes Read ‘em and weep  MORE

P U R P O S E  | Student Athletes  A mixed bag after college  MORE


Who Needs the Humanities? Battling the white collar job syndrome  MORE


The Skills Movement Bringing back Voc-ed  MORE


How ‘bout a little “Corequisite Ed”? The answer to remediation failure  MORE


Safe Spaces & Heresies  Yale, Halloween costumes and other hard free speech nuts  MORE


Focus on First-Years How to keep kids in college  MORE


Affirmative Action—Post Scalia  Conservative Justice’s death may not affect current SC cases  MORE


Father, Son, and Holy Gender  Where do we go with “diversity”?  MORE


Multiculturism Increases Political Engagement A new UCLA study  MORE


Catholics to the Barricades Drown the bunnies?  MORE



G O V E R N A N C E  | Cooper Union Opens Old Wounds Boardroom infighting  MORE








(Some) Student Athletes Report Success After College  According to the Wall Street Journal, “a landmark survey” of 30,000 college students conducted by Gallup-Purdue (commissioned by Purdue president Mitch Daniels) has “two big findings: Female college athletes make great employees; and male college football and basketball players pay a physical price later in life.”  TO THE TOP



Student Athletes Report Success After College (Wall Street Journal)


Who Needs the Humanities?  As undergrad education comes more and more to resemble professional schools, the liberal arts are increasingly under the microscope—with most students taking skills courses to prepare themselves for white-collar jobs. Colleges continue to launch new majors and academic programs, such as Stanford’s CS+Music, part of a pilot to put students in a middle ground between computer science and any of 14 humanities disciplines, including history, art and classics. And foreign language departments, amidst declining enrollments (German has been the hardest hit—its enrollment is less than half of what it was in 1968), are restructuring their departments.  This is one reason why “what to teach and how to teach it” is becoming a central issue for colleges, says Columbia Journalism School Dean emeritus Nicholas Lemann. Some of the most selective institutions, like Amherst and Brown, have done away with specific core curriculum requirements, while Harvard has replaced its core curriculum requirements with a new program that requires students to complete one letter-graded course in each of the eight categories in General Education (Read the committee’s succinct overview of these alternatives and its full proposal.)


Meanwhile, the Open Syllabus Project (based at the American Assembly at Columbia) has collected more than a million syllabuses from university websites and now offers a beta version of the Syllabus Explorer. The hope is that this “will enable people to learn new things about teaching, publishing and intellectual history,” Open Syllabus cofounders Joe Karaganis and David McClure write in the New York Times. But even while colleges seem to be straying from core standards, eighty-five percent of their chief academic officers say their school has a common set of intended learning outcomes for all undergrads  And so comes linguist David Crystal, who examines the extreme views on punctuation – including “youdontevenneedspacesbetweenwordsreally” – to argue that punctuation is still essential, not only for clarity but also because it “shows our identity as educated people.”  TO THE TOP



General Education Under the Microscope (Harvard Magazine)

Computer Science, Meet Humanities: in New Majors, Opposites Attract (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Enrollments in Languages Other Than English in United States Institutions of Higher Education, Fall 2013 (Modern Language Association)

Flagging Disciplines Reclaim Their Relevance (Chronicle of Higher Education)

What Should Graduates Know? (Chronicle of Higher Education)

What a Million Syllabuses Can Teach Us (New York Times)

Recent Trends in General Education (Association of American Colleges & Universities)

A History of Punctuation for the Internet Age (New Yorker)

Further Reading

Rise of the Humanities (Aeon)

Flagging Disciplines Reclaim Their Relevance (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Universities Offer Classes for Those Interested in Beer (New York Times)

Universities Race to Nurture Start-Up Founders of the Future (New York Times)

The Skills Movement Invades K-12
  No longer called “voc ed” or considered a pathway just for struggling students, technical and career education courses are making a comeback at U.S. high schools. And they’re not considered an “either/or” proposition anymore. At some high schools, like Southeastern Regional Vocational Technical High School in South Easton, MA, students have the option of preparing for both college and career. They can enroll in carpentry, culinary arts, metal fabrication and video production—while still taking traditional academic courses. And many programs are calling for greater employer engagement. Last year, according to Education Week, 46 states and the District of Columbia took action to boost funding for such technical education,   business partnerships, and college-level credit to high schoolers.  TO THE TOP


Should More Kids Skip College for Workforce Training? (PBS Newshour Video)

Employers Are Integral to Career-Tech Programs (Education Week)


How ‘bout a little “Corequisite Ed”? Every year, more than a million students begin college in remediation—prerequisite coursework that costs states and students hundreds of millions of dollars but doesn’t count toward a degree. Despite the spending,  only 17 percent of such remedial students actually finish college.  Now, more institutions are experimenting with “corequisite” education, an initiative that gives underprepared students extra help in their regular introductory courses, rather than putting them in non-credit bearing classes that cost money. According to a Complete College America report, under the corequisite model, 63 percent of Georgia students finished their introductory courses within a year, and more than three-fifths of students in Indiana, Tennessee and West Virginia did so in just one semester.   TO THE TOP



Corequisite Completion (Politico)

Corequisite Remediation: Spanning the Completion Divide (Complete College America)


Further Reading

NH’s Rivier University Offers Employment Guarantee on Graduation (Education News)

Straight Talk on Two-Year College Completion (Center for Community College Student Engagement) Just Admit It: Lots of High School Graduates Aren’t Ready for College (Thomas Fordham Institute)



Safe Spaces and Heresies: Diversity Fights Free Speech    That Yale’s November rallies for a “safe space” were portrayed as a flap over Halloween costumes apparently missed the point – as the controversy has carried on for several months. An email sent by a professor who thought a dean’s caution about wearing insensitive Halloween outfits on the Ivy League campus was overly sensitive became a last straw for students of color. Tired of being “mistaken for custodians,” their protests forced the professor into a sabbatical and drew Yale’s president Peter Salovey into the fight, declaring, “it is now clear that concerns on college campuses about issues of race, gender, ethnicity—and many other forms and aspects of identity—represent a national movement and conversation.”  That was an understatement, as campuses all over the country continued to wrestle with issues of free speech and safe space. Melissa Click, the journalism professor who threatened  a student photographer by calling for “some muscle” to remove him from a – now well-known – University of Missouri protest against racism  became a cause célèbre for free speech advocates concerned with the overbearing actions of the diversity set. But such sentiments were not enough to save the professor’s job as the Mizzou Board of Curators fired her in late February, saying, “Dr. Click was not entitled to interfere with the rights of others, to confront members of law enforcement, or to encourage potential physical intimidation against a student." As Peter Lawler, author of American Heresies and Higher Education, wrote in the National Review, “the word `diversity’ has been so promiscuously misused in higher education that it’s been emptied of all real content. Yet it functions as a kind of cancer on some campuses, sucking the life out of everything in its path.”  TO THE TOP



Race, Speech and Values: What Really Happened at Yale & Why Here? Why Now? (Yale Alumni Magazine)

An interview with Yale president Peter Salovey (Yale Alumni Magazine)

Melissa Click Fired (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Against Competency and Diversity: Confessions of an Educational Heretic (National Review)


Further Reading

Diversity and Opportunity: What Boards Should Know (AGB)

Free Spaces versus Free Speech  (Education Week)

Yale Educator Recounts ‘Painful Experience’ of Halloween Email Furor (New York Times)

The Hunt for Faculty Diversity Aims at the Wrong Targets (Pope Center)

A New Semester, A New Approach to Campus Turmoil  (Wall Street Journal)

Young, Gifted and Held Back  (The Economist)

Mizzou Professor Melissa Click Faces Assault Changes  (The Federalist)

University of Missouri Professor Charged Over Protest (Wall Street Journal)

Melissa Click Speaks (USA Today)

The AAUP Asks UM to Lift Click Suspension (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Letter to All Schools from Duncan and King (Department of Education)

Charges Filed Against Students Who Claimed Bias Attack (Albany Times Union)

After Protests, Harvard’s ‘Master’ Title Becomes ‘Faculty Dean’ (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Focus on First-Years  Nearly four dozen institutions signed onto an American Association of State Colleges and Universities initiative to improve the first-year college experience for students who struggle that first year. The Gates Foundation is backing the project, hoping “to inspire redesigned approaches that work effectively for all members of an increasingly diverse, multicultural, undergraduate student body, eliminating the achievement disparities that have plagued American higher education for generations.”   TO THE TOP



Focus on First-Years (Politico)


Further Reading

Dumbing Down First-Years (The Federalist)

Feisty First-Years (Politico)

College Common Reading: Beach Books (Wall Street Journal)

The Threat of Stereotypes Impacts Academic Achievement (Institute of Education Sciences)

Rates of Student Transfer to Four-year Universities and Completion of Bachelor’s Degrees (Teachers College)


Affirmative Action Still Raises Hackles  In an effort to balance the ethnic makeup of incoming classes, many colleges give minority students too much of a boost, says Richard Sander, an economist and law professor at UCLA.  Such a “boost” is a central issue in an affirmative action case from the University of Texas now before the Supreme Court. Also likely to figure in college administrators’ racial balance decisions are the pioneering enrollment strategies at the University of Michigan, which has increased its minority student population by nearly 20 percent without court challenge.  Though the February death of Justice Antonin Scalia, no friend of affirmative action, will undoubtedly affect many pending high court decisions, the Chronicle of Higher Education says that “the math still seems to favor the court’s conservative wing,” which the paper believes will deliver a defeat to UT.  TO THE TOP



How Colleges Make racial Disparities Worse (Wall Street Journal)

As Justices Weigh Affirmative Action, Michigan Offers an Alternative (New York Times)

Antonin Scalia’s Death Probably Won’t Affect ‘Fisher’ (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Further Reading

Scalia Was Right About Race Preferences (Wall Street Journal)

For Black Men (Inside Higher Education)

Supreme Court Justices’ Comments Don’t Bode Well for Affirmative Action (New York Times)


Father, Son, and Holy Gender If diversity has become a “promiscuously misused” word, as Peter Lawler argues (see Safe Spaces above), it has also become a lightning rod for an equal rights movement that has few boundaries. When a black professor at evangelical Wheaton College donned a headscarf, saying that Christians and Muslims worshiped the same God, she was put on administrative leave.  But the incident, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education, lead some to “pose another, less publicly discussed, question: Do evangelical Christian colleges have a diversity problem?” Meanwhile, dean Rakesh Khurana wants women admitted to Harvard’s all-male “final clubs” and the U.S. Department of Labor  is considering eliminating the ‘gender binary’ (he/she) altogether.  As Melanie Phillips opines in the British weekly The Spectator, “Once upon a time, ‘binary’ was a mathematical term. Now it is an insult on a par with ‘racist’, ‘sexist’ or ‘homophobic’, to be deployed as a weapon in our culture wars.”  TO THE TOP



Professor’s Views on Islam Divide a College (Wall Street Journal)

Evangelical Colleges’ Diversity Problem (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Harvard Dean Threatens to Close the School’s All-male Clubs (Washington Free Beacon)

Feds Propose Removing ‘He’ and ‘She’ from Regulation (Washington Free Beacon)

It’s Dangerous and Wrong To Tell All Children They’re ‘Gender Fluid’ (The Spectator)


Further Reading

Watch What You Say: How fear is stifling academic freedom (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Gender is Not a Binary, It’s a Spectrum  (More Radical with Age, personal blog)



Multiculturalism Increases Political Engagement  A new survey by UCLA’s Higher Education Research Institute shows that 2015 college freshmen are more politically engaged now than they have been in decades. Nearly 9 percent say there’s a “very good chance” they’ll participate in a student protest on campus and more of them identify as liberals. When it comes to embracing multiculturalism, the survey found that one-third of white students said it’s important to promote racial understanding and 53 percent of Latino students and 64 percent of black students said it was important. Members of a Hispanic student group at Duke University recently presented a list of 10 demands, including need-blind admission for undocumented students, a new Latino cultural center on campus, additional funding for the group and the creation of a Latino studies department. The list of demands are similar to those made by black student groups at a number of colleges last fall, including at Oberlin College and the University of Missouri.  Bias assessment and response teams, commonly known as  “BARTs,” are popping up at schools like Ohio State and University of Nebraska at Omaha to help monitor and confront issues of bias on the campus. All this coincides with the 25th anniversary of Arthur Schlesinger’s seminal The Disuniting of America, which City Journal contributing editor Fred Siegel says foreshadows current concerns about the “cult of ethnicity" in the “overwhelmingly liberal academia, of multiculturalism and political correctness.” Saint Louis University’s Warren Treadgold, writing in Commentary, concurs. Almost all American institutions of higher education have grown less interested in traditional education and more interested in ideology—with professors and administrators using terms like “diversity,” “inclusivity,” “equality,” and “sustainability,” but “without examining the merits of these principles or tolerating dissent from them,” he states. TO THE TOP



The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2015 (Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA)

College Freshmen Are More Politically Engaged Than They Have Been In Decades (Five Thirty Eight)

Hispanic Student Group at Duke Demands Changes on Campus (Education News)

In a Charged Climate, Colleges Adopt Bias-Response Teams (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The House Divided (City Journal)

The University We Need (Commentary)


Further Reading

Amherst College Drops ‘Lord Jeff’ as Mascot (New York Times)

Portland CC to Host ‘Whiteness History Month’ in April (Education News)

Closed Minds on Campus (Wall Street Journal)

Oberlin College Sushi ‘Disrespectful’ to Japanese (Washington Post)

The Year of the Imaginary College Student (The New Yorker)

The Constitution of the United States, As Edited by the College Sensitivity Committee (The New Yorker)

The Trouble at Yale (New York Review of Books)

Dissensus: the Spirit of Our Age  (Wall Street Journal)

No Political Guardrails (Wall Street Journal)

The Rise of Liberal Intolerance (Financial Times)




Catholics Take to the Barricades  The American Association of University Professors and free-speech groups are among those condemning the Mount St. Mary’s abrupt dismissal of two faculty members in January. In fact, the faculty at the small Catholic college called for the resignation of the school's president, Simon Newman, who had likened struggling students to bunnies needing to be drowned, not coddled. The professors were reinstated. But it left some with a queasy feeling: if here, anywhere.  TO THE TOP



Fallout at Mount St. Mary's Spreads as Scholars Protest Firings (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Calls to Quit for College Chief Linked to Harsh Comments (Wall Street Journal)

Mount St. Mary's Reinstates Two Professors (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Further Reading

Mount Saint Mary’s President Declines to Resign (Wall Street Journal)

Mount St. Mary's Board Apologizes for 'Breakdown' (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Newman and the Idea of the University, 2.0 (The Public Discourse)

University of Cape Town Students Burn Paintings (News24)

U of Arizona Students Hurl Insults, and Litter, at Mosque (New York Times)

Bullies With a Cause (Psychology Today)

Majoring in Anti-Semitism at Vassar (Wall Street Journal)

Cultural Centers Take Center Stage in Campus Protests (Marketplace)

Democratic Stirrings in Higher Education (Education Week)









Cooper Union’s Search for New President Reopens Old Wounds The 157-year-old Manhattan arts and engineering school was rattled last year by an investigation by the New York State Attorney General into its finances, the resignation of its president, and bitter boardroom infighting. Jamshed Bharucha, the school’s former president, came under fire for charging tuition and breaking with the school's long-standing full-scholarship model. Now, as it searches for a new leader, the challenge is turning out to be both financial and cultural. Some board members want the focus to be on making Cooper Union tuition-free again (some have suggested hiring Vermont Senator  Bernie Sanders for the job), while others say free tuition is just one of many crucial factors. But Bharucha defended his controversial decisions, saying he wouldn’t have done anything differently.  TO THE TOP



Cooper Union’s Search for New President Reopens Old Wounds (Wall Street Journal)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman Is Investigating Cooper Union (Wall Street Journal)

Cooper Union President Resigns (Wall Street Journal)

Cooper Union President and Board Chairman Clashed at Harvard Club (Wall Street Journal)

Former Cooper Union President Defends Tuition Decision (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading

Community College Trustees: Leading on Behalf of Their Communities (Association of Community College Trustees)

Governance Problems At Canadian University (The Globe and Mail)

Next UMW President Named (The Daily Progress)

When Bernie Sanders’ Wife Ran a College (Politico)

A Few Board Problems at Louisville (Washington Post)

Boards Get More Independent, But Ties Endure (Wall Street Journal)

Taking Swipes at Publius (Wall Street Journal)




Who’s Really to Blame for the Rising Cost of College?  Critics tend to attribute the rising cost of tuition to overpaid professors or bloated bureaucracies (see Administrative Bloat below) or cutbacks in state aid. But a working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research finds that it’s the ready availability of federal student aid that’s the main cause of inflated costs.  Over the last few decades, the amount of aid available to students has increased dramatically. And the more money the federal government pumps into financial aid, the reasoning goes, the more colleges can charge for tuition. The message apparently didn’t get to President Obama, whose final budget proposal for the 2017 fiscal year (which begins on October 1) includes directing more aid at poor students. And as the push for free community college continues to spread, a new report by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College suggests that one goal of such institutions is lacking: just 14 percent of students who begin  their studies in community colleges transfer to a four-year school and earn a bachelor’s degree within six years. TO THE TOP



Accounting for the Rise in College Tuition (National Bureau of Economic Research)

Why Is Tuition So High? (Inside Higher Ed)

What Obama’s 2017 Budget Means for Higher Ed (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Obama Plan Would Direct More College Aid to Poor Students (Wall Street Journal)

As Plans for Free Community College Spread (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Tracking Transfer: New Measures (Community College Research Center)

Report Details Community College Transfer, Degree Attainment Rate (Education News)


Further Reading

Supreme Court Denies Appeal on Student-Loan Erasure (Wall Street Journal)

The Evidence Suggests I Was Completely Wrong About Tuition Fees (Guardian)

What ‘Free’ College Can’t Fix (Foundation For Economic Education)

How to Apply for Student-Debt Forgiveness for Victims of School Fraud (Wall Street Journal)

College Bills, Bills, Bills (Politico)

Don’t Be Fooled: You Never Have to Pay for Student Loan Help (U.S. Department of Education)

One In Four Freshmen Have Pell Grants (Politico)

Student Loan Advice Can Be Helpful  (TG Research and Analytical Services)

Obama Plan Would Direct More College Aid to Poor Students (Wall Street Journal)

Student Aid, Not Faculty Salaries, Cause High Tuition (Inside Higher Ed)

Bernie Sanders Promises Free College: Will it Work? (National Public Radio)

How Sanders Would Tax Wall Street to Pay for College (Marketplace)

Livin’ Bernie Sanders’ Danish Dream (New York Times)

Poorest Students Feel the Bite of Rising College Costs (Wall Street Journal)




Football:  Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be  Like its professional counterpart, college football is fast, furious, and perilous. But according to John Fry, president of Drexel, unlike the pros, “for all but a handful of schools the cost of a prime-time [college] sports program will always exceed revenues.”  Fry cites a NCAA 2015 study which shows that the average annual loss for the 128 elite schools in the Football Bowl Subdivision, which includes schools like Syracuse, Penn State, and Notre Dame, was $17.6 million.  And even if the school shows a profit, brain damage is the sport’s current bête noir. In a lengthy review of four new books and two documentaries for the New York Review of Books, David Marannis, an Associate Editor at the Washington Post and author of When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, concludes that in football, danger to the brain is “the toll of thousands of collisions …that shake the brain inside the skull.TO THE TOP



We’re Glad We Say No to College Football (Wall Street Journal)

The Collision Sport on Trial (New York Review of Books)


Further Reading

As Sports Programs Get Richer, Few Give Much for Academics (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Why Clemson Students Wouldn’t Pay for Sports (Wall Street Journal)

Arne Duncan Appointed to Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics (Education Week)

Friday Night Lights Out (New Yorker)


College Finances Are Troubled, but Donations Are at a Record High  When Moody’s Investor Service talks, financial folks listen. And Moody’s has been less than bullish about the outlook for higher education in the U.S. lately, seeing sluggish revenue growth, increasing expenses and student pushback on raising tuition as reasons.  And according to Politico, the rate of return on endowments based on 812 colleges was just 2.4 percent in 2015, dropping from 15.5 percent in 2014. But the spending continues, perhaps because donations are at a record high, up almost 8 percent from 2014, to $40.3 billion in 2015.  A closer look, however, shows that a quarter of the total went to fewer than 1 percent of the nation’s colleges;  $1.63 billion to Stanford, $1.05 billion to Harvard, $64.3 million, in third place, to the University of Southern California, etc.  TO THE TOP



Universities Credit Ratings Indicate the Need for Bold Reform (Pope Center)

Decline in Per-student Spending Slows (Politico)

U.S. Colleges Get Record Donations (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading

Illinois Budget Deadlock Hits College Enrollments (Wall Street Journal)

Colleges & Universities Raise a Record Amount (Council for Aid to Education)

Funding Cornell's Future Engineers, With a Focus on Minorities (Wall Street Journal)

Venture Capitalist’s Latest Gift: $50 Million (University of Chicago)

Missouri Alumni Pull $2 Million in Donations (The Maneater)

How Colleges’ “Net Prices” Fluctuate Over Time (Brookings)

States Use Higher Education Allocations to Balance Their Budgets (U.S. News University Connection)

Public Research Universities: Changes in State Funding (American Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Nike Founder Gives $400 million to Stanford (New York Times)




How to Reduce Administrative Bloat   Here’s a radical idea: Teachers should be allowed to teach, and be rewarded for teaching well.  So writes Douglas Anderson, a professor of philosophy at Southern Illinois University, in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Many campus problems—e.g., retention, class attendance, student well-being, faculty morale—could be fixed by replacing half of administrative staff with classroom teachers and letting teachers teach in their own way, Anderson argues.  For better or worse, the needle is actually moving the other direction, says the American Enterprise Institute’s Andrew Kelly. Administrators’ ranks, budget and power “will almost certainly grow,” Kelly reports. And data from the Delta Cost Project highlights the growth in campus administration jobs: From 2000 to 2012, the public and private nonprofit higher education workforce grew by 28 percent, more than 50 percent faster than the previous decade.  TO THE TOP



Clear the Way for More Good Teachers (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Real Winners in Campus Protests? College Administrators (American Enterprise Institute)

Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive? Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education (Delta Cost Project)


Further Reading

Cuomo to Continue Shrinking State’s Share of CUNY’s Costs (New York Times)

Chancellor Questioned over SUNY Salaries (Wall Street Journal)

Public Research Universities: Understanding the Financial Model (American Academy of Arts and Sciences)

Why Are American Colleges Obsessed With ‘Leadership’? (The Atlantic)




How to Fix Graduate Schools  Talk that doctoral education, particularly in the humanities, is broken is nothing new. We all know that the American system takes too long, is too inefficient and too expensive. What’s more, the attrition rate among doctoral students is a dismal 50 percent. In a new book by Fordham English professor Leonard Cassuto, The Graduate School Mess: What Caused It and How We Can Fix It, we learn that tenured professors preparing students to become “mini mes” is a big problem, as is the heavy emphasis on research. Part of the problem may be the admissions process, as Julie Posselt argues in her new book, Inside Graduate Admissions: Merit, Diversity, and Faculty Gatekeeping. Making Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores a first way to reject applicants is no way to promote diversity.  TO THE TOP



Ph.D. Attrition: How Much Is Too Much? (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Fixing Grad School (Inside Higher Education)

Inside the Graduate Admissions Process (The Chronicle of Higher Education)


Further Reading

Another Tough Thing Universities Should Do: Reform Graduate School (Washington Post)

The Educational Bridge to Nowhere (The Atlantic)

PhDs Need Real Jobs Too (Los Angeles Times)

The Graduate School Mess (America Magazine)

Do Graduate Schools Discriminate Against Religious Applicants? (Prudential Political)


A Proposal for More Research Transparency  As reported on NPR, editors of a number of prominent medical journals want researchers to share data from their clinical trials before they can publish them. Some say this would jeopardize the hard work done by researchers; others, including these editors, believe it will help advance science. TO THE TOP



Journal Editors to Researchers: Show Everyone Your Clinical Data (National Public Radio)


Further Reading

Is It Time to Change Academic Publishing? (Chronicle of Higher Education)

How to Put Education Research to Work (Education Next)




Going Soft on Admissions  In a sign that colleges and universities are beginning to rethink the college admissions process more than 80 stakeholders have endorsed a new Harvard report, Turning the Tide: Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions. It lays out a blueprint for addressing the three main challenges facing college applicants: excessive academic performance pressure, the emphasis on personal achievement over good citizenship and the advantages given to more affluent students from well-resourced schools.  Administrators, professors, and admissions officers from universities such as Harvard, Yale, M.I.T. and the University of Michigan have endorsed the proposals. Yale says it will add an essay question on next year’s application asking students “to reflect on engagement with and contribution to their family, community and/or the public good.” TO THE TOP



Inspiring Concern for Others and the Common Good Through College Admissions (Making Caring Common Project)

To Get Into College, Harvard Report Advocates for Kindness Instead of Overachieving (Washington Post)


Further Reading

Real Compassion in College Admissions (New York Times)

Harvard Wants to Save Students’ Souls (Thomas B. Fordham Institute)

SAT Canceled in China and Macau Over Concerns Some Saw Exam (Wall Street Journal)

Educators Seek to Ease Pressure in College Admissions Process (Wall Street Journal)

SAT Testing in Asia Canceled in Cheating Scandal (Voice of America News)

Rethinking College Admissions (New York Times)

College Admissions Reform: A Needed Conversation (New York Times)

New SAT Has More Reading (Even in Math) and More Fretting (New York Times)

Flaws in the New SAT (New York Times)

Where Tests Are Optional, Applications Surge (Washington Post)

Colleges Continue to Dump Standardized Tests (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Why Elite College Admissions Need an Overhaul (The Atlantic)


Making Sense of the “College Premium”  The notion that college graduates make a million dollars more in their lifetimes than non-graduates—called the “college premium”—may not be completely accurate, according to a new Pope Center report. While college grads do have significantly higher lifetime earnings, on average, the premium is “an exceedingly complex concept that cannot be captured by a single number,” writes Jay Schalin, author of the report. The lifetime earnings premium (which is actually closer to $800,000) depends on a variety of factors, including college major and school attended. The wage premium began rising in the early 1980s—rapidly at first. Most studies show that it’s still rising, but only because the wages of high school graduates are falling faster than those of college graduates. A study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland suggests that the premium is overstated because studies lump bachelor degree holders and advanced degree holders together. The “break-even age,” when the benefits of going to college begin to outweigh the opportunity costs and debt repayment, is roughly 40 years old. But for someone who majored in the wrong field at that wrong school, the break-even age could come closer to retirement than graduation. TO THE TOP



A Million Dollars More? Only for Some (Pope Center for Higher Education Policy)

Do the Benefits of College Still Outweigh the Costs? (Federal Reserve Bank of New York)

The College Wage Premium (Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland)

FRBSF Economic Letter (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)


Further Reading

Would Making College Free Boost Completion Rates? (Education Next)

More Data Makes College Less Risky (Brookings Institution)

Prosperity Depends on Success of the “Left-behind” (University Business)


Sex Assault Victims Have A New Ally: Title IX  The bad news is that campus sexual assaults continue apace; the good news is that more victims are using the pioneering 1972 federal law that leveled the gender playing field for college sports to force colleges to help settle their cases. The high profile 2012 rape case against Florida State football star Jameis Winston, who was never criminally charged with a crime, was settled this January (FSU agreed to pay $950,000 to the assault victim) after the victim accused the school of disregarding the federal Title IX mandate to investigate such complaints. FSU also agreed to conduct five years of sexual assault awareness programs and to publish annual reports about them. A similar case involved Baylor football player Tevin Elliot, who was convicted of rape and sentenced to 20 years behind bars.  In that case, the victim had asked the university for help, but was told nothing could be done. As Baylor would later learn, according to a letter from the Department of Education, a criminal investigation "does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably."  TO THE TOP



Florida State Settles Suit Over Jameis Winston Rape Inquiry (New York Times)

Ex-BU Football Player Gets 20 Years in Sexual Assaults (Waco Tribune)

Baylor Faces Accusations of Ignoring Sex Assault Victims (ESPN)


Further Reading

Shutting Down Conversations About Rape At Harvard Law  (The New Yorker)

Catfishing’ over love interest might have spurred U-Va. gang-rape debacle   (The Washington Post)

Letter From Rep. Jackie Speier Re Sexual Harrassment  (USA.gov)

Chicago Professor Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Investigation (New York Times)

The National Science Foundation Will Not Tolerate Harassment at Grantee Institutions (National Science Foundation)

Accused Player Settles with Montana State (New York Times)

How the Sex-Harassment Cops Became Speech Police (Wall Street Journal)

Government to Reveal Colleges With Title IX Waivers (New York Times)

After Title IX Lawsuit, Tennessee Coaches Defend Administration (Chronicle of Higher Education) Colleges To Put Sex Assault Violations on Transcripts (Huffington Post)


More Guns on Campus?  A new study from the Education Commission of the States and the Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (now known as NASPA, formerly the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) reveals that nine states now allow concealed weapons, 21 prohibit them and eight allow weapons locked in vehicles.  TO THE TOP



Which States Allow Guns on Campuses? New Study Takes Stock (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Further Reading

Guns on Campus: The Architecture and Momentum of State Policy Action  (Education Commission of the States)

Texas Lawmakers: Don’t Single Out College Students Who Carry Guns  (The Texas Tribune)




P U B L I C   T R U S T





New Report Exposes College Grads’ Civic Illiteracy  Higher education’s claim to nurture informed citizens appears to be a myth.  According to the latest report by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA), “A Crisis in Civic Education,” recent college graduates are “alarmingly ignorant” about American history and politics. The Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal featured the report, including shocking findings that nearly one out of 10 grads believe Judith Sheindlin—“Judge Judy”—sits on the U.S. Supreme Court, and only 18 percent of colleges and universities require students to take even one survey course in American history or government. The report questions  demands by current student protestors to expunge historic figures like Thomas Jefferson or Woodrow Wilson from campus, saying, “There is little reason to believe that students are sufficiently grounded in knowledge and understanding of the history of America and its civic institutions to make sound judgments.”  TO THE TOP



A Crisis in Civic Education (American Council of Trustees and Alumni)

Civics in Crisis (Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal)


Further Reading

The Dereliction of Duty (New Criterion)

What’s Wrong With the Humanities? (Public Discourse)

The Campus Sustainability Movement: A Threat to the Marketplace of Ideas (Pope Center for Education Policy)

Bevin Calls for Kentucky Colleges to Turn Out More Electrical Engineers, Fewer French Lit Scholars (WCPO Cincinnati)




Feds Bring in Big Guns  Rohit Chopra, consumer advocate and critic of the federal Department of Education (ED) left the Consumer Financial Protection Board (an independent federal financial watchdog agency created in 2010) only to return to government seven months later as a senior official at ED.  He will work for “enhanced protections for students … and strong accountability for institutions.”  The ED appears to be on a roll, having also just created the Student Aid Enforcement Unit, to go after “corporate-owned career colleges” for false promises of jobs. That unit is headed by Robert Kaye, former enforcement lawyer for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which had sued DeVry University for bogus claims of jobs “in [the students’] fields.”  Schools – for-profits comprise 50 percent of a recently-released list -- with overdue financial statements and problems with accreditation and governance can find themselves being scrutinized by ED and face financial consequences.  On a positive note, as ED grills schools with massive student loan defaults, it also offers help analyzing student-loan data; and the Pentagon, which had put University of Phoenix on recruitment probation, has lifted its ban after Senator John McCain stepped inTO THE TOP



Critic of Student Loan Industry Returns to Federal Government (Wall Street Journal)

New Education Department Office to Crack Down on Colleges (Wall Street Journal)

FTC Sues DeVry University Education Over Allegedly Deceptive Ads (Wall Street Journal)

Rise in Colleges Undergoing Greater Financial Oversight   (Wall Street Journal)

U.S. Helps Shaky Colleges Cope With Bad Student Loans (Wall Street Journal)

The Vindication of Phoenix (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading

More Colleges Under Financial Scrutiny (Wall Street Journal)

FTC Sues DeVry Education Over Allegedly Deceptive Ads  (Wall Street Journal)

New Education Department Office to Crack Down on Colleges (Wall Street Journal)

Former ED #2 to Become Apollo Chairman (Wall Street Journal)


The Great Accreditation Debate Critics blame accreditation for many of the problems seen in higher education, with calls for a shakeup becoming increasingly common. The pressure continues to mount with last year’s implosion of the for-profit educator Corinthian Colleges and the Wall Street Journal’s examination of how the worst performing colleges manage to keep their doors open. Now the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has drafted a proposal that calls for a more employer-driven role in higher education accreditation. Judith S. Eaton, president of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, says she welcomes more changes in the accreditation process.  Others urge caution. At a recent Council for Higher Education Accreditation conference some attendees said that many of the proposed changes go far beyond the role and purpose of accreditation, and could have unintended consequences  TO THE TOP



How a For-Profit’s Implosion Could Be a Game-Changer for College Oversight (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Watchdogs of College Education Rarely Bite (Wall Street Journal)

Changing the Debate on Quality Assurance in Higher Education (U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation)

Accreditors Feel the Heat, but Are Torn Over Calls for Change (Chronicle of Higher Education)


Further Reading

Accreditation’s New Frontier (Politico)

University Chiefs Share 3 Takeaways on Evolving Role of Accreditation (Education Dive)

Employers as Accreditors (Inside Higher Education)




E M E R G E N T   O R D E R S






Obama Friend Helps Apollo Education Go Private  Is this move a noble one, to shore up and legitimize a company-and perhaps an industry-that continues to be under federal and state scrutiny (see Big Guns above) for false advertising and student-loan defaults? Apollo Education, parent of the University of Phoenix, was deemed a good purchase when Vistria Group and Najafi Co., agreed to buy it for $1.1 billion and take it private. Vistria's founder is a friend of President Obama and its CEO, Tony Miller, was deputy secretary of the Department of Education from 2009 to 20013. The University of Phoenix, once taken to task for recruiting students from a homeless encampment, has seen competition from non-profit universities through more online courses and extended learning programs. Not everyone thought it a good deal: Apollo’s primary shareholder, Schroders PLC, opposed the purchase. TO THE TOP



University of Phoenix Parent Apollo Education to Be Taken Private (Wall Street Journal)

University of Phoenix Owner, Apollo Education Group, Will Be Taken Private (New York Times)


Further Reading

Apollo Global Management in Talks to Buy Apollo Education (Wall Street Journal)

Obama Friends Take Over Apollo (New York Times)

Top Apollo Education Investor Urges Board to Resist Takeover (Bloomberg News)

University of Phoenix Parent Apollo Education to Be Taken Private (Wall Street Journal)




Public Libraries: Hallmark of a Civilized Society Do we really need public libraries if we can access the Internet from our home on some kind of device? John Palfrey, Head of School at Phillips Academy, says, emphatically, Yes, we do, “to ensure sustained, free equitable access to knowledge and preservation of our cultural and scientific heritage.” The new California Poet Laureate, Dana Gioia, would certainly agree: he credits the working-class Hawthorne, CA, public library to his academic success.  And then there’s Pulitzer Prize playwright August Wilson, who skipped school to hang out in the Carnegie Public Library in Pittsburgh. TO THE TOP



Design Choices for Libraries in the Digital-Plus Era (MIT Press)

Making Poetry Matter (City Journal)

August Wilson (Wikipedia)


Further Reading

Librarians Find Themselves Caught Between Journal Pirates and Publishers (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Obama Nominates New Librarian of Congress (The White House)


What’s Old is New Again  Forty-five years ago the UK’s Open University, in which classes were broadcast on BBC TV and radio and essays mailed back and forth between teacher and student, enrolled 25,000 students. It looked like a promising higher education teaching model. In fact, it is still around, with classes now online – though a stiffer tuition has dropped enrollment. The shine may be off the modern equivalent – Mass Open Online Classes (MOOCs) -- but MIT dean Christine Ortiz is jumping into the water, taking a leave of absence to create a non-profit college using an Open University model in which students access learning materials and short modular lectures online as they work in large open spaces on sustained projects.  TO THE TOP



The Open University at 45: What can we learn from Britain's distance education pioneer? (Brookings Institution/the Brown Center Chalkboard)

MIT Dean Takes Leave to Start New University Without Lectures or Classrooms (the Chronicle of Higher Education)


Further Reading

Does Technology Ever Reduce the Costs of Teaching? (the Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Future of Higher Education in a Digital Age  (Albert Wenger NYU Lecture, YouTube)




Who Has the Most Influence on School Curriculum?  Forget the Common Core, the SAT, the ACT and international assessments -- what matters most to high school curriculum writers, argues James Lytle of the graduate school of education at the University of Pennsylvania, is compliance with NCAA eligibility rules. Indeed, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s  Eligibility Center, high school graduates seeking Division I eligibility must have taken at least 16 core courses in English, math, natural/physical science, social science, as well as and a foreign language and comparative religion/philosophy. “Why have districts or school boards ceded control to the NCAA?” Lytle asks. “It could be reasonably argued that NCAA policies are the single largest barrier to reimagining secondary schooling in the United States.” Lytle’s theory is especially ironic since corporate America is backtracking on its recent enthusiasm for high school curriculum. A Fortune magazine special report says that some major names, like General Electric, once among Common Core’s biggest supporters, have incurred the wrath of Tea Party conservatives and listened.   TO THE TOP



The NCAA's Hidden Influence on High Schools (Education Week)

Division I Academic Requirements (NCAA Eligibility Center)

Business Gets Schooled (Fortune)


Further Reading

A Letter That Shows How Big Business Pushed Common Core (Washington Post)

These Three Presidential Candidates Flip-Flopped in the War Over Common Core (Fortune)

References to Islam in School Textbooks Stir Up a Fight (Wall Street Journal)

Fortune Magazine Examines the Common Core (Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education)




Thinkers, Thought Provokers, Left and Right  Despite the more headline-grabbing news about campus protests and free speech controversies, much of higher education still resonates with – well, higher education.  That includes a recently re-published Anti-Education, On the Future of Our Educational Institutions  by Friedrich Nietzsche, reviewed in the Wall Street Journal,  the newly published Illiberal Reformers: Race Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era by Thomas Leonard, and “A Campus Caldron, Too Hot to Touch,” as reviewed in the New York Times. Nietzsche imagines a dialogue between a philosopher, thought to be Schopenhauer, and his assistant, suggesting that higher education for all forfeits its “highest, noblest, loftiest claims” and contents itself “with serving some other form of life, for instance, the state.”  TO THE TOP



The Closing of the German Mind (Wall Street Journal)

Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (Princeton University Press)

Theater Review:  A Campus Caldron, Too Hot to Touch (New York Times)


Further Reading:

Anti-Education-On the Future of our Educational Institutions (New York Review of Books)

Notable and Quotable: Koch Support for Higher Education (Wall Street Journal)

Russell Kirk: American Conservative  (New York Times)

Nature Has Lost Its Meaning (The Atlantic)

All Young People Should Study Computer Science (re/code)

The Future of Higher Education in a Digital Age (You Tube)

Does Technology Ever Reduce the Costs of Teaching? (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Save Our Public Universities: In Defense of America’s Best Idea (Harper’s Magazine)

Intellectual vs. Ethical Life (Arts & Letters Daily)

How “Left Thinkers” have Destroyed Intellectual Life (Spiked Review)

The Healthy Boundaries of Democracy (Intercollegiate Review)

Our Weak, Fragile Millennials (Wall Street Journal)




A Wakeup Call for Parents  In his new book, The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups Leonard Sax argues that modern-day kids are suffering because their parents are no longer the ones in charge. The challenges of raising children today are different than they were 30, 20 or even 10 years ago, and today’s children are immersed in a culture that stokes disrespect, he says. Young people aren’t born knowing how to be respectful—they have to be taught. TO THE TOP



Parenting in the Age of Awfulness (Wall Street Journal)


Further Reading:

Nurturing the “Quiet Power” of Introverts (National Public Radio)





Havens for Evangelicals Contrary to some conservative warnings about the oppressive secularism of the modern university (remember Senator Ted Cruz’s calling secular universities havens for “leftist, coddled kids”?) some evangelicals have been quietly pouring their energies into Christian study centers. Described by the New York Times as “forums where students can hash out the tensions between their faith and the assumptions of secular academia,” the centers are typically housed in buildings off campus. According to the Consortium of Christian Study Centers, they might host lectures, discussion groups, seminars, lectures or Bible studies, or simply be a place in which students can study. Since 2000, their numbers have grown. The CCSC counts 21 members — “a small but significant number,” says the Times, considering that many are associated with some of the most prestigious universities in the country, including Yale, the University of Virginia, the University of California at Berkeley, Duke and Cornell.  TO THE TOP



Cruz: Universities Creating `Leftist, Coddled Kids’ (The Hill)

Hallelujah College (New York Times)

What is a Study Center? (Consortium of Christian Study Centers)

Membership (Consortium of Christian Study Centers)


The Best Campaign Quotes  According to Politico, the presidential campaign has so far “brought us ‘debt-free college’ debates, a steady stream of attacks on the [K-12] Common Core and dialogue about the worth of welders vs. philosophers.” Here are a few of Politico’s favorite candidate quips:


• When asked during a TV interview who deserved a punch in the face, Chris Christie quickly replied: the teachers union. “They’re not for education for our children, they’re for greater membership, greater benefits, greater pay for their members and they are the single most destructive force in public education in America,” Christie said.

• “The term ‘Common Core’ is so darn poisonous I don’t even know what it means so here’s what I’m for,” Jeb Bush said at the Iowa State Fair. “I’m for higher standards, state-created, locally implemented where the federal government has no role in the creation of standards, content or curriculum.”

• “If I were, not president, if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges where they sit together and worry about ‘woe is us’,” John Kasich said in a forum.

• “Welders make more money than philosophers," so America needs more welders and fewer philosophers, Marco Rubio said during a debate. He added that "I don’t know why we have stigmatized vocational education.”

• “There's no more gun-free zones” in a Trump presidency, Donald Trump proclaimed at a Vermont forum about bans in school zones. “You know what a gun-free zone is to a sicko? That's bait. My first day, it gets signed.”  TO THE TOP



The Best Campaign Quotes (Politico)


Further Reading (From Education Week’s “Five Facts to Know” Series)

Marco Rubio

Ted Cruz

Donald Trump

Hillary Clinton

Bernie Sanders


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