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TOP STORIES “Silent Sam” keeps on falling..... Liberal arts do coding.... Larry Nassar fallout keeps on spreading.... A new Animal House at Dartmouth.... Frats strike back.... Sweeping changes for Title IX.... Judge in Harvard case has Harvard connnections.... Fourth and forty for Maryland.... and more....
PURPOSE | Can the Humanities Be Saved? A precipitous fall in majors, but solid credentials MORE
A Partial Victory in Wisconsin An outcry saves seven majors, but not history, German, French, geology, or geography MORE
STEM Not Thy Humanity: Liberal Arts Do Coding Finding a link between computer science and theology MORE
Harvard Admissions Under the Microscope An affirmative action trial airs some dirty Ivy League laundry and may go to the Supreme Court MORE
So How Do You Get Into Harvard? With 40,000 applicants for only 2,000 slots, you might consider donating a building MORE
GOVERNANCE | “Silent Sam” Keeps on Falling The famed UNC statue commemorating the Confederacy is not going gently into the night MORE
Did “Sam” Scare Off Spellings? A former secretary of education left her presidency of UNC early, leaving enquiring minds to wonder MORE
Larry Nassar Fallout at MSU Keeps on Spreading Engler quits; Simons indicted MORE
Fourth and Forty for Maryland A wild chain of events beginning on the football field leads a college president to resign MORE MORE
A New Animal House—at Dartmouth? A lawsuit exposes a purported decades-long debauch by three faculty MORE MORE
Bloomberg’s Billions May Not Close the Poverty Gap Some believe Bloomberg’s $1.8 billion gift to Johns Hopkins will make it worse MORE MORE
Free Speech is Floundering Campuses may have been quieter in 2018 because fewer controversial speakers were invited to speak MORE MORE
New Concept: Get to Class on Time A new punctuality effort is met by yawns from some colleges MORE MORE
“Made in China” Ain’t What It Used to Be Should Trump be talking about the Confucian invasion on our campuses? MORE MORE
Yale Professor Disciplined a Second Time Sexual harassment x 2 = adiós MORE MORE
Frats Strike Back A group of single-sex organizations file a lawsuit against—who else?—Harvard MORE MORE
PUBLIC TRUST | DeVos Proposes Sweeping Changes to Title IX Regs A complete overhaul of sexual assault procedures MORE MORE
Accreditation Reform More DeVos mischief gives more breaks to nontraditional institutions MORE MORE
Judge in Harvard Case Has Harvard Connection of Her Own Judge Allison Burroughs is the daughter of a Harvard grad and once applied to the university herself MORE
When Is a Hoax Just a Hoax? When you get caught? MORE
EXTERNAL ORDERS | To Survive, Colleges Must Tighten Belts and Adapt to Shifting Markets If that sounds like a Moody’s rating for colleges, it is MORE MORE
Slavery, Settlements, and Survival Georgetown’s apologizing for financing its early academic programs with slave sales is just the tip of a complicated iceberg MORE MORE
How to Restore Public Confidence in Higher Education Hint: Rebuild the partnership between college and America MORE MORE
Tuition Revenue Threat International students had an enrollment decline of almost seven percent last year MORE MORE
One-of-a-Kind: From Eminent Domain Abuse to Free Courses at Harvard These are the stories that don’t easily fit but bear reading MORE MORE
What a Divided Congress Means for Higher Ed If the PROSPER Act is dead, what then for a new Higher Education Act? MORE MORE
“Free Tuition” May Have Lost Its Luster Nobody seems to be talking about it anymore MORE MORE
1 Can the Humanities Be Saved? As recently as 2011, humanities majors made up a third of all bachelor’s degrees from top liberal arts colleges. Today, that number has slipped to well under a quarter. At elite research universities, the drop has been even more alarming—from 17 percent to just under 11 percent today. “This wasn’t a gradual decline; it was more like a tidal wave,” Brian C. Rosenberg, the president of Macalester College, told The Atlantic. Of all undergraduate majors, history has seen the steepest decline since 2008. The timeline is significant, with that being the year of the great recession. Despite fears of a bad job market for liberal arts majors, “an undergraduate degree grounded in the liberal arts and sciences is the best preparation for the workforce of tomorrow. Bar none,” Katherine A. Rowe, the new president of the College of William & Mary, argued at the recent Virginia Education Summit. How did the humanities get pushed to the sidelines? Some blame years of “politicized indoctrination” and “insidious efforts to promote STEM vocationalism.” to the top
2 A Partial Victory in Wisconsin Last year, the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point announced plans to phase out 13 humanities majors while adding 16 vocational programs. But following an outcry from students and alumni, and a plethora of news media headlines, the university now says it plans to cut only six (history, German, French, geology, geography, and two- and three-dimensional art). While this might seem like at least a partial win for the humanities, it still means the elimination of 6 to 10 faculty, including at least three tenured faculty; the biggest cuts would be in the history department. to the top
3 STEM Not Thy Humanity: Liberal Arts Do Coding As more occupations require the skills gained from liberal arts and STEM degrees, more universities are evaluating the link between the humanities and technology. A few schools are integrating technology into humanities classrooms. The small liberal arts Dominican University of California, for instance, is partnering with Make School, a start-up coding boot camp (see To Survive), while Penn State is saving money—and boosting test scores—by conducting virtual reality geology field trips. Not surprisingly, online degrees are sprouting in the undergrad and graduate levels, creating some concern among faculty that online program managers are gaining too much control over curriculum. (See Story 13) Meanwhile, Betsy DeVos’s federal Education Department is encouraging more online learning by cutting government oversight. to the top
4 Harvard Admissions Under the Microscope A Harvard admissions lawsuit, first filed in 2014 by a conservative interest group called Students for Fair Admissions, has brought the issue of affirmative action back into the spotlight. The plaintiffs have accused the premier Ivy League College of discriminating against Asian-Americans by holding them to a higher standard than other racial groups. During the three-week trial last fall, Harvard officials vigorously defended the application process—the first time they were forced to answer such questions in public.
Both sides leaned heavily on statistics, and the trial featured testimony from two economists who became “the unlikely stars of the show.” The plaintiff’s star witness, Peter S. Arcidiacono, a Duke University economist, analyzed six years of Harvard admissions data and concluded that the admissions process favors blacks and Latino applicants over white and Asian-American ones. Harvard’s top expert witness, economist David Card from the University of California at Berkeley, argued that applicants’ multidimensionality “is really the defining feature of the admissions process.” Court documents also revealed that a subset of applicants—the children of Harvard alumni and faculty, donors, and recruited athletes—make up 5 percent of applicants but 30 percent of all students offered admission. The Harvard trial may just be the tip of an iceberg. Similar lawsuits challenging race-conscious admissions processes are expected in the coming years. to the top
5 So How Do You Get into Harvard? With over 40,000 applicants and only 2,000 available spots, it’s inevitable that most Harvard applicants won’t get in. So what does it take to beat the odds? Most of the elite universities in America, like Harvard, “systematically discriminate in favor of affluent, privileged alumni children,” Nicholas Kristof wrote in The New York Times. “If that isn’t enough to get your kids accepted, donate $5 million to the university, and they’ll get a second look.” But even this is no guarantee. It helps to come from “sparse country,” rural states with relatively few Harvard applicants. Admissions officers also like applicants with “unusually appealing personal qualities,” such as “effervescence, charity, maturity and strength of character.” And it helps to be an aspiring humanities major, have a compelling story to tell, or apply early. to the top
6 “Silent Sam” Keeps on Falling For more than a century, “Silent Sam,” a bronze statue of a young Confederate soldier, stood on a main campus quad at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill—until it was toppled last August by protestors who decried it as a symbol of racism. (See A Name by Any Other Name) The UNC–Chapel Hill Board of Trustees then approved a plan to move the toppled statue into a yet-to-be-built $5.3 million history and education center on the outskirts of campus. The building would cost $800,000 a year to maintain. In addition, a safety panel, noting that campus protests are becoming increasingly violent, recommended that the university create a 40-person “mobile force platoon” that would cost an estimated $2 million a year, with $500,000 in equipment expenses.
The plan for the new center left no one happy, with many seeing it as an “expensive shrine to white supremacy.” “It is the most divisive issue I have seen on this campus in my time here,” a professor who has been on campus for nearly three decades told The Washington Post. “We’re just torn up over this.” The UNC Board of Governors rejected the proposal and UNC Chancellor Carol Folt—who was viewed by many as a weak leader who tried to please all sides—announced that she would step down at the end of the school year. Her last day, however, was moved up to January 31. Faculty and graduate teaching assistants who had threatened a grade strike last fall say they are prepared to strike in the spring if “Silent Sam” is brought back to campus. The board now has until March 15 to explore other options and decide the statue’s fate. to the top
7 Did “Sam” Scare Off Spellings? Margaret Spellings stepped down from the presidency of the University of North Carolina system just halfway through her five-year term, surprising many—but not everyone. Spellings, the former US education secretary under President George W. Bush, came to the job with ambitious plans but had a rough time, with controversies such as the state’s “bathroom bill” and the “Silent Sam” Confederate statue on the Chapel Hill campus dominating her tenure. Although Spellings gave no specific reason for her departure, she had spent a lot of time and energy pushing back against a board that she often criticized for micromanagement. On the issue of “Silent Sam,” she said, “I mean, we’ve got a Board of Trustees, a Board of Governors, the historical commission, the legislature, the governor.” While an interim successor has been appointed, there’s a fear that the politically charged atmosphere could drive away top candidates for a permanent one, who might see the job as “a road to nowhere.” The root of the problem is that the governing board is too big, in the opinion of the Raleigh News & Observer editorial board, which states that 28 members constitute “a caucus, not a board…. What’s needed is a smaller board with members appointed by the governor as well as the legislature. There should be requirements for a bipartisan and demographic mix among members.” to the top
8 Larry Nassar Fallout at Michigan State Keeps on Spreading In December, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office released a scathing report on Michigan State University’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against former sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar. It was a “failure of people, not policy” that contributed to hundreds of girls and women being sexually abused, the report charges: “Both then and now, MSU has fostered a culture of indifference toward sexual assault, motivated by its desire to protect its reputation.” The report also cited “multiple shortcomings” in the university’s Title IX investigation into the allegations against Nassar dating back to 2014. (See Story 17.) Nassar is now serving a 40- to 175-year prison sentence.
In January, John M. Engler, the interim president of Michigan State University, announced his resignation in an 11-page letter. Engler’s one-year tenure was marred by controversy from beginning to end. The final straw for the university’s governing board came when Engler told The Detroit News that some of Nassar’s victims were “enjoying” the “spotlight” … “you know, the awards and recognition.” Engler is the university’s second leader in a year to be forced out. In January 2018, Lou Anna K. Simon tendered her resignation under pressure for her handling of the scandal. And in a rare move against a former university president, Simon has been charged with lying to police about the investigation. She faces up to four years in prison if convicted.
The MSU Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to appoint Satish Udpa, the executive vice president for administrative services, as acting president of the university. Udpa was reportedly considered for the position prior to Engler’s appointment. to the top
9 Fourth and Forty for Maryland In late October last year the University of Maryland fired its football coach, D.J. Durkin, just one day after reinstating him, the middle of a rollercoaster administrative ride that started the previous spring with the death of a 19-year-old football player who collapsed from heatstroke. Durkin was suspended after a damning ESPN report saying the school’s football program had a “toxic culture.” But Durkin was popular and the state’s Board of Regents cleared him of responsibility midway through the season, citing an internal university report. The public reaction was swift and so was the university’s president, Wallace Loh, who fired Durkin the next day—without consulting the Regents. Then Loh resigned. Then Chairman of the Board of Regents resigned. And that was not the end of it. The Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the school’s accreditation overseer, then demanded “evidence of a clearly articulated and transparent governance structure that outlines roles, responsibilities, and accountability for decision making by each constituency.” It may be fourth and forty for the Terrapins. to the top
10 A New Animal House—at Dartmouth? Seven current and former Dartmouth College female grad students have filed a class-action lawsuit against the Ivy League school, alleging that three prominent professors sexually assaulted and harassed them over the course of more than 15 years in which the women attended the Ivy League school. The lawsuit describes a “21st Century Animal House” culture in which the male professors used their positions to coerce the students into drinking and sex. The professors “leered at, groped, sexted, intoxicated and even raped female students,” The New York Times reports. The women, who are seeking $70 million in damages, allege that Dartmouth administrators “did nothing and ignored” their complaints, which date back to 2002. (See Story 8.) In April 2017, the women contacted the school’s Title IX office, and, over the next several months, at least 27 complaints were filed. According to The Washington Post, it was “an open secret” that the “professors regularly held professional lab meetings in bars, invited students to late-night hot-tub parties, and conditioned academic support on participation in a hard-drinking party culture and tolerance of unwanted sexual attention.” After Dartmouth began a seldom-used process to fire tenured professors, one professor retired and the other two resigned. They have been barred from campus and from ever working for the school again. to the top
11 Bloomberg’s Billions May Not Close the Poverty Gap Michael Bloomberg donates $1.8 billion to his alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, hoping to close the gap between elite universities and low-to-middle-income families. However, because Johns Hopkins is already a highly selective university, basing admissions on merit, some critics argue that Bloomberg’s gift will only increase the divide between rich and poor in American higher education since so few of the poor can get into Johns Hopkins in the first place. to the top
12 Free Speech is Floundering A year ago, colleges and universities were bracing for more protests and more chaos, but 2018 ended up being a relatively quiet year on college campuses. Overall, there were fewer speaker “disinvitation attempts”; there were fewer cases of professors’ being terminated for political speech; and the number of institutions with restrictive speech codes fell to historic lows. But what looks like positive trends could actually be something else. If fewer conservative speakers are being disinvited to campuses, then perhaps they’re not being invited in the first place. Or maybe they are just afraid to show up. More college students than ever have reservations about free expression, and a much cited 2017 report by the Brookings Institute found that 20 percent of college students believe it’s acceptable to inflict physical harm on those who have made “offensive and hurtful statements.” Historian Allen Guetzo argues that this “bleak view of free speech is no longer the reserve of a dismissible fringe.” to the top
13 New Concept: Get to Class on Time While most universities employ a common practice of allowing students to be ten minutes late for class, cost-cutting concerns are prompting others, like the University of Michigan and Harvard, to crack down on class schedules, expecting students to be at their desks when classes actually start. The University of California at Berkeley has opted out of this time constraint, but is jumping on a new bandwagon, starting an academic division called Data Science and Information. This is meant to help students within all majors use data to enhance their disciplines. (See Story 3.) The reorganization follows MIT’s announcement last month of a new $1 billion artificial intelligence initiative. to the top
14 “Made in China” Ain’t What It Used to Be Political controversies surrounding Chinese students, Chinese businesses, and now Chinese spies are growing. United States universities, as well as those in other countries, are closing Chinese-government-funded Confucius Institutes over concerns that they may be a propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party at best and at worst may be designed to infiltrate US technology research facilities. By the same token, academic freedoms among the 107 US colleges with Confucius Institutes are said to be at risk in navigation technology, computer science, and artificial intelligence as Chinese scientists at these universities are put under a spotlight. Chinese technology theft has been common in tech businesses; recently the US indicted several Chinese companies for stealing trade secrets from Micron Technology. Meanwhile, a Duke University professor was accused of racial intolerance for telling her Chinese students that they had to speak English on campus or face possible consequences. to the top
15 Yale Professor Disciplined a Second Time A prominent Yale University cardiologist and researcher is back in the spotlight after being stripped of his second endowed professorship. In 2013, a university committee concluded that Michael Simons was guilty of sexually harassing a junior colleague. After the woman rebuffed his advances, Simons purportedly retaliated against her boyfriend-turned-husband, who also worked under his supervision. The committee called for Simons to be permanently removed from his cardiology position and barred from other leadership roles for five years. The sanction was later reduced to 18 months, and Simons was allowed to keep his endowed chair. Fast-forward to the summer of 2018: After again being stripped of his endowed chair, Simons was quickly awarded another endowed professorship. The university contends that this was simply “a transfer of honors, not the conferment of a new one.” The backlash, however, was furious. More than 1,000 medical-school students, trainees, alumni, and faculty members signed a letter to Yale’s president, voicing “disgust and disappointment” with the decision. Simons, in turn, filed a lawsuit against the university, accusing it of “pandering” to #MeToo activists for an offense that was “adjudicated and put to rest” five years before. (Simons later withdrew his lawsuit.) Critics accuse the university of tolerating misbehavior from researchers, like Simons, who bring in millions of dollars a year. Late last year, the longtime dean of the School of Medicine, Robert Alpern, announced that he will step down. to the top
16 Frats Strike Back After several years of high-profile fraternity embarrassments—and worse—a group of single-sex clubs have filed lawsuits against Harvard, claiming that the university discriminates against students based on their gender and their membership in such organizations. The complaint dates to 2016, when the Ivy League school placed sanctions on members of such organizations. The new lawsuits were filed in both state and federal courts and claim that Harvard, also defending itself in a high-profile affirmative action lawsuit (see Story 4 and Harvard’s Asian-Americans), is violating Title IX, the federal civil-rights law that says students have the right to free association and equal treatment based on gender (see Story 17 and Students Support Due Process). to the top
17 Betsy DeVos Proposes Sweeping Changes to Title IX Regulations In November, the US Department of Education, led by Betsy DeVos, proposed a complete overhaul of the regulations governing how colleges and universities handle allegations of sexual misconduct. The proposed regulations would replace the now-rescinded Obama-era Title IX guidelines. One of the most controversial parts of the Obama guidelines was the requirement that colleges use the lowest standard of proof, “preponderance of the evidence.” Under the new rules, schools could apply either the minimal standard or a higher burden of proof known as “clear and convincing evidence.” A key feature of the new rules would allow students accused of sexual misconduct to cross-examine their accusers through a lawyer or an advisor. Both parties would have equal access to review all evidence and the right to an appeal. In addition, schools would be required to investigate only assaults that take place on campus, leaving unclear how incidents that occur, for example, in off-campus fraternities and sororities would be handled. The Education Department claims the proposed changes would ensure fairness for students on both sides, but victims’ advocates say the new rules move too far in the opposite direction, discouraging victims from coming forward. to the top
18 Accreditation Reform Education Department officials have outlined plans for accreditation reform. DeVos wants more nontraditional institutions, such as online education programs, to gain accreditation. Concurrently, DeVos has reinstated the accrediting group that the Obama administration severed ties with in 2016. Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Universities, or ACICS, had accredited two for-profit college chains that later shut down after receiving allegations of unethical recruiting practices. Critics say that the decision to reinstate ACICS will protect schools that do not fully benefit their students. According to The Wall Street Journal, “24% of students who graduated or left school in 2012 had paid some toward their loan balance after three years, compared with a national average of 46%.” The inability to repay loans suggests that these students have not benefitted from attending school and are not achieving financial stability.
One online school, Western Governors University, had failed to meet federal requirements for the interaction between faculty members and students, according to the department’s Office of Inspector General in 2017. It was recommended that WGU pay back $713 million in federal aid; however, this past January the departments Office of Federal Student Aid said they would not seek the return of these funds due to the ambiguity of the law and regulations. As part of the accreditation reform plans, the accreditors would define who qualifies as an instructor. to the top
19 Judge in Harvard Trial Has Harvard Connection of Her Own Does Harvard discriminate against Asian-Americans? That’s the question that a judge, not a jury, will have to answer in a lawsuit challenging the university’s admissions process. As it turns out, the judge deciding the case, Allison D. Burroughs, the daughter of a Harvard graduate, applied to Harvard herself decades ago; like thousands of other high school seniors, she did not get in. (She went to Middlebury College instead.) This suddenly became an issue during the recent trial when someone sent an anonymous mass email to reporters suggesting that Judge Burroughs was biased against Harvard because of that rejection. However, both sides in the trial were quick to say bthat they did not want Judge Burroughs to recuse herself. The closely watched case ended in November, but the judge has indicated that she might not reach a decision until sometime this month. No matter what her decision is, it’s widely speculated that the case will end up before the US Supreme Court. to the top
20 When Is a Hoax Just a Hoax? Portland State University professor Peter Boghossian is facing disciplinary action for a hoax he committed—in pursuit of exposing shoddy scholarship—raising epistemological questions worthy of the best academics. Boghossian and two colleagues created pseudonyms and submitted fake academic papers for publication in peer-reviewed scholarly journals. By the time the hoax was discovered, four of the faux articles had been published and three more had been accepted. Boghossian has been praised for his work and defended by fellow scholars, but he also expects to lose his job. to the top
21 To Survive, Colleges Must Tighten Belts and Adapt to Shifting Markets Two of the best-known credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, have issued reports giving higher education a negative outlook. According to Moody’s, the next year and half is expected to be grim because of low revenue growth from tuition, the major source of revenue for most colleges and universities. Rising labor costs, which account for up to 75 percent of expenses, will also remain a huge hurdle to growth. Higher education’s saving grace, Moody’s says, lies in its resilience and adaptability, as the majority of colleges and universities will “gradually alter their business models to meet shifting market.” Warnings like these, however, remind us that institutions of higher learning “are not immune from literally dying,” writes Richard Vedder, a professor at Ohio University. Schools that are most dependent on tuition revenues are the most vulnerable—e.g., private schools with modest endowments; community colleges and public universities in the Northeast and Midwest, areas faced with aging populations and out-migration. Elite schools with large endowments have less to worry about. “Harvard,” he writes, “is in far better financial shape than the U.S. government.” Mitch Daniels, president of Purdue University, believes that “American higher education has grown fat and complacent.” When he arrived at Purdue in January 2013, he instituted a tuition freeze (after 36 years in a row of tuition increases). The university now plans to extend the freeze into the 2019–20 school year, so students will continue paying the same in tuition as they did in 2012–13. Purdue “acquired a reputation as a place where you’re less likely to get socked with an annual surprise,” he says, and is now enjoying “record applications, from higher- and higher-quality students.” to the top
22 Slavery, Settlements, and Survival Many universities have institutional ties to slavery, but it wasn’t until 2006 that some two-dozen began investigating these histories and taking actions to redress past bad acts. One of the most notable has been Georgetown University, the prestigious Catholic college in Washington, D.C., which discovered and made public in 2015 the fact that it had sold slaves in 1838 as a means of financial support for the school. The descendants of these enslaved people, known as the GU272, are now being found and contacted by the independent nonprofit known as the Georgetown Memory Project. And moving forward in recognizing this past, Georgetown’s president, John J. DeGioia, has opened a dialogue with the descendants, promising to rename buildings, establish an institute for the study of slavery, erect a memorial to the GU272, and start a program to offer preferential admissions for their descendants.
Unfortunately, not all has gone as well for black colleges. In a 13-year-old lawsuit against the state of Maryland brought by alumni of four historically black schools, settlement talks are again beginning. And another historically black university, Bennett College, is fighting for its accreditation life because of financial instability. to the top
23 How to Restore Public Confidence in Higher Education The public has become increasingly skeptical—even hostile—about the value of higher education. Many believe that colleges and universities are not worth the cost and that professors are out of touch with the values of ordinary Americans. In Our Higher Calling: Rebuilding the Partnership Between America and Its Colleges and Universities (University of North Carolina Press), Holden Thorp and Buck Goldstein say that to help restore the public’s confidence, institutions of higher learning must first reimagine their partnership with society, emphasizing academe’s historical strengths and accomplishments while better aligning their schools with modern-day demands, such as career readiness. In addition, institutions must rethink unsustainable business models. Many are “engaging in a sort of arms race,” spending money they don’t have, the authors say. Colleges must also help students thrive in all areas of their lives, writes Beckie Supiano in The Chronicle of Higher Education. With alarming rates of anxiety and depression among students, many institutions are taking a more hands-on approach. Wake Forest University, for instance, has created an Office of Wellbeing to give students the skills, knowledge, and perspective to maintain a healthy, balanced life inside and outside the classroom. to the top
24 Tuition Revenue Threat After a period of robust growth, tuition revenue from full-pay international students is set to decline this year, at both graduate and undergraduate institutions. The hardest hit at the graduate level are programs limited to master’s degrees, according to a report of the Council of Graduate Schools. Enrollment at all levels fell by 6.6 percent during the 2017-18 academic year, on top of a 3.3 percent decline the year before, according to a report by the Institute of International Education. The drop takes the number of new students back to the level seen three or four years ago. to the top
25 One-of-a-Kind Stories: From Eminent Domain Abuse to Free Courses at Harvard As college campuses continue to expand—swallowing up private property to build sports arenas and parking lots and evicting students from university property that is then leased to private companies—abuses of eminent domain are becoming more common, writes James G. Martin Center policy fellow Chris West in one of several one-of-a-kind stories we single out for special mention in this issue of Paideia Times. Another interesting story, by Frederick Hess and Grant Addison of the American Enterprise Institute, describes “the way in which college degrees serve as an impediment to opportunity.” Then there’s this gem from Quartz’s Dhawal Shah, CEO of Class Central, a search engine for online courses: 400 free Ivy League courses. There are a few more clips this quarter that stand out, noted in Further Reading. to the top
26 A Divided Congress and What It Means for Higher Ed As Democrats take control of the US House of Representatives for the first time since 2010, the PROSPER Act is dead and so too the chances of renewing the broader legislation of a comprehensive Higher Education Act. Instead, we can expect both more federal control and more spending on education. The Democrats’ proposal for higher education reform, the Aim Higher Act, would increase Pell Grants by $500 per year, index them to inflation, and renew the push for tuition-free community college. If Democrats and Republicans were really willing to work together—and that’s a huge “if”—they could focus on three issues they might actually be able to compromise on: simplifying FASFA; providing better data on college outcomes; and allowing federal student aid for short-term certificate programs. to the top
27 “Free Tuition” May Have Lost Its Luster Politically, the conversation about free college tuition has come to a halt, mostly because it has not proven to be an issue constituents care about. Moreover, “free college” was of limited use to low-income students, which is where most of the cost attention is directed, since college expenses involve much more than tuition. Candidates, specifically Democrats, now swing toward the “college affordably” terminology or simply avoid the conversation altogether. Some say the only way to a solution to the problem of college accessibility is collaboration among university leaders and state officials. Another option is to expand the Pell Grant program, which requires students to demonstrate need. to the top
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