Welcome to Paideia Times. Our goal is to be the information gateway to the essential questions facing higher education trustees. Please examine the new issue and tell me what you think. Peter Meyer, Managing Editor

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TOP STORIES  A “slam dunk case” for tenure goes awry.... SCOTUS takes on Harvard’s affirmative action.... Test blindness increases.... Meritocracy and academic freedom  on the ropes.... A master's degree scam.... The Delta variant attacks.... Mask mandates....  and more.

PURPOSE| The Newest Epidemic: Cheating  Perhaps caused by too much remote learning, it includes Post-it notes on the dog. MORE

Academic Freedom on the Ropes  A well-established assumption still in search of a solution. MORE

Holistic Admissions With standardized tests succumbing to “wealth test” critiques,  admissions departments search for other holy grails that may be just as bad for diversity. MORE

Affirmative Action  As the Supreme Court prepares  to weigh in, the diversity issue comes to the place that once championed test-based meritocracy: Harvard. MORE

GOVERNANCE| A “Slam Dunk” for Tenure—Not The battle was so fierce her name is now a well-known acronym: NHJ. MORE

Nicole Hannah-Jones Thumbs Her Nose at UNC
By the time UNC succumbed to public pressure and offered her tenure NHJ had moved on. MORE 

What Went Wrong at UNC
A true story about the power of a board of trustees that one professor called “craven and dangerous.” MORE   

Judge Blocks Bicoastal Merger On the verge of closing, Mills College in Oakland decided to be acquired by Northeastern University, until irate alumnae went to court. MORE

Penn State Consolidates  A major restructuring of the Keystone State’s higher ed system, the 10th largest in the country, promises to shed 14 percent of its jobs. MORE

Presidential Comings Interesting new leaders coming to Lafayette College, Georgia State, and Florida State. MORE

Presidential Goings  Some are going with garlands of praise, but one quits after gaffe-filled speech. MORE

Texas Woman’s University Bucks the Trend The college has grown into a “system,” the seventh in the state, and is hiring two new presidents. MORE

Big Pros on Campus  Lots of action on campus as universities start to adjust to the new reality of student athletes making money. MORE

The UC System Goes Test Blind By next fall 60 percent of accredited colleges will make the SAT and ACT optional. MORE

More Free Tuition They’re trying it at Hope College and Yale’s drama school. MORE   

The Master’s Degree Scam
With a 70 percent uptick in apprenticeships in the last decade, older students are flocking to online master’s programs, raising lots of questions.  MORE

Persuading Students to Get Vaccinated  At many schools on the east coast, vaccinations are mandatory. Purdue promised $9,992 to a vaccinated lottery winner. MORE   

Pandemic Steers Students to Cheaper Colleges
Nearly four out of five 11th and 12th graders say Covid has changed their college plans. MORE 

Many Schools Freeze Tuition Unfortunately, however, most are raising tuition, as well as room-and-board fees. MORE 
Florida Shields Colleges from Covid Lawsuits So far courts have mostly rejected attempts to punish colleges for pandemic problems. MORE   

The Delta Variant Forces Colleges to Change Plans Mask mandates and social distancing are back as is a new fee for not having proof of vaccination. MORE   

Fighting Vaccine Mandates One group took its case for “bodily autonomy”  to new justice Amy Coney Barrett, who denied the request without comment.  MORE

International Students Scramble  Vaccine requirements are proving a big hurdle for this increasingly important part of higher ed’s cash flow.  MORE

Some Students Emerge Better and Stronger from Pandemic  Many thrived academically or discovered new talents. MORE

Working Remotely Has Its Benefits  For faculty especially, many of whom want to continue working from home. MORE

Affirmative Action  This will be the seventh time the Supreme Court takes on the controversial admissions policy to give minorities a break in entrance requirements. MORE

Telling Schools What to Teach
What had been a problem mostly for K-12 schools is now impacting colleges. MORE

College Amateurism Is Dead
The Supreme Court has spoken: Colleges have built a “massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of students.” MORE

Critical Race Theory Does the theory, which turned into a movement, now see “racism in every white face”? MORE

Black Female Professors
It's a long-standing problem, but few in this group receive tenure. MORE

Cornel West Resigns—Again The well-known African-American professor accused Harvard of “spiritual rot” as he quit for the second time. MORE

ExTernal ORDERS |
Record Gifts for Overlooked Institutions MacKenzie Scott, billionaire ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has been busy giving money away. MORE

A New Era for Howard University The historically black college scored big when it landed Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates.  MORE

2U Buys edX for $800 Million Did MIT and Harvard sell out? MORE 

Learning Loss The pandemic has taken an especially heavy toll on students of color. MORE   

The 1619 Project Ignites Ongoing Debate This is the magazine story that launched a reporter who launched a movement. MORE 
Higher Education Regrets More than a third of adults say they made the wrong decision about choosing a major. MORE   

Vaccine Mandates Highlight the Political Divide  Colleges tend to reflect the politics of surroundings. MORE

Taxpayers on the Hook The Biden administration says that student loan losses come to $68 billion. MORE

Tom Cotton Proposes an “Ivory Tower” Tax Bring out the usual suspects. MORE



1     The Newest Epidemic: Cheating   After a year of remote learning, cheating is rampant at schools across the country. At North Carolina State University, for instance, cheating more than doubled in the 2019–20 academic year. And students are becoming very creative. One student flew a drone in his room to take pictures of a test; another less tech-savvy student tried to cheat by sticking Post-it notes on his dog. Educators fear the cheating won’t stop even after the pandemic recedes. But colleges should be careful not to jump the gun, experts warn—as Dartmouth College did when it accused 17 medical school students of accessing course material through the school’s learning-management system, Canvas, during remote exams. After an investigation, all charges were dropped and the dean of the Geisel School of Medicine issued an apology. Some colleges use anti-cheating software to lock down browsers during exams. Some go further, using proctoring services that scan a student’s room and monitor eye movements. The problem, however, is that these tools sometimes flag normal behavior as cheating. Students and digital-rights groups are pushing back against digital surveillance, prompting some schools, like the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to drop their online proctoring systems. to the top

2     Academic Freedom on the Ropes   Academic freedom may be “on the ropes,” as a Chronicle headline has it, but when the diagnosis of the threat is disputed, there is disagreement about the remedy. One professor proposes that universities create academic-freedom officers “whose full-time job is to speak up for academic freedom.” The American Association of University Professors asserts that it is necessary to reverse the reliance on contingent faculty, as “faculty tenure is the only secure protection for academic freedom,” but The Washington Post retorts that “linking academic freedom to tenure has led to an impoverished definition of the concept.” Emily Levine, an associate professor of education at Stanford, writes that we need a “positive definition attuned to speech in an educational environment that furthers the mission of the academy.” Not to be overlooked in the defense of academic freedom is the power of the individual, such as that shown by the late Yale historian and National Humanities Medalist Donald Kagan, a stalwart defender of free expression and “the engine behind Yale’s groundbreaking 1974 report affirming the centrality of free expression on campus.” Meanwhile, some note favorable trends of campus leaders’ addressing threats to academic freedom from the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement (BDS) and finding ways “to create an inclusive and welcoming learning environment on campus while upholding principles of free speech, academic freedom and open inquiry.”  to the top


3     Holistic Admissions: Good or Bad for Student Diversity?   As standardized tests fade into the background, more admissions offices are doing a “holistic review,” basing admissions decisions on a combination of measures, such as GPA, strength of high school curriculum, personal essays, and extracurricular activities. Does this approach actually improve equity in admissions? It depends. Critics argue that the SAT and ACT are really “wealth tests” that measure affluence more than achievement. But others say the tests’ flaws are overstated—often vastly so. While test scores are positively correlated with socioeconomic status, so too are grades and personal essays, even more so. After all, it’s well-to-do families that can pay for extras like sports and music lessons and private writing tutors. A study of 99 colleges found that test-optional admissions did increase the share of Black, Latino, and Native American students, but only by one percentage point. And while many top schools are seeing record numbers of applications and acceptances for minority students, a task force of University of California professors declined to endorse test-optional admissions policies. Without tests, they predicted, the average incoming student would have “a lower first-year GPA, lower probability of graduating within seven years and a lower GPA at graduation.”  to the top

4     Affirmative Action: Meritocracy Versus Diversity   The Supreme Court has already weighed in on affirmative action in college admissions six times. There could be a seventh if the Court decides to hear Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, which claims the Ivy League university discriminates against Asian American applicants. The idea of affirmative action involves “a clash between two opposing principles, both arguably invented at Harvard: meritocracy and diversity,” Nicholas Lemann, a professor at Columbia University’s journalism school, writes in The New Yorker. In 1933 the president of Harvard got the idea of using standardized intelligence tests as a way to attract students of different socioeconomic backgrounds. He decided on the SAT, which was modeled after an I.Q. test used by the Army during World War I. Today everything about affirmative action and the law—and race relations—hinges on the word diversity, Lemann reports. The concept harks back to the 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke case, when the Court barred the use of racial quotas in admissions but upheld diversity as a valid goal. Decades later, however, it remains controversial. Last fall politically liberal California soundly rejected a ballot initiative to reinstitute race-based affirmative action. (See story 26, Affirmative Action Back in Court.)  A 2019 Pew poll found that nearly three-quarters of Americans, including 62 per cent of Blacks, oppose using race as a factor in college admissions. Will affirmative action survive under a conservative-majority Supreme Court? “It’s distinctly possible,” Lemann writes, “that the Supreme Court, as early as next year, could signal that it considers efforts aimed explicitly at helping Black people to be unconstitutional.”  to the top 



5      A “Slam Dunk Case” for Tenure:  Nikole Hannah-Jones’s Battle So believed the Chronicle of Higher Education (and many others), as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media pursued Nikole Hannah-Jones for its Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism, a tenured professorship, and virtually (even remotely), everyone presumed that Hannah-Jones, a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter for The New York Times and an alumna of the school, would be a shoo-in. She had enthusiastic support from faculty and the tenure committee, and the process was going smoothly every step of the way—until it reached the UNC–Chapel Hill board of trustees. (Its 24 voting members are handpicked by the state legislature, which has been controlled by Republicans for years.) An alumnus and prominent donor to the journalism school, Walter E. Hussman Jr.–his name now adorns that school–questioned Hannah-Jones’s work on the Times’ 1619 Project, for which she had won the Pulitzer and a MacArthur Fellowship “genius” grant. “I worry about the controversy of tying the UNC journalism school to the 1619 Project,” Hussman wrote in an email to the dean of the school, Susan King, who backed Hannah-Jones. The board rejected the recommendation for tenure, instead offering Hannah-Jones a five-year contract with the option of a tenure review down the road. But Hannah-Jones held out for tenure, with her lawyers saying they were “evaluating all available legal recourse.” After weeks of controversy, student demonstrations, and a nationwide backlash, the board finally backed down, voting nine to four to grant Hannah-Jones tenure. By that time, the damage had been done, and Hannah-Jones announced she was joining the faculty of Howard University in a tenured position. (See story 33, A New Era for Howard University.) to the top

6  Nikole Hannah-Jones Rejects UNC Tenure Offer and Heads to Howard U.   After a protracted fight and immense public pressure, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill finally relented and voted to hire Nikole Hannah-Jones with tenure. But it was too little, too late. The Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist went on CBS This Morning to announce that she would instead be joining the faculty at Howard University, where the Knight Foundation has established an endowed professorship in Race and Journalism for her—with tenure. “It’s pretty clear that my tenure was not taken up because of political opposition, because of discriminatory views against my viewpoints, and I believe my race and my gender,” she told anchor Gayle King. “My peers in academia said that I was deserving of tenure. These board members are political appointees who decided that I wasn’t.” When asked why she refused tenure after making so much noise about it, Hannah-Jones said that the history of past Knight chairs’ getting tenure influenced her decision. “I did not want to face the humiliation of letting everyone know that I would be the first Knight Chair at the university to be denied tenure,” she said in a statement released through the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.  to the top

7    What Went Wrong at UNC?  Demanding Answers About the Trustees’ Handling of the Hannah-Jones Tenure Case   It’s impossible to say whether scholars of color are more likely to be denied tenure, but as more go public with their stories, many are questioning how the process works—or doesn’t work. In the Nikole Hannah-Jones case, the UNC board of trustees was apparently the roadblock. According to board chair Richard Stevens, a trustee raised questions back in January about a proposal to grant tenure to Hannah-Jones. The board reached “a workaround” to prevent the decision from coming to vote in the first place. Stevens insisted that the board did not deny Hannah-Jones tenure, but faculty members are demanding clearer answers. They want to know how a MacArthur “genius” grant recipient and Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist does not qualify for tenure. Writing in The Chronicle, Silke-Maria Weineck, a professor at the University of Michigan, minced no words, calling the Hannah-Jones case “craven and dangerous.” “Why, she asks, do the Board of Trustees get to overrule the considered and expert judgments of the faculty and the provost?” writes Jennifer Ruth in the Academe Blog. “Who are these people?” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also weighed in. “The board’s “decision has disturbing implications for academic freedom,” it stated. “When decisions on academic tenure incorporate a form of political litmus test, this freedom is gravely compromised.”  to the top

8   Judge Blocks Bicoastal Merger of Mills College and Northeastern U.  Mills College, in Oakland, California, has been temporarily blocked from moving forward with its plans to merge with University, in Boston. The agreement was halted following a court order that Mills hand over financial data and other information about the pending merger to a member of the board of trustees. In March, Mills announced that it would likely close after 2023 due to “mounting financial challenges.” Formal talks of merging with Northeastern began in June, but students, faculty, staff, and alumnae worried the move would “terminate Mills’s historic mission, character, and status as an independent women’s college.” In July alumnae sued the school, alleging they were blindsided by the news. “Never in any of these board meetings was shutting the college down even raised as a possibility,” said one member of the Alumnae Association. Over the past decade, Northeastern has rapidly expanded and now operates nine satellite campuses. Mills would have become its tenth campus and third location in California.”  to the top

9   Pennsylvania State University System to Consolidate Six Schools Into Two to Save Money  The governing board of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) voted unanimously to merge six of its universities into two new institutions, reducing the total number of schools from 14 to 10. Bloomsburg, Lock Haven, and Mansfield universities in the northeastern part of the state will combine, as will California, Clarion, and Edinboro in the western part. The system’s chancellor, Dan Greenstein, has portrayed the mergers as the only path to financial salvation after a decade of declining enrollments. According to Greenstein, PASSHE is bleeding cash and will lose up to $50 million a year if no action is taken. But the plan is widely unpopular with faculty, staff, and students. Greenstein’s own analysis of 1,000-plus public comments found that 60 percent of faculty and nearly half of students were opposed; only 7 percent of the comments were supportive. Governor Tom Wolf says the state will give $200 million over three years to reinvigorate PASSHE. The mergers will take place in fall 2022. A report projects large cuts in staffing—amounting to 14 percent of jobs system-wide, including 809 faculty positions. Still unresolved are issues of accreditation and whether or not the six universities will keep their sports teams. to the top

10    Presidential Comings: From Nontraditional to “Florida State Swagger”   In an unorthodox move, Lafayette College, the liberal arts college in eastern Pennsylvania, last spring chose the head of a nonprofit organization as its new president—Nicole Hurd had launched what became College Advising Corps (CAC) in 2005 as a pilot program at the University of Virginia. CAC, now headquartered in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, helps underrepresented, low-income, and first-generation college students enroll in higher education. Not long after, M. Brian Blake was named president of Georgia State University, the first Black person to hold the office in the school’s 114-year history. A Georgia native, Blake has held teaching, research, and administrative positions at Drexel University, the University of Miami, Georgetown University, and, most recently, George Washington University. And Richard McCullough, formerly the vice provost for research at Harvard University, is the new president of Florida State University. Trustees praised all the candidates who were in the running but said McCullough had a “Florida State swagger” that pushed him over the top.  to the top

11    Presidential Goings: U. of South Carolina President Quits After Gaffe-Filled Graduation Speech  George Washington University President Thomas LeBlanc will retire next year after five years on the job. When he leaves, Leblanc will have served the shortest term of any GWU leader in 50 years. During his controversial time in D.C., fundraising fell and the university’s standing in national rankings took a hit. LeBlanc had big plans to turn things around, but they were rendered “obsolete” by the pandemic. M. Duane Nellis stepped down as president of Ohio University at the end of June but is staying on campus as a faculty member. Shirley Ann Jackson, the first Black woman to head a major research university, will step down from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in the summer of 2022. She has held the position since 1999. Mark R. Kennedy, a former Republican congressman, is out as president of the University of Colorado system after a rocky two-year tenure. A narrow Republican majority of the regents had voted five-to-four to appoint him president in 2019. But the board flipped to Democratic control in the 2020 elections, and Kennedy decided to call it quits this summer. Robert Caslen has resigned as president of the University of South Carolina after making some major gaffes during a spring commencement speech. He misidentified the school, congratulating the 2021 graduates of “the University of California.” He also took a passage without attribution from an address made by retired Navy admiral William McRaven.  to the top

12  Texas Woman’s University is Now a University System—and Coed   Bucking the trend for consolidation, Texas Woman’s University is growing and looking to hire two new presidents. The public university is now officially a university system—the seventh public university system in the state. TWU’s three campuses, in Denton, Dallas, and Houston, will become independent institutions. The Denton campus, the oldest and largest, will be the system’s flagship. The two additional presidents will take the helm at the Dallas and Houston universities. The entire process should take four to five years to work out. Despite its name, TWU went coed in 1994.  to the top


13    Big Pros on Campus   Following the strides made in student-athlete rights in the early summer, students (and their schools) are positioning themselves to take advantage of the ability to earn compensation for their name, image, and likeness (NIL). The University of North Carolina is the first to organize group endorsements for its athletes, meaning that three or more can be compensated if, say, they are in group photos for sponsorship deals. This is common in the pros. Nebraska is using the new playing field to recruit future influencers. The athletics department builds social media dossiers for its athletes that show how their followings grew since becoming Cornhuskers. Their pitch is that unlike major metropolitan or Big Ten Conference universities, “we’re the only show in the state….  If our student athletes really use their entrepreneurial skills and start their own business here, this fan base is going to support them for the rest of their life.” Leah Clapper, a gymnast for the Gators at the University of Florida, was a popular food blogger before she was a tumbler. However, she had to decline brand requests for paid Instagram posts so as not to violate the NCAA’s long-standing amateurism rules. She launched a podcast in December 2020 to provide motivation for gymnasts—but also because it might become a vehicle for monetizing her NIL come July 2021, when Florida would begin allowing its state-university students to earn money in college sports. Said Clapper: “I wanted to have a platform that I could use to capitalize on my brand.”  (See story 28, College Amateurism is Dead.) to the top

14  The UC System Goes Test Blind Over the past decade or so, standardized tests have been falling out of favor, a trend that accelerated during the pandemic. By next fall, more than 1,400 accredited colleges and universities—or 60 percent of undergraduate institutions across the country—will make the SAT and ACT optional for admission, according to Fair Test, a testing-industry watchdog group. But now some institutions are going a step further—doing away with the tests entirely. The University of California system is the biggest and best-known institution to step away from the two major standardized tests. Under the settlement of a student lawsuit, the UC system will remove the SAT and ACT from all admission and scholarship decisions through at least 2025. The California Board of Regents already had planned to phase out the tests. However, students sued in 2019, claiming they are biased against minority and low-income students and pushing back against even the voluntary submission of scores. As more schools go test optional or test free, the University System of Georgia is an outlier. After a one-year pause, it will reinstate its ACT/SAT requirement for spring 2022 admission and beyond. to the top

15    Hope College and Yale Drama School Going Tuition Free    Hope College, a private liberal arts school in western Michigan, is launching a program to go tuition free. In exchange, students will be asked to “pay it forward” and donate to the school after they graduate. A pilot program, called Hope Forward, will kick off this fall, with endowed, full-tuition scholarships for 22 incoming freshmen. Over time the program will be expanded to the entire student body. The plan was unanimously approved by the board of trustees and hinges on its ability to raise more than $1 billion—an ambitious goal that could take a decade. Entertainment mogul David Geffen has donated $150 million to Yale University’s drama school, the largest donation ever made to an American theater company. The gift will cover tuition in perpetuity for all full-time degree and certificate students at the drama school. Yale President Peter Salovey said he hopes the massive gift will encourage more students to study drama at the Ivy League campus. The school is now known as the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale University.  to the top

16   The Rise of Apprenticeships and the Master’s Degree Scam    Despite a rocky job market, countless college websites and college administrators continue to make the case for the liberal arts. Liberal arts graduates, they claim, are actually better prepared for the uncertain world of tomorrow. Clearly, though, many aren’t buying this argument as more students flock to apprenticeships. According to the Department of Labor, there’s been a 70 percent uptick in the number of apprentices over the past decade. Older students, on the other hand, are flocking to online master’s degree programs, which Kevin Carey, director of the Education Policy Program at New America, calls the “biggest scam by far” within the confines of nonprofit colleges. While M.A. and M.S. degrees tend to be more job-focused than undergrad programs, there’s little transparency about students’ job prospects or ability to pay back loans. And with the rise of online program managers (OPMs)—private companies that quietly run online master’s degree programs behind the scenes—Carey argues that “this distinction between for-profit and nonprofit in the master’s degree space especially has become all but meaningless.”  to the top

17   Trying Various Approaches to Persuade Students to Get Vaccinated Covid-19 vaccination rates are lowest among young adults ages 18 to 29. How to convince more of them to get the vaccine? Amid concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant, a growing number of institutions of higher learning, mostly on the East Coast, are mandating that students be fully vaccinated before they can return to campus. This includes the entire Ivy League; public university systems in Maryland, California, and New York; and most of the U.S. News & World Report lists of the top 50 national universities and liberal arts colleges. Some states have banned mandates. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order barring the state’s public colleges and universities from requiring the vaccine. “It is a choice and we need to keep it that way,” Ducey said. Some schools are using incentives to entice students to get the shots. Purdue University students who submitted proof of vaccination by July 15 were entered into a lottery-style drawing to win $9,992, the cost of a year of in-state tuition. (See other Covid stories at stories 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 and 38.) to the top

18  The Pandemic Steers Students to Local, Cheaper Colleges…or off the Higher Ed Path Altogether   A vast majority of 11th- and 12th-grade students say their post–high school plans have changed due to the pandemic—in a new survey nearly four out of five said Covid-19 has impacted their plans “at least a little bit” and almost one in five said “a great deal.” One-third plan to attend college closer to home, while one-quarter plan to attend a two-year instead of a four-year institution. Sixteen percent are putting off college until later, and 7 percent are putting it off altogether. Nearly half of the students said the change of plans is due to factors outside their control, mainly financial or family reasons. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, just under 63 percent of new high-school graduates enrolled in college last fall—the lowest share in 20 years. More worrisome, many who enrolled quickly withdrew. Overall, 727,000 fewer students enrolled in undergraduate programs this spring compared with the same time last year. Experts warn that the longer students are away from formal education, the harder it will be to bring them back into the fold.   to the top

19    In a Strategic Move, Dozens of Schools Freeze Tuition or Offer More Tuition Discounts Most institutions of higher learning plan to raise tuition this fall by about 2 percent, with room-and-board increases ranging from 1.5 to 4 percent. However, dozens of schools or state boards are keeping tuition flat in an effort to make college more affordable and accessible, or to bring back students who sat out last year. The University of Maine system, Purdue University, the Idaho State Board of Education, and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System Board of Regents are among the institutions that have approved tuition freezes for the 2021–22 academic year. Inside Higher Ed looked at a few private colleges that aren’t blessed with billion-dollar endowments or international reputations—Eckerd College, Emory & Henry College, the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and Xavier University (Ohio)—and found that 2021 has turned out to be a great admissions year for them. They have a couple of things in common: They remained open last year, and their discount rates were generally at or above the national average of 53.9 percent.   to the top

20   No Covid-Closure Lawsuits in Florida but a $1.25 Million Settlement in New Hampshire In a victory for Florida colleges that shut down or moved to online instruction during the pandemic, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill protecting them from lawsuits. Cases against Florida State University and the University of Florida were brought by students who argued they paid for in-person classes but instead received virtual instruction; they were later withdrawn. Similar lawsuits have been filed nationwide. Courts have largely rejected these challenges, although a few, like one at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in New York, are ongoing. A judge has granted preliminary approval for a $1.25 million settlement offered by Southern New Hampshire University after the school closed its campus and went all-online in March 2020. Any on-campus student who paid tuition and fees for the spring 2020 semester is eligible for a piece of the settlement. But the biggest slice—up to one third of the total, or as much as $416,000—will go to the plaintiffs’ attorneys.  to the top

21   Colleges Forced to Change Plans as the Delta Variant Surges With the arrival of the Delta variant, the start of the 2021–22 academic year is even more uncertain than last year. A few institutions have announced that they are going entirely online—at least for a few weeks. “Circumstances are changing,” said Terry Hartle, senior vice president for Government Relations and Public Affairs at the American Council on Education. “The Delta variant is even forcing schools in areas with high vaccination rates and with COVID-19 vaccination requirements to put in place mitigation measures they had hoped to avoid, such as mask mandates and social distancing.” At West Virginia Wesleyan College, students who arrive on campus without proof of vaccination will have to pay a $750 nonrefundable fee. Stanford University will require students to undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing every week, regardless of vaccination status—becoming one of the first campuses in the country to mandate testing for fully vaccinated individuals.  to the top

22    Fighting Back Against Vaccine Mandates  Students at hundreds of universities across the country face a stark choice: either get vaccinated against Covid-19 or don’t bother showing up to campus at all. Some are fighting back. Students, in some cases backed by anti-vaccine groups, have brought federal lawsuits challenging the mandates at public university systems in Indiana, Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts. However, the odds are against them, public health law scholars say. A group of students at Indiana University filed an emergency request for an injunction with Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, arguing that the mandate went against their constitutional right to “bodily autonomy.” Justice Barrett denied the request without comment—and without referring the matter to the full high court for consideration. This was the first time a Covid-19 vaccine mandate had reached the Supreme Court. A lower court had also ruled against the Indiana students, saying each university “may decide what is necessary to keep other students safe in a congregate setting.”   to the top

23  International Students Scramble to Meet U.S. School Vaccine Requirements  Despite a backlog of visa applications, U.S. colleges and universities are gearing up for a surge of international-student enrollments. Institutions are increasingly optimistic: 90 percent plan to offer in-person study to international students this fall, and 43 percent report that international student applications are up for the 2021–22 academic year. International students add diversity—and money—to college campuses, nearly $39 billion in tuition dollars a year. However, vaccine requirements, which were designed with American students in mind, are a big hurdle for international students, who don’t necessarily have access to one of the eight WHO-approved vaccines. The situation is particularly dire for students in India, which sends about 200,000 students to American colleges every year. Vaccine shortages are so acute that only 3 percent of the population is fully immunized. Colleges are working overtime to answer the hundreds of phone calls and emails pouring in every day from students overseas. “‘Ringing off the hook’ doesn’t begin to describe” it, said one Indiana University administrator.  to the top


24   Some Students Emerge Better and Stronger From the Pandemic  Despite all the negatives of attending college during the pandemic, students who were recently interviewed by The New York Times say they learned valuable lessons. With few outside distractions, some thrived academically or discovered new talents. Others found the timing was right to take a gap year or mental health break. One student, who had been paralyzed by perfectionism and anxiety during his freshman year, took a year off without formally asking for leave. “Covid, horrible as it is, honestly saved my life,” he said. Results from a new global survey of college students and parents of school-age children in four countries—the U.S., Brazil, China and the U.K.—also attest to such positive results. The vast majority of the students surveyed believe the difficulties of last year made them more flexible, self-motivated, emotionally resilient, and aware of social issues like racial equity. Three-quarters picked up new hobbies, and more than half are now considering changing their career path or pursuing a business of their own.  to the top

25    Dreaming of Jetting Off to a Tropical Isle to Work Remotely? There’s Never Been a Better Time  While many students continue to struggle with online learning environments, employees have quickly embraced the remote workplace. In fact, most are in no hurry to go back to the office. Nearly three-quarters of Duke University faculty and staff members say they’d prefer to work remotely three to five days a week, citing myriad benefits—like the lack of a commute and increased productivity. As remote work becomes the new normal, colleges and universities are letting real estate leases lapse and moving on-site staff to common work spaces. The University of California at Los Angeles has considered the possibility of hiring people who live out of state, or even in another country, to fill some remote jobs. Campus leaders believe that flexible telecommuting policies could make or break their future hiring and retention efforts, especially in competitive fields like IT. Schools that don’t embrace the work-from-anywhere trend risk losing talent to other campuses and to the private sector. (See story 1, The Newest Epidemic: Cheating.)  to the top



26    Affirmative Action—Back in Court  Affirmative action in college admissions may be heading back to the Supreme Court, after the Court requested a Department of Justice brief in June. The case is Students for Fair Admission v. Harvard; the lead plaintiff is an Asian American denied admission to the prestigious school who blames Harvard affirmative action policies toward Blacks and other minorities for his rejection, a violation, he claims, of the Civil Rights Act. It would be the seventh time the Supreme Court has considered affirmative action in college admissions, but the first involving a private university. The high court narrowly upheld race-conscious admissions policies in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Fisher v. University of Texas (2016), but this is a “very different court than the ones that decided Fisher (and Grutter),” says Amy Howe of the independent SCOTUSblog. While some defend race-conscious admissions as “a practical and moral obligation to provide an educational pathway for students from the most disadvantaged communities,” others assert that they “harm their intended direct beneficiaries, harm education, threaten our position in the world, and violate fundamental principles of fairness embedded in our Constitution.” One defender of affirmative action, Emil Guillermo of Diverse, asserts that Asian American plaintiffs are being used in this case as “white proxies [because] aggrieved minorities are still better than aggrieved whites. That’s how cynical this whole case is.” Whatever happens, the outcome will be divisive: “There is little common ground between people who see explicitly racial remedies as justifiable and necessary,” writes Nicholas Lemann in The New Yorker, “and people who see them as morally indistinguishable from the Jim Crow laws.”   to the top

27    Academic Freedom—Statehouse Strife  Bills to restrict the teaching of certain “racism-related” concepts in teaching American history were introduced in statehouses across the country this spring, although it is important to note, as Emma Pettit does in The Chronicle of Higher Education, that “the bills’ details differ between states, including if they apply solely to elementary and secondary schools or to higher ed as well.” Keith Whittington, a professor of politics at Princeton University and chair of the academic committee of the Academic Freedom Alliance, cautions, “it is possible to largely share the legislators’ value judgments about these ideas while recognizing that trying to silence those who would disagree is patently unconstitutional,” while a coalition of higher education associations warns that these bills “risk infringing on the right of faculty to teach and of students to learn.” One professor argues that universities have given up the right to expect a hands-off stance by state legislatures “because universities have drifted from their core educational missions into political activism. Legislatures should not fund partisan organizations, and universities have become partisan organizations.” Another professor suggests a conciliatory approach, counseling his fellow academics to “engage more vigorously with educating the public regarding the value of academic freedom… and attempt to persuade the public—even skeptical segments of the public—that academic freedom serves the public’s interest.” While 2021 legislative sessions saw bills proposing restrictions on teaching divisive concepts, another statehouse strategy under discussion is legislation requiring universities to make “syllabi publicly available” by posting them online.  to the top

28    College Amateurism Is Dead   The NCAA’s half-century-old code preventing student athletes from capitalizing on their performance took a big hit in June when the Supreme Court weighed in. Calling the practice a way “to build a massive money-raising enterprise on the backs of students,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh, in a concurring opinion, suggested that the practice of collectively constraining compensation was “flatly illegal in almost any other industry” and in violation of antitrust laws. On the heels of this decision, several state’s athlete-rights laws went into effect, so an NCAA panel was compelled to loosen its policy. Now, theoretically, more than 460,000 student athletes can profit from their NIL—name, image, and likeness. Autograph signings, personal appearances, endorsements, and a student’s social media platform can all be leveraged to earn millions. Indeed, in the days following these rulings some athletes signed six- and seven-figure deals with marketing companies. Prior to the sea change, the system generated huge sums for schools but provided little or no compensation to the players except for limited scholarships. However, coaches and even some trainers enjoyed multimillion-dollar salaries, far exceeding their school president’s compensation packages. (See story 13, Big Pros on Campus.) to the top


29    Critical Race Theory Continues to Divide the Country  Critical race theory started with an undeniable and important truth—that slavery was a great wickedness in America (and elsewhere in the world). However, according to Lance Morrow, writing in The Wall Street Journal, the movement got carried away and “signed on with the monomaniacs of the left.” Like Senator Joe McCarthy and his followers, who saw a Communist under every bed, says Morrow, “the single-minded ideology of critical race theory sees racism in every white face.”   Critics contend that CRT is just a fancy argument for racial preferences. At a time when students can’t read or do math at grade level, should we really be focused on turning schools into “social-justice boot camps?” as Jason Riley, also in The Wall Street Journal, asks. Proponents, including President Joe Biden, believe that “children should learn about our history,” including the view that “there is systemic racism that is still impacting society today.” But despite the fact that CRT has been around for decades, many Americans remain skeptical—if not ignorant. A recent Reuters poll found that 57% of adults said they were not familiar with critical race theory.  to the top

30    Black Female Professors With Tenure Are Few and Far Between  The Nikole Hannah-Jones/UNC–Chapel Hill saga has shed light on a long-standing problem in academia: the underrepresentation of Black women among tenured faculty. Of the more than 250,000 associate and full professors with tenure at four-year public and private nonprofit institutions in the fall of 2019, only 2.1 percent were Black females. At other public flagships, the share of Black female tenured professors was much lower: 1.5 percent at the University of Michigan; 1.3 percent at the University of California at Berkeley; and less than 1 percent at the University of Connecticut and the University of Missouri at Columbia. (At UNC–Chapel Hill, it was 3.1 percent.) Black female professors agree that the “roadblocks for Black women on the tenure track are many and often unseen by others.” One associate professor of law at UNC, who is Black and female, said she is mindful of the adage that Blacks often have to be “twice as good to get half as far.” The Hannah-Jones case “hurts,” she said. “It’s a knife in the heart.”  to the top

31    Cornel West Resigns From Harvard Over Tenure Dispute, Citing Discrimination and Indifference  In another high-profile tenure battle, renowned civil rights activist Cornel West resigned from Harvard University for the second time in less than 20 years, hinting that discrimination drove him away. In his resignation letter, which he posted on Twitter, the professor of African-American studies declared that Harvard is in a state of “decline and decay” and “spiritual rot.” He also took issue with the university’s “hostility toward the Palestinian cause” and the lack of support he received after his mother died. West has had a long and tumultuous history with Harvard. In 2002, after a public battle with then president Lawrence Summers, he left a tenured professorship, only to return 15 years later for a nontenured stint at a lower salary. West’s latest spat with the Ivy League institution started in February, when his application for tenure was denied. Instead, Harvard offered him a 10-year contract for an endowed-chair position, along with a long-awaited pay raise. West chose to step away, he said, “with precious memories but absolutely no regrets.” He has returned to a tenured teaching position at Union Theological Seminary in New York, where his career started four decades ago.  to the top

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Tertiary Education

32    “Overlooked” Institutions Across the Country Receive Record Gifts  MacKenzie Scott, the billionaire philanthropist and ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated $2.73 billion to “historically underfunded and overlooked” organizations, which includes 31 institutions of higher education. One is the University of Central Florida, in Orlando, which received $40 million, the largest unrestricted gift in its history. Four schools in the California State University System—the Channel Islands, Pomona, Northridge and Fullerton campuses—received a total of $135 million. “Higher education is a proven pathway to opportunity, so we looked for two- and four-year institutions successfully educating students who come from communities that have been chronically underserved,” Scott wrote in a blog post. This is Scott’s third round of donations, after giving $6 billion to several smaller colleges, including historically Black colleges and universities. Western Michigan University, often overshadowed by the larger state schools in Ann Arbor and East Lansing, has received a donation of $550 million from an anonymous group of alumni. It’s the largest private gift ever given to a public university. Mega-gifts are becoming more common in higher education, but until a few years ago they were almost exclusively directed to private universities.   to the top

33    A New Era For Howard University, Which Lands Nikole Hannah-Jones and Ta-Nehisi Coates In a recruiting coup, Nikole Hannah-Jones will be joined at Howard University by author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates, a fellow MacArthur “genius” grant recipient. Three foundations and an anonymous donor gave $20 million to support the two appointments. Just three years ago, Howard students waged a nine-day protest over conditions at the school and called for their president’s resignation. But the prominent Black university, located in the nation’s capital, has been on a hot streak lately. Last year, billionaire philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, gave Howard a record $40 million. “I think this is a renaissance for Black colleges,” said Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive of the United Negro College Fund. “I think that people are going to see that with these visible appointments that Howard is going to become, once again, a nationally recognized platform for creativity, for insight, for voice to the Black community, and it’s going to be joined by a number of other institutions.”  to the top

34    2U Buys edX for $800 Million. Did MIT and Harvard Sell Out?  When edX was launched by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, it was touted as a nonprofit alternative to for-profit online-course providers. Now, edX has been sold to 2U—a for-profit provider. Under the $800 million agreement, edX will be converted to a public benefit entity that is fully owned and operated by 2U. The proceeds of the acquisition will be used to fund a nonprofit led by Harvard and MIT that will focus on closing the learning and opportunity gap. According to a statement put out by Harvard, “2U’s network will expand to include more than 230 partners, including over 185 nonprofit colleges and universities and 19 of the top 20 ranked universities globally.” The pandemic brought a wave of start-ups hoping to cash in on the “Covid Zoom boom.” After the announcement, the 2U’s market value surged past $3 billion. Some critics see the sale as a “gross betrayal” of higher education’s mission, with all the current major players now “profiteers, legally obligated to maximize shareholder return.”  to the top

35    Learning Loss: The Pandemic Has Taken an Especially Heavy Toll on Students of Color Instead of a summer slide—the well-known learning loss students experience over summer break—colleges and universities are instead bracing for a “Covid crash.” Officials at Georgia State University found that after a year of remote instruction, first-year students were earning more D’s and F’s in foundational courses, and their dropout and withdrawal rates had shot up 30 percent to 40 percent. These early indicators of learning loss are worrisome, especially for low-income and minority students. “While all students are suffering, those who came into the pandemic with the fewest academic opportunities are on track to exit with the greatest learning loss,” warn the authors of a McKinsey & Company report. White students, grades K–12, were predicted to lose four to eight months of learning because of the pandemic. For students of color it was 6 to 12 months.  to the top


36     1619 Project Ignites an Ongoing Debate About the Legacy of Slavery  Not long ago, Nikole Hannah-Jones was a “somewhat anonymous reporter.” Then came the 1619 Project. In August 1619, the first enslaved people from Africa arrived in the colony of Virginia. To mark the anniversary, The New York Times Magazine launched the 1619 Project, a collection of stories and essays about the ways slavery has shaped our nation, with Hannah-Jones as the lead writer. Although she won a Pulitzer Prize for her work, the project quickly became a political lightening rod. Critics called it everything from “un-American” to “garbage history.” Even some of those sympathetic to its aims criticized it for misrepresenting or distorting U.S. history. But whatever one’s opinion of it, the 1619 Project has achieved its aim: The year 1619 is now part of the national lexicon. A Southern Poverty Law Center study found that high school seniors struggle with even basic questions about slavery. One professor said she teaches the 1619 Project not because it is perfect, but because it prompts students “to rethink their understandings of race, racism and anti-racism.” (See story 27, Academic Freedom and story 29, Critical Race Theory.)  to the top

37    More Than Half of Adults Regret Their Higher Education Decisions  Instead of pushing students to declare a major early on, some institutions are encouraging them to take their time. Dickinson College in Pennsylvania has debuted a program called “Explore More” to help students first consider their strengths and interests so as to avoid changing majors later on or be forced to stick with one that’s not the best fit. This “used to be standard advice, especially for liberal arts students,” said Dickinson’s dean of academic advising. In a Gallup survey, more than half of U.S. adults (51 percent) said they would change at least one decision they made along their education path: Thirty-six percent would choose a different major, 28 percent a different school, and 12 percent another type of degree. Those who studied liberal arts were the most likely to say they’d choose another field of study.  to the top

38    Coronavirus Vaccine Mandates Highlight the Political Divide  Vaccine requirements vary considerably, says The New York Times, “depending on whether a school is in a Republican-led or Democratic-led state, or whether a student attends a public or private institution.” Even universities within the same state can have different rules. Students at the University of Wisconsin in Madison won’t be required to be vaccinated. Less than two hours away, at the private Marquette University, in Milwaukee, students must get the vaccine. Indiana University is a rare example of a public university in a red state to mandate vaccines. But Purdue University, in West Lafayette, has not. Students’ opinions regarding vaccination mirror that of the wider U.S. Almost a third of Republican students say they won’t get vaccinated, versus only 4 percent of Democratic students, according to one report. Particularly in red states, the decision whether to require vaccinations is “a delicate equation—part safety, part politics, part peer pressure and part economic self-interest.”   to the top


39    Taxpayers Could Be on the Hook for $68 Billion in Student Loan Losses  The Biden administration now expects the federal government to lose $68 billion on its portfolio of student loans, which currently totals $1.6 trillion. This is a dramatic increase from the estimate made just a year ago, when it was projected that student loan losses would amount to $15 billion. The new estimate is based on updated data on the nation’s 43 million student-loan borrowers’ repayment rates to the government as well as coronavirus-pandemic relief efforts. Federal student-loan payments have been on hold since the start of the pandemic in March 2020. President Biden recently extended the pause through January 31, 2022, meaning that most borrowers won’t make any payments for almost two years. Under the pause, all student loan payments have been suspended, every borrower has had their interest rate set to zero percent and collections on defaulted loans have been paused. Student-loan losses will mount even further if the Biden administration moves to forgive some student debt outright. President Biden campaigned on forgiving $10,000 in student debt for every borrower with a federal loan—which would wipe out about $377 billion in debt, according to the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.  to the top

40    Tom Cotton Proposes “Ivory Tower” Tax to Fund Workforce Training  Senator Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has introduced a bill to raise funds for apprenticeship programs by imposing a 1 percent tax on the value of the endowments of the wealthiest private colleges in America. The Ivory Tower Tax Act would also require these institutions to disburse at least 5 percent of their endowment every year “to support their educational mission.” The penalty for not doing so would be equal to 30 percent of the undistributed excess endowment amount. “Our wealthiest colleges and universities have amassed billions of dollars, virtually tax-free, all while indoctrinating our youth with un-American ideas,” Cotton said in a statement, adding that the money would “create high paying, working-class jobs.”  to the top

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