Behind the News

Behind the News

Leaders at Arizona higher ed institutions have been maintaining proactive responses to concerns about whether their policies may change as a result of SB 1070, a new law that makes it a crime to be in Arizona without legal immigration status. Local and state law enforcement authorities--including campus police--are now authorized to ask those they might suspect of being illegal to provide a form of verification that proves their legal status.

The University of Arizona has experienced the after-effects of the law. For one, the National Autonomous University of Mexico and the Autonomous University of San Luis Potos (Mexico) have halted student-exchange programs over worries of students being harassed. Also, about a dozen out-of-state students indicated by e-mail they would not attend UA this fall. In an e-mail from President Robert Shelton to the UA community, he stated that the students' families "have told us that they are changing their plans and will be sending their children to universities in other states." Melissa Vito, VP for student affairs, says she has heard concerns from students and families that the law could lead to racial profiling.

How are other institutions faring? As of press time, Northern Arizona University's Public Affairs Director Tom Bauer says there has been no indication of any students not attending due to the law. Tom Gariepy, a spokesperson for The Maricopa Community Colleges, says it is uncertain at this time if students are rescinding, but rather thinks more will enroll there because of financial reasons.

But at Arizona State University, President Michael Crow has said that 15 to 20 faculty applicants have dropped out because of the law and some students from other countries have decided not to come. Still, spokesperson Julie Newberg says officials expect operations to continue as normal. "ASU has been, and will continue to be, warm and welcoming to all races and cultures, including international students. In fact, we plan to double the number of international students who attend."

In terms of policing, Newberg states the university's ID card meets what ASU police would require as proof of being here legally. "Our police will not have to change how they operate because of this law." In his message, UA's Shelton writes that police will receive extensive training on the law's specifications.

Some education associations have come out in opposition to the law. SACNAS, a national society of scientists, will not consider Arizona as a possible site for its 2012 national conference, stating the law "virtually guarantees harassment of its conference attendees, most of whom are Hispanic." The American Educational Research Association's governing council voted to no longer hold meetings in Arizona unless the state law is rescinded or AERA revisits the issue. In a media release, AERA argues the "law is so broad in its reach and enforcement powers that it can have an adverse impact on the freedom to travel or assemble without encroachment."

What can leaders at Arizona's higher ed institutions do? Antonio Flores, president and CEO of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, advises administrators to be up front in taking an objective stance on the law without infringing upon its legal implications and to reassure both staff and students about where they stand. The constituents "will be respectful that [officials] will be consistent on that." --Michele Herrmann

Lisa Staiano-Coico

As financial scandals continue to shake up the corporate world's image, Harvard Business School's new dean--with a strong emphasis in business ethics--could be coming at the right time. Nitin Nohria, the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration, will start his new role on July 1. A faculty member since 1988 and a scholar of leadership and organizational change, Nohria frequently writes and speaks about the need for changes in business and leadership training. --In August, Lisa Staiano-Coico, an educator and researcher in microbiology and immunology, will become The City College of New York's 12th president. Currently serving as provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Temple University (Pa.), Staiano-Coico oversees 17 schools and colleges, including campuses in Tokyo and Rome, and a more than $600 million budget. She undertook an academic strategic plan and initiated an innovative general education curriculum. Her current research focuses on alcohol and drug abuse prevention among traditional college-age students.

University of Washington President Mark Emmert has been named head of the National Collegiate Athletic Association. --The University of Oregon has named Jamie Moffitt as executive senior associate athletic director for finance and administration, following public outcry over departing athletic director Mike Bellotti's $2.3 million severance. --Joe Peterson, Salt Lake Community College's vice president for instruction, will lead the College of Eastern Utah once it merges with Utah State University on July 1. --Also that month, Fairfield University (Conn.) will welcome Julie L. Dolan as vice president for finance.--Dolan is an associate vice president of fiscal affairs at Dartmouth. --John Bravman, Stanford's vice provost for undergraduate education, will lead Bucknell University (Pa.). --Marc A. Nigliazzo is the inaugural president of Texas A&M University - Central Texas. --Jackson State University (Miss.) President Ronald Mason Jr. has been chosen to head the Southern University System (La.). --M.H.

By Richard L. Morrill, 2010 Association of Governing Boards, 150 pp.; $49 (member), $69 (non-member); www.agb.org

 

In his nearly 20 years of serving as president of several colleges and universities, Richard Morrill says he was rarely given a formal evaluation of his work. It wasn't until his later experiences as a corporate board member that he realized the value of performance assessment. That's something, he says, that is all too often missing in higher education. Now, working with the Association of Governing Boards, he has written a guide to effective periodic evaluation for presidents and other senior officers. Packed with case studies, policy guidelines, and sample questionnaires, the book provides a variety of leadership assessment tools, from interview questions and written reports, to self-assessment exercises and group survey forms. For boards, the book will help evaluate whether a president's performance lives up to expectations. For presidents, the self-assessment exercises will help them make sure that it does. -Tim Goral

Helping students learn how to get a firm grip on personal finances is getting more attention in higher ed. The College at Brockport, State University of New York, is this year's winner of the National Student Loan Program's (NSLP) Financial Literacy Leadership Award. The award recognizes institutions that provide strong education about this money matter to students.

The Brockport campus was recognized for hitting a number of milestones:

  • Program impact. Officials reached an estimated 1,100 students over a five-month period by adapting their financial literacy program to reach students in the venues they know best - the classroom, residence halls, student unions, and online - which increased accessibility. Brockport also coached parents with the same financial skills to help reinforce what their students were learning on campus.
  • Collaborative approach: Brockport executed the program through several campus offices: financial aid, undergraduate admissions, first-year experience, student support, and residential life, among others.
  • Innovative methods: Brockport extended limited financial literacy resources by using NSLP financial counselors to teach money management skills, training volunteers to teach and mentor other students, and supplementing in-person training with online training.

Brockport officials hope students will learn to borrow fewer college loans and carry less credit card debt. "We think students who are adept at managing money are less likely to have financial problems that can cause them to drop out of college," says Scott Atkinson, assistant VP of enrollment management. To learn more about Brockport's efforts and NSLP's financial literacy award, visit www.nslp.com. --M.H.

Thanks to rankings lists, everyone has some idea of the criteria colleges and universities use when deciding which first-year freshmen applicants to admit. The check list for transfer students, however, hasn't been as well documented. A recent report from the National Association for College Admission Counseling sheds some light on the qualities institutions look for in transfer students.

Based on a supplement to the 2006 Admission Trends survey administered by NACAC, the Transfer Admission survey was built with guidance from Andrew Flagel, associate vice president for enrollment development and dean of admission at George Mason University (Va.), who was working on a dissertation. Some of the results confirmed Flagel's expectations, says David Hawkins, director of public policy and research for NACAC. For instance, postsecondary performance trumps high school grades with more than 90 percent of survey respondents rating overall postsecondary GPA as "considerably important."

"Nothing predicts college success more than college success," Hawkins says.

The transfer questions were included in a section of the Admission Trends survey that rotates on a regular basis. Hawkins says they will probably be repeated this year or next with the 2006 data serving as a baseline. He admits other organizations are much more experienced with the transfer process than NACAC, but still hopes high school and community college counselors will find the new data informative as they guide students through the transfer process.

A PDF of the report is at www.nacacnet.org/PublicationsResources/Research/Documents/TransferFactSheet.pdf. --Ann McClure

The verdict is in, but that doesn't necessarily mean Virginia Tech agrees with it.

A report by the U.S. Department of Education of the tragic shooting spree in 2007 that left 32 people dead concluded that the university should have provided more rapid information.

After two students were found shot in a dorm, the report said, there was a delay of nearly two hours before an e-mail threat advisory was issued to the rest of the school. That delay was a violation of the federal Clery Act that requires institutions to give timely warnings of crimes that could endanger students and employees.

"Virginia Tech failed to issue adequate warnings in a timely manner," said the report, which was released May 18.

But school officials contend they "acted appropriately in their response to the tragic events of April 16, 2007, based on the best information then available to them," according to a written response.

"Prior to the Norris Hall shootings," the response said, "all the evidence indicated that a crime of targeted violence had occurred and there was not an ongoing threat. This was not the conclusion of one police department, but three independent agencies." --Tim Goral

A Clarus Research Group survey of 600 administrators and IT decision-makers from K-12 institutions, community colleges, and universities indicates a strong focus in higher education on retaining good students, using technologies to build a community for learning crafted around students and faculty working together, and globalization efforts through online learning and other areas, explains Frank Florence, senior director of industry solutions for Cisco, which commissioned the survey.

 

When asked to rate a list of administrative and strategic issues on a scale of one to 10 (10 being most important), retaining good students was the top response in five of the six demographic groups (including all four of the higher education groups). Also ranking very high was providing physical safety on campus, and Florence notes that a trend seems to be physical security falling under the management of campus CIOs. In the area of education and learning issues, increasing student performance through a better learning experience emerged as the top priority. Rating particularly high in the community college IT decision-makers group was encouraging student attendance and enhancing student employability after graduation.

Overall, survey respondents felt strongly that technology will play a large role in improving how students learn (84 percent) and helping to prepare students for the workforce of the future (82 percent). In responding to important technology issues (see chart), about one-third of the higher ed administrators and IT personnel responding stated that their institutions were "very likely" to be investing over the next year in physical security and notification services. A significant portion (40 percent) of university IT responders said they were very likely to be investing in wireless services.

As of press time, Cisco had plans to launch a similar survey globally last month, and Florence says the company plans to replicate the U.S. survey annually and study changes over time. --Melissa Ezarik

 

Two years ago, a group of 135 college and university presidents and chancellors created a stir by signing on to the Amethyst Initiative (www.amethystinitiative.org) with the goal of promoting informed debate on the 21-year-old drinking age. Then they went into wait mode. "The truth is, it was a document signed by a group of people at the moment and hasn't moved forward," acknowledges John McCardell, president of the related organization Choose Responsibility (www.chooseresponsibility.org). However, he aspires to reenergize Amethyst on July 1 when he assumes the presidency of Sewanee: The University of the South (Tenn.) on the assumption that "a sitting president will be more effective than a retired one."

In the meantime, Choose Responsibility has been busy working with the Vermont legislature to get SR 17 passed. The resolution urges Congress to create a waiver to the federal transportation funding penalty attached to the drinking age so that interested states have the flexibility to explore alternatives.

"It shows the rest of the country there is at least one state willing to take this on," McCardell says. "The other side can no longer say people aren't interested." He also hopes it raises the question of why the drinking age is embedded in a transportation bill, rather than something related to "education or something more appropriate" to addressing the current binge drinking problem. --A.M.

Teryn Norris of Americans for Energy Leadership speaks about a letter sent to Congress for supporting the RE-ENERGYSE program.

Many college and university presidents have added their signatures to a national commitment to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. Now, a different set of presidents has launched their own sustainability-related campaign of another kind. A group of student body presidents from institutions across the country are urging Congress to support a national program for clean science and engineering education.

Americans for Energy Leadership and the Associated Students of Stanford University have sent Congress a letter with more than 100 student body leader signatures that calls for passage of the RE-ENERGYSE (Regaining our Energy Science and Engineering Edge) program. Proposed last year by President Obama, RE-ENERGYSE would fund energy science and engineering education programs at universities, technical and community colleges, and K-12 schools. It is under consideration as part of the Department of Energy's 2011 budget request.

Why involve student leaders? Teryn Norris, director and founder of Americans for Energy Leadership and a junior at Stanford, says it was appropriate for them to have a voice in the matter. He stresses that federal investment in energy STEM education is essential to the U.S. economy and national security, and that our country is falling behind in the global clean energy industry.

"The benefits of this program for students and the country are so clear that most of these presidents signed on quickly after an e-mail or a phone call and offered to do as much as possible to generate support," he says.

Top-level administrators have formally expressed their support, as well. Last July, a similar letter to Congress on RE-ENERGYSE received the backing of 100 universities, professional associations, and student groups. "The program could directly benefit their schools and they understand this is an important national priority," notes Norris. --M.H.

 

Leaving for college is one of the two major life transitions that typically contribute to the onset of an eating disorder (puberty being the other), explains Kenneth L. Weiner, founding partner and medical director of Eating Recovery Center. Are higher ed institutions doing their part to assist students? At many schools, perhaps not, according to a survey conducted in March by the Denver behavioral hospital and Education Dynamics.

Of 108 campus counseling staff and student health and wellness/student affairs professionals surveyed, nearly 40 percent rated the resources provided by their college or university as inadequate or nonexistent. Eating disorders are increasing in prevalence on their campuses, respondents indicated, but 80 percent felt the eating disorder resources their campuses do have are sometimes, rarely, or never used.

The biggest barrier to getting students help for an eating disorder is the unwillingness to seek treatment (with 82 percent of respondents citing it). Resources were also significant barriers: more than one-third said students lack awareness of their school's treatment resources, and 28 percent said their campus lacks treatment resources altogether.

What can administrators do? "There needs to be a lot of education of faculty and staff, much like has previously been done with coaches of female athletes," says Emmett R. Bishop, co-founder and director of outpatient services and research at the center. "Colleges need to really focus on making their faculty more aware of these problems so that they can be addressed. At a minimum, schools should consider setting up some sort of a screening program through their health services that can help direct people to treatment and/or higher level treatment centers."

One institution making such efforts is Roger Williams University (R.I.). Eating disorder treatments and screenings involve a team approach across departments, and faculty and staff are educated through annual workshops and written guidelines, shares Ruth Bazinet, director of public relations. Screenings are done through the involved departments as well as online. Also, students trained as P.E.E.R.s (Peer Educators Empowering RWU) go into the campus community throughout the year, covering, among other things, body awareness and eating disorder issues. "Campus health services and the student's hometown doctor coordinate efforts to ensure a continuum of care once a diagnosis is made," Bazinet adds.

A college eating disorder white paper will be available late this summer via request through both the Eating Recovery Center, www.eatingrecoverycenter.com, and Education Dynamics, www.educationdynamics.com. --M.E.

Houston Community College President Mary Spangler signed the agreement to establish Community College of Qatar in mid-May.

Qatar has been importing American education since 1998, when Education City first opened. With six universities now offering programs in the country, the Supreme Education Council has turned to the other half of U.S. higher ed - community colleges. The council has a new partner in Houston Community College. "They have a large group of students who aren't university ready," says Mary Spangler, HCC president. Similar to high school students here in the United States, they either didn't test well or aren't ready to enroll in a four-year institution. But as the Qatar government realizes, "if they just focus on the university level they will end up with a host of people who won't be educated and that will cause other problems," explains Spangler.

HCC was selected from eight community colleges invited to respond to an RFP. Under the five-year contract, HCC is providing faculty, curriculum, and training, with the goal of local faculty being able to take over. The Qatar Foundation is covering expenses for opening the facility, so the partnership should be financially beneficial to HCC. "They are being very visionary," Spangler says. "They could tap one of their existing [university] partners, but they specifically want people who understand the community college model." HCC will be working with the existing universities on articulation agreements so the new community college students can transfer.

Arrangements are being made this summer for the Community College of Qatar to open in September or October with around 300 students. More than 500 people have expressed interest in teaching at the new facility. Selected faculty will teach in Qatar for two years and have the promise of a position at HCC when they return. Setting up the new college is just like opening any branch campus, Spangler says, except it's 8,000 miles away. Of course it helps that Qatar Airways flies direct to Houston. More information about the partnership is available at http://sites.hccs.edu/qatar. --A.M.

 

The 1798 poem "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge states, "Water, water everywhere / Nor any drop to drink." Most of us take clean water for granted as if this precious resource was unlimited. Just consider our domestic consumption, agricultural irrigation, manufacturing and commercial uses, watering of lawns, washing of cars, recreation, and ecotourism. To support demand, the United States has more than 55,000 water systems employing more than 30,000 water-related employees and independent contractors.

Baby boomers found scarce employment in environmental technology and bio-marine and aquatic sciences back in the 1960s and 1970s. But times have changed. A new generation of students is engaged in an array of water-resource-related internships, practicum, and field experience.

Consider such venerable water resource programs of study and research as those at Purdue, Michigan State, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Heidelberg University (Ohio). At Heidelberg, the world-renowned National Center for Water Quality Research (NCWQR) is a leader in surface and ground water research. Outfitted with cutting-edge water-quality technologies and analytical tools, NCWQR researchers are finding new ways of protecting our water resources and restoring our natural watershed. Faculty engage undergraduates in a complex biochemical analysis of fresh water samples. And Heidelberg faculty and students serve as natural resource advisors to aquatic communities, joined together by a common interest in water quality control, aquatic restoration, conservation, and environment protection.

Heidelberg's President Rob Huntington says, "Students have opportunities to be involved in the lab's research activities as interns or employees in lab or field research. Taking advantage of the team approach, faculty members often mentor student research projects, helping prepare our graduates for entry into the working world."

--James Martin and James E. Samels, Future Shock columnists, are authors of Turnaround: Leading Stressed Colleges and Universities to Excellence (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009). Martin is a professor of English at Mount Ida College (Mass.), and Samels is president and CEO of The Education Alliance.


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