Behind the News

Behind the News

Addressing drug use and underage and binge drinking on campus is a never-ending battle for campus administrators. But with students finding drugs and alcohol at a younger age, it is also increasingly likely campuses will host students who are in recovery. According to the 2009 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 41.8 percent of students had had at least one drink of alcohol on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey and 24.2 percent of students had had five or more drinks of alcohol in a row on at least one day during the 30 days before the survey.

The Collegiate Recovery Community at Texas Tech University started 25 years ago, but in the past five years, administrators have seen more interest from other campuses. "We have 18 schools across the country that are open and five that are pending to open," says Matthew Russell, associate director for the replication project. "We're standing on the edge of a movement that is catching momentum." St. Cloud State University (Minn.) and Southern Methodist University (Texas) are two of the institutions looking into starting recovery programs.

In some cases, institutions have residential programs with sponsored sober housing. In other cases, such as at TTU and Georgia Southern University, the program is based more on learning communities and providing support services where students can get away from an alcohol-based social scene. GSU has a large commuter population, so a "sober dorm" wasn't deemed necessary, explains Kristen Harper, director of the Center for Addiction and Recovery, although there is a referral process in place for students looking for sober living arrangements. "There is a stigma attached to recovery," she cautions, which can make offering a dry dorm tricky.

"Unless it's a very small or religious college, they will say [all dorms are] sober because they are underage freshmen," says Russell. "Everyone laughs at that except the administration until something happens and they see the problem is more complex."

The programs offer academic and social support, and recovery counseling. Some, like the one at Augsburg College (Minn.), include drug testing. But in most cases, the goal is to help students have as normal a college experience as possible. Harper says it can be hard for students in recovery to listen to classmates talk about going out drinking every night, and the program provides them social activities away from chemicals. "We have conversations with them about when and how to discuss it and how to react if people start smoking a joint in front of them," she says. Russell knows of students who have gone to nightclubs, but being with a group of like-minded students allows them to have fun while staying sober.

At both TTU and GSU, students have as much or as little anonymity as they want. Some students will speak to peers about their experiences during drug and alcohol week awareness events; others prefer to speak with policy makers only. Harper says there's a lot of misunderstanding about being in recovery, especially when the media holds up celebrities like Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan as examples.

The programs are often not advertised, but students find them. Starting with three students in 2008, GSU now has 41. TTU has 85 students and had to turn some away last year. "We find our students want to stay and do an M.A. in a sober, safe environment or find other college programs and go there," Russell says, adding that anyone launching a program should get in touch. "We share our model freely." --Ann McClure

Eric D. Fingerhut

Eric D. Fingerhut has stepped down from his position as the seventh Ohio Board of Regents chancellor, effective March 13. Fingerhut worked closely with state government to improve Ohio's educational attainment. He was the first chancellor to serve on the governor's cabinet. He is succeeded by Jim Petro, former Ohio state attorney general. Petro spent four years in that position beginning in 2003 and was most recently partner-in-chief at law firm Roetzel & Andress in Columbus. ... Beginning July 1, Rev. Gerald Blaszczak, chaplain at Fairfield University (Conn.), will be the institution's first vice president for mission and identity. He'll continue his role as chaplain while working to strengthen and forward the Catholic and Jesuit mission, as well as communicating the traditions of a Jesuit education to the institution's students, faculty, and staff. ... Joseph E. Nyre, president/CEO of The Hope Institute for Children and Families, a university-affiliated state organization based in Springfield, Ill., will lead Iona College (N.Y.) as of June 1. A clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Illinois College of Medicine, Nyre will be Iona's first lay president. ... David J. Skorton, president of Cornell University (N.Y.), has been named to the new Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, established by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and dedicated to bolstering teaching and research. ... Marvalene Hughes, who led Dillard University (La.) through its recovery from Hurricane Katrina in 2005, has announced plans to step down. ... Jamshed Bharucha, provost and senior vice president of Tufts University (Mass.), will lead The Cooper Union (N.Y.) beginning July 1. ... Jim Towey has been appointed president of Ave Maria University (Fla.), also to begin July 1. ... Steven Feld has been named CFO/executive vice president for administrative affairs at Newberry College (S.C.). ... Retired Rear Adm. Robert Smith III, who served in the U.S. Navy for 35 years, is now vice president and CEO of Texas A&M University at Galveston. --Kristen Domonell

The classic lecture model of teaching has been under assault for several years now as people question its effectiveness. While in the past some faculty have been reluctant to introduce technology into their classrooms, research continues to show it is beneficial for students. A recent survey from Cengage Learning and Eduventures indicates faculty are coming around, with 58 percent of those surveyed in 2010 indicating they prefer teaching courses that use a great deal of technology, compared to 48 percent in 2009. Meanwhile, 67 percent of students prefer taking classes that integrate technology. Both sides of the lectern are seeing positive benefits, with 58 percent of faculty and 86 percent of students reporting that technology increases student engagement. "Our survey found that 30 percent of students have distractions that aren't related to class," says William Rieders, executive vice president of new media with Cengage Learning. Those distractions range from paying for college to caring for family members. "But the evidence is compelling that technology can help," he adds.

 

Ironically, while everyone talks about the current crop of college students as being "digital natives," those comfort levels might not translate to educational technology, Reiders cautions. It's important to have supports in place to help both faculty and students learn how to use systems to get the most benefits from them. Additionally, instructional design to help properly integrate technology is important. Thirty-two percent of students indicated an impediment to their learning was feeling that course materials were not relevant to the class, but an equal number indicated technology helped overcome that challenge. "A wiki disconnected [from the context] does help," Reiders says.

Students who are working while in college seem to be more interested in technology in the classroom, with 71 percent of full-time employed students and 77 percent of part-time employed students wanting more technology, compared to 63 percent of full-time students not working. The takeaway: As institutions work to help a more diverse student body persist and graduate, the benefits of technology can't be overlooked. --A.M.

John Lichtenberg

Top honors in the 2010 International Brand Master competition for higher ed branding professionals have gone to John Lichtenberg, vice president and chief marketing and enrollment officer at Walsh College (Mich.). After cutting his own marketing budget by one-third, he successfully implemented new, low-cost strategies and tactics to reach audiences during tough economic times. He and his team researched the kind of campaigns the Walsh community could embrace. During the creative process, he was known to beg people to make him nervous. These words hang on his office wall: "Safe is death."

Using words and sketches on yellow note paper, Lichtenberg developed a series of online, print, TV, and outdoor ads promoting the college's business programs--augmenting those efforts by deploying a team of briefcase-carrying, yellow-and-blue suit-donning ambassadors around town. Efforts to embed Walsh College into the community included free courses for displaced workers and the adoption of two first-grade classes.

Judges evaluated nominees and narrowed them down to three finalists. Marketers from around the world then voted in the competition, which was established in 2009 by Colorado-based Educational Marketing Group. The 2011 program will begin in October; see www.emgonline.com. --Melissa Ezarik

 

When an online search for a Reed College (Ore.) professor last October brought a colleague to the website of the University of Redwood--which doesn't exist?college officials knew something was up. The fake university's website was nearly identical to Reed's, copying the names of all the faculty and staff, and even using photos of the Reed campus.

"I think it was pretty clear to us right away that Reed was not the target of the scam, but it seemed pretty clear that there was some sort of scam going on," says Kevin Myers, assistant director of communication and media relations at Reed.

At first glance, the website seemed like that of a legitimate higher ed institution. "The first couple layers of it looked pretty robust," says Myers. But he estimates that 80 percent of the links didn't go anywhere. News pages appeared to be left in the planning process, with "headline here" in place of an actual headline. Watermarks were left on images taken from stock photo galleries.

Redwood, which has been internally dubbed "Reedwood" by Reed administrators, had a mailing address of a forwarding site in Torrence, Calif. When contacted, that site let Myers know the mail was being forwarded to someone with a western name in China. The combination of mail forwarding and a "shoddy" website, led to speculation that the site was being used to give presentations to Asian students hopeful of studying in the U.S.

Feeling responsible for protecting both the reputation of its staff and those being scammed, Reed got its attorneys involved. They were able to have the site taken down for 10 days in November, after which GoDaddy.com put it back up.

On March 2, five months and a media storm later, GoDaddy.com took the site down for good. "The lesson is that the tweet is mightier than the sword," says Myers.

His advice to institutions that may experience something similar in the future is to not shy away from the press. "We felt it was one of the best ways to bring the site down and get attention to it," he says. "If somebody is being scammed and they do a search for Redwood, we hope these stories come up and not the Redwood site." --K.D.

UniLeaks, a new website aiming to be the WikiLeaks of higher ed, wants to air your dirty laundry. Initiated in Australia in February, the organization sent an open letter to American college presidents warning of its intent to gather and disseminate information from the North American sector.

In an e-mail response to an inquiry, an unnamed spokesperson said it was started because of "the impacts that neo-liberal restructuring of the higher education sector globally has on scholarly work. ... Managerial prerogatives have been allowed to undermine the theoretical commitment of universities to being sources of critical, independent, and robust discussion on key questions concerning all societies, Australian, American; the examples are countless."

Submission guidelines state that its creators "absolutely do not accept rumor, opinion, other kinds of first-hand accounts, or material that is publicly available elsewhere." Also, the spokesperson says "a rigorous process of validation" is followed. "We have learnt the mistakes made by WikiLeaks. We have taken notes and adapted our practices." The organization is fast growing and has received "masses of support" from the academic community, the person adds.

The site was sparse in mid-March, with the exception of five e-mails, allegedly from senior faculty members at the University of Ottawa (Canada). The messages are meant to prove a discrimination complaint from a Saudi Arabian doctor who was dismissed from the university's resident program. The doctor has filed a human rights complaint.

Gregory Jackson, vice president of policy and analysis for EDUCAUSE, says that it's impossible to say right now if UniLeaks is a true threat. "Except for people's private comments about others, there's really not all that much secret stuff around," he says, noting strong sunshine rules in most states.

He believes the organization could be positive if those behind it actually uncover fraud?but would be negative if personal information, about relations between faculty, for example, is aired for the sake of being aired. "We aren't going to know if this is a benign thing, a good thing, or a bad thing until something happens that gives us a clue what kind of people are running it." --K.D.

 

Which widely recognized institutions of higher learning come to mind when you think "Big Business"? One may think of world class research universities and nationally ranked business schools like those at Harvard, Stanford, Baylor (Texas), Babson (Mass.), or the University of Chicago. Conversely, global economists, political thought leaders, and higher ed futurists are now looking to "small business" as the core accelerator in the emergent global economy.

Did you realize that small businesses represent the preponderance of all business firms in the United States? Indeed, small businesses create three out of four new jobs, and generate more than half of our nation's private, non-agricultural gross domestic product. So, we offer these several illustrative examples of a new breed of business school?schools focused on the teaching and learning of 21st-century entrepreneurial, small business leadership skills.

Walsh College (Mich.) has transformed the educational attainment and career preparation needs of metropolitan Detroit--despite a cataclysmic decline in the city's biggest business, the automotive industry. Uniquely, Walsh was born out of the automotive boom, preparing upper and middle management personnel for careers within the automotive industry. In fact, president and CEO Stephanie Bergeron was once a finance executive at General Motors and Chrysler. Today, Walsh offers small business programs focused on creating and running family businesses and early stage startups, providing educational programs aimed at fostering small and middle business entrepreneurial leadership skills. Walsh's Adams Entrepreneurial Fellowship program pairs students with small and middle business mentors.

One of America's remaining freestanding business colleges, Nichols College (Mass.) has earned its distinctive reputation for over a century by producing small business and middle business entrepreneurs. In the past decade, Nichols has focused particular attention on women and was host to the "Celebrating Women in Business 2010" conference. Also consider Kennesaw State University's (Ga.) Coles College of Business, known for providing students with applied business courses focused in part on small business firms and the succession of family businesses through innovative, small business leadership programs, community-based business outreach, and small business incubation.

It should come as no surprise that business colleges with a special mission in small business entrepreneurship are now preparing the next generation of small business leaders. Institutions like Walsh, Nichols, and Kennesaw State remind us that in our fast-changing economy, business programs focused on small business skills will drive the next generation of entrepreneurs--creating new jobs and new windows of investment, managed risk, and reward.

--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.

Eastern Michigan University

Teenaged parenthood can derail educational attainment. Young, single parents make up "a population we don't talk about," says Endicott College (Mass.) President Richard Wylie. After meeting the father of a pregnant prospective student in 1992 who said he wouldn't take care of the baby while his daughter attended college, Wylie was inspired to start the Keys to Degrees program. "We believed this was a deserving and underserved population," he says. "We thought it could change lives." Twenty-eight students have graduated from the program, and with the help of a grant from the Kellogg Foundation, Wylie's ambition to replicate the program is finally coming true. Eastern Michigan University is launching Keys to Degrees this summer. Administrators "saw it as an opportunity to add value to the population we serve," says Elise Buggs, program director there. It's a group that is underrepresented."

At Endicott, the program started in a modified dorm, but a new residence hall includes a wing with apartments for two single parents with their children. EMU students will be living in campus townhouses. Both programs provide academic support and counseling, with tutoring and workshops at EMU being mandatory. "The housing and child care will help eliminate distractions and allow them to focus on integrating with the campus and having a real college experience," says Buggs. EMU students aren't on a meal plan, but she is working on an effort to have them eat one meal a day on campus, so they can stay engaged and have more study time. Endicott students eat in the dining hall (high chairs were purchased). Single parents "shouldn't have to step out of education, or take seven years attending at night, or rely on parents or the state to support them," sums up Wylie. --A.M.


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