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Video: A Former West Point Official Helps Mount St. Mary’s Find Its Footing

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 25, 2016 - 2:55am
Tim Trainor, interim president of the Roman Catholic institution in Maryland, says he needs to steady the ship, calm faculty fears, and rebuild trust after the tumultuous tenure of his predecessor.
Categories: Higher Education News

A New Year, a New Administration, a New Higher Education Act Reauthorization?

WCET Frontiers Blog - October 24, 2016 - 9:31am

Earlier this year, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska called this election a “dumpster fire.” We were reminded of this insight by Terry Hartle (Senior Vice President, Division of Government and Public Affairs of the American Council on Education) at last week’s Presidents’ Forum.

Hoping to raise the level of dialogue beyond that surrounding a dumpster fire, this annual Forum (founded by Excelsior College and co-hosted by USDLA) brings higher education innovators together to discuss current issues. The Forum has a particular emphasis on federal and state policies.

Several sessions looked to the future and how higher education innovations might fare in a new administration. There was hope (but no certainty) that a reauthorization of the Higher Education Act might be on the horizon. Below are some highlights from these discussions:

What’s Happened Without Reauthorization?

Once we have a new President (or new head frog?), will the Higher Ed Act finally be reauthorized?

  • Without Reauthorization the Current Administration Has Been Busy. Greg Ferenbach, Special Counsel, Cooley LLP – There has been more focus on consumer protection at the expense of innovation. While there has been on Reauthorization Act, there have been 24 major rules packages issued by the Department of Education.
  • Regulation Hurting Innovation. Vickie Shray Bridgepoint – The regulatory environment is having a chilling effect on innovation. Institutions are less willing to stick their neck out.

What Might Be in a New Reauthorization Bill?

  • Reauthorization Should “Do No Harm.” Amy Jones, Director of Education and Human Services Policy, House Committee on Education and the Workforce – Said that there is the sense in Congress that Reauthorization should “do no harm.” Citing the antiquated distance education definition, she acknowledged the need for flexibility regarding innovations. New innovations will come in the future and we don’t want to limit them.
  • Colleges Having “Skin in the Game” for Federal Student Loans. Chris Bustamante, President, Rio Salado College – In talking about his hopes for a Higher Education Reauthorization Act said that there is much interest in colleges having “skin in the game” with federal financial aid. AACC is against this proposal as community colleges are already operating on a slim margin. If colleges are to assume more responsibility, they also need the ability to limit the aid available.
  • More Attention to Privacy Regulations. Greg Ferenbach – FERPA is older than the fax machine (for those of you too young to not know what a fax machine is). It’s amazing it still works at all. There have many bills in state legislatures and in Congress to try to update privacy laws to the digital age.

Should States Reinvest in Higher Education?

  • Get States to Reinvest in Higher Education. Chris Bustamante is president of a college that was recently zero-funded by the state legislature. Is this the first of many? Can the new Higher Education Act encourage additional state investment?
  • Should Public Institutions Be Declared to Be Private? David Bergeron XXX – Public institutions are being de-funding and do those institutions still enjoy the “full faith and credit” of their respective states? Is a there a level of state funding that should be considered a minimum threshold? Once an institution falls that threshold, is it now subject to the increase rigor required of private colleges?
  • Can’t States and Federal Government Work Together? Larry Isaak, President, Midwestern Higher Education Compact – Is there a way that the federal government can work with states to come to a better understanding and agreement of their respective roles in higher education?

What Accountability Measures Will Be Used?

  • Accountability Needs Improved IPEDS Measures. Roger Sublett, President, Union Institute and University – For accountability purposes, there need to be better measures. College Scorecard uses the IPEDS “Graduation Rate” and the regional accreditors recently announced they will conduct increased scrutiny on institutions with low percentages on this rate. Since the Graduation Rate uses cohorts including only “first-time, full-time” students, the results can be deceiving. Union recently had only seven of these students, while APUS had 36.
  • Forget Student Learning Outcomes Statements, Better Student Outcomes Measures are Needed. Robert Shireman, Senior Fellow, The Century Foundation and Advisor to the Hillary Clinton Campaign – There is a long list of failed accountability measures in higher education: syllabus, grades, student satisfaction surveys, graduation rates, graduate earnings, and standardized test scores. Shireman’s pet peeve is “student learning outcomes” statements. Shireman said an alternative is using Evaluated Student Performances, which are graded reports, testes, discussions, presentations, and other performances that instructor judge. He suggested that external review of student learning be included.
  • Accreditation Turned from Carrot to Stick. Brianna Bates, Assistant Director of Academic Program Review, New York University – I response to Shireman’s presentation, she said that accreditation used to be a carrot. Peer review was a way for institutions to learn from others to improve themselves. It has now been turned into a stick to assure that institutions follow regulations.
  • New “Daily Education Index” is Coming. Carol D’Amico, Executive Vice President, National Engagement and Philanthropy, USA Funds – They felt that information was lacking on what the higher education student consumer wants and needs. USA Funds partnered with Gallup, which is interviewing 350 Americans (prospective students, current students, alumni, and those who never went to college) each day. That will be more than 127,000 interviews per year. Early in 2017 they will release the Daily Education Index. She did not elaborate on what form that will take, what data will be reported or how this could be “daily.”

What are the Political Implications?

Beyond the “dumpster fire” reference by ACE’s Terry Hartle, he provided us with insights on the political ramifications of the Obama years, the election, and beyond.

  • The Obama years brought…
    • There have been tremendous increases in funding for Pell grants, student loan programs, and veterans education benefits. The increases were primarily funded by the Department of Education assuming responsibility for running the student loan programs.
    • Federalizing the student loan program went relatively smoothly. Many who opposed the federalization thought that it could not be transitioned so well.
    • The federal goal for higher education in the U.S. was changed from access to completion.
    • There were tremendous efforts to limit the actions of for-profits. Some of these actions have had an impact on other higher education sectors, as well.
    • The administration “never met a regulatory package that it did not like.” With 24 major regulatory packages, a new one emerged at an average of one every four months.
  • Candidate Trump’s plan…
    • Student loan repayments will be contingent on income.
    • Colleges possessing large endowments will be scrutinized.
    • They will seek to curb excessive regulations and the number of college administrators.
  • Candidate Clinton’s plan…
    • Allow student refinancing of student loans.
    • Provide grants to states to encourage them to offer “debt-free” or “tuition-free” public higher education. This will be expensive and controversial. Will states participate? At least 20 states did not participate in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
    • Provide grant programs for private colleges with high levels of Pell-eligible students.
  • Observations for the future…
    • For more on the two candidate’s positions, see NASFAA’s review of their higher education proposals.
    • The anger and dissatisfaction from the left and the right will continue. It was nearly impossible to govern since 2009. It will be even harder to govern as compromise will be difficult. Candidate Trump is now calling his campaign a “movement” and may (if successful) continue to have influence after the election.
    • The Republicans will try to re-organize. The composition of Senators up for re-election in 2018 favors the Republicans.
    • According to Hartle, President Obama had only four pieces of major successful legislative efforts in eight years. It might be tougher for a Clinton presidency.

On those happy notes, enjoy the election! And put out those dumpster fires.


Russell Poulin
Director, Policy & Analysis
WCET – WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies


If you are not a WCET member, come join us!

Election photo credit:  MorgueFile
raduate photo credit:  MorgueFile


When the Teaching Assistant Is a Robot

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 5:01pm
Artificial intelligence has become more widespread in higher education.
Categories: Higher Education News

Next: The Innovation Issue

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 5:00pm
Nervousness over the economy and questions about the value of a college degree have contributed to growing expectations that colleges must make career services a priority. This special report on innovation examines some of the career-counseling efforts underway — by colleges, start-ups, and collaborations between the two. See the entire issue here. 
Categories: Higher Education News

Shadow Those Students, for Their Own Good

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
This is how colleges — and their students — can benefit from the findings of user-experience teams.
Categories: Higher Education News

For Real Academic Disruption, Try Empathy

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
What if, in the next wave of innovation in online learning, colleges tried to provide what students really needed?
Categories: Higher Education News

‘Heat Maps’ Give Michigan State a New View of Campus Climate

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Visualizations of survey responses show the university where its students feel they belong and where they don’t.
Categories: Higher Education News

Latino Success Stories Can Help All Students

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
The group Excelencia in Education recognizes programs that benefit Latino students. Those practices could help others, too.
Categories: Higher Education News

Want Breakthroughs That Last? Consider Your Business Model

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Colleges too often plunge into innovative strategies without thinking about how much they will cost.
Categories: Higher Education News

Reinventing the Career Center

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Today’s students expect more help finding a job than ever before. Colleges — and companies — are trying to help them design their futures.
Categories: Higher Education News

The ‘Internet of Things’ Faces Practical and Ethical Challenges

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
An experiment at Carnegie Mellon U. hints at a new world of networked devices. But we’re not there yet.
Categories: Higher Education News

It’s Time to Change What We Mean by ‘Credential’

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
The way companies evaluate job candidates is evolving, and the certifications that liberal-arts colleges offer must evolve as well.
Categories: Higher Education News

3 Easy Ways to Embrace High-Impact Learning

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Practices from the software-development world can be adapted to disrupt undergraduate education’s "seat time equals learning" model.
Categories: Higher Education News

Ignore Ed Tech at Your Peril

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
What worked 20 years ago might not work now, and those methods will only become more precarious as our technologically infused future gradually arrives.
Categories: Higher Education News

Colleges Must Reinvent Career Counseling

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Higher education must show students how to adapt to the fast-evolving 21st-century economy before outside ventures step in and do it for them. Here’s where to start.
Categories: Higher Education News

How Colleges Can Do Better at Helping Students Get Jobs

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Examples from innovative colleges suggest that one key step in improving career prospects is for colleges and employers to collaborate in deeper ways.
Categories: Higher Education News

If Emotion Aids Learning, Does It Work Online?

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Research shows that powerful emotions like awe contribute to lasting knowledge. Two psychologists ask: Can those feelings be evoked from a distance?
Categories: Higher Education News

Basic Training for Higher Ed

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:45pm
Why colleges might look to the armed forces for guidance on serving low-income students.
Categories: Higher Education News

One University Asks: How Do You Promote Free Speech Without Alienating Students?

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:30pm
After a conservative speaker faced off with protesters at DePaul University last year, the campus’s leaders have struggled to find the right response.
Categories: Higher Education News

What You Need to Know About the Past 7 Days

Chronicle of Higher Education - October 23, 2016 - 4:30pm
The U. of Iowa’s electronic futures market doesn’t see much future for Donald Trump’s candidacy. Pennsylvania’s 14 state colleges see a strike by faculty members. And the College of New Rochelle’s president is shown the door.
Categories: Higher Education News


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