Behind the News

Behind the News

A staggering 95 percent of sexual assault cases on college campuses go unreported, according to findings of a nine-month investigation by The Center for Public Integrity. Confidential mediation, which is the usual course of action taken by university officials in lieu of judicial action, often leaves victims feeling further victimized as it results in a lack of accountability and punishment for offenders, notes report author Kristin Lombardi. University officials who spoke with Lombardi maintained that a public judicial process is more painful for victims, but her research shows only two of the 33 students interviewed felt that way. "Ultimately, a confidential process ends up protecting the school and the offender, not the victim," Lombardi says.

This report highlights the need for preventative measures to be taken on campuses. Lombardi shows the best interest of the victim is actually "opening up the judicial process so it becomes transparent, assigning advocates to help victims through the process, and enforcing harsher penalties for those found guilty." The need for judicial process reform is also a key point of the report, as it states the majority of victims interviewed who went through their institution's judicial or confidential mediation processes, rather than through outside judicial processes, ultimately transferred out of their universities.

The U.S. Department of Justice is a key resource for institutions in need of funding to make these often expensive processes possible. Nine universities in Connecticut have joined to form the Connecticut Campus Coalition to End Violence Against Women (CCCEV) receiving $500,000 for new prevention programs. Other grants included $643,000 for a Yale/Connecticut College partnership and $400,000 for Drexel University (Pa.), University of Pennsylvania, and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia. Last year, 21 grants amounting to $6.4 million were distributed through the Campus Grant Program under the Violence Against Women Prevention Act to both private and public universities.

Joe Musante, assistant director of public affairs at Southern Connecticut State University, the lead institution in the Connecticut partnership, explains that administrators, faculty, and students from the nine schools have come together to "brainstorm, share ideas, and discuss how different methods could work to form an overall best practice program."

The Coalition aims to increase awareness about violence, hold seminars on prevention practices, and provide counseling for victims. Musante says funding "is allocated for the general good. There might be a particularly strong program at one school that all the others will participate in."

For more information on the sexual assault on campus investigation—which included survey responses from 152 campus crisis services programs and clinics, as well as interviews with 50 current and former college students who say they were raped or sexually assaulted, interviews with students accused of sexual assault, and dozens of student affairs administrators, judicial hearing officers, victim advocates, sexual assault scholars, and lawyers—see www.publicintegrity.org/investigations?/campus_assault. —KeriLee Horan

 

By Curtis J. Bonk; 2009,

Jossey-Bass; 468 pp.; $29.95

WE HAVE ALL HEARD THAT technology "will change education as we know it." But many "next big things" introduced in recent years have failed to live up to that potential. Curtis Bonk argues that what has been missing is convergence. He lists 10 technology trends in a model called WE-ALL-LEARN:

Web searching in the world of e-books

E-learning and blended learning

Availability of open source and free software

Leveraged resources and OpenCourseWare

Learning object repositories and portals

Learner participation in open information communities

Electronic collaboration

Alternate reality learning

Real-time mobility and portability

Networks of personalized learning

When such technologies are combined in whole or in part, true possibilities to transform learning will emerge. The book and its companion website (http://worldisopen.com) list many examples where this is already occurring. And, Bonk notes, it is likely that something entirely new will result from the mix. But while he enthuses about possibilities, he's also cautious. "Spontaneous use of emergent technology, or the inclusion of a new tool just because it is a sexy thing to do, will not bring about positive change in learning," he writes. —Tim Goral

Eric J. Barron

Having been involved in efforts that generated more than $500 million in grants and gifts for institutions he has served, Thomas W. Keefe knows how to cultivate donors. His expertise will aid him when he becomes president of the University of Dallas in March. Since 2005, Keefe has been vice president of advancement at Saint Louis University (Mo.), where he led fundraising efforts for a new building and sports arena and a $300 million capital campaign and restructured alumni, development, and university relations. … Florida State University alumnus and scientist Eric J. Barron will take over for retiring president T.K. Wetherell. In his first year as director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in 2008, Barron developed a plan to address budget challenges. This year, NCAR had its greatest annual budget increase in nearly a decade. Before leading the center, Barron was dean of the Jackson School of Geosciences at The University of Texas at Austin. The school is now executing his strategic plan to expand the faculty and transform student recruitment and services. … Two higher ed leaders will serve on a commission to advise President Obama on bioethical issues. James W. Wagner of Emory University (Ga.) will be vice chair and the University of Pennsylvania's Amy Gutmann will serve as chair. … Community College of Rhode Island President Ray Di Pasquale is now also the state's acting commissioner of higher education. …

Sacred Heart University (Conn.) President Anthony J. Cernera has been re-elected as president of The International Federation of Catholic Universities. … George R. Boggs plans to retire at the end of 2010 from his presidency of the American Association of Community Colleges, which he has led since 2000. A search is underway for the next AACC president. … Marilee Jones, former dean of admissions at MIT, has opened Marilee Jones Consulting, a college admissions firm. She resigned from MIT in 2007 after admitting she fabricated her credentials when hired. —Michele Herrmann

On December 1, 819 faculty in the Tenured/Tenure Track collective bargaining unit at Kent State University (Ohio) were paid $2,855 each, before taxes, as a result of an incentive program built into a three-year agreement that took effect in August 2008. It's the first program of its type in higher education, according to university officials.

The success pool provides these faculty members of the AAUP-KSU with annual bonuses based upon the university's ability to achieve certain goals related to funded research, student retention, and funds raised in institutional development. "We wanted to encourage them to recognize that they could influence those things," says Robert Frank, provost and senior vice president of the university.

In a statement, President Lester A. Lefton describes the program as taking "a large step with faculty toward keeping the focus on our shared desire of enhancing faculty scholarship, advancing innovation and excellence in teaching, and improving the student experience."

Kent State's Lester A. Lefton (left), president, and Robert Frank, provost and senior vice president, ceremoniously present a check to AAUP President Kara L. Robinson.

Frank says the idea came up two summers ago in contract negotiations. "My recollection is that [the faculty] didn't see it as important as we did at the beginning of the conversation." Eventually, they were convinced "it was something with credible advantages and no disadvantages," he adds. The goals fit well with President Lefton's values, which faculty know well because "every time the president speaks retention and improving our science position comes up." Also, there have been a lot of discussions with faculty about how they know who is interested in the institution and how they might bring in the development team on what they know.

This was the first of two opportunities for faculty to earn the incentive over the course of the three-year contract. Departments budgeted for the potential payment in advance, although "retention was staggeringly higher than we thought it would be," Frank says, so more than originally thought had to be budgeted for.

Because the economy was in a much better place than it is now when the deal was made, some faculty have suggested that the bonus be given back, Frank says. While it's just a suggestion, AAUP President Kara L. Robinson formally encouraged faculty to donate it to a student scholarship fund or the broader community.

Still, it's a program that Frank believes others in higher ed might emulate. He says, "I think any university that's trying to move quickly and focus attention on critical issues might consider this approach. —Melissa Ezarik

Both Harvard and Stanford have heavy followings on Twitter, but their popularity doesn't guarantee their owners will follow accounts in return or have much to tweet about. Leading U.S. institutions tend to use the microblogging platform more for posting news updates and official announcements rather than as a means for conversation, according to a study on Twitter adoption and usage in higher ed.

Conducted by UniversitiesAndColleges.org, the study examined tweeting habits of the top 100 schools featured in the 2010 U.S. World News & Report college rankings guide. "Twitter is getting a lot of coverage lately, and it seems there is a lot of enthusiasm [about it]," says Scott Johnson, the website's editor. Focusing just on administrative accounts, research revealed that nearly every one of these colleges has at least one Twitter account.

Those with the most followers were found to be either prestigious private schools or large public universities, while those with the fewest were generally smaller and lesser-known schools. Schools that publish the most tweets seem to also follow the most users. The most active users include The George Washington University (D.C.), which clocked in at close to 60 tweets a day, and the University of Florida, which maintains 24 accounts. The most active account follower is The College of William and Mary (Va.), reported to track more than 6,000 other accounts. An institution can have many followers, but this does not necessarily correspond with the activity rate at which the account's owner may post, points out Johnson.

The study showed that institutions use Twitter differently. Some have separate accounts for the various academic schools, and others mainly post student-related news. In addition, institutions have been promoting their Twitter accounts on their websites, Johnson says.

To view the full study, titled "The Top 100 Colleges on Twitter," see http://universitiesandcolleges.org. —M.H.

As smart phones become more ubiquitous, constituents want on-the-go access to campus information. And going mobile can be a great learning experience. Bill Penney, chief technology officer at Stetson University (Fla.), proposed a campus iPhone app to Dan Plante, a computer science professor. Plante realized the project would be a good fit for his Software Development class, in which students act as professional developers.

Penney provided equipment and students were asked to run with the campus app idea. An extra incentive: Deliver a working app and keep the iPhones provided. The students interacted with staff members across campus and gave regular class presentations.

 

The final app has a password-protected campus directory, a campus map with GPS, access to the dining menu, and the ability to view upcoming courses. "We wanted to integrate with registration [and other systems], but it was a challenge for security reasons," says student Matt Wozniak. Word of mouth led 300 people to download the iStetson app within two months. A grant from AT&T and equipment from Apple will allow work to continue.

Penney's next Software Development class will focus on adding interactive features (e.g., rate cafeteria meals) as well as expanding the app to other mobile platforms and creating an open source version that other schools can customize, says Plante.

Meanwhile, vendors are helping integrate mobile access with the campus SIS. During Educause 2009, Datatel and DubMeNow showed an application created for Quinnipiac University (Conn.), and Jenzabar announced an app to come later this year.

After migrating to Google Apps for e-mail last year, the IT office at Columbus State University (Ga.) built a mobile app for the Android phone platform that interacts with Banner and allows students to access class schedules, academic status, and other protected information. "This is not the bread and butter of the day-to-day operations of a university," says CIO Abraham George. "But our president realizes the students coming in rely heavily on these technologies for access to their information and activities on campus." Launched in September, the browser-based program works on any smart phone. —Ann McClure

More and more colleges and universities are offering distance learning options due to record enrollments. A Sloan Consortium report says the number of students enrolled in some type of distance education course in the 2008-2009 academic year was up 13 percent nationally over the previous year.

But according to CDW-G's recent "21st Century Campus Report," many students still don't see the value of distance learning. Successful programs require student buy-in, yet colleges and universities may not be doing a good enough job communicating distance learning options to students. That point is evident from this data: Of institutions surveyed, 72 percent said they support distance learning programs, yet only 55 percent of students asked about whether their schools supported distance learning seemed aware of such programs.

Students were also asked: "What are the benefits of distance learning?"

  • 52 percent said it increases the variety of classes they can take.
  • 32 percent said it enables them to study with a broader variety of faculty.
  • 18 percent said it enables them to interact with a greater number of students.

But, more than a quarter of the students surveyed didn't see the benefits of distance learning and/or did not want to take a distance leaning class. That number may actually reveal more of a perception problem than a value problem. Julie Smith, vice president of higher education for CDW-G, tells of a student intern that didn't "get" distance learning. "She said she didn't think it would work at her school because most of the students were right there on campus," Smith recalls. "It was only after she was made to understand that online learning is just as useful to the resident student as the remote student that she saw its value." —T.G.

After media scrutiny, student complaints, and a faculty vote to scrap it, Lincoln University (Pa.) officials are taking a new direction with "Fitness for Life." The one-credit course coincided with a policy for incoming classes fall 2006 or later that required any freshman with a body mass index (BMI) above 30 to take and pass the course by the time they graduate. The requirement aims to encourage a healthier lifestyle in light of national obesity concerns.

As at Cazenovia College (N.Y.) fitness programs are typically voluntary.

A new faculty proposal will have all students take a "Dimensions of Wellness" core course. Instructors would evaluate each student's health and physical fitness and then recommend who should also take "Fitness for Life." However, students would not be required to do so.

The historically black college received much attention for requiring students to take the fitness class based on health assessment measures. James L. DeBoy, chair of the Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, says that public concern focused on "the perception that the placement policy was tantamount to discrimination." The modified policy, set to accomplish similar results, will be evaluated over 18 months.

Health and fitness courses and initiatives are not uncommon in higher ed, but often they are voluntary. At Cazenovia College (N.Y.), students can be part of a fitness boot camp. Regarding Lincoln's initial program, Susan Berger, executive vice president and chief operating officer, notes that just assessing BMI means other health issues (e.g., poor nutrition) could go undetected. "Any time you are talking about a personal or physical attribute as the requirement for something, you run into trouble," says Berger, a board-certified nurse practitioner.

Marcia Costello, an assistant professor of nursing at Villanova University (Pa.), finds that programs with social support networks and peer educators are successful. Villanova freshmen can be part of a "Healthy Living Learning Community," in which participants live together and take a humanities course coinciding with a healthy living seminar that uses a holistic approach to studying personal health and wellness. Upperclassmen can take a similar elective.

As for Lincoln students, for now, learning about wellness is not optional—which officials think is a good thing. —M.H.

Campus athletic departments are not immune to budget constraints. For some institutions, switching to a lower athletic division is the cost-savings answer.

Changing to Division III status in 2006 enabled Birmingham Southern College (Ala.) to start a new football team.

In December, the University of New Orleans Board of Supervisors voted to approve an institutional request to submit a five-year budgetary plan for a move from NCAA Division I to Division III status and granted permission for withdrawal from the Sun Belt Athletic Conference by July. The request was prompted by reductions in funding—due to budget cuts, a failed referendum to increase student athletic fees, and lack of private funding—for student athletics.

According to a media release, administrators are in talks with NCAA officials about process requirements. "The good thing about Division III is the focus on student athletics," states Chancellor Tim Ryan, adding that the division "is about students having a NCAA Conference experience that is an enhancement to their academic pursuits and is also much more cost effective."

Arguments can be made both for and against change. Division III status prohibits athletic scholarships, and initial reaction from fans could be harsh.

Officials at Birmingham Southern College (Ala.), which went from Division I to Division III in 2006, know what it's like to live through a switch. President David Pollick explains that the decision was made in anticipation of financial savings and enrollment growth (fall 2007's new students rose by roughly 200 from the previous year). BSC had been giving out $6.5 million in athletic scholarships annually. The move saved BSC about half that amount and also led to a new football team and membership in the Southern College Athletic Conference.

"We have more [students] participating in athletics and more people coming to the institution because they enjoy the atmosphere," says Pollick. "For us, it turned out to be a very good move."

Pollick points out that Division I status can become a financial burden for most institutions, except for ones with the highest athletic program status. Administrators also may be taking a second look at how athletics budgets fit in with overall operations costs. He recommends being up front with campus constituents about discussing a potential switch. —M.H.

 

Chicagoans are disappointed that the Windy City was voted out for the 2016 Summer Olympics. That said, Chicago higher education can take pride in its remarkable commitment to social justice, and as the home of a community organizer who has taken his place as a global leader.

Indeed, Chicago is host to several world-class professional psychology institutions—institutions with a soul and a mission dedicated to social equity. Consider the Adler School of Professional Psychology, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, Argosy University, and Roosevelt University.

With its main campus in Chicago and branch campus in Vancouver, Adler also offers students cross-cultural service learning experiences in Costa Rica and Mexico. Adler's President Ray Crossman says, "These challenges call for a new way of seeing, a willingness to ask difficult questions, an understanding of diversity, difference, and disadvantage, and the skills to generate community-based solutions on multiple levels and from multiple perspectives."

As the nation's largest freestanding professional psychology school, the Chicago School of Professional Psychology can boast about its campus in Chicago and its new campuses in Southern California—with programs in international psychology, business psychology, and police psychology. We learned from President Michael Horowitz that the Chicago School's model is rooted in the belief that the professional model of (psychology) education must be grounded in innovation, service, and community.

Gone are the days of aspiring psychology students spending their time in classrooms, libraries, and traditional clinical practicums. Contemporary psychology programs recognize that achievement of meaningful social justice can no longer rely on private practice to help one client at a time—but must address the systemic problems of urban poverty, social welfare, and community mental health.

For more on psychology programs, see the full version of this column online at http://www2.universitybusiness.com/viewarticlepf.aspx?articleid=1510.

—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.). Samels is president/CEO of The Education Alliance.


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