Behind The News

Behind The News

After the murder of their daughter in her residence hall room in 1986, Howard (now deceased) and Connie Clery pushed for a federal law to strengthen campus crime awareness and personal safety. November 8 marked the 20th year for the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act. All colleges and universities receiving federal funds must disclose crime statistics under the law, which continues to evolve. The newest guidelines took effect this fall.

Spearheaded by Security on Campus, which the Clery's founded, the act keeps campus communities informed and allows the public to exercise options for holding institutions accountable for planning and actions related to crime and safety, says SOC Executive Director Jonathan Kassa.

Previously, there wasn't a uniform standard for institutions to report crimes, notes Maureen Rush, vice president for public safety at the University of Pennsylvania, which hosted a SOC Clery Act training session in July. "The Clery Act really specified not only the reporting of crimes but how the information would be provided to communities." Rush adds that higher ed's perception of SOC has changed over time. It was first thought of as an adversarial watchdog, but today it's more of a proactive partner—a mechanism for working together to keep students safe, she says.

Higher ed associations have worked with SOC to educate and provide training on the act. "There's a real transparency now. Before, some institutions did or did not make this [information] available," says Chris Blake, associate director of the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement.

Long-term compliance has improved significantly over the last five years, says S. Daniel Carter, SOC's director of public policy. New amendments include expanded reporting requirements for hate crimes and fire incidents along with changes in guidelines for reporting burglaries. Institutions must have emergency response and evacuation procedures in place. Those with on-campus housing must establish policy and procedures for notification about missing students. "We believe these new provisions will better equip campus communities to respond to a wide range of emergency situations and will provide a more accurate picture of the types of hate crimes happening on campus," explains Carter.

Todd Pelazza, public safety director at Fairfield University (Conn.), which received a 2008 SOC safety award, suggests more training on the new reporting requirements. "I think some universities are still a little unclear about that," he says.

Are further changes needed to the Clery Act? For now, Blake says campus public safety officials need time to digest and fully implement the recent changes to the law.

Gwendolyn Dungy, executive director of NASPA—Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, says the Clery Act has gotten non-security administrators involved in threat assessment measures and interdepartmental coordination. She would like to see more funding and time given to aid institutions with compliance.

SOC is examining initiatives to further extend the act, such as how institutions can better handle sexual assault cases and how to incorporate provisions for intimate partner violence. The latter results from the death of a University of Virginia senior whose boyfriend, a fellow student, is charged with her murder. —Michele Herrmann

 

Three public universities in the Northwest soon will be flying high, literally, with branding. The carrier Horizon Air will launch three Q400 turboprops painted with the colors and markings for the University of Idaho, the University of Montana, and Montana State University at their regional airports. "It is a really unique way to extend your brand in a way that gets people's attention," says Chris Murray, VP for university advancement at the University of Idaho. With U-Idaho, Horizon has been a longtime sponsor of university-held events, and the new venture is seen as an extension of this partnership. U-Idaho's Q400 (shown) will sport a silver I Vandal logo on its golden tail (the name for its athletics), the university's word mark, and the words "Idaho" and "Vandals" in gold on both sides.

Horizon will cover each plane's painting costs. The turboprops join a fleet of fellow higher ed-themed aircraft launched since early 2008. They represent Boise State University (Idaho), Oregon State University, the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, and Washington State University.

 

On June 1, an Iowa City ordinance went into effect barring patrons under 21 from being in bars after 10 p.m. On November 2, residents voted to keep the ordinance. Iowa, as with most states, doesn't have a statewide minimum bar entry age, so establishing that is up to municipalities.

Although deeply interested in the issue, University of Iowa couldn't use institutional resources to advocate on behalf of the ballot issue, explains Tom Rocklin, vice president for student services. Still, many on campus were involved in supporting the ordinance on their own time. With residence halls close to downtown and students walking past bars on the way to class, temptation is always close at hand.

Institutional officials did expand the jurisdiction for the code of student life to apply to the entire city. Before, it was just on campus, Rocklin shares. "We've had about 50 students we've seen for off-campus alcohol events, which are 50 more we can help." Expanded late-night campus entertainment, educational programs, and outreach and intervention efforts for at-risk groups are also key elements of an alcohol reduction plan.

Since the ordinance passed, Rocklin explains, Iowa City is no longer a party destination for eastern Iowa and western Illinois. "Another college president called and thanked us because those students are staying home where they are easier to help," he says. —Ann McClure

What have U.S. state and federal governments spent recently to support four-year college students who left before sophomore year? A whopping $9 billion, according to an American Institutes for Research (www.air.org) analysis of data from 2003-04 through 2007-08. "We really have to think about how much money is being spent on student attrition," says Mark Schneider, an AIR vice president and the former commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics, who authored the report. With so many states running out of money and some experimenting with performance budgeting, the analysis is timely, he notes. "We need to change a lot of the funding formulas from seats to productivity."

Broken down by state, the analysis covers only first-time, full-time students, due to data limitations. Combining state appropriations and grants, California leads the list with close to half a billion dollars doled out. Fourteen states spent more than $200 million on students who didn't start a second year at school.

Schneider hopes to see increased institutional accountability for student success. There are high stakes for parents, students, and taxpayers, he says. "We have to take actions to better understand student success and completion." The report could be a first step toward holding institutions more accountable. Interventions such as freshman college success courses can work, as evidence has shown, but Schneider would like research to reveal specifically which interventions are working. Improving student services through administrative offices on campus can help keep students in school, as well, he says.

Might states want to reduce appropriations if it seems their money is being wasted? Schneider sees two possible options: getting more out of existing resources or getting the same outcomes for less resources.

The analysis serves as the foundation for AIR's new CollegeMeasures.org website, which allows users to evaluate performance of individual colleges and state systems on factors such as graduation rates and productivity of expenditures. —Melissa Ezarik

Colleges are regularly accused of indoctrinating students in liberalism. University of Virginia students can explore the other point of view in Conservatism 101.

"It isn't about being a conservative," says alumnus Wes Siler, who initiated creation of the class. "It's about studying it as a political movement." Students trace the history and philosophy of conservatism from the 18th century to today. The goals: mature discussion and an exploration of their beliefs without worries of the conversation degenerating into an argument, Siler says. The pass/fail class attracted 35 students for its first section this semester?the largest student-run class on the roster.

Siler isn't attending, since he has graduated. A review committee initially rejected the class proposal, but after revisions it got approved. "Everything I've heard has been great," he says. In fact, the organization Conservatism 101 (http://conservatism101.org) was formed to help students elsewhere start a similar class. Several schools are expressing interest and Siler hopes that, on one campus, the class will be approved for the spring. If all goes according to plan, students across the country will graduate with another set of critical thinking skills under their belt. —A.M.

Despite a report's findings that campus climates are still chilly toward LGBT individuals, these people and others might find some warmth in recent campus responses to bullying and harassment. Student vigils have been held as a show of solidarity at institutions such as University of Louisville (Ky.) and Rutgers (whose freshman Tyler Clementi recently killed himself). Administrative responses include anti-bullying campaigns such as ones launched at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Bentley University (Mass.).

"The 2010 State of Higher Education for LGBT People" finds the number of colleges with safety and inclusion policies is quite low. Personal concerns over and incidents of harassment remain high. Many respondents reported that their college/university doesn't: provide adequate resources on LGBTQQ- (the QQ for Questioning, Queer) related issues and concerns; positively respond to incidents of harassment; or provide adequate support to employees and their partners. One-third of respondents identifying themselves as LGBT or queer have considered leaving their institution due to a challenging climate. More than half of them hide their sexual (43 percent) or gender identity (63 percent) to avoid intimidation. More than a third of LGBT and transgender respondents fear for their physical safety.

 

"It's really alarming in 2010 that a high degree of students, faculty, and staff conceal their sexual or gender identity in order to avoid intimidation and harassment," says Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, which instituted the survey.

The report reconfirms findings from previous studies on negative campus climates' impact on student perceptions and learning outcomes. It includes input from administrators, faculty, and staff on how they are affected, as well. As Windmeyer explains, these constituents can help in shaping the direction of campus climates.

Citing administrative support, Windmeyer points to a recent sit-in protest held by the University of Rhode Island's LGBT Center and Gay-Straight Alliance after a rash of anti-gay incidents.

The report provides best practice recommendations for improving campus climates and building community. They include:

  • Developing policies that explicitly welcome employees and students.
  • Creating brave spaces in on-campus housing for encouraging student dialogue.
  • Responding appropriately to incidents and bias.

Approximately 5,149 respondents from 100 colleges and universities nationwide participated in the survey. The 218-page report is available at www.campuspride.org/research for $24.95.

The U.S. Department of Education also has stepped in, issuing a letter of guidance to colleagues in K-12 and higher education on clarifying when student bullying may violate federal education anti-discrimination laws. —M.H.

 

Beyond local butchers, bakers, and candlestick makers, when was the last time you remember shopping at a family owned and operated bookstore, pharmacy, or haberdasher—let alone a family owned and operated school, college, or university?

Placed squarely between a rock and a hard place of increased regulatory scrutiny, publicly subsidized community and technical colleges, and craven, publicly traded for-profit competition, family-run colleges and universities have become all but an extinct species.

These institutions numbered several hundred just two generations past. Fast-forward to the new millennium, and the number has dwindled to approximately 40. Among the more prominent remaining family-owned and operated institutions are Herzing University (Wis.), Sullivan University (Ky.), and Rasmussen College, which has locations in five states and also offers online-only programs.

Chartered in 1965 by Henry and Suzanne Herzing as a computer programming school in Milwaukee, Wis., today Herzing University is led by Renèe Herzing, daughter of Henry and Suzanne. When asked what "family owned and operated" meant to him, Hank Herzing put it simply this way, "Twenty years ago, I wanted to plan for the continuance of Herzing College as an independent entity owned by the family even after I was gone. …That the Board chose as my successor one of my daughters was…a source of personal satisfaction and great pride. It made me feel assured that the values and culture we had developed at Herzing over the years would be continued."

Prior to founding the university, Herzing worked as a senior missile test officer for the U.S. Navy. If running a family-owned and operated institution these days is "rocket science," Hank Herzing is the perfect match.

In contrast, Renèe Herzing earned a bachelor's degree from Brown and an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Prior to joining Herzing, she taught overseas, and is still regarded as a rock 'n' roll pop star in Western Europe. This is a new-age leader with both a traditional Ivy League and corporate education background.

What does family-owned and operated mean to her? "It means caring about each individual student, faculty, and staff member like they are part of an extended family. It is a personal, intergenerational commitment to enhancing the lives of our students and their families, many of whom have entrusted the education of multiple family members and generations to our institution."

What joins family owned and operated institutions of higher learning is a common sense of pride in ownership, family name, and a legacy of commitment to preserve their career education mission—producing successful student and employment outcomes while keeping it all in the family.

(For more perspective on family-owned career universities, read the extended version of this column here.)

—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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