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Articles: Security

In uncertain political times, some higher ed lobbyists say their most important role may be blocking legislation that could harm their client colleges and universities. 

Ten years ago, few universities employed chief information security officers. Now these administrators—known as CISOs—lead teams dedicated to shielding information, systems and research from internet thieves, and to keeping up with federal regulations.

STANDARD CARE—Research college labs are required to meet federal animal research standards, which includes the need to provide a clean environment and adequate care.

Following a spate of violence aimed at animal research facilities in the late 1990s, universities have worked to create greater transparency around scientific testing while maintaining stringent security to protect staff and animals. 

American higher education in 2016 faced increased pressure on performance. Colleges and universities were also being pushed to eliminate administrative and academic silos to help students of all ages and backgrounds succeed. Here’s a look back at what made headlines in higher ed this past year and how campuses responded.

A facilities administrator from a suburban institution of 5,000 to 10,000 students says his department faces three challenging realities: increased pressure to reduce operation costs, diminishing resources and a rising deferred maintenance program.

TO SIGN AND PROTECT— At Columbus State Community College, police department specialist Stephanie Murphy (in red) and officer Brian Thomas (in uniform) get a lesson in American Sign Language from instructor Marie Potts,  who is hearing-impaired, as her interpreter looks on.

Stephanie Murphy, a security specialist with the Columbus State Community College police department, realized officers were having trouble communicating with one segment of the Ohio institution’s 26,000 students. 

Campus technology leaders report significant new investment to come this year in the area of academic tech tools such as lecture capture, AV equipment and active classroom initiatives. It’s the third year in a row academic technology led the list of top significant investments in a UB survey. 

Enrollment declines will be the most pressing concern keeping presidents and other top officials up at night in 2017. Seven in 10 who responded to a UB survey named it as the area with the greatest potential for causing the institution financial or reputational harm. State budget cuts, at 44 percent, are the next biggest worry for the 66 responding presidents, provosts and chancellors. 

More than 40 years after it was established, Title IX continues to pose compliance challenges for higher education institutions struggling with sexual assault investigations. Some say the federal government doesn’t provide enough guidance.

The day after her attacker was sentenced to six months in county jail, the woman who was violently sexually assaulted by former Stanford University student Brock Turner provided her victim impact statement to the online site Buzzfeed for publication (http://UBmag.me/bf). That statement, which immediately went viral, should be required reading for every college and university administrator. 

Recent highly publicized cyber attacks have spurred a growing public awareness of the risk that sensitive personal information might be accessed by unauthorized third parties.

Body check: Initiatives at Connecticut College include an annual Green Dot hockey game, now in its fifth year. Facts and materials about sexual assault and bystander intervention get posted around the rink, and the team wears special jerseys. It has been the team’s most attended game of the season.

With headline after tragic headline, and demands from angry constituents and stakeholders to do more, colleges and universities are facing the harsh reality that just complying with the minimum requirements of the Campus SaVE (Sexual Violence Elimination) Act isn’t enough to prevent sexual assault.

Source: Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault, Spring 2015; 150,072 students at 27 institutions participated

With sexual assault, awareness efforts may well lead to higher incident reporting—and even assumptions that initiatives aren’t working. But there are still ways to measure program effectiveness.

It starts with identifying prevention goals, says Jane Stapleton, executive director of practice for the Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

Health insurance, along with everything from faculty recruitment to information technology, is one of the emerging areas of shared services that regional consortia are now tackling. Their success in saving money and improving efficiencies has fueled a wave of new collaborations.

Pending decisions in Georgia and Tennessee decisions, eight states currently allow concealed carry on college campuses. Twenty-three states leave the decision to each individual college or university, while 16 states and the District of Columbia prohibit concealed handguns on campus.

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