You are here

Articles: Access & Equity

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.

MONUMENTAL DISPLAY AT COLLEGE—The Anaconda Wire and Cable Company monument at Chapman University is made entirely of materials from the industrial plant that used to stand where its film school is now located.

In a renewal of social consciousness in American higher ed, colleges are refining stories of their history told through statues, signage and installations on campus. Many are turning this into an aesthetic opportunity, with historically accurate, engaging content presented in ways that visually enhance and individualize the campus. The concept is known as ambient learning.

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. 

The University of Maryland’s open source textbook initiative, known as “MOST,” has guided faculty through more than 50 OER adoptions. The program helps instructors assemble resources to significantly keep down the cost of course materials.

Open educational resources have grown over the last few years from one-off oddities in single courses to the basis of entire degree programs. Cutting out textbook costs for students tops the list of reasons administrators encourage faculty to develop and adopt these free—or very inexpensive—resources, also known as OER.

Considering that textbooks can account for 25 percent of a community college student’s degree, some institutions have banded together to develop more open educational resources.

A student loan that goes into default costs 250 percent more than a loan paid back on schedule. (Gettyimages.com: wildpixel)

Some advocacy groups see student loan debt as not just a financial problem, but a growing social justice concern, as well. Now, some 40 civil rights, legal aid and public interest are urging the Department of Education to determine whether debt disproportionately impacts minorities.

A bipartisan bill intended to improve college access and graduation rates would impose college-loan program penalties on institutions that perform poorly in these areas. In turn, schools that do enroll a significant number of low-income students would be eligible for up to $8 million over five years.

Weldon H. Latham is founder and chair of the Corporate Diversity Counseling Group and a member of the Higher Education Group of Jackson Lewis PC. He can be contacted at lathamw@jacksonlewis.com.

Universities welcome media coverage of college sports, groundbreaking research and alumni achievement—all of which generate recognition and revenues supporting their educational mission. Too often, however, racially charged events at universities have dominated those headlines.

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols has met with the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone business councils to recruit students.

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols has been traveling to local Native American reservations in an effort to improve recruitment of these students.

The initiative started in her previous position as provost at South Dakota State University. Wyoming’s Native American population is 2.5 percent, while the university’s is less than 1 percent.

Nichols has met with both the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone business councils. Their tribal populations are growing, which means more prospective students in the coming years.

Students who arrive at college with a declared major don’t necessarily graduate in a timely manner, and taking the time to explore different academic routes doesn’t always add time to a student’s college career, according to recent research from EAB.

To help new students make the most educated choice, Georgia State University analyzes student performance to guide them in choosing a major that fits for their academic strengths and financial situation.

Free tuition is the linchpin of a Democratic higher ed platform that many observers describe as more comprehensive than the plans touted by Donald Trump and the Republican Party (Click to enlarge)

Free tuition anchors Hillary Clinton's higher ed platform while Donald Trump wants banks to handle student loans. In a survey, UB readers showed little enthusiasm for either proposal.

Pages