Monthly Archives: October 2014

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March News

 Mary Schmidt Campbell Is Next President of Spelman College

Dear Spelman Community,

I am incredibly pleased to announce the Spelman College Board of Trustees has unanimously and enthusiastically elected Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell as the 10th president of Spelman College. Dr. Campbell is dean emerita of the Tisch School of the Arts and university professor in the Department of Art and Public Policy at New York University. Dr. Campbell’s appointment is effective August 1, 2015, following the completion of Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum’s 13 years of outstanding leadership and service.

I invite you to learn more about Dr. Campbell’s journey to Spelman here, and I would like to share precisely why the Board voted unanimously to appoint her. Quite simply, Dr. Campbell is the right leader at the right time. She joins Spelman during a period of momentous change in higher education, and the College’s unique history, mission and proven success provide a solid foundation from which I am confident she will chart a clear and bold direction for the future.  The next phase of Spelman’s growth calls for a visionary with a solid administrative track record to further elevate Spelman’s leadership on issues of critical importance to our nation and indeed our world – issues such as college access and completion, affirmation of the value of a liberal arts and sciences education, global integration, health disparities, technology innovation and many more.

A graduate of Swarthmore College, Dr. Campbell has a master’s of science degree in art history and a doctorate in humanities from Syracuse University. She is an accomplished scholar and a leader in both the public and non-profit sectors. As dean, Dr. Campbell elevated the profile and stature of Tisch, increased the recruitment of a more diverse faculty and student body, and led an unprecedented capital campaign for the school.  One of her biggest accomplishments was spearheading efforts to integrate art and design into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) disciplines at NYU. As STEAM (the integration of art and design into the STEM equation) becomes a larger part of the conversation for 21st century institutions, Dr. Campbell has been in the vanguard of those promoting STEAM efforts at Tisch and in the broader New York University system.

In fact, throughout her entire career, Dr. Campbell has been a driver of innovation with a particular commitment to organizations that advance the achievement and inclusion of people of color. Most notably, she was responsible for shepherding the first accreditation of a Black fine arts museum in the nation as the executive director of the Studio Museum in Harlem. When she assumed the helm of the organization, she transformed what was simply a rented loft into a space housing groundbreaking exhibitions, an acclaimed artist-in-residence program and permanent exhibitions.  She literally put the museum on the map and many of the exhibitions are regarded as hallmarks in literature regarding Black and American culture.

Dr. Campbell also previously served as New York City’s cultural affairs commissioner and in 2009, she was appointed by President Barack Obama to serve as the vice chair of the Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, a non-partisan advisory group. In this role, Dr. Campbell led the effort to conduct a pilot study that re-affirmed the arts as one of the ingredients essential to a quality education and a student’s long-term academic success.

Dr. Campbell integrates her exemplary professional life with a full family life. She is a native of Philadelphia and graduated from Philadelphia High School for Girls. Dr. Campbell’s father graduated from Cheyney University and went on to serve as president of its council of trustees. She is the mother of three sons, one of whom serves as provost at Morehouse College and who is married to a Spelman alumna. Her youngest son is a graduate of the Naval Academy, another son is an attorney, and Dr. Campbell is the grandmother of six grandchildren. She has been married for 47 years to Dr. George Campbell, Jr., president emeritus of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and, together, they enjoy outdoor activities including skiing, cycling, walking and swimming.

A board’s most important responsibility is to attract and support an outstanding leader and we did not take the charge to find the next steward of our beloved Spelman lightly. The members of the Presidential Search Committee (PSC), led by Dr. Celeste Watkins-Hayes, C’96, vice chair of the board, developed an issues-driven process that was well-executed, appropriately inclusive and appropriately transparent. In fall 2014, the committee gathered information about our community’s aspirations and expectations for the future, resulting in a robust leadership profile. It is this profile and the issues identified by our stakeholders within that drove this process. The result was a strong, diverse and inclusive pool of approximately 300 prospects encompassing alumnae and individuals from traditional and non-traditional backgrounds, as well as a wide variety of disciplines and institutions. Through a rigorous assessment process, the PSC narrowed the pool and ultimately recommended Dr. Campbell as a finalist to visit campus. Following a successful campus visit and upon reviewing the feedback gathered from a community-wide online survey, the PSC made its recommendation to the Board of Trustees for final approval.

I want to again thank the Presidential Search Committee for its astute stewardship of the search process and ongoing efforts to ensure the leadership succession will be seamless. Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell is enterprising and exhibits tremendous clarity in responding to challenges with sustainable solutions. She is a true interdisciplinary scholar with exemplary skills to guide us as we consider our unique role in developing and supporting women leaders of African descent who intentionally make “a choice to change the world” in meaningful ways.

Sincerely,

Rosalind Gates Brewer, C’84
Chair, Spelman College Board of Trustees

Tiger Woods Gifts $10K to UMES Golf Management Fund

Tiger Woods is the first individual donor to a new University of Maryland Eastern Shore scholarship fund that will honor the memory of Dr. Charlie Sifford, the late professional golfer.

Woods is joining with the university to pay tribute to the man who broke the color barrier on the PGA Tour in the early 1960s.

Woods’ personal gift of $10,000 will launch the Sifford Fund, which UMES is creating to “provide need-based scholarships to highly talented students who demonstrate a passion for the game of golf … and who are from populations underrepresented in the golf industry.”

UMES is the nation’s lone historically black university that offers a bachelor’s degree in professional golf management accredited by the PGA of America.

“The University of Maryland Eastern Shore is honored to accept this generous gift from Tiger Woods to support our professional golf management program and to partner with us in acknowledging Dr. Sifford’s role as a sports pioneer,” UMES President Juliette B. Bell said.

Sifford died Feb. 3 at the age of 92, a passing that prompted the golf and sports worlds to pause and reflect on what he accomplished. Many looked to Woods, who called Sifford “the grandpa I never had.”

the day he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in a White House ceremony. Sifford joined Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus as the only golfers to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Sifford and his extended family expressed delight that evening in meeting UMES students, many of them African-Americans, pursuing careers in the golf industry.

Billy Dillon, UMES golf management program director, said the feeling was mutual among his students.

“It was a special moment for a lot of them,” Dillon said. “Some knew about what Mr. Sifford accomplished, and when others learned why he was being recognized, I think they realized the importance of the moment.”

Back in the limelight just weeks before his passing refocused attention on Sifford’s difficult journey as a 20th century athlete of color attempting to play a sport professionally that was segregated.

Encouraged by the turnout at its tribute reception for Sifford, UMES immediately began exploring ways it might “honor the life and legacy of Dr. Sifford, and further his aspirations for the sport that he loved.”

In Sifford’s autobiography, “Just Let Me Play,” he wrote:

“I want golf to reach out to people from all walks of life and to be the sport that puts itself above issues of race and class and economic levels,” Sifford wrote. “We should give everybody equal access to the game, with equal facilities to play and we should give them the same opportunities to pursue the game throughout their lives.”

Using Sifford’s words as inspiration and its distinctive platform, UMES is not only preparing diverse leaders for careers in the golf profession, but is also expanding involvement in golf among populations currently underrepresented in the industry, including women and minorities.

UMES’ professional golf management program currently enrolls 44 students, more than half of whom are women and minorities. Upon graduation, they will be positioned for careers in recreational or competitive golf, business, marketing, media and hospitality.

On Woods’s Twitter account after learning of Sifford’s death, Woods wrote: “We all lost a brave, decent and honorable man. I’ll miss (you) Charlie.”

Morris Brown College “Victoriously Emerges” From Bankruptcy

In a bit of good news in a landscape in which many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are facing tough times, a trustee from Morris Brown College announced on Thursday that the school has “victoriously emerged from bankruptcy.”

Morris Brown Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Rev. Dr. Preston W. Williams II released a statement on the 6th District AME church’s website expressing “great joy and thankfulness” that the school is on its way to solvency. Williams also noted that this is a “bittersweet” moment in the school’s 134-year history.

Williams statement reads in part:

Morris Brown College’s Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization has been approved by the Bankruptcy Court.  This action, approved at a confirmation hearing yesterday, and confirmed by a signed order of Judge Barbara Ellis-Monro today, will allow the college to exit bankruptcy and move forward to regain its accreditation.

This is a bittersweet ending to a long and complex process.  Bitter, because we had to sell property that had historical significance to many people.  Sweet, because we emerge from bankruptcy fully functional and current with all of our debt obligations.  Thus, as is the case with much of life, we must accept the bitter with the sweet and keep pressing forward.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Morris Brown filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in August 2012  to prevent foreclosure and sale of the school at auction. The AJC reports:

As part of the bankruptcy proceedings, the college sold 26 acres of property and buildings to InVest Atlanta and Friendship Baptist Church for $14.7 million, but retains ownership of the school’s administration building, Griffin Hightower Classroom building and Fountain Hall.

Friendship Baptist is one of two churches that sold to make way for the future $1.3 billionAtlanta Falcons stadium just steps from the Morris Brown property.

Williams said the college has remained in operation throughout the Chapter 11 reorganization process, and received financial support from alumni, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, trustees, staff and faculty.

Williams also confirmed that Morris Brown is scheduled to graduate 21 students on May 16, 2015.

C’Evon Jones is the first indoor national champion in Virginia Union history

It took C’Evon Jones 7.35 seconds to make it into the Virginia Union history books.

Jones won the 60 meter dash at the Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships in Birmingham, Ala., on March 14, becoming the first indoor national champion in school history.

Jones’ is the school’s first national title since the men’s basketball team’s championship in 2005.

“I’m still speechless,” Jones said, “because I didn’t know that I did that much. I thought I just won a national championship. I didn’t know that I made history like that.”

“I’m still overwhelmed with my accomplishment.”

But there wasn’t a lot of time between the end of the indoor season and the beginning of outdoor season, which Jones is currently in the midst of. Panthers coach Wilbert Johnson said Jones’ success this year is largely attributed to a disappointing finish to her outdoor season a year ago.

“Last year we had a situation where she didn’t make it to the national championships during outdoor in the 100 meters, which is one of her specialties,” Johnson said.

“That was a little downfall for her, but we recommitted ourselves this upcoming year and it’s to the point where she doesn’t have to wait on me to get things done. Actually, now, she’s calling me, like ‘coach where are you?’”

Jones finished second in the 60 meters at the CIAA Championships in February, which was, to her, another disappointing finish that meant she had to work that much harder.

One day after practice, Jones and her coach had a talk.

“He said ‘look, we’re going to have to make some sacrifices,’” Jones said. “And I looked at him crazy, I’m like what? What are you talking about? ‘We’re going to have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and go practice at Boo Williams (in Hampton).’”

“But I said, ‘I don’t care. You know coach I’m ready to win this thing,’ because I was still kind of upset from conference. I was ready to do whatever it takes.”

After the start of her early mornings and before Birmingham, Jones received a phone call from her mother with sad news.

“During my training I had got a call from my mother, my uncle had died, probably a few days before I went to Alabama,” Jones said. “So it was hard trying to keep my emotions from the race, but the God I serve, he just brought me through it and I held in there.”

“Before he left, he told my mom he’s proud of me, he wants to me keep excelling. I’m going to keep the bar high.”

She’s also proud to be a role model to the track athletes at Blanche Ely High School (Fla.), her and coach Johnson’s alma mater.

“Now that I am (a national champion), I feel like I really set the bar for my community back at home because I really encourage them, especially my high school. The high school that I came from, we are a winning school. The tradition never stops, it continues and now I see that they are raising the bar in track as well, too.”

Jones is known for her fast starts, key to her success in the 60 meters. Johnson calls it “one of the most amazing starts I’ve ever been able to coach. As a high school, college or whatever athlete, point blank, she has a great start.”

Now the races are 100 meters and outside. Jones’ fast start is more of an advantage in the shorter 60 meter distance, but the Florida native is looking forward to running outside.

“What I like about outdoor? When it gets hot, I start rolling,” she said. “I’m from Florida so I love the heat.”

158 Private Colleges Fail Government’s Financial-Responsibility Test

By one measure at least, the 2012-13 academic year was a healthier year financially for private colleges than 2011-12 was. Fewer degree-granting colleges missed the passing mark on the Department of Education’s financial-responsibility test that year, according to a Chronicle analysis of data the department released Thursday night.

A total of 158 private colleges—108 of them nonprofit, the rest for-profit—failed to achieve a passing score on the department’s test of financial health. (See an interactive table of scores for all 1,880 institutions in the latest test, below.) That’s 10 fewer than in the 2011-12 academic year.

The department calculates the scores by taking into account such factors as colleges’ debts, assets, and operating surpluses or deficits, and developing a single composite score for each institution. The latest scores cover institutions’ fiscal years ending from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. For colleges whose fiscal year ends on July 1 or later, the data cover their 2012 fiscal years. For colleges whose fiscal year ends before July 1, the data are for 2013.

The scores were designed as a tool to help with oversight on federal student-aid funds, but they also are one of the few publicly available nationwide indicators of the financial health of private colleges.

Although the scores often highlight financial problems that are a precursor to colleges’ being sold, merged, or closed, they aren’t always a perfect predictor. For the 2013 year, Sweet Briar College got the highest possible score, yet this week college leaders announced that the institution would close at the end of this academic year because of “insurmountable financial challenges.”

With its release of the latest list, the department also notes that the “composite scores are only one of several factors that the department uses to assess an institution’s financial-responsibility compliance.”

In recent years, groups like the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and the National Association of College and University Business Officers have complained that the department does not follow its own rules when calculating the scores, a concern that they say continues to this day. A fix for the score process is also a high priority for higher-education groups that have urged Congress and the department to streamline federal regulations affecting colleges.

All private colleges that participate in the federal student-aid programs receive a score annually. The scores range from minus 1 to 3. Scores of 1.5 and above are considered passing.

Of the 108 nonprofit colleges that failed to hit that mark, based on their financial condition at the close of their 2012-13 academic year, 58 had scores so low (below 1.0) that they would typically be required to post a letter of credit with the department in order to continue to participate in the federal student-aid programs. The same is true for 36 for-profit colleges on the latest list. Last year 62 nonprofits and 27 for-profits were in that position.

The rest, with scores from 1.0 through 1.4, are in a category the department calls “in the zone,” which means they are subject to additional monitoring to remain eligible. For the 2012-13 academic year, a total of 64 were in that category­—50 nonprofit and 14 for-profit colleges, fewer in each case than in 2011-12, when 56 nonprofits and 23 for-profit institutions came up “in the zone.”

Clarification (3/9/2015, 5:47 p.m.): The scores released by the Department of Education cover institutions’ fiscal years ending from July 1, 2012, to June 30, 2013. The original version of this article described all of those scores as being for the 2013 fiscal year. However, only institutions with fiscal years ending before July 1 are for 2013. Scores for institutions with fiscal years ending July 1 or later are for the 2012 fiscal year. The article has been updated to clarify this point, and the table has been updated with fiscal-year end dates.

Alexander’s Higher Ed Act Agenda

WASHINGTON — The leading Republican in the Senate who is working on a rewrite of the Higher Education Act is weighing new ways to hold colleges accountable for their students’ success and is considering a federal database to keep track of student outcomes.

Senator Lamar Alexander on Monday released three policy papers outlining ideas on making colleges share in the financial risk of the federal loans they provide students,overhauling accreditation and changing how the federal government collects data from colleges.

The documents offer the most expansive look yet at Alexander’s priorities for rewriting the Higher Education Act, which he has said he wants the Senate to vote on by the end of 2015. Alexander has spent much of the last yearpromoting his efforts to simplify the federal student aid form known as the FAFSA and to reduce regulations on colleges and universities.

The outline does not stake out many clear policy positions, and instead reviews a range of proposals that are up for debate. For instance, it says that a student-unit recorddatabase, opposed by many Congressional Republicans, is up for consideration. But it also lays out an alternative plan that would maintain the federal ban on such a system while pushing for limited graduate earnings data through a partnership between the Department of Education and Social Security Administration.

New Accountability Ideas

One issue that emerges clearly in the set of proposals is holding colleges more accountable for their students’ success, including their levels of debt and ability to repay it.

The outline backs the concept of risk sharing or “skin in the game” proposals for colleges when it comes to federal student loans. Under those proposals, an institution may be forced to repay some amount of their former students’ defaulted debt or otherwise be held responsible for a share of the federal loans they give out.

In addition, the paper floats the idea of making colleges annually pay into an insurance fund based on risk factors such as the rate at which their students withdraw or drop out.

Such risk-sharing proposals would “ensure that colleges and universities have a clear financial stake in their students’ success, debt and ability to repay their taxpayer-subsidized student loans,” the document says.

Some of Alexander’s most liberal colleagues in the Senate have called for a similar approach. His policy paper references a proposal in 2013 by Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Richard Durbin of Illinois that would require colleges to pay penalties, on a sliding scale, based on their default rates.

Notably, though, while the Senate Democrats’ proposal would exclude community colleges and historically black colleges from risk sharing, Alexander’s paper emphasizes that such policies ought to apply to “all colleges and universities.” That’s a common refrain of for-profit colleges, which argue that they are unfairly singled out for scrutiny and federal regulation in a way their nonprofit counterparts are not.

In spite of those differences, though, Alexander’s papers suggest that there is emerging, bipartisan consensus that cohort default rates — the federal government’s main accountability tool right now — are too blunt and ineffective.

Alexander’s paper says that colleges are “afforded a generous appeals process that results in minimal consequences,” citing a Congressional Research Service report that found the Department of Education had actually terminated federal funding for only 11 institutions since 1999 because of high default rates.

It references allegations, often made by consumer advocates, that default rates are easily gamed by colleges, which push struggling borrowers into loan deferments to avoid getting penalized for defaults.

The policy documents also take aim at the Obama administration’s announcement last year that it had tweaked the default rates for some colleges, allowing those institutions to have lower rates and avoid penalties. That decision, Alexander’s paper asserts, raised “serious concerns about the efficacy of cohort default rates. Federal law should limit the department’s ability to engage in such “nontransparent practices,” it added.

Two prominent Democratic lawmakers raised similar concernsin a letter to Education Secretary Arne Duncan last year.

Despite some bipartisan overtures, though, Alexander’s outline also criticizes some accountability measures that the Obama administration, Congressional Democrats and consumer advocates like — and want to see strengthened in many cases. It takes aim, for instance, at the gainful employment regulations targeting for-profit colleges and the90/10 rule that limits the amount of federal money that can flow to those institutions.

Overhaul of Accreditation

The policy white papers also float a number of drastic possible changes to higher education accreditation, with a general focus on reducing federal regulation of accreditation while making it easier for nontraditional and innovative models of education to gain approval.

Among the possibilities: decoupling accreditation from eligibility for federal student aid, allowing tiered levels of accreditation (as opposed to the current binary system) and permitting accrediting agencies to focus on “institutions that truly need the most assistance” while expediting the review of institution with good track records.

The outline also references a proposal by Senator Mike Lee of Utah, a Republican, that is aimed at creating a new pathway to federal funding for education offerings provided by noncollege entities like businesses, trade associations or unions.

Alexander’s paper concedes that questions remain about how to police the quality of these nontraditional models. Such quality control, it says, could potentially come from state regulators (as in Lee’s proposal), existing accrediting agencies or a new accreditor.

An Agenda for Reauthorization

Many of the ideas in Alexander’s policy papers echo proposalsoutlined last fall by Andrew Kelly and Kevin James of the American Enterprise Institute.

Kelly, who directs higher education research at A.E.I., said Monday that Alexander’s proposals, taken together, represent an important “proactive and coherent conservative agenda” for reforming higher education.

He called the proposals a “credible counterpoint and countermessage” to efforts by Democrats, led by the Obama administration, to promote accountability through “top-down” regulatory efforts like gainful employment and the college ratings system.

“This is not just a no to those things,” he said. “It’s an alternative approach that I think is in keeping with conservative, market-based principles of accountability.”

Senate Democrats, meanwhile, are hoping the Higher Education Act includes provisions that look to rein in rising tuition and provide direct relief for Americans with existing student loan debt.

A group of lawmakers, led by Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat, earlier this month reintroduced legislation that would allow existing federal student loan borrowers to lower their monthly payments by refinancing their debt.

Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate education committee, said in a statement Monday that she appreciated Alexander “highlighting” the issues in his outline.

“I am looking forward to continuing the conversation on ways to update the Higher Education Act to make college more affordable, reduce the crushing burden of student debt and give more Americans the chance to further their education, training and skills,” she said.

Alexander is seeking public feedback on his policy papers. Comments are due by April 24.

Manual Labor, All Night Long: The Reality of Paying for College

LOUISVILLE, Ky.–Most college students are busy. But Alexis McLin’s schedule is even more jam-packed than the average student’s.

One day last week, for instance, she attended a lab from 3 p.m. to 6:45, went to dinner with her mother, and then at midnight went in to work at UPS, where she sorts packages from midnight to 4:30 a.m.

McLin, 21, is training to be a teacher, and so after she got off work and had some breakfast, she drove to an elementary school at 7:40 a.m and observed classes for four hours. That afternoon she attended a parent-teacher conference, capping off more than 24 hours straight of work and school with no sleep.

Alexis McLin at the UPS offices (Alana Semuels)

It wasn’t an unusual day for McLin, who is attending the University of Louisville for free through a program that pays her tuition if she works the overnight shift at UPS and keeps her grades above a C. The program, called Metropolitan College, has been held up as a model of a public-private partnership, helping students pay for school while filling holes in the workforce.

Indeed, McLin, a chipper redhead whom I interviewed at the UPS facility at two in the morning last week, told me this was the only way she could attend college, as her family can’t afford the tuition. But even her family is incredulous at the hours she keeps. She works five nights a week at UPS from midnight until 4:30 a.m., and still finds time to go to classes, participate in color guard, and fulfill student-teaching responsibilities.

“It was really hard in the beginning, but I got used to it,” the junior told me. “I’ve become more responsible and more organized with my time.”

Tour the UPS facility between midnight and 4 a.m. Monday through Friday and you’ll see many students like McLin sorting mail envelopes, dragging heavy containers full of packages to and from airplanes, and unloading carts of mail onto conveyor belts, 155 miles of which chug around the facility. Of the 6,000 people working there on any given night shift, about 2,000 of them are in the Metropolitan College program, which gives in-state tuition to the night-shift workers to attend either the University of Louisville or Jefferson Community and Technical College during the day. (Metropolitan College isn’t a university itself, just the name of the program.)

The program was created in the late 1990s after UPS had trouble with turnover: In a booming economy, at the wages it was paying, the company couldn’t keep workers on the night shift for more than a month or two. It was also having labor problems: In 1997, the Teamsters held a 15-day strike at UPS demanding more part-time jobs and higher wages at the company. (Student workers now make $10 an hour, but when the program started, they made $8.50.)

When UPS threatened to locate an expansion of its busy air hub elsewhere, state and city leaders held an emergency meeting to come up with an idea for retaining workers. Their proposal: City government would pay half of students’ tuition; UPS the other half. Together, the full-tuition benefit would be enough to keep night-shift workers on the rolls. Since then, turnover on the night shift has dropped from 70 percent to 20 percent annually, and 14,000 students have worked at UPS while attending school.

“It’s a win-win because it has stabilized our workforce considerably, and the Commonwealth gets a much better-educated workforce,” Mike Mangeot, a UPS spokesman, told me as we drove around the busy airport—the largest automated package-handling facility in the world—at three in the morning.

It’s not just tuition: Students also receive benefits such as health insurance, and are paid bonuses for finishing college and the semester. They also get counseling to help them juggle their responsibilities, and many students end up working their way up the corporate ladder at UPS after they graduate. (They’re also paid for the hours they work.)

But as I walked through the long rows of students pushing envelopes to conveyor belts and into the open air where teenagers pulled cargo off jet planes, I wondered if the system really is win-win. I was having trouble staying awake and alert as we got closer and closer to dawn, and I couldn’t imagine being able to focus on homework or college lectures later on in the day.

The UPS/Metropolitan College model helps students pay for college, and for that it should be lauded. But can college students really work the night shift five nights a week and stay alert enough at school to understand what was happening in their classes? In the richest country in the world, shouldn’t there be a less hellish way to finance a college diploma?

* * *

For the first 200 or so years after Harvard, the first college in America, was founded in 1636, students either studied the classics or technical topics such as science or agriculture. But in the mid-1800s, leaders of schools including Harvard and Yale, concerned that wealthy families were starting to see college as useless, began to embrace a curriculum that both prepared students for the working world and gave them a broad education in a number of topics. In 1869, Charles W. Eliot, who was soon appointed president of Harvard, laid out his vision for what he called “a practical education” in a piece in The Atlantic.

“The fact is, that the whole tone and spirit of a good college ought to be different in kind from that of a good polytechnic or scientific school,” he wrote. “In the college, the desire for the broadest culture, for the best formation and information of the mind, the enthusiastic study of subjects for the love of them without any ulterior objects, the love of learning and research for their own sake, should be the dominant ideas,” he wrote.

Eliot spent much of the next 40 years making Harvard into a place where students could get a “practical education,” which combined exploration and abstract learning with the acquisition of useful skills.

Charles W. Eliot (Harvard Alumni Association)

At the time, a college education was only accessible to the most elite: In 1940, only 6 percent of males had completed four years of college, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics; fewer than half of Americans had finished eighth grade.

But college attainment rates began to grow steadily after World War II, when the G.I. Bill sent millions of returning soldiers to college and helped promote a more democratic notion of who could get a college degree. (It is important to note, however, that the effects of the G.I. Bill did not fall equally to all Americans, and many black veterans, particularly in the South, did not benefit at all.) College completion rates rose from 6 percent of males to 12 percent by 1962. Women and minorities began to attend college in greater numbers, too. These trends accelerated in the later part of the 20th century and early 21st: College enrollment climbed from 25 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds in 1967 to 41 percent in 2012.

But as more students began attending college, the new institutions that sprang up to educate students didn’t have the endowments of the older schools. And as colleges began to compete against one another to attract students and faculty, they started spending more money on things like sports teams, new buildings, and personnel. Tuition and fees have gone up 1,120 percent since 1978 alone, according to Bloomberg.

Today, affordability is the factor most challenging students’ ability to go to college. And as students struggle with how to pay for school, many are finding they don’t have as much time for—let alone want to spend their limited money on—“learning and research for their own sake.” Fearing the specter of loans hanging over them forever, many students try to finish college as quickly as possible, live at home, and work one or two jobs during school to save money. Their main concerns aren’t whether they have time to take all of the fascinating and varied classes in the course catalog, but instead how they can get all their credit hours in without going so deep into debt that they’ll never escape. Though they’ve been told that a college education is what they need to succeed in America, the stress of paying for that education challenges their ability to benefit from it.

In 2011, about 71 percent of undergraduates worked while enrolled in college, according to a recent Census report. And they’re working more hours, rather than fewer, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. The share of those working fewer than 20 hours per week has declined, to about 15 percent in 2007, while the percentage of those working between 20 and 34 hoursincreased to 21 percent.

Working a small number of hours—say, less than 15—can be beneficial to a student, especially if that job is on campus, said Laura Perna, a professor at Penn’s Graduate School of Education who is also the executive director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy. A job on campus provides another way for the student to be integrated into the campus, and it is usually flexible so that a student can take whatever classes he or she wants, or work less during exam periods.

But working more than 15 or so hours can be detrimental to a student’s academic performance, she said.

“It’s often very difficult for students, with the stress of trying to manage multiple responsibilities,” she said. “The fact that there’s only so many hours in a day—when you’re allocating a certain number of hours to paid employment, the energy you have to be engaged with your academic requirements declines.”

Working all night can be challenging for students, especially those who have early morning classes or exams. A study published last year in the Journal of Nature and Science of Sleepfound that sleep deprivation and daytime sleepiness in college students can result in lower grade point averages, increased risk of academic failure, and impaired mood. Subjects who were tested after 35 hours of sleep deprivation, for example, saw scores drop two letter grades when compared to non-sleep-deprived subjects. Students who slept for nine hours a night or more had much higher GPAs than those who slept for fewer than six hours a night.

Workers unload mail off a plane at UPS WorldPort. (Alana Semuels)

It’s not just the physical strain of sleep deprivation that affects students. When students are so overworked, Perna said, they aren’t able to spend as much time paying attention to learning, and to enjoying the learning experience. Indeed, none of the students I saw at the UPS center were likely spending many late nights cramming for exams with friends, or talking about literature with people they’d just met, or taking extra time on a science experiment, just because they found it interesting.

Instead, many of the students have to plan every minute of their day to squeeze in work, sleep, classes, and homework.

When you’re trying to simultaneously hold down a job and stay enrolled and make satisfactory academic progress, there can be an absence of attention to the enjoyment of the learning experience,” Perna said.

Still, some students don’t mind trading that “enjoyment of the learning experience” for an absence of loans. Tori Ziegler started out college attending the University of Kentucky and living in the dorms. By the end of her first semester, though, Ziegler began to worry about the size of the loans she was taking out, and how she was going to pay them back. She transferred to the University of Louisville and Metropolitan College and started working as a sorter on the night shift at UPS.

“I wasn’t going to be able to finish school if I didn’t find some way to get it paid for,” she told me.

Sorters at UPS (Alana Semuels)

Sorting is tough work—in some jobs, you stand between lines of quick-moving conveyor belts as mail chugs down a chute, when the parcels reach you, you move them into compartments on the conveyor belt as quickly as you can. In other jobs, you take the mail that’s fallen into a bag destined for, say, Lincoln, Nebraska, zip up those bags and load them onto a container bound for an airplane. In the summer, the sorting area, located atop the floors and floors of automated machinery at UPS, can get incredibly hot, students told me.

“It’s manual labor, definitely,” Ziegler said. “At first, it was a big adjustment, I was sore and tired. But I knew it was the only way I was going to get to go to school.”

When in school, Ziegler said, her planner was her best friend—she’d write down everything she had to do during the week and plan every minute. Some days, if she got behind on homework, she’d try and finish it when she got off work, around six in the morning, and then sleep for a couple hours before doing it all again.

She had to show up at work, but she also had to do well at school: If students get below a “C” they have to repay UPS the tuition for that class. But Ziegler said she was motivated to make the UPS program work.

“Both of my parents were pretty adamant—do this, so you can do better than we did,” she told me (neither of her parents graduated from college). “I knew that I had to do it, but there were times I thought I would never make it.”

Ziegler worked the night shift for the rest of college, and finished in December with a degree in sociology. Soon after, a job at UPS in the HR department opened up, and she now works for the HR department from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., five days a week.

Mail sorters at UPS (Alana Semuels)

She doesn’t regret missing the “college experience,” she told me; she preferred living at home to living in the dorms, and liked socializing with the people she met at UPS more than those at school.

But Ziegler’s school experience was vastly different than the liberal-arts education that Charles Eliot envisioned in his Atlantic article and that has been held up as a model of American education for more than a century. Indeed, Eliot wrote that in order to get a good education, students shouldn’t work manual labor while enrolled.

Referring to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, which at the time had students perform manual labor, Eliot wrote that “the experiment of making manual labor a part of the regular curriculum has been tried, and has failed.” Young children may be able to work in factories for half a day and then learn to read and write, Eliot argued, but for advanced instruction, students need more time for intellectual pursuits.

“To be sure, a young man cannot read and write 14 hours a day; but when he cannot be studying books he can be catching butterflies, hunting for flowers and stones, experimenting in a chemical laboratory, practicing mechanical drawing, sharpening his wits in converse with bright associates, or learning manners in ladies society,” he wrote. “Any of these occupations is much better for him than digging potatoes, sawing wood, laying brick, or setting type.”

* * *

While I was in Kentucky, I also visited Berea College, set in a bucolic small town in the eastern part of the state. Berea, founded in 1855 as the first co-ed, non-segregated school in the South, is a “work college”: It provides its students free tuition, and, in exchange, they must work on campus for 10 to 15 hours a week.

Berea is one of just seven “work colleges” in the United States. Many, like Berea, provide free or reduced tuition in exchange for work. All try to incorporate that work experience into a student’s academic life, so that students don’t have to sacrifice their education to earn money.

Located on the edge of Appalachia, Berea serves many low-income students who would have had to take out large loans to attend college at all (99 percent of first-year students are eligible for Pell Grants). The jobs assigned to students vary from serving food in the dining halls to working in the public-relations office of the school, and are limited to 10 to 15 hours a week.

I talked to Brittany Kenyon and Lisa Rivera, a freshman and a sophomore coming out of one of Berea’s picturesque brick dorms on a recent weeknight: Kenyon works cleaning the dorms; Rivera works for dining services. Both said they’d chosen Berea in part because they wouldn’t have to take out loans. But they’re getting a good education, too. Work never gets in the way of school, they told me.

“They schedule you around your classes here,” Kenyon told me. “The classes come first, if you have an hour here, and hour there, that’s when you work.”

Berea College (blueathena7/Flickr)

The freedom of not having to pay for school has allowed some students to use their time to invest back in the community. One student I talked to, Ethan Hamblin, was able to work for a foundation that encouraged grassroots philanthropy in Appalachia. He is still employed there today, although he already graduated.

The work-college model is lauded by both students and education advocates, but it’s not practical for most universities. Berea, for instance, runs off a hefty $1 billion endowment.

But there are schools that are trying to use the work-college model to make tuition more affordable. Paul Quinn College, a private liberal-arts institution in Texas that serves minorities, recently announced that it was launching what it’s calling a “New Urban College Model” that will integrate work into students’ college experience as a way to reduce tuition costs.

The school launched the program because many of its students were struggling with how to pay for school, Michael Sorrell, the college’s president, told me. Beginning this fall, students will spend some time working for the school for their first two years, and then will work for companies outside of the university for their second two years. Students will not work more than 20 hours a week, he told me. With Pell Grants and the work credit, students should only have to pay a few thousand dollars a semester, he said, down from the $23,850 in tuition the school had been charging.

Sorrel says he wants his students to still be able to get a liberal-arts education. But helping them organize their work experience through college will allow them to do that, while still paying for college, he said.

“If your students are already working and you don’t help them, then they’re going to get whatever jobs they can, and those jobs aren’t always compatible with their classes,” he said.

A class at Paul Quinn College (Paul Quinn College/Travis G. Lilley)

I hadn’t mentioned UPS when we talked, but Sorrell brought up the problem of students taking night-shift work without my prompting. Before starting this program, he said, many of the students at Paul Quinn found jobs at a FedEx facility nearby, working the midnight shift. They often struggled to stay up for the night shift and achieve academically.

“If you get off work at 3, 4 a.m., you’re not going to your 8 a.m. class,” he said. “And if you go to the 8 a.m. class, you’re not really there.”

“It should never have been defined as either/or,” he said. “I don’t think students are well-served not being given an opportunity to focus on learning. “Where we’ve gone wrong, Sorrell, said, is making students feel like they have to chose between a liberal-arts education and an affordable education that also prepares them for the real world. He’s hoping that Paul Quinn’s program will allow them to do both.

* * *

It’s easy to pick on Metropolitan College and the bargain Louisville struck with UPS. After all, UPS wasn’t paying people enough to stay in part-time jobs, so it got Louisville to pitch in a subsidy to make those jobs attractive to low-income people who wanted to go to college.

But it also could be argued that the more options students have in paying for college, the better. Just 11 percent of low-income students who are first in their family to attend college will have a degree six years after enrolling because of the many challenges, financial and academic, that they face. And while it might have once been possible for students to work their way through college on grit alone, tuition has risen so much faster than the minimum wage that a student would now have to work 991 hours to pay for one year of public university tuition, one study found.

Until we find a way to make college more affordable, it can’t hurt to give students more ways to pay for college. As long as they know they have options. Students should be aware that they can take out loans and not work during school, Perna told me, or that they can get a job and work and study throughout. They should know that there are Pell Grants available and state loans, in some cases. They should know there are programs such as Metropolitan College, but also that they don’t have to do them to go to school.

A nursing exam prep book in the UPS facility
(Alana Semuels)

I wondered how much choice students enrolled in Metropolitan College felt they had: The city would pay half of their college tuition if they pledged to work for UPS, but otherwise, they were on their own. A friend who grew up in Louisville joked to me that students there have two choices to get a free ride to college: work the night shift at UPS or “get shot at,” by joining the military.

But then I talked to Ilya Lyalin, who is now 26, and worked for UPS during a few years of college. He wouldn’t have been able to attend school without Metropolitan College: His parents, Russian immigrants, told him after his first year of low grades at Jefferson Community and Technical College, that they weren’t going to pay for school anymore, and that he should drop out and get a job.

“I basically had an option of either leaving school or going to UPS and working there and staying in school,” he told me.

He thought seriously about dropping out, but a few friends were doing Metropolitan College, so he applied and started working as a loader, taking packages off a conveyor belt and stacking them in containers. When Lyalin started working in the summer, it was horrible, he said. He stayed up all night in the heat to load packages while supervisors harangued him to move faster. Once school started again, it was even worse. His friends would be hanging out, and he’d have to leave and go to work. It got worse when he transferred to the University of Louisville, which had much more of a traditional college atmosphere.

“I hated it. I was the type of college student that would just be out on weeknights, hanging out with friends, and I felt like that’s it, my life is over,” he said. “Everybody says college is supposed to be amazing. I was like, this is great, but I’m going to get out of here and realize I didn’t make any friends—or get to do anything.”

A supervisor at UPS WorldPort (Alana Semuels)

But he had signed the contract with UPS that said they would pay for his semester, and if he dropped the job, he’d have to repay the company. So he stuck with it. And things started getting less miserable. He got a lucky break when he got transferred to a different department that sorted irregular packages, where the work tended to be slower and he sometimes even had some time to study. He even continued to do a second job, working at a kiosk at a mall, to earn more money.

Lyalin had to quit the UPS job after he decided to study engineering. The classes and homework required to study calculus and physics required Lyalin’s full brain power, and he found it was all but impossible to have the capacity to do the course work on no sleep. He did it for one semester, and it was hell. He’d work until five a.m. and then sleep until calculus class at 9 a.m., and be up for the rest of the day studying and working. The worst was every Tuesday when there would be a calculus test at 8 a.m. His GPA began to tumble.

“It was two hours of sleep every night for the whole semester,” he said. “It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”

When he stopped working for UPS, his life changed. He joined a fraternity, started interning with an engineering company, finished his bachelor’s, and then got his master’s in engineering.

But what fascinates me about Lyalin is that he looks back fondly on his time at UPS, and sometimes kicks himself for dropping it. Yes, he drank energy drinks to stay up, and yes, his teeth rotted from those energy drinks, and yes, he sometimes had to drink NyQuil to make himself sleep at six in the morning, and yes, his coursework suffered, but he got two years of college, for free, saved up a lot of money and became more disciplined about sleep and homework.

Yes, coming from a low-income family changed his college experience, he said, but money changes everything. If money weren’t an object, he would have studied politics instead of engineering, for instance. And he’d tried to reduce the role money played in his college experience: He’d applied to scholarships and grants before college, and had even been a finalist for one, but didn’t receive a penny in financial aid.

Now, Lyalin has $30,000 in loans to pay off from the rest of his schooling. He has a job in Louisville, and is glad he went to college. But when he looks back, he’s thankful he had UPS, miserable as it was at the time. When all is said and done, he prefers the night shift to the loans that now hover over him, and will, he says, for many years.

“The loans are much worse than working there,” he told me. “I just feel like I’m caged in.”

Friends who don’t have loans are buying houses, adopting dogs, traveling the world. Even though he has a good job and managed to get through college and graduate school, with much of his tuition covered, Lyalin is still paying the price for being poor.

Pinson’s attorney: Forfeit $74,100 not $350K

In a letter filed in U.S. District Court on Monday, attorneys for a former South Carolina State University board chairman make their case that Jonathan Pinson should forfeit no more than $74,100.

Federal prosecutors say Pinson should forfeit $352,843.02.

The two sides met before U.S. District Judge David Norton on March 11 to argue the amount Pinson will have to forfeit.

Norton asked both sides to submit letters explaining reasons for their respective forfeiture amounts.

A jury found Pinson guilty in July 2014 on 29 of 45 federal charges in schemes involving S.C. State’s 2011 homecoming, an effort to sell the 121-acre Sportsman’s Retreat to the university, a Marion County diaper factory and a Columbia-area housing complex called the Village at River’s Edge.

Pinson is awaiting sentencing.

Prosecutors are seeking forfeiture, fines, imprisonment and restitution as penalties for Pinson’s crimes.

In the letter filed Monday, Pinson’s attorney Jim Griffin said the housing complex forfeiture should be $12,000 and the diaper factory’s $62,100.

Prosecutors say Pinson should forfeit $234,732.34 as part of the housing complex scheme.

Pinson faces up to 20 years in prison when he is sentenced. He has appealed his conviction.

THE END OF COLLEGE?

A growing number of books about higher education’s ills have hit the market in recent years. But few have drummed up the attention, both positive and negative, that Kevin Carey’s has received.

Carey directs the education policy program at New America, a Washington-based think tank. His bookThe End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, came out earlier this month.

The End of College takes the long view in diagnosing a higher education business model that Carey says is desperately flawed. He goes back centuries to describe how colleges developed scattered and disjointed missions. Carey also looks forward, to how information technology could help birth a more affordable and meritocratic form of higher education.

His book has generated loads of coverage in the news media, including a somewhat positive review in The Washington Postby Janet Napolitano, the University of California system’s president. And several of Inside Higher Ed‘s bloggers havebeen critical about his assertions. We sent some questions about the book to Carey via email. The exchange is below.

  1. The book’s indictment of the current higher education business model is bolstered by a university provost’s prediction that only 15 to 50 American colleges will survive the coming disruption. Do you agree with that outlook?
  2. No, I think that’s an extreme view. Colleges are deeply embedded in our culture and economy. Historically, they have been among the most resilient of all human institutions. Many have troves of educational resources that can be used to adapt and thrive in the coming transition to technology-enabled education. Some will manage that journey successfully, others won’t. I do believe that the number of colleges that go under will be much larger over the next 30 years than in the previous 30, and that those that survive will need to change their organizational models fundamentally. That’s what I mean by “The End of College” — the end of colleges as we’ve known them for roughly the last 140 years.Kevin Carey

Plus, I imagine the S.E.C. will keep going if only for the football, so that’s 14 universities right there.

  1. You acknowledge the powerful signal that brands like M.I.T. or Harvard send. How can new institutions like Minerva University or the University of Everywhere compete with such established players, or even public universities, many of which are deeply resonant brands in their own backyards?
  2. Minerva’s theory of this is pretty straightforward. First, it can establish admissions criteria that are just as stringent as Harvard and M.I.T. — the elite college admissions process isn’t exactly a secret. The company says that some of its first class of students turned down Ivy League offers to attend. Second, it can establish curricular standards that are much more stringent than the typical elite school, where you’re pretty much guaranteed to graduate unless you commit a felony or drop out to found a software company. The secret weapon for new institutions seeking legitimacy in the market will be evidence of student learning, which is almost totally absent from traditional college degrees.
  3. Somecriticsargue that your book neglects the vast bulk of average or low-performing students by focusing on how an “unbundled” college experience could benefit outlier academic stars. Would the University of Everywhere be good for nonprodigies? If so, how?
  4. The word “unbundle” only appears twice in the book, and in the second instance it is immediately followed by the word “reassemble.” The idea of an atomized, postinstitutional higher education is really not the framework I’ve employed.

Some critics have focused on the narrative device of my journey through an edX genetics course. I make no claims of representing anyone other than myself in that respect. I’m a college graduate with no experience in or particular aptitude for science, and the course worked for me. Take that as you will. The important thing isn’t that I took the course — it’s that tens of thousands of other people took the course, representing almost every dimension of diversity imaginable. And that M.I.T. was able to almost perfectly replicate the course it requires its own students to take and provide it online at zero marginal cost. That strikes me as a pretty amazing fact in terms of what’s already possible, today.

Will some people need different levels of support to succeed in a demanding classes? Of course they will. That’s why the future contemplated in the book explicitly involves peers, mentors and support. The book says that purely online learning “isn’t the ideal learning environment for many, and it’s simply untenable for some.” It says, “The future of higher education is not one in which everyone sits by herself in her pajamas, pallid and goggle-eyed, being taught by a machine. Indeed, many people — particularly those who we now think of as college age — will live and learn together under the auspices of organizations specifically and solely dedicated to their education.”

One might conclude from some criticism that my attitude toward nonprodigies is “Let them eat MOOCs.” I think that’s a misreading of what the book clearly says.

  1. The book makes a strong case for how a democratized, no-frills form of online-enhanced higher education could reduce costs and increase student access. But a substantial number of students and their families want amenities — libraries, campus greens and even lazy rivers — and are willing and able to pay for them. Why would that change, even if the stripped-down version became widely available? And why aren’t existing options like Western Governors University more popular?
  2. Consumer demand isn’t independent of signaling and supply. When I was choosing a college in the late 1980s, nobody said they wanted a lazy river. Why? Because there weren’t any lazy rivers. Nobody thought to ask for a dorm suite with hotel-like amenities, because there weren’t any of those either (at least not at public universities). In the way they decide to market themselves, colleges teach naïve students what to desire. It may be a kind of collective action problem, but it’s not an excuse. I think I’m on safe ground in assuming that people in their late teens and early 20s who aren’t in college don’t normally choose to spend huge amounts of money on memberships in Olympic-caliber gymnasiums.
  3. Likewise, wealthy Americans enjoy plenty of influence with the gatekeepers of higher education. Will they fight changes that bring on the more meritocratic form of college you predict, where gaming the admissions system and coasting with a “gentleman’s C” are no longer possible? Do the powerful really want better measures of what their offspring do or don’t learn in college?
  4. The higher education system that I criticize confers enormous benefits on the privileged and powerful. As Rich Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation likes to note, the American Revolution “was fought in large measure to rid ourselves of aristocracy and inherited privilege.” Yet those ideas and systems continue to corrupt college admissions over two centuries later. More broadly, higher education as we know it today systematically provides more resources to wealthy students with an abundance of cultural capital and fewer resources to first-generation students, low-income students and students of color.

The people who benefit from this unfair system will undoubtedly try to preserve it. But that’s the nature of all fights worth having.

  1. As you note, colleges are more resilient and longer lasting than tech companies. And the Googles and Microsofts often manage to compete with open-source disrupters like Mozilla (Chrome and Explorer have more users than Firefox). Isn’t it possible that while some incumbent colleges will fail, many others will adapt and absorb the market for online and adaptive learning?
  2. I think it’s not just possible, it’s almost certain in some way. The question is, how many others? And how much will they have to transform themselves in order to survive? They may have the same names, but they won’t be the same kinds of organizations. (I’m pretty sure Microsoft isn’t going to be making tens of billions of dollars from a near-monopoly share of the market for desktop PC operating systems in 2030.) And of course, this has happened in higher education before. Educationally speaking, the Harvard of 2015 looks substantially like the Harvard of 1915, but almost nothing like the Harvard of 1815. Same buildings, same name, different institution.
  3. You discuss how colleges will need to become more like cathedrals, where students will return throughout their lifetimes to work on the “never-ending project of learning.” What might that relationship with alma mater look like for a midcareer worker?
  4. I think it might look a lot like that midcareer worker’s relationship with his or her organization of faith: a lifelong affinity that involves an ongoing commitment to shared values and ideas about learning, including regular meetings with fellow students in the local community. A commitment of time and money that’s not insignificant, but not so great that it’s incompatible with having a job and a family. I think that would be a better relationship than one based on youthful nostalgia, tribal loyalty, exploitative semiprofessional sports franchises and periodic begging for money, which is what we have today.
  5. The book is nuanced, complex and features an impressive amount of research. But some of your framing, quotes in interviews and published excerpts have had a less sober tone — like the apocalyptic title. Why? And doesn’t that increase the risk of misinterpretation by careless readers, similar to your description of how MOOC hype helped influence the University of Virginia’s board to fire its president?
  6. The working title of the book wasHigher Education Is Likely to Change Somewhat in the Future, Although Exactly How Is Not Yet Clear, but my publisher felt that might not reach the same audience. Plus it was hard to fit on the cover in the font we liked.

Seriously, though: I genuinely believe that major changes are coming in the next generation, of a kind and magnitude that exceed the expectations of almost everyone currently employed by a traditional college or university. I also believe that the chronic neglect of undergraduate education is morally unsupportable and a detriment to society. I’ve been in too many meetings in my career where, after the doors are closed, higher education professors and administrators readily admit that the system all but obligates professors to neglect teaching in favor of research, and that colleges don’t systematically concern themselves with the quality of the teaching and learning they provide in exchange for large amounts of money. Nobody is ever embarrassed to say this. It’s socially acceptable — even required, in a way, like insider knowledge that signals membership in a club. This makes me angry. Some of the language in the book reflects that feeling.

Writing defensively to ward of

A growing number of books about higher education’s ills have hit the market in recent years. But few have drummed up the attention, both positive and negative, that Kevin Carey’s has received.

Carey directs the education policy program at New America, a Washington-based think tank. His bookThe End of College: Creating the Future of Learning and the University of Everywhere, came out earlier this month.

The End of College takes the long view in diagnosing a higher education business model that Carey says is desperately flawed. He goes back centuries to describe how colleges developed scattered and disjointed missions. Carey also looks forward, to how information technology could help birth a more affordable and meritocratic form of higher education.

His book has generated loads of coverage in the news media, including a somewhat positive review in The Washington Postby Janet Napolitano, the University of California system’s president. And several of Inside Higher Ed‘s bloggers havebeen critical about his assertions. We sent some questions about the book to Carey via email. The exchange is below.

  1. The book’s indictment of the current higher education business model is bolstered by a university provost’s prediction that only 15 to 50 American colleges will survive the coming disruption. Do you agree with that outlook?
  2. No, I think that’s an extreme view. Colleges are deeply embedded in our culture and economy. Historically, they have been among the most resilient of all human institutions. Many have troves of educational resources that can be used to adapt and thrive in the coming transition to technology-enabled education. Some will manage that journey successfully, others won’t. I do believe that the number of colleges that go under will be much larger over the next 30 years than in the previous 30, and that those that survive will need to change their organizational models fundamentally. That’s what I mean by “The End of College” — the end of colleges as we’ve known them for roughly the last 140 years.Kevin Carey

Plus, I imagine the S.E.C. will keep going if only for the football, so that’s 14 universities right there.

  1. You acknowledge the powerful signal that brands like M.I.T. or Harvard send. How can new institutions like Minerva University or the University of Everywhere compete with such established players, or even public universities, many of which are deeply resonant brands in their own backyards?
  2. Minerva’s theory of this is pretty straightforward. First, it can establish admissions criteria that are just as stringent as Harvard and M.I.T. — the elite college admissions process isn’t exactly a secret. The company says that some of its first class of students turned down Ivy League offers to attend. Second, it can establish curricular standards that are much more stringent than the typical elite school, where you’re pretty much guaranteed to graduate unless you commit a felony or drop out to found a software company. The secret weapon for new institutions seeking legitimacy in the market will be evidence of student learning, which is almost totally absent from traditional college degrees.
  3. Somecriticsargue that your book neglects the vast bulk of average or low-performing students by focusing on how an “unbundled” college experience could benefit outlier academic stars. Would the University of Everywhere be good for nonprodigies? If so, how?
  4. The word “unbundle” only appears twice in the book, and in the second instance it is immediately followed by the word “reassemble.” The idea of an atomized, postinstitutional higher education is really not the framework I’ve employed.

Some critics have focused on the narrative device of my journey through an edX genetics course. I make no claims of representing anyone other than myself in that respect. I’m a college graduate with no experience in or particular aptitude for science, and the course worked for me. Take that as you will. The important thing isn’t that I took the course — it’s that tens of thousands of other people took the course, representing almost every dimension of diversity imaginable. And that M.I.T. was able to almost perfectly replicate the course it requires its own students to take and provide it online at zero marginal cost. That strikes me as a pretty amazing fact in terms of what’s already possible, today.

Will some people need different levels of support to succeed in a demanding classes? Of course they will. That’s why the future contemplated in the book explicitly involves peers, mentors and support. The book says that purely online learning “isn’t the ideal learning environment for many, and it’s simply untenable for some.” It says, “The future of higher education is not one in which everyone sits by herself in her pajamas, pallid and goggle-eyed, being taught by a machine. Indeed, many people — particularly those who we now think of as college age — will live and learn together under the auspices of organizations specifically and solely dedicated to their education.”

One might conclude from some criticism that my attitude toward nonprodigies is “Let them eat MOOCs.” I think that’s a misreading of what the book clearly says.

  1. The book makes a strong case for how a democratized, no-frills form of online-enhanced higher education could reduce costs and increase student access. But a substantial number of students and their families want amenities — libraries, campus greens and even lazy rivers — and are willing and able to pay for them. Why would that change, even if the stripped-down version became widely available? And why aren’t existing options like Western Governors University more popular?
  2. Consumer demand isn’t independent of signaling and supply. When I was choosing a college in the late 1980s, nobody said they wanted a lazy river. Why? Because there weren’t any lazy rivers. Nobody thought to ask for a dorm suite with hotel-like amenities, because there weren’t any of those either (at least not at public universities). In the way they decide to market themselves, colleges teach naïve students what to desire. It may be a kind of collective action problem, but it’s not an excuse. I think I’m on safe ground in assuming that people in their late teens and early 20s who aren’t in college don’t normally choose to spend huge amounts of money on memberships in Olympic-caliber gymnasiums.
  3. Likewise, wealthy Americans enjoy plenty of influence with the gatekeepers of higher education. Will they fight changes that bring on the more meritocratic form of college you predict, where gaming the admissions system and coasting with a “gentleman’s C” are no longer possible? Do the powerful really want better measures of what their offspring do or don’t learn in college?
  4. The higher education system that I criticize confers enormous benefits on the privileged and powerful. As Rich Kahlenberg of the Century Foundation likes to note, the American Revolution “was fought in large measure to rid ourselves of aristocracy and inherited privilege.” Yet those ideas and systems continue to corrupt college admissions over two centuries later. More broadly, higher education as we know it today systematically provides more resources to wealthy students with an abundance of cultural capital and fewer resources to first-generation students, low-income students and students of color.

The people who benefit from this unfair system will undoubtedly try to preserve it. But that’s the nature of all fights worth having.

  1. As you note, colleges are more resilient and longer lasting than tech companies. And the Googles and Microsofts often manage to compete with open-source disrupters like Mozilla (Chrome and Explorer have more users than Firefox). Isn’t it possible that while some incumbent colleges will fail, many others will adapt and absorb the market for online and adaptive learning?
  2. I think it’s not just possible, it’s almost certain in some way. The question is, how many others? And how much will they have to transform themselves in order to survive? They may have the same names, but they won’t be the same kinds of organizations. (I’m pretty sure Microsoft isn’t going to be making tens of billions of dollars from a near-monopoly share of the market for desktop PC operating systems in 2030.) And of course, this has happened in higher education before. Educationally speaking, the Harvard of 2015 looks substantially like the Harvard of 1915, but almost nothing like the Harvard of 1815. Same buildings, same name, different institution.
  3. You discuss how colleges will need to become more like cathedrals, where students will return throughout their lifetimes to work on the “never-ending project of learning.” What might that relationship with alma mater look like for a midcareer worker?
  4. I think it might look a lot like that midcareer worker’s relationship with his or her organization of faith: a lifelong affinity that involves an ongoing commitment to shared values and ideas about learning, including regular meetings with fellow students in the local community. A commitment of time and money that’s not insignificant, but not so great that it’s incompatible with having a job and a family. I think that would be a better relationship than one based on youthful nostalgia, tribal loyalty, exploitative semiprofessional sports franchises and periodic begging for money, which is what we have today.
  5. The book is nuanced, complex and features an impressive amount of research. But some of your framing, quotes in interviews and published excerpts have had a less sober tone — like the apocalyptic title. Why? And doesn’t that increase the risk of misinterpretation by careless readers, similar to your description of how MOOC hype helped influence the University of Virginia’s board to fire its president?
  6. The working title of the book wasHigher Education Is Likely to Change Somewhat in the Future, Although Exactly How Is Not Yet Clear, but my publisher felt that might not reach the same audience. Plus it was hard to fit on the cover in the font we liked.

Seriously, though: I genuinely believe that major changes are coming in the next generation, of a kind and magnitude that exceed the expectations of almost everyone currently employed by a traditional college or university. I also believe that the chronic neglect of undergraduate education is morally unsupportable and a detriment to society. I’ve been in too many meetings in my career where, after the doors are closed, higher education professors and administrators readily admit that the system all but obligates professors to neglect teaching in favor of research, and that colleges don’t systematically concern themselves with the quality of the teaching and learning they provide in exchange for large amounts of money. Nobody is ever embarrassed to say this. It’s socially acceptable — even required, in a way, like insider knowledge that signals membership in a club. This makes me angry. Some of the language in the book reflects that feeling.

Writing defensively to ward off careless misinterpretation is a mug’s game. Careful readers have by and large responded positively to the book, even if they don’t agree with all of its predictions and conclusions. As a writer, that’s all you can hope for.

  1. Your book offers an intriguing alternative to traditional higher education. Yet some champions of “reform” are more interested in cutting support for colleges, including ones that serve low-income students. Do you worry about providing intellectual cover for people who are primarily interested in spending less, not finding new ways for more access?
  2. I do worry about that. I think it’s a genuine concern. The last thing I want is for someone like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to justify arbitrary and damaging cuts to public higher education with a thoughtless appeal to technology. I’ve supported robust and equitable public funding for education for my entire career. At the same time, we can’t put the conversation about using technology to build more effective and efficient higher education organizations on hold until the American political economy somehow heals itself.

In the long run, the case for higher education as a public good will be stronger if higher education organizations make the best possible use of public dollars, in a way that’s strongly aligned with the average citizen’s intense desire to provide an affordable, high quality learning experience for his or her children. Information technology will undoubtedly be an important part of achieving that goal.

f careless misinterpretation is a mug’s game. Careful readers have by and large responded positively to the book, even if they don’t agree with all of its predictions and conclusions. As a writer, that’s all you can hope for.

  1. Your book offers an intriguing alternative to traditional higher education. Yet some champions of “reform” are more interested in cutting support for colleges, including ones that serve low-income students. Do you worry about providing intellectual cover for people who are primarily interested in spending less, not finding new ways for more access?
  2. I do worry about that. I think it’s a genuine concern. The last thing I want is for someone like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to justify arbitrary and damaging cuts to public higher education with a thoughtless appeal to technology. I’ve supported robust and equitable public funding for education for my entire career. At the same time, we can’t put the conversation about using technology to build more effective and efficient higher education organizations on hold until the American political economy somehow heals itself.

In the long run, the case for higher education as a public good will be stronger if higher education organizations make the best possible use of public dollars, in a way that’s strongly aligned with the average citizen’s intense desire to provide an affordable, high quality learning experience for his or her children. Information technology will undoubtedly be an important part of achieving that goal.

ELZEY IS SUED OVER CAR

Elzey is sued over car: Employees say ex-president demanded Chrysler 300

Two former South Carolina State University employees are suing the school, saying they were demoted and suffered retaliation because they wouldn’t provide the former president with a Chrysler 300.

The employees, Derrick Green and Linda Elmore, said they could not provide the car under state rules. The school’s internal auditor, Evelyn Anderson, is also suing over the matter.

In his response filed in court, Thomas Elzey has denied their claims. He was fired as president this week, reportedly over communication problems with trustees, and is suing the school.

Green was director of S.C. State’s Fleet Management and Elmore was office manager when Elzey became president in June 2013, according to the complaint in the federal lawsuit against Elzey and the school.

At the time, the university had about 110 vehicles and leased 30 more. A Ford Expedition and white Chevrolet Impala were set aside for the university president.

“Almost immediately after he started work as president of South Carolina State University, Defendant Elzey began repeated requests and demands that Plaintiff Green and Fleet Management procure a new black Chrysler 300 vehicle for the exclusive use of Elzey,” the complaint claims. They also claim he wanted a “luxury golf cart.”

The employees asked the SCSU Foundation to buy the vehicles, but were told it did not have the money. They asked the president’s office for a budget accountant number that could be used to buy or lease the vehicles, but never got one.

They say they also told university officials that the Chrysler 300 couldn’t be purchased or leased under the State Fleet Management contract without state approval.

Green claims that in September 2013, he was summoned to the president’s office and told to get the Chrysler 300 and luxury golf cart or be demoted. He was given a deadline of Oct. 6.

Green didn’t get the vehicles. On Oct. 7, he was summoned to Elzey’s office again, where he was demoted, the lawsuit claims. Green also lost his second job in the athletics department.

A day or two later, the Fleet Management employees were told their office would be overseen by DTZ/Unicco, a contractor already serving the campus.

The DTZ/Unicco employees drove onto the campus in a mint green Chrysler 300 on the morning of Oct. 8 and told Elmore to clean the car, the lawsuit claims. Elmore says she later learned DTZ/Unicco was leasing the car with a corporate credit card.

A meeting was held with the fleet management employees at which the DTZ/Unicco employees told the employees that Elzey was their customer “and they were all there to make the president ‘happy,’” the lawsuit claims.

The employees claim that $55,000 was added to the DTZ/Unicco contract to handle the services. They believe that amount includes the Chrysler 300 lease.

They also claim that they were harassed to violate state policy regarding vehicles and delete Elzey’s gas card information.

In December 2013, Anderson, Elmore and other S.C. State employees met with the S.C. Office of Inspector General to report their problems. An investigation was launched.

The lawsuit claims Elzey targeted the employees for raising issues of wrongdoing, with four budget proposals recommending their positions be eliminated.

Green and Elmore lost their jobs in a Sept. 5, 2014, reduction in force.

In addition to denying claims by the employees, Elzey’s court filings say “they have failed to establish that any grievance or administrative proceedings have resulted in a finding that they would have been disciplined but for the reporting of the wrongdoing.”

South Carolina State Vice President Division of External Affairs and Communications Sonja A. Bennett-Bellamy said she has been advised by legal counsel not to comment on legal matters. DTZ did not return a call requesting comment.

On Feb. 20, DTZ Inc. filed paperwork with the state seeking $4.2 million it says it is owed by S.C. State. The company, formerly known as UGL Unicco, says the amount is building by $401,964 a month.

The company, which provides facilities management services, says it should be paid the full amount, plus 15 percent interest.

9 HBCU Students Just Made the Voter-ID War Hot Again

The voter-ID war just opened up a huge new front. This time in Tennessee. A group of nine students from HBCUs Fisk and Tennessee State have filed a federal lawsuit against the Volunteer State’s heavily contested and controversial voter-ID law.

The suit was filed by the Nashville Student Organizing Committee, a coalition of student activists established in February 2014. The plaintiffs were all disallowed from voting in 2014 because they carried student IDs as identification. NSOC retained the Washington, D.C.-based Fair Elections Legal Network, which then partnered with the local Nashville-based firm Barrett Johnston Martin & Garrison as part of a legal project to restore student voting rights in the state.

The case marks a highly unprecedented turning point in the ongoing conflict over voter ID and other Republican-led voter-suppression laws accused of targeting Democratic-friendly young, minority and low-income voters. With Republicans expanding their electoral gains in state legislatures, voter-ID laws have become a common feature in many key states and, as initial data suggest, disproportionately impacted large populations of color.

Observers are watching the new Tennessee case with heavy interest, since it appears to be the first student-led legal action of its kind. Some view it as Supreme Court-worthy and a savvy political maneuver on the part of black youth activists that could have far-reaching implications beyond Tennessee. The suit may very well advance because the Middle Tennessee federal district court is dominated by judges appointed by Democratic presidents. Chief Judge Kevin Sharp was recently appointed by President Barack Obama.

“Studies are showing that the voter-ID laws are suppressing youth turnout,” DePaul University political science professor Molly Andolina told The Root. Andolina anticipates the emergence of a growing black youth movement born out of frustration over issues such as police violence and voter ID that could influence the 2016 elections.

Christina Rivers, another DePaul University political scientist, agreed: “To the extent that #BlackLivesMatter converges with other potentially suppressive factors such as voter-ID laws, along with reductions in early and Sunday voting, it will likely mobilize voters.”

At the moment, said Doug Johnston, a Barrett Johnston lawyer on the case who has also worked aggressively against the state’s voter-ID law since its passage in 2011, the current suit doesn’t seek “to dismantle the whole voter-ID law.” However, it will seek to reverse what his clients view as violations of their constitutional rights under the 14th and 26th amendments. “The basis of this lawsuit is really very simple,” Johnston told The Root. “It’s an attempt to have students treated in the same manner as similarly situated individuals.”

Johnston points to identification cards for state university faculty and staff, which are perfectly legal to use at the polls—and yet student IDs are not accepted: “The law’s denial of the use of student IDs when exactly the same ID is OK for others is unconstitutional.”

In its complaint (pdf), NSOC argues that Tennessee’s strict voter-ID law, which only allows for a limited number of photo IDs, “intentionally discriminates against out-of-state college and university students, and has the purpose and effect of denying and abridging the right to vote on account of age.”

At the heart of the case is a dispute over out-of-state student rights; the nine plaintiffs, ages 18 and 19, are originally from states such as California, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. But they are all legal residents of Nashville, holding official state-issued student IDs. Lawyers argue that the current Tennessee voter-ID laws are too restrictive: Even though out-of-state students can apply for free identification licenses at Driver Service Centers, the process is too burdensome and effectively prevents them from voting.

Lawyers for NSOC might be on to something. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law highlights Tennessee as being among 15 states with the most restrictive voter-ID laws in the nation. And a recent federal Government Accountability Office report found turnout among Tennessee voters ages 18-23 had dropped by more than 4 percentage points in recent election cycles since the law was enacted.

Tennessee House Republican Caucus press secretary Cade Cothren dismissed the notion that student voting rights have been violated and worries that “frankly, student IDs are easier to fake.” He told The Root, “If a student only has a student ID, they are eligible for a free ID from their local DMV.”

But when asked for empirical evidence or data showing instances of actual student-ID fraud, Cothren came up short: “Beyond anecdotal evidence, there is not. These statutes were passed to prevent fraud from occurring in the first place.”

“For four years, the Tennessee General Assembly has rejected every attempt to add college student IDs to the voter-ID list, systematically shutting young voters out of the political process just as they become eligible to vote,” said Jon Sherman, a staff attorney for the Fair Elections Legal Network. “This case will demonstrate that when politicians tinker with a voter-ID list to pick their preferred voters, they violate the Constitution and the most basic aspirations of our democracy.”

SCSU debt could rise to $23.5M

COLUMBIA – As it received evidence that South Carolina State University’s debt continues to grow, the State Budget and Control Board decided Wednesday to delay action on the institution’s request for more time to repay a $6 million loan.

The decision was made after an independent financial consultant reported the university’s deficit could grow to $23.5 million by the end of the fiscal year in June.

“This is a bad situation,” Gov. Nikki Haley said. “This is worse than anyone thought it would be.”

Haley’s comments were made after the Budget and Control Board received an overview of the university’s cash flows from Tom McNeish of Elliott Davis LLC, the consulting firm hired to review S.C. State’s books.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom expressed concerns about extending S.C. State’s loan.

“The university does not need more debt,” Eckstrom said. “The university has more debt than it can handle.”

Haley said, “By not extending the loan, we will call in the $6 million this year.

“We are talking about vendors not getting paid. We have a school that is on life support.”

S.C. State owes its vendors about $10.3 million. About $4.3 million of it is more than 120 days past due and $1.8 million Is more than three months past due.

On Feb. 20, DTZ Inc. filed paperwork with the state seeking $4.2 million it says it is owed by S.C. State. The company, formerly known as UGL Unicco, says the amount is building by $401,964 a month.

The company, which provides facilities management services, says it should be paid the full amount, plus 15 percent interest.

The university’s problems began as enrollment declined and it began borrowing money from a community arm of the school to help cover deficits. University officials have since stopped the practice.

The state Budget and Control Board gave S.C. State a $6 million loan last spring after then-President Thomas Elzey reported that the institution was unable to pay vendors and, without help from the state, would have a $4.4 million deficit balloon to more than $13 million by the end of the fiscal year.

Terms of the loan called for repayment by the end of June 2015, but the university says it can’t pay back the $6 million by the end of the fiscal year as required and has asked for an extension of the loan. It has also asked lawmakers to give S.C. State the money it needs to repay the loan.

The Budget and Control Board decided Wednesday to wait until its April 28 meeting before deciding whether to extend the loan, since lawmakers are considering bills to remove and replace the university’s trustees.

“We also have a duty to the taxpayers,” House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Brian White said.

S.C. State Acting President Dr. Franklin Evans said the delay will only make things more difficult for the university.

“Our vendors are not being paid,” Evans said. “A delay in receiving the loan will only mean vendors are going to be delayed in receiving any kind of payment.”

Evans said he’s also concerned about the decision’s impact on the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ evaluation of the university. The university is on probation with the accrediting agency for financial and governance issues. A SACS team is scheduled to visit the school in the middle of April.

“We are hoping we can show to SACS that we are making progress toward financial stability,” Evans said. “We knew there are some issues that remain but our goal is to show progress and that we are getting financially stable. I am hoping we can convince them of that next month.”

Haley said the failure to provide the university with an extension will prohibit it from doing what it needs to do to address the loan.

“I think it is too late,” she said.

McNeish presented the board with three financial scenarios, all of which result in the university ending the year $23.5 million in the red to both vendors and the state, even if it receives the planned-for assistance from the state.

In the first scenario, S.C. State pays off the $6 million Budget and Control Board loan by June 30 of this year.

“For the university to have an ability to repay that loan, they will have to discontinue payments to vendors,” McNeish said.

Under the second scenario, the university would implement a mandatory seven-day furlough, with employees required to take unpaid time off. That would result in about $750,000 in additional reductions to compensation and benefits.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman asked if the furlough would help the university out of its debt.

McNeish said it would give the university more cash, but there are more significant problems that need to be addressed.

S.C. State trustees approved the furlough, but it still needs to be approved by lawmakers.

Eckstrom questioned how a furlough taken within the next two months will impact the university.

Evans said the furlough will be taken in a couple of days in April and the week of May 11-15 for faculty and non-year round employees.

“We could not and would not close down the university,” Evans said.

Under the third scenario, S.C. State would receive an additional $4.5 million from the state as recommended by the Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee. That would be used to pay some of its unpaid bills.

“Do you think South Carolina State will survive under Scenario 3?” Leatherman asked.

“It will take more than that,” McNeish said. He said the university will have to improve its operating margin.

Haley suggested the university tighten its focus on simply graduating students, rather than expanding programs.

“We don’t need to have all these degrees,” she said. “We need to make sure kids can come in and get a good education.”

Evans said S.C. State has taken steps to tighten its belt.

“We have already taken steps to look at programs,” Evans said. “We can’t continue to be everything for everyone.”

“We have already reduced some staff but we can’t cut ourselves out of business,” Evans continued. “There are only so many cuts we can do.”

When asked if university trustees have been supportive of the cuts, Evans answered in the affirmative.

“I hear the board has been supportive but I don’t see any results,” Leatherman said, noting this is why he and the rest of the General Assembly support replacing the board.

The S.C. House passed a bill that would replace the board Tuesday. The Senate approved its own version, and it is sitting in a House committee.

Budget and Control Board members agreed the university’s challenges are more than financial.

“It is a matter of getting somebody in there quickly,” Haley said. “I never felt as uncomfortable as I do right now as to how we actually get this school to survive. There will have to be a lot of changes that will be uncomfortable.”

Haley suggested out-of-state trustees be allowed on the board, similar to S.C. State’s neighbor Claflin.

“It does not become incestuous and it does not become the fact of a power grab,” she said. “They don’t care about the politics because they are bigger than that.”

 

Spelman College Co-Valedictorian Twins Continue to Aim High After Graduation

After making history two years ago as the first twin co-valedictorians at Spelman College, Kirstie and Kristie Bronner continue to break new ground as they build careers as youth pastors at Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral in Austell, Ga. Located in the outskirts of Atlanta, the church is pastored by their father, Bishop Dale Bronner, and one of the largest in the metro area.

 “We strongly believe in faith and work,” Kirstie Bronner tells The Root. “None of us is perfect, so achievement and success come as a product of faith and work.”

After graduating from college, the identical twins published a self-help book with the aim of inspiring other young people. Double Vals: The Keys to Success in College and Life Beyond serves as a resource for high school and college students on how to strive for success through faith, discipline and hard work. The 175-page guide also provides tips about studying, scheduling, living a balanced life and committing to excellence.

The Bronner twins, each of whom maintained a 4.0 grade point average, come from a long line of success seekers. Members of their family own Bronner Bros., a hair and beauty supply company. They intend to carve out their own path to success, focusing on the spiritual side of things and not straying far from the church in their work and deeds, they say.

“God is a huge part of our lives,” Kirstie says. “When we were focused on academics in college, we never lost our foundation in Christ, slept in on a Sunday or used it as an extra Saturday.”

Intent on forging careers in ministry, they became youth pastors at Word of Faith after serving as youth event coordinators, planning conferences, monthly worship and social events, and retreats for their contemporaries with the help of volunteers they recruited.

Today the young women, who majored in music, are also directors in the church’s music department. They lead the Ignite Youth Praise Team, teach the 150-voice Ignite Youth Choir and oversee the Ignite Youth Band (performing a mix of contemporary Christian and gospel music).

They joined the glee club at Spelman freshman year and had scored leadership roles by their senior year.

Initially they had planned to release a music CD after graduation but then decided to focus on their book first.

These days the sisters tour the country delivering their message of inspiration. While they have no official ties to the #BlackLivesMatter campaign, Kirstie Bronner says their message is in sync with the movement, whose focus is to halt police brutality against black Americans.

“We tackle the root of the issues,” Kirstie says. “With racism there is always a hatred that lies up under it and so does low self-esteem. You would not feel the need to put someone else down if you weren’t trying to lift yourself up in the process.”

She continues, “A tinge of self-hatred … comes along with racist issues out there. We urge people to stay spiritually rooted.”

Their hard-core spirituality, dedication and discipline enabled them to become co-valedictorians at Spelman. As third-generation Spelman graduates, they are following in the footsteps of their mother, Nina Cobb Bronner, who was part of the Class of 1985, and grandmother, Dorothy Gibson Cobb, in the Class of 1956.

“We’ve always been very passionate about doing our best,” Kirstie Bronner says. “Our parents drilled in us to be the best that we can be.” They were always “encouraging us to trust God to do the rest.”

The twins’ first instance of spending time apart came their junior year, while they studied music in Milan. Their program, arranged through the Institute for the International Education of Students, did not allow students from the same school to be roommates.

“It was the first time we had to travel to get to one another,” Kristie says. “That’s when we learned our love for each other. I was like, ‘Wow, we really like each other and it’s not just because we’re twins.’” Other than the fact that they had to stay apart, she considers their Italian sojourn to have been a great experience.

Today the Bronner twins live together in an Atlanta suburb. They are so close, they like the same clothes, books and movies, Kristie says.

But come September, the two will likely experience a bit of separation anxiety. That’s when Kirstie plans to tie the knot with her childhood sweetheart, Kyle Foley, 27, a U.S. Air Force pilot. The couple became engaged in February.

“Marriage is the one thing we can’t do together—unless we have a double wedding,” jokes Kristie, who broke up with her longtime boyfriend about a year and a half ago. “And that’s not happening as of now.” She says what happens next fall will be an “adjustment,” adding “but it’s another season.”

TN

IFederai Regulations ID>raining IUnivevsii:ies o Time and Resources

 

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pen­ sions (HELP), said some federal regulations on education

are drai_ning universities of time and resources. He proposed  prun­ ing  back  some  of  those  regulations  in  a  committee  meeting  last month.

Alexander and the witnesses called to testify before the committee – Dr. William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the Uni­ versity System of Maryland, and Nicholas S. Zeppos, chan­ cellor of Vanderbilt University

– argued  that  universities are encumbered  by  some  federal regulations  that  are  costly  to enact. With   thn  P  1·pz11btf0!!

the Department of Education were  to  repeal  federal regulations on their universities his year, would they agree to commit all the money saved to reducing student tuition. She said that the federal government could use its leverage to minimize college costs.

“In other words, if you want some changes, there has to be some accountability on the other side:’ Warren told Zeppos and Kirwan.

Zeppos       said

there were other areas of the uni­ vers it ies that lacked invest ­ ment, such as research grants or study-abroad money. “I. under­ stand the tempta­ tton to say, ‘l will

 

removed, funds would be freed up that could go back to stu­ dents or other institutional costs.

Since it was enacted in 1965, the Higher Educat ion Act (HEA) has been added on to and amended such that it and the  Code  of  Federal  Regula-

U.S.  Senator   Lamar  Alexander,

R-Tenn.,  above,  spol<e  at  a  recent HELP    Committee    meeting    on Ca11itol  Hill.  Dr. William  E. l<lrwan, top   right,  Is   chancellor   of   the University  System of  Maryland.  He spol<e   about   the   tasl<   force   and report  he  ancl  Nicholas  S.  Zeppos, chancellor  of  Vanderbilt   University, bottom right, headed.

promise to cut [tuition]: but I do think we should have the free­ dom to say, ‘This is [another] area of u nderinvest ­ ment,”‘ Zeppos said.

 

tions on education now are both more than 1,000 pages long, as Alexander stated in his opening remarks. Another regulatory issue, according.to Alexander, is the Department of Education’s “Dear Colleague” letters, which he said are issued an average of once every working day. The letters, in his view, add greater complexity to in­ terpreting federal law and guidelines.

The HELP Committee released a report in February !isling vari­ ous recommendations to make regulations easier to implement for Congress and the Department of Education to consider. Kirwan and Zeppos co-chaired the task force.

Alelfander said  that it was time to streamline the regulations for greater  ease of  implementation.  “No one has taken  time to ‘weed the garden:” Alexander  said. “The result of this piling  up of regu­ lations is that one of the greatest obstacles to innovation  and cost consciousness  in higher education has become us, the federal gov­ ernment;’

To illustrate this point, Zeppos recounted that Vanderbilt calcu­ lated how much money the university spends annually to comply with federal regulations. The number was $146 million. Divided out among Vanderbilt’s 12,757 students, that amounts to $11,000 per student in tuition a year.

HELP Committee member Snator Elizabelh Warren, D-Mass., asked  Zeppos and  Kirwan  if,  in  the  hypothetical  situation that

 

w1·1w.diverseeclucatlon.com

 

Ki rwan had a similar response. While the Univer­

sity System of Maryland would certainly invest any savings in need­ based financial aid, he said, the system could also use the money to increase enrollments and invest in critical degree programs.

“There are lots of things we are t rying to do as an institution, and to tie this particular dollar to a dollar reduction in tuition might not be in the best interest of the stu.dents:’ Kirwan said.

Zeppos  and  Kirwan,  along with  HELP  Committee  members,

stressed that they were concerned by the debt some students carr)’ and the overall cost of higher education.

“The access that I had as a high school student  to go to the Un i­ versity of Wisconsin, at a very low cost, is just  not there anymore:’ Zeppos said.                                                                           .

Kirwan said that University of Maryland in-state tuition had only increased by 12 percent over the past eight years in an attempt to ensure that the school remained affordable.

HELP Committee members and the witnesses said that a growing administrative bureaucracy is pushing up the costs for students, as is state divestment, which spiked in the years after the recession.

ACPE Accredited HBCU Pharmacy Schools

Xavier University College of Pharmacy students in laboratory

With so many pharmacy schools in the United States, aspiring pharmacy students have many options. So how do you narrow down your list to a manageable few? Accreditations can help. In fact, it might interest you to note that pharmacy graduates from an accredited school are guaranteed eligibility for licensure. Whereas, those from unaccredited schools always run the risk of being denied a license to work. Thus, to help you make an informed decision, we bring to you a list of 5 HBCU pharmacy schools that are recognized by Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).

Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University

Located in Tallahassee, Florida, The Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy offers a dual degree program leading to conferral of the Doctor of Pharmacy and the Master of Business Administration degrees in collaboration with the School of Business and Industry. This program is unique as it provides both clinical and business knowledge and prepares students for competitive management and administrative positions.

Howard University

A private institution located at Washington, District of Columbia, Howard University grants Pharm. D. degrees, the bachelor’s degree equivalent in the field of pharmacy. The school also offers master’s and doctoral degrees in pharmaceutical sciences.

Xavier University of Louisiana

Xavier University of Louisiana holds a place of distinction among the various colleges of pharmacy. The college’s School of Pharmacy is housed in New Orleans, Louisiana and grants doctor of pharmacy degree

Texas Southern University

Texas Southern University is a public college located in Houstan, Texas. The college offers a doctor of pharmacy degree meant to prepare students to be competent in health care delivery and become leaders in their fields.

Hampton University

Located in Hampton, Virginia, the University offers an innovative, entry-level, professional program leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree which requires six years for completion. The beginning two years of the program consist of pre-professional pharmacy education, followed by four years of professional pharmacy education.

The California system signed agreements with Bennett College, Dillard University, Fisk University, Lincoln University in Missouri, Philander Smith College, Stillman College, Talladega, Tuskegee University and Wiley College.

March 17, 2015

By

Ry Rivard

California’s 112-campus community college system is making it easier for graduates to attend historically black colleges and universities across the country.

The system is launching a new program that guarantees students admission to nine HBCUs if they graduate with an associate degree. The deal allows a student with 60 community college credits to enter the historically black colleges as a junior.

The deal serves twin goals. It helps two-year students from California find a place to get a four-year degree if they want to leave the state. It also helps historically black colleges find students as some struggle with enrollment declines. Late last year, the for-profit University of Phoenix’s attempt to partner with historically black colleges prompted skepticism.

There are no HBCUs in California, and the deal may be a precedent-setting agreement between a state system and a series of public and private colleges in other states.

The California agreement builds on some existing transfer agreements between individual community colleges and nine individual HBCUs, all but one of which is private.

The deal also mirrors an internal transfer process the community college system has with the California State University System: Community college graduates who earn one of 35 different associate degrees designed to transfer are guaranteed admission into Cal State universities. Last year, about 12,000 students graduated with one of those associate transfer degrees.

“It just seems natural and the timing seemed right to say, let’s take a shot at applying that pathway to the HBCUs,” said Bob Quinn, who handles transfer policy for the community college chancellor’s office. “Because we’ve been hearing for years how well our students do after they transfer there.”

The deal limits the number of lower-division general education courses that the historically black colleges can make transferring students take after they transfer: incoming students with a California associate degree may be asked to take only nine general education units by a historically black college. The deal also creates a simple path for students who have only taken 30 credits — rather than 60 — to enter an HBCU.

Five hundred California community college students transferred to historically black colleges in 2011, the last year for which data are available, according to the system.

That number is likely to go up, said Kevin L. Williams, the vice president of enrollment management and retention at Talladega College, a historically black college in Alabama that signed an agreement with the California system.

“I think this is an excellent program because there are such a large number of students who are available” in California, Williams said.

He said the partnership will help historically black colleges expand their reach. Talladega has already worked to increase its recruitment in California. As part of the deal with the California system, the community colleges are to make information about the HBCUs available to students.

Seventeen historically black colleges already had transfer relationships with individual community colleges in California. But the systemwide deal with the nine HBCUs makes it easier for colleges to send students their way.

Constance Iloh, a research assistant the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education, said the state can benefit from efforts designed to increase college access, transfer and completion, especially for historically underserved groups.

“I imagine students that are more geographically flexible might be better able to take advantage of this, as students with work and family commitments might be more geographically bound,” she said in an e-mail.

Denise Noldon, the community college system’s vice chancellor for student services and special programs, said the agreements will just make it easier on students who would consider transferring to a historically black college.

“I think it just extends the options available,” she said.

The California system signed agreements with Bennett College, Dillard University, Fisk University, Lincoln University in Missouri, Philander Smith College, Stillman College, Talladega, Tuskegee University and Wiley College.

Even Black Graduates from Elite Universities Plagued By Racial Discrimination in the Job Market

Most college students who pursue higher education at the nation’s elite universities are under the impression that a degree from such a prestigious institution will ease their way when they seek job opportunities in the future.

It’s a claim that’s true for most students….unless you’re Black.

A researcher from the University of Michigan recently confirmed that even when Black students excel in the classroom, obtain degrees from the most prestigious universities and perform at the level of their white counterparts, they are still far less likely to get callbacks for job positions if the employer suspects that they are Black.

  1. Michael Gaddis, who conducted the study, wrote that, “The opportunities that arise upon graduation from an elite university are not equal between whites and blacks.”

Gaddis noted that Black graduates from elite universities still had an advantage over students from less prestigious universities when they entered the job market, but they still lagged significantly behind their white peers.

“Although there is a clear premium to a degree from an elite university over a less selective university for both white and black candidates, black candidates still lag behind white candidates in employer responses,” Gaddis added.

When it came to white candidates from less prestigious universities, Black graduates from elite schools barely edged ahead of them in employer responses.

Employer response to Black job candidates from elite schools like Harvard and Stanford was roughly 11 percent higher than white candidates from less prestigious universities.

The study used faux profiles for job candidates that altered the fictional candidates’ names.

He used “racialized names” that had strong links to either a white or Black background.

Names like Jalen and Nia were used to represent Black candidates and names like Caleb and Aubry to represent white candidates.

The profiles were used to apply for more than 1,000 jobs as Gaddis then kept track of which profiles were the most likely to receive callbacks.

Profiles with names that suggested the candidate was white and attended an elite university had an employer response rate of 17.5 percent.

Profiles with names that suggested they were Black and attended an elite university had an employer response rate of less than 13 percent.

According to Gaddis, this means a white graduate from a top university only had to send out six resumes to get a lead on a job while a Black candidate who was equally as qualified had to send out at least eight resumes to get a response.

To make matters worse, the disparities didn’t stop with callbacks.

Even when Black graduates finally received a request for a follow up interview, they were offered significantly lower salaries than their white counterparts.

“Black candidates receive responses for jobs that have a listed salary $3,071 lower than white candidates,” the study found.

While the study confirmed that attending a prestigious university boosted a Black candidate’s chances of finding employment, it also made the racial disparities in the job market even more evident.

The study adds to an already extensive list of studies that prove even an “elite education does not erase racial inequality during the preliminary stages of the employment process.”

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 SC State’s suspended president now fired

Orangeburg, SC (WLTX) – The South Carolina State University Board of Trustees has fired School President Thomas Elzey, as the school continues to come under intense criticism over its finances.

The board made their decision at a special meeting held on the school’s campus Monday afternoon. Board members deliberated for over an hour in a closed door session before making their decision.

Board of Trustees Chairman William Small read a prewritten motion saying Elzey was being fired based on letters trustees wrote in January and February. Those letters were not released.

The board chair made his motion to terminate Elzey’s contract after returning from executive session, and held a roll-call vote where six Trustees voted yes, one voted no, and three board members abstained from voting on the motion.

Elzey’s contract as President was terminated, effective immediately, at 5:30PM Monday, March 16. The board immediately returned to executive session.

This follows a ruling by a Judge in Orangeburg Monday that affirmed the SC State Board of Trustees does posses the authority to fire the School President.

Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson ruled Monday that Elzey’s contract allows him to be fired for any reason as long as he’s paid what he’s owed. The decision overturned the ban he put on firing Elzey less than two weeks ago.

The school is currently in the midst of a deep financial crisis that’s led to calls for major changes at the university. Earlier this year, Elzey told a House budget committee that the school still owes $17.5 million, and last December, the school got a $12 million dollar loan from the state. That money is set to be paid out over three years, and came with several stipulations, including passing a balanced budget.

Firing Elzey without cause would cost the financially strapped university around $425,000, according to a more recent estimate from state economic advisers. The school owes about $11 million in unpaid bills. Its total debt, when outstanding bonds are included, exceeds $83 million, legislators have said.

The problems at the university came to a boiling point earlier this month, though, when two House subcommittee approved a proviso that would have shut down the school for two years and fired Elzey and the entire board of trustees. In passing those plans, lawmakers expressed frustration that they hadn’t received the answers they were looking for from school leaders about the university’s plan to get out of its financial woes.

That plan, however, met resistance from South Carolina State leaders and alumni, who felt a shutdown could irreversibly harm the school.

The House Ways and Means Committee dropped the plan to close the school, but passed a revised measure that would still fire the trustees and Elzey. They’d be replaced by a team of temporary leaders. The interim president would review the school’s accreditation and financial situation, then make recommendations to the interim board and other state agencies about the path the school should take to resolve its problems.

In response, the board placed Elzey on administrative leave, and named an interim president in his stead.

Elzey filed a lawsuit soon after, claiming the school was in violation of the terms in his contract, claiming the board did not have ‘just cause’ to terminate him.

Last summer, the school was put on a two year probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the group that gives the university its accreditation.

Contributing: Jeffrey Collins for the Associated Press

EWC Announces Major Financial Services, Literacy Initiative(Left to Right) Dejanay White, Miss UNCF; Omari Peterson, National Program Manager of Operation HOPE's Banking On Our Future College Edition; Keshari Millings, EWC Homecoming Queen; Ryan Andrews, Mr. Senior

Edward Waters College (EWC) will partner with Operation HOPE to launch the Banking On Our Future College Edition (BOOF CE). This program equips college students with tools to understand the language of money, cultivate a spirit of giving, and live a dignified life as they define. Mr. Omari Peterson, the National Program Manager of Operation HOPE, Inc. introduced the program during campus chapel service Wednesday, February 25th.BOOF CE first introduces college freshmen to the tools needed to make critical financial decisions and avoid mistakes. Participants then examine their individual financial personality and develop healthy financial practices and attitudes. The final phase prepares college seniors for their post-college journey, equipping them with tools devoted to maintaining sound finances and an ethic of giving back.

EWC is one of 19 historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs) to establish this program on their campuses to help address the current economic crisis of students graduating with thousands of dollars of student loans and credit card debt. BOOF CE will begin during the Fall 2015 semester.

About Edward Waters College

Edward Waters College (EWC), accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges, and Schools (SACS) and member of the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), is a private, historically black, urban college which offers a liberal arts education with a strong emphasis on the Christian principles of high moral and spiritual values. EWC was established in 1866 and is an African Methodist Episcopal Church-related institution of learning. It is the oldest private institution of higher education in the State of Florida.

7 Reasons Why Historically Black Colleges and Universities Are Suffering

Pell Grant Cutbacks

The Pell Grant, which had served as a financial lifeblood to many students at historically Black colleges and universities for decades, was limited in 2011 by the federal government to use for only 12 semesters. Prior to then, it was available for 18 semesters. The change was almost crippling to HBCU students who, on average, take longer to complete requirements for graduation. Only one-third of HBCU students graduate in four years, according to studies. And so, Black colleges lost significant tuition revenue because students could not afford to stay in school. Marybeth Gasman, a professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania, said to insiderhighered.com that almost 85 percent of HBCU students receive Pell Grants, making the decrease in its availability significant.

www.usnewsLoan Modifications

Parent PLUS loans, another often-used, government-based vehicle that HBCU students used to get and stay in school, also have been limited since 2011, a huge blow to predominantly Black schools. Low graduation rates impact available money, meaning countless schools have been affected because of so many dropouts for financial reasons. This situation has been considered a “crisis” by educators who closely monitor historically Black colleges. “It could be a bloodbath,” said Johnny C. Taylor Jr., the president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. Paying back loans on time opens the doors to other students receiving loans. But the rate of payback among HBCU students is too low, making it hard for students coming behind them to receive that financial assistance.

Students-walking-2014-CollegeEnrollment Fallout

How’s this for shocking? Three public HBCUs – West Virginia State University, Bluefield State College in West Virginia and Lincoln University in Missouri – already have more white students than Black students. Last year, North Carolina officials considered shutting down Elizabeth City State University, which had lost more than a quarter of its full-time enrollment since the fall of 2010. But ECSU is not alone. Texas Southern University’s enrollment fell 9.3 percent. Florida A&M University’s enrollment fell 10.6 percent last fall. In fact, in 2014, of 13 public HBCUs’ Moody’s Investment Services rates, at least six have seen notable enrollment declines that are affecting their financial health. Part of the problem for HBCUs is a result of more opportunities at colleges outside of HBCUs for Blacks to choose from. HBCUs have long since lost the monopoly it had on Black students. Larger schools, many times, have more scholarship options, making attending them more feasible.

studyingAA2Decrease in Federal Funding

The Department of Education appropriated more than $171 million to colleges and universities nationwide to bolster college access and equity for low-income and minority students. Several dozen colleges and universities received First in the World grants to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) professional development for minorities or smaller grants aimed at supporting Alaskans, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, African-Americans and Hispanics. According to The Huffington Post, only three HBCUs — Fayetteville State University, Hampton University and Prairie View A&M University — collectively received just over $3 million in federal support. The White House has not matched resources with its expressed support. The White House Initiative on HBCUs sounds good, but hundreds of students still are denied the opportunity to matriculate or complete a degree at an HBCU due to a lack of financial aid.

22016229_BG1Mismanagement

South Carolina State was on the verge of being shut down for two years before the House Ways and Means Committee tabled the budget proviso that would have closed the doors for that time while the state paid its bills. Norfolk State University and other HBCUs were placed on probation over financial concerns or retention rates. Doug Williams, the former Grambling football star who was the first Black quarterback to win a Super Bowl, told Atlanta Blackstar, “Black school presidents are the problem. For instance, you see in major college football at a bowl game. The team is on the field, the athletic director. At HBCUs, the president is on the field, seeking attention instead of doing his job in running the school. They want the spotlight. Too many have lost focus on the job they have — keeping the school running and managing the budget. That’s why so many schools are in financial trouble.”

Added Walter Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University in New Orleans, to The Huffington Post: (It’s) “a ‘Bermuda Triangle’ of unpleasant if not counterproductive experiences at their schools registrar’s office, the business office and financial aid offices that leave graduates feeling that their universities are poorly run.”

Nor_State_University_entrCuts in Jobs, Programs

The functionality of HBCUs has suffered in recent years as jobs are continually cut from staff designed to make student life more efficient. At Howard University, one of the flagship HBCUs, 200 jobs were eliminated last year, according to The Washington Post. Morehouse College and Spelman College have each cut jobs in recent years, as well as North Carolina Central and others. The job losses lead to inefficiency in areas like student affairs, class registration and financial aid, among others. This makes it harder to attract students. A report by the Southern Education Foundation said they are “necessary considerations and possible measures” for states to take to deploy performance-based funding models that apply to HBCUs. “The campuses that are more likely to lose money are the campuses that need it the most,” it read.

082211-national-dreams-not-realized-higher-education.jpgLack of Alumni Giving

Black colleges have had an especially rough time getting their alums to open their wallets, according to insidehighered.com, which surmises that is so because even though alums love their schools they may not necessarily trust them with their money. “Alumni giving is a significant issue for HBCUs and has been for years,” said Marybeth Gasman, a professor of higher education and the director of the Penn Center for Minority Serving Institutions at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education, to HBCUBuzz.com. “Some institutions have been able to increase their ability to engage alumni, but most HBCUs need work in this area.”

 

Johnson C. Smith gets $1.7M to create online programs

Johnson C. Smith University will create its first two online degree programs after receiving a $1.7 million grant from the Duke Endowment.

Degree programs in business administration and sport management will be offered online beginning with the 2015-16 school year, the school announced Monday. The programs are already offered on campus.

The effort is part of the Charlotte university’s push to expand academic offerings to nontraditional students.

Known as the Metropolitan College, their programs have graduated 39 adult students since 2009.Andrew Dunn

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/education/article13118168.html#storylink=cpy

 

 

They dug up a Malcolm X speech that predicted so much of what’s going on today. Creepy.

It was 50 years ago.

Whenever Americans talk about race, people can get uncomfortable. We don’t want to feel like we’re part of the problem, and we try in our lives not to be. But talking about it can be painful because it reminds us that there are experiences we can’t fully understand because they haven’t happened to us.

In this half-century-old speech, you can hear the anger and disgust in Malcolm X’s voice. And it’s amazing that he could’ve been saying this last week.

What he’s talking about rings so true to us in 2015. In a democratic country “of the people,” we expect police to be on our side, working with us. But recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere can shake a person’s belief in the system. Malcolm X’s faith in it was certainly shaken.

So let’s make this stop already.

When Malcolm X gave this speech, he was speaking about an awful experience that his audiences had seen in their own lives. They’d seen it over and over and for years — it’s not like this just started 50 years ago.

Maybe things are more fixable than they seem.

Really, it’s hard to know how often someone is assaulted by a cop because it often occurs away from the cameras. On the other hand, there have to be thousands of cops that have great relationships with their communities. How much progress have we made, if any? We can’t know. We just know that it should not happen ever, anymore, not once.

But, heartbreakingly, what Malcolm X described does still happen.

It’s a turning upside-down of fairness, with the victim being the only one to suffer if investigations by law enforcement conclude that the attacker’s actions don’t merit prosecution. When no charges were filed against Ferguson’s Darren Wilson or against NYC’s Daniel Pantaleo, who took Eric Garner’s life, we were stunned all over again. How can this be fair?

We can only wonder why so little has changed. Maybe it’s because, while things have gotten better in broad strokes, power on a local level — being less visible — can more successfully resist change. It can get away with holding onto old abusive cultures while the rest of the country moves forward.

Our news media are no help, more interested in drama than a solution.

On one hand, it’s important that these stories get told, and more news coverage is a big help.

But the way media frames it all by oversimplifying people’s positions is so dangerous. Reducing the problem to the police-versus-the-world may make great TV, but it’s doing real damage to our country and getting us nowhere.

There are two different cultures that see two different things.

Given what an intense job they have, it’s no surprise that police don’t want to be put in the position of not standing by each other, even when they don’t agree with what a fellow officer has done.

But because of the unique demands of their jobs, and shared experience, police inhabit their own culture that can prevent them from seeing what everyone sees as so obvious. And at the same time, they’re baffled by what we can’t see that’s so clear from their perspective. Cops who would never be involved in situations like these feel insulted and underappreciated.

We’re stuck.

Being a cop must be really hard. You wonder why someone would go into that line of work. Some for power, sure, but probably far more to do something good.

We know we need police. We just need to be clearer as we speak out against police brutality that we can see the difference between the officers who see themselves as part of their communities and the cops who see themselves as above the people they’re charged with serving.

And we need to partner with the many cops who surely want to see this brutality stop, beginning with the understanding that life looks different from different sides of a badge.

We need to stop arguing and start figuring this out.

50 years ago.

 

Apple commits more than $50 million to diversity efforts

A flashy new smart watch isn’t all Apple has up its sleeve. The company is donating more than $50 million to organizations that aim to get more women, minorities, and veterans working in tech.

It’s a big week for Apple. On Monday the iPhone-maker unveiled the latest addition to its ecosystem of devices, a smart watch whose price will range from $350 to $18,000. On Tuesday, the company kicks off its annual shareholders’ meeting in Cupertino, Calif.

But there’s more. In an exclusive interview with Fortune, Apple’s human resources chief Denise Young Smith said the company is partnering with several non-profit organizations on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar effort to increase the pipeline of women, minorities, and veterans in the technology industry—and, of course, at Apple.

“We wanted to create opportunities for minority candidates to get their first job at Apple,” said Young Smith, who took over as its head of HR a little over a year ago. (Before her current role, the longtime Apple exec spent a decade running recruiting for the retail side of the business.) “There is tremendous upside to that and we are dogged about the fact that we can’t innovate without being diverse and inclusive.”

Young Smith likes to say that diversity extends race and gender—Apple wants its employee base to also reflectdifferent lifestyles and sexual orientations. (Last fall, CEO Tim Cook publicly acknowledged that he is gay—the firstFortune 500 chief executive to do so while holding the title.) But, at least for now, its diversity initiatives are mostly focused on expanding its pipeline of women and minorities.

To that end, the company is partnering with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, a non-profit that supports students enrolled in public, historically black colleges and universities (known as HBCUs). These schools include North Carolina A&T State University, Howard University, and Grambling State University (where Young Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism in 1978). All told, there are 100 HBCUs across the country—47 of them are considered public—and collectively they graduate nearly 20% of African-Americans who earn undergraduate degrees.

“Historically, other organizations have provided scholarship dollars or focused on whatever area matters most to them,” says Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. “What differentiates this partnership with Apple is that it hits on everything that we do—it is the most comprehensive program ever offered to an HBCU organization.”

Courtesy: Apple

According to Taylor, it is also the largest: Apple is committing over $40 million to the fund, which will use the money to create a database of computer science majors at HBCUs, train both students and faculty and offer scholarships. Apple will also create a paid internship program for particularly promising students.

“People are at Harvard and MIT looking for their students,” says Taylor. “But Apple said, there are some really talented individuals at these [HBCU] schools.”

Apple is also partnering with another non-profit, the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), to help create a broader pipeline of female technology workers. According to Lucy Sanders, CEO and co-founder of the organization, this isn’t the first time the device maker is teaming up with the non-profit, but this latest round has much broader ambitions and represents the largest single investment NCWIT has received to date—to the tune of about $10 million, which will be doled out over the course of four years. The goal? To double the number of four-year-degree recipients supported by NCWIT’s internships, scholarships and other resources, and to reach 10,000 middle school girls over the next few years.

Again, the organization’s leader says Apple’s investment is different in that it is bigger and more far-reaching than previous corporate donors. Says Sanders: “A lot of actitivies are one and done, but this is a longitudinal experience throughout the pipeline.”

Of course, Apple’s not the only heavyweight pouring significant dollars into these organizations—NCWIT, for example, is also funded by Google, Microsoft and Symantec, and the Thurgood Marshall College Fund has received significant grants from the likes of Wal-Mart and the National Basketball Association. There’s also Intel, which announced it will devote $300 million to science and technology education, primarily for girls and minorities, earlier this year.

To hear Apple tell it, the focus isn’t so much on the dollar amount but more on the approach, which Young Smith calls “thoughtful.” (Leave it to Apple to think different.)

In addition to the over $50 million that will be poured into the organizations mentioned above, Young Smith says Apple is talking to military leaders to come up with a way to provide technology training and specialized on boarding programs for veterans. No word on how much money Apple will devote to this effort.

“In any of these programs we’re really trying to provide focus, impact and a ripple effect–not just on Apple,” Young Smith says.

The real effect of these efforts, however—whether Apple’s or Intel’s—likely won’t be felt for a number of years. But while last year seemed to be all about technology companies admitting they have a diversity problem, this year seems to be the time for them to finally put their money where their mouth is. Just like Apple’s new Watch, it’s a development that has been a long time coming

 

 

Don’t let emotions lead you to an unaffordable choice of college

It’s that time of year when parents and high school seniors are struggling with college choices. For many, the decision isn’t easy and can lead to family feuds.

A dad from Virginia wrote to me asking for my thoughts on his family’s decision about where his daughter should go to college.

Michelle Singletary writes the nationally syndicated personal finance column, “The Color of Money.”View Archive

Here’s the background:

The couple have a high-achieving daughter. She’s taken Advanced Placement classes and performed well. She has great grades, exceptional ACT and SAT scores and has been involved in charitable work. “Proud and fortunate does not begin to describe the feelings here,” he wrote.

She is planning a career that will require a graduate degree. “My current belief is while her undergraduate pedigree is somewhat important, it may be better to focus on the graduate program as this ultimately provides your career brand moving forward,” the dad wrote.

The couple has saved a five-figure nest egg to cover her college expenses as if she were attending an in-state school.

With sufficient savings, one would think that they wouldn’t have any problems.

But they do, and here’s why:

The daughter did not want to attend an in-state school and applied to several top ­­out-of-state schools. She also applied to international programs.

The daughter was accepted into two of her top picks: one ranked nationally, and the other an international school also highly regarded and where her boyfriend happens to be attending his freshman year. “Though I do not see that as what is driving her decision entirely,” the father said.

At the U.S. university, the daughter was accepted into an honors program and given a scholarship that would cover a significant portion of her tuition and expenses. In fact, she would have money left over from her college fund to help pay for her graduate studies. She did not get any money from the international university.

“My belief is both options are excellent schools, and either would position her well for graduate school, with the greatest determinant of success moving into graduate studies being her grades rather than the undergraduate brand,” the dad wrote. “As such I am not entirely sold on investing more in one over the other.”

The discussion centers on this:

The daughter wants to go to the international school. If she goes, she would end up with significant debt just for her undergraduate degree.

The father doesn’t want to overextend beyond what he and his wife have saved. “I feel it is appropriate to commit to her success and fully support her undergraduate education at in-state costs,” he said.

But the mom wants to do more. “My spouse differs, taking a position that we should fund the best school possible, with no boundaries, which runs contrary to my current thoughts on responsibility, ownership and entitlement risks.”

The parents agree their daughter should be free to choose her own path. “I see value in her owning both the choice and the outcomes,” her father said.

Here’s what I think:

I’m not completely convinced that the daughter’s decision isn’t being influenced by the fact that her boyfriend is at her top choice.

The decision of what college to attend should be made together as a family. I don’t believe parents should abdicate the college decision to a teenager who doesn’t have a penny to pay for his or her choice.

The student gets a say but not the final word.

This is a great test for a young adult on how to make sound financial decisions. All too often folks give in to emotions when it comes to college choices. If both schools achieve the same end goal, which is a great education, why wouldn’t you opt for the one that is much more affordable and have money for graduate studies?

So here’s what I would do:

I would put my foot down for the U.S. university.

It makes more financial sense to choose the school that is giving her a scholarship, thus freeing up money for her graduate studies.

If my daughter refused to listen to me and opted for the international school, I would still give her what I’ve saved. She deserves it. But she would then be responsible for coming up with the difference for both her undergraduate and graduate degrees. I would not take on any parent loans. I would not co-sign on any student loans she may take out. I would not dig into my retirement savings.

In the end, if she wants to make a grown-up decision, she has to come up with the money and then live with the financial consequences of her choice.

Write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or singletarym@washpost.com. Comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more, go to wapo.st/michelle-singletary.