Friday, January 29, 2016

January 2016 News Digest

Check out the articles below for a snapshot of the higher education news for January.

What It's Like to Teach Islam 101 When Anti-Muslim Rhetoric Runs High

Donald Trump has erased the distinction between fighting terrorists and fighting Muslims and this has sparked anti-Muslim sentiments across the nation.

In the midst of this, Terje Østebø talks about what it is like to teach Introduction to Islam at the University of Florida. He has his students confront images of violence and other portrayals of Islam in the media to better understand the religion and misconceptions surrounding it.

Mr. Østebø has the task of teaching his students that there is more to the religion than what politics and the media portray. He wants them to understand that things are not that simple and to think beyond these stereotypes.

Terje Østebø, Professor at the University of Florida

State Spending on Higher Education Continues Slow Improvement

State spending has increased by 4% for a third consecutive year. Thirty-nine states have reported increases for higher education while nine states have reported decreases from the previous year.

Although spending is down for some states, the data indicates that a majority of states are spending more on higher education than they did five years ago. Texas's spending on higher education has increased 8.7% over the last year.

This represents an ongoing recovery, slow as it may be, from the turmoil caused by the last recession.

Nearly One-Quarter of College Athletes Report Signs of Depression
The results of a survey of 500 Division I athletes found that 1/4th of the athletes reported signs of depression. 
Signs of depression were reported more often by female athletes than their male counterparts. 24% of athletes across 9 sports reported symptoms of depression.
Hopefully these findings will encourage colleges to take an active and comprehensive stance in addressing this issue.

Is University Research Missing What Matters Most?

University research has long been constrained by money. This constraint is causing researchers to lose sight of the real goal, which is to make a great contribution to society.

Instead, university research is being geared toward developing profitable products or cures rather than society-wide prevention. This is limiting areas like social science and psychology, which have the potential to create policies to address the root cause of issues.

Universities still place a greater emphasis on publications. Although these publications may bring attention and awards to the professors, they do little to tackle the problems presented in their findings.

A clever graphic to demonstrate the influence of money on research

Does Technology Ever Reduce the Costs of Teaching?

More technology has meant more spending for many smaller colleges.

According to consultants, technology does not reduce the cost of education unless it completely changes a process model. For example, if technology is used for grading, it saves a professor time to teach another class and then it can reduce costs.

Flipped classrooms, a model in which student watch lectures at home and do activities in class, also do not really save money unless professors share lectures. However, this idea often makes professors uncomfortable.

In order to find ways to save money through technology, these smaller colleges need to work with startups to test out pilot programs. Some things like sharing lectures between universities may work, but first, colleges need to get on board. 

A Piece of UT Austin History

Contrary to this winter's unseasonably warm weather, it does actually get cold in Austin, Texas from time to time. In February of 1899, campus was struck by the aptly named Great Blizzard of 1899. The temperature got down to an unbelievable -1ºF and campus was blanketed by six inches of snow.

Even more surprisingly, classes started right on time at 9:00am. However, the snow proved to be a great distraction. A crowd of students, armed with snowballs, trekked up to the Old Main Building to implore UT President George Winston to declare the day a holiday. He was gracious enough to agree and thus ensued a campus wide snowball fight.

The Great Blizzard of 1899

A Campus Snowball Fight in 1963

A Snow Day in 1966

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal

Friday, January 22, 2016

ACA January 2016 General Meeting

Happy New Year, ACA! What a great meeting to kick off the year and get us energized for the semester to come.

Thanks to Healthcare @ McCombs for sponsoring breakfast. Breakfast tacos and coffee is the way to ACA's heart after all!

Don't mind the runaway coffee cups

You can never have too much salsa

Foil wraps of goodness!

It was good to be back after the nice winter break to enjoy some tacos and good company.

First up on the action packed agenda for this meeting was Roanna Flowers with Healthcare @ McCombs who gave us an overview of the Healthcare certificate and how it can benefit students across campus.

We also heard from Dr. Kristie Loescher who was able to give us a faculty perspective of the certificate program.

Next up was the wonderful folks from Bridging Disciplines in the School of Undergraduate Studies.

Larissa Noake started it off by giving us an overview of the BDP program and how it is beneficial to students.

Christine Anderson gave us more information about the connecting experience component of the BDP program. She had some great student examples to share such as a student who made a solar powered smoothie cart and another student who went to Tokyo to study Japanese boy bands!

Lauren Contreras steered us through the details of the application process and timeline. No deadline extensions this year!

Celeste Middleton provided some very positive alumni feedback which really demonstrated the beneficial impact that the BDP program has had on students' lives.

Next up was Brooke Rich from the Center for Skills and Experience Flags in the School of Undergraduate Studies. 

Brooke took us through the history of flags and let us know that they are now fully implemented as of 2016.

Jen Morgan in the School of Undergraduate Studies gave us some very helpful information about changes to the core curriculum.

Lastly, Monya Lemery from the International Office gave us information about the initiatives to increase the number of students who study abroad in Latin America and Mexico. She also provided us with some cool posters to advertise these programs to our students!

It truly was an action packed meeting with lots of speakers and information. We closed with kudos and announcements. Thanks to everyone for coming out and sticking around. We'll see you in March!

Kudos for this month:

From: Anonymous
Yvanna Corella. Thank you for being so great. Your amazing and supportive attitude is invaluable to the Vick Center and the students we serve. Your ability to inspire students and staff does not go unnoticed. You do you boo!

A BIG kudos goes out to Nikki Stinnette, she recently had her 1 year anniversary working in Higher Ed and at UT ECE! Nikki does amazing work with our Move Forward students and had made some great connections with our current students and Peer Advisors. Keep up the great work Nikki!!

Big THANKS to everyone involved in the ACA/APSA Holiday Party. I had a great time and appreciate you taking time from your busy schedules to make sure we celebrate with each other. Cheers!

Lots of love to the ACA Holiday Party Committee for putting on such a wonderful end of year event last semester! The party itself was super fun and delicious, and the philanthropic element was a great touch. Thanks to Cindy and her team for putting it together!

From: Theresa Thomas
Welcome, Alexia Apollo, to the Moody Advising Office! We're so happy to have you with us and look forward to you being with us for a long, long time.  And sorry to UGS - we know we got a gem!

From: Kathy & Rose at the Graduation Help Desk
A big shoutout of gratitude to the many folks across campus who helped us respond to the numerous Graduation Help Desk inquiries that reached us during registration. You took time out of your incredibly busy days to lend us a hand, and for that we are truly grateful. THANK YOU Leah Miller, Jen Morgan, Lauren Contreras, Damon O'Brien, Wendy Boggs, Jeff Hallock, Rob Poynor, Jill Lawler, Diane Larson, Patricia Gutierrez, Stacey Amorous, Lia Haisley, Megan Connor, Nathan Vickers, Anna Tapsek, Holly Smith, Jana Cole, Jinane Sounny-Slitine, Tricia Gore, Sharon Bressette, Adele Magnani, and Allan Altamirano.
We hope we're not forgetting anyone, but if we are, please know that we appreciate you, too!

From: Lovelys
Big THANKS to everyone involved in the ACA/APSA Holiday Party.  I had a great time and appreciate you taking time from your busy schedules to make sure we celebrate with each other.  Cheers!

Big CHEERS to the chairs and committee members working so hard to put together our annual ACA/APSA Professional Development Day.  Can't wait to try a different venue for this event.  I know it will be a great success.

BIG CHEERS to Cindy Bippert for chairing the ACA/APSA Holiday Party.  You've given so much to ACA for the last 25 years and it's inspiring to see that you are still committed to our organization. 

Big CHEERS to Christine Anderson and the FUNdraising Committee for coordinating another great community service project this past November at Webb Middle School.  It was a great project and a wonderful experience working with a great group of new and veteran members of ACA. 

From: Terrie Chandler
Kudos to may staff (Ashlee Vrana, Krista Seidel and Jenny Kondo at the time) for putting up with me and helping me out the last 6 months or so.  While I was playing interim EA in our department, they had my back.  They are truly amazing, stepped up and helped our students with everything I would normally be the contact for.  Kudos! Kudos! Kudos!

Friday, December 18, 2015

December 2015 News Digest

Check out the summaries below for your monthly dose of higher education news!

A Collective’s #StudentBlackOut Seeks to Ramp Up the Pressure on Colleges

A group known as the Black Liberation Collective has become a central coordinating hub for helping students put pressure on their college to improve the experience of minority students.

They are working with students to coordinate another day of action following the one held on November 18th. The event will be university specific and could involve sit-ins, marches, or social media campaigns to help students present their demands.

The group hopes to keep up the momentum, help new individuals starting the process, and work with students to get their demands met despite the upcoming break from classes.

David C. Turner III, Ph.D. student and organizer with the Black Liberation Collective

Wisconsin Grad Students Want Pay Parity Across Disciplines

In 1969, Wisconsin’s graduate student union was able to get equal pay for graduate students in all disciplines by arguing equal pay for equal work.

However, this organization is far different today and they are not able to bargain the same way as before. Instead, the university is allowing departments to set wages and students are not included in the debate.

The university president has admitted students should have been included in the panel, but argues that departments have been paying more for STEM fields through bonuses and grants. 

They also argue that it is easier for students to compare graduate programs by knowing how much they will receive ahead of time and that the rule allows departments to set the upper limit not the lower limit. 

Still graduate students outside of STEM fields argue that this process is unfair.

What the Supreme Court Will Be Asking as It Revisits Affirmative Action

The Supreme Court has previously reviewed this case and handed down a 7 to 1 ruling that the lower courts did not properly scrutinize the legality of Texas’ policy.

Ms. Fisher says that Texas unnecessarily considers race in its admission process. She cites that the top 10% rule brings in enough diversity to meet their requirements. 

The university argues that colleges have the leeway to decide admissions and that the top 10% rule brings in mainly low income students from high schools with a majority of students of color. They argue that their admissions process takes into consideration students of color from more integrated schools.

This article examines several questions concerning the case including the basis of the lawsuit, the underpinnings of Texas' policy, and what the numbers demonstrate. 

Abigail Fisher arriving at a hearing in Austin last month

When Recruiting Teenagers, Don't Forget to Question Your Assumptions

According to recent surveys, college admissions officers and prospective students disagree on what methods of communication work best when recruiting.

Most admissions officers believe Facebook and print material are dead despite differing views by students.

The survey also showed students are unlikely to use social media when searching for prospective colleges instead favoring the colleges’ website.

The article states that college admissions officers need to think about what strategies work best and not waste time getting on board with new apps if they won’t be very helpful in the end.

For Researchers, Risk is a Vanishing Luxury

Dr. Roberta Ross, vice president for innovation at The University of Texas School of Public Health, has toured the country arguing for the value of taking risk in scientific research.

However, early-career scientists spoke up about lack of ability to take risks when it comes to determining promotions and getting tenure. This prompted Dr. Ross to write The Creativity Crisis which details her view of the erosion of the American research university.

She claims that in today's culture, "predictability is prized over boldness" as universities have become increasingly reliant upon federal grants and flat financing. 

Dr. Roberta Ross, author of The Creativity Crisis

A Piece of UT Austin History

There are many myths about how the beloved UT mascot, Bevo, got his name. However, Texas Exes has provided us with the truth about Bevo

The gist is that on Thanksgiving Day of 1916, during halftime of a UT and A&M game, two cowboys brought a steer on the field. UT won the game and a report was published in the paper where the author, Ben Dyer, stated "His name is Bevo. Long may he reign!" While debating what to do with Bevo in the months after the game, A&M students broke into Bevo's living quarters and branded the steer with 13-0, the score of a previous game in which A&M beat UT.

Some theories about where Ben Dyer came up with the name Bevo include a soda drink by the same name or more likely, taking the slang for cow "beeve" and adding an "o" at the end which was commonly done at the time.

The original Bevo

The soda that may have contributed to Bevo's name 

In Memoriam for Bevo 14

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 2015 News Digest

Check out the summaries below for an overview of what's going on in higher education this month.

Victory in Diversity is Hard to Define

Even after two administrators stepped down at The University of Missouri’s flagship campus, there is still more work to be done.

As the author states, “symbolic gains are not the same as systemic ones” and changing the entire atmosphere of a college campus is difficult.

The University of Oklahoma ended its partnership with a fraternity that was responsible for racist chants, and expelled two of its students. However, more substantive efforts to increase the black student body, black faculty members, and expand retention efforts have been slow.

Although overt discrimination has been eliminated, intimidation and hostility toward minority students still exist and students want to see this change.

Students at U. of Missouri

The Resilient Spirit of Syrian Students

Despite many refugees fleeing war-torn Syria, many Syrians still have resilient spirits.
Numerous Syrian students have been organizing ways to help each other get access to universities where they are now living.  They are trying to find solutions rather than dwelling on the issues they face.
Syrian students are also working to improve education in Syria outside of regime control. They are working with outside NGOs to set up online education programs in the country.
The Invisible Labor of Minority Professors
Minority professors all over the country are feeling the effects of cultural taxation, the pressure faculty members of color feel to be role models, mentors, and even surrogate parents to students of color.

According to studies, students of color who have faculty members as mentors tend to stick around. This is why faculty members of color feel so pressured to serve students and join committees even with already heavy workloads.

These extra hours are also not documented. Professors want to see this changed because this will increase the university’s willingness to hire more minority faculty members.

Rev. Joseph Brown, professor of Africana Studies at 
Southern Illinois U. at Carbondale

Campus Police Chief Is Fired After Saying Most Sex Assaults ‘Ain’t Rape’
The campus police chief at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Georgia has been fired after saying most sexual assaults on campus are not rape.
He was quoted in the student newspaper as saying rape does not happen at his college because "...when the dust settles, it was all consensual." His full comments are located in the article.

The police chief was dismissed and the president of the university called his comments inexcusable.

The $10-Billion Sports Tab

Cash flowing into college sports is only going to a few elite sports programs. Instead, many colleges rely heavily on student fees to finance their athletic programs.

The rates of these student fees are quickly increasing, sparking outrage amongst students, faculty, and lawmakers.

Still, many universities are choosing to create or grow their athletic programs despite data that these programs may be too costly. Students at these universities are left with the tab because without wins on the field, outside donations are minimal.

A Piece of UT Austin History

Before the iconic UT tower, there was the Old Main Building. It was built in 1883 and deconstructed in 1935. The building’s removal was not something that everyone on campus was excited about. Below is a poem by Meredith Posey lamenting the loss of the Main Building.

The current building and UT Tower replaced the Old Main Building and was finished in 1937. The new building was informally named the Mirabeau B. Lamar library, but the memory of Old Main wouldn't go away that easily. Students began calling it the new Main Building and the name stuck.

On the Destruction of the Main Building
Lone Goth, stalwart, crowded, towering, still in mellow strength undaunted,
Giant of earlier days, strong in thew and sinew,
Age creeps on you, ivy-tendrilled,
Age your headsman's axe.
Dust of ages long ago clings about you now at last.
You have marched thus far with time, but-
Death awaits you!
Tall-spired buildings snatched from a fire-doomed fall,
Silent--no bells ring, wires are dumb, the steam is off, the rooms are cold,
not a window blinks with light.
You were not made for pavements, patches, and parterres.
Vastness and bluebonnet vista were yours.
The past you served, your vision ever forward.
You die and serve the future so; your death --
A birth and a memory!
Killers come to you with bars and hammers;
They pry, loosen, and throw.
Soon half will be gone, soon all.
Do you hear them changing their Greek and Latin lore?
Are you mourners only the ghosts of ages gone?
That steam shovel shrieking and grunting is digging your grave --
Proudly descend!  

Summaries written by Kelsey Thompson and Stephanie Nandlal