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!