For hundreds of years, universities excluded women. Denied access to these institutions, they created their own. “Attempt great things,” the founder of Mount Holyoke, Mary Lyon, told her students. “Accomplish great things.” These schools, including the elite Seven Sisters — Mount Holyoke, Barnard, Bryn Mawr, Radcliffe, Smith, Vassar and Wellesley — were where the nation’s most promising young women went to do just that.
But today, women’s colleges are at a crossroads their founders could never have foreseen, struggling to reconcile their mission with a growing societal shift on how gender itself is defined. A handful of applications from transgender women have rattled school administrators over the past year, giving rise to anxious meetings and campus demonstrations. On April 29, the Department of Education issued new guidance: Transgender students are protected from discrimination under Title IX.
“We are all concerned about Title IX issues,” said Mount Holyoke President Lynn Pasquerella in a telephone interview. “At a women’s college, we have to have some criterion for admission,” she said. “In addition to academic excellence, it’s being a woman.”
Administrators fear that admitting students who aren’t “legally female” will cause them to lose Title IX funding. But where the leaders of these schools were once in the vanguard, championing the equal rights of women, they are now in the reactionary position of arguing that biology is destiny. This is a losing battle.
Before the recent Title IX ruling, they were already addressing the issue of transgender students on campus. But the accommodations they have made in housing and bathrooms are for a small but growing number, perhaps a hundred or so, of transgender men — students who enrolled as women and then transitioned in college. This has put the schools in the untenable position of essentially discriminating against women in favor of men. Continue reading “The new Title IX at women’s colleges”
A faculty-led group called the California Acceleration Project has helped 42 of the state’s community colleges offer redesigned, faster versions of remedial math and English tracks. But the group’s co-founders said they would be able to make much more progress if the University of California changed its transfer credit requirements.
As InsideHigher Ed reports: “Remedial courses are widely seen as one of the biggest stumbling blocks to improving college graduation rates, as few students who place into remediation ever earn a degree.
“The problem is particularly severe for black and Hispanic students, who account for almost half of the California community college system’s total enrollment of 2.4 million. More than 50 percent of black and Hispanic community college students place three or more levels below college mathematics, said Myra Snell, a math professor at Los Medanos College. And only 6 percent of those remedial students will complete a credit-bearing math course within three years of starting the first remedial course.
“A key reason for abysmal pass rates is the length of remedial sequences, argue Snell and Katie Hern, an English instructor at Chabot College, which, like Los Medanos, is a two-year institution located in California. “The lower down you start, the fewer students complete,” Hern said.
“The two instructors decided to do something about the problem. In 2010 they founded the California Acceleration Project. Armed with research from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advanced of Teaching and the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, they encouraged their peers to offer shorter remedial sequences in math and English. Continue reading “Calif community colleges focussing on help courses”
Community colleges in a growing number of states are offering bachelor’s degrees. Now California and its huge two-year system may join that group, reports InsideHigher Ed
“A committee created by Brice Harris, the system’s chancellor, quietly began meeting last month to mull whether the state’s 112 community colleges should be granted the authority to offer four-year degrees. While the process has just started and has many hurdles to clear, it’s certain to be an attention-grabber in California and beyond.
“Not everybody is sold on the idea that community colleges should be in the bachelor’s-degree business, which more than 20 states now allow. Nearby public universities in particular tend to bristle at competition for students and dwindling state dollars.
“Some two-year college leaders and faculty members also worry about “mission creep” and whether striver colleges that seek to become four-year institutions might lose track of their core purpose of providing job training for local students, often from underserved populations. Michigan is the most notable state to take the leap of late, with a new law that allows community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in a limited number of technical fields. That battle is not over, however, as the state’s four-year institutions continue to fight the legislation. If California followed the lead of states like Michigan and Florida, it could add significant momentum to the trend. The state’s two-year system enrolls 2.4 million students, or one in four community college students nationwide. The move to offer four-year degrees at California community colleges would also pose a challenge to the traditional boundaries that the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education established.That influential framework, which was created in 1960, defined the roles of three tiers of public institutions – the community colleges, California State University and University of California Systems. Each sector has historically served different purposes to eliminate redundancy, with community colleges being the open-admission and transfer institutions.”
Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2013/09/27/two-year-colleges-california-mull-bachelors-degrees#ixzz2gAdp3TlV
Inside Higher Ed
The cost of an education at an art school or in a college art department has gotten too expensive for merely learning how to express oneself in the likes of painting, sculpture, and printmaking. But as Peter Plagens writes in the Chronicle of Higher Ed,
“Who wants to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt just to become another starving artist? Today’s art students now look to the commercial specialties—graphic design, fashion, comic strips and graphic novels, industrial design, textiles, video, filmmaking—to provide them with postgraduate employment and, in the bargain, status as hip young determiners of society’s style.
“This is why the Savannah College of Art and Design awards degrees in more than 40 majors. The school—founded by the hard-driving Paula Wallace in 1979 with just a handful of students—offers courses as varied as figure drawing and marine-vehicle design, with several 3D printers available for student use. The college has about 11,000 students, in Savannah (where it owns more than 60 buildings, including a first-rate contemporary-art museum in a beautifully renovated train station) and at new branches in Atlanta and Hong Kong. Wallace, as president and CEO, reportedly earns about $2-million a year. Continue reading “Does artistic talent matter?”
Thirty-seven college associations on Sunday issued a joint statement on the importance of diversity in American higher education, report’s todays Inside Higher ed.
“A diverse student body enables all students to have the transformational experience of interacting with their peers who have varied perspectives and come from different backgrounds. These experiences, which are highly valued by employers because of their importance in the workplace, also prepare students with the skills they need to live in an interconnected world and to be more engaged citizens. Our economic future, democracy, and global standing will suffer if the next generation is not ready to engage and work with people whose backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives are different from their own,” says the statement, published as an advertisement Sunday in The New York Times.
“We remain dedicated to the mission of discovering and disseminating knowledge gained through direct experiences with diverse colleagues — a resource for achieving a stronger democracy and nation,” the statement added. Continue reading “Universities begin petition for diversity”