As one of the advocates for creating separate governing boards for Oregon’s universities, I was pleased to note the apparent success The Oregonian/OregonLive reported about the initial operation of these boards. The article also noted that the Legislature had allocated a “record $665 million in general state support … for the 2015-17 biennium.”

While Oregonians may take some satisfaction in this “record” appropriation to higher education, it may also be useful to put that number into a comparative context. We might ask ourselves: What do other states with similar populations and state budgets spend on public higher education?

The answer is disquieting.

The “Distribution of State General Fund Expenditures” compiled for the most recent year of available data, 2014, by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, provides a comparison of state expenditures.

In 2014, Oregon, with a population of 3.9 million, had total state expenditures of $7.9 billion; it spent $347 million on higher education, less than half of the $885 million it spent on corrections. Oregon ranked 26th in total expenditures, but it ranked 41st in expenditures for higher education and 18th in expenditures for corrections. None of the nine states spending less than Oregon on higher education had populations of more than 1.6 million, and the average population of the nine was only 1 million. Even North Dakota, with a population of about 740,000, spent more on higher education than Oregon. The 17 states that spent more on corrections are all large states, with average populations of about 13.4 million.

 

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After two years at the University of Richmond, Susannah Haisley felt her education was getting too expensive. So she transferred to Clemson University, in her home state of South Carolina, with a generous scholarship package.

She graduates on Saturday. But in federal databases, her diploma will not count.

The federal graduation rate includes only first-time, full-time students. More than half of all bachelor’s degree recipients attend more than one college, and millions of students who transferred or enrolled part time are excluded every year.

 

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In late April, Miami University hosted educational consulting firm EducationCounsel for a series of sessions on diversity issues at Miami. More than 200 students, faculty and staff attended over four days of meetings with 15 campus organizations and committees.

The conversations have been a long time coming, said campus officials, and, once EducationCounsel issues a formal report of its findings, changes may be implemented at the university level.

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On Tuesday, May 10, the Diversity Action Council in partnership with the Office of Global Diversity and Inclusion will host the second annual Cultural Competency Symposium. It’s the culmination of a year-long training series that explored race, religion, sexuality, gender, disability and socioeconomic stratification.

“At a time when this campus, in terms of demographics, is changing, there couldn’t be a more important time for the campus community to come together and really establish a robust program that addresses very timely issues that affect students, faculty and staff,” said Christian Aniciete, the co-chair of the Diversity Action Council.

 

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What does it mean to support your community? As individuals, it’s everything from clearing the snow off your sidewalk to volunteering at your child’s school. For the University of Baltimore, it not only means that our students, faculty and staff are out in neighborhoods across the city, doing all kinds of work – it means that we recognize Baltimore for what it truly is: a gathering of people, a past, present and future, a true community of individuals who are worthy of our time and our best efforts as educators, mentors and leaders. This community insists that we be a part of it – because we are.

 

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Connor Long is no stranger to the camera.  As one of Denver7’s Special Olympics reporters, he tells stories each week about athletes in our area.

On Wednesday, he’ll head to Colorado’s Capitol, not to tell other peoples’ stories, but instead to tell his own.

“People with developmental abilities or disabilities would like to change the world,” Long said.
It’s the message he hopes lawmakers hear when he testifies in front of the Senate Education Committee in support of Senate Bill 196. If passed, it would fund three new inclusive education pilot programs, giving him, and the estimated 6,834 intellectually and developmentally disabled students residing in Colorado a chance to go to college in our state.

 

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As a 24-year-old teacher with brown skin, no gray hair and a slang-infused vocabulary, I am rarely seen by my students as a sage on a stage. But that’s OK, because my main concern when teaching is building an inclusive environment for my students. I don’t think there is enough being done in higher education to encourage creative, innovative teaching. As a student, I consistently wished for a teacher who provided explanations that I could relate to. I saw that what distinguished the great teachers was simply their ability to ensure a learning opportunity for all.

Every student helps me teach by sharing her or his experiences related to a topic.  One topic for which this approach is especially helpful is environmental justice; most Clemson students grew up physically segregated from the non-white poor areas, which carry the burdens of pollution. Yet when students share diverse perspectives in class, someone inevitably has firsthand experience in an environmental justice hotspot. As one of the students said in their assessment of the course: “I was unaware of some of the environmental justice issues affecting the less fortunate, and discussing the issues from different viewpoints helped me understand.” As the issue becomes more tangible for everyone in the class, the future leaders of our state are better prepared to solve our local issues.

 

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After more than 15 years of teaching college and graduate courses, I am no longer apprehensive about receiving teaching evaluations. Over the years, I have honed my pedagogical skills, taken stock of my performance, and eaten my share of humble pies after perusing stacks of multiple-choice and discursive evaluations of my teaching style. I’ve even peeked at my RateMyProfessor responses and found them to be generally complimentary. If anything, my overall scores in the various metrics of student evaluations have been gradually inching upward.

So, imagine my reaction when I glanced at the latest summary of my student evaluations and realized it was a bloodbath. Had there been a mistake? Did I receive somebody else’s teaching evals? This can’t be me, I thought. But it was me, and I had just been crushed.

 

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In 2015 UW president Ana Mari Cauce made a public statement in honor of National Institutions Coming Out Day that she wholeheartedly supports undocumented students.

“With that, it almost has given a sense of relief and permission for people on campus to say ‘OK, if my president says that the institution supports undocumented students, it gives them permission to do that as well,’” said Magdalena Fonseca, associate director of the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center (ECC), an inclusive space for community groups to engage with each other and foster their development as students. “I love that, because you’re not going to get that across many institutions of higher education.”

Undocumented students often arrive in the United States without inspection due to border-crossing, travel by plane, or overstaying the duration of a visa.

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As the inaugural chief diversity officer at Saint Mary’s College of California, Tomas Gomez-Arias draws on what he has learned as a professor of marketing and global business.

As he did his research, he says, he saw how multinational companies “work in different environments and regions with work forces with different languages, different religions, different races, different cultures, in a very substantial way.”

Cultural differences should be seen as assets that can make an organization more dynamic, innovative, and productive, he concluded, instead of as a “problem” that has to be solved.

 

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