More Americans are attending college than ever before — nearly 90 percent of millennials who graduate from high school attend college within eight years. But a far smaller proportion of Americans actually have a college degree: only 40 percent of students complete a bachelor’s degree in four years and 60 percent graduate in six years. At two-year colleges, 29 percent of students graduate in three years.


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Education has long been called the “great equalizer” in helping families and individuals attain the American dream. But it’s become increasingly harder to ignore deepening inequality within our higher education system.

Due to a variety of factors – the rising cost of college, cuts to government funding and limited or subpar early education opportunities for many, especially children of color – the makeup of colleges and universities today is becoming richer, whiter and more privileged. This trend reinforces and perpetuates widening inequality in our society, our economy, and our politics as university graduates increasingly earn more and have more opportunities than their non-degree counterparts.

Simply put, higher education is both a reflection of and contributor to the growing chasm between the rich and poor, whites and blacks, English-speakers and non-English speakers, and so on.


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Academic leaders say all the other colleges and universities out there are responsible for why higher education is delivering less value than it did 10 years ago, an upcoming report found. Their own institutions, they say, are doing even better than before.

The report, based on a survey of 218 high-ranking administrators — including presidents, vice presidents and provosts — at private and public two- and four-year institutions, explores the barriers preventing colleges from improving student outcomes. The report, which will be published Sept. 29, suggests many colleges are struggling with a “bystander effect”: everyone is responsible for improving student outcomes, so no one takes ownership of it.


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There’s no shortage of books on how to become better college instructor, but surprisingly few take student perspectives into account. Not so for a new book from Michigan State University. The product of a journalism class, To My Professor: Student Voices for Great College Teaching (Read the Spirit Books) distills thousands of student comments and bits of advice into a cleverly organized, timely read. It should appeal to anyone interested in improving instruction or simply knowing what students think, beyond the seeming randomness of teacher rating websites or the targeted feedback in student evaluations of teaching.

“What makes this book unique is the fact that it is written by students,” said Meaghan Markey, an advertising major at Michigan State who wrote or helped write sections on student parents, Hmong students and online classes. “What we wrote isn’t just theory, it’s things we as students have actually experienced. Our goal with To My Professor is to give students a voice and for professors to hear us.”


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Commodore, who is black, couldn’t help but wonder whether race played a part as she was rejected from one college teaching job after another. So she toned down racial references in her cover letter — using the term “cultural communities” rather than “African-American communities,” for instance, to refer to one of her areas of study — and things took a turn for the better.

The experience left her conflicted.

“I wondered whether I wanted to be in a field, academia, where you have to whitewash yourself,” said Commodore, who is starting this fall as an assistant professor of education, a tenure track position, at Virginia’s Old Dominion University. “In hindsight, you need a job and you do what you need to do to get a job.”


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Philosophy has a reputation for its striking lack of diversity. The discipline is short on women and, more notably, short on black and minority ethnic representation.

For the past few years, this topic has been a subject of great interest (and sometimes, great controversy), both on popular philosophy blogs, such as Daily Nous and Leiter Reports, and in more mainstream media outlets such as The New York Times.

A common theme that emerges from these discussions is the idea that philosophy’s diversity problem is the result of what has been dubbed the “pipeline leak”.


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The University of Chicago is an intellectually elite school that can make fun of its seriousness. The slogans on undergraduate T-shirts immortalize it as “The level of hell Dante forgot” or the school “Where fun comes to die.” They’re only half-joking.

Chicago students take pride in being self-motivators with intellectual curiosity, eager to debate trendy “truths” and expose squishy emotional approaches that elevate feelings over facts. So it’s hardly surprising that it’s one of the first elite universities to rebel against the corrosive influences that, like kudzu, have swarmed across the ivy-covered inner sanctums of higher education.

“Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called ‘trigger warnings,’” John Ellison, dean of students, wrote to members of the Class of 2020. He continued, saying, “We do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”

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The University of Oregon is the latest higher-education institution to move toexpunge an association with racism or slavery from a campus building or monument. On Thursday, The Register-Guard reports, the university’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted to remove the name of a 1920s and 1930s professor from a dormitory because the professor, Frederic Dunn, was once an “exalted cyclops,” or leader of a local den, in the Ku Klux Klan.

In a discussion before the trustees voted, an Oregon alumnus, David Igl, made a last-ditch plea to keep the professor’s name on Dunn Hall. But two student leaders argued for removing the name. One of the students, Natalie Fisher, said such a step would be “a very small thing that the board can do to make students feel safe on campus,” the newspaper said.


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Susan Stryker, an associate professor of gender and women’s studies at the University of Arizona, has been asked about the significance of her “new” field of study for about 25 years.

“It’s not as new as some people think,” she says. “The question for me is why is it suddenly something people are paying attention to in new ways, rather than it being new. There is a strong connection between theoretical and research-oriented interest in transgender phenomena.”

Now she will be presenting at the University of Arizona’s Trans*Studies Conference, which bills itself as the first such event to focus on transgender studies independent of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues more broadly. It is hosted by the UA Institute for LGBT Studies.


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Michele Roberge resigned this week as theater director at California State University at Long Beach after 14 years in the post, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports. Her resignation followed a disagreement with administrators over whether the university’s performing-arts center should host the racially charged play N*gger Wetb*ck Ch*nk.

After the university’s president, Jane Close Conoley, told Ms. Roberge that the play must be canceled, the theater director said she felt she could no longer remain in her position.

“I couldn’t imagine myself doing this job anymore,” she said.


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