N.Y. Times Editorial:  Protecting Students from Bad Colleges!

Dear Commons Community,

The New York Times editorial (see below for full text)  this morning strongly supports the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to rein in for-profit colleges that prey on students rather than providing them with a meaningful higher education.  The point of the editorial can be summed up in the first paragraph:

“By failing for decades to regulate for-profit colleges, the federal government encouraged a predatory industry that saddled poor and working-class people with crippling student debt, often in return for useless degrees or no degrees at all. The industry accomplished this by relying on the federal student aid program for virtually all of its revenue. But the Obama administration took steps last week that could keep future students from falling into this trap.”

The for-profit sector needs cleaning up.   The changes that the U.S. Department of Education is proposing will go a long way to assist with this!

Tony

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Protecting Students from Bad Colleges

New York Times

The Editorial Board

June 20, 2016

By failing for decades to regulate for-profit colleges, the federal government encouraged a predatory industry that saddled poor and working-class people with crippling student debt, often in return for useless degrees or no degrees at all. The industry accomplished this by relying on the federal student aid program for virtually all of its revenue. But the Obama administration took steps last week that could keep future students from falling into this trap.

The cost of poor oversight was made clear in 2014, when Corinthian Colleges, one of the nation’s largest operators of for-profit schools, collapsed financially in the wake of state and federal fraud investigations. That left the federal government legally responsible for forgiving the student loans of thousands whose schools had either defrauded them or shut down while they were enrolled.

The Obama administration last week proposed new regulations intended to protect taxpayers and borrowers from Corinthian-style disasters while eliminating some obstacles that have historically prevented students who have been defrauded by schools from aggressively seeking redress through the courts. The proposed regulations would be an improvement, but they need more work before they are finalized.

A long-overdue rule would require schools that show signs of financial instability — like failing to meet federal requirements for receiving student aid dollars or being sued for fraud by state attorneys general or federal entities — to set aside money that could be used to provide debt relief for students harmed by the school. Under this system, the schools could no longer shift those costs to taxpayers.

The rules would also protect the rights of students to join with others to sue schools over abuses. Schools that receive federal aid would not be allowed to require students to sign contracts with clauses that bar them from joining class-action suits and force those with grievances into an arbitration system that is designed to favor the schools.

The regulations would also prohibit rules that keep students or former students from talking about the complaint resolution process. In the past, schools used these rules to cover up wrongdoing and ensure that federal money kept flowing into their coffers.

The proposed rules would also provide loan relief in cases where schools, desperate for loan dollars, were known to have falsely stated that students had high school diplomas or referred students to third parties to obtain counterfeit ones.

The Department of Education acknowledges in the proposed rules that it will be necessary to provide debt relief for groups of students who may have been defrauded by the same company. But the method the department would use to identify the group is complicated and lacks transparency. One way to fix that is to identify groups through the many lawsuits that state attorneys general have filed in their efforts to clean up this industry. They pioneered this fight, after all, and have the deepest understanding of where the problems lie and how to fix them.

 

Elizabeth Warren to Clinton Staff:  “Don’t Screw this Up”!

Dear Commons Community,

With Hillary Clinton leading in most national polls and Donald Trump’s dislike rating at about 70 percent with likely voters, the Clinton campaign should be careful about complacency and more important not making some major tactical mistake.  We saw Al Gore’s presidential campaign do this in the 2000 election.

On Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren visited Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn where she gave a pep talk to staff about how important this election was.  As reported by NBC News, she told them:

“Don’t screw this up!”

Many liberals hope Clinton will choose Warren as her running mate, and the visit is sure to fuel speculation about a joint ticket. It came the day after Bernie Sanders refused to concede his presidential campaign in a teleconference with supporters. Warren endorsed Clinton last week.

Tony

Charter School Organizations Sound Alarm over Online Schools!

Dear Commons Community,

A coalition of charter school organizations (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, National Association of Charter School Authorizers, and 50CAN-The 50-State Campaign for Achievement Now) has just issued a report expressing serious concerns about online charter schools. What is significant about this report is that these organizations in the past have been supporters of online education.  The authors for this report reviewed existing research and collected additional data on their own.  The overall summary of the report (see below for details) is that:

“compared to traditional public school students, full-time virtual charter school students have much weaker academic growth overall.. data show that in a given year full-time virtual charter school students overall make no gains in math and less than half the gains in reading realized by their peers in traditional public schools.”

Online learning has a lot to offer education at all levels but these types of results are very problematic and threaten to hurt its development. The organizations that produced this report were right to sound the alarm.

Tony

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Summary of Findings

Full-time virtual charter schools perform worse than traditional public schools in most states. Of the 17 states included in the state level results in the “Online Charter School Study” by CREDO, fulltime virtual charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools in 13 states in reading, performed better in only two states, and the differences were not significant in two states. In math, full-time virtual charter schools performed worse than traditional public schools in 14 states, while the differences were not significant in three states.

All subgroups of students have weaker academic growth in full-time virtual charter schools than in traditional public schools. All subgroups of students – white, black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, Native American, multi-racial, those in poverty, English-language learners, and special education students – perform worse in full-time virtual charter schools than in traditional public schools.

The vast majority of full-time virtual charter schools perform worse than traditional public schools. In reading, 67 percent of full-time virtual charter schools have weaker growth than their comparison schools. Only 2 percent outperform their comparison schools, while 32 percent perform no differently.   

In math, a full 88 percent of full-time virtual charter schools had significantly weaker growth than their comparison schools, with the remaining 12 percent performing no differently.

The average full-time virtual charter school student stays for a short time. On average, students spend two years in full-time virtual charter schools.

The mobility rates for students after they leave full-time virtual charter schools are extremely high. Full-time virtual charter school students have a mobility rate of 36 percent, meaning that students who leave full-time virtual charter schools have a more chaotic school experience after they leave full-time virtual charter schools than they did before they enrolled in such schools.

 

Barbara Bowen Provides Details of the New Tentative PSC/CUNY Contract Agreement!

Dear Commons Community,

Professional Staff Congress President Barbara Bowen provided the following details of the new tentative PSC/CUNY contract agreement.

Tony


Dear Members,

I am pleased to provide a summary of the main features of the tentative contract reached yesterday morning after an all-night negotiating session and approved yesterday afternoon by the union’s Executive Council. The agreement is tentative until it is approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees and ratified by the PSC membership.
Every good thing that we were able to achieve in this contract-from retroactive pay to three-year appointments for adjuncts-was the result of your collective pressure. Given where we started, with the State refusing to provide a single dollar to fund increases and CUNY management maintaining that all they could afford was 6%, we made real progress.

The sustained and militant contract campaign by PSC members and allies-capped by a 92% strike authorization vote-created the pressure needed to force Albany to fund our contract and CUNY management to agree to significant structural changes. We are still living in a moment of enforced austerity for public workers, but I believe that the advances we achieved on many fronts in this contract make it worthy of our collective fight.

Here is a summary:

Salary:
1% across-the-board effective 4/20/12
1% across-the-board effective 4/20/13, compounded
2.5% across-the-board effective 4/20/14, compounded
2% across-the-board effective 4/20/15, compounded
2% across-the-board effective 4/20/16, compounded
1.5% across-the board effective 4/20/17, compounded
TOTAL: 10.41% (with compounding)
 
Retroactive Payment:
  • The increases are fully retroactive, and will be applied, as in previous PSC contracts, to all employees under the contract who were on payroll at the time the raises were effective.
  • The retroactive cash payment will be made in two checks. We expect both payments to be made in the 2016 calendar year, but the date depends on when the City and State process the payroll. CUNY has agreed to use its best efforts to ensure timely retroactive payment.
Dates:
The proposed contract covers a period of just over seven years: 85 months + 14 days. It will be in effect from October 20, 2010 to November 30, 2017.

Signing Bonus:
  • A lump-sum payment of $1,000 for full-time employees, pro-rated for part-time employees, will be made to all those who are on payroll as of September 1, 2016 and who were also on payroll on May 1, 2016.  
  • The PSC was able to negotiate the full $1,000 signing bonus for adjuncts who taught 9 or more contact hours in both semesters of the 2015-16 academic year and who are on payroll on September 1, 2016.
  • We were also able to negotiate a signing bonus of $750 for Graduate Assistants A, B, and C, and a $500 signing bonus for Graduate Assistants D, on payroll on the dates above.
Increased Welfare Fund Contribution to Allow Improved Dental Benefit:
  • Additional funding achieved through the contract and directed to the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund will allow the Welfare Fund to improve the dental benefit. Welfare Fund staff and Board of Directors are determining how to use the additional funding most effectively to improve the dental benefit; details will be announced later this summer.
Teaching Load:
  • As part of the contract, CUNY management agrees that it is “committed to a shared goal of reducing the annual undergraduate teaching contact hour workload for full-time classroom teaching members of the instructional staff by 3 teaching contact hours.”
  • A labor/management committee, in place by October 1, 2016, will develop a plan and identify resources to reduce the contractual teaching load by 3 hours.
  • The plan will be implemented no later than the conclusion of the next round of bargaining.
  • The reduction in the contractual teaching load is designed to allow faculty more time for mentoring, academic research, and individual attention to students.
Improved Advancement Opportunities for HEOs:
  • Assistants to HEO, HEO Assistants and HEO Associates who have completed one or more years of service at the top salary step for their title will be eligible to nominate themselves or be nominated by their supervisor for a $2,500 increase to their base pay in recognition of “excellence in performance or increased responsibilities within the title.”
  • The HEO Reclassification Guidelines will be changed to allow HEOs to nominate themselves directly for reclassification. The Guidelines will also recognize that a significant increase in volume of work can transform the nature of the position and be a factor in reclassification to a higher title. Reclassification to the highest HEO title will be possible even if there is another HEO in the highest title in the same office or department.
Multi-Year Appointments for Teaching Adjuncts:
  • The contract creates a five-year pilot program to restructure adjunct appointments for those who regularly teach at least 6 contact teaching hours a semester in the same department of a college.
  • Full information about the program will be provided on the PSC website in the coming week; it is presented only in outline here.
  • Starting in Fall 2017, an adjunct who has taught at least 6 contact teaching hours per semester in the same department of the college for the 10 most recent semesters will be considered for a three-year appointment.
  • To receive a three-year appointment, an adjunct must receive a positive recommendation by the department P&B committee following a comprehensive review. As with all appointments, approval by the college president is required.
  • Subsequent appointments will be for three years, and will involve a review.
  • Adjuncts on three-year appointments will be assigned at least 6 contact teaching hours a semester.
  • If, for some reason, the department is unable to offer 6 contact teaching hours in any semester during the three-year appointment, the department chair will offer the adjunct either a non-teaching adjunct assignment or a course (or courses) to make up the hours at some time during the next year.

As a one-time transition to the new program, adjuncts who have taught at least 6 contact teaching hours in the same department of the college for 14 of the 18 semesters preceding the 2016-17 academic year-including the four most recent semesters-will receive a two-year appointment without a performance review. The two-year appointments will cover the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years.

  • Adjuncts on two-year and three-year appointments will accrue sick days, up to a cap of three weeks.
Graduate Assistants:
  • Graduate Assistants who are covered for health insurance through NYSHIP and who then immediately become adjuncts will no longer have to work for a year as an adjunct before being eligible for health insurance through the NYC Health Benefits Program. They may move immediately to adjunct health insurance, providing they meet other eligibility requirements.
  • Graduate Assistants will be eligible to apply for grants to support their research from the Adjunct Professional Development Fund, with priority given to applications from those with lower fellowship support.
Library Faculty:
  • Annual leave for faculty employed full time as librarians, regardless of years of service, will be increased to 40 work days.
Adjunct Professional Development Fund:
  • For the first time, funding for this program will be made permanent, with $160,000 added each year to the total.
CLIP and CUNY Start Instructors:
  • CUNY will create two new full-time titles: CLIP Instructor and CUNY Start Instructor. The new titles will have annualized salaries equivalent to the Lecturer salary schedule.
  • The new titles will also have annualized health insurance and PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund benefits.
  • Details on other contract provisions that apply will be available soon.
Educational Opportunity Centers
  • EOC employees will receive the same salary increases, retroactive pay and signing bonus as other CUNY employees.
  • EOC adjuncts who meet the eligibility requirements will be eligible to receive health insurance through the NYC Health Benefits Program and supplemental benefits from the PSC-CUNY Welfare Fund.
Educational Technology and Distance Learning:
  • New contract language will be developed by a joint labor/management committee to govern contractual observations of online classroom teaching.
Bereavement Leave
  • For the first time, full-time faculty and staff will have a contractual entitlement to paid bereavement leave for a death in the family. The leave will be for up to four days.
  • Adjuncts will be allowed to use their existing personal emergency leave for bereavement. Adjuncts using the leave will be expected to give advance notice, but will not be required, as they are now, to request such leave in advance.
Grievance and Discipline:
  • On a pilot-program basis, several changes have been made to speed up the Grievance and Discipline processes. Full details will be available on the PSC website.
CUNY’s Demands:
  • CUNY’s demands prioritized increasing management’s discretion to pay higher salaries to selected faculty and staff for the purpose of recruitment and retention. The union agreed to increase by 15 percentage points the limit of such salaries.
  • The union also agreed to a five-year pilot program that would allow up to 10 appointments annually, CUNY-wide, with no salary cap, governed by the existing contractual procedures.
  • The union agreed to participate in a labor/management committee to examine and make recommendations on salaries in the business schools at CUNY colleges. Discussion of whether a new salary scale should be introduced will include salaries of part-time as well as full-time faculty.
  • CUNY management pressed hard to allow an unlimited number of annual appointments for full-time faculty on one-year contracts, without access to tenure. The union refused.
  • CUNY also wanted an unlimited number of such full-time positions; the union agreed to allow up to 250, CUNY-wide.
 
Please keep in mind that the summary above does not include every detail of every provision-and that many provisions reflect struggle and compromise. More information will be available in the coming week.

Thank you for the passion, organizing and tenacity that made the agreement possible.
 
In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC

Randall Stross Op-Ed Piece:  Why LinkedIn Will Make You Hate Microsoft Word?

Dear Commons Community,

Earlier this week, it was announced that Microsoft had purchased LinkedIn, the business networking site with over 430 million users.  Randall Stross, a professor of business at San Jose State University, has an op-ed piece in the New York Times this morning bemoaning this development because it will integrate your Microsoft software products including Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint) with the LinkedIn community.  Here is an excerpt:

“IF Microsoft has its way, the vast membership of LinkedIn, the business networking site with more than 433 million members, will be instantly available to you while you use Microsoft products like Outlook or Skype. How many of LinkedIn’s members do you want to consult while also using Excel or typing away in Word? Microsoft is betting it’s a lot; this is part of its rationale for its $26.2 billion acquisition of LinkedIn, announced on Monday.

The companies’ chief executives, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and Jeff Weiner of LinkedIn, explained their reasons for the deal in a PowerPoint presentation distributed to investors. In the center of a graphic titled, “A professional’s profile everywhere,” was a picture of an anonymous LinkedIn “professional” with arrows pointed outward to seven Microsoft products.

Outlook and Skype were two of these, and the usefulness of bringing in information from LinkedIn to those applications is pretty clear — you could put faces to the annoyingly persistent invitations from strangers on LinkedIn — if a little underwhelming.

But there were also arrows to Windows, to PowerPoint, to Excel and, most surprisingly, to Word. I’m not a Microsoft shareholder myself, but I am one of the 1.2 billion users of Microsoft Office, and I was baffled to see my workhorse word-processing software show up in the rationale for this deal.

Mr. Nadella supplied one explanatory clue in an email that he sent to Microsoft employees. “This combination will make it possible for new experiences,” he wrote, such as “Office suggesting an expert to connect with via LinkedIn to help with a task you’re trying to complete.” He went on to predict that such experiences would “get more intelligent and delightful.”

“Delightful” is not the first adjective that comes to mind here, or even the 10th. If I’m working in Word, I can’t see why I’d welcome the intrusion of even a close friend, let alone a bot telling me about a stranger pulled from LinkedIn’s database.”

In a joint conference call with Mr. Weiner on Monday, Mr. Nadella spoke of “social selling” and the “Microsoft graph,” the latter of which Mr. Weiner immediately renamed the “corporate graph.” That, in turn, is to be mated with LinkedIn’s “professional graph,” producing a new thing, “the world’s first economic graph.”

Microsoft’s and LinkedIn’s “graphs” will be connected, Mr. Nadella said, and “that’s when the magic starts to happen in terms of how digital work gets completed.” What Mr. Nadella fails to see is how extending LinkedIn’s “social fabric” to Word will kill the magic, not speed it up.”

Professor Stross makes a valid point mainly because in its history, Microsoft has proven it does not mind intruding on its customers and forcing (or at least annoyingly dudging) them to use its products. 

Tony

Professional Staff Congress Reaches Tentative Agreement with CUNY!

Dear Commons Community,
The message below was sent to the CUNY membership by Barbara Bowen, President of the Professional Staff Congress, earlier this evening.
Tony
—————————————————————————————————————–
Dear PSC Members,

I am happy to report that the PSC reached a tentative contract agreement with CUNY management early this morning. At last!

The bargaining teams worked straight through the night in order to finish today, and the union’s Executive Council voted this afternoon to recommend the tentative settlement.

Details of the proposed agreement will be available tomorrow; the union’s press release is below.  
 
Thank you for the work you did to make the agreement possible. There would have been no agreement and no restored funding for CUNY without the campaign thousands of PSC members waged this year. Congratulations to all.
In solidarity,
Barbara Bowen
President, PSC 


PROFESSIONAL STAFF CONGRESS REACHES CONTRACT DEAL WITH CUNY
New York-A tentative collective bargaining agreement has been reached between the Professional Staff Congress (PSC), the union representing CUNY faculty and professional staff, and the City University of New York (CUNY). The deal was announced today by PSC President Barbara Bowen and CUNY Chancellor James B. Milliken.

The proposed contract provides 10.41% in compounded salary increases over a period of slightly more than seven years, from October 20, 2010 through November 30, 2017. CUNY faculty and professional staff, who have worked for more than six years without a raise, will receive retroactive payments and a signing bonus.

Equally important, the contract enacts significant structural changes that will fortify working and learning conditions at CUNY.

In a provision that will be crucial for the quality of education, the University has agreed to work toward structuring more time for faculty to devote to individual students. The tentative agreement also provides CUNY’s first-ever system of multi-year appointments for adjunct faculty, allowing thousands of instructors who are paid by the course to offer greater academic continuity to their students. Also as a result of the agreement, CUNY’s professional staff will gain opportunities for advances in pay and title; new provisions recognize the centrality of the work staff do in CUNY’s array of programs and student services.   

The tentative contract, which now must be ratified by PSC members and approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees, covers CUNY’s academic workforce of 25,000, including full-time and adjunct professors and lecturers, Higher Education Officers, College Laboratory Technicians, and other invaluable staff. 

“I am inspired by the PSC membership,” said Barbara Bowen, PSC president. “We were able to negotiate a strong, imaginative contract in a period of enforced austerity for public workers because our members mobilized. The fight for our contract was a fight for investment in quality education at CUNY. On behalf of the union bargaining team, I commend our negotiating partners at CUNY, and I thank the many lawmakers in Albany and New York City-as well as the students and community groups-who offered essential support.”
 

Video: Pomona College Commencement Speaker Delivers Messages from Nine-Year Olds!

 

Dear Commons Community,

Deborah Bial, the founder of Posse Foundation, a youth leadership and education access organization that helps students of color attend selective colleges, was the commencement speaker at Pomona College in May.  To prepare. she spoke with 53 kids between the ages of 8 and 10. She also had each child fill out a worksheet with 10 questions. Bial wanted to learn what the young kids were interested in, and what they wanted to tell college graduates.  During her speech, she reported:

“The kids she talked to like video games, meatballs, bubble gum, ice cream and jump rope.  One kid said they wanted to be president so they could tell the world to be “happy and nonviolent.” 

The children were also very aware of current events, including the candidacy of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. 

“Of the 53 students who completed the worksheet, more than a third of them wrote that they were afraid of [Trump],” Bial said. “One little boy said ‘No one should be sent to another place without their family.’”

“To my surprise, their conversation focused heavily on racism and hate,” she went on. “They worry that the next president will keep Muslims out, or will deport their parents. They began a conversation during which they explained that they are worried that all black people could be sent to Africa. One said, ‘For me, I am worried that the next president will bring back racism because he’s going to send all black people to Africa and then he’s gonna kick Mexicans out so only white people can have the whole New York to themselves.’ I found this heartbreaking.”

“While they are picking up a lot from their parents, they’re also dwelling in a place to fear that we formerly reserved for adults,” Bial said. She noted that many of the world’s current problems — from gender inequalities to gun violence and poverty — are ones that Bial’s generation failed to fix. 

“The kids had a lot of pretty good ideas,” Bial said. “They want cool technology. They want the future to be peaceful caring and happy. They want the whole world to have hope and faith. Their ideas were reasonable. One told me, ‘I think the president should make sure there’s peace around the world and you don’t just start kicking people out of where they live in and start sending them somewhere else.’ They thought there should be talking instead of violence, including in the Oval Office. They thought the president should just talk to people and reason with them.” 

Bial left the graduates with a plea on behalf of those elementary school children she’d spoken with. 

“There are approximately 4.1 million 9-year-olds in the country today,” she said. “We entrust their future to you. In only a little more than a decade, they will be sitting here in your chairs. They will walk in the footsteps you place on this platform.”

“It will be their turn,” she went on. “Today, it’s yours. So don’t forget the 9-year-old in yourself, and all the 9-year-olds that are looking to you to pave the way.”

Words of wisdom from nine-year olds.  Bless them!

Tony

Republican Leaders in an Alternate Universe When it Comes to Donald Trump!

Dear Commons Community,

The Huffington Post is reporting today that Republican Party leaders are ignoring Donald Trump’s  existence and refusing to answer any questions about his recent tirades attacking Muslims

“Things have gotten so awkward for some Republicans on Capitol Hill that they’d prefer to plead ignorance about their presumptive presidential nominee, real estate mogul Donald Trump, rather than answer questions about his no-holds-barred attacks on Muslims.

Though many Republicans distanced themselves Tuesday from Trump’s remarks, some lawmakers preferred instead to beg off inquiries from reporters, claiming they had simply not heard Trump’s speech the day prior in which he doubled down on his proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States.

Asked about Trump’s suggestion that President Barack Obama is sympathetic to Islamic terrorism, and that the president may have been somehow connected to Sunday’s shooting at an Orlando gay nightclub, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) also decided to take a pass.

“I’m not going to be commenting on the presidential candidate today,” McConnelltold reporters, notably avoiding calling Trump by name.

Across the Capitol, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) distanced himself from Trump’s rhetoric and proposal to ban Muslims from entering the United States, telling reporters he did not think the ban was “in our country’s interests.” But he, too, declined to comment on Trump’s dark insinuation against the president.

Rep. Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) took a similar tack.

“Aw, man. I’m not going to speak to that,” she told The Huffington Post when asked about Trump’s proposals. “I won’t give you an answer on that today.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), meanwhile, refused to even refer to Trump as the party’s presumptive nominee, even though the Manhattan businessman has secured enough delegates to clinch the nomination next month at the GOP convention.

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.) headed down a flight of stairs and kept walking out of the Capitol as HuffPost tried to get his response to Trump’s comments about Muslims.

“I don’t make any comments on the presidential candidates,” Enzi said. “If you’ve got an issue you want to talk to me about that I’m working on, I’m happy to talk about it.”

Asked if that means he has no thoughts on Trump being his party’s presidential nominee, the Wyoming senator paused, and before walking off, said only, “Not that I’m sharing.”

The Republican National Committee, which has fully embraced Trump, issued a statement in response to a searing rebuttal from Obama on Tuesday. His voice steadily rising, the president castigated Republican officials who did not stand up against Trump’s toxic proposals and claimed his anti-Muslim bashing would threaten America at home and abroad.

The RNC’s statement, however, included no reference to Trump or his proposed ban — almost as if it were issued in an alternate universe in which he did not exist.”

Tony

 

Global University Systems (GUS) Entering into a Deal to Save Dowling College?

Dear Commons Community,

Global University Systems, also known as GUS, is proposing a deal to save Dowling College which is in dire financial straits due to mounting debts and declining enrollments. Two weeks ago, Dowling announced it was closing for good. But GUS, an education-investment company based in Europe, might be throwing the college a lifeline. In an interview with Maurits Van Rooijen, chief academic officer, Global University Systems, The Chronicle of Higher Education explores the possibility of the arrangement.

 
“Maurits Van Rooijen said the company serves more than 60,000 students at a dozen colleges and universities around the world. He said the company offers its partner institutions certain resources, such as global marketing operations and an online platform, that they could not build themselves. The Chronicle interviewed him to find out more about the company and how its potential Dowling deal came to be. The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

 
Q. How does your company find a university or college like Dowling and decide to pursue a partnership with them?
A. I think in fairness Dowling found us rather than the other way around. There are two answers to that. First is the formal answer. And that is there was a process which was led by the Royal Bank of Canada. I think they listed something like 14 institutions that would be potentially of interest to the college. Now I did happen to know the college, and the college happened to know me, so it’s not surprising that we ended up on that kind of list. But the process otherwise was definitely against a set of criteria. They looked at who was actually in a position to help the college.

 
Q. Dowling College had a considerable amount of debt and had a major decrease in enrollment in the past few years. Was that a major factor, that your company could handle that?
A. We can handle that. But what’s more important is that Dowling is academically sound, it has major support amongst alumni, the community, et cetera, et cetera. So we were very impressed with Dowling College as it is. It just hasn’t been very well governed and managed over the past 10-plus years. And as a consequence of that, it put itself in a situation where it wasn’t really viable anymore … What is a bit of a problem with Dowling College is that we got involved in such a late state. With colleges like that, they get a warning from the accreditor. Basically, two years ago they had a warning from Middle States and really should have acted at that stage and started looking at options.
The worrying thing with Dowling College is it’s so tight. It can, at a certain moment, be too tight and you run out of time. The lesson learned from Dowling College, I mean, hopefully we’ll manage. But it is not a wise move to let it wait until it is literally a few minutes to 12 … It’s going to be touch and go whether everything will come together on time. I do not know what the outcome is going to be. Of course I do sincerely hope that it’s going to be positive, because I really love the college. I think it has massive potential. But sometimes we also have to admit that under time pressure, we can’t do the impossible.”

 
This would be an interesting partnership and one that other struggling private colleges might consider.

Tony

Frank Bruni:  The Scope of the Orlando Carnage!

 

Orlando

Dear Commons Community,

New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, has a piece today entitled, “The Scope of the Orlando Carnage.”  It should be read and reread.  Here is an excerpt:

“These locations are never random. These targets aren’t accidental. They’re the very vocabulary in which assailants like the Orlando gunman speak, and he chose a place where there’s drinking. And dancing. And where L.G.B.T. people congregate, feeling a sense of welcome, of belonging.

That last detail is already in the foreground of the deadliest mass shooting in American history — and rightly so.

But let’s be clear: This was no more an attack just on L.G.B.T. people than the bloodshed at the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris was an attack solely on satirists.

Both were attacks on freedom itself. Both took aim at societies that, at their best, integrate and celebrate diverse points of view, diverse systems of belief, diverse ways to love. And to speak of either massacre more narrowly than that is to miss the greater message, the more pervasive danger and the truest stakes.

We don’t yet know all that much about Omar Mateen, who pulled the trigger, again and again, in a nightclub whose name connotes life, not death: Pulse. We’ll be learning more in the hours and days to come, including just how potently homophobia in particular factored into his actions, how much ideological influence the Islamic State or other extremists had, how extensive his planning was, how far back he began plotting this, and how much he knew about Pulse itself and the specific composition of its crowd on different nights of the week.

But we can assume — no, we can be sure — that he was lashing out at an America at odds with his darker, smaller, more oppressive mind-set. The people inside Pulse were citizens of it. More to the point, they were emblems of it. In Pulse they found a refuge. In Pulse they found joy. To him they deserved neither. And he communicated that with an assault rifle and bullets.”

Tony