James Webb Telescope – the largest space telescope in history to be launched in December!

Dear Commons Community,

The James Webb Space Telescope that is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Telescope is scheduled to be launched on December 18, 2021. Scientists are predicting that it will change how we see the universe.  The launch, which will propel the Webb to nearly a million miles away, and will usher in a new age of astronomy and show humanity things it has never seen before. The Webb is a joint project of NASA and European Space Agency and Canada.  The new telescope is named for James Webb who headed up NASA from 1961 to 1968, was highly respected in the science community.  As reported by Vox.

“The Webb represents the culmination of decades, if not centuries, of astronomy,” says Sara Seager, a planetary scientist and astrophysicist at MIT. “We’ve been waiting for this a very long time.”

Scientists started thinking about a follow-up even before the Hubble Space Telescope launched in 1990.

The Webb was originally supposed to launch in 2010 and cost around $1 billion. Its price tag has since ballooned to $10 billion, and it’s way overdue. But the wait will be worth it, at least according to the scientists who expect new and revealing glimpses of our universe.

“We’re going right up to the edge of the observable universe with Webb,” says Caitlin Casey, an assistant professor of astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin. “And yeah, we’re excited to see what’s there.”

The Webb will surpass the Hubble in several ways. It will allow astronomers to look not only farther out in space but also further back in time: It will search for the first stars and galaxies of the universe. It will allow scientists to make careful studies of numerous exoplanets — planets that orbit stars other than our sun — and even embark on a search for signs of life there.

The Webb improves on Hubble in two key ways. The first is just its size: Hubble was about the size of a school bus, whereas Webb is more like the size of a tennis court. “This thing is enormous,” Straughn says. “Webb is by far the biggest telescope NASA’s ever attempted to send into space.”

But it’s not just the total size of the contraption that matters. When it comes to reflecting telescopes, the key component is the size of its curved mirror. “You could sort of think of a telescope mirror like a light bucket,” Straughn says. The more light you can collect in this bucket, the fainter and farther-away things you can see in the universe.

Hubble’s mirror was an impressive 7.8 feet in diameter. Webb’s beautiful, gold-hued mirrors combine for a diameter of 21.3 feet. Overall, that amounts to more than six times the light-collecting area.

Scientists are clearly raring to go, but the Webb revolution has taken a while. One reason for all the launch delays to the launch has to do with contractor snafus. But a big source of all of them, NASA’s Straughn says, is the complexity of the Webb itself.

“Because it’s so big, there aren’t any rockets that are big enough to launch it fully deployed,” Straughn says. The telescope has to be folded up to fit inside a rocket (see video below), and has to deploy itself in space. “So that whole process of building a deployable telescope in space is the source of a lot of the engineering challenges.”

Upping the stakes is the fact that while Hubble was launched to around 340 miles above the Earth, Webb will be almost a million miles away (see video above) — four times the distance from the Earth to the moon.

That means once the Webb is launched, it will be unserviceable by human hands if it breaks. That’s scary, considering the history of the Hubble. Shortly after the Hubble launched in 1990, engineers realized there was a problem with its mirror; the telescope’s initial images came back fuzzy, and astronauts had to launch a space shuttle to fix it. That won’t be possible with the Webb. It just has to work.

It will be far away for good reason. Because Webb is an infrared telescope, it needs to be kept cold. The Earth itself is warm and glows in infrared. “Anything warm glows in infrared light,” Straughn says. “If the telescope was warm, it would just glow and see itself.”

Any scientist around the world can apply to use the Webb Space Telescope, provided they write up a project proposal that passes peer review. It’s pretty competitive. Last year the Space Telescope Science Institute, which operates space telescopes from John Hopkins University in Maryland, put out a call for proposals for Webb’s first observing run. About a quarter of the proposals were accepted.

“It feels like part of me is still stunned,” says Lisa Dang, a physics PhD student at McGill University who was one of the lucky few to get approved to use the Webb. “And the other part is having this imposter syndrome — like, these data better be really amazing.”

Dang is set to study one of the most extreme planets ever discovered: K2-141 b, a planet 202 light-years from Earth and so close to its host star that its surface is believed to be covered by an ocean of lava. If it has clouds, they are likely made out of vaporized rock, which could then precipitate out “rock rain.” Not much is confirmed about this lava planet, but Dang will use the Webb to study its atmosphere and see what’s possible on this extreme world.

Winning the project proposal “made me feel like an astronomer for the first time,” Dang says. “But it also makes K2-141 b very real suddenly.”

This is the power of an unprecedented telescope such as the Webb. It will help astronomers like Dang fill in the blank spaces of the cosmos.

“It’s wild, when you think about it, that we’re able to piece together the history of what happened before the Earth or the sun even existed,” Casey says.

If all goes according to plan, these kinds of breakthroughs could come in a matter of months. Astronomers around the world are waiting for the countdown to begin.

Good luck NASA and partners!


Video: Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers!

Dear Commons Community,

New York City schools have been temporarily blocked from enforcing a vaccine mandate for its teachers and other workers by a federal appeals judge just before it was to take effect tomorrow.

On late Friday night, a judge for the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a temporary injunction and referred the case to a three-judge panel on an expedited basis.

New York City Department of Education spokesperson Danielle Filson said officials were seeking a speedy resolution by the circuit court next week.

“We’re confident our vaccine mandate will continue to be upheld once all the facts have been presented, because that is the level of protection our students and staff deserve,” Filson said in an email.

She said more than 82% of department employees have been vaccinated.

While most school workers have been vaccinated, unions representing New York City principals and teachers warned that could still leave the 1 million-student school system short of as many as 10,000 teachers, along with other staffers, such as cafeteria workers and school police officers.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has resisted recommendations to delay the mandate.

The vaccine mandate was going to be a difficult situation to say the least and has set up a major confrontation (see video above) between school teachers and workers,  and Mayor de Blasio and the NYC Department of Education.



CDC Director Rochelle Walensky Approves Booster Shots for Teachers!

Health care workers and teachers caught up in COVID vaccine booster  confusion - Axios

Dear Commons Community,

Hours after a federal vaccine advisory committee voted against recommending a booster shot for essential workers, including K-12 school staff, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention overruled the decision.

Teachers and other school workers who received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine can receive a Pfizer booster dose at least six months after the completion of their second shot. The CDC says they should base their decision on an assessment of their individual benefits and risks, a phrase that typically means having a conversation with their doctor. As reported by Education Week.

The unusual reversal by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky happened after midnight Friday, hours after the agency’s advisory committee on immunization practices voted to recommend a booster dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for people ages 65 and older and those ages 50 and older with underlying medical conditions. The committee also voted, more narrowly, to allow people ages 18 to 49 years old with underlying medical conditions to get a booster shot based on an assessment of their individual benefit and risk.

But in a close vote of 9 to 6, the committee declined to recommend that adults younger than 65 who live or work in settings where the burden of COVID-19 infection and risk of transmission are high—including schools—receive a booster dose based on an assessment of their individual benefit and risk.

In a statement, Walensky said she thinks booster shots will help protect this group.

“As CDC Director, it is my job to recognize where our actions can have the greatest impact,” she said. “At CDC, we are tasked with analyzing complex, often imperfect data to make concrete recommendations that optimize health. In a pandemic, even with uncertainty, we must take actions that we anticipate will do the greatest good.”

The committee deliberated for hours on the question of whether essential workers needed a booster shot.

“I really think this is a solution looking for a problem,” said Dr. Jason Goldman, a nonvoting committee member and an affiliate assistant professor of clinical biomedical science at Florida Atlantic University.

Committee members were concerned that there were no clear data yet showing that healthy adults needed a booster shot, regardless of their occupation. Opening the door to allowing millions of essential workers to get a booster shot would be complicated, they said, and it wouldn’t make a significant dent in curbing the pandemic.

Evidence presented to the committee showed that while vaccine effectiveness against infection has waned over time, the vaccines remain effective against preventing hospitalization and severe disease, especially among adults younger than 65.

The CDC committee’s vote came a day after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration amended Pfizer’s emergency use authorization to allow for a single booster dose for people ages 65 and older, adults who are at high risk for serious COVID-19 complications, and adults in high-risk settings, including health care workers, teachers and day care staff, grocery workers, and those in homeless shelters or prisons.

State health departments generally follow the CDC’s recommendations on vaccine eligibility.

Many teachers were hopeful that the emergency authorization meant they would soon receive additional protection from contracting COVID-19 at work, and were angry when they heard of the CDC committee’s decision.

“If we want to prioritize in-person learning, we have to have teachers as protected as possible,” said Sarah Mulhern Gross, a high school English teacher in Lincroft, N.J.

Gross said she knows teachers who have had breakthrough infections, and she wants to avoid even a mild case of COVID-19. Having a booster shot would make her feel more comfortable at work, she said.

“I can’t control our ventilation, I can’t control that my building doesn’t have operable windows, but I can control my masking, and I can control my vaccination status,” she said.

The risk level of teaching in person varies, said Gigi Gronvall, an immunologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, and there’s still ambiguity about who needs a booster shot at this time.

Vaccinated teachers who are working in school settings that have safety measures in place—such as mask requirements, regular testing, and improved ventilation—are likely not at higher risk for infection than the average person. But teachers who are working in schools with poor ventilation that do not require masks may benefit from a booster shot, she said.

Still, members of the CDC committee were concerned about the broad nature of the category of occupational or institutional risk. Also, only recommending booster shots for people who have received the Pfizer shot makes for a murky public health message, several members said. The committee has not given the OK to mix and match vaccines.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s chief epidemiologist, said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” Sunday that data about booster shots for those who received the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccines is “literally a couple to a few weeks away.”

Members of the committee also expressed concern about focusing on booster shots when nearly all hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19 are occurring among unvaccinated people.

“The reality is, we have a lot of unvaccinated people, and that’s our problem, and that forces the conversation about boosters,” said Gronvall, who is not on the committee. “If you’re not having these people breathing virus into the air, then you wouldn’t have to take your vaccine out for a spin to see how it works.”

The FDA had approved the booster shot to be administered any time after six months following the second dose. Teachers in a dozen states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine nearly nine months ago, and many received the shot as soon as they could. Teachers in eight more states became eligible in February, and on March 8, teachers across the country became eligible to receive the vaccine under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program.

At this point, most teachers across the country are vaccinated against COVID-19. A nationally representative EdWeek Research Center survey found that in late July and early August, 87 percent of educators said they were partially or fully vaccinated.

This is a good decision on the part of CDC Director Walensky.


Rudy Giuliani Temporarily Banned by Fox News!

Rudy Giuliani Makes a Cameo Video Opposing Former Client | PEOPLE.com

Dear Commons Community,

Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani is outraged by a reported decision by  Fox News to temporarily ban him.

“It’s really strange that I’m on probation [at Fox News] at a time in which just about everything I said [about the 2020 election] is being corroborated,” Giuliani said on Steve Bannon’s “War Room” podcast Friday. “And they actually are reporting all the things they claim I misled them about.”

Almost nothing he has said about the former president’s election loss has been corroborated.

Politico reported earlier Friday that Giuliani has been banned from the network for three months and that he learned of the decision earlier this month. He had been scheduled to appear on “Fox & Friends” to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 but was told the night before by host Pete Hegseth that he had been cut, according to Politico. Fox News has not confirmed the report.

Giuliani may be a bit radioactive for Fox News, which is battling a $1.6 defamation suit from Dominican Voting Systems over what it claims was a tidal wave of election falsehoods. Giuliani is also being sued by the company for $1.3 billion.

Giuliani strangely insisted to Bannon that his claims about the Arizona election being stolen from Trump have now been corroborated — even though a report Friday on an election audit ordered by the Republican state Senate confirmed that President Joe Biden won the state

The ban is the latest embarrassment in a reputational nosedive for the former mayor of New York. Earlier this week, he was offering promotional codes for discounted pillows on his Twitter account.

Crazy Rudy!



Oldest human footprints in North America found in New Mexico!

This undated photo made available by the National Park Service in September 2021 shows fossilized human fossilized footprints at the White Sands National Park in New Mexico. According to a report published in the journal Science on Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021, the impressions indicate that early humans were walking across North America around 23,000 years ago, much earlier than scientists previously thought. (NPS via AP)

Dear Commons Community,

Fossilized footprints discovered in New Mexico indicate that early humans were walking across North America almost 23,000 years ago, researchers reported yesterday.

The first footprints were found in a dry lakebed in White Sands National Park in 2009. Scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey recently analyzed seeds stuck in the footprints to determine their approximate age, ranging from around 22,800 and 21,130 years ago.

The findings may shed light on a mystery that has long intrigued scientists: When did people first arrive in the Americas, after dispersing from Africa and Asia? As reported by the Associated Press.

Most scientists believe ancient migration came by way of a now-submerged land bridge that connected Asia to Alaska. Based on various evidence — including stone tools, fossil bones and genetic analysis — other researchers have offered a range of possible dates for human arrival in the Americas, from 13,000 to 26,000 years ago or more.

The current study provides a more solid baseline for when humans definitely were in North America, although they could have arrived even earlier, the authors say. Fossil footprints are more indisputable and direct evidence than “cultural artifacts, modified bones, or other more conventional fossils,” they wrote in the journal Science, which published the study Thursday.

“What we present here is evidence of a firm time and location,” they said.

Based on the size of the footprints, researchers believe that at least some were made by children and teenagers who lived during the last ice age.

David Bustos, the park’s resource program manager, spotted the first footprints in ancient wetlands in 2009. He and others found more in the park over the years.

“We knew they were old, but we had no way to date the prints before we discovered some with (seeds) on top,” he said Thursday.

Made of fine silt and clay, the footprints are fragile, so the researchers had to work quickly to gather samples, Bustos said.

“The only way we can save them is to record them — to take a lot of photos and make 3D models,” he said.

Earlier excavations in White Sands National Park have uncovered fossilized tracks left by a saber-toothed cat, dire wolf, Columbian mammoth and other ice age animals.

Very interesting!


Conservative Columnist Max Boot Skewers Republicans with a Damning Question about Their Indifference!

Max Boot (@MaxBoot) | Twitter

Max Boot

Dear Commons Community,

Conservative Washington Post columnist Max Boot flipped a quote from Benjamin Franklin to call out Republican reluctance to tackle the three biggest crises facing the United States.

Boot, in his column published Wednesday, recalled Franklin’s fire-prevention advice to Philadelphians that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Republicans today “seem to think an ounce of cure is worth a pound of prevention,” he wrote, slamming the GOP for allowing the “calamities” of COVID-19, global warming and gun violence “to rage out of control — and then hoping for the best.”

“Why won’t the GOP do more to avert so many foreseeable tragedies?” asked Boot, a longtime anti-Donald Trump Republican who left the party following the former president’s rise to power.

“Because it is afraid to take on anti-vaxxers and COVID deniers, oil and gas interests, and the gun lobby,” he concluded. “Due to a combination of extremism and expedience, Republicans are allowing problems to fester at great cost rather than dealing with them at the source.”

Boot has this right!


On a Panel Today at the ACCELERATE Virtual Conference!

Dear Commons Community,

If you have registered for Online Learning Consortium’s ACCELERATE Virtual Conference, I will be on a panel today with colleagues, Patsy Moskal, Tanya Joosten, and Chuck Dziuban, entitled, Research on the Blended University: Past, Present and Future!  Here is a blurb from the abstract for our session:

“Blended learning appeared in the late 1990s and early 2000s as an offshoot of the fully online learning movement. In 2020, the COVID-10 pandemic resulted in the rapid deployment to remote instruction, forcing many with little experience to embrace teaching online, albeit via Zoom. All indications are that many of those new-to-online will embrace some form of “blended” learning, post-pandemic, merging the best of their online experiences with the return-to-campus, ‘live’ instruction. In addition to instruction, many university processes are also experiencing a surge in blending online and live elements in other facets of the academy, including hybrid work, libraries, support, textbooks, advising, and others. In essence, the pandemic has fast-tracked the move to a “blended university.”

If you are registered for this conference, please stop by.  It is scheduled for 11:15 am – 12:00 pm.


More Than 50 U. of Georgia Professors Say They’ll Defy Rules and Require Masks!

University of Georgia faculty members and employees gathered outside the Tate Student Center on Sept. 14, 2021 for a rally for mandates and other measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on campus. ERIC STIRGUS/ERIC.STIRGUS@AJC.COM.

Faculty members at the University of Georgia protesting its public-health protocols.

Dear Commons Community,

More than 50 faculty members at the University of Georgia say they will require masks in their classrooms, in violation of the University System of Georgia’s rules, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

On Tuesday a group of mostly associate and full professors, many of whom have expertise in infectious diseases, wrote in a letter to university administrators that “all reputable research” indicates that “vaccination, social distancing, and mask requirements can reduce Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths.”

“The absence of these requirements has led and continues to lead to infections and outcomes that were avoidable and [to the] continued spread of this highly infectious disease,” the letter says.

The system, which oversees 26 public colleges, has encouraged but not required masks to be worn indoors. Instructors aren’t allowed to mandate face coverings in their classrooms. The system has also encouraged but not required vaccinations against Covid. (Gov. Brian P. Kemp, a Republican, has barred state entities from requiring proof of vaccination and has opposed mask mandates.)

Due to the “extreme inaction and inappropriate requirements” placed on public colleges by the system’s Board of Trustees and the acting chancellor, the letter says, “we have chosen to take what action we can to protect the students and staff we directly teach or supervise, even if these actions are in defiance of current USG rules” and could lead to discipline, including dismissal. The signatories will require all students and staff members in their classrooms and laboratories to wear masks “until local community-transmission rates improve,” the letter says. The Journal-Constitution said the professors planned to start mandating masks in two weeks.

Faculty and staff members across Georgia have been agitating for months against the system’s Covid policies. At least one Georgia professor has already been made aware he could be disciplined for mandating masks.

Joseph H.G. Fu, a mathematics professor, told his students that he’d require face coverings in his classrooms and that he’d move his courses online if the number of local Covid patients surpassed a certain threshold. His dean, Alan Dorsey, told him in a letter that if he continued to enforce that requirement, or if he changed the modality of his instruction without the provost’s approval, it would “constitute grounds for disciplinary action.”

And a laboratory coordinator at Georgia State University’s Perimeter College was fired after she told her college that without the ability to require masks, she wouldn’t teach in person.

Congratulations to these faculty for putting the safety first!


Former President George W. Bush will fundraise for Liz Cheney as Trump targets her Congressional House seat!

Former President George W. Bush to hold fundraiser next month for Liz Cheney  - CNNPolitics


Dear Commons Community,

Former President George W. Bush will hold a fundraiser next month for  Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., whose criticisms of former President Donald Trump have put her political career in jeopardy.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Bush’s first campaign event of the 2022 midterms will be in support of Cheney. Her father, Dick Cheney, served two terms as Bush’s vice president. The fundraiser will take place in Dallas on Oct. 18.

His support of Cheney puts Bush at odds with Trump and his allies, who have targeted Cheney since she voted for his impeachment after the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6. Cheney has also been outspoken in pushing back against Trump’s claims that the 2020 election was stolen, repeatedly rebutting the former president’s baseless conspiracy theories. A Yahoo News/YouGov poll in August found that two-thirds of Republicans still believe the election was rigged.

Earlier this month, Trump formally announced his endorsement of a Wyoming attorney, Harriet Hageman, in her primary bid against Cheney. Hageman unsuccessfully ran for the Republican nomination for governor in 2018.

“Unlike RINO Liz Cheney, Harriet is all in for America First,” Trump said in an emailed statement at the time. “Harriet has my Complete and Total Endorsement in replacing the Democrats number one provider of sound bites, Liz Cheney. Make America Great Again!”

Cheney replied to the announcement on Twitter, posting a screenshot of Trump’s statement and the message, “Here’s a sound bite for you: Bring it.”

Cheney first won election to the House in 2016 after a failed 2014 Senate bid. The last time a Republican member of Congress from Wyoming lost a primary challenge was in 1968. Dick Cheney represented Wyoming in the House for a decade before he became defense secretary under President George H.W. Bush in 1989.

In May, Cheney’s Republican colleagues in the House ousted her from a top leadership position, because of her criticisms of Trump. She has also faced scrutiny from party leadership back home in Wyoming.

“There has not been a time during our tenure when we have seen this type of an outcry from our fellow Republicans, with the anger and frustration being palpable in the comments we have received,” said the Wyoming Republican Party in a statement, after Cheney announced her intention to vote for impeachment.

Cheney further angered her Republican colleagues by joining the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. She is one of only two Republicans on the panel, the other being Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger.

Bush and Trump –– the only two living Republican presidents –– have long had a contentious relationship. In 2016, Trump defeated a slew of Republican presidential contenders in a GOP primary that included Jeb Bush, the former president’s brother. Trump has also been highly critical of George W. Bush’s time in office, and Bush refused to endorse Trump in both the 2016 and 2020 elections.

In an address on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks earlier this month, Bush said, “We have seen growing evidence that the dangers to our country can come not only across borders, but from violence that gathers within,” which was interpreted as a reference to the violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“There is little cultural overlap between violent extremists abroad and violent extremists at home,” Bush said. “But in their disdain for pluralism, in their disregard for human life, in their determination to defile national symbols, they are children of the same foul spirit. And it is our continuing duty to confront them.”

Bush and Cheney are indeed bringing it on!  Bush should be able to attract a lot of big money Republicans in Texas to donate to Cheney’s reelection bid.


University Business: Five ways higher education will forever change due to the pandemic!

Panel Explores Challenges and Victories of Colleges during Pandemic | St.  John's University

Dear Commons Community,

University Business had an article recently entitled, “Five ways higher education will forever change due to the pandemic”  It focuses on several long-held processes and traditions that may be left behind in the post-pandemic era. Here is an excerpt.

The 2020-21 academic year was a major adjustment from the norm for students of all ages, from elementary to high school to college. Going into this school year, even more change is afoot, as well as tweaks to the original adjustments that were necessary due to the pandemic.

Many of these changes will likely never be reversed. Here are five of the permanent changes that some say we can expect to see in higher education long after COVID has left the headlines, if not society.

  1. Testing will remain optional

While many colleges and universities intended for this policy to be temporary during the pandemic, the prediction is that this will become permanent. Why? For one, Brandon Busteed, Chief Partnership Officer and Global Head of Learn-Work Innovation at Kaplan, noted in Forbes, it goes to the issue of diversity, equity and inclusion—eliminating standardized testing increases the probability that the student population will be more diverse.

  1. Online and hybrid learning will continue

One of the oldest challenges in higher education has been ever-increasing tuition costs. With universities already having been forced into shifting many classes online, points out author and Nature magazine correspondent Alexandra Witze, there’s a very real possibility of fewer international students absorbing the expense of attending in person in the future. While online classes do not optimize the college experience for students—“Zoom university isn’t proper online learning,” said Sanjay Sarma, MIT’s vice-president for open learning, who emphasizes that learning must be a two-way endeavor—the fact that it had to happen at all and is continuing indicates that it isn’t going away.

  1. Mastery of education technology

After the initial shock of being thrown into online learning by students and online instruction by teachers wore off, universal acceptance of technology as a permanent part of higher education became necessary. Over the past year and a half, it has evolved, and it will continue to do so—and mastery of learning management systems (Blackboard, Brightspace, Google Education and others) and distance learning software (Zoom, Adobe Connect, Teams, et al) became mandatory. Professional development going forward will include mastery of new technology by both faculty and students as it is developed and released in order to optimize efficiency and performance.

  1. Value will have to be demonstrated

Colleges and universities will have to be more reflective about the value they offer in exchange for ever-rising tuition costs and whether families will be willing to pay for that perceived value, particularly with so much of the experience being online. By extension, predicts Adam Weinberg, President of Denison University in Granville, Ohio, in USA Today, going forward, both parents and students will want to know how successful the university is at launching graduates into prosperous careers—in other words, Weinberg says, the questions will become harder and the “tires kicked more” before commitments to attend are made.

  1. Elite colleges and universities will no longer be considered the gold standard

Poor records of admitting minorities and poor students and a lack of commitment to growing enrollments in non-traditional ways are expected to cause many universities once considered the crème de la crème of higher learning to be pushed further down the list of most-coveted to attend. Instead, public flagships and up-and-coming private schools that are more innovative, cost-effective, and student- and employer-centric will be more attractive, Busteed predicts. In Washington Monthly‘s 2021 college rankings, 17 of the top 30 schools were public. Also, in 2021, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton, MIT, Yale and Brown were among many prestigious institutions whose enrollment rates dropped sharply from the previous two years.

I think the article provides several provocative predictions.  Tomorrow (Thursday), I will  be on a panel at the virtual ACCELERATE conference sponsored by the Online Learning Consortium entitled,  “Research On The Blended University: Past, Present and Future!”  It will touch on several of the predictions raised by the above.  If you are attending the conference,  our presentation is at 11:15 am and I am sure that my colleagues, Patsy Moskal, Tanya Joostens, and Chuck Dziuban, and I would love to connect.