A Compendium of Recent Research and Books of Interest to Higher Education Professionals

BOOKS

 

“Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” And Other Conversations about Race

Beverly Daniel Tatum
(Basic Books, 2017)
 
Walk into any racially mixed high school cafeteria or college dining hall, and you will see Black, White, and Latino students clustered in their own groups. Is this self-segregation a problem to address or a valuable coping strategy, and how can we get past our relectance to discuss racial issues? Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College (GA) and a renowned authority on the psychology of racism, presents strong evidence that straight talk about racial identities is essential to facilitate communication across racial and ethnic divides. In this fully revised 20th-anniversary edition of her book, Tatum discusses recent broader developments in the U.S. in the context of contemporary race relations. She explores the impact of changing demographics, persistent school and neighborhood segregation, the affirmative action backlash, the 2008 recession, the election of Barack Obama, the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement and recent campus activism, and the early days of the Trump presidency. This book is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the dynamics of race in America.
 

A Practical Education: Why Liberal Arts Majors Make Great Employees

Randall Stross
(Redwood Press, 2017)
 
This book investigates the real-world experiences of college graduates with humanities majors—the majors that many assume will be the least employable in Silicon Valley’s engineering-centric workplaces. Drawing on the experiences of Stanford University graduates and using the students’ own accounts of their education, job searches, and first work experiences, Randall Stross provides heartening demonstrations of how liberal arts graduates are multi-capable. Stross also weaves the students’ stories with the history of Stanford, the rise of professional schools, the longstanding contention between engineering and the liberal arts, the birth of occupational testing, and the popularity of computer science education, to trace the evolution in thinking about how to prepare students for professional futures. Blending the present and the past, the book explores how students can best use their undergraduate years. Stross is the author of numerous books about Silicon Valley’s tech companies and start-up culture. He is a professor of business at San Jose State University and holds a doctorate in modern Chinese history from Stanford University.

 

You Can Do Anything: The Surprising Power of a “Useless” Liberal Arts Education

George Anders
(Little, Brown and Company, 2017)
 
In this tech-dominated world, students need not limit their studies to computer science or engineering to get ahead, emphasizes business journalist and author George Anders. Anders demonstrates the remarkable power of a liberal arts education—including the ways it opens the door to thousands of cutting-edge jobs every week. He states that curiosity, creativity, and empathy aren’t unruly traits that must be reined in; liberal arts graduates can bring a humanist’s grace to jobs at any stage in their careers. An English major, for example, can thrive in sales, an anthropology major can conduct user research, a classicist can jump into management consulting, and a philosophy graduate can enter into high-stakes investing. Anders explains why résumé-writing is being replaced by “telling your story”; how to create jobs that don’t exist yet; how to translate campus achievements into an effective expression of skill sets for potential employers; and why people who start and succeed in eccentric first jobs often race ahead of peers whose post-college hunt focused on security and starting pay.
 

THE New Education: How to Revolutionize the University to Prepare Students for a World in Flux

Cathy N. Davidson
(Basic Books, 2017)
 
Cathy N. Davidson argues that the American higher education system, still based on a model developed in the late 19th century, does not work well for the post-industrial, post-internet world, and that a revolution in higher learning is needed for students to succeed in this age of precarious work and technological disruption. Journeying from elite private schools and massive public universities to forward-thinking community colleges, she profiles iconoclastic educators who are remaking their classrooms by emphasizing creativity, collaboration, and adaptability over expertise in a single, often abstract discipline. These innovators are breaking down barriers between ossified fields of study; presenting their students with multidisciplinary, real-world problems; and teaching them not just how to think, but how to learn. The New Education shows how colleges and universities can teach students not only to survive but to thrive amid the challenges to come. Davidson directs the Futures Initiative at the City University of New York and previously spent 25 years at Duke University as a scholar and administrator.
 

Campus Confidential: How College Works, or Doesn’t, for Professors, Parents, and Students

Jacques Berlinerblau
(Melville House, 2017)
 
Part industry exposé and part call for a return to engaged teaching, Campus Confidential provides an irreverent and incisive professor’s-eye view of college today. Jacques Berlinerblau—a tenured professor at Georgetown University who began his career at a community college and moved on to become an adjunct professor, an assistant professor, and an administrator—criticizes universities for increasingly valuing the bottom line more highly than delivering a quality education for students. He warns that many undergraduate students at research universities are taught by overworked and underpaid adjunct professors and graduate students who have received limited teacher training and whose careers are dependent on publishing, and he advises prospective students to seek out colleges with low faculty-to-student ratios. By providing a close look at higher education and tips on how to get the best out of it, Berlinerblau suggests how colleges can operate and improve themselves and how potential students and their parents can make informed decisions on which college to attend.
 

Top Problems Facing Colleges and What to Do

Norman R. Smith
(iUniverse, 2017)
 
Norman Smith, president of Elmira College (NY) who has worked on behalf of independent colleges and universities for over 45 years, offers strategies for leaders and trustees of small private colleges to overcome institutional financial challenges and succeed in the future. The 16 problems cited cover such issues as the need for colleges to rethink the way they select presidents and trustees as well as strategies for better cost management that could require cutting cherished academic programs. Among his broad advice, Smith encourages private colleges to make the case that they are worth what they cost and that college is to be thought of in the same way as other major investment in one’s future. He warns small private colleges and universities against trying to compete with public universities on price and against retooling their product to align with public institutions’ academic programs. Smith also charges independent college and university leaders to re-educate the public to counter the view of colleges as purely job training centers.
 

Breakthrough Strategies: Classroom-Based Practices to Support New Majority College Students

Kathleen A. Ross
(Harvard Education Press, 2016)
 
Breakthrough Strategies identifies effective strategies that faculty members have used to help new-majority students—those from minority, immigrant, or disadvantaged backgrounds—build the necessary skills to succeed in college. Kathleen A. Ross, a MacArthur Fellow and president emerita of Heritage University (WA), has devoted three decades of her professional career to helping new-majority students obtain college degrees. Based on an action-research project undertaken at Heritage and Yakima Valley Community College, the book highlights 11 strategies to foster student success, including helping them learn to ask questions in class, navigate the syllabus, and develop an academic identity. The book emphasizes that faculty members can be powerful resources for students and that classroom instruction can be an important vehicle for supporting student development and success.
 


REPORTS

 

Pulling Back the Curtain: Enrollment and Outcomes at Minority Serving Institutions

Lorelle L. Espinosa, Jonathan M. Turk, and Morgan Taylor
(American Council on Education Center for Policy Research and Strategy, July 2017)
 
Minority serving institutions (MSIs) play a critical role in American society, providing access to postsecondary education for millions of students of color who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. As America’s communities become more diverse and the number of MSIs increases, it is important to understand how MSIs serve the students they enroll. This report is the first of its kind to use National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) data to examine how students who started college at an MSI in 2007 moved through higher education. NSC data capture student enrollment profiles and outcomes beyond data available from the U.S. Department of Education. In addition to capturing more students than the federal data sources, NSC data follow students throughout their entire educational journeys, including when they change institutions. As such, the authors determined that completion rates for MSIs are higher than the federal graduation rate suggests. Students enrolled at private MSIs complete their degrees at higher rates than students enrolled at public MSIs, according to U.S. Department of Education and the lastest NSC data. This is especially true for full-time students, the most comparable student population when considering side-by-side the NSC completion data and the federal graduation rate. Access the full report.
 

Opening Doors: How Selective Colleges and Universities Are Expanding Access for High-Achieving, Low-Income Students

Jennifer Glynn
(Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, August 2017)
 
This report includes findings from a survey of over 2,500 high school seniors from low-income backgrounds that had a GPA above 3.8 and SAT or ACT scores in the top 15 percent nationwide. The survey results showed that concerns about college costs discourage one-third (34 percent) of high-achieving, low-income students from applying to any college. In addition to identifying common challenges (see Figure 1), Opening Doors provides a road map for how America’s colleges can reverse the trend, calling on institutions to learn from the best practices of some of the selective colleges that have already opened their doors wider to outstanding low-income students. The report does not discuss the highly effective practices in use at less selective colleges. The report’s 14-step action plan calls on colleges to simplify their application process, recognize the obstacles low-income students face in evaluating them for admission, and remove admissions practices disadvantaging low-income students. Access the full report.


Pathways to the University Presidency: The Future of Higher Education Leadership

(Deloitte University Press and Georgia Institute of Technology, April 2017)

This report explores what it takes to be an effective college or university president today and how the dynamics of higher education in America are demanding a new set of skills of tomorrow’s leaders. Deloitte’s Center for Higher Education Excellence, in partnership with Georgia Tech’s Center for 21st Century Universities, conducted this study through an extensive survey, in-depth interviews, and the first analysis of presidential CVs. The report finds that while the provost’s office has long been the most frequent stopover point on the way to the presidency, the paths prospective presidents now take are becoming more complex, fragmented, and overlapping (see Figure 2). The report, however, does not differentiate between provosts of large universities and chief academic officers of small colleges. Academic deans are increasingly moving right to the top job and bypassing the provost’s role. Provosts are no longer simply regarded as the No. 2 person on campus; they often have skills that complement the president’s, rather than replicate them. The shift in responsibilities suggests that the provost’s role may not be adequate preparation for the presidency, especially if the provost is focused on academic affairs and internal issues. Access the full report.


2017 Survey of College and University Admissions Officers

Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman
(Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, September 2017)

This seventh annual survey drew responses from 453 college and university admissions directors to understand how these leaders view admissions trends, recruiting strategies, and other issues. Results show that only 34 percent of colleges and universities met new student enrollment targets this year by May 1, the traditional date by which most institutions aim to have a class set. That figure is down from 37 percent in 2016. The only sector where most colleges and universities reported meeting their goals was public doctoral institutions with 59 percent. Among respondents from all private colleges and universities, 36 percent met their goals. Admissions directors are divided on whether free tuition programs are a good idea for higher education. Those working at public institutions tend to favor such programs, while more than eight in ten private college admissions directors say a free tuition program, if passed in their state, would negatively affect their institution. Access the full report.


U.S.-Mexico Higher Education Engagement: Current Activities, Future Directions

Robin Matross Helms and Jermain Griffin
(American Council on Education Center for Internationalization and Global Engagement, April 2017)

This report provides an assessment of academic ties between the United States and Mexico and a roadmap for future collaboration. Supported by Banco Santander/Universia, the publication includes an inventory of existing collaborations, an examination of trends and challenges, and data-based recommendations for policy and practice. The paper’s inventory of collaborations catalogues activity in six areas: student mobility, faculty mobility, curriculum and teaching, research and Mexico-focused research centers at U.S. institutions, institutional outposts, and public engagement. An analysis of the inventory data revealed five trends about bilateral engagement, including that activity by U.S. institutions is heavily concentrated in the U.S.-Mexico border regions; and issues of sustainability, safety, access, and reciprocity are key determinants of student exchange programs. The authors emphasize that to strengthen bilateral relationships, institutions must focus on sustainability, build upon existing connections, diversify partners and participants, and engage in advocacy. Access the full report.


DATA SNAPSHOTS

 

FIGURE 1

Charts: Private, nonprofit 4-year: $52,574 mean starting salary; Public 4-year: $48,292 mean starting salary. Private, nonprofit 4-year: 91.4% of collge students finding job six months after graduation; Public 4-year: 80.9% of collge students finding job six months after graduation.  


FIGURE 2

Charts: Does your institution have an agreed-upon set of indicators that it uses internally to guage its financial health? Public: 67% Yes, 33% No; Private: 84% Yes, 16% No.  



Yes