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


Vocation across the Academy: A New Vocabulary for Higher Education
David S. Cunningham, editor (Oxford University Press, 2017)
The second volume in a series of books written by Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) scholars, the 13 essays in this book address the shortage of vocational exploration resources to bridge the gap between liberal arts and applied fields of study. Chapter authors include scholars in the arts and sciences as well as those who teach in applied fields such as business, engineering, and health care. They explore topics such as frameworks for human responsibility, the goals of public performance, the nature of work, and vocational contributions through the natural and social sciences. The authors also discuss the challenges of divergent vocational interests, personal and professional conflicts, and missteps that students can experience during their undergraduate years. (CIC and NetVUE Members: Enter promo code AAFLYG6 at global.oup.com/academic for 30 percent off the book’s list price.)
Lesson Plan: An Agenda for Change in American Higher Education
William G. Bowen and Michael S. McPherson (Princeton University Press, 2016)
This brief, accessible book shows that many so-called crises—from the idea that typical students are drowning in debt to the belief that tuition increases are being driven by administrative bloat—are exaggerated or simply false; and that meanwhile, many real problems—from the high dropout rate to inefficient faculty staffing—have received too little attention. In response, the authors assess some of what they consider the biggest challenges confronting higher education and propose an agenda for re-engineering essential elements of the system. Suggestions include targeting federal and state funding more efficiently; allocating less money for merit aid and more for financial need; creating a respected teaching corps that would include nontenured faculty; and strengthening leadership. Author William G. Bowen (1933–2016) was president emeritus of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Princeton University and founding chairman of ITHAKA; Michael S. McPherson is president of the Spencer Foundation and former president of Macalester College.
Consolidating Colleges and Merging Universities: New Strategies for Higher Education Leaders
James Martin, James E. Samels, and associates (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016)
In this book, James Martin, a professor of English and humanities at Mount Ida College (MA), James Samels, president and CEO of the Education Alliance, and other higher education leaders discuss how institutions might cooperate with their competitors without violating antitrust rules to survive in the post-recession economic climate. Chapters explore the reasons that colleges and universities build partnerships and alliances and describe how to design and sustain new models of strategic cooperation. The contributors suggest that the future may be challenging for many colleges and universities that choose to stand alone rather than join forces with other institutions. (Readers also may be interested in the wide variety of strategies for mission-driven innovation that are detailed in CIC’s 2015 report, Mission-Driven Innovation: An Empirical Study of Adaptation and Change among Independent Colleges. Such strategies show how CIC colleges and universities are adapting to meet many challenges.)
The Compleat Dean: A Guide to Academic Leadership in an Age of Uncertainty
Ralph V. Clayman (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016)
Soon after becoming dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, Ralph Clayman realized that his past tenure as founding chair of the school’s urology department did not prepare him for the demanding new position and that his feeling of a lack of preparedness was common among colleagues who change academic leadership positions. Written as a guide to academic leadership in an age of uncertainty, this book compiles answers to 113 questions on a wide range of leadership topics collected from numerous medical school deans and vice chancellors of health. Although the book is written from the perspective of a medical school dean, the content serves as an instructional guide on the operational, strategic, and cultural aspects involved when acquiring any level of leadership within academic administration. The book addresses areas such as communications, meeting management, hiring, termination, crisis management, strategic planning, culture development, and life balance.
Mistakes to Avoid When Deciding on Your College
Norman R. Smith (Elmira College, 2016)
Norman Smith, president of Elmira College (NY), wrote this book to guide high school students who are in the process of narrowing down their college aspirations as well as their parents and high school guidance counselors. He compiled a list of 24 common mistakes students make aft​er receiving incorrect or poor advice about applying to colleges. He states that the most chronic mistakes involve putting affordability concerns first and pushing high school students to select their academic major as a prerequisite to selecting a college. Others include misunderstanding the value and meaning of the liberal arts, relying upon college ratings and blogs to judge quality, assuming that universities are bigger and better than colleges, and viewing college purely as a job-training center. The book is downloadable for free.
Our Compelling Interests: The Value of Diversity for Democracy and a Prosperous Society
Earl Lewis and Nancy Cantor, editors (Princeton University Press, 2016)
This inaugural volume of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Our Compelling Interests series illustrates that a diverse population offers U.S. communities a prescription for thriving now and in the future. Edited by Earl Lewis, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and Nancy Cantor, chancellor of Rutgers University-Newark, and written by leading scholars, the essays explore the demographic transitions reshaping American life and present a broad-ranging look at the value of diversity to democracy and civil society. Essays cover the paradoxes of diversity and inequality in civil rights legislation; review the ideals that have governed theories about assimilation, integration, and multiculturalism; and delve into the new ideal of social connectedness. The book also examines the demographics of the American labor force and its implications for college enrollment, graduation, and the ability to secure jobs as well as for business outcomes and the economy.
Perspectives on Campus Planning: Meeting the Challenges of Purpose and Place
Arthur J. Lidsky and George G. Mathey (Dober Lidsky Mathey, 2015)
This book includes a collection of short essays adapted from reactions, observations, and perspectives published in the planning firm Dober Lidsky Mathey’s newsletter, Perspectives on Campus Planning, and other writings. The first two sections of the book focus on the beginning stages of planning—including vision, strategy, and priorities, who should be involved, and how an institution should prepare to start the process. The third section covers the process of campus planning and includes topics that range from determining when not to initiate a campus plan to discovering how to create a learning campus. The remaining six sections focus on various aspects of college and university planning—including standards, tools, and guidelines; facilities planning; student life; town-gown relations; and academic issues.
Flies Off the Wall: Text/Toons to Uplift Campus Mood
Daniel A. Felicetti (Maple Creek Media, 2016)
Flies Off the Wall offers a light treatise about the blended roles humor and a “new academic form of cartooning” can play in helping to elevate the mood of the higher education community. The book is designed for readers who are concerned about the quality of institution-wide camaraderie—especially those who are open to considering how comedic expression can reduce stress and stimulate more productive campus dialogue—and covers issues involving students, faculty, administrators, and higher ed leaders. The author provides a prototypical sample of a dozen “text/toons,” coupled with some suggestions for implementing policy changes, to bring campus constituents into stronger modes of cross-sector collaboration.


2017 Survey of College and University Presidents
Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman, editors (Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, March 2017)
The seventh annual Inside Higher Ed survey of college and university presidents was conducted by Gallup in early 2017, and many of the questions and answers explore the array of turbulent issues—such as immigration, race, and political discord—that have dominated campus conversations in the wake of the recent presidential campaign and election. Among the findings: A majority of presidents (54 percent) agree or strongly agree that the election exposed a disconnect between academe and much of American society. Nearly a third of presidents (31 percent) report that they spoke out more on political issues during the campaign than they normally do. And a third (33 percent) reports speaking more about politics since the election (see Figure 1 below). Access the report.
2017 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers
Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman, editors (Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, January 2017)
The sixth annual Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers, conducted by Gallup in fall 2016, reveals how these leaders perceive and deal with higher ed challenges related to finances, academics, strategies, and policies. The results show that nine in ten CAOs strongly agree (65 percent) or agree (25 percent) that liberal arts is central to undergraduate education, even in professional programs; the majority of CAOs (54 percent), however, expect a significant drop in the number of liberal arts institutions over five years.
Diversity course requirements are fairly common at U.S. colleges and universities―especially so at private nonprofit colleges and universities, where 75 percent of respondents said their college has at least one diversity course requirement in its curriculum (see Figure 2 below). Access the report.
Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates
Peace Bransberger and Demarée K. Michelau (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, December 2016)
This ninth edition of Knocking at the College Door contains projections of high school graduates by state and race/ethnicity through the class of 2032. According to the report, the overall number of high school graduates will plateau for most of the next decade, and the average size of graduating classes between 2027 and 2032 is expected to be smaller than those in 2013 (which was the year with the highest recorded number of U.S. graduates yet). The pending national plateau is largely the result of a decline in the white student population and counterbalanced by growth in the number of non-white public school graduates—Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders in particular. The national projections mask significant variations among the nation’s four geographic regions, which show growth in the number of high school graduates in the South and West, and continuing declines in the number of high school graduates in the Midwest and Northeast (see Figure 3 below). Access the report.
The Lives of Presidential Partners in Higher Education Institutions
Darwin D. Hendel, Karen F. Kaler, and Gwendolyn H. Freed (December 2016, University of Minnesota,
Twin Cities)
With responses from 461 individuals, this survey-based study gives voice to the largest and most diverse known sample of college presidential spouses and partners to date. It gathered quantitative and qualitative data about the nature and scope of partners’ institutional activities, levels of institutional involvement, rewards and challenges, official presidential residences, and perceptions about the role. As a group, the spouses and partners present a picture of paradox. Eighty-four percent of respondents found the role satisfying, very satisfying, or extremely satisfying; and they identified rewards and benefits such as interacting with students, meeting interesting people, supporting their partners, and helping to represent their institutions. At the same time, many shared that life as a spouse or partner can entail struggles with role clarity and the stresses of a public existence, as well as contexts and circumstances in which expectations of male and female partners can differ remarkably (see Figure 4 below). Access the report.
Funding Socioeconomic Diversity at High Performing Colleges and Universities
Martin Kurzweil and Jessie Brown (American Talent Initiative [ATI], February 2017)
This paper profiles five institutions that have enhanced their commitment to serving low- and moderate-income students while the institutions battle finite budgets and multiple priorities. The institutions include Franklin & Marshall College (PA), University of California, Berkeley, University of Richmond (VA), University of Texas at Austin, and Vassar College. These institutions face different challenges and capacities related to their sector, endowment, size, and ability to expand. Nevertheless, each has pulled a different combination of financial levers—such as reallocating funds from merit-only aid to need-based aid or making strategic use of one-time grants and budgetary surpluses—to support increasing opportunity at their institution. ATI is a partnership between Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Aspen College Excellence Program, Ithaka S+R, and an expanding alliance of colleges and universities collaborating on a national goal: educating an additional 50,000 low-to-moderate income students by 2025. Since publication, CIC has encouraged ATI to include more CIC members. Access the report.
Don’t Forget Private, Nonprofit Colleges: Evidence Speaks Reports, Vol. 2, No. 9
Matthew M. Chingos (Brookings Institution, February 2017)
This Brookings Institution Economic Studies report provides new descriptive information on private nonprofit colleges. Although private colleges enroll 30 percent of all U.S. students at four-year institutions, they often are overlooked based on popular misperceptions that all have large endowments and cater to wealthy students. The report finds that the share of enrollment at private vs. public colleges varies widely across states, from a high of more than 60 percent in some eastern states to less than 5 percent in some western states; private colleges serve a similar proportion of low-income students as public colleges; and low-income students have higher economic mobility rates at private colleges. The report suggests that federal and state aid programs might be used to better position the private sector to advance policy makers’ goals, such as increasing educational attainment overall and increasing access for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Access the report.
​America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century
Commission on Language Learning (American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 2017)
This report is the American Academy’s response to a bipartisan request from members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives to examine critical questions regarding language learning. Although most U.S. citizens remain monolingual and English continues to be the lingua franca for world trade and diplomacy, there is an emerging consensus among leaders in business and politics, educators, and scientists that proficiency in English is insufficient to meet the nation’s needs in a shrinking world. This report recommends a national strategy to improve access to as many languages as possible for people of every region, ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. The Commission on Language Learning believes that every school in the nation should offer meaningful instruction in world languages as part of their standard curricula and that colleges and universities should offer beginning and advanced language instruction to all students and reverse recent programmatic cuts wherever possible. CIC has endorsed these recommendations and will explore the report further at the 2017 Institute for Chief Academic and Chief Student Affairs Officers. Access the report.

FIGURE 1: Some College Presidents Speak Out More on Political Matters

Percentages of Presidents Answering Yes on Questions about Speaking Out on Political Matters  

Source: 2017 Survey of College and University Presidents. 2017. Inside Higher Ed and Gallup. Figure prepared by the Council of Independent Colleges.

FIGURE 2: CAOs Report on Diversity in the Curriculum

Does your college currently require at least one course dealing with diversity?  

Source: 2017 Survey of College and University Chief Academic Officers. 2017. Inside Higher Ed and Gallup. Figure prepared by the Council of Independent Colleges.

FIGURE 3: High School Graduate Projections Show Variations among Geographic Regions
Total Public and Private High School Graduates, by Region 2000–2001 through 2031–2032

1. South; 2. West; 3. Midwest; 4. Northeast  

Source: Knocking at the College Door: Projections of High School Graduates. 2016. Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Figure prepared by the Council of Independent Colleges.

FIGURE 4: Involvement in the Presidential Partner Role, by Gender

Female: 58% very involved or extremely involved; Male: 30% very involved or extremely involved  

Source: The Lives of Presidential Partners in Higher Education Institutions. 2016. University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Figure prepared by the Council of Independent Colleges.