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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 1/29/21

We hope you could join us for our Friday 5 Live this week.  We are grateful for Dr. Sylvia Dorsey-Robinson who shared with us her insights into how we can support our students of color during pandemic learning. We look forward to welcoming Dr. Denise Swett on February 5 as we talk through technology resources to support us in 2021.



As the semester begins, institutions are seeing increased rates of COVID transmission. The University of Michigan has advised all students to stay at home for a two-week period as COVID infection rates spike.  The University of Richmond has warned students about behavior violating social distancing protocols as parties sprung up last weekend.  The University of Vermont women’s basketball team announced it was ending its season early citing COVID; the University of Virginia made a similar announcement a week ago.  The NCAA lost $600 million in revenue in 2020 from the cancellation of its men’s basketball tournament.  This year it will receive $850 million as part of its TV contract with CBS and Turner Sports.



In his first week in office, President Biden ordered that Title IX’s protections based on gender be extended to sexual orientation and gender identity — a major win for transgender students and their advocates. This order affirms that gender identity and sexual orientation are protected classes under federal sex discrimination laws. Experts see this as the first signal that the Biden administration will revamp Title IX. Last year Betsy DeVos, former Secretary of Education, narrowed the scope of sexual violence colleges would need to investigate under Title IX and created a pseudo-judicial system for hearing those cases.  It is possible the Department of Education could scale back enforcement of the current regulation until it can be revamped.


440: The number of employees laid off by East Carolina University this week.



This week Inside Higher Ed examines a report highlighting the faculty experience in the fall semester.  Faculty reported feeling more prepared for online learning and that their students in general learned as much in the fall semester as they would have in a traditional on-campus semester.  However, “professors at four- and especially two-year institutions are significantly likelier to report increases rather than decreases in the proportion of students either dropping out of or failing their introductory courses.” Faculty are concerned about the increasing equity gaps in higher education.  The report recommends that institutions focus on preparing faculty to teach effectively while also rewarding instructors who focus on teaching.   


“While the number of students overall fell by more than 461,000 compared to the fall of 2019, the decline among men was more than seven times as steep as the decline among women.” - the Hechinger Report



This week the Hechinger Report examines why men are disappearing from college campuses - a trend accelerated by COVID-19. Women now make up 60% of college students.  Many young men interviewed for the article share a responsibility that they must help support their families versus investing years and money into a college degree.  The pandemic economy has highlighted growing socioeconomic disparity: those people without degrees are more vulnerable to economic downturns.  Experts cite dual enrollment programs as helping transition young men into college classrooms and helping male students to see they belong in the college environment.  


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Institutions have made many adjustments to the 2020-2021 academic calendar in response to COVID. Some have delayed semester starts, canceled breaks, or shifted classes online after Thanksgiving. A few small liberal arts colleges rethought the semester, creating two fall terms allowing students to focus on two classes at a time. Institutions largely report they will most likely not continue with this “mod” course delivery in the future though Schreiner University cited fewer failing grades and withdrawals in the fall semester. The shift in course delivery prompted campus discussions about teaching and learning particularly around inclusive teaching practices.
Author: Meg Foster
January 29, 2021
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