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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 8/7/20

We hope you were able to join us for our Friday 5 Live today.  We were grateful to have Andrea G. Harris, Senior Director, Student Administrative Service at Pepperdine University, join us again! We continued our discussion about well-being as we work from home, and we talked through how to handle virtual fatigue which will be critical for all of us for this fall.  Please join us on August 21 as we ask Denise Swett to look into the future of the fall semester!


The State of Higher Education This Week

This week we saw continued changes to academic plans for the fall semester.  Smith College announced that it will shift all classes online for the fall.  The University of Virginia pushed back its fall move-in date and shifted classes online; local residents have been critical of the university bringing students back to campus.  In contrast, Ames, Iowa residents are eager for students to return to Iowa State and support the town’s economy.  As some institutions push forward with full residence halls, there is increased speculation of Private-Public Partnerships between universities and companies, like Corvias.  The concern is that institutions are being forced to fill residence halls or make up the difference financially to the companies managing them.  We continue to watch the constantly shifting environment of higher education as we edge closer and closer to the start of the fall semester.

“The coronavirus has put a spotlight on a lot of the injustices in college athletics” - Valentino Daltoso, an offensive lineman at the University of California Berkeley


Hundreds of PAC-12 Conference football players announced this week that they would not participate in training camps or games this fall unless the conference met certain demands including health and safety procedures, created protections for other sports and addressed racial injustice. The athletes spent more than a month organizing, and their hope is that the threat of a boycott will lead to a formal negotiation process.  “There is a significant overlap between college sports and issues of racial justice, especially in football programs” report Vox.  College football is disproportionately fueled by Black athletes: half of all Division 1 football players are Black.


10: the number of players on Colorado State University’s football team who reported being  urged not to report COVID-19 symptoms by coaching staff.


Institutions have published clear plans for bringing students back to campus, but they have been less clear on what metrics they would use to decide to close campus should COVID-19 spread.  Industry analysts explain that colleges will be criticized for publishing any clear measures for closing as the ever-changing situation may mean those plans become quickly outdated.  Institutions like Duke University have announced they are monitoring a “range of indicators” to determine closure while Syracuse University has developed a framework that includes “five ‘levels’ of operation that lead up to a complete campus closure.” At 100 or more COVID-19 cases, the campus would pause and shift learning online.  K-12 institutions have begun to return to in-person instruction, and those experiences may offer additional models/guidelines for higher ed institutions who find they need to close.


Multiple publications this week highlighted the growing anxiety regarding  institutions’ financial health. The Hechinger Report examined financial decisions made pre-COVID-19 that have negatively impacted institutions while Education Dive reported on the continuation of layoffs and furloughs.  An interactive tool shared by Inside Higher Ed gives campus communities a snapshot of their institution’s financial situation.  The bottom line: the financial future of many colleges and universities is very bleak.


Innovative Educators On Demand Training: Creating An Inclusive Campus


The Chronicle reports this week on the impact academic advising can have on degree completion and career attainment. The article spotlights Florida Atlantic University’s success with appreciative advising which has helped to increase the four-year graduation rate by nearly 20%. “Black and Hispanic students’ graduation rates have outpaced those of the overall population.”  The report focuses on the work of Ned Laff who envisions academic advising as guiding students to find their strengths, get them the education and experience they need, and help them find successful careers.
Author: Meg Foster
August 7, 2020
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