VCs Weekly Higher Education Digest: May 20, 2019

At Morehouse, a Speech to Remember By Scott Jaschik INSIDE HIGHER EDUCATION

Robert F. Smith, a billionaire who is the chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, stunned the 396 graduates he addressed at Morehouse College Sunday when he pledged to repay all their student debt. The vast majority of Morehouse graduates borrow. While the historically black college has not figured out the exact amount that will be involved, Smith said he would pay up to $40 million to meet his pledge. Graduates broke into cheers when Smith closed his graduation speech with the announcement.

Is China’s Belt and Road Initiative boosting academic links? By Simon Baker TIMES HUGHER EDUCATION

China’s Belt and Road project, which is aimed at strengthening its ties with the rest of Asia and beyond, may be primarily about transport and infrastructure…. According to data on the amount of academic publications indexed in Elsevier’s Scopus database that feature co-authors from different countries, some of the biggest growth in collaborative research involving China is in other parts of Asia, eastern Europe and north Africa…. So does this apparent expansion of research links have its roots in the Belt and Road strategy…

How Should Boards Respond to Disruption? By Peter Smith TRUSTEESHIP MAGAZINE

From nontraditional students and classroom models to the programs and services that support institutions, today’s colleges and universities are facing major disruption. How can higher education leaders respond to this multidimensional sea change and embrace the future in progressive new ways? Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen’s theory of “disruptive innovation” has its roots in the collapse and bankruptcy of four major computer companies in the late 1990s…. Now consider higher education today. Who were its customers 15 years ago? Who are they today…

Marshaling Board Leadership in the Face of Disruption By Marcia P. DeWitt TRUSTEESHIP MAGAZINE

I started my postgraduate career in the 1970s, involved with both large private and public universities…. Key questions remain for boards on the best approaches to attract significantly more diverse audiences at every level. This transition progresses as other related issues percolate: what type of work is ahead for graduates, how can institutions deliver quality education to diverse candidates, how can families fund education, and how can the colleges and universities remain financially viable for the long term?

Crisis Control By Connie Book, et al. BUSINESS OFFICER

The harsh reality is that today’s crises are all too often played out in a 24-hour news cycle and require a tight response time, frequently with incomplete information. An inadequate or poor initial response to an event or incident within such a high-pressure, high-stakes environment has the potential to cause long-term harm to a college or university’s reputation or create significant financial and operational disruptions…. Campus leaders need a tried-and-true, repeatable business process to mitigate such risks and minimize any financial downside.

Accessibility Buy-In: Rubrics and Faculty Development Workshops By Meg Hunter and Alison Diefenderfer EDUCAUSE MAGAZINE

Faculty enter physical and virtual class spaces (including learning management systems) as content experts. The majority don't have backgrounds in classroom management, pedagogy, assessment, curriculum development, or accessibility. Institutions often provide training but do not always offer ongoing support. Yet ongoing support and faculty buy-in have consistently been proven to be crucial to sustained faculty growth, engagement, and motivation.

The Analytics Imperative By Susan Whealler Johnston BUSINESS OFFICER

Nearly one-third of all chief business officers say that strategic thinking and decision making are among the most important aspects of their jobs. Without analytics, these critical responsibilities can’t be achieved. Higher education is challenged on many fronts…. For many institutions, the traditional business model is fraying. Higher education is awash with data in all these areas, but data alone won’t help CBOs and other institutional leaders make strategic decisions to address their challenges and take advantage of new opportunities. Analytics must be part of the answer.

The lure of learning analytics By Navneet Alang UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS

These kinds of questions about how to best approach pedagogy have, for most of the history of postsecondary education, been answered with a combination of experience, feel and anecdotal evidence. But to be an educator in 2019 is to live in a flood of digital data…. That is the idea behind the emerging field in education called learning analytics. At its most basic, learning analytics is simply the analysis of data related to learning, and thus encompasses even rudimentary acts like taking attendance or calculating average test scores in a class.

Digital skills demand – A big opportunity for universities By Wachira Kigotho UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has urged universities and higher technical education institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa to improve their digital skills training programmes to cater for its prediction that over 230 million jobs in the region will need digital skills by 2030. The study, Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa: Spotlight on Ghana, was produced in cooperation with global strategy firm LEK Consulting.

Universities ‘uniquely’ prone to workplace abuse, union warns By David Matthews TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION

A Dutch labour union has warned that university workplaces are uniquely prone to harassment and abuses of power, after a survey discovered that about half of staff felt they were “socially unsafe” at work. A survey of more than 1,000 staff members across the Netherlands discovered that around a third of respondents said they had been bullied, and nearly half undermined by having important information, like the time of meetings, withheld from them.

What can universities do about the future of work? By Michael A Peters University UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS

The nature of capitalism is changing to a fully global-scale digital economy, a single planetary system, shifting from an oil-gas oligarchy to a bio-information configuration and continuing the long evolving cultural trend of formalisation and mathematicisation, based on developments in algebra, digital logics and algorithms. This is the concept of digital capitalism that emerged from the military, government and education research networks that gave birth to the internet in the early 1990s. Now, less than 30 years later, it sports a handful of soon-to-be US$1 trillion ‘information’ platform companies – Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Facebook.

Why 4IR won’t happen and critical thinking still matters By Edwin Naidu UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS

Will the much-vaunted fourth industrial revolution (4IR) have the massive impacts on human life and work that its proponents suggest? Will it usher in an era of artificial intelligence and redundant workers? Or is it simply an intellectual trend that, like others, will fade away under the weight of unmet predictions? University of Johannesburg (UJ) academic and Executive Dean of Humanities Professor Alex Broadbent is not afraid to ask the difficult questions. He believes that 4IR will not happen because human intelligence, and reasoning about cause and effect, cannot be automated.

Research is an addiction – but help is available By Shaun Khoo UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS

The first time I collected data was exciting. It was hard work, but it was one tiny step forward in scientific knowledge. However, after several years of studying the neuroscience of addiction, I have come to realize that research – the pursuit of data and its related products, the published paper and grant – is often so compulsive that it seems awfully similar to the addictions that I was trying to model in the lab…. Data addiction is a harmful disorder that can leave researchers stressed, anxious and socially isolated. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You’ve Got Options By Nancy Mann Jackson BUSINESS OFFICER

Adding online degree programs is nothing new for institutions, but as the field of online program management matures, colleges and universities have new options for creating these programs. Traditionally, revenue sharing has been the most common method by which institutions could add online degree programs…. While revenue sharing works well for many institutions, a newer option—the fee-for-service model—could be a better fit for some colleges and universities.

Why we need work/life blend, not work/life balance By Rebecca Siciliano HR MAGAZINE

Juggling work and life is tough, but it’s time to talk of ‘blend’ – not ‘balance’ The idea – and benefits – of trying to achieve a balance between the pressures of work and a personal life are well-documented. From home working to flexible hours, the solutions offered to help achieve this ‘balance’ are now commonplace. But is it time to reconsider the concept?... “Blend implies that you can have a number of different things that you are focusing on in your life at the same time, whereas balance suggests that two sides are opposing and when one is going up the other is going down.”

Want to be less stressed? Do some overtime (but not too much) By Nick Mayo TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION

University staff who do up to 10 hours’ overtime per week are more satisfied with their jobs than those who do none, according to a study. But doing any more than 10 hours of unpaid work results in a significant drop-off in satisfaction, says the paper published in the International Journal of Stress Management. It might be that the “benefits of working up to 10 extra hours outweigh the costs of doing less or working inefficiently or too much”, say researchers from the universities of Reading and Portsmouth.

Leadership development is not working for Millennials By Simon Barrington HR MAGAZINE

Millennials were born between 1984 and 2000 and are currently either in or stepping into senior-level leadership roles across all sectors. We interviewed 500 of them to get an understanding of the cultures they are creating, how they have been developed as leaders, and the opportunities and challenges they have faced. Millennial leaders told us four key things that were lacking or not working in their own leadership development.

Technology a mixed blessing for work/life balance By Rachel Muller-Heyndyk HR MAGAZINE

Technology can enable flexibility but issues around working culture still inhibit work/life balance for many, research has found…. Half of women (50%) said it enabled them to work flexibly, while 36% said it helped them work remotely. Overall technology was seen as a positive contributor to work/life balance (50%). But there was also a degree of uncertainty, with almost a third of parents (31%) stating they weren’t sure. The charity's annual report also found that 44% of parents find it hard to avoid dipping into work emails when they get home (rising to 50% for fathers).

Strategic plans help universities tell their story By Moira McDonald UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS

Benefits aside, strategic planning has been criticized for applying a business model to an entity that is very different from one whose main concern is turning a profit…. But planning advocates argue it is that complexity that requires thoughtful consideration of how to support the whole enterprise and still meet fresh expectations. And while public universities are not for-profit businesses, they face comparable challenges…. A strategic plan is a vehicle for universities to sell their mission and show stakeholders how the institution will deliver on it and its values.

How the open access model hurts academics in poorer countries By Brenda Winfield UNIVERSITY AFFAIRS

The rise of open access publishing should be applauded. Scientific research and literature should be made available to everyone, with no cost to the reader. But there’s a catch: nothing is actually free and someone has to pay. The open access model merely changes who pays. So rather than individuals or institutions paying to have access to publications, increasingly, academics are expected to pay for publishing their research in these “open access” journals…. This is a huge burden particularly in developing countries with weaker currencies.

UN urges universities to be catalysers of sustainability By Brendan O’Malley UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS

Although young people are driving a global wake-up call on climate change and the need to reduce our carbon footprint, many universities are struggling with the concept and agenda of ‘greening’ and their achievements to date have been “scattered and unsystematic”, UN Environment, the leading global environmental authority, warned this week. In a report published on its website, it says some schools and universities are leading by example and reducing carbon emissions, promoting renewable energy and becoming “hotbeds of activism on the defining issue for a generation”.

The Humanities Without Nostalgia: Harking back to an era of ‘peak English’ betrays marginalized scholars By Devin M. Garofalo, Anna Hinton, Kari Nixon, and Jessie Reeder THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Andrew Kay’s recent essay, "Academe’s Extinction Event," offers gut-wrenching and at times humorous truth-telling…. Tenure-track positions in the humanities are in steep decline. The majority of scholars in the humanities are overworked, undercompensated adjuncts. Humanities departments and programs are subject to austerity and annihilation…. But it is also worryingly anti-intellectual — and damningly uninterested in women and scholars of color.

Are Women Invisible to Economists? One Scholar Is Stripping Down to Make Them Look By Alexander Kafka THE CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION

Victoria Bateman, an economic historian at the University of Cambridge, has an engaging sing-song canter to her conversation, her dark hair in an arched braid across her head like a Jane Austen heroine. An inch shy of five feet, with a gentle, impish smile, she favors prim dresses and business jackets. That is, when she wears clothes. Sometimes, to highlight economists’ obliviousness to women, she doesn’t, as at a March 2018 meeting of the Royal Economic Society. There she strode in to a gala reception “wearing,” as she puts it, “nothing but shoes, gloves, a necklace — and, of course, a smile.”

Welcome to the international classroom of the future By Nadine Burquel and Anja Busch UNIVERSITY WORLD NEWS

The internationalisation of higher education has opened up exciting opportunities for higher education institutions to make major transformations to their teaching and learning process: exposure to different cultures expands considerably the type of knowledge that is delivered through the education process, bringing new perspectives to the classroom. Internationalisation offers great opportunities for student mobility through exchanges, degree mobility, internships, study visits and summer schools.

How men can help combat misogyny in graduate By Charmaine Willis and Nakissa Jahanbani TIMES HUGHER EDUCATION

Misogynistic experiences can exacerbate impostor syndrome – something that affects both men and women in academia – especially among female graduate students who already feel it at disproportionately higher rates and more often in minorities. Studies have also noted that many graduate students experience high levels of mental health issues, with rates of depression and anxiety six times that of the general public. Misogynistic experiences can compound these mental health issues by reinforcing feelings of worthlessness, anxiety and other emotions associated with mental health issues.

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