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  • COVID-19 roundup: Outbreaks at Berkeley; more fall sports plans change; a college survives July 10 2020
    The latest news about the coronavirus's impact on college and university campuses includes outbreaks related to fraternity life at one major university and more changes in universities' plans for fall sports. Spike in Greek-Related Cases at Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, health services reported 47 new positive COVID-19 cases over the last week, its largest spike since the start of the pandemic, university officials told students and staff members in a July 8 message. A “majority” of the confirmed cases were traced to recent parties in the university’s fraternities and sororities, where students were not following public health guidelines such as social distancing or wearing face masks, the message said. Anna Harte, medical director of UC Berkeley Health Services, and Guy Nicolette, assistant vice chancellor, urged students not to attend large parties and not to socialize indoors with people who are not part of their households. Before this recent spike, health services had only seen 23 positive COVID-19 cases among students since the start of the pandemic, Harte and Nicolette said. The trend is concerning to university officials as they prepare to bring more students and staff members back to campus in the fall, the message said. “At the rate we are seeing increases in cases, it’s becoming harder to imagine bringing our campus community back in the way we are envisioning,” the message said. “The increase in cases across the country and locally are a powerful reminder of how contagious this disease is and how quickly the disease can spread.” -- Greta Anderson *** Conference-Only Play in the Big Ten: The Big Ten conference, which includes dominant NCAA Division I football programs such as Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State Universities, announced that if fall sports proceed this year, teams will only be competing within the conference. Summer workouts for athletes in the conference will also continue to be voluntary, said a July 9 release from the Big Ten. The conference is the first of the "Power Five" conferences in the Football Bowl Subdivision, which includes the nation’s top football programs, to announce a limited 2020 fall sports season in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Ohio State’s most recent round of COVID-19 testing found positive cases in seven of its athletics programs, including football and men’s and women’s basketball, which prompted the university to pause athletic workouts on July 8, USA Today reported. The Ivy League announced the same day that it would postpone all fall sports competition until 2021. A similar possibility remains for fall sports in the Big Ten, the conference’s release said. “As we continue to focus on how to play this season in a safe and responsible way, based on the best advice of medical experts, we are also prepared not to play in order to ensure the health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes should the circumstances so dictate,” the release said. -- Greta Anderson *** Several colleges and conferences have joined the Ivy League in deciding not to compete in intercollegiate sports this fall. As part of its plan for a partial fall reopening of its campus, Case Western Reserve University said Wednesday that its officials had "determined that fall season varsity and club athletic competition cannot take place safely." The Cleveland-based university said it had consulted with its peers in the far-flung Division III University Athletic Association, which said that it had become "regrettably apparent that holding onto a mandated UAA schedule is no longer viable … While we will continue to try to maintain UAA playing relationships as a priority, each UAA institution needs the flexibility to find additional local sport partners with which to compete, as they are able." On Thursday, meanwhile, officials with two Division II conferences of historically black colleges and universities, the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, said they had decided to cancel their fall sports seasons. Officials of the Southern league said that despite hopes that competition could resume, league officials said, "as COVID-19 infections surge throughout the country in general and the southeastern region in particular, it would be difficult to fairly and responsibly conclude that meaningful progress has been made at this time." The commissioner of the Central association, Jacqie McWilliams, said, “This was a difficult decision but remains consistent with our long-standing priority of always acting in the best interest of our student athletes, coaches and support staff. While there will be no athletic competition in the fall, we will continue to support opportunities that enhance the experiences of our student- athletes, member institutions and partners.” -- Doug Lederman *** Wells College, which had been teetering on the edge of closure amid the coronavirus pandemic, will forge ahead with its plans to reopen this fall.  The college has raised enough money to sustain operations for the fall semester. On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees voted to approve the college’s 2020-21 operating budget.  “Through inspired and truly unprecedented generosity, better-than-anticipated enrollment, and a very generous zero-interest bridge loan from an anonymous foundation, we now have the confidence to continue our drive toward our $7.5 million financial goal, and to push ahead with the opening of the college for residential instruction this fall,” Jonathan Gibralter, Wells College president, told students, faculty and staff Thursday morning. In the spring, Wells College said it could be forced to close if it wasn’t able to reopen in the fall. The college plans to bring students back to campus in August. -- Emma Whitford Editorial Tags: CoronavirusIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
    Many young Americans won't take coronavirus vaccine July 10 2020
    When Dr. Anthony Fauci was asked at a Senate hearing in May what it would take for students to feel comfortable going back to campuses during the coronavirus pandemic, he said ultimately what would need to happen is for there to be a vaccine. He later walked back the remark in part to say colleges could reopen even before there is a vaccine. But for many college presidents, like Alabama State University’s Quinton T. Ross, the hope for a vaccine has been a much-anticipated milestone in the distance that could lead to a return to normalcy, when students would no longer have to wear masks and he wouldn’t have to worry that social distancing isn't being practiced at campus keggers. But putting into question how much impact the vaccine will have on campuses if many students are still succepitible to the disease are two recent polls that say about a third of college-aged Americans are at least leaning against getting the vaccine when one is available. That will force colleges to make choices like whether to require students and workers to get vaccinated. The reasons why so many younger adults say they might not be vaccinated are apparent in the rumors of COVID-19 parties in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and the scenes of crowded bars and beaches -- many believe the virus isn’t a threat. There is unease as well about the rush to create the vaccine, health experts say. A Pew Research Center survey in late April and early May found 31 percent of adults who are millennials or younger say they probably or definitely will not get vaccinated, far higher than the 20 percent of baby boomers and 27 percent of Americans of all ages who are leaning against getting the vaccine. A second poll in May, by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago’s NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, found similar results. Thirty-five percent of 18- to 29-year-olds, an age group that includes most college students, said they will not get vaccinated. Another 22 percent said they weren’t sure. The percentage of younger adults saying they will not get vaccinated was the largest of any age group in the poll, double the 18 percent of 30- to 44-year-olds and the 20 percent of 45- to 59-year-olds who said they will not get vaccinated. Due to differences in the responses those surveyed were asked to give, the percentage of those saying they would get vaccinated differed in the two polls. Only 42 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds in the AP-NORC poll said they would definitely take the vaccine. The Pew poll, which also asked which way respondents were leaning, found 68 percent of adults who are millennials or younger would either definitely or probably get vaccinated. Among all age groups, the AP-NORC poll said half would definitely get vaccinated, while 72 percent of Pew’s respondents said they would, or probably would, get vaccinated. Still, that about a third in either survey said they are not planning to take a vaccine that’s being viewed as key to a return to normalcy is disconcerting to those like Ross of Alabama State and Devin A. Jopp, chief executive officer of the American College Health Association. “It would help at all levels. It would help with regaining some sense of normalcy,” Ross said of widespread vaccination on his campus for the disease. Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College, Indiana's two-year system, said she’d want students to get vaccinated, but she stopped short of saying she’d require it. “We would certainly encourage our students and employees to get a vaccination when a vaccine is available for the good of the entire community,” she said. One sign of optimism for colleges in the Pew study, however, is that the percentage of those who said they are, at least, probably going to be vaccinated increased with education. While 30 percent of those with a high school education or less, and 31 percent of those with some college education, said they were likely not going to be vaccinated, only 22 percent of college graduates and 16 percent of those with a postgraduate degree said the same. The prospect of a vaccine finally being developed, only to be ignored by many Americans, alarmed Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina, at a recent education committee hearing on reopening campuses. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, agreed at the hearing: “I share with you the concern that we’ll get to the hoop, and we get a safe and effective vaccine, only to find a substantial portion of the population do not want to get vaccinated,” he said. Choices for Colleges Are Coming The polls raise a number of policy questions for colleges, not the least of which is whether to require students and staff to get tested at a time of strong opposition by those distrustful of vaccines. College administrators and health officials nationally will also face deep distrust in vaccinations, particularly among Black adults. “Even more alarming” in the AP-NORC poll, Scott said, was that only 25 percent of Black respondents and 37 percent of Hispanics said they would get vaccinated. In comparison, 56 percent of whites said they would get the vaccine. The Pew poll found a similar racial divide. Three-fourths of all whites said they would definitely or probably get vaccinated, compared to only 54 percent of Black respondents. Nearly half of Black Americans, 44 percent, said they definitely or probably would not get the vaccine. With a vaccine still months from becoming a reality, and colleges preoccupied with trying to reopen campuses in the fall, institutions haven’t yet focused on how to encourage, or require, vaccinations, said Jopp and Terry Hartle, the American Council on Education’s senior vice president for government and public affairs. But Jopp said the issue is looming. “It’s an important question. Vaccine policy is an up-and-coming issue everybody is going to have to deal with soon,” said Jopp, whose organization is conducting surveys to get a sense of the vaccination policies at institutions. The uncertainty over how many students will choose to be vaccinated only adds to questions about how quickly a vaccine will allow campuses to lift the precautions they are taking, like requiring the wearing of masks, Jopp said. No vaccine ensures everybody who takes it is protected, he said. It will take time to assess how effective it is. It’s also unclear who will pay for them, he said, and if colleges will be able to afford and get their hands on the vaccines right away. Until those questions are answered, he said, requirements for social distancing and other measures will not be immediately lifted when a vaccine becomes available. “It’s probably not going to be the light-switch approach,” he said. Require Vaccinations? Institutions of higher education generally require some vaccinations already, such as for illnesses like measles, mumps and rubella. Some, like the University of California system, require other vaccinations for conditions like chickenpox. But unlike K-12 schools, many states leave it to colleges and universities to set their own vaccination requirements. Spokespeople for health departments in Pennsylvania and California said it will be up to colleges to decide whether to require a coronavirus vaccination. Some states, however, do set requirements for colleges. Oregon, for instance, requires students at two- and four-year institutions to be vaccinated for measles. The Oregon state health department would have the authority to require students at four-year colleges be vaccinated for coronavirus but doesn’t now have plans to do so, a spokesman for the department said. The department also only has authority to require immunizations against measles for those who work in clinical settings, childcare or compete in sports. The state’s Legislature would have to give the agency the authority. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, said it’s too early to say whether a coronavirus vaccination should be required. It’s still unknown what kinds of side effects it will have, he said. Several universities, including the University of California system and the University of Washington, also said it’s too early to say whether they will require vaccinations. Any move to require vaccinations, however, would be opposed by the antivaccine movement. Groups, like Children’s Health Defense, founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., are raising concerns about the fast development of a vaccine, saying that in the rush, potential health risks are being ignored. “It goes to individual rights,” said Laura Bono, Children’s Health Defense’s executive director. “Does the state or the federal government or an employer have the right to make you take the very real risk of getting a vaccine?” It’s no surprise younger adults are less likely to say they will get vaccinated, she said, given they are less likely than older people to suffer serious consequences. Another group, Texans for Vaccine Choice, is demanding in an online petition that Greg Abbott, Texas’s Republican governor, promise a coronavirus vaccine will not be required to return to work or school or get social services. Distrust Among Black Respondents Encouraging people to get vaccinated, however, faces challenges, particularly among Black Americans, who hold a historic distrust of the medical establishment going back to incidents like the infamous Tuskegee study, Benjamin said. Beginning in 1932 and lasting for 40 years, 600 Black men in a federal study on syphilis were given annual physicals and told they were receiving treatment, when they were not. They were not told when penicillin began being used to treat the disease in 1947, and the men continued to go untreated for the next quarter century. Indeed, the Pew survey found that only 35 percent of Black Americans, compared to 43 percent of whites, believe medical scientists serve the public good. While two-thirds of whites say the benefits of experimental treatments outweigh the risks, Black respondents had the opposite view. Nearly 60 percent in the poll said the risks outweigh the benefits. Ross said he understands the skepticism in the Black community. But if tests show a vaccine is safe, the situation would be different from the Tuskegee study, he said. Rather than singling out a single race for lesser treatment, the vaccine would be available to all. Fauci at the hearing said his department is working on a strategy to encourage people to be vaccinated. Key, he said, is “there needs to be an engagement of people communities trust, especially noted sports figures or whatever,” he said. He likened what will be necessary to the public health strategy during the AIDS epidemic. “We used people in the community, boots on the ground, who looked and lived like the people they tried to engage,” he said. Education about the disease can make an impact, said Emily Brunson, a medical anthropologist at Texas State University. “Especially if it is framed as allowing you to resume normal college activities like football games or being in school in person at all,” said Brunson, who also works with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Benjamin, in an interview, said hesitancy about the vaccine will fade over time. “Once we know more about the vaccine, we’ll be able to more intelligently articulate the pros and cons of getting a shot,” he said. And, unfortunately, he said, more younger adults will come to realize they are not safe. “Tragically we will see that more young people will get the disease,” he said. “More young people will have the experience, unfortunately, of seeing someone they know getting sick.” Editorial Tags: CoronavirusImage Source: istock.com/Meyer & MeyerIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
    Delaware State University will acquire Wesley College, a first for HBCUs July 10 2020
    Delaware State University announced Thursday afternoon that it will acquire Wesley College, a private liberal arts college in Dover, Del., making Delaware State the first historically Black university to acquire an institution that is not a historically Black college or university. During a press conference, Delaware State University president Tony Allen addressed why the university made the acquisition announcement during the worsening coronavirus pandemic and amid increased calls to address racism at colleges and universities across the country. “There was a case to be made that a university like Delaware State University should be focusing on other things,” he said. “I would argue that that’s precisely what we’re doing. We are focusing on being bigger, broader and substantively the most diverse, contemporary and unapologetically historically Black college or university in the country.” Wesley is a minority-serving institution. Nearly three-quarters of Delaware State University students are Black or African American. Over 40 percent of Wesley students are Black or African American, 37 percent are white and 7 percent are Hispanic or Latinx. In 2019, Delaware State University enrolled 4,208 undergraduates and 378 graduate students. Wesley College enrolled 1,229 undergraduates and 122 graduate students. The acquisition will be finalized by the end of June next year. The agreement hinges on several conditions to be met before then, including approval from appropriate government and accrediting bodies and a “successful organizational transition plan.” Delaware State University will also need to secure private or government funding outside of its operating revenue to manage the acquisition. Delaware State will coordinate with Wesley on its fiscal 2021 budget, operating expenses, vendor contracts and other obligations. Delaware State will consider bringing on Wesley faculty and staff, Allen said, but no decisions have been made about how many. A teach-out agreement for current Wesley students is still in the works. Allen noted the historic significance of the acquisition but emphasized that “it’s not the reason that it’s such an attractive opportunity for us.” Harry Williams, CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and former president of Delaware State University, also weighed in on the move. “This is an unprecedented landmark in the long history of HBCUs. No HBCU has ever acquired a non-HBCU institution before, but I am not surprised that Delaware State University is leading the way,” Williams said in a press release. A small liberal arts college in the heart of downtown Dover, Wesley has struggled to stay in good financial health. Recent financial documents show the college has operated at a deficit for several years, and enrollment has declined by hundreds of students since 2013. In the past two years, Wesley received more than $6 million in state funding and was approved in February for an additional $3 million on an as-needed basis while it searched for a buyer. It's still to be determined exactly how Delaware State will use Wesley's 50-acre campus. Delaware State sits just outside downtown Dover, a five-minute drive from Wesley's campus. “The devil's in the details. Over the next year, we need to figure out what this relationship will look like,” said Wesley president Bob Clark during the press conference. “One thing is for certain -- no matter how this ends up looking, no matter what responsibilities this campus takes on versus the main campus, the collective opportunities that we provide will only be amplified.” Editorial Tags: MergersImage Source: Courtesy of Delaware State UniversityImage Caption: Delaware State University announced an acquisition Thursday.Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0
    PPP loans give financial boost to higher ed associations July 10 2020
    Dozens of struggling higher education associations have been awarded tens of millions of dollars in forgivable loans as part of a $660 billion government relief package designed to prevent layoffs at small businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Between $20.35 million and $45.85 million in forgivable loans were approved to retain more than 1,200 jobs at 38 national higher education associations, according to an analysis by Inside Higher Ed that examined a selection of major associations receiving loans valued at more than $150,000. The American Council on Education, a leading higher education membership group and influence on education policy, secured a PPP loan of between $2 million and $5 million -- one of the largest amounts so far awarded to a national higher education association, according to data published by the Small Business Administration Monday. ACE was one of many organizations that suffered immediate financial losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Jonathan Riskind, assistant vice president of public affairs at ACE, in an email. The organization lost revenue when it was forced to cancel its annual meeting in San Diego in mid-March, as well as other face-to-face events, said Riskind. When higher education institutions struggle financially, it has a knock-on effect on the associations that represent them, creating great uncertainty, said Riskind. He noted that several national higher education associations are tenants of One Dupont Circle, a building owned by ACE. ACE did not share the exact amount of funding it received but said it was at the "lower end" of the $2 to 5 million range. The funds have been used to cover allowable payroll costs and utility expenses, in accordance with compliance criteria for loan forgiveness, said Riskind. Educause, a membership organization for higher ed IT professionals, was also approved for a large PPP loan. Federal data show the organization was approved for a loan of between $2 and 5 million. However, Educause said the reported figure is inaccurate. It received a loan of $1.7 million, and like ACE, expects to be in full compliance for forgiveness of the loan. "As many have noted, the pandemic’s financial impact on institutions and the greater higher education community has been profound," said a statement from Educause shared by director of marketing Marc Stith. "As our association is made up of a strong community across the higher education technology ecosystem, we share in the financial challenges many of our members are experiencing." Several associations secured PPP loans of between $1 million and $2 million, including the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and NAFSA, the association of international educators. !function(){"use strict";window.addEventListener("message",(function(a){if(void 0!==a.data["datawrapper-height"])for(var e in a.data["datawrapper-height"]){var t=document.getElementById("datawrapper-chart-"+e)||document.querySelector("iframe[src*='"+e+"']");t&&(t.style.height=a.data["datawrapper-height"][e]+"px")}}))}(); The analysis shown in the table above focuses on members of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, a membership organization for the leaders of national higher education associations. Among WHES members, 38 out of 56 national associations secured PPP loans of more than $150,000. Many other higher education associations, including regional groups, were also approved for the program. Hundreds of higher education institutions also qualified, most of which appear to be small private liberal arts colleges. To qualify for the PPP loans, organizations must have fewer than 500 employees, which may have excluded many larger colleges and universities from applying. To convert the loans to grants, participating organizations must meet forgiveness criteria laid out by the Small Business Administration. Several associations contacted by Inside Higher Ed said that it is their intention to meet the criteria for loan forgiveness so that they do not have to repay the funds. The Small Business Administration reports that the majority of the PPP loans awarded were for amounts less than $150,000. However, the database on these loans does not include recipient names. It is possible that some higher education organizations may have secured PPP loans of less than $150,000. According to the Small Business Administration website, employers applying for loans were required to show that the money was necessary to support their ongoing operations while taking into account “their ability to access other sources of liquidity.” For higher education associations, many of which have been hit hard financially by the pandemic, the PPP loans are a welcome relief, said Henry Stoever, president and CEO of the Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities. AGB would usually generate about 20 percent of its revenue from in-person events and conferences, said Stoever. Online events bring in less revenue, but they allow greater participation, he said. Double the usual number of attendees participated in AGB's recent annual conference online. AGB has committed to holding all events online for the next year in the interest of safety, regardless of whether federal and state regulations would allow for in-person events -- something few associations have publicly committed to do, Stoever said. Without the PPP, it would be difficult for AGB to continue its “essential role” in supporting institutions through their own financial difficulties, said Stoever. The association secured a loan of between $1 million and $2 million, which will help to retain and fund the salaries of 43 employees, according to federal data. Colleges and universities need guidance from associations at this challenging moment in time, said Stoever. As colleges' board members and presidents make plans for the upcoming academic year, AGB has been encouraging its members not just to consider the financial health of their institutions and student success, but also to prioritize the health and safety of their students, faculty and staff. The National Association of College and University Business Officers, also a member of WHES, published a statement in mid-June outlining the financial challenges the association is facing, as well as highlighting the resources NACUBO created to help higher ed business officers navigate the financial challenges presented by the pandemic. “Like so many of our member colleges and universities and our business partners, NACUBO has experienced financial losses brought on by changes in the U.S. economy and by the particularly adverse impacts the pandemic has had on higher education broadly,” wrote Susan Whealler Johnston, president and CEO of NACUBO, in the June statement. “NACUBO’s leadership team and board of directors are committed to striking a balance between the immediate needs and longer-term goals of the organization. As a result, we have taken a hard look at our budget and are implementing many of the same strategies our members are employing to weather the crisis, including staff layoffs and salary reductions.” NACUBO secured a PPP loan of between $1 million and $2 million, which will be used to retain 52 jobs, according to the SBA data. In an email, Johnston shared that similar to AGB and others, conferences and events were a major source of income for NACUBO. “NACUBO canceled many of its signature programs this year, including its annual meeting, which usually attracts several thousand attendees,” said Johnston. “Revenue from our annual meeting, as well as other smaller conferences, is a sizable element of NACUBO’s operating budget. We also anticipate that our members and business partners will face unforeseen limitations in their financial ability to support our work.” While the PPP loan has helped NACUBO to continue its work, it was “not enough for NACUBO to maintain its previous operating capacity beyond the period covered by the loan,” said Johnston. Despite some staff cuts, the organization still hopes to meet the qualifications to convert the PPP loan to a grant, she said. The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, a member of the Washington Higher Education Secretariat, received a PPP loan of between $350,000 and $1 million. “The PPP program was very helpful to the ACCU,” said Paula Moore, vice president of external affairs for the association, in an email. “The pandemic reduced our income from four revenue streams -- membership dues, conference registrations, consulting, and meeting sponsorships.” It's difficult to know the full extent of lost income since the pandemic is ongoing, Moore said. “But that one-time assistance did enable us to keep our staff employed, and we’re grateful for that,” she said. Administration and FinanceEditorial Tags: College administrationImage Source: istock.com/kameleon007Is this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0