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New presidents or provosts: Anselm Delta Denver F&M Grove City Lackawanna Mississippi State Siskiyous Trinity West Valley-Mission October 17 2019
Bradley J. Davis, president of West Valley College, in California, has been selected as chancellor of the West Valley-Mission Community College District, also in California. Joseph A. Favazza, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Stonehill College, in Massachusetts, has been appointed president of Saint Anselm College, in New Hampshire. Peter M. Frank, dean of the Porter B. Byrum School of Business at Wingate University, in North Carolina, has been chosen as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Grove City College, in Pennsylvania. Tyrone Jackson, vice president for administrative services and the Utica campus at Hinds Community College, in Mississippi, has been selected as president of Mississippi Delta Community College. Jill A. Murray, executive vice president and chief innovation officer at Lackawanna College, in Pennsylvania, has been promoted to president there. Ruthanne Orihuela, executive dean of arts and humanities at Community College of Denver, in Colorado, has been promoted to provost and vice president for academic affairs there. Char Perlas, interim vice president of student services at Cañada College, in California, has been named vice president of academic affairs at College of the Siskiyous, also in California. Nicholas Perrin, Franklin S. Dyrness Professor of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College, in Illinois, has been chosen as president of Trinity International University, also in Illinois. David Shaw, vice president for research and economic development at Mississippi State University, has been promoted to provost and executive vice president there. Cameron Wesson, Lucy G. Moses Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Anthropology and interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lehigh University, in Pennsylvania, has been named provost and dean of the faculty at Franklin & Marshall College, also in Pennsylvania. Editorial Tags: College administrationNew presidentsIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Warren calls on Trump administration to fire loan servicer Navient October 17 2019
In a sign of growing scrutiny of student loan companies, Senator Elizabeth Warren is urging the Trump administration to end its contract with Navient, one of the biggest contractors that collects payments on federal student loans. Navient has a “more-than-decade-long history” of allegations of abusive consumer practices, wrote the candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in an October 11 letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Signing the letter with Warren was Senator Richard Blumenthal, the Connecticut Democrat. The two lawmakers also addressed the letter to Mark A. Brown, the chief operating officer of the Office of Federal Student Aid. The company’s portfolio includes nearly 20 percent of all outstanding federal student loan debt. Its contract to manage those loans expires in December. “As you consider these extensions, we urge you not to reward Navient’s blatant disregard for borrowers, taxpayers and the law,” Warren and Blumenthal wrote. However, dropping the company from the loan program wouldn’t be likely or straightforward, experts said, in no small part because of the challenge of reassigning those loan accounts to other contractors. Company officials said the Democrats’ letter gets Navient's track record wrong. “Navient supports the investment students make in college by helping them navigate an overly complex federal program created by Congress. And despite a maze of obstacles for borrowers, we have led the way with increased enrollment in affordable payment plans and helped millions of Americans pay off their loans,” said Nikki Lavoie, a spokeswoman for the company. “Ignoring these facts, this letter repeats misinformation and unfounded allegations.” For some elected officials and consumer advocates, Navient has become a poster child for what they see as failings by loan servicers. That’s in part because of a 2017 lawsuit filed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which alleged the loan servicer had systematically steered borrowers into forbearance rather than providing more time-consuming advice on options to enroll in income-driven repayment plans. A judge’s decision in another recent case brought against four borrowers over alleged mishandling of Public Service Loan Forgiveness applications largely went in Navient’s favor. The CFPB lawsuit provides evidence, Warren and Blumenthal wrote, of the "company’s incorrigible behavior and leaves the department with no excuse for continuing to contract with Navient to serve millions of student loan borrowers." Warren in particular has had no qualms about pursuing inquiries into corporate behavior, including the business dealings of colleges, their marketing partners and for-profit education operators. And she’s repeatedly questioned Navient’s practices when it comes to options like forbearance for student borrowers. Persis Yu, a staff attorney at the National Consumer Law Center, said the Democrats made a compelling case against keeping Navient as a federal contractor. “For too long, the Department of Education has failed to hold servicers accountable,” she said. Even worse, Yu said, the Trump administration has argued that loan servicers aren’t accountable to state regulators or federal agencies like the CFPB. Jason Delisle, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, said the CFPB lawsuit has yet to be decided. And he argued the Warren letter amounts to political interference in federal contracting. “Wouldn't it be fair to let the judicial process play out here?” he said. “The nature of the request seems to violate a lot of principles of fairness and good government.” Delisle has argued that criticism of individual loan servicers often misses larger problems with the student loan system. The case being made against Navient could be assembled against a number of contractors who manage federal student loan accounts, he said. A March report from the Department of Education’s inspector general found Navient had the best performance of servicers on handling of borrower calls. PHEAA, which handles most borrowers seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness benefits, had the highest rate of call failures monitored by the inspector general. Colleen Campbell, director of postsecondary education at the Center for American Progress, said the share of new borrower accounts assigned to large servicers like Navient and PHEAA has declined in recent years because of scores on new performance metrics. But the company hasn’t lost servicer accounts, she said. And it’s not clear that other contractors have the capacity to take on the roughly 6.5 million borrowers managed by Navient, Campbell said. “Where are you going to put those 6.5 million people?” she said. “It doesn’t really make sense to take Navient’s portfolio and dump it all on another servicer.” Student Aid and LoansEditorial Tags: Financial aidImage Source: Getty ImagesImage Caption: Senator Elizabeth WarrenAd Keyword: Student loansIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: 
Is there a best practice for asking students to pay bills? October 17 2019
Students at Thomas Jefferson University were surprised to receive stern notices about unpaid bills in early September. The emailed notices said students had to arrange to pay outstanding tuition bills in the next six days or they would be dropped from fall classes, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer. The college, which merged with the largely undergraduate Philadelphia University two years ago, had sent out similar warnings before to its graduate student population. However, undergraduate students told the Inquirer that the notices were the harshest warning about unpaid bills that they’d received thus far. Students held a sit-in to push back on the email, and the university withdrew its threat to de-enroll students with unpaid bills. According to a statement from the university, the email was a result of integrating information systems after the merger that led to "the distribution of a standard communication" that admittedly "caused distress." “We appreciate the efforts our students and our Student Government Association (SGA) made to make us aware of how this communication was received,” Angela Showell, a spokeswoman for the university, said in a statement. “We have taken steps to ensure clearer communications in the future and to help students resolve outstanding issues around tuition statements. Additionally, we have assured students that we will continue to work with them as the integration progresses. We have met with students and have received good feedback on the steps we have taken to date.” The widely publicized incident led to discussions in higher ed circles about how far colleges should go in trying to get students to pay up. There is a wide spectrum of opinions on what strategies colleges should use to ensure tuition and other fees are paid. The National Association of College and University Business Officers focused on this issue in a 2016 article published in its magazine, Business Officer, that looked at what various institutions do to collect money owed. Some colleges prevent students with high balances from registering for the next semester, while others offer them interest- and fee-free loans. Some institutions charge late fees but don’t automatically drop students until after the add/drop period is over. "Colleges and universities take different approaches to helping students understand their financial obligations," Liz Clark, vice president of policy and research at the association of business officers, said in a statement. "NACUBO surveys have found that institutions help their students navigate their tuition and fee responsibilities by offering payment plans, financial literacy, and money management trainings." She noted, however, that institutions also have an obligation to protect themselves financially and to avoid the risk of default. “Net tuition revenue affects the financial health of all colleges and declines could limit their ability [to] fulfill their educational and public-service missions. NACUBO surveys have shown that institutions take different approaches to collecting overdue payments that may include withholding transcripts and blocking or canceling future registration,” Clark said. Amelia Parnell, vice president for research and policy at the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, would not discuss whether Thomas Jefferson University crossed the line with its approach. However, she did say that colleges can take steps to make the payment process easier for students by being flexible. “The cost to attend college is expensive, but most students understand that their expenses should be paid,” Parnell said. Institutions can “create comfortable opportunities” for students to talk about their financial challenges, she said. She pointed to the rising trend of colleges offering emergency funding to students to help them stay enrolled when times get tough. Some colleges also are actively paying off students' unpaid balances in an effort to get them to re-enroll. Timing and communication are also issues. Mamie Voight, vice president of policy research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, said the organization has heard from students surveyed who said they were down to the wire for bill deadlines but still waited to get their last piece of financial aid before paying up. Colleges could better communicate timelines for financial aid awards and provide flexibility on bill due dates if students are still waiting for some of their packages, she said. “I think the broad picture is the level of challenges that low-income students in particular are facing when trying to pay for college,” Voight said. “With unpredictability and unaffordability, the consequences are really significant.” Image Source: VesalainenIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: College: Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University)Display Promo Box: 
Newman University wants to align its philosophy program with its new seminary, but what does that mean? October 17 2019
Newman University this year opened a School of Catholic Studies -- good news for a Roman Catholic institution struggling with enrollment declines. In addition to offering seminarians new place to study, Newman hoped that students from other fields would embrace the opportunity to study alongside them in some courses. But now the university’s Board of Trustees has approved a plan to “align” Newman’s theology and philosophy programs with the new college -- without clear input from the philosophy department. In addition to concerns that the plan will lead to faculty layoffs, some are worried about what it all means for the future and integrity of the philosophy program. “What we’re trying to do in this department is have a small but outsize effect on the curriculum, and it would be a great loss to this community if this model was trashed or went away,” said Christopher Fox, an associate professor in Newman’s philosophy program. Fox said “small” because his department is just that, at two tenured professors and one untenured colleague. The department is also short on majors. But Fox said “outsize” because Newman has a four-year general education program with an interdisciplinary emphasis, in which the philosophy department plays a big role. And while Newman philosophy majors are few, he said, they tend to go on to get graduate degrees and interesting jobs. If the alignment with the new school means a reduction in faculty positions, Fox believes he’ll probably be laid off. He’s been teaching on campus since 2004 and has tenure and a teaching award. But he was previously informed that he would not be eligible to teach the new seminarians, due to his use of profanity, he said. Asked if he uses curse words in class, Fox said he exercises his academic freedom -- including occasional bad words. But no one pointed out that it was a problem prior to this decision, he said. Most Roman Catholic colleges have many non-Catholic students and professors, and Newman is no exception. The Kansas college is sponsored by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a religious institute founded by nuns who now advocate for some social and environmental justice issues. At their meeting last month, Newman’s trustees approved cutting four majors and realigning two departments -- philosophy and theology. The plan, proposed by a financial task force, is about cutting costs. Specifically, the task force recommended reorganizing theology and philosophy majors “to align strategically with the development and expansion of religious studies and Catholic studies.” Newman has not formally announced which four majors will be cut. Regarding philosophy, Newman spokesperson Clark Schafer said in an email to Inside Higher Ed that the university “created a new degree program to meet the needs of the seminarians.” Over the past several years, he continued, the Diocese of Wichita “has continued to expand the education Newman provides for its undergraduate seminarians.” Schafer did not provide additional details about the plan for the philosophy department when asked. He said he could not comment on other, “specific personnel matters.” In general, Schafer said, “university leadership is aware of the changing landscape of higher education and proactively looking for ways to thrive in the challenging environment. In part that includes Newman’s board making a recommendation to globally examine cost-control measures in our degree programs.” The president of the campus’s Faculty Senate referred questions to the university. Father Dennis Holtschneider, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, said Wednesday that he had no direct of knowledge of what was happening at Newman, but that Catholic universities “are no different than others in needing to keep costs affordable.” It’s common for institutions to take stock of all programs and staffing in that light. That said, he added, it was Newman’s namesake, Cardinal John Henry Newman, just days ago made a saint, “who famously insisted that philosophy and theology must always be a part of any truly liberal education, while also arguing that the sciences have a place in a broader collegiate education.” Meghan Sullivan, the Reverend John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, said that two major -- and distinct -- disciplines are the core of Catholic education, based on standing documents written by Pope John Paul II: theology and philosophy. John Paul II’s "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," for instance, says that a Catholic university education is fundamentally about cultivating both faith and the ability to reason. “While each discipline is taught systematically and according to its own methods, interdisciplinary studies, assisted by a careful and thorough study of philosophy and theology, enable students to acquire an organic vision of reality and to develop a continuing desire for intellectual progress,” reads the document. “In the communication of knowledge, emphasis is then placed on how human reason in its reflection opens to increasingly broader questions, and how the complete answer to them can only come from above through faith," it continues. Furthermore, "the moral implications that are present in each discipline are examined as an integral part of the teaching of that discipline so that the entire educative process be directed towards the whole development of the person.” While Sullivan had no direct knowledge of what’s happening at Newman, either, she said that, in general, “Eliminating a philosophy department for budgetary reasons is very much not kosher in Catholic teaching. You cannot be a Catholic university without the robust, serious teaching of philosophy and theology … These departments need to be excellent.” And in the case of philosophy, she added, “It has to be real philosophy.” That means Aristotle, Confucius and other non-Catholic philosophers, in addition to, say, Saint Thomas Aquinas. In a counter example to what appears to be happening at Newman, St. Joseph’s College, a Roman Catholic institution in New York, just added a philosophy major this year. Wendy Turgeon, chair of the department, said that she and her colleges are enthusiastic about going "against the tide" of institutions limiting their philosophy programs. The college is generally “committed to our mission and core values, and philosophy exemplifies that commitment,” she added. Turgeon said that she’s encouraging students to consider philosophy as a “good choice as a second major,” in particular, as “our students are very career focused, and we know this.” Yet philosophy has a “long tradition of preparing students to be better thinkers, good communicators and more aware of the nuances and problematic nature of ideas, and these skills are needed in every profession.” Philosophy, she said, “is also about living one's life intentionally and reflectively, and that is something we all need to do.” Religious CollegesEditorial Tags: FacultyReligionImage Source: WikipediaImage Caption: Saint Maria De Mattias statue at Newman UniversityIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Trending text: Philosophy at a Catholic CollegeTrending order: 2Display Promo Box: