Notes & Coffee: October 16 - 22

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee.

Presidents and provosts gather to consider free speech issues – If college leaders had any hope that speaker disruptions and free speech disputes would be last semester's news, they have seen otherwise in the early weeks of this academic year. Just last week, students shouted down talks at Columbia University and the University of Michigan. Those doing the shouting down were generally students aligned with the political left, but supporters of President Trump also shut down a talk at Whittier College by California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, shouting "America First" and "build that wall" to prevent him from answering questions. And those events followed the interruption of speakers (sometimes preventing events from taking place at all) at the College of William & Mary, Texas Southern University, the University of Oregon and Virginia Tech. 

Richard Spencer and a tale of two publics – Two public institutions, two hours away from each other, announced on Friday two different responses to speaking requests from Richard Spencer. The University of Cincinnati decided to let outspoken white supremacist Spencer rent a space and speak at the public institution, like anyone else wishing to hold an event there. In a letter dated the same day, Christopher Culley, Ohio State University's senior vice president and general counsel, wrote to Spencer’s lawyer, Kyle J. Bristow, saying that the university determined the proposed event -- a speaking event at the student union -- cannot be held safely, and the university is “considering other alternatives” to the request:

NCAA: no academic violations at UNC – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill sponsored fake classes for nearly two decades, giving students, many of them athletes, credit for courses never taught by instructors. But the university will escape all punishment by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. 

New data highlight how higher education is failing part-time students – For the first time, the federal government has published data on the outcomes of students who begin their college career studying part-time. The data are clear: American higher education needs to do a better job helping these students get through college. Just less than 25 percent of part-time students receive a degree or certificate within eight years from the college where they first enrolled. 

A Kayak for credentials – One of the loudest complaints about higher education these days is that prospective students lack good information about the value of college credentials and, likewise, that employers too often are left in the dark about the knowledge and skills they can expect of credential holders. A sprawling new project seeks to change that by creating a centralized database of information about postsecondary credentials -- all 250,000 or so of them in the U.S., ranging from Ph.D. to badge, professional license to apprenticeship and certificate. 

More Notes

Amazon wants to be near a downtown university

How smaller colleges and universities team up for survival

More scrutiny for community colleges

Improving equity in college completion

Surpassing “feeders and fillers” model to drive long-term engagement with transfer students