For months, colleges have weighed the risks and rewards of bringing students back to campuses disrupted by Covid-19. Now they’re considering what to do about their employees. Committees at colleges and universities across the country are evaluating the future of work, asking to what extent staff and some faculty members could remain virtual and what that would mean for life on campus and off. There are broad implications, for example, for recruiting and campus density. Before the pandemic, many colleges had remote-work policies, with arrangements often negotiated for individual employees. Colleges that closed during the pandemic had to not only move their entire student body online, but also train many employees on how to use remote technology. Meetings migrated to Zoom, and office chatter moved to Microsoft Teams. In-person welcome receptions became virtual meet-and-greets.
The Education Design Lab on Wednesday released the first brief in a series on developing models that improve outcomes for rural learners and their communities. One goal is to make a case for more investment in rural community colleges. The brief notes that rural areas have much-untapped potential. For example, as employers struggle to find skilled workers, a growing number of industries — from customer services to software, IT to healthcare — are using technology to train and employ workers, which can provide a pipeline to tap workers in rural areas.
As colleges look toward the fall semester, they’re grappling with whether to require — or just strongly encourage — students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. There is a map showing the locations of colleges that are requiring vaccines of at least some students or employees. The states are color-coded based on how each voted in the 2020 presidential election. That’s followed by a graphic showing the pace at which campuses have made their announcements. Below that is a searchable list of those campuses. Institutions that have said their requirement hinges upon full approval of one or more vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are included in this list.
Once-in-a-decade plan aims to tackle equity gaps and reverse ‘financial trauma’ at Illinois colleges and universities
Faced with lingering effects of the pandemic and years of financial disinvestment, the Illinois Board of Higher Education released an ambitious plan Tuesday outlining its goals for the next decade: revamping state funding for public universities, improving graduation rates for students of color and retaining top talent to feed the state’s workforce needs. The strategic plan, approved during a special board meeting, includes feedback from thousands of students, educators and business leaders and a 37-person advisory committee.
There are new rules that will help aspiring teachers pay for college and complete a years-long overhaul of the federal TEACH Grant program — from a bureaucratic bear trap that hobbled thousands of teachers with unfair student loan debts to a program that may actually make good on its foundational promise: to help K-12 educators pay for their own education in exchange for teaching a high-need subject, like math, for four years in a low-income community.
Many colleges “continue to use admissions policies that disproportionately and gratuitously benefit students from white and affluent families,” according to a new report on admissions from the Institute for Higher Education Policy, financed by the Joyce Foundation.
A panel of witnesses testified before members of the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday about expanding access to higher education, primarily focusing on how existing policies — like the Pell Grant and higher education tax credits — could be reformed to better serve the students most in need. The current higher education system is not equipped to support low-income students, students of color and students with disabilities, said Marshall Anthony Jr., a senior policy analyst at the progressive think tank the Center for American Progress.
The U.S. Senate recently introduced the ACCESS to Careers Act, a bipartisan bill that continues the trend set by the current administration to accelerate economic recovery and set individuals on the path to good jobs. This act would create a community college and career training grant program administered by the secretary of education, working to increase postsecondary credential attainment, align skills needed for high-demand occupations, and improve and scale evidence-based strategies that best meet learners’ and employers’ needs.
College leaders are calling their employees back to campus. Human-resources offices are developing new telecommuting policies. And a consensus is emerging, among employees and their managers: Remote work — or at least more flexibility — is becoming a key tool for attracting and retaining staff. It’s a major shift from pre-pandemic operations on college campuses, workplaces deeply rooted in a sense of place.
After months of delays and two missed deadlines, Portland State University announced recently that its campus police force would patrol without firearms this fall — a move that could make the Oregon institution one of the first to disarm its patrol officers. University officials said they hoped Portland State could serve as a model for other campuses. But what might seem like a victory for police-reform advocates has instead been called a “media stunt” by DisarmPSU, a coalition of students, faculty, and staff members that is calling for the complete disarmament of the campus safety office. The office, with about 15 police and public-safety officers, will still have guns on hand under the new policy. And that’s putting Black and brown lives at stake, activists say.