Higher Ed Reading List for 2018

As we move into another new year in 2018, I’ve begun my usual ritual of picking out books that I’d like to read during the course of the year. In today’s post, I want to share a few forthcoming books that are on my Higher Ed Reading List for 2018.

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University of Nike:  How Corporate Cash Bought American Higher Education

Joshua Hunt

In the world of college sports, winning means big dollars. But that money often comes at a cost. University of Nike explores the University of Oregon’s complex relationship with its corporate partner, Nike, and how the arrangement has undermined the school’s academic integrity, transparency, and campus culture. Through tenacious reporting and riveting storytelling, The University of Nike investigates a crisis moment in higher education.

Accreditation on the Edge:  Challenging Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Susan D. Phillips and Kevin Kinser

Accreditation can be seen both as an invaluable resource and as a barrier to needed reform. Presenting an array of different perspectives―from accreditors and institutions to policymakers and consumers―the book offers nuanced views on accreditation’s importance to higher education and on the potential impact of proposed reforms. The contributors reveal that accreditation is currently on the edge of a policy precipice, as the needs of higher education and the interests of the many stakeholders may well outstrip its ability to perform. But, they argue, accreditation is also on the cutting edge of the transformation of higher education in the twenty-first century.

Making Sense of the College Curriculum:  Faculty Stories of Change, Conflict, and Accommodation

Robert Zemsky, Gregory Wegner, and Ann Duffield

Readers of Making Sense of the College Curriculum expecting a traditional academic publication full of numeric and related data will likely be disappointed with this volume, which is based on stories rather than numbers. The contributors include over 185 faculty members from eleven colleges and universities, representing all sectors of higher education, who share personal, humorous, powerful, and poignant stories about their experiences in a life that is more a calling than a profession. Collectively, these accounts help to answer the question of why developing a coherent undergraduate curriculum is so vexing to colleges and universities. Their stories also belie the public’s and policymakers’ belief that faculty members care more about their scholarship and research than their students and work far less than most people.

Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education

Nathan D. Grawe

In Demographics and the Demand for Higher Education, Nathan D. Grawe has developed the Higher Education Demand Index (HEDI), which relies on data from the 2002 Education Longitudinal Study (ELS) to estimate the probability of college-going using basic demographic variables. Analyzing demand forecasts by institution type and rank while disaggregating by demographic groups, Grawe provides separate forecasts for two-year colleges, elite institutions, and everything in between. The future demand for college attendance, he argues, depends critically on institution type. While many schools face painful contractions, for example, demand for elite schools is expected to grow by more than 15 percent in future years.

Violated:  Exposing Rape at Baylor University and College Football’s Sexual Assault Crisis

Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach

Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach weave together the complex – and at times contradictory – narrative of how a university and football program ascending in national prominence came crashing down amidst the stories of woman after woman coming forward describing their assaults, and a university system they found indifferent to their pain.

Envisioning Public Scholarship for Our Time:  Models for Higher Education Researchers

Adrianna Kezar, Yianna Drivalas, and Joseph Kitchen

This book proposes a new paradigm of public scholarship for our time, one that shifts from the notion of the public intellectual to the model of the engaged scholar. The editors’ premise is that the work of public scholarship should be driven by a commitment to supporting a diverse democracy and promoting equity and social justice. The contributors to this volume present models that eschew the top-down framing of policy to advocate for practice that drives bottom-up change by arming the widest range of stakeholders — especially members of marginalized communities — with relevant research. They demonstrate how public scholarship in higher education can increase its impact on practice and policy and compellingly argue that public scholarship should be recognized as normative practice for all scholars and indeed integrated into the curriculum of graduate courses.

A People’s History of American Higher Education

Philo Hutcheson

Hutcheson introduces readers to both social and intellectual history, providing invaluable perspectives and methodologies for graduate students and faculty members alike. A People’s History of American Higher Educationsurveys the varied characteristics of the diverse populations constituting or striving for the middle class through educational attainment, providing a narrative that unites often divergent historical fields. The author engages readers in a powerful, revised understanding of what institutions and participants beyond the oft-cited “dead white men” have done for American higher education.

Higher Education Accountability

Robert Kelchen

In Higher Education Accountability, Robert Kelchen delivers the first comprehensive overview of how colleges in the United States came to face such overwhelming scrutiny. Beginning with the earliest efforts to regulate schools, Kelchen reveals the rationale behind accountability and outlines the historical development of how federal and state policies, accreditation practices, private-sector interests, and internal requirements have become so important to institutional success and survival.

Leading Colleges and Universities:  Lessons from Higher Education Leaders

Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Gerald Kauvar, and E. Gordan Gee

Today’s college and university leaders face complex problems that test their political acumen as well as their judgment, intellect, empathy, and ability to plan and improvise. How do they thoughtfully and creatively rise to the challenge? In Leading Colleges and Universities, editors Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, Gerald B. Kauvar, and E. Gordon Gee bring together a host of presidents and other leaders in higher education who describe how they dealt with the issues.

Media U:  How the Need to Win Audiences Has Shaped Higher Education

John Marx and Mark Garrett Cooper

Media U shows how universities have appropriated new media technologies to convey their message about higher education, the aims of research, and campus life. The need to create an audience stamps each of the university’s steadily proliferating disciplines, shapes its structure, and determines its division of labor. Cooperand Marx examine how the research university has sought to inform publics and convince them of its value to American society, from the rise of football and Great Books programs in the early twentieth century through a midcentury communications complex linking big science, New Criticism, and design, from the co-option of 1960s student activist media through the early-twenty-first-century reception of MOOCs and the latest promises of technological disruption. The book considers the ways in which universities have used media platforms to reconcile national commitments to equal opportunity with corporate capitalism as well as the vexed relationship of democracy and hierarchy. By exploring how media engagement brought the American university into being and continues to shape academic labor, Media U presents essential questions and resources for reimagining the university and confronting its future.

Sold My Soul for a Student Loan:  Higher Education and the Political Economy of the Future

Daniel T. Kirsch

With unprecedented student debt keeping an entire generation from realizing the “American Dream,” this book sounds a warning about how that debt may undermine both higher education―and our democracy. Examines both the causes of student debt and its implications for our democracy. Offers a 360-degree view of student debt from the perspective of students, graduates, policymakers, political activists, journalists, administrators, and college/university faculty. Provides a context for how student debt was created as a phenomenon much more complex than generational culture. Shows there is new hope in the form of a significant, multifaceted movement advocating for student debtors; and that government and banks are responding with new actions and programs.

The University We Need:  Reforming American Higher Education

Warren Treadgold

Though many people know that American universities now offer an inadequate and incoherent education from a leftist viewpoint that excludes moderate and conservative ideas, few people understand how much this matters, how it happened, how bad it is, or what can be done about it. In The University We Need, Professor Warren Treadgold shows the crucial role of universities in American culture and politics, the causes of their decline in administrative bloat and inept academic hiring, the effects of the decline on teaching and research, and some possible ways of reversing the decline. He explains that one suggested reform, the abolition of tenure, would further increase the power of administrators, further decrease the quality of professors, and make universities even more doctrinaire and intolerant. Instead he proposes federal legislation to monitor the quality and honesty of professors and to limit spending on administration to no more than 20% of university budgets (Harvard now spends 40%). Finally, he offers a specific proposal for the founding of a new leading university that could seriously challenge the dominance of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and Berkeley and attract conservative and moderate faculty and students now isolated in universities and colleges that are either leftist or mediocre. While agreeing with conservative critics that universities are in severe crisis, Treadgold believes that the universities’ problems largely transcend ideology and have grown worse partly because disputants on both sides of the academic debate have misunderstood the methods and goals of higher education.

Involuntary presidential turnover in American higher education

In higher education, we tend to want to study successful leaders. However, we can also learn a great deal from those leaders that end up not succeeding for whatever reason. Recently, my research assistant, Molly Ellis, and I published an article in the Journal of Higher Education on involuntary turnover among college presidents. In today’s post, I want to share the key conclusions and implications from our work.

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Before all *@#%! breaks loose…

With the ongoing free speech debates, growth of student protest movements, and a general political disquiet in the nation, I’ve been thinking about how institutional leaders manage and guide their institutions during turbulent periods. This has made me think back to an article I wrote several years ago with Kenneth A. Shaw, the former chancellor of Syracuse University. In the piece that appeared in Trusteeship, we considered how to track emerging issues and grapple with public relations challenges. For today’s blog post, I want to share the article as it remains as instructive today as when we first wrote it in 2006.

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Before All *@#%! Breaks Loose…

By Kenneth A. Shaw and Michael S. Harris

In helping your institution grapple with public-relations challenges, be prepared to track emerging issues through four distinct stages.

IN SEPTEMBER 2005, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced the formation of the Commission on the Future of Higher Education. But many knowledgeable observers reacted with surprise. Why was the secretary acting now?  What is the purpose of the commission? Is the Bush administration pushing to implement a college version of the No Child Left Behind law?

Many of these questions will be answered as the commission completes its work this fall. Yet we know from the group’s membership and discussions to date that accountability is going to be a major theme of its recommendations. Trustees and chief executives need to ask why we were taken aback by creation of a major commission and what boards can do in response to this and other issues that arise nationally and on our campuses.

Part of the answer may lie in three words, “Just Do It.”

Congress attacks higher education in tax plan

The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has passed their version of tax reform. The U.S. Senate seems poised to follow suit in the next few days or weeks. Although there are different implications of the current forms of the bills in each chamber, fundamentally, there is little way to interpret the current legislation as anything other than the headline, “Congress attacks higher education in tax plan.”

Republicans in Congress are attacking higher education in order to pave the way for corporate tax breaks. 

Supporting high quality higher education programs

There is a dearth of comprehensive information available about higher education programs nationally.  What little information we do have on programs is dated and in urgent need of updating.  Colleges and universities are an increasingly complex enterprise demanding academic study and professionals prepared to lead them.  In today’s post, I want to share some thoughts on how to support high quality higher education programs.

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Program Autonomy

Within the appropriate limits of organizational administrative needs, higher education programs must be given autonomy to make necessary program decisions regarding students, the curriculum, and staffing.

Programs should decide who and how many students to admit as well as what credentials to offer.

As a graduate education program, resources to support graduate students in master’s internships or doctoral research assistantships are vital to the health of any higher education program.

In fact, the need for directed resources is even more important for higher education programs as they typically do not have a large number of undergraduate courses that can fund students as teaching assistants.

Higher education programs should make decisions regarding the program of study for their students.  Questions about the core body of knowledge and skills necessary are best made by faculty in the program.

In addition, core program faculty are the ones to make decisions regarding appropriate areas of inquiry and the overall mission of the program.

Since the vast majority of programs exist within education schools, our colleagues need to understand the vital differences between our programs and those preparing K-12 teachers and administrators.

We, as higher education faculty, have a responsibility to communicate with those differences and to articulate what our programs need.

Programs need autonomy to make decisions about appropriate staffing including who teaches courses, who advises students, and who directs theses and dissertations.

Questions of faculty workload are best determined in consultation between deans, department chairs, and individual faculty.

This is another area where our graduate-only focus makes benchmarking and comparisons within the school difficult.

For example, traditional measures of output such as student credit hour production are often misleading and at times meaningless when comparing undergraduate teacher preparation programs to higher education doctoral programs.

Higher education programs should encourage assessment and evaluation on an equal and proper basis to demonstrate the success of our teaching, research, and service efforts.

Creating a High Quality Program

As with any academic endeavor, the creation of a high quality program begins with the selection of faculty.  Five criteria should be considered when searching for new faculty:  scholarship as evidenced by research, publications, and presentations; academic background and training; participation and involvement in scholarly and professional organizations; balance with existing expertise of the faculty; and experience.

Too often, there is a belief that anyone who has worked in a community college or university can teach in a higher education program.

This line of reasoning extends to all areas of the study of higher education; for example, anyone who teaching in an academic discipline can teach college teaching or anyone who works in a policymaking role can teach policy courses.

This type of approach is a discredit to the strong empirical and theoretical work done in our field over the last twenty years.

Many programs use current or former administrators to buttress the standing faculty and their perspective is certainly beneficial to student learning.  However, a mix of faculty backgrounds is necessary to properly prepare students in theory and practice.

The use of a core full-time faculty trained in the theoretical foundations of higher education with the use of practitioners augmenting the full-time faculty’s expertise provides an appropriate group of instructors for training future administrators and faculty.

College Teaching

As a field, higher education needs to place greater emphasis on the preparation of college teachers.

In an era of market domination and student consumerism, teaching and learning must be given new emphasis in the university.  Yet, very few Ph.D. programs prepare students for their teaching roles.

This lack of preparation occurs in spite of the fact that many Ph.D.’s are landing at primarily teaching institutions and even those at research universities bear the responsibility for training the next generation of researchers, which is vitally important.

At colleges and universities throughout the country, teaching assistants are put into classrooms with little understanding of pedagogy or even how to prepare a syllabus.

The preparation of college teachers is a service that higher education programs are ideally suited to fulfill.  Programs should explore offering teaching certificate options, teaching academies for faculty, and options for students in other disciplines to minor in higher education.

This type of endeavor can provide research opportunities for faculty and students, improve teaching and learning on campus, and place higher education programs in the center of institutional activity.

An effort to improve college teaching is a perfect example of the type of mix of theory and practice that should be the vanguard of every higher education program.

This post is based on an excerpt from The Current Status of Higher Education Programs:  Findings and Implications (2007).