the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
Aug. 12, 2020

Marcelo Suárez-Orozco, the new chancellor of UMass Boston, introduces himself to New England in a moment marked by pandemic, recession and antiracism. Among his first two actions, he establishes a scholarship fund in the name of George Floyd and vows to appoint a faculty member as Special Advisor to the Chancellor for Black Life. The Argentine immigrant and California scholar sets the stage for leading the major urban university, where a majority of students are people of color, many are the first in their family to attend college and the number of Pell-eligible students is among the highest in New England.

"Typical lists of core competencies for undergraduates feature written communication, critical thinking and information literacy," writes sociologist Daniel Regan, "but merely presume, leaving unstated, the bedrock importance of reading skills." Regan, the retired dean of academic affairs at Johnson State Colleges, now Northern Vermont University-Johnson, notes that reading is also a key tenant of the "lifelong learning" that is part of nearly every institution's mission or aspirational statements. "What is rarely discussed," Regan notes, "is why we continue to read." He suggests: "I am no longer an interpreter of or mediator between the works of a primary author and an audience of students or colleagues. Now what I read stays mostly inside, in intense but internal dialogue, except for occasional comments to college-age kids or my spouse. And I surely do not read just to pass the time. There are far easier ways of doing that."
More from The New England Journal of Higher Education

When fear of coronavirus shut down all but essential businesses this past spring, NEJHE invited economists and other experts on “employability” to weigh in on how COVID-19 will affect 2020’s college grads. In this latest installment, Maria K. Flynn, president of JFF (Jobs for the Future), explains that this moment should fuel a new sense of urgency around not only helping displaced workers in the short-term, but also designing a college experience where social and economic mobility is the ultimate measure of success. And that means reinventing higher education's outdated approach to career preparation.

As higher education institutions in New England grapple with how to safely reopen in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the physical setting of campuses becomes an issue of paramount concern. NEJHE features a design proposal from architect Leonard Yui to transform the university lawn into an outdoor classroom marked for social distancing. The proposal promotes a safer learning environment, helps build intuition about the six-foot separation and activates outdoor spaces for both people and wildlife, according to Yui, who is an architecture professor at Roger Williams University and director of the Rhode Island firm Wildish Design. "The proposed six-foot plots," he writes, "are more than just a measure of distance between two people, but a reflection of a complex non-classroom world wrestling with issues of health, race, wealth and climate inequities."
Tracking Coronavirus
NEBHE's Tracking Coronavirus web resource features an easy-to-use display showing institutions' plans for the fall in light of COVID-19. It also details institutions' healthcare capacities and their proximity to external healthcare resources. Also find links to: COVID-19 News; Governmental Responses, Guidance & Advocacy; Distance Education Resources & Compliance; Institutional Finance Information; and Admissions and Enrollment Information. Please share updates from your institution at: cpeyser@nebhe.org.
Newslink

Read the latest from NEJHE's DC Shuttle, featuring national news drawn from our friends at the New England Council.

NEJHE's Comings and Goings highlights key appointments and job changes in New England higher education and beyond.
Dr. Angela Abraham
News Around NEBHE

The coronavirus pandemic drove American higher education to its "Digital Dunkirk Moment," according to a new column by New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) President and CEO Michael K. Thomas. The piece was published by the TIAA Institute as part of its series Voices of Expertise and Experience: Insights to Inform COVID-19 Responses. As higher ed "marshalled a heroic response to an incredibly difficult situation," Thomas explains,"the crisis response has revealed the uneven state of our institutional fleet in terms of digital learning readiness." Read the full column here.
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NEJHE NewsBlast is a summary of NEJHE content and other news around NEBHE prepared weekly by NEJHE Executive Editor John O. Harney and emailed every Wednesday to opinion leaders and practitioners. When responding to NEJHE content, please make sure that your remarks are relevant, courteous and engaging. Individuals are responsible for their comments, which do not represent the opinions of the New England Board of Higher Education. We urge commenters to briefly note their occupational or other interest in the topic at hand. Please refrain from offensive language, personal attacks and distasteful comments or they may be deleted. Comments may not appear immediately. Thank you for staying engaged.
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