the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
Aug. 3, 2022
News Around NEBHE

"Academia has been notorious for reproducing the wealth inequality among people of color and their white colleagues," said NEBHE Fellow for Faculty Diversity Kamille Gentles-Peart during a featured conversation yesterday with Rajiv Jhangiani, vice provost for teaching & learning at Brock University in Ontario, Canada. Jhangiani warned against open educators doing harm despite the very best of intentions. "If you assume, for example, that digital is the solution, you [can't] forget about digital redlining. If you think about access, you [can't] forget about accessibility." Gentles-Peart, a professor of communication studies at Roger Williams, and Jhangiani spoke of common challenges they faced as immigrants to American academia and shared insights on equity issues and the promises of open educational resources (OER) during a NEBHE leadership summit at the MIT Endicott House in Dedham, Mass. Watch for full coverage of the event, which also featured fascinating student perspectives and insights from OER experts.

Pictured: Kamille Gentles-Peart and Rajiv Jhangiani.

Massachusetts became the first state in the nation to smooth the way for students with intellectual disabilities or autism to attend public colleges and universities. In the works since 2006, the new Massachusetts Inclusive Concurrent Enrollment Initiative allows individuals with severe intellectual disabilities, severe autism spectrum disorders or other severe developmental disabilities to participate in undergraduate academic courses, internships, work-based training, extracurricular activities and all other aspects of campus life without needing to: 1) take any standardized college entrance aptitude test; 2) have a high school diploma or its equivalent; 3) meet high school course requirements; 4) meet minimum grade point average requirements; or 5) obtain a passing score on the statewide assessment tests used as a basis for acceptance. Under the law, public higher education institutions will work with the state department of higher education to ensure that participating individuals select courses that are appropriate to their individual strengths, needs, preferences and interests.The budget for fiscal year 2023 adds $4 million to support inclusion of such students in academic courses, extracurricular activities and other aspects of campus life, individual supports and services. Key backers of the law include NEBHE Chair Patricia Haddad, as well as NEBHE Legislative Advisory Committee member Rep. Sean Garballey and former state Rep. Tom Sannicandro.

NEBHE Policy & Research Intern Damaria Joyner’s journey in the Massachusetts school system influenced her decision to leave the region and attend a historically Black college and university (HBCU), Delaware State University. “It was not until senior year of high school when I experienced having my first Black teacher,” writes Joyner. “From this moment, I realized that there was a lack of representation for teachers of color in my region. I was determined to further my education at an institution where representation of educators mattered and was prevalent. I also chose to attend an institution that would be culturally relevant as a student. It was important to be surrounded and supported by professors who had my best interest academically and personally as a young Black woman.” She tells readers she was drawn out of New England for college, and suggests reading her narrative to understand what might have caused her to stay.

We were pleased to see Prism, an independent nonprofit news outlet led by journalists of color, interview NEBHE Policy Analyst Rachael Conway about the impact of "Promise" programs in New England. Conway authored the NEBHE report published earlier this year titled Living Up to the Promise? Exploring Issues of Equity and Access among New England’s Promise Programs. Conway told Prism reporter Kio Herrera that New England's nine Promise programs offer more than scholarships, noting, for example, that New Haven Promise also provides support services like tutoring, mentoring and alumni networking sessions and internship placement opportunities. NEJHE has also covered Promise and other free college initiatives in articles such as Ain't No Free. Read the Prism piece here.
Blast from the Past ... from The New England Journal of Higher Education

Landmark College in Putney, Vt., is designed for students who learn differently, including students with learning disabilities (such as dyslexia), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorder. Landmark students are no strangers to "self advocacy," write education faculty members Kathleen A. D'Alessio and Dorothy A. Osterholt. For their students, self-advocacy includes getting what one needs in an educational setting, as well as understanding one's diagnosis, knowing the legislation relating to individuals with learning disabilities, requesting appropriate accommodations, providing documentation and knowing how to take effective action if difficulties arise. It also includes understanding one's strengths, knowing how to self-appraise and adjust behavior, and being able to deliver this information with strong interpersonal communication skills. In many ways, self-advocacy is relevant for all students.
Tidbits from the NEJHE Beat ...

Harvard Institute of Politics Director Mark D. Gearan announced he will step down after more than four years to become president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, N.Y., a post he earlier held from from 1999 to 2017. Setti D. Warren, the institute's executive director, will serve as its interim director, while the Harvard Kennedy School searches for a new longer-term director. ... The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) announced that Marianne Boeke, who currently serves as the group's vice president for research and state partnerships, will serve as acting president and CEO, while the group launches a national search to replace Lori Williams who left those posts. ... See more on these and other changes in NEJHE's Comings and Goings tally of new appointments in New England higher ed and beyond.

Pictured: Setti D. Warren

Ahead of the November midterm elections, and in an attempt to engage voters under age 30, President Joe Biden may be considering extending the pause on student loan repayments for several more months. Biden may also be considering forgiving $10,000 in student loan debt per borrower, with the caveat that borrowers must have an income below either $125,000 or $150,000. ... Read the latest from NEJHE's DC Shuttle, featuring national news drawn from our friends at the New England Council.

NEBHE will begin scaling the New England Transfer Guarantee to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont this month, having recently secured a three-year implementation grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Teagle Foundation and Davis Educational Foundation. The Guarantee allows community college graduates with an eligible GPA to transfer directly to participating four-year colleges and universities in the same state. The northern expansion of the Guarantee is an extension of the initiative in the southern New England states of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, where implementation was carried out in 2021.

NEBHE and the Business-Higher Education Forum (BHEF) awarded grants to seven business-higher education partnerships in Connecticut as part of an initiative to rapidly increase the competitiveness of the state’s postsecondary institutions and meet growing business demand for tech skills. Grantees of the Tech Talent Accelerator initiative are Quinnipiac University, the University of Bridgeport, Mitchell College, the University of Hartford, the University of New Haven, the University of Saint Joseph and the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities.
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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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