the weekly digest and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
Aug. 5, 2020

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.

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 And that means reinventing higher education's outdated approach to career preparation. Flynn writes: "As part of their value proposition, colleges and universities must work to design a system that can give students and workers the insights and guidance they need to find work—and they must deliver those services virtually."
"Our country and its higher education system lack a comprehensive career navigation system that can help students, parents and workers make well-informed choices about their education and career paths."
More from The New England Journal of Higher Education
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."
The federal Title IX statute prohibiting sex discrimination in educational programs that receive federal funds is well known for its early impact on intercollegiate athletics. Since the late 1990s, it has also been interpreted to prohibit sexual harassment in education. Now, in the midst of pandemic and recession, colleges face yet another challenge as new Trump administration Title IX regulations governing sexual harassment are scheduled to take effect Aug.14. Some student groups worry that the new rules offer more protections for defendants in sexual misconduct cases while discouraging would-be complainants from coming forward. Two New England lawyers explain how administrators can respond to the new rules. "One of the most noteworthy (and criticized) aspects of the new regulation is the requirement, in cases of alleged sexual misconduct, that there be a live, trial-like hearing in which parties have the right to cross-examine witnesses," write attorneys Jonathan B. Orleans and Michael Thad Allen.
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.
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Read the latest from NEJHE's DC Shuttle, featuring national news drawn from our friends at the New England Council.
College campuses have seen a drastic increase in the amount of services needed for mental health emergencies over the past few years. This year has been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Halias Safety Symposium’s goal is to provide attendees with help to navigate the new normal of socially distanced learning and telehealth appointments.

Mental Health through Telehealth: Remote Student Engagement, presented by Sara Brown, Sherry Benton, and Elisa Bolton, Monday, August 10, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Behavioral Intervention Teams on the Socially Distanced Campus, presented by Yvonne Meyer and Paul Dean, Tuesday, August 11, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Student Soldiers–Supporting Veterans in a Shifting Landscape, presented by Amy Cook and Karen Gilbert, Wednesday, August 12, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
 
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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