the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
Jan. 19, 2022

Peter Smith is the Orkand chair and professor of innovative practices at the University of Maryland University College. He is also the founder of the Open College at Kaplan University and founding president of the Community College of Vermont and California State University, Monterey Bay. He represented Vermont in the U.S Congress and served in the Vermont state Senate and as lieutenant governor. He also was assistant director general for education of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Smith quips that he was once introduced as "a man with a great future behind him." But he's also looking forward. His latest book, Stories from the Educational Underground: The New Frontier for Learning and Work (Kendall Hunt, August 2021), uses the life stories of people who have learned outside school while advancing solutions that illustrate education’s new frontier, bringing innate American talent into public view. They are “stories of previously marginalized people and the influence of life experience on their knowledge, well-being, and perspectives,” he notes. NEJHE Executive Editor John O. Harney talks with Smith about his insights.
The New England Journal of Higher Education ...

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr., and colleges across the country hold the sixth annual National Day of Racial Healing, Pierre Morton, the chief diversity officer at Franklin Pierce University, urges Americans to make the world a better place. "We all have the capacity to do extraordinary things each day. Whether it’s mentoring someone in need, respecting someone’s preferred pronouns and gender identity, writing your congressperson or senator, or simply sharing a kind word with your neighbor, each act demonstrates the sacredness of humanity," Morton writes. "As Americans reflect on this week’s celebrations in our own way, we can and should take the opportunity to unlock the possibility present in each of us to make the world a better place."

Artificial intelligence (AI) is overtaking our traditional world of natural and human intelligence, signaling paradigm shifts that are more significant than any since Gutenberg introduced printing on paper with movable type that laid the foundations of modern Western culture. Already in higher education, "AI apps and their uses are multiplying—in financial and fiscal management, fundraising, faculty development, course and facilities scheduling, student recruitment campaigns, student success management and many other operations," writes historian and Catalogue for Philanthropy founder George McCully. In his review of The Age of AI and our Human Future, McCully notes that academics will play a crucial role in bringing technology, strategy and philosophy into some alignment.

Carlos Santiago, commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, announced he will step down in June. The Bay State's first Latino commissioner, Santiago oversaw expansion of early college, addressed student homelessness and food insecurity and led the department through new regulations to screen institutions for financial risks and protect students from sudden closures. ... University of Connecticut Interim President Dr. Andrew Agwunobi said he is leaving his posts as interim leader and executive vice president for health affairs at UConn Health for a job at Humana, the private-sector healthcare company. UConn’s trustees were expected to name Radenka Maric, UConn's vice president for research, innovation and entrepreneurship, as the new interim president. ... 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: Carlos Santiago

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released a new report showing undergraduate college enrollment in fall 2021 dropped 3.1%. In total, enrollment was down by about half a million students, with declines in every sector. The drop is similar to that of the previous fall and contributes to a 6.6% decline in undergraduate enrollment since 2019. ... A rise in Covid-19 cases forced many colleges to delay their scheduled return to in-person classes, and reports suggest that the Biden administration will ask Congress for an additional Covid-19 relief package. ... Read the latest from NEJHE's DC Shuttle, featuring national news drawn from our friends at the New England Council.
Tidbits from the NEJHE Beat ...

Help us pilot a new section in NEJHE NewsBlast highlighting and linking brief items like these from the NEJHE Beat—that unique constellation of issues connected to higher education and also to social justice, economic and workforce development, regional cooperation, quality of life, academic research, workplaces and other topics that together, say "NEJHE." Please don't be shy with any suggestions to help this feature help you. Many thanks for your ideas,
—John O. Harney, Executive Editor, The New England Journal of Higher Education
News Around NEBHE

Free college policies—commonly known as “promise” programs—are important promoters of equity in higher education, according to a new NEBHE report titled “Living Up to the Promise? Exploring Issues of Access and Equity among New England’s Promise Programs.” The report's author, NEBHE Policy and Research Consultant Rachael Conway, points out that some specific elements help ensure that promise programs truly encourage equity, especially for students from low-income backgrounds. These elements include: providing financial support beyond the costs of tuition and fees, supporting adult learners and undocumented students, and never converting student financial support into loans that need to be repaid.
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NEBHE is looking to hire a Director of the Regional Student Program, NEBHE's longest-running program, also known as Tuition Break. We're looking for someone who can strategically plan for the program's continued success; develop surveys and reports; engage key stakeholders, including administrators and enrollment managers at the region's public colleges and universities, school counselors and college advisors; and expand outreach and promotion to college-bound students, families and other constituents.

NEBHE also seeks a Director of Policy & Research: someone who can anticipate emerging issues, interpret policy developments, develop research reports, presentations and best practice tools for postsecondary education leaders, state policymakers and the public and direct NEBHE's Policy & Research team.

NEBHE also seeks an Open Education Consultant to support NEBHE’s Hewlett Foundation grant-funded activities. The consultant will assist in planning an Open Education summit that includes a focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), assist in writing briefs, reports, update and create new content for the Open Education webpages on the NEBHE site, represent NEBHE at Open Education meetings and serve as a member of a proposal development team to expand Open Education usage in the region.
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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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