the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
June 16, 2021
Happy Juneteenth!

Saturday is Juneteenth, commemorating June 19, 1865, the day when news of Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation finally reached Texas, the most remote of the "slave states." The proclamation was issued in 1863, but enslaved people in Texas were intentionally kept in the dark for two-and-a-half years until federal troops arrived in Galveston to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people were being freed. In 1979, Texas became the first state to make Juneteenth an official holiday. Today, 47 states observe this symbolic end of slavery in the U.S. And the U.S. Senate last night passed a bill clearing the way to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. As Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker wrote one year ago when Americans were especially engaged in the streets, demonstrating for that elusive idea of freedom: "They come with a charge to challenge and rethink notions of what it means to be fair," wrote Walker. "And to rethink everyone’s obligation to be a party to that struggle. To be not merely not racist, but actively antiracist. To be active participants in building something more just."

Civil rights attorney Dayna Cunningham, the founder and executive director of the Community Innovators Lab (CoLab) at MIT, was named the Pierre and Pamela Omidyar Dean of the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University. She will succeed Alan Solomont, who is retiring after eight years in the role. ... President Joe Biden nominated David Weil, dean of Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, to serve as administrator of the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, a position he held with the Obama administration labor department from 2014 to 2017. ... 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: Dayna Cunningham

State and federal lawmakers have called for a system for how participants in intercollegiate athletics may be compensated for endorsement deals, social media and use of their images in video games. Lawmakers said that if Congress doesn’t act, different state laws may create a patchwork of policy. The Senate Commerce Committee will also hold a hearing on the issue this week. ... Read the latest from NEJHE's DC Shuttle, featuring national news drawn from our friends at the New England Council.

From time to time, NEJHE revives the presentation of facts and figures called “Data Connection” that we had published quarterly for nearly 20 years in the print editions of The New England Journal of Higher Education, formerly known as Connection. Among the recent data points: Women surged from 24% of medical students nationwide in 1978 to 51% in 2019. But in the same period, the Black male share of medical students shrank from 3.1% to 2.9%.
ICYMI, Recently in The New England Journal of Higher Education

Researchers project that by the year 2036, more than half of all graduating public high school students in the U.S. will be "minority" (28% Hispanic, 13% Black, 8% Asian and Pacific Islander and 6% multiracial). It's yet another wake-up call for America's predominantly white institutions (PWIs)by far, the largest group of higher ed institutions in the country. If these PWIsHistorically White Colleges and Universities (HWCUs) if you willcontinue to center whiteness culture as the premise for all else, they will face their own racial reckoning, writes Sara Jean-Francois, assistant director of NEBHE’s Tuition Break program. Jean-Francois, who recently earned her master’s degree from Brandeis University's Heller School for Social Policy and Management, has researched race-conscious campuses. "The hard truth," Jean-Francois notes, "is that traditional PWIs do not adequately make space for the cultures, knowledge base and languages of students of color, though these institutions often are the ones that can afford to financially support students of color and those who come from low-income backgrounds or are the first in their families to attend college."

Even in this time when people presume to be having a “racial reckoning,” signs of enduring racial inequity pop up everywhere. From the nagging disparities in health where Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) die at higher rates than other groups from COVID-19 … to the steep declines in Black and Latino students submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) … to Black food service workers experiencing disproportionate short-tipping for enforcing social distancing rules ... inequality reigns. These persistent forces should be a big deal for New England’s Historically White Colleges and Universities, which are rarely called out as HWCUs. Executive Editor John O. Harney reports on the racial equity conversation that he has monitored mostly via Zoom since the pandemic began.

To fight climate change, all sectors of energy use—agriculture, transportation, industrial, residential, business—must transition to electricity. To achieve such an all-electric economy, environmental expert Thomas Jorling calls for a “smart grid” to facilitate the nationwide delivery of alternatively generated electricity. A former New York state conservation commissioner and Williams College environmental scholar, Jorling suggests the grid follow the pattern of the interstate highway system, whose main costs have already been incurred securing rights-of-way and which would not require defiling the countryside or disrupting ecosystems. "These rights-of-way represent a valuable federal and state asset that shouldn’t be limited to concrete and asphalt," writes Jorling, who is now an advisor to the law firm Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehan. "This network, already invested in by the public, can accommodate not only an electric grid, but also pipelines and even elevated high-speed rail." And perhaps the expansion of broadband and related innovations in higher ed delivery?
Our Webinars
News Around NEBHE

We seek an Associate Director for the New England State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA) to lead implementation, management and oversight of this reciprocal program in the NEBHE region. SARA provides a platform for states within the NEBHE Compact to—upon application and demonstration of certain criteria—enter into reciprocity for authorizing individual colleges and universities to provide postsecondary education courses and programs through the internet or via other distance modalities to students living in other states. Please see the job description here and send your application to

To subscribe to The Monthly Policy Dispatch, click here or contact NEBHE Associate Director of Policy Research and Analysis Stephanie Murphy at
Tracking Coronavirus: A Deep Dive
NEBHE has been deep-diving on topics related to New England institutions' response to COVID-19 (see our updated COVID-19 response page here). We will publish periodic briefs on topics including: plans for spring 2021, federal actions that affect higher education, vaccination distribution, mental health and planning for fall 2021. Interested in a topic we haven't covered? Reach out to Charlotte Peyser at
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.
Fusion Course
Enhancing Education Through Community-Based Learning
With the COVID-19 outlook brightening, now is the time for faculty to get critical training and support as you continue to adapt to evolving online, hybrid or in-person teaching and learning this fall. Regardless of the setting, the Fusion Course offers instruction for how to integrate community engagement methodologies into existing curricula to improve the quality of course delivery and foster student engagement.

Two sessions are offered this Summer!
June 7 - June 11
June 21 - June 25

Free for members from New England!
(Space Permitting)
Questions? Contact

The Fusion Project is made possible by a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to Maine Campus Compact.
NEJHE NewsBlast is sponsored by
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