the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
May 18, 2022

More than 30 states have enacted bans or have bans pending related to teaching about critical race theory (CRT), equity and race and gender justice. Meanwhile, more than 100 organizations have signed a statement by the American Association of University Professors, PEN America, the American Historical Association and the Association of American Colleges & Universities, which expresses opposition to these bans and emphasizes a commitment to academic freedom, including teaching about racism in U.S. history. While no anti-CRT legislation is currently pending in Massachusetts, real threats include contention in the Boston Public Schools about exam school admissions and defunding of Africana Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Amy E. Collinsworth, a graduate program manager in the Leadership in Education Department and a doctoral candidate at UMass Boston, explores the urban campus's new Educational Leadership and Transformation Institute for Racial Justice.

The University of Maine System selected Jacqueline Edmonson, the current chancellor and chief academic officer at Penn State Greater Allegheny, a mostly commuter college near Pittsburgh, Penn., as the 18th president of the University of Southern Maine, also a mostly commuter college. ... Maine’s Kennebec Valley Community College named acting President Karen Normandin to the permanent job, while Eastern Maine Community College named Liz Russell, currently vice president of academic affairs, as 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: Jacqueline Edmonson

U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Chair Sherrod Brown (D-OH) warned that student debt is preventing many Americans from “pursuing the American Dream,” making it difficult to purchase a home, start a business, get married or start a family. ... U.S. Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) introduced a bipartisan bill that would cut taxes for families who save for college and allow families to roll unused savings into retirement accounts. ... House Education and Labor Committee Chair Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA) and U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh visited Virginia's Thomas Nelson Community College and The Apprentice School to host a roundtable with students, higher ed professionals and local business leaders on investing in workforce development programs. ... Read the latest from NEJHE's DC Shuttle, featuring national news drawn from our friends at the New England Council.

Popular programs where RSP-eligible students enrolled in fall 2021 included homeland security, engineering technologies and health sciences ...

In its 64th year of enrollment, NEBHE's Tuition Break, the Regional Student Program (RSP), continued to enhance access and affordability for residents of the six New England states while helping to support enrollment at the region’s public colleges and universities. The 9,101 students enrolled in programs offered through the RSP in fall 2021 saved an estimated total of $64.8 million on their annual tuition bills. A full-time student saved an average of $8,600. Changes in RSP enrollment in fall 2021 compared favorably against changes in overall enrollment. Nationally, total enrollment at public and independent higher education institutions (HEIs) declined by 2.7% in fall 2021, following a 2.5% decrease in fall 2020, according to the National Student Clearinghouse’s (NSC) January 2022 report, Current Term Enrollment Estimates, Fall 2021. Total RSP enrollment in fall 2021 decreased by only 0.4%, and RSP enrollment increased at half of the participating institutions.
Tidbits from the NEJHE Beat ...
News Around NEBHE
NEBHE on NACAC Podcast ...
New Tuition Break Director Discusses Next Generation of Enrollment Management Pros
The most recent episode of the College Admissions Decoded podcast, produced by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), featured Jonathan Gowin, the new director of NEBHE’s Tuition Break, Regional Student Program. Gowin spoke with NACAC CEO and former NEBHE delegate (and occasional-NEJHE author) Angel Pérez. They discussed the needs of the next generation in the higher education workplace, from living their values, finding balance and pursuing self-actualization. Gowin, a former admissions counselor at Trinity College and other institutions, joined NEBHE recently to helm the Tuition Break program and develop additional enrollment management initiatives.
Blasts from the Past ... ICYMI, from The New England Journal of Higher Education ...

As school systems strive to implement mandated standards to help students excel in standardized testing and gain necessary skills for future job opportunities, many creative school programs such as art and music are deemed unnecessary and cut from the curriculum. Jenny Silverstone, author of a research-driven parenting blog called Mom Loves Best, explains a few of the powerful ways programs such as music education can have major positive impacts on growth and development. "Music education requires students to recognize and repeat pitch, tone or enunciation of words," writes Silverstone. Another benefit of music education, she notes, is the increased ability to process situations and find solutions mentally. Those with musical training have been found to have higher levels of grey matter volume in their brains, which are directly tied to auditory processing and comprehension. Surprisingly, one of the areas of life this is most important for is forming relationships. Musicians learn to listen to others, sense emotion, and react with greater depth and understanding.

The human brain makes decisions based on experiences. "The primary associations we harbor in our minds cause us to have feelings and attitudes about other people, based on superficial characteristics such as race, ethnicity, age and appearance that do not accurately tell us about the person in front of us," writes Patricia Steiner, who teaches business and philosophy classes at Brandeis University. Such snap judgments can have profound implications for lifelong learning and leadership. "If, through self-awareness, we start to understand and take responsibility for our tendency to prejudge," concludes Steiner, "we stand a chance of making a powerful change in ourselves that can result in more effective learning and leadership, better understanding of our environment, and stronger relationships."
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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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