the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
May 5, 2021

Massachusetts College of Art and Design (MassArt) named Mary K. Grant as its next president. Grant’s three decades of public higher education leadership include serving as president of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) and chancellor of the University of North Carolina Asheville. ... Also in Massachusetts, Westfield State University selected higher education and public policy leader Linda Thompson as its next president, and Middlesex Community College chose Provost and Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs Philip Sisson as its next leader ... In Vermont, Champlain College President Benjamin Ola. Akande announced he is stepping down after less than a year in charge to take a post at a financial services firm in St. Louis. ... In Maine, Richard Hopper announced he's leaving the presidency of Kennebec Valley Community College to pursue a Fulbright Fellowship in Ukraine. .. 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: Mary K. Grant
Our Webinars

Higher education institutions have long recognized the benefits of international students on campus, including the diverse perspectives these students bring to the classroom. International students also contribute significantly to the New England economy, both on campus and in the community. In the 2018-19 academic year alone, foreign students at New England colleges and universities injected $4.3 billion into the regional economy and supported thousands of jobs. While the institutions work hard to recruit and retain international students, other supports are needed, including federal visa reform, to help this talent power the region's innovation-driven economy. In the final webinar of our series, a panel of experts will explore how our region’s leaders can advocate for policies that not only encourage international students to attend New England’s postsecondary institutions, but also support their entry into the region’s workforce after graduation.
Recently from The New England Journal of Higher Education

There has been a growing consensus among authorities, especially in the Trump era, that the U.S. is in an epistemological crisis that threatens our democracy," writes historian and former professor George McCully, founder and CEO of the Catalogue for Philanthropy. McCully quotes former President Barack Obama's assertion that "if we do not have the capacity to distinguish what’s true from what’s false, then by definition, the marketplace of ideas doesn’t work. And by definition, our democracy doesn’t work. We are entering into an epistemological crisis." If this is true, McCully suggests, it's up to the academic and journalistic communities to accept their share of accountability and do a more effective job of teaching and promoting thinking on the basis of evidence.

Earlier this month, NEBHE and several New England higher ed leaders and organizations urged Congress to double the Pell Grant maximum to $12,990 by the 2021-22 academic year and ensure that the increase is permanent by making the increased portion of the grant an entitlement. Here, James T. Brett, president and CEO of the New England Council, America's oldest regional business group, writes that one important step Congress can take to help make a college degree more affordable and accessible to students is to increase the maximum grant amount under the federal Pell Grant program. Pell Grants, established by Congress in 1972 and named in honor of the late U.S. Sen. Claiborne Pell of Rhode Island, are geared to low-income and "first-generation” college students. In 1975, the Pell Grant covered almost 80% of tuition and room and board at a four-year public college, compared with less than 60% today. Brett and others suggest doubling the maximum Pell Grant award.

The perspectives of today's students are shaped by hate crimes, terrorist attacks and mass shootings. "My students know about El Paso, Dayton, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Parkland, Pulse Nightclub, Thousand Oaks, Las Vegas, Tree of Life Synagogue, the Boston Marathon bombing, the Emanuel AME Church, among so many others," writes Christina Cliff, an assistant professor of political science & security studies at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire. A self-described Cold War kid, Cliff explores teaching courses on political violence and terrorism to students in the post-9/11, mass-shootings generation. "My students didn’t just duck and cover under their K-12 school desks," she writes. "They learned to tie tourniquets, and have been taught how to block doors [and] how to stay silent in a coat closet."

Remote learning was a key component of college strategies for addressing the COVID-19 crisis across the country. More than 1,100 colleges went entirely remote by March 2020, according to the education consultancy Entangled Solutions, and 44% of institutions had developed fully (or primarily) remote instruction by September 2020, reports the College Crisis Initiative at Davidson College. This mass migration to remote learning also resulted in significant increases in technology spending. Converting the investments made to support remote learning into a new online revenue stream, however, is an entirely different proposition, writes Todd J. Leach, the chancellor emeritus of the University System of New Hampshire and former chair of NEBHE.

NEJHE has spilled much ink (pixels?) on stories related to trauma, the coronavirus pandemic and immigration, treated as mostly distinct issues. Here, psychologist Diya Kallivayalil ties those angles together as she explains how the Victims of Violence Program that she directs at Cambridge Health Alliance pursues its mission of bringing health equity and social justice to underserved, medically indigent populations. A faculty member in the Psychiatry Department at Harvard Medical School, Kallivayalil writes of many patients who have lost their incomes and faced racialized targeting of immigrants in workplaces and beyond.
News Around NEBHE

To subscribe to The Monthly Policy Dispatch, click here or contact NEBHE Associate Director of Policy Research and Analysis Stephanie Murphy at

Their College for All Act would double the maximum Pell Grant award to nearly $13,000 and spend billions more on historically Black colleges and universities and programs for disadvantaged students. Paid for by taxes on stock and bond trades, the legislation would guarantee tuition-free community college for all students. Read the latest from NEJHE's DC Shuttle, featuring national news drawn from our friends at the New England Council.

The report notes that initial authorization to offer interstate distance education nationally will cost a postsecondary institution more than $100,000 on average, compared with less than $12,000 for participating in SARA.
Tracking Coronavirus: A Deep Dive
This semester, NEBHE is 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.
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