the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
Sept. 9, 2020

Pandemic-related costs on top of ever-rising tuition and fees and changing student preferences have already forced higher education institutions to make substantial budget cuts. But some cost-reduction consultants believe there is still room to cut up to 20% from administrative and operational expenses without hurting educational programs. The savings would come in areas such as telecommunications, credit card processing, small package delivery, waste management and electronic signatures.

"As COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season pose new uncertainties," writes one Massachusetts lawyer, "many faculty and administrators are brushing up against less comfortable topics, including extended illness, incapacity and death." Attorney Deborah Danger notes that in recent weeks, up to 80% of the calls she received were from educators and students wanting to put together estate plans, or update previous plans, as they return to the classroom. Danger outlines tools such as wills and healthcare proxies, as well as special concerns for professors, including literary executors and protections for intellectual property and side hustles such as part-time teaching gigs.
More from The New England Journal of Higher Education

With social distancing in full force and online learning ascendant, it's a lonely time to celebrate the physical advantages of college campuses. Still, institutions bank on iconic buildings, outdoor spaces and surrounding environments to buoy their life-sustaining enrollment, retention and alumni engagement. And the region benefits importantly from its higher education landscape. Here, Connecticut architect Michael B. Tyre takes NEJHE readers on a tour of unique physical campuses, ranging from New York City's New School, where overtly contemporary architecture reflects a dedication to progressive thinkers, past the famed Low Steps and Plaza at Columbia University, which hosts activities from open markets and concerts to the occasional demonstration, to Maine's College of the Atlantic, which uses its lush oceanside surroundings to reflect its curricular focus on the relationship between humans and their environment. Tyre outlines ways New England colleges and universities can leverage their brands this fall to ensure that the campus still feels like home for students, even during these distanced times.
University Center at the New School in New York City. Used with permission.

As institutions grapple with the increasing likelihood of partially (if not fully) online instruction this fall, the typical, synchronous forms of engagement won't suffice. Especially for students who are low-income, stuck with lower-bandwidth internet connections or balancing work and family commitments with no time to connect with faculty or peers. Effective online instruction will depend on inspiring students to tap their own intrinsic desire to act—to get involved in discussions because of their desire to contribute substantively to the conversation and learn from their peers. Emerging technologies like AI and machine learning play a role. So do inquiry-based discussion platforms. Richard Pattenaude, chancellor emeritus at the UMaine System, and KarenAnn Caldwell, assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Connecticut, explain how one such platform—NEBHE sponsor, Packback—facilitates effective discussions in online learning in the age of COVID-19.
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.
Newslink

NEJHE's Comings and Goings highlights key appointments and job changes in New England higher education and beyond.
Joseph Thompson
News Around NEBHE

NEBHE and CollegeSource announced a partnership to give institutions and students increased access to CollegeSource’s transfer solutions: Transfer Evaluation System (TES) and Transferology. Established as part of NEBHE’s Cost Savings Programs, the new partnership enables efficient student transfer, mitigates course credit loss and increases overall transparency across the transfer process for all education institutions in New England.

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.
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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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