Data on grades, courses, and meal cards helps students graduate on time

Yesterday UO’s AVP for Student Success Doneka Scott and Director of Academic Advising Kimberly Johnson talked to the Senate about UO’s efforts to use predictive analytics to help students graduate on time. Today the NYT has a report on similar national efforts – which include using data on social interactions – here:

… Different courses at different universities have proved to be predictors of success, or failure. The most significant seem to be foundational courses that prepare students for higher-level work in a particular major. Across a dozen of its clients, the data analysts Civitas Learning found that the probability of graduating dropped precipitously if students got less than an A or a B in a foundational course in their major, like management for a business major or elementary education for an education major. El Paso Community College’s nursing hot spot was a foundational biology course. Anyone who got an A had a 71 percent chance of graduating in six years; those with a B had only a 53 percent chance.

At the University of Arizona, a high grade in English comp proved to be crucial to graduation. Only 41 percent of students who got a C in freshman writing ended up with a degree, compared with 61 percent of the B students and 72 percent of A students.

“We always figured that if a student got a C, she was fine,” said Melissa Vito, a senior vice provost. “It turns out, a C in a foundation course like freshman composition can be an indicator that the student is not going to succeed.” The university now knows it needs to throw more resources at writing, specifically at those C students.

… At the University of Arizona, Sudha Ram, the director of Insite: Center for Business Intelligence and Analytics, has been experimenting with tracking freshmen — the category of students most likely to drop out — as they swipe their identification cards to go to the library or gym, pay for a meal in the cafeteria or buy a sweatshirt in the bookstore.

“We are measuring social interaction,” Dr. Ram said. “How many people do they tend to hang out with for different activities, and is their hanging out dropping off week by week or getting stronger? A lot of theoretical work has been done on this.”

The findings are put into algorithms to predict who is in danger of not making it to sophomore year.

“Most of the predictive-analytics people are looking at grades,” Dr. Ram said. “A lot of times it’s not the grades but whether they feel comfortable and socially integrated. If they are not socially integrated, they drop out.” ..

 

Jerry Falwell Jr. to lead Trump efforts to cut higher ed administrative bloat

The Chronicle has the news here:

Jerry L. Falwell Jr., president of Liberty University, has been asked by President Trump to head up a new task force that will identify changes that should be made to the U.S. Department of Education’s policies and procedures, Mr. Falwell told The Chronicle on Tuesday.

The exact scope, size, and mission of the task force has yet to be formally announced. But in an interview, Mr. Falwell said he sees it as a response to what he called “overreaching regulation” and micromanagement by the department in areas like accreditation and policies that affect colleges’ student-recruiting behavior, like the new “borrower defense to repayment” regulations.

“The goal is to pare it back and give colleges and their accrediting agencies more leeway in governing their affairs,” said Mr. Falwell, who said he had been discussing possible issues with several other college leaders and at least one head of an accrediting agency for the past two months. “I’ve got notebooks full of issues,” he said. …

UO Town Hall tonight on response to Trump’s anti-Muslim travel ban

Update: Standing room only for an excellent talk from UC-Davis’s attorney for supporting DACA/Dreamer students.

Meanwhile our wily neighbors to the north are taking advantage of Trump’s fear-mongering by offering an easy path to Canadian citizenship for international students who get a Canadian college degree. The catch, according to the NYT, is that you have to spend your college years in Newfoundland.

Update: UO Administration to host Town Hall tonight at 6PM in EMU ballroom, on UO’s implementation of the Sanctuary Campus resolution and other efforts related to Trump’s travel ban.

Dear University of Oregon community,

The United States has historically attracted and welcomed people from around the globe who helped build our nation, made scientific discoveries, contributed to the arts, fueled our economy, and created our diverse civic culture. Our nation’s first president, George Washington, observed that the “bosom of America is open to receive not only the opulent and respected stranger, but the oppressed and persecuted of all nations and religions; whom we shall welcome to a participation of all our rights and privileges . . .” Part of the University of Oregon’s mission, as a public institution, is to continue to support this tradition by bringing the best and the brightest here to be part of a rich and vibrant community of scholars.

Academic excellence and global engagement go hand in hand at the UO. By continuing our long history of welcoming eager, talented scholars from many countries, we draw global perspectives into our community and enrich the educational experience. By sending 25 percent of every graduating class to study abroad or participate in overseas internships, we widen our worldview, develop cross-cultural skills, and prepare students for a global economy.

We are troubled by the decision of the new US administration to begin a process of closing our borders by indefinitely banning refugees from Syria, placing a 120-day ban on refugees from all over the world, blocking new visas from seven predominantly Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen) for 90 days, and signaling a religious test for admittance of new refugees. The UO is proudly committed to welcoming talented individuals from all countries to study, teach, and carry out research and scholarship on our campus. We stand with the Association of American Universities in supporting a visa system that “prevents entry by those who wish to harm us, while maintaining the inflow of talent that has contributed so much to our nation.”

Many in our community are worried that recent executive orders send the wrong message about our country. Many are concerned for our fellow students, faculty members, and staff members from the targeted countries. If you feel vulnerable and unwanted because of the US president’s actions, please know that you are welcome and appreciated at the UO. You are part of our community, and we stand with you in defense of our shared values of inclusion, equity, curiosity about the world, and global engagement as core to academic excellence. 

Like other public research universities across the nation, the UO welcomes and supports students without regard for immigration status. We clearly stated this as our leadership signed onto a statement by our University Senate on November 16, 2016. The university is now in the process of creating an administrative position within the Division of Student Life that will be a point of contact and a resource for undocumented students and those covered under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

More recently, we have been working to make sure the most directly affected members of our community receive our full support:

  • Last week we communicated directly with students, faculty and staff members from the seven countries targeted for a 90-day visa ban, recommending these students avoid travel outside the US, given the ban and ensuing uncertainty.
  • We identified all of our students currently on UO study-abroad or overseas internships. While none are from the seven targeted countries, five are non-US citizens, and we are working to ensure their smooth return to campus at the end of their international academic programs.
  • A few UO academic units are about to admit graduate students from the seven targeted countries. We also have undergraduate applicants and potential American English Institute applicants from these countries. We will work to maintain the academic integrity of the admissions process (seek and welcome the best candidates, with an eye toward equity and inclusion), while also acknowledging that the UO cannot control the issuance of US entry visas at embassies and consulates abroad. We will signal willingness to work with these newly admitted students and applicants, on a case-by-case basis, to explore every option available, as we gain more clarity on visa policies to follow the 90-day ban.
  • We will hold a town hall on changing immigration rules at 6:00 p.m. on Monday, January 30, in the EMU Ballroom. Experts on international immigration will review the current state of affairs, answer questions, and reinforce the core message that this university cares deeply about international and undocumented students. The event is open to all. 

We know many people may have questions and concerns. We will soon provide a list of frequently asked questions on UO policies and programs related to international students, faculty and staff members. In addition, the following individuals are available to answer questions:

  • General questions about international policies and programs at the UO can be directed to Vice Provost Dennis Galvan in the Office of International Affairs, dgalvan@uoregon.edu or 541-346-5851
  • International students and visiting scholars can contact Abe Schafermeyer, director of International Student and Scholar Services, abe@uoregon.edu or 541-346-1215
  • International employees may contact international employment specialist Jennifer Doreen, jdoreen@uoregon.edu or 541-346-2638, or Bill Brady, assistant vice president for employee and labor relations, wbrady@uoregon.edu or 541-346-2305

As we have stated so often recently, the UO remains committed to fostering an academic environment that is inclusive and welcoming to all, and it bears repeating that this commitment includes our international students, faculty, and staff.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill

President and Professor of Law

Scott Coltrane

Provost and Senior Vice President

1/29/2017: Muslim-ban protesters ignore free-speech time, place and manner restrictions.  The NYT has the report on the JFK protests here. Think of it as a how-to guide for future protests. And the RG has a report on the Eugene rally here.

University presidents act to protect hate speech

FIRE has the report here:

At the University of Maryland (UMD), President Wallace Loh issued a statement yesterday in response to a set of 64 demands from ProtectUMD, a coalition of 25 student groups. The demands, issued in late November, include calls for punishing speech protected by the First Amendment. Specifically, the coalition demands an “[i]mmediate response to hate speech or actions from the University including a consequence (e.g. mark on transcript, potential suspension).” Tellingly, “hate speech” is left undefined.

The University of Maryland has an obligation under federal law to respond to discriminatory harassment, which is unprotected by the First Amendment, as is speech that constitutes incitement or a true threat. But there is no First Amendment exception for “hate speech,” an inherently subjective concept that has no legal definition; one person’s “hate speech” is another’s political manifesto. The vast majority of speech that some or even most might consider “hate speech” is protected by the First Amendment, and for good reason. ProtectUMD’s call for punishing “hate speech” runs headlong into UMD’s legal and moral obligation as a public institution to uphold the First Amendment.

In response, President Loh’s statement—titled “True to Our Values”—explains why freedom of expression must remain at the core of the university’s commitments. While acknowledging “the rise of angst, hurt, and anger in fraught times,” President Loh writes that UMD community members “cannot learn, teach, pursue truth, and advance knowledge without academic freedom and freedom of expression, civility and respect, diversity and inclusion, openness and shared governance.” Instead of censorship, President Loh embraces the challenge of free speech and its necessity for our democracy:

No anodyne will heal the divisions in our country today, nor should it. At the University of Maryland, we do not fear the clash of ideas and values. I ask every member of our academic community to help us move forward with an open mind, consider different perspectives, and debate with respect and civility. These are the qualities that make trust, collaboration, and progress possible in a democracy.

…  University of California, Berkeley

Meanwhile, 2,800 miles to the west, UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks also recognized the necessity of free speech in a statement to the campus community. Chancellor Dirks’ letter was prompted by an upcoming visit from Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, planned for next Wednesday and sponsored by the Berkeley College Republicans. Responding to calls for censorship and disinvitation, Chancellor Dirks wrote:

Since the announcement of Mr. Yiannopoulos’s visit, we have received many requests that we ban him from campus and cancel the event. Although we have responded to these requests directly, we would like to explain to the entire campus community why the event will be held as planned. First, from a legal perspective, the U.S. Constitution prohibits UC Berkeley, as a public institution, from banning expression based on its content or viewpoints, even when those viewpoints are hateful or discriminatory.

Regaining public trust in higher education

Insidehighered has a report on a recent symposium:

SAN FRANCISCO — Public trust in colleges and universities is eroding at a time when liberal education is crucial — and institutions must respond aggressively. That was the current running through several panels here Thursday at the annual meeting at the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

“A liberal arts education is situated as reserved for those within the ivory tower, reflecting a willful disconnect from the practical matters of everyday life,” said Lynn Pasquerella, president of the AAC&U, during a plenary address called “Always on the Fringe: Closed Futures and the Promise of Liberal Education.” It’s a trend that’s been “exacerbated by the recent political jockeying and appeals to people’s fears and prejudices, in which rational inquiry built on evidence has all but been abandoned.”

In order to restore trust and “destabilize the attitudes at the basis of proposals that devalue education,” Pasquerella said, “we need to demonstrate in a more compelling way to those outside of the academy, Democrats and Republicans alike, the extent to which we are teaching students 21st-century skills, the ability to solve the world’s most pressing problems — local, national and global issues — within the context of the work force, not apart from it.”

Beyond that, she said, “championing liberal education must reaffirm the role that it plays in discerning the truth.” …

Pres Schill: Keep Deady, add Black Cultural Center

Please consider posting your comments on the Senate blog here, rather than on UOM. Thanks.

Dear University of Oregon community,

Like many universities throughout the nation, the University of Oregon is actively engaging in issues of diversity and inclusion on campus and using them as an opportunity for debate, learning, and community-building. Some well-publicized incidents this academic year have underlined the importance of our efforts to ensure that each and every student, faculty, and staff member feels included and comfortable learning and contributing here. 

In this message, I want to focus on two decisions—I will not recommend to the Board of Trustees that it dename Deady Hall, and we will move forward with efforts to build a new Black cultural center at the UO. I am announcing these decisions now because our campus needs clarity about the status of Deady Hall and a clear path forward to focus on tangible actions we can take to improve the climate at the UO for students of color, specifically those who identify as Black or African American. 

In the fall of 2015, the Black Students Task Force presented UO leadership with a set of 13 demands. One demand requested the following: “Change the names of all of the KKK-related buildings on campus. Deady Hall will be the first building to be renamed.” In February 2016, I empaneled a committee, chaired by Associate Professor Charise Cheney, to provide me with advice on a set of criteria that could be utilized in decisions for denaming buildings on campus. After receiving the committee recommendations, I appointed three historians to research the historical record of Dunn Hall and Deady Hall’s namesakes and answer a set of questions based upon these criteria.

On August 9, 2016, we released the historians’ 34-page report. More than 1,000 people—faculty and staff members, students, alumni, and community members—provided input on the report and numerous editorials, letters to the editor, and commentaries have appeared in the media.

On September 1, 2016, in a letter to the community, I established a set of principles that would guide my decision about whether to recommend the denaming of a building on campus to the Board of Trustees. They are as follows:

  • Bigotry and racism have no place in our society or our university. Each of us must value each other based on individual merit and not the color of our skin, the social status of our parents, our gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or physical or mental ability.
  • It is vital that all students at the University of Oregon feel valued and included as part of this institution. This is true for every member of our community, but particular attention needs to be paid to members of groups who often feel isolated and alienated as a result of their chronic underrepresentation on campus and the legacy of racism in this state and nation.
  • We must be careful not to obscure our history regardless of whether we like what we find when we study it. The only way we can understand our present and prevent injustice from repeating itself is to study our history and learn from our past.
  • The process of naming or denaming a building has symbolic value. But symbols are less important than actions that affect the material circumstances of members of our community.
  • Naming a building and denaming a building are not identical actions and should be governed by separate decision-making processes and considerations.
  • Naming a building honors an individual either for exceptional contributions to the university and our society or for exceptional generosity. While extremely meaningful, naming a building occurs regularly and is usually done contemporaneously with, or shortly after, the life of the person for whom a building is named. The very purpose of naming is to establish a durable honor that stands the test of time.
  • Denaming a building, on the other hand, is an extraordinary event and should only occur in very limited circumstances. Many decades may have passed since the person whose name is on a building was alive, and information will typically be less complete than in a naming decision. Contemporary decision-makers will often be limited in their ability to evaluate the behavior of people who lived in circumstances and with cultural mores very different from our own. Denaming is also an act associated with ignominy and the destruction of reputation. We should normally be careful when we do this, particularly because the person involved will seldom be available to defend himself or herself.
  • Finally, denaming threatens to obscure history and hide the ugliness of our past, which is contrary to our institution’s values of promoting lifelong learning and sharing knowledge. Therefore, the presumption should be against denaming a building except in extraordinarily egregious circumstances.

In that letter, I announced my decision to recommend to the Board of Trustees that they dename Dunn Hall, a building that commemorated a former professor of classics at the University of Oregon who also served as the Grand Cyclops of the Lane County Ku Klux Klan. The Board of Trustees unanimously adopted this recommendation on September 9, 2016. Dunn Hall was temporarily renamed Cedar Hall.

Because the issue of potentially denaming Deady Hall was more contested, I decided to delay a decision until UO students returned from their summer vacations so we could continue the conversation. Throughout the fall term I have continued to solicit the opinions of community members on the question of denaming Deady Hall.  

In applying the principles for denaming to Dunn Hall, I found that the presumption against denaming was outweighed by the facts set forth in the historian’s report—namely that Frederick Dunn was the head of a hate group that supported racism and violence against African Americans, Catholics, and Jews, and was not a man for whom a building should be named on the University of Oregon campus. Matthew Deady, however, presents a more complicated case, the detailed facts of which are recounted my September 1, 2016, letter to campus and in the historians’ report.

In my view, the facts set forth in the historian’s report do not support overturning the presumption against denaming Deady Hall. Many of Deady’s historical accomplishments were exceptional. He was an active and respected legislator and political figure in the state. He was appointed by President Buchanan to be the first federal judge for the State of Oregon. He, more than any single person in the University of Oregon’s history, played a formative role in its creation and early years as a regent. It was his work in persuading Northern Pacific Railroad president Henry Villard to donate to the university that kept its doors open in the 1880s.

Of course, Deady was also a deeply flawed man. He held racist views which I find abhorrent and contrary to the principles of our university. His support of slavery prior to the Civil War cannot be excused, even if it was based upon his understanding of the “letter of the law” of property. Nor can his support for the 1849 exclusion act be ignored. The fact that Deady’s views and actions were shared by many Oregonians at the time he lived does not excuse them, although it does explain them. 

Although Deady’s racist views did not abate after the Civil War, he fully embraced the new constitutional order. The historians characterize his change as a “metamorphosis.” Deady supported the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which guarantee to all equal protection under the US Constitution. While he never had the opportunity to issue an opinion involving African American civil rights, he was a protector of Chinese immigrants.

Deady does not represent an example of an egregious case justifying overturning the presumption against denaming. Unlike Dunn, he was not the head of an organization which espoused violence against vulnerable populations. Also unlike Dunn, his positive acts and importance to the nation, state, and university were noteworthy and of historical distinction. For all of these reasons, I will not recommend that the Board of Trustees dename Deady Hall.

The fact that Deady Hall will remain a symbol of racial intolerance for many of our students is troubling. Many students associate this past and our continuing to honor a man who was racially intolerant as evidence that the university does not take their concerns about diversity and inclusion seriously. Nothing could be further from the truth.

As I have stated previously, bigotry and racism have no place in our society or in our university. It is vital that all students at the University of Oregon feel valued and included as part of this institution. While the process of naming or denaming a building has symbolic value, symbols are less important than actions that affect the material circumstances of members of our community. It is these actions that we now must focus on.

We have already implemented half of the demands of the Black Student Task Force, including the creation of the Umoja Academic Residential Center, the creation of an African American Opportunities Program and accelerated efforts to recruit African American students to the university, and the hiring of African American faculty members including the launching of a new African American Studies cluster in the College of Art and Sciences. Once these faculty join the university we will work with them and our existing faculty to explore the feasibility of creating a Black studies minor and/or program. In addition, I will continue to advocate that the faculty consider and develop innovative changes to incorporate issues of race more broadly into our curriculum. We will also continue to finalize our fundraising strategies for diversity scholarships by the end of this academic year.

Today, I would like to announce my commitment to build a new Black cultural center at the UO. I have been convinced that, particularly in light of their small numbers, African American students need a place that will provide them with an opportunity to gather, reinforce their academic pursuits, enhance connective bonds that support recruitment and retention, and discuss their shared experiences and needs. We will work with our students to plan a structure that will provide them with a place of respite with programming that will promote their success. Fundraising for this project has already begun with a generous $250,000 gift from our alumnus and campaign chair Dave Petrone and his wife Nancy. The planning phase for design and construction will begin immediately.

We will also commence this spring with the renaming of Cedar Hall. We will solicit from our community nominations of names of individuals who have distinguished themselves in the fight for racial justice and equity. Our students will be involved from start to finish as we identify criteria and select someone who will embody the values of achievement, tolerance, and equity. It is my hope and expectation to bring this renaming decision to the Board of Trustees in June.

We will also move forward with plans to work with our students and faculty to ensure that the lessons we have learned about ourselves and our history are not lost. We will plan installations in both Deady and Cedar Halls that remind all visitors of their histories and of the continuing project of inclusion and diversity.

The work of making the University of Oregon a more diverse and inclusive university is important work and will not happen overnight. It will not be complete when we cut the ribbon on the Black cultural center. Nor will it be complete when we recruit more African American students and faculty members to Eugene. While I am grateful to the Black Students Task Force for placing racial equity squarely on our agenda, it will take all of our efforts—faculty and staff members, students, administrators, alumni, and community members—to make this university the inclusive place we want it to be. I am eager to get on with this work.

Sincerely,

Michael H. Schill

President and Professor of Law

Pres Schill has “great confidence” in Willie Taggart & Rob Mullens

Update: Coaches let coaches get blotto and drive drunk, and our athletic director is cool with that. Austin Meek has the news in the RG.

From Andrew Theen in the Oregonian:

The school president, who has said previously that he hadn’t set foot on a football field until arriving in Eugene, said he has great confidence in Athletic Director Rob Mullens as well.

They do seem to be sucking up a lot of his time though. Ryan Thorburn in the RG has one of the more positive assessments:

“Even if you sugarcoat it, it’s still a disaster,” Paul Finebaum, who hosts a college football-centric national radio show, said on ESPN. “I have a hard time imaging a program getting off to a worse start.”

Other sports reporters are trickling out more details on the troubled histories of Taggart’s new assistant coaches. Paying female students to escort potential football recruits? Did no one do due diligence?

Faculty sessions for CIO candidates

I’m not sure if these are “faculty only”. I doubt they’d kick out non-faculty though.

Chief Information Officer

Candidates for the vice provost and chief information officer will visit campus during the month of January. Information for each candidate will be posted in advance of their visit.

Candidate A: January 18-19 – Matthew Riley

Candidate B: January 23-24 – Jessie Minton

Candidate C: January 30-31

  • Faculty Session – January 31, 9:15 – 10:00 a.m., Ford Alumni Center 403

All candidate feedback surveys will close at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, February 3.

Questions may be directed to Sarah Allen, Committee Staff (caven@uoregon.edu).