Ice-y Conditions … and Other Random Thoughts from the NEJHE Beat

By John O. Harney

Some news and thoughts from the NEJHE beat …

ICE-y conditions. MIT recently alerted its staff that federal immigration officials would be checking the status of foreign postdoctoral students, researchers and visiting scholars in the sciences, and urged them to cooperate. … Meanwhile, an Iranian student, returning to study at Northeastern University, was detained at Boston’s Logan International Airport then deported, despite having a valid student visa and court order permitting him to stay in the U.S. The stories reminded me of Politico’s report on “5 ways universities can support students in a post-DACA world” by Jose Magaña-Salgado of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. And of a piece in our own NEJHE by Harvard attorney Jason Corral, whose job is advising undocumented students in the age of the Trump administration.

Caste away. Brandeis University announced it will include “castes” in its non-discrimination policy. Discrimination based on this system of inherited social class will now be expressly prohibited along with more familiar measures such as race, color, religion, gender identity and expression, national or ethnic origin, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age, genetic information, disability, military or veteran status.

Institution news. Massachusetts approved new regulations on how to screen colleges and universities for financial risks and potential closures. … The University of Maine System Board of Trustees adopted a recommendation from Chancellor Dannel Malloy to transition the separate institutional accreditations of Maine’s public universities into a single “unified institutional accreditation” for the 30,000-student University of Maine System through the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE). One institution the UMaine System is likely to collaborate with according to Malloy’s office: Northeastern University’s planned Roux Institute for advanced graduate study and research to open in Portland, Maine. … In Connecticut, meanwhile, Goodwin College became Goodwin University. Such rebranding has been something of a trend in recent years. … In other institution news, monks at Saint Anselm College challenged the New Hampshire Catholic college’s board of trustees over a move the monks say could lead to increased secularization. The college’s charter dictated that the monks have the power to amend laws governing the school. Saint Anselm President Joseph Favazza said in a letter that the board was not trying to change the mission of the college, but rather aiming to meet the standards set by NECHE, the accrediting body.

Cold War chills. Primary Research Group Inc. has published its 2020 edition of Export Controls Compliance Practices Benchmarks for Higher Education with this grim reminder: “Increasingly, US universities and their corporate and government research partners are under pressure to demonstrate compliance with US export control and other technology transfer restriction and control policies. The deterioration of US-relations with China and Russia threatens the return of export control philosophies common during the Cold War. Major universities in the UK, Australia and Canada, among other countries, are experiencing similar changes.”

Media is not the enemy, but … The free Metro Boston newspaper ended operation after 19 years, following the sale of the New York and Philadelphia Metro papers. One explanation offered by a columnist at the Boston Globe, which is a part-owner of the Boston Metro: more commuters using their phones to catch up on news.

Latest from LearnLaunch. Watch NEJHE for reports from the 2020 Learn Launch Across Boundaries Conference, including an exclusive Q&A with the new LearnLaunch president, former Massachusetts Gov. Jane Swift.

John O. Harney is executive editor of The New England Journal of Higher Education.

Painting of “If Wishes Were Horses (For Dad) by Montserrat College professor Timothy Harney.


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