Notes & Coffee: April 18-23

Notes & Coffee is here to keep you informed of all the trending student affairs and higher ed news stories most critical to our field as they develop. In the age of information overload, we’re here to bring you vetted examinations of the stories that matter to our field. We invite you to brew a favorite morning beverage, kick back, relax, and catch yourself up for the week ahead with Notes & Coffee. 

Enrollment declines, transfer barriers: Community college presidents’ survey - “Six in 10 leaders of community colleges say their enrollments have declined in the past three years, including 21 percent who say enrollment is down by 10 percent or more, according to Inside Higher Ed’s 2017 Survey of Community College Presidents. The survey, conducted by Gallup, is based on responses from 236 leaders of two-year colleges, who were queried about recruitment, the future of free community college and the emerging talent pool for new presidents, among other topics. Although most presidents said their institutions have seen decreases in enrollment, 18 percent reported an increase compared to three years ago.”

Aftermath of a professor’s suicide - “’Stigma with regard to mental health seems to be strong in the faculty community,” said Negar Shekarabi, coordinator for faculty and staff mental-health care and respondent services at the University of California, Irvine. “The very specific pressures that faculty experience around work expectations and their ability to think, foster knowledge and ideas, and be academically productive causes a particularly threatening vulnerability should they disclose that they have mental-health issues.” Many worry about losing their jobs, status or the confidence of their colleagues and students in their abilities if they're public about the challenges they face, she said. “This creates some additional silence around mental-health concerns in the faculty population.”’

Free speech, safety and the Constitution - “Citing safety concerns, two universities this week attempted to block planned appearances at their campuses -- one from white nationalist Richard Spencer at Auburn University, the other from conservative political commentator Ann Coulter at University of California, Berkeley. Both right-wing figures defied the universities, boasting they would show up regardless, and the institutions, both public, eventually said that they would allow the events, in Auburn’s case because a federal judge backed Spencer’s right to speak. Spencer addressed Auburn’s campus Tuesday. Coulter has been invited to appear May 2, not April 27 as originally scheduled. Berkeley on Thursday reversed its initial announcement that Coulter couldn't come until the fall. Late Thursday, Coulter was tweeting that she was going to come on the original date, with or without the university's approval.” 

Why some cities and states are footing the bill for community college - “A surge of innovation in states and cities is building momentum for what could become a seismic shift in American education. Just as the country came to expect in the decades around World War II that young people would finish at least 12 years of school, more local governments are now working to ensure that students complete at least 14 years. With that change, political leaders in both parties are increasingly acknowledging that if society routinely expects students to obtain at least two years of schooling past high school, government has a responsibility to provide it for them cost-free.”

Full-time finishers - “A growing body of research shows that college students who enroll full-time, taking even 12 credits’ worth of course work in a single semester, are much more likely stick with college, save money and eventually graduate. Yet while the researchers behind these studies encourage efforts to nudge more students to go full-time (ideally taking 30 credits in a year), they warn against neglecting the many who will continue to attend part-time because of work and family demands -- currently only 38 percent of community college students are enrolled full-time, according to the American Association of Community Colleges.”

More Notes

Image of Trump spurs debate at Stanford

Community college diversity pacesetters to be recognized

White nationalist defies Auburn

State funding for higher education slipped in fiscal 2016 

President Trump and the state of higher education

Students reveal 5 things they love about their institution’s CBE program