Notes & Coffee: January 8 - 14

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.

Department of Justice probes admissions ethics code – The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into whether the ethics code of the National Association for College Admission Counseling violates federal antitrust law. The department has sent information requests to NACAC and to professionals from various schools and colleges who were involved in drafting the new version of the ethics code, which was adopted last year. The letter from the department, a copy of which has been obtained by Inside Higher Ed, states that the investigation pertains to a possible agreement "to restrain trade among colleges and universities in the recruitment of students."

The return of earmarks – House Republicans and President Trump have signaled an interest in evaluating whether congressional earmarks could be restored for the first year since 2011. That discussion has rekindled a long-running debate in higher ed about the appropriations tool and whether colleges should pursue earmarks at all.

Lessons from the tax bill fight – The tax bill fight revealed to the student groups, which before had operated mostly independently, the value of tapping into a network of national higher ed lobby groups and professional associations for intelligence on developments in Washington. 

Small college struggles in the sights – The Council of Independent Colleges has been among the most bullish organizations when discussing the state of small private liberal arts colleges, but a heightened sense of concern underpinned much of the organization's annual Presidents Institute this year. The concern was evident in the institute's programming, which included a notable number of sessions addressing mergers or partnerships between institutions, as well as strategies for taking on financial challenges. It was also evident in this year's theme -- “Pathways to Excellence: Resilience and Innovation.” Institutions cannot be resilient if they are not faced with significant challenges, after all.

“Dancing backwards in high heels” – Numerous studies have found that female professors shoulder a disproportionate amount of service work compared to their male peers. Research also suggests that students hold female instructors to a different standard than they do male faculty members, especially when it comes to personality.

More Notes

Congress changed 529 college savings plans, and now states are nervous

Caution on expanding community college 4-year degrees

Tracking “invisible colleges”

Statewide ban on a fraternity