UNM prepares for accreditation review

At Tuesday’s Board of Regents meeting, Senior Vice Provost Richard L. Wood and Associate Provost Pamela Cheek expressed concerns ahead of next year’s accreditation review.

The Higher Learning Accreditation organization will be conducting a site visit in 2018-19 to determine if UNM will keep its accreditation as a degree-granting university.

Wood primarily focused on areas in which the University could improve and announced the office’s goals for the semester. This included a commitment to reinvigorate community efforts and for students to become more involved in the Albuquerque area.

He also stated that the University must reorganize its international efforts in order to attract more students from other countries and give current students a better chance to study abroad.

In an interview with the Daily Lobo, Wood expressed which areas could potentially be an issue when the accreditation process begins.

“Funding is a worry,” Wood said. “Consistent budget cuts at the state level could potentially be a big issue.”

During the last accreditation process in 2008-09, UNM achieved accredited status but was flagged twice concerning the quality of advisement and governance.

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The University responded by making drastic changes to those areas.

“Huge changes were made to advisement, and the increased quality of advisement that students received led to an increase in graduation rates,” Wood said.

Cheek’s presentation centered around the need to increase attention and funding toward general education.

“General education across the state of New Mexico (has) been leveled,” Cheek said, echoing Wood’s concerns about the lack of state funding.

She cited how high-quality general education courses lead to more students declaring a major sooner, and therefore, an increase in the graduation rate.

Cheek also emphasized how legislation makes all general education across the state equal.

She argued that future general education courses must put a greater emphasis on the University’s research capabilities, something that distinguishes UNM from other schools in the state.

As an example, she mentioned how Charles “Chuck” Paine, the associate chair of the English department, writes and publishes textbooks used in multiple courses.

“High-impact programs equal higher graduation rates,” Cheek said.

The topics below were also discussed Tuesday.

Lottery Cut Effects

Interim President Chaouki Abdallah announced the effects that cuts to the Lottery Scholarship have had on UNM this school year. Overall, 1,000 fewer scholarships were awarded, resulting in a decrease in spending by $6 million. At the last Board of Regents meeting, it was found that enrollment has decreased by 3 percent from 2016.

Presidential Search

At the beginning of the meeting, the board stated that they were nearing the end of interviews for the new president of the University. Abdallah has been serving as interim president, following Bob Frank, who finished his fall 2016 term and decided not to seek a second term.

Reserve Vault

Interim President Abdallah spoke to the board about the state of the University’s reserves. He showed various graphs highlighting the amount of reserves,totaling around $429 million, and where that money would be allocated.

“We’re at a better stage now, but not by much,” Abdallah said, speaking on the condition of the reserve funds.

He further explained that reserves have greatly increased in the past couple of years, but that there is still work to be done.

Tampon Bill

Associated Students of the University of New Mexico President Noah Brooks announced that a bill has been passed stating that every tampon and feminine hygiene dispenser in the Student Union Building, Zimmerman Library and Johnson Recreational Facility will be stocked, maintained and readily available for all who need them.

Kyle Land is a news reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at news@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @Kyleoftheland.

It’s not you, it’s GenEds

There’s no doubt that a liberal arts education provides students with a well-rounded and expansive learning experience. However, the problems arise when the general education system begins to hinder instead of benefit its students. I remember finishing the first semester of my freshman year and thanking my lucky stars that I was finally done with math forever. I’ve never been a numbers person and my lack of understanding when it came to statistics and solving equations brought on more stress than anything else. During my time in jail — I mean Math 205 — you could often find me sitting in a dark corner of Carrier Library contemplating whether or not to drop out. I could go my entire life never hearing the words “null hypothesis” again and be completely satisfied.

I fully support encouraging students of all ages to try out different major programs in an effort to open their eyes to all that the education system has to offer. I even had a good friend who took an art history class the first semester of her junior year and decided to leave the world of accounting behind for her new found passion for art. However, for students like myself, who had a pretty good idea about which major fit me best, GenEds felt more like that annoying family member who you’re obligated to see but don’t really like.

I have a pretty good idea of what the creators of the GenEd clusters were thinking when they laid its foundations. The concept isn’t the problem — the issue lies in the apparent disconnect between professors and students. I’ve had a plethora of conversations with friends who are frustrated with the impossible expectations that some professors place on their students who have no interest or background in the subject at hand. GenEds should be an interesting and doable intro into what the major is all about, not a class that makes even a C feel unattainable. There should be no reason that I’m earning an A in my 400-level English classes, but can barely scrape by with a C in an intro-level science course.

In an article about the failures of the general education system by Benjamin M Woo, he states that “The importance of broad education is rooted in class traditions that once demanded students to develop a breadth of diverse knowledge. Today, the learning process is much more compartmentalized. Literature and music can be irrelevant in the life of a engineer. It is a trope that humanities majors pride themselves on their inability to perform basic science and math.”

Gened’s and their undue difficulty is a truth that  is evident here on JMU’s campus. The problem isn’t the subject matter, it’s the lack of understanding from professors that not all the students are there because they want to be. They’re in class to fill the requirement and move on. I’m not asking professors to lessen their academic expectations from students, or to make their classes “easier.” I do believe, however, that professors should make it their responsibility to look at the demographics of their GenEd classrooms and teach the classes with understanding and open communication to make the general education experience one to look back fondly on after graduation.

Hannah Robinson is a senior communication studies major. Contact Hannah at robinshl@dukes.jmu.edu.


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Faculty Senate requests speech policy be rescinded

Cutler Hall, home of the office of the president of Ohio University

USU launches new interactive ‘Thrive’ website for students

After this story ran, Utah State University clarified that the student identified as “Alicia” was referring to a sociology course she took years ago at another school, not at USU, context which was not provided in the video.

AgriLife Extension to host pesticide applicator continuing education course in Canyon

A continuing education workshop for pesticide applicator license holders will be offered Oct. 25 by the Texas AM AgriLife Extension Service office in Randall County at the Kuhlman Extension Center, 200 N. Brown Road in Canyon.

The training will be from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and feature virtual speakers from across the state.

“The workshop will be brought to you live via satellite,” said Dr. J. D. Ragland, AgriLife Extension agriculture and natural resources agent in Randall County.

To guarantee a seat, preregistration and an RSVP are needed by noon Oct. 24 by calling the AgriLife Extension office at 806-468-5543. Registration for the conference is $25 per participant, payable at the door and includes lunch. On-site registration will start at 7:30 a.m.

Ragland said private applicators holding a Texas Department of Agriculture license must receive 15 hours of continuing education every five years to renew or recertify their license. These hours must include two hours of laws and regulations, two hours of integrated pest management and any mix of these plus drift minimization and general hours to equal the required 15 hours.

“Licensed commercial and noncommercial applicators are required to recertify every year by receiving five continuing education credits; with one credit each from two of the following categories: laws and regulations, integrated pest management or drift minimization,” he said.

The workshop will offer five CEUs including one laws and regulations, one drift management, one integrated pest management and two general.

Topics and speakers will be as follows:

Laws and regulations update, Dr. Mark Matocha, AgriLife Extension specialist, environmental safety, College Station;

Zika Update: Integrated pest management approach to managing the mosquito vector and disease prevention, Dr. Charles Allen, AgriLife Extension entomologist, San Angelo;

Livestock pests, cattle fever tick and other significant external livestock pests, Dr. Sonja Swiger, AgriLife Extension entomologist, Stephenville;

Stay on target, minimizing drift in row crop applications and rangeland applications, Dr. Gaylon Morgan, AgriLife Extension state cotton specialist, College Station; and

Using pesticides, Dr. Don Renchie, AgriLife Extension coordinator for pesticide safety, College Station.

For more information, contact the AgriLife Extension office in Randall County.

Veterans victimized in $24M education scam, authorities say

A $24 million “bait and switch” college education scam — targeting U.S. military veterans — could send two women to prison.

Court documents released Tuesday in Newark, N.J., described a scheme in which thousands of veterans using their Post-9/11 G.I. Bill tuition benefits thought they had signed up for courses at Caldwell University, a small Catholic college in New Jersey.

But instead, the veterans were enrolled in low-cost correspondence courses marketed by a Pennsylvania company – courses that were not covered by the Post-9/11 G.I. Bill.

Authorities in New Jersey said two women have pleaded guilty to one count each of wired fraud in connection with the scam: Lisa DiBisceglie, 56, of Lavallette, N.J., a former associate dean at Caldwell University; and Helen Sechrist, 61, of Sandy Level, Va., a former employee of Ed4Mill, the Pennsylvania company.

The pair defrauded the government of $24 million between 2009 and 2013, federal prosecutors said. They could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine when they are sentenced Jan. 24, 2018.

The women have also been ordered to repay the $24 million, although authorities were uncertain how much money would ultimately be recovered. It was unclear Tuesday whether the women had benefitted personally from the scam.

“DiBisceglie and Sechrist were part of an elaborate bait-and-switch scheme that stole millions of dollars in Post-9/11 GI Bill tuition assistance,” acting U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick said in a statement. “Instead of receiving a quality education under the Caldwell brand, the veterans that were recruited by Ed4Mil were enrolled in unapproved online courses without their knowledge, all while members of the conspiracy profited from their hard-earned benefits.”

“Scams like this steal money from hardworking taxpayers and legitimate students — and in this case, our veterans — and that is completely unacceptable,” said Debbi Mayer, assistant special agent in charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General’s Northeastern Regional Office, which helped investigate the case.

Also indicted was David Alvey, 50, of Harrisburg, Pa., the founder and president of Ed4Mil. He is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. His case is still pending.

Caldwell University officials said in a statement that they ended their relationship with Ed4Mil in 2013 and only learned of the “bait-and-switch” scheme after DiBisceglie quit her assistant dean position to work for Ed4Mil.

“Neither Caldwell University nor its current administration or staff is accused of wrongdoing, and only learned of the conduct after the former employee left the school to work for Ed4Mil,” the university said in a statement. “Caldwell University has and will continue to cooperate with the government until this investigation is concluded.”

The government was charged between $4,500 and $26,000 per course, instead of the $600 to $1,000 per course the correspondence company charged for the same classes, prosecutors said.

The $24 million in tuition benefits collected through the GI Bill was allegedly paid to Caldwell University, which then turned over between 85 percent and 90 percent of the money to Ed4Mil, according to court documents.

The Post-9/11 GI Bill was created after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to give military veterans money for tuition, housing and other education costs. The money is paid directly to colleges for eligible courses.

Schreyer Conference 2017: ‘General Education: Inspiration for …

Faculty of all ranks and administrators at all Penn State locations are invited to participate in the biennial Schreyer Conference, co-sponsored by the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, the Schreyer Honors College, and the Office for General Education. Conference topics will address the concerns of faculty, particularly faculty who will be submitting new course proposals and revised courses for recertification.

The conference will begin with a brief video of students’ perspectives on Gen Ed and a review of the program approved by the University Faculty Senate. Participants will next select one of 4 concurrent sessions:

  • “Managing the Senate Recertification Process”
  • “Promotion, Dossiers, and Structures that Support Integrative Teaching”
  • “Integrating Inclusive Teaching into Gen Ed Courses”
  • “Effective Teaching in Integrative Studies Courses”

The conference will culminate with lunch and a wrap-up session featuring University Executive Vice President and Provost Nick Jones, emceed by Schreyer Dean Peggy Johnson, and including ample time for participant questions.

The conference will be lived streamed. URLs will be posted in the near future.

View the agenda at http://www.schreyerinstitute.psu.edu/SchreyerConference/Program.

Faculty Senate: University evaluating possible ‘cultural competency …

The university is working to evaluate a model for “cultural competency” courses, Ohio University interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Descutner told Faculty Senate on Monday night.

Descutner and President Duane Nellis opened the meeting by saying the university is working to prevent sexual misconduct, highlighting diversity and inclusion efforts such as the implementation of “cultural competency” courses for faculty and students and addressing $20 million in unallocated funds in the budget. Senators also discussed two resolutions related to students.

“We have 213 years of university history and 21 presidents, (OU has) had a lot of stability, which I think is a good thing for the university, but we have some challenges as well, as far as our financial situation, the need for creating a more sustainable model for our future,” Nellis said. 

Nellis will present “strategic pathways” in moving forward as a university at his investiture on Wednesday. That will include an outline that aims to establish OU as a “national leader” in diversity and inclusion. 

Descutner began his presentation by updating Faculty Senate on the discussion around implementing a “cultural competency” course by putting a group together to evaluate a model from Carnegie Mellon University and explore ideas. That course could be an additional general education requirement.

“I think (cultural intelligence is) a much better way of describing the course as I imagined it,” Descutner said. “Of course, however it unfolds is in the hands of the faculty, but it really is about cultural intelligence. … It’s about adaptability and it’s about being able to meet others with cultural sensitivity.” 

Descutner and Associate Provost for Academic Budget and Planning John Day gave an overview about budget challenges colleges will face next year. 

“I haven’t seen anything like this since 2008,” Descutner said. 

OU colleges are assessing a 7 percent budget cut, although the actual funding cut could be less than that. The 7 percent budget cut is partly the result of the statewide tuition freeze and limited funding from the state.

“There are circumstances where some colleges have already cut (their budgets) in recent years,” Day said. 

Faculty members asked how their colleges would be affected by next year’s budget. 

“There does seem to be some confusion in this room about what has been proposed and what has been decided, and I think it would be helpful if everybody involved in the conversation is getting a consistent story about what’s being proposed,” Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said. “We have to get everybody on the same page.”

Later in the meeting, senate passed a resolution asking the university to rescind the interim “Freedom of Expression” policy.

The resolution was brought forward for the Executive Committee after senators discussed the interim policy at the September meeting. The resolution will establish a task force to evaluate the need for a policy, determine what that policy could entail and create a set of procedures for the university to follow during “situations of conflict.”

The comment period for the interim policy ends Oct. 20. The president’s council has discussed “next steps” for the policy, Nellis said.

@soveitkkitsch

sp936115@ohio.edu

NPC tidbit:

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There will be interactive booths, demonstrations, tour the Skills Center, live music, free food and fun activities for the whole family. Find out about dual enrollment and career training opportunities for high school students, how to apply for financial aid, personal interest classes for adults and summer STEM programs in NPC’s Kids College.

Learn how to save thousands of dollars in tuition by completing general education courses at NPC, then transferring to a four-year university.

Faculty Senate: University evaluating possible ‘cultural competency’ course model

The university is working to evaluate a model for “cultural competency” courses, Ohio University interim Executive Vice President and Provost David Descutner told Faculty Senate on Monday night.

Descutner and President Duane Nellis opened the meeting by saying the university is working to prevent sexual misconduct, highlighting diversity and inclusion efforts such as the implementation of “cultural competency” courses for faculty and students and addressing $20 million in unallocated funds in the budget. Senators also discussed two resolutions related to students.

“We have 213 years of university history and 21 presidents, (OU has) had a lot of stability, which I think is a good thing for the university, but we have some challenges as well, as far as our financial situation, the need for creating a more sustainable model for our future,” Nellis said. 

Nellis will present “strategic pathways” in moving forward as a university at his investiture on Wednesday. That will include an outline that aims to establish OU as a “national leader” in diversity and inclusion. 

Descutner began his presentation by updating Faculty Senate on the discussion around implementing a “cultural competency” course by putting a group together to evaluate a model from Carnegie Mellon University and explore ideas. That course could be an additional general education requirement.

“I think (cultural intelligence is) a much better way of describing the course as I imagined it,” Descutner said. “Of course, however it unfolds is in the hands of the faculty, but it really is about cultural intelligence. … It’s about adaptability and it’s about being able to meet others with cultural sensitivity.” 

Descutner and Associate Provost for Academic Budget and Planning John Day gave an overview about budget challenges colleges will face next year. 

“I haven’t seen anything like this since 2008,” Descutner said. 

OU colleges are assessing a 7 percent budget cut, although the actual funding cut could be less than that. The 7 percent budget cut is partly the result of the statewide tuition freeze and limited funding from the state.

“There are circumstances where some colleges have already cut (their budgets) in recent years,” Day said. 

Faculty members asked how their colleges would be affected by next year’s budget. 

“There does seem to be some confusion in this room about what has been proposed and what has been decided, and I think it would be helpful if everybody involved in the conversation is getting a consistent story about what’s being proposed,” Faculty Senate Chair Joe McLaughlin said. “We have to get everybody on the same page.”

Later in the meeting, senate passed a resolution asking the university to rescind the interim “Freedom of Expression” policy.

The resolution was brought forward for the Executive Committee after senators discussed the interim policy at the September meeting. The resolution will establish a task force to evaluate the need for a policy, determine what that policy could entail and create a set of procedures for the university to follow during “situations of conflict.”

The comment period for the interim policy ends Oct. 20. The president’s council has discussed “next steps” for the policy, Nellis said.

@soveitkkitsch

sp936115@ohio.edu