Friday, December 23, 2016

University of Michigan Bicentennial: 1817-2017

In 2017, the University of Michigan (U-M) will celebrate its bicentennial--200 years of teaching, scholarship, and service. Established in 1817 in Detroit as the Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania, U-M is the state's oldest university. In 1837, the school moved from Detroit to its present-day location, Ann Arbor. Since its founding, U-M has become one of the premier research universities in the world and boasts the largest living alumni in the world (over 500,000). As of 2016, the university has 19 schools and colleges, 260 degree programs, and 103 of its graduate programs ranked in the top 10. Its official colors are maize and blue, and its motto is "Go Blue!".

The university is historically known for its student activism, popular stop for U.S. presidents and important figures, and its role in defending affirmative action at the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 (though Michigan voters in 2006 approved restrictions on the use of race in college admissions in Proposal 2). As a proud U-M alumna, U-M also boasts the best graduate programs in my fields: higher education administration and social work. To my delight, the current U-M president, Mark S. Schlissel, has picked diversity, equity and inclusion as well as poverty solutions as two of his five areas of focus in his administration.

Browse the links below for more information about the U-M Bicentennial:

Five Bicentennial Symposia

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Atlantic: How to Kill the Middle Class

In the past decade, state politicians have attacked the middle class with the passage of draconian lives that reduced their salaries, fringe benefits, and sick paid leave. If these trends continue, the traditional middle class may cease to exist in America. See The Atlantic article for more details:

Back in 2009, Rick Erickson was happy with his job as a teacher in one of the state’s northernmost school districts on the shores of Lake Superior. He made $35,770 a year teaching chemistry and physics, which wasn’t a lot of money, but then again, he received stellar healthcare and pension benefits, and could talk honestly with administrators about what he needed as a teacher every two years when his union sat down with the school district in collective bargaining sessions.

Then, five years ago, Wisconsin passed Act 10, also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, which dramatically limited the ability of teachers and other public employees to bargain with employers on wages, benefits, and working conditions. After Act 10,Erickson saw his take-home pay drop dramatically: He now makes $30,650. His wife is a teacher, too, and together they make 11 percent less than they did before Act 10. The local union he once led no longer exists, and so he can’t bargain with the school district for things like prep time and sick days. He pays more for health care and his pension, and he says both he and his wife may now not be able to retire until they are much older than they had planned.

See this related article, Severe Inequality Is Incompatible with the American Dream:
The numbers are sobering: People born in the 1940s had a 92 percent chance of earning more than their parents did at age 30. For people born in the 1980s, by contrast, the chances were just 50-50.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

New Ed Department Report Focuses on Diversity in Higher Education

The U.S. Department of Education recently released a report, “Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education.” It builds on the Obama administration's efforts to expand college opportunity. The presents key data that show the continuing educational inequities and opportunity gaps for students of color and low-income students and highlights promising practices that many colleges are taking to advance success for students of all backgrounds. From the official press release:
More than ever before, today’s students need to be prepared to succeed in a diverse, global workforce. Diversity benefits communities, schools, and students from all backgrounds, and research has shown that more diverse organizations make better decisions with better results. CEOs, university presidents, the military, and other leaders have accordingly expressed a strong interest in increasing diversity to ensure our nation enjoys a culturally competent workforce that capitalizes on the diverse backgrounds, talents, and perspectives that have helped America succeed.

“I applaud the commitments to creating diverse campus communities that so many colleges and universities have long sought to implement by attracting, admitting, and educating diverse students. But we must acknowledge that we have more work left to ensure that our campuses are safe, inclusive, and supportive environments that encourage student success and college completion for students from all backgrounds,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said.