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The Department Chair
Written for academic administrators, this award-winning periodical features in-depth articles that deliver sound insight and proven strategies essential for successfully leading an academic department. Read More
Campus Legal Advisor
As a higher education administrator, your every decision has legal ramifications. From complying with the ADA and keeping residence halls safe, to protecting the privacy of student information, Campus Legal Advisor delivers proven strategies to address the tough legal issues you face every day. Plus, summaries of recent court cases and OCR and FPCO rulings help you create legally defensible student programs and employment practices. Read More
SCUP Fellows Program
1/19/2017 12:00 AM

The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Fellows Program is accepting applications for 2017. The program is designed to build emerging leaders in higher education planning and help them bring their innovative planning ideas and approaches forward to a broader constituency of planners. Two Fellows are selected each year to pursue a higher education planning research project of their choice, and present the outcomes of their project. They receive a one-year SCUP membership, complimentary registration to two annual conferences, two-$500 stipends, and registration to SCUP’s Planning Institute 1, or Planning Institute 2. They are mentored by a SCUP member. Deadline to apply: Jan 31, 2017. Learn more: www.scup.org/2017FellowsProgram
Questions? Please contact Kathy Benton, associate director, strategic alliances, Society for College and University Planning, kathy.benton@scup.org, 734.669.3271.

The Society for College and University Planning (SCUP) Fellows Program is accepting applications for 2017. The program is designed to build emerging leaders in higher education planning and help them bring their innovative planning ideas and approaches forward to a broader constituency of planners. Two Fellows are selected each year to pursue a higher education planning research project of their choice, and present the outcomes of their project. They receive a one-year SCUP membership, complimentary registration to two annual conferences, two-$500 stipends, and registration to SCUP’s Planning Institute 1, or Planning Institute 2. They are mentored by a SCUP member. Deadline to apply: Jan 31, 2017. Learn more: www.scup.org/2017FellowsProgram
Questions? Please contact Kathy Benton, associate director, strategic alliances, Society for College and University Planning, kathy.benton@scup.org, 734.669.3271.

Leadership
1/9/2017 12:00 AM
John F. O'Brien has served as dean of New England Law | Boston since 1988. That makes him the longest continuously serving dean of any law school in the country. And he served as a faculty member and associate dean at New England Law before he became dean.

John F. O'BrienJohn F. O'Brien has served as dean of New England Law | Boston since 1988. That makes him the longest continuously serving dean of any law school in the country. And he served as a faculty member and associate dean at New England Law before he became dean.

O'Brien shared leadership strategies that produce successful results in the long term:

  • Combine deep experience with continuous innovation. New England Law was founded as the first law school in the United States for women. It went coeducational in 1938. O'Brien works to keep the institution on the cutting edge. For example, the school offers unlimited summer fellowships for students that the school pays for. Also, officials created academic centers in the areas of international law, business law, and social responsibility so that students can engage in project-based work with faculty. Plus, the faculty keep the curriculum current with concentrations in fast-growing areas of law. And to help students get a head start on their careers, the school gives students free memberships in the Boston Bar Association.
  • Build a good team, and trust those around you. “A law school is too complex of an organization for a dean to manage every detail,” O'Brien said. Many members of the faculty and staff have years of experience. For example, the associate dean started at New England Law in the 1970s as a faculty secretary. Her ability to troubleshoot led her to become director of financial aid, then registrar and director of admission before becoming associate dean.
  • Create an environment that supports teaching and learning. Let faculty do what they are best at doing, O'Brien said. At New England Law, faculty members created and run the academic centers. An enrichment program promotes diversity and provides support to students of color.Because New England Law is independent, it's possible to really streamline the process if faculty members or others have good ideas, O'Brien said. There's no central administration to deal with, just the board of trustees.

  • Pay close attention to students. They are the school's customers. O'Brien hosts regular “pizza with the dean” sessions where he hears students' ideas and concerns. He also meets with the student bar association and with its president. Students have made helpful suggestions about alternative ways of doing things, O'Brien said.

Consider initiatives that support students, advance institution's success

Initiatives that support the needs of students help your institution enroll them in a competitive market and enhance their success after they graduate. O'Brien has led his school through implementing innovative opportunities, including:

  • Paid summer fellowships. Employers can hire students at no cost to themselves, and students get a jump start on their careers. “The school has always stressed being ready to practice from the day you graduate,” O'Brien said. After their first year, all students are eligible to line up jobs at federal agencies or law firms, and the school pays. Many of the students have been offered jobs for the next summer and after graduation.
  • Generous scholarships. Many scholarships go to students from groups who haven't traditionally studied law. That tradition of expanding access to the legal profession stems from New England Law's founding as the first law school in the United States for women.
  • Academic centers. The Center for Law and Social Responsibility, Center for International Law and Policy, and Center for Business Law allow students to pursue their particular interests while they are still in school. Students are exposed to the various areas in their first year. After that, they are matched up with faculty members in the centers to work on projects. This work helps them understand what they might want to do after they graduate.
  • Connections with top legal minds. Seven U.S. Supreme Court justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts, have visited New England Law, lectured at the school, or taught in summer-abroad programs. O'Brien considers what would attract them on a case-by-case basis. For example, Sandra Day O'Connor has visited a number of times and developed a fondness for the school that grew from its mission for educating women, O'Brien said.

Email John F. O'Brien at jfo@nesl.edu.

Civic Engagement
11/4/2016 12:00 AM
College student political engagement levels indicate how well higher education is achieving its civic mission of developing active citizens concerned with public affairs and with addressing social problems. Voting rates are a direct measure of political engagement, and free, confidential reports of student voting rates are available to institutions from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement.

College student political engagement levels indicate how well higher education is achieving its civic mission of developing active citizens concerned with public affairs and with addressing social problems. Voting rates are a direct measure of political engagement, and free, confidential reports of student voting rates are available to institutions from the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement. NSLVE has developed a database of 2012 and 2014 voting and college student enrollment data from over 8 million students across 900 colleges and universities in the U.S. In addition to being used to research political engagement in higher education, NSLVE is used to inform campuses about their students' voting rates through customized reports showing voting rates by age, class level, field of study, and, when available, gender and race/ethnicity. Soon NSLVE will include data from the 2016 presidential election, and comparisons across presidential elections will provide insights into changes over time in voting patterns.

Data from the 2012 election align with recent national voting trends among eligible voters: women students voted more often than men (48 percent versus 40 percent, respectively), black students voted at a higher rate than other racial groups (55 percent), and older students were more likely to vote than younger ones. After statistically controlling for these, however, we are learning about more factors related to student turnout.

For instance, religiously affiliated institutions had statistically significantly higher voting rates in 2012 than nonreligious institutions, and campuses with ROTC programs had higher turnout rates than other campuses, although the reasons for this are not yet clear. Our qualitative research suggests that campus climate influences political engagement, and it may be that ROTC presence and religious affiliation shape campus climate and culture in ways that impact engagement. In short, institutional environments matter for political engagement, and we are beginning to see how campus leaders may be able to shape environments and practices to support political engagement.

Three ways to use student voting rate information

1. Inform campus leaders. Administrators and faculty will likely want to know political engagement levels of students on campus and how these compare to levels at peer institutions. Demographic traits, family income, and average SAT scores are examples of information that can help faculty and staff understand student backgrounds, and voting behavior is another way to inform them about the students they teach and interact with every day. For example, community engagement and service learning directors, faculty across disciplines, student affairs staff, institutional research directors, and others often appreciate knowing the composition of the student body.

2. Use it as a teaching tool. One purpose of higher education is for students to become knowledgeable citizens and understand how individuals can affect the public good. This requires students to reflect on their own role within a democracy. Students' own voting rates broken down by subgroups can be a rich tool for facilitating reflection on whose voices shape collective decision-making and how their actions can influence leadership, policy, and community values. Campus administrators could encourage faculty and teaching center staff to incorporate their campus voting rates into classroom conversations and curricula in order to situate students' learning in their own experiences.

3. Convene a dialogue. What are the reasons for low turnout? What are the implications of a group having less representation in politics? What can campuses do to encourage voting? These questions could be posed to the campus-at-large and discussed — ideally with a trained facilitator — to reflect on political power and how to support civic engagement of all students. Following the discussion, a task force could be charged with enacting change so concrete steps are taken based on the discussion.

In a particularly volatile presidential election season, students need skills and knowledge to think and talk about politics in ways that do not alienate others but also do not ignore the importance of current issues. Reports of students' own voting behavior offer an entry point into conversations about democracy and the electoral process using close-to-home, nonpartisan information. Campus-specific reports of student voting behavior are a powerful tool for informing campus leaders, spurring dialogue, and boosting student learning.

If you do not have a report of your student voting rates and would like one, join NSLVE by visiting www.activecitizen.tufts.edu/research/nslve. Joining is free and simply requires a signed authorization form allowing NSLVE access to select data from the National Student Clearinghouse.

Lawsuits and Rulings
8/13/2013 12:00 AM

30+ years of law practice are no substitute for scholarship

Case name: Spaeth v. Georgetown University, No. 11-1376 (ESH) (D.D.C. 05/09/13).

Ruling: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to Georgetown University, dismissing the plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.

Case name: Spaeth v. Georgetown University, No. 11-1376 (ESH) (D.D.C. 05/09/13).

Ruling: The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted summary judgment to Georgetown University, dismissing the plaintiff’s age discrimination claims.

What it means: When a plaintiff claims he was not interviewed for a college or university position because of his age, it’s not sufficient to show that the individuals interviewed and hired were younger than he was. He must also show that he had all the qualifications necessary to obtain a tenure-track position.

Summary: Nicholas Spaeth — born in 1950 — attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. He graduated from Stanford Law School in 1977 after serving as a law review editor.

Following law school, he served as North Dakota state attorney general for seven years, as general counsel to several Fortune 500 companies, and as a lawyer in private practice. He also taught constitutional law as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School from 1980 through 1983.

In 2009, he decided to pursue an academic career. Ultimately, he obtained a non-tenure-track position as a visiting professor of law at the University of Missouri at Columbia for the 2010-2011 school year.

In 2010, Spaeth submitted a resume to an online resume system in which 172 law schools participated because his visiting professor position was only a one-year appointment.

He also wrote to several law schools directly to indicate his interest in being considered for a position.

He did not write directly to Georgetown University because he didn’t think that he wanted to live in Washington, D.C.

Spaeth was invited to preliminary interviews by only two schools and received no job offers.

He then filed a suit against Georgetown, claiming that its failure to interview and hire him violated the Age Discrimination in Employment Act because it ultimately hired three less-qualified candidates who were approximately 25 years younger.

Georgetown filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Spaeth’s online résumé did not reveal any interest or experience in producing the kind of original legal research and scholarship that Georgetown and other top-tier law schools required.

Spaeth countered that Georgetown had no written requirement that scholarship weighed heavily — or outweighed — teaching and service.

However, District Judge Ellen Huvelle said that the lack of a written requirement was irrelevant. She said there was no need to put in writing what everyone knew: that scholarship was — for better or worse — one of the overriding concerns among elite law schools in making hiring decisions.

She recognized that Spaeth strongly felt that law students should be taught by practitioners instead of academics. However, she said that he could not dispute that scholarship was indeed a primary focus of law schools when hiring faculty members, and she refused to interfere with the university’s priorities.

Judge Huvelle found that Spaeth did not demonstrate the necessary qualifications for an entry-level tenure-track position at Georgetown because he had no record of scholarly work and had not shown a potential for producing such work in the future.

She granted summary judgment in favor of the university.

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    Joan Hope
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    Joan Hope became editor of Dean & Provost in 2007. She brings years of experience in higher education and journalism to her work. She has taught writing and literature courses for eight years at colleges and universities including Indiana University at Bloomington, Clark University, and Houston Community College
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