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March 2, 2021

Amplifying Equity in Education: 2021 NCHEP 

With the momentum of Pell restoration tempered by the continued challenges of distance-learning during the pandemic, this week marks the start of 2021’s annual National Conference on Higher Education in Prison (NCHEP). NCHEP’s guiding theme of educational equity spans five days and over 60 presentations, covering a wide range of topics, from abolitionist teaching to the power of collaborative partnerships. The concerns and strategies of this national cohort…
February 11, 2021

Accountability and Reconciliation: Higher Ed’s Fraught History of Slavery 

The aftermath of the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others has led many colleges and universities to consider how the legacies of slavery and systemic racism have shaped and impacted their institutions. As more institutions consider the lasting effects of slavery, there are lessons and strategies that could be learned from institutions that began these historical inquiries of slavery and racism before 2020. In a previous blog, I described the origins, processes, and findings of these efforts.
February 2, 2021

Launching an Anti-Racism Talent Management Audit

Translating Values Into Action

In the months following the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent national reckoning for racial equity led by the Black Lives Matter movement, many higher education institutions pledged to renew their commitments to progress on racial justice imperatives. While equity, diversity, and inclusion have long been described by higher education leaders as strategic priorities of their institutions, many have now devoted resources to move beyond affirmations of institutional values…
January 28, 2021

Convening the Cohort

Teaching with Digital Cultural Heritage Materials in the Pandemic

Last summer we announced a Mellon funded project to study how higher education instructors are adapting their practices of teaching with cultural heritage materials during the pandemic. In this post we share how our project is developing and the issues we are tracking as our research gets underway. Why are we doing this project? We remain in a similarly unprecedented landscape six months later, as the COVID-19 virus remains a terrible threat. Technology has allowed certain types of activities…
January 26, 2021

Higher Ed’s Reckoning with Slavery

Following the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and others, 2020 marked a watershed moment for nationwide discussions on systemic racism. This was true, too, for higher education: this year has sharpened the focus on the ways that historical legacies and current practices reinforce racial hierarchies. As more universities and colleges continue to detangle the lasting effects of systemic racism on their institutions, there is still much to learn about how institutions have reckoned with their own institutional histories of…
January 19, 2021

A New Report Examining the Relationship between Postsecondary Attainment and State Finances

Over the past two years, Ithaka S+R, in partnership with the Joyce Foundation, has examined the role of state policy in ensuring postsecondary access and opportunity for all students. In a newly released research paper, we build on our previous work and make the economic case for states to increase their attainment rates. To reap the benefits of their investments in increased attainment, we recommend that state leaders increase investment into historically underserved students, adopt progressive tax…
January 14, 2021

Maximizing and Assessing Engagement with Virtual Library Space

While states across the US have begun vaccine distribution and plan for further tiered rollout over the course of the year, COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations continue to be at all-time highs across most of the country. Campuses continue to push back the start date of the spring term, and the CDC has just released new data tying county-level, off-campus infections to on-campus residency. It is all but certain that higher education institutions will continue looking to…
January 13, 2021

Upcoming National Survey of Community College Library Directors

We are excited to announce that Ithaka S+R will launch a national survey of community college library directors and those in equivalent leadership positions this February. This study is part of a three-year IMLS-funded initiative—the Community College Academic and Student Service Ecosystem (CCASSE) project—to examine the current landscape of student service provision at community colleges and the role of the library in best contributing toward student success within this ecosystem. Over the course of the project, we have already…
January 12, 2021

Data Repository Platforms: A Primer

While scholars generally believe in the value of sharing and preserving research datasets, many do not believe it’s worth their time to do so. And, when they do invest their time in data sharing and preservation, they tend to have a preference for doing so in an independent and self-reliant fashion. These are issues that we have not only documented through our long-standing national faculty survey but ones that we have contended with in our own work…
January 11, 2021

When to Ask (or Not Ask) Demographic Questions

People are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with sharing personal information—like email addresses, names of their spouses, and demographics such as race-ethnicity and gender—with their employers and other organizations more broadly. Many people are concerned about their privacy as more and more data are collected in a wide range of contexts. Some are apprehensive about research and associated data collection in general due to its history of racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination and mistreatment in a…
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January 4, 2021

Not Much Has (Yet) Changed

Open Access Priorities and the Impact of COVID-19

As it became clear at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that research on the virus was greatly needed by both scholars and the general public, many publishers quickly opened up access to previously paywalled content. Open access sharing of COVID-19 data became relatively more common with organizations such as the National Institutes of Health compiling and sharing databases of articles, enabling researchers…
December 17, 2020

What is the Academic Research Enterprise?

At this week’s CNI meeting, we presented findings from several recent studies we conducted about the academic research enterprise (video is available here). Taking an inclusive approach, we offered a broad working definition of the research enterprise: “the systems, services, policy, and staffing for the work of the university to generate knowledge.” In the session, CNI’s Clifford Lynch asked us to probe a little more deeply how this term can be scoped. Here,…
December 16, 2020

Creating Virtual Library Spaces

Emerging Technologies

Many college students across the country, in light of the impacts of the pandemic on teaching, learning, and the broader student experience, feel disconnected from their peers and institutions, and crave the right kinds of space—quiet space, in particular—for effectively completing their coursework. Fostering a sense of belonging and providing spaces for both collaborative and independent student work have long…
December 16, 2020

Three questions for Toya Wall

Ascendium Education Group

In October, Ithaka S+R announced that we are embarking on a new project funded by Ascendium Education Group that will allow us to expand our current work on increasing access to quality educational resources for higher education in prison (HEP) programs. For our quarterly newsletter, we recently asked Toya Wall, a senior program officer at Ascendium, about the challenges facing postsecondary education in prison and her organization’s focus on increasing access for incarcerated learners.   1.    Could you tell…
December 15, 2020

Ithaka S+R to Expand Transfer Improvement Efforts with CUNY

With Support from the Petrie Foundation, ACT Project Expands from Three to Seven CUNY Campuses 

When students transfer from one college to another they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institutions, jeopardizing these students’ ability to earn their degrees. Nationally, 43 percent of credits are wasted during transfer, and students who lose that many credits are far less likely to graduate than students who are able to transfer most of their credits. While other…
December 10, 2020

Reimagining the Future of Higher Education Funding

Ithaka S+R Releases Two New Issue Briefs on State Higher Education Funding

Since the early 2000s, per student state funding has declined while costs of public higher education have shifted towards students and families. This comes during a period when wealth and income gaps have been climbing. The Great Recession of 2008 accelerated this shifting cost burden at a time when many individuals unable to secure employment returned to postsecondary education for new training or upskilling. In the wake of the Great Recession, state funding for higher education…
December 9, 2020

The Impact of COVID-19 on Academic Libraries

New Report

Since 2010, Ithaka S+R has fielded a triennial survey to examine the priorities and strategies of library directors. Historically, the three-year time frame has been appropriate for tracking trends. But after releasing the most recent iteration in April 2020, we recognized that both the COVID-19 pandemic and increasing movements for racial justice were having an immediate impact on academic libraries.  To examine the extent of library leaders’ prioritization of equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism…
December 3, 2020

An Updated Snapshot of the Archival Profession

Gearing up for A*CENSUS II

In 2004, the Society of American Archivists led A*CENSUS, the first broadscale survey of individual archivists in the United States in nearly thirty years. The initiative resulted in tremendous impact for the archival field. For institutions and professional organizations, the data informed the design of new curricula and the assessment of current educational offerings; for archival institutions, the opportunity to advocate for resources, set goals, and benchmark against peers; and for researchers, the…
December 1, 2020

Leadership for the Research Enterprise

For many of the largest universities, the research enterprise is an essential component of the mission. And during this year of pandemic related disruptions, it has proved to be one of the most resilient sources of university revenue. In recent years, major universities have established senior research officers to provide a unitary source of leadership for this vital work. Today, my colleague Oya Rieger and I are publishing a major examination of the role of the senior…
November 18, 2020

Four Strategies for Crafting Inclusive and Effective Demographic Questions

At Ithaka S+R, we regularly re-evaluate the quality and inclusivity of the demographic questions we include in our surveys, just as we do with all of the items in our instruments. These questions undergo a rigorous, iterative revision process: we conduct desk research, gather feedback from advisors, test all questions with potential participants prior to launching, and pay attention to trends in open-ended responses to our questions. All of these approaches, along with following trends in research and…
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