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Publications

Issue Brief
January 19, 2021

It’s Complicated

The Relationship between Postsecondary Attainment and State Finances

Increased college-going and attainment comes with a host of benefits for individuals and society. A college credential is associated with increased civic engagement, volunteering, happiness, life satisfaction, and better health and wellness, as well as lower incarceration rates and reliance on social services. In addition to the host of nonpecuniary benefits of higher education, there is a direct link between both college access and attainment and students’ future economic outcomes. For example, students with test scores just above the eligibility…
Issue Brief
December 14, 2020

Accelerating Advising Technology Implementation in Response to COVID-19

A Case Study of Jacksonville University

Advising undergraduate students on how to succeed in their academics, careers, and life is one of the most common practices in higher education. Advising is also something that many institutions struggle to resource or coordinate sufficiently, potentially leaving students without needed support on their paths to successful program completion. It is also important to note that barriers to a successful college experience are not borne equally across higher education. The institutions that serve the highest proportions of students from low-income…
Issue Brief
December 10, 2020

Reimagining State Higher Education Funding

Recommendations from the Ithaka S+R Convening

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still unfolding, but already the pandemic seems likely to have an unprecedented impact on higher education finances. In response to declining tax revenues, states are beginning to curtail higher education funding, a key source of revenue for many public colleges and universities. Changing enrollment patterns and rising unemployment has softened demand for some colleges, which can negatively affect tuition revenues. Limitations on in-person activities and increased health-related costs are shrinking auxiliary revenues, a…
Issue Brief
December 10, 2020

An Overview of State Higher Education Funding Approaches

Lessons and Recommendations

With a pandemic-driven recession and unemployment stratified by postsecondary attainment levels, investments in education, including higher education, are needed now more than ever. Yet, the outlook for state finances is grim, especially if federal investment stalls, and shrinking budgets and financial instability are likely to lead to reductions in state spending. As we discuss in a companion brief, during times of constrained resources, states’ playbooks should include three key elements: ensuring that higher education funding is adequate, ensuring that institutions…
Research Report
December 9, 2020

Academic Library Strategy and Budgeting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Results from the Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ithaka S+R surveyed library directors nationally to examine the strategic changes libraries have made to continue operating. A total of 638 library directors responded to questions about library leadership and decision making, COVID-19 management, budget allocations and cuts, collections acquisitions, and personnel changes. The questionnaire also focused on racial justice in light of recent protests including the Black Lives Matter movement and the related increased focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion in higher education.
Research Report
December 1, 2020

The Senior Research Officer

Experience, Role, Organizational Structure, Strategic Directions, and Challenges

The research enterprise continues to grow more complex, competitive, interdisciplinary, and interinstitutional. Although academic research often is conducted in a distributed and grassroots manner, the senior research officer (SRO) plays an increasingly central and unifying role in stewarding research activities and shaping institutional policies and strategies. The SRO—who often holds the title of vice president, vice provost, or vice chancellor for research—typically holds responsibilities including overseeing external funding, institutional research safety and compliance, core research facilities, and research ethics and…
Research Report
November 18, 2020

Research Data Services in US Higher Education

As data-driven research methods proliferate and become more sophisticated across disciplines, supporting researchers who work with data is increasingly a top priority for academic institutions. However, research data services—support offerings which enable and improve data research—are currently provided in an ad hoc manner by a variety of campus units, including libraries, academic departments and institutes, labs, and IT or research computing units. And the provision of research data services varies significantly from campus to campus. For data-driven research to thrive,…
Research Report
November 16, 2020

Comparing Public Institution-Level Data on Students’ Family Income and Financial Aid

In a recent research report titled “Better Than We Thought,” our team at Ithaka S+R compared Integrated Postsecondary Education System (IPEDS) data on the parental income distribution of entering college students with two other public sources of socioeconomic information on that population. In the report, we first checked the consistency of the income distributions reported by IPEDS with a more comprehensive dataset of tax records collected by researchers Opportunity Insights. Finding that, at the level of aggregate groups of institutions…
Research Report
November 12, 2020

Ithaka S+R Art Museum Director Survey 2020

Art museums serve a unique social role in that they operate between the public sphere, the academy, the art market, and the philanthropic sector. They are invaluable resources for scholars and also serve school children, adults, seniors while engaging broadly in the cultural life of their cities. Beyond these roles, they also have the responsibility to maintain and care for a collection of objects for future generations in perpetuity. The Ithaka S+R Art Museum Director Survey 2020 examines strategy and…
Research Report
November 10, 2020

Structuring Collaborations

The Opportunities and Challenges of Building Relationships Between Academic Museums and Libraries

In 2019 Ithaka S+R received funding from the Mellon Foundation to study the structural relationships between academic museums and libraries. Ithaka S+R conducted interviews with museum and library directors, and in some cases other senior staff, at thirty universities. Based on these interviews, three institutions were selected for short case studies as examples of effective collaborations: University of Iowa, the Atlanta University Center, and Princeton University.
Issue Brief
October 28, 2020

Scholarly Societies in the Age of COVID

As membership organizations with revenues typically derived from a combination of publications, meetings, and dues, scholarly societies have faced distinctive challenges, as well as opportunities, in navigating the pandemic. To explore these, we spoke with chief executives and chief publishing officers at 12 large and small societies, some focused on the humanities and social sciences, others on the STEM fields. We were interested in how the various sources of activity and value for scholarly societies were being impacted…
Issue Brief
October 28, 2020

Making the Case for Student Veterans

Building Support for Student Veteran Enrollment

A college degree is increasingly associated with greater economic opportunity for individuals and positive economic, social, and civic benefits for society. Yet, gaps in college access by income and race/ethnicity persist, especially at the most selective colleges and universities where students have the best chance to succeed due to greater resources and high graduation rates. These gaps perpetuate economic and social inequality, as access to high-quality education is essential for social mobility. Veterans and service members of the United States…
Issue Brief
October 27, 2020

Global Science and the China Split

The practice of science has always been a fundamentally international activity. Even during periods of substantial geopolitical splits—such as the Cold War—science has broadly continued its international communication and even collaboration. In the post-Cold War period, science has globalized to a substantial degree. However, the looming geopolitical split between China and many of the liberal and democratic nations including Australia, India, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as well as European Union members, raises questions about…
Research Report
October 26, 2020

The Impacts of COVID-19 on the Research Enterprise

A Landscape Review

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated disruptions have had a major impact on the US academic research enterprise. This report provides a landscape review of what is known about these impacts, from March through mid-October 2020, with an aim of identifying gaps that should be addressed. Our focus is on externally funded research, and therefore we emphasize STEM fields almost exclusively. As a result, we also focus on the largest research universities, which conduct an outsized share of this research and…
Research Report
October 22, 2020

Student and Faculty Experiences with Emergency Remote Learning in Spring 2020

The emergency shift to remote learning that took place during the spring 2020 term in response to the COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented disruptions for students and faculty across colleges and universities, nationwide and globally. As online and hybrid models of learning become prolonged solutions for institutions seeking to contend with the realities of the pandemic and continued uncertainty, the field can gain valuable and actionable insights from the lived experiences of students and faculty at the height of the crisis.
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Research Report
October 21, 2020

Academic Health Sciences Libraries

Structural Models and Perspectives

Over the past twenty years, the place of the academic health sciences library (AHSL) within the university has changed markedly. These institutions include libraries that may support schools of medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and public health. Once, they may have been established as separate entities, serving a single school or campus, but many are now consolidated under a larger university library. Have these consolidations and mergers improved the services offered or impacted cost or service quality? What new…
Research Report
October 13, 2020

How to Support and Lead the Urgent Transition to Quality Online Learning in Intro Math

A Resource Guide

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shelter-in-place orders enforced throughout the country prompted a rush to emergency remote learning in spring 2020. As institutions enter the next phase of planning with a substantial share of their courses expected to be delivered in hybrid or fully online formats, there is an urgent need to move emergency remote instruction toward more sustainable and intentional models that incorporate evidence-based standards and practices for online learning. It is imperative that higher education institutions capitalize on…
Research Report
October 5, 2020

Solving Stranded Credits

Assessing the Scope and Effects of Transcript Withholding on Students, States, and Institutions

Attention to the burden of U.S. educational debt, now at $1.7 trillion, has grown in recent years. For too many former postsecondary students—especially Black students—debt they took on to improve their lives and career prospects has instead become a financial hindrance, delaying or undermining their efforts to buy homes, build savings, or provide for their families. The debt burden is especially severe for those who never completed their postsecondary program and therefore did not receive the credentials that might have…
Issue Brief
October 1, 2020

Policies to Ensure Equitable Access to Well-Resourced Colleges and Universities

Inequity in higher education access is a persistent problem. One way in which this manifests is through inequitable opportunities to attend the most well-resourced institutions. When students attend limited-resource institutions, they are less likely to persist and earn a credential and typically have weaker labor market prospects. Low-income and racial and ethnic minority students are more likely to attend under-resourced institutions than their wealthier and white peers. These enrollment patterns vis-à-vis institutional resources stand to perpetuate social and economic inequities.
Research Report
September 30, 2020

Measuring the Whole Student

Landscape Review of Traditional and Holistic Approaches to Community College Student Success

As colleges and universities work to enhance student success, they frequently use traditional outcome-based metrics—such as graduation rates, year-to-year retention, and post-graduation employment—to define that “success.” These measurements, which throughout this report we refer to as traditional metrics, are often prioritized across higher education given their impact on and consequences toward institutional decision-making, benchmarking, and most importantly, funding. While these quantitative metrics can provide a useful—albeit limited—view into student experiences inside and outside of the classroom, they often focus on…