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Publications

Research Report
September 9, 2021

Library Strategy and Collaboration Across the College Ecosystem

Results from a National Survey of Community College Library Directors

How can the library be best positioned to continue enabling student and institutional success? The Community College Academic and Student Support Ecosystem research initiative seeks to examine how student-facing service departments—including academic libraries—are organized, funded, and staffed at community and technical colleges across the country. In February 2021, we surveyed 321 community college library directors to provide the community with a snapshot of current service provision, leadership perspectives on the impact of COVID-19, and challenges faced in making decisions and…
Research Report
August 30, 2021

Public College and University Consolidations and the Implications for Equity

Across American higher education, institutional consolidations are on the rise. In particular, multiple state systems have proposed or completed mergers of regional universities and/or community colleges with the stated goal of increasing efficiency. The conditions prompting these consolidations have been mounting for years—among them a long-term downward trend in state support for higher education and demographic shifts away from traditional-aged college students, especially in rural areas where numerous public institutions are located. With the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting recession…
Case Study
August 30, 2021

A Georgia Case Study

A Look at the University System Consolidations with an Eye Towards Race, Ethnicity, and Equity

While it is clear that not all mergers and consolidations are a success story, and some collapse under backlash from students, faculty, and other community members, the University System of Georgia (USG) has completed an astounding number of successful mergers between its institutions. In fact, USG has “what is likely the nation’s most aggressive and high-profile campus consolidation program.”In 2010, when discussions regarding consolidations began, the university system had a total of 35 institutions “including roughly 10 in parts of…
Case Study
August 30, 2021

Consolidating the University of Wisconsin Colleges

The Reorganization of the University of Wisconsin System

In 2017 to 2018, the University of Wisconsin (UW) System undertook a major consolidation, removing its two-year college campuses from a standalone sub-system known as the UW Colleges and merging them with nearby four-year UW institutions. The system-level motivation for doing so, in a state undergoing a demographic shift with an aging population, was ultimately budgetary, even if specific savings were not promised. The receiving universities followed several different models for their mergers, some of which appear to have been…
Case Study
August 30, 2021

A Texas Merger

The Creation of University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

In December of 2012 administrators for the University of Texas (UT) System announced a proposed merger of University of Texas-Brownsville and the University of Texas-Pan American “with an eye toward securing increased state funds and potentially building a medical school.” Both increased funding and the medical school were seen as important equity issues, given South Texas’s low per capita incomes and predominantly Hispanic population. The status of University of Texas at Brownsville (UTB) and University of Texas Pan American (UTPA)…
Issue Brief
August 25, 2021

Improving Clarity in Financial Aid Offers

Content and Design Recommendations for Transparent Student Communications

The American Talent Initiative’s latest issue brief, “Improving Clarity in Financial Aid Offers,” centers on the need for colleges and universities to prioritize clear, transparent financial aid communications, especially as the cost of college has significantly increased over the past three decades and left a shrinking number of students able to afford higher education (especially amid the pandemic). To address this enduring challenge, institutions can use powerful tools like the financial aid offer to help students understand the true…
Research Report
August 17, 2021

Stranded Credits: A Matter of Equity

Usually when student debt is discussed and examined, the focus is on federal and private loans; however there are other more insidious forms of student debt that affect thousands of students each year and impact their ability to matriculate, transfer, qualify for scholarships and even qualify for job opportunities. Stranded credits is a phenomenon where students earn academic credits but cannot access them due to an unpaid balance with a previously attended institution that is holding their transcript as collateral.
Research Report
August 3, 2021

Breaking Down Barriers

The Impact of State Authorization Reciprocity on Online Enrollment

State authorization, or the approval by a given state for a college to operate within its jurisdiction, is an important part of the regulatory triad. The triad is the three-pronged oversight of higher education that includes the federal government, accrediting bodies, and state governments. State authorization has become more complicated with the rapid expansion of online education that is blurring state geographic boundaries. Colleges seeking to enroll students from numerous states in online programs must obtain authorization in each of…
Issue Brief
July 21, 2021

Right in Your Backyard

Expanding Local Community College Transfer Pathways to High-Graduation-Rate Institutions

Each year, our country’s most selective four-year institutions invest significant resources to recruit talented high school students from across the country. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, admissions representatives traveled far and wide to convince these prospective students that the academic rigor, amenities, and opportunities at their institution are unparalleled. These students, mostly affluent and white, contemplate admission offers and consider moves to new locales to pursue their postsecondary plans. Yet, many of these selective institutions are overlooking a talented and diverse…
Case Study
July 12, 2021

Using Equity Data to Guide the Design and Implementation of the New General Education Curriculum at Ohio State

In Fall 2020, the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of high-graduation-rate colleges and universities committed to expanding access and opportunity for low- and middle-income students, established its newest community of practice (CoP) focused on academic equity. Together, the 37 CoP members explore topics related to creating equitable academic communities. One such area of focus is how institutions can more effectively utilize data to enhance their equity-related projects. In January 2021, members participated in a webinar discussion on this topic,…
Research Report
June 29, 2021

American Talent Initiative 2021

Third Annual Progress Report

The American Talent Initiative (ATI) brings together a coalition of four-year colleges and universities in pursuit of a common goal: enrolling, supporting, and graduating 50,000 additional lower-income students by 2025 at the colleges and universities that consistently graduate at least 70 percent of their students in six years. ATI’s third annual progress report provides a snapshot of progress—and setbacks. It comes at a time when a global pandemic has deepened inequality, and a national uprising against systemic racism has sharpened…
Research Report
June 24, 2021

MAAPS Advising Experiment

Evaluation Findings after Four Years

Acknowledgements This project is generously funded by a US Department of Education First in the World validation grant,[1] with additional support from Arnold Ventures. We thank the project principal investigator, Dr. Timothy Renick of Georgia State University, for inviting Ithaka S+R to serve as its independent evaluator and for being an invaluable thought and project partner. We would like to acknowledge the key role of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA), which inspired the project by…
Research Report
June 22, 2021

What’s the Big Deal?

How Researchers Are Navigating Changes to Journal Access

The dominant mode by which research libraries have provided maximum journal access as cheaply as possible—subscription bundles or “Big Deals”—is giving way to new approaches. This transition is taking place through a combination of negotiations, activism, business modeling, user needs research, and decision support, among other factors. To support these processes, Ithaka S+R partnered with 11 academic libraries to understand researcher perceptions to help inform their ongoing strategic decision making about Big Deal journal subscriptions.
Issue Brief
May 26, 2021

Different Approaches to Piloting Advising Technology

Comparing Webster University and West Virginia State 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, due to hurdles such as overwhelming caseloads and limited interdepartmental communication, potentially leaving students without needed support on their paths to successful program completion. The barriers to a successful college experience are not borne equally across higher education. In fact, the institutions that serve…
Issue Brief
May 25, 2021

Using Data to Fuel Inclusive Excellence at Virginia Tech

In Fall 2020, the American Talent Initiative (ATI), an alliance of high-graduation-rate colleges and universities committed to expanding access and opportunity for low- and middle-income students, established its newest community of practice (CoP) focused on academic equity. Together, the 37 CoP members explore topics related to creating equitable academic communities. One such area of focus is how institutions can more effectively utilize data to enhance equity-related projects. In January 2021, members participated in a webinar discussion on this topic, during…
Research Report
April 28, 2021

Moving the Needle on College Student Basic Needs

National Community College Provost Perspectives

For many years, higher education data collection and funding efforts have focused on student success metrics like enrollment, graduation, retention, and course completion rates. At the same time, higher education leaders have become increasingly aware—in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic—of the vast array of challenges that college students face outside of the classroom that prevent them from fully succeeding. To shed light on the challenges and opportunities associated with the collection and prioritization of a broader set of student…
Issue Brief
March 31, 2021

The Disproportionate Impact of the Pandemic on Women and Caregivers in Academia

Evidence is mounting that women in academia have disproportionately been affected by the pandemic. Recent research points to new gender gaps in productivity and publishing, with fewer women publishing articles and manuscripts. And in addition to these professional challenges, women in academia are also facing unique personal challenges during the pandemic, including balancing childcare and home responsibilities while working towards achieving tenure in an academic pipeline where it is already challenging for women to succeed.
Issue Brief
March 26, 2021

The Many Facets of Faculty Involvement in the Implementation Process

A Case Study of Northeast Wisconsin Technical College

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. The barriers to a successful college experience are not borne equally across higher education. In fact, the institutions that serve the highest proportions of students from historically minoritized backgrounds (including low-income,…
Research Report
March 23, 2021

Teaching with Primary Sources

Looking at the Support Needs of Instructors

Encounters with primary sources—historical or contemporary artifacts that bear direct witness to a specific period or event—are central to the pedagogy of many disciplines, especially in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. Their use in undergraduate instruction aligns with universities’ commitments to experiential and inquiry-based learning and library initiatives focused on media and information literacy. Reflecting the importance of the topic within higher education, “Supporting Teaching with Primary Sources” attracted the largest cohort of any Ithaka S+R program to date.
Research Report
March 17, 2021

National Movements for Racial Justice and Academic Library Leadership

Results from the Ithaka S+R US Library Survey 2020

Academic librarians, like so many others in the higher education and library sectors, have discussed equity, diversity, and inclusion for many years. A number of prominent initiatives have worked to address these issues across the profession and within individual institutions. Yet, libraries have struggled to make progress on these stated values, especially in meeting their goals of employee diversification. The organizing led by Black Lives Matter activists in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd sparked an increase in demands…