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Publications

Research Report
June 9, 2022

Streaming Media Licensing and Purchasing Practices at Academic Libraries

Survey Results

University instructors and students have a huge appetite for streaming media, and demand is growing apace as the format achieves mainstream market dominance over earlier technologies such as DVDs. University libraries purchase and license the bulk of this content intended for campus-wide (as opposed to personal) consumption and are facing numerous challenges associated with integrating streaming media into their collecting strategies. Pricing models can make it difficult to fully meet patron demands, and some collections feature content that is not…
Research Report
May 25, 2022

Overseeing the Overseers

Can Federal Oversight of Accreditation Improve Student Outcomes?

Since the passage of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, the federal government has relied on the accreditation process to ensure quality at postsecondary institutions receiving federal dollars. In the ensuing decades, spending on higher education by the federal government—most significantly through federal student loans and grants—and by individuals has increased exponentially. Even as this spending helped fuel substantial growth in enrollment, a completion crisis has left many former students with debt but no degree, and highly uncertain labor…
Issue Brief
May 16, 2022

Can Evidence-Based Teaching Techniques Address the Education Debt that Students of Color Are Owed?

As colleges and universities become more diverse, higher education practitioners are questioning how they can create an equitable campus that supports students of color who often have distinct needs and challenges.[1] Evidence-based teaching strategies (EBTs) have become increasingly popular among these practitioners, as the practices have been linked to positive academic outcomes (such as higher grades and better retention) and should, theoretically, benefit all students regardless of their background. For instance, cultivating a sense of belonging in classrooms…
Issue Brief
April 28, 2022

Supporting Low-Income Students with SNAP

Every year a subset of postsecondary students goes hungry and lacks stable shelter. Recent research has helped raise national awareness of basic needs insecurity on college campuses across the US. States and institutions of higher education have, until recently, been approaching the problem of student food insecurity in separate, sometimes contradictory ways. While some institutions have developed wrap-around assistance programs for low-income students that have improved retention and completion rates, the students with the most needs often attend institutions with…
Research Report
April 12, 2022

Aligning the Research Library to Organizational Strategy

Ithaka S+R was commissioned by the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Canadian Association of Research Libraries (CARL) to examine the strategic directions of research universities with the objective of identifying common themes that research libraries can consider in aligning to advance the research and learning mission both individually and collectively. This project draws on interviews and other forms of engagement conducted in 2021 with more than 60 university leaders (presidents, provosts, senior research officers, and chief information officers)…
Research Report
March 31, 2022

The Impacts of Emergency Micro-Grants on Student Success

Evaluation Study of Georgia State University’s Panther Retention Grant Program

The Panther Retention Grant (PRG) program at Georgia State University (Georgia State) is one of the nation’s pioneering examples of a retention or completion grant program, a type of emergency financial aid program aimed at supporting students with immediate financial need. The program, which specifically targets students who are in good academic standing and have exhausted all other sources of aid, automatically awards up to $2,500 to clear students’ unpaid balances and allow them to remain enrolled for the term.
Research Report
March 30, 2022

Underrepresentation of Black and Latino Undergraduates at America’s Most Selective Private Colleges and Universities

Attending a more selective college or university matters because these institutions graduate a larger share of their students. Attaining a bachelors’ degree in turn increases expected lifetime earnings by roughly 65 percent over attaining only a high school diploma. Who has access to these selective institutions therefore has an impact on economic and social mobility in America, an objective that justifies the large federal, state and local support of higher education across the country. However, the evidence suggests that these…
Research Report
March 17, 2022

Playbook for Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts

How to Design and Implement Statewide Pathways from Community Colleges to Independent Colleges

Bachelor’s degree attainment for community college transfer students is one underutilized but essential pathway for reducing equity gaps in higher education. One way to achieve this at scale is through state-level initiatives dedicated to supporting transfer from community colleges to not-for-profit independent colleges. The Teagle Foundation and the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations’ Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts initiative aims to create such pathways in 20 states in the next five years. This playbook draws on the experience of grantees…
Research Report
March 1, 2022

Teaching with Cultural Heritage Materials During the Pandemic

Cultural heritage materials can offer rewarding learning opportunities and impactful experiences for students across a variety of disciplines, especially in the humanities and social sciences. These learning opportunities create important historical and/or cultural context within a discipline, allowing students to deepen their engagement with a discipline, or see themselves, perhaps for the first time, as a scholar. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the attendant move to online instruction at many colleges and universities, disrupted pedagogical practices and the ways that…
Research Report
February 2, 2022

Archiving Degree Audit Data to Measure and Reduce Lost Transfer Credit

Since June 2019, the Articulation of Credit Transfer project (ACT) has focused on streamlining the information, advising, and administrative processes concerning how credits from one City University of New York (CUNY) institution transfer to another CUNY institution. This work addresses a critical challenge at CUNY, and indeed, across American higher education. When students transfer from one college to another, they frequently are unable to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institution, jeopardizing their ability to…
Research Report
December 6, 2021

What Is a Research Core?

A Primer on a Critical Component of the Research Enterprise

As clusters of state-of-the-art instruments and research enablement services, research cores are not only the cornerstone of research activities at university campuses but also critical assets that provide competitive differentiation for their host institutions. However, these research cores are highly expensive for academic institutions to manage. Despite the growing recognition and impact of these research cores, there are few studies that describe the business models for sustaining and funding research cores or their increasing significance to the larger academic community.
Research Report
December 1, 2021

Big Data Infrastructure at the Crossroads

Support Needs and Challenges for Universities

Ithaka S+R’s Research Support Services program explores current trends and support needs in academic research. Our most recent project in this program, “Supporting Big Data Research,” focused specifically on the rapidly emerging use of big data in research across disciplines and fields. As part of our study, we partnered with librarians from more than 20 colleges and universities, who then conducted over 200 interviews with faculty. These interviews provided insights into the research methodologies and support needs of researchers working…
Issue Brief
November 9, 2021

No “One Size Fits All” Impact of Doubling Pell Grants

Understanding the Impact of Changing the Maximum Pell Grant on Low- and Middle-Income Students

As policy makers consider revisions to the Higher Education Act (HEA), understanding the impact of increasing the size of Pell grants is important if it is to have the intended impact of improving educational outcomes for lower income students across the various types of colleges and universities. Proposals to increase the Pell grant have been put forward by the Education Trust, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Urban Institute, the Biden administration, and many others. House Republicans have…
Research Report
October 18, 2021

COVID-19 and the Future of the Annual Meeting

In February 2020, the Biogen conference in Boston, Massachusetts, became one of the first superspreader events in the United States—one now linked to perhaps 300,000 cases of COVID-19. By mid-March, in-person conferences, a staple of scholarly communication and community, came to an abrupt halt. For the many professional societies for whom a conference is a core offering, the necessity of charting a new path for their annual meeting was among the most difficult organizational challenges created by the pandemic. As…
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…