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Your Daily Briefing, a New Feature for Chronicle Subscribers

May 16, 2017

Subscribers to The Chronicle now receive an email newsletter called the Daily Briefing. Through it, readers are presented with everything they need to know in higher ed to start their day. Below is an example of the Briefing, from Tuesday. To receive this newsletter, subscribe to The Chronicle.

Welcome to Tuesday, May 16. Today senators push for a repeal of the federal ban on tracking students, an English professor gains Twitter notoriety with political commentary, and we dig into unlucky No. 13.

Renewed push for data on outcomes.

A push to repeal the ban on tracking the educational and employment outcomes of college students is back on. A bipartisan group of four senators on Monday introduced the College Transparency Act of 2017, which would allow families, students, and the federal government to obtain data to see how colleges support and train students. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, a longtime opponent of similar student-tracking systems, renewed its criticism of having students' data turned over to the federal government.

It's important to note that lifting the ban may mean that the Education Department could use the data's future availability as a reason to not release data now, wrote Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor of education leadership, management, and policy at Seton Hall University. Right now, the department does use some student data securely, as in the Beginning Postsecondary Students Longitudinal Study.

An English professor and online fame.

Meet Seth Abramson, an English professor at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester, who is among the country's most widely read scholars. How can that be? Mr. Abramson has 116,000 Twitter followers, thanks to his "mega threads" about the Trump administration's ties to Russia. Our Steve Kolowich spent some time with him to gauge the meaning of his online crusade. And why he doesn't think of himself as a conspiracy theorist.

Quick hits.

  • Auburn University agreed to pay $29,000 in legal fees after its failed attempted to block the white supremacist Richard Spencer from speaking on the campus last month.
  • Through grants, scholarships, and fellowships, private colleges are offering the highest rates of tuition discounting, according to a new study.
  • In a new report, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators recommends that the office of Federal Student Aid improve oversight and transparency by, among other things, streamlining and consolidating reports on its website.

A British university's message.

Hearings in a court case on President Trump’s travel ban were streaming live when Sir Keith Burnett, president and vice chancellor of the University of Sheffield, arrived at The Chronicle's offices. He wanted to talk about Brexit, which, like the travel ban, raised the specter of nationalism and isolationism.

Like many colleges in the United States, Sheffield has been working hard to send the message to international students that they are still welcome on its campus. One of the most powerful voices in its #WeAreInternational campaign, since adopted by other universities and organizations, has been that of local businesses, Mr. Burnett said. Employers in the former steel town recognize that the university and its international student body have been key to the region’s revitalization. —Karin Fischer

The talkers.

  • The traditional lecture isn't working anymore. Students don't learn as much by listening and reading, writes Rhett Allain in Wired.
  • Why isn't there more free-speech outrage on behalf of Linda Sarsour, a co-chair of the Women's March, who is scheduled to give the commencement address at the City University of New York's School of Public Health? Some local officials are demanding that the school rescind the invitation because of her politics, writes Sejal Singh in Feministing.

And we're back.

I've returned from Montreal, dear readers. While I can't say I was ready to end my vacation, I am happy to be back at The Chronicle — supplied with maple candy, of course. I'd also like to keep hearing from you all. Tell me what you'd like to see, or could do without, in the briefing. Write me, at fernanda@chronicle.com.

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Comings and goings.

  • Rahmat Shoureshi, interim president of the New York Institute of Technology, was named president of Portland State University.
  • Sally Roush was appointed interim president of San Diego State University. She had served as senior vice president for business at the university before retiring, in 2013.
  • Theresa (Terry) Martinez, associate vice provost and dean of students at the Johns Hopkins University, will become vice president and dean of students at Hamilton College, in New York.
  • Joe Shelley, assistant vice chancellor for information technologies and chief information officer at the University of Washington at Bothell, will serve as vice president for libraries and information technology at Hamilton College, in New York.

Footnote.

In a few weeks, Kristina M. Johnson will become the 13th chancellor of the State University of New York. Cue Stevie Wonder. No ill will toward Ms. Johnson, but why not skip 13 and jump right to the 14th chancellor?

Many of us have come upon elevators in tall buildings that lack a 13th floor. Well, the superstition seems to apply to a few college chiefs as well. James L. Oblinger, 13th chancellor of North Carolina State University, resigned after scrutiny of the hiring and promotion of Mary Easley, wife of the governor at the time. The University of New Mexico's 13th president, Tom Farer, didn't stay even three years. And Princeton University's 13th president, Woodrow Wilson, may not have been unlucky during his time on the campus, but his record has brought about some unfortunate moments in recent years.

Maybe Ms. Johnson should throw some salt over her shoulder, you know, just in case.

—Fernanda and Adam

Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez and Adam Harris are breaking-news reporters at The Chronicle. Reach them at adam.harris@chronicle.com and fernanda@chronicle.com.