Your Daily Briefing, a New Feature for Chronicle Individual Subscribers

July 25, 2017

Individual 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 Wednesday. To receive this newsletter, subscribe to The Chronicle.

Welcome to Tuesday, July 25. Today a study finds that large public universities spend less on administrative costs than do their small, private counterparts, advocates plead for Pell Grant indexing, and a college president talks about academe's over-siloing.

Comparative costs on college campuses.

Large, public universities spend more efficiently than do small, private colleges, according to a new study by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni. At large, public institutions, the administrative staff spends a median of 17 cents for every dollar spent on the instructional staff. At small, private colleges, 64 cents are spent on the administrative staff for every dollar spent on the instructional staff. Here's the analysis.

Trouble in West Virginia.

The U.S. Department of Education has placed all public two- and four-year colleges in West Virginia on heightened cash-monitoring status after the state failed to file audits of its Title IV funding on time for a third consecutive year. The institutions were warned that a failure to file on time would result in the penalty. Heightened cash-monitoring entails extra scrutiny of the colleges and more restrictions on how student-aid funds are advanced.

E. Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, said he was "irritated as heck" that the state had failed to file the audits on time. His university's audit, he said, was ready in time, but higher education in West Virginia is governed by a state oversight agency that compiles all audits and files them at once. That process explains why the audits have been late for the last three years.

Quick hits.

What keeps Gordon Gee awake late at night.

At The Chronicle's offices, Mr. Gee discussed why the over-siloing of academe can create dangerous situations. When quasi-independent fiefdoms develop on campuses, it is difficult to hold administrators accountable, he said. That may have been part of the problem at the University of Southern California, where a former medical-school dean appears to have led a double life, consorting with prostitutes and using drugs, he said. So how do you effectively oversee people in such a vast organization? “It’s a question," he said, "that should keep us all up at night."

The talkers.

  • For one graduate student in Texas, carrying a gun on the campus isn't about political affiliation. It's a form of female empowerment, writes Antonia Okafor, a grad student at the University of Texas at Dallas, in The New York Times.
  • Two historians weigh in on why and how higher education became a partisan issue, in this WBUR interview.
  • In this Twitter thread, Jonathan B. Field, an associate professor of English at Clemson University, asks how faculty members and graduate students can be supported in fields where they are underrepresented.

On teaching the eternal class.

Last week I asked readers to recount their experiences teaching one course over many years. Here are two more responses on how professors keep those classes fresh:

Bill Coplin, director of the public-affairs program at Syracuse University, has taught "Introduction to the Analysis of Public Policy" for 39 years. He renews the course with the help of undergraduate teaching assistants, Mr. Coplin wrote. He also aims to have the class develop students' skills, not just transmit information. Each semester he gives students a choice of societal problems to address.

At Creighton University, Robert Dornsife, an English professor, has taught freshman composition for 24 years. Every semester, he says, he strives to develop a perfect version of the course. Once the class is close to perfect, it should be revised with new goals, and an opportunity for students to share what they want. He also wrote that when teaching a familiar text, he creates new notes every time, so the lesson doesn't get stale.

Comings and goings.

  • Angela Hall Watkins, co-founder and chief executive at Capacity to Grow, was named vice president for institutional advancement at Huston-Tillotson University, in Texas.
  • Margie Smith-Simmons, assistant vice president for strategic communications at Indiana University, was appointed assistant vice chancellor for finance and administration on the Indianapolis campus, jointly run with Purdue University.
  • Christopher R. Agnew, a social-psychology professor at Purdue University, was named associate vice president for research, regulatory affairs.


Last Friday we told you that Alterius Career College was a for-profit institution in a footnote about Latin names. Alterius is now part of a nonprofit career-college system.

**A paid message from APAIE: Proposals for APAIE 2018 due 15 August 2017: workshops, sessions, posters. Submit online APAIE-Singapore 25-29 March 2018.**


From The Chronicle's Andrew Mytelka:

Sleepiness pervades higher ed. From the undergrads barely stirring for a 10 a.m. class, to the professors nodding off in a departmental meeting, to the grad students pulling all-nighters to meet a dissertation deadline that passed “several years ago,” to administrators rising early to head off the latest online outrage, people in academe are just plain tired. That’s why many of them head directly to coffee in the morning, even if it means scraping out the dregs of yesterday’s brew or risking life and limb with whatever grounds the college has provided.

Or they head to their local Starbucks for a shot of caffeine to both rouse their spirits and equip them with a hip accessory — the lidded cup. Fellow journalists at The Onion reported on Monday that Starbucks has introduced a $7 “wake-up slap.” A Starbucks spokeswoman said: “This open-handed smack to the face is perfect for those days where you barely dragged yourself out of bed and really need a pick-me-up.” The basic slap, she said, can be enhanced with an “extra-shot option” that offers “a stiff backhand across the other cheek.”

All of which made us wonder if the new service could have emerged from Starbucks’s prominent partnership with Arizona State University. With Starbucks staffers getting a discount on ASU’s online courses, it seems only a small jump for the university to start training the baristas to cuff their customers.

—Fernanda and Adam

Fernanda Zamudio-Suarez and Adam Harris are breaking-news reporters at The Chronicle. Reach them at and

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