Your Daily Briefing, a New Feature for Chronicle Individual Subscribers

August 15, 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 Tuesday. To receive this newsletter, subscribe to The Chronicle.

Welcome to Tuesday, August 15. Today, universities grapple with how to deal with the threat of increasingly violent events on campuses, students are outed on social media as members of hate groups, and annual data about higher ed is here.

Charlottesville sparks new fears.

The violence that erupted over the weekend at the University of Virginia shocked the world of higher ed by confirming that many institutions are unprepared to deal with political violence. On Monday, Texas A&M University said it would cancel plans for a "White Lives Matter" event, featuring the white-nationalist leader Richard Spencer, on September 11. The University of Florida said it hadn't yet decided on a September 12 campus event that Mr. Spencer's National Policy Institute asked to hold there. Protesters at some colleges can now be openly armed and, as this past weekend's events show, take out their anger on people instead of buildings. So how can universities confront the looming threat? Read our Peter Schmidt's story here.

Social media and identifying protesters.

As white nationalists and neo-Nazis rallied in Charlottesville, Va., a throng of people carrying torches marched through the University of Virginia's campus on Friday night. Photos of some of the marchers began popping up on social media, and internet watchers quickly put names to many of them. Some of the identifications were correct; others weren't. But when marchers were identified as students, their universities received demands to expel them or take other disciplinary action. Some, like Washington State University, were quick to denounce the marchers' ideology, but there are reasons that it might prove difficult to discipline a student for participating in a rally. Our Chris Quintana has the story.

Quick hits.

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos spoke with the Associated Press for 30 minutes last Wednesday. Here's what she had to say about higher education.
  • A federal judge has granted the Education Department's request for a 90-day hold on a lawsuit while it reviews the controversial 2011 Title IX guidance.

The Chronicle's Almanac.

Every year The Chronicle publishes an issue comprising dozens of tables of data on college students, faculty members, administrators, and finances. Figures on enrollment, graduation rates, and tuition are there, too, offering some perhaps unexpected findings. It's a one-of-a-kind collection. You can take a look at the 2017-18 Almanac. Meanwhile, here's a sampling:

  • Minority-group members are underrepresented in many college executive positions. When they fill those roles, they tend to earn higher median salaries than their white counterparts.
  • The percentage of bachelor's degrees in the humanities has declined since 1987, but the percentage of associate degrees in the humanities has increased.
  • At more than 100 colleges, total published costs exceed $60,000.

Small colleges and financial stability.

A new study from the Council of Independent Colleges found that small and midsize private colleges appear to be financially secure. The report looked at 559 private institutions from the years 2001 to 2014, and found that 67 percent of institutions studied are at or above the threshold of financial viability. For more, take a look at the study here.

The talkers.

  • Maintaining the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, which allows undocumented students who were brought into the U.S. by their parents to enroll in college, helps improve the economy, and so Congress should protect those students, argues Janet Napolitano, president of the University of California system, in The Washington Post.
  • Students at the University of Virginia give firsthand accounts in The New York Times of what it was like to have their college town erupt into violence over the weekend.
  • Right-leaning media are quick to point out violations of free-speach, until progressive views or speech from people of color or other minorities groups is suppressed, writes Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, an assistant professor of African-American studies at Princeton University, in The New York Times.

What else is new on

Parents and college costs.

Information about the costs and earning benefits of pursuing a four-year degree seems to increase Hispanic parents' desire for their children to pursue such a degree, according to the results of a poll released today by Education Next. With no information about college costs or the increase in earnings that a degree can confer, 61 percent of Hispanic parents would have their children attend a four-year college. When they were informed of those factors, that number grew to 72 percent.

This dynamic contrasts with that of white parents without college degrees. Such information reduced, to 54 percent from 57 percent, the proportion of those who said they'd have their children attend a four-year program. —Dan Berrett

Comings and goings.

  • Dan Arp, dean of the College of Agricultural Sciences at Oregon State University, will retire as of next June.
  • Mark Zabriskie, dean of the College of Pharmacy at Oregon State, will step down and return to his faculty position.
  • Michael Teitell, a professor of pathology at the Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California at Los Angeles, was named director of UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer and president of the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation.
  • Susan Dackerman, a Getty scholar and consortium professor at the Getty Research Institution in Los Angeles, was appointed director of the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University.


From The Chronicle's Andrew Mytelka:

This week The Chronicle rolled out its annual Almanac issue, chock-full of facts and figures on all aspects of higher education. We’ve been publishing the Almanac for decades, but what if we included some of the things you’d see in a traditional almanac? For example:

“Farmer Chron went out to his barn last week and found that the spiders were already spinning their winter webs, which suggests a long, frigid academic year, especially at ag schools. Some of his firebirds were already starting to fly south, suggesting that tenure jobs will again go a-wanting, with grad students, postdocs, and adjuncts forced to attend multiple meetings in Southern states to land temporary gigs. But he reports a bumper crop of swine, which he says heralds a boom in academic pork, especially in ways that will benefit presidents, chancellors, trustees, and other top brass accustomed to living high off the hog."

“Farmer Chron also says that, despite his best efforts to drain the swamp at the low end of his property, rising water levels from global warming and top-down scientific obfuscation got in his way, messing up the tide tables we published last year. He says he'll be planting cranberries instead of corn and will try to get them in the ground early. This year’s corn crop did poorly and was mostly taken by rabbits (see this recommended recipe). Next week’s solar eclipse is likely to stunt the growth of his hay crop, but by only three-thousandths of 1 percent.”

What would you like to see in the Almanac? Good suggestions may end up in a future Briefing — or the 2018-19 Almanac.

—Fernanda and Adam

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

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