Your Daily Briefing, a New Feature for Chronicle Individual Subscribers

June 20, 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, June 20. Today college presidents are surveyed on their biggest struggles, students are surveyed on their needs for online courses, and The Chronicle's archives help you brush up on gerrymandering.

What's in a college president?

The 2017 edition of the American College President Study was released this morning. The survey, by the American Council on Education, is conducted every five years. The latest version is based on responses from more than 3,600 college leaders across the country. Here are a few of the key findings:

  • 83 percent of presidents are white, and 70 percent are male.
  • Minorities represent 17 percent of college leaders, up from 13 percent in 2011.
  • 61 percent of presidents said not having enough money for their institution was among their greatest frustrations.
  • 57 percent of presidents listed faculty members as among the three internal groups that least understood institutional challenges.

Read more about the survey and its implications in this article by our Jack Stripling.

Online education and competition.

When students take online courses, they expect quick answers to questions like whether credits will transfer or if financial aid is available. They also want accessibility, like being able to take online courses with mobile phones. Those findings and many others appear in a report released on Tuesday, “Online College Students: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences." But students' expectations may also come at an academic price. Our Goldie Blumenstyk has more on the report, which is based on a wide-ranging survey, and about how colleges are competing in this new marketplace.

Quick hits.

  • In a working paper, a pair of professors from Columbia and Harvard study the effects of text-message alerts to parents about students' GPAs.
  • Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who recently returned to the United States in a coma after being imprisoned in North Korea for more than a year, died on Monday.
  • The Department of Education released its guidance for year-round Pell Grants, which had been approved in the 2017 omnibus budget deal.

On gerrymandering.

The U.S. Supreme Court said on Monday it would hear a case on whether Wisconsin violated the Constitution with partisan gerrymandering in a Republican-drawn map of voting districts. The justices might want to brush up on the issue with our Shannon Najmabadi's interview with the math professor who wants to fight gerrymandering with geometry.

The Senate and free speech.

Today at 10 a.m., Eastern time, the U.S. Senate's Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing titled "Free Speech 101: The Assault on the First Amendment on College Campuses." If you can't make it to the Dirksen Senate Office Building, you can stream the hearing online here. Of course, we've written plenty about free speech on college campuses. Check out our Focus collection on how to deal with controversial speakers here.

The talkers.

  • Campus free-speech debates aren't about student protesters' violence, argues Thomas Healy in The Atlantic. Rather, they're about the pushback speakers get from students.
  • In only 15 congressional districts do half or more of adults have a college degree. The New York Times's The Upshot identifies all of the districts and explains why the proportion of college graduates may matter in today's closely watched election in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District.

Reconciliation on Canadian campuses.

Canadian institutions like the University of Saskatchewan are working on reconciliation for aboriginal or Native students. Colleges have established task forces in response to the reality that the campuses were created largely for white settlers. Canadian colleges have also consulted with aboriginal elders and tried to recruit more aboriginal faculty members. The New York Times looks into those reconciliation efforts. For a look at how Native American students in the United States are doing, see our Kelly Field's series.

Comings and goings.

  • Ruth J. Simmons, a former president of Smith College and Brown University, has been named interim president of Prairie View A&M University.
  • Alan Randolph Kluver, a communications professor at Texas A&M University at College Station, executive director of its Confucius Institute, and a global faculty ambassador for Asia there, was hired as dean of Oklahoma State University's School of Global Studies and Partnerships.
  • Jonathan Overpeck, a climate researcher who is director of the University of Arizona's Institute for the Environment, was appointed dean of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor's School for Environment and Sustainability.

**A paid message from American Student Assistance: Our Salt® program helps millions of students and alumni nationwide develop the skills and confidence to complete their higher education dreams.**


From The Chronicle's Andy Thomason:

Pat McCrory just can't get a university to hire him. The former North Carolina governor, who was narrowly defeated by a Democratic challenger in the 2016 election, said in a recent TV interview that he hadn't been invited to be a fellow at Harvard, nor could he land a post at Duke University. “Within 15 minutes of being on the campus, the students and professors objected,” said Mr. McCrory, who drew national prominence for North Carolina's "bathroom bill" law. Presumably it was the Republican's politics (he endorsed President Trump, for one thing) that riled people up.

But Mr. McCrory made another comment in the interview that suggests he might have dodged a bullet. "I hadn’t driven in four years," the former Charlotte mayor said of his post-gubernatorial driving abilities, adding that he is a "horrible driver." "Get away from my car if you see my car," he said. If the act of driving has proved a headache for Mr. McCrory, campus parking could send him over the edge. As our Don Troop wrote a few years ago, parking in academe has devolved into something straight out of Kafka.

—Fernanda and Adam

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

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