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Op-ed submitted to the New York Times on behalf of five New Orleans-area private college presidents

Op-ed submitted to the New York Times on behalf of five New Orleans...

November 15, 2005

by Scott Cowen, president, Tulane University; Anthony J. De Conciliis, C.S.C., president, Our Lady of Holy Cross College; Norman C. Francis, president, Xavier University; Marvalene Hughes, president, Dillard University; Kevin Wildes, S.J., president, Loyola University New Orleans

The recovery of New Orleans is tied inextricably to the recovery of this wounded city’s colleges and universities. Along with the rest of the city, our colleges have faced significant trauma in the wake of Katrina. Like other New Orleans enterprises, we had to cease operations here, and face an uncertain future. In the last two weeks, Xavier University has laid off more than half of its faculty and staff members, and Dillard University has let go nearly 59 percent of its employees. Earlier, Tulane University laid off 243 support workers and hundreds of part-time instructors and other employees. With each passing day, the long-term picture for our institutions grows more uncertain.

In the proposed hurricane relief package for New Orleans, which Congress may begin debating as early as next week, very little is reserved for higher education – and nearly all of that would go to forgive federal student aid our students had received before Katrina hit. While that addresses a real need, it misses the larger picture of higher education’s central importance to New Orleans’ economic development, and to the cultural and intellectual richness of one of America’s greatest cities. Our colleges and universities must be essential players in rebuilding a vibrant and self-sufficient economy. With the proper tools, we can create a city that is stronger than the one Katrina so brutally swept away.

It is impossible to imagine a revived, thriving New Orleans without revitalized centers of higher education. It is also impossible to overestimate the essential role our institutions play in the economic fabric of the city. Simply put, as go our colleges and universities, so goes the city.

We pump more than $3 billion annually into the local economy. Tulane University is the largest single private employer in New Orleans. Xavier University hosts the only pharmacy school in the region, producing the vast majority of the region’s pharmacists and African-American scientists. Our Lady of Holy Cross College is one of the city’s largest providers of K-12 teachers and is noted for the quality of its nursing students. Loyola University’s law school provides free legal services to the indigent. Dillard University has a one-of-a-kind program that trains future minority business leaders to work with the Asian marketplace.

The challenges we have faced are formidable. As institutions in exile, we have had to salvage what we could, maintain operations, and respond to the needs of the multitude of students who are a part of us – even if not physically with us. All the colleges in New Orleans had to shepherd 70,000 students out of the city and – with the generous support of fellow colleges and universities – relocate them into alternate educational programs in the space of days. Fifteen thousand college employees have also dispersed. Our hospitals, which are closed now, operated during the extreme duress of the storm, while we packed up what was left of our administration to open satellite campuses in other parishes or states.

In all of this, we have received more than a little help from our friends. But colleges and universities cannot do it alone.

We propose is a bold economic plan that allows us to sustain our vital resources – our faculty, students, and employees – so that they, in turn, can be part of the rebuilding of the economic, educational, and cultural life of New Orleans:

  • Colleges must rebuild. We need immediate help to rebuild labs and classrooms, and restore our communications systems, so that we can be fully operational by the next semester. Families need to know that safe and state-of-the-art facilities will be there, and that students will be receiving a world-class education in a secure and thriving environment. But right now, educational nonprofits have to go through a mountain of bureaucratic red tape with the Small Business Administration in order to become fully eligible for FEMA funds, under a law passed five years ago. As some of the region’s largest employers, we believe this policy is penny wise and pound foolish, and ask for it to be repealed in the interest of funding our recovery.
     
  • Faculty and staffs need to be retained. Faculty need to know that they have a place to return to, will have help restarting their lives from scratch, and that we can be counted on to make payroll. The nurses and doctors in our medical centers, our engineers, and our communications specialists need the same assurances, so that they will return to New Orleans. They will not only serve our students, but lend their expertise to the community as well. They need economic incentives to return.
     
  • Families and students need to be encouraged to return through scholarship funds. Our greatest resource is the energy, vitality, and resources our students bring to our campuses, and to the region. However, many may now be disinclined to return to area in the process of recovery. We are convinced that if you entice students with scholarship funds, and promise them both a place at one of our institutions as well as a role in that recovery, they will commit to New Orleans – not just for their own education, but also to help rebuild our city.

 

There is urgency to our request. Right now, talented students and their parents are deciding where to apply for college next year. Our displaced faculty and staff are looking for a place to call home. Our 75,000 currently enrolled, displaced students are seeking ways to keep their college dreams alive. We want each of these groups to find their home in New Orleans. We need their talents, their energy, and their expertise if we are to once again become the vibrant, engaging, and prosperous city New Orleans has always been.

 

With an investment of several billion dollars – the equivalent of what our institutions pour back into the region every year or two – our colleges and students could be sustained through this difficult time and well into the future. In turn, that investment would ultimately return to New Orleans in the jobs our institutions would provide, and the increased human, social, and economic contributions we would make. A city that has thrived on the strength of its colleges and universities must place them at the center of its revival.


Submitted to the New York Times on November 15, 2005.

 

by Scott Cowen, president, Tulane University; Anthony J. De Conciliis, C.S.C., president, Our Lady of Holy Cross College; Norman C. Francis, president, Xavier University; Marvalene Hughes, president, Dillard University; Kevin Wildes, S.J., president, Loyola University New Orleans

The recovery of New Orleans is tied inextricably to the recovery of this wounded city’s colleges and universities. Along with the rest of the city, our colleges have faced significant trauma in the wake of Katrina. Like other New Orleans enterprises, we had to cease operations here, and face an uncertain future. In the last two weeks, Xavier University has laid off more than half of its faculty and staff members, and Dillard University has let go nearly 59 percent of its employees. Earlier, Tulane University laid off 243 support workers and hundreds of part-time instructors and other employees. With each passing day, the long-term picture for our institutions grows more uncertain.

In the proposed hurricane relief package for New Orleans, which Congress may begin debating as early as next week, very little is reserved for higher education – and nearly all of that would go to forgive federal student aid our students had received before Katrina hit. While that addresses a real need, it misses the larger picture of higher education’s central importance to New Orleans’ economic development, and to the cultural and intellectual richness of one of America’s greatest cities. Our colleges and universities must be essential players in rebuilding a vibrant and self-sufficient economy. With the proper tools, we can create a city that is stronger than the one Katrina so brutally swept away.

It is impossible to imagine a revived, thriving New Orleans without revitalized centers of higher education. It is also impossible to overestimate the essential role our institutions play in the economic fabric of the city. Simply put, as go our colleges and universities, so goes the city.

We pump more than $3 billion annually into the local economy. Tulane University is the largest single private employer in New Orleans. Xavier University hosts the only pharmacy school in the region, producing the vast majority of the region’s pharmacists and African-American scientists. Our Lady of Holy Cross College is one of the city’s largest providers of K-12 teachers and is noted for the quality of its nursing students. Loyola University’s law school provides free legal services to the indigent. Dillard University has a one-of-a-kind program that trains future minority business leaders to work with the Asian marketplace.

The challenges we have faced are formidable. As institutions in exile, we have had to salvage what we could, maintain operations, and respond to the needs of the multitude of students who are a part of us – even if not physically with us. All the colleges in New Orleans had to shepherd 70,000 students out of the city and – with the generous support of fellow colleges and universities – relocate them into alternate educational programs in the space of days. Fifteen thousand college employees have also dispersed. Our hospitals, which are closed now, operated during the extreme duress of the storm, while we packed up what was left of our administration to open satellite campuses in other parishes or states.

In all of this, we have received more than a little help from our friends. But colleges and universities cannot do it alone.

We propose is a bold economic plan that allows us to sustain our vital resources – our faculty, students, and employees – so that they, in turn, can be part of the rebuilding of the economic, educational, and cultural life of New Orleans:

  • Colleges must rebuild. We need immediate help to rebuild labs and classrooms, and restore our communications systems, so that we can be fully operational by the next semester. Families need to know that safe and state-of-the-art facilities will be there, and that students will be receiving a world-class education in a secure and thriving environment. But right now, educational nonprofits have to go through a mountain of bureaucratic red tape with the Small Business Administration in order to become fully eligible for FEMA funds, under a law passed five years ago. As some of the region’s largest employers, we believe this policy is penny wise and pound foolish, and ask for it to be repealed in the interest of funding our recovery.
     
  • Faculty and staffs need to be retained. Faculty need to know that they have a place to return to, will have help restarting their lives from scratch, and that we can be counted on to make payroll. The nurses and doctors in our medical centers, our engineers, and our communications specialists need the same assurances, so that they will return to New Orleans. They will not only serve our students, but lend their expertise to the community as well. They need economic incentives to return.
     
  • Families and students need to be encouraged to return through scholarship funds. Our greatest resource is the energy, vitality, and resources our students bring to our campuses, and to the region. However, many may now be disinclined to return to area in the process of recovery. We are convinced that if you entice students with scholarship funds, and promise them both a place at one of our institutions as well as a role in that recovery, they will commit to New Orleans – not just for their own education, but also to help rebuild our city.

 

There is urgency to our request. Right now, talented students and their parents are deciding where to apply for college next year. Our displaced faculty and staff are looking for a place to call home. Our 75,000 currently enrolled, displaced students are seeking ways to keep their college dreams alive. We want each of these groups to find their home in New Orleans. We need their talents, their energy, and their expertise if we are to once again become the vibrant, engaging, and prosperous city New Orleans has always been.

 

With an investment of several billion dollars – the equivalent of what our institutions pour back into the region every year or two – our colleges and students could be sustained through this difficult time and well into the future. In turn, that investment would ultimately return to New Orleans in the jobs our institutions would provide, and the increased human, social, and economic contributions we would make. A city that has thrived on the strength of its colleges and universities must place them at the center of its revival.


Submitted to the New York Times on November 15, 2005.

 

November 15, 2005

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Letter to the Dallas Morning News from NAICU and the American Association of Community Colleges

Letter to the Dallas Morning News from NAICU and the American Assoc...

October 28, 2005

Letters to the Editor
Dallas Morning News

Re: "Getting American Ready," October 28

 

To the Editor:

Contrary to your editorial ("Getting America Ready," October 28), Congress must protect the integrity provisions that govern the student aid program and distance learning programs at colleges and universities so that the Higher Education Act best serves students and the national interest in the global marketplace. These provisions, which include those that affect institutions that teach a majority of their students or provide a majority of their courses at a distance, were put in place in 1993 to stem the tide of unscrupulous correspondence and "store-front" education providers offering inadequate training and education to students, and bilking the student aid programs. Too often, unsuspecting students were left with meaningless certificates and mounds of loan debt.

Responding to a rash of lawsuits, U.S. Department of Education investigations, and SEC inquiries over the past year, the Education Department's inspector general warned policymakers in March to proceed cautiously before eliminating outright the integrity provisions. This is not the route the House has decided to follow in its higher education legislation.

It is already possible under current law for legitimate institutions to be waived by the Education Department from distance education requirements. They have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are able to operate within the student aid program judiciously and effectively even without the provisions in place, as has been done in the department's education demonstration project.

However, gutting the student aid safeguards that have saved taxpayers billions of dollars and protected students from fly-by-night operators over the past decade is nothing short of irresponsible and dangerous. The programs that have made higher education possible for millions of Americans are too vital to our nation's future to be put at such grave risk.

There is no doubt that distance education will continue to be an important facet of higher education learning. In one way or another, online teaching has been adopted as an important learning tool at most of our institutions, and colleges and universities of all types and size recognize the value it holds to many students. The downside of distance learning is that its flexibility and convenience make it easy for students to be used by con men as nothing more than a conduit for profits received in the form of federal student aid.

Sincerely,

George R. Boggs, President and CEO
American Association of Community Colleges

David L. Warren, President,
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Letters to the Editor
Dallas Morning News

Re: "Getting American Ready," October 28

 

To the Editor:

Contrary to your editorial ("Getting America Ready," October 28), Congress must protect the integrity provisions that govern the student aid program and distance learning programs at colleges and universities so that the Higher Education Act best serves students and the national interest in the global marketplace. These provisions, which include those that affect institutions that teach a majority of their students or provide a majority of their courses at a distance, were put in place in 1993 to stem the tide of unscrupulous correspondence and "store-front" education providers offering inadequate training and education to students, and bilking the student aid programs. Too often, unsuspecting students were left with meaningless certificates and mounds of loan debt.

Responding to a rash of lawsuits, U.S. Department of Education investigations, and SEC inquiries over the past year, the Education Department's inspector general warned policymakers in March to proceed cautiously before eliminating outright the integrity provisions. This is not the route the House has decided to follow in its higher education legislation.

It is already possible under current law for legitimate institutions to be waived by the Education Department from distance education requirements. They have the opportunity to demonstrate that they are able to operate within the student aid program judiciously and effectively even without the provisions in place, as has been done in the department's education demonstration project.

However, gutting the student aid safeguards that have saved taxpayers billions of dollars and protected students from fly-by-night operators over the past decade is nothing short of irresponsible and dangerous. The programs that have made higher education possible for millions of Americans are too vital to our nation's future to be put at such grave risk.

There is no doubt that distance education will continue to be an important facet of higher education learning. In one way or another, online teaching has been adopted as an important learning tool at most of our institutions, and colleges and universities of all types and size recognize the value it holds to many students. The downside of distance learning is that its flexibility and convenience make it easy for students to be used by con men as nothing more than a conduit for profits received in the form of federal student aid.

Sincerely,

George R. Boggs, President and CEO
American Association of Community Colleges

David L. Warren, President,
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

October 28, 2005

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Letter to the New York Times

Letter to the New York Times

September 26, 2005

Letters to the Editor
New York Times

Re: Column, "The Education Gap," September 26

To the Editor:

David Brooks misses the single largest contributing factor to the education gap between low-income students and their high-income peers, when he says that “Given the rising flow of aid money, financial barriers are not the main issue” (“The Education Gap,” column, Sept. 26). According to the congressionally created Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, millions of academically prepared students from low-income and working families will be shut out of college over the next 10 years unless the federal government and states reinvest in their need-based student aid programs. The committee found that finances are a huge barrier, even for students from low-income families who are among the most qualified to attend four-year colleges.

Federal funding for Pell Grants and other need-based aid has virtually stagnated for five years. The budget outlook for student aid—even before the unexpected spending on hurricane relief—is projected to only worsen over the next five years. Despite significant funding increases in the late ’90s, the value of the Pell Grant—the cornerstone program for needy students—has not kept up with the Consumer Price Index over the past 25 years.

Our colleges and universities are doing their part to overcome the financial barriers faced by needy students. Twenty years ago, students at private colleges and universities received equal amounts of grant aid from the federal government and from institutions themselves. Today, students receive more than four times as much grant aid from private colleges as from the government—$10.2 billion vs. $2.4 billion. Over the last decade, private institutions have increased their institutional aid budgets at nearly twice the rate of tuition increases—142 percent vs. 72 percent.

Despite their commitment, the efforts of these colleges will not be enough to ensure access for the coming influx of academically qualified but needy students. Equal educational opportunity, and the economic strength and social fabric of our nation, will largely rest on whether Congress and the administration change course and reinvest in student financial aid. For the sake of aspiring students and America’s future prosperity, I hope they do.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren, President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

 

Letters to the Editor
New York Times

Re: Column, "The Education Gap," September 26

To the Editor:

David Brooks misses the single largest contributing factor to the education gap between low-income students and their high-income peers, when he says that “Given the rising flow of aid money, financial barriers are not the main issue” (“The Education Gap,” column, Sept. 26). According to the congressionally created Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, millions of academically prepared students from low-income and working families will be shut out of college over the next 10 years unless the federal government and states reinvest in their need-based student aid programs. The committee found that finances are a huge barrier, even for students from low-income families who are among the most qualified to attend four-year colleges.

Federal funding for Pell Grants and other need-based aid has virtually stagnated for five years. The budget outlook for student aid—even before the unexpected spending on hurricane relief—is projected to only worsen over the next five years. Despite significant funding increases in the late ’90s, the value of the Pell Grant—the cornerstone program for needy students—has not kept up with the Consumer Price Index over the past 25 years.

Our colleges and universities are doing their part to overcome the financial barriers faced by needy students. Twenty years ago, students at private colleges and universities received equal amounts of grant aid from the federal government and from institutions themselves. Today, students receive more than four times as much grant aid from private colleges as from the government—$10.2 billion vs. $2.4 billion. Over the last decade, private institutions have increased their institutional aid budgets at nearly twice the rate of tuition increases—142 percent vs. 72 percent.

Despite their commitment, the efforts of these colleges will not be enough to ensure access for the coming influx of academically qualified but needy students. Equal educational opportunity, and the economic strength and social fabric of our nation, will largely rest on whether Congress and the administration change course and reinvest in student financial aid. For the sake of aspiring students and America’s future prosperity, I hope they do.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren, President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

 

September 26, 2005

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Letter to the Boston Globe

Letter to the Boston Globe

August 16, 2005

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

 

To the Editor:

Your article got it wrong on why colleges are worked up about Congress’s proposal on college cost (“U.S. bid to keep tabs on tuition irks colleges,” Aug. 16).

The proposal has little to do with ranking colleges in a public image building contest. It has everything to do with de facto price controls.

Congress would insert itself into the middle of each college’s pricing decisions, stripping boards of trustees at private and public institutions of their independence and responsibilities to students. At thousands of colleges, Congress and the U.S. Department at Education would walk into a trustees meeting and take permanent seats at the table.

The proposal would require that colleges whose prices exceed a federally imposed formula to provide a detailed report to the U.S. Secretary of Education, create a “Quality-Efficiency Task Force,” develop a management plan, develop an action plan, and face the threat of being placed on “affordability alert status” and go under audit review by the U.S. Inspector General.

Colleges will face a choice between two equally onerous options. The first is keeping tuition increases at federally prescribed levels and complying with federal price controls, regardless of the impact on institutional aid budgets for low- and middle-income families and the quality of the educational experience. The second is to succumb to federal oversight.

Our institutions are already required to report comprehensive data on price, student aid, and countless other indicators to the U.S. Department of Education. Before imposing further unfunded mandates on college, Congress needs to work with ED to ensure that this consumer information is effectively packaged and widely publicized. We support this goal.

The needs of students and the dynamics of the higher education marketplace, not federal intrusion into campus management decisions, are what should drive the decisions of college trustees.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
 

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

 

To the Editor:

Your article got it wrong on why colleges are worked up about Congress’s proposal on college cost (“U.S. bid to keep tabs on tuition irks colleges,” Aug. 16).

The proposal has little to do with ranking colleges in a public image building contest. It has everything to do with de facto price controls.

Congress would insert itself into the middle of each college’s pricing decisions, stripping boards of trustees at private and public institutions of their independence and responsibilities to students. At thousands of colleges, Congress and the U.S. Department at Education would walk into a trustees meeting and take permanent seats at the table.

The proposal would require that colleges whose prices exceed a federally imposed formula to provide a detailed report to the U.S. Secretary of Education, create a “Quality-Efficiency Task Force,” develop a management plan, develop an action plan, and face the threat of being placed on “affordability alert status” and go under audit review by the U.S. Inspector General.

Colleges will face a choice between two equally onerous options. The first is keeping tuition increases at federally prescribed levels and complying with federal price controls, regardless of the impact on institutional aid budgets for low- and middle-income families and the quality of the educational experience. The second is to succumb to federal oversight.

Our institutions are already required to report comprehensive data on price, student aid, and countless other indicators to the U.S. Department of Education. Before imposing further unfunded mandates on college, Congress needs to work with ED to ensure that this consumer information is effectively packaged and widely publicized. We support this goal.

The needs of students and the dynamics of the higher education marketplace, not federal intrusion into campus management decisions, are what should drive the decisions of college trustees.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
 

August 16, 2005

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Letter to the Boston Globe

Letter to the Boston Globe

February 10, 2005

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

To the Editor:

Jeff Jacoby would not pass a class in introductory higher education economics or 20th-century American history (“Making college affordable,” February 10).

Every piece of empirical evidence that exists—from the U.S. Department of Education, independent consultants, and higher education economists—debunks the urban legend that increases in federal student aid drive up college tuition. In fact, a study by Coopers and Lybrand found that as the level of Pell Grant funding increased, the rate of tuition increases slowed.

The financial assistance that private colleges give students through institutional aid programs is massive. In 2002-03, students at private colleges (which enroll the same percentage of Pell Grant recipients as public four-year institutions) received more than four times as much grant aid--$11 billion—from their institutions as from the federal government.

These institutional aid budgets grew more than twice as fast as tuition in the past decade, (197 percent to 86 percent, respectively), helping to control increases in student out-of-pocket costs.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study showed that the average amount that full-time undergraduates at private institutions paid in tuition after receiving grants did not increase from 1992 to 1999, after adjusting for inflation. In fact, it decreased by $100.

The groundbreaking G.I. Bill and Higher Education Act have proven the power of federal student aid has to promote college opportunity, social mobility, and the nation’s economic development. In the past 60 years, millions of Americans from all walks of life have earned college degrees because of the opportunities provided by the federal investment in student aid.

An investment in student aid is an investment in the improvement of our society. With each college graduate we see a society less burdened by crime, welfare, and poverty. An investment in students is an investment in the solution to those problems for all of us.

Our knowledge-based economy demands more college graduates. Our nation’s security rests on scientific and technological innovation. The number of low-income college-age students is beginning to skyrocket. Our nation cannot afford to return to the days when family income determined where, and if, you went to college. The moral and social fabric of America is strengthened when all students have equal opportunity to attend the institution that best serves their needs.

More—not less—support of federal student aid by our nation’s policymakers and opinion leaders will keep America strong and healthy.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

Letters to the Editor
Boston Globe

To the Editor:

Jeff Jacoby would not pass a class in introductory higher education economics or 20th-century American history (“Making college affordable,” February 10).

Every piece of empirical evidence that exists—from the U.S. Department of Education, independent consultants, and higher education economists—debunks the urban legend that increases in federal student aid drive up college tuition. In fact, a study by Coopers and Lybrand found that as the level of Pell Grant funding increased, the rate of tuition increases slowed.

The financial assistance that private colleges give students through institutional aid programs is massive. In 2002-03, students at private colleges (which enroll the same percentage of Pell Grant recipients as public four-year institutions) received more than four times as much grant aid--$11 billion—from their institutions as from the federal government.

These institutional aid budgets grew more than twice as fast as tuition in the past decade, (197 percent to 86 percent, respectively), helping to control increases in student out-of-pocket costs.

A recent U.S. Department of Education study showed that the average amount that full-time undergraduates at private institutions paid in tuition after receiving grants did not increase from 1992 to 1999, after adjusting for inflation. In fact, it decreased by $100.

The groundbreaking G.I. Bill and Higher Education Act have proven the power of federal student aid has to promote college opportunity, social mobility, and the nation’s economic development. In the past 60 years, millions of Americans from all walks of life have earned college degrees because of the opportunities provided by the federal investment in student aid.

An investment in student aid is an investment in the improvement of our society. With each college graduate we see a society less burdened by crime, welfare, and poverty. An investment in students is an investment in the solution to those problems for all of us.

Our knowledge-based economy demands more college graduates. Our nation’s security rests on scientific and technological innovation. The number of low-income college-age students is beginning to skyrocket. Our nation cannot afford to return to the days when family income determined where, and if, you went to college. The moral and social fabric of America is strengthened when all students have equal opportunity to attend the institution that best serves their needs.

More—not less—support of federal student aid by our nation’s policymakers and opinion leaders will keep America strong and healthy.

Sincerely,

David L. Warren
President
National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities

February 10, 2005

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About the items posted on the NAICU site: News items, features, and opinion pieces posted on this site from sources outside NAICU do not necessarily reflect the position of the association or its members. Rather, this content reflects the diversity of issues and views that are shaping American higher education.

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