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Inside Higher Ed: This Year, King Couldn’t Give a King Day Speech

Inside Higher Ed: This Year, King Couldn’t Give a King Day Speech

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Inside Higher Ed: This Year, King Couldn’t Give a King Day Speech

Read This Year, King Couldn’t Give a King Day Speech by Walter Kimbrough, from Inside Higher Ed, January 25, 2021.

I am and have been a big fan of Walter Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University in New Orleans. I’ve heard him speak on a couple of occasions and have always appreciated his candor and frankness. Recently, he penned an op-ed for Inside Higher Ed on how he had to decline to give a Martin Luther King, Jr. Day speech for a government agency under the previous president.

I said no because a governmental agency invited me. They sent me a speaker certification form, which reminded me that then-President Trump passed last fall an Executive Order on Combating Race and Sex Stereotyping. I had never thought I would be confronted with it. The order prevents speakers from addressing what they call “divisive concepts,” as well as race stereotyping and scapegoating.

by Walter Kimbrough, from Inside Higher Ed, January 25, 2021.

I believe there is a certain level of irony to invite a national speaker to speak about Dr. King’s impact on the United States without addressing divisive concepts. King was known to address divisive concepts during most of his life!

But Kimbrough brings up a good point I believe all of us must confront: with a new administration, what is the role of higher education to work towards King’s beloved country imagery? What are the tough conversations around race, class, and other identities that our institutions must engage in?

While, philosophically, higher education will better align with the Biden administration, we need to practice being more like King rather than simply offering statements that he once made. Yes, a level of risk is involved and a degree of courage is required, as well as a willingness to break some of the norms of higher education. But if we believe what we wrote in our flowery statements after the death of George Floyd, we must start practicing with our actions.

I never imagined I would decline giving a King Day speech because a presidential executive order would potentially limit what I could discuss related to race. Anyone who has read King’s work extensively knows he challenged people in ways that made them uncomfortable, so uncomfortable it got him killed. Now that the order has been rescinded, we must work to build an America where we live in such a way that a King Day speech won’t be censored. We must create a beloved community willing to wrestle with tough issues.

by Walter Kimbrough, from Inside Higher Ed, January 25, 2021.

Kimbrough doesn’t offer answers to these questions, but I believe it is a challenge we must address, quickly, during this current presidential administration. As we have seen in the most recent history, there are very real attempts to avoid speaking truth to power around the fight for equity and inclusion for all.

Continue reading This Year, King Couldn’t Give a King Day Speech by Walter Kimbrough, from Inside Higher Ed, January 25, 2021.


Inside Higher Ed: ‘Illusion of Inclusion’

Read ‘Illusion of Inclusion’ by Colleen Flaherty, from Inside Higher Ed, January 6, 2021.

Related to Kimbrough’s op-ed, Colleen Flaherty in Illusion of Inclusion addresses the disconnect between the espoused institutional values of equity and inclusion and what people are actually experiencing within the community.

Using data from the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE) at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, the analysis of higher education faculty show differences of experiences based on faculty race and ethnicity.

White faculty members are much more likely to agree (73 percent) that there is visible leadership support and promotion of diversity on their campus than are Black professors (55 percent). Thirty-one percent of Black professors disagree with the statement entirely, based on data from COACHE’s ongoing surveys of faculty job satisfaction across many colleges and universities.

…While 78 percent of white professors agree that their departments are committed, just 58 percent of Black faculty members feel that way. Twenty-eight percent of Black professors disagree that their departmental colleagues are committed to these goals.

…Asked about fit, faculty members’ perceptions of how they fit in with their department varied by race. Sixty-nine percent of white professors said they “fit” or belonged, followed by 67 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander professors. Among all other groups, this share was 62 percent. Twenty-three percent of Latinx and “other” ethnic group professors, in particular, said they were dissatisfied with how they fit in — or didn’t.

by Colleen Flaherty, from Inside Higher Ed, January 6, 2021

One way to combat the perpetuation of a narrative about why POC leave an institution, COACHE has instead looked at what the the data says about the most privileged identities:

Kiernan Mathews, executive director and principal investigator at COACHE, said that while the collaborative has been doing equity work for more than 15 years, it has historically been complicit in a “deficit narrative” regarding how faculty members of color, as well as women in the sciences, are “typically less satisfied, less engaged in the things we prefer to count, more likely to leave.”

COACHE now encourages partner institutions to “flip that narrative,” focusing on the privilege enjoyed by white faculty members rather than “what’s wrong” with nonwhite professors, Mathews said.

by Colleen Flaherty, from Inside Higher Ed, January 6, 2021

Continue reading ‘Illusion of Inclusion’ by Colleen Flaherty, from Inside Higher Ed, January 6, 2021.


Lumina Foundation Podcast: Higher ed faces racial equity, affordability challenges this year—but there’s reason for optimism, too

Watch “Higher ed faces racial equity, affordability challenges this year—but there’s reason for optimism, too” by the Lumina Foundation Podcast, January 12, 2021.

Watch or listen to Episode 25 of the Lumina Foundation Podcast: Our guests on the 25th installment of the Lumina Foundation podcast “Today’s Students/Tomorrow’s Talent” looked at both the challenges of the past year and the opportunity in the months ahead. Washington Post higher education reporter Danielle Douglas-Gabriel and Jesse O’Connell, Lumina Foundation strategy director for federal policy, joined Dr. Katherine Wheatle, Lumina strategy officer for federal policy and equity, and me for a discussion of federal policy. Amanda DeLaRosa, Lumina strategy officer for state policy, was our guest to talk about her area of expertise.

One part that struck me, at minute 5:30 is how higher education and its policy-makers don’t do a great job talking about who today’s college student is. Jesse O’Connell continues:

“…Because so much of this was the coverage of the residential campus experience, which we know is sort of around a fifth of all college students are in residential experiences full-time. Yet this is what we saw the coverage of…”

I believe that all of us should look at how some colleges, and their so-called ‘required’ programming, were able to demonstrate a priority compared to other colleges, including community colleges, struggled to meet the basic needs of their students and their communities – including access to testing, funding, etc.

At minute 9:00, Danielle Douglas-Gabriel describes how communication issues were forefront for her.

“Douglas-Gabriel said she was disheartened by the relative lack of communication she saw on many college campuses with regard to COVID. A bright spot was at community colleges, where leaders “did a particularly good job … in being able to pivot in a way that was respectful to the education and health needs of the population that they serve as well as the people who work there.”

The podcast is an hour-long, so it is certainly a commitment, but well worth a listen in the background during the day.

Continue watching “Higher ed faces racial equity, affordability challenges this year—but there’s reason for optimism, too”by the Lumina Foundation Podcast, January 12, 2021.


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