Women’s Colleges Report Applications Spike

Daily Hampshire Gazette: “Over the past several years, there has been a spike in the number of students applying to women’s colleges across the country … over the past five years, the total number of applications to Mount Holyoke College has jumped 23.6 percent, while Smith College has seen similar growth at around 25 percent, according to the colleges. However … highly selective colleges and universities have seen a general rise in applications in recent years … Contributing to Mount Holyoke’s success in this difficult moment are the sizable financial commitments the school has made — to financial aid packages, educational programming, and facilities. In addition to these attractions … there is something particular about the current moment that is contributing to the success of women’s colleges.”

“Many Mount Holyoke students are interested in social movements … and some of the most visible leaders of those movements — from #MeToo to climate activism — are women.” Other factors include “the emphasis colleges like Smith and Mount Holyoke have made in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM; the large networks of influential alumnae that they boast; and supportive environments on campus.”

“Hareem Khan, 19, said she had been impressed and inspired by the alumnae network of women in her home country of Pakistan. But the biggest reason for attending Mount Holyoke, she said, has to do with her identity as a woman of color. Almost a third of Mount Holyoke’s incoming student body are students of color from the United States, and 19 percent are international students. At Smith this past academic year, 32 percent of the student body were students of color and 14 percent were international students.”


Stress Test: Colleges Teach How To Fail

Associated Press: “Bentley University has plenty of success stories among its faculty and alumni. But one recent evening, the school invited students to hear about the failures. Speaking to a crowded auditorium, one professor recounted the time he sank a $21 million company. Another recalled failing her college statistics course. One graduate described his past struggles with drug addiction. Each story reinforced the same message: Even successful people sometimes fail … Bentley, a private business school near Boston, joins a growing number of U.S. colleges trying to ease students’ anxieties around failure and teach them to cope with it. On many campuses, it’s meant to combat climbing rates of stress, depression and other problems that have been blamed on reduced resilience or grit among younger generations.”

“The University of California, Los Angeles, offers ‘grit coaching.’ The University of Minnesota recently hosted a ‘resilience resource fair.’ Dozens of schools now provide ‘Adulting 101’ workshops covering topics from finance to romance. As part of that work, more schools are also striving to normalize failure and create an environment where students can take risks and learn from setbacks.”

“Stanford University encourages its students to celebrate their failures through song, poetry and other creative outlets at an annual event called ‘Stanford, I Screwed Up!’ Smith College in Massachusetts and the University of Central Arkansas have both issued students ‘certificates of failure’ as part of broader programs on the topic. Colorado State University invites students to take a pledge to embrace failure and persist through it … A 2018 survey by the American College Health Association found that 22% of college students were diagnosed with anxiety or treated for it over the past year, up from 10% a decade before. The rate for depression rose from 10% to 17% in the same span, the survey found.”


Candid Camera: Duke Student Records Campus Life

Duke Chronicle: “Imagine having a camera on your shoulder, recording all of your moments at Duke. Senior Jeffrey Wubbenhorst knows. Within his first two weeks on campus, Wubbenhorst had the inspiration to embark on an engineering project that is still following him today … Attached to Wubbenhorst’s backpack is a device—which his friend named Felix—that looks similar to a robotic Lego arm with a small GoPro camera affixed to it. The camera faces forward, capturing his everyday life, whether it’s exciting or mundane … Deciding what to record is arbitrary, he said, but he has noticed a recurring motif of free food. It’s fun to record life, just like people enjoy recording Snapchat stories, he noted.” He adds: “I also have some kind of understanding that life at Duke is not normal, and that not-normalcy should probably be preserved for posterity.”

“Building the device itself was not an easy process. Backpacks are not designed to have things stuck on the strap, so he explained that the biggest issue was figuring out how to keep the camera from shaking. After realizing PVC pipes moved too much, he turned to Legos. He said his first prototype was terrible, but the next was less terrible. It was a process of trying things out, stuff breaking and taking footage, he said. Whichever configuration gave the least shaky video was the final model he decided to use.”

“Wubbenhorst said he has been able to see himself grow up and change through the videos and through his interactions with the camera … He is now glad he continued it because it has helped him be recognized across campus and allowed him to meet more people, since the camera is a good conversation starter … Wubbenhorst is not sure if he will keep carrying the device around with him after he graduates, and it will likely depend on if his employer will allow it. However, he will continue to bring the camera for personal enjoyment.”


Live & Learn: U Miami Re-imagines its Dorms

Miami Today: ‘When the University of Miami administration decided to replace its 50-year-old dorms with two sleek new clusters of mixed-use buildings, the focus changed. ‘This isn’t just housing; it’s an extension of the learning environment,’ said Jim Smart, UM’s executive director of Housing and Residential Life. Buildings in each cluster feature housing on the upper floors and classroom, office, recreational, study and meeting space on the lower floors.” Mr. Smart added: We’ve learned a lot over 50 years. We used to think of dorms as places just to sleep and study, but now we know a lot of learning, both formal and informal, goes on there. It’s really an extension of the classroom.”

“The first phase, which has no official name yet but is informally called Lakeside Village, comprises 12 acres with 25 interconnected buildings and a multitude of outdoor spaces including a grand courtyard, study spots, recreational spaces and outdoor terraces. Each of the seven-story main buildings, designed by Arquitectonica, will have five floors of student housing for 1,115 sophomores, juniors and seniors, with the ground floor and mezzanine level of the main structure serving as event and university office spaces … The second phase, Centennial Village, (for freshmen) begins with the demolition of Stanford Residential College and Hecht Residential College, both built in the late 1960s.”

“The freshman spaces were designed to draw students out of their rooms and encourage them to interact with others. ‘It’s better than a home away from home, Mr. Smart said. ‘The fact that staff and faculty live there, too, increases their interaction. We’ve added a lot of spaces that will make adjusting to college easier. We know that as they grow up more, they want more autonomy.” The university’s goals in transforming its residential component are to ‘be in a position to house as many people on campus as want to be here,’ Mr. Smart said.“We want them to have a positive experience during the course of their stay with us’.”


Robots Boost Breakfast at GMU

The Washington Post: “In the first days after a fleet of 25 delivery robots descended on George Mason University’s campus in January, school officials could only speculate about the machines’ long-term impact. The cooler-size robots from the Bay Area start-up Starship Technologies — which were designed to deliver food on demand across campus — appeared to elicit curious glances and numerous photos but not much else.” However: “During the first day of deliveries at GMU, the machines were flooded by so many dinner orders that school officials had to pull the plug, shutting off orders so that robots weren’t operating late into the night, far behind schedule. Each robot is opened using a delivery code and can carry as much as 20 pounds — the equivalent of about three shopping bags of goods, Starship Technologies said.”

“Two months later, breakfast has replaced dinner as the go-to meal for robot delivery. The question is why … During the morning hours, restaurant experts say, there is generally more emphasis on speed than any other part of the day. Combine college students’ love of food delivery with chaotic morning routines, and perhaps you have a perfect recipe for robots … Starship Technologies says GMU is the first campus in the country to incorporate robots into its student dining plan … Starship Technologies also announced Monday that a new fleet of more than 30 robots is launching today at Northern Arizona University’s Flagstaff campus.”


Lehigh Launches ‘Plan for Greek Excellence’

ABC:”Lehigh University isn’t the only school where alcohol-fueled parties at frat houses is a problem, but they are now going to significant lengths to stem it. Ricardo Hall, the University’s Provost for Student Affairs says the ‘Plan for Greek Excellence’ is designed to reconstruct the school’s party-centric fraternity and sorority culture into what it was intended to foster. ‘Academic achievement, service to the community, and leadership development. Those three things are inherent in Greek life, that’s the men and the women,’ said Hall.”

“It’s a 10-point plan, but the items that truly stick out include an indefinite ban on hard liquor at any Greek events. It also mandates live-in graduate assistants who are trained in crisis response and helping keep the frat houses compliant with the new rules. Over the past two years, dozens of Lehigh students have been cited for underage drinking and several Greek organizations have either been dissolved or sanctioned for alleged alcohol policy abuse.”

“School officials can’t say for sure this is a ‘first of its kind’ policy, but they do say they believe the Greek Life Initiative here at Lehigh will eventually become the new standard for Greek life at schools across the country.”


Green Mountain Question: Why UVM and not UVT?

Burlington Free Press: “The mystery of why the University of Vermont’s name is abbreviated to UVM and not UVT is due to history instead of whimsy. The university was founded way back in 1791, according to UVM’s website. It’s the fifth oldest university in New England after Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth and Brown. University of Vermont’s founders chose to call the school Universitas Viridis Montis, the “University of the Green Mountains” in Latin. Vermont, accepted as a state in 1790, takes its name from the French vert (green), mont (mountain).”

“The Latin name can be seen on the university’s seal … The motto on the seal, ‘studiis et rebus honestis,’ was taken from the writings of Quintus Horatius Flaccus, also known as Horace, a lyric poet during the Roman Empire. The translation, according to UVM, means: ‘for virtuous studies and matters.’ The Washington Post in 2016, in an article about school mottos translated the Latin phrase as ‘through studies and upright affairs’.”

“The phrase was selected by UVM’s first president, Daniel Clarke Sanders a graduate of Harvard University in 1788, according to UVM’s Lyman-Roberts Professor of Classics M. D. Usher … Latin and Greek language, literature, history and philosophy formed the core of what students studied two hundred years ago. ‘Classics is thus both the historical core and spiritual heart of UVM,’ Usher said.”


Discovering the ‘Art’ of College

The New York Times: “While not typically top of mind as a go-to destination, college and university art museums have a common goal: to raise the bar for the academic and cultural life of a campus and its environs.” At Duke: “The Nasher highlights artists of African descent and female artists — those who have been historically underrepresented or omitted by art institutions.” At Dartmouth: “Students and visitors have access to its 65,000-object collection including works by Rembrandt, Francisco Goya, Mark Rothko, Yayoi Kusama, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frank Stella and Julie Mehretu, among others.” At Rutgers: “The Zimmerli Museum’s Russian and Soviet nonconformist art holdings contain over 22,000 objects by more than 1,000 artists and provide an overview from the 14th century to the present.”

At Colby: “A collection of nearly 900 works by the figurative painter Alex Katz is a highlight at the college’s museum of art.” At UT-Austin: “Founded in 1963, the Blanton Museum of Art is considered one of the largest university art museums in the country with collections of nearly 18,000 objects.” University of Michigan, Ann Arbor “has a permanent collection of more than 20,000 artworks collected over 150 years and features big hitters like Helen Frankenthaler, Picasso, Monet and Warhol. The museum also hosts around 20 special exhibitions per year.”

At UCLA:”The Fowler Museum, which opened in 1963, has a … total of over 120,000 art and ethnographic and 600,000 archaeological objects, but it’s the museum’s African art collection that makes it standout as a leader in the exhibition and preservation of art from Africa.” At Northwestern: “An evolving permanent collection of about 6,000 works focuses primarily on prints, photography and drawings.” At Princeton: The works include Greek and Roman ceramics, marbles and bronzes, Roman mosaics, stained glass from medieval Europe and European paintings from the early Renaissance through the 19th century.” And at Williams: “There are around 15,000 works of art in the holdings of the Williams College Museum of Art that spotlight work by African-American artists, work by women artists, and international contemporary art.”


Some Colleges Let Students Be Teachers

Houston Chronicle: “Wearing a ‘Pursuit of Hoppiness’ T-shirt, Rebecca Lee begins a Wednesday night ‘Houston Microbreweries’ course at Rice University with a lesson on Indian Pale Ales … It isn’t your standard course at Rice. Not only because drinking beer is a major component, but because Lee and her co-teacher Alfonso Morera aren’t beer experts. They’re not even professors. Both are Rice undergraduates, and they’re teaching their peers. Rice’s ‘College Courses,’ which launched as a pilot around 2007, has become a fixture at the university. It allows students to teach one-credit classes on niche topics not offered by Rice lecturers and professors.”

“Princeton, Tufts University in Massachusetts, the University of California-Berkeley and other universities across the country offer similar teaching opportunities for undergraduate students … Mike Gustin, a professor of biosciences at Rice, proposed the courses in 2006 after learning that University of Virginia offered a similar program. Rice’s program has evolved over the past 12 years, with students quickly taking advantage of the opportunity to share, learn and congregate over their wide-ranging interests like knitting, counterculture movements in the 1960s, zombies and hip-hop.”

“Graded satisfactory and unsatisfactory, the courses can be taken or taught for credit up to three times, though Gustin said some students have gone on to teach for no credit at all … Students are required to take a six-week pedagogy course, or COLL 300, in which they learn the fundamentals of teaching, including the science behind successful, active learning, and how to frame their ideas in a scholarly way with the goal of providing students with a variety of perspectives and context … In the end, students craft a syllabus, prepare course content, submit a proposal to the dean of students’ office for approval and work with faculty mentors, who actively give them feedback.”


Clemson Grafts Newton’s Apple Tree

Clemson: “Over the years, several dozen descendants of the Newton Apple Tree have been planted around the globe on the grounds of universities, research centers and even in botanical gardens. The next location lucky enough to claim this living piece of scientific history is the main campus of Clemson University with … the planting of a grafted clone of the Newton apple tree in a patch of soil surrounded by three buildings – Kinard Laboratory of Physics, and Martin and Long halls – that are teeming with scientists.”

“The story of Sir Isaac Newton and the apple tree first began to blossom in the 17th century. But the story of how a descendant of the tree came to Clemson University didn’t sprout until the first week of August 2017. Bishwambhar Sengupta, a doctoral candidate in the College of Science’s department of physics and astronomy, met up with his faculty mentor, Endre Takacs, and Takacs’ research group during an experiment they were conducting at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Maryland. While there, they visited a clone of the Newton Apple Tree that thrives on the NIST campus. Sengupta and the others found several apples lying on the ground and brought them back to Clemson.”

Takacs comments: “At first, I thought it was just going to rot. I didn’t know what was going to happen to it. But after a couple of months, I began to notice that it was aging really beautifully. I thought, ‘This is great. This is Newton’s apple’ … That afternoon, we decided that we would form a new club … called Newton’s Apple Club.” … “The U.S. Department of Agriculture, which manages an enormous database of plant material, agreed to help out. On Feb. 16, 2018, three young branches – with buds prepared for grafting onto modern rootstock – arrived at Clemson … The Clemson tree is only about 7 feet tall and is as thin as a broomstick. But in the years to come, it should grow many times larger, providing fruit for hungry passersby as well as food for thought for curious minds.”