Higher Education’s Pressing Issues as Told by Our 2020 Authors in Residence

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HigherEdJobs is proud to highlight the authors who have contributed to our Authors in Residence series throughout 2020. The past year’s authors address various areas and pressing issues in higher education including college costs, visionary leadership, college mental health services, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions.

Author in residence Dr. Lee Keyes shared his guiding book “Delivering Effective College Mental Health Services.” Keyes focused on and shared, A Social-Ecological View of the Mental Health Crisis, A Raging Debate Invisible to Many, The Central Role of Social Factors in Well-Beingand how Shaping Our Lived Contexts Can Beat Biology.

These days, we often hear about a mental health “epidemic” among our youth — that is, there are more young people seeking mental health care. Dr. Lee Keyes poses four paradigms from which college mental health services could be constructed and oriented. Social and environmental surroundings — like the effects of the pandemic — have enormous relevance to mental health, and yet this relevance is often overlooked in treatment or healthcare systems. As colleges and universities work to treat the growing number of mental health problems among college students, Dr. Lee Keyes shares that medication can enable people to be more open to benefiting from new experiences and perspectives, but medicine alone is not the cure. Ultimately, the power to overcome life’s challenges lies within ourselves.

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Gina Ann Garcia, author of Becoming Hispanic-Serving Institutions Opportunities for Colleges and Universitiesincludes her perspective on Defining Social Justice Curriculum in Postsecondary Education and Anti-Racist Hiring Practices in Higher Education. She also explores several questions pertaining to Is Liberation a Viable Outcome for Students Who Attend College?, Is Racial Justice in Your Mission?and What Are White Normative Standards in Postsecondary Education?

The Civil Rights Movement in the United States had profound effects on colleges and universities. The curriculum, in particular, was transformed in important ways, with the rise of ethnic studies during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Despite this important transformation in higher education, normative whiteness in colleges and universities has essentially remained intact. How do we undo 400 years of higher education where whiteness is normative? Garcia says start with your mission statement. In post-secondary education, we place value on academic outcomes such as 4-year and 6-year graduation rates, year-to-year persistence, course completion rates, withdrawal rates, and GPA. However, these outcomes are highly correlated with student-level demographics and experiences such as race, socio-economic status, mother’s education level, access to quality K-12 schooling, and racism. Dr. Gina Garcia asserts that it is not enough to be non-racist — that we must be anti-racist. Garcia says colleges and universities must figure out how to achieve this and hiring practices are the perfect place to start.

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As authors in residence in 2020, Cowen and Winston addressed Beyond the Ivory Tower: How to Build Community from the book Winnebagos on Wednesdays: How Visionary Leadership Can Transform Higher Education by Scott Cowen.

Cowen and Winston highlight how higher education’s tripartite mission — research, teaching, and service — is universally accepted but still means different things to different institutions. In other additional pieces, they also contemplated the change of plans initiated by COVID-19 and the leadership lessons that can be learned from the events of 2020.

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2021 Authors in Residence to Follow:

Runaway College Costs: How College Governing Boards Fail to Protect Their Students by James V. Koch and Richard J. Cebula

As an author in residence, Koch addresses Rising Debt: Who Owes and What Are the Consequences with more articles to be published in 2021. Koch calls for better qualified, more knowledgeable, and better-trained individuals serving on college boards instead of the often politically motivated appointments made by governors and legislators.

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Lean Semesters: How Higher Education Reproduces Inequity by Sekile M. Nzinga argues that the marketized university currently operates as a hyper-producer of inequality, particularly for Black academic women.

Nzinga’s first contribution as an author in residence titled Sharing Diverse Narratives Through Solidarity provides an inside look at her inspiration for the book. Nzinga’s motivation for completing the book actually had little to do with her academic career, she considers “Lean Semesters” a solidarity project and a witnessing project. More articles to come from Nzinga in 2021.

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Thank you to our authors in residence for their contributions and sharing their inspirations for a brighter future for higher education. Which topic from our authors in residence resonates with you the most?

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