dotEDU Episode 13: Organizing a Campus Based on Equity and Social Justice


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Aired Jan. 13, 2020

More and more universities are starting programs and other initiatives designed to enhance diversity and inclusion. But can the daily work of running a campus also contribute to this goal? Julie Posselt, associate professor of education at the University of Southern California, talks about her new book, Higher Education Administration for Social Justice and Equity, and how to carry out basic administrative operations with a clear commitment to diversity and equity.

Episode Notes

Here are some of the links and references from this week’s show:

From the conversation with Julie Posselt:

From the post-interview chatter:

Hosts and Guests
Julie Posselt - Associate Professor, University of Southern California - Guest
Julie Posselt
Associate Professor, University of Southern California

 Read this episode's transcript

Jon Fansmith [00:00:04] Hello and welcome to dotEDU, the higher education podcast from the American Council on Education. I'm John Fansmith, director of government relations here at ACE, and I'm joined today as...well, not as always, but as most often.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:18] Most often.

Jon Fansmith [00:00:19] As most often by my co-host, Lorelle Espinosa, ACE's vice president of research, who's already jumped in on her introduction, so, you know, hello.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:26] Hello, the often researcher.

Jon Fansmith [00:00:29] That's right. The research-focus, the brains of the organization.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:33] That's right, the brains.

Jon Fansmith [00:00:33] That's right. And happy New Year.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:37] Happy New Year to you.

Jon Fansmith [00:00:37] Thank you.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:37] How was your break?

Jon Fansmith [00:00:39] It was very nice. Lots of family, which can go both ways. On the whole, nice. In this case, it was very nice.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:46] Yeah, me too.

Jon Fansmith [00:00:47] Lots of kid time, lots of excited Christmas present opening and immediately discarding it. They had fun. [crosstalk]

Lorelle Espinosa [00:00:56] That's right. That's nice. Good. Yeah, I had a great time, too. I was in California with my family.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:01] Very nice.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:02] No small children on Christmas Day. So I missed that fun, but...

Jon Fansmith [00:01:07] "Missed that fun." Airquotes, applied liberally.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:10] But we had a good time out there.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:12] Good.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:12] Nice to be back on.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:13] Great. And warm weather, which is nice.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:15] Yeah, warm-ish, you know, for northern California so it's not [crosstalk].

Jon Fansmith [00:01:19] All right. For some reason, if I thought it was southern California.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:21] Well, I do love L.A.. It's true. I'm not supposed to because I'm from [crosstalk].

Jon Fansmith [00:01:25] Oh, right. The regional rivalry. You're supposed to--.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:26] Yes, but I did go to graduate school at UCLA, so I came to DC from there. That's maybe why you think that.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:33] And we can get a weather update from our guests a little bit later.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:36] We can. From Julie, yes.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:37] Maybe some of this regional hatred can flare up in some way.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:41] Maybe, because USC has a big rivalry with UCLA.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:42] Oh, yeah, right. So we've got a couple different rivalry things. so I'll just sit back and let you two fight on an open mic. That sounds like it would be entertaining for the audience.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:01:49] It would be.

Jon Fansmith [00:01:50] Right. Since I've already started talking about our guest, should probably annouce we're going to be joined in just a little bit by Julie Posselt, who is the associate professor of education at the University of Southern California. In the...maybe you can correct my pronunciation, is it the Rossier School of Education?

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:06] Yes, I believe it is.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:06] Oh, excellent. Thank you very much. Got it right on the first try. Anyway, we're going to come back and talk with Julie in just a little bit after the break. But before we do, you know, we usually talk about what's been happening in Washington. Holiday break obviously slows it. Congress heads out of town. We still have impeachment, sort of--.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:25] That's ongoing.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:26] Ongoing, maybe accelerating in the next few weeks as we record this. How we might also go to war with Iran, apparently, that's something that happened over the holidays.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:33] I know that was frightening.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:35] Yeah, and continues to be slightly terrifying, especially for people who live in Washington, D.C..

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:41] Yes.

Jon Fansmith [00:02:41] Not that other people aren't also equally terrified. But anyway, was there anything that's been happening that you noticed in the last few weeks? I mean, really, on the government relations side, it's been pretty quiet.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:02:52] Yeah, yeah, it's pretty quiet on the research side, on the research and practice side. I think everyone's coming back this week, getting started in the new year. So, you know, flurry of activity is coming, but calm before the storm.

Jon Fansmith [00:03:05] I think that's a good way to put it: calm before the storm. Well, we are going to take a brief break. And when we return, we'll be joined by Julie Posselt. And welcome back. We are now joined remotely from, I'm gonna go ahead and say sunny South California/Southern California. You know, it calls itself California, right, that sounds very awkward.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:03:31] Kinda like South Carolina.

Julie Posselt [00:03:35] Definitely southern.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:03:36] Southern California.

Jon Fansmith [00:03:36] I am, as I often do on this podcast, identifying myself as a complete northeasterner who has very little regional expertise outside of my chosen region. Anyway, sorry, Julia, I'm totally swallowing your introduction, but you've already heard her voice for those of you listening. And as I mentioned, Julie Posselt is the associate professor of education at the University of Southern California in the Rossier School of Education. And she's also the author and editor of several books, including a few that we're going to talk about today. A lot of the focus in your work has been on the areas of equity and diversity. And one things we like to do when we talk with people, it's get a little sense of how they came to choose the areas of interest in their areas of focus and their work, what about those things, what about their career path and experiences brought them there. So with that sort of wide and ambiguous opening, do you want to just tell us and our listeners a little bit about your work and how you came to be doing this work?

Julie Posselt [00:04:32] Sure. Thanks so much for the chance to be here and talk with you about this book and some of my other research. I've been interested in issues about inequality and diversity most of my life, really. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin, which you wouldn't necessarily think would be the best platform for becoming passionate and dedicating a career to these issues. But my parents definitely raised me to be sensitive and passionate about justice and exposed me to lots of different ways that injustice was around me and outside of the area that we lived in. And goes all the way back for me educationally and professionally to entering college at the University of Wisconsin and starting a major in history in order to be able to better understand America's civil rights history and education's place within it. So yeah, those are some of the early influences that I have. But you know, over time it's become a strong passion not only for me in my own life, but also for those that are closest to me. And so it's natural to do this work in solidarity with them.

Jon Fansmith [00:05:39] That's great. And tell us a little bit more about sort of your current position at USC and and just sort of what that allows you to...Obviously, we're gonna talk a little bit about your books and some of the work you've done, but just sort of what your current role is and what you do there.

Julie Posselt [00:05:54] Yeah, I'm an associate professor, which means I spend a lot of time doing research, but also teaching and increasingly engage in national conversations as well and happy to be the editor of the Journal of...I mean associate editor of the Journal of Higher Ed and also am participating in a couple of National Academies panels right now, one on mental health in graduate education and another on the future of the field of astronomy. And those are both really powerful ways to influence the future direction of how education, questions, and opportunities are funded in the US. So those are some of the things occupying my time and attention this year. But something I love about being a professor is every day's a little bit different and every year is a little bit different. And that keeps it fresh.

Jon Fansmith [00:06:45] So can I ask the future of the field of astronomy was pretty interesting. Is that because that is not an especially...considering your academic focus is that because of the field of astronomy is not especially diverse?

Julie Posselt [00:06:56] Yeah, that's right, that's right. So as I've conducted research over time, understanding disciplinary cultures has become one of my kind of own intellectual curiosities. And so STEM fields obviously get a lot of attention because of their inequalities and struggle to make good on the commitments to diversity that many organizations hold and members of them, too. So research that I've done with folks in astronomy over the years led to being invited to contributing to this National Academies decadal survey process.

Jon Fansmith [00:07:28] Very interesting.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:07:29] Yeah. Disciplinary societies, that makes a lot of sense for some of the work that they do. And it's nice to see scholars starting to focus on those those societies specifically and the departments that they obviously represent. So awesome. Well, I love the introduction to this book. So we're gonna talk with you about a book that you put out with Adrianna Kezar, who is a colleague of yours at USC and an often contributor to work that we do at ACE. She's a Co-PI on a grant that I have with her from the Sloan Foundation, which is focused on equity-minded leadership so we're all in good company here on this topic today. But your book, Higher Education Administration for Social Justice and Equity: Critical Perspectives for Leadership, what a great title. And like I said, the introduction, you start out in the introduction with Adrianna saying this book is a call for justice and equity in higher education administration. And I just love that opening and it goes from there. Some wonderful chapters here written by a number of well-known and up and coming scholars on this topic and really focused on practice but specifically on leadership practice. So just want to hear a bit about your philosophy and approach to this volume. Why this volume? Why now? What is the need in the field for fluency on issues of equity and social justice, specifically in these leadership roles? Would love to start there.

Julie Posselt [00:09:02] Yeah, absolutely. That's a really important question and I think the main thing that motivated us was a recognition that more and more universities are dedicating more and more resources to pursuing diversity, equity and inclusion goals, but less often are they having a conversation about whether the way that they carry that work out is actually consistent with those goals. And so what we wanted to do was draw some attention to the ways in which everyday activities, whether it's mentoring, setting your budgets, making decisions big and small, that equity and justice can be pursued or prevented, impeded, in all of that daily work and to provide a guide for current and aspiring administrators to appreciate just how much good they can do toward the same goals of equity and justice that their institutions are pursuing more broadly.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:09:58] And you put some questions to the many contributors to this volume to think about as they write their various chapters. What were some of those questions?

Julie Posselt [00:10:09] Yeah, we knew that the chapters were going to be oriented around different areas of practice. And what we wanted was to give people who were writing a chance to think about those areas of practice from some common perspectives. So we asked them to think about the ways that power and privilege are part of that practice. Some of the assumptions that are baked into the common ways that we do business that might not necessarily be consistent with equity. The kinds of values that they themselves hold, but also that might be associated with a given area of practice so that it becomes more equitable. And then also just to encourage authors to be really honest about the challenges, whether it's political, practical or about resources that can come up as you're trying to shift an area of practice. Lastly, the main thing, and maybe at the heart of it all, is that students need to somehow be on the radar when we're considering this. So we asked everyone, no matter what they were writing about, to think about students a little bit.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:11:10] Yeah. And students being at the table, being a voice at the table. I really like, in the chapter that you wrote, you talked about both recognizing the equity imperative in terms of the criteria that we use to make decisions, including admissions decisions, which you've done a lot of work on, but also the application of that criteria. So there are biases baked into both, and I really appreciated that, but I'd love to actually turn to your chapter for a moment. So you, of course, wrote a whole other book on graduate admissions, which has gotten a lot of deserved attention. And holistic review is a big part of graduate admissions and undergraduate admissions at many institutions. But I love how you how you talked about it in terms of it also applying to other types of decisions, how we think about decisions in a holistic way. I think that's a great parallel and people could understand that pretty easily. I believe many people know about at least the concept of holistic admissions. I wonder if you could just say a little bit more about the writing that you did on that topic and in the chapter?

Julie Posselt [00:12:19] Yes. So the chapter that we wrote is focused on how we make judgments and how we make decisions. And this is because it's one of the really fundamental things that we are just constantly doing throughout the day. And we often don't take a moment to step back and reflect on the different factors that go into our evaluations and our decisions. And then also the way that we're carrying out the decision-making process might be improved. And, you know, so obviously in admissions, there's a lot of conversation about test scores but increasingly, discussion and holistic admissions concerns are the major factors. But I'm personally persuaded that you could put all the right criteria in place. You might have a really elegant looking set of criteria and still come to inequitable outcomes if you don't have a diverse group of people at the table or if all of the influence is vested in one person or a small group of people. And so what we were thinking with admissions, but also other types of decisions is the way we carry out the decision-making process also can be improved with respect to equity. And so the chapter includes kind of a big picture perspective on evaluation and decision making. Some of the different ways that scholars talked about evaluation and decision making in different fields. So in psychology, they talk about implicit bias. In political science, there's a lot of discussion about power. Anthropology gives us ways of thinking about culture. And then we pulled the themes together to come up with a framework that we thought would be applicable across many different types of decision-making contexts. And then we applied that framework to the admissions case that you mentioned as well as hiring, since whether it's hiring faculty or hiring staff, most administrators are involved in that process. And then finally, we close the chapter with some implications for practice and tie it all together.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:14:17] Yeah. And I encourage everyone first to read this book and I think it's a great book--.

Julie Posselt [00:14:22] I encourage people to read it.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:14:24] --A great book on...This is like the leadership book you should be reading right now if you are leading things on the campus. But I did really appreciate your chapter and also the implications that you talked about are really worth looking at. You also mentioned, you know, to be systematic in these processes. I love how you talked about doing equity checks along the way. It's not like you can just decide how to do it and it's all going to be fine. Now, you need to keep revisiting. And we know that from from a lot of the areas that we look at when it comes to equity.

Julie Posselt [00:14:57] I mean, data is such a powerful thing in decisions, right? Like we say, we're using data to drive our decisions, but we don't necessarily use data throughout the process. We just sort of look at the end as opposed to attention throughout. So, yeah, my my graduate student, Theresa Hernandez, was the person who came up with this idea of equity check points and I think is a really kind of natural way to build some mindfulness into the process.

Jon Fansmith [00:15:24] Particularly with this, and we've talked about this on previous podcasts, the growth of analytics in higher education and the increasing mass of data that's coming up to the leadership level. It's such a really simple but yet clever concept to set those checks in place so that as you're pulling in all this information, you're making sure that, you know, you're taking pauses at the appropriate points to make sure it's filtering in the right ways and you're finding the right information with that equity imperative as a goal. So really, that's a great concept. And actually kind of leads me into what would be my next question for you, which is, this podcast is aimed primarily at leaders of higher education institutions, there's obviously...I think Lorelle made a great point. You know, if you are in higher education leadership right now, this is a book you should absolutely be reading. If you wanted to sort of summarize for people who are listening to the podcast, kind of what solutions, what are the sort of the takeaways, and obviously it's a very complicated and involved book and everyone should read the book. I am not expecting you in 15 minutes on a podcast to summarize it, if that were even possible. But, you know, a few key takeaways maybe that people listening should be thinking about in terms of what they should be looking at on their own campus.

Julie Posselt [00:16:36] Yeah. So that's a good question. I just mentioned mindfulness in decisionmaking and how equity checkpoints can help with that. And I do think that, cutting across all these chapters, becoming more mindful about the small ways that our actions are moving us or aligned with, toward, and with equity and as opposed to potentially undermining it either directly or indirectly is a really, really powerful force. And in the introduction, we talk about how it's hard in higher education today to take a mindful approach to leadership because they're constantly pushed to make decisions quickly and to do it with a real attention to efficiency and resources as a key narrative.

Jon Fansmith [00:17:16] Among everything else.

Julie Posselt [00:17:17] Exactly. So being able to have an explicitly mindful approach and then to not be afraid of really bringing your values to the work as well as attention to power and privilege. So honestly, a lot of the solutions that we talk about in this book start in our heads and the decision that we make to engage in our practice with an eye to equity. And this is consistent with what Estella Bensimon, my colleague here at USC, talks about with respect to an equity-minded approach to higher education practice, and that when our attention is focused on equity, we're much more likely to engage in everyday activities in ways that encourage that goal.

Jon Fansmith [00:17:59] And Lorelle also touched on and I think following up in a lot of ways on some of Lorelle's points, your previous work, you've done a book on graduate admissions. And I think we've talked a little bit sort of broadly about higher education administration and increasing equity in higher education instruction, but particularly in this field of graduate admissions,  the things that people listening to the podcast should be thinking about as they look at that process on their campus?

Julie Posselt [00:18:26] Sure. Yeah. So I got into the study of graduate admissions because I was working in the McNair Scholars program for several years and I saw--.

Jon Fansmith [00:18:33] Which is a federally-funded scholarship program.

Julie Posselt [00:18:36] That's right. Yeah. The Department of Education funds a number of institutions across the country to provide opportunities to low-income, first-gen students who want to potentially go to graduate school. And I saw over and over again that something was going on at the decision-making table for admissions where really great students were getting denied admission to even moderately selective places. And then students that had what I considered to be pretty big red flags on the record were getting into places like Harvard, Princeton, Caltech, Yale. And so I knew something interesting was going on with evaluation and decision making. So that really is a major theme that I look at and it's in part because it pays attention's based in and pays attention to culture. Often I think faculty, like administrators, are kind of just caught up in the day-to-day and doing things as efficiently and quickly as they can. And so I wanted to get faculty and anybody who cares about admissions, having a conversation about things that we usually take for granted and why is it that we are relying on what we do in the process.

Jon Fansmith [00:19:42] You mentioned culture, are you talking about culture within specific programs or culture within the campus or is there often a difference in terms of those?

Julie Posselt [00:19:51] Yeah. That's actually one of the most interesting parts of the book, I think. And of course, I'm biased. But I'm apparently told by others it doesn't...It's true.

Jon Fansmith [00:20:00] You would be the person to know though, so.

Julie Posselt [00:20:01] So, yes, individual committees have cultures, it turns out, and departments have cultures, disciplines have cultures, universities have cultures. And what makes it difficult to pursue diversity as a key priority all time is that those different cultures that you're a part of don't necessarily all equally value diversity. And unless we align in all of the different environments that we're working, diversity and equity as values, it's easy to get it swept under the rug relative to some of the other more imminent concerns. So, yeah, I was trying to understand what does it look like in practice and how is it that faculty make these decisions where they're considering many different factors.

Jon Fansmith [00:20:45] And you essentially, if you're trying to align the cultures, which seems to be the key elements in terms of making sure that you don't have those gaps.

Julie Posselt [00:20:53] Or at least align priorities.

Jon Fansmith [00:20:54] Priorities. That's from top down. Does that have to be from top down? How does that work? What are the ways that if you're a campus leader, you could look at this and say, "How do we improve it on our campus? How do we get a alignment and how do we reach that point?"

Julie Posselt [00:21:05] Probably the biggest thing I would say is the more that upper-level administrators can encourage opportunities for conversation about priorities and values and how they play out in student experiences and student opportunities. That's a big deal because the opportunities for discussion actually are relatively few and far between. And there are good reasons for campus leaders to be cautious with just opening floors for discussion, right? Sometimes dialogues go south. But in this case, when you have many different administration units around campus that are all engaging in the same process, if there isn't ever a conversation about the ways that they're having those processes aligning with the institutional mission, you're very unlikely to have that institutional mission around diversity actually get met. And so leading conversations, leading opportunities for conversation, to me is one of the core things that a campus leader can do.

Jon Fansmith [00:21:58] And a natural role for campus leaders. Leading the conversation is a fundamental--

Julie Posselt [00:22:03] They have convening power.

Jon Fansmith [00:22:04] Right, exactly. Convening power and the voice and the authority and the platform. Absolutely. Probably not a surprise based on sort of the wealth of expertise you've already demonstrated in this last 20 minutes or so, but you're involved in a number of different research initiatives. I want to give you a chance to talk a little bit about those various aspects of your work, if you'd like.

Julie Posselt [00:22:23] Well, it turns out that I'm not the only one who thinks that we should be talking about these things. I mentioned before that disciplinary societies are one group that I'm involved in. And this is in part because graduate education, and higher education more generally, is not just organized by campus, it's also organized by field. And although there's lots of initiatives and efforts to facilitate change and facilitate improvement at the campus level, there's less opportunity to do so by discipline. And it's in part because they're always struggling with budgets and they don't necessarily have the same in-person conversations that people on the same campus can have. But I'm really fortunate to have research initiatives that are looking at the improvement of doctoral education and doctoral admissions, in particular, at both a disciplinary society level and universities. So the inclusive graduate education network is a partnership of a five disciplinary societies in the physical sciences, that's an NSF INCLUDES Alliance, which is a big initiative NSF has been funding to increase diversity and equity in higher education. And our explicit goal is to accelerate the participation of underrepresented students of color in graduate education, the physical sciences, and to create mechanisms through which increased participation can be sustained over time. So I direct the research hub and am co-chair of the inclusive practices hub for that effort. And yes, it's year two of a five-year project so we're working hard on that. And then kind of a parallel project that works with the Organization of Higher Education by campus is called the California Consortium for Inclusive Doctoral Education. And this is a partnership of six major California research universities that's trying to create teams of faculty and administrators on each campus who are collectively committed to improving doctoral education, but who don't necessarily on their own have the resources for doing it. So we're helping to nucleate these teams that would engage faculty and some training over time and there's research associated with all that.

Jon Fansmith [00:24:32] And I love the seaside acronym. It's a pretty great for a California university [crosstalk].

Lorelle Espinosa [00:24:38] So what's next for you, Julie? What's next? I mean, you've got these projects which are taking a lot of your time, as you said, year two of a five on one of them. But we know you also have an upcoming book on equity and science. So you mentioned along the way your work on STEM and also you mentioned some things about PhD programs and diversity. Give us a little preview of what's coming.

Julie Posselt [00:25:00] Yeah, this is going to be a really big year. I hope I'm ready for it. There's definitely the release of the book is happening this spring or summer. And that's the culmination of about five years of research on graduate programs and departments that are all successful in raising the proportion of students of color and women within fields that typically don't have it and in spite of being in states where affirmative action is banned. So I'm really excited about the kind of conversation that this book will be able to encourage because it's taking a step back to look at some of the common excuses that departments make for why they don't have diversity and how departments that are in places that are constrained have nonetheless managed to achieve it. But also some of the challenges of doing so are along the way. And then new projects that I'm carrying out and that I welcome involvement from any listeners who might be interested in having their institution be a part of it, we're looking at several different issues around the change process and around doctoral qualifying exams and then also looking at how networks of institutions begin working together toward equity and inclusion goals. So, lots going on.

Jon Fansmith [00:26:16] Very busy, yes. And considering that you've got a lot going on to this year and so we will get you back to all of that work very soon. Just wanted to, before I say goodbye to you, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you especially for getting up very early California time to join us here in D.C. on our remote connection and really appreciate the conversation and absolutely enjoyed the work you've done so far. Look forward to all the many things you have going forward this year, too. So thanks again for joining us.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:26:46] Thanks, Julie.

Julie Posselt [00:26:47] Thank you.

Jon Fansmith [00:26:48] And we'll be back in just a minute with a wrap-up at dotEDU.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:26:56] And we're back. That was a great conversation.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:27:00] That was a great conversation. I really appreciated what she was saying about the nature of the different cultures on a campus and how many cultures there are, these subcultures. And we actually have a paper out by Kimberly Griffin, who's at the University of Maryland. She studies like Julie, campus culture and climate and also STEM culture and climate. And she did a paper just on this issue of, you know, how we think about campus climate and STEM disciplinary climate working together. You know, you need both to work in order for students to stay. So that will be on the web side.

Jon Fansmith [00:27:35] A good accompaniment to Julie's work.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:27:35] Yes. So we'll put all that on the show site. And I also want to just mention for those coming back to the new year to listen to our last episode with John King--.

Jon Fansmith [00:27:45] Which was a great episode.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:27:45] Yes. John King, the former secretary of education. I guess he's always secretary. Once you're secretary, you're always secretary. And he's also over at Education Trust, of course, as the president there so really good episode.

Jon Fansmith [00:27:59] A very passionate speaker. I mean, when you hear his story--.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:28:03] His personal story.

Jon Fansmith [00:28:04] It's amazing. And it resonates really passionately and really powerfully.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:28:08] Yes. So everyone go back and listen to that one, too.

Jon Fansmith [00:28:12] You should.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:28:13] So what else? So we talked about the calm before the storm. I think that is real.

Jon Fansmith [00:28:18] It's a good description. It's an know, just on the government relations side we've talked about it being quiet. And I think your point is really valid on the calm before the storm. Election years are always kind of weird, especially presidential election years, because Congress starts to shut down as you get to summer. Everybody's running for re-election. But before we get there, there's gonna be a lot of activity. And I think, you know, particularly we are watching the release of regulations around Title IX on campus safety and sexual assault, which are expected within the next couple months at this point, maybe even as soon as the end of this month, which will have a enormous impact on institutions, obviously have been very high profile. Department's rulemaking received the most comments ever on any proposal, over 100,000 comments, which is, you know, most of the ones, even the ones that have been sort of...We would consider contentious, get 15,000-20,000. So it shows you just the scope of public interest and the depth of feelings around this subject, obviously. So that will be big. And we know ACE obviously will be communicating, understanding the ramifications of those regulations and communicating with our members. We also have the Higher Education Act reauthorization process.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:29:31] Oh, that thing.

Jon Fansmith [00:29:32] That little small 13-year process we're going through--11 year. 11-year process.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:29:37] Feels like 13.

Jon Fansmith [00:29:37] It feels like 50, actually. But, you know, the House, all indications are they have a bill that passed out of committee on Halloween and that they intend to bring it to the floor early this year. So they got a score, which is important in D.C. area as that's how much their bill would cost. So they have a key piece of information they need to actually advance it. And obviously, Chairman Scott is very much committed to moving that bill forward. So we will be keeping an eye on that as well. And then there's a range of other issues. Obviously, the ongoing issues with 117 and foreign gift reporting continues to get a lot of attention. And it's a relatively difficult issue, obviously, from our perspective, and that we don't feel that the Department has been really as collaborative as they could and should be in this regard. So we're waiting, seeing what their new information collection notice will look like and the ramifications of that. So a lot of big things just in the next couple months we expect to see.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:30:31] You'll be busy.

Jon Fansmith [00:30:32] Before Congress takes a break for campaigning and reelection and shuts down. But before that, huge months.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:30:39] Well, we'll keep everyone posted on all fronts.

Jon Fansmith [00:30:42] Absolutely. And I think with that, we will sign off on our first podcast of the new year. And thank you, as always, for everyone who's listening and has listened before you can find this podcast on our Web site at And it's also available at Spotify, Apple Podcast, Stitcher or wherever you get your podcasts. From me, Jon Fansmith and my co-host, Lorelle Espinosa, thanks again for listening. Thanks so much to our producers Malcolm and Crystal, Audrey, Carly and Laurie, who make us sound as good as possible. They're working with flawed materials here and they do a great job. Also, we would ask that if you have questions, comments, suggestions, story ideas, guest ideas, you send them to us at Once again, that's And I think maybe we can come up with swag, maybe like a--.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:31:42] We should.

Jon Fansmith [00:31:43] If somebody sends us something that we use. Would it be like a book? Maybe we could give them a copy of Julie's book? That would be a nice incentive.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:31:49] We'll come up with some good things.

Jon Fansmith [00:31:51] Lorelle, I would say, bought me a copy of the book, but she loaned me a copy of the book.

Lorelle Espinosa [00:31:55] I did ask for it back.

Jon Fansmith [00:31:57] She's buying them so maybe we can give one to one of you. Anyway, thanks again for listening. And it's been a lot of fun. We're looking forward to a great year. ​

About the Podcast

​Each episode of dotEDU presents a deep dive into a major issue impacting college campuses and students across the country. Hosts from ACE are joined by guest experts to lead you through thought-provoking conversations on topics such as campus free speech, diversity in admissions, college costs and affordability, and more. Find all episodes of the podcast ​at the dotEDU page​.

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