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Texas Severs Nonprofit Group’s 110-Year Management of Alamo

April 27th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Texas is taking over management of the Alamo, ending the Daughters of the Texas Republic’s 110-year management of the site, according to a joint statement issued Thursday.

In the statement, Land Commissioner George P. Bush said the General Land Office was taking over the day-to-day management of the downtown San Antonio mission-turned-fortress. The management of the Alamo will transition to office over the next four months.

During that time, the office will solicit proposals for the development of a strategic plan for the Alamo grounds and search the nation for a new management company.

In the 1800s, the Alamo was the site of a key battle in the Texas Revolution in which some 180 defenders were killed during a siege by Mexican forces. Weeks later, those deaths provided Texas irregulars with their rallying cry that they carried to victory at the Battle of San Jacinto, which clinched Texas’ independence from Mexico.

“The Alamo has always had the same owner — the people of Texas. And so to meet the ever-increasing operational needs of the Alamo, the GLO has determined to change its day-to-day management from the DRT and move in a new direction. Together, we will create a bigger, brighter future for this Texas shrine,” the Bush statement said.

The General Land Office took ownership of the Alamo in 2011 at the behest of the Legislature, which had grown concerned about the care of the iconic Texas landmark. Worries arose following accusations of mismanagement and financial incompetence levied at the nonprofit Daughters.

The next year, the General Land Office told the group’s Alamo Mission Chapter to vacate the Alamo grounds, that the group “could no longer store private belongings on state property, or continue to enjoy free, exclusive, long-term use of state property for private chapter business.”

During his campaign last year for land commissioner, the Republican Bush had expressed a desire to reach out to the Daughters for greater involvement in the Alamo’s affairs. Nevertheless, his decision to cancel the group’s management of the attraction was not a complete surprise to McCaffrey.

“That’s politics,” she said.

Alamo Director Becky Dinnin praised the Daughters for taking care of the Alamo, noting the group intervened in 1905 and “kept it from being torn down.” But she said that “over the past few years, the needs of the Alamo have really grown significantly, especially in the area of conservation and the need to be able to fundraise.”

The Daughters remain concerned, however, about the potential commercialization of the Alamo and its surrounding grounds. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much to turn it into” a tourist trap, said McCaffrey, whose group has always maintained the Alamo as a shrine demanding reverence from visitors.

But fundraising for Alamo projects has been among the biggest challenges the Daughters faced in recent years.

For the Daughters, the parting is bittersweet but will not do away with the group’s mission, President General Ellen McCaffrey said.

“It frees up our time, money and resources for other projects,” she said, citing specifically the former French Legation to the Republic of Texas in Austin and the Republic museum to be developed next door.

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Starbucks to help pay for employees’ educations at ASU

June 27th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Education, In The Spotlight

Starbucks has announced plans to help pay for the cost of an education at Arizona State University Online for its employees. The Starbucks College Achievement Plan will be available to 135,000 employees who work at least 20 hours a week and who enrol as full-time students at the junior or senior level (third or fourth year). Participants will be reimbursed upon the successful completion of 21 credits. They will also have access to an enrollment counselor. Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz said there will be “no strings attached”: employees will not be required to stay with the company after graduation and will be free to choose from any of ASU Online’s more than 40 online bachelor’s programs. Students will have to apply for any available federal funding before they will be eligible for the program. A Starbucks spokesperson told CBC that Starbucks already offers its  benefits-eligible Canadian employees a tuition reimbursement program worth between $500 and $1000 per year.

Gen X, Y too confident about financial future

May 5th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Young adults and teens may be overly confident about facing life’s major financial milestones, including paying for their children’s PSE in the future, reveal results of a survey by the Bank of Montreal Wealth Institute. 70% of the survey’s respondents who want to start a family said they’ll be able to pay for PSE, which BMO says could be as high as $140,000 for a child born in 2013. The data also reveal that 65% expect to retire “comfortably” when they choose to do so, and a majority plan to stop working at around age 61 — 2 years earlier than the average Baby Boomer. “The combination of less savings for retirement, less access to company pensions, a planned earlier retirement age, ongoing education savings, and increased costs for basics such as food and housing leave Generation X and Generation Y with a much lower probability of achieving their retirement goals than the Baby Boomer generation before them,” the BMO report cautions.

White House Pursues Online Privacy Bill Amid NSA Efforts

October 25th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Even as it defends the National Security Agency’s controversial Internet surveillance programs, the Obama administration has been working on legislation to boost online privacy safeguards for consumers.

The fact that the administration is trying to advance such a measure — amid reports that the government can access people’s online communications — speaks to growing tensions with Europe over privacy. Top European Union officials have called for tighter data rules for U.S. Internet companies, and a base-line privacy bill would strengthen the administration’s hand in negotiating with Europe.

“The revelations of NSA surveillance have kicked into high gear European pressure on the United States to move privacy legislation forward,” said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center.

The administration’s proposal builds on the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, a blueprint the White House released last year, sources familiar with the plan said. The bill would define privacy rights and convene Internet companies and consumer advocates to hammer out industry codes of conduct based on the principles. The FTC would have the authority to enforce the codes of conduct generated by those talks.

The administration hasn’t finalized the measure but is trying to build support for it on Capitol Hill, a source with direct knowledge of the effort said. It’s not clear what impact the government shutdown has had on the effort.

“The critical path to moving something forward is to work with people in Congress,” the source said. “Suffice it to say, if this were a matter of the administration producing a bill, it would be out there already.”

The White House referred questions to the Commerce Department, which is helping to draft the legislation. A Commerce Department spokesperson declined to comment.

While the administration has been actively working on the bill since early this year, Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks have complicated the effort. On one hand, the surveillance revelations have prompted European officials to raise new concerns about U.S. Internet companies, adding urgency to the White House push for a privacy bill. But it also has made such legislation a tougher political sell, given the backlash against the NSA’s own controversial data collection.

What’s more, there’s been little appetite in Congress for legislating consumer privacy in recent years. A bill to create an online Do Not Track system failed to advance this year, as did broader privacy legislation from then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2011.

“We continue to favor industry self-regulation and agreements between Internet companies and their users as they are proven methods for safeguarding users’ privacy while maintaining flexibility for continued creativity and innovation online,” said Michael Beckerman, president of the Internet Association, whose members include Google, Facebook and Amazon.

Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee overseeing consumer protection issues, said the White House reached out to him on its privacy legislation. But he said lawmakers are still getting up to speed on the complex issues involved.

“It’s very complicated, and frankly, there’s only a handful of people in here that have immersed themselves enough on that particular issue,” said Terry, who has launched a House task force on privacy. “It is so complex and so delicate, and there are so many interests that it’s really hard for someone to get their mind around it if they don’t immerse themselves. … You don’t have people just rushing to that issue.”

A Senate Commerce Committee spokesman said the White House is still refining its ideas and hasn’t shared legislative language yet. The panel’s chairman, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), is a longtime privacy advocate who reintroduced the Do Not Track bill in February.

The code-of-conduct approach has become the administration’s preferred method for creating privacy standards.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has invited industry and consumer groups to develop a code of conduct for the way mobile apps explain their data practices to users. The administration has supported efforts by the World Wide Web Consortium to create an industrywide Do Not Track standard, though that effort has stumbled after a large advertiser coalition pulled out last month. And President Barack Obama’s February executive order calls on industry to help develop voluntary cybersecurity standards.

Still, some trade groups are sounding a warning about the impact privacy legislation could have on companies that rely on user data.

“In any instance, it is vital that legislation not undercut the business models that fuel the Internet economy,” said Rachel Thomas, vice president of government affairs at the Direct Marketing Association, whose organization has discussed the bill with administration officials. “We need to be cautious about going down any legislative path that would have a negative impact on jobs and economic growth.”

By ALEX BYERS | 10/7/13 5:03 AM EDT

Politico

The Direct Marketing Associations Honors 11 Nonprofits With ECHO Awards

October 24th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight, Marketing

DMA Presents the 2013 International ECHOTMAwards — Complete List Of Winners

 

Chicago, IL, October 15, 2013 — The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) presented its 2013 International ECHO Awards tonight at McCormick Place West in Chicago, during the DMA2013 Conference & Exhibition, which concludes Thursday, October 17.

The following is a complete list of this year’s International ECHO Awards winners, including the four special awards and the Gold, Silver, and Bronze ECHO winners.

* * *

 SPECIAL 2013 International ECHO Awards Winners

The Diamond ECHO

Consumer Products

Client: Fonterra Brands (Ltd) Tip Top

Agency: Colenso BBDO/Proximity New Zealand

Campaign: Feel Tip Top

 

Henry Hoke Award

Sponsored by Hoke Communications, Inc.

Insurance

Client: PNozorg

Agency: TBWA/NEBOKO DOWNTOWN

Campaign: The Boring Guys

 

Personal Connections ECHO Award

Sponsored by Pitney Bowes

Insurance

Client: MAPFRE Insurance Brazil

Agency: DirectOne Brazil

Campaign: Making insurance simple with less cost and increased relationship

 

USPS Gold Mailbox Award

Sponsored by the United States Postal Service

Not-for-Profit

Client: Chill Out E.V.

Agency: Wunderman Germany

Campaign: Pencil Case

GOLD 2013 International ECHO Awards Winners

Automotive

Client: Volkswagen-Audi España S.A.

Agency: CP Proximity

Campaign: THE FIRST EMAIL TEST DRIVE

 

Consumer Products

Client: Fonterra Brands (Ltd) Tip Top

Agency: Colenso BBDO/Proximity New Zealand

Campaign: Feel Tip Top

 

Consumer Products

Client: Unilever Philippines

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide Manila

Campaign: Ponds Face my Love

 

Consumer Products

Client: Beyond Dark

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide London

Campaign: Measure of Pleasure

 

Financial Products and Services

Client: TRY

Agency: TRY Reklameybrå AS

Campaign: SUPERSAVE

 

Information Technologies

Client: GOOGLE Singapore

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather Singapore

Campaign: ‘Chrome Experiment: Ramakien’

 

Insurance

Client: PNozorg

Agency: TBWA/NEBOKO DOWNTOWN

Campaign: The Boring Guys

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: Chill Out E.V.

Agency: Wunderman Germany

Campaign: Pencil Case

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: Food for the Poor

Agency: Food for the Poor, Inc.

Campaign: A Stitch and a Prayer

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: World Vision Canada

Agency: Russ Reid

Campaign: Horn of Africa Crisis Response

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: ASPCA

Agency: True North, Inc.

Campaign: ASPCA: Cracking the Donor Code

 

Pharmaceutical/Healthcare

Client: Kimberly-Clark

Agency: Ogilvy New York

Campaign: Generation Know

 

Publishing/Entertainment

Client: Chicago Shakespeare Theater

Agency: Iris Mobile

Campaign: George and Will Come to Life

 

Publishing/Entertainment

Client: Bud Fox AB

Agency: TBWA

Campaign: The Ice Record Project

 

Retail/Direct Sales

Client: DES’S

Agency: VCCP Spain

Campaign: MY MATTRESS SAVINGS BANK

 

Travel & Hospitality/Transportation

Client: V/Line

Agency: McCann Melbourne

Campaign: Guilt Trips

SILVER 2013 International ECHO Awards Winners

 

Automotive

Client: Volkswagen-Audi España S.A.

Agency: CP Proximity

Campaign: RAPIDPEDIA

 

Automotive

Client: Volkswagen-Audi España S.A.

Agency: CP Proximity

Campaign: ŠKODA CHANGE MY CAR

 

Business and Consumer Services

Client: United Parcel Service General Services Co.

Agency: Ogilvy

Campaign: Go West—The Journey of Terracotta Warrior to the U.S.

 

Communications/Utilities

Client: Halebop

Agency: Smicker

Campaign: Bop to the top!! A challenging, brand new loyalty concept for Sweden’s most satisfied mobile customers

 

Communications/Utilities

Client: Vodafone, India

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide, Mumbai

Campaign: Bringing Alive the Blackberry Boys on Social Media

 

Communications/Utilities

Client: Vodafone, India

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide, Mumbai

Campaign: Leads worth $700 mln unlocked at $5 per lead

 

Consumer Products

Client: Unilever

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather/OgilvyOne Worldwide

Campaign: Reflections

 

Consumer Products

Client: MARS NZ

Agency: Colenso BBDO/Proximity New Zealand

Campaign: Donation Glasses

 

Consumer Products

Client: Frucor

Agency: The Hallway

Campaign: Mizone Zonelab

 

Consumer Products

Client: Unilever Canada

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather/OgilvyOne Worldwide

Campaign: Photoshop Action

 

Consumer Products

Client: Frucor Beverages Ltd

Agency: Colenso BBDO/Proximity New Zealand

Campaign: The V Motion Project

 

Consumer Products

Client: The North Face

Agency: Ogilvy

Campaign: Go Wild

 

Education

Client: Regent University

Agency: Tocquigny

Campaign: FY ‘13 Student Acquisition Campaign

 

Education

Client: Danish Defence Recruitment Branch

Agency: Relationshuset Gekko

Campaign: Train with the Danish Defence – like 188,056 other

 

Financial Products and Services

Client: ABN AMRO

Agency: Van Wanten Etcetera

Campaign: Queensday cashbox

 

Information Technologies

Client: IBM China

Agency: Ogilvy Beijing

Campaign: Parallel Paths

 

Information Technologies

Client: IBM

Agency: OgilvyOne London

Campaign: IBM Wimbeldon Smarter Fans

 

Information Technologies

Client: IBM Australia

Agency: OgilvyOne Australia

Campaign: CIOs cut out to lunch

 

Insurance

Client: GEICO

Agency: The Martin Agency

Campaign: GEICO Radical Accessibility – “Maxwell”

 

Insurance

Client: Ethias

Agency: BBDO Belgium

Campaign: Ethias – Neighbourhood Fixers

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: American Cancer Society

Agency: Russ Reid

Campaign: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Campaign

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: FAD – Anti-drug Foundation

Agency: Shackleton

Campaign: 144 Hours

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: Operation Smile

Agency: Russ Reid

Campaign: Stock an Operating Room Campaign

 

Pharmaceutical/Healthcare

Client: Laboratorios Alter

Agency: Shackleton

Campaign: Flutown

 

Product Manufacturing and Distribution

Client: Nexans

Agency: Mecka

Campaign: The Coconut

 

Professional Services

Client: IBM

Agency: Ogilvy New York

Campaign: IBMblr

 

Publishing/Entertainment

Client: Reliance Industries Limited

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide, Mumbai

Campaign: The Mumbai Indians

 

Retail/Direct Sales

Client: Pão De Açúcar

Agency: Giovanni+Draftfcb

Campaign: BIRTHDAY MESSAGES – THE APP THAT BECAME A BOOK

 

Retail/Direct Sales

Client: Vodafone, India

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide, Mumbai

Campaign: 30% more Vodafone employees are “Happy to Help”

 

Travel & Hospitality/Transportation

Client: Swedish Insitute

Agency: Volontaire

Campaign: Curators of Sweden

 

Travel & Hospitality/Transportation

Client: British Airways

Agency: OgilvyOne London

Campaign: Mosaic

BRONZE 2013 International ECHO Awards Winners

Automotive

Client: BMW Canada

Agency: Rivet Global

Campaign: BMW 2012 Conquest Program

 

Automotive

Client: BMW Group Czech Republic

Agency: Proximity Prague

Campaign: BMW 7 Series and You

 

Automotive

Client: Piaggio Vehicles Pvt. Ltd

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide, Mumbai

Campaign: Once Upon a Vespa

 

Business and Consumer Services

Client: Kirin Company, Limited

Agency: DAIKO Advertising, Inc.

Campaign: 1,000,000 Genki Song Project

 

Business and Consumer Services

Client: UPS

Agency: Ogilvy New York

Campaign: Flypaper

 

Business and Consumer Services

Client: Mannaz

Agency: RelationshusetGekko

Campaign: Sold-out

 

Communications/Utilities

Client: Halebop

Agency: Smicker

Campaign: Bop News – A different newsletter for those sceptical of advertising in general

 

Communications/Utilities

Client: DCC Energi

Agency: Mediabroker/Cool Gray

Campaign: The Red Card

 

Consumer Products

Client: Frucor Beverages Ltd

Agency: Colenso BBDO/Proximity New Zealand

Campaign: The V Motion Project

 

Consumer Products

Client: Hindustan Unilever Limited

Agency: NetCORE Solutions

Campaign: HUL Active Wheel – Rural Missed Call Campaign

 

Consumer Products

Client: Affinity PetCare S.A.

Agency: CP Proximity

Campaign: PET FOOD RELEASE

 

Consumer Products

Client: Unilever Canada

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide Toronto

Campaign: Women Who Should Be Famous

 

Education

Client: MG54

Agency: MG54

Campaign: #May1810

 

Financial Products and Services

Client: AIR MILES Reward Program

Agency: Squareknot

Campaign: BMO Ticket to Paradise and the AIR MILES Reward Program

 

Financial Products and Services

Client: American Express

Agency: OgilvyOne

Campaign: Talking Tags

 

Financial Products and Services

Client: ATP

Agency: Hjatelin Stahl

Campaign: PensionClass

 

Financial Products and Services

Client: Aditya Birla Money

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Campaign: Hastakshar Mudra

 

Financial Products and Services

Client: Birla Sun Life Mutual Fund

Agency: M&C Saatchi

Campaign: Laxmi Papad

 

Information Technologies

Client: IBM

Agency: OgilvyOne Worldwide

Campaign: Everything comes alive with IBM

 

Information Technologies

Client: IBM

Agency: Ogilvy New York

Campaign: US Open Live Shazam Experience

 

Insurance

Client: Nationwide Insurance

Agency: Wilde Agency

Campaign: HRC Turnaround

 

Insurance

Client: American Family Insurance

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

Campaign: American Dreams Campaign

 

Insurance

Client: Grupo Banco Do Brasil & MAPFRE Seguros

Agency: Direct One

Campaign: Making insurance simple with less cost and increased relationship

 

Insurance

Client: EmblemHealth

Agency: Hacker Group

Campaign: Lunch Pail

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: Fundación Once & FSC Inserta

Agency: Shackleton

Campaign: Never Give Up Plan

 

Not-For-Profit

Client: Amnesty International

Agency: Colenso BBDO/Proximity New Zealand

Campaign: Trial by Timeline

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: Inspiring Denmark

Agency: adtention

Campaign: How to recruit a complete ambassador corps with a strong visual identity and a little chocolate.

 

Not-for-Profit

Client: The Norwegian Cancer Society

Agency: Bouvet

Campaign: We are all different

 

Pharmaceutical/Healthcare

Client: Bupa Care Services

Agency: The Hallway

Campaign: Bupa Home Truths

 

Pharmaceutical/Healthcare

Client: Simply You Pharmaceuticals a.s

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather, Prague

Campaign: The Erection Blister

 

Product Manufacturing and Distribution

Client: Heineken

Agency: Shackleton

Campaign: Snatch Desperados

 

Product Manufacturing and Distribution

Client: Nestle (China) Ltd.

Agency: Ogilvy Beijing

Campaign: BenNaNa Brings Magic Fun

 

Product Manufacturing and Distribution

Client: The Coca-Cola Company

Agency: OgilvyOne

Campaign: Sprite Minalakhir

 

Professional Services

Client: FLSmidth

Agency: Klausen + Partners

Campaign: Find Your Hidden Treasure

 

Retail/Direct Sales

Client: Bar Posto 6

Agency: e|ou mkt de relacionamento

Campaign: Feijoada and the Beanstalk

 

Retail/Direct Sales

Client: Pão De Açúcar

Agency: Giovanni+Draft FCB

Campaign: FORTUNE COOKIE – THE BIRTHDAY CARD THAT CHANGED THE LIVES OF THOSE WHO HAS NEVER

 

Retail/Direct Sales

Client: IKEA USA

Agency: Ogilvy New York

Campaign: The Life Improvement Project

 

Travel & Hospitality/Transportation

Client: TripAdvisor

Agency: Wilde Agency

Campaign: Selling the product no one wants

 

Travel & Hospitality/Transportation

Client: Royal Caribbean

Agency: e|ou mkt de relacionamento

Campaign: Caribbean

 

For more information about the International ECHO Awards, please visitwww.dma-echo.org.

Malcolm Gladwell calls for ban on university football

August 11th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Is Malcolm Gladwell right, should college football be banned to save brains?

Journalist and best-selling author Malcolm Gladwell is an outspoken advocate of banning college football on health grounds, and his appearance on CNN’s ‘GPS with Fareed Zakaria‘ has turned up the volume another notch. Zakaria asked Gladwell to defend his controversial position, and nary a punch was pulled.

Gladwell, author of The Tipping PointBlink and Outliers, references a growing list of research studies suggesting a link between the head-impact injuries football players routinely endure during practice and games, and debilitating neurological disorders.  The most troubling of these studies show evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brains of former college and professional football players, a disease with similarities to Alzheimer’s. CTE is only diagnosable post-brain death during an autopsy and has also been found in the brains of boxers and hockey players (although medical researchers aregetting closer to diagnosing the disease in living adults).

Before the last few years of research, it was commonly thought that only head injuries resulting in a concussion or worse were serious enough to trigger long-term problems. The latest studies are showing that’s not the case—it’s not only the concussive hits that take a toll, but the ongoing subconcussive hits that many players endure multiple times during the course of a game.

recent study of college football players who had experienced subconcussive hits showed evidence of traumatic brain injury hours after a game and, in some cases, six months later. Researchers administered a blood test to players to track a protein called S100B that indicates damage to the blood-brain barrier. When enough of the protein enters the blood stream, the body attacks it as a foreign invader, producing antibodies that can later re-enter the brain and cause long-term damage like epilepsy and dementia.

Players who had received subconcussive hits during a game had varying levels of elevated S100B in their blood (compared to pre-game blood tests). Tests of those suffering the most hits showed that antibodies to S100B had developed after the season ended, and subsequent MRIs of those players’ brains showed small but measurable changes consistent with brain damage six months after the season.  According to researchers, the average lineman endures up to 1,200 subconcussive hits over the course of a season, and the damage appears to be cumulative. A typical four-season college football career could, in light of this research, result in significant damage for some players.

English: Malcolm Gladwell speaks at PopTech! 2...English: Malcolm Gladwell speaks at PopTech! 2008 conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gladwell mentioned the case of Univeristy of Pennsylvania lineman Owen Thomas, who committed suicide in 2010. An autopsy showed early stages of CTE in Thomas’ brain—just as it was found in the brains of Dave Duerson and Junior Seau, professional players who also ended their lives in suicide. CTE is linked to depression and impulse control disorder, so it is probable—though not certain—that it contributed to Thomas’ death, since he had no documented history of depression.

When asked to comment on a comparison he’d previously made between college football and dog fighting (in 2009, just after Michael Vick was convicted of dog fighting), Gladwell said “I was just struck at the time by the unbelievable hypocrisy of people in football, for goodness sake, getting up in arms about someone who chose to fight dogs, to pit one dog against each other.”  He added:

In what way is dog fighting any different from football on a certain level, right? I mean you take a young, vulnerable dog who was made vulnerable because of his allegiance to the owner and you ask him to engage in serious sustained physical combat with another dog under the control of another owner, right?

Well, what’s football? We take young boys, essentially, and we have them repeatedly, over the course of the season, smash each other in the head, with known neurological consequences. And why do they do that? Out of an allegiance to their owners and their coaches and a feeling they’re participating in some grand American spectacle. (CNN – July 20, 2013)

The answer to the problem, according to Gladwell, is that a major university must decide to cancel its football program and set a precedent for others to follow. His ideal candidate is Stanford, a school with both serious academic credentials and a high-powered football program. If a school like Harvard or Yale called it quits,  that would be a good start, but it will take a major, bowl-winning program like Stanford to draw an acknowledged line in the sand. (Central to Gladwell’s argument is that elite academic universities will never distinguish themselves via football anyway, but an elite school like Stanford represents a rare combination of academic and sports prowess, and that’s what he believes it will take to catalyze change.)

While it’s difficult to argue with research increasingly showing a link between head impacts routinely suffered during football games and brain trauma, the question is whether we should jump from this evidence–troubling, but also preliminary in nature–to the extreme position of banning the most popular college sport in the nation. Even Gladwell’s position that schools essentially opt out of football seems far-fetched.

Are there perhaps other steps that can and should be taken to reduce the incidence of head injuries, or are we fooling ourselves by thinking that an inherently violent sport like football can be toned down enough to keep players safe from long-term harm? And what about high school and junior high football, and youth programs like Pop Warner? If brain damage can be found in college players, it’s possibly starting much earlier — should these programs also be banned?

[In the interest of full disclosure, I'm an avid and sometimes rabid college football fan.]

David DiSalvo

7/21/2013 @ 6:36PM

You can find David DiSalvo on Twitter @neuronarrative and at his website, The Daily Brain.

McMaster program gives high school students a taste of university

February 7th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

The idea is simple: give high school students a chance to experience university life and they might be more likely to attend university when they graduate.

And so far, the McMaster Reach Ahead program is working.

“We do know from our conversations with the students that a number of them were in the process of applying [for university],” Peter Joshua, superintendent of leadership and learning for the Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board, told CBC Hamilton.

“They had made that decision to apply, so now we’ll see what happens.”

The McMaster Reach Ahead program had its first pilot group this past fall. The Grade 12 students from the Catholic and public school boards spent a semester getting a feel for life as a McMaster University student.

They took a university course every morning, while continuing their high school studies in the afternoon. Complete with McMaster ID passes and access to the campus, they were given a glimpse into the day-to-day lives of post-secondary students.

The students were chosen because, though highly successful academically, they might not have considered attending university before having such an on-campus experience.

“It could be a financial barrier or maybe no one else in their family has gone to university,” Joshua explained.

“There were those that had the potential but did not have the support at home.”

Although the barriers these students face still remain, the program was intended to motivate them to overcome these obstacles, according to Kate Elliott, a leadership and learning consultant for the HWDSB.

“It’s a little bit of ‘if you build it, they will come,’ ” she said. “By setting a goal, the students are able to come up with plans for how to get there. That might mean applying for scholarships or bursaries or just maintaining their grade level.”

Board mulling the program’s future

The board is now consulting to decide if the program will continue next year, but from the feedback they’ve gotten from the students, the trial run was a success. Many of those who participated in the pilot program have decided to apply to university and are anxiously awaiting acceptance letters for the fall 2013 semester.

Sandra Preston, an assistant professor in the School of Social Work and director of experiential education at McMaster University, taught the students twice a week as part of their three-unit sociology class. She said she learned as much from the experience as the students.

“Besides meeting a bunch of smart, cool kids, I learned a lot about what students need to succeed in first year,” she said. “They were much more open about the challenges they were facing than my first-year students.”

Students discussed the transition between high school and university-level courses, pointing out how the change puts a heavy emphasis on critical thinking and independent learning.

There are similar programs at other school boards in the province and the HWDSB provides similar support for students interested in college or apprenticeships, Joshua said. He’s hopeful this particular project will get the green light again next year based on the success of the pilot.

“The whole plan is to give students a sense of what the next steps are, no matter what they want to do after high school.”

Kaleigh Rogers, CBC News

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Minding the Money

January 31st, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

One might hope that the economic recession, which formally ended in 2009, is no longer inhibiting students’ educational pursuits — or, perhaps more realistically, not as much.

But an annual survey of freshmen suggests precisely the opposite: more students than ever (66.6 percent) say America’s economic condition significantly affected their choice of college — so the recession’s residual effects, at least, linger on.

And financial considerations are affecting students in more ways than just where they enroll. The survey also found all-time highs in the number of students who said that “to be able to get a better job” (87.9 percent) and “to be able to make more money” (74.6 percent) were “very important” reasons to go to college; that “being very well-off financially” is a personal goal (81 percent); and that “the cost of attending this college” (43.3 percent) and “not offered aid by first choice” (9.5 percent) were important reasons for choosing the college they are attending.

“When we start to see all those items stack up, that stands out to us,” said Laura Palucki Blake, co-author of this year’s “The American Freshman: National Norms,” an annual survey and report published by UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program. “That says to us, there’s a need for universities to talk about this and to say, ‘Here is the lay of the land with incoming first-years, and this is really an issue for them.’ ”

CIRP surveyed 192,912 first-time, full-time students entering 283 institutions of varying type and selectivity in fall 2012. (This year’s National Survey on Student Engagement, which includes students of all grade levels, also found a strong connection between financial worries and academic activity.)

Despite the considerably grim outlook this year’s freshmen have on money, Palucki Blake said there’s reason to think positively about it.

“I don’t necessarily see it as a negative. I see it as a reality, and I see it as an opportunity for colleges and universities to get out there and to say, ‘This may be why you’re coming to college…. but don’t let that limit you,’ ” she said. “The idea is to help students navigate these four years, and let them see their potential for long-term success.”

Only, judging by another finding of this year’s survey, freshmen might be navigating for longer than they think. Although the vast majority of freshmen (84.3 percent) believe they will graduate in four years, the report notes, federal IPEDS data from the respondents’ institutions suggest that only 40.6 percent will do so. Therein lies an important lesson for students and the colleges that enroll them, Palucki Blake said.

“They may be making their choices based on cost, but not realizing actually in the long term it’s going to cost them more because they’re going to be there an extra year,” she said.

Students should know institutions’ graduation rates before enrolling, Palucki Blake said, which means colleges need to share that information and have counselors open to honest discussions.

Although 76.7 percent of students report being accepted at their first-choice institution, only 59.3 percent enrolled there. As the report notes, that figure is significantly lower than it was three and four decades ago, when 75 percent of students went with their first pick.

Finances might also have something to do with the fact that fewer students live in residence halls this year (76.1 percent in 2012, down from 79.3 percent in 2011), and more live at home (17.2 percent this year and 15 percent in 2011). More than half of these students (57.3 percent) said the cost of their college was a “very important” reason to go there. They are also more likely to plan on working to help pay for college (55.6 percent, compared to 47.8 percent of students living in dorms).

That coupling suggests colleges should consider the availability of services for students who are living at home and working full time, Palucki Blake said, because they’re likely to be on campus far less than their peers.

Last year, the report noted that while students were more likely than the year prior to identify as “middle-of-the-road” politically (and thus less likely to call themselves “liberal” or “conservative”), their collective outlook on social issues leaned to the left. That held mostly true over the course of two presidential elections.

In 2008, 44.2 percent of men and 42.5 percent of women identified as middle-of-the-road. By 2012, those figures had risen slightly to 48 and 47 percent, respectively. Men identifying as liberal or far-left dropped from 30.3 to 26.4 percent; for women that number dropped from 37.4 to 32.3 percent. And for those identifying as conservative or far-right, the percentages actually rose very slightly, 0.1 percentage point for men, to 25.6 percent, and 0.7 percentage points for women, to 20.7 percent.

Students’ positions on hot-button social issues varied. While the number of those who agreed “strongly” or “somewhat” that abortion should be legal rose from 58.2 percent in 2008 to 61.1 percent in 2012, those who said “a national health care plan is needed to cover everybody’s medical costs” dropped from 70.3 to 62.7 percent. Although the number of students saying racial discrimination is “no longer a major problem in America” rose from 20.1 to 23 percent, more of them also agree that “students from disadvantaged social backgrounds should be given preferential treatment in college admissions”: 41.9 percent this fall, compared to 39.5 percent four years ago. Finally, more students say the wealthy should pay more taxes (64.6 percent in 2012, 60.4 percent in 2008).

Perhaps in a note to the former presidential candidate Rick Santorum and his ilk, the report makes an additional observation.

“A number of studies using CIRP data have pointed out that some students become more liberal in their political orientation during college,” it says. “Study after study concludes that any change in the political orientation that occurs among students during college is predominantly influenced by the political orientation of their fellow students, and the overall campus climate perpetuated by their peers, not by the political orientation of the faculty.”

Major Majors

The survey also inquired about students’ majors. Business was again the most popular, with 14.4 percent of students planning to study it. The next-most popular majors were the health professions (14.1 percent), biological sciences (12.6 percent), and engineering (10.4 percent).

Regardless of major, students this year continued an upward trend in academic “habits of mind.” Just over 57 percent ask questions in class, 50.5 percent revise their papers to improve their writing, and 41.8 percent report “frequently evaluating the quality or reliability of information.” The largest increase in the five years since CIRP began using this set of questions was found in the proportion of students looking up scientific research articles and resources – that’s up to 27.4 percent, compared to 22.1 percent in 2008.

And consistent with past years, more students say they were frequently “overwhelmed” by all they had to do their last year in high school; 30.4 percent of freshmen agreed with that statement this year, up from 28.5 percent last year. Women are more than twice as likely than men to agree (40.5 percent – the highest that figure’s been since the question was first asked in 1985 — compared to 18.3 percent).

The students who said they felt overwhelmed were also less likely to report high emotional health (40.2 percent vs. 67.4 percent for the non-overwhelmed).

“The obvious concern is that students who report feeling overwhelmed in high school might continue feeling overwhelmed in college,” Palucki Blake said, adding that the finding speaks to the need for colleges to provide good mental health services and student activities to reduce stress.

In a section on math preparation, the report notes a stark difference between students attending historically black colleges and universities and those at other colleges. A total of 12.6 percent of students at HBCUs completed calculus in high school, lower than the rates of students at private universities (47.3 percent), public four-year colleges (20 percent), public universities (33.8 percent), and private four-year colleges (28.1 percent).

While even more students at private universities came in having completed Advanced Placement courses in probability and statistics and AP calculus (48.9 percent), only 8.6 percent of students at HBCUs did. The group with the next-lowest rates in that category was students at public four-year colleges, 18.7 percent of whom completed the classes.

More HBCU students completed pre-calculus or trigonometry, but still at lower rates than others: 63.5 percent of students at HBCUs did so, compared to 85 percent of public university students and 91.2 percent of private university students.

But the report adds this note: while students at HBCUs are less prepared mathematically, other UCLA research has shown those institutions’ “effectiveness” in graduating students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Allie Grasgreen

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Multinational MOOCs

January 30th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

The rapid expansion of massive open online courses (MOOCs) has left many in international higher education asking how they can compete. With elite American universities dominating the emerging market, will foreign institutions be left behind?

“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” some have decided. The California-based MOOC provider Coursera counts eight foreign institutions among its 33 university partners. Meanwhile, 12 universities in the United Kingdom have launched a new MOOC platform of their own. The Open University, a distance education institution based in London, recently announced the formation of Futurelearn in partnership with Cardiff and Lancaster Universities; the Universities of Birmingham, Bristol, East Anglia, Exeter, Leeds, Southampton, St Andrews and Warwick; and King’s College, University of London.

Initial marketing material for Futurelearn emphasizes its U.K. identity — asserting that the Britain should be at the forefront of advances in educational technology and stressing that, until now, U.K. universities interested in offering MOOCs have only had the opportunity of working with U.S.-based platforms. However, Futurelearn’s CEO, Simon Nelson, said the company is open to eventually working with universities outside the U.K.

“We are well aware that we are operating on a global platform, the Web, and one that doesn’t respect traditional national boundaries,” said Nelson, a veteran of the BBC Online. “If we build the Futurelearn MOOC product in the right way, then it might be applicable to a whole range of partners outside the U.K., as well as in the U.K. But of course you have to start somewhere. We wanted to get started by trying to marshal and organize the U.K. university sector, which has some of the leading global higher education providers within it.”

“MOOCs have been dominated to a good degree by U.S. universities and U.S. providers: whether you like it or not, it is simply a fact,” said Nigel Thrift, vice-chancellor of the University of Warwick. “I think there was a feeling that the British higher education sector is probably second in the world at this point in time and therefore it’s not a massive surprise that it might have a platform that’s based on that success. However, I don’t think there’s a view that this platform is going to be nationalistic.”

Coursera similarly started with only American university partners, but quickly broadened to include foreign institutions: the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Universities of British Columbia, Edinburgh, London International Programmes, Melbourne, and Toronto. While these universities span the globe, they are all established research universities with lots of international connections.

Jeff Haywood, the vice principal of knowledge management at Edinburgh, said the university’s decision to join Coursera evolved naturally out of preexisting relationships between Stanford University (where Coursera’s two co-founders teach) and Edinburgh, particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence and computer science. “In other words, it wasn’t a cold call,” Haywood said.

The École Polytechnique is offering a French-language MOOC (about the computer programming language, Java), Coursera’s first MOOC in a language other than English. Andrew Ng, Coursera’s co-CEO, said one of his long-term goals is to offer all of Coursera’s introductory courses in multiple languages. Already, he said that many of the video lectures feature crowdsourced subtitles.

Ng said he hopes to continue increasing Coursera’s number of international partners, although the growth won’t be extremely fast, as the emphasis right now is on supporting the existing partners well. “It makes sense for us to partner with all of the best universities all around the world, especially given the language issue,” Ng said. “Coursera’s mission is to offer high-quality education to everyone in the world, and to actually make that happen, students will need content in different languages.”

Colleges view MOOCs as one strategy for engaging students from all over the world: Coursera’s enrollments are 34 percent American and 66 percent international. Nelson said that Futurelearn also hopes to attain a global audience: “This is not only targeted at U.K. learners,” he said. “It’s targeted at anyone all over the world, anyone with an Internet connection.”

Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, a Coursera partner, already works with four other Hong Kong universities to offer distance education through a platform called Hong Kong Virtual University. But Ting-Chuen Pong, a professor in computer science and member of HKUST’s task force on e-learning, said that while the Hong Kong Virtual University has been successful at attracting students from within the region, it’s proven difficult to successfully market the courses abroad. He said the reputations of HKUST’s Coursera partners – universities like Columbia, Princeton and Stanford – will help the university reach new global audiences. “The name recognition is very important,” Pong said.

Regarding the two other big U.S.-based MOOC providers, edX at this point does not have any foreign university partners, although on its website it expresses interest in exploring possible partnerships with universities from around the world. Udacity has worked with universities in Austria and Germany to facilitate the awarding of credit for its classes, and this fall signed a memorandum of understanding with the University of Alberta to form a research partnership. Researchers in Alberta’s Centre for Machine Learning and its Faculty of Education will be working with Udacity to conduct research on online learning technologies. Alberta will also be offering up to six MOOCs on Udacity’s platform this fall.

“It is kind of a scary thing to do because the revenue models [for MOOCs] are not well-formed yet,” said Jonathan Schaeffer, the dean of Alberta’s Faculty of Science and a professor of computing science, “It’s easy to build courses that cost lots of money but at the end somehow you’re going to have to recoup those costs either in the short or the long term. It is a gamble, but to me, universities are all about change, and I see MOOCs as being a very important, disruptive technology. I would rather be on the leading edge, understanding and working to establish a reputation for quality now, rather than two or three years from now, when everybody’s in the game and we’re all fighting over market share.”

Schaeffer added that he believes that MOOCs are a mechanism through which university reputations can be more quickly earned. “This is a brand-new, wide-open space,” he said. “With MOOCs all the sudden reputations can be won and lost.”

Elizabeth Redden

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Millions of US grads have jobs that don’t require college degree

January 29th, 2013 | No Comments | Posted in In The Spotlight

Students who graduated into the Great Recession have struggled to find work that fits their learning. But according to research released on Monday, millions of college graduates over all—not just recent ones—suffer a mismatch between education and employment, holding jobs that don’t require a costly college degree.

The study, from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, says that nearly half of all American college graduates in 2010—some three years after the recession began—were underemployed, holding relatively low-paying and low-skilled jobs.

According to a report on the study, “Why Are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities,” out of 41.7 million working college graduates in 2010, 48 percent—more than 20 million people—held jobs that required less than a bachelor’s degree. Thirty-seven percent held jobs that required no more than a high-school diploma.

The report’s authors—Richard Vedder, Jonathan Robe, and Christopher Denhart—used employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to calculate that the number of college graduates is growing at a rate disproportionate to the number of jobs requiring a college degree. They question whether America spends too much on higher education, and ask whether society can afford to subsidize higher education for graduates who end up in jobs they could have landed without going to college.

“Student-loan programs and federal assistance programs are based on some sort of implicit assumption that we’re training people for the jobs of the future,” Mr. Vedder, director of the center and a professor emeritus at Ohio University, said in an interview. “In reality, a lot of them are not.”

The Bartender With a B.A.

While most of the analysis centers on broad categories, such as college graduates compared with high-school graduates, the authors also studied differences in graduates’ success rates by university and major, using salary data from Payscale.com.

The report notes variations in earnings depend on the type of college graduates attended and the type of degree they obtained. Those who graduated from elite private institutions fared better than those from state flagship universities and other public universities, on average, and those who majored in engineering and economics earned more than those in the humanities.

One way the authors tracked the growth of what they call underemployment was by comparing statistics from the 1970 Census to the 2010 figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The authors selected six occupations in which, they say, the skills required have not drastically changed over the last 40 years—taxi drivers, shipping and receiving clerks, salesmen and retailers, firefighters, carpenters, and bank tellers. In 1970 less than 5 percent of firefighters held a college degree, but by 2010 the share had jumped to 18 percent. Similarly, only 1 percent of taxi drivers in 1970 were college graduates, but by 2010 more than 15 percent were.

The report also cites other research to generalize the trend of underemployment among college graduates. For example, one study based on data from the Current Population Survey calculated that the percentage of underemployed college graduates rose from 10.8 percent in 1967 to 17.5 percent in 1990.

“We have noted for several years a disconnect between the number of graduates and the realities of the labor market,” Mr. Vedder said. “It isn’t like underemployment was growing slowly and shot up in the last five years. It has been a steady rise.”

Mr. Vedder said the number of college-level jobs is growing at a slower pace than the number of college graduates, and it will continue to grow more slowly if government data prove to be true.

Mr. Robe, a research fellow at the center, said that the “bartender with a bachelor’s degree” is a classic example of the lack of jobs that require a college education. Many college graduates who take jobs as bartenders or taxicab drivers have better options, he said. But vacancies in those occupations tend to be filled by other college graduates, a trend that slowly crowds out high-school graduates and dropouts.

“Maybe we should incentivize colleges to more accurately counsel students,” Mr. Vedder said. “If you get a degree in business administration, you may not necessarily walk into a middle-class life. There’s a good chance you may end up being a bartender.”

Allie Bidwell

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