June 18, 2021
On Thursday, President Biden signed legislation making Juneteenth officially a federal holiday to commemorate the end of slavery. Across the country, colleges and universities honored the day with on-campus and virtual events. Yale University is livestreaming their Juneteenth Opening Ceremony and Columbia University created a mini-doc titled ‘Why Do We Celebrate Juneteeth.’ The twelve-minute video features top scholars and members of the Columbia community. University of Michigan held a week's worth of events during their Juneteenth Symposium; recordings of the speakers and events can be found online.
As schools plan to return to normal operations this fall, many are also considering ways to apply the learnings from the pandemic to their strategies for the future of higher education.
Harvard University has formed a task force on the future of teaching and learning. On June 23rd, Johns Hopkins is holding a free online event for students, staff, and the general public on addressing the education disparities that COVID exacerbated. And the University of Akron made the bold decision to sell 1 million square feet of its land and buildings, in anticipation of a shift towards more remote learning opportunities in the future. Hear more about the University of Akron’s decision on InsideHigherEd’s podcast, The Key.
The list of schools was primarily community colleges, but did include some four-year public universities. Scott donated $40 million each to University of Central Florida, University of Illinois at Chicago, University of Texas at San Antonio, Florida International University, and Cal Poly Pomona, Fullerton, and Northridge. The donations are unrestricted, so each school can choose how to use the money.
In February 2020, Cornell announced its plans to create a new School of Public Policy.
The school would draw faculty from several related disciplines, but would have its own budget and dean. Nearly a year and a half later, the school, which is is expected to open this summer, has a name and a dean. It will be formally named the Cornell Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy, but called the Cornell Brooks School, after a major donor with a long-history of Cornell roots and an interest in socially responsible investments. On June 15th, the University announced that Colleen Barry has received a five-year appointment as Dean of the Cornell Brooks School. Barry will be coming to Cornell from Johns Hopkins, where she currently leads the department of health policy and management.
Jennifer Rocha’s post-graduation family photoshoot looked a little different than most grads.
She donned her gap, gown, and UC San Diego sash in the fields where she has worked alongside her parents throughout her life. Recalling her high school schedule, Rocha said, “I would get out of cross-country practice at around 2 p.m. and then my dad would pick me up and I would get home, change, eat something and then go right to work overnight because during that time we were planting strawberries overnight." She also shared words of encouragement for other students who have to juggle work and school. “It's not impossible. Just because your parents work in domestic labor jobs doesn't mean that you aren't going to be successful. It's going to be hard, but everything is possible. And never forget where you come from."