higher education

On July 1, 2019, Sarah Mangelsdorf became the new president of the University of Rochester. She was selected for the role following the resignation of Joel Seligman, and is the university’s first female president.

Mangelsdorf comes to Rochester from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she served as provost. She’s also a professor of psychology whose research focuses on the social and emotional development of infants and young children.

We sit down with Mangelsdorf to discuss her background, her goals for the university, her views on the university’s role in terms of economic development, and how she thinks the campus is moving forward after the events of last year. In studio:

We’re broadcasting from WEOS in Geneva, as we sit down with the new president of Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Joyce Jacobsen. Jacobsen is the 29th president of Hobart College and the 18th president of William Smith College. She is the Colleges' first female president.

Jacobsen started the job on July 1. We talk to her about her career in higher education, what drew her to Geneva, her vision for the future of HWS, and more. 

A group of graduate students at the University of Rochester is leading an initiative that encourages more people of color to pursue STEM-related majors and professions. According to the National Science Foundation, 70 percent of scientists and engineers employed full time are white, and underrepresented minorities in those professions earn less than their white co-workers.

The Rochester Chapter of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering has plans to address the disparities. We hear from members about their goals and their work. In studio:

  • Antonio Tinoco Valencia, president of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and Ph.D. candidate in organic chemistry
  • Shukree Abdul-Rashed, vice-president of the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and Ph.D. candidate in organic chemistry
  • Marian Ackun-Farmmer, social-relations chair for the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and Ph.D. candidate in biomedical engineering
  • Anthony Plonczynski-Figueroa, faculty advisor for the Alliance for Diversity in Science and Engineering at the University of Rochester, and director of operation for the David T. Kearns Center, University of Rochester

When celebrity parents Felicity Huffman and Lori Laughlin were arrested this week, it set off a national conversation about what parents will do to help their children. According to law enforcement, Huffman and Laughlin paid bribes to agencies that would create false profiles in order to help their children get into elite colleges.

Our guests discuss the value of letting children fail, and the advantages that wealthy families have. In studio:

Are high school and college students benefiting from too much grade inflation? Some admissions directors say yes.

A Clemson University professor sent a note to his colleagues, advising them to stand by the grades they give, and not buckle to student pressure. He wrote, "Assigning a grade is the end of teaching a class, not the beginning of a negotiation.”

We talk about when it is and is not appropriate to allow for re-dos, re-tests, re-writes. Our guests:

  • Larry Frye, Head of School at The Harley School
  • Joe Cope, history professor, and interim associate provost for student success at SUNY Genseo
  • Leah Stacy, assistant professor in professional practice in English and communication at Nazareth College

There's a lot of talk about whether college students are too "coddled" these days. Our panel discusses whether the stereotypes match the reality, and whether a change in the culture of classrooms can be beneficial. We've had feedback from professors across the country, and we share that, too.

In studio:

  • Amy Guptill, professor of sociology at The College at Brockport
  • Alysha Rios, junior at The College at Brockport


Reporter Claudio Sanchez, who appears regularly on NPR programs like Morning Edition and All Things Considered, took part this week in the 150th anniversary kickoff at Wells College in Aurora, in Cayuga County on Thursday.

He was part of a discussion on a wide range of topics, including the future of higher education in America.

St. John Fisher College has launched a new major: students can now graduate with a degree in sustainability. The program links the campus to the community in an effort to ignite conversations about sustainability across industries.

We discuss the program, what it means to graduate with a sustainability degree, and how students can apply that knowledge after college. In studio:

  • Michael Boller, Ph.D., associate professor in biology, and director of the sustainability program at St. John Fisher College
  • Patricia Donahue, senior pollution prevention engineer, and manager of the sustainable supply chain program at the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute
  • Julia Greene, St. John Fisher College graduate with a degree in psychology and a minor in sustainability
  • Evan Bourtis, senior at St. John Fisher College majoring in biology and media communications and minoring in sustainability

Student journalism has come under the spotlight after a series of media outlets reported on alleged censorship of the campus newspaper at Liberty University. Student editors and reporters working for the “Liberty Champion” say faculty members and the president of the university, Jerry Falwell Jr., spiked articles they found to be critical of the university or amended articles they thought were critical of President Trump. Falwell told students that the newspaper had been created to champion the interest of the university, and that the institution, as the publisher of the publication, is responsible for content decisions. The situation sparked debates across the Liberty campus and beyond.

This hour, we talk to local student journalists about ethics issues surrounding student publications and freedom of the press. Our guests:

Three-quarters of American college professors are adjuncts, according to various recent studies. The Atlantic Monthly framed the issue in terms of a battle for not just working professors, but the quality of higher education; the magazine explored the question, "Can a budding labor movement improve the lives of non-tenured faculty - and, in the process, fix higher education?"

We discuss the move toward unionization among adjuncts, and what that might mean for professors and students. Our guests:

  • Colleen Wolf, adjunct lecturer in music at Nazareth College
  • Jake Allen, organizer for SEIU-Faculty Forward at Nazareth College
  • Pat Domaratz, labor relations specialist employed by NYSUT
  • Paul Ciminelli, Second Amendment expert and attorney at Ciminelli & Ciminelli, and adjunct professor in homeland security management at Monroe Community College