Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal

Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal Harvard, MIT Part of $800 Million Deal to Push Access to Online Education - The Wall Street Journal Posted: 29 Jun 2021 04:00 AM PDT Education-technology company 2U Inc., which runs graduate programs for dozens of top universities, is buying web-based course provider edX, a nonprofit founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, for $800 million. The deal combines two major players in online instruction as universities around the world push more aggressively into digital offerings. Many schools scrambled to shift courses online when the pandemic shut campuses last year, and they are now expected to build on—and polish—the programs. The sale proceeds will go to a nonprofit, to be run by Harvard and MIT, that the schools say will focus on reducing inequalities in access to education. It will maintain the open-acc

UNLV Newsmakers 2021: January | News Center | University of Nevada, Las Vegas - UNLV NewsCenter

UNLV Newsmakers 2021: January | News Center | University of Nevada, Las Vegas - UNLV NewsCenter

UNLV Newsmakers 2021: January | News Center | University of Nevada, Las Vegas - UNLV NewsCenter

Posted: 03 Feb 2021 12:47 PM PST

The close of 2020 left the world somewhat relieved, with many hanging on to the hopes of a better new year. As the world ushered in the first weeks of 2021, however, events on the national stage — a riot at the U.S. Capitol Building, a presidential inauguration, the emergence of new COVID-19 strains — left many Americans feeling like we might still be stuck in 2020.

But there have been some bright spots, both nationally and at UNLV.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is underway across the country, with UNLV and the Nevada System of Higher Education playing a key role in getting shots distributed in the Silver State. Other major changes include the official retirement of Hey Reb!, and continuing construction on the UNLV School of Medicine's new medical education building. All the while, UNLV experts continue to offer their expertise on ongoing topics such as the presidential inauguration and vaccine distribution. 

With a fresh start for opportunity, healing, and growth, UNLV begins the new year with resilience and alacrity.

The Vaccine Dream

January marked the one-year anniversary of the first COVID-19 case in the U.S. Since then, more than 400,000 Americans have died from the virus, with new daily cases reaching a peak of 300,000 in early January. The time for widespread vaccine distribution has finally arrived,  and about 25 million Americans have received at least one dose of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

UNLV, in partnership with the Nevada System of Higher Education, is one of the many institutions that have begun to effectively administer COVID-19 vaccines to faculty, staff, health care workers, and community members, explaining the eligibility and registration required to receive a dose in the Las Vegas Review-Journal (twice). University experts offered their perspectives, advice, and guidance on the vaccines and how to register.

Hey Reb! Officially Retires

Following an extensive listening tour, UNLV President Keith E. Whitfield updated the campus community this month about the status of UNLV's nickname and mascot. 

While it's been less noticeable because of the pandemic and lack of public events, The Hey Reb! mascot has been retired since last spring and there are no plans to bring it back. Whitfield said that the campus community is moving forward with a decision made by then-President Marta Meana who had a statue of Hey Reb! removed from the main campus late last spring.

In the campus message, Whitfield also announced that the "Rebels" nickname will remain.

"It captures the essence of an iconic city that is unconventional and celebrates its independence, tenacity, and resiliency," he said. "Rebels have a purpose or motivation for a greater cause and are not afraid to take risks to make incredible things happen." 

The Capitol Riot – An Analysis

On Jan. 6, a mob stormed the U.S. Capitol. The riot caused five fatalities, the evacuation of government officials, and the lockdown of the Capitol building. The surprising turn of events led to many citizens questioning the preventative measures that could have been taken, the differences between previous Capitol protests, and the stability and safety of the national government. University experts offered their analysis on the riot and what may lie ahead.

The Presidential Inauguration

New year, new presidency – after months of political debates, mail-in ballots, and claims of voter fraud, a new administration has finally begun. UNLV's experts tapped into challenges the new administration might face and offered their insight and analysis on the nation's priorities and the president's background.

  • Law professor Francine J. Lipman discussed the corporate tax rate with Forbes.
  • Assistant professor in educational psychology and higher education Stefani Relles spoke to KLAS-TV: 8 News Now about President Joe Biden's executive order on student loans.
  • Assistant professor in political science Dan Lee analyzed Donald Trump's impact on the Republican party in the Las Vegas Sun.
  • UNLV economist Stephen Miller projected economic recovery by the end of 2021 on VOA.
  • Distinguished Fellow in Gaming Law Anthony Cabot discussed security measures in place in Nevada casinos with Casino.Org.

Construction Underway on School of Medicine Building

Despite continued impacts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, construction remains on track for the UNLV School of Medicine's new academic building. In October, the community celebrated a groundbreaking for the building, and in early January, the first concrete was poured. And then, on Jan. 19, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak announced his proposed budget during his State of the State address, which includes the restoration of $25 million for the project. The 135,000-square-foot building located on Shadow Lane in central Las Vegas is projected to be completed in summer 2022.

CES vs. COVID-19

Every January, Las Vegas gleams as a mecca for technology and innovation during the annual trade show CES. This year, the pandemic forced the convention to go virtual, impacting both the hospitality and travel industry within Southern Nevada. UNLV experts highlighted CES and its virtual accomplishments this year, as well as their predictions of how the Las Vegas economy will fare in the coming months.

General Expert Roundup

  • UNLV president Keith E. Whitfield delivers his first State of the University Address – virtually – with coverage in the Las Vegas Sun and on KLAS-TV: 8 News Now.
  • Three of UNLV's online programs ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the best in the nation: KTNV-TV: ABC 13.
  • UNLV student-athletes shatter department GPA records in Fall 2020: KTNV-TV: ABC 13 and KLAS-TV: 8 News Now have the story.
  • Governor Sisolak visits UNLV physicist Ashkan Salamat's lab for an inside look into superconductivity: AP, KSNV-TV: News 3.
  • On January 11, Las Vegas Sands founder Sheldon Adelson passed away at the age of 87. UNLV experts reflected on his legacy: the legend and how his passing may affect the Las Vegas Sands.
    • History professor Michael Green reflects on Sheldon Adelson's legacy in The Washington Post.
    • Gaming historian David Schwartz talks about Adelson's legacy on KLAS-TV: 8 News Now.
    • Distinguished fellow in responsible gaming Alan Feldman, Gaming historian David Schwartz, and International Gaming Institute executive director Bo Bernhard reflect on Adelson's legacy and the future of the Las Vegas Sands on Las Vegas Review-Journal and El Tiempo.
  • Gaming historian David Schwartz on how casino companies are expanding into new forms of gambling: AP.
  • Bradley Marianno explained the situation of children returning to classrooms on Yahoo!, KLAS-TV: 8 News Now, and El Tiempo.
  • Brett Abarbanel, director of research for the International Gaming Institute, discussed with Yahoo! how the gaming industry has been impacted by COVID-19.
  • Sociology professor Barbara G. Brents explained in the New York Times the appeal of  online sex work for Americans.
  • College of Engineering Dean Rama Venkat explained the importance of the senior design competition in the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
  • Doctoral student Nicole Santero analyzed the culture of the BTS fandom on BBC and Medium.
  • Communications professor Emma Frances Bloomfield offered tips to KTNV-TV: ABC 13 on how to receive a "balanced diet" of news, and talked about climate change communication with Grist
  • Psychology professor Stephen Benning offered insight on how to combat COVID-19 fatigue in the Phoenix Business Journal.
  • Jason Steffen, professor of physics and astronomy at UNLV, discussed the "Steffen method" with Wired.
  • Samantha Coogan, director of the Didactic Program in Nutrition & Dietetics, offered tips on sensible snacking on Las Vegas Weekly.
  • History professor Michael Green and history department chair Andy Kirk reflected on Nevada's history of nuclear testing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and El Tiempo.
  • Associate professor of law Benjamin Edwards examined the possibility of class-action lawsuits against Robinhood Markets in Bloomberg.

Perseverance Pays Off | News Center | University of Nevada, Las Vegas - UNLV NewsCenter

Posted: 03 Feb 2021 08:58 AM PST

Femurs, and muscles, and skulls, oh my!

If you need to study anatomical models for one of your classes, the 2020 President's Classified Employee of the Year is just the person to help you out. While overseeing the anatomical model collection housed in the reserve section of Lied Library is only one small part of Holly Samayoa's job, she admits it is one of her favorite tasks.

"We have almost 100 that we check out — hearts, brains, different skeletons, arms, and legs — basically anything the students studying anatomy have to study," she said. Some of the models have names. "Lenny is just muscles, torso, and internal organs. Mandy is a full skeleton and only bones. We have skulls, too.

"This semester I tried to get students to use the iPads more. On iPads we have 3-D models. It's quicker to clean those. The majority of the models still are available, though. Anything we can thoroughly clean can be checked out."

General job duties

I am a library technician II. I usually work 3:30 until closing. I am the evening and weekend supervisor. I work with the circulation staff, helping students. I also am the reserves coordinator, gathering the items the professors place on reserve and processing the books CSUN purchases for reserves. 

UNLV Libraries career start

It began when I was a student worker in '09. Eventually, I ran out of loans and stopped going to school. Then I worked full time for a couple of years. 

What jobs did you do?

What didn't I do? I worked at the Paris as a photographer. I also worked as a substitute teacher. I worked at a payment processing center. I worked at the Nevada State Museum and then I also worked at the Springs Preserve.

I had been trying to get back to UNLV from the moment I left because I knew I wanted to continue on a library career path. Finally, I was able to get a full-time job here in 2018.

Four majors later (biology, kinesiology, music, and art history), I finally got my undergraduate degree — art history with a minor in music — in December 2019. It took me about 11 years but I finally finished. 

It was a big help when I learned I could get tuition assistance through the grant-in-aid program to help me with my studies. I was first-gen. I didn't have anyone to ask for help. For me, the librarians and my supervisor were my support system. I would ask them what I should do next. They wouldn't let me give up on school or my goals.

How did you settle on art history? 

When I was a music major I wanted to major in music history but UNLV does not have that degree. When I left music (timpani — that was my jam), even though I was discouraged from continuing to pursue a degree in fine arts, the music librarian told me to pursue art history. That way I could be a fine arts librarian. Also, many of the credits I had earned would apply to that degree, too. The art history faculty was very welcoming and supportive. I am a visual person so art actually was a perfect fit. It was all meant to be. 

The appeal of a career in libraries

I like the idea of giving people the tools to succeed. I had worked at the computer help desk in the libraries, helping students with questions. We were able to help students, pointing them to the right resources for their research. I like that the libraries always has resources to help everyone succeed. Most people think the library is just books, but it's not. 

Next step 

My goal is to start applying to library school. I plan to apply in the spring. Some amazing people in the library have offered to help me with the process of applying and figuring out scholarships and financial aid.

First paying job

It was at an animal hospital because I wanted to be a vet. When I mentioned that to the vet, he said I should work there so that I could watch. I did so many things. I would answer phones. I would hold a dog when it was having its nails trimmed. I would clean the lobby when someone had an accident. I cleaned cages. I liked the animals but not all of the owners. Some people are so awful to their pets. I decided that's not what I wanted to do.

Someone at UNLV who gave you good advice

Everyone was very helpful. Everyone was very good about answering questions. Our former associate dean, Pat Hawthorne, was particularly helpful. She helped me have more confidence. She was always saying, "I want you to feel empowered." She didn't want us to be afraid to enforce a policy, for instance. Every conversation I had with her, I would learn something new. I miss her.

Dan Sandecki, who is the safety and loss prevention manager for the libraries, is someone else. He always says, "Lead by example," which is great advice. For instance, if you follow the COVID policies and protocols, others will see that. If you have any questions, Dan is very logical and very straightforward. He can really ground you and I appreciate that.

Advice for a new employee

Get involved as much as possible. Go to as many events as possible. Volunteer for the AskMe! booths. It's really fun even when it's summer. It's really fun to interact with students and other UNLV employees from different departments.

Outside of work 

I am home with my dogs — a white German shepherd named Butter Popcorn, who is white with yellow tips. Then there's my husky, Luna Kai.

My boyfriend and I like to go to restaurants — when they are open. Pre-COVID we hosted game nights with friends, went to escape rooms. Now we play with friends online and go golfing.

Your choice for a final meal would be

A rare burger and a pint of Guinness and matcha tea with boba. Boba is my obsession. It was the only thing I could taste after I had COVID!

A book, TV show, podcast, or movie to recommend.

For podcasts, there are two I particularly enjoy. "Latinos Who Lunch" is about everything from pop culture and art to issues of race, gender, and class in Latinx communities, while also discussing food. It's funny but also talks about real issues.

I also like "Armchair Expert" with Dax Shepard. Guests range from celebrities to "experts" and they talk about science, celebrities, food, social issues, and just life in general. It's funny but also informative.

Learning About Yourself Through Leadership Coaching | News Center | University of Nevada, Las Vegas - UNLV NewsCenter

Posted: 03 Feb 2021 07:36 AM PST

Whether it's time management, delegation, or having tough conversations, we all have areas in which we'd like to improve. That rings true for those in leadership roles as well as those aspiring to get to the next level. Even the smallest changes, such as adding regularly occurring meetings with peers to your calendar, can improve relationships and contribute to success in work and life. 

Now, UNLV has one more tool to help employees identify such tactics: leadership coaching.

"I heard about leadership coaches from a few colleagues who are more advanced in their careers than I am," said Nicholle Zarkower, executive director of strategy and communication for the CFO's office. "They all affirmed it was an invaluable opportunity to fine-tune their goals and chart their career path."

The Pilot Program Experience

In 2018,  Zarkower and a group of her Business Affairs colleagues volunteered to be part of a pilot group for a universitywide leadership coaching program initiated by Jean Vock, Business Affairs senior vice president/CFO, and Erin Collier, director of organizational development. The goal: collect information and use it to develop a program that provides UNLV's current and emerging leaders with opportunities to refine existing skills and acquire new ones. 

To get started, each participant was paired with a coach charged with delivering impartial and unbiased feedback. This is one of the main benefits of working with a coach. 

"I enjoyed talking candidly with someone who wasn't involved in my direct work," said Chris Viton,associate vice president of financial services and controller. "They challenged me without bias or an agenda which in turn, helped me to see myself more clearly." 

After an initial assessment, participants self-reflected to set concrete, measurable goals and worked with their coach on a development plan. They scheduled a series of six one-on-one sessions, usually about two weeks apart, to allow time to take action on their commitments. "You really hold yourself accountable when working with a coach because you know someone is investing in you," says Zarkower.

Lessons Learned in Coaching

While all of their discoveries were different, by the end of the process, they each implemented key takeaways into their work. "It was eye opening to learn some things I was doing that were counterproductive in regards to time management," said Viton. "I learned some delegation  techniques which have been incredibly helpful," said Rebecca Barber, associate vice president of financial planning, budget, and analysis. 

After the pilot wrapped, Collier got to work applying lessons-learned to the campuswide initiative — UNLV Leadership Coaching Program (LCP). The first order of business was identifying a diverse pool of coaches and creating an interview process through which "coachees" could select their coach. "Participants wanted an opportunity to have conversations with several coaches to find one who best fit their work style and personality," says Collier. "We cast a wide net during the RFP process and found more than a dozen qualified coaches from a wide variety of backgrounds." 

Once someone expresses interest through an online interest form, Collier matches them with three potential coaches. Next, the participant contacts the coaches for interviews until they make their selection. Since this process is new to most, Collier provides suggested questions to guide these conversations. To add another level of familiarity, most coaches filmed introductory videos, posted on the Leadership Coaching Program web page, so interested participants can learn more about each coach.

Another lesson learned during the pilot program is coaching is not one size fits all. Flexibility is a key component of LCP. Everything, including the number of sessions, topics to explore, goals to set, etc. is tailored to the individual. After meeting and identifying goals, the coach and coachee agree upon a number of sessions they believe will be sufficient to meet those goals. If, as they move along, they need to adjust the number of sessions or anything else, they can do that. Investing in coaching provides support exactly when needed on issues that are most personally and professionally relevant to the coachee.

Launching Campuswide

The UNLV Leadership Coaching Program launched campus-wide in October 2020. It's open to all UNLV employees who have approval from management in their area. However, making the most of the experience is up to the individual. "You get out of coaching what you put into it," says Collier. Viton agrees. "It's critical that the individual and their manager(s) are fully committed to the process. Development takes time and they must have support to be successful." 

In fact, supervisors are an integral part of the process. They participate in setting confidentiality parameters, receive regular progress updates, and provide the coachee with the support they need to achieve their goals. Coachees experience the most success when their supervisors support and encourage their progress. 

There's also a common coaching myth that the pilot group wants to set straight. Coaching is not about disciplinary action, it's about professional development. "I got started with coaching because I was an outstanding performer, not a troubled performer," says Barber. "It's been one of the most positive things I've done. I don't feel I would have been ready to take on this job had I not had prior coaching." 

Mutual trust and vulnerability are essential elements in the coaching relationship. This is obvious for the coachee, as coaching discussions revolve around them, their challenges, and related goals. Trust and vulnerability are also significant issues for the coach. The coach may disclose their own past struggles and challenges in a teaching moment and needs to know that the client will keep these private. Trust is facilitated when confidentiality is agreed and maintained during the coaching engagement.

Get started in the Leadership Coaching Program by first getting approval from your department. Then visit Leadership Coaching Program webpage.


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