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A step closer to standardized tests for undergrads
November 30, 2007
Two big consortiums of public colleges, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC), agreed to launch a Web site that will allow applicants, their parents, and legislators to compare undergraduate experiences, costs, and eventually—test scores that measure “student outcomes,” according to an article in Newsweek (Nov 16).

The use of accountability measures, when first suggested last year by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, was strongly opposed by American colleges and universities, so the shift indicates a change of heart.

According to the article, participating colleges will begin administering standardized tests to see how much test scores measuring writing, analytic ability, and critical thinking go up for students between freshman and senior year. A preliminary version of the site, College Portrait, is being tested online now. About half of the 550 member schools represented by the two groups so far have agreed to become part of College Portrait.

The consortiums seem to be reacting, at least in part, to Spellings’s call for colleges to be transparent about their costs and what students were getting in exchange for their tuition. She challenged institutions to devise new measures—namely to start using standardized tests—to figure out how much students were learning and to make public information about how graduates fared in the job market or in graduate school.

“The Spellings Commission was a catalyst,” says David Shulenburger, vice president for academic affairs at NASULGC. “It pointed us in a direction that we didn't want to go—which was mandatory testing. But most schools have come to understand what the test is and the need for it.”

Loren Crabtree, chancellor of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, told Newsweek that it’s crucial to supply more information about college so prospective students and parents can make informed decisions. “None of us are happy with multiple-choice exams,” he said. “And we need some time to figure out what is a good test, what is a good sample and how do we interpret those results. But we need to do it so we can make the case to families and students for higher education.”

For the complete article: http://www.newsweek.com/id/70750

To read the Academic Exchange article on the growing culture of assessment and accountability at Emory and in higher education, see http://www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/2007/octnov/lead.html


Emory faculty at Grady speak out
November 18, 2007
On Friday, November 16, a letter signed by 215 Emory faculty and another 27 Morehouse faculty who work at Grady as both clinicians and researchers issued an open letter "to Community and State Leaders" expressing their concern for their patients at Grady Hospital should the hospital close due to its dire financial crisis.

"Through years of eroding support from local, state, and federal governments, we have remained steadfast in our commitment to our patients. Faced with progressive cuts in staffing, deferred maintenance, and shortages of equipment and supplies, we have continued to perofrm miracles. . . .

"We call on our state legislators and the Governor to rapidly and substantively address the variety of funding streams that can and do allow for us to provide care and training.

"We are very worried about what will happen to our patients if Grady closes. . . .

"The vote on November 26 by the Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority is essential to Grady's survival. the Board's courage in restructuring governance is a prerequisite for garnering much needed support and leadership from multiple constituencies."

To read the entire letter and the list of signers, click here.


More and more colleges “measuring up”
November 9, 2007
More colleges are testing students and sharing the data with (other institutions), according to a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. The reason is the so-called Spellings Report, named for Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary for Education, which was delivered by her Commission on the Future of Higher Education. Spellings had hoped the report would spur U.S. colleges to reorient their mission to provide the highest possible quality of education to the most students possible at the lowest cost. A year after the report’s completion, there’s evidence that some of the key aspects of that vision are being realized, according to the article.

“Something is changing out there,” Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, told the Chronicle, adding that after initial criticisms of the Spellings commission and the sometimes caustic tone of its yearlong deliberations, many college leaders are recognizing common ground.           

Some of the key developments that appear to stem from, or be encouraged by, the Spellings commission include:

  • Hundreds of U.S. colleges are using standardized student-achievement tests, allowing comparisons between institutions, while investigating options for creating more such tests.
  • Several major college groups are set to outline in coming weeks projects in which their members will post to their Web sites specific performance-related data to allow direct comparisons between institutions.
  • Congress, with broad bipartisan backing, this month approved the largest increase in federal student aid since the GI Bill in 1944.

“We're under way,” Spellings said in an earlier Chronicle interview. “Are we done? Heck no. We haven't even started.”

For the complete article, see http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i05/05a00101.htm

To read the Academic Exchange article on the growing culture of assessment and accountability at Emory and in higher education, see http://www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/2007/octnov/lead.html


Ashrawi blames Israel for success of Hamas and Hezbollah
November 2, 2007
Speaking last Monday at Emory, Palestinian Authority lawmaker Hanan Ashrawi, who represents the PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad’s Third-Wave party, defended both Hamas and Hezbollah, which the United States views as terrorist organizations. “The Second Lebanon War proved Israel could not defeat a nation fighting for freedom,” Ashrawi said, according to news reports. Later, the Christian lawmaker blamed Hamas’s January 2006 election victory on Israel, saying the occupation bred extremism. Ashrawi also discussed the plight of the Palestinian people, saying they had plunged into a deep depression with unemployment and poverty at record levels, and that peace was the only answer. Palestinians are experiencing one of the most difficult phases in our history she said.

“Violence and the extreme ideology of Israel feed violence and extremism on the other side. And that’s what led to the election of Hamas. Now we see not just a political and economic battle but a battle over the soul of Palestine,” she told an audience of about 200. “We find ourselves in the grip of . . . the deconstruction of Palestine.” Ashrawi added that nearly 75 percent of Gazans were dependent on welfare and that the Gaza Strip’s unemployment rate had skyrocketed to 50 percent, and that conditions there had worsened since Hamas seized power in June. Ashrawi’s lecture was part of a series of speeches on the Emory campus focusing on peace-building in wartorn regions. She also praised former President Jimmy Carter as a “prophet” and a “man of conscience and one of a dwindling number of people who still believed peace was possible in the Middle East.” Peace talks, she argued, must be moved forward rather than waiting for the violence to subside.


Despite conventional wisdom, the elderly sleep pretty well
October 25, 2007
Contrary to their expectations, researchers have found that healthy, older people are no drowsier during the day because of sleep loss than their younger counterparts, nor did aging affect the time it took for people to start dreaming after they fell asleep. It turns out that sleep does not change much from age sixty on, and poor sleep is not caused by aging itself, but mostly because of illnesses or the medications, according to an article in the October 23 New York Times summarizing some current sleep research.

Most changes occur between the ages twenty and sixty. Healthy young adults sleep 95 percent of the night, said Donald Bliwise, professor of neurology at Emory’s School of Medicine. “They fall asleep and don't wake up until the alarm goes off,” he said. “By age sixty, healthy people are asleep 85 percent of the night.” Their sleep is disrupted by brief wakeful moments typically lasting about three to ten seconds. “There is some aspect of sleep that isn’t going to be as good as when you were twenty,” Bliwise said. But he added, “When that crosses the threshold and becomes a significant complaint is difficult to say.” The real sleep problems, Bliwise and others say, arise when people have any of a number of conditions that make them wake up in the night, like sleep apnea, chronic pain, restless leg syndrome, or urinary problems.

The research also shows that even though sleep changed during adulthood, many of the changes were subtle. Middle-aged and older people, for example, did not have more difficulty falling asleep. The only change in sleep latency, as it is called, emerged when the investigators compared latency at the two extremes, in twenty- and eighty-year-olds. The eighty-year-olds took an average of ten more minutes to fall asleep.


Congressional hearing on women in the sciences
October 19, 2007
Witnesses at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday discussed how the federal government can enhance the recruitment and retention of female faculty members in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields and combated the underrepresentation of women through targeted grants and incentives, according to an article in Inside Higher Education. The creation of a new quasi-governmental agency that would expand the enforcement of Title IX, the landmark 1972 gender equity law, was suggested as one remedy.

“The original intent of Title IX was to ensure equal educational opportunity for both sexes. Yet, relatively little has been done outside of the arena of athletics to make that mandate meaningful,” said Gretchen Ritter, director of the Center for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Donna E. Shalala, president of the University of Miami and chair of the National Academies Committee that recently issued a report, “Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, added that “I know a lot about Title IX but more because of sports programs than educational programs, and that’s something that Congress can easily fix. We need an organization like the [National Collegiate Athletic Association] that holds us accountable.”

Wednesday’s hearing of the House of Representatives Science Subcommittee on Research and Science Education focused on the end of the pipeline, so to speak—the representation of women within the faculty ranks. According to 2003 National Science Foundation data, women hold about 28 percent of all full-time science and engineering faculty positions—representing 18 percent of full professors, 31 percent of associate professors and 40 percent of assistant professors. Despite growth in the PhD pool, faculty appointments, particularly at the senior levels, are still lagging: While women now constitute more than 50 percent of PhD students in the life sciences, for instance, and, in 2003, made up 42 percent of the entire pool of life science PhD recipients within the six preceding years, they represented just 34 percent of assistant professor appointments.

Other strategies described at the hearing include offering childcare grants for professional conferences, offering flexible tenure timelines for faculty with young children, addressing salary equity issues, reading letters of recommendation with an attention to possible gender bias, providing extensive postdoctoral fellowship support to attract a broader applicant pool, and broadening faculty searches beyond highly specialized areas that may only have a couple graduates a year.

For the complete article: http://insidehighered.com/news/2007/10/18/womensci

To read the AE coverage of women in the sciences at Emory:
http://www.emory.edu/ACAD_EXCHANGE/2005/sept/lead.html


Primate expert fires back against criticism
October 11, 2007
A recent,11,000-plus word article in The New Yorker (July 30) written by Ian Parker, asserted that bonobos are not nearly as nice and sexual as researchers say they are, but are aggressive, killer apes, like their chimpanzee cousins. Their reputation for peacefulness and promiscuity, is ill-earned. Parker had traveled to the Congo to see bonobos in their habitat.

But Emory researcher Frans de Waal, a bonobo expert who is quoted extensively in the article, objected to Parker’s “revisionist” conclusions. In a rebuttal (Skeptic, August 8), he wrote that “the most striking cases of bonobo aggression that he reported have been known for decades, and actually didn’t come from the natural habitat, even less from first-hand observation by our brave explorer. A typical description was given by Jeroen Stevens, a Flemish biologist, of a gang of five bonobos assaulting a single victim at Apenheul Zoo, in the Netherlands. “They were gnawing on his toes. I’d already seen bonobos with digits missing, but I’d thought they would have been bitten off like a dog would bite. But they really chew. There was flesh between their teeth.”

de Waal also said that Parker’s assertion that bonobo sexual tendencies (which include homosexuality) have been grossly exaggerated, is also off the mark: “since most observations of bonobo sex come from zoos,” he wrote, “they can be safely ignored, we were told [by Parker], on the assumption that captivity distorts behavior. The problem is, of course, the incongruity of considering zoo observations valid in relation to aggression, yet worthless in relation to sex. One either accepts both or rejects both. He continued: “as for sex,” de Waal wrote, “I perceive the shyness of many scientists as a problem. It leads them to either ignore sexual behavior or call it something else. They will say that bonobos are “very affectionate,” when the apes in fact engage in behavior that, if shown in the human public sphere, would get you quickly arrested.


Eroded autonomy or renewed accountability? Choice words from the national debate on student learning outcomes assessment
October 3, 2007

Nothing in the accreditation process concretely measures student learning, instructional quality, or academic standards. Nothing measures whether students have made intellectual progress since high school or have attained a level of basic knowledge and competence that would be expected of college graduates. If the accrediting process were applied to automobile inspection, cars would “pass” as long as they had tires, doors, and an engine—without anyone ever turning the key to see if the car actually operated.
—Why Accreditation Doesn’t Work and What Policymakers Can Do About It: A Policy Paper from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni, 2007

Outcomes-assessment practices in higher education are grotesque, unintentional parodies of both social science and “accountability.” . . . Outcomes assessment inevitably will result in superficial competence, and students will be temporarily happier because art will suddenly be “clarified” for them. But the price will be terrible: lots of Thomas Kinkade and Frank Frazetta wannabes, but no aspiring Jasper Johnses or Helen Frankenthalers.
—Laurie Fendrich, professor of fine arts, Hofstra University, “A Pedagogical Straitjacket,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 8, 2007

The growing public demand for increased accountability, quality and transparency coupled with the changing structure and globalization of higher education requires a transformation of accreditation. . . . Higher education institutions should measure student learning using quality-assessment data from instruments such as, for example, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which measures the growth of student learning taking place in colleges, and the Measure of Academic Proficiency and Progress, which is designed to assess general education outcomes for undergraduates in order to improve the quality of instruction and learning.
—A Test of Leadership: Charting the Future of U.S. Higher Education, a Report of the Commission Appointed by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, 2006

The suggestions for federal action [on accreditation] . . . if enacted, would seriously erode the successful self-regulatory enterprise of the past hundred years. Institutional autonomy, academic freedom, and peer review—hallmarks of our enterprise—would be sacrificed in the name of accountability. The prized diversity of higher education would fall victim to a federal vision  of accountability so rigid and bureaucratic that it leaves no room for the driving force of institutional mission that is essential to producing this diversity.
—Judith S. Eaton, “Assault on Accreditation: Who Defines and Judges Academic Quality?”, Liberal Education, Spring 2007

“It’s all about engaging faculty in deciding on the instrument, making sure that the test covers some of the student learning outcomes they think are important, and then looking at scores to see what they say about whether students know those things or not, and using that information to improve teaching and student services.”
—Trudy W. Banta, senior advisor to the chancellor for academic planning and evaluation at Indian University-Purdue University Indianapolis, quoted in “Campus Accountability Proposals Evolve,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 26, 2007


Simulation reveals how body repairs balance after injury
September 27, 2007
When the brain’s neural pathways are impaired through injury, age or illness, muscles are deprived of the detailed sensory information they need to perform the constant yet delicate balancing act required for normal movement and standing.

With an eye towards building robots that can balance like humans, researchers at Emory and Georgia Tech have created a computer simulation that sheds new light on how the nervous system reinvents its communication with muscles after sensory loss. The findings could someday be used to better diagnose and rehabilitate patients with balance problems (through normal aging or diseases such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s) by retraining their muscles and improving overall balance. The research will be published in the October issue of Nature Neuroscience and was funded by the Whitaker Foundation.

“The ultimate goal of rehabilitation is for the patient to find the best way to adapt to their particular deficit. This system may help predict what the optimum combination of muscle and nerve activity looks like for each patient, helping patients and doctors set realistic goals and speeding recovery,” said Lena Ting, lead researcher on the project and an assistant professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory.

The Georgia Tech and Emory team hypothesized that the nervous system relies more heavily on the relationship between the body’s center of gravity and its environment to control balance. To test their theory, the researchers created a computer simulation that could accurately simulate standing balance and muscle reaction to balance disturbance by focusing on the relation of the subject’s center of gravity to the ground.

They determined that subjects who had impaired sensory information were slowly using new sensory pathways to track the motion of the body’s center of gravity, compensating for the loss of information from the damaged sensory pathways. In effect, the subjects’ muscles were using different neural information to perform the same balance tasks, resulting in muscle activity patterns that looked “abnormal,” but that were actually similar to the predicted optimum.

“This finding will change the way we approach rehabilitation,” Ting said. “We can’t expect patients to mimic normal balance performance when they’re using a different set of sensory information. Instead, our system identifies the best performance possible given a patient’s level and type of sensory impairment.”


Major events in October: Life of the Mind Inaugural Lecture, Emory Women's Symposium
September 20, 2007
Early October brings two major intellectual events to Emory's intellectual community. On Wednesday, October 3, the new Life of the Mind Lecture Series launches with Frans de Waal, C. H. Candler Professor of Primate Behavior and Director, Living Links Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, speaking on “Our Inner Ape: What Primate Behavior Teaches Us About Human Nature.” This new lecture series was created by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Council in response to faculty and student’s desire for more interdisciplinary communication at Emory. Framed in a way that non-specialists can understand, the lectures are designed to appeal to a broad audience of faculty, staff and students as well as the wider community. The free lectures, held at noon in the Woodruff Library as part of “Wonderful Wednesdays,” will include ample time for discussion. Organizers hope that the lectures will spark connections, such as collaborations between professors and students or among faculty from different departments.

The rest of the fall series features

Nov. 7
David Lynn
Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Chemistry and Biology
“On the Origins of Evolution”

Dec. 5
Eddy Von Mueller
Lecturer in Film Studies
"The Empty Set: Labor, Technology and the Transmogrification of 21st Century Cinema"

On Thursday, October 4, and Friday, October 5, the symposium "Women at Emory: Past, Present, and Future," sponsored by the President's Commission on the Status of Women, The Center for Women, the Women's Studies Program, and the Office of the Provost, will feature keynote speaker Nancy Cantor, chancellor and president of Syracuse University, as well as readings, panel discussions, and presentations by leaders and scholars among the community of women at Emory. Break-out sessions will feature three tracks: Women in the Professions, Women's Health, and Women in culture and society.

The symposium begins on October 4 at 3:00 p.m. in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library and resumes on October 5 at 8:00 a.m. in the third floor ballroom of Cox Hall. No registration is necessary. For a full schedule and more details visit www.pcsw.emory.edu.


Poet Kevin Young wins Quill Book Award
September 14, 2007
Kevin Young, Atticus Haygood Professor of English, was selected as the Quill Book Award for poetry for his collection, For the Confederate Dead, (Alfred A. Knopf). The award will be presented at the annual ceremony on October 22 in New York City.

“The Quill Awards acknowledge the power and importance of the written word, and we are proud to bring added awareness to this year’s recipients, representing a range of accomplished and beloved authors,” said John Wallace, president of NBC Universal Television Stations, one of the award’s sponsors.

The awards were established to celebrate excellence in writing and publishing; recognize and praise the creators of important books and great literature; interest more consumers in acquiring books and reading; and act as a bellwether for literacy initiatives.

Kevin Young is the author of five poetry collections, and editor of four others. His most recent volume, For the Confederate Dead, has been featured in The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, Entertainment Weekly, and on National Public Radio. Young’s first book, Most Way Home, was selected for the National Poetry Series by Lucille Clifton, and itlater won the Zacharis First Book Prize from Ploughshares. Young’s second book, To Repel Ghosts, a “double album” based on the work of the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, was a finalist for the James Laughlin Prize from the Academy of American Poets and was reissued in a “remix” version in 2005. Young's third poetry collection, Jelly Roll, won the Paterson Poetry Prize and was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His previous collection, Black Maria, a film noir in verse, was been recently staged by the Providence Black Repertory Theater.

Other 2007 Quill Award winners include Diane Setterfield, debut author of the year (The Thirteenth Tale); Cormac McCarthy, general fiction (The Road); and Al Gore, for the second year in a row for  history/current events/politics. (The Assault on Reason). Recipient also include Amy Sedaris, Nora Roberts, and Walter Isaacson.


Response to “Science in the Seams”
September 12, 2007
Dear Editor,

I enjoyed reading "Science in the Seams" very much and found much of it quite exciting.

One gets the impression, especially from Professor of Biomolecular Chemistry David Lynn's comments, that what is typically referred to as "basic science" is passe. Yet consider the basic science that gave us "quantum dots" and "nanoscience." These scientific breakthroughs have made huge and quite unexpected impacts in medicine, especially here at Emory. Dobbs Professor of Chemistry Lanny Liebeskind marvels at the capabilities of modern computers and mentions their fantastic speed and storage. The science that led to these great leaps in computational power are the "passe" ones of the twentieth century. Nanoscience, quantum computing, coherent control may take us to the next great breakthrough in computer power.

The prestigious journal Science featured on the cover of the 10 August 2007 issue the title "Attosecond Spectroscopy." This is another emerging and very exciting field in basic science. The issue contains articles and commentary on the fantastic potential of this new tool to look at biological processes in incredible detail. Undoubtedly new discoveries of how complex systems work will result from this new tool from basic science.

My point is the complex sciences, of which medicine and biology are examples, have always been advanced by the basic sciences. There is no reason to think this will not continue. And I'm confident that all the faculty quoted in "Science in the Seams" would agree with this and would support continued and perhaps even growing support of both the basic and complex sciences at Emory.

Joel M. Bowman
Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor
Department of Chemistry


Jews and Christians: Divided by a Common Book, Sept 16, 3:00, Carlos Museum
September 11, 2007
On Sunday, September 16, the Carlos Museum presents "Jews and Christians: Divided by a Common Book." This panel discussion features thirty-minute papers by each of these renowned scholars followed by discussion. A coffee and dessert break follows the second paper. “From the Bible to the Mishnah: the Emergence of Rabbinic Judaism,” Shaye Cohen, Nathan Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University; “Swallowing Jonah: Christianity's Borrowed Identity and the Prophet Who Wouldn't,” Wayne Meeks, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Department of Religious Studies, Yale University. This event will take place at 3:00pm in the Michael C. Carlos Museum Reception Hall. It is free. For more information, please contact the Carlos Museum at 727-4282 or carlos@emory.e
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New Nanoparticle Could Provide Simple Early Diagnosis of Many Diseases
August 28, 2007
Most people think of hydrogen peroxide as a topical germ killer, but the chemical is gaining steam in the medical community as an early indicator of disease in the body.

Emory and Georgia Institute of Technology researchers are the first to create a nanoparticle capable of detecting and imaging trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide in animals. The nanoparticles, thought to be completely nontoxic, could some day be used as a simple, all-purpose diagnostic tool to detect the earliest stages of any disease that involves chronic inflammation—everything from cancer and Alzheimer's to heart disease and arthritis. 

The research, lead by Niren Murthy at the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Dr. Robert Taylor in the Division of Cardiology at the Emory School of Medicine, is published online and will appear in the October issue of Nature Materials. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Hydrogen peroxide is thought to be over-produced by cells at the early stages of most diseases. Because there were previously no imaging techniques available to capture this process in the body, the details of how the hydrogen peroxide is produced and its role in a developing disease must still be determined. The Georgia Tech and Emory nanoparticles may be the key to better understanding the role of hydrogen peroxide in the progression of many diseases and later play an important diagnostic role.

“These nanoparticles are incredibly sensitive so you can detect [very small] concentrations of hydrogen peroxide,” says Murthy. “That's important because researchers aren’t yet certain what amounts of hydrogen peroxide are present in various diseases.”

The ultimate goal is to use nanoparticles as a simple, all-purpose diagnostic tool for most diseases. In the future, the nanoparticle would be injected into a certain area of the body (the heart, for instance). If the nanoparticles encountered hydrogen peroxide, they would emit light. Should a doctor see a significant amount of light activity in the area, they might be able to discern early signs of disease in that area of the body.

Enrollment Surge for Women in Sciences
August 17, 2007
As concern has grown about declining enrollments of men generally in higher education, engineering colleges and technology institutes have the opposite problem: not enough women. But more than two years after Larry Summers thrust the controversy over women in the sciences into the spotlight, a number of technologically oriented colleges have posted significant gains in women’s enrollment that admissions officers are attributing in part to beefed-up outreach efforts, according to the August 7 issue of Inside Higher Education.

Administrators are also finding that many women matriculating at technology-oriented colleges are angling towards specific majors in the life sciences, biomedical engineering, and environmental engineering. The trends suggest that new ways of targeting specific groups of students can lead to real results in the ultimate makeup of a freshman class. And once that class reaches campus, evidence suggests, the women do just as well—or even better—than­­ their male counterparts, in both performance and retention. The upward trend has shown itself not only at elite institutions such as the California Institute of Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (where women made up forty-four percent of the undergraduate population in the last academic year), but at their lower- and middle-tier counterparts as well, such as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY, which has seen a fifty-four percent increase in female enrollment over the past five years; their incoming class will be thirty-one percent female.

Part of the solution, according to admissions officers, has been marketing. Last year at Michigan Technological University—where twenty-four percent of its 6,544 undergraduate and graduate students are women—officials placed female students on the cover of the viewbook and arranged for enrolled women to make calls to prospective students who might be worried about the institution’s gender breakdown. Enrollment for last fall jumped from nineteen to twenty-six percent women, said John B. Lehman, Michigan Tech’s assistant vice president for enrollment services. “I think that that air of authenticity appealed to a lot of the women who were shopping around for a degree,” he said.

Overall, the trends at these various colleges tend to include a recent dip in female enrollment, followed by a big boost; increases in the number of applications; and references to national outreach and education efforts. Not only are individual colleges making inroads with their female applicant pool, but programs across the country are taking aim at girls—possibly in the wake of the Summers fiasco—and extolling the advantages of studying science and engineering fields.

Visit the Academic Exchange coverage of issues around women in the sciences.