Disruption of the Year: Donald Trump's election
The election of Donald Trump
Though this administration has not done anything specifically targeting higher ed, several of its proposals, pronouncements and missteps have greatly impacted the industry.
Points of concern:
DACA; hate speech and its impact on a diverse population; travel ban, immigration and international students.
The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States could be cited as the disruption of the year across several industries — and around the globe — and higher education is no different. In January, access and affordability and the fate of undocumented students topped the list of concerns for leaders in higher ed.
While there have not been any higher ed-specific programs or policies originating from the administration, there have been a number of executive orders and declarations which have impacted the industry and thrown leaders for a loop as they scramble to reassure students, faculty and staff that the campus remains a safe learning environment from all who call it home.
From threats to the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals program, which left many presidents scrambling to figure out what to tell their students, to the most recent tax bill proposal, which many believe will deliver severe blows to higher ed giving, the president’s first 315 days have been quite the roller coaster ride for higher ed.
The president calls for an end to DACA, punting to Congress to enact a long-term solution for students known as DREAMers before March 5, 2018.
A $4.1T budget for FY2018 is released to Congress, including a $9.2B cut to the Department of Education -- the largest the department has ever seen.
The president issues the Executive Order on Enforcing Statutory Prohibitions on Federal Control of Education to re-establish education as a state issue. This pertains primarily to K-12, and was specifically intended to target ESSA and the Common Core standards, but offered a signal that education is not a federal priority.
Following a much-criticized meeting with presidents and leaders from historically Black college and universities, the president issued an Executive Order on The White House Initiative to Promote Excellence and Innovation at Historically Black Colleges and Universities -- his only order specifically targeting higher education. Many criticize it for lacking substance.
In one of the “most contentious confirmations in history,” which required a tie-breaker vote from Vice President Mike Pence, Betsy DeVos is confirmed as education secretary.
Donald J. Trump is inaugurated as 45th president of the United States of America.
From federal focus to state focus
And it hasn’t been only the president’s policies which have presented a challenge for administrators; the climate which has developed out of his election has led to a proliferation of problematic speakers on campus, which have not only wreaked havoc on campuses stricken by protests, but have also come at a significant price tag.
On the campaign trail, Trump said colleges should have “skin in the game” on the student debt crisis, and it is yet to be seen how that will look, but a focus on completion and affordability should help shore up institutions hoping to stay above the fray. Not only that, but the tax bill being pushed by Republicans in Congress and President Trump himself contains what many higher ed advocates see as attacks on higher education by way of endowment targeting and changes to bonds which enable capital projects on campus.
Follow Autumn A. Arnett on Twitter