Incoming students and their families navigate campus during New College of Florida's move-in and orientation on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023 in Sarasota. [ CHLOE TROFATTER | Times ]

University development in a historic section of Pittsburgh has left residents wondering: What about us? And, join us Aug. 30 for a webinar about political influence at Texas and Florida colleges.

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A newsletter about role of higher education in society — plus Open Campus developments.

New College students return after year of drastic change

A blue New College flag
A school flag waves in the wind on Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at New College of Florida in Sarasota. [ ANGELICA EDWARDS | Times ]

“There’s definitely a bit of apprehension, but I’m hopeful,” Marilib Maloy, whose daughter is starting at Sarasota’s New College this fall, told Divya Kumar at our partner The Tampa Bay Times during new-student orientation over the weekend.

Maloy’s sentiment just about sums up the mood at the college, which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has overhauled in the last year. Most recently, trustees moved to end the college’s gender studies major. The board — put in place by DeSantis — has also fired the college’s president, scrapped its DEI department, and denied some professors tenure.

Students at orientation this month were a bit hesitant about all that’s happened. But, they also had some of the standard college-going jitters: Will I make friends? Will I fit in?

“I’m hopeful for the future because I’ve seen New College go through strife before,” said new student Samantha Champlain. “I’m very invested in trying to make sure it retains some of the culture it’s had.”

Florida is just one of the states where political battles are reshaping college campuses.

Join us Sept. 27 at 1 p.m. eastern for a virtual event about what’s at stake in Florida and Texas. You’ll hear from me, and three of our reporters: Divya, her coworker Ian Hodgson, and The Texas Tribune’s Kate McGeeRegister here, and help us spread the word!

Student debt burdens Black women

With student-loan payments set to resume in October, Naomi Harris, our reporter on race and equity, set out to talk to a population especially hampered by debt: Black millennial women. A dozen years after they start college, Black women owe an average of 13% more than they first borrowed. After the same period, white men have paid off an average of 44% of their debt.

One of the women Naomi spoke to, Ashley Pullum, gave up on plans to go to law school because she was already mired in debt. “It’s stressful, and ultimately I don’t know if it will pay off,” she said.

Our new director of revenue operations

We’re excited to welcome Paula Matias, who joined Open Campus this month as director of revenue operations. Paula comes to us from Chalkbeat, where she served in that same role for more than four years. She’ll help us track finances, develop programs, and grow revenue.

Elsewhere on Open Campus

From Pittsburgh: Emma Folts at PublicSource dug into new development in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood: Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh are both making major investments there — Pitt is set to construct a biomanufacturing facility, known as BioForge, that it says will transform “Steel Valley into Bio Valley.” But, the changes have left residents wondering: What does it mean for us?

“If our community knew that land was valuable, we could have bought it ourselves,” said Terri Shields, a lifelong Hazelwood resident, told Emma.

From California: Adam Echelman at our partner CalMatters reports on the battle over who can offer bachelor’s degrees. Some community colleges hope to create new degree programs, which has rankled the California State University system.

From Chicago: Izzy Cervantes, the daughter of Mexican and Puerto Rican immigrants, has a lot on her mind as she prepares to apply to college. Izzy isn’t sure what the Supreme Court’s race-conscious admissions ruling means for her. Does she want colleges to know she’s the daughter of Latino immigrants?

“The Harvards of the world always want to have the stories of bringing the low-income girl to Harvard, and getting her through schooling from the immigrant background,” she told Lisa Philip at WBEZ. “But now with the Supreme Court’s ruling, they don’t have to have that anymore if they don’t want to.”

From College Inside: California’s San Quentin State Prison is trying to help incarcerated people prepare for careers outside, through a 14-week training course. Charlotte West visited career day at San Quentin to learn more.

From Colorado: Students transferring from community college to one of eight four-year institutions could have part of their education paid for with a new scholarship, writes Jason Gonzales.

From Mississippi: Turmoil continues at Delta State: its provost stepped down suddenly this week, according to emails obtained by our partner Mississippi Today. The move “comes as Delta State has started the fall semester in the wake of public uproar over the hiring of an interim band director who made transphobic comments on a now-deleted podcast,” writes Molly Minta.

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