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AKA Review
March 31, 2023
At AKA, we closely follow trends and latest developments
in higher education and the nonprofit sector.

Here are some recent articles and reports that we found particularly informative.
From The New Yorker:
The Secret Joke at the Heart of the Harvard Affirmative-Action Case
By Jeannie Suk Gersen
When Harvard Law Professor Jeannie Suk Gerson, in her capacity as a reporter and researcher, requested sealed transcripts of attorney sidebars from the 2018 Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard case, she was surprised by Harvard’s objection and the judge’s reticence, including her characterization of Gerson as “greedy.” This fascinating piece focuses not on the much-discussed substance of this case but how efforts to shield potentially unflattering material, including here a tasteless racial joke, negatively impact the legitimacy on which courts depend. Read this article
From The Wall Street Journal:
The Unraveling of the U.S. News College Rankings
By Melissa Korn
Using Yale Law School’s decision to withdraw from the U.S. News and World Report Rankings, in which Yale had been #1 for over 30 years, was a springboard to similar decisions by 12 of the top 14 other law schools, a wave of medical schools, and at least a few undergraduate colleges. This well-researched piece avoids the usual handwringing and hyperbole and instead looks thoughtfully at data manipulation and other less-than ethical practices by colleges, sub-par and opaque research methodologies by U.S. News, and the latter’s financial motivations. Read this article
From The New York Times:
You Can Have the Blue Pill or the Red Pill, and We’re Out of Blue Pills
By Yuval Harari, Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin
Even before the release of ChatGPT in November, a survey of 700 top AI academics and researchers showed that more than half believed there was a 10 percent or greater chance of human extinction from future A.I. systems. Drug companies cannot sell new medicines without rigorous safety checks of their products. Biotech labs cannot release new viruses to impress prospective investors and pump-up share prices. Likewise, a race to dominate the market for A.I. systems “should not set the speed of deploying humanity’s most consequential technology. We should move at whatever speed enables us to get this right.” Read this article

From Inside Higher Education:
Will China End U.S. Academic Pre-Eminence?
By Steven Mintz
Putting “China” in an article’s title is clickbait these days. But while China may be a red herring, this review of Empires of Ideas: Creating the Modern University from Germany to America to China by William C. Kirby, former Dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, is an excellent historical and predictive analysis of what makes a great research university and what variables threaten the eminence of such institutions. Read this article
From Insight Into Diversity:
The War on DEI
By Erik Cliburn
The recent and growing attacks on DEI in higher education by state governors and legislators will further marginalize underrepresented students, faculty, and staff. This article recaps such efforts, and the work of students, faculty, the NAACP, and federal agencies to fight back. Citing Rice University’s Title IX Coordinator, Richard Baker, it also illustrates how arguments against diversity efforts often fail to distinguish a particular grievance, and how political actions tend to omit whether they find objectionable the term “DEI” or the activities of a DEI office. DEI is such a broad topic that it is these general threats to ban it that should most alarm practitioners. Read this article
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