Wednesday, April 27, 2005

My Endorsement

I want to endorse the petition that is being circulated and encourage everyone to sign it.

I went to the all-college faculty meeting last Thursday. What was most striking about the meeting is that other departments are being quite seriously hurt by the cuts this year.

The more signatures that are affixed to the petition, the clearer it will be to the Chancellor that there are real worries about the future of our college and our university. At the meeting, it was also obvious that the administration doesn't really believe that faculty are seriously upset at the prospect of increased teaching loads and numbers of students. Attempts to communicate this to the chancellor earlier have been basically ignored.

Although the petition is fairly vaguely worded, we should all affix our signatures in order to make it clear that we are not comfortable with the way the cuts are being taken. One example raised at the meeting: Shouldn't we be seeing the reduction of the numbers of deans & vice-deans instead of a reduction of numbers of course offerings? Michael, as COLS dean, oversees 1/2 the faculty in the university. There are 3 deans (and staffs) for the other 1/2. It is not our job, necessarily, to find cuts, but it is likely that there are better locations.

COLS Petition in the Works

At the all faculty meeting last week, the large number of participants decided that we needed to make a collective statement about our unhappiness about the ways that the latest round of budget cuts are being implemented.

Here is the petition as it is being circulated:

We, the undersigned, are deeply disturbed by the inevitable detrimental impact of the proposed university budget cuts on students and the academic mission of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Raising minimum class sizes, cutting course offerings, reducing support for faculty research, and raising course loads will clearly diminish the quality of instruction and drastically decrease time dedicated to students. Additionally, raising course loads and reducing support for faculty research threaten our ability to maintain our academic accreditation. Reducing faculty research undermines our ability to credibly teach and serve as professional role models for our students. The dilemma of fund allocation, though made difficult by the state budget, can be productively reconsidered. We therefore call for a reconsideration of the allocation of university funds by the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor, to best protect the teaching and research mission of this university.

The language is a bit vague, in the hopes that a large number of faculty members will sign on.

New Building Projects

UW Oshkosh - Welcome

Lost, Uninterested Undergraduates

The New York Times > Education > Education Life > The Undergraduate Experience: Survival of the Fittest

Monday, April 25, 2005

A brief comment

I've done a little internet research tonight for myself and compiled a list of related articles.

I suppose the real heart of the matter is that there is increasingly diminished respect for a college degree. The newest vision of education has become something equivalent to shopping at the mall. Stop in and pay for your diploma. The state can set a price that students are willing to bear and dilute the quality as much as possible.

The students keep taking out bigger loans and are not dissatisfied with less work and less attention from their teachers.

No one, least of all us, the professoriat, is standing up the virtue of education as a key pillar of civil society. It may be that so many of us simply take for granted the desire for education, as we all have devoted ourselves to pursuing it. I have been trying to increase my explanations and justifications of a liberal education as I teach, but who knows if it has much effect. Learning how to read and think critically are at the heart of democracy. A society where people are not self-sufficient and able to carefully analyze their own place in it can not function through democratic means.

Students and legislators simply see it in instrumental terms, necessary to get a good paying job. The cuts can really be seen in these terms. If you accept the idea that you are maximizing your profit, why not raise prices and cut quality. As long as the consumers keep buying, what's the problem? Nobody complains and the cuts just keep coming. . .

Here is the chancellor's report on the budget situation.

It is a Microsoft Powerpoint file

2005-07 Budget - UW System

Budget - UW System

Northwestern Story about the cuts

Oshkosh Northwestern - UWO feeling state budget woes

Here is an early notice about the budget cuts

Budget cut announcement

Faculty Senate Letter

Here is a story which has already appeared at Oshkosh News


The letter went over with a resounding thud. The faculty has responded with almost complete lack of activity. I'm sure the administration is glad to see no one is bothered.

Media coverage of the cuts and the letter are almost nonexistent. The Northwestern didn't publish it or write a story about the coming troubles for the University. A story did appear in the Student newspaper, the Advance Titan.

The chancellor seems interested only in increasing the number of students and demanding the faculty teach more classes.

Opening Shot

I have been increasingly interested in the idea of blogging over the past few months. Often, I find myself losing hours here or there reading random, insightful comments in the blogosphere.

As I read, I toyed with the idea of setting up a place to keep track of the events and looming nastiness of the budget cuts at my university. The recent budget cuts have inspired me to write.

The governor declared that higher education was getting a grand boost in his latest budget. All of that expansion has brought us a cut in the neighborhood of 5%, as far as I can ascertain.

I, as a faculty member and employee, have very little insight into how these cuts are being taken, but this is largely because it has been a procedure cloaked in secrecy. Our dean has been fairly open describing the overall reductions, but specifics are few and far between.

Thus, in this blog, in an anonymous way, it would be nice to gather the tidbits that people know about cuts at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

If you have any information that you would like to see posted here, you can sent me email at Winneblogo at