Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Republican Attack on Reilly from last week

I can't help but link to this editorial, which notes the vicious attack from a legislator named Steve Nass against the UW system and Reilly himself.

Here are the two best paragraphs:

The Palmyra Republican condemned Reilly and suggested that the UW System should be punished with another $35 million in spending cuts. "The hypocrisy contained in President Reilly's letter is only surpassed by the arrogance and elitism of the bureaucracy that the president represents," wrote Nass, in a letter to finance committee members that dripped venom.

Why the fury? Nass thinks the UW System is too committed to open debate and academic freedom. He was the Legislature's angriest critic of the decision of UW-Whitewater officials to permit controversial University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill to speak there earlier this year.

Editorial: Nass is out of line on UW

Thus, punishing the students across the state of Wisconsin for Ward Churchill is part of the farce which masquerades as public policy here.

Reilly's editorial against more budget cuts

The system chancellor published an editorial in the Capital Times, hoping to stop the slashing at the Capital.

The downward spiral - of slipping further and further behind other states, such as Illinois and Minnesota, in average annual income - has already begun and is accelerating every day. But this can be reversed. As the Joint Committee on Finance prepares to vote on the UW System's budget, I am asking them to look past the fray and see the UW System for what it really is - the best insurance that our kids and grandkids will be able to live and work in a Wisconsin with an expanding 21st century economy that will employ their talent, skills and ingenuity to the fullest.

Kevin P. Reilly: Stop cuts to UW system to prevent brain drain

Karl's New Manifesto - New York Times

David Brooks, at the NY Times (registration required), wrote an amazing column today -- pointing out the way that high-priced education has become one of the major factors in dividing rich and poor in this country.

He brings back Karl Marx's vision of how economic inequality gets established. Who would have expected this from the Times' "conservative columnist"?

Karl's New Manifesto - New York Times

Budget quarrels drive wedge between UW System, Republicans

Here is the latest AP story about fights between the republicans and higher education in Wisconsin. It ran in the Northwestern this morning, but I can never find articles on their own website.

DuluthSuperior.com | 05/31/2005 | Budget quarrels drive wedge between UW System, Republicans

Friday, May 27, 2005

First Letters in Response published

The Northwestern published the first spread of letters this morning. There were about 6 of the letters that appear on this blog. We should see the rest of them over the weekend!

In the face of the threatened new rounds of cuts, we need to do something to help strengthen the position of the universities. The letters allow the readers of the paper (which has a circulation of only 21,000) to see a serious and concerted attempt to explain the faults of the arguments in the editorial. Hopefully, they can also raise some broader awareness of what happens at universities and why they are valuable to the state and society as a whole.

It is still unbelievable to me to hear about secretive discussions to continue to slash our budgets. We will probably be teaching more students if the Republicans ram throught deeper cuts. Doyle doesn't seem likely to refuse. He, our education governor, has not made any real attempt to help the universities, so he may go along with deeper cuts if he gets his new biotech building in Madison.

More big cuts are being planned by the Joint Finance Committee!!

Behind the scenes plans are being made to blast us with another huge budget cut! Write your legislators this weekend! The letter below is from the Director of University Relations at UW-Milwaukee.

What a disaster is the legislature in Wisconsin! But as the editorial in the Northwestern shows that people don't have a clue about what higher education is. All those in charge can see is lowering quality to save money. It is really going to bite this state in the rear--we might as well use the savings to pay moving expenses for our good young people and high-paying jobs now to end the pretense.

Dear friends,

After a long day and evening in Madison, at 8:00 p.m. last night, the Joint Finance Committee decided to delay the vote on the UW System budget until Tuesday (or possibly Wednesday) of next week.

Sources on the Joint Finance Committee tell us they are contemplating an additional $10 million in cuts to the UW System budget, targeted at administration, and a 3% tuition cap, which equals approximately another $70 million in cuts. In total, this $80 million potential cut is in addition to the Governor's proposed cut of $40 million, for a biennial total of approximately $120 million.

It's not too late to intervene. Please call members of the Joint Finance Committee, urging them not to approve further base budget cuts to the UW System budget, and to refrain from a tuition cap.

UWM-area legislators on the Joint Finance Committee are:
Senator Alberta Darling, Senator Lena Taylor, Senator Mary Lazich, Representative Scott Jensen, Representative Pedro Colon and Representative Jeff Stone. You can find their contact information here:

Flood their offices with voice mails, emails and letters over this Memorial Day weekend (please use your personal email/phone). The JFC is likely to vote on our budget either Tuesday or Wednesday. Let's take advantage of this long weekend and let those members know they can't cut the UW System budget!

Thanks, everyone.

Karla Ashenhurst
Director, Government Relations

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Another day -- no letters from faculty

Daily Update: The Northwestern again publishes no letters from faculty. They now should have a dozen in hand, but haven't allowed any to find their way on to the editorial page.

I suspect we will see a Stu Rickman column this weekend and a large group of the letters. Anyone taking bets?

K.C. Wang adds addtional comments

Hi Craig and Colleagues,

I totally agree. There is ONLY 24 hours in a day. We are all stretched to the limit. To say that we can somehow add another course load with ease is to suggest that we have not been working hard enough, more appropriately, slacking off. Besides not being true, that is an insult.

As it is, UW(O) professors are not being paid in the summer months. Yet, we are still conducting research and writing papers. May be instead of asking us to do more, we should be paid for the summer work!

Northwestern should publish an editorial raising the issue of why professors have to work for FREE in the summer months.


Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Craig Maher's Letter

Dear Editors:

I know that you have already received a number of letters from faculty in response to your assertion that UW-O can show leadership during the state’s budget crises by having faculty teach more. As anecdotes always seem to make good stories, I thought it might be useful to share with you an email I received yesterday:

“Dr. Maher,
Hello. I just thought I would drop you a quick note to tell you about the job status with …. I had my second interview with the full commission last night. Everything went well and … made me a job offer this morning, which I will be officially accepting tomorrow. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciated your help in my job search.
I also wanted to let you know that I think getting my MPA (not quite yet) played a significant role in me getting this job. All the research that I have done, the papers that I have written and the presentations for all the classes that I have completed thus far have played a key role in preparing me, and giving me the confidence to seek, and get this job. I am going into this new role feeling pretty confident, all because of the training that YOU have provided me, and I thank you for that. One note that will make you happy is that … has already informed me that starting in July he wants me to help him prepare the 2006 budget. I am looking forward to the opportunity of putting my MPA training to use. Have a great summer, and thanks again.”

If my course load increases, which is already more than most of my colleagues at other institutions, how can I continue to do the research for which I have an immense passion, continue to provide community service (including helping your reporters) and most importantly provide the mentorship that our students need. It simply can’t happen; something will have to give. So, can you tell me what should I give up when the State created a problem for which local governments and the University System are receiving the bulk of the blame?

Craig Maher
Assistant Professor
Masters of Public Administration Program

A discussion about the usefulness of tenure

Victor Hanson is against tenure:

VDH's Private Papers :: Reconsidering Tenure

Thomas Reeves defends it:

History News Network

No Letters Today in the Northwestern

Today, again, no letters from faculty members appeared in the paper. Instead, they ran a letter attacking Kathleen Corley for historicizing Christianity.

There are several new letters to the editor here that appeared on the list. Also, I have posted a comment from a program assistant, describing the pressures on her because of the budget cuts.

Finally, the Northwestern reported this morning that there are behind-doors discussions in Madison about cutting more from the university budgets. Here is the AP story, but not from the local paper. Check the last, ominous paragraph.

Tony Palmeri's Letter

This letter comes by way of Babblemur.com:

Was it really necessary to take a cheap and borderline libelous shot at me in order to make your point that UWO teachers should teach more classes? You write:

"Any full-time UWO teacher
who has the ability to teach,
write, conduct research, host
a radio program, participate
in a weekly public affairs
cable television show, support
a Web site, be active in the
community issues, work as a
political activist and run for
office almost certainly has
time to teach another class."

I'm assuming you are talking about me, since I don't know of anyone else on our campus meeting that description. The issue on our campus is whether Ph.D faculty on a 3 course load to support professional and scholarly activities should be on a 4 course load. Had you bothered to ask me, you would have found out that I am already on a 4 course per semester teaching load, the maximum load for Ph.D faculty in the UW System. NO ONE, not even the staunchest enemies of the UW in the state legislature, has suggested that the standard teaching load for Ph.D faculty should be more than 4
courses per semester. Surely you are not suggesting that I should be teaching 5 courses per semester because I make time to meet my citizenship obligations?

Your editorial implies that I am on a reduced teaching load in order to support extra-curricular activities including political work, which is borderline libelous. The fact of the matter is that I am NOT on a reduced teaching load. I regularly put in 70-80 hour weeks to be able maintain teaching excellence while participating in the activities you mention and many others. I do not miss my classes ,my office hours, my advising appointments, faculty meetings, or any other UW responsibilities because of these activities. Last year the Wisconsin Communication Association gave me a Distinguished Teacher Award, in large part because they appreciate how I am a model of the citizen-educator for my students.

Finally, your editorial also implies that I am one of the faculty who signed the petition complaint. Take a look at it and you will not find my name.

Best, -Tony

A comment from a program assistant about her workload

Being an hourly employee on this campus, I have consistently put in 45-50 hour work weeks for some time and have not been paid accordingly. Like many Program Assistants on this campus, we have been asked to do more with less and we're still expected to get the work done. We've been very conscious of the budget crisis and have not claimed many of these hours on our time cards. And how do we get rewarded for working hard and being conscientious of tough budgetary times? By having our jobs restructured and having even more responsibilities dumped into our laps. No longer will I be working through lunch hours! No longer will I be working past 6:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.! No longer will I be taking work home on the weekend! And what doesn't get done today, will be waiting to be dealt with tomorrow.

Michael Lizotte's Letter

Dear Editor,

In your May 22 editorial, you play the old saw that university professors could teach more because they spend fewer hours in the classroom than public school teachers. No mention of UW Oshkosh class sizes (up to 210 students), everyone's expectation that college is more than grades 13-16, or the wonderful problem of challenging a more demanding group of learners. A professor's job is different from a schoolteachers, and the professors are not the only ones who appreciate the differences. If students wanted a college that gave them more state-dictated curricula, guaranteed that there will be no children left behind, or cost the least, I am sure that enterprising people would build it for them. (Perhaps they are, as for-profit colleges moving into local strip malls and setting themselves up on the Internet.) Yet applications and enrollments show that students value a UW Oshkosh education, and the competition gets stiffer each year. Meanwhile, Wisconsin falls below the national average in rankings for college degree attainment, one of the strongest indicators of lifetime earnings. This is a state problem, not one university's problem. The trend is not going to be reversed by political leaders who vote to continue decades of decreasing financial support, caps on enrollments, and tuition hikes. One sign of a faltering college is when they try to save money by hiring lecturers (teachers) to replace professors (teacher-scholars); this has been going on for years in the UW System. Your suggestion, that professors should put aside scholarly and community activities to teach more, would have the same effect. UW Oshkosh would become less capable and less competitive, which is a bad deal for our students and the families, organizations, and taxpayers who support them.

Michael Lizotte

Dave Siemers' Letter

Dear Editors:

The Northwestern tells us at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh not to fear further budget cuts (May 22). In my four years at UWO state budget cuts have forced a significant increase in student tuition, raised class sizes, made it harder for majors to find the classes they need to graduate, and reduced professors' salaries. So sorry Northwestern, but I will continue to fear and resist cuts to our university system because the quality of education our students receive is at stake. The paper's suggestion that we teach 33% more classes is not helpful either. You assert that we can do this with "little change" in our work life and no decrease in the quality of our instruction. Clearly this is not the case. If this newspaper's budget was cut by 10% and it had to simultaneously deliver 33% more stories to the public something would have to give--and it is the same for us. If I move from teaching 150 students per semester to 200 I will have to respond by assigning fewer papers or no papers. If I don't assign papers how are my students going to learn to write and construct a well reasoned argument?
The budget cuts are forcing a tragic choice for those of us dedicated to education who love this state: continue to work here under deteriorating conditions or to look for jobs elsewhere. If the Northwestern's suggestion of increasing our course load by 33% comes to pass, most of our best professors will leave. This is particularly true of our good young professors who are more mobile than our veteran teachers. So I ask you to reconsider your position. Instead of asking UWO's professors to spread themselves increasingly thinly, why don't you join with us in getting the state to stop slashing its commitment to higher education?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Education and Class from the NYTimes

Here is the last day of the NYTimes series on class. They have a couple of stories about the difficulties of getting a college degree and what happens when you don't have one.

Class Matters - Social Class in the United States of America - The New York Times

Update on the editorial

This morning, the Northwestern ran the letter from the Chancellor and Provost as an editorial. None of the other letters that I posted appeared.

It will be interesting to see if and when any other letters appear. I remember that Stu Rickman wrote in his column awhile back that they publish almost all of the letters to the editor that they receive. We will see if this holds true in this case.

Here, we see at least seven letters to the editor that were sent the last couple of days. Because I am in COLS, I only posted letters that ended up on our list-serve. I hope that there were letters sent from other colleges at the university, as well. This outpouring should be reflected in our local paper, but they may choose to pretend that such an outcry was not made.

Last evening on NPR, there was a report on how difficult it has become for parents and college students to afford the tuition in Kansas. The most amazing thing is that we have been on a continual downward spiral since the 1970s. State support for higher education has been declining as a percentage of costs for almost 3 decades now. Most of the burden has been shifted on to the students and their families.

The argument espoused by the editorial writer was, thus, a foregone conclusion. Cut the pay of college faculty and make us work more, because society does not value what we do. Society has already made that decision -- the rhetoric of tax cuts has wiped out the idea that there might be value in spending money to provide opportunities for young people.

The students who suffer are like the ones at UWO--raise their tuition, provide them with overworked professors in oversized classes who are not allowed to engage in original research, and then, after taking their money for a few years, leave them without a degree.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Wells & Earns letter

Dear Editorial Board,

We have read the many Northwestern editorials in which you often praised, sometimes critiqued and, on several occasions, provided advice for University of Wisconsin Oshkosh students, faculty, staff and administrators. We truly appreciate the praise, and we seriously consider the critiques and advice. It is in the constructive spirit of dialogue that we respond to the advice provided in Sunday's editorial “Budget cuts chance for UWO Leadership.”

In essence, you are asking members of the faculty to start demonstrating their leadership by teaching even more students as a way to counter the continuation of huge and historic budget cuts. Asking the faculty to start providing such leadership is three years late and $10 million short. In fact, the UW Oshkosh faculty and instructional staff should be highly commended for teaching more students while absorbing a decline in compensation and an historic $10 million budget cut. Please consider the following:

*The faculty and instructional staff taught an additional 598 or 6.7% more full time equivalent [FTE] students this year than they did in the Fall of 2000.

*To put this into scale, we added what would be the equivalent of more than a 50% increase in enrollment at Ripon College or more than a 40% increase at Lawrence University while adding only four more instructional FTE.

Consequently, the UW Oshkosh faculty and instructional staff should be highly commended for the leadership they have already demonstrated. The addition of these 598 students was accomplished under the following dire conditions:

*Faculty salaries fell from about 8% to more than 10% behind those of a peer group of comprehensive Midwestern universities.

*Faculty received little more than a 1% pay raise this year after a "zero pay raise" last year while paying a greater share of fringe benefits costs. In effect, the faculty experienced compensation decline while teaching more students.

*Operating budgetary support for the UW Oshkosh faculty/staff was reduced by $6.7 million during this biennium, and we are currently facing another $2.6 to $4.1 million cut for the next biennium. As a result, the cumulative effect will be 55 to 75 fewer staff and huge reductions in supplies, equipment, and technology to support the instructional needs of our faculty and over 11,000 students.

It should be abundantly clear that the faculty as well as the academic and classified staffs have already demonstrated extraordinary leadership by serving a greater number of students while coping with more than $10 million of historic budget cuts. We know of no other local, regional, or state public good or private business that has provided more service under such dire conditions. Asking them to continue on the path to burn out while facing a future of ever deepening cuts is tantamount to telling them to seek employment elsewhere.

May we ask you to consider our perspective in your next UWO editorial? We feel that enough is enough! The press and elected officials should support not exploit extraordinary faculty/staff leadership.

Chancellor Richard H. Wells

Lane R. Earns
Provost and Vice Chancellor

Quin Sullivan's Letter

To the Editor of the Oshkosh Northwestern:

I was insulted by your editorial of Sunday, May 22, 2005. It was a slap in face of hardworking UW Oshkosh faculty and staff. I will comment only on one issue in this brief note, i.e., research and its cost to the taxpayer. Your editorial asks faculty to increase the number of classes they teach, without doubt this will come at the expense of scholarship.

Faculty are required to be scholars – or they will not be tenured and will be asked to leave. In other words, they must sell their house, uproot their families, and move to another university and start over. The scholarly accomplishments of faculty are many and varied, but let me give you one example of research in my discipline (social work) that I hope will summarize the importance of research and how short-sighted indiscriminate funding cuts can be.

Cohen, in a 1998 article entitled, The monetary value of saving a high-risk youth, carefully estimated that, “The present value of saving a high-risk youth is estimated to be $1.7 to $2.3 million. These figures have been adjusted to account for the fact that the three categories (crime, drugs, high-school dropout) are not mutually exclusive. For example, a career criminal may also be a heavy drug user." Do you think we should invest public funds in research that develops knowledge to understand the problems of high-risk youth? Do you think we should invest in the most effective and efficient programs and services to serve these children and families? Do you think we will save money by not doing so? Who do you think does this research?

Quintin Sullivan
Department of Social Work
University of Wisconsin Oskosh

Carol Schulke's letter

The May 22 editorial suggestion that UW-Oshkosh "run" with the idea that professors add to their workload in order to ease budget cuts in higher education is short-sighted and based on ill-informed opinion. Why? The University's guidelines for tenure (note that our professors are not unionized teachers) mandate not only evidence of quality teaching performance but also scholarly achievement (e.g., research, publication, grant-related knowledge development, etc.) Guidelines also emphasize contributions to service at the university and in the wider community levels.

The editor misperceives UW-Oshkosh faculty to be T.V. persona, political activists, website developers, and persons who have all sorts of time outside of the classroom for extracurricular activity not related to their professional calling. Not so. As a retired faculty member, I can speak to my former activities that included volunteer service, service on agency boards and on national professional accreditation site teams, writing and presenting papers at national conferences, authoring $1 million in funded grants, serving on a myriad assortment of university committees, etc. My receipt of tenure was based on these activities along with a demonstrated record of teaching and advisement. So, I am offended by some stereotypical view of what a faculty member's role is here at UW-Oshkosh. It certainly doesn't represent my career or the careers of the many dedicated faculty at UW-Oshkosh who continue to advance its leadership position. Any suggestion that faculty teach extra classes to meet a budget crisis because they have all this free time does not reflect the reality of what it takes to achieve tenure and to serve a leadership role in an institution of higher learning.

Carol Schulke, Retired Chair
Dept. of Social Work

One more local commentary of the Northwestern's Editorial

Babblemur makes a more explicit defense of Palmeri and a suggestion that Gannett may be encouraging attacks on the university to get at Tony.


Tom Lammer's Letter

As a UWO professor, I was appalled by the ignorance of university life displayed by your editorial of 22 May. It is one thing to opine that we ought to teach more classes, but it is irresponsible to base that opinion on such a sorry misunderstanding of facts.

The persistent reference to university faculty as "teachers" by itself betrays a lack of comprehension of what a university professor does. We are not hired by the State of Wisconsin as teachers only. According to the standards by which we are judged for promotion and tenure, we are less than one-half "teachers." We are specifically required to spend more time conducting scholarly research and being of service to the larger community. These are the stipulations under which the people of Wisconsin employ us, and, more importantly, they are the criteria by which we are judged. If we failed to do this, we would be derelict in our duty and subject to dismissal.

At its heart, the editorial asks university professors to do more work for the same pay. This should concern any working person because if it can be expected of university professors, why not others? Why should not workers in manufacturing and retail sales put in a 48-hour week for the same pay? Why should we not have mail delivery and garbage pick-up seven days a week for the same pay? Would anyone for one minute consider that fair?

Tom Lammers

Dana Vaughn Letter

Your May 22 editorial cites 9-15 classroom hours per week for UWO professors, but forgets another crucial teaching role here: advising. We do not have teaching assistants or a departmental advisor on staff “running interference” between students and faculty, as you find at larger institutions. Instead, our professors advise students directly. In Biology, I am formally assigned 35 to 65 students per semester; in other departments, the student advisee load per faculty may go as high as 200. Unlike K-12 students, college students are often separated from family, clergy, and other adult guidance. They naturally turn to faculty for advice, particularly as they parse a career path from the many options offered at UWO. I spend as many, or more, hours each week advising students about classes, study skills, career choices, and just plain life, as I do in classroom work. Given the prep and grading time per course, if I were assigned another, I’d be forced to limit my advising to infrequent group sessions that lump students into a “one size fits all” collective. That is not what UWO has stood for in the 7 years I have been here.

Dana K. Vaughan, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biology
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

Jonathan Gutow's Letter

To the Editors of the Oshkosh Northwestern:

In your Sunday editorial you made the mistake of assuming that three hours of class time equals three hours of work. Between class preparation, delivery, and assignment grading it's a bare minimum of nine hours per week. A lecture is similar to putting on a one-man stage show. Thespians spend hours practicing for even minutes on stage. I don't have that luxury. With my present teaching load I scramble to find more than an hour to prepare for each hour lecture. It is not because I am lazy or slow. My work-week averages 70 hours (minimum 50, maximum 120).

There are some differences between stage shows and college lectures: 1) I am the whole production company. I do the script, lighting, prop set up, etc.; 2) Each show is new, because my field is always moving forward; each time I offer a class I have to include new material; 3) I have to be prepared to answer questions from the audience and modify my show accordingly; 4) Each lecture class I teach equals three new shows a week; 5) I have to generate assignments for students and grade homework (grading time is already increasing because class size is going up); 6) I must try to make difficult college-level material accessible to students.

I can teach more. However, the quality of instruction I provide will decrease, and another lecture class will shut down my research program (presently about $100,000/yr used to pay salaries spent in this community by my research students).

I believe you owe me and other hardworking University staff an apology for misrepresenting our jobs. Our jobs involve much more than just the time spent in the classroom.

Jonathan Gutow, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Chemistry
UW Oshkosh

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A letter from Dean Zimmerman, as well

Dean Zimmerman responded quickly and politely:

To the Editor,

Sunday’s editorial asserts that UWO can show leadership during the state’s budget crises by having faculty teach more. Your solution, if enacted, would begin a downward spiral leading inexorably to a university unable to fulfill its mission. Like the best nationally, faculty at UWO work to create and disseminate new knowledge. These activities take place in classrooms, laboratories, studios, at fieldsites around the world, and at various venues throughout our community. Faculty and students work, study and learn together on all of these occasions. Read through the items you deem worthy of highlighting in your weekly “Check it Out” feature; you regularly praise faculty/student collaborations; you praise national grants that have brought millions of dollars into our community; you praise the efforts of faculty members and students who participate in area arts endeavors; and you praise the University’s efforts in bringing the “Pride of Oshkosh” to life. Similarly, your news pages highlight the efforts of faculty members when they and their research receive national exposure. Yes, faculty could exchange all of this for additional classes, but at what cost? Students would have many fewer opportunities for the kind of research that helps them land first rate jobs, or entry into graduate, medical or law schools. In classes, faculty would be talking about the work of others instead of sharing the excitement of their new discoveries. And the Oshkosh community would be out millions of dollars in grant money.

The state budget crisis is deeper than you recognize. Operating budgets for universities haven’t increased in over 15 years, while the cost of scientific supplies and library materials have soared by more than 10 percent per year. Funds to replace or repair equipment have been diverted to other areas of need.

Faculty at UWO can, indeed, provide the leadership you call for by articulating why it’s critical for the state to support a higher education system that used to be the pride of the country. Please, on behalf of all citizens of the state, join us in this endeavor.

Michael Zimmerman
College of Letters and Science
University of Wisconsin Oshkosh

K.C. Wong takes the editors to task

K.C. gives a very nice, polite response:

Dear Michael, Miles and Colleagues,

I thank both of you for your initiative. Here is my own:

I writ in response to your Sunday (May 22, 2005) “Editorial: Budget cuts chance for UWO leadership” imploring the university faculty to teach more.

The problem with the editorial is that it is based a flawed understanding of a university’s basic mission, function and operation.

First, University is NOT just another vocational college, still less a high school. Professors advance knowledge. Teachers teach existing facts. There is a world of a difference between teaching facts and transmitting knowledge. There is much more to imparting wisdom than credit hours, plus and minus. Discovery – distribution of knowledge is what a UW(O) education is all about.

Second, professors do not only teach in the classroom. They mentor students in multifarious ways. In England, students and professors gathered around the fireplace at home for long discussions over Adam Smith. In Hong Kong professors debate with students over “dim sum” on Confucius ideas and ideals. In Oshkosh, we took students out to have pizzas and sort out their career choices. These non-credit activities carry added-credit for the students for the rest of their lives. Caring for the students is what UW(O) education is all about.

Third, professors are not only there for the university students. For us, the community and the world is one big classroom. By going on 20-20, a professor is educating nation about the pitfalls of blind faith. By organizing a web site a professor is spreading cutting edge terrorism scholarship around the world. By engaging in local politics, a professor is improving the quality of life in the community. Educating the community and changing the world is what UW(O) education is all about.

Finally, and perhaps most difficult for the editor(s) to understand, is that the discovery of ideas, knowledge, wisdom takes time. From this one humble scholar (and many of my colleagues), I can attest to burning much mid-night oil to keep the eternal flame of knowledge shinning. “Knowledge never rests, people do.” As Robert Frost once said: “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.” Self sacrifice to search – distribute knowledge is what UW(O) all about.

Professor Kam C. Wong, J.D., Ph.D.
Department of Public Affairs
University of Wisconsin (Oshkosh)

Don't just take my word for it: Letter from Miles Maguire

Here is a letter to from Miles Maguire over at Oshblog:

Oshblog: Dear Mr. Archibald:

Oshkosh Northwestern writes ridiculous editorial about UWO

Read this idiotic editorial at the Northwestern's web site. They clearly misunderstood the petition posted here. In the editorial, they call for more teaching for the faculty--somehow supposing that is what the faculty called for. What we are worried about is that more
teaching means less individual time for students, less time for creating new knowledge, and turning UWO into a mediocre institution.

In addtion, They launch an ad-hominum attack on Tony Palmeri (unnamed, but clear to those who follow local politics), for being too engaged in his community.

The writers seem to think that college is just like high school and we all should just be regurgitating knowledge produced elsewhere in the world.

The editorial writers have clearly never gotten beyond a freshman understanding of the university. Since they only sat in class 3 hours a week, that must be the same thing their professors are doing (The quality of thought in the editorial suggests that they sure weren't studying outside of those 3 hours).

Read it and see:

Oshkosh Northwestern - Budget cuts chance for UWO leadership

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Residential Colleges and University Reform

On the topic of creating a better atmosphere for learning, here is a nice site. Faculty-led colleges to help students form a community of learning. I have to admit that my college experience was quite like what is being described here. A few floors of the dorm were combined and an advanced graduate student and family lived on the floor with us. We had weekly meetings and regular group study-breaks throughout the semester.

My best friends grew out of those I met in this forum and we always had a built in study group. There were upper-class students who had taken the course a year before and someone was always studying in the lounge.

Creating real community seems a great way to help students learn how to be students and how to leap the hurdles of college life.

The Collegiate Way: Residential Colleges and University Reform

Grade Inflation ... Why It's a Nightmare

You can tell the semester is over, as I am browsing the blogosphere in order to avoid pulling out that essay that needs one more rewrite before submission!

Try out this article on assessment and grade inflation by Jonathan Dresner

Grade Inflation ... Why It's a Nightmare*

Happiness and Education

I suppose I seem to be stuck in a linking rut, but this is a nice commentary about the Liberal Arts.

Inside Higher Ed :: Happiness and Education

More Bad News for Academia

This is an interesting story, showing that the percentage of tenure track faculty members is on the decline.

Inside Higher Ed :: The Shrinking Tenure Track

This is an especially relevant question for a place like UWO, which claims that budget expenses make it impossible to fill the vacant tenure-track lines. Invariably, those lines are then filled by part-timers and adjuncts who teach more and have very little input into the governance of the university.

UWO has particularly ineffective faculty participation in governance, based on my experiences at many different institutions. Eliminating the number of tenure-track faculty, who have some protection against arbitrary decisions by administrators, makes sure that our voice will continue to be, well, pathetically weak.

Some will claim that tenure is an outdated institution, and I am sympathetic to many of those arguments. However, without that protection, job security takes precedent over serious, open disagreement. Although no one threatens openly, it is well understood that you don't want to get on the wrong side of those in charge if you want to stay at this or any institution.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

The End of the Semester

Wow. The grades have finally been submitted. The semester has come to an end for everyone. I'm off to do some research, and I imagine that we won't hear much about developments on campus until September.

That isn't to say that there will not be any. Any good administrator knows to wait until the faculty has left town to change the policies. We have enough trouble working together to defend ourselves when the semester is in! I imagine the Academic Plan Program committee can get serious in figuring out how to justify increasing the teaching load.

Oshkosh has developed into a decent institution with serious and productive research being undertaken by the faculty here. Forcing us to teach more will bring that to an end--let's hope that the administration doesn't forget that when we are all away from campus.

Inside Higher Ed :: 'Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter'

An interview with the authors of 'Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter'

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Chancellor Wells: No increase in teaching load "in the upcoming year"

Those looking for reassurance from Chancellor Wells this afternoon left disappointed. The chancellor was unequivocal in his declaration that there will be no increase in the teaching load next year. For the years that follow, he would only say that "there is no plan." Although he responded politely to many questions defending the current 9 hours load, he did not say that he was committed to it or would fight to maintain it. Instead, he said that there needed to be study of faculty "use of time." Apparently the chancellor thinks that we all have lots of free time that should be filled with additional classes.

Provost Earns added that his office is preparing an "Academic Program Plan" that will address questions of teaching loads as one of its provisions. He would only say, as well, that there is currently no plan to demand more teaching.

The chancellor also dodged some very specific questions about the inequality of budget cuts across the university. The first question of the session asked very specifically about a series of shifts of financial responsibility from the adminstration to COLS. The questioner noted that on top of the 3% cut, there are almost another 2% that will have to come from our budget. He did not (could not?) address any of the specifics, except to claim that system demanded some of them.

On the question of gateway courses, he would not acknowledge that demanding COLS put up seats for incoming students beyond our ability without providing funding was also another cut.

The highlight of the meeting however, was a question asked by an untenured faculty member. Joking about her need to remain anonymous, she asked, "Why should I stay?" Her demeanor broke some of the tension, but the chancellor's answer did not. He could only come up with good colleagues and the prospect of a new building. Unfortunately, those colleagues will be trying to leave if teaching loads increase!

The mood was tense, but polite. Hopefully, the chancellor and provost gained a better sense of the deep worry among the faculty. They did not, however, do much to calm those fears.

Preliminaries to the meeting today: 4 pm in Reeve 307

In an e-mail circulated this morning, we learned that the chancellor asked for clarification of issues to be discussed at the meeting. The faculty committee sent an answer to the chancellor. Here is how I would summarize the complaints at the the April 21 meeting.

We are concerned about

1. Raising enrollment without increases in courses offered or faculty
2. Reduction in upper-level courses to cover service courses
3. Increasing teaching load from 9 to 12 hours per semester.

Additionally, there was concern about how funding cuts have been allocated. In particular, why the administration orders additional seats in gateway courses without providing money to pay for them. (should we call them unfunded mandates from Dempsey?)

As the Faculty committee has noted, up to this point, there have been no clear responses to any of the concerns raised by faculty members.

An Editorial about Higher Ed

Gordon Hintz sent me this link:

Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribunel

It is a pro-higher ed editorial that seems to have appeared in several Gannett newspapers.

I am glad to see such things, but the article accepts the premise that higher education has already gotten a boost. Here in Oshkosh, the governor's 50 million increase has gotten us a 4% reduction. At this rate, we have to hope that he doesn't give us any more help.

From my own perspective, a pay-raise would be nice, but protecting education is more important. The quality of my teaching and research would go up if my class sizes went down. I would also like to see students have to work fewer hours in order to pay for their college education.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Summary of the Budget Crisis for COLS

From the Dean's Letter a few months ago, just to remind you about the plans for next year:

Significant reduction in academic staff (part-time & temporary workers) equivalent to 52 3-credit courses
No tenure track searches this coming year;
No replacement or repair of aging or broken computers;
No purchase of new permanent property
No repair or replacement of aging or broken permanent property.

30-40 vacant tenure-track faculty lines (pushing 15% of whole)

Cuts to funding for the Honors program
Cuts the operating budgets of departments and programs by 20 percent

97% of the budget will be used for salaries.

Meeting with the Chancellor on Tuesday

Here is the notice of a meeting in response to the COLS petition that circulated last week (see my earlier post).

Let's hope that the chancellor will come with a few specifics about how the higher administration is handling the cuts, why the College is being forced to find seats in intro courses for more students than we can handle, and why extra financial burdens are being shifted from Dempsey on to COLS.


Special COLS Budget Meeting and Listening Session
With Chancellor Wells & Provost Earns
Tuesday, May 10, 2005, 4:00
Reeve Union Theatre (Reeve 307)

The COLS Faculty Committee would appreciate your attendance at a special meeting of COLS faculty and academic staff with Chancellor Wells and Provost Earns. The Chancellor has requested this meeting in response to recent concerns about the impact of the budget crisis on the academic mission of the university and the recent petition (see below) developed and circulated by an ad hoc group of COLS faculty and staff.

While collection of signatures is not yet complete, signatures for the following petition have been posted at:

Friday, May 06, 2005

Graduation Rates in WI

Graduation Rates for Wisconsin Posted by Hello

This jpg was taken from the education trust website. I posted information about Oshkosh earlier in the week(see below), and was interested as to where we fit in the state of Wisconsin. Not too impressive. It looks even worse if you compare UWO's record to what the website calls "comparable institutions."

All in all, the data paint a bleak picture of higher education in the U.S. and Wisconsin. In most measures, we are doing worse than 10 years ago.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

IT Cuts on Campus

Someone passed me a specific list of IT cuts:

3 full time positions lost
2 student interns cut
wage freeze for student workers
No replacement for aging servers
No support for professional training and travel
25% reduction in student assistant funds

a 4% overall reduction.

This will surely reduce the effectiveness of IT services for faculty and students!

Legislature Out to Further Butcher Higher Ed.

I noticed this article, thanks to ABV Army site.

The headline "System opposes tuition cap plan" is ridiculous! A legislator in Madison wants to stop the University from being able to adjust to the MASSIVE cuts imposed on it. If this legislator really wanted to deal with tuition, he would be talking about increasing funding for the system, not trying to hamstring it even further.

It is a shame that even the Madison student newspaper adds a headline that suggests that somehow the System is responsible for the big cuts and tuition increases endorsed by our Governor and legislators!

UW System opposes 3% tuition cap plan - The Daily Cardinal - News

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Tony Palmeri's Letter to College Students

In the spirit of linking to other relevant local comentary, I want to point you towards Tony's article about the 35th anniversary of Kent State.

Tony's letter to Students

I agree with his sentiments, though I would hope that you don't have to be on the left to agree with some of his conclusions.

Making sure that Americans have access to quality education should not be an ideological question. Learning how to write well, read with a critical eye, and form your own thoughtful opinions about the world around you is at the core of what democracy means.

Unfortunately, higher education has become something of a whipping boy in the media today. This morning, even the comic strip "For Better or Worse" took a shot at professors "who may have spent time in class, but have no class."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Oshkosh News Link

Oshkosh News Blog has posted a little note on Lake Winneblogo. I caused that to happen, by posting a link to own comments on Miles' site yesterday.

It is one of the interesting dillemas of blogging. If no one every visits your page, does it exist? Thus, I decided that although it is informative to write for myself, it was not the reason I set up the blog.

Welcome to everyone! If you are on staff at the university, leave a comment or drop me an email (winneblogo at gmail dot com) telling me about how the budget cuts have affected your department. I'll be glad to post them anonymously. As was suggested at the COLS meeting a couple of weeks ago, no one among the faculty has any good idea of the scope of cuts.

Using a blog also provides a non-official space to converse about the issues facing our university and higher education in general.

Feel free to comment and post. We need a real discussion about our university, which has been sadly lacking so far.

Monday, May 02, 2005

46% within 6 years

This article in the Appleton Post-Crescent notes that only 45.7% of UWO students graduate within 6 years.

That is below the (shocking) national average of just over 52%. Wisconsin's average is 57%, most of which comes from fairly high rates at Madison. For UWO, larger class sizes, higher tuition, and fewer upper-level classes available to students seems to be the perfect solution to this problem!

But at least students will have longer to enjoy all the new buildings on campus. . .

What Kind of Education Is Required in a Democracy?

I came across this as I was surfing this morning. It is a nice piece about how the ancient greeks understood that education was needed to create good citizens. The author argues that they believed that people needed to be trained to respectfully listen, work har,d and speak clearly & persuasively in order to insure a functioning system.

Where else can you find this, even if rarely, but in a university and especially in the liberal arts.

What Kind of Education Is Required in a Democracy?

New York Times on Blogging to remove a bad leader

UWO is hardly Los Alamos, but it is nice to think of blogging as a tool to allow people to express their discontent. At a place like LA, there is clearly great official pressure to keep complaints and discussion about the operation quiet.

However, the fleeting comments about the need for a no-confidence vote on the chancellor suggests that our own discontent is growing and having a forum to discuss it away from the University list-serves would be a good thing.

The New York Times > National > At Los Alamos, Blogging Their Discontent