Monday, October 31, 2005

Low-Cost Adjuncts are growing in popularity

If Michael's decision to hire more staff wasn't enough, even more poorly paid adjuncts continue to play a key role in education on this campus and across the nation

The AFT is sponsoring a sarcastic advertising campaign on the problem and you can read about it here.

Inside Higher Ed :: Help Wanted: Low-Cost Adjuncts

A-T editorial on faculty and staff leaving.

The editorial staff at the A-T weighed in on the outflow of talented staff from the unversity this week as well. As the article mentioned, salaries are low here and driving away good people. Unfortunately, the hemoraging will continue. Who will be next to leave???

Advance Titan Online

Only one of new searches will be tenure-track

I was looking at the Advance-Titan this weekend and found their report on new hires for COLS. They report that out of 11 searches that Zimmerman has authorized for next year, 10 will be instructors.

The A-T story is not exactly clear, as the terminology is not quite correct, but this is the first I have heard that we are getting exactly 1 t-t replacement, out of 50 vacancies in the college.

It is especially troubling to see UWO increasing its push towards temporary hires with larger teaching loads. Zimmerman's lip service about the importance of liberal arts rings hollow as he uses the budget as an excuse to eliminate research from the halls of our university.

UWO continues to head in the wrong directions with this decision. It is no wonder that Zimmerman didn't happen to mention it in his announcement to the faculty.

Advance Titan Online

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Fees climb even faster than tuition for UW students

The journal-sentinel reports on the big increase in fees throughout the UW system.

It lists a myriad of ways that student fees are being used to offset state budget cuts and ends with our old favorite, UW-hater Rob Kreibich complaining about accountability.

It has a nice chart with it as well.

JS Online: 'Stealth tuition' could be pricing students out of UW

Friday, October 28, 2005

Law professor claims being right-wing hurting his tenure chances

This story popped up over at the Chronicle of Higher education and here on InsideHigher ed.

A law professor at a university in Indiana claims that his conservative view are hurting his chances for tenure. As I read the story, I can't quite figure out what is going on, since he has not been denied tenure and is not yet up for it. He apparently got a few negative votes during his performance review and is very angry about it.

The most interesting part of the case is that he has taken his claims to Bill O'Reilly, and we might expect to see this case become some sort of cause celebre for the right.

Inside Higher Ed :: 'Not the Right Kind of Indian'

Here is the link to the Chronicle of Higher education. It may be out from behind the firewall in a few days.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

If there aren't enough men in college, with whom are women having all the sex?

I had to post this story, even though it is tangential to things I usually put up on the website. Middle-aged college professors complaining that their female students are unhappy because they are having too much sex (but not with them?).

A Harvard Government professor recently gave a talk where he mourned the losss of 'modesty.'

Theories of the Erotic - Male traditionalists wring their hands at the "grim" lives of young women. By Meghan O'Rourke

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The New York Review of Books: The Truth About the Colleges

A political science professor reviews a whole slew of books about higher education and comes to the conclusion that things look grim.

Professors don't care enough about teaching and students don't care enough about learning. Add the need to publish and win big research grants, and U.S. higher education is locked in a troubling downward spiral.

The New York Review of Books: The Truth About the Colleges

Republicans in Washington go after students

Republicans in the house revealed a plan to make students loans more expensive for college students, using Katrina as an excuse.

It is a complicated story, but the idea seems to be that college students are one of the groups that should suffer because a hurricane hit ill-prepared parts of the South.

The republicans at all levels seem to think that it is worthy to give money to the rich and powerful and take it away from those who have less. Once again, higher education may suffer. Clearly our own students, many of whom need lots of federal help to get through their years here, will be hurt by this plan.

Inside Higher Ed :: Faint Echoes of 1995

Monday, October 24, 2005

A New Local Link Page for the Northwestern

I just noticed that I am linked on the new northwestern page. It has several links to local blogs. You can also preview the new look that the northwestern's web site will have.

Chancellor Wells decides to stay

This just in: The Chancellor just informed the university community that he has withdrawn from the search for President of the CalState Long Beach. He cites he and his wife's attachment to the state of Wisconsin. At least we won't have to worry about transitions of leadership for another few years!

Here is his message:

To: The members of the UW Oshkosh Community
From: Chancellor Richard H. Wells
Re: The California State University Long Beach Presidency
Date: October 24, 2005

Earlier today, I called Chancellor Charles Reed to let him know that I have decided to officially withdraw from their search for the next President of California State University Long Beach.

After careful thought and consideration, I decided not to return for the Wednesday interview with Chancellor Reed and the Board of Trustees. CSULB is an excellent University characterized by fine people who are rightly proud of their institution. However, UW Oshkosh is an outstanding academic community with terrific students, faculty and staff. Furthermore, Christie and I greatly appreciate the support of the people of Oshkosh and we are enjoying the State of Wisconsin more than any place we have had the pleasure to live. We are very happy to be once again fully focused on our University and the State of Wisconsin.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and support. The extensive positive feedback we received from people on and off campus figured prominently into our decision. It is an honor and privilege to be your Chancellor.

Understanding Independent Students

I don't know what the percentage of undergrads here are officially independent, but I would guess that it is fairly substantial. The numbers excerpted in this story show that they face substantially different and more difficult challenges than the traditional college student.

I hear often about the heavy work and family responsibilites of my students, and this is clearly not something unique to us.

Inside Higher Ed :: Understanding Independent Students

Friday, October 21, 2005

Detox at Madison

I end up linking this site quite a bit, but this is another interesting story about how Madison has decided that public announcement of drinking arrests might help curb the problem.

We seem to have been doing that for years. The A-T weekly publishes its list of students who have been arrested, with the details of what they were doing when it happened.

It hasn't made a difference here, one would have to say, so it probably will make no difference at Madison. There isn't much shame associated with public drunkenness these days.

Inside Higher Ed :: Detox at Madison

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A few tuition statistics: Aid Is Up, Tuition Up More

Related to the NYT article and other posts, this article givves some recent numbers for tuition and aid across the country. Tuition up 7.1% at public institutions and net cost is up as well. The article also notes that loans take an ever bigger part of student aid package, leaving students deeper in debt when (if) they graduate.

The chronicle of higher education adds that benefits also diproportunately flow to families with incomes over $50,000. The lower classes are being priced out of higher education, it seems.

Inside Higher Ed :: Aid Is Up, Tuition Up More

Here is a link to a site that gives suggestions and discussion about college costs. They are pushing a conference on college costs that will take place in November.

UWO makes news for students' desire for more booze

The Student Government voted to propose alcohol in Reeve Union Monday evening.

The Northwestern is up in arms--covering the story and then editorializing against it. The anti-university editorial writer has decided to take this opportunity to once again bash the university, claiming that the city has different standards than the campus community. It strikes me as the pot calling the kettle black: to claim that Oshkosh, with a little bar on every street corner and whose political leaders keep asking the state for permission to have more liquor licenses, to say that serving alcohol at Reeve is somehow problematic.

The real point is that the Northwestern likes to publish sensationalist negative attacks on the university and see what happens. They look forward to angry letters from our ranks and hope the regular conservative letter writers applaud their decision. Do you think they have data which suggests they sell more papers when they harrass the university?

I am not likely to start going to Reeve to have an afterwork drink with my students, so I think the students' justification is weak, but I also don't see a big problem with allowing alcohol to be served on campus.

Oshkosh Northwestern - UWO union may soon serve alcohol

There is not a link yet for the editorial.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

New York Times on 'Privatization' of Public Universities

This article ran in the Sunday paper. This touches on many of the issues that I have raised in this blog over the last few months. The percentage of state spending and the spending per student has dropped precipitiously in the last decade. The article focuses extensively on Wisconsin, and our continuing problems. Have we really lost the debate on the public good of higher education? I hope not, but the trend seem to be headed in the wrong direction. . .

I am going to paste the whole thing here so you don't have to go there and register:

October 16, 2005
At Public Universities, Warnings of Privatization

Taxpayer support for public universities, measured per student, has plunged more precipitously since 2001 than at any time in two decades, and several university presidents are calling the decline a de facto privatization of the institutions that played a crucial role in the creation of the American middle class.

Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University, said this year that skyrocketing tuition was a result of what he called "public higher education's slow slide toward privatization."

Other educators have made similar assertions, some avoiding the term "privatization" but nonetheless describing a crisis that they say is transforming public universities. At an academic forum last month, John D. Wiley, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said that during the years after World War II, America built the world's greatest system of public higher education.

"We're now in the process of dismantling all that," Dr. Wiley said.

The share of all public universities' revenues deriving from state and local taxes declined to 64 percent in 2004 from 74 percent in 1991. At many flagship universities, the percentages are far smaller. About 25 percent of the University of Illinois's budget comes from the state. Michigan finances about 18 percent of Ann Arbor's revenues. The taxpayer share of revenues at the University of Virginia is about 8 percent.

"At those levels, we have to ask what it means to be a public institution," said Katharine C. Lyall, an economist and president emeritus of the University of Wisconsin. "America is rapidly privatizing its public colleges and universities, whose mission used to be to serve the public good. But if private donors and corporations are providing much of a university's budget, then they will set the agenda, perhaps in ways the public likes and perhaps not. Public control is slipping away."

Not everyone agrees with the doomsday talk. Some experts who study university finance say the declines are only part of a familiar cycle in which legislatures cut the budgets of public universities more radically than other state agencies during recession but restore financing when good times return, said Paul E. Lingenfelter, president of State Higher Education Executive Officers, a nonprofit association.

"Let's not panic and say that the public commitment to higher education has fundamentally changed," Dr. Lingenfelter said. "Let's just say that these cycles happen, and get back to work to restore the funding."

But the future of hundreds of universities and colleges has become a subject of anxious debate nationwide. At stake are institutions that carry out much of the country's public-interest research and educate nearly 80 percent of all college students, and whose scientific and technological innovation has been crucial to America's economic dominance.

Margaret Spellings, secretary of education, noted her own worries in announcing the appointment of a national Commission on the Future of Higher Education last month.

"We still have the finest system of higher education in the world," Ms. Spellings said. "But we're at a crossroads. The world is catching up."

The commission, whose first meeting is scheduled for Monday, will explore universities' affordability and competitiveness. Some members argue that universities, by failing to contain costs, share responsibility for the exploding price of a degree.

The average in-state tuition nationwide for students attending four-year public colleges increased 36 percent from 2000-01 through 2004-05, according to the College Board, while consumer prices over all rose about 11 percent.

The Morrill Act of 1862 granted federal land to states to finance the creation of public universities, and one of their core missions ever since has been to provide services that promote the well-being of communities and states. Today, educators using the term "privatization" say universities are being forced to abandon this social compact. In the process, many major public universities are looking more like private ones.

For instance, the University of Virginia and other public universities in the state responded to years of dwindling financing by asking Virginia's General Assembly to extend their autonomy and to reaffirm the university governing boards' authority to raise tuition. Lawmakers granted those requests, said Colette Sheehy, a University of Virginia vice president.

Two years ago, Miami University of Ohio became the first public institution to adopt the tuition model used by private colleges, eliminating the differential between in-state and out-of-state residents.

Across the nation, educators said, public anger is rising not only about tuition but about the increasing numbers of faculty members who focus on research rather than on teaching undergraduates, and about the time that university presidents spend hobnobbing with billionaires. University administrators say all three phenomena are related to the transformation of revenues.

As private donations and federal grants make up a larger proportion of universities' revenue, more professors are paid mainly to conduct research. And as state financing drops, more building projects depend on private philanthropy.

At the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Grainger Hall, which houses the business school, was financed largely by donations from David W. Grainger, chairman of W. W. Grainger Inc., the business-to-business distributor; from his wife; and from the Grainger Foundation. The school of pharmacy is in the new Rennebohm Hall, named after Oscar Rennebohm, whose drugstore chain amassed a fortune. The Rennebohm Foundation financed the building.

"Wisconsin people see all the construction on campus and don't understand why the university is complaining about budget cuts," Dr. Lyall said. "We have this apparent incongruity of building growth at a time when resources for teaching in those buildings are shrinking."

But flagship universities are less vulnerable to financing declines than are hundreds of state-run four-year colleges that do not offer doctoral programs or conduct significant research, said David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, the nation's largest association of universities and colleges. The flagships can replace some state revenues with federal grants and private donations, but the four-year colleges cannot, he said.

"Privatization may be a good description of what is going on at our flagship campuses, but not at our four-years," Dr. Ward said. "They cannot survive without public funding."

Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, a nonprofit group, also said he dislikes the word.

"The air is filled with this rhetoric about privatization, but the evidence doesn't support it," Mr. Callan said. He noted that in straight dollar terms, state appropriations for public universities have not fallen much across the nation in recent years. They totaled $67 billion in 2001, $70 billion in 2002, $69 billion in 2003 and $69 billion in 2004, the last year for which nationwide data is available.

But because enrollments surged during those years by more than 1 million students, or 11.8 percent, per-student appropriations dropped more steeply than at any time since the early 1980's, to $5,721 from $6,874, according to the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

Another measure, the average percentage of state tax revenues devoted to public higher education, has declined for several decades. About 6.7 percent of state revenues went to higher education appropriations in 1977, but by 2000, universities' share had fallen to 4.5 percent, according to a study by the Urban Institute.

Stanley O. Ikenberry, a president emeritus of the University of Illinois, says he believes that most state legislatures remain committed to supporting public higher education but that as budgets shrink, it is more difficult to cut programs like Medicaid, public schools and prisons.

"The higher education budget serves as the default place to make the cut," Dr. Ikenberry said. Nonetheless, he avoids the word "privatization," saying, "It's not a productive way to talk about what's happening now, but more a way of describing where we may be heading."

Monday, October 17, 2005

Tom Keefe leaves for St. Louis U.

In what may be the first of many fleeing a sinking ship, Tom Keefe, fund-raiser in chief, takes off for greener pastures.

Tom has done a great job raising money for UWO, even if much of his effort has been aimed at athletics. I generally accepted his argument that sports was a good way to open a donors wallet, and then you can turn towards more academic endeavors.

Unfortunately, he is now gone, making it all the more difficult to raise funds for the new academic building on campus.

Michael Zimmerman wanted to move to Lawrence last semester. Chancellor Wells may be next--he hopes so. . .

I wonder if this is happening all over the UW system? Are we beginning to see the inevitable drain of talent away from our universities to places where there is more respect for higher education?

Implications of Blackboard/Web CT merger

Although UW system adopted d2l last year, this article seems relevant to me. I especially like the idea of using open source software to accomplish the same thing we pay d2l to do.

D2l is a incredibly buggy piece of software that doesn't seem to be able to handle the load here at Oshkosh much of the time. You can't use Firefox without running into all sorts of trouble.

I have come to rely on the web for much course content, but I am never sure if it is a wise decision. Who knows when the next upgrade of d2l will take out all our data!

Inside Higher Ed :: Blackboard vs....

Friday, October 14, 2005

A Diversity Candidate in Every Pool

A Dean down at Marquette made the news for making public and explicit a policy that was surely in place earlier.

It is clear, for example, that there is overt pressure from above here at Oshkosh to make sure minority and women candidates are represented in final lists for faculty positions. No "official" policy exists, but search committees are made aware of their responsibilities towards diversity.

It is a real quandary when it comes to academics. I used to believe that academia was a place where merit was the ultimate arbiter of success. How naive was I!! Intellectual excellence is only one of many qualities deemed necessary when it comes to the academy. Much more important is having the right contacts.

These diversity questions go the heart of the incestuous networks of scholars that exist throughout our profession. How do you break in, if you do not have contacts with the right circles? However, these circles are really quite diverse, as opposed to the simple old-boys networks of corporate America. This is not to say that academia is anything but the preserve of the white middle-class, but there is a lot of self-consciousness and soul-searching about that problem.

Can simply forcing committees to look at diverse candidates help them break these barriers? Does this demand simply reinforce the strength of academic networks? I don't know the answer and I don't know where I stand on administratively-decreed diversity requirements.

Inside Higher Ed :: A Diversity Candidate in Every Pool

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Wells: Chance to grow

The Northwestern published a short column on Chancellor Wells today. He emphasized that he wants to leave because of the terrible financial climate in our state. The reporter led with more money, and left the complaint about financing off to the end in the story.

As a side note, maybe Wells is hoping he'll get another job before he addresses the complaints in our petition from last Spring!

Oshkosh Northwestern - Wells: Chance to grow

Monday, October 10, 2005

Even the Chancellor thinks it might be time to leave

The chancellor announced this afternoon that he is a finalist for a similar position at CalState Long Beach.

This surely is a step up in the world of academic administration, being a bigger and more highly rated institution. However, it is also true that if the financial and ideological situation around here weren't quite so poisoned, he might not have been as ready to accept the nomination.

However, it just wouldn't bother me much to see him go. How about you?

Here is the text of his announcement:

Date: October 10, 2005

To: Members of the UW Oshkosh Community and Friends:

The California State University system office will announce later today that I have agreed to be a finalist for the Presidency of California State University Long Beach. I want to assure you that I am very proud to be your Chancellor, however, this is an excellent opportunity that requires careful consideration. I was nominated for this position, and it is the only Presidency I have agreed to consider. If it were not for the outstanding reputation of our UW Oshkosh academic community, the UW System and the State of Wisconsin, my family and I would not be in the position to consider this opportunity. We greatly appreciate the support of the people of Oshkosh and are enjoying the State of Wisconsin more than any place we have had the pleasure to live. Consequently, if an offer is extended, we will be facing a difficult decision.

Chancellor Charles Reed and the California State University Board of Trustees expect to conclude the search on or before November 1. I regret any distraction this situation may cause for our academic community, and I intend to continue, with your help, to stay fully focused on moving forward the priorities of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.

Richard H. Wells

A more positive story about UW outreach.

This digitization project discussed at the Wisc. State-Journal is a great project and is co-directed by our own library director Pat Wilkenson.

Wisconsin State Journal

New Buildings on Campus

The regents gave approval to the new academic building on campus last week, which is good news for the university community. However, it comes at a very interesting time. My biggest question is why the state has $40 million to spend on new buildings at a time when we are cutting courses like crazy.

It is an serious question for the university. How can we complain that we are being gutted by the state legislature (which we are) when such a huge amount of money is being spent on a new building? What is the point of getting a new building when we don't have enough teachers to teach the students that we do have? Where does this money come from anyway and why aren't we tapping it to take care of students who are here now?

I suppose it is a matter of the way money is divided up. Somehow it is more legitimate to give $40 million to private contractors to build a new building. We know, afterall, that there are much better donors among the big contracting companies than among the university supporters. Why not raise tuition and hand it over to the rich businessmen?

I should provide a few links, in case you are not up to speed on the news:

Here is the Northwestern story

I was also struck by the critical letter to the editor yesterday by the retired director of facilities management (second letter down). He seems extremely angry that the university leased Cub foods building and is moving ahead with new construction. It makes me wonder about the history of this project!

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cuts by legislature left opening for abuses in UW system

The Journal Sentinel reports that part of the reason for the backup position scandal is that cuts by legislators caused campuses to cut back on their self-auditing (in order to save teaching resources).

JS Online: Cuts hurt scrutiny of UW System

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Computers hurt education

This is an interesting article complaining about the adverse effects computers have on education--it seems quite relevant to much of the discussion lately about d2l and other educational technology:

Orion > Orion Magazine > September | October 2005 > Lowell Monke > Charlotte's Webpage

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Buying the state of Wisconsin

The latest tempest on campus is that all state-funded travel must be paid for using a U.S. Bank Visa card. Apparently, the Doyle administration claims that forcing all state employees who travel to carry a new credit card will provide great efficiencies.

What is probably the real case is that the administration will be getting a kick-back from U.S. bank when state employees use the card. Someone feels that this 1% that the state is recieving is enough to radically change the way travel works for state employees.

There is great resistance to this idea here on campus. Why should we all be forced to apply for (and hand our personal information over to) a new company? Why do we have to be burdened by carrying and preserving an extra card that can ONLY be used for specific aspects of travel up to a limited dollar amount?

We are personally responsible for all debts incurred on the card. I suppose the state will wash its hands of responsibility as well if the card is stolen or is used to steal your identity.

This is just another example of the corporate take over of the public sector in America. We are already forced to carry a U.S. Bank Campus ID card, and now we are being forced to hand over more information to this corporation if we want to use part of our benefits. I wonder how deep U.S. bank has its hand into the student loan business on campus? Maybe we should just outsource the whole operation to a big corporation. After all, education is all about profits, isn't it???

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Monday, October 03, 2005

College Education Still Pays

If you want to put a few dollar signs on the value of higher education, here is a story from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

A glance at the current issue of The Economist's Voice: The value of a college degree

The hourly-wage gap between people with college degrees and those with only a high-school education has been growing for decades, but the rate of increase slowed in the 1990s. At the same time, tuition prices rose, leading people to ask whether college was still worth it. But after studying the financial risks and rewards of higher education, two economists have concluded that continuing one's education definitely still pays off.

"In fact, there are no signs that the value of a college education has peaked or is on a downward trend," say Lisa Barrow, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and Cecilia Elena Rouse, a professor of economics at Princeton University.

For the average student who entered college in 2003, the authors calculate, the cost of earning a bachelor's degree would be worthwhile if it raised the value of the student's lifetime earnings by $107,277. That figure represents the sum of average tuition and fees for a four-year degree program and the amount someone with just a high-school diploma could earn in the same span of time.

Ms. Rouse and Ms. Barrow write that a college diploma would raise such a student's lifetime earnings by as much as $402,959 -- nearly $300,000 more than the total cost.

That increase is important to focus on, in contrast to the rising cost of tuition, which the authors say has almost no effect on the value of a college education. In fact, despite the growth in the number of graduates, the wages of degree-holders continue to rise, indicating "an increasing -- not a decreasing -- demand for their skills," they write.

The article, "Does College Still Pay?," is available at