Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Eau Claire student fee would fund pay raises

Tony Palmeri posted this link to the COLS list--students at Eau Claire make a nice symbolic gesture to support their professors by offering to help with salaries out of their own segregated fees.

This is part of a broader discussion on our list about the misperceptions about faculty salaries in the UW system. The public and the legislature operates under the assumption that we are making big bucks. Outside of a few high fliers at Madison, we make a decent living, but we are never going to get rich being college professors.

The life of the mind drew us, not the financial incentive. Administrators and legislators both like to take advantage of our idealism . . .

JS Online: Eau Claire student fee would fund pay raises

Wisconsin Supreme court rules on Marder case

Our supreme court ruled yesterday that most of the rules in the Marder case were properly followed. It returned the case to lower courts, however, for an investigation of whether "new facts" were added during a discussion before the board of regent's consideration of his appeal.

I haven't followed this case closely, but TAUWP has been supporting Marder and using him as an example of administrative power out of control for years.

Inside Higher Ed :: Tenured Professor's Firing (Largely) Upheld

Here is the supreme court brief and a story from 2001 about the Marder case that appeared at the Chronicle of Higher Education

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

For Profit College To Cancel Liberal Arts

Post University is eliminating all degree programs that don't lead directly to careers and upper-level liberal arts courses.

Technical school here we come. . . .

Inside Higher Ed :: Don't Know Much About History

Monday, November 28, 2005

Graduate Student Strikers Blog at NYU

I found this site very interesting. You can read the about the graduate students, the administration and their battles.

I am very sympathetic to the argument that graduate students are exploited, though it is hard to believe that life is too rough at NYU.

Nerds on Strike!: "c"

Turning academia into a cafeteria

The LA Times ran an editorial discussing the problems of the Academic Bill of Rights and the larger problem of a "choice-addled" society. Academic freedom is under assault because the language of diversity and choice has become a mantra in use to throttle lines of inquiry that someone may diagree with.

As Russell Jacoby, a professor at UCLA, suggests, "Truth itself is partisan."

Turning academia into a cafeteria - Los Angeles Times

COLS list invaded by Marines

Monday morning and we're back to work. I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! The COLS list was active over the long vacation.

An extended debate got started after a list member objected to the tag-line on Mike Melland's email (see previous entry) which read:

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem." President Ronald Reagan, 1985

This line got Gerry Grzyb worked up enough to post a response, a long quotation from a Marine General complaining about the uses of the Marines. And they were off. . .

I don't think it is worthy of a summary, since I have much to catch up on today, but the argument ebbed and flowed about American foreign policy, the U.S. Military, Iraq, the Nuremburg Trials, and finally, some personal insults.

As the postings continued, we were hit by the usual "remove me" emails from people who still haven't learned to avoid responding to the whole list (and who don't actually ever look at the email with specific unsubscribe instructions). The final? unsubscribe came from Tom Lammers, who denounced the whole list (but especially Gerry Grzyb) and let us all know he will not discuss any longer.

The discussion about the Marines has generally been unproductive, but information about book-rental and other campus issues have been informative. Outside the often heated rhetoric of Lammers, Grzyb and a few others, it has not been a bad outlet for broader connections across campus.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Chronicle of Higher Education Article on Wisconsin

This article came across the COLS listserv today, thanks to Mike Melland.

The article discusses the collision between the UW system and the Legislature. There are several interesting moments in the text--in particular Jim Doyle, the "education" governor, criticizes the system in an interview, claiming we don't want the same oversight as other government agencies. It also ends with the standard rhetoric from Krebich, the most vocal slanderer of the UW system. One would think that his extremist views represent the whole of the state.

I hope not, but I guess the way Repubs and Dems alike agree to slash our budget, he probably is closer to it than I am. . .

Monday, November 21, 2005

A Residence Hall Director's Blog

I should be working, I know, but this popped up on

Jim Droste is a residence hall director of Breese Hall, and there are a few interesting university related discussions over there. A few students posted in relationship to the fight over bible study led by RAs in the dorms at UW-Eau Claire.

Check it out!

A Pirate's Log

Econ department continues to push for secession

Unfortunately, I missed the hearings held last week to hear the justifications for the switch from COLS to COBA.

I have not heard any real justification for this proposal, except that the department might work "slightly better" if it were attached to a different College.

The A-T article provides no justification, but it made me think about the topic.

The rumors suggest that this is a personal feud between the department and Zimmerman, and the weak justfications heard so far seem to make that the most likely reason.

I think that if the econ department really thinks that they are better defined as part of the specialized business degree, they should also be asking to be removed from the general education requirements of the university. Students should be asked to take a more general liberals arts course. They will get enough business experience after they graduate.

Both the dept. and Zimmerman claim that nothing will change in terms of requirements and majors, which makes the desire to switch even more puzzling. Perhaps there is economic value in pointless administrative reshuffling. What does current economic theory tell us on that point?

Advance Titan Online

Story Update: House Republicans regroup--cut student aid

Here is the story over at Oshkosh News, with some links to other stories.

The NYTimes Sunday magazine has an interesting discussion of how the Republicans use power in Washington--in particular by letting "moderates" vote against controversial measures as long as there is enough support for passage. In this case, too many moderates defected last week and more arms had to be twisted.

Petri, feeling safe in our district, voted to hurt college students across the U.S.

In a related story, the Journal Sentinal reports that legislators are angling to spend another $400 million on prisons, to keep sex offenders behind bars longer. Any guesses as to where the money for that is going to come from???

Searching for Summer School

The administration has once again begun to hunt for faculty members to teach summer school. Dean Zimmerman has made it clear in his various budget meetings that these courses cost the college money, but system is demanding that we offer more, more, more!! Does UWO really need any summer school courses? Are the ones you teach full?

I don't want to teach over the summer, so are you going to sign up?

Attack of the Career-Killing Blogs - When academics post online, do they risk their jobs? By Robert S. Boynton

Here is another article about how blogging can hurt your academic career. A nationally renown blogger from University of Chicago didn't get tenure, and some blame his blogging.. . .

Attack of the Career-Killing Blogs - When academics post online, do they risk their jobs? By Robert S. Boynton

Friday, November 18, 2005

Threats to Liberal Education from Left and Right

I like this story about liberal education over at, part of their "college week."

The author proposes that liberal education is under assault from the left-wing that questions the practice of teaching as too elitist and the right wing who is obsessed with making college narrowly practical.
I am not sure I agree with the premise, but it is a good thought piece.

Reforming College - What professors don't tell you. By Astrida Orle Tantillo

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mellon Foundation to investigate college student graduation rates

the president of the Mellon foundation announced that he is planning to research the reasons that only 54% of college students have graduated after 6 years.

UWO's rate is even lower, if I remember correctly, so this is a question we should be thinking more about ourselves. - Focus on getting students into college shifts to getting them out - Nov 16, 2005

Pennsylvania Republicans attack university professors

The Penn. legislature is "investigating" universities in pennsylvania for bias. Academics at Temple organized a teach-in to protest such witch hunts.

I imagine that we may be seeing similar things here in Wisconsin before long. It is a short news story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about it.

Registration is required, but I have begun to use to avoid having to give my email address.

Philadelphia Daily News | 11/12/2005 | Profs get warned of freedoms

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Will Advertising save the University?

A national association of universities is getting ready to launch a national campaign to emphasize the importance of college education.

I don't think it will work, but at least some people are thinking about how to change the terms of the debate in this country about higher education.

Once again, the radical right has set the agenda, defining universities as hotbeds of sedition, not instruments of economic growth and upward mobility. It would be nice if an ad campaign could break that stranglehold.

Inside Higher Ed :: 'Solutions for Our Future'

Class and Wealth at Madison

The Journal-Sentinal is running a cutsie story about the division between 'coasties' and Wisconsites at Madison. The real theme of the story is class and privelege. 31% of spots at Madison go to out of state kids who can afford the $20,000/year tuition.

This is just another symptom of Wisconsin abdicating its duty to educate Wisconsities. It is fine to have out of state students, but the problem is really one of financing. Madison has to have a large percentage of high-tuition paying students just to keep afloat in this day and age. Wouldn't it be nice if those spots went to deserving Wisconsites, regardless of their ability to pay??

JS Online: The great 'Coastie' divide

College Week at Slate

I haven't read any of the articles, but it looks like they will be having some interesting thoughts over at Check it out. If you find any of the articles particularly interesting, leave me a comment!
Then I'll know what to read.

Slate Goes to College - A week of articles about higher education.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Fees and Helping Students

The COLS listserv has been busy over the weekend. Two substantial discussions have developed over the issue of the segregated fees here on campus:

First, there is a question about the parking situation. A few writers have been questioning the need for a new parking structure after the acquisition of Cub Foods. Do we really need to increase the parking costs for this structure if there are so many new spaces across the river? At least one person has suggested that we should instead be trying to force students and staff out of their cars. The high fees are one way of encouraging students to leave their cars at home and staff to find alternative methods of reaching campus.

It would be nice to see such a cultural shift away from cars on campus. Students who flee during the weekends might become more deeply integrated into campus life. If staff moved closer or used other forms of transportation, we might see a broad revitalization of the center of the city and less polution in town. Far fetched, however.

Second, an ongoing discussion about switching to a textbook rental system. It apparently saves students money at places like UW Eau Claire. Faculty, however, are somewhat restricted in their choice of textbooks and the interval during which they can change. I don't change that often, so a 2-3 year cycle would not bother me, but others have expressed a real problem with the model.

That is my update about the listserv--I am not inspired enough by the conversation to post the actual comments--but it is a worthy enough endeavor to think about the issues of student costs...

Students' lack of interest

This editorial speculates about the current state of our culture which has made broad cultural knowledge irrelevant. Students no longer care that they don't know anything. . . | J. Peder Zane

College Presidents' obscene salaries

The Chronicle of Higher Education is set to release the salaries of presidents at universities today. This list is topped by the president of Lynn University, who received over $5 million dollars in 2003-4.

Wow! The numbers here are shocking! 50 presidents earn over $500,000 a year at private institutions. 23 earn that much at state schools.

The compensation race is just ridiculous, but this is a huge issue outside of academia as well. It clearly has trickled down, at great expense to tuition-paying students and under-paid staff.

You have to register for the New York Times to read this story:

College Leaders' Earnings Top $1 Million - New York Times

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Marlin Schneider reintroduces his wacky bill

Jim Simmons brought this article to the attention of COLS list. Rep. Schneider is again proposing his "student bill of rights," which contains all sorts of off-the-wall proposals. He is still upset about heavy backpacks and bad advising. . . .

Jim thinks that this bill has a chance of passing. No way! No ideological requirements in the bill--thats what would really get the Republicans on board!

Wausau - 'Student bill of rights' proposed for UWs

Friday, November 11, 2005

Story Update 2: Regents meet: Against back up jobs, ordered investigatation of student fees

The regents are in the midst of a two day meeting. Yesterday, they approved the end to backup jobs and an investigation of student fee increases.

All of this appears to be a cave-in to the university-hating, sensationalist wing of the republican party in Madison. Neither will necessarily improve the quality of higher education in the state. More likely, the new policies will convince good candidates for administative jobs to look elsewhere and reduce options available to students.

- Day 1 Regents meeting news summary

Story Update1: U.S. congress not cutting student aid for now

The republican cuts of higher ed. loans for students ran into trouble yesterday, as saner heads prevailed. It is part of a larger reticence of Republican moderates against the excesses of the extremists in the party. Cutting aid to the poor and college students while giving more tax breaks to the rich is not appearing to be good politics today.

Inside Higher Ed :: House Plan to Cut Loan Programs Stalls

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Econ department wants to secede from College

The Faculty Committee announced yesterday that there will be college of letters and science referendum about whether the Econ department should leave and join the college of business.

There will be a couple of discussion sessions in the next month about it.

It sounds pretty crazy to me. The rumor has it that there are deep personal problems between Dean Zimmerman and the Econ department. I am not enough in the loop to know exactly what is going on between them, but something must be bad for them to want to make this leap.

I can't see a good reason for it. Since when is Economics not part of the basic Social Science core of a good education? Why would they want to redefine their discipline as a narrowly career oriented field like business? Do they really believe that their discipline has more in common with marketing and management than with mathematics and chemistry?

This should make for interesting university-wide discussion over the next few months and I hope that we will hear why the econ department is trying to leave. I think my department ought to move too--I hear the pay is much better in the college of business!

Blogwars and lawsuits

Here is another story that deals with the dangers of blogging: learn about two academics involved in a heated argument that turns particularly nasty!

Inside Higher Ed :: Online Quicksand

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Student expelled for antagonistic web postings

How about this story--you have to be careful what you post on the internet if you are a colege student! I am afraid that it could happen to university employees, so I remain anonymously Winneblogo!

first alerted me to a whole series of incidents:

Here is a story from the Boston Globae about Facebook:

Fisher College expels student over website entries - The Boston Globe

Binge drinking black-eye

News reports announce today that the UW system has the worst student drinking culture in the nation. 7 out of 10 men and 5 out of 10 women admit binge drinking in the last two weeks.

Unfortunately, this is part of our problem of connecting with students and creating an atmosphere of learning on campus. We all know that students spend more time talking about partying than class. We need to figure out how to break this cycle of drunkenness and intellectual hollowness.

The news report

A Wisconsin State Journal editorial

Monday, November 07, 2005

How Thursday Became the New Friday

The Education Life section of the NYTimes ran this story yesterday. It describes how Fridays have been transformed into an extra weekend day (Party Thursday night!!)

It is another story about how Universities have given in to their students, by allowing Friday to slip away. If you teach on Fridays, you know about the dismal attendance and lack of attention to be found in Oshkosh students.

The article also describes how Duke University is striving to reclaim the whole calendar and Fridays in particular. We do some of these things already, but it is a good reminder that catering to only what students want would lead to a university without classes or standards.
(Registration is required to see the story)
How Thursday Became the New Friday - New York Times

Liberal Arts program failing for colleges

Dean Zimmerman has argued forcefully for the need to convince the public that one of the key components of a college education are the general good of a liberal education.

The AAC&U is trying to quantify what that means and provide some data to show if it is working. Their standardized testing suggests that only 11% of seniors qualify as "proficient" in writing and only 6% are "proficient" in critical thinking skills.

I don't know how they arrived at these figures, but I imagine that they are pretty close to correct. Our students surely would do no better. How can we change this?

Another link related to this story is here.

AAC&U News Room | Liberal Education Outcomes: A Preliminary Report on Student Achievement in College

Friday, November 04, 2005

JS Online: Bible study policy raises ire

New Right-Wing attack on the universities here: Student RA forced to follow same rules as all other state employees. However, it happens to be that he is pushing religion in the dorms.

No one would have expected it, but Republican politicians are angry that policy forbidding religion at work applies to Christianity! Do you think Mark Green would be complaining about Buddhists being forced to have their prayer meetings outside the dorms??

JS Online: Bible study policy raises ire

The 'Crisis' in Higher Ed Financing

This New York Conference is probably the reason there is a story on today.

Several speakers here blame increasing college costs on an "amenities arms race." We are competing, but students seem willing to vote these fees upon themselves.

Inside Higher Ed :: The 'Crisis' in Higher Ed Financing

No Surprise Here: Presidents hired for fund-raising ability

Here is an not so surprising story on CNN about the need for college presidents to raise funds. We all know that this is the case. It is interesting, however, that it is showing up in the major national media.

Unfortunately, this has become all too true for our own Chancellor and those who lead the public institutions in this country. - More college presidents from outside academic ranks - Nov 3, 2005

Thursday, November 03, 2005

National Summit on cutting college costs makes suggestions

I have linked to this organization and website before, but here is a new report about a recent meeting.

There, several adminstrators and public figures to address the question of how to control college costs and discussed several issues, the one highlighted by the Inside Higher ed story is remedial service for unqualified students. They also mention making faculty teach more, generating more non-tuition revenue, etc.

It is an interesting emphasis. We clearly have plenty of help for students who are not fully prepared for college, but it is hard to imagine that it is a very large share of the overall budget.

Inside Higher Ed :: High Schools and High College Costs

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Let's Work Together to Fix Academic Journals

Ron Hardy sent along this open letter about the price-gouging practices of large academic journal publishing. The statistics in the letter lay bare the policy of exploiting the necessity of university libraries to subscribe to key journals whatever the cost.

As a community, we should join this movement, and get journal prices under control. Perhaps the faculty senate should get involved and support a broad initiative!

Consider this:

An Open Letter to All University Presidents and Provosts Concerning Increasingly Expensive Journals:

"It is time to recognize a simple fact, and react to it. The symbiotic relationship between academics and for-profit publishers has broken down. The large for-profit publishers are gouging the academic community for as much as the market will bear. Moreover, they will not stop pricing journals at the monopoly level, because shareholders demand it."

"So far, universities have failed to use one of the most powerful tools that they possess: charging for their valuable inputs. Journal editing uses a great deal of pro

fessorial and staff time, as well as supplies, office space and computers, all provided by universities... we see no reason for universities to subsidize editorial inputs to journals that are priced to extract maximum revenue from the academic community."

Will UW-Oshkosh accept this challenge? Will the library, with University Endorsement, consider cancelling academic journals that, based on measurable data, are gouging the very institutions that produce the content they sell?

Ronald Kane Hardy
Head of Information Resources
Polk Library, University of Wisconsin - Oshkosh
Oshkosh, WI 54901

The letter authors also link their analysis of cost for 5000 journals

Voters suspend TABOR in Colorado

In news that has important implications for Wisconsin, Colorado voters yesterday voted to allow the suspention of their strict budgetary caps to allow increased spending. Higher education will gain a large share of this money, as the public universities in Colorado took deep cuts in the decade since this amendment passed.

Even the Republican governor endorsed this yes vote!

Let us hope that this vote in Colorado will help bring our own legislators to their senses about automatic caps and freezes.

Colorado voters give up billions in tax refunds - Politics -