Tuesday, February 28, 2006

40 felons work for UW system

I'm sure the next poll will find that the public has caught this irrellevant fact and holds against us as well. Expect big headlines for this across the state.

40 employees, all of whom I am sure are not illegally escaped from jail, have been convicted of felonies. With the exception of 3 people who are still manuvering through the system's appeals process, all of these people have served their sentences .

I am sure the people who don't believe in rehabilitation will be shocked that any of these people have jobs with the state. UW haters will surely be repeating this story at their campaign rallies.

JS Online: DayWatch

I did a quick google search and sure enough, here is the press release about how shocked a couple of Republicans are. More UW bashing news to follow. . . .

Monday, February 27, 2006

New Retake Policy Announced -- Rewards Failure

Steve Szydlik posted the following information to the COLS list today:

"New Repeat Policy for Fall 2007
Beginning in Fall 2007, the University's undergradate repeat policy will change. Undergraduate students will be able to register for repeated classes at their regular registration date; they will no longer need to wait till 30 days before classes begin. However, undergraduates will only be able to repeat classes in which they received a CD or lower grade. Graduate students should contact their program or Graduate Studies Office regarding their repeat policy."

The new policy seems to add incentives for failure. If a student does not get a really low grade in the class, they will not be allowed to retake it. Perverse incentives for the college.

I am personally more upset about the removal of the 30 day rule. Forcing students who want to retake to wait until those who haven't taken the classes have a chance is a really good idea. Now, more seats will be taken up by students who have failed in previous semesters. It really punished students who are earlier in their career to benefit students who have not been able to handle the course earlier.

Zimmerman had often expressed the position that the 30 day rule was very important to him, but it seems to have disappeared with nary a whimper.

How was this decision made, anyway? Did the faculty senate vote for this? I don't remember getting any information about this sort of change. Perhaps this is just another moment of "shared governance" at UWO, where the administration changes the rules without bothering to tell the whole faculty.

Let's continue the dumbing down of Oshkosh--it should keep our retention numbers up and that is what is all about, after all!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Residents think UW stinks

Read the report about how the UW haters have won the propaganda war and most in Wisconsin think the system is wasteful.

It gives a pretty good idea about how badly the UW system has played politics throughout the last few years!

JS Online:Survey scalds UW System

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Madison produces most CEOs and Peace Corp Volunteers

Here is a nice pro-UW Madison article in the Capitol Times. The editor points out the great things that are happening at Madison and wonders how the anti-UW legislators can ignore all of our successes.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Gubernatorial candidate Walker :Break up UW system

In some sort of debate on right-wing talk radio in Milwaukee, County Exec Scott Walker suggested that breaking up the system might be good thing:

JS Online: DayWatch

I am not so sure that he is wrong. System mostly seems to be causing trouble in recent times. I wonder how things worked before system existed.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Stew Buries Letter to the Editor in defense of Palmeri

I just noticed this little post from Stew's new criticism -free blog site. He posted a letter to his site, with his own, brief response "No commentary necessay."

Whatever that mean, the Northwestern is back to its standard tricks of ignoring the letters that raise criticism of its practices.

They find it more fun to print irrelevant letters from the same old loudmouths.

Then they can ignore the substantive problems in their journalistic practices.

Oshkosh Northwestern - Northwestern Five Rivers complaint (Feb. 16)

Monday, February 20, 2006

UPDATE: Retired UWO Professor is letter author

Babblemur and Tony Palmeri both let me know that Sandra Gade, the author of the letter to the editor below, is a long-time professor in the physics department, who retired in the late 1990s.

What an interesting twist! A Christianist physics professor lurking outside biology class rooms, sniffing for the scent of evolutionary theory. Why does she know what books are being used in the biology department?

It seems a bit strange for a physicist to attack biologists, because the Christianists are going after her discipline too. Think about the 24 year old snot at NASA who was telling senior scientists that they were not allowed to present their research. He also forced NASA to change their webpages to reflect the administration's political biases. No big bang for Christianists! How soon before they turn on Galileo and demand that we teach that the sun goes around the earth?

Babblemur did a literature search and turned up an article she wrote, where she said that the chemistry of living organisms is too complex to explain. She hasn't been keeping up with the literature (there are some very cool experiments that show how the processes she describes might come about), but do you really expect Christianists to do so? I love the line about evolution as a minor religion of the 21st century!

Here is the link.

Spying on Professors Here!

Did anyone else notice the creepy letter to the editor in Sunday's paper. Some person wrote complaining about a textbook used in a biology class.

Who is this author? Is she a student in the class? Is she some sort of Christianist provocateur that cruses bookstores looking to attack professors? Is the professor giving her a bad grade because she refuses to accept the very premise of modern biology and medicine?

It is a very specific attack, even giving the publication date of the book.

Regardless of the idiocy of the claims about evolution, I wonder if we are now going to see the public "outing" of professors who disagree with Christianists on the pages of the local newspaper.

Fifth Letter Down: Biology textbook promotes atheism

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Northwestern Runs Palmeri story

I am sure Tony has posted this himself, but it is worth linking to here.

Here is today's story

Interestingly enough, the newspaper didn't get a hold of anyone in the UW adminstration, even though they promise more details than the blogosphere. It almost looks like they didn't directly talk to Tony about this.

They interview Gordon Hintz and Burk Tower. They both said they had discussed with their supervisory types. Somehow, the Provost's warning isn't relevant if they have talked with less important administrators.

It appears that there is nothing to dispute Palmeri's claim that he was singled out by the administration, for some unknown reason. Perhaps the administration will explain themselves, but I doubt it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Arizona Senate Panel Wants to Ban Controversy

A panel in arizona passed through a bill that would force alternate assignments any time a student is offended for any reason.

And I though Horowitz was an extremist--can you imagine what this would do to colleges in Arizona or anywhere else? We might as well close up shop and go home!

Inside Higher Ed :: Avoid Whatever Offends You

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Athletes have trouble graduating

Larry Graham wrote this interesting story, as a tie in with Black History Month. He reminds of us the awful graduation percentage of college athletes, emphasizing the dismal rates of black athletes.

Unfortunately, he ends the article on a quite flippant note--that black athletes have had success in the pros.

It is clear, however, that most athletes who do not graduate are not going on to the pros. Even for college that number is probably 1 in 1000. Most simply use up their eligibility and then the athletic department offers them no more support.

The article also contains the particularly disgusting comment from the athletic director at UW-LaCross who says lots of students don't graduate--why do people focus on athletes. As if the university doesn't play a special role in the live of athletes, even at division III schools. They promise them playing time, all sorts of additional academic help, and spend large amounts of money feeding them, clothing them and taking them to exotic locations. Then, they don't graduate. What is going on there?

Perhaps Mr. Graham will do a follow-up on this story and discuss the particular situation at UW-Oshkosh. We have a terrible graduation rate among regular students (about 46% in 6 years, if I remember correctly). One would expect the athletics rate to be higher.

Oshkosh Northwestern - A disturbing trend

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Affirmative action for men?

Salon.com has an interesting story this morning about the sex ratios in U.S. universities and what they are doing about them. It seems as though under the heading of diversity, some places are keeping out more highly qualified white women to admit white men. They don't want to have their ratios too far from 50/50.

The article raises the questions of university admissions policies and the "shortage" of men in college.

It is a thought-provoking piece, though you do have to watch an ad before you can see the whole story.

Salon.com Life | The campus crusade for guys

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Zimmerman in the NY Times

I had not seen this article when I suggested that Dean Zimmerman be added to the horowitz hit-list.

With a little national attention, maybe he can become 102.

In all seriousness, congrats to Michael for bringing attention to the fact that not every Christian in America agrees with the Christianist anti-intellectual BS.

At Churches Nationwide, Good Words for Evolution - New York Times

Monday, February 13, 2006

101 most dangerous professors

This story hit the airwaves recently. David Horowitz published a book denouncing 101 professors for disagreeing with him.

Here is a list of all the names. Nobody from Oshkosh made the list. I'm disappointed.

I propose Dean Zimmerman. After all, he has had the gall to lead a campaign to convince people that evolution and Christianity are not mutually exclusive.

This has been a great service to the university and to the public sphere, which has been dominated by extreme Christianist voices trying to destroy science in this country.

Exactly the kind of thing David Horowitz sees as traitorous behavior!

Peter N. Kirstein » Blog Archive » David Horowitz Includes Professor Kirstein as one of 101 Most Dangerous Professors.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Big Raises for Administrators in the works

In another act of deaf-ear politics, the regents have approved a big increase in the pay-scale for administrators.

This will play well in the next budget cycle--with all the belt-tightening in other places in the system, lets fork over extra thousands to non-teaching types.

The chancellor of Madison may get a pay raise as big as my yearly salary! Why can't we hire a few more professors with that money?

[UPDATE] An astute reader has pointed out that the Journal-Sentinal misreported the information on the Madison's chancellor's salary increase: he will only receive $1700 more). The vice chancellor of academic affairs will get over $37,000 though.

Here is the story from the Wisconsin State Journal.

and the original report at the Journal-Sentinal:

JS Online:Regents back big UW raises

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Panel Explores Standardized Tests for Colleges

Can you imagine the farce this might become!?

The Commission on the Future of Higher Education is discussing whether college students need to take standardized exams as part of their graduation requirements. The Bush appointees who lead the commission imagine a system of testing that would look like No Child Left Behind.

Lets completely change the nature of a university into a test-prep institution and give up on the liberal arts all together, why don't we?

As I reflect on this story, I think about my own postings about the slipping quality of higher education. We are all caught in the vice of access and graduation rates. Do we simply fail out the unqualified student or do we pass them on through? If we don't admit them and pass them our state appropriations dry up. Would standardized testing improve this? I don't think so.

This is not a dilemma standardized testing really addresses. If someone decides to demand this kind of testing out of the universities, we will be forced to spend our time training mediocre students to pass standardized tests.

This is not what college should be about. How can we concentrate on the larger issues that are key to our student's lives as citizens and human beings if we are spending time asking them to memorize test questions? Will you have time to read some obscure work of literature that won't be on the test if the administration is breathing down your neck to keep improving pass-the-test rates? Can you veer off on to a tangent that your class is so interested in if it is not testable material?

If you are doing new innovative research, don't talk about that--it won't be on the test for another decade.

This doesn't even get into the problems of trying to decide what a test might look like. Will all colleges be forced to have the same curriculum to keep their federal funding? All majors at all schools will have to include the same basket of courses?

I could go on and on . . .

Panel Explores Standard Tests for Colleges - New York Times

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Palmeri is warned about campaigning

I have to cross-blog this message Tony Palmeri posted. Provost Earns sent Tony the state policy on running for office.

Do they think that he is not aware of such regulations?

Are they suggesting that they will insist on a reduced-time appointment if he decides to run?

It doesn't sound very supportive to me. Has the administration decided that Tony's politics are bad publicity for UWO and is distancing itself from him?

Tony, himself, asks if they have sent the same letter to Gordon Hintz. Also, what about City Council Members?

This reminds me of last year when notes went out from administration officials to dampen discussion on our list-serv. They claimed then and they will surely claim now that they are only reposting the policy without any other implications. Who believes that story?

Talk To Tony: Somebody's Watching Me

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Mike Lizotte writes great response to 'naive economic losers'

Mike Lizotte, Director of the New Aquatic Research Center(this may not be quite the right title), posted this great response to the COLS list. It is so nicely done that I wanted to repost it here:

A great example of how little some people value or understand human curiosity and creativity, or a desire to help others.

He *assumes* the only reason to get an education is to make money. As a parody, this is a good template for economic arguments against marrying for love, having children, traveling for experience, giving to charities, and all sorts of other behaviors that might run counter to economic self-interest.

I had 5 mentors between college and here, and none of them misled me about the tough job market. But they were very convincing that the perks (intellectual challenges, travel, lifelong colleagues, low-budget survival skills) were substantial and sometimes unique. I got paid (a little) to go to Antarctica seven times as a grad student/postdoc -- market value for a tourist would be well over $100,000. I met my wife there. I had adventures in exotic places: Chile (experienced the Pinochet regime and its fall over 3 years), New Zealand, Australia, Los Angeles. According to Mr. North, I was a sucker for not taking that job running the sewage treatment plant back in Massachusetts!

I read somewhere that PhD (scientists?) have an unemployment rate of only about 1% (I will dig if someone is interested -- it's probably from NSF).

Cheers to Big Brains, Empty Pockets, AND Full Lives

Mike Lizotte

Students write to complain about cuts to loan programs

Both yesterday and today, the northwestern ran letters from students who are angry at the cuts from student loan programs.

As has been made clear so many times before, there is an amazing disconnect between the rhetoric of the current administration and its actions. Many were heartened to hear the president call for more science and technology research--however he turns around and signs a bill making it harder for students to graduate, let alone become competent researchers.

Here are the links:

Oshkosh Northwestern - Second letter down: UW-Oshkosh students will remember Petri's vote

and Second letter down: Congress makes it harder on college students

Monday, February 06, 2006

Professors are 'naive economic losers'

The New York Times ran a link to this story on Sunday. If all you care about is money, you shouldn't become a professor, says Gary North. Big surprise there. . . .

Its from a libertarian/right wing website. Doesn't this explain some of the ideological disparities in the profession? Why would someone who doesn't place any value on anything but money want to be in academia??

The Ph.D. Glut Revisited by Gary North

Friday, February 03, 2006

Oshkosh Northwestern Covers Harrassment

It is nice to see this story appearing again in the paper. As I mentioned before, this is a good reminder that that all of the right-wing blather about professors harrassing conservative students pales in comparison to sexist attitudes and behavior.

Not much new in this story, except the Northwestern added an interview with Liz Cannon and a couple of students to give it some local flavor.

After being chastised again for being anonymous, I was wondering why the reporters got no credit in the byline.

Oshkosh Northwestern - Report: Two-thirds of students report sexual harrassment

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Is There Hope for the Future?

The just released survey of incoming freshmen shows a marked turn toward social activism, increased political participation, dislike of military spending, and less drinking.

Can it all be true? The authors of the survey speculate that the tsunami and Katrina have influenced high school seniors' understanding of suffering in the world.

It seems to bode well for the next round of Freshmen that will shortly be appearing on our campus--hopefully we can use this idealism to increase our student engagement, both in the classroom and beyond!

The report is a 4 page pdf, if you want to see the whole thing.

Improving UWO's neighborhood

As Frank Church noted, the recent imbroglio over unpaid taxes in Oshkosh brought out an interesting quote from one of tax-delinquent local student slumlord (he hasn't paid his property taxes on his $645,000 home): "A landlord . . . said he's run into hard times in filling University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh-area rental properties." Here is the story link.

It raises a long-standing complaint in my mind: that of the condition of the neighborhoods surrounding the university. It is painful to walk around east of campus and look at all the formerly beautiful victorians that have been sliced up into 4 apartments for students.

I know that there was some discussion in the past about having the university help transform these areas, but obviously nothing ever came of it.

It seems like a program to rejuvenate some of the property should be a bigger part of our campus plans.

Perhaps all the new apartment buildings across Wisconsin has shifted student demand and leaves an opening for university-driven redevelopment. I do not have an exact plan, but we should be thinking about how this could be done.

I would have bought a home closer to campus, even in need of renovation, if one had been in a neighborhood of professionals and faculty. Instead, the neighborhood is filled with run-down houses, piles of beer cans, and rowdy undergraduates.

Take some initiative and create a nice, livable community off campus to the east!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Good news -- no more budget cuts next year!

Tom Sonnleitner just announced that we won't have to make any more cuts for the 2006-2007 school year. Always good to hear! I wonder if we will be able to do any more searches.

Here is the text of his announcement:

We are now mid-way through fiscal year 2005-2006, and at this time we release our annual budget planning for fiscal year 2006-07. I am pleased to report that we do not anticipate a need this year for further budget reductions. Barring unforeseen catastrophic financial events, our budget planning for 2005-06 has provided adequate reserves to meet any minor budget lapses during 2006-07. Thanks to the good planning and excellent cooperation of the campus, we have been spared a mid-biennium budget correction.