Thursday, August 24, 2006

Discussion of rankings continues on the list

Discussion has raged the last few days, continuing with the basic themes I mentioned in my earlier posts. Mike Lizotte has been arguing that the ratings benefit private colleges, not state institutions, so we shouldn't give them too much credence.

Others have suggested we need a plan to improve our institution.

Jonathon Gutow makes the best argument (because he basically agrees with me). He argues that class size is the biggest issue, but there is very little that we can do. We can abandon our research and teach more students or we need a large infusion of cash to hire new staff to get our ratios back down to our comparable institutions.

The first one is not very palatable, since UWO, I think, has established quite a strong research base, which is also one of the cores of higher education.

The second is completely unfathomable. We know that the legislature is not going to find extra money to hire more staff, unless we can show 'growth.' Tuition is already rising astronomically, so there is no hope that students could help fund this project.

That leaves us between a rock and a hard place. Could we play the statistics, and get our ratings up. Would that get us more money? Is there a way to attract higher ranked students without spending more?

I'm stumped as I type this. . .


Jeff said...

Students shouldn't have to fit the bill to recieve the proper amount of teachers that should be a given that the university provide that. They also shouldnt have to pay to subsidize businesses in the Union that cant make a profit but they are. Last but not least the university shouldnt have approved suppliers for items that they can buy at almost half the price from local suppliers.

Personally I'd like to see zero based budgeting from every department. Wipe away everything and start from scratch, make the departments figure out what they need not just increase last years numbers by X%.

Anonymous said...

It does not matter if the methodolgy of US News and World Report is flawed, what matters is that it is the most widely used guide. As long as that it is true, faculty and adminstration better worry about UWO's score.

Class size matters both for effective teaching and the ratings but there are other things that can be done. Just ask the alumni. There are many reasons why they don't give us money. Let's start with advising. Talk to students and alumni and you will find that is a huge complaint. How can you keep good students if the advising is awful?

For eight years I have listened to people complain about the inability to get the message out about how good faculty are. No one seems able to market our strong points to high schools. That has to change or this place will only continue to go down hill. How can you attract good students if they don't know how good some of our departments are?

Students rightfully complain about not being able to get the classes they need or want. Part of that is the lack of good advising, part of that is we don't have enough faculty to cover everything. We are not going to get more faculty soon. Sounds like a reason to redesign the curriculum. Figure out what is the best that can be done with what we have. Why should students want to be at a place where they are told they have to wait another semester or two or three to get that course they need to graduate?

Anonymous said...

To Jeff, I am not sure what exactly you are referring to about buying from local vendors. I do know the state has contracts with businesses that gives them first right to match a low price. There isn’t much fat in academic department budgets. One chair told me their budget remained the same for at least a decade—despite inflation!

I remember hearing how Tom Keefe held a retreat in a hotel in Appleton/Grand Chute for the staff after he started. What a waste. The academic departments need to fight for more of the money on campus. One person working in the bureaucracy told me how surprised they were by how much money they had and how little the academics had.

Mr. NoName said...

I, too, was surprised by how poor we did in the report, especially when compared to UWGB. But when I compared us to institutions from my northeastern home state that I am more familiar with, the report made much more sense. We are significantly weaker than these institutions. What made a difference was that their administrations made a concerted effort to recruit the top students and keep enrollment low—about 60% to 70% of our size but in a larger population state.

It is up to the administration to prioritize quality academics over the fluff and low-impact projects of wellness centers and Titan Stadium. The northeastern colleges I mentioned aren’t known for such buildings. Yet, they attract students who are considering excellent private colleges. And I don’t think their faculties are better than our faculty, but they have more full-time faculty teaching their classes. I never had the feeling that Richard Wells wants UWO to be an institution that recruits the best, as judged by programs like the bachelor’s degree in applied studies, or whatever it is called.

In one case the northeastern college has a larger teaching load but it is easier there than a 4/4 here because the student body is better there. I don’t want to make it sound like all our students are poor but we do have a problem recruiting those top 10 percent of class students. We are short of top tier students.

Anonymous said...

As I stated earlier, we have to do be able to market our selves to high schools. I have spent enough time on other campuses to know we have excellent faculty compared to the other 4 year institutionsm but if no one knows it and all we here about our bachelor of applies studies degrees we are not going to get the good students or the reputaion. The worst thing about the firefighters dgree and the applied studies degree is that it makes people in the community think we are a technical school. That is the reactin I get alumni and tonwines alike.
It does not matter how good we are in the liberla arts if no one knows it

wongfilmfan said...

I posted some comments in a soccer forum about the possibility of Milwaukee getting a new pro soccer team and getting area college students to attend. I was disappointed to see a response calling us UW Zero. People on campus say we used to be called this but I didn't realize it stuck. Perceptions won't change by marketing/PR alone if real change isn't made.

Anonymous said...

changes have been made, the faculty now is way better than in the past. My department's standards have improved dramatically as people have retired and better qualified people have been hired. I could say the same abou many other departments. The problem is that the UW zero is still there on the minds of high school counselors and others. We have something to market, the marketing is not done. Of course if we get anymore cuts it won't matter as we will ose all the gains that were made since the mid-1990s

Janine said...

As a parent of an incoming freshman woman (who is a minority and a biology major), I will have to say that UW-O missed a huge opportunity in marketing ---- the Women in Sciences program. My daughter saw it on UW-Madison's website, then found that UW-O housed the program, but when we asked about the program at the open houses no one knew anything about it! When we went to orientation, still no information!

UW-O, in my opinion, does not do a very good job in promoting those programs that it offers. UW-O right now has a Women in Sciences program, a great minority support system, and a campus that does not have teaching assistants teaching classes ---- none of those things are being promoted like they should be!