Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Internet rathole for research

I feel bad for not posting, but the semester is dragging me down man . . .

Here is an interesting article about the way that academics follow links as they use the internet for research.  One study argues that the internet has led to a narrowing of citation, presumably because scholars only cite papers they find on-line.  Others dispute those claims.

The ease of internet searching certainly is enticing, making it easy to forget the vast world of printed information out there.  For students, this certainly is true, as it is hard to get them into the library to experience the vast knowledge accumulated on the shelves.  Too often it seems for them that if they can't google it, it doesn't exist. . . .

Friday, November 14, 2008

Budget hole gets deeper. . .

Chancellor Wells sent out a carefully worded, yet ominous memo yesterday. The planning is already underway for serious cuts here on campus. He seems to be hinting that new searches are going to be put off while the student body will continue to grow. He also may be preparing us for a claim that he can not reduce administrative costs. The brief discussion about the new Director of Sustainability on the COLS list suggests this is the case.

Unfortunately, this is probably what we all expected. We are expected to deal with more students. I wonder when our whopping raise will be postponed.  How big will the tuition increase be?   

From the note:

As many of you know, while the Higher Learning Commission evaluation team lauded UW Oshkosh, they raised a serious concern regarding our all-too-thin administrative support — something unheard of in such reports. We have also acknowledged our need to appoint more tenure-track faculty and we realize our classified staff has been hit hard by earlier budget cuts. Much needed Growth Agenda funding was provided this year to help offset millions of dollars of earlier state funding cuts and to serve the recent and projected increase of more than 1,400 students. While we may have to delay some of the Growth Agenda searches, we will do our best to protect our base funding. It is obvious that we will have to continue to make tough budgetary planning decisions during six to nine months of budget planning uncertainty.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Obama won a decisive victory yesterday and riding on his coattails came the Wisconsin Assembly!

This change in political leadership may have profound changes for us here at UWO.

  1. With democratic majorities in both houses here in Wisconsin, faculty will soon be deciding if we want to unionize.
  2. When it is time for the state budget discussions, UW-hater Steve Nass (though he did win re-election)will not have the kind of control that he used to.   When it comes to the hard choices of how to allocate state dollars, perhaps education will be higher on the list than more prisons.
  3. Obama has promised more support for students going to college.  How he can accomplish this in the midst of all the other budget issues he will face is unclear.  However, we might have a new discussion about how this can be accomplished.
  4. The push for "accountability" for higher education will clearly move in different directions.  I don't think we will be able to avoid the standardized-testing craze that dominates the political sphere.  We should be able to slow down and have a rational discussion as to how this can be done.  The threat that "they will do it to us if we don't hurry up and do it to ourselves" should recede.

As even David Brooks has pointed out, the Republicans have been running on an anti-intellectual platform for years.  With a new Democratic administration in Washington, I hope for a new tone, less derisive towards academia and science in general!

P.S.  Great Job WRST election night coverage!  I spent much of the night with the sound of the TV off and the radio on.  The students did an excellent job bringing our own experts to the airwaves!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Study show Profs can't change student's poliical views

The New York Times reported today that two new studies show that student's political views are not changed by their professors.

This is an argument that I and many others have made throughout the last several years of this right-wing attack on the academy.  I like seeing a few studies to back it up.  Whether or not the statistics are any good is, of course, a different question.

All this worry about professors and proselytising seems to be a lot of noise.  I guess I should wear my political button tomorrow!