Thursday, December 17, 2009

Colleges need more accountability

The left-wing journal Democracy Now calls for more accountability in higher education.   The author argues that IT can provide the information needed to improve college performance.  

The article claims that NSSE and the CLA are going to be saviors for higher ed.  I guess the assessment gurus got to him.  Oh, wait, he is a think tank director in DC.  . . I'm sure they have.

We know all problems can be solved if only we have a rubrik!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sad Statistic: Youth less educated than their parents

In the US, younger generation is less educated than their parents. A Washington Monthly Blogger highlights this information. Apparently, Germany is the only other country in the world where this is happening.

It doesn't seem to bode well for the future. . .

Thursday, December 03, 2009

How's this for a bad idea?

Cash-strapped communities talk of "student tax."  Several cities in Pennsylvania look at taxing student tuition as a way to raise additional revenue.  It appears as yet unclear if it is actually legal.

I hesitate to post it, because I can imagine some of our local officials who dislike the university might find this to be a good idea. . . 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Debate over how to handle the big cuts.

The New York Times hosts an interesting forum today about the future of higher education, on the heels of the massive tuition increases in the California Universities.

The panel seems to be almost unanimous that it doesn't matter.  They seem to all think that tuition was too low in CA anyway. . . 

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Are too many students going to college?

The Chronicle of Higher Education posts this discussion.

It seem particularly relevant for us, with our highest enrollment ever and a failure rate of first year students approaching 20%.

With the growing burden of college costs, is there any surprise that students are struggling?  How many students are forced down the college path without ever confronting the reality of debt and failure?

Monday, November 02, 2009

Obscene Pay for University Presidents

You may have seen this story, as it seems to be showing up everywhere today. 23 college and university presidents make over $1 MILLION dollars a year.

It is phenomenal that this continues to get worse. These institutions take their students' money and throw it at their administrators. If the president makes this kind of money, how much do the lower ranking bureaucrats make?

This will, of course, trickle down to public institutions, as the consultants all claim that we have to be "competitive" with such a ridiculous waste of money.

I bet they didn't have to take any "furlough" pay-cuts!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Are student loans like indentured servitude?

I found this interesting article in Dissent.  Jeffery Williams argues that the nature of student debt binds students for years afterward.    He argues that the debt reinforces class discrimination, and counteracts the notion that the U.S. can be a meritocracy.

Although Dissent is very left-wing venue, I think that Williams raises some very interesting points.

Friday, October 16, 2009

If Rupert is against it, it must be a good idea!

The Wall Street Journal weighs in on the unionization of the faculty here in Wisconsin. Can you guess what they think?

It is a discussion that we should be having on campus, but this is not really the place to start. You can read about how unions have destroyed higher education in the United States--oh wait, that hasn't happened even though a quite substantial percentage of faculty is already unionized!

It is worth a weekend read.

Friday, October 09, 2009

America shouldn't be firing teachers

Paul Krugman writes about the cuts to education that are coming because of the economic decline we currently face. 143,000 teachers have been fired in the last 5 months. He argues that these kinds of cuts foreshadow big trouble in the future, because education is what used to set us apart from the rest of the world.

It is a sad story for Friday afternoon, but worth pondering. . .

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

New Nutty Northwestern Criticism of Academia

Yesterday, the Northwestern ran an editorial that is a tongue-in-cheek criticism of a UWMadison business professor who bought DVDs to show in his class.

The jocular nature of the commentary--ha-ha Seinfeld would be better--covers another slam of our profession.

They have no idea about what the prof. teaches, but only see fit to cast aspersions. As you can see from the few comments here is that you get outrage that professors waste "our" money like this.

It is a far cry from equating professors to Jeffrey Dahmer, but it continues their theme of anti-intellectualism.

Edit: Link is now fixed! Thanks to the commenter who noticed!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Another Problem with Standardized Tests

I loved this article. Todd Farley writes about the grading of standardized tests in an op-ed piece in the New York Times yesterday.

He points out the arbitrary nature of how writing samples are graded for standardized tests.

When I was a graduate student, I spent a couple of months grading MCAT essays. It was a horrible experience. (I imagine I signed a non-disclosure agreement. I hope it has expired!) What I discovered was just what Farley is talking about--scoring was, it seemed to me, completely arbitrary. I spent my summer trying to guess what score (1-6) the bosses would give the essays I was reading.

I could never discern exactly how to interpret their criteria. I usually could get close, but much of my summer was taken up by conferences trying to figure out why my scores were so far out of whack with others. I wonder if my students today would say that about my classes?

I suppose you could chalk it up to me being a 22 year old graduate student who didn't know what good writing was. You could also blame it on poor training by my supervisors. I don't know why I couldn't understand the rules, but I stuck it out because it paid pretty well.

It also gave me an immense amount of skepticism when it comes to looking at test scores. It made doubt their ability to tell us much about a person's competence.

Monday, September 21, 2009

$99 a month to replace us

Washington Monthly runs a piece hyping a new internet startup company that promises a college education for $99 a month.

I've seen this company hyped in a few other places recently. The argument is that education is just another commodity that can be traded on the internet. He argues that we are caught in a "debt fueled tuition spiral" and that we only traffic in information.

It hardly seems worthwhile to refute the ridiculous assumptions that underlie these claims. Whoever the PR people for are, they are doing a good job getting their message out.

We have always known that there is room for on-line courses in higher education. To imagine that there will be only on-line courses is a vision of education that promises a truly uneducated world.

Friday, September 18, 2009

We need a little content!

I have been meaning to post more often, but as usual, these first few weeks are always hectic.  

For example, I really wanted to sit down and write something about the COLS strategic initiative.  Koker talked about it on opening day.  I discovered that 65 people went on the retreat this summer to discuss it.  65?  I want to know how 65 people can get anything done, especially a room full of academics with agendas of their own!

I suppose we will hear more about it at the upcoming COLS meeting.

Anyway, I logged in to post this article from the Boston Globe.  It is an education professor complaining that knowledge has again gotten lost as the latest "skills" movement takes hold.  How can you "critically think" if there is nothing to think about?  

I feel this way myself -- students love to discuss, as long as it doesn't involve any preparation or careful analysis.  If you ask them to critically analyze an article, they balk.  If you want to talk about something without data, they are good at that.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Colleges 'failing' to graduate students

The New York Times ran a story criticizing US College graduation rates.  They note that the national average at public universities is abysmal.

This isn't particularly new, as our own 6-year graduation rate is just over 50%.  However, the article notes that many good students are not going to the best schools they could, with high graduation rates.  Instead they opt for the nearby choice, thereby greatly diminishing their chances of success.

The example would be, I suppose, that an excellent student would decide not to go to UW Madison (graduation rate 78%) and choose to stay nearby, say at Oshkosh.  They would then be much less likely to finish.

The article goes on to note that better finances would help, as low income students drop out more often when tuition increases.  There is even a suggestion that colleges don't mind, because freshmen are cheaper than upper-class students, because they get stuck with pit-classes.  Failure generates more income--a perverse incentive!

They also raise the issue of culture, in that failing out of college has become acceptable.

Read and contemplate as we begin our new semester.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Opening Day 2009

Get ready for a new year!  Opening day ceremonies have wrapped up and we are starting tomorrow!

A few observations:  number of the day:  13.6 million cut from our operating budget over the next two years.  Pretty traumatic, but seemingly manageable.

Wonderfully short speeches from the administration today.   Art Rathjen didn't offend anyone. Petra didn't do her "I'm so hip" schtick.  No hoohaa from Tom Sonleitner. 

In the COLS meeting, John compensated for the lack of humor with his stories about probability and his mom.

It was also nice to see all the new hires this year.  John said there were 25 new tenure-track people starting this year.  

Finally,  a little reading.  The New York Times ran short comments by professors to introductory students about how to prepare.  

My own addition for UWO:

1. Make your own education.  Take the initiative and find the hidden gems at a place like ours.  The faculty do great work, but you have to work harder to make the kind of contacts that you need to be really successful here.

All advice is welcomed in the comments!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stanley Fish likes a Core Curriculum

Welcome back! With school starting soon, I am spending more time on the internet again and find much interesting to read. Here are just a few:

This morning's NY Times has Stanley Fish calling for a core curriculum so that students and faculty can have a common conversation.

Yesterday, I was reading the interesting discussion about whether teachers need an education degree.

And finally, Maureen Dowd writes about anonymity of bloggers. With the beginning of new year, I wonder if I should continue my own anonymity. . .

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Student Sues Her Alma Mater

This is too good of a story to pass up.  A student who hasn't found a job three months after graduation is suing.

It seems like a nice case of litigation out of control, but at least no real lawyer took the case.

I haven't been posting much this summer, but this made me laugh!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Students DO drink more than we did!

When we talk about student parties and drinking on campus, I often fall back on the idea that I was a fairly big partier in college myself.  I think I survived and have done alright.  

However, a new study suggests that problems have actually gotten worse in the last decade.  Higher binge drinking, drinking and driving, and alcohol-related deaths make me think that this is a problem beyond those of my day.

When we think about educational reform, standards, and accountability, we have to think about this huge problem.  How can we break the cycle of drunkenness and disrespect for education that is becoming every more pervasive?

Monday, June 08, 2009

Figuring out Furloughs

The Journal-Sentinal has an article today about how confusing the Governor's furlough program is for universities.

It outlines the complications that come from trying to furlough those of us who do not punch a time clock, are paid only 9 months out of the year, and deal with the pay cuts.

Most interesting is that the state is demanding the universities give back 2% for all employees, including unionized members who have not agreed to the cut.  I don't know what percentage that is for us, but it is another base budget reduction, according to the article.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Legislators agree to cut our pay

Just in case you haven't been paying attention, the legislators have officially rescinded our promised pay increase and voted to increase our health insurance premiums.

Although the media seems to be reporting it as a pay freeze, it is really a cut.  

As our last paycheck for the academic year is on the horizon, enjoy it!  You won't see as much when we finally get paid again on October 1.

Friday, May 22, 2009

$7 million more in cuts for UW system

The Joint Finance Committee decided today to take $7 million more back from UW auxiliary funds.  They already had taken $16 million, so the new total is $23 million.

Unfortunately, I don't have the budget figures that were circulated last month in front of me, but this will surely mean another significant cut here on campus.   Our share of the $7 million will go up because UW-Lacrosse's share was reduced.

It is a nice way to start our summer, knowing that the state is stripping even more from higher education here.   What more will we lose before the semester starts again in the fall?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

e-cheating ahead?

The NY Times loves these stories, and so do I.  They report on the websites that are now specializing in class notes and tests.

I haven't checked to see if I am up there, but it is an interesting new electronic twist on the fraternity test bank.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sad Saga of a Georgia Professor

As the semester winds to an end, I am taking a break from grading to mention one of the interesting sagas of the last few weeks.  

Only if you live in a hole could you have failed to notice the media reports of the man in Georgia who apparently shot his wife, a couple of her acquaintances, and then himself.

The story itself is sad, but I have been fascinated by the fact that we heard endless about the story because the shooter was a professor.   It shows us something about professors strange place in modern culture.

The fact that the suspect was a professor drove this to the newspapers -- after all how often do you see the headline "Police manhunt for plumber underway . . ."  

The fixation obviously has to do with the seeming incongruity between "professor" and human being.  In the same way that students seem surprised to run into us in the grocery store or mall, the fact that a professor might be driven to fits of murderous rage caught the media's fancy.

At the same time, how often are we ridiculed by legislators and others because we aren't in front of students 40 hours a week?  How many times can they cut our pay in Madison and then insist we have no grounds to complain?  How often are we lampooned by radical right activists as communists in cardigan sweaters?

My father always insists that professors also carry special respect in society because of our position as experts and scholars.  

The case of the murderous Georgia professor crosses all of these stereotypes and cultural images.  Here is the erudite, liberal, respectable, wimpy professor shockingly acting out in rage and violence.

Professors lie at a strange intersection of respect, fascination, and derision.   If only there weren't so much grading to go with it. . . .

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Furloughs on the way!

Gov. Doyle just announced big new cuts to the state budget, including over 3 work weeks (16 days) of furloughs over the next 2 years.  

It is sort of a joke to call it a furlough, since it really is a temporary 3% pay cut.  I wonder if it won't be even bigger for us since technically we are paid on a 9 month schedule.  That means it could be almost 5% [updated from higher figures, because I did my math wrong].

He also is cancelling our small pay raise and raising health insurance premiums.   

There will most likely be bigger cuts in the overall budget too.

State revenue has dropped at a precipitous rate, they tell us, for 2009.

It is going to be an ugly couple of years around here.  

Monday, May 04, 2009

Faculty Advocacy Committee Tries to Create Buzz

I was looking at the Northwestern this morning to see if any schools had closed because of swine flu, and noticed that the Faculty Advocacy Committee has created a blog on that website.

So far, it contains interviews with Merlain Angwall and B. S. Sridhar.   They are, of course, very nice profiles of two interesting members of our community.

I don't know whether these blogs gather much attention, but it looks like a nice beginning foray into the world of electronic promotion for this group.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Change the University?

I read this op-ed piece in the NYTimes yesterday.   A religion professor from Columbia proposes completely rethinking the university.  Although much of his focus is on graduate education, he proposes sweeping changes:

1. Change curriculum to make it like the web, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural

2. Abolish permanent departments.  

3. Stop overlap between universities

4. Get rid of dissertations

5.  Change graduate training

6. No tenure and forced retirement

The core of his argument is that universities produced graduates, both undergrad and PhD, that nobody wants.  He thinks that current training and scholarship in the humanities is basically worthless.  For him, it won't be worth anything until it is "relevant."

On top of that, he believes that old faculty are useless.   In his vision, everyone gets tenure and then never changes.  He obviously doesn't think much of younger faculty either, because of their over-specific research agendas. He describes newly minted PhD's as clones of their advisors.

Since we are in the midst of our own discussions about reform, centered around LERT and general education, this article does give us something additional to ponder.

Reform and adaptation are important, but eliminating the entire system?  Expecting everyone to be generalists who change topics every 7 years?  Increasing the pressure on faculty and strengthening the hands of administration?  

The religion professor seems to have gotten business, rather than the other way around! 

Friday, April 24, 2009

UW Steven's Point chancellor resigns -- Earn headed North?

This article appeared in the Journal-Sentinel yesterday.  The Stevens Point chancellor, Linda Bunnell resigned, primarily because she was involved in an accident in a state car.  She didn't report it and had been drinking at a private club before it occurred.

She had apparently already made plenty of enemies, so this was the straw that broke the camel's back.  

I doubt Provost Earns will be leaving again, since they appointed their own provost to be the interim chancellor.  It seems like a good way to tie the story into our own campus.

The incident, however, raises the continuing question as to why these leaders think they live in a different world than the rest of us.  Dr. Bunnell didn't feel like laws applied to her.  I have complained about the way that academia has aped the worst of wall street in insisting that their leaders have to be grossly overpaid to be effective.  They also seem to have imbibed the spirit of being untouchable, no matter what they do to their institution.  

The average pay for presidents is $427,000 a year.  Now I know that UW system does not pay nearly that much, but they insist that they need to increase the range to "stay competitive."

Perhaps the economic downturn will bring some sanity back to the pay scale for administrators and a bit less arrogance. 

Finally, I might put in a good word for our own Chancellor Wells.  He has avoided such crazy scandals and has worked hard defending our insititution in Madison and in public.   There are things that could be better, but thus is life.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Facebook linked to lower grades in college

I just had to post this link.  An education researcher at Ohio State found that facebook users haver lower GPAs than non-users.

Facebook has been getting all the hype lately, as old folks are flocking to it.  Now, we find a connection between facebook and performance in college.

I have a feeling that heavy facebook users would not be doing better without it, as they would find some other way to avoid studying.  It is fun nonetheless!

Monday, April 13, 2009

In Wisconsin, all professors are below average. . .

The Journal-Sentinel is on an education kick and published an article today about how we are all paid much less than the national average.

A nice chart accompanies the article and you can see that UWO's average is about 90% of the national average.  We are, however, in the top half of UW system schools.  

There is really no news in this--even the regents acknowledged how far we were behind other comparable institutions--before they reneged on our small pay increase.

In these budgetary times, nothing is going to change, but I like to see our situation appear in the newspapers.  

Monday, April 06, 2009

Grades at UW-Milwaukee

The Journal-Sentinel ran an story examining the grades given at UWM from 2006-2008.  They filed an open-records request and present the data.  

The average grade at UWM is apparently a B.  The lowest grades given were in math classes, the highest in education.

The paper also gives also sorts of charts, even by name of professors, with top 10 highest grades, lowest grades, GPAs, etc.  I think we actually collect data like this, but it has never run in the newspaper.  We might expect this coming soon from the Northwestern.

The J-S particularly goes after the school of education, whose average grade given is an A-.  It is fun reading about the squirming ed. profs trying to explain why every student they teach is excellent.  They claim that their national ranking  (96th--is that actually good?) justifies their easy grading policies.

We have had our own discussions of this topic, but it takes on a new dimension when grades are the lead story in the local newspaper.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Snarky Northwestern article impugns integrity of staff

The lead story in the Northwestern this morning reported on the Chancellor's meetings about the budget cuts we face.  Jeff Bollier writes, "it became clear each established and entrenched segment of the university population is looking to others to bear the brunt of cuts."

This, of course, implies, that we all are only looking out for ourselves.  I haven't seen the report, but I am not quite sure how this kind of sloppy reporting helps anyone.

Not surprisingly, there were an incredible diversity of opinions as to what should be cut to deal with a significant cutback.  The fact that people like we "entrenched" faculty members value what we do and think that student instruction and faculty research should be protected is somehow problematic.  The fact that some who answered the anonymous survey want big cuts represents division within our community.  

Perhaps Chancellor Wells gave the impression that he has grand innovative ways to reshape the university and is being blocked by the curmugeonly established segments.

Is is surprising that faculty believe that students already face classes that are too large, that creating new knowledge is a key component of our jobs, and that the constant reduction of our pay in real dollars is a bad thing?   Talk to student leaders on campus: they believe the same thing.  

The anti-education people who answered the survey by arguing for lower quality in order to save money are the same ones who argue that universities are useless in modern society.    

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

No Laptops in Class?

In honor of TechFest going on over in Reeve this afternoon, lets talk the most ubiquitous technology in the classrooms:  student laptops.

I spotted this story a few days ago:  Students do worse with laptops.  A prof. at UC Boulder did her own study and found that students with laptops did 11% worse than those without.

While observing a classroom not long ago, I noticed that the students who had laptops were by and large doing something unrelated to the material being presented.  They were surfing the web, reading e-mail, and worst of all, playing some sort of game.  The students themselves were not engaged, while those surrounding them were clearly distracted by all the activity.   A few of the laptop owners would stop what they were doing to type in the bullet points from the powerpoint, but only for a brief moment.

It was pretty pathetic and a demonstration, for me at least, that computers don't really help.  The little data in the story above also suggest that the students are not benefiting.

There are many ways to check out when in class, from dozing to doodling, but the massive distraction generated by laptop users increased the problem by sucking in those nearby.

A quick google also gives me this:  The Volokh Conspiracy surveyed students after banning laptops in his class.  They surveyed students in a first year law class and found that the ban was generally appreciated, in a context where there would be dozens, if not a majority of computer users.

I think I am going to add some sort of restriction to my classroom policies.  I wonder if it should be a complete ban or rules about use and abuse. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Buy your Paper in Manila

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has an interesting article about the international market for college papers.

In it, we learn that a company in the Philipines is having great success writing student essays for Americans.  The students here pay  $20-30 a page to have writers somewhere else to their homework for them.

I posted on a similar topic a few year ago --google banned links to paid term papers, but obviously students are finding their way without google's ads.

The article gives an interesting look at the shady world of having your papers written by someone else.   It is just another sign of the issues that we have written and talked about--the devaluing of a college education.  Those who hire someone to write their papers don't think of college as anything more than a a path to a necessary piece of paper.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Pass more or drink more?

It is a schiztophrenic day in the news today, in that President Obama called yesterday for colleges to increase completion rates for students.  The article tells us that he will " focus more than he has to date on the administration's intent to hold states and colleges more accountable for ensuring that students who enter college succeed once there."

At the same time, USA Today reports that college freshmen spend more time drinking that studying.  A study shows that students spend over 10 hours a week at parties and only 8 studying.

How do we reconcile these two disparate understandings of college?  Clearly these two things are connected.  How do we get students to stop partying and start studying?  

If students took college seriously, they wouldn't spend so little time studying.  If they thought they wouldn't pass on 8 hours a week, they might study more.  Raising our own standards would decrease our retention rate, making the Federal bean counters (not to mention our own administration) upset with us.

We face the same issues with the imposition of standardized tests.  If we didn't pass so many marginal students, we wouldn't be under pressure of having someone else provide the backbone which we seem to be lacking. . .

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Feedback on the Budget?!

The chancellor is asking for feedback from the university on his budget priorities.  

The survey asks if we think that his list is appropriate and what we would select as the highest priorities.

It also asks for suggestions about ways to deal with the ensuing cuts.

I think that we should focus on keeping class sizes small and increasing the quality of our student body instead of continuing to grow for growth's sake.

They keep telling us that we have low administrative costs, but it sure seems like there are a lot of vice/deputy/assistant deans/chancellors/provosts running around.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Do We Need A Sustainability Director?

A mini-controversy has appeared in our town & gown relations over the past week.  A few days ago, the Northwestern editorialized that the newly hired Director of Sustainability was an unnecessary luxury in these sour economic times.

They suggest that sustainability is just a buzz-word and is too fuzzy to hold much meaning.  They then claim the unversity is out to destroy local agriculture in some way because of this initiative

The chancellor fired back with a memo defending the need for this position.  In it, he emphasizes the savings that have already come from focusing on sustainability.  He also points out that the new director brings both specific experience in helping better use our resources and academic knowlege that will be shared in the classroom.

I thought that the attack on sustainability was gratuitous and ungrounded, meant mostly to attempt to get someone to read their editorial page.  If we are serious about reducing our environmental footprint, having an expert on staff seems worthwhile to me.   

That being said, I am skeptical about the increasing number of administrators on campus, of which the sustainability director is just one.  I would hope that when we have to make the next round of cuts, they will find money to cull from that area rather than from the instructional side of things.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Students deserve B's

This article from the New York Times raises the question of student's feelings of entitlements towards grades.  It starts with a survey of students that found that almost 50% expected a B just for showing up.   The author also interviews students who expect that effort alone should raise their grade.

Gerry Gzyrb posted this to the COLS discussion list a few days ago and I noticed that it is on the list of most commonly e-mailed at the Times website.

I think that this expectation generally holds on our campus as well.  

In my classes, I think the average is a low BC. 

This means that many students who show up and do passable work get a low B.  Only students who truly excel make A's.

Thus, I am guilty of fostering these expectations -- I often wonder if I should be tougher.  I am not sure what I would gain from it. . .

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Good news! University budget avoids big cuts!

Governor Doyle announced his budget proposal tonight and it contained good news for us.  He proposed that the university budget remain flat for the next two years.  The problem is, of course, that it doesn't contain $120 million we need to cover "costs to continue" -- ie heat, light, health care costs, etc.  It also takes other fees to the tune of $54 million.  Some of this would be made up by a 5-6% tuition increase.

These are significant, but much better than I hoped.   There will be another round of belt-tightening, but it shouldn't be too traumatic.  It can't be as bad as the $250 million cut from a few years ago, though we are clearly leaner than before.  Students also are protected somewhat, by an increase in financial aid to keep tuition flat for families with income under $60,000.

Here are two different stories:

The Journal-Sentinel reports it as a $174 million cut.

The Wisconsin State Journal calls university funding flat.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Solution: Furloughs?

A rumor has just come my way that administrators are thinking about furloughs of faculty members to cut costs.

The suggestion is that UWO would save hundreds of thousands of dollars by not paying faculty members who do not teach during interims.

Pretty scary thought!  As if our pay weren't low enough!

The cutting starts soon, as the Gov. gets ready to reveal his plan to fix the $600 million shortfall for this year.  Then, we'll have to deal with the cuts of the next biennium.  

With the 'moderates' removing support for states from the stimulus bill in Washington, we should be prepared. . . .

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Wells a finalist again!

The newest addition to the chancellor's annual search for a new job has Dr. Wells in the running for the leader of SUNY-Albany. The Northwestern reported this story on Saturday.

Here is the story from the Albany newspaper, which lists the other candidates. Apparently this search was supposed to be undertaken with the stricted secrecy, but someone didn't think that was appropriate for a state institution.

Even more interesting (sort of) is that they supposedly were on the verge of hiring someone else just a few weeks ago.

It also reports that Albany took a 14% budget cut, so finances are pretty ugly there.

It is not particularly surprising to discover, as the Chancellor has been on the job market for many years now. The question is whether he will pull himself out of the running again, declaring that he couldn't tear himself away from us. . .

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Breaking: Internet Contains Errors!

Here is an important story for all of our students:  The internet may contain mistakes!

Factual Error Found on the Internet

I couldn't resist--enjoy!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Understanding and Explaining

 “There is an important difference between learning which is concerned with the degree of understanding necessary to practice a skill, and learning which is expressly focused upon an enterprise of understanding and explaining.” -- Michael Oakeshott

The university is, of course, supposed to be devoted to the second, not the first, writes Stanley Fish.

He writes about the nature of higher education in his NYTimes blog this week.  He discusses a new book that hopelessly chronicles the transformation of universities into institutions that only train young people for specific occupations.

The author of the book, Frank Donogue, describes how the "life of the mind" has been disparaged in American culture since the turn of the 20th century.  It is a sad story, without a happy ending, and raises the question as to whether there will be another generation of professors in the humanities.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Spending on Teaching in Decline

The news story of the day is a report that show that spending on instruction has declined even as the student share of costs has risen.

On our own campus, we know that our salaries have not risen more than a hair, instructional staff numbers have increased, and new administrators seem to appear on a regular basis.

I wonder what the numbers are like on our own campus . . . 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

State Colleges on verge of trouble

I haven't been posting in a while--I hadn't realized that it was so long.

Perhaps my enthusiasm is starting to wane, but I don't think I'm ready to give up.

So in that spirit, here is an article from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal about state colleges in trouble:

There is not much new news in the story, but it is a reminder about how precarious the finances are at private colleges.  It also warns of the coming cuts state institutions are likely to see in the next budget.