October
16th 2008
Deep in the Heart of Asshats

Posted under: jobs, students, wankers

UPDATED BELOW

What are those unscrupulous fellas down at Baylor University up to this year?  (If you recall, Historiann had quite a few things to say about the Tenure Massacre there last year, the gendered dimentions thereof, and the resulting $hitcanning of former Baylor president John Lilley, despite his having tried to walk some of his bad decisions back.)  Well, they’re at it again, this time trying to fix their U.S. News and World Report rankings by paying admitted Freshmen to re-take their S.A.T.s so that Baylor could report higher average scoresOfficially, the university denies this, and says that the Mulligan tests are to make sure that students will be eligible for more financial aid. 

Yeah, right.  The people in charge at Baylor appear to be total dirtbags.  (And that’s more polite than the term I have in mind right now, actually.)  The Baylor adminstration’s bad faith was crystal-clear in its treatment of their faculty last year.  I get it that Baylor is ambitious–they want more productive and higher-profile faculty, and stronger students–but their attempts to up their game seem more like gaming the system.  Firing a bunch of faculty and paying students for better test scores are stupid and short-sighted cheats.  What a terrific example to set for their students:  win at any cost, dump on the faculty, and go for the bucks! 

Try to keep your stick on the ice, Baylor.  You’ve got a lot of things going for you–build on your strengths, set a decent example for your students, and don’t be dirtbags.  How hard can that be?

UPDATED BELOW:  Baylor is now abandoning its bucks-for-bonus points scam, reports Inside Higher Ed today:  “Lori Fogleman, a spokeswoman, said in an interview Thursday night that the university ‘goofed’ by offering the cash incentives. ‘We have heard the criticism,’ she said. ‘It just had the appearance of impropriety. It raised unnecessary questions.’”  Baylor has an interesting habit of walking these dumb decisions back pretty rapidly–how about just not making dumb decisions in the first place, gang?

6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Deep in the Heart of Asshats”

  1. Erica on 16 Oct 2008 at 10:37 am #

    Seems like a huge waste of money, really. Nobody’s going to get a vastly higher score the second time they take it (my second score was slightly lower), unless the student accidentally ate the scantron the first time around.

    That just makes scrounging for those few points all the more pathetic and sleazy.

  2. Buzz on 16 Oct 2008 at 1:18 pm #

    @Erica: I didn’t know you took the SAT twice. My SAT score went up 150 points between exams, but that was between my freshman and junior years, during which time my test-taking skills improved a great deal. After students are admitted to a university, they have little reason to study for another exam sitting, and I agree that Baylor is unlikely to improve their scores markedly with this stunt. Still, if the average improvement is only 20 points per student, that could have a nontrivial effect on their ranking.

    The basic fact is that Baylor University is a messed up place. I applied for a job there at one point. The ad looked much like any other; it mentioned that Baylor was a Baptist institution, but lots of the colleges mentioned affiliations with churches, and I thought nothing of it. However, unlike all the other nominally religious colleges I applied to, Baylor sent back a note saying they couldn’t consider my application unless I also submitted an essay explaining how faith was a crucial part of my life. I never wrote back.

  3. Historiann on 16 Oct 2008 at 1:32 pm #

    Hi Erica and Buzz–thanks for stopping by to comment. (Erica, I’ve got something for you especially–check back here tomorrow!)

    As for Buzz’s comments about his religion homework: While I support the right of sectarian institutions to impose religious tests on their faculty, there is no question but that said religious tests limits the competition. Dropping the essay question on religion from their application process would open up the number of applications for faculty positions they could consider. That would be a straightforward way of increasing the competition in their job searches, and thereby increasing the quality and status of their new faculty.

    I also might note that in my experience, religious institutions are no less exploitative than secular ones. My former employer, the University of Desperation, was a Catholic institution that regularly deployed the rhetoric of “family” and “community” when it wanted to extract uncompensated work from the faculty, but when we “family members” went to the administration with a problem, we were rebuffed and left on our own. I really felt for the fired Baylor junior faculty because of this–I’m sure they were told they were part of a Christian community, too.

    This is why I prefer working at a public, secular, godless institution: it’s all business, and no one pretends that there’s some greater good that we should sacrifice for, outside of the meaning we see and the pleasure we take in our own work.

  4. Erica on 16 Oct 2008 at 6:02 pm #

    I can’t wait :D

  5. ortho stice on 17 Oct 2008 at 8:05 am #

    Baylor’s initial scheme should not be surprising in an age of corporatized universities competing for higher “rankings.” I’m surprised more universities have not tried it.

    The Times editorial opined: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/17/opinion/17fri3.html

  6. Feminist Law Professors » Blog Archive » “Baylor University is being called ‘the poster child for SAT misuse’ after the student newspaper revealed an unusual practice: paying admitted freshmen to retake the SAT and offering l on 17 Oct 2008 at 1:05 pm #

    [...] the first line of this article in Inside Higher Ed. Via Historiann, who adds the usual colorful commentary and illustrations that make her so popular around these here [...]

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