Search Results for ""excellence without money""

December
14th 2011
Excellence with money!

Posted under local news & unhappy endings & wankers

I received a couple of shiny, happy e-mails from Baa Ram U. President Tony Frank about this yesterday.  The details are even more demoralizing than I could have guessed:

FORT COLLINS — Green-and-gold balloons accented the interior of Colorado State’s on-campus football indoor practice facility. It is a building in many ways representing the greatest success of the past regime being used to usher in an ambitious future.

Signs declared Tuesday the beginning of “a bold new era for Ram football.”

A green era. The university threw out lots of it to land its new head coach, Jim McElwain, who is being asked to turn around a program that won just 16 times in the past four seasons. To get Alabama’s offensive coordinator, CSU offered the 49-year-old McElwain a five-year contract with a base salary of $1.35 million, and a $150,000 bonus if his team meets graduation standards.

It is by far the largest sum ever paid to a coach at CSU, and more than double the $700,000 total compensation package the university paid its previous coach, Steve Fairchild. (CU coach Jon Embree, hired a year ago, is making $741,000 a year.)

Athletic director Jack Graham, who was hired Dec. 8, and president Tony Frank insisted they would invest in the football program, and they put their money where their mouths were. Continue Reading »

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November
13th 2011
Sunday round-up: the “crisis in higher ed,” your turn edition

Posted under American history & book reviews & class & jobs & local news & students

Girl howdy did my post last weekend soliciting your views on the “crisis in higher ed” get an avalanche of replies, like, immediately!  It was almost like you were just waiting for someone to ask!

As regular readers will recall, I commented on Tony Grafton’s recent essay in the New York Review of Books, in which he reviews the current jeremiads about what’s wrong with American colleges and universities these days and called for “curious writers . . . [to] describe some universities and colleges, in detail, with all their defects.”  I solicited your views, dear readers, and am blown away by the number and diversity of viewpoints you have contributed.  So today I offer you a very briefly annotated bibliography of the responses.  Please click and read them for yourselves!

  1. Roxie at Roxie’s World must be reading the New York Review of Books up in heaven, because she wrote a post fully 24 hours before I solicited her opinion on what’s wrong with modern American universities.  Her answer?  The unconscionable reliance on adjunct labor, which is after all at the heart of most Excellence Without Money strategies.  (Just go to her blog and search Excellence Without Money to read her catalog of crimes against education over the past three years.)
  2. Roxie also kindly reminded me that Tenured Radical got in on the game even earlier with this post calling for faculty “to get off the Education Carousel and get to work Occupying Education.  Faculty, in particular, are becoming more like each other than not, regardless of where they work.  While some of us will age out under the old system of tenure and stratified privilege, increasingly we too must come to terms with the effects of the neoliberal education agenda (shrinking salaries, reduced and more expensive medical benefits, the destruction of entire fields of study to eliminate tenured positions, political attacks on unionized faculty and staff, higher workloads) in the here and now.”  (Just to name a few of the problems facing us in higher ed!)
  3. Notorious Ph.D., Girl Scholar says from her perch at Crisis State University (after Walt Kelly’s Pogo) that the enemy of higher education “is us,” that is, the American voters who have consented to withdraw their support from higher education at both the state and federal levels.
  4. Lance Manyon writes from Flagship Public U. that Americans in general approach university education in a way that’s too career-oriented rather than thought-oriented, and urges other faculty not to fall into the trap of buying into this vision of education.
  5. Dr. Crazy, in a brilliant riff on Foucault and the repressive hypothesis, asks who’s failing and on what terms?  From her position at a comprehensive directional university where she teaches a 4-4 load (plus usually some summer courses), she thinks that her university does just fine in offering first-generation college students a fine education at a bargain price.  Continue Reading »

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October
2nd 2011
Sunday Round-Up: Endless Summer edition

Posted under American history & book reviews & jobs & students & the body & wankers

Where there's smoke. . .

Howdy, friends.  It’s just another gorgeous, clear, warm, sunny, dry, earthquake-free, hurricane-free, and (of course) tsunami-free autumn day here on the High Plains Desert.  The crickets are chirping happily, and there are a few lawnmowers humming in the distance.  I’ve got a stack of student essays to mark while I sit outside trying to extend the tan on my gams, but here’s some fun links to keep you amused if the weather (or something else) is keeping you indoors.  To wit:

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August
29th 2011
Monday roundup: no more pencils, no more books edition

Posted under American history & bad language & childhood & class & Gender & jobs & local news & students & wankers & women's history

Done your back-to-school shopping yet?

Busy day here at the ranch, but there’s lotsa news and views in the education world.  Read on to hear more about online education, the availability of technologies like pencils and crayons in some Colorado classrooms, and the aggressive pR0nification of student life at some elite colleges:

  • Via Inside Higher Ed, It turns out that you can’t fool more than a third of the general public all of the time, but college presidents are much, much better at fooling themselves.  According to a Pew Research Center study on “The Digital Revolution and Higher Education,” here’s the verdict on “[t]he Value of Online Learning. The public and college presidents differ over the educational value of online courses. Only 29% of the public says online courses offer an equal value compared with courses taken in a classroom. Half (51%) of the college presidents surveyed say online courses provide the same value.” 
  • But of course, it’s possible to have “Excellence Without Money,” right?  The State of Colorado and a “scholar” at the Hoover Institution argue that money can’t possibly fix the problems we have with P-20 education.  They’re shocked, shocked at the implication that money has anything to do with the quality of education we offer through our schools and universities!  (Funny how money fixes problems for banks, and car manufacturers, and hospitals, and no one ever patronizes them by calling it “throwing money” at their problems.) 
  • Meanwhile, back in Colorado’s rural elementary schools, here’s just one fourth-grade teacher’s lived experience:  “Some of the most compelling testimony for the plaintiffs came from Matthew Keefauver, a teacher in Cortez who choked back emotion at times describing how poor his students are and how his district doesn’t have enough resources to help them.  The free lunches and breakfasts at school are frequently the only meals they have, he testified.  ‘They actually race to the classroom in the morning for breakfast because some of them are so hungry,’Keefauver said. Continue Reading »

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April
30th 2011
Spring: the season for dumba$$ ideas? (Or are they like little black dresses and never out of fashion?)

Posted under jobs & local news & students & unhappy endings & wankers

What is it about the opening tulips, the flowering crabapple trees, and the blossoming lilacs that makes university administrators spring their half-cooked “brilliant” and “revenue-neutral” (i.e. Excellence Without Money) schemes on the faculty and students?  Is it that they know we’re buried in end-of-term papers and exams that must be written and graded, and the last thing we need in our lives is more long meetings?  Last year as you may recall, Baa Ram U. asked us to consider the scheme of “concurrent enrollment,” in which high school history teachers would be permitted to teach courses for which we in the History department would give Baa Ram U. credit.  (The uni collects the cash, and we just provide the free credentialing service.)

This year, apparently one administrator has decided that we need to be more like prestigious, well-funded Ivies and elite SLACs.  Of course, it would cost millions if not billions of dollars to accomplish this honestly, but that’s not on the table.  Continue Reading »

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April
12th 2011
Alienation and anomie about a job

Posted under American history & bad language & jobs

It tolls for thee!

Associate Professor Angela writes:

Do you ever wake up in the morning 100% ready to quit your job?  Not to look for another job, but just to walk the hell away?

That was me, at 7 a.m. today.  Do you have any advice on navigating mid-career?

If you post this on your blog, I’m quite sure that some responses will be along the lines of “Hey, I’m a grad student/adjunct/non-academic, and I’d be *happy* to have your problems.  Boo-f^(king-hoo.”  There’s some justification there, to be sure.  But, as I said to recently to a former mentor, I try to be grateful that I have a job.  I’d hate to be on the market in these times.  But “I’m not unemployed” seems like I’m setting the bar too low.  It’s like evaluating someone you’re dating by saying “Well, he’s never been in prison.”

Heh.  I’ve never felt like resigning, but I can relate, Angela.  I was close to where this correspondent is about a year ago, but the advice I got from you readers was really helpful.  In short, in the comments on my post about my mid-career slump, many of you told me to Continue Reading »

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March
9th 2011
“A lot of money would make things better.”

Posted under American history & bad language & Gender & jobs & students & women's history

Finally, a high-profile review of these “crisis in higher education” books that calls them for what they are:  bull$hitte.  (H/t to my colleague and occasional blog contributorNathan Citino for the link.  He reads the New York Review of Books  so I don’t have to!)  Go read the whole thing by Peter Brooks–but here are some parts I thought particularly choice:

On the one hand, all the critics of the American university claim to be partisans of the liberal arts, to want students to study philosophy and literature, even the arts, and to learn “critical thinking” (the currently accepted mantra—not a bad one). On the other hand, the tests proposed always seem to have to do with job preparation—even as the critics in the same breath deplore “vocationalism” and point to the impoverished education that many majors in business or accounting receive. And one would like to know whether the level of higher education attainment measured by the OECD is in fact liberal education or simply technocratic training at a high level (a point raised by Martha Nussbaum in Not for Profit, the welcome outlier among the books under review).

[Claudia] Hacker and [Andrew] Dreifus, in their self-consciously iconoclastic (and sometimes cranky) book, identify a “Golden Dozen” colleges considered the most desirable: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Penn, Stanford, Duke, Amherst, Williams. They find it hard to obtain “solid information” to gauge the success of Golden Dozen graduates. So they turn to Who’s Who in America, to track one class (‘73) from Princeton—to find that national eminence has been achieved by a disappointing percentage of them. From this and some other equally shaky research, they conclude: “We found that most Dozen graduates do not create distinctive lives and careers—at least not to the extent one would expect from colleges that claim to find and nurture unusual talent.” The exercise is trivial—to judge the successful life requires far greater depth of knowledge—and its conclusions lightweight.

Terminal Preppies

Hey, social scientists:  how ’bout that methodology?  I’m sure they have some super-scientific formula for determining “national eminence.”  And who cares about the Class of 1973 from Princeton–did Hacker and Dreifus consider that the uni was still being churned by co-education for undergraduates, which had only begun in 1969?  Princeton’s largely male class of 1973 likely still was reflective more of ancestral privilege and old-boy networks rather than a more meritocratic admissions system.  Gee–no wonder so few (by their measure) are “nationally eminent!” Continue Reading »

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November
21st 2010
Warnings from the Dead!

Posted under American history & jobs & students

Roxie, an unusually prolific dead wire-haired fox terrier, has some great advice for those of us who labor under the burden of administrative “efficiency.”  She suggests that efficiency is a two-way street, and has some great advice for tenured faculty who are seeing their departments adjunctified as well as for adjuncts and junior faculty.  We must, as the Canadians say, work to rule.  Ignore that urge to volunteer for more uncompensated work, and resist pointless service bull$hit.  Here are her “Faculty Tips for Surviving in the Age of Excellence Without Money:”

Refuse to take on independent studies. That won’t really hurt students, who tend to take independent studies as much for the sake of scheduling convenience as to satisfy a burning desire to conduct research that couldn’t be undertaken within the context of a regular course. Special note to the untenured: You should say no to independent studies under any and all circumstances. They are major time sinks. You get no credit for them, and they take away from the already limited time and energy you have available for the work that will matter come tenure time. The clock is ticking! Say NO!

Refuse to take on service roles that feel pointless and don’t advance the cause of shared governance. Example: Conducting merit reviews in years when there is no merit money. The argument has always been that you do the reviews anyway so that the money can be awarded retrospectively on that magical day when the bronze turtle out in front of the library turns into a pot of gold. Bull$hit. Conduct the review if and when the funds materialize. Stop wasting our under-compensated time in the meantime. Continue Reading »

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September
12th 2010
The net effect of the “high cost of higher ed” argument

Posted under American history & book reviews & class & local news & students & wankers

This is the first of the 2010-2011 academic year’s series, Excellence Without Money(a term coined by the b!tchez at Roxie’s World in their series on the high cost of not funding higher education.)  For the full archives at both blogs, click away on those links, darlings.

I’ve been doing a little thinking about the effects of the arguments we’re seeing everywhere about the high cost of higher education.  Complaints about the cost of college, and the rate at which it’s increased in the past two decades, are always a major part of the argument in the slew of books published recently urging major reform of American universities.  Strangely enough, none of these books suggest that the federal and state governments should once again subsidize higher education at the rate it did during the Cold War, nor do they advocate ripping out computer labs and IT departments, which are the two biggest reasons college costs more than it used to.  (From 1986-90, my “laptop computer” was a $2.99 multi-subject notebook that I bought at the beginning of each semester.  If you started college before the mid-1990s, I’m betting that that was your “laptop,” too.) 

Instead, their arguments boil down once again to attacks on the faculty–especially tenured radicals who absurdly expect to be paid a living wage for their years of education, work, and expertise.  Oddly, all of these books have chosen to ignore how universities have slashed the costs of faculty labor by turning tenure-track and tenured jobs into positions held by adjuncts, who are paid as little as $3,000 per course and are at-will employees.  Distressingly, because of some recent resignations and regular faculty on leave, my department is this year an adjunct-majority department.  (But because it’s been years since regular faculty produced more student credit hours than our adjuncts, so perhaps this is less of a milestone than I suggested in the previous sentence.  For several years, it’s my understaning that two popular lecturers in my department produced fully half of the entire department’s FTEs.)

The problem with these articles–aside from their one-sided arguments that somehow faculty are the big piggies at the trough, not the NFL and NBA farm clubs (a.k.a. the “football teams” and the “men’s basketball teams”), not CEO-level multimillion-dollar salaries for university presidents and football and basketball coaches, and not the luxury condominiums that now pass for stadiums and dormatories–is that they’re written by upper-middle class journalists and writers who all attended and sent–or aspire to send–their children to the top 5 or 10 percent of the most selective, and usually private, colleges and universities.  Now, if the only universities you’d consider sending your children to cost $30,000-$55,000 a year, your world is very different from the world the vast majority of Americans inhabit.  But these are the people who are driving this “debate” in the op-ed pages of the New York Times and your local newspaper.

Take look at Baa Ram U.’s fee schedule for the 2010-11 school year, where tuition and fees are still less than $7,000 a year.  At an average courseload of 10 3-credit classes per year, that’s less than $700 a class.  How strange that the low cost of higher education in universities like mine doesn’t drive the debate!  Continue Reading »

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August
2nd 2010
“Students of the digital age” put one over on their proffies

Posted under American history & jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

I call bull$hit on this article in the New York Times today, which suggests that “digital age” students just don’t think copying and pasting stuff from the world wide non-peer reviewed internets into their papers and putting their names on said papers is plagiarism. 

Digital technology makes copying and pasting easy, of course. But that is the least of it. The Internet may also be redefining how students — who came of age with music file-sharing, Wikipedia and Web-linking — understand the concept of authorship and the singularity of any text or image.

“Now we have a whole generation of students who’ve grown up with information that just seems to be hanging out there in cyberspace and doesn’t seem to have an author,” said Teresa Fishman, director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University. “It’s possible to believe this information is just out there for anyone to take.”

It’s the “I can’t help it–the intertoobz rewired my brainz!” story.  Riiiiiight.  What aside from a few of the most dumba$$ anecdotal examples is the evidence for this alleged generational cluelessness about plagiarism? 

In surveys from 2006 to 2010 by Donald L. McCabe, a co-founder of the Center for Academic Integrity and a business professor at Rutgers University, about 40 percent of 14,000 undergraduates admitted to copying a few sentences in written assignments.

Perhaps more significant, the number who believed that copying from the Web constitutes “serious cheating” is declining — to 29 percent on average in recent surveys from 34 percent earlier in the decade.

Wow!  All the way from 34 percent to 29 percent over nearly a decade!  Continue Reading »

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