Search Results for ""excellence without money""

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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April
25th 2010
Susan Gubar and the FUBAR American uni: or, the mad bitch in the attic tells all

Posted under jobs & students & women's history

Good morning, friends.  I got nuthin’ today but a burning desire for a morning run and then a stack of essays and rough drafts of research papers to plow through, so you’re on your own.  May I suggest that you go read Roxie’s World today, where co-blogger Moose has a wonderful valentine called “To Her With Love” to Indiana University English Professor and feminist hero Susan Gubar, and a brilliant meditation on the FUBAR American public university?  (Roxie is of course the author of the “Excellence without Money” series inaugurated in 2008–don’t miss this latest installment!)

Here’s a little flava:

This is partly a story about luck and good timing, but it is also a story about the structural conditions of American public higher education, conditions that have changed significantly since my undergraduate days. I stumbled into Gubar’s class because I needed to pick up a senior seminar after deciding to add English as a second major at the end of my junior year. A friend recommended the course because she’d heard the co-author of a recently published book called The Madwoman in the Attic was a pretty good teacher. The seminar, with the rather dry-sounding title of “Feminist Expository Prose,” didn’t necessarily lead one to expect life-altering encounters with radical texts and ideas. I had never even heard of Mary Wollstonecraft, and Three Guineas, the Virginia Woolf text on the syllabus, was the first Woolf I would ever read. I had never heard of Charlotte Perkins Gilman either, but her Women and Economics rocked my young world, while Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s autobiography Eighty Years and More so fascinated me that I hopped in my car over Thanksgiving break to go read the author’s letters in a library 700 miles away. It was the excitement of that first research trip that propelled me into Susan’s office to announce that I had found my vocation. Continue Reading »

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December
10th 2009
Thursday Round-up: chapping your a$$ edition!

Posted under American history & class & Gender & jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings

elvgrensnowfunWell, friends:  we’re in the midst of a butt-chapping deep freeze, thanks to an Alberta Clipper that just won’t quit.  It’s -15 degrees Fahrenheit here in Potterville, and won’t get above freezing until sometime this weekend.  Those of you in the East might be enjoying a snow day today, so here are a few tidbits to warm you up and get your engines running this morning:

  • Chris Hedges asks, “Are Liberals Pathetic?”  (h/t Susie at Suburban Guerrilla.)  He writes that their “sterile moral posturing, which is not only useless but humiliating, has made America’s liberal class an object of public derision.”  He then goes on to contrast elite, sheltered liberals with working class men who “knew precisely what to do with people who abused them. They may not have been liberal, they may not have finished high school, but they were far more grounded than most of those I studied with.”  What do you think?  I think he’s onto something, but he also engages in a romanticization of a partcular kind of working-class masculinity that equates “fighting” with manhood only, and by implication slights the liberal coalition of today which is based on feminists and gays.  Can we get away from these gendered tropes for criticizing the left?  (Hedges himself identifies the intersection of Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue that’s really to blame for Dem reluctance or even refusal to attempt real change.)
  • Hedges’ essay reminded me of an interesting piece by Joe Bageant on the absence of compassion among so-called “progressives” called “Shoot the Fat Guys, Hang the Smokers.”  I worry about this–it’s part of what I was trying to get at last year in most of my posts on Sarah Palin.  Laughing at or condescending to people isn’t a winning strategy.  Smugness will be the death of the left.
  • Clio Bluestocking brings us more tales from the Orwellian world of online teaching at her school–or, as Hacky McHackhack, the overpaid consultant puts it, “delivering education.”  Continue Reading »

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