Saturday, March 31, 2007
"The bright red mash is so corrosive|
that forklifts last only six years."
Ah, a long article in today's New York Times about UD's beloved Tabasco sauce.
"The family has the good fortune to have an island made of oil and salt, with constant revenues, and has not had to follow the fortunes of family businesses that depend on one product," Richard Schweid, the author of "Hot Peppers: The Story of Cajuns and Capsicum," wrote in an e-mail message. "This has meant they could reject alternative practices with Tabasco sauce that would mean less quality and more savings."
Snapshots from Home|
"So what's this nice shirt with University of Maryland Model United Nations written on it?"
"Oh," said Mr. UD, "a student gave me that. There's a note in the bag it came in thanking me... "
"She was my student when she was a freshman. She was unhappy at Maryland. Not feeling challenged. Said her high school had a Model UN and Maryland didn't. I suggested she might want to start one. Apparently it's gone well, and she's happy and decided to stay."
Thursday, March 29, 2007
A Student at the University of New Mexico|
Writes a Letter to the Campus Newspaper
'UNM's Dedication to Sports Shortchanges Education
Which is Scarier?|
Deer or Squirrel?
Southern Illinois University Carbondale student newspaper:
Campus Readies for Potential Deer Attacks
Not that Jersey...|
...isn't giving it a run for its money.
Won't Make Any Difference.|
Alaska's Just About the...
...most corrupt state in the country. But it's a good editorial. (Background here.) Excerpts:
A resolution in the Senate to consider impeachment of University of Alaska Regent Jim Hayes was introduced and referred to committee on Feb. 26, and there - a month later - it sits.
From the AOL Sports Blog|
"If you're a college student, and you're going anywhere other than Lynn University in Florida, then you're in the wrong place.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
UD reported on this case long ago, but she deleted the post. What a pleasure to see that justice has been done.
From the Oklahoma State University student newspaper:
'Former professor wins lawsuit against colleague
Course she deserved it all. Bible as literature! Gawd.
Still, there is that bit Lewis might have recalled about an eye for an eye...
Headline Suggestions Welcome|
'A ... man was surreptitiously videotaping female feet in the science library at University of California, Santa Cruz, campus police said.
Monday, March 26, 2007
That New Weight Room|
Only two specially selected sickly old people "hung up" when Oklahoma State University's athletics recently phoned them to ask if they'd give the school their life insurance policies.
"The department hopes to net about $250 million from the proceeds by the time the last donor dies," reports the LA Times.
Not everyone among these "carefully selected donors" is flattered to be a "newly discovered asset," and not everyone observing the scheme is happy:
'Oklahoma State's donors were selected because their age, gender and health "best matched the university's needs," said John Lee, chairman of Dallas-based Management Compensation Group, which is managing the insurance program.
If ever UD were tempted to think of bluesters like herself out here on the coast as weird, and redsters out there in places like Stillwater as normal, let it be said here, officially, that that particular thought is ... dead as a soon-to-be dead OSU man.
From Tim Dahlberg,
'OSU fans will now need to change their reading habits. Instead of turning to the sports pages to see how things are going, they'll read the obits first to see if any of the gang of 25 have croaked.
Could make for some good conversation over morning coffee.
In a Badly Written Essay about Tenure...|
... at the University of Colorado, its president boasts about the school's bold new approach to it, yet describes little that is new, and nothing that is bold.
He does say this, which has often been said, but is worth saying again:
Colleges and universities have been less than forthcoming with the public and legislators about tenure, leading to the suspicion that higher education’s primary focus is protecting its own rather than guaranteeing the highly effective and productive teachers and researchers that students and taxpayers deserve.... Public confidence in academic tenure, much less its understanding of the concept, is dropping. To reduce this downward trend, we must be transparent in our processes and straightforward in our explanations of why tenure is necessary and how it works.
Colorado has Ward Churchill to thank for all the committees and experts it now has futzing with the matter; Churchill's legacy will certainly be to inaugurate the sort of radical social changes he's always had in mind... But UD would have been happier had the president of one of the suckiest sports factories in the country written on that subject.
Snapshots from Home|
The Washington Post's Answer Man takes note of UD's hometown:
'On Strathmore Avenue in Garrett Park, there are signs proclaiming "Nuclear-Free Zone." Is the rest of the world a nuclear zone? What do these signs mean?
UD and her Trusty Assistant...|
... Christina are now feverishly finishing up UD's half of the forthcoming book UD and Jennifer Green-Lewis have written -- the book whose title has undergone so many changes since she typed it (up there, to your right) that she's not sure what to call it at this point.
Anyway, this is by way of saying that, in this final week of manuscript preparation, posting will be a bit lighter.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
...a reader who sends along all sorts of detail on the Moscow State situation [scroll down]:
I studied at MGU [Moscow State] the past two years (04-06) in the Philology Faculty, which shares the 1st Humanities Corpus with Sociology, History, Law, Political Science, etc.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
March Madness |
Stream of Consciousness
From a writer at The Nation.
... While we await blessed baseball and its promise of renewal, here comes the National Collegiate Athletic Association Men's Division I Basketball Championship--the Big Dance for sportswriters, the Bracket Racket for gamblers, a frat-rat party, a racist entertainment, and a subversion of higher education, perhaps democracy as well.
As With Harvard...|
...so with Stanford, alumni are beginning to realize that they must stop being enablers.
A recent Stanford graduate - a writer for the Los Angeles Times - explains:
'Stanford is always just asking for money — which I find odd, since I already paid them a lot. My latest letter says the school is trying to raise $4.3 billion by 2011 as part of the Stanford Challenge.
Another Buried Lede|
'The [University of Florida] Faculty Senate [...] rejected a proposal on Thursday to award [Governor Jeb] Bush an honorary degree this spring. Some members openly criticized his policies.
Friday, March 23, 2007
The Empire Strikes Back|
'The University of Colorado Board of Regents on Thursday drastically shortened the amount of time it takes to fire a tenured professor, approving what CU officials believe to be one of the quickest faculty-dismissal timelines in the country.
The Magazine Liberal Education...|
...will publish an essay of UD's about the web's effect on the dissemination of university news. It'll be in the summer issue.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Fox News is Reporting...|
...that all charges against the Duke lacrosse players are about to be dropped.
'The remaining charges against three Duke University lacrosse players originally indicted for rape may be dropped sometime within the next few days, according to a report.
UPDATE: Ralph Luker forwards to UD a story in the Herald Sun that calls these claims into question.
One of the Reasons|
A Lot of People
Want to Be Professors
Even Though They Might
Make More Money
Doing Something Else
Professor Never Far from Feathered Friend
Two Minutes Hillary|
The creator of the now-notorious 1984/Hillary Clinton YouTube has been outed, and has resigned from his job at a firm that provides technology to Democratic candidates.
I watched the thing and found it powerful and pointless. Yes, Hillary's pretty robotic, and her flat midwestern speech doesn't help matters. Yet what sort of sense does it make to hitch this eminently plausible and non-scary candidate for the presidency to Orwell's jackboot nightmare? If anything qualifies for "society of the spectacle" superficiality, it's this video, which plays on a viewer's vague acquaintance with a novel in order to make a perfectly reasonable politician look like a Stalinist.
Steven D. Levitt, at Freakonomics, again opens the Why tenure? question.
Here are some excerpts from his case against it:
[Tenure] distorts people’s effort so that they face strong incentives early in their career (and presumably work very hard early on as a consequence) and very weak incentives forever after (and presumably work much less hard on average as a consequence).
Couple of things to keep in mind here. The overwhelming number of people who come up for tenure get it, and rates are apparently going up even at the notoriously tenure-averse Ivies. Yes, everyone's so scared of failing to get it that they grind madly away; but if they'd calm down and look at the numbers, they'd realize that they'll probably be okay even if they don't ulcerate themselves.
And sure - having done this to themselves, some tenured people probably figure they're in for a long recuperation. Yet post-tenure review, the desire for yet-higher elevation, ego, and - hey - even a deep-rooted commitment to a self-generated intellectual project, seem to keep many, many professors mentally productive past tenure.
The idea that tenure protects scholars who are doing politically unpopular work strikes me as ludicrous. While I can imagine a situation where this issue might rarely arise, I am hard pressed to think of actual cases where it has been relevant. Tenure does an outstanding job of protecting scholars who do no work or terrible work, but is there anything in economics which is high quality but so controversial it would lead to a scholar being fired? Anyway, that is what markets are for. If one institution fires an academic primarily because they don’t like his or her politics or approach, there will be other schools happy to make the hire. There are, for instance, cases in recent years in economics where scholars have made up data, embezzled funds, etc. but still have found good jobs afterwards.
I pretty much agree with this, even from the standpoint of English, which is liable to be more overtly political in content than economics. It's increasingly unclear to me that in this or any reasonably foreseeable American context, tenure is needed to protect politically unpopular views.
Imagine a setting where you care about performance (e.g. a professional football team, or a currency trader). You wouldn’t think of granting tenure. So why do it in academics?
There are settings -- law firms, for instance -- where in order to reward and sustain good work and loyalty over time you issue something like tenure. And the downside of absolute lack of job security can be seen in the careers of university football coaches, who demand huge salaries precisely because they're always being fired and having to find new jobs.
The best case scenario would be if all schools could coordinate on dumping tenure simultaneously. Maybe departments would give the deadwood a year or two to prove they deserved a slot before firing them. Some non-producers would leave or be fired. The rest of the tenure-age economists would start working harder. My guess is that salaries and job mobility would not change that much.
This sounds okay to me, though I'd want to add some detail about the nature of the new, tenureless contracts these schools would offer. Does Levitt have in mind no net at all? Or would guaranteed, subject-to-renewal eight-year contracts, for instance, be okay? This seems to me a good way to go.
A general problem I have with Levitt's presentation, though, is that it shows no interest in teaching as a measure of institutional value. In this he echoes most universities, where, as I've noted on this blog, being a great teacher can actually hurt your tenure chances. Levitt's model of university life tends toward the production of departments whose individualized research factories regard teaching as an alarming disruption of their assembly line.
Here are some excerpts from an earlier UD thread about tenure, starting with more attacks on it:
“Why,” asks Victor Davis Hanson, “does this strange practice linger on?” If it’s there to guarantee free and unfettered thought, he writes, why is thought in our universities monolithic?
That’s one side of it, and UD has more than a little sympathy with these arguments. But then there’s this, from Winfield Myers:
Sociology students at Moscow State University, probably the best university in Russia, are complaining about "creeping nationalism... extremist views... [and] conspiracy theories" taking over its classrooms. The university has begun to investigate the sociology faculty, though there's no telling whether a university investigating itself under these circumstances will take the matter seriously.
“The dean’s office has distributed a brochure to all students that approvingly quotes the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ blames Freemasons and Zionists for the world wars, and claims that they control U.S. and British policy and the global financial system,” the students wrote in one of their public appeals. “Studying conditions at the department are unbearable.”
The dean of sociology has issued Brezhnev-vintage denials and assurances: It's just a disgruntled minority... We look forward to a "constructive dialogue" ... that stuff about anti-semitism is a crock...
UD described this development to Mr. UD -- who grew up under Communism in Poland -- at the breakfast table just now. He responded with what seemed an irrelevancy: "The current head of the Romanian fascist party was the Ceausescus’ poet laureate."
"Uh huh. And?"
"Well, Moscow State is excellent in things like engineering and some of the sciences, but it's precisely in softer fields like sociology -- and poetry -- that you'll still find once-Communist, now-fascist hacks in lots of post-Communist places. Corneliu Vadim Tudor was the regime's lapdog... Someone who took orders and loved authoritarianism... Now he's got his own party devoted to it. In the Soviet Union, a lot of university people of his sort were social science types grinding out propaganda. It's probably hard to get rid of them ..."
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
***UD Featured on Calculus Syllabus ***|
Wondrous are the ways of the web, but none so wondrous as that which I have seen with my own eyes today:
UD is an assignment in a Carnegie Mellon University calculus course!
I told you about my math SATs, right? I told you that I got a special letter from the IRS many years ago begging me never ever to do my returns by myself?
And now look at me! A math assignment!
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
Pope Urges World Peace has become a paradigm-headline for UD, a headline whose emptiness expresses the emptiness of all empty headlines.
You don't always see UD's paradigm-headline in just those words. Sometimes it's Pope Cautions World Leaders, or Pope Notes Rising Youth Drug Use... A non-papal example UD remembers from her Medill School of Journalism days was a huge banner headline on the front page of the Chicago Tribune, which every day blared out with a huge banner headline:
HOPES RISE ON ARMS CURB.
Another variant of the empty headline -- which almost always accompanies an empty article -- is the Small Town Back to Normal After formulation. This is the piece about how, despite last Thursday's storm, Postmistress Pam is back to stamping letters.
Here's a recent addition to the empty headline stock, from Bloomberg.com:
Easier College Admission for Athletes Sparks a Review by NCAA
As with all of the earlier empty headlines I've mentioned, nothing has happened. There isn't any news. To be sure, the rolly-poly NCAA has had its forward motion impeded a bit by some recent reminders (the Costas show; Antoine Wright's comments) that, as Boyce Watkins notes, it's a whorehouse on wheels. Subsequent to this embarrassment, a certain amount of wink-wink nod-nod has taken place:
The longstanding practice at U.S. colleges of admitting athletes with substandard academic credentials is coming under fresh scrutiny.
Monday, March 19, 2007
A Florida University |
In Trouble with the Law
'Angry state legislators called for a criminal investigation of Florida A&M University's continuing financial woes today... They said it's time to turn the books over to the attorney general's office of Florida Department of Law Enforcement.... "There could be a decision by the Legislature not to fund it," said [one legislator]. "The university would cease to exist." ... [Along with ongoing payroll discrepancies,] FAMU didn't have records for $1.8 million in athletics department collections, and university property that went missing sometimes was not reported to police agencies, the audit said.'
---pensacola news journal---
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Slipping and Sliding Along...|
... mushy Spring Street, with a quick visit to Balthazar... Can't get a table, even early Sunday ... But it was wonderful just to walk through the place, a real French bistro in New York, full of warmth and life on a cold morning...
Saturday, March 17, 2007
I'll be in Greenwich Village...|
... for the weekend.
I'm again accompanying my sister to a Damian Dempsey concert, this time at the Knitting Factory.
Staying at the apartment of a Garrett Park friend who teaches at NYU.
FORGOT that this weekend includes St Patrick's Day.
Will blog from there.
'"Nightline" aired a report on November 2, 2006, about the college admissions process that focused on the advantages that candidates can have if they come from a wealthy family perceived as potential big donors to the school. In this regard, we reported on the admission into Duke of two children of the designer Ralph Lauren, who later made a six figure contribution to the university. We also noted that the then Vice Chancellor of Duke, Professor Joel Fleishman, recommended that the children be admitted to the university, solicited donations from the Lauren family, and later was appointed to the Ralph Lauren Company's board of directors. We want to make clear that we did not intend to imply — and have no evidence to suggest — that Professor Fleishman's appointment to the Ralph Lauren board in 1998 was in exchange for or conditioned on the admission of the Lauren children to the school in 1989 and 1992.'
Friday, March 16, 2007
A reader sends the following Columbus Dispatch article (here excerpted) to UD. It's about a person to whom Ohio University offered a job. Subsequent fact-checking then uncovered problems:
'...The history chairman noticed the reference to [a Sally] Hemings book on [Thelma Wills] Foote’s curriculum vitae and searched online sources because he didn’t recognize the publisher.
The First Shall be Last|
'This afternoon Penn lost to Texas A&M in a game that might have matched up the school with the highest academic standards in the Tournament against the school with the lowest.'
How Italy Stays That Way|
An article in Science Careers describes the combination of corruption, instability, and sloth that keeps Italian universities in the global pits. An excerpt:
"The system is self-referencing," complains Michele Cascella, an Italian research scientist now at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne, Switzerland. "Have you ever seen an Italian university advertise a position in a top international journal such as Science or Nature?" ... There is also the appeal of other countries. Italy's young scientists are leaving for institutions abroad at an estimated rate of 6000 per year. Schemes to stanch the flow and facilitate their return have been in place for years, but with little effect. One brain-gain mechanism was introduced in 2001 by a previous government, with a budget of €50 million that paid for about 500 contracts in universities and research institutes for up to 4 years and with a view to tenure. The scheme was scaled back when the previous government channelled funds into making these posts permanent--but very few tenured positions have been secured, mainly because the procedures for appointment were so vague and complex that there was no consensus on how to apply them.
Self-referencing is a polite way to put it.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
House on Fire Update|
'One of the oldest homes in Garrett Park was severely damaged by a fire Wednesday afternoon, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service officials.
One of UD's Favorite Diploma Mills...|
...has been hounded out of another state. It takes a lot out of UD to track the fates of these non-traditional institutions who only want to help people better themselves online... to watch them attempt to put down roots in a community and then, sure enough, as reporters, employers, and legislators gang up on them, to uproot their homes and their children and try to start a new life somewhere they hope will be more welcoming...
Luckily, there's Alabama.
Here's an earlier posting of mine about Preston University:
America has much to learn from the university licensing standards of Pakistan. The Pakistani government, after investigating Preston University, a far-flung entity with campuses in their country, “classified all 15 Preston campuses in that country as ‘illegally operating.’ The Islamabad campus in particular was deemed ‘seriously deficient,’” writes a reporter for the Billings Wyoming Gazette.
And here's the update, from the Chronicle of Higher Education:
In response to a crackdown on diploma mills in Wyoming, an entity known as “Preston University” is moving part of its operations to Alabama, where laws are laxer.
Intro American Poultry|
Interest is growing around the nation in Texas A&M's popular major, "Agricultural Leadership and Development," which has graduated... or, well, incubated... some of America's finest athletes.
Everyone already knows about Antoine Wright, who has "detailed an academic career spent in classes like 'Floral Design' and 'Poultry Science' featuring 'a quarterback, me, a running back, and a farmer.'" Wright noted in a recent interview that "he and other athletes were steered toward A&M's College of Agriculture to keep from flunking."
But more recently, we've read of
two players from A&M on this year's Academic All-Big 12 team [who] earned that distinction by getting a great GPA in 'Agricultural Leadership And Development,' a major Wright has called out as mostly fictional. A&M football stars and scrubs alike -- like Reggie McNeal, Kellen Heard, and Courtney Lewis -- seem to develop a robust interest in raising livestock once they matriculate at A&M.
Here's that program's mission statement:
The undergraduate major, Agricultural Development, was created in the early 1990’s by the Department of Agricultural Education to provide an educational strand that emphasizes leadership theory, productive use of people-resources, and acquisition of skills in scientific agriculture. The multidisciplinary degree program is designed to develop students for leadership positions in local, regional, state, and national groups and in organizations and agencies that are directly and indirectly involved in agriculture and life sciences.
One of UD's Favorite Writers,|
Linda Hirshman, Goes After
Another Opt-Out Woman
The New York Times ... last Sunday ran a piece from its apparently bottomless reservoir of stay-at-home-moms on the Upper West Side. Once again, the idealistic author studied art, found the corporate world too common for her pure soul, and wound up being a marital nanny for a rich lawyer decades her senior. Let's recap: He is an attorney. She is doing a job you can buy in most places for a sawbuck an hour. ... This is the fate of dreamy young women who don't prepare for the real demands of the world of work and marriage.
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
Looks at a Madison Wisconsin
'University of Wisconsin graduate Mary Gilbertson is outraged by the prospect that the tiny Department of Comparative Literature will be closed, despite strong protests from faculty, students and alumni.
Swensen on Distributive Justice|
'Harvard has to disclose how much it pays its top financial managers. In fiscal 2005, [Jack] Meyer earned $6 million, and two other managers earned about $17 million each.
---new york times---
Classic Example of|
A Buried Lede
'Relatively low salaries among faculty members at the University of Northern Colorado will likely be the focus of an employee-satisfaction survey planned for this spring.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
House on Fire|
Strange how the mind works. My friend and co-author, Jenny, and I had just finished up a rewriting session at my house this afternoon, when we both noticed smoke -- toxic-smelling smoke -- all over the sky. Not the smell of leaves burning or a fireplace. White clouds were becoming black.
I vaguely thought of the shopping mall about a mile away... something there, perhaps...
Not until ten minutes or so later -- after Jenny had left -- and not until I heard the sirens in Garrett Park, did I realize it was a house ablaze, just down the street from my own. Yet that was the obvious thing -- a house on fire, near mine. I think I just didn't want it to be that; I had trouble believing it could be that.
Good thing other, reality-based neighbors, called the fire department right away. How long would I have sat there, denying an obvious fact?
So -- strange how my mind works...
It's been a couple of hours. The house is destroyed. My neighbor tells me he watched it go from smoldering to exploding: "Flames suddenly shot out of all the windows." A few fire engines remain, loudly idling, and neighbors are everywhere, on foot and in their cars, gaping. Chatting. A little parade of bicycles, silver scooters, baby strollers, and dogs, dogs, dogs, passes by, everyone wanting to take a look.
'On HBO's "Costas Now," the New Jersey Nets' Antoine Wright outlined the academic rigors.
A Rare Case of|
The New York Times is covering a case in which plagiarism appears to have been handed down from father to daughter.
Jacqueline R. Griffith seemed to be flourishing as a tenured assistant professor in economics and finance at Kean University in New Jersey — that is, until another member of her department accused her of having plagiarized sizable portions of her doctoral dissertation.
Her father also apparently plagiarized his academic work, but his university didn't care, and he's still teaching. The daughter's had to resign:
... Nova Southeastern University, an independent institution in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which granted her a doctorate in business administration, [is] investigating the plagiarism accusation.
...Asked in a telephone interview whether she had copied her dissertation, Ms. Griffith said, “I don’t believe so,” adding, “But let me call you back.” Fifteen minutes later, her lawyer, Corinne Mullen, called, saying she would look into the matter.
I don't believe so... Let me check...
Ms. Griffith’s troubles, somewhat like her father’s, began with a disgruntled colleague — in her case, Bruce M. Skoorka, also an assistant professor of economics and finance. ... Mr. Skoorka said in an interview that he began criticizing the quality of professors being hired, promoted and given tenure in his department — including Ms. Griffith — nine years ago. In 2001, he filed a lawsuit against the university, charging that he was being discriminated against and harassed in part because of his complaints.
UD always thinks it's classy -- Auburn did this with the guy who broke the Thomas Petee story involving bogus independent studies for athletes -- when universities persecute people who uncover academic fraud.
In the litigation, he included one memo from a senior professor, Carol M. Condon, saying Ms. Griffith should not be retained because she lacked the required qualifications and because of inaccuracies in her file. One important inaccuracy, the memo said, was her claim to be co-author of two books that were written by her father.
Griffith really goes all out.
Looking for more, Mr. Skoorka examined Ms. Griffith’s doctoral dissertation, approved in 2001, and found another that seemed very similar, written at Louisiana Tech University in 1995. He said in an interview that he was “determined to do something about this.” He hired a detective to find the author, whose name, Helen B. Mason, had since changed to Helen Sikes because of remarriage.
Both institutes are currently dithering about it.
... Universities differ in their handling of plagiarism. “Reported cases reveal ad hoc responses at best, and indifference or denial at worst,” said Timothy M. Dodd, executive director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University, which counts more than 350 colleges and universities, not including Kean or Nova, among its members.
I wouldn't want to take on that job. You'd have to spend a lot of time tracking down the source of the second plagiarized dissertation.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
The Receptacle is Also True|
Here's an editorial from the Daily Emerald, student newspaper of the University of Oregon, with a little UD commentary:
The University recently paid $17,250 for former Stanford Athletic Director Ted Leland to advise the Athletic Department on how to best position itself over the next 10 to 15 years. He was reportedly paid $2,300 a day for his efforts [Note the amount. That's a lot, courtesy of students and taxpayers. Let's see what was done with their money.], and was asked only to give separate oral presentations to University of Oregon President Dave Frohnmayer and outgoing Athletic Director Bill Moos. [So his obligation was to chat with two people, one of whom is irrelevant to the future of the program.]
Monday, March 12, 2007
These Numbers Don't Take Into Account|
The Intellectual Rigor of Their Courses of Study
[Note: John Bruno won a recent Faculty Award for Distinguished University Service.]
'Just 10 percent of Ohio State's basketball players received degrees at the school, according to a study that examined the freshman classes entering from 1996-99.
It's people like Bruno, who know better than to apologize for failing so many people so thoroughly, that make Ohio State the place it is.
Snapshots from Home|
DCist notes that presidential heads do seem to be rolling in Washington lately. The latest imperiled office-holder is at Howard University.
It fails to mention, however, the remarkable longevity of the about-to-retire president of UD's own George Washington University.
What a Ho.|
‘Universities should not employ faculty who stab students. Universities should not employ assistant football coaches who threaten students with handguns.’
Here speaks an Idaho newspaper columnist, first waxing nostalgic about a University of Idaho professor of art who, tanking up at a local bar a few years ago, got annoyed with a student and stabbed him. It took the university ages to get rid of the professor, during which he enjoyed leave with pay.
The writer alludes next to “Assistant [Idaho] Football Coach Alundis Brice, who pulled a 9 mm handgun on a student during an argument in the parking lot of a local bar” a couple of years ago.
It's that demon rum!
Understanding this, the university decided not to punish this man at all. He kept his job.
It’s not clear yet what’ll happen to one of the University of Idaho's current football players, who on Thursday night entered a home, “pulled a semiautomatic pistol and forced [a] man to give him about a thousand dollars from a safe. [He then] allegedly hit the man with the weapon and fled. [He] faces felony charges of armed robbery and aggravated battery.”
If he was drunk when he did it, he'll probably be okay.
Red Stater, a UD reader to whom she is indebted for all this news from the heartland, writes: “We have one of the worst football teams in D-IA, yet we're about to pour $70 million in renovations into the basketball/football arena.”
Asleep at the Wheel|
Does the University of Tennessee Chattanooga exist?
UD is more and more perplexed by the sorts of stories coming out of that place... if indeed there is a place... I mean, if there were a place, with people, wouldn't there be some response to its various scandals?
The department of history there still boasts of the accomplishments of a professor who's both a diploma mill grad and a plagiarist. Professor Ruhlman graduated, the university tells us, from the American University of London... He's the author of a civil war book recently pulped because it was largely stolen from someone else's civil war book... And yet there he stays, in all his glory, a fully credited member of the university's history faculty....
And now there's the weird matter of the university's football program. It seems to be quite a shitty program, with poor attendance, and a bunch of locals who'd like to see it put to rest. Yet the coach has just given his son a football scholarship - mainly, it seems, to be able to spend a little more quality time with him:
It surprises me that the signing of a head coach’s son to a football scholarship was not questioned by the local newspaper, Athletic Director Rick Hart, the university’s administration, or anyone else.
This letter-writer makes my point: Where the hell is everybody? Nobody seems to have said or done anything. Though maybe this letter explains why:
...Sloan Allison probably won't make a living playing football and he might not even be a great college player. But this is about something much larger than football and UTC. It's about a father's love of his son and the opportunity to spend as much time with each other as possible.
Sentimental folk down there... Family firsters... Who cares if he's no good... What's more important than father-son bonding? And if Tennesse's taxpayers can subsidize it, all the better...
Sunday, March 11, 2007
An Opinion Piece |
Somewhat at Odds
With the NYRB Piece
By Andrew Delbanco...
...about the same subject. In today's Washington Post, David Ignatius points out what's often been discussed on this blog: the staggering global dominance of American universities.
Higher education is arguably the last area in which the United States dominates the world.... in this globalized world, American universities remain the gold standard. And thanks to aggressive university presidents, they are widening their lead.
With dramatically internationalized student bodies, and growing campuses abroad, Ignatius concludes, "American education is a smart bomb that actually works. When we think about the foreign outreach efforts by these university presidents and dozens of others, we should recognize that they are a national security asset -- making the world safer, as well as wiser."
UD remembers lecturing, years ago, to a small class at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Of the twenty or so students, at least ten were foreign.
But it's important to keep in mind what Delbanco's telling us a post or two down there, too. Most of those GSD students were buff beyond belief. Merely with clothes, accent, and hair, they conveyed to UD the presence of a private jet to Gstaad, idling at that moment on a nearby tarmac for them.
The foreign students at our great universities are part of the same wealthy cohort Delbanco's talking about. We're educating the global elite.
Which is fine. But we're also educating, at our best schools, our own established elite, to the growing exclusion of other sorts of people here. The combination of these two groups on our campuses is unlikely to move us in a direction toward greater creativity, or even toward greater global awareness. It's too socially narrow.
Roger Ailes Punished|
For Using UD's Title
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Beginning to Smell|
Andrew Delbanco, in a review essay in the New York Review of Books, touches on trends and themes intrinsic to this blog, and well-known to thoughtful observers of American universities. Among them:
...Between the mid-1970s and mid-1990s, in a sample of eleven prestigious colleges, the percentage of students from families in the bottom quartile of national family income remained roughly steady— around 10 percent. During the same period the percentage of students from the top quartile rose sharply, from a little more than one third to fully half. If the upscale shops and restaurants near campus are any indication, the trend has continued if not accelerated. And if the sample is broadened to include the top 150 colleges, the percentage of students from the bottom quartile drops to 3 percent. In short, there are very few poor students at America's top colleges, and a large and growing number of rich ones.
Tipping Over Trash Cans
In Search of Receipts
'Four professors at California State University, Fresno want an independent committee to investigate why as much as $773,000 in corporate donations were spent on athletics instead of academics.
To divert one corporate donation may be regarded as a misfortune, Mr. Welty; to divert hundreds of thousands of dollars over six years looks like carelessness.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Spring Break Off to A Bad Start|
'Sarasota, FL - Police say a Michigan State University professor bit a police officer and was arrested for assault at a Florida airport.
UPDATE: Gory Details.
'Airline officials told the couple they needed baggage claim stubs to find the lost luggage.
University of Minnesota Student|
Attempts to Reason With ...
... Branch Manager, TCF Bank (Scholastic Division):
In an interview last month, Bruininks said the stadium in no way conflicts with the University's academic mission, pointing to Target Corporation's recent $5 million donation. The company pledged $2 million for the stadium, $2 million for the Weisman Art Museum and $1 million to help expand the business school.
'I Got Lost in His Arms |
and I Had to Stay," Sings...
...Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun.
Here's that kind of writing, the kind of writing where you get lost in its arms and have to stay. Color Scathing Online Schoolmarm impressed.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Timid? Did I Say Professors Were Timid?|
Not the hilarious warriors of Dissent: A Blog. Their battles against a ridiculous chancellor and board of trustees get a bit convoluted, but they're all great writers, and the blog's a visual treat too.
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
Dim is the word for the low wattage writing UD features below.
Dim prose generates so little light that it's hard to make out any meaning. Reading it's like being underwater in a slimy murky world...
Or rather, since this is an editorial about the University of Southern Mississippi, appearing in a Mississippi newspaper, reading this writing is like moving very very slowly under a brooding canopy of Spanish moss...
In the big scheme of things, a 3,700-seat addition to a Division I university's football stadium is not that big of a deal. [Repetition of "big" already gumming things up. Writer should have dropped the first "big."] Considering it raises the total capacity to 37,000, it's something larger universities do with great regularity. [Logic of this sentence escapes me.] And some of those are already seating 80,000 or more.
It was only a matter of time before someone pointed out that, for all the prestige of the Rhodes scholarship, once you get over there, you're at a European university. This Harvard Crimson opinion piece by two recent recipients has generated lots of defensive responses, but what they say is true. Excerpts:
'...Oxford’s outdated [trimester] system ... means students are out of school more than in. In contrast to Harvard professors’ regular office hours, Oxford advisors spend more time avoiding emails than supervising students. Here, where D.Phil. students struggle to have supervisors read their dissertations before submission, poor supervision is the rule, not the exception.
Look sharp, man.
You teach there. You have a column in the New York Times. Say something.
'Florida International University, not content to see its football team lose all its games last year in front of the 9,700 fans who can fit into its bandbox stadium, now plans to build a $50-million arena so the team can lose in front of 45,000 fans.
---chronicle of higher education---
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross..|
...alumni of William and Mary, I put the cross back where it was before. Says prez.
We Wouldn't Have Had|
White Noise Without Him
Jean Baudrillard, theorist of hyperreality and simulacra, has died. Although UD learned quite a bit from some of his early essays, she finds the quotations from him that newspapers are featuring in his obituaries quite stupid.
Here's one, from a Canadian paper:
"Santa Barbara is a paradise; Disneyland is a paradise; the U.S. is a paradise. Paradise is just paradise. Mournful, monotonous, and superficial though it may be, it is paradise. There is no other."
No other! Give up looking!
Similarly, notes the New York Times, "Since illusion reigns, [Baudrillard] counseled people to give up the search for reality."
No reality! Give up looking!
“All of our values are simulated,” he told The New York Times in 2005. “What is freedom? We have a choice between buying one car or buying another car? It’s a simulation of freedom.”
It's all simulated! Forget it!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Even With Tenure,|
Profs Pissing Their Pants
Two professors of human development describe the results of their recent study, in the Chronicle of Higher Education:
Regular readers know that UD doesn't think the current system's muzzling effect is responsible for this timidity, lack of moxie, lack of courage, absence of renegade ways, refusal to speak one's mind, inability to be bold, etc. UD believes most professors are born scared. They're drawn to a job promising lifetime security because they don't want to face the rough and tumble of the real world. They want to spend their days on quiet removed little quads. For the American university professor, timidity is Job #1.
Monday, March 05, 2007
...the students at Southern Illinois University, who are beginning to grasp the nature of the football stadium scam:
Student leaders want private money for Saluki Way
An interim chancellor (recall the scandal that dumped his predecessor) who can't possibly be up to speed makes vague promises to do better; a president bullshits about how happy fund raising days are just around the corner; a vice-chancellor says trust me, everything's just great... I mean... so far... not that I've asked anyone for anything...
UD's Always Amazed...|
...at what students will put up with from their professors. Here's a professor who simply stopped teaching after a few class sessions.
No professor. Students emailed him. No answer. Time passed.
Let us pick up the story, from the University of Southern California, noting parenthetically various ironies and enigmas:
--from the usc student newspaper--
Pow'rPoint, Thou Shalt Die|
A Princeton professor of computer science lets fly on PowerPoint use among job candidates giving on-campus presentations to students and faculty:
PowerPoint is a two-edged sword. In the right hands, it can be persuasive and effective, but in the wrong hands (that is, almost everyone who uses it), it provides form without content, five minutes worth of talking points to spread over an hour. If we could somehow convert PowerPoint slides into pills, insomnia, like smallpox, would be eradicated from the earth.
Verily, I say unto you: Read Rate My Professors with any care over, say, an hour, and you will discover all you need to know about PowerPoint use in the classroom.
UD's Longtime Blogpal...|
...Robert J. O'Hara, gets some high-level attention this morning, in an International Herald Tribune article about residential colleges in which some professors as well as students live.
The concept was largely ignored ... as colleges ballooned in size when the baby boom generation began coming of age. In many cases, O'Hara said, students were housed in what he calls "cinderblock student ghettos," where they were robbed of important relationships with faculty.
Sunday, March 04, 2007
One of UD's students is a soloist in tonight's 'Requiem Pastiche' -- excerpts from various requiems -- at Lisner Auditorium.
UD's looking forward to it, though with her love of singing, she would have preferred a requiem hootenanny.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
No Noun Left Behind
SOS has already, on this blog, looked at the "Signed, Disgusted" genre of letter writing.
Nothing wrong with the genre. Nothing wrong with wanting in a public forum to express your disgust with an event or a person or an argument. But it has to be done right.
Let us see how it looks when it's done wrong.
Here's a man all het up about the death of the University of Illinois mascot, a dancing Indian chief.
Since it's stupid to keen over the demise of a mascot, the letter writer has several challenges in getting this missive off the ground. He might begin, for instance, by acknowledging that what's upsetting him isn't, of course, the most important subject in the world... But he doesn't do that. Let us take a closer look.
I know you [The letter is addressed to the president of the university] do not need any negative letters: However, I feel [In general, and especially in polemical writing, avoid "I feel." It's girly and emotive - it weakens your voice immediately.] this story needs to be told [Chief Illinewhatever: The Greatest Story Ever Told. We are already a bit out of our sphere, rhetoric-wise.].
Game, Set, and Match|
'There is an interesting positive correlation between the availability of alcohol - especially beer and wine - and academic excellence. Take the University of Wisconsin, for example, which in my field, German studies, happens to be number one in the country. Surprise, surprise. There is a Rathskeller on campus.'
A German literature professor, in a letter to the University of Florida student newspaper.
Friday, March 02, 2007
...the student editorialists at The Cavalier Daily.
"[T]he claim that lifting dozens of paragraphs verbatim constitutes anything less than fraud is ludicrous," writes the editorial board of The Cavalier, the University of Virginia's student newspaper.
Doris Kearns Goodwin, who has for some time successfully been making that ludicrous claim about her own blatant plagiarism, has been given an appointment at the University of Virginia, an institution famous for its honor code.
The editors note "the quickness with which some at the University discard standards of honor when it becomes convenient to do so. At the very least, it seems odd when a University that enshrines honor and expels anyone convicted of plagiarism hires an admitted plagiarist." The school comes down hard on student plagiarists, and then appoints the nation's highest-profile plagiarist.
"It's somewhat depressing to imagine the Miller Center [the campus outfit that's hiring her] ignoring Goodwin's tainted past in order to exploit her status as a celebrity historian of sorts." U Va's hypocrisy is making its students cynical.
Land of Paradox
What do you call a curriculum when it's not a curriculum?
At Brown University, they call it a "curriculum," although "students create their own course of study with no core requirements. Traditional letter grades are optional," etc.
They also call it a "success."
If it were, it's unlikely they'd be gearing up for a long-expected major reckoning with it. Brown's national and international ranking, astonishingly low for an Ivy, is no doubt related to its intellectual chaos, a chaos made worse by routine cancellation of tons of courses each semester and their sudden replacement by whatever.
UD has chronicled, on this blog, the faculty cynicism and student confusion created by Brown's array of obscure, restlessly morphing courses.
UD doubts this first attempt to confront chaos will get anywhere. Another paradox about Brown is that though it thinks it's experimental and open and daring and free, in fact it's crochety, in the way of most institutions, about changing established procedures. Expect campus reactionaries to fight to the death to keep things the way they've been for years.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
Quotation of the Day|
"Alcohol is the yang to athletics' yin. For fans, drinking alcohol heightens the football-watching experience, making them feel as if they are part of the team."
From a student editorial in the University of Oregon newspaper.
Fudge Only If You Fly Low|
Regular readers know this rule of UD's - Go ahead and buy a degree from a diploma mill, or lie on your cv about having earned legitimate degrees that you haven't earned, but fly very low.
If you fly low enough, chances are no one will notice. Millions of Americans live lives of quiet desperation with undetected fake or unearned degrees in their past.
But this blog is in part the sad chronicle of bogus grads whom fate lifts up into the light of day. Once that happens, it's merde/ventilateur time, as in this latest case, from a woman nominated to be Israel's Tourism Minister (she has now withdrawn):
[H]er curriculum vitae, which said she had a bachelor's degree from Bar Ilan University, was wrong. Nor did she have a master's degree as she had claimed.