Thursday, May 31, 2007
One of the Blogs at|
The Chronicle of Higher Ed...
...links to my post on the faculty retention problems at the University of Wisconsin Madison (scroll down to A University is a Sometime Thing). The blog is all about faculty hiring, and is well worth a look.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The Commencement Dream Machine|
John Sutherland, in The Guardian, drifts into the dreamy world of the commencement speech.
... [Bill Clinton,] who's doing the rounds of six campuses this summer ... puts it this way:
The last commencement speech UD covered was Villanova's, in 2004. The speaker was Big Bird.
UD's student, Christina, sends her a link to this intriguing announcement from Rice University Press:
Rice University has re-launched its university press as an all-digital operation. Using the open-source e-publishing platform Connexions, Rice University Press is returning from a decade-long hiatus to explore models of peer-reviewed scholarship for the 21st century. The technology offers authors a way to use multimedia — audio files, live hyperlinks or moving images — to craft dynamic scholarly arguments, and to publish on-demand original works in fields of study that are increasingly constrained by print publishing.
Much more detail on their web site.
This is the new face of scholarly publishing.
I think it's particularly cool that you can order the thing as a traditional book if you like, with design decisions up to you...
Eric, a reader, sends a link to a video about putrid, putrid Powerpoint.
UD thanks him.
Lots of fun stuff...|
...on Christopher Hitchens, in The Times UK. Nicely written piece.
Fine. Those Who Say|
It's Getting Out of
Hand May Have a Point.
But UD's still a mad lover of Bloomsday.
BLOOMSDAY GROWS INTO
It's June 16. Maybe something's happening in your town.
A University is|
A Sometime Thing
A faculty hemorrhage at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has attracted some unwelcome Associated Press attention.
University of Wisconsin-Madison has long been an attractive target for elite schools like Harvard and Stanford looking to steal faculty. But Arizona State? Pittsburgh? Florida State?
Well, Arizona and Florida shouldn't be that surprising. There's a clear trend toward many professors choosing quality of life over national ranking. Recall one of UD's favorite people, Colin McGinn, who (to quote myself in an earlier post):
...left the philosophy department at Rutgers for the University of Miami so that he can surf. “I like water sports. Miami is a year-round water-sports place.” The top-ranked philosopher is leaving a top-ranked philosophy department (his departure “could leave Rutgers’ high ranking vulnerable,“ worries the Rutgers student newspaper) for lowly UM, which is “definitely not as good as Rutgers is,” McGinn acknowledges. “But I have to weigh how much that matters to my daily life.”
You need only recall Ann Althouse's extensive winter wonderland photo gallery to know why some people prefer to live south of Madison.
But that's only part of it:
Dozens of UW-Madison professors left in the past two years, and Chancellor John Wiley said a growing number of them are going to schools that traditionally could not compete with his campus. More than 115 professors reported receiving outside offers last year, the most in 20 years and more than double the number from five years ago.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
'It was open season on Vanderbilt on Sept. 9, 2003, when chancellor Gordon Gee eliminated the athletic department and put all sports under Student Life and University Affairs along with intramurals, fraternities, sororities and the student health center.
---the gainesville sun---
It's UD, Live, |
at Inside Higher Ed!
My first post is up.
They're Dropping Like Flies|
Beginning to see a pattern here? Yet another university coach resigns -- is pushed out -- because the naughtiness of his players reaches a tipping point:
Frank Ostanik resigned as men's basketball coach at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, citing off-court incidents involving his players as one of the reasons.
Monday, May 28, 2007
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
The local paper takes Berkeley's professors to task for refusing to take a stupid, unnecessary, mandated ethics quiz (background here).
JUST TAKE THE COURSE
No Longer a|
Ward of the State
The University of Colorado is inching its way toward firing ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill. CU's president will recommend a permanent separation. Ward's lawyer is pissed:
Churchill's attorney, David Lane, told FOX News Channel Monday that it was time for his client's case to move out of the "kangaroo court," and into a real court with a real jury.
Ward needs to talk to his lawyer about his use of the ethnically pejorative term 'kangaroo court.'
Churchill said he and others plan to file academic charges with the university alleging that the faculty committee committed research misconduct. He said he also plans to publish as many as three books defending his research.
War Memorial Chapel
Sunday, May 27, 2007
"Some schools are so academically inferior|
and so poorly serving their students
they should be shut down."
A thoughtful opinion piece by Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times, relevant to the Florida A&M situation.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
UD working for her uncle
at his engineering firm
Early days at the piano.
HOLIDAY FUN |
UD's father eventually
settles on being a man.
Johns Hopkins University
[Click on all images for
a larger view.]
HOLIDAY FUN |
At a 1951 Halloween party,
UD's father cops to
the radical ambiguity
Here she is at an early age,
showing what would become a
lifelong tendency toward
The Post Just Below This One|
Is About Florida A&M's Basketball
Coach. This One's About Another
Breaking FAMU Story.
And By the Way: How Do People
Learn to Talk Like This?
"A preliminary assessment indicates
that the funds are indeed available.
We have decided that we will not utilize
any funds that will adversely impact our
ability to provide courses necessary for
the summer and subsequent terms."
'Florida A&M will pay $4.3 million to four computer consulting companies working without a contract or payment since Jan. 1, chief operating officer Larry Robinson said Friday.
Backstory follows. Put your feet up.
In the past week , Florida A&M University's interim president announced she was stepping down early and the provost said she was leaving, too. In the past two months, five of 13 FAMU trustees have either quit or been replaced.
Shut the place down.
Oh, and FAMU's really disappointed that the governor just vetoed their request to expand their pharmacy building. They don't understand why the state doesn't want to give them any more money.
Florida A&M Basketball Coach|
Has to Wear One of Those
GPS Tracking System Things
Another role model from bigtime university sports bites the dust. UD's not sure how much more disillusionment she can take.
This time it's the basketball coach at basketcase university Florida A&M (there's everything wrong with this place -- its financial mismanagement is so amazing that the state legislature's talking about just shutting down the school), who seems to have had attachment issues with an old girlfriend. In pressing the charges that have the guy under arrest for stalking, she said
she and Gillespie dated from September 2004 to March 11, 2005 ... [she] has called the police on numerous occasions complaining of stalking dating back to 2005. The stalking, she said, began after she broke off their relationship. She said that Gillespie said he was getting a divorce at the time she dated him.
UD wonders... on that financial mismanagement thing... this is from a newspaper account UD quoted in an earlier post:
'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.'
What about that $1.8 million? How much does it cost to stalk someone for three years ...?
Friday, May 25, 2007
Two Auburn University|
'Grade changes on the transcripts of two Auburn University football signees from Mobile are under investigation by the Mobile County school system and the NCAA Clearinghouse ...
It's Kind of an Interesting Mental Exercise|
To Imagine Under What Conditions Montana State
Might Decide to Shut Down its Football Program...
...at least temporarily. But the conditions described below don't merit much response from the school, beyond looking for a new coach:
Berkeley: Where the Online Fun Never Stops!|
Berkeley's online ethics quiz, mandated for faculty because of administrators' malfeasance, has now been joined by a couple of other online quizzes, similarly assigned to faculty because administrators fucked up.
Faculty wonder about the logic of this.
'A number of campus researchers received an e-mail yesterday announcing the beginning of an online course designed to educate them about conflicts of interest that can arise in research.
--the daily californian--
"Educationally, they're definitely going|
in the right direction," the Chicago Democrat
said. "These are some serious allegations
which I'm sure, hopefully, they will be
able to adequately answer."
I'm sure, hopefully, the president and other administrators at Chicago State University can account for the many thousands of state dollars they recently spent on bogus seminars set on Caribbean cruises, as well as on alcohol, first-class hotel rooms and plane tickets, theater tickets, and other disallowed expenses.
So far, the university spokesperson has been vague: "The substance of the transactions represent valid university business." Yes, look at the substance, not the ... the what? State auditors seem to be looking directly at the substance.
'Two "leadership seminars" on Caribbean cruises for the university president, just a year apart. Two plane tickets upgraded to first class for an extra $1,500. A $995 meal tab that covered $139 worth of alcohol and a 28 percent tip.
Compare This Account|
of Evangelical Colleges...
... with this pathetic one.
We seem to be getting somewhere, reality-principle-wise:
'It used to be that being 33 and in charge of 93 U.S. attorneys would mean you'd been top of your class at Harvard or Yale or clerked at the Supreme Court. Now, Christian schools are joining that mix. Regent has had 150 of its graduates working in the White House; the school estimates that one-sixth of its alumni are in government work. Call them the [Monica] Goodlings: scrubbed young ideologues, ready to serve their nation, the right's version of the Peace Corps generation.
They're trying again. Almost every European country periodically tries to drive a stake through the heart of its vampiric university system. We just saw another failed effort in Greece.
Nicholas Sarkozy is the most recent ghoul-slayer.
If he actually passes legislation, the streets of Paris will teem with the living dead.
From the International Herald Tribune:
'[T]he French system just produces dropouts. Forty-five percent of Sorbonne students do not complete their first year of university, and 55 percent do not finish their degrees. Without entrance standards, there is a "selection-by-failure" that squanders resources and professors' time on weak students who "have no real chance of success," [the system's president] said...
The phantom students will rise up from their coffins and take to the boulevards in defense of their movie tickets, and the government will be paralyzed.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
US News and World Report...|
... now has a university-news blog, called Paper Trail, and my friend and student, Christina Mueller (who's also helping my co-author and me perfect our book manuscript) is one of their writers.
They're planning to link to University Diaries, and University Diaries is returning the compliment.
Snapshots from Home:|
Love Minus Zero
Last night, at the Walter Johnson High School spring concert, UD's kid and the rest of the Madrigals sang an updated version of the WJ alma mater song -- one verse for each decade or so of the school's existence.
The 'sixties verse [UD graduated from WJ in 1971] was appropriately Dylanesque. As they sang, the Mads made amusing peace signs to each other...
Today's Bob Dylan's birthday. Who knows why, of all the Dylan lyrics in my head, I return most often to these. Looking at them on the page, I don't think they're all that good. But they must have something. For decades they've had a front row seat in my frontal lobe.
My love she speaks like silence,
Ex-Professor Now Ex-Commissioner|
The University of Oregon student newspaper brings its readers up to date on one of their recent faculty members:
A federal report released May 9 revealed that a former University professor had contractual and friendly relationships with a publishing company whose products he endorsed as effective child literacy boosters.
Perhaps Kame'enui can find a new job as director of a university's student loan program.
UPDATE: Education Week reports he'll return to his University of Oregon position. Ick. As if that poor university isn't in bad enough shape, with its jock-mad president...
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
All in Good Time, Jim.|
'Jim Whitehead, a former Georgia offensive lineman and the leading Republican candidate in the 10th District congressional race, has taken a good bit of heat for cracking a particular joke, in which he says he wouldn’t mind seeing the entire University of Georgia, save for Sanford Stadium, erased.'
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Women of UW in Chador|
Will Stay on Shelves,
"Does Not Objectify Women"
'The University Book Store has pulled a "Women of UW" calendar from its shelves, although the students who published the calendar are hoping to get it back into the store -- or at least recoup some of their production costs.
... at the blog Payscale.com is up.
Last Week, Austin;|
This Week, Hopkins
The financial aid director at the University of Texas who held stock -- undisclosed -- in a preferred lender at UT resigned last week; this week, a senior financial aid person at Johns Hopkins who got lots of money from loan providers she recommended to students there has resigned.
'"Every day there's a new revelation, so I don't think this is going to end any time soon," said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, a student aid information Web site.'
Monday, May 21, 2007
It is sort of the ultimate in pathetic. The New York Times, er, nails it:
Once upon a time, sweatshirts and pennants sufficed as markers of school spirit. And while more than a few Fighting Irish fans would be happy to have their final resting place under the 50-yard line at Notre Dame Stadium, most university devotees have understood the difference between a college and a cemetery. But the line is beginning to blur.
Three Ways of Looking|
At A Sports Fiasco
'There is, however, one reason for optimism here: the very irrationality of the existing system. The peculiar turn intercollegiate sports has taken over the past 40 years seems pretty clearly to be the product of historical accident and interest-group politics run amok, rather than the true preferences of the stakeholders in the enterprise or the deep-seated ideals of those with power. In such a case, change that seemed impossible ex ante can sometimes come quickly and relatively painlessly if only a critical mass of people are willing to demand it.'
This excerpt is from a long, terrific essay about college sports by Barbara Fried, in a magazine called Change, part of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.
Here's another excerpt:
'[Some have] suggested that athletic preferences might add slightly to the socioeconomic diversity of the student body. Self-studies subsequently undertaken by Amherst, Williams, and Middlebury, however, found otherwise. Athletes in all three schools were both wealthier and less ethnically diverse than the rest of the student body. That trend, if anything, is likely to be exacerbated in the future, as the increasing professionalization of college athletics forces a steady, and very costly, professionalization of athletics in high school and even earlier. These days, it is not uncommon for parents to spend as much as $30,000 a year on private trainers, equipment, travel with elite club teams, marketers, etc., to position their kids as athletic recruits. At that price, athletic preferences will become just one more edge in the admissions game for the already most-privileged kids.'
Which reminds me to link to an article one of my readers, superdestroyer, sent to me the other day about a school, Georgetown Prep, just down the block from my house:
Entrenched as the most prominent athletic powerhouse among Washington area high schools, DeMatha finally plans to catch up with some of its peers when it comes to sports facilities. The Hyattsville Catholic school hopes to break ground next year on a $9 million convocation center that includes a gymnasium and is in discussions to have artificial turf practice and game fields installed at off-campus sites.
And finally, there's this...
...which a reader, Bill, sent me this morning, and which looks forward to the world these recruits will join when they go to college:
Outsourcing, that common practice of big business, is flourishing in big-time college sports, including at the University of Minnesota.
Here's a brief, rather pointless Washington Post article which seems to have been compelled into being not by a real trend, but by the need to mark somehow the end of the university year, combined with a couple of bizarre campus stories.
Now that I think about it, there's only really one recent bizarre university president story in the Washington area, so the vague gestures the article makes in the direction of a trend toward impossibly high-pressure university presidency jobs making presidents crack up (the article's headlined Pressure Cooker) go nowhere.
At dozens of colleges this month, graduates will get diplomas, hug their parents, toss their caps in the air. But it's not just students who are starting anew this commencement season: Many of the schools are, too.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
President Stephen Weber of San Diego State University joins Presidents Michael Adams, Robert Bruininks, and Dave Frohnmayer as one of American academia's late-stage jocksniffers.
In early 1998, then-San Diego State Athletic Director Rick Bay spoke with a sense of urgency about the athletic department needing to support itself.
SOS Stays on the
Amnesiac Professor's |
'CHARLESTON -- Jailed economics professor Al Parish is helping investigators trying to track the curious group of assets he bought as investments.
The exercises involve imagining his future if he doesn't tell authorities what he knows.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Okay, so thanks to a reader, Red Stater, UD now knows about the Fulmer Cup.
The Fulmer Cup is a yearly competition for the most criminal university athletic team. Based on a numerical system in which the more heinous the crime (felony burglary, dealing cocaine, felony armed robbery, aggravated battery, misdemeanor assault, etc.) the more points your school receives, the Fulmer Cup recognizes exceptional criminality on some of our most competitive sports teams.
The current top five schools, and their point totals, are:
1:Illinois - 24
2:Penn State - 21
3:Idaho - 17
4:Michigan - 12
5:Florida - 11
From an End-of-Academic-Year Roundup|
at Georgetown University's Newspaper
'Cheers to closing the political graveyard
UD's impressed to see students not only paying attention to some of their university's, er, non-standard appointments, but complaining about them. There are always some people who end up in university positions for bad reasons. Students, who pay extremely high tuitions, deserve professors who are really professors, and who have earned appointment through a competitive process ending in a department vote.
Scathing Online Schoolmarm|
Here, a blogger for the Oregon Statesman Journal complains that employers unfairly judge graduates of Oregon's schools to be inferior to job applicants who come from systems outside the state.
Yet this man -- himself a product of Oregon's education system -- writes so badly that he makes the opposite case: The employers are probably right.
Oregon finds itself last or lowest among all the states in its public support of higher education. Every obvious indication would lead the observer to believe that Oregon's legislators ignore the relationship between paying for what you get. ['Relationship' needs to be between two things: Paying for what you get and...?]
How Many Coked Up,|
Does it Take...
...for a university to notice?
At Montana State University, the answer is six.
Mike Kramer was fired Friday as Montana State University's head football coach, a day after another of his former players was arrested on drug charges.
Friday, May 18, 2007
A Diploma Mill Story|
Good for a Few Giggles
From the Sacramento Bee:
Elk Grove schools' recently hired facilities chief -- already surrounded by questions about cronyism and a controversial land deal at his former job -- claims university degrees on his résumé that education experts say appear to have come from a diploma mill. [Well, this is a point UD's made more than once on this blog -- People scummy enough to do the diploma mill thing are scummy enough to do other scummy things, like - in this guy's case - cronyism and conflict of interest.]
'Debbie Reynolds--the award-winning actress, recording artist, TV star, Broadway performer and hotel casino owner--will earn an honorary doctorate degree at the University of Nevada, Reno this Friday.'
UD Now an Adjective.|
UD's blogpal, The Cranky Professor, employs what he calls the Soltanesque approach to prose analysis in a thoughtful take on what to do with ugly, unloved modernist buildings.
Which reminds me to mention that if you'd like to read UD on this and related architectural topics, you can spend eight bucks and buy an old copy of the wonderful journal Raritan at Amazon.com, in which she holds forth.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
It's rare that UD feels a sense of comradery with her fellow American university professors. It's rare that UD feels a sense of comradery, period.
But, as with the wonderful Southern Illinois professors who refused en masse to attend a moronic motivational talk that administrators at their university rigged up for them, so now with the Berkeley professors refusing to take a required online ethics quiz, UD says: COMRADE!
From an article by Matt Krupnick, in the Contra Costa Times:
Fewer than half of UC Berkeley faculty members and other employees have completed a required ethics course that some professors say is irrelevant. [Rebellion against corporate stupidity is good for the soul.]
Soltan, Green-Lewis Book|
Available for Pre-Order
"Professor Sees Parallels
"AUSTIN, TX— University of Texas professor Thom Windham once again furthered the cause of human inquiry in a class lecture Monday, as he continued his longtime practice of finding connections between things and other things, pointing out these parallels, and then elaborating on them in detail, campus sources reported.
Understanding and Humility...|
... are the two great Franciscan values that St. Bonaventure, a Franciscan university, highlights in its mission statement.
How humble does this look to you?
'University officials will wait until the federal case against [St. Bonaventure baseball] coach Larry Sudbrook is over before deciding if university sanctions are necessary.
UD's posted stories like this one before, about university students and professors and administrators and coaches who just can't seem to remember that they're carrying big ol' loaded guns plus plenty of ammo on campus, on airplanes... hell, just about everywhere. Sometimes their memory gets jogged by federal agents who notice the guns and ask them about them...
I dunno. A man whose memory is this weak... How good a coach can he be?
UD Was Interviewed Today...|
... by the website PayScale - "a market leader in online compensation data" - about what it's like to be a college professor. Not sure when it'll run. Probably pretty soon.
Goes to Blog U.
UD will soon be appearing not only here, at University Diaries, but also at Inside Higher Education, as one of their bloggers.
She'll post somewhat longer pieces at IHE, three or four or maybe more times a week. IHE's tech guy will be talking with UD in the next few days about picking up her James Joyce image and so forth...
She's excited about this. UD's ur-identity is freelance writer, and this is the sort of outcome freelancers love.
Where Are They Now?|
The unspeakably dull, the totally over Ward Churchill story persists, I'm afraid, and UD, being the sort of blog compelled to follow significant university stories, must update you on it as it lives its long, lurid life.
Ward's made the news lately because the University Colorado committee that, on Churchill's request, reviewed another university committee's recommendation that he be fired, just came up with a recommendation not to fire him, but to suspend him for a year.
... Three of the committee's five members recommended suspension, according to a copy of the committee report provided to The Associated Press on Wednesday. The other two members said he should be fired.
So basically, anything short of Josef Mengele, and you'll probably be okay.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
American University Did A Whole Lot Wrong|
in the Benjamin Ladner Mess, But This Figure...
...in a UPI story about Larry Summers, has got to be a mistake:
[Summers'] costly severance package came after Washington's American University paid out $33.7 million to its own controversial president Benjamin Ladner when he left the school in 2005.
...in a letter to the local Fredericksburg paper, explains a long-ago arrest:
'The personal incidents ... concern a stalker who followed my wife and my attempt to stop him and to protect her. Here is a summary of what transpired.
UD's Becoming Quite the Fan...|
... of Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity University here in Washington. Not only was she scathing on the subject of ex-American University president Benjamin Ladner's outrageous compensation, but she also has her own blog.
And maybe it's all that blogging she's doing, but she's also a very good writer:
Rip it up and throw it away. [Glance down to the end of her opinion piece. She returns to the rip it up bit. This circular approach to structure is almost always a good bet.] That’s the advice I’m giving my fellow college and university presidents this month as the “reputation survey” from U.S. News & World Report lands on our desks. [You guessed it. I'd take "reputation survey" out of quotation marks.] I am one of 12 presidents who wrote a letter urging colleagues to take a stand for greater integrity in college rankings — starting by boycotting the magazine’s equivalent of the “American Idol” voting process. [Everyone in the country except for tv-less UD knows what American Idol is -- again, no need for quotation marks.]
Here's what UD's been trying to tell you about tenure rates at most American universities. It's an article about an astronomy professor at Iowa State University who was just turned down:
Tenure Statistics Contradict Iowa State’s Claim that “many good researchers have failed to satisfy the demands of earning tenure” at ISU
When you tenure that many people, it makes it hard to turn anyone down.
If for years you've been happily promoting all sorts of unimpressive people in unimpressive departments, you look biased when you turn down people who are in fact quite productive, but who hold controversial views.
And (in the Scathing Online Schoolmarm department): You look stupid when you use ye olde rhetoric about how being deemed worthy of tenure is real lofty and rare...
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
A Panicky Writing Instructor,|
And His Long-Suffering Class.
From the San Jose State student newspaper:
A professor at San Jose State University no longer conducts his writing class because he said a student's story that fictionalized the killing of a professor, "had created an atmosphere of conflict in the classroom which would make learning difficult."
Monday, May 14, 2007
'College campuses, including Notre Dame and Chapman University in Orange, Calif., are offering burial plots for alumni and faculty.
Usually, the Designation...|
..."Number One Party School" refers to students.
At the University of Texas, it's the grownups in the loan office:
[The] financial aid office ... was oblivious to conflicts of interest but ... kept meticulous track of “lender treats” like ice cream, happy hours and birthday cakes that apparently were considered in deciding whether to put loan companies on lists recommended to students.
---new york times---
Update, Duke Grading Business|
You never know what settlements really mean, but Duke University has settled with a lacrosse player (he wasn't involved in The Incident) who claimed that a professor prejudiced against lacrosse players unfairly failed him in her course.
From the Chronicle of Higher Education:
[The student,] who graduated from Duke last year, has received a grade of P on his transcript for the "Politics and Literature" course he took last spring, indicating that he had passed the course.
'About 20 years ago, the Wilmington News-Journal in Delaware ran a brief story about the arrest of 33-year-old William J. Frawley.
The expensive recruitment firm hired by the university didn't discover this arrest. The local newspaper in Fredericksburg, however, recently managed to do it in this clever way:
'A Google search done by The Free Lance-Star shortly after Frawley's local arrests turned up a reference to the charge against him in Delaware.'
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Professor Parish Update|
Ralph Luker sends UD this article from today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which adds some local color to the amnesiac professor/investment advisor story (background here).
He rolled up to the convention center [in Charleston] a little more than a month ago in his signature purple Jaguar with the custom cat-print top. Dressed in a yellow suit, he then gave his annual economic forecast for the chamber of commerce. [UD considers this whole thing a north/south story. If a guy like this got near UD, a typical northerner, she'd reel back in horror, the way Gregor Samsa's mother did when she realized she'd spawned a dung beetle. Down south, they look at a guy like this and say Let me entrust you with all my money.]
No Longer the Athletic Department's Whore,|
Auburn's Department of Whatever
Wanders Lonely as a Cloud
'Almost a year after a grading controversy was discovered, turmoil still plagues the department of sociology, anthropology, social work, criminology and criminal justice at Auburn University.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I've Bolded the Bullshit|
'Of the three editors of the University of Florida's new literary journal, two have been accused of borrowing from other writers' works without crediting them.
A comment from the wronged party:
"He took maybe 40 to 50 percent of the material for his book from my manuscript."
A comment from the book's editor:
"We declared it out of print and withdrew it, destroyed all the copies we had, and put the word out to our vendors that the books were not to be sold."
A comment from one of the readers for the press that eventually withdrew the book:
"If the Pachmann biography, as Indiana University Press published it, had been submitted as a doctoral dissertation in the Hugh Hodgson School of Music at the University of Georgia, it would have never received approval from the dissertation reading committee... It was deficient in fact checking and loaded with enough padding to keep the reader warm above the Arctic Circle."
Doug Lederman of Inside Higher Education...|
...is, as I blog, being interviewed on CSPAN about the student loan scandal.
This reminds UD to mention that she's been talking with IHE about making her warm relationship with that wonderful publication even warmer. Stay tuned.
Friday, May 11, 2007
"What most professors want|
is for students to validate
their pathetic life experience."
This comment, which got a good audience response, came from Michael Munger, a political science professor at Duke, in the film UD saw at the National Press Building last night, Indoctrinate U. What he means is that you can explain coercive political correctness on American campuses if you understand that American university professors as a class are politically confused and socially isolated people, desperate to bolster their shaky sense of the world by seeing it reflected back at them by their students.
And by their colleagues. Recall University of Chicago professor Cass Sunstein's law of group polarization, which "predicts that when like-minded people deliberate as an organized group, the general opinion shifts toward extreme versions of their common beliefs." Recall the extreme uniformity of many law school faculties, for instance.
The ideological blandness of the academy is an old and scandalous story; but it matters how you go about describing and responding to it. The phenomenon certainly makes intellectual life less lively and dialectical than it could be; but does it make students the victims of indoctrination?
Indoctrinate U. doesn't do a very good job of making that case. It's a callow, Michael Mooreish venture into academic rather than corporate offices. But its sneak attacks on paranoid staff assistants and pissed associate deans don't come off. And that's because the reactions the filmmaker gets from these people aren't about politics. They're about anxiety over unstable and/or obnoxious students generally. Recent events confirm that these people are right to get upset when intense young men asking weird questions come at them with a camera crew.
There were powerful moments in this film, though. When the all-female, highly articulate staff of a conservative paper at Yale described their publication constantly getting trashed -- stolen, shredded -- you could see their shock at the extremism of their environment. Similarly, footage of assholes at Santa Cruz and elsewhere shrieking at ROTC people was effective in making the film's point. Robert KC Johnson was very good on the anti-American bias of some history and political science departments.
But you don't want to mix up with this critique a floating hostility against professors altogether, and there was plenty of evidence, in the film, and in the comments of the filmmakers before and after the showing, that a lot of these people just hate professors. One of its sponsors gleefully quoted from a movie-inspired rock song titled "Shut Up and Teach."
UD is Featured...|
...in the Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature.
Goering, Goebbels, Card|
From the University of Massachusetts student newspaper (with UD's parenthetical commentary):
Students and staff at the University of Massachusetts made their stance clear yesterday afternoon, as dozens of people gathered on the ramp outside of the Whitmore administration building to protest the administration's decision to present Andrew Card with an honorary degree at this May's commencement. [Dozens means... 24? 50?]
Thursday, May 10, 2007
UD on the Receiving End...|
...of some extremely kind words from Erin O'Connor of Critical Mass, the great blog that made me want to be a blogger too:
A winning and uncompromising critic of the academy, Soltan has managed to combine harsh criticism of some of academe's worst excesses and hypocrisies with a charismatic ability to avoid being condemned for being an academic herself. That's a tough balancing act, and I admire her for it.
Those words mean a lot to me, and I'm thankful for them.
Now, off to see the film Indoctrinate U.
Must say, though, that I don't feel very charismatic right now. I just fell asleep on the Metro, and dropped the pen I'd been clutching. It was returned to me as I left the car by a woman who'd been sitting nearby and no doubt watching the comedy of UD trying to write while sleeping...
Headline of the Day|
You Know All About this Routine…|
…if you routinely read University Diaries. Some professors can't resist shaking down their students.
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- Disciplinary action has been taken against an Alabama A and M University professor who offered to raise students' grades for donations to a fund for victims of the recent Virginia Tech shootings, a university official said.
UD's Been Invited...|
...to a screening, tonight, of the film Indoctrinate U, at the National Press Club building. Although she suspects it's not going to be very good, she will go. Because the event has bloggable written all over it.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
We raced through...|
...the gorgeous early evening, early spring streets of Washington, and got to the Warner Theater just in time to stand and sing the National Anthem. The chair of the NEH introduced the event, heaping praise on Harvey Mansfield and saluting Lynn Cheney, who sat a few rows in front of us.
The Warner Theater is a dark dusty DC space with brooding ceilings and heavy curtains along its walls. You feel, at the Warner, as if you're sitting inside a low-wattage Tiffany lamp. I surveyed the crowd, which seemed mainly young people outfitted in the dull suits they wore to their federal government day jobs, and I tried not to hear the chair's litany of cliches... meaningful dialogue... civic health...
He reminded us that the Jefferson Lecture is the "highest honor the federal government bestows in the humanities," and called Mansfield a worthy recipient, with his extensive scholarship, his "outspoken defense of standards in higher education," and his "eloquent criticism of faddishness and triviality in our schools." When he mentioned Mansfield's well-known attacks on grade inflation, the audience burst into applause.
Mansfield, rather like last year's lecturer, Tom Wolfe, is a natty and extremely well-preserved old guy with a mellifluous voice and an ingratiating manner. A full head of hair past seventy appears to be one of the selection requirements, as both Mansfield and Wolfe have this remarkable attribute. Both men, too, are adorably vain, aware of their charm, good looks, and mild roguishness.
Indeed both men chose the same subject: the human quest for status. [See UD's remarks on Wolfe's discussion of the subject here.] Wolfe's speech was a mess, but Mansfield's had a clarity and a structural integrity that allowed his argument to emerge clearly. What fiction offers, Wolfe and Mansfield suggest, is what science lacks: the particularity of individual human beings as they go about asserting their importance in the world. The hard and social sciences offer us universal propositions based on survey research about us in the aggregate. But "we don't live in abstraction," said Mansfield. "All human life takes place in an atmosphere of proper nouns."
Psychology - another social science - has reduced the soul to the self: "The self is a simplification of the notion of soul. The self is meant to be used by psychology, which wants you simply to be happy." But you, with a sense of your self-importance, want a good deal more than that -- you want honor, respect, equal rights. You want the freedom to pursue grand worldly and personal ambitions.
You enter the political fray, perhaps, because you've been angered by some felt absence of those goods in your life. (Or the life of others? Mansfield said nothing about altruism - One's desire to be politically or socially active not on behalf of one's own sense of self-importance, but on behalf of others whose importance is denied.) The ideal life dedicates itself to the assertion of this sense of the self's importance: "It is up to you to improve your life by insisting that it is important, by having an ambition toward greatness."
Most people, though, prefer to rest in "safe niches." They are like "tenured professors, willing to settle for less." Full expression of your self-importance calls for "nerve, which is not often found at universities." [UD enjoyed these digs at professors and universities.]
My problem with Mansfield's talk is that it reiterated an important and well-known truth -- fictive truths are as crucial to our self-understanding as empirical truths -- without doing anything new with it. The speech was a kind of "two cultures" soft shoe, reminding us for the hundredth time that the hard sciences cannot do without the soft.
...are heading downtown in a half hour to hear Harvey Mansfield give this year's Jefferson Lecture.
Title: "How to Understand Politics: What the Humanities Can Say to Science." UD will blog the event...
Tales of the Tenurati|
'A year after he was demoted for misspending, a former University of Wisconsin-Whitewater dean has kept a job as a professor but still owes the university $117,000, the school said Monday.
'For the past several weeks, drivers near Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville have been noticing odd things about some of the roadkill on the sides of the area's highways.
Let's See If We Can Follow This.|
From the Daily Lobo, student newspaper of the University of New Mexico:
A [University of New Mexico] professor received a promotion despite submitting a resume with an inflated account of research and publication, according to a letter from a former member of the Academic Freedom and Tenure Committee.
Monday, May 07, 2007
The Trumpet Will Sound|
Charming little dialogue between two writers at the University of Texas newspaper, in which they argue that Professor Iverson, a great lecturer, should give mandated teacher training sessions to all new UT faculty:
'R: Professor Brent Iverson is the best lecturer I've ever had.
Here's a comment about Iverson from Rate My Professors:
"He sings for us on the last class day!"
UD - a singer - occasionally sings in class. When she's talking about leit motifs that recur in certain stories and novels, she sings some famous musical leit motifs... DeLillo's Underworld makes much of a famous tune from Prokofiev's Love for Three Oranges, and UD sings this for her students... She doesn't sing, though, a semester finale... Nor does she blast a trumpet when students correctly define 'Joycean epiphany' ...
As for rewarding students by showing them slides of my travel adventures (and since when would this be a reward?), UD's not at all sure this represents a terrific use of class time... I mean, you could turn around what these guys say up there, and you could say Our tuition payments make up the largest single source of UT's revenue, and our chemistry teachers show us their scuba slides...
Still, if you insist, UD has some real cute shots of her falling off Sumatran elephants in the rice fields of Bali...
'[Walter] Massey, who turned 69 in April, steps down [after twelve years] as president [of Morehouse College] on June 30. Robert Franklin -- an Emory University professor, former president of the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta and a 1975 Morehouse graduate -- has been named Morehouse's 10th president.'
Massey has been an inspirational and effective president. UD wonders, though, whether the timing here has anything to do with the ongoing student loan scandal. In an earlier UD post, she quoted from a Bloomberg.com story:
Walter Massey, president of Morehouse College, got $649,692 in pay and stock in 2006 for serving on Bank of America Corp.'s board. ... Massey has been a director of the Charlotte, North Carolina- based bank since 1998. His pay from Morehouse in fiscal 2005, the most recent information available, was less than his Bank of America compensation last year. Massey received $382,895 from the school, consisting of $278,847 in "compensation," $60,848 in contributions to employee benefit plans and $43,200 in expense account and other allowances, according to Morehouse's Internal Revenue Service filing.
Massey is one of several university administrators across the country who, according to Bloomberg.com, "serve on boards at nine of the largest publicly traded student-loan companies." Quite a few of these people, like Massey, are so fond of the banks that pay them that they recommend their banks to their students. At Morehouse, Bank of America "was chosen as an approved lender in a new ... loan program... [It] has since been dropped." Like a hot potato. Now that the SEC is watching.
The paid positions were disclosed in filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The documents show that college officials hold board seats at financial institutions in an industry that lends $85 billion a year to students and parents.
-- thanks, bill, for sending this along --
Saturday, May 05, 2007
End of semester business has kept me from responding to comment threads and from posting much lately. Apologies. Meanwhile, here's an excerpt from a nice take on Don DeLillo (whose 9/11 novel, Falling Man, will soon appear) in The Guardian:
Discovering Ulysses as a teenager made him want to be a writer, but his influences and references have always been as much from film and painting and music (European movies, Abstract Expressionism and the jazz of Parker and Mingus) as from novels. He went to a Jesuit college where he majored in 'communication arts'. He had a job as a copywriter at Ogilvy and Mather and freelance jobs writing for furniture catalogues before giving up and following his vocation.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Naturally, UD Could Do...|
...without the cliche sweeping change, but otherwise, there's some powerful language in a recent letter from the faculty of Ohio University to its board of trustees (as reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education):
Senior faculty members at Ohio University have presented administrators with a laundry list of complaints about declining academic standards at the university, the administration’s handling of the budget, and negative publicity arising out of a series of computer-security breaches, a plagiarism scandal at the engineering school, and recent arrests of student athletes and coaches.
UD's particularly interested in the faculty's frustration with its much-arrested athletes and coaches (it's a bonding thing ... athletes and coaches get arrested at Ohio University), but as the faculty point out, a coach convicted of drunk driving, plus his bandit players, are trifles here... There's more mayhem where that came from ...
Yet UD wonders why the faculty thinks OU's no doubt hapless trustees (Why haven't they done anything about any of this? If they're like many boards of trustees, they're helping it along.) will be of any use. UD suspects that this gesture is more of a snarl in the direction of the university's yet more hapless president.
Nicely Written Review...|
...by Adam Kirsch, of Don DeLillo's new novel about 9/11, Falling Man.
... [The stark] style serves Mr. DeLillo's purpose, which is to write about a world reduced by horror to a kind of elective mutism. It is the prose equivalent of Keith's [the main character's] state of mind: "He used to want to fly out of self-awareness, day and night, a body in raw motion. Now he finds himself drifting into spells of reflection, thinking not in clear units, hard and linked, but only absorbing what comes, drawing things out of time and memory and into some dim space that bears his collected experience."
Thursday, May 03, 2007
This Economist Piece Confirms...|
... that the Greek government has given up, for now, on private universities. Three months of violent street protest wore it down. Sad.
The piece looks at European universities generally. Excerpts:
... [I]f you wanted to examine parts of European life that yearn to be world class, but are determined to hold out against market forces and the laws of competition, the continent's universities would be a good place to start. They are cherished national champions, often funded and usually controlled by the state, and sometimes crammed with political appointees. In much of “old Europe”, universities give a valuable product—degrees—away more or less for free. That is a pretty effective way of avoiding consumer pressure. They are further shielded from competition by such things as tradition, national pride and language.
More Amazing Shit Out of |
Florida International University
'The top two directors of Florida International University's online course department have resigned while the school investigates a private company they started that was charging hundreds of students $60 each to buy required electronic textbooks.
As Ever, Florida International|
'The N.C.A.A. announced that 63 teams would be subject to immediate penalties [based on lack of academic progress], 31 received public notice letters that they would be subject to more significant penalties next year, and 18 would be subject to both. Teams receiving warning letters are on notice to improve immediately. If not, they could eventually be subject to penalties as serious as postseason ineligibility.
Full story here.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
UD Quoted on |
in a Mexican
'Clases de periodismo por La Catarina
---la quinta columna---
Snapshots from Home|
'FIFTY YEARS OF
1958 - 2007'
UD thinks she graduated from this place in 1971, but of course she's not sure. Dates are numbers, and she's weak on numbers.
There's also the business of wanting to soft-pedal, psychologically speaking, precisely how many years have passed since UD was part of Walter Johnson's hippie cohort.
It's certainly been a spell: The new auditorium we're celebrating tonight is named after a long-dead worthy who seems to have been the principal when UD attended.
UD's here because her kid (currently a WJ student) is performing in tonight's nostalgia-fest. UD hates nostalgia. She dreads schoolmate hugs. She dreads tearing up as her trembly Rapid Learner English teacher is wheeled out onto the stage.
It's not that such things fail to move UD. The problem is that they move her all too easily. Like a lot of smart-asses, UD is, under the surface, a huge crybaby. Put her in any sentimental setting and she will wail and gnash and rend her garments.
Okay, I'm now in the spiffy auditorium. A tiger and a bull mascot cavort among the crowd, whipping up school spirit. They're pretty amusing. They've taken to their ridiculous task with a load of irony.
Now two identical screens appear on opposite walls of the room, both showing a tiger face and a Spartan warrior. If you think I have any idea what the symbolic value of these symbols is, think again.
The school's current principal descends, Peter Pan-style, to the stage; when he's finished talking, he flies back up. He's showing off some of the auditorium's new technology.
Next there's a video montage, with thundering rock music, of the decades of fun fun fun at Walter Johnson. Famous alumni (Nils Lofgren, frinstance) are featured. I search the screen in vain for another notable, Sonny Bono's second ex-wife.
Nothing much is stirring in UD, I'm afraid, although the many shots of fields full of cows do bring back memories of her days, when the area adjacent to the school - now endless corporate headquarters - was a farm.
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
"I have no choice but to wonder|
whether he actually does care
whether students graduate from
his university in a timely manner."
The president of Florida Atlantic University, as the editor of its student newspaper suspects, doesn't seem to care very much about the whole educating students thing of his university. He cares about trading the good name of the university for big money donations (scroll down); he cares about enriching his friends (see below); but he doesn't seem to care about graduation rates:
As an FAU student, I'll be the first to tell you that I am not happy about the generous severance package given to former Vice President of University Advancement Lawrence Davenport.
This guy's an excellent writer.
By the way, there's a wonderful blog written by a professor at FAU. It's called Culture Industry.
Culture Industry's author calls University Diaries "splendidly splenetic."
Barbara Ehrenreich argues here that the Marilee Jones story (she's the longstanding admissions person at MIT who was just fired for having lied about all of her higher education credentials) proves that most people probably don't need a college degree, and that their expensive BA's are really about making them poor and desperate (all those student loans to repay) and therefore meek employees. Since meek employees are exactly what corporate overlords are looking for, college grads will be hired before non-college grads.
SOS usually features crappy writers making crappy arguments. Here, for a bit of a change, we have a fine writer making a crappy argument. Let's take a look.
Can you be fired for doing a great job, year after year, and in fact becoming nationally known for your insight and performance? Yes, as in the case of Marilee Jones, who was the dean of admissions at MIT until her dismissal last week, when it was discovered that she had lied about her academic credentials twenty-eight years ago. [Cast your eye to the end of the piece. She begins and she ends with Marilee Jones -- an elegant way to structure your essay.] She had claimed three degrees, although she had none. If she had done a miserable job as dean, MIT might have been more forgiving, but her very success has to be threatening to an institution of higher learning: What good are educational credentials anyway? [Already we're getting a little funky. If she hadn't been good at what she did, MIT might not have fired her? Ehrenreich wrongly assumes MIT had something in mind about the inherent worth of a college degree when it dismissed Jones. There's no reason to assume this. MIT had the trustworthiness of highly responsible administrators in mind.]
I actually agree with Ehrenreich that too many Americans feel compelled to go to college. But I think she's got the reasons all wrong.
Florida Atlantic University: |
'[Barry] Kaye has donated more than $20 million to FAU. The business college bears his name, and he is a guest lecturer there. His business is a new industry in which investors buy life insurance policies of senior citizens in hopes that they will die sooner rather than later. He is known by the ads that use the title of his latest book: You Buy You Die It Pays!
---palm beach post---
A Washington Post Writer...|
... with help from his comment thread, touches on the important aspects of the William Frawley case:
Mary Washington College [that should be the University of Mary Washington] in Fredericksburg was embarrassed by its president last month, when William Frawley was arrested on drunken driving charges -- twice in three days, in Fairfax and in Fredericksburg. Yesterday, the college's board sacked Frawley.
38,000 killed on the roads every year, with over half of those involving drivers impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. ... It's time to shut down the good-ol'-boy, nod-nod, wink-wink approach to impaired drivers. First offenders need extended jail time with long-term loss of their driving privileges. If they truly have an addiction to alcohol and/or drugs, the jail sentence should be open ended (as long as possible) for the criminal to complete rehab and counseling before they are released. After they are let out - any further offenses would be felonies with mandatory state prison time. Also, change the law so driving without a license after it has been revoked is more than a lousy ticket.
Because I Like the Story.|
And It is University-Related.
'A man in southwest Portland is stirring up controversy with a public protest over the Oregon Health & Science University aerial tram and his lack of privacy.
---fox 12 oregon---