Is There Value in Training Scientific Generalists For Positions at the Edge of Academia? Gopal Sarma says Yes
The state of the Illinois Budget. The current Illinois Budget Crisis started almost 8 months ago. While talks continue services are slowly falling part without funding. [more inside]
From The Chronicle of Higher Education: An interactive look at the demographics of more than 400,000 professors at 1,500 colleges, showing where those of each rank, gender, race/ethnicity, and tenure status can be found. [more inside]
The state of Louisiana is facing a massive budget shortfall. Former governor Bobby Jindal positioned himself for a presidential run by slashing taxes and cutting spending, pinning his fiscal policy on the hopes that oil revenues from the Gulf of Mexico would continue to grow. Those revenues have failed to materialize, leaving the state with a deficit. Since higher education funding is one of the largest components of the state’s discretionary spending, it was one of the hardest areas hit. Louisiana has made deeper cuts to education than any other state, and colleges in Louisiana are receiving 55% less state funding than they did before the recession. The state now finds itself with a gap of $850 million for this year, and more than $2 billion next year. The result has been steeply rising tuition and decreased enrollment. It’s about to get much, much worse. [more inside]
Rather than a simple scam, Vyapam appears to be a vast societal swindle—one that reveals the hollowness at the heart of practically every Indian state institution: inadequate schools, a crushing shortage of meaningful jobs, a corrupt government, a cynical middle class happy to cheat the system to aid their own children, a compromised and inept police force and a judiciary incapable of enforcing its laws.Aman Sethi writes in the Guardian on the so-called Vyapam scam—allegations of high-level and systematic corruption in the administration of the state professional examinations that determine entry into medical schools, state colleges, and entry-level civil service jobs within the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The scandal has been connected with 48 suspicious deaths involving people implicated in or investigating the scandal. The Indian Express has a timeline of events, while the Times of India has an extensive archive of further coverage.
What do student protestors want? College students have for weeks led protests over race relations on campuses across the country after well-publicized confrontations at the University of Missouri and Yale University. A list of formal demands made at 51 U.S. campuses has been collected on a website called The Demands. [more inside]
Playing in the Red: College athletic departments are taking in more money than ever – and spending it just as fast — a Washington Post report on how perennial NCAA powerhouses and aspiring contenders alike are using student fees to pay for exploding athletic department budgets. [more inside]
"The academy is no longer an investment of time worth making... I was a priest who had lost his faith, performing the sacraments without any sense of their importance." Yet another sad piece on academia, woe.
“Tim Cook is fighting the sky-high cost of a college education by constructing his own school here without expensive buildings or well-paid deans. Classes are taught in local coffee shops. The administrative staff of two works in a church basement. The Saxifrage School, Mr. Cook's two-year old experiment, is seeking to upend the traditional notion that college students need a sequestered, ivy-covered campus—and will endure the price tag that comes with it. He is gambling that for a nominal tuition—$395 a class—they will use the public library, the neighborhood YMCA and existing apartment buildings to study, play and live in.” [more inside]
Fredrik deBoer reflects on disparities among university buildings and what they say about different approaches to higher education: [more inside]
When it comes to college, the central challenge for most Americans in the 21st century is not going; it’s finishing. Thirty-five million Americans now have some college experience but no degree. Amanda Ripley in The Atlantic follows a group of Starbucks employees taking advantage of the corporation's partnership with Arizona State University, and discovers some of the reasons why so few low-income students graduate on time, or ever get a degree at all. The Upwardly Mobile Barista.
Stewardship and Legacy: Sweet Briar and the Future of Women-Only Higher Education (Previously) [more inside]
"Alumnae like to describe Sweet Briar College as a magical place ... That sense of magic evaporated in early March, after the board of directors decided that Sweet Briar’s failure to increase its revenue in recent decades had driven it to the brink of financial collapse. The board had voted unanimously on February 28 to close the 700-student college at the end of the current academic year."
The most striking feature of the Direct PLUS Loan program is that it limits neither the amount that a school can charge for attendance nor the amount that can be borrowed in federal loans. "This is, for a private-equity firm, a remarkably attractive arrangement: the investors get their money up front, in the form of the tuition paid for by student loans. Meanwhile, any subsequent default on those loans is somebody else’s problem—in this case, the federal government’s." [more inside]
The New York Times examines the case of a student raped by football players at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. The colleges are under investigation by the Department of Education [Not Alone, previously] [more inside]
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), a small non-profit school, has gained a reputation for its adoption of for-profit marketing and operating techniques, relying on prolific advertising and a faculty of low-paid adjuncts to teach its online courses. More recently the school earned the unenviable title of "The Amazon of Higher Education". [more inside]
A former member of a tight-knit college prayer group describes his community's disintegration — and how one of its members ended up dead.
Two weeks ago, a group of Serbian expat academics in the UK posted a scathing and detailed critique of the Ph.D. dissertation of Serbian Minister of Internal Affairs, Nebojša Stefanović, alleging plagiarism and academic fraud. The authors claimed that the "procurement of dubious academic degrees ... is a serious problem in the Serbian system of higher education" and promised to "to continue to examine suspicious doctoral and masters dissertations belonging to other public figures in Serbia." The reaction has not been uneventful:
- Immediate denial-of-service attacks were launched against the website publishing the allegations, pescanik.net.
- A strong defense of Stefanović was made by Serbian Prime Minister, Aleksandar Vučić: "I've never heard a more stupid explanation [of plagiarism]".
- The dissertation was verified as "absolutely authentic scientific work" by Mića Jovanović, the rector of the degree-granting insititution in Belgrade, Megatrend University.
- Further investigations by Pescanik revealed that Rector Jovanović's own claim of a Ph.D. from the "University of London" is dubious.
- The Serbian Minister of Education called for Jovanović to resign as rector of Megatrend; he complied.
- Former-Rector Jovanović traveled to London on Friday (in his private jet) to "find his dissertation". He claimed he was successful and would prove everything on Monday.
- Minister Stefanović continues to deny the charges of plagiarism.
The president of Saint Paul's College, Millard (Pete) Stith, has the unusual mandate of selling his institution. He took over management after the historically black college was unable to pay its debts, lost its accreditation, and closed in 2013. Along with a staff of 22, he maintains the campus in hopes that another college will purchase it during a sealed-bid auction, on June 25.
Student Debt Grows Faster at Universities With Highest-Paid Leaders, Study Finds (SLNYT) 'At the 25 public universities with the highest-paid presidents, both student debt and the use of part-time adjunct faculty grew far faster than at the average state university from 2005 to 2012...The study, “The One Percent at State U: How University Presidents Profit from Rising Student Debt and Low-Wage Faculty Labor,” examined the relationship between executive pay, student debt and low-wage faculty labor at the 25 top-paying public universities.' Report here.
Administrator Hiring Drove 28% Boom in Higher-Ed Work Force, Report Says The report, "Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive: Changing Staffing and Compensation Patterns in Higher Education," says that new administrative positions—particularly in student services—drove a 28-percent expansion of the higher-ed work force from 2000 to 2012...What’s more, the report says, the number of full-time faculty and staff members per professional or managerial administrator has declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1. Full-time faculty members also lost ground to part-time instructors (who now compose half of the instructional staff at most types of colleges)...And the kicker: You can’t blame faculty salaries for the rise in tuition. Faculty salaries were "essentially flat" from 2000 to 2012, the report says. And "we didn't see the savings that we would have expected from the shift to part-time faculty," said Donna M. Desrochers, an author of the report.
Amid a number of recent articles (previously, previously, and previously) about the state of doctoral study in the United States, the NSF has released an interactive report compiling statistical analysis of broad trends about who earns a doctorates, which fields are attracting students, influences to obtain a degree, payment for that degree, and trends after graduation. The report is also available as a .pdf, with further explanation of what these numbers generally indicate.
"Future historians, pondering changes in British society from the 1980s onwards, will struggle to account for the following curious fact. Although British business enterprises have an extremely mixed record (frequently posting gigantic losses, mostly failing to match overseas competitors, scarcely benefiting the weaker groups in society), and although such arm’s length public institutions as museums and galleries, the BBC and the universities have by and large a very good record (universally acknowledged creativity, streets ahead of most of their international peers, positive forces for human development and social cohesion), nonetheless over the past three decades politicians have repeatedly attempted to force the second set of institutions to change so that they more closely resemble the first. Some of those historians may even wonder why at the time there was so little concerted protest at this deeply implausible programme. But they will at least record that, alongside its many other achievements, the coalition government took the decisive steps in helping to turn some first-rate universities into third-rate companies."
Rise Above the LMS: " ... I no longer think of standard, traditional LMS platforms like Blackboard as software. Instead, I think of them as 'institutionware.' For as much as Blackboard may be about preserving itself as the top LMS option, it is also about preserving the traditional aspects of higher education. Even more recent social media ‘features’ are about containment; blogs and wikis are stuck in the Blackboard box and mark the introduction of new environments and tools for learning but only serve lectures and exams." James Schirmer talks about how the structure and design of learning management systems (Wikipedia article) in higher education often runs counter to good classroom instruction.
"Obama’s new education policy neatly showcases the spectrum of choice we now have in our political system: to be ground down a bit at a time by technocrats who either won’t admit to or do not understand the ultimate consequences of the policy infrastructures they so busily construct or to be demolished by fundamentalists who want to dissolve the modern nation-state into a panoptic enforcer of their privileged morality, a massive security and military colossus and an enfeebled social actor that occasionally says nice things about how it would be nice if no one died from tainted food and everyone had a chance to get an education but hey, that’s why you have lawyers and businesses."
PUPPY ROOM. "Thanks to the Dalhousie Student Union, Dal students got the chance to spend a little quality time with some canine companions from Therapeutic Paws of Canada during exam season." [more inside]
The University of Southern California, Dartmouth College, Swarthmore College, and the University of California, Berkeley are among higher education institutions facing recent scrutiny for their alleged failure to comply with Clery Act reporting requirements. [more inside]
In several computer science courses at Johns Hopkins University, the grading curve was set by giving the highest score on the final an A, and then adjusting all lower scores accordingly. The students determined that if they collectively boycotted, then the highest score would be a zero, and so everyone would get an A.
Last year, The Cooper Union For The Advancement Of Science And Art publicly admitted it was in dire financial straits and raised the idea of charging tuition for the first time in 110 years. The students responded in an appropriate manner. But now as the specter of tuition becomes closer to reality the students took a more drastic option: Since Monday, eleven undergraduate students have expertly barricaded themselves inside the top floor of the New York college. They talk about what they want. They even get pizza. [more inside]
It's the splashing, not the popping. What if American student debt is just too profitable and secure to admit any systemic reform? An interesting and gloomy argument against the higher education bubble theory. [more inside]
In 2003, only two colleges charged more than $40,000 a year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Six years later more than two hundred colleges charged that amount. What happened between 2003 and 2009 was the start of the recession. By driving down endowments and giving tax-starved states a reason to cut back their support for higher education, the recession put new pressure on colleges and universities to raise their price. When our current period of slow economic growth will end is anybody’s guess, but even when it does end, colleges and universities will certainly not be rolling back their prices. These days, it is not just the economic climate in which our colleges and universities find themselves that determines what they charge and how they operate; it is their increasing corporatization. If corporatization meant only that colleges and universities were finding ways to be less wasteful, it would be a welcome turn of events. But an altogether different process is going on[more inside]
While at college I yearned to feel connected, to be a part of something larger, something that involved more than bricks and mortarboards. I never managed it. Now, two decades later, I felt a familiar ambivalence. Those bright college years are so influential, so much a part of who we become, that revisiting them brings up a host of conflicting, tumultuous emotions. Going back stirs the pot. Maybe that’s a good thing.Author and columnist Rachel Toor on mixed feelings about going to a class reunion when you haven't exactly become successful in the traditional sense. (This essay also appeared in a 2004 issue of the Chronicle Review, the essays and opinions insert of the trade periodical The Chronicle of Higher Education.)
An op-ed in today's New York Times promotes replacing public loans for university students with private equity contracts, wherein funding firms would receive a percentage of graduates' earnings. [more inside]
A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education tells the story of The Education of Dasmine Cathey, a 23-year-old football player for the University of Memphis. Writer Brad Wolverton met Cathey, who taught himself to read his second year of college, while doing research on student-athletes with severe reading, writing, and learning problems.
"It's the dirty little secret of higher education," says Mr. Williams of the New Faculty Majority. "Many administrators are not aware of the whole extent of the problem. But all it takes is for somebody to run the numbers to see that their faculty is eligible for welfare assistance." [more inside]
Today, President Obama signed an executive order which places stricter disclosure requirements on recruiters for for-profit schools looking to recruit veterans and soldiers. The move comes amid growing concern among state and federal legislators that for-profit educational institutions are doing more harm than good and are employing predatory recruiting practices especially on veterans who are exiting the military and looking to improve their education through the Post-9/11 GI Bill. [more inside]
The average [professor] owes over one hundred thousand dollars in [grad] school loans, and makes about as much as a waiter.
In a new working paper provocatively entitled Law Deans in Jail, Emory law professors Morgan Cloud and George Shepherd
examine the widespread reports of lying by law schools and their administrators, and the publication of these fabrications by U.S. News, and explain how the reported conduct could constitute federal crimes, [specifically] mail and wire fraud, conspiracy, and racketeering.Advisory: 77-page PDF; click on the link on the top-left to download the full paper. [Abstract]. Previously. Previouslier. [Via the always trenchant Margaret Soltan].
While the nation's attention has been recently drawn to the student protests at UC-Davis after video showing UCPD pepper-spraying a group of peaceful students went viral, this is merely one incident in a wave of student activism over the last three years with the goal of "reclaiming" the University of California for students. Some place the beginning of this mass student movement around the 2009 decision to implement a 32% tuition hike, which led to protests that drew over 5,000 students and a damning expose and condemnation from the President of the UC Faculty Association. (Budget Cuts Previously) [more inside]
An anonymous, tenured, mid-career faculty member at a Tier One law school shares his/her observations on the state of contemporary American legal education.
Peter Thiel, co-founded PayPal and an early investor in Facebook, is granting $100,000 fellowships to not go to college, at least for a while. "We decided about 5 or 6 months ago to start up a program to try to identify 20 talented entrepreneurs, and give them a two year stipend to drop out of school, and to pursue their life's passions and see where that would go." The 20 Under 20 became 24 young people, the first group that the Thiel Foundation might save from the higher education bubble.
How to define digital humanities? "the humanities done digitallys"? Should we expand the definition of the field to include, as I've heard it said several times, "every medievalist with a Web site"? Undoubtedly not. Yeah, not. Rather, The particular contribution of the digital humanities, however, lies in its exploration of the difference that the digital can make to the kinds of work that we do, as well as to the ways that we communicate with one another. [more inside]
What we have in academia, in other words, is a microcosm of the American economy as a whole: a self-enriching aristocracy, a swelling and increasingly immiserated proletariat, and a shrinking middle class. The same devil’s bargain stabilizes the system: the middle, or at least the upper middle, the tenured professoriate, is allowed to retain its prerogatives—its comfortable compensation packages, its workplace autonomy and its job security—in return for acquiescing to the exploitation of the bottom by the top, and indirectly, the betrayal of the future of the entire enterprise. Graduate school as suicide mission, in the Nation.
High-achieving Asian-American students are being shut out of top schools around the country. Is this what diversity looks like now? "'There’s a form of redlining or holding Asian-American students to higher standards than any other group.' Although Asian-Americans represent less than 5 percent of the US population (and slightly more than 5 percent in Massachusetts), they make up as much as 20 percent of students at many highly selective private research universities – the kind of schools that make it into top 50 national rankings. But, critics charge, Asian-American students would constitute an even larger share if many weren’t being filtered out during the admissions process." [more inside]
How can you have a university without a philosophy department? In response to a 17% budget cut to higher education by Governor Sandoval, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas is proposing the complete elimination of its Philosophy Department. The Mayor of Las Vegas has called it a sin. Others have said it seems like something out of an episode of The Simpsons. Todd Edwin Jones, chair of the UNLV Philosophy Department, makes his case.
"For international visitors who see people boarding trains, pulling people off, asking for documents, it feels a lot like East Germany did when I visited in 1980."
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