Posts by Stan Katz
July 22, 2008, 10:19 AM ET
Tucker, in a Department of Education photo
Hers is not a household name, and it is not likely to become one. Ms. Tucker was appointed in late 2006 as the Under Secretary for postsecondary education in the U.S. Department of Education. She is holding the tiller of the department’s higher education programs at a time when her ship (the Bush administration) is sinking under the waves. Not that I feel sorry for her. The message she delivered at the Chicago conference held last Friday to commemorate the second anniversary of the report of the Spellings Commission on the Future of Higher Education was the message that President Bush and Secretary Rice have been delivering for many years to recalcitrant foreign nations: “You know what you have to do.”
But of course Ms. Tucker was only doing what Secretary Margaret Spellings has...Read More
July 18, 2008, 05:03 PM ET
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent Monday through Wednesday of this week attending the fourth of the first series of workshops for Project Bamboo. The organizers provided participants with a list of the 94 institutions whose staff have attended the workshops in Berkeley, Chicago, Paris, and Princeton. They represent a remarkable range of colleges and universities, libraries, learned societies, and other organizations interested in some aspect of the digital arts and humanities — and a significant number of institutions applied too late to be seated at the workshop tables. Institutions represented at Princeton ranged from the Ivies to the Australian National University, the City University of New York to the University of Kansas and the University of Puget Sound. Documents Compass (a newly emerging digital-editing facility), the Federation of American Scientists, and the American...Read More
July 17, 2008, 01:29 PM ET
“Cyberinfrastructure” is a daunting term, but it is gaining currency. The term was put into play by the Atkins report on cyberinfrastructure for science and engineering, and extended to the humanities a couple of years ago by the now well-known report produced by and ACLS committee headed by John Unsworth, the Dean of the Library School at the University of Illinois (UIUC). The idea is to explore the services and capacities needed to undergird the development of both teaching and research in the humanities fields, to see what sorts of investments, strategies, and institutional arrangements might best facilitate the progress of the digital humanities.
This is a problem I began to worry about when I became the President of ACLS in 1986, when I first realized that information technology and computing were the phenomena most likely to change the nature and direction of humanities...Read More
July 13, 2008, 12:13 PM ET
I was fascinated by the Chronicle’s piece by by Eric Kelderman last Friday on the athletics-facilities boom in the Centennial Conference. This is a NCAA Division III league, but more importantly it is composed of 11 high-quality liberal arts colleges, including Ursinus, Gettysburg, and Franklin & Marshall. These are places that take liberal undergraduate education really seriously, and I admire their academic programs — Ursinus is one of the most creative colleges I know. I had never stopped to consider their athletic programs, however, but I assumed that they fielded modestly competitive teams in some league (I had not even heard of the Centennial Conference until last week). I also assumed that, like all selective colleges, they were under competitive pressure to provide their student body with respectable fitness...Read More
July 10, 2008, 04:44 PM ET
I have gotten pretty accustomed to the notion that everything in the modern university is up for sale, but sometimes I am more uncomfortable about it than at others.
One of my long-standing concerns has been with accepting gifts to fund centers or other activities from parties (individuals, corporations, governments) who have an interest in research outcomes or curricular content. The classical (but by no means the only) example is whether Turkish funds should determine historical scholarship or teaching about Turkish-Armenian relations (notice how cautiously I put that!).
There are also questions about individuals whose behavior is questionable, behavior that is sometimes unknown until after a gift has been made and accepted by a university. An example would be Princeton’s acceptance in the...Read More
July 8, 2008, 04:32 PM ET
In this week’s Chronicle Review section, two of my friends call attention to a serious problem. Tony Grafton is one of the most distinguished humanists in the Western world and a colleague in the Princeton history department. Tony was for three years the elected officer in charge of the Professional Division of the American Historical Association. Rob Townsend administers the AHA’s office of research and publication, and he is just finishing a Ph.D. in history at GMU. He is the numbers guru of the AHA, and his periodic reports in the AHA’s Perspectives on the statistical state of the history profession are authoritative. These are people to reckon with.
Grafton and Townsend ask us to think more systemically about the plight of junior faculty in history in “Historians’ Rocky Job Market,” but I suspect that what they fear for historians is true for most young...Read More
July 6, 2008, 11:07 AM ET
The Center for Studies in Higher Education at UC Berkeley has quietly been doing some of the most significant higher education policy research I know of. Spurred by the vote in California in 1996 to end affirmative action in the state’s colleges and universities, and blessed with a vast database on student performance in the huge UC system, researchers at CSHE have been asking the Big Question about college admissions — what are the most reliable objective predictors of success in college for high-school students? When the first results were published several years ago, I found them both troubling and significant, for the researchers found that the best predictor of college success (measured by course grades) was grades in high-school college preparatory courses. They also argued that using grades as the criterion for admissions had the least adverse effect on the success of poor ...Read More
July 1, 2008, 05:21 PM ET
The Princeton University Web site this morning announces three gifts from alumni toward our capital fund campaign goal of $1.75-billion . One gift, from a 1974 alumnus is for $4.5-million, for the Princeton Environmental Institute for an endowed professorship, a student prize, and a fund to support academic innovation. A second, from a 1989 alumnus, is for another endowed professorship on Energy and the Environment — no dollar amount is mentioned in the press release, but given the price at which the university normally sells endowed professorships, it must be in the $5 million range.
The third gift comes from Gerhard R. (Gerry) Andlinger, a member of the Class of 1952 (the same class as James Baker and a number of prominent Princeton public figures), who has previously given about $27-million to the University, mostly for work in the humanities. His new gift is of another order a...Read More
June 29, 2008, 11:52 AM ET
Yesterday I did something both mad and responsible — I flew to Montreal just for the morning to give a talk to the annual meeting of the Association of American University Presses. I had not realized that “American” in AAUP referred to the continent, but in fact Canadian presses are members, and the chair of the meeting was Phil Cercone of the University of Montreal Press. Phil had written me about 10 days ago trying to put together a last-minute panel on open access. I said I could not do it, even though I had a paper on the subject, since my wife and I had to be in New York City Friday evening for a dinner with friends from out of town. But Phil is not easily put off, and after his third request (accompanied by information on airline schedules), I agreed. So I spent Saturday evening at a grungy motel across the highway from LaGuardia airport, caught a 6:30 a.m. flight, and arrived a...Read More
June 26, 2008, 05:49 PM ET
The infrastructure of higher education is remarkable. Over the years I have been astonished to learn how many formal organizations there are that network specialists of one sort or another in university administration. And of course there are at least as many informal networks. One of them is a group that calls itself “Ivy Plus,” a multiple network of administrators in the Ivy League, MIT and Stanford.
In September I am addressing the Ivy Plus session for development officers. On Tuesday I spoke to the Ivy Plus alumni-relations specialists. The theme of their meeting was “tradition and modernity,” and they asked this question: “How do our institutions preserve and perpetuate the best of our pasts, while still remaining flexible and agile enough to respond to changing circumstances and maintain our positions of leadership?”
I thought it was a good question, especially since it ...Read More