Category Archives: higher education

March 11, 2014, 10:15 am

Oh Brave New World


Have administrators at Columbia’s Mailman School considered closing their budget gap with a bake sale? Maybe asking faculty to shill gift wrap and ginormous candy bars door to door?

That has such people in it.

Here’s a novel way to lighten the burden of paying faculty salaries: make them figure out how to pay their own salaries! As Inside Higher Ed reports, Columbia University has notified several longterm non-tenure stream faculty in the Mailman School of Public Health (including Carol Vance and Kim Hopper) that they will be terminated for not meeting 80% of their salaries with outside funding.

According to, in 2013 the university had the ninth largest endowment in the United States, at $8.197 billion dollars.

Read the article: I could only garble this story more by trying to recapitulate it….

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March 7, 2014, 5:06 pm

Dept. of Untenured Radicals: Santa Cruz Students on the March


Photo credit:

Beginning at 3:00 Pacific Time on Wednesday March 5, students at UC Santa Cruz occupied an administration building. When they left the following morning, under their own steam, they chanted “We’ll Be Back!” They probably will: they’ve done it before. Good for you, young people: I thought it was creepy to put someone whose specialty is Homeland Security and border control in charge of a school system too.

Here’s what they want:

1. We demand the resignation or impeachment of Janet Napolitano as
UC President immediately.

2. We demand that next and all future UC presidents be someone who:

a) is elected by students and faculty;
b) has an extensive and positive background in education;
c) works towards completely eliminating student debt through
full subsidization;

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February 21, 2014, 11:15 am

It’s Friday Night. Is Your Kid At A Frat?


How can your kid be hurt at a frat? Let us count the ways. Graphic is from The Atlantic

Even if you are a Caitlin Flanagan h8ter, read her cover story in this month’s Atlantic about how dangerous college fraternities are, to your daughters, your sons, and to you.

There’s always a downside to a Flanagan article: the excessive gesture to whatever theory keeps her recognizable as a conservative. For example, it seems almost mandatory for right wing writers to assert that college is all play and no work, and that student leisure is an expensive, wasteful university marketing ploy. This works to obscure the fact that that wealthy donors would rather have their names on buildings than lower tuition anonymously. It neglects the fact government at all levels has Hoovered public dollars out of public and private…

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February 8, 2014, 6:13 pm

Tackling Hunger On Campus

food stampsI was glad to see this article by Peg Tyre about Franklin and Marshall College’s efforts to recruit and retain low income students. “Poor students who are accepted into selective four-year universities often find themselves adrift,” Tyre writes, ”overwhelmed by the financial, academic and cultural challenges created by an environment shaped to serve the habits and needs of the wealthy” (The New York Times, February 5, 2014).

Full disclosure: I happen to like this little liberal arts college in Lancaster, PA, a 45-minute Amtrak ride from Philadelphia. Years ago, I was part of a visiting committee at F&M, and I returned to consult on a second project. Each time, I found it a thoughtful place. I was impressed by the care that faculty took with their students (want to work at F&M? Guess what? When I visited, faculty were expected to be at the office five days a week, like other people…

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January 9, 2014, 2:03 pm

Downton Abbey — With Job Candidates

Mr. Carson

Mr. Carson; photo credit

John Hodgman’s spoof, “Downton Abbey — With Cats,” (The New Yorker, January 13 2014), has it exactly right. The season premiere of this popular, snooze-inducing update of Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) has finally been reduced to its essence: clothing, manners, food and estate management. There is no longer a plot, nor is there really much of a script. It is not possible, for example, to issue spoiler alerts, as nothing happened in the premiere to season 4 that aired on Sunday. Nothing. You can watch it and go to bed with nothing on your mind.

This does not mean that we learn nothing from Downton, however, even though you would become a great deal more educated about the cultural history of post-war England from Bertie and Jeeves. For example, unless you have taken Modern British…

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October 20, 2013, 11:41 am

Cheaters: And The Cheating Cheat Factories That Help Them Cheat


Cute, cynical Dave.

Dave Tomar, The Shadow Scholar: How I Made a Living Helping College Kids Cheat  (New York: Bloomsbury, 2012), $16.00 paper; $9.99 ebook.

Reading this book solved a small mystery in my teaching career.

Every once in a while, even without, a paper screams: “plagiarized!!!!” About a decade ago, I received one of those papers. Only partly coherent, grammatically idiosyncratic sentences were sutured to others that flowed beautifully, delivering a punchy argument that the rest of the paragraph had lurched towards in an often obscure way. What I suspected was something called “mosaic plagiarism,” in which the students’ own writing is used as filler in between quotes lifted from books that have no quotation marks around them.  I went to the library to check a couple of the books…

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October 18, 2013, 11:20 am

At St. Mary’s College, a Salary System to Match Its Mission

sustainabilityIn today’s guest post, the faculty of one institution proposes ethical principles for re-thinking the cost of higher education. Robin Bates, Professor of English, has been at St. Mary’s College since 1981. He has written several articles on cinema, has received two Fulbright awards to Slovenia, maintains the blog Better Living through Beowulf, and is author of the book How Beowulf Can Save America: An Epic Hero’s Guide to Defeating the Politics of Rage (2012, self published). Laraine Glidden is Distinguished Professor Emerita, and has been a faculty member and administrator at St. Mary’s since 1976.  Her authored and edited books as well as scientific articles, many of which are published with undergraduate co-authors, are in her specialty area of children, families and disabilities.

The Chronicle regularly features articles about the exponential growth of tuition and executive…

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October 9, 2013, 9:23 am

Talking Policy During the Shutdown: Obama Education Plan Part II

obama-nd-458x310Some of you may be starved for real policy conversations as we all wait to see if  Rep. Michelle Bachmann is correct that we have entered the Last Days.

Should the Last Days not be imminent, however, people will still need to go to college. Therefore, today we are delighted to post part II of a series on President Obama’s plan for higher education by guest blogger Judith C. Brown. The conversation began here on September 22 2013.

How to Combat Rising College Costs, Make College More Affordable, and Provide Better Information so Prospective Students May Decide What is Best Value for Them: Further Comments on President Obama’s Higher Education Plan

President Obama’s plan for higher education seeks to address very real challenges: the rising costs of providing a higher education, the decreasing ability of prospective students to afford it, and the inadequacy as well …

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September 28, 2013, 7:10 pm

The Associate Professor Blues

yeswelacanIn “Supporting the Second Book,” (Perspectives on History, September 2013), American Historical Association President Kenneth Pomeranz elaborates on a topic he launched in the previous issue. I thought it was great that Pomeranz came out last month about his post-tenure publishing delay: one of the things that I have learned on the #GraftonLine is that academics — particularly senior people — don’t talk about their difficulties enough, nor do we share strategies for changing the bad writing karma that can afflict anyone. No wonder people who are struggling with their writing don’t talk about it – it’s not allowed!!!!!

So good for you, Professor Pomeranz. Many people will feel their load lighten just a little bit from hearing your story, particularly those who work at institutions that require a second book just for tenure. But, as Pomeranz also points out, promotions to full…

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September 22, 2013, 10:54 am

Out With Tenured Radical: President Obama’s Plan for Higher Education

Screen Shot 2013-09-22 at 10.44.21 AMIf MSNBC can have Up w/ Steve Kornacki on Sundays, and All In w/ Chris Hays Monday through Friday, why can’t there be “Out w/ Tenured Radical,” where guests get their ideas out there without being interrupted? As a bonus, there is no stale, uneaten Danish on the table! 

Today’s policy expert and guest blogger is Judith C. Brown, a historian and a former provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Wesleyan University (aka, Zenith University, for long-time followers of this blog.) Her other posts for Tenured Radical on the economics and politics of higher education have appeared here, here, and here. Today’s discussion is an in-depth assessment of President Obama’s plan for higher education.

In his recent “Plan to Make College More Affordable,” President Obama observed last month that higher education is “the single most important investment students can make in their…

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