Category Archives: higher education

September 10, 2013, 10:35 am

Tenured Faculty Tie Shoes; Crowd Cheers Wildly

good-job-not-done-anything-stupid-in-five-minutes-funny-retro-posterDo you ever wonder how anyone graduates from college if tenured and tenure-track faculty are as hapless, incompetent and unmotivated as we are said to be?

The latest argument for reducing all faculty to positions to piece work performed by casual laborers is this study out of Northwestern University claiming, according to the title given to it by The Atlantic, that “Tenured Professors Make Worse Teachers.”

Oh No-o-o-o-o-oes!

As Jordan Weissman writes, “Turns out, tenured and tenure-track professors underperformed on both the inspiration and preparation fronts. Controlling for certain student characteristics, freshmen were actually about 7 percent more likely to take a second course in a given field if their first class was taught by an adjunct or non-tenure professor. They also tended to get higher grades in those future courses. (more…)

August 30, 2013, 2:53 pm

There’s Nothing That Says I Haven’t Got A Plan….

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Just keep saying: Mitt Romney would have been worse, Mitt Romney would have been worse…

…Like President Obama’s new College Affordability Plan.  (For intelligent and thoughtful responses to this announcement, go to the AHA Roundtable on President Obama’s College Affordability Plan and Inside Higher Ed, August 8 2013. For an outraged polemic, keep reading.)

Like practically everything else about what passes for federal education policy today, the Obama administration’s problem-solving  nibbles around the edges of the issue. There is nothing that is a genuinely new idea or even a well-recycled old idea. Reforms consist of a few small financial incentives awarded to institutions that play along, injecting a good shot of standardized testing, and giving “education consumers” information so that they can make…

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July 21, 2013, 11:39 am

F is for Failure; Or, Don’t Invest Your Pension in MOOCs Yet

600px-Semaphore_Foxtrot.svgWill Oremus reports at Slate that San Jose State University is suspending its online classes after over half the students in them failed their final exams. Sebastian Thrun, the founder of San Jose’s provider, Udacity, explained to the Associated Press “that the failure rates in the five classes ranged from 56 to 76 percent. Nor was the course material exactly rocket science—the five classes were in elementary statistics, college algebra, entry-level math, introduction to programming, and introduction to psychology.”

I’m really glad they weren’t teaching rocket science, because clearly the people who put the courses together weren’t rocket scientists either. (more…)

July 12, 2013, 9:43 am

Do Big Bucks for High Profile Guest Profs Petray Public Education?

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David Petraeus and gal pal Paula Broadwell

In a word? Yes.

We at Tenured Radical would like to urge greater public scrutiny of the CUNY policies that permitted the appointment of General David Petraeus as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at well over 30 times the average adjunct salary. For teaching one seminar each semester in 2013-14, the retired military dude is expected to receive somewhere between $150,000 and $200,000. The best part is all he has to do is show up: he has three teaching assistants who will put the course together and grade all fifteen students.

That’s one TA for every five students. I know this number is correct ’cause I checked it on my calculator.

For starters, I would like to hear from some of our mayoral candidates, as well as Eliot Spitzer, who announced his candidacy for…

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June 18, 2013, 2:06 pm

Go Into Academia, Win Valuable Prizes

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Where is your college president spending the summer?

Today’s New York Times has the latest revelations about New York University’s executive compensation practices. (Full disclosure: not only was Tenured Radical’s Ph.D. bestowed from those Violet walls, but my current institution recently had its own executive mini-scandal.)

As Ariel Kaminer reveals, NYU’s top execs and a few elite proffies are also offered mortgages for summer homes, “Universities in similar circumstances, like Columbia and Stanford, also have helped professors and executives with home loans,” writes Kaminer, who has been following this story for several months. “Aid for vacation properties, however, is all but unheard-of in higher education, several experts in university pay packages say.” And how many universities offer you a mortgage after…

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June 7, 2013, 2:17 pm

Pin the Blame on Daddy? The Precarious Future of Parental Leave

Those menz! Always finding another way to game the system!

Thank heavens for research that catches them at their dastardly game. A collaborative study by a father and son team, Steven E. Rhoads (UVA) and Christopher Rhoads (UConn), argue that paternity leave allows men to jump the gender queue by giving them a chance to write while their wives actually take care of the babies. A brilliant scheme to maintain gender inequality, no? As reported last year in Bloomberg News, Team Rhoads argues that fathers of newborns would rather work than parent:

While 69 percent of the women in the sample took post-birth parental leave, only 12 percent of the men took advantage of the available leave—even though it was paid. They also learned that the male professors who did so performed…

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April 2, 2013, 1:46 pm

Hot News From Louisiana: Fired Faculty Sue the U.

boyoboyRemember this 2011 story in which we reported budget cutting in the University of Louisiana system? At the time, the doctoral program in Cognitive Science was being shut down. Close behind was the French department, a bachelor’s program: 14 full-time instructors were let go, while tenured faculty were protected (despite newly enacted policies which justified the firing of tenure-line faculty.)

Our correspondent in Cajun Country, Istvan Berkeley (University of Louisiana-Lafayette) reports on what has happened since at Southeastern Louisiana University: ”The two terminated faculty members from Cognitive Science had their positions saved, due to some heavy leaning from the AAUP National Office, although the program is still gone.”

The Faculty Formerly Known As French Professors have not been so fortunate. “Southeastern University terminated three French professors,” Berkeley …

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February 17, 2013, 1:51 pm

President-Palooza Sunday With Tenured Radical

It’s been a robust week at Tenured Radical: the stats just came in, and we topped 16,000 hits for the first time ever. Some of them weren’t very nice, it’s true, but nevertheless you came to this site from all over the world to watch the verbiage fly. Thousands of lurkers got an eye full of academia at its finest. So with that, let’s begin our President’s Day Celebration!

Tenured Radical Live — with a President! Didn’t know I was a Friend of Bill, didja? I’m talking Wisco historian Bill Cronon, that is. The Presidential Plenary from the American Historical Association — with me, (now past) President William Cronon, Edward Ayers (also a university president), Mary Louise Roberts, Nico Pfund and Michael Pollan — is now up! It cannot be embedded, but you can go here to see it on CSPAN-3. Upon…

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December 29, 2012, 11:46 am

Guns Do Kill People, You Nitwits: The Bizarro News Of The Day

Despite the obvious fact that guns have to be activated by people in order to kill other people, it is also true that without a gun, a person cannot kill another person in the most efficient way possible — particularly when that person is running away or cowering in the corner.

Therefore, counter to the assertions of the fun with guns crowd and their trade organization, the National Rifle Association, guns do kill people. More guns kill more people. To believe otherwise you would have to be capable of believing outlandish things like — well, that Mitt Romney also won the election in November; or that the Clintons’ murdered one of their old friends; or that Oliver North is a persecuted hero…..

Oh.

But why does anyone in the national media take anything the NRA or the gun industry says…

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November 24, 2012, 11:25 am

My Fantasy Job, A Year Later: What I Did and Did Not Know

That can’t be my story. That’s only a start. I’ll say that a ZEBRA was pulling that cart! And that is a story that no one can beat, When I say that I saw it on Mulberry Street.

                               Dr. Seuss, 1937

This time last year, I was getting ready for the big change that brought la famille Radical to the People’s Republic of South Brooklyn. I was finishing up an almost twenty year tenure at Zenith University and getting ready to sell our house during one of the worst real estate markets since World War II (fun fact: not one home in our Shoreline neighborhood had been sold in 2011.) I was preparing to relinquish practically everything I knew to embark on my fantasy job/adventure, a future which I could only partly imagine at the time.

So how is it going? Very well, thank you.  Here are a few observations about the experience of the last…

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