Category Archives: the New Deal

February 5, 2010, 2:48 pm

A New Deal For Higher Education: Start With More Small Classes For Everyone

Because I have the advantage of a faculty fellowship at Zenith’s Center for the Humanities this semester, I teach only on Thursday. All Thursday morning I prepare for class; all Thursday afternoon I teach it. It’s very tidy, and also very satisfying. Because of my blogging ethic I can’t tell you what happens during class, but I can tell you I like our meetings immensely. I can also tell you that I have fewer than ten students enrolled. To be honest, there are six.

But wait — you will say: fewer than ten students? Have you become unpopular? Does your dean know? How is that a good use of the university’s money?

Well, the truth is, normally my classes are overenrolled, so I consider this to be some kind of cosmic payback for years of overwork in the classroom and elsewhere. For a variety of reasons, plenty of my colleagues teach fewer than ten students per class all the time; this…

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September 29, 2009, 10:08 am

More Annals of the Great Depression: What Divides Us And Why

At Zenith University, like everywhere else, there are budget cuts. There were cuts last year; there will be more cuts this year; one imagines there will perhaps be more cuts next year. Everyone thinks of us as a rich little school, and compared to some we are: compared to many schools with which we are associated (Amherst, Williams) we are not. What compounds the problem (and I won’t bore you with the details) is that up until about a decade ago, the combination of poor investing, insufficient fund-raising and living beyond our means meant that not only did Zenith’s endowment not grow, it shrank dramatically from the bountiful era of owning My Weekly Reader, a period which shaped the expectations and thinking of several generations of faculty still working at the university. Assertions that we are very short of cash are met with varying levels of disbelief, even though we all also…

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