August 15, 2012, 4:50 pm
When I last wrote about the proposed closure of the University of Missouri Press on June 4, the story had recently broken and I had little, and as it turns out incomplete, information. My central point in that post was simply that the closing of a flagship university’s press, were it actually to happen, would mark a paradigm shift in American universities. However skeptical one might be about academic scholarship as the best way of disseminating knowledge, that is our current system; most importantly, it is the centerpiece of our current reward system, the means by which we assess candidates for tenure and promotion. And the fact is that university presses publish that scholarship: the fewer university presses, the more challenging the tenure system becomes. Additionally, the presses of land-grant universities, such as Missouri’s, have come to assume the role of repositories of the…
August 7, 2012, 12:01 pm
The Gainesville Sun broke a story on July 19 that has potentially significant implications for postsecondary instructors across the country. The story concerned a lawsuit brought by Darnell Rhea, an adjunct instructor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., who claimed that his contract was not renewed because a student filed a complaint against him. The e-mail “complains of Rhea’s classroom behavior, his humiliating remarks to students, and his unorthodox teaching methodologies.” Rhea simply argued in his lawsuit that he wanted an opportunity to defend himself, but couldn’t because he didn’t know the identity of his accuser, yet the circuit court dismissed his case.
The First District Court of Appeal, however, reversed the dismissal, ruling “that when a student submits a complaint against a postsecondary instructor, the student’s name is public record.” Santa Fe College…
July 26, 2012, 12:46 pm
As promised, today’s post will follow up on my last by offering a brief context that explains the NCAA’s traditional jurisdiction and how it typically behaves. Before the NCAA handed down its sanctions against Penn State this week, college football fans and sportscasters alike were speculating that they would administer the “death penalty,” that is, cancel the team’s entire 2012 season of play. Let’s look at the most infamous time that phrase was invoked and that penalty was imposed by the NCAA: the investigation of Southern Methodist University’s football program, which revealed that it routinely secretly paid players from the mid-1970s through 1986 when the investigation concluded and the 1987 season was canceled.
First, the NCAA’s regulations are exhaustive, though they center on two fundamental principles: College players are to remain amateurs and are to act as…
July 24, 2012, 11:54 am
Well, it’s impossible to resist weighing in on the NCAA’s sanctions of Penn State’s football program, handed down on Monday. It was the lead story in today’s Chronicle and it’s the elephant in the room even for those academics who don’t care about intercollegiate sports. My verdict on the sanctions echoes my opinions of the Sandusky case, about which I wrote last month, but I’m even more surprised and outraged by what the NCAA decided to do. In short, they treated a football program as if it were a person, and handed in a melodramatic, grandstanding assortment of punishments that Yahoo sports writer Dan Wetzel rightly calls “worse than death.”
Let me first try to put the punishments in context and then provide some history to explain why the NCAA’s decision is so unprecedented and so clearly media driven. First, the penalties: 1) a $60-million dollar fine—I have …
July 19, 2012, 11:00 am
I’m grateful to Bruce Henderson for writing a terrific article in the Chronicle on June 11, “Just Because We’re Not Publishing Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Working.” The article concludes with a nod to Ernest Boyer, who more than twenty years ago argued that teaching should be redefined as scholarship, an argument only to be met with positive lip service and no policy changes that enacted his recommendations. Year after year, administrators have praised Boyer and excellence in teaching in general, but have rewarded scholarly publication because it’s tangible and quantifiable. I’ve always championed Boyer’s position, but have been at a loss to recommend to administrators a clear way to put it into place.
Henderson comes up with an ingenious idea: a professor of psychology at a non-research university (Western Carolina U.), he coins the term “consumatory scholarship.” He…
July 16, 2012, 8:19 pm
This is the most complex of the Wall Street Journal’s Special Reports of June 27: the question of whether too many young people are going to college. The debate involves four interlocutors: Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Sandy Baum, senior fellow at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, James O’Neill, co-founder of the Theil Foundation’s 20 Under 20 Fellowship, and Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Stanford’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance. The question is deceptively simple: A college education was once regarded as a first-class ticket to a better life.
But the rising costs of higher education, the burden of student loans and a less-certain job market have left many wondering: Are too many young people going to college? Thus the range of positions is vast and quite divisive.
July 6, 2012, 12:08 pm
This is a tougher issue from the Wall Street Journal’s June 25 report than the “tenure vs. nontenure” debate. The opponents here were Mark Kantrowitz and Greg Forster. Kantrowitz is publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org, Web sites about scholarships and financial aid. He is a board member of the National Scholarship Providers Association and the Center for Excellence in Education, who favors need-based financial aid. Forster is a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice in Indianapolis.
There’s a broader narrative into which Kantrowitz’s and Forster’s arguments fit. It works like this: Conservatives argue that increasing financial-aid opportunities gives universities no incentive to contain the increase in tuition. That is, if colleges and universities can always count on making more and more money available to students in the form of grants and…
July 3, 2012, 11:50 am
This time I have my friend Gregory Kaplan, an honorary research fellow at the University of Hong Kong, to thank for alerting me to a special report on higher education in the Wall Street Journal (and a massive power outage in Ohio for preventing me from getting to it sooner!). The special report focuses on three key issues, and each of them deserves its own post. I’ll deal first with the question “Should Tenure for College Professors be Abolished?” The discussions of all three issues are framed as debates, the first between Naomi Schaefer Riley, author of The Faculty Lounges and Other Reasons Why You Won’t Get the College Education You Paid For (2011), and Cary Nelson, professor of English at the University of Illinois, outgoing president of the American Association of University Professors, and also the author of a spirited defense of academic freedom and tenure, No University I…
June 28, 2012, 1:18 pm
I have my former student Kate Luce Angell to thank for calling my attention to an attempt to quash labor organizing efforts among adjuncts at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.
The story was reported in The Chronicle on June 19, but a more detailed article by Mark Oppenheimer in The New York Times on June 22 offers a broader context that puts the administration at Duquesne in a very embarrassing light.
The good news is that adjuncts seem, at least for the moment, to have won. Here are the facts, according to the short piece in The Chronicle’s Ticker: “The National Labor Relations Board on Monday rejected a motion filed by Duquesne University that sought a religious exemption to the board’s jurisdiction over its campus-labor matters, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. The Roman Catholic university was trying to withdraw from an agreement to allow the board to oversee a…
June 14, 2012, 11:58 am
The Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse case is unfolding as one of the most disgusting and embarrassing chapters in American collegiate sports. One scarcely knows where to begin: the duration of the alleged abuses, the sheer number of people who apparently chose to look the other way. Everyone is asking, at the very least, who knew what and when did they know it?
A recent NPR article sums up the basics: “Sandusky is on trial, accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Opening arguments in the trial on 52 counts began Monday, June 11, and several alleged victims have now testified. … Penn State University fired longtime coach Joe Paterno and president Graham Spanier on Nov. 9, four days after Sandusky was initially arrested. Two officials who have stepped down from their posts—athletic director Tim Curley and a vice president, Gary Schultz—are accused of perjury and …