Another Crucial Research Study
“Virtual Deviance: Swinging and Swapping in an On-Line Network” is by two professors at Fayetteville State here in North Carolina. From the abstract:
“Our research explored what self-presentation strategies are employed by participants in their profiles to develop credibility and attract others to their profiles and what major concerns, expectations, and values characterize the profiles of the on-line swinger community.”
Hat tip: Terry Stoops
In his last book, How China Became Capitalist, Ronald Coase examined the changes that China has undergone over the last several decades. Some of his analysis pertains to higher education.
In today’s Pope Center Clarion Call, Jane Shaw comments on the Chinese higher-ed experience. The takeaway is that while the Chinese mostly got it right with respect to economic reforms (allowing firms to begin and grow in an unplanned, spontaneous-order sort of way), they have continued to run their universities on a central-planning model. As a result, the Chinese now have a huge glut of college graduates with no jobs or jobs that call for no particular education, and they also waste resources by paying professors to create lots and lots of research publications of dubious value — much as we do.
GSW Professor Bashes Ted Cruz
A Georgia Southwestern State University professor sent an e-mail to students bashing Senator Ted Cruz and telling students the Texas senator doesn’t care if children suffer. The professor, Dr. Gary Kline, is chairman of the political science department at GSW.
A father of one GSW student told The College Fix that he wasn’t amused by the email: “What kind of teaching and instruction is that?” he said. “What are his students supposed to learn from his nonsensical statements?”
Editor’s Note: This post has been amended since its initial posting.
On the ‘Howard Zinn Teach-In’
Purdue University has of late been in an uproar over president Mitch Daniels’ criticism of the use of Howard Zinn’s book in history courses taught in Indiana. (The controversy began when, as governor of Indiana, Daniels objected using Zinn’s highly slanted book in that state’s colleges and universities.) Recently, some professors staged a “teach-in” to highlight what they see as the wonderfulness of Zinn. And in her latest Dissident Prof post, Mary Grabar pushes back against the “teach-in.”
The main problem with Zinn is not that he points out bad things the U.S. government has done, but that he makes it seem as though the only heroes we’ve ever had are the radical leftists who wanted to transform America into a socialist paradise long before Obama was on the scene.
States Should Pay More Attention to Higher Ed
The State Policy Network recently held its annual meeting and the Pope Center’s Jay Schalin was among the speakers. In his address, he urged state-policy think tanks to become more involved in higher education issues, which may be less exciting than K-12, taxation, and other matters, but which still have a big impact. Jay discusses a number of reform ideas that state think tanks ought to pursue.
The David Gilmour “Outrage”
Recently, Canadian writer and sometime literature professor David Gilmour said that he didn’t teach any novels by women in his courses. Naturally, he was immediately attacked from all sides. In this piece, however, University of Ottawa English professor Janice Fiamengo offers some intelligent observations.
I particularly like this paragraph:
The study of literature — which was, let it be said right away, largely the study of literature by white male authors — once saw itself as part of the search for universal truths through reflection on the masterworks of great authors. Though undoubtedly at times stuffy and hidebound, it was also serious and intellectually substantial, attracting great thinkers such as Lionel Trilling, F.R. Leavis, William Empson, Edmund Wilson, and University of Toronto’s Northrop Frye himself. Today’s academics seem, in comparison, of vastly diminished moral and mental stature, fussing in chorus about “diversity” as if it were the only possible value to be gained from reading, and exhibiting in their own remarks no significant diversity at all. It is remarkable that not a single one of these academics, despite the protection of tenure, came forward to defend Gilmour or at least to rebut his more hysterical detractors. Is there not one with courage and common sense?
Read the whole thing.
Free in Texas
One of the most encouraging signs in higher education has been the creation of academic centers that fill intellectual voids on today’s largely left-wing campuses. These centers have helped direct students’ attention to such areas as traditional political philosophy, the founding of the United States, the exploration of Western civilization, and free market economics.
Among the newest of these ventures is the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech University. It was launched with a gift from a West Texas rancher who wants college students to understand private enterprise. It is directed by Benjamin Powell, who studied economics at George Mason University and is North American editor of the Review of Austrian Economics. Powell writes about it on the Pope Center site.
Howard Needs Strong Leadership to Face Challenges Ahead
September was a rough month for one of America’s premier historically black universities. Howard University saw itself fall 22 spots in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings and had its credit rating downgraded by Moody’s. As Daniel Burnett has pointed out in the Washington Post, Howard has also been plagued by skyrocketing tuition, declining enrollment and falling graduation rates.
So perhaps it is no surprise that Sidney Ribeau, the university’s president, announced this past Tuesday that he will be stepping down after five years at the helm of the school.
But challenges Howard faces surely aren’t unique. St. Mary’s College in Maryland and Loyola University in Louisiana have faced similar problems with their finances and enrollments.
As Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen argued in a letter to college and university trustees nationwide, the nature of higher education in America is changing, and traditional colleges and universities face new challenges that require innovative thinking and tough decision-making. Data show that Howard has a bloated administration, expensive capital projects and that it has for too long relied on an ever-shrinking federal appropriation – issues that have been raised by some trustees and faculty already.
The trustees at Howard, St. Mary’s, and many other schools need to be prepared to tackle these problems. These challenges are an opportunity to reform American higher education. We ought not miss it.
Sowell on the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington
In this column, Thomas Sowell contemplates the progress — and retrogression — America has made since the famous 1963 March on Washington and Martin Luther King’s famous speech.
Sowell is well-known for his opposition to preferential policies (in fact, one of his books is devoted entirely to that subject) and writes, apropos of King’s idea that people ought to be judged on the content of their character, “judging individuals by their individual character is at the opposite pole from judging how groups are statistically represented among employees, college students or political figures.”
Despite the widespread use of racial preferences in admissions to prestigious colleges over the last 40 years or so, the deep problems that plague much of black America have gotten worse. Sowell observes, “There has been much documented racial progress since 1963. But there has also been much retrogression, of which the disintegration of the black family has been central, especially among those at the bottom of the social pyramid.”
The question is why do we hardly ever find the beneficiaries of “affirmative action” among the combatants in the fight to deal with the socio-economic pathologies that keep poor people (no matter what their color) from advancing. The case for racial preferences depends on the notion that advancing a few minority-group members to “better” colleges advances the groups they supposedly represent. That obviously does not happen; nor do we often find those beneficiaries fighting to free poor children from the clutches of the education blob. Eric Holder is doing exactly the opposite.
I think that the answer, for the most part at least, is that the beneficiaries of racial preferences are happy to enjoy the good life but don’t want to risk the opprobrium that comes from challenging the leftist status quo — if they even see that as the problem. Being educated at our “elite” universities makes it unlikely that they would.
At Least STEM Degrees Are Sure Bets -- Right?
That bit of conventional wisdom about higher education takes a shellacking here, at the hands of Edububble.
Five Higher Ed Myths That Really Aren’t
In this week’s Pope Center Clarion Call, Jenna Ashley Robinson evaluates a recent Money article wherein the author purports to “bust” five myths about college. The problem is that each of those supposed myths is arguably true.
What is ‘neo-diversity’?
Here’s the announcement about a lecture tomorrow at N.C. State. I hope that someone will be able to explain to me afterward which students who would have been “diverse” in the old days won’t qualify as “neo-diverse” now.
Teaching to Retain and Recruit Neo-Diversity with Dr. Rupert Nacoste
Caldwell Lounge in Caldwell Hall
Dr. Rupert Nacoste, professor of Social Psychology and 2013 recipient of the Board of Governors Award for Excellence in Teaching, will lead CHASS’s fall diversity lecture. To create a neo-diverse university environment, we must solve the pipeline problem. To do that we must retain the neo-diverse students who come to us and recruit them into graduate education. Nacoste will outline teaching techniques that influence our retention of neo-diverse students who are already in our majors and show teaching techniques that activate the non-cognitive factors that will bring those students into the pipeline of our graduate education programs to become the professors of the future.
‘Diversity Training’ at Wisconsin
Today’s Wall Street Journal includes as its “Notable & Quotable” feature this excerpt from a letter by grad student at the University of Wisconsin regarding the “diversity training” he and other TAs have to endure:
At the end of yesterday’s diversity “re-education,” we were told that our next session would include a presentation on “Trans Students.” At that coming session, according to the handout we were given, we will learn how to let students ‘choose their own pronouns’, how to correct other students who mistakenly use the wrong pronouns, and how to ask people which pronouns they prefer (“I use the pronouns he/him/his. I want to make sure I address you correctly. What pronouns do you use?”). Also on the agenda for next week are “important trans struggles, as well as those of the intersexed and other gender-variant communities,” “stand[ing] up to the rules of gender,” and a very helpful glossary of related terms and acronyms, to wit: “Trans”: for those who “identify along the gender-variant spectrum,” and “Genderqueer”: “for those who consider their gender outside the binary gender system”. I hasten to reiterate that I am quoting from diversity handouts; I am not making any of this up.
Please allow me to be quite frank. My job, which I love, is to teach students Japanese history. This week, for example, I have been busy explaining the intricacies of the Genpei War (1180-1185), during which time Japan underwent a transition from an earlier, imperial-rule system under regents and cloistered emperors to a medieval, feudal system run by warriors and estate managers. It is an honor and a great joy to teach students the history of Japan. I take my job very seriously, and I look forward to coming to work each day.
It is most certainly not my job, though, to cheer along anyone, student or otherwise, in their psychological confusion.
Do Elite Schools Discriminate Against Asians?
This post on Priceonomics presents a lot of evidence that they do, but pretend that they don’t.
Larry Purdy on ‘Critical Mass’
Larry Purdy’s exegesis of the term “critical mass” – important not only in nuclear fission but also for racial preferences in university admissions – can be found here.
Another Law School Shrinks
The University of Iowa law school has an entering class of just 94 students, down from 150 last year. Inside Higher Ed has the story on Iowa, as well as other law schools that are shrinking.
It has taken the customer base for law schools a few years to figure out that the J.D. is an overpriced credential that for many will prove to be of scant value. Now that the market is reacting, however, I think we should expect to see some law schools closing, while many others search desperately for ways to cut costs. The professors most at risk are those who teach the kinds of peripheral, ideologically slanted courses that Charles Rounds calls
“bad sociology, not law.”
Black Republican Professor Speaks Out
Marvin Scott, a sociology professor at Butler University and a two-time candidate for Congress from Indiana, has lived a double life — quiet about his political beliefs on campus and outspoken about them elsewhere.
“I live a chameleon life. I live one here and I live one for the outside world,” Scott said. “That’s the only way you can survive here.”
But now, Scott is speaking out about his career as a black conservative entrenched behind the lines of liberal academia at Butler.
“I have never run up against such a militant liberal group in all the days of my life,” Scott told student reporter Ryan Lovelace in our feature story today at The College Fix.
Will Anything Ever Be Done About College Athletics?
Scandals involving big-time college athletics pop up with the frequency of mushrooms after heavy rains, and almost as predictably, people who are outraged convene panels to discuss solutions. Sometimes those efforts lead to some tweaking of rules, which are then evaded by schools intent on winning no matter what. In today’s Pope Center piece, Jesse Saffron takes a look at the latest repetition in this cycle and concludes that it will probably have just as much impact as earlier ones.
Boot Camp for Future Entrepreneurs
It’s a perennial question: is college about the fundamentals of Western civilization or is it about getting a job? Isaac Morehouse has come up with an alternative to college that addresses both needs. As Anders Edwardsson and Jay Schalin write, Praxis is a “boot camp” that places young people in paid positions with entrepreneurial firms, but also requires them to spend about 40 hours a month studying subjects such as philosophy, history, and culture.
Morehouse, who was most recently a fundraiser for the Institute for Humane Studies, says that after 10 months, the student/apprentices will be ready for steady employment, having the endorsement of a respected employer and a portfolio of real-world projects. And they’ll have some book learning, too.