Koch Kollege?

John Romano, writing in the Tampa Bay Times over the weekend, reviews the connection between Charles Koch and Florida State University, a problematic connection (and not the only one of its type) that has been under scrutiny for at least three years now:

The relationship at FSU drew howls of protest in 2011 when a couple of professors uncovered a memorandum that indicated Koch could wield considerable influence over the hiring of professors and some of the curriculum in economics classes.

FSU officials initially denied he had that type of power on campus, but a Faculty Senate review determined the agreement with Koch had several troublesome features. The school vowed to fix the agreement and the story soon disappeared from the headlines.

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A Special Anniversary That You May Have Missed

This year, the National Security Agency (NSA) is celebrating its 60th year in existence.

To commemorate the anniversary, the agency has produced a book that is in some places referred to simply as an “Anniversary Book” but in other places referred to as a “Memory Book,” which sounds a great deal more sentimental.

The book is available digitally here: http://www.nsa.gov/about/cryptologic_heritage/60th/book/NSA_60th_Anniversary.pdf

My favorite photo is this one:

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In an Era of Increasing Fiscal Constraints, an Inexplicable Shift in Hiring Patterns in Higher Education

In this past week’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, there is a very revealing graph representing the changes in employment in colleges and universities from 1976 to 2011. The graph is based on an analysis of IPEDs data by AAUP’s John Curtis.

 

Full-Time Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty

1976 – 353,681

2011 – 436,293

Increase – 23%

 

Graduate Student Employees

1976 – 160.086

2011 – 358,743

Increase – 123%

 

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A Liberal Arts Education: Getting a Job at Google, Part 2

In February, an op-ed by Thomas Freidman in The New York Times summarized an interview with Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations for Google, on how to get a job at Google. Bock is involved in about 100 hires at Google per week. With college graduations approaching, Freidman went back to Google to ask for Bock’s best advice for job-seekers anywhere, not just at Google. A condensed version of the conversation was published in yesterday’s NYT Sunday Review.

Freidman started by asking Bock about the worth of a college education. Bock clarified that it’s not that one shouldn’t go to college, but that “…most don’t put enough thought into why they’re going, and what they want to get out of it.” Bock continued, “The first and most important thing is to be explicit and willful in making the decisions about what you want to get out of this investment in your education. People should think “incredibly hard about what they’re getting in return.” Continue reading

A Postscript to One-Word Poems: A Poem without Words—from the Academe Archives No Less

In one of my posts yesterday, I reposted an item from Futility Closet. Titled “Taking Literary Minimalism to Its Endpoint” [http://academeblog.org/2014/04/19/6702/] it included this lead:

“In 1965 poet Aram Saroyan wrote a poem consisting of a single word, lighght. George Plimpton included it in the American Literary Anthology, and Saroyan received a $500 cash award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Perhaps to mock this, in 1972 Dave Morice published Matchbook, a literary magazine whose inch-square pages were stapled inside working matchbooks. Edited by the fictional Joyce Holland, each issue featured nine one-word poems submitted by contributors.”

That post then provided a sample list of those Matchbook issues.

This item, also uncovered by Futility Closet, takes that item one step further—to a poem without any words, at least beyond its title. And the extra attraction for the readers of this blog is that the item was originally published in Academe.

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More on the Clown Car

Since posting on David Brooks’ “When the Circus Descends” yesterday, Stephen Sondheim’s great song “Send in the Clowns” has been going through my head, especially these lines:

I thought that you’d want what I want.
Sorry, my dear.
But where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns.
Don’t bother, they’re here.

What frustrates me so is that all of us should have the same goals concerning education, “I thought that you’d want what I want.” The goal should be real education, described by John Dewey as well as anyone has:

I believe that all education proceeds by the participation of the individual in the social consciousness of the race. This process begins unconsciously almost at birth, and is continually shaping the individual’s powers, saturating his consciousness, forming his habits, training his ideas, and arousing his feelings and emotions. Through this unconscious education the individual gradually comes to share in the intellectual and moral resources which humanity has succeeded in getting together. He becomes an inheritor of the funded capital of civilization. The most formal and technical education in the world cannot safely depart from this general process. It can only organize it or differentiate it in some particular direction.

This is not training for jobs. It is not a competition with other nations. It is a fundamental component of society and the basis for its progress. “Sorry, my dear,” but it also starts with the individual, as Dewey writes, and moves from there into society’s “funded capital of civilization.” It does not work when imaged from the top down, as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) that Brooks extols tries to do. Structured from the needs of the top and not from those of the students at the bottom, it becomes training, not education Continue reading

More Far-Right Propaganda Posing as Scholarly Research

In this case, ALEC has not even bothered to use an academic think tank as a front. This map purports to show the economic outlook for the states. What it actually shows, of course, is simply the degree to which business policies in the states align with ALEC’s vision of an America with no corporate taxation, no collective bargaining, and no financial or environmental regulations.

Map of ALEC Study Continue reading

Taking Literary Minimalism to Its Endpoint

This is another item that I am re-posting from Futility Closet (www.futilitycloset.com). It is re-posted with the permission of Greg Ross, who maintains the site. You can have daily updates from the site delivered to your e-mail each morning.

______________

 

In a Word:

opuscule

n. a musical or literary work of small size

In 1965 poet Aram Saroyan wrote a poem consisting of a single word, lighght. George Plimpton included it in the American Literary Anthology, and Saroyan received a $500 cash award from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Perhaps to mock this, in 1972 Dave Morice published Matchbook, a literary magazine whose inch-square pages were stapled inside working matchbooks. Edited by the fictional Joyce Holland, each issue featured nine one-word poems submitted by contributors. Continue reading

Crises Connected like Spokes of a Wheel—or the Pockets on a Roulette Wheel

Last Sunday, the New York Times published an editorial, signed by the editorial board, titled “The College Faculty Crisis” [http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/14/opinion/the-college-faculty-crisis.html].

In many ways, the editorial does not say much that should be new to anyone in higher education, but it is certainly significant that the most highly regarded newspaper in the country is highlighting the issues related to the declining state support for public colleges and universities and the effects of the increasing contingency among faculty.

Citing a new study by the Center for Community College Student Engagement, a research center at the University of Texas at Austin, a study that is based on the responses of some 71,000 faculty about their working conditions, the editorial writer emphasizes four major points, which I not only will summarize but will also elaborate on to some degree. Continue reading