Month: February 2015

In Delaware, Dramatically Different Conceptions of the Current State and the Future Prospects of Higher Education


Earlier this month, Dr. Patrick T. Harker, President of the University of Delaware, wrote an op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer expressing his views of the American university and the faculty of the University of Delaware. His op-ed is available at:

After an open meeting of the membership of the University of Delaware chapter of AAUP, the Executive Council composed the following response.

Response to Harker OpEd

Following the publication of President Harker’s OpEd in the Philadelphia Inquirer, faculty members across campus were justifiably offended by its characterization of higher education in general, and, specifically, the faculty, students, and of the University of Delaware. At a time when the University of Delaware is engaged in recruiting students and planning a capital campaign, it is puzzling why President Harker would write “smart students are seeking innovative and less expensive degree paths.”  He states that faculty members “decide what to teach and when…

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Wright State Was in the News Again, and If It Was an Entirely Good Thing, I Probably Wouldn’t Be Writing about It


Those of you who are regular readers of this blog know that I have hardly been reluctant to acknowledge the sometimes ridiculous things that have occurred at my own university. So I was not surprised when I received several e-mails asking how—not if—I was going to address the latest incident that brough Wright State to national attention that it could have done without. This most recent issue seemed ridiculous enough that the Chronicle of Higher Education ran a short article about it [], linking to the local coverage of it in the Dayton Daily News [].

Here is the gist of the story. To celebrate Black History Month, Chartwells, the company that operates the dining services at our university, posted the following menu on the dining hall message boards:

Chartwell's Menu

There was an almost immediate outcry from many students, which was picked up on social media by…

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Student Debt as a Percentage of Total Household Debt, Q4-2014


The following chart shows total household debt in the United States, broken down into its major components, in the fourth quarter of 2014:

Household Debt 2014 Q4

In effect, although total household debt increased from $11.71 trillion to $11.83 trillion from the third to the fourth quarters of last year, student-loan debt remained a relatively flat percentage of that debt, repeating the pattern that occurred between the second and the third quarters of 2014:

Household Debt 2014 Q3

So, student –loan debt still accounts for the second highest portion of household debt and it continues to increase.

That it is not increasing more rapidly than the other major sources of debt is good news, but the degree to which the news is perceived as good may be mitigated by several considerations.

Over the last decade, the online for-profit institutions have been the major driver of student-loan debt because both the percentage of their students carrying loans and the…

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Why a White Guy Doesn’t Want to Belong to a “White” Group


This post is an addendum to Aaron Barlow’s post on the attacks on Prof. Bebout’s course on “Whiteness,” a post which you should probably read before reading the rest of this post, especially if you are unfamiliar with the controversy.

The most obvious irony is, of course, that this sort of virulent response to Prof. Bebout’s course serves to illustrate very pointedly why the course is needed.

It should be very obvious that, whatever his critiques of “Whiteness” may be, Prof. Bebout is not engaging in the sort of unapologetically hateful rhetoric and self-aggrandizing public posturing that these Far Right groups, and their media enablers, are employing in a very obvious effort to being attention to themselves and to intimidate other viewpoints into silence. And, let’s be clear, they aren’t at all interested in what Bebout actually has to present or to say on the topic.  Furthermore, beyond using the…

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Two Weird Higher-Ed Items from the Far Right


The First Item:

David Brat who came to national prominence by defeating Eric Cantor in the GOP primary in 2014, despite being outspent by Cantor by a 40-1 margin. For the 18 years before that election, Brat had been a professor of economics at Randolph Macon College, for three years heading the college’s Moral Foundations of Capitalism program, which like parallel programs at five dozen other colleges and universities is funded by the BBT Corporation. Besides believing in the moral value of unfettered capitalism, Brat is an advocate of very limited government and minimal government spending.

So, it would not have been surprising if he eventually expressed ideologically consistent concerns about the scope of federal spending on higher education. That is, it would not have been surprising if Brat had  chosen to express those concerns in some less weird way than how he did express them.

What Brat said is:…

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More Almost Farcical Higher-Ed Funding Schemes from Bobby Jindal


Bobby Jindal has jumped on the Sam Brownback/Scott Walker bandwagon and has cut taxes every year that he has been office. The problem is that he has not been able to cut spending as fast as he has been cutting taxes. The dramatic drop in oil and gas prices has cut deeply into one of the state’s main sources of revenue, exacerbating his administration’s problem with red ink. The state is running a budget deficit somewhere around $1.5 billion, and the estimates are literally climbing on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

As I related in a very recent post [], the portion of the deficit expected to be covered by cuts to colleges and universities was about $350 million, but that estimate has now risen to $400 million. If those cuts occur, the state will almost surely have to close six community and technical colleges and three…

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More on President Obama’s Proposal to Provide “Free” Community College


Two recent posts to Diane Ravitch’s blog have provided links to responses to President Obama’s proposal to provide free community college.

The first item is “The Trojan Horse of ‘Free’ Community College,” an op-ed published at Truthout []. It is written by Adam Bessie, a faculty member at a California community college whose personal blog is called Automated Teaching Machine: The Writing of Human Educator Adam Bessie []

Bessie begins by providing some historical perspective, emphasizing that for most of their history California’s community colleges provided free education to whoever wished to enroll and for a long time provided a model for the community-college systems in other states. The idea was that the open opportunity to enroll at a community college was a major mechanism for insuring an educated workforce, broadly based economic opportunity, and prosperous, dynamic communities.

Bessie writes: “I worry that ‘free’ college may…

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Student and Faculty Dress Codes


Although they have continued to provoke some controversy, school dress codes have become commonplace in primary and secondary schools.

But at the college level, dress codes would seem very anachronistic. So, when I came across a small item that suggested that a student dress code had been proposed but not adopted at Purdue University, I was intrigued. I could not find any articles that substantiated that small item, but it indicated that the dress code proposed at Purdue was modeled on one adopted by Illinois State University, and I did find the following article on ISU’s dress code, which was narrower in scope than what the initial item implied. In September 2007, Jodi S. Cohen’s article “Illinois State Department Relaxes Stiff Dress Code” appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

“Illinois State University marketing students no longer will get kicked out of class for wearing flip­flops or jeans. But dressing down…

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