Messenger bag dude v. UC President

8/21/2010: Sorry, this, from Steve Fainaru in the NY Times, on Mark Yudof, President of UC, has nothing to do with UO matters, but is just hilarious throughout:

After the Yudofs vacated the property at the end of June, Brennan Mulligan, the landlord, informed university officials that he intended to keep the U.C.’s $32,100 security deposit. Mr. Mulligan requested an additional $45,000 to cover the repairs for hundreds of holes left from hanging art, a scratched marble bathtub, a broken $2,000 Sivoia window shade and other claims.

“At some point, I got a call from the general counsel, and I’m like, ‘Why am I talking to the general counsel?’ ” said Mr. Mulligan, 40, a boyish Hong Kong-based business consultant and a U.C. Berkeley graduate who bought the Oakland house in 2003 after selling his bike-messenger bag company, Timbuk2.

“To me it’s like, ‘Is this how they spend their time?’ ” Mr. Mulligan said.

When a story like this is just part of the constant parade of taxpayer subsidized absurdities, public higher education is seriously out of touch with reality, and we are all going to be in deep shit soon.

One interesting aspect of this story is that it originates from an independent, non-profit organization that co-operates with the Times on researching and writing news stories. This is more and more common with investigative reporting.

unusual bias case

8/5/2010: From InsideHighered.com

With backing from the New York State Human Rights Division, Csaba Marosan is suing Trocaire College, saying that the Roman Catholic institution discriminated against him because of his accent (he’s from Hungary) and because he is straight, ABC News reported. The state agency investigated his complaint and found grounds to sue. Marosan claims in the suit that he was ostracized by a clique of gay men at the college who are known as the “Merry Men” and who are backed by administrators who may be gay or bisexual. The college is denying his charges that he was denied promotions or fired for speaking out, and says that he did not suffer any discrimination.

tree care

7/21/2010: Anyone got a good tree care company to recommend – or an unwanted child and a chainsaw? email uomatters@gmail.com or post a comment.

Update: Remarkable consensus among faculty and administrators. Sperry is very good and very expensive. A strong vote for James Cummings tree service, very good, not so expensive. Also mentioned, Doug Hornaday. (Thanks to parents – but given all the offers, I’m not buying the gas.)

Budget cuts put Oregon in jeopardy of losing half-billion dollars

6/28/2010: From Bill Graves in the Oregonian, last week:

Gov. Ted Kulongoski’s order for state budget cuts this week puts Oregon in jeopardy of losing a half billion dollars in federal stimulus money for education.

State leaders say they will make sure that doesn’t happen. But that means they either must get a waiver from federal rules or raise at least $14 million for the state’s community colleges and universities and about $3 million for public school special education.

To keep that money, the state must maintain its financial support for public schools and higher education at or above 2006 levels – what government calls a sufficient “maintenance of effort.”

 The governor on Tuesday ordered 9 percent across-the-board budget cuts to adjust to a $577 million hole in the budget resulting from the recession and declining state revenue. His order shaves state support for higher education in next year’s budget below 2006 levels by about $32 million.

State higher education funding this year topped the 2006 federal minimum by about $18 million so the state may be able to shift that much money into next year’s allocation for colleges and universities. That would leave the state $14 million shy of what it needs to meet federal requirements for higher education.

Teaching Evaluations

6/22/2010: In the NYTimes, Stanley Fish is outraged over what’s happening in Texas:

Now an entire state is on the brink of implementing just that bite-sized style of teaching under the rubric of “customer satisfaction.” …  the plan calls for college and university teachers to contract with their customers — that is, students — and to be rewarded by as much as $10,000 depending on whether they meet the contract’s terms. The idea is to hold “tenured professors more accountable” (“A&M regents push reforms,” The Eagle, June 13, 2010), and what they will be accountable to are not professional standards but the preferences of their students, who, in advance of being instructed, are presumed to be authorities on how best they should be taught.

I’m outraged that Fish – a former Dean – has so little respect for professors like me that he thinks I’d sell out for $10,000. Wait, is that $10,000 per year?

Meanwhile, a couple of economists have actually done some substantive research on this question, and have some interesting results – which support Fish’s argument. From the Journal of Political Economy at the University of Chicago:

Does Professor Quality Matter? Evidence from Random Assignment of Students to Professors

Scott E. Carrell, University of California, Davis and National Bureau of Economic Research and James E. West, U.S. Air Force Academy

In primary and secondary education, measures of teacher quality are often based on contemporaneous student performance on standardized achievement tests. In the postsecondary environment, scores on student evaluations of professors are typically used to measure teaching quality. We possess unique data that allow us to measure relative student performance in mandatory follow‐on classes. We compare metrics that capture these three different notions of instructional quality and present evidence that professors who excel at promoting contemporaneous student achievement teach in ways that improve their student evaluations but harm the follow‐on achievement of their students in more advanced classes.

The Log Cabin Democrat

6/21/2010: This has nothing to do with UO, but how often do you get to hyperlink to a newspaper called The Log Cabin Democrat?

University of Central Arkansas faculty and non-classified employees will not see the pay increase of 2.2 percent originally pledged to them at a May meeting of the Board of Trustees.
Richard Weiss, director of the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration announced Thursday that merit raises to be suspended would include non-classified employees and faculty. Also suspended were annual career service recognition payments. The suspension applies to the fiscal year 2010-2011, beginning July 1.

(From the Chronicle.)

Louisiana cleans up Higher Ed. pension abuse.

6/9/2010: The Louisiana Higher Ed commissioner has resigned after the Times Picayune caught her in a retirement scam involving double dipping. Legal but sleazy, and she didn’t tell the board what she was going to do. In Oregon, her boss would have helped her set up the scheme and written the contract for her. I still don’t understand how the golden parachute deals that Frohnmayer set up for John Moseley et al, passed legal review. Oh wait – Melinda Grier reviewed them. Huey Long would have been proud of those two. The later Huey, that is.

Daily Emerald Editors

4/22/2010: The ODE Editors manage to combine most current UO issues into one opinion:

… The library parking lot is central to preserving the divide between those who work and those who drink. On any given night, good, clean, sober students exiting Knight Library in the wee hours of the morning are forced to mix with the inebriated heathens stumbling home from campus bars. As the wholesome, sober scholars weave their way through the dimly lit parking lot back to their vehicles, they risk exposure to the dark and seedy underbelly of college culture, where one is likely to encounter a veritable bevy of intoxicated hoodlums who want nothing else than to ruin the lives of the sagacious Knight Library denizens.

Library-goers can’t handle the ugly forces of peer pressure and could easily succumb to the brutal jocks loitering in Lot 16, trying to prolong their inebriation after the bars close. And, as we all know, when these two colossal forces collide, the scene is seldom pretty: Textbooks, calculators and pocket protectors lay strewn across the parking lot, the lone testament to the fracas from the night prior. The broken spirit bottles line the sidewalk parallel to the broken spirits of the academics who managed to make it home.

And, would you believe it, this happens every night. Are you scared yet? …

It’s clear the University likes to keep things under wraps, and administrators need a bigger place to dispose of those silly public records requests, inexplicit contracts and other important documents. Conveniently, Lot 16 is big enough for a bonfire pit. We probably would have been livid if we’d seen the Frohnmayer/Bellotti contract. Ignorance is bliss. …

Union Survey from Senate

4/18/2010:  If you got an email from the Senate Executive Committee last week on the union poll, please fill it out. (The link is specific to your email address, so I can’t post it here.) I have no association with this poll but I think it is important to understand the extent of faculty support for a union and whether the faculty think their bargaining unit should include OA’s.

Also, I’m happy to run more completely unscientific polls on the RHS of the blog. Post a comment if you have an idea for one.