Bad market for research PhD’s

7/9/2012: From the WaPo:

Traditional academic jobs are scarcer than ever. Once a primary career path, only 14 percent of those with a PhD in biology and the life sciences now land a coveted academic position within five years, according to a 2009 NSF survey. That figure has been steadily declining since the 1970s, said Paula Stephan, an economist at Georgia State University who studies the scientific workforce. The reason: The supply of scientists has grown far faster than the number of academic positions.

Aide to Pres fired for messing with faculty governance


The University of Illinois announced Tuesday that it will pay $175,000 to Lisa Troyer to give up her tenured position in the psychology department at the Urbana-Champaign campus. A brief statement said that the university “has not initiated, and will not initiate, any disciplinary process.” Troyer moved to the faculty position after quitting as chief of staff to Michael Hogan, who had a brief and controversial tenure as president of the university system. Faculty members believed that she was sending anonymous messages to faculty discussion groups, urging professors to take positions backing Hogan. … 7/5/2012.

Cost of football wins outweighs benefits

That’s the conclusion from a new paper by economist Michael Anderson from Berkeley, that uses Vegas odds to control for endogeneity:

According to the report, if a college improves its season wins by 5 games, it can expect alumni athletic donations to increase by $682,000 (28 percent), applications to increase by 677 (5 percent), in-state enrollment to increase by 76 students (3 percent) and incoming students’ 25th-percentile SAT scores to increase by nine points (1 percent). But Anderson said these positive effects would not recoup however much money a college invested in its athletics program.

Insidehighereded writeup here, paper here (must be on campus). This is one of few papers to find any positive impacts from big-time sports, even small and expensive ones. The downside includes drinking and bad grades and brain-damage and loss of institutional control. 7/3/2012:

College for whom?

6/18/2012: Robert Samuelson had a recent column, “‘College for all’ mindset compounds problem“, arguing that the US probably has enough college graduates, or close to it. But are the right students going to college? High math ability students from low income families have less than half the chance of attending and completing college as do high math ability students from high income families. High ability/low income students have a 29% chance of completing college – a bit below the 30% rate for low ability/high income students.

President Nixon’s great achievements

6/17/2012: If I was an economist I could give a whole lecture – hell, a whole course – on Nixon’s great achievements:

  1. Replaced the random enslavement of the draft with a paid, professional military.
  2. Established the EPA
  3. Got us off the gold standard
  4. Created the Earned Income Tax Credit
  5. Signed Title IX: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

The NYT has an interesting article on Title IX and sports:

“There’s a whole host of African-American women who have benefited greatly from Title IX. We’ve gotten college scholarships and college degrees; we’ve made Olympic teams. Track and field is an area where a large number of African-American women receive college scholarships.

“But in the grand scheme of things, Caucasian girls have benefited disproportionately well, especially suburban girls and wealthy Caucasian girls.”

According to a 2007 report by the United States Department of Education, among high school sophomores, white girls had a 51 percent participation rate in sports, compared with 40 percent for black girls. The percentages were lower for Asian/Pacific Islanders (34 percent) and Hispanics (32 percent).

The lack of access to sports at youth levels becomes manifest at the intercollegiate level, where African-American women are underrepresented in all but two sports: Division I basketball, where black women represent 50.6 percent of athletes, and indoor and outdoor track and field, where they represent 28.2 and 27.5 percent. They are all but missing in lacrosse (2.2 percent), swimming (2.0), soccer (5.3) and softball (8.2). They are an underrepresented rising presence in volleyball (11.6).

An unexpected consequence of Title IX is that since the legislation was passed in 1972, the percentage of female head coaches has decreased and the percentage of men coaching women’s teams has increased, especially in basketball and soccer. According to studies by Linda Jean Carpenter and R. Vivian Acosta, the percentage of women coaching women’s teams at the intercollegiate level fell to 44 percent in 2010 from 90 percent in 1972. But even here, African-American women have lost ground.

ESPN had a recent article on Jody Runge, former UO basketball coach, now unable to get a job. The current UO coach is Paul Westhead. His contract – an order of magnitude or so more lucrative than hers, and signed by Frohmayer and Kilkenny, is here.

Too many research universities?

6/15/2012: From the Chronicle:

A Missed Opportunity?

In his original proposal for the study, back in 2009, the then-president of the Association of American Universities, Robert M. Berdahl, said he’d like an evaluation of whether the country might simply have too many universities competing for its federal research dollars. …

With universities themselves divided on such programs, Mr. Berdahl’s successor at the AAU, Hunter R. Rawlings, who served on the panel before taking the AAU post, said he didn’t want to touch the subject of potentially limiting the number of research universities.

It may have been a missed opportunity, said William E. Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland. “There might have been an opportunity there to address that very point more explicitly,” Mr. Kirwan said, “and I think that would have strengthened the report.”

Administrators discipline professor for criticizing NFL sponsored prostate screening festival

6/7/2012: From InsideHigherEd:

… The group has asked the dean and other top officials at the university’s school of medicine to write letters of apology to the professor, admit to errors of judgment, stop proposed disciplinary actions against him and take steps to prevent future violations of academic freedom. This week, representatives of the university’s Academic Senate are expected to vote on similar resolutions against the administrators.

The investigation came about after Wilkes filed a written complaint to the committee in late 2010, alleging that there had been a “blatant breach of my academic freedom.” The fracas started after Wilkes, an expert on prostate cancer, co-wrote the op-ed (along with a University of Southern California professor) questioning the efficacy of the prostate-specific antigen screening test, often referred to as the PSA, only days after some faculty members at the school were part of an event that promoted the test, according to documents. The other groups associated with the event were the American Urological Association Foundation and the National Football League.

And you thought Johnson Hall had some control issues.