Posts Tagged ‘academy’


Special mention

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Special mention

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The public was asked to vote on a list of the top 20 academic books, from a list of 200 titles, selected by a committee of experts invited to take part by the Booksellers Association and The Academic Book of the Future project.

As it turns out, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was the firm favorite, securing 26 percent of the vote. The Communist Manifesto came in second.

But, for some strange reason, Alison Flood [ht: ja] decided to focus instead on Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, which was fifth:

a choice heralded by the Booksellers Association’s Alan Staton. “We seem to be governed by expediency and doublethink and it’s reassuring to know that Kant’s Categorical Imperative is known and thought important,” he said.

Philosopher Roger Scruton agreed. “I am gratified that the Critique of Pure Reason, which must be surely one of the most difficult works of philosophy ever written, should have been chosen as among the most influential of all academic books,” he said of the 18th-century text.

“Kant set out on an extraordinary task, which was to show the limits of human reasoning, and at the same time to justify the use of our intellectual powers within those limits. The resulting vision, of self-conscious beings enfolded within a one-sided boundary, but always pressing against it, hungry for the inaccessible beyond, has haunted me, as it has haunted many others since Kant first expressed it.”

From my perspective, it is much more interesting that the list included Edward Said’s Orientalism, E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the English Working Class, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex, and John Berger’s Ways of Seeing.


Apparently, this is the way to get attention of the administration on college campuses these days: threaten to cut off $1 million football revenues.

A student engaged in a week-long hunger strike wasn’t able to get the university’s president to address the problem of racism on campus. So, black football players, with the support of other players and coaches, have stopped practicing and have threatened not to play in the scheduled games.

In response to mounting racial tensions at the University of Missouri and an administration’s perceived failure to address students’ concerns, members of the school’s football team have threatened to boycott its remaining games, leaving administrators reeling and emboldening student activists who have been demanding a change in leadership.

Like all such protests, there’s a larger context. This is, of course, the state where, fifteen months ago, Michael Brown was killed by a white police officer.

“The demonstrations by these students are a reflection of where things are going nationally in terms of people being fed up with intolerance,” said the Rev. Traci Blackmon, a St. Louis minister heavily involved in the Ferguson protests. “The notion that the administration would not take a very strong no-tolerance policy toward hatred of any kind is just unconscionable. And the response to the absence of that is what you’re seeing now.”

And this is a president who was hired to run the university like a corporation.

University of Missouri curators saw Wolfe as an ideal successor to Gary Foresee, a former Sprint Nextel CEO who had become the first non-academic to run the college system. Even their praise was couched in business jargon.

“He can sell to others the vital importance of our university,” board of curators chair Warren Erdman told the Rolla Daily News. . .

“I’ve had the great fortune to work with a lot of different companies and executives,” he told the St. Louis Business Journal. “There’s a six degrees of separation and we can get access. Even if you don’t have a personal relationship, you can use your LinkedIn network and can typically find a mutual friend who can initiate an introduction.”

It quickly became clear that Wolfe was being brought in to cut costs in a state where legislators were eager to slash taxes, depriving the university of revenue. . .

One of Wolfe’s first acts was to approve a three percent tuition hike, drawing the ire of parents and students.

A few months later, Wolfe stirred anger again by shutting down the university’s highly regarded publishing house in order to save $400,000 a year. After an outcry from professors and authors across the country, however, Wolfe changed course.

The controversy was heightened by the fact that Wolfe was, at the same time, pushing for a $72 million expansion of the university’s football stadium.

Last year, the board of curators voted to extend Wolfe’s contract, praising him for his business-minded approach.

“President Wolfe has thoughtfully transformed our strategic planning process in a way that focuses our limited resources on priorities while reducing or eliminating waste and redundancies,” the board said in a statement.

This semester, however, Wolfe’s corporate cost-cutting appeared to go too far.  Just a few days before the start of the semester, the university announced it was eliminating subsidies that graduate students use to pay for health insurance.

Graduate students revolted. Thousands, including Butler, protested against the cuts. They issued demands and walked out of classes. Ultimately, the university relented and restored the subsidies.


University of Louisville students protested the decision by university president James Ramsey to host a Halloween party with members of the university staff at Amelia Place, a mansion owned by the University of Louisville Foundation.

The University of Louisville apologized Thursday after President James Ramsey [lower right in the photo above] faced criticism for a photo in which he and other university staffers were depicted at a Halloween party wearing stereotypical Mexican costumes with sombreros, which a university spokesman said some had “considered offensive.” . . .

“We made a mistake and are very sorry,” Kathleen Smith, chief of staff to the president, said in a statement, which noted her office had met with a top official of U of L’s Office of Hispanic and Latino Initiatives and shared “our deep regret for the hurt this experience has caused.”. . .

As social media criticism grew, university officials released an apology Thursday evening, addressing it to “Hispanic/Latino Faculty, Staff and Students.”

“We commit to a series of campus conversations with students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members to further focus on diversity and racial equality issues underpinning the pluralistic society we all support. This event shows we have much more to learn about our community,” Smith said.

This is what we’ve come to in the United States: a university president hosting a party at which he encourages his guests to dress in costumes that mock Mexican-Americans, and an apology that presumes only Hispanics are offended? While one of the major political parties debates the best way to build a wall on the southern border and deport the 11.5 million undocumented immigrants in the United States.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

[ht: ja]

If there’s one area that isn’t contributing to higher college costs and historic levels of student debt, it’s faculty salaries—especially the pay received by adjunct professors.

According to Caroline Fredrickson,

In 1969, almost 80 percent of college faculty members were tenure or tenure track. Today, the numbers have essentially flipped, with two-thirds of faculty now non-tenure and half of those working only part-time, often with several different teaching jobs. . .

To say that these are low-wage jobs is an understatement. Based on data from the American Community Survey, 31 percent of part-time faculty are living near or below the federal poverty line. And, according to the UC Berkeley Labor Center, one in four families of part-time faculty are enrolled in at least one public assistance program like food stamps and Medicaid or qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Known as the “Homeless Prof,” Mary-Faith Cerasoli teaches romance languages and prepares her courses in friends’ apartments when she can crash on a couch, or in her car when the friends can’t take her in. When a student asked to meet with her during office hours, she responded, “Sure, it’s the Pontiac Vibe parked on Stewart Avenue.”


Many faculty members in Texas are opposed to SB 11, also known as the “campus carry” law [ht: sm]. The law, which was signed in June by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, provides that license holders may carry concealed handguns in university buildings and classrooms, extending the reach of a previous law that allowed concealed handguns on university grounds.

One of them has now taken his opposition to the law a step further.

A longtime economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin is leaving the school, saying  the state’s new campus carry law — which makes it legal for some Texans to carry concealed handguns into college classrooms beginning next August — has “substantially enhanced” the chances of a shooting.

“With a huge group of students my perception is that the risk that a disgruntled student might bring a gun into the classroom and start shooting at me has been substantially enhanced by the concealed-carry law,” economics professor emeritus Daniel Hamermesh, who has been at UT since the mid-90s, wrote in a letter announcing his departure. “Out of self-protection I have chosen to spend part of next Fall at the University of Sydney, where, among other things, this risk seems lower.”