Posts Tagged ‘academy’

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Special mention

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Special mention

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Devil’s dung

Posted: 10 July 2015 in Uncategorized
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Pope Francis’s recent references to money as the “dung of the devil” (or, alternatively, the “devil’s dung“) brought to mind lots of different references (from the etymology of dung in terms of different classes of workers to Freud’s tale of the devil whose gifts of money turn to excrement upon his leaving).

But, at the suggestion of a friend [ht: ja], I also began to imagine how we might retitle basic economics courses in a Catholic university. Consider the following:

Econ 101—Mephistopheles’ Market Manure

Econ 102:—Satanic Sewers of National Economies

or just get right to the point,

all intro-level courses—Beezelbub’s Bourgeois Bullshit

Any other suggestions?

usm-budget

The American Association of University Professors voted overwhelmingly Saturday to censure the administration of the University of Southern Maine for the Draconian budget cuts it imposed this past year.

Summarizing an earlier report on the ongoing academic shakeup at Southern Maine, Committee A’s censure recommendation accused the university of disregarding both AAUP and its own policies regarding circumstances under which programs can be closed down. The university slashed four academic programs — several of which AAUP and local businesses argued were key to the area’s culture and economy — and eliminated more than 50 tenured and nontenured faculty positions without declaring financial exigency.

“Also striking was the fact that these programs were canceled in midyear and that no provisions were made for students remaining in the programs to complete their courses of study,” in violation of standards set by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, the university’s accrediting body, Committee A said in its censure recommendation.

No one defended Southern Maine’s actions — which the university has attributed to its desire to become a “metropolitan university” and to significant budget cuts — and the motion passed nearly unanimously.

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Special mention

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Chart of the day

Posted: 8 June 2015 in Uncategorized
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The Chronicle of Higher Education has updated its executive-compensation package information with 2014 fiscal-year data on public-college presidents.

Two public-college presidents managed total annual compensation packages of over $1 million: Rodney A. Erickson of Penn State ($1,494,603) and R. Bowen Loftin of Texas A&M ($1,128,957). The median salary for presidents who served a full year was $428,250.

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The median presidential pay for public colleges in 2014 was 50 times the median student tuition. Two presidents managed total compensation more than 100 times student tuition: Judy L. Genshaft of the University of South Florida (112.27) and John C. Hitt of the University of Central Florida (100.03).

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That, unfortunately, has been the question at the University of Southern Maine for the past two years.

Fortunately, after a long series of faculty and student protests against the administration’s attempts to engage in significant “eliminating, retrenching and/or reshaping academic programs” at the university, the American Association of University Professors has delivered a forceful rebuke to the stated rationale and procedures of the program cuts and faculty layoffs that have been imposed.

Among the investigating committee’s findings:

1. There is “no plausible reason to conclude that USM is facing a financial disaster—or significant financial distress of any kind.” In fact, the committee suggests the university should be expanding, not cutting, its academic programs and staff.

2. In making the program cuts and laying off faculty members, the university administration “ignored not only AAUP-supported governance standards but also its own published statements.”

The AAUP as a whole now has to consider the report and decide on whether or not to officially censure the university. Meanwhile, the faculty union has taken the university into binding arbitration.

According to Susan Feiner, President of the USM chapter of the Associated Faculties of the University of Maine union,

The USM Chapter of AFUM is distressed by the impact of administrative actions on students and public higher education in Maine. At USM, dozens of courses that were to be taught by full-time fully qualified professors were cancelled. As a result, students have been unable to enroll in courses needed for degree completion. We are concerned that the administrators have instituted piecemeal, arbitrary changes to program graduation requirements. Furthermore, we are worried about the educational consequences of doubling the permitted enrollments in some classes, effectively eliminating the ability of faculty to review writing and work individually with students.

In addition to the findings noted above the AAUP report notes that USM administrators repeatedly ignored faculty offers to work with the administration to help solve budgetary, revenue, and enrollment problems. . .

The USM Chapter of the Associated Faculties of the Universities of Maine (AFUM) welcomes this report. We agree with its findings. We note that many administration actions cited in the report also constitute violations of the faculty’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the University of Maine System.

Clearly, the battle over the fate of the University of Southern Maine is not over. But the AAUP’s investigation into the financial and governance issues surrounding the austerity measures imposed by the administration at Southern Maine will clearly resonate in many public colleges and universities across the country where similar attempts at “eliminating, retrenching and/or reshaping academic programs” are being enacted.

The findings of the AAUP point in a different direction: to opening up the books, creating and respecting forms of shared governance, and expanding academic opportunities for working-class students in public higher education.