Archive for August, 2010

Rand Essay

August 26, 2010

An interesting essay on the fiction of Ayn Rand. Fountainhead good; Atlas Shrugged not. That’s a partial summary, anyway.

Dropout Factories

August 26, 2010

What if a college was only there to collect tuition rather than to educate or graduate students? You would have this. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Administrative Bloat

August 26, 2010

Interesting discussion of the increases in cost driven by things other than direct academic expenses. I’d like to see how this has affected evangelical schools; can’t think they have been unaffected by this trend.

Crisis and Transformation in Higher Education

August 24, 2010

A useful survey of the current situation, which argues that much of our change has been more evolutionary than revolutionary. I especially found interesting the suggestion that focus on fundamentals is key, to wit:

a. Enroll students.
b. Graduate students.
c. Focus on revenue.
d. Track expenses precisely.
e. Measure faculty, staff, and student performance.
f. Understand the difference between core activity and enhancements.
g. Do the core activities first and do them well.
h. Innovate to improve the fundamentals.
i. Save speculative academic enterprises for the good times.
j. Carefully define the institutional mission.
k. Compete within the mission on quality and productivity against the best.

A challenging list. Why do these? Because:

When the moment passes, the publicity dies down, and the pundits turn to other crises, the college and university winners will be those who paid attention to the fundamentals all along.

Is Higher Ed like the Yugo?

August 24, 2010

I hope the answer to this question is no, but this post explores some parallels. Food for thought.

Faculty and Governance

August 23, 2010

Here’s a useful essay on issues related to governance. As each school has its own unique governance issues, different parts may be relevant. But the basic thrust is that faculty need to be engaged in governance, but need to be sufficiently self-governed to participate constructively. I think it would be easy to cherry pick the parts you like and ignore the rest, but more benefit will come from taking the whole piece seriously.

This Year’s Mindset List

August 23, 2010

Via Inside Higher Education from Beloit College, a reminder of the gap between the professor and the freshman class.

Invisible Book?

August 23, 2010

An interesting essay on changing knowledge of the modern literary world. Has our culture lost its knowledge of works like Ellison’s Invisible Man. Perhaps I need to put this on my list…

The Uncomfortable Reality of Pursuing Truth

August 23, 2010

While we all say (or at least I think we all do) that we want to pursue truth, in reality we often don’t. Truth can be uncomfortable and doesn’t always support the things we believe or want to believe. Here’s an essay that pointedly takes on the issue in a way that is uncomfortable for me. But, truth is truth. So, we just need to realize that there are some arguments we can’t and shouldn’t use. The bottom line: there seems to be clear evidence that Darwin developed his theories based on the evidence he encountered, not to support some ideological a priori. You can argue he read the evidence incorrectly, but that is an argument about evidence. I hope to have the courage to admit when I screw up these sort of things.

Good Advice for the New School Year

August 23, 2010

Here’s a 20 things I wish I knew post for college students. I think I’ll assign this for my freshmen. Maybe for sophomores, juniors and seniors, too. Maybe for everyone. For a sampler, here’s #20:

Stop thinking that you go to school to get a good job. You should work towards academic excellence because you were created to serve the most high God–not to get a paycheck. God made us intellectual creatures, and it is for that reason we pursue the life of the mind. If you work with this in mind a vocation will come.