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Assume the position, Mr Chips

By Owen Paine on Monday October 25, 2010 05:18 PM

Check out this gem:

"A 265-page spreadsheet, released last month by the chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, amounted to a profit-and-loss statement for each faculty member, weighing annual salary against students taught, tuition generated, and research grants obtained...the move here comes amid a national drive, backed by some on both the left and the right, to assess more rigorously what, exactly, public universities are doing with their students—and their tax dollars...The movement is driven as well by dismal educational statistics."
Of course the results, as you'd expect suggest the humble exploited contract types are way too often making the thickest margins for the big U team. No wonder "part-time lecturers.. make up at least 50% of the nation's higher-education faculty—up from 30% in 1975." And how is the learned guild taking all this? Just imagine the horror!

Take these performance metrics:

"[Teachers] earn points...for pushing students to take science, engineering and math; for ensuring that they complete classes that they start; for improving on-time graduation rates; and for boosting more low-income students to degrees."
Imagine the cries of bloody murder that must incur in the faculty lounge of Mortarboard U's department of Circadian Arcadian Plebular Music Studies. Heavens to Sallust! But then how about this approach:
"Minnesota's state college system has created an online "accountability dashboard" for each campus. Bright, gas-gauge-style graphics indicate how many students complete their degrees; how run-down (or up-to-date) facilities are; and how many graduates pass professional licensing exams...The California State University system, using data from outside sources, posts online the median starting and mid-career salaries for graduates of each campus, as well as their average student loan debt."
Sniff sniff...no wonder there's pushback, or at least dark subvocalizations from our gowned goons:
"It's a reflection of a much more corporate model of running a university, and it's getting away from the idea of the university as public good... the focus on serving student "customers" and delivering value to taxpayers will turn public colleges into factories... it will upend the essential nature of a university, where the Milton scholar who teaches a senior seminar to five English majors is valued as much as the engineering professor who lands a million-dollar research grant."
Clearly written to undermine itself, eh? Gotta love objective reporters and editors. If they're not exactly Father Smiths, they're at least all Winston Smiths at heart.

Comments (4)


Minnesota's state college system has created an online "accountability dashboard" for each campus. Bright, gas-gauge-style graphics indicate ...

The US Patent Office just published the same thing on their website: gas gauge widgets showing average processing time for applications, rates of allowance, etc.

I assume that some web design firm making the rounds of government bureaucracies is selling them on retro-ironic kitsch. Gross. I'm not ready for a steampunk-themed DoD website.


kitsch as kitsch can
so far as big state u goes
the notion of kampus kitsch
has at long last punked itself out
the state u without "plant"
can't be far off

Solar Hero:

Kewl. I know how to do this program, its called Xcelsius.

"the state u without "plant"
can't be far off"

That's word. Happening, big time.

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