In a worst-case scenario [next year], if the federal-stimulus funds disappear and the resulting hole goes completely unfilled, Penn State could face "the most significant budget cuts in our history," Spanier said.Graham didn't see fit to mention this little fact in his latest propaganda film. You would think that a film ostensibly about the state of the university would work that in somehow. But no, it was all ponies, rainbows and empty pride. By the way, I wonder if Graham bribed Micheal Bérubé with the promise of unlimited ice-time to get him to debase himself in that film.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Friday, September 03, 2010
Everyone getting the same shot you had is problematic, considering disparaties of the original circumstances from which people start (I, myself, was very lucky - caring parents, choosing a major that didn't become obsolete before graduation, remaining relatively healthy.) Government can help remediate some circumstances, particularly of institutional, disadvantage. Support of such policies is one of the family values I inherited from caring parents.
I hope your students learned about unions in their studies, that may be the only way to a better life than that of their parents. The decline of the middleclass parallels the decline of union membership.
The biggest boosts to the "ruling elite" over the last few years have been in the tax code that has fed the growing gap between the top 2% and the bottom 98%, especially the recinding of the "death tax" is particularly amusing, as it is creating a defacto aristocracy. Just watch an episode of BRAVO's NYC Prep.
It's the railing against unions and taxes on the top 2% by the Tea Party, two things that will help people get back in the game, amuses me.
Why do I call psumba paranoid, you may ask? Well, consider these remarks. This is from his first response to my post about him from over a month ago.
You must really have some "juice" to have the CDT take down the Palin article & comments that the above remarks were posted against ...This one is from three days ago.
What was represented as my original posting was really my fifth posting in a long thread. Hence my compliment to Veblen about getting the original article taken down ... destroying the context of the original remarks.
Of course, I had nothing to do with the vanishing comment thread. The CDT puts most of their articles behind a paywall after two weeks and the comment thread for an article vanishes when the article goes behind the paywall. But psumba's first instinct was to accuse me of conspiring with the powers at the CDT to victimize him and more than a month latter he still thinks that he's the victim of a conspiracy to make him look bad....did I mention that psumba is huge Glenn Beck fan, too?
Thursday, September 02, 2010
The mid-20th century suddenly appears to have been a golden age for higher education, said Wendy Brown, a professor of political science at the University of California at Berkeley.This is not a pretty picture, but I think it may be an accurate one.
"That era offered not only literacy but liberal arts to a mass public," Ms. Brown said. "But today that idea is eroding from all sides. Cultural values don't support the liberal arts. Debt-burdened families aren't demanding it. The capitalist state isn't interested in it. Universities aren't funding it."
The danger, Ms. Brown said, is that the public will give up on the idea of educating people for democratic citizenship. Instead, all of public higher education will be essentially vocational in nature, oriented entirely around the market logic of job preparation. Instead of educating whole persons, Ms. Brown warned, universities will be expected to "build human capital," a narrower and more hollow mission.
And faculty members are unlikely to resist those changes at a time when two-thirds of them are on contingent appointments instead of the more secure tenure track, said Cary Nelson, president of the American Association of University Professors. They simply do not have enough power within the institution.
During a plenary lecture earlier Thursday, Mr. Nelson, who is also a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said he believes that the era of "incremental state funding for public higher education is basically over." For the foreseeable future, he said, the traditional battles for higher state appropriations are bound to be losing ones.
A several-inches thick document in the possession of A&M System officials contains three key pieces of information for every single faculty member in the 11-university system: their salary, how much external research funding they received and how much money they generated from teaching.This does not begin to measure if students are learning, in fact, it should result in a system in which students are guaranteed to learn less.
The information will allow officials to add the funds generated by a faculty member for teaching and research and subtract that sum from the faculty member's salary. When the document -- essentially a profit-loss statement for faculty members -- is complete, officials hope it will become an effective, lasting tool to help with informed decision-making.
"If you look at what people are saying out there -- first of all, they want accountability," [Frank] Ashley [,the vice chancellor for academic affairs for the A&M System,] said. "It's something that we're really not used to in higher education: For someone questioning whether we're working hard, whether our students are learning. That accountability is going to be with us from now on."
Does anyone think that hiring a shitload of contingent faculty, paying them a pittance and putting them in front of several hundred students is the best way to teach students? Because that obviously dumb approach would undoubtedly lead to a very favorable outcome on this metric and therefore is one likely end result of the use of this metric, particularly in the humanities where the opportunities for large outside grants is severely limited.
In the sciences and engineering, one might expect that faculty will be encouraged to seek out industry funding which may do little if anything to push back the frontiers of knowledge. This could be particularly problematic in the medical school, where conflict of interest arising out of pharma research is a growing national problem. This metric induces the wrong incentives all around.
This is not the first boneheaded idea introduced at the Texas A&M system recently.
[A]wards of between $2,500 and $10,000 to faculty members based onCan you say grade inflation?
anonymous student evaluations... was implemented at Texas
A&M University [in the fall of 2008] and has been expanded to all
A&M System campuses.
This is Texas, which has been screwing up education for year through the Texas State Board of Education's textbook standards, so there should be no surprise that the dumb is seeping into the Texas higher ed community. By the way, both of these ideas come from a list of seven proposal introduced by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank, which shares a board member with the Texas A&M board regents, Phil Adams who is also a major contributor to the Governor Rick Perry's reelection campaign. The good news is, that unlike the situation with the textbooks which impact textbooks nationwide because of the size of the Texas market forces textbook publishers to write their books to accomodate Texas, there is no natural mechanism for this to spread outside of the Lone Star state. Nonetheless, there may be pressure from the rightwing business community for other state's to adopt these ideas. Hence vigilance is required.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
For a year and a half, we've seen rallies and town-hall shouting and attack ads and Fox News special reports. But I still haven't the foggiest idea what these folks actually want, other than to see like-minded Republicans winning elections. To be sure, I admire their passion, and I applaud their willingness to get involved in public affairs. If more Americans chose to take a more active role in the political process, the country would be better off and our democracy would be more vibrant.
But that doesn't actually tell us what these throngs of Americans are fighting for, exactly. I'm not oblivious to their cries; I'm at a loss to appreciate those cries on anything more than a superficial level.
This is about giving Americans who work hard and play by the rules more opportunities.
I'm all for that, too. But would these opportunities include the chance for hard-working Americans to bring their kids to the doctor if they get sick, even if the family can't afford insurance? No, we're told, not those kinds of opportunities.
This is about the values of the Founding Fathers.
I'm a big fan of the framers' generation, who created an extraordinary nation. But if we're honoring their values, would this include their steadfast commitment to the separation of church and state? No, we're told, not those values.
This is about patriotic Americans willing to make sacrifices for the good of their country.That sounds reasonable; sacrifices can be honorable. But if we're talking about patriots willing to sacrifice, does that mean millionaires and billionaires can go back to paying '90s-era tax rates (you know, when the economy was strong)? No, we're told, not those kinds of sacrifice.
Movements -- real movements that make a difference and stand the test of
time -- are about more than buzz words, television personalities, and
self-aggrandizement. Change -- transformational change that sets nations
on new courses -- is more than vague, shallow promises about "freedom."
The folks who gathered in D.C. today were awfully excited about
something. The fact that it's not altogether obvious what that might be
probably isn't a good sign.
As they say, go read the whole thing.
Let's see ... I'm charged with:To which one of my regular commenters, MoonDragon, wrote,
- anti-intellectualism - as a student, I was considered to be quite intellectual. In fact, I did earn two simultaneous undergraduate diplomas from Penn State in four years ... in two demanding fields from different Penn State colleges. What happened ...
I will take your word for it that you have the degrees you claim. Earning a college degree is an achievement in and of itself, however it isn't proof of intellect. Your statement may be evidence of being highly trained, but isn' t proof of either education or intellectual capacity. Pardon the anecdote, but I know more than a few Phds who are dumber than dirt.Today we no longer have to depend on MoonDragon's anecdotal evidence concerning dumber than dirt Phds. From Kevin Drum comes this Quote of the Day, from the man behind the Teabagging curtain,
Digby adds,...Dick Armey, PhD University of Oklahoma, former economics professor at the University of North Texas, and former Republican majority leader in the House of Representatives:
One of the things that we see as we look at Glenn Beck's work that's been fascinating to me, is we see a more true and accurate history of the United States, and we see it documented at levels of rigor that, in fact, one would expect out of Ph.D. dissertations — it is serious, scholarly work....[Liberal critics] don’t have to argue with Glenn Beck. They have to argue with his documentation and they can’t match that level of rigor.Somebody just shoot me now.
It has often been rumored that Dick Armey is a falling down drunk and his behavior on TV certainly suggests that he's on something. I'm guessing it's acid...What is it with Teabaggers and alcohol? Here's psumba
You should have taken me up on my offer last Fall to have a drink together the last time that I was in State College.
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Technorati Tags: Penn State, Penn Stater magazine, Pseudo-Science State, anti-intellectual
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Sunday, December 14, 2008
Brainstorm has not instituted moderation, but it has begun to delete comments. Does this constitute a change in policy? It's clear that Bousquet would have liked to have had AHA's comment deleted from Brainstorm back in March of this year and the March of 2007 policy, which Alex now uses to justify deletions, should have allowed for deletions in March of 2008. Yet AHA's comment wasn't deleted. Further, if there was a discussion on the use of moderation to deal with certain commenters, AHA in particular, why didn't they use the deletion policy that Alex would have us believe was at their disposal in March of 2008 to delete AHA's comment on Bousquet's post? This suggests that not deleting comments was until recently de facto, if not de jure, policy at Brainstorm.
What's changed? My guess is that the Brainstorm editors resisted Bousquet's request for deletion because he didn't have enough juice. But Graham....now there's a man with juice.
Technorati Tags: Brainstorm, Penn State, comment deletion, Spanier
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008
It is the nature of educational institutions to have noise in the system. Discussion and debate are an essential part of university life. This contributes to the educational mission of higher education and has the power to shape intellectual discourse, ethical practices and civic participation. This can be exhilarating for those coming from academic roots but frustrating for others.
To some degree we have become a society of screamers. Just look at the cable network news shows. Each night two or more folks are put up on the screen, sometimes debating each other in orderly fashion, but more often interrupting each others, and occasionally being downright rude toward each other. We expect people — we even want people — to take extreme positions on issues. Are you pro or con? Left or right? With us or against us?
And Graham has stumbled on a way to filter out the noise emanating from comments on his blog. The staff in the Old Main Propaganda Shop has conveniently archived his CHE blog on the psu domain without the comments. This allows them to promote Graham's pompous, and often pointless, pontificating to faculty, staff and students without the worry which comes from these underling's exposure to alternative viewpoints.
But what about people that read his musing over at CHE, how can they be protected from the silliness and noise? Well, it looks like he's found a partial solution. The folks at CHE have placed a new warning on their comment form to the potentially silly or noisy commenters that their feedback may be purged. Here's a screen capture from a post as it appears today.
And here's a screen capture from the Google Cache of the post archived on December 1, 2008.
Well Dear Leader, I guess that shows us how much you appreciate the essential discussion and debate of university life.
Technorati Tags: Brainstorm, Spanier, Chronicle of Higher Education, propaganda
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Saturday, November 08, 2008
First, I think JAS at 17 has nailed it.
Next, I'd like to address some of the criticism of my first post, but I want to thank Dan at 6 for the editorial assistance on my previous post. On the internet,when time is too short but the topic deserves comment, there is a temptation to post without properly editing one's comments and digging up references. I gave into that temptation. If I'm ever in need of a copy editor I'll be sure to look Dan up.
Let me get the trivial out the way before I deal with the subtance. I intended to use the neologism anonymized, which I did misspell, and not the word anonymous. Sorry about that transgression.
On to the substance...
Dan says that the list that Spanier has presented does not contain anything that could be categorized as anti-intellectual buffoonery. I think this is a fair criticism. My characterization of Spanier's behavior was not based on the list alone, although Spanier's parenthetical mention of baton twirling is a prime example of the behavior that I had in mind. The characterization was base on my years of observation of Spanier's antics; I should have made this clear and provided evidence.
To that end, here's a partial list of his buffoonery. Let's begin with his predilection of dressing up as the Nittany Lion mascot for public events. For example, there is a picture of him in the Collegian, the Penn State student newspaper, speaking at the groundbreaking of a downtown State College building project in the mascot costume. Another example is his thing for the Blue Sapphire, Penn State's lead majorette. Spanier has been known to twirl a baton with her at pep rallies and sporting events. David Jones, a Harrisburg Patriot-News sportswriter, has vividly describe this spectacle in one of his columns, but to truly appreciate the buffoonery one must actually witness it. Unfortunately, a YouTube video which captured Spanier and the Blue Sapphire twirling away has been removed. Another of Spanier's stunts was to ride a tricycle in a local parade. There are also pictures of him riding a bike along with many top Penn State administrators to promote ride your bike to work week. Of course, he selected a bike which looked like it was purchased from a Pee-Wee Herman yard sale. For anyone in need of more visual evidence to be convinced of his buffoonish behavior, I recommend a screening of this year's state-of-the-university video. (It should be noted that the theatrics in this video are not at the invitation of a group of students as Spanier tell us his other performances are.)
This is not an exhaustive list, but I think it provides ample evidence of buffoonery.
These are not the absent-mined eccentricities of an intellectual lost in thought. Neither is this the the ironic or satiric form of buffoonery of an Ali G. No one can believe that Spanier is poking fun at school boosters when he struts his stuff with the Blue Sapphire. What he is clearly doing is signaling to those boosters that he is one of them. These are the calculated actions of a public man. This is his brand.
None of this would be too bothersome if Spanier demonstrated that he had any respect at all for the life of the mind, but he doesn't. Read his official biography. There is little beyond a perfunctory mention of his former research career to supports the idea of Spanier as an intellectual. Today he spends his spare time during Christmas break at a multiplex not a library.
His recent forays into to promoting intellectual pursuits at the University have consisted of nothing more than the shallow marketing ploys of creating faculty trading cards-an idea which ironically originated in a couple of satires of the corporate university- and establishing the position of Penn State Laureate. The role of the Laureate, by the way, appears to be to make rich donors feel cultured.
The message that he and his administration send to students is an anti-intellectual one. A few years ago the reality program Paranormal State filmed on the Penn State campus. Old Main was thrilled by this because they couldn't afford to buy that type of national television exposure. There was no concern at all that the program promoted psuedo-science and associated it with the University. Nope, if it brought in more student applications that was fine with Old Main.
I could go on with how Spanier's focus on economic development and corporate sponsored research diminishes the Liberal Arts and basic science at Penn State, but I think I've had made my point: buffoonish behavior combined with no respect for the life of the mind equals anti-intellectual buffoonery.
Technorati Tags: Penn State, Spanier, Chronicle of Higher Education, anti-intellectual
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Friday, July 11, 2008
Friday, July 04, 2008
"It looks like a high-quality show," [Penn State propagandist Bill Mahon] said. "It'll be great exposure for the university. There's no way we could afford to buy that much air time on a major network.This summer brings another TV show centered on the University. This time out the show deals with real science or at least applied science, forensic science. The program, Crime Scene University, which follows students as they try to solve simulated crimes, is based on the Penn State class, Forensic Science 201:Crime Scene Investigation." This will portray Penn State in a much better light than did Pseudo-science State.
Unlike Pseudo-science State, Crime Scene University will not air on a major cable network. Rather it will be on Investigation Discovery. This however is by design. According to Robert Shaler, the professor running the class
Shaler, a Penn State graduate, said he was excited to learn Discovery was interested in filming his class, because he knew it would be educational.Do you think that's a dig at Pseudo-science State? Well, the folks at Investigation Discovery go out of their way to point out the educational value of the show and its scientific content. It's probalily a dig.
“I would be a little apprehensive if we had A&E, where it is more sensational,” he said. “This is real education.”
By the way, the Penn State Propaganda Portal tells us that the entire idea for the show was Shaler's.
Shaler conceived of the idea for the television show and, with help from a friend at the City of New York's Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, successfully pitched the idea to Discovery Communications.But I suspect that Graham's been pressing Shaler for sometime to do a TV show. Where does this suspicion arise from. Well, we know that Graham's primary job is to market Penn State, but there's more. Back when the forensic science program at Penn State first came into being. Graham was beside himself with excitement. Here's what he told the Board of Trustees.
Last week we kicked off the first semester of our forensic science program. Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno was the guest lecturer in Bob Shaler's first class. It promises to be a very popular major. So much so that we've been approached by several cable networks for a reality television series that would follow Penn State students through a semester in the program.
Graham I'm sure would have preferred to have the program on A&E or even better MTV. He wouldn't care if it damaged the University's academic reputation, as Pseudo-science State did, so long as the production value was good and his new building looked great.
My guess is that this program is a compromise between Graham and Shaler. Graham gets his TV show and Shaler gets to keep his integrity.
Technorati Tags: Paranormal State, Penn Stete, Spanier, Robert Shaler, Crime Scene University, anti-intellectual
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Before the pilot taping, Penn State administrators worked with the team during the show's planning and insured no students would be taped "while engaging in any illegal activities," said Bill Mahon, a university spokesman.It's all about keeping those application numbers inflated.
"It looks like a high-quality show," [Mahon] said. "It'll be great exposure for the university. There's no way we could afford to buy that much air time on a major network.I'm guessing that this dramatic picture of Old Main from the New York Times is exactly the sort of exposure they were looking for from this series, but I wonder if this review is what they hoped for.
It’s too bad that “Paranormal State,” a new series on A&E, is unlikely to find a mass audience, because the parodies it would inspire on shows like “Saturday Night Live,” if it had the requisite level of public recognition, would be delicious.Not that this would embarrass Graham. He knows no shame.
Sunday, September 09, 2007
Should you not believe me about any of this, go do a Google search of the Nobel Foundation's web site on "Pennsylvania State University". Here's what you get.(Click on the image to enlarge it.)
That's it one hit. If you search on "Penn State" you will get two additional hits. One hit gives a link to a laureate whose father graduated from Penn State and the other gives a link to a laureate whose wife attended Penn State.The point of this is, as will be no surprise to anyone who has spent time at University Park, that Penn State is not an intellectual hotbed.
By comparison, Berkeley has been the home to fifteen Nobel Prize winners; the most recent winner won in 2006. In the Big Ten, Purdue Indiana, and NorthWestern have each had one winner on their faculties, while Illinois has had three of its faculty win the prize. One of whom, John Bardeen, won it twice for physics.
It was with this background in mind that I was startled and delighted see a headline in the Harrisburg Patriot News (sorry the link is now dead) that said that Penn State had hired a Nobel Laureate. Such a hire could transform a department and would indicate that the person hired thought that he could find fruitful collaborations at the University. But of course, this being Penn State nothing is as it initially seems. It is all smoke and mirrors. This hire turned out to be no different. It was little more than a marketing ploy. Here is how Adam Smeltz at the CDT reported the story.
For what appears to be the first time, a Nobel Prize winner has accepted an appointment at Penn State.That's it. This guy has promised to spend two weeks a year at Penn State spread out over three department in three different colleges at two different locations and at the Huck Institute. This should have little to no intellectual impact on Penn State.
Barry J. Marshall , a co-recipient of the 2005 prize in physiology, will join the university this spring as the Francis R. and Helen M. Pentz professor of science, university President Graham Spanier said Wednesday. He called Marshall "one of the brilliant researchers in the world."
The initial appointment is three years, though the relationship is expected to last beyond that. His work here should extend his pioneering research into bacterial infections, the university reported.
"This is a fabulous human being as well as a great researcher," Spanier said. "We're just delighted with this."
Marshall, a senior research fellow at the University of Western Australia, said he will spend at least two weeks a year at Penn State. Here, he will work with the departments of biochemistry and molecular biology, veterinary and biomedical sciences and microbiology and immunology.
He also will be involved in the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences, according to a news release.
And it hardly appears that Dr. Marshall came to Penn State willingly and enthusiastically.
Recently, Marshall said, Spanier and a vice chancellor at the University of Western Australia "cooked up this idea" of the appointment in Pennsylvania.That sounds an awful lot like Spanier got the guy's boss to pressure him into accepting Penn State's offer. I wonder how much money they had to offer him to get him to come here. Whatever it is, I hope they charge to Old Main's marketing budget
To whom is this marketing campaign being pitched? No academic will buy into the notion that Penn State has recruited a Nobel Prize winner for its faculty. That's just ludicrous No, it is all about fooling the rubes with the headlines like the one I saw in the Patriot News. Or take a look at this screen capture of the CDT story on Spanier's new contract.
Maybe Spanier managed to fooled the rubes on the BOT. On second thought, don't bill the marketing department for Marshall's salary; let Spanier personally pay it.
Technorati Tags: Nobel Laureate, Spanier, Penn State, Spin, Barry J. Marshall
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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Despite major renovations to key recreational facilities made in the last few years, students on Penn State's University Park campus still say that Penn State does not fully meet their needs when it comes to recreation and fitness, according to a study undertaken by the firm Brailsford and Dunlavey.
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Thursday, February 15, 2007
Students in the [Schreyer Honors College] are required to complete an honors thesis in their senior year and maintain a 3.33 GPA to stay in the program.
"Most honors programs in the nation have a 3.6 GPA requirement," [Christian] Brady[,dean of the college]said. "Ours gives students more room to explore and travel. It's not an honors program, which is focused entirely on classes and research, but a scholars program."
Given the fact that Penn State's average GPA is over 3.0, the students in the Schreyer Honors College really aren't being asked to do very much. And the reason they aren't asked to do very much is so that they can take a break from partying here in the Centre Region to go abroad to do some partying.
The basic idea behind this college is suspect. While the administration would like you to believe that it is all about attracting high academic performers to the University, my guess is that it is all about bringing in upper middle and upper class students who are more likely become wealthy alumni and make large donation to Penn State latter in life. After all, the college was founded with a large donation from Bill Schreyer a former Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch. It would stand to reason that he would want his investment to pay huge dividend for his alma mater. This idea is reinforced by the fact that he was a prime mover behind the Village at Penn State. A primary purpose of that retirement community is to harvest the estates of the elderly residence for Penn State.
Technorati Tags: Penn State, academic standards, party school, grade inflation, Schreyer Honors College
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