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Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday, July 30, 2012
Bain passes judgement on UC. 

CA Democratic party formally opposes Prop 32--the measure designed to weaken unions.

Some reflections on "leaving academia."

Business officers wade into academic affairsHere is some of their reasoning.

Are professors really obsolete?

Harkin releases committee report on For-Profits.  If you are looking for summer reading here it is.  Another Congressional report notes that profits not learning drives the pay of For-Profit executives.

Coursera has a recruiting party.

Court rules Michigan State rule violates constitutional protections for free speech.  It tried to punish anyone who disrupted an employee at his or her work.

Bill Keller wants to protect the wealthy and the war machine, lower everyone else's living standards.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Thursday, July 26, 2012
Is UC "starving the humanities"?

In another display of leadership, UC Berkeley scrambles aboard the MOOC bandwagon.  Bousquet offers thoughts on the MOOC model.

Irvine to start new School of Education.  (t/h Cloudminder)

Berkeley negotiates new Federal ICR rates.  I thought UCOP was supposed to do this sort of thing for all campuses?

Physical campuses remain essential.

Is UC Davis facing another scandal?

Memo to digital zealouts: it turns out that computers are NOT the best metaphor for the human brain.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
A recent Bain & Co report on higher ed, on sustainable funding, has irritated some people as much as their equally flawed analysis of admin costs at UC Berkeley irritated us. Most critics are responding not only to the report's claim that 1/3 of the country's colleges are financially unsustainable, but to the fact that this unsustainable group includes the richest universities on the planet, including Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale.  This does suggest on its face that their methodology doesn't make sense.

Yet the report also makes true and important points which I'll get to below, before discussing how the corporate consulting community is likely to use their interactive websites and exploding hairpieces for educational evil and not for good.

What the authors do is look at two ratios of financial health and locate the 1700 universities they reviewed on a nine-cell matrix.  Each institution is rated by its increase in expenditures to revenues (the "expense ratio"), and its decrease in assets to liability (the "equity ratio"), both of which are bad.  Unfortunately, the data behind their equity ratio ends in 2010, before endowments (and later, real estate) had started to recover, making schools look poorer than they are.  As for expenses, the poorest UCs, UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz, are more "sustainable" than Harvard and Princeton because they have lower expense increases, which in public Us we call "budget cuts."

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday, July 20, 2012
The latest on the Colorado movie theater assault.  The alleged shooter graduated from UC Riverside.

Campuses outline the effects of the funding cuts.   The Regents--with the exception of Russell Gould--vote to support Brown's tax initiative.  But they still raise professional school fees.

The Regents cave on UCLA hotel.  

UCLA Committee on Academic Freedom supports professor against allegations of political bias.

CSU Board approves pay increases for new campus Presidents.  But they are still considering raising tuition, reducing enrollments, and laying off people.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and DOE release report on private student loans.  It isn't a pretty picture.

The Recession is destroying Public Universities.

Oregon Bill proposes to give universities more autonomy but to limit annual tuition increases.

What online education can't do.  But its promoters do hope to make money.  Subsidized by others' labor of course.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday, July 19, 2012
By Wendy Brown
Outgoing Co-Chair, Berkeley Faculty Association

On July 16th and 17th, The New York Times featured stories on the launching of Coursera, a blockbuster online higher education project emerging from a spectacularly successful Stanford experiment two years ago.

Still in the early stages of development but already reaching hundreds of thousands of learners, Coursera promises to disseminate academic knowledge for free to anyone with access to a computer. The courses are not offered for credit although certification of completion is available. This "impediment" (which reminds us that online learning is not a direct substitute for classroom learning) does not seem to be one. Millions around the world are registering for fall 2012 Coursera courses.
 

Many elite universities have signed on to Coursera, including Princeton, Stanford, Penn, Duke, Hopkins and a range of publics, among them Illinois, Michigan and Virginia. The University of California (with the exception of UCSF) is notably missing from the list of participating universities.

Where is UC? As you will recall, last year Berkeley Law School Dean Edley borrowed $7 million from UCOP to launch a UC for-profit online higher ed project, one that he promised would lead the way in the elite higher ed market, reap hundreds of millions of dollars for the university AND produce social justice as it extended a UC education to those who could not
afford to leave home.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday, July 16, 2012
The central facts about UC's budget for next year are first, that tuition will not go up, and second, that the state will provide no new operating funds after last year's 25% cut.

Both of these outcomes remain hog-tied to the passage of Gov Jerry Brown's tax initiative in November.  If it fails, UC will receive a "trigger cut" of another 10% of its remaining state funding (or $250 million), and students will see tuition go up, probably around 20%.

UC's status as a political football puts it in the company of the entire educational sector of California. The California Budget Project offers a graphic (above) showing that Jerry Brown's trigger cuts would fall on education in a proportion of 98.4 percent. 

Politicians continue to trumpet their commitment to an educated California workforce, since it is obviously stupid to produce an ever-less-qualified population in a global economy in which everyone else is elevating theirs.  But in practice, both parties have lumped all levels of education together with public health and welfare and downgraded their quality and scope year after year.  The reality of the New California is reversion to a (declining) American mean.

In the context of the state's well-known failure as a political entity, it's understandable that UC officials would want to decouple the University from the state. But this decoupling only further degrades UC's fiscal, educational, political and ethical position, and we have to say for the hundredth time that the Office of the President needs to resist the decoupling temptation.

This month's proof comes in the form of the lousy budget deal itself.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday, July 13, 2012
As those of you who read Jim Chalfant and Susan Gillman's recent post will remember, the systemwide task force on Rebenching recently completed their work.  Although UCOP has not made public the results of their deliberations (I will leave it to you to speculate on why not) the Senate has now posted the report at its website.   This report is a proposal that develops and specifies ideas broached in last summer's report from the "Implementation Task Force" on the rebenching process.

As Jim and Susan indicated, "rebenching" is one of two steps UCOP is taking to reorder the way that funds are distributed within the system.  The first step, the "funding streams initiative" was designed to enable individual campuses to retain more of the funds that they generated.  This second step of "rebenching" aims to overcome historically generated inequalities in the distribution of state funds in order to ensure that any given student is funded at the same rate as any other student within his/her category (so that all undergraduates, all professional school students, all graduate students, all health care students etc are funded at the same rate) no matter what campus they are attending.

This proposal on Rebenching has now been sent to all of the Campuses for discussion within their Senates this fall.  Its final form will affect faculty, staff, and students on all campuses.  So it is worthwhile to read it and to let your local senate and managerial leadership know what you think.  Please feel free to use the comments space here to open discussion or to raise questions.  Hopefully, people with information might be able to address questions. 

At the same time, though, we need to recognize, that "funding streams" and "rebenching" are really only two legs on what needs to be a three-legged stool.  If UC is to achieve the goals of these initiatives it must be able to convince the state to increase state funding.  If UCOP does not succeed in making its case to both the Governor and the Legislature and succeed in persuading the people of the state that it deserves that funding, these twin initiatives will not succeed in holding the system together and improving students' education.  The lack of additional funding will undermine the effort to increase resources to the underfunded campuses without causing the wealthier campuses to fracture the system further in search of increased revenues that they could keep under funding streams.

To make these initiatives work to strengthen the University, it is crucial that the university for the first time in memory begin to articulate a convincing case for the importance of a public research university to the state and to those who enroll at UC, and make that case in terms of the education that will be offered only with additional funding.  In the present economic situation this effort will not be easy of course.  But UC can only succeed if it actually tries.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012
Protesting the July Regents Meeting.

Some info on the California Ballot Propositions.

California cities slashing services, looking towards bankruptcy.

UC Berkeley settles law suit alleging anti-Semitic behavior.

Don't even know where to start about Penn State.

In 2010, small rise in the percentage of young people completing associate or bachelor degrees.

Higher Ed is good business.  And smart for society.

Is College Unaffordable? The Debate continues.

Is the decline of public education deliberate?

College attainment shifts to Asia.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Yudof to tell Regents:  If Tax hikes don't pass, tuition may go up 20%.

Community Colleges consider new enrollment priorities.

San Bernardino declares bankruptcy.

Field Poll:  Californians are pessimistic about the economy's future.

Brown to sign foreclosure relief bill today.

The NLRB impounds ballots in the Duquesne Union election while they decide what to do. 

Surprise!  Wealthy Universities are really, really wealthy.  Public Universities...not so much.

More tech transfer going on in the great Northwest.

And there is a battle over faculty salaries up there as well.

Seattle Swat team raids the apartment of Occupy organizers.

Are MOOGs really all that?

The importance of listening.

University applications in UK drop as fees rise.  

Where exactly is Mitt's money?

Canadian scientists protest Government's attempt to sideline scientific research in the interest of opening up natural resources for development.  Sound familiar?

Spanish Government decides to intensify austerity.  I guess because it has worked so well elsewhere.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday, July 5, 2012
The Budget Agreement passed last week--especially as modified by Governor Brown's line-item vetoes--takes several more steps towards dismantling the social infrastructure that has enriched California for decades.  In both its specifics and in its political vision, the budget sacrifices the present through austerity and gambles the future in an appeal to Californian's lowest social and political inclinations.  In keeping with Brown's ongoing failure to offer a political and social vision beyond what Chris has called "neo-Hooverism," the budget links together a technocratic lack of imagination with an effort to shore up managerial control.  Despite the occasional gesture to his older desire to be a futurist--as in his continued support for high-speed transit--Brown seems unable to move beyond already failed policies.  Brown was born in 1938, the year after FDR prematurely pulled back on the New Deal.  Apparently he wants to return the economy to the state it was in the year of his birth. 

Although the budget contains a complex of strategies and programs--including Brown's effort to shift more of governmental activity back to the counties--the nature of the budget (and Brown's vision) can be seen clearly in 4 areas: Higher Education; K-12 education; Resources for the poor and sick: and his insistence on the logic of austerity.  Let me take each in turn.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012
Bob Meister reports on Brown and Yudof's dismantling of the Master Plan.

Is Higher Ed generating more inequality?

The Berkeley Faculty Association challenges the Administration on Shared Services.

Pitts speaks out on pensions.

Boards are more aggressively trying to make Universities something they are not.

Bob McDonnell reappoints Helen Dragas to BOV.   At UVA heads explode.

How did the BOV mess up?  Let me count the ways.

Federal Judge comes to the aid of For-Profits: strikes down gainful employment rule.

Surprise!  Republican governors move to punish poor by opting-out of medicaid funds.

Can knowledge's public domain be protected?

Is Germany being hoisted on its own petard?

Krugman on Europe's illusions.