Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘faculty governance

Richard Grusin on the End of UW

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Although all of the details are not filled in, it looks like Scott Walker’s bold presidential campaign move for 2016 will be the transformation of the university system from a state agency dependent on taxpayer funding to a quasi-independent “public-service corporation,” thus legalizing in practice what has already been happening in theory, the corporatization of the University of Wisconsin System. By granting the System autonomy and freedom to make its own administrative/business decisions and therefore, or so the neoliberalism of the ALEC playbook goes, Walker and his Republican allies will enable the System to find “efficiencies” and raise revenues that will compensate for the cuts in state funding, which according to an announcement on January 27, will return to their 1998 levels with a $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System in the upcoming biennial. In addition to these devastating cuts, the first year of which for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee would be equivalent to the entire budget of the Lubar School of Business, the danger of this transformation to semi-private corporation is that System employees and faculty would lose their statutory protections (things like tenure, faculty governance, job security, and academic freedom are currently protected by state statutes) in favor of the contractual protections offered by the Board of Regents, who will now have almost complete authority over the UW System.

The problem with this change, of course, is that 16 of the 18 Regents are political appointees (appointed by the governor)—two ex-officio and 14 on staggered seven-year terms—as opposed to being elected, say, as they are (on a campus-by-campus basis) in Michigan, where I formerly taught. That means, four years into the Walker administration, that more than half of the governor-appointed Regents are Walker appointees; before the end of Scott Walker’s second term all of them will be. So by the end of this next biennial budget (2017), tenure and faculty governance, as well as such decisions like the appropriate number of campuses needed for the System, will be at the whims of a board made up entirely of Scott Walker appointees. The political brilliance of this move (make no mistake, Walker and his handlers are brilliant electoral politicians) is that if and when these protections are stripped in the next couple of years, the blame will not go to the Governor or the legislature but to the Walker-appointed Board of Regents, who will claim to have acted responsibly and in the system’s interests to make changes to deal with the terrible crisis caused by the Republican tax cuts. When tuition is raised and campuses closed, it will not be the state government that did it, but those egg-headed academics and their Board of Regents.

Lots more important context at the link.

AcaMOOCia RoundMOOC

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The New Faculty Minority: Tenured professors fight to retain control as their numbers shrink.

* Behind the scenes of the NYU “no confidence” vote.

* I hereby irrevocably grant the University the absolute right and permission to use, store, host, publicly broadcast, publicly display, public[sic] perform, distribute, reproduce and digitize any Content that I upload, share or otherwise provide in connection with the Course or my use of the Platform, including the full and absolute right to use my name, voice, image or likeness (whether still, photograph or video) in connection therewith, and to edit, modify, translate or adapt any such Content. The MOOC is hungry; the MOOC must be fed.

* MOOCs have become a straight business play.

The Steinberg legislation marks the synthesis of MOOC steps (3) and (4), in which large scale trials are being insured through a state-created artifical product market revolving around Udacity and Coursera in particular. The business problem is this: Large-scale trials must be had at any cost, or the product momentum will die, investors will have doubts, money will dry up, market penetration will fail. MOOCs have shown that lots of people will sign up for a free online course–and that a tiny proportion actually persist. If students are required to pay tuition, as with UC online, they currently don’t sign up in the first place.

Thus 2013 may not be Year of the MOOC II, in that it may reveal that MOOCs may have no large natural market of tuition-paying students.  To head off this possibility, the firms have shifted focus to regulatory capture.  This is what happened when Udacity was hired by San Jose State University to run 3 remedial courses.  The formal signing ceremony put founder Sebastian Thrun on the same level as the governor of the state and the chancellor of the Cal State University system.

* The Chronicle surveys the professors behind the MOOCs.

The for-profit college sector had a difficult time building a prestigious for-profit product – at least in the way that the elite private universities are prestigious. But perhaps the lines between for-profit and public higher education is about to disappear. The latest ads from the University of Phoenix do not sound markedly different than the public relations of the University of California at Berkeley. There’s a somber assessment of the competitiveness of the marketplace, a nod to the importance of market-relevant training, and a promise to provide opportunity for willing and able students, irrespective of background or academic preparation.

Online education’s false promises.

For higher education, MOOCs have become fantasy household robots, doing the dishes, vacuuming, listening attentively. MOOCs are going to create students with job-ready skills, cater to individual learning styles, enable collaborations between students and faculty in different countries. Maybe they’ll even alleviate poverty as students in remote regions learn skills like computer programming and engineering.

* And @zunguzngu gets smashy: It is perhaps time to reconsider the problem of machine-wrecking in the early industrial history of Britain and other countries. Related: 

Professors, as much as some of us want to deny it, are working class. We have rituals that seem bizarre to the uninitiated. We have long periods of apprenticeship in which we pick up these rituals. We have bosses that want to make us work harder for less pay. We even have common styles of dress. Academia is our house of labor, and MOOC providers are deliberately trying to tear down the door so that they can rush in and trash the place.

Sunday Morning

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Earlier link dumps this week: 1, 2, 3, 4.

CUNY Administration Declares War On Rebel English Department. This is stunning. Here’s just a little bit more.

Education is a political act. For over half a century, the conservative movement has waged a political war on liberal arts education. They have waged this war because they know that without the skills we are provided by a liberal arts education citizens must abdicate our power.

* Well, I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to say it.

* The FBI has successfully thwarted another bomb plot they organized and outfitted. Promotions all around!

* Old games are horrifying.

* Portraits of Sad Superheroes.

* …for the vast majority of the 500-plus students who graduate each year in Kalamazoo, a better future really does await after they collect their diplomas. The high-school degrees come with the biggest present most of them will ever receive: free college.