Category Archives: College Bubble

Conservative prof who was denied promotion wins First Amendment lawsuit


First Amendment enthusiasts are thrilled that Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, won his lawsuit against administrators who denied him a promotion because of his conservative, Christian views.

Adams joined the university in 1993. He was an atheist at the time. By the year 2000, he had converted to Christianity and become an outspoken political conservative. He eventually wrote columns for

In 2006, he was denied a promotion. Administrators were retaliating against him for his conservative views, he claimed.

The jury agreed.

They need to cater to the students – not the incoming funds

Colleges Need to Act Like Startups — Or Risk Becoming Obsolete

Recently, universities are being painted with a too-broad brush that equates all forms of higher education into a single model of archaic practice while reducing all elements of the campus experience to only the classroom. The truth is more complex. Universities have been experimenting with distance delivery and digital media in and out of the classroom for quite some time and have insight to offer when it comes to operational models, course delivery platforms, and current use of courseware technology and pedagogical tools.

Meanwhile, MOOCs are also depicted too reductively: Proponents tout the cost-savings and reach, detractors scream about completion rates and credentials. More realistically, there are several instances where a MOOC-based delivery model is ideal, where a campus-based solution is infeasible or not economical, or where a blend of the two models can achieve something where either approach can’t individually realize — the so-called “flipped classroom” being one much-touted example.

Too much of the public discourse on the value of higher education is driven by staid understanding of universities as degree mills that are easily replaced by online counterparts. But there is tremendous value in a campus, and universities would be well served to emphasize it and support its underlying activities. Likewise, MOOCs and other online education platforms need to recognize these factors to truly add or complement their vaue. We need to be careful here, or we really will end up with a situation where there are, as famously predicted, only 10 universities left in the world. Or we end up with a bunch of isolated online courses without a shared culture.

The truth hurts…

But at least it’s funny!

How To Ruin Your Life, Part II

Rutgers University has decided to offer a course called “Politicizing Beyoncé.”

If you were to ask today’s employers what new college graduates are lacking, the skills to create a “grand narrative” around one’s own life and persona wouldn’t make the list. And a hefty dose of Beyoncé-inspired narcissism won’t exactly help with that pesky “sense of entitlement” problem employers keep complaining about.

Lest you dismiss it as an outlier, the article also points to Georgetown’s course “The Sociology of Hip-Hop: The Theodicy of Jay-Z.” Add that to “Is Harry Potter Real?” and “How To Watch Television” on the growing list of courses it should probably be a felony for colleges to offer in exchange for student loan money.

In the meantime, young people, here’s some more advice on how to ruin your life: Enroll in a college you can’t afford. Take really easy, fun courses. Don’t worry about marketable skills. Blame society for the consequences (unemployment) of your attitude problem. Then demand the government (or your parents) bail you out. We guarantee you all the misery you could ever want.


How Tiny, Struggling Southern New Hampshire University has become the Amazon of Higher Education


But he was convinced by Christensen that there were no other options. “The business models implicit in higher-ed are broken,” he says. “Public institutions will not see increasing state funding and private colleges will not see ever-rising tuition.”

His solution was to tackle what colleges were doing poorly: graduating students. Half the students who enroll in post-secondary education never get a degree but still accumulate debt. The low completion rate can be blamed partly on the fact that college is still designed for 18-year-olds who are signing up for an immersive, four-year experience replete with football games and beer-drinking. But those traditional students make up only 20 percent of the post-secondary population. The vast majority are working adults, many with families, whose lives rarely align with an academic timetable.

“College is designed in every way for that 20 percent—cost, time, scheduling, everything,” says LeBlanc. He set out to create an institution for the other 80 percent, one that was flexible and offered a seamless online experience. But in the process, he turned what had been a small New England college with red-brick buildings and a quad into something barely recognizable. There are still nearly 3,000 students enrolled at its campus in Manchester (the men’s soccer team won the NCAA Division II championship last season), but the action has shifted to its fast-growing online division.

Why are degrees important again?

Higher education, lower standards

More than 200 classes offered by the African Studies department, and very popular with athletes, appear not to have actually existed. Some of these courses “appeared to have little or no instruction. Nine of those classes listed instructors who said they had nothing to do with the classes, and that related records with their handwriting were forged.”

UNC’s chancellor and football coach lost their jobs. The African Studies department chair, Professor Julius Nyang’oro, is under indictment for fraud. That’s bad enough. But it gets worse.

Now we’re hearing that many UNC athletes can’t really read or write. No one, of course, expects a person who excels at a sport to necessarily excel at academics, any more than we expect Nobel Prize winners to posses a great jump shot. But college “students” who are functionally illiterate strike at the very point of college, which is, supposedly, to educate.

Is Graduate School a Racket?


By chance, I was talking to a professor buddy of mine about this just last week. His take was quite different: he thinks that unions love adjuncts and part-timers and have largely abandoned the interests of full-timers. This is because three part-timers produce three times more union dues than one full-time tenured professor. State legislatures love part-timers too, because three part-timers cost less than one full-time tenured professor. As a result, the number of tenure-track positions in his department has gone down from 22 to 8 in the past couple of decades. This is not because they have fewer students. They have more. It’s because the vast majority of classes are now taught by part-timers.

The Degree Is Doomed


The value of paper degrees will inevitably decline when employers or other evaluators avail themselves of more efficient and holistic ways for applicants to demonstrate aptitude and skill.  Evaluative information like work samples, personal representations, peer and manager reviews, shared content, and scores and badges are creating new signals of aptitude and different types of credentials. Education-technology companies EduClipper and Pathbrite, and also general-interest platforms such as Tumblr and WordPress, are used to show online portfolios.  Brilliant has built a math-and-physics community that identifies and challenges top young talent. Knack, Pymetrics, and Kalibrr use games and other assessments that measure work-relevant aptitudes and attitudes. HireArt is a supercharged job board that allows applicants to compete in work challenges relevant to job openings.  These new platforms are measuring signals of aptitude with a level of granularity and recency never before possible.

There are sites — notably Degreed and Accredible — that adapt existing notions of the credential to a world of online courses and project work. But there are also entire sectors of the innovation economy that are ceasing to rely on traditional credentials and don’t even bother with the skeumorph of an adapted degree.  Particularly in the Internet’s native careers – design and software engineering — communities of practice have emerged that offer signals of types and varieties that we couldn’t even imagine five years ago.   Designers now show their work on Dribbble or other design posting and review sites.  Software engineers now store their code on GitHub, where other software engineers will follow them and evaluate the product of their labor.  On these sites, peers not only review each other but interact in ways that build reputations within the community. User profiles contain work samples and provide community generated indicators of status and skill.

Can’t Get Tenure? Then Get a Real Job


It’s hard to see any alternative to fix the problem, however. The fundamental issue in the academic job market is not that administrators are cheap and greedy, or that adjuncts lack a union. It’s that there are many more people who want to be research professors than there are jobs for them. And since all those people have invested the better part of a decade in earning their job qualifications, they will hang around on the edges of academia rather than trying to start over. Such a gigantic glut of labor is bound to push down wages and working conditions.

Unfortunately, I’m essentially arguing that professors ought to, out of the goodness of their heart, get rid of their graduate programs and go back to teaching introductory classes to distracted freshman. Maybe they should do this. But they’re not going to.

Fairness at U. of Michigan: Fund Liberal Events while Denying Conservative Ones

I do not think that means what you think it means…

UM collects mandatory fees from students in order to distribute money to student groups for events and speaker fees–about $300,000 each year. However, administrators claim to have a blanket policy against using the money for political or religious events. On this basis, they denied the Young Americans for Liberty its request for $1,000 to cover the cost of bringing anti-affirmative action activist Jennifer Gratz to campus.

But an omitted detail has come to light: The university actually funded a group in direct ideological opposition to YAL’s Gratz event.

Gratz’s visit to UM came just a week after the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, a case that will decide whether the citizens of the state of Michigan have the right to prohibit universities from basing admissions decisions on applicants’ skin color.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education wrote that UM’s policy is unconstitutional in the first place, since the Supreme Court has held that universities may not discriminate against political and religious groups in its funding choices. But the double standard makes the case even more egregious.


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