Posts tagged ‘University of Wisconsin’

February 16, 2015

Scott Walker — destroyer or savior of higher education?

by Grace

In defending his proposal to cut Wisconsin’s higher education budget by $300 million over two years, Governor Scott Walker admonished professors to “work harder”.

“Maybe it’s time for faculty and staff to start thinking about teaching more classes and doing more work and this authority frees up the [University of Wisconsin] administration to make those sorts of requests,” …

Maybe he should have focused more on administrative costs, which have far outpaced instructional costs in American universities.

But now comes word from UW Chancellor Rebecca Blank that the cuts would come in the form of layoffs of administrative personnel”.

Deans, directors and department heads will be responsible for making decisions on how budget cuts are allocated, but administrative units will take will take larger cuts in an effort to preserve educational functions, she said.

It seems that common sense may prevail, but concern remains that the governor and possible presidential candidate may be trying to kill liberal arts education.

Walker proposed to rewrite the University of Wisconsin’s mission statement. He apparently wanted to strip out its frills (stuff like “extended training,” “public service,” improving “the human condition,” and “the search for truth”) and inject it with a more practical goal: meeting “the state’s workforce needs.”

Walker later backtracked and ‘blamed the changes on a last-minute “drafting error”‘.  But skeptics remain suspicious that liberal arts will increasingly take a back seat to vocational programs.

Liberal-arts and humanities programs at public universities are increasingly under siege as state legislatures cut the institutions’ funding, forcing school administrators to make tough decisions about what to eliminate. The obvious targets are the programs that yield a lower return on investment—at least in a concrete, monetary sense—and are more nebulous in their impact on the economy. What sounds like it has more dollar signs and productivity attached to it: philosophy or America’s favorite new acronym, STEM?

Maybe these critics should also focus on New York’s Democratic Governor Cuomo, who has pushed for increased funding of vocational programs in state colleges, and incentivized partnerships between business and schools that promote workforce training through his START-UP NY initiative.  Cuomo also established a STEM scholarship program last year.

I have not heard of any states pouring additional resources into liberal arts higher education.  Which may be a shame, but is understandable.

This workforce-centric approach “is designed for short-term learning and long-term disaster.”

The problem is that, unlike most STEM fields, universities have lowered standards for liberal arts education.

In theory, a college liberal arts degree is a valuable commodity in the job market. In reality, the way colleges have diluted the curriculum means a liberal arts degree offers little added value in qualifying workers for today’s job market.

So the question is, who is actually trying to kill liberal arts education?

———

Lucy McCalmont, “Scott Walker urges professors to work harder”, Politico, January 29, 2015.

Ann Althouse, “How will the University of Wisconsin—Madison absorb something like $90 million in cuts from Scott Walker’s new budget?”, Althouse, February 12, 2015.

Alia Wongfeb, “The Governor Who (Maybe) Tried to Kill Liberal-Arts Education”, Atlantic, February 11, 2015.

January 29, 2013

University of Wisconsin to offer lower-cost online bachelor’s degrees

by Grace

University of Wisconsin to Offer a Bachelor’s to Students Who Take Online Competency Tests About What They Know

No class time will be required for most degrees as Wisconsin begins “decoupling the learning part of education from student assessment and degree-granting”.

Wisconsin officials tout the UW Flexible Option as the first to offer multiple, competency-based bachelor’s degrees from a public university system. Officials encourage students to complete their education independently through online courses, which have grown in popularity through efforts by companies such as Coursera, edX and Udacity.

No classroom time is required under the Wisconsin program except for clinical or practicum work for certain degrees.

Competency tests will determine if course credit will be given.

Under the Flexible Option, assessment tests and related online courses are being written by faculty who normally teach the related subject-area classes, Mr. Reilly said.

Officials plan to launch the full program this fall, with bachelor’s degrees in subjects including information technology and diagnostic imaging, plus master’s and bachelor’s degrees for registered nurses. Faculty are working on writing those tests now.

A way to lower college costs

The charges for the tests and related online courses haven’t been set. But university officials said the Flexible Option should be “significantly less expensive” than full-time resident tuition, which averages about $6,900 a year at Wisconsin’s four-year campuses.

There is concern that programs will be “watered down” versions of traditional degrees.  I think they’re making a mistake by not requiring proctored testing.

Based on the examples given in the article, this new degree option will mainly attract older students.

Beth Calvert, a 35-year-old registered nurse at a Milwaukee hospital, hopes to enroll in the program to earn her bachelor’s in nursing. Between working overnight shifts and caring for her 3-year-old daughter, Ms. Calvert said she has little time to move beyond her associate degree but knows that it increasingly is important to her employer, which she said offers a pay raise to nurses with higher degrees.

September 21, 2011

‘Diversicrats’ – diversity administrators’ role in college administrative bloat

by Grace

Administrative bloat is a major factor in the escalation of college costs, and “diversity” administrators are probably the biggest part of it.

Writing about recent disruptions  triggered by racial preference policies at the University of Wisconsin, Robert Weissberg labels these administrators “diversicrats”.

The University’s website lists the African American Student Academic Services, American Indian Student Academic Services, Chicano/a Student Academic Services, a Multicultural Student Center, and various multicultural student organizations.  A separate Academic Advancement Program (AAP) exists to assist “underrepresented students” and for four years helps “…create an inclusive campus climate where all members of the campus community feel valued, respected, and free to participate and achieve their highest academic and professional potential.”  AAP “…focuses on academic advising, academic instructional support, academic engagement and enrichment, and community building, which are the four pillars of our program.” The AAP is not, however, to be confused with the Center for Educational Opportunity that works with over 600 students to upgrade their skills and mentors them. And don’t forget the Office of Equity and Diversity targeting underrepresented groups to achieve social justice. And for students struggling with certain subjects, I counted an additional six separate tutoring services.

This is only a sampling and omits what occurs in the admissions office and in feel-good courses on identity politics. One can only wonder how many educationally useless hours were spent crafting the Orwellian mission statements, progress reports and schemes to create yet more bureaucracy.

This long list of diversity fly-in programs gives a clue about what some of these “diversicrats” do.

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