By Professor Doom
When I cover the madnesses affecting higher education, California comes up often, although I certainly cover schools in the rest of the country.
Wisconsin has avoided the madness, with nothing in the way of riots or flamboyant frauds that seem commonplace elsewhere. You’d think the state government there would leave well enough alone, but such is not the case. Are they jealous? It would seems so, because when I write of events in Wisconsin, it’s always about the ways the government there is working diligently to undermine the success higher education has seen in Wisconsin.
I’ve written of the methods to destroy higher education going on there, but the latest move is even more grotesque:
One of the key factors in the destruction of higher ed, identified by everyone who works in it, has been the infestation of a greedy administrative class filled by people with no actual education experience.
Dean: “We need to have a meeting regarding a student complaint about you. She said the final exam she took didn’t have the questions on it that it was supposed to have.”
--the gentle reader needs to understand the only way a student could make this complaint is if she had access to the final exam questions—I was tipped off that the student had access to the final, so, yes, I changed some things around. The Dean, having no education experience, could only determine there was an unhappy student.
Every campus has legions of administrators, filling hives which eventually turn into palaces. The way how higher education is set up, especially community colleges, makes it particularly easy to stick a few dozen friends and family into 100k a year “do nothing” administrative jobs with nobody the wiser. Yes, every once in a blue moon we find out about it, but it won’t surprise me to eventually learn that dozens of states have systems with such activity in them.
Admin: “It is now mandatory that on the first day of class, you are to assign all students into groups, for purposes of group projects and in-class work. You will maintain these groups for the entire semester.”
---I’m serious, yet another utterly inexperienced Deanling tried to cram this down our throats, because “group projects improve retention.” Only after faculty explained to her repeatedly that attrition made this idea completely unworkable (because about half our students were fake students who were only there for the checks) did she relent….I can’t recall if it was 3, or 4, weekly meetings until she acknowledged reality. I kid myself to think the faculty convinced her directly, but we were smart enough to tell the students stuck in 1-person groups to complain to the Dean about it.
While many of the deanling positions on campus are pure patronage, the top position is particularly precious: as I’ve shown many times, the Poo Bah, the self-aggrandized leader of the campus, can rake in millions in plunder. Thus it is we quite commonly have campuses ruled by leaders with no understanding of a university’s mission of education and research, and thus become more interested in flitting around the world and living the high life than serving as a steward (the gentle reader is encouraged to search my blog under “administrative corruption” for a 6 part series relatively briefly covering the highlights, and I’m not even talking about Napolitano’s 100+ million dollar looting).
Administrator: “You need to be more clear in your writing on the board. The little numbers, the ones up top?”
Me: “The exponents?”
Administrator: “Yeah, those. You told students that there’s always a one up there, but you don’t always write it. You should always just put a one up there.”
Me: “Thank you.”
---When I do open my mouth to an administrator, it’s usually to say ‘thank you’.
A clueless Poo Bah can do great harm to an institution (for example, Bernie Sander’s wife’s school is doomed because of her leadership), although the higher ups, like chancellors and provost, can ameliorate some of the damage.
‘…Madison campus policy holds that its chancellor, provost and vice chancellor must hold a tenured faculty rank -- effectively disqualifying nonacademics.“
The institutions in Wisconsin can be led by political friends, but those other positions must, by Wisconsin rules, be academics, with a record of scholarship and all that entails. Could this be why Wisconsin has avoided so much scandal? Moot point, as the state government there seeks to remove one of the few remaining roadblocks to plunder. The change of rules was nearly stealthily accomplished:
“There was no advance notice, it was never given a public hearing, and no legislator publicly took credit for it,” the group wrote. “Although PROFS had been meeting with members of the committee as well as legislative leadership, this proposal was never mentioned. In addition to the lack of transparency or opportunity for constituent input, this is also inconsistent with the committee leadership’s expressed desire that nonfiscal policy be removed from the budget.”
--PROFS is a group of the Faculty Senate.
Honest, allowing academics to have a role in academia is a good idea. Is there any other industry (and I hate that higher education is considered an industry) where there is such an active effort to assure the managers have no knowledge, experience, or understanding of the industry?
This requirement is among the reasons why Madison is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the world.” Rebecca Blank, Madison's current chancellor, is a professor of economics.
The power grab here is pretty obvious, and, again, everyone who works in higher ed knows exactly what’s going to happen when they change these rules. The article I’m quoting from naturally is unwilling to call the spade a spade, but one comment sums it up nicely:
The professors are opposing the converting of university presidencies into sweet plums for political hacks and termed-out partisans and giving political appointees power to take away livelihoods of scholars whose research or teaching counters the party line. With so many universities in WI, where real tenure no longer exists, a lot is at stake here.
I know, I’m at the age where being opposed to change is hardwired into my nature but I just don’t get it: Wisconsin has avoided the riots and huge scandals of other states. Why is there such a push to debase Wisconsin’s system to the level of known failing systems?
Trying to answer that question gives me no choice but to consider the possibility of a conspiracy here…but I still lean towards simple greed.