Saturday, September 28, 2013

Administrative corruption, part 4

Administrative Corruption, Part 4: Grants

By Professor Doom


     Grants mean money for an institution, so I certainly understood when I saw administrators happy when some faculty member (or even I) managed to land a grant. But their joy always struck me as a little too happy, really happy, far more than made sense to my ignorant self.

     See, when I got a grant, it was for a certain amount of money. Every dollar has to be accounted for, spent for education and research, as per the grant. Yes, I spent the money on things of interest to administrators, like hiring student workers and buying equipment and paying a small part of my salary…but none of it was a direct benefit to administration, or so I thought. As always when it came to my trusting in legitimacy, I thought wrong, and no administrator was ever going to let me in on how the scam works; I once again thank Benjamin Ginsberg and The Fall of the Faculty for filling in the details that I never saw by direct observation.

     The trick involves overhead costs, which are tacked onto the actual grant. The actual amount varies, but for Federal grants, it can be 60% or more. So, if I get a grant for $100,000, the institution gets a bonus $60,000 for the administrators to spend as they wish. Imagine how much more money would be available for the purpose of institutions (i.e., education and research) without this incredible drag. What’s really interesting about this is the administrators might refuse to accept a grant if their bribe overhead bonus is too low—even if the grant was for “giving food to the poor,” administration can refuse it if they don’t get a large enough taste of the food for themselves.

     It gets even more interesting than that. Every institution has an office, eg, “The Office of Institutional Research” (a somewhat deceptive name) to make sure the grant recipient doesn’t misuse his funds, tracking every nickel to make sure the faculty isn’t wasting the money. I certainly didn’t have a problem with that; it wasn’t my money, although I hated that so much of it went to administrative costs, watching me spend it, but let them be sure I’m honest all the same. Administration, of course, sees no need to have an office that watches the overhead costs of administrators, spending their bonus grant money on whatever they want. I know, such a huge potential for corruption makes things just a little too easy, but my real work’s been busy lately.

     Larger institutions get a bigger cut; Harvard, for example gets 69% bonus loot whenever a faculty manages to get a grant. Overall, about $10 billion a year gets skimmed this way to pay for massive administrative salaries, though the average (weighted towards the poorer schools) bonus loot is more like 49% It’s interesting that rich, old schools get a higher bonus slab of pork than poor schools—the rich get richer even in institutions of higher learning. Back when this scam started around WW2, the initial overhead reimbursement rate was a mere 8% (it wasn’t until 1965 that institutions could negotiate their rate). Don’t get me wrong, the institutions do have a point, when I get a grant, it costs extra overhead to hire administrators to watch me and make sure I spend the money properly...a low number like 8% seems like more than enough to pay for that.

    Stanford was noted in the 90s for abuse of these overhead costs, which again,  only attracted attention after years of egregious expenditures. Federal auditors finally got around to checking to see what all that slush money was going to, and discovered quite a few surprises. The president’s house was a major recipient, as the overhead funds paid for an antique toilet, cedar lined closets, and daily flower deliveries; the university yacht (wow!) was also a major overhead expense. Goodness, no wonder administrators are happy when a faculty member gets a research grant, it can lead to admin getting a yacht! I digress, but an auditor estimated that Stanford probably billed the government for some $185 million in excess “overhead” expenses.

     As a result of the audit, Stanford gave back $3.4 million (chrissake, if anyone wants to give me $185 million, I’ll HAPPILY return $3.4 million of it. Any takers?); other institutions have given back some $100 million dollars based on Federal audits, with more coming back every year. The institutions, of course, deny any wrongdoing, but give the money back anyway…it’s so weird to be told there’s no money, but institutions can write checks like this “just because.” As the checks are begrudgingly written, administrators complain that they’ll just have to cut back on the education and research funded by grants. Granted, if faculty were writing the checks, they’d probably complain that they’d just have to cut back on administrators. I know, I’m a bit biased here, but administrators are the ones spending the money…

     Once again, there’s a hidden message here, because it really exposes the administrative point of view. When I get a grant, I’m happy, because I can use that money for the purposes of an institution of higher learning: education and research. An administrator is also happy when I get the grant, but not for me, or for education. He’s happy because now I’ve just indirectly paid for him to get flowers delivered daily. Administration honestly feels that the institution exists to support administration.

     Back when the slush money was 8%, plenty of research got done. By the time of the Stanford debacle, the slush rate was around 90%. Now that auditors are cutting into the abuses, the rate is going down, with little influence on research being done.

     Should administrators get free money every time a faculty member gets money for education and research? If 8% was enough to cover overhead at some point, why is 50% considered a hardship now? Could it be that administration thinks education and research are merely footnotes to the purpose of an institution of higher learning?


Think about it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Admnistrative corruption, part 3

Administrative Corruption, Part 3

By Professor Doom


“…a major east coast university maintained an office in a centrally located European capital. The nominal purpose of this office, directed by a senior vice provost, was to build connections….The vice provost spent his time traveling around Europe and holding dinner meetings with…scholars, administrators, and minor government officials….after several years, the vice provost retired and his European office was closed…the vice provost drew a hefty salary. He employed an assistant and other staffers…he required an adequate travel, dining and entertainment budget…


---and he accomplished nothing at all, and never intended to do so, eventually retiring from the position and from higher education. From Benjamin Ginsberg, The Fall of the Faculty, p70. Considering the pay of all the staff, we’re talking $500,000 a year or more being spent like this.


     I can’t emphasize strongly enough how the complete lack of checks and balances on administration has led to extreme waste in higher education. It’s hard to estimate how much money was thrown away by the vice provost’s sweetheart job, as a precursor to his retirement…most people retire then travel, he just did it the other way around. Ten million dollars were spent on this fiefdom, maybe? And nobody in administration thought anything of it, being far too busy securing their own fiefdoms.

     Administration is unstoppable and fast in its growth. One young institution I was at began with just a handful of administrators. Every year, another classroom or two was taken over for administration purposes; soon, there was no office space left for faculty, which were then housed in classrooms. After a decade, less than half the floorspace of the campus was available for classes, supposedly the primary mission of the institution (as opposed to providing administrative office space).

     About the only check on administrative greed is the trustees, but far too often, the trustees are “in on it,” to the point that it’s not in their interest to do something about it.

      Naturally, accreditation is supposed to cover this sort of thing, but it’s a joke. Auburn was placed on probation by SACS (their accreditor) due to serious violations of trustees doing big business with the institution—I’m hardly the only faculty member to notice how often the logos of companies owned by trustees can be found on vehicles doing work at the institution. As always, such probations are really just gentle pokes…even with millions of dollars of insider/corrupted money changing hands, Auburn gets years to change their activities so they can be performed in a way even a blind incompetent regulator like SACS can’t see  legitimately.


     Faculty who wonder why their school’s board continues, year after year, to support an utterly incompetent president, or why the board has opted to summarily fire a competent one, might do well to follow the money.


--Benjamin Ginsberg


     While for now I’m avoiding discussion of activities at the top since that is just too easy, I feel Daniel Goldin at Boston University merits a special mention, because he didn’t actually make it to the top. The main purpose of the board of trustees is to pick that top guy, and they chose Goldin. Goldin made the mistake of announcing his intention to examine the institution’s business relationship with the trustees, and to remove those that were engaging in improper activities. The mistake, of course, being that he announced that before he’d entrenched his position. The trustees rescinded the offer, but paid him $1.8 million to keep his mouth shut as a consolation prize. Much as administrative control of faculty hiring has led to spinelessness and subservience to administration as common faculty traits, trustee control of the presidency leads to corruption in administration.

     Institutions in higher education complain often of budget issues, but when you read story after story like this of millions sloshing around, it’s tough to believe there’s a real shortage of money. Meanwhile, faculty struggle to get light bulbs for their classrooms, or pay for their own toner for the printer, or scramble to find paper so they can give tests…because there’s no money, you see.

     It isn’t just about the money, administrators also have the power to award degrees, above and beyond the “honorary” Ph.d.s that can be sold like party favors. In addition to “misappropriating” over $2,000,000 to fund a lavish lifestyle that people complained about for years, an Education dean at the University of Louisville awarded a Ph.D. (in Education, and I’ll gratuitously add “of course”) to a student that had attended few classes, in exchange for $375,000. I’d also discuss the Master’s degree handed out by a university president to the daughter of a governor, but that’s for later. I suppose in comparison the administrator who gave himself and his son some minor degrees hardly merits mention, even with the dozens of other infractions he committed.


Me: “Do you have any idea who that graduate is?”

Other faculty member: “None at all.”

--at a small school I taught at, every graduation would have students I KNOW I failed, nevertheless getting their diplomas. There would also be a handful of students with specializations in mathematics, and some of them I had never seen before…it was such a small school that there was only one other person who could possibly have had the students. He never knew who they were, either. We would stand at gradation with looks of complete mystification on our faces, as though we were at another school’s graduation ceremony. I emphasize: the school only had a few hundred students, on a campus with a score of rooms…there wasn’t a way to miss a person over the course of years.


    I emphasize again: the above stories are just the corruption that is known about. Considering that it’s primarily egregious behavior over the course of years that leads to anyone getting caught, it’s fair to consider the possibility these stories are but the tip of the iceberg.

     It’s easy enough to come up with stories of “friends” of administrators getting an unjustified admission to an institution. I’ve seen a few myself, but honestly, if the department head wants to enroll his nephew into a mathematics Ph.D. program, as long as he can do the work, I’m fine with it (he couldn’t, but I don’t begrudge him the opportunity).

     On the other hand, knowing that degrees can simply be handed out by administrators is pretty scary, from a faculty point of view. Already, the content of my courses is heavily influenced by administrative pressure, as is my grading. Even the courses offered are determined by administration…now that administration can award degrees too, how long is it until faculty are no longer needed at institutions of higher learning? As I’ll address later, faculty are now a minority on campus, and the proportion of administrators rises every year…my question isn’t that rhetorical at all.

     Should administration, which such a track record of corruption, even remotely have the power to hand out degrees? Should there be any limit to the power of administration in higher education? I’m struggling to find a question relating to this level of corruption that would require to the reader to think even a little about an answer.



Saturday, September 21, 2013

More administrative corruption

Administrative Corruption, Part 2


     Last time around I discussed the extensive fraud of Dean Chang, who used scholarships as a means of acquiring personal servants. With so many acts of corruption briefly mentioned in Ginsberg’s The Fall of the Faculty, it’s hard to choose, so I had to think what I wanted to show.

     As I mentioned before, there is little oversight at the administrative level; at best, the board of trustees is all there is; an average trustee spends a little over an hour a week overlooking the institution (good lord I wish I had that job…). With so little energy for honoring that trust, it’s no surprise that university presidents, the top of the heap, are cornucopia of opportunity for tales of corruption.

     I want to avoid such an easy target; any American who follows politics knows the guy at the top is probably a huge crook. I’ll look instead at what should have been a run-of-the-mill embezzlement case at Tufts university:

     An anonymous call triggered an investigation at the Office of Student Activities at Tufts, where supposedly some money had gone missing. It seems the Director, Nealley, had apparently lifted hundreds of thousands for her own benefit, using a thought-defunct part of Tufts as a cover for the money— larger, older institutions have hundreds of departments with names far more inscrutable than “Office of Student Activities” (each with administrators doing inscrutable administrative things), so nobody caught on to her thefts, which, as usual, went on for years, and she probably never would have been caught but for that phone call. Money was stolen from Tufts Community Union and Tufts Student Resources as well…seriously, every institution of any size is like this in terms of little fiefdoms.


Dean of Student Affairs Bruce Reitman had no comment on how Nealley could have had access to the TLS account after it was thought to be closed.


--No comment, indeed. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, and nobody noticed? It doesn’t work that way.


     Unfortunately that phone call triggered an investigation that caught the person who made the tip…another administrator in that Office of Student Activities. He’d taken about $600,000 himself, again from a variety of sources, and again administrators at the University are very, very, vague on how exactly he had access to that money in the first place, much less was able to funnel it, over the course of years, to himself.

     I want to take the time to point out here, that when I want money from my institution, even for a tank of gas spent on institutional business, I need to fill out a form. That form needs to be reviewed. Then that form needs to be approved before the check is written. Then the check has to be approved. Then I get the money. Past my paycheck (only signed off by at least three administrators) I can’t get $50 extra out of my institution without at least FOUR different administrators signing off on it. But Tufts somehow managed to lose track of nearly a million dollars in one department, and nobody is sure how that happened. Hmm.

     Anyway, both administrators pled guilty, serving 2 years of jail time and 5 years probation.

     While this story may seem completely different than the tale of Miss Chang and her “personal servant scholarships,” I feel the need to point out important similarities.

      First is the notion of the administrative fiefdom. The massive growth in administrative positions in higher education has led to the creation of swarms of busybodies, each looking to create turf worth defending. There really are so many splinter “Departments of Student Assistance” of one form or another, each with its own legion of support staff, that there could be dozens of departments with embezzlers in them and it wouldn’t surprise me. Note what happened here—there were TWO embezzlers operating separate schemes just in this one department; one reported on the other, presumably not believing his own thievery would be caught.

     Another important theme complementing this corruption is deafening in its lack of discussion in the news articles: much like with Dean Chang, there is simply no way, no way at all this could have gone on without numerous other administrators being involved. In this case, I imagine there were quite a few envelopes stuffed with $100 bills passed around, to ease the process of hundreds of thousands of dollars simply vanishing into this department.

     I again point out these administrators were making salary numbers several multiples of faculty. Do students really go to Tufts because of the Office of Student Activities there? Do the skills of the administrators attract students? I humbly submit “no”. The purpose of institutions of higher education is research and education…faculty, those that are integral to research and education, must grovel for $50 to cover travel expenses, while administrators get hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend protecting fiefdoms….or for personal benefit, provided they don’t get caught.

    Most institutions of higher education are a Byzantine morass controlled by a caste of rulers that aren’t even vaguely aware that these institutions are about research and education. Many of these institutions are constantly short on funds, and use this shortage to justify cutting expenditures on teaching and research, and raising tuition. I’ve only given a few examples of how corrupted the system is. More will follow. How many will be necessary for the reader to believe that the financial troubles in higher education probably have more to do with mismanagement than with money spent on faculty or tuition being too low?



Think about it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Administrative corruption, part 1

Administrative Corruption, Part 1 of Many

By Professor Doom


     To take the Educational Research Methods course as a guideline, the following summarizes a graduate degree in administration: pay a large sum of money ($100,000 or more) to an institution for courses (plus additional fees if you need “help”), courses where there will quite conceivably be no actual learning of anything, then write a thesis supported by questionable statistics (again, “help” is standing by), and that’s it. The successful customer for these courses already has an administration position, and is basically paying off the institution to get a piece of paper, the better to qualify for vastly more pay and a promotion. So many administrators have these types of degrees that none of them look too closely at the supposed skills, lest their own bogus degrees are examined.

     In terms of personal growth, I can respect that someone, especially someone with much cash to blow, might want to “learn” this stuff in detail, even if I question the possibility of doing so in online formats. But administrators are paid quite well for having these advanced degrees, which seem to serve as nothing more than indoctrination into an educationist point of view. No student coming to an institution really cares if the administrators have excellent teaching and research skills, any more than they care if their McDonald’s cashier has excellent teaching and research skills.

     Considering the observed high proportion of customers looking for someone to write papers in Education or Administration, it’s no longer so odd that administrators don’t take a dim view of cheating, or have much respect for education…only the end goal of completing the program matters, not the means to the end.

     An entire culture was lured by the myths of higher education, little suspecting it was a system controlled top to bottom and beginning to end by an exclusive caste of rulers with no particular interest or respect for education, rulers that are in at least some cases holders of degrees achieved without learning anything, rulers who mutated higher education into their own image. Rulers paid very, very, well if they can but trap the culture into their own vision of education.

     Before moving on to examine tuition, I thought it best to list examples of outrageous administrative corruption suggested by how Administration programs operate. The Fall of the Faculty, by Benjamin Ginsburg, lists page after page of examples…at least 70 pages of examples, most only lightly discussed in a line or two, but I’m going to take some to time to write and examine a few of these in detail.

      First, I need to explain why this corruption is so easy, and why so many examples go on over the course of many years. There is no “check and balance” in the education system, due to a quirk of accreditation. Accreditation procedures, initially written by faculty over  a century ago, don’t address behavior of administrators—back then, faculty and administrators were the same people, with even high positions held by faculty members that had years of experience as faculty before becoming an administrator, and often intended to administrate for but a few years before returning to teaching and research, the primary goals of institutions of higher education (at least, before the administrative takeover).

     When administrators took over accreditation, they saw no reason to put rules on themselves…faculty have rules regarding inappropriate behavior, but not administrators. As an example I gave before showed, an administrator with bogus credentials won’t even be fired…while faculty with bogus credentials is removed from campus immediately.

     But it gets much worse. As you read these examples, realize, these are just the things that have been discovered. Much as it is almost certain the Sandusky Affair involved the rape of far more children than those specifically mentioned by witnesses in the trial, one should realize, due to the egregious nature of the examples given, that administrative corruption is almost certainly far, far, worse than I’m indicating, and this are not merely some long list of isolated examples.



      I begin with perhaps the weirdest case, that of Cecilia Chang, a Dean at St. John’s University in New York. Being a Dean, about the lowest level on the administrative rung, she made but a miserly $120,000 a year, over quadruple the average salary of a faculty member (at least when you factor in the low paid adjuncts). It wasn’t enough for her.

     To offset her crappy pay, she had St. John’s pony up $14,000 for her daughter’s wedding. St. John’s also coughed up her son’s law school tuition (meanwhile, an initiative for faculty to get tuition at their own institutions still dies every year….); her son also got a credit card, bills paid by the university.

     She wasn’t simply a loving mother, she also gave extravagant gifts to her superiors, at least $10,000 a year went to bribes gifts to keep her superiors looking the other way happy. Many of these things, including a Caribbean vacation, were clearly billed to the University…the weirdness of these bills somehow overlooked by the same type of financial officers that can’t find funds to replace light bulbs in our projectors.

     She gave the new University president, her new boss, an envelope full of $100 bills.  To his credit, he returned the money (the first envelope, anyway…), although once again there’s something between the lines that the new president missed: the only way she could have thought such a “gift” was appropriate for someone she’d never met was if she’d been doing the sort for quite some time.  I’ve been in academia for decades and I’ve never had a stranger hand me an envelope full of $100 bills, and those rare occasions where I, possibly, might have been offered a bribe were so circumspect (and so firmly turned down on my part) that I could never be certain.

     Bribery went both ways, of course, and Chang arranged for businessmen to receive “honorary” doctorates in exchange for donations.

     One the key themes of Ginsberg’s book is how administrators set up their own fiefdoms, and Chang is a great example of this—according to reports, she rarely even set foot on campus the last few decades of her 30 years “at” the institution. I guess administrators were too busy opening their gifts, and engaging in their own corruption, to notice something was odd, here.

     What really sets her over the top, however, was her scholarship program. Somehow, this administrator with no respect or appreciation for education (Chang had “assistance” in writing her doctoral dissertation in Education) was in control of awarding scholarships. She awarded these to the children of friends and acquaintances, with the obligation that they had to work 20 hours a week. This work was basically as her personal servants, from washing her car and household chores, to assisting in falsifying bills.


     “It’s nearly impossible to believe that she was able to behave this way without at least a wink and a nod from some at the school who benefited from her ‘generosity,’” said Alan Abramson, another of her attorneys.


     Finally, it was noticed that Chang’s fiefdom was costing around $350,000 a year (not counting her “scholarships for personal servants” program), wiping out whatever alleged money she was bringing in as a fundraiser. Finally, Change was brought to trial for extensive fraud; when it was clear she would lose, she went home, and committed suicide in November, 2012.

     Now, one might look at this as just a really weird case, but consider the decades she was allowed to openly engage in fraudulent behavior, think of her “scholars” washing her car…and consider how few questions were raised, even as her superiors were receiving cases of expensive wine on a yearly basis.

     Much as with the Sandusky Affair, a few brave souls did think it odd, but not enough. Chang probably committed an act of fraud every day for at least a decade before getting caught. What do you think the chances are of getting away with it for administrators that only commit fraud once a week?


Think about it.






Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Research Skills of Administrators

The Research Skills of Administrators

By Professor Doom

Statistical Analyses

--From the course syllabus. Two letter grades for this course is based on the student’s understanding of statistical analysis. Gosh, that sounds it’ll be a lot of work.

     Administration’s gross salaries are justified, in part, because they have advanced degrees, just like faculty (curiously, administrators see no problem with offering degreed faculty minimal salaries whenever possible). Having seen so many administrators that, clearly, have no understanding or appreciation of anything in higher education, yet have advanced research degrees, I took an advanced, 8000 level, research, administration course, the most challenging course an administrator will need before writing his dissertation and getting his doctorate.

     And, so far, the course has been a total joke. The textbook is very basic, there are no tests, the papers are laid very simply (even if I decided not to just hire a writer to do it all for me for a few hundred bucks). Nothing so far is on the level of a first year college course, though certainly much of it could pass as remedial.

3.6.1 The institution’s post-baccalaureate professional degree programs,

master’s and doctoral degree programs, are progressively more

advanced in academic content than its undergraduate programs.

--from SACS’ Principles of Accreditation, though all accrediting bodies have similar language regarding graduate programs. This is one of the very few lines in accreditation that are even remotely related to education, albeit “more advanced” is certainly a matter of opinion.

     Because of what I know about accreditation, I fully expected this course to be more challenging than the undergraduate statistics courses I’ve taught many a time. I had no reason to believe it would match a “real” graduate level statistics course…but still, I thought the coursework would require some effort.

      So it must be time to look at the coursework:

  • Descriptive Statistics, Problem #1.
  • Crosstabulation and Chi-Square Analyses #1.
  • T Tests #1, 2, and 3.

--The third assignment comes from the SPSS manual, for 20% of student grade. While a tiny assignment, one might think there’s some validity to it since here the answers could possibly be wrong, unlike the papers where there’s very little to go wrong.

     So, five questions are all a doctoral student in administration need answer to be qualified to make judgments about research that will influences millions of dollars’ worth of student tuition. They’d best be complicated, then. Let’s go over them.    

     The Descriptive Statistics problem is to read output from a collection of data and analyze if the data is reasonably normally distributed; this is a trivial process. While this topic isn’t in every undergraduate introductory statistics course, all that need be done is identify if some values are between -1 and +1, eliminating data that doesn’t fit this description…hardly difficult, and often ignored in undergraduate courses because it’s so trivial to do with software (but not so easy a task to calculate the numbers by hand).Seriously, the question is to use the SPSS software to do a single problem, and hope the administrator can look at a number and determine if a number is larger than 1, or less than -1.

     The chi-squared test is also something that you don’t see much in undergraduate statistics courses…but mindlessly simple with the software, once again figuring out if a number is too big, or too small.

     The final questions, at least, cover something in every undergraduate statistics course: hypothesis tests. My undergraduate students in my statistics course perform dozens of t-tests; in my course, they use a pocket calculator, but similar courses at other institutions often use software that performs the tests. At the undergraduate level, students need to demonstrate they can perform a T-test in-class on a test, showing that they understand hypotheses and p-values, and that they truly understand what it means to accept or reject a hypothesis in a t-test. T-tests are a critical and very common form of statistical procedure, nearly every statistical result that makes the news uses some form of T-test. This is a concept of critical importance to a researcher, and yet no examination in this graduate course verifies that the students understand, or even have a marginal familiarity with, the underlying concepts. Instead, the students get to do a tiny handful of problems, not even 10% of what undergraduate students must do…and the doctoral students don’t even have to demonstrate they even understand what they’re doing beyond pressing buttons on a machine and hoping the right answers come out.

     Still, unlike the Freshman-level (i.e., not even sophomoric) papers, it’s possible to get the problems wrong, somehow managing even this limp amount of work. Oh wait, my bad, no student can get these problems wrong.

     The complete answers to all problems in the book are provided online by the publisher. The book directs the student where to go to get the answers. Any student that invests five minutes into it can just get the answers online, and submit those. From the syllabus, that five minutes of effort is 20% of the grade for the course. The answers are presented so that a student without the software can still provide them.

     And now I know why my Ph.D. administrators don’t have a clue about what goes on in my undergraduate courses. For them, “challenge” means “take five minutes to look up the answer.” I’ve taught and tutored for at least half a dozen different graduate and undergraduate courses that use statistics; not a single assignment in any of them is as flaccid as this.

     The SPSS software, by the way, is very good, able to take vast amounts of data and perform a wide variety of analysis on it quickly and with little effort. It’s a very useful tool, although students in this course don’t actually buy it (assuming they get it at all), they rent the license for six months. Considering students get no opportunity to learn the underlying ideas, get no real training, and won’t even exit the course owning the software that they (might) learn how to use here, it’s puzzling what the benefits are to this course.

Project Name: Writer needed fo an important exam assignment
Project Description:
Hi, I have an exam that's due April 21 regard leadership management. Take a look 
at it please and tell me how much would you charge me for it please. Thanks
Your exam should be indeed sent before the due day/time. Your typewritten 
responses should be a maximum of one page FOR EACH QUESTION, and a minimum of 3 
paragraphs long FOR EACH QUESTION (3 sentences = a paragraph). Please note this is not a group exam, this is an individual exam… 

--Student in an online administration course (“Leadership Management”) looking to hire some “help.” At least the exam is not a group project…

     At the advanced graduate level, administration students learning how to use research methods need only answer three T-test questions…and the answers are provided. No interpretation of the results, the actual relevant part of statistics, occurs. Students in this course need not demonstrate in any way that they know something about the statistical tests, assuming they don’t just hire someone else to do it all for them. No wonder administrators and educationists keep on using terrible statistics to advance their schemes.

     To judge by the numbering of 8000 level, Educational Research Methods is one of the most advanced courses, if not the most advanced, in the curriculum. The primary assignments for this terminal course are simple papers demonstrating not actual research, but the ability to read and follow basic instructions from a book, and answer a handful of basic statistics questions that are undergraduate level in difficulty, or would be if the answers weren’t specifically provided.

      The writers for hire site I’m registered with isn’t for paper-writing (more of a business writing site) but I’ve included a few examples above of “clients seeking writers” that are quite obviously students looking to hire writers, and are often graduate students hiring writers, especially in online courses. The website I’m with gets a relative few such students, as there are several sites dedicated to writing papers for students, on demand, quickly, that attract most of the students willing to pay for “help,” and my site is for professional, legitimate freelance writers.

     Even if the material and difficulty of this course were not trivial, there’s no reason whatsoever not to expect a fairly significant proportion of the students are cheating by hiring someone else to write the papers, basic as they are (I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if it’s cheating to use the answers to the statistics problems that are provided online).  In any event, this is an example of what I’m told is the most challenging course in the curriculum. Two short papers, five quick problems (answers provided).

     The threat from the Education course I took earlier, about online courses requiring 50 page papers seems pretty silly now, no more a threat than the boogeyman.

     Should so much of tuition go to support a caste of administrators that know basically nothing about education? That’s a loaded question, of course, but I’ll be looking at tuition soon so the reader can judge for himself if, indeed, the rising costs of tuition are somehow related to the rising administrative salaries. But should education be ruled by people with no education?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Writing Assignments of Administrators


The Writing Assignments of Administrators

By Professor Doom


Ethics Reflection
Qualitative Data Collection and Analysis
Statistical Analyses


--From the course syllabus. The other 40% of the grade is from the stilted discussions on the message board…apparently there are people that will post on the board on the behalf of the future administrator, for a small fee.


     The first assignment, Ethics Reflection, is a significant writing assignment, 8 to 10 pages, double spaced. That’s about two of my essays . There are no tests in the course, no means by which the professor could establish that I know anything. This paper, assuming I didn’t wish to just hire someone else to write it for me, is to address five issues, often, according to the rubric, asking for examples to demonstrate understanding of the issues.


I would like to rewrite my report ( account management) as it was detected plagiarized. Total word count is 3548 and need to finish within 2 days…


--Administration student looking to hire help on his paper. Being caught cheating didn’t deter the student or get him expelled. Obviously. I might be working for this guy. If so, if I caught a cheater, I’m sure he’d tell me to just let the student “rewrite” the paper, much like he did…


Here’s What I Need to Write:


     Getting my stopwatch ready, I time myself to see how long it would take to write this paper:

     I must first mention what general characteristics of qualitative and quantitative research methods could propose ethical issues, along with examples and ideas on how to rectify such issues. For example, a qualitative research project could easily deal with personal opinions and observations, and might cause a subject to reveal more than he initially intended. Emphasis in these types of studies should be placed on anonymity, so that a subject doesn’t inadvertently incur difficulty upon himself (for example, a subject that indicates he feels attraction for 10 year old girls could easily face discrimination if identified, even if he’s never engaged in any illegal or even immoral behavior), making it more difficult for the subject to exceed the informed consent agreement. The research design could also allow opportunity for the subject to amend any information he gives.

     Second, the paper must describe three strengths and weaknesses of qualitative and quantitative research methods, as they relate to ethics. These are pretty much detailed in the readings for the course. Quantitative methods make provision of anonymity particularly easy, addressing many ethical issues; however, applying the results of such methods can be devastating to particular individuals. It’s simple to establish from medical tests, for example, that over 99.9% of the population has no particular allergy to peanuts…putting peanut-based products into commonly eaten items can be rather devastating to those few individuals with a life-threatening allergy to peanuts, however.

     Third, the paper is to address why it is important for a research methodology to support a question in terms of ethics. Probably the most important reason is if the methodology is found to be unethical, it will be impossible to replicate the results since the study cannot be repeated, making any results from the research utterly worthless.

     Next, the paper must discuss why it is important that the data collection methods support the research methodology. This is fairly obvious; if the data collection doesn’t support the methodology, any results that are somehow obtained would be questionable, and getting those results might be very difficult. A study examining regional tendencies towards personal color preference or racial discrimination will get no results if your data isn’t collected with respect to identifying those regions, and to identifying colors, and may get skewed results regarding discrimination if there isn’t some anonymity in the collection.


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--a student request for “help” from a professional writer. It isn’t always Education and Administration majors that hire writers for these courses, although a few students in the Educational Research Methods course write about as well as this student. The professor is punished for catching cheaters, but if accreditors saw how the students write in general, perhaps they would wonder at how the papers are so much nicer.



     Finally, the paper asks what the student can do to expedite the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process. The Institutional Review Board approves all research projects (recall, this course may be the final course before proceeding with the dissertation). Obviously, the student should follow the guidelines of the IRB to the absolute letter, and should prepare his research application with an eye towards anticipating, and answering, questions regarding all aspects of his research, especially ethical considerations.

     My light outline above, addressing each topic, is nearly two pages, and took about forty minutes to write (it’s basically my first draft, verifying I had all I needed to write the paper). The 8 to 10 page, double spaced paper cost me an afternoon, as these are basic questions, requiring no actual research.  I just regurgitate the knowledge that’s in the book, using more words. Granted, I’m a fast writer, but even a relatively slow Ph.D. level writer isn’t going to take more than eight hours, a weekend at absolute most. So, for this one week, we’re clearly at the 10 hours of effort level for the relatively slow Administrative Ph.D. student.


“We really need to do this right so that SACS [accreditation] won’t have a follow-up. If they ask for a follow-up, I have to write a bunch of things that just aren’t true.”


--administrator encouraging the faculty to provide good assessment data. Even though all we supplied was grossly manipulated and openly fraudulent data, it apparently was good enough that administration wouldn’t be required to lie more.


     While it is nice to have institutional bosses write a paper on ethical considerations on research, it seems like something on integrity would be good. A whole course devoted to “Don’t enroll every mentally disabled person you can just to maximize those sweet student loan checks” would be well recommended.

     The first major assignment is little different than a high school term paper. Let’s take a look at the second writing assignment.


Another paper.

·         ix) Introduction of research.

·         xix) Research question.

·         1) Prepare and organize the data.

·         2) Review and explore the data.

·         3) Code data into categories.

·         4) Construct thick descriptions of people, places, and activities.

·         5) Build themes and test hypotheses.

·         6) Report and interpret data.

·         7) Conclusion.

--from the instructions, addressing these concepts in the paper should take 7 to 10 pages, double spaced, not counting appendices and references, which add another few pages (much of it is transcribed material). This essay is that long.


     This paper relies on work done earlier in the course, where one creates a hypothetical research question (actual example question from the book, which I used: “How did you discover your talent for cooking?” I repeat: actual example of course material for this Ph.D. level course) and conducts a mock interview with a friend (in my case, girlfriend) or family member to get qualitative information. After each section 1 through 6 (the new material for this assignment), the student is to prepare a paragraph or two of discussion on his own thoughts of the process. I honestly feel like a child imitating the adults with this assignment, as I’m simply going through the motions in a pretend assignment, spelled out completely in the course textbook. This assignment is the writing equivalent of “paint by numbers”…I just follow the instructions and the paper writes itself.

     The first three sections are fairly basic: record the data, assemble it into various displays (like a chart, or a sequential listing, or some other thing—qualitative data has fewer non-graphical ways of being shown), try to eyeball some patterns or relationships. All three steps, together, are described in perfect detail in three pages (total) in the course textbook.

     Step four is the hardest part, I suppose. A ‘thick’ description is discussed in two paragraphs in the text: the researcher is to give detailed descriptions of all the other factors not specifically identified in the research question. Types of clothing the subject(s) wore, the weather, the background noises, and so on, helping to give a visual, auditory, even olfactory image (reasonable for cooking, as my girlfriend’s pantry smells of India) of the researcher’s topic. Providing such in-depth descriptions of the physical setting for the research helps to later identify possible confounding factors, I suppose, although the “why” is never really addressed. The benefit to writing thick descriptions, according to the text, is to “make readers feel like they’re living the experiences described.” This doesn’t seem to be one of the key concepts of research mentioned earlier, but I mindlessly do it.

     Theme-building refers to the using of key phrases or code words to help explain the underlying questions guiding the research. The researcher is to identify patterns in the raw data, to simplify it into “seven to eight” (that’s directly from the book) themes.

     Next comes reporting and interpreting the data, giving the researcher’s interpretation of what the data mean. Such conclusions are subjective, of course, but in a qualitative study this might be unavoidable to some extent.

    The course textbook highlights exactly what to do, with examples, for each of these steps; there is nothing in the book on “conclusion,” although it’s part of the assignment. The course instructions for the conclusion indicate the student is to address why this method of data collection (the interview) is useful for gaining the type of information in the research.

      In 20 years of dealing with Administration, not a single time have I seen this method of research being used for anything in higher education. Ever.

     Since qualitative research is completely out of my experience, writing this all out in detail takes a full eight hours of effort (again, the book gives a walkthrough, making each step very easy once the data is collected). That might not be a fair assessment, as the data collection, done earlier, also took some time. Ten hours covers the entire assignment from scratch. While the first assignment was basically high school work, this is a fair assignment, a real first year of college level paper, training a student in basic skills. With everything being qualitative, it’s all but impossible to get this assignment “wrong,” however. The textbook does a very good job here, clearly explaining and providing examples of what to do, even if it doesn’t address “why” nearly enough. Overall, the assignment feels like a warm-up for a real assignment, one that never comes.


Project Name: Lesson Plans

Project Description:

Hi, I have this assignment that is 6-8 pages that is due Monday...Somebody was supposed to do it for me for $80, but…she is no longer able to do it for me. Can you please look at the details and let me know if you are able to do it and if we can stay for the long run? Please include a Reference page and use APA format for the assignment. I have attached all the pages and chapters that you might need Thanks!Final Project- Due Monday, May 9, 2011Your final assignment for EDU…


--Education student looking to hire a writer, “for the long run”. Despite, possibly because of, how simple the writing assignments are in the research methods course, it would be trivial for me to hire someone else to do it if I were so inclined.  



      While qualitative research is interesting, even more interesting is how administrators completely disregard all qualitative issues despite this sort of training; every measure they use is quantitative, or quickly converted to quantitative. Student appreciation of teaching, for example, is converted to a 1 to 5 scale, even if a “totally awesome” teacher can’t possibly be merely five times as good as a “completely terrible” teacher. Ultimately all education, as qualitative a subject as it gets, is identified by retention rate, at least for administrative eyes. In any event, I’m not sure if students really need administrators to be able to write basic qualitative research papers, even as I acknowledge it takes some effort to do so.

     Regardless, while this paper took some time to prepare, anyone who can read and write at a basic level can follow along with the book’s instructions and present at least a passing attempt at a paper without any particular knowledge or skills.

      Only one assignment remains in this advanced, 8000 level, course for Adminstration students before they get their Ph.D.s. The last assignment is where I have an advantage, as it uses actual statistics. Rather, I would have an advantage, but much like the papers above, no knowledge or skill is necessary to complete the assignment…in fact the assignment is so insultingly simple that I’ll save a whole essay just to address in detail how ridiculous it is.

      Until then, realize that the most advanced course requires literally no knowledge, tests on no knowledge, and the writing involved can be easily sub-contracted out to a writer-for-hire. And yet people get these degrees, and use the degrees they get from these programs as justification for jobs that easily break the $100,000 a year mark. So, my question for today: how does accreditation approve these courses and programs? Hint: administrators run accreditation.


Think about it.