Saturday, July 9, 2016

WSU: Math OUT, Diversity IN

By Professor Doom

     It’s so hard to keep up with the madness infecting our universities. Core to the lunacy is the simple fact that educators have no influence over education today, and instead administrators, with no education themselves, get to decide what an “educated” person should know. Thus we have courses on Game of Thrones, but at least those are electives—you don’t have to know about Game of Thrones to be an educated person.

     Administration is totally dementing education now. I discussed earlier how you can get a degree in English Literature without reading any Shakespeare, by instead learning about how to define people as superior based on having certain genitals or skin color. This completely degrades what a college degree represents (particularly an English Literature degree), but it’s going to get worse.

“The mathematics department is an impediment to graduation.”

--spoken by a Dean in his address to the mathematics department. While some readers will be shocked at the disrespect, my readers who work in higher education are probably more shocked that the Dean was male. Don’t worry, he was what is called now a “protected minority.”

     It’s no secret that mathematics is a thorn in the side of administrators who want to produce graduates. They’ve threatened and intimidated math departments to the point that most “college” math is actually just 10th grade math in a course that’s nevertheless called “College Algebra.”

     Still, even asking students to learn the skills that used to be common to 16 year olds was so troublesome, and paying those math teachers actual money cuts into administrative pay.

      What to do, what to do? Oh, it’s obvious if you have no respect for education:

--I point out: WSU is a publicly supported school. You’re paying for this. All of you.

     Lies and misinformation seem to be only things that come from admin. Let’s start with the very first sentence of this announcement:

A faculty committee has proposed adding a three credit hours requirement in diversity to the general education curriculum at Wayne State University. 

--emphasis added

     It’s so hard not to respond to this assertion with vulgarity, but the British word for this, bollocks, applies well enough. A faculty committee recommended this. Sure. What else did the committee recommend?

     It also recommended that WSU drop its university-wide requirement in mathematics, an idea that was carried out on June 13.

     A faculty committee really recommended getting rid of mathematics? Seriously? What moron is going to vote himself right out of a job?

      Allow me to quickly summarize faculty committees on many campuses. A committee of faculty is formed, usually of sycophants and spineless incompetents (especially at bogus community colleges). If administration wants the committee to recommend something, administration then tells the committee what to vote for…or else. I’ve been in higher education over 20 years, and that’s how the committees I’ve been on have worked, predominantly. If admin is really worried that the faculty won’t cave in, they’ll put an administrator in charge of the committee.

      There’s just no way an honest committee is going to willingly vote themselves out of a job. That’s simply looking at things in terms of self-interest. Mathematics is actually very important, both in terms of education, and in terms of job skills. There is nothing in the modern world that could exist without the mathematics for it being developed first…an engineer might build it, but he used math at some point. Being central to modern civilization, an educated person should know something about math. What committee of scholars wouldn’t know this?

      It’s a faculty committee, we’re told, and I’m very curious.

     Hey, look, we can see who is on the committee. More importantly, we can see who is running the committee. The name at the very top, the one in control of the committee, is Monica Brockmeyer , Associate Provost for Academic Success. She’s not faculty, she’s admin, as you can tell by the whacky title…this is not a faculty committee, as the faculty on the committee must do whatever admin says. 

     Since WSU is a public university, we can also see Monica’s pay. I’m curious about that, too, and this is public knowledge: over $175,000 a year.  She got a $9,000 raise in 2015. And she also got a $17,000 raise in 2014. She was only hired in 2013, so basically she gets a nice fat raise every year; it’s so weird how admin gets regular, huge, pay raises, while faculty struggle to get even a 1.2% raise every decade or so. Seriously, it was a big deal when faculty in Colorado got a $250 a year pay raise. Considering there are more administrators than faculty in higher ed now, this is a very lopsided use of education money.

     Please, keep this in mind when you hear more administrative screaming about how not enough money is going into education, because I can promise you these types of regular pay raises for administrators are standard in higher education today. Every administrator I’ve looked at in this blog over the years gets raises like this.

      Her pay raises alone are more than what the adjunct faculty (i.e., the people that do the actual work for which the university was created) get in total salary. It’s a safe bet she wanted mathematics off the curriculum, because doing so would help her fiefdom of “Academic Success.” If she disappeared tomorrow, no student’s education would be impacted, and there would be enough money freed up to give full scholarships to 50 students a year.

      Yes, this deanling's existence is denying scholarships to 50 students, when you consider how little of tuition is actually paying for education, instead of administrators. Allow me to demonstrate this, in detail. Let’s assume we’re at a tax-supported institution, so it gets free land and buildings paid for by bonds. The primary cost of education for these places is paying for the faculty.

      Suppose we hire two faculty, at around $60,000 a year (note: this is much more than most faculty make, and about triple what an adjunct professor is paid, the teacher of the majority of college courses today).

      Let each faculty teach a mere 3 courses a semester (note: many faculty teach more than this, with 6 courses a semester hardly rare; I taught 5 a semester at a bogus community college), 12 credit hours.  A student taking 12 credit hours is taking a full time course load, as per Federal regulations.

     Let each class have a maximum size of 25 students (note: we have college classes with hundreds of students in them today, sometime even a thousand). So, the money we’re spending on the deanling could pay the full time education costs of 50 students, with over $50,000 a year left over for incidentals like paper and chalk.

     Just like that, I’ve shown that we can either have this overpaid deanling destroying education, OR we can give full scholarships to 50 students, and have money left over, providing a far better education than what our students are getting now because I have smaller classes (and better pay for the faculty).

      Seriously, if you want a single sentence to describe what’s going on in higher education, here it is: a caste of ridiculously highly paid administrators is working diligently to destroy higher education.

      Anyway, back to the topic of taking mathematics out of education. The reason for removing mathematics is jaw-dropping, and an open admission of ongoing fraud at this university.

     Next time.


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