Stop saying STEM when you certainly don’t mean it.

Folks,

During this discussion about gen ed and articulation, I have heard many colleagues mention the importance of STEM education.

Please don’t say that anymore.

Even though it is TOTALLY obvious that we are unique among the 16 colleges (well 17 if you count Charter Oak) in the fact that we could, in theory, have a STEM school, it is obvious that it will never come to fruition.

 

Although we could solidify our identity and system importance based upon the things we already do well (International Education, Workforce and State Economic Development, Community Engagement, Interdisciplinary Studies and Cross-Curricular Initiatives) AND by adding a STEM school, it is obvious that neither faculty nor administrators want it… despite the grants we write, despite the calls for STEM support by the governor and legislature, despite our research collaborations, despite the obvious ties to general education and program development and gift giving. Living proof is the constant reluctance to even entertain reorganization… such as when my Department reiterated its unanimous desire to move into the SE&T. The acting Dean of the School stopped the move request in its tracks which for me, as a fan of shared governance, thought was premature since it didn’t consider the Senate who has advisor capacities in university organizational structure.  But alas! I am griping.

Suffice it to say… stop saying “STEM”… because when you get right down to it… there is no champion for STEM here.

Posted in Academics, Campus Policies, Shared Governance | 1 Comment

Back in the Day… A piece from 2010 when I was upset that we weren’t hiring faculty.

I found this attempt at satire on my hard drive as home as I was attempting to start writing my university research grant.

I think it was an attempt at what the kids call “sarcasm”.

——————————————————————————————-

From: trelawneys@hogwarts.edu

Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2010 5:55 PM

To: crundwellg@hotmail.com

FW: Exclusive from The Quibbler: Hogwarts to Reduce Teaching Staff, Hire More Wizards to Administrate

Guy-Thought you’d like this. I saw it coming years ago.

Yours in vision,

Sybill

——————————————————————————————-

From: skeetergi@thequibbler.net

Sent: Saturday, November 27, 2010 12:00 PM

To: Binns, Cuthbert (HistoryofMagic); Flitwick, Filius (Charms); Grubbly-Plank, Wilhelmina(Herbology); Hagrid, Rubeus(CareMagicalCreatures); Hooch, Rolanda (Flying); McGonagall, Minerva (Transfiguration); Slughore, Horace (DefenseDarkArts); Snape, Serverus (Potions); Trelawney, Sybill (Divination)

Cc: Dumbledore, Albus (Headmaster); Shaklebolt,Kingsley (MinistryofMagic); Umbridge, Doloris (MinsitryofMagic); Fudge, Cornelius (MinistryofMagic)

Subject: Exclusive from The Quibbler: Hogwarts to Reduce Teaching Staff, Hire More Wizards to Administrate

In a surprise move Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster at Hogwart’s School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, announced today that the school would be letting faculty go over the next few years despite increased enrollments, designated funds for new teaching positions from the Ministry of Magic, and specified goals in the Hogwart’s Strategic plan. Instead, Dumbledore explained that the money would instead be used to hire more administrative faculty to tackle the seemingly complex goals of assessing what the students have learned from their NEWT and OWL exams. Additionally, Dumbledore has decided to spend funds to better equip the Quidditch teams- not only redoing the pitch to accommodate more seats but also hiring more staff to monitor players… all in a designed move to specifically keep Hogwart’s noticeable on the international, amateur, Quidditch team map.

Dumbledore’s budget-related moves confused many in the wizarding world who have kids at Hogwart’s. Augusta Longbottom, whose nephew goes to Hogwart’s asked, “Won’t more teachers in the classroom help my Neville become a better Herbologist? Won’t he become better if a teacher gives him more hands-on opportunities to replant Mandrakes and Abyssinian Shrivelfigs? He cannot do that if there are 40 students in the lab!” Hannah Abbott, current resident of Hufflepuff added, “I already needed an override for Potions last term and I’d rather grind Erumpent horn than ask Snape for another! With even fewer teachers, it might take me another year until I get into Potions II… and I need to know how to make the Draught of the Living Dead for my OWLs! This is just some clever ruse to get us to stay at Hogwart’s longer!”

The Ministry of Magic is swamped with Howlers over the bizarre budget moves; but insists that the Hogwart’s administration has the right and flexibility to buck the popular move of hiring faculty. A Ministry official, wishing to speak anonymously stated, “Next time Hogwart’s comes to us asking for more funds for faculty we at the Wizengamot will point our wands and say ‘Riddikulus’!” Wizards outside the Ministry, however, are less jocular of the steering away from Hogwart’s mission and are wand tapping mad about the reallocation of public resources allotted from the Ministry. Melina Macmilliam called the planned move to let faculty go, “Crazier than Loony Lovegood’s search for the Crumple-Horned Snorkack.”

When cornered about the move, Dumbledore backed away from his pensive to justify his actions. He stated, “Well, I’ve just watched testimony from a Muggle President at Central Connecticut State University from 2006. He testified then that a growing student/faculty ratio was the’ greater problem’ at his University when he asked his State Legislature for funds for more faculty lines. He then turned around a few years later and decided to tell his Provost to let those hard fought for lines go. I figured I’d do the same and try to stay with the times. I usually try the logical approach to solve these types of problems; but this time I’ve decided to act like a Muggle and to fly in the face of the students, Hogwart teachers, our plan to the public, and officials at the Ministry”. As he peers over his half-moon spectacles, one could help but wonder if he has been placed under the Imperius Curse by Salazar Slytherin himself.

G.I Skeeter

The Daily Phrophet

Posted in Academics, Campus Policies, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Hullabaloo Over Program Review

There was a top down policy on program review that made its way to the Senate last Spring.

It got booted to the Curriculum Committee in the Fall. Mainly because it was feared the program review could lead to a witch hunt to cancel low-enrolled programs (which ironically… it may have!)

In the Fall, Curriculum thought it stunk so they didn’t vote it down and instead sent it to the Senate… without a vote.

Score “1” for faculty leadership. (Just kidding!)

Senate rightfully passed it to Curriculum; but Curriculum should have done SOMETHING with it since the Curriculum Committee is a Standing Committee of the Faculty doing the Senate’s business related to curriculum and programs. After all, in terms of faculty governance we are to have “decision-making authority in such areas as curriculum matters, degree requirements, scholastic standards, academic freedom, admission policies, and student behavior.” [my emphasis!] SO if the Senate sends you a policy to look at.. then at least sound off on it.

Q: Why is the Curriculum Committee passing on it without a vote?

A: I dunno… Because they don’t want to say “No” to the admin who spear headed the idea?  Are they afraid of repercussions or afraid of being downright ignored. (My money is on the latter.)

What is the gist of the policy?

The policy seeks to remedy a concern of NEASC… our University’s accrediting body. NEASC seeks periodic review of academic programs. I agree with the spirit of the NEASC request… but I don’t dig the proposed policy.

The proposed policy merges several of the Provost’s interests into external periodic program review. Several goals for external reviewers are listed and all of them would be a handful for faculty since they would be put in the position of gathering large amounts of data that looks amazingly like assessment data. And like assessment and advising policies that have come top-down before this policy, the resources are scant and have yet to “trickle-down”. In other words, its a complicated policy with unclear resources that would most likely represent a significant time-drain on faculty.

One of the caveats of the proposed policy is that accredited Departments like mine would be exempt. (Thank you American Chemical Society!) So if I’m exempt… what’s my beef?

My beef is that there are several things in the policy that deviate from what I feel is program review. The ACS reviews our program offerings but doesn’t fiddle with assessing our learning outcomes or fiddle with examining our operating budget… but the proposal on the table does. Will my Department be at some sort of disadvantage? My guts tells me that the University will turn around and make us provide the data they wanted the external reviews to get even though the ACS doesn’t require it anyways… so you can see where I am going. I fear that in the long run, the ACS report would need to be “amended”… so what’s the point anyway!

Q: Is there a simpler way?

A: Yes.

The Senate should simply pass the following resolution.

“The Faculty Senate believes every Department should seek periodic external review of its programs.”

This is better for several reasons.

It represents a bottom-up approach that meets the goals of faculty and NEASC… instead of the assessment and budgeting goals of the Provost and NEASC.

NEASC asks for ” 4.10 The institution undertakes academic planning and evaluation as part of its overall planning and evaluation to enhance the achievement of institutional mission and program objectives. These activities are realistic and take into account stated goals and available resources. The evaluation of existing programs includes an external perspective and assessment of their effectiveness. Additions and deletions of programs are consistent with institutional mission and capacity, faculty expertise, student needs, and the availability of sufficient resources required for the development and improvement of academic programs. The institution allocates resources on the basis of its academic planning, needs, and objectives.” The only thing an external review of an academic program needs to do is provide an external perspective and assessment of the overall effectiveness.

My simple motion reflects the simpler fact that faculty are in charge (i.e. decision making authority) of their academic programs. Faculty’s’ primary concern should be the quality of their program.. not how much the University gives them in order to run the program. After all, it was the budgetary stuff in the program that got faculty paranoid back in the Spring that the program review was in some way tied to program cancellation. [Chant with me: “Hey! (pause) Hey-ho! (pause) That dough language has got to go!”]

My suggested motion represents a much simpler policy that has a greater chance of being absorbed into the long-term function of faculty at CCSU. By comparison, the assessment reports that faculty toil over for no resources have shown to be a moving target of items that are half-tracked… in part because there is no incentive for the faculty to generate data that they don’t want. IOW… if you want movement then make the faculty feel as if they own the movement. A “comply or else” mentality stirs up resentment amongst faculty especially when there are no resources… this should be obvious to management since their attempt to withhold department budgets was challenged by the Union.

Posted in Academics, Campus Policies, Shared Governance | Leave a comment

The Family Reunion Allegory- Preface

Backstory

I currently sit on the University’s Planning and Budget Committee (UPBC). This is a Standing Committee of the Faculty that reports to the Faculty Senate. The Senate has a lot of work to do in its decision-making capacity as well as in its advisory capacity. The UPBC is supposed to be the place where faculty craft the Senate’s voice on the University’s planning and budgetary plans. Motions made there are forwarded to the Senate where they can be fined/tuned/edited then voted upon. Unfortunately, the constituency of the UPBC is flawed and does not allow it to work as the faculty voice on all planning and budget issues.

Besides the simple fact that long-term planning of buildings and whatnots are completely removed from the purview of the UPBC, the UPBC has another fatal flaw– it is a group of a handful of instructional faculty, a handful of administrative faculty, and a large pod of administrators. No other committee (with the recent exception of the ridiculous constituencies of the Diversity Committee and the Community Engagement Committee) has more than one voting ex-officio administrator. BTW, I don’t think ANY administrator should be voting on a faculty committee. They are there for perspecivie, insight, institutional memory and input on policies the faculty are proposing… and that’s it. It would be just as ridiculous to have voting faculty on the SGA. Let the Student’s have their voice and let us have ours. What is so hard to understand about that? The exclusion of administrators from faculty committees, just like the exclusion of faculty from the SGA, in no way says that that body as a whole is not interested in the opinions of other campus members. It just says… let us come to our own conclusions and let us craft our own voice!

I recently tried to take away voting rights for those administrative people on the UPBC who can never be recalled or replaced via these democratic things called “elections”. When an administrator votes, they simply do not represent the voice of the faculty. So when their vote “speaks”… it may end up silencing faculty. The UPBC defeated the motion. Ha.

Pay the Piper!

I recently brought to the attention to the UPBC the Knight Foundation report to restore balance in funding between stagnant or shrinking academic budgets when compared to rapid growing athletic budgets. The very first conclusion of the Knight Commission report was to require “greater transparency and the reporting of better measures to compare athletics spending to academic spending .” This wasn’t me “going after the athletic budget” but was me trying to get ahead of the ball and seeing that CCSU could start gathering data. I gave a presentation (here) that had preliminary results that CCSU spent like a Decile 1 BCS school… spending 2-4 times more on our student athletes than we do on our students without a plan in place to track spending in a way the Knight Commission felt was logical.

So I brought forth two resolutions to the UPBC that mirrored my belief that we should increase transparency regarding the athletic program.

My first motion passed with minor revision. It was: The UPBC believes that data related to our athletic program should be readily available to the campus and local community. Therefore, the UPBC recommends the administration circulate an annual report for the athletic program. Since there is already an existing CT State Audit report of CCSU Athletic Program (which has the same type of data that is presented on the USA Today NCAA Finance Database website], the UPBC suggest the University circulate this report to the Senate, UPBC, and SGA as well as publish it on the CCSU website.

My second motion failed. It was: The UPBC is concerned that the rate of increase in spending on CCSU’s athletic program per FTE student athlete may be rising faster than the spending in academics per FTE student. Therefore, the UPBC recommends the administration work out a feasible method that determines these ratios and report this data.

This motion failed. Now there were three general arguments against my motion. The first, and main point, was that there was no faculty concern. That spending on athletics should not be looked as detracting from spending on academics. It was like comparing an apple to an orange…. (or as I quipped like comparing a golden apple to an apple.) The second argument was that the UPBC should be spending its time on planning and budget matters and that (though unsaid) I as a faculty member had an axe to grind. The third argument wasn’t even germane to the motion and was that the athletic program is subject to outside pressures (the NCAA, the NEC conference, etc.) that will mandate that it needs to spend more money or else. After my second motion failed I pulled three additional motions mainly because I saw the lay of the land.

The worse part about the whole shebang was the assurances from everyone at the table immediately after the vote that the SECOND sentence of the motion was worthwhile. Everyone… adminstrator, instructional faculty, and administrative faculty alike… saw no harm in collecting the data! (Although I know it won’t because the motion failed.) Apparently they only felt it was harmful to say that faculty are “concerned” about the spending of academic with respect to athletics! There was no data to suggest that! So the facultys’ “concern” is what apparently went out to vote… and a handful of administrators voted on that. Explain to me how that doesn’t silence the faculty voice on a Standing Committee of the Faculty. One high ranking administrator whose task it would have been to come up with some sort of measure that the motion called for said that he wasn’t concerned… so why should faculty? Other asked me if other faculty were concerned. I said yes while my eyebrows were still furrowed from the administrator’s comment… it took a second to hit me but it spoke volumes. The data won’t be collected regardless of the glad-handing going on. To think its not a concern will translate into no data being collected just as to collect no data translates into no real concern.

I went home and called some friends to vent. I posted to a faculty message board to vent. Then I calmed down and thought about what went down. I asked myself a couple of hypotheticals. “Would this motion have passed if only faculty were on this committee?”  and “If my motion was defeated because of the first sentence which claims that faculty are concerned, then are faculty concerned and, if so, who has the right to say so?” The faculty member who was elected by his peers or the administrator who can vote just because he holds a particular office?

What other topics will the UPBC work around because the constituency does not see it as a concern?

The abuse of emergency appointments?

The lack of equitable distribution of research reassigned time?

I know now that I better come with more than motions… I better come with hard polling data of my constituency… because if an administrator doesn’t find value in my concerns then I am already down four votes.

But I still couldn’t let go the general comments that (1) athletic spending doesn’t detract from academic spending and (2) that external pressures should be allowed to balloon any particular budget at CCSU… hence my next post… the Family Reunion Allegory….

Posted in Academics, Campus Policies, Collegiate Athletics, Shared Governance | 3 Comments

Daily Blurp

What made the South Park “Inception” parody so funny was the “dream within a dream within a dream”.

When I hear of the stockpiling of requirements in gen ed I chuckle…. its a requirement inside a requirement inside a requirement.

The old days faculty used to battle which department offerings should be in the general education program… but like Emeril LaGasse we’ve kicked it up a notch…. BAM!

In additional to the Department turf war, we’ve added overarching philosophies into the gen ed mix to create a checklist within a checklist…

the international requirement….. BAM!

the diversity requirement(?)….. BAM!

the community engagement requirement(?)….. BAM!

the writing across the curriculum requirement(?)…. BAM!

Wake me up when its over!… and please be sure you are waking me from the dream within a dream within a dream as well as the dream within the dream and the actual dream itself.

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On assessment and the faculty role

I recently commented on the lack of resources for assessment. I have also questioned the fact that faculty put in a great deal of work on assessment-related activities without resources or with no expectation that the pro-bono work helps with promotion or tenure. I also concluded that faculty are our own worst enemies because we cannot seem to say “No”. So in an attempt to be proactive I give the option of not saying “no” immediately…. How about a fall back step which asks for clarification:

If I were on the Senate (now I am not), I would suggest the following change to the Senate Constitution:

“2.2  The Faculty Senate has decision-making authority in such areas as curriculum matters, degree requirements, scholastic standards, academic freedom, assessment, admission policies, and student behavior.”

I would make this change because the currently accepted stance on assessment is reflected in one of the Senate’s Standing Committees, the Academic Assessment Committee. Its mission is clearly stated:

“The Academic Assessment Committee is a standing Committee of the Faculty elected by the Faculty and serves as the primary advisory body about practices for the evaluation of student learning outcomes in CCSU’s undergraduate and graduate programs. The Committee also coordinates, but does not implement, the overall program for the assessment of general education learning outcomes. The Committee is responsible for providing feedback and support to Departments by reviewing reports about their assessment of student learning outcomes, and for identifying and disseminating promising assessment practices”

One might argue that Assessment might be under our advisory capacity instead. I would argue that the Senate minutes has a clue as to the intent of faculty’s decision-making role as opposed to a role that is more “advisory” in capacity. This document has been accepted by the President; therefore reflects an initial acceptance that assessment may lie under our decision-making functions.

Look at the opening sentence from http://www.ccsu.edu/page.cfm?p=3523: the 2008 crafted policy called “Policy on Academic Assessment”. I have added the emphasis.

“As a primary means for evaluating and improving the curriculum and learning process, academic assessment at CCSU is the ongoing activity of determining the extent to which students meet goals for learning outcomes and using findings to improve programs and services. The primary purpose of assessment is to provide faculty and staff with information that can be used to make improvements and adjustments; compliance with external mandates is a secondary, though necessary, purpose of CCSU’s assessment system. ”

However, if others feel that assessment is a new example of our advisory capacities since staff are expected to assess non-academic “services” and if the Administration would veto any motion from the Senate that sought to revise the Senate Constitution to reflect faculty desire to make assessment a new example where faculty have decision-making authority, then we have to revise the Senate Constitution to reflect the fact that assessment is only a part of our advisory responsibilities. It has to be one or the other. The only other type of Faculty Senate Standing Committees are those stipulated by the contract (Mediation/Termination Committee)… so all committees, other than the two contract ones, can be traced back to our decision-making capacity or our advisory role. Every Committee except advising and assessment. So if Assessment is not an example of our decision-making role and since it is not a contract mandated committee, then by default we must only have an advisory role in assessment, right?

Well… this, in turn, would result in one obvious question. The burden of workload associated with faculty’s advisory capacities are carried by faculty who volunteer for committee-work (Committee on Administrative Appointments, UPBC, P&T, etc.) but assessment reflects a non-voluntary expectation of non-contractual work from faculty in every Department. This expectation is wrong. So I ask my colleagues who are in the Senate to push this issue… where does assessment belong? Under our decision-making responsibilities or under or advisory capacities?

This would be a great help in understanding our role in assessment and would serve as an excellent way to open dialog about workload, expectations, and resources.

 

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Dr. C-Aesop’s Fable: The Prince and the Farmers

One day a King mandated that the fruit on all his kingdom’s apple trees be checked for quality. “It is paramount that our apples be bountiful– they must be big, they must be red, they must be sweet, and they must make the finest pies!” So he sent for his Prince. He told the Prince, “Here are resources! Make sure all apples in my kingdom are the finest possible! I am sick of nearby kings mocking me because of our inferior apples!”

The Prince took the resources and spent half of them hiring a Manager to come up with a kingdom-wide plan to evaluate apples. The Manager determined the kingdom had 300 orchards- all scattered in various placed throughout the kingdom. The Prince being satisfied with his Manager and the Manager’s master plan to evaluate apples took the remaining half of his resources and called a meeting of his Earls. “Earls!”, he called out. “The King is sick of inferior apples and I have made it a point of pride to ensure we do better! Our apples will be the envy of the entire land.” The Earls immediately said, “We agree! We are sick of having bushels of inferior apples. They sit in baskets in our office and we cannot get any work done. Please give us all resources so we can sit and organize how our farms will give us the data for the plan your Manager developed.” The Prince, thinking it was a wise investment, gave the Earls half of his remaining resources. “The King will be pleased for we are well on our way.”

The next day, the Prince and his Earls were walking to a general meeting of all the farmers when the King’s jester tumbled onto the horse-path that the Prince and his entourage where traveling on. The jester joked, “I’ve got good news…. and bad news!” The Prince was silent and stared at the jester calmly and serenely.

“The good news is that the King was so insulted by the mocking of his neighbors that he decided to go to war against them. He has called many of the land’s farmers to assist in punishing the insulting offenders! The bad news is that he needs your uncommitted resources to pay for arms and provisions!”

The Prince was silent and stared at the jester calmly and serenely as the jester left.

Then the Prince continued on his path. The Earls, having no choice because their first priority was to remain non-fighting (and very much alive) Earls, continued.

The meeting with the few farmers that were left was interesting. The Prince stated the King’s desire to have the best apples… big, sweet, red, and pie-worthy… and appealed to the farmer’s sense of pride in their kingdom. The farmers who in addition to tending the orchards also worked the fields were skeptical. One cried, “I grow green apples! These apples are even better for pies!” Another lamented, “My orchard has been growing the finest cider apples for centuries!” A third exclaimed, “My orchard specializes in small apples that are harvested early! They are not best for pies but they satisfy the kingdom’s peoples”  Ultimately, it dawned on the farmers and they all chimed in, “Perhaps if you hired more farmers we can grow more large, sweet, red apples! In the old days, each farmer has twenty trees to tend; now we have one hundred each! If large, sweet, red apples for apple pies are your priority, then why didn’t you put all your resources into an experienced farmer who specializes in growing large, sweet, red apples for apples?”

“Why didn’t I put my resources into hiring more farm workers?” repeated the Prince calmly and serenely.

Because”, the Prince said, “I used to work at a University.”

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General Education Revision- Commonplace Edification or Inclusive Indoctrination?

First of all, I’d like to thank my Thesarus for the title.

(BTW, a Thesarus is not a dinosaur.)

If I had a dollar every time revising general education came up as a topic around the office water cooler, then I’d still be a few bucks shy of fielding my own D1 athletic program… but I’d be close…. really, really close.

The internet anagram server often serves up valuable insight… so before I begin, I’ll take a second to see what wit it offers on the topic of general education:

  • “Reeducation Glean”…. nah, too easy!
  • “Agreed Nucleation”…. nah, too science-centric!
  • “Reeducating Alone”…. ohh, that’s close!
  • “Unrelated Coinage”… closer, hits a spiritual vibe in me!
  • “Deranged Inoculate”… maybe, if I was interested in outcomes!
  • Decennial Outrage”… yeah, that’s about right!

Every 10 years or so, faculty get restless about general education. Its like moving the furniture around in your living room after a long cold winter. Its still the same furniture after its moved but you feel good because you’ve moved it around and its been well dusted. For some reason… for some motivational force… inertia has brought us again to “revisiting” general education. Heaven help us but we cannot help it. It was on our list of things to do by the end of the decade.

For years, general education has been a revision of check lists… of modes, study areas, skill areas, university requirements, etc. And year by year, Departments or groups of faculty get together and decide something is very important that all students should know… and usually, unlike pulling up your pants and using a belt [hint kids!], it takes an entire class to learn how to do it or appreciate it.

So by the time a general education revision is flushed out, there remains a large list of classes. Those who made it and those who didn’t. In our current general education program, these lists are further differentiated by international requirements and FYEs and other subcategories that leave some options for students out of the general education schema. It is a shopping list where students often have the only option of choosing between classes that they think are the least boring.

But this time is different! Thanks to years of assessment the traditional Department-based turf battles over which courses make the list and which courses are off the list are out the window! Departments won’t be able to demand that a proper liberal arts education mandates at least one English, History, Math, Science, Social Science, Behavioral Science, etc course!  We are sick of the damned list of courses! The check list is dead! Or is it?

There are a lot of options out there… but ultimately, they lead to check lists. Even the option of no requirements leaves students with the tracking of credits via a check list (albeit a blank one). So my dime is on, at first, a seemingly simpler horse. That horse is called “My Little Objective Pony”. And she is fed on a steady diet of learning outcomes and assessment. She’s eaten so much of the stuff that her little legs cannot even touch the ground… which is good… because ideas on assessment and learning outcomes are cheaper than the price of rolled oats at a University.

Over the next couple of months, the ad hoc General Education Subcommittee of the Curriculum Committee that reports to the Faculty Senate will be compiling and vetting ideas for gen ed revision and my guess is that they’ll produce a list of learning outcomes that will be tweaked to remove any direct linkage to any particular department. (For that sisyphean task alone, I owe them all a round of beers at Elmers. ) They will represent a new approach to general education that both the faculty and the administration will be happy with! The general education outcomes will morph seamlessly into the University’s overall assessment. That’s why I’m betting on “My Little Objective Pony”.. well, it’s that, plus I feed her, and she is so fat and cute.

The honeymoon with the new General Education Program will be short… mainly becuase someone will realize that the pony cannot run.

At first, someone will point out that its still a checklist. (Murmur, murmur from the galley) Someone else will point out that a transfer student’s three psychology courses all meet the same singular learning outcome and therefore cannot all be used for his/her general education requirements. (Can I get a “Harumph!”) Finally, someone will contest a decision made by a faculty committee that lists COURSE 212 as a “critical thinking course” when actually it is an “applied writing” course. (Impolite cough because someone else wants to talk.) Someone will attempt to have a class listed simultaneously cross-listed under two learning objectives. (Books fly off the table of the faculty whose course was denied the same option.)

There will be outrage; but I’m okay with it… it gives me things to talk about at the water cooler, it makes my life assessing general education easier, and it will only be around for 10 years.

Long Live the Check List!

 

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Stat of the Day.

My professional life consists of collecting data, analyzing data, building models, and then refining models.

I love databases. I love data. Is it any wonder that when I get interested in University service that I want data… lots and lots of data.

One of the best web-sites I have found is the USA Today NCAA Finance Database(http://www.usatoday.com/sports/college/ncaa-finances.htm). It has revenue and expenditure reports for NCAA D1 athletic programs at public schools from 2004 to 2008. Spend a few minutes to compare UConn and CCSU against other schools and you’ll see some interesting similarities and interesting difference… and hopefully, you’ll start to ask questions. Questions are good. They lead to better models!

In 2008, you can see that CCSU’s D1 athletic program had a cost of $11.4 million dollars. Where does the money to run the program come from? Well, it comes from many little sources and one huge source according to the data. Ticket sales account for a whopping 0.82% of income. Student fees account for 0% of the income. As a model builder, I found that odd because every semester students pay a General Fee of about $1088 dollars (in 2008). The General Fee description is that it “supports costs for the operations of the Student Center, gymnasium, intramurals, student ID, intercollegiate athletics, accident insurance, general operation of and mortgage payment for parking facilities.”

The main source of revenue for D1 athletics comes from “Direct Institutional Support” to the tune of $8.5 million dollars in 2008. That means that 76% of the cost of the program comes from the University, most likely from the University’s general fund. As mentioned in “A Game Change: Paying for Big Time Sports” in Change magazine (http://www.changemag.org/Archives/Back%20Issues/2011/January-February%202011/game-change-full.html), the University’s general operating fund is a hodge-podge of income including money from the state, student fees, and student tuition. So in efffect, students are paying their fees and possibly even some of their tuition to support CCSU’s D1 program. The model builder in me wonders if there is a better refinement we can make; the tax-payer in me wants to know if any of the State money is being used; and the parent in me thinks that the amount of student fees and tuition that are being used better damn-well be told to students. After all, they are taking out student loans… and I don’t think parents would be happy if they realized a significant amount of their kid’s loans are going to subsidize student-athletes for their D1 experience!

UConn, BTW, collects over 8 million dollars in student fees to run its nearly 60 million dollar program. So perhaps they are letting students know more upfront about how much of the student fees go to sports… but maybe they aren’t. What is also true is that UConn (despite assurances from fans and the media) is not breaking even. They, too, in 2008 had to rely on “Direct Administrative Support” to balance their budgets. Therefore, perhaps even more student fees and tuition where used from the general fund to balance the books. Again, students have the right to know!

As for the NCAA model, on one hand it openly frets about the cost of college athletics. A current Knight Foundation report “Restoring the Balance: Dollars, Values, and Futures of College Sports” shows clearly that there is an arms race. Look at the year by year data for CCSU and UConn on the USA Today website. The proof is in the pudding! The Knight Foundation report had two pieces of data that interested me. (Knight Foundation report: http://www.knightfoundation.org/dotAsset/367132.pdf)

(1) Spending on athletics per student-athlete has grown 4-6x as fast as spending in academics per student. This trend is happening at CCSU. It frustrates me to hear my higher ups refer to the excellent graduation rates of our athletes without acknowledging the million in dollars spent to get them there… and the realization that some of that money was taken from the average students at CCSU. I sit in meetings where we brainstorm how to improve the students situations here at CCSU when the solution is obvious. Instead of giving CCSU student-athletes a D1 experience… how about giving all our students a CCSU experience?

(2) Smaller schools like CCSU spend way more money from their general funds to balance the budget of D1 athletics than does a larger school like UConn. The 2008 data speaks for itself. We spent 8 million and Uconn spent 5 million. What are the outcomes here? Who decides when too much is too much? The reliance on administrative funds for D1 is increasing. This is fact. The amount of money we get from the State is decreasing. this is fact. Academics is facing serious threats of staff and faculty cut-backs. This is fact. So where will the money come from to keep CCSU in the athletic arms race?

Well, if you’ve understood the model I’ve explained… then you know exactly where the money will come from!

Ultimately, I believe the amount students pay from their fees and tuition to support D1 athletics needs to be fully disclosed.

In general, I believe the campus has the right to know the cost of our D1 program. In terms of shared governance, the University Senate has the right to give opinions on financial matter but we actually have to be involved in the discussion. I would expect that many faculty would be upset if the recession hit academics more harshly than athletics; and I would expect students to be downright irate. Fewer classes, more education conflict… means more years at CCSU. More years means more “donations” to the D1 program.

Final Note: Just saw a piece on PBS’s “Need to Know” about Ohio University (not Ohio State). Students there pay a specified fee of about $750 dollars per semester for their D1 program which is about twice the size of ours with a similar state allotment. So I am guessing as a rough approximation that students spend about $800 per year from their fees and tuition on D1 athletics. Over 5 years, that a significant chunk of change… compounded by the fact that students are paying interest if that change is bundled in a loan. (Link to PBS: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/need-to-know/)

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