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wall street, collapse, higher education, community college, university, administrators

As Wall Street and banks have crumbled, choking on their own greed and fraudulent double dealing, more and more consumers are realizing that credit unions are a safer and more stable place to put their money. If we trust that model with our money, shouldn't we trust it with our kids college education too?

Higher education faculty and administrators continue to butt heads because they see colleges as two very different things. Administrators see them like banks or corporations, and themselves as CEO's, and faculty see college as more like a credit union.

For those who aren't familiar with credit unions, they are owned and run by their employees and customers, so they have a vested interest in seeing that employees are treated fairly, customers are well-taken care of, and of course that the credit union itself continues to be solvent. This is more or less how faculty see the college, as a community of scholars that should take care of all it's members. Students should get a good education for their money, faculty should be able to make enough to support their families, and yes even administrators should be fairly compensated for their duties of making sure the electric bill gets paid and enough buildings are built to hold all the classes.

That is profoundly different from the bank or corporate model. A bank is concerned for the financial welfare of shareholders and a small group of senior executives. Customers and lower level employees exist only to enrich that group.

Ideally, market forces could pressure them to provide a similar product to the credit union since one way to make a profit is to provide the best product at the best price.

Unfortunately, there are less admirable ways to reward those shareholders.


Originally posted to Professor Smartass on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 03:18 PM PDT.


How should colleges and universities be run?

2%2 votes
80%63 votes
6%5 votes
2%2 votes
7%6 votes

| 78 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Much like a fast-food outlet (I can't say (8+ / 0-)

    "restaurant" in this context), colleges and universities hire as many part-time employees as possible, so that they don't have to pay benefits.

    They are called "adjunct instructors" or "visiting professors."  They make very little money for lots of work.  I make $1600 per class per semester.  No benefits, no job security, no say in much of anything.

    Yeah, how is that corporate model working for faculty and students?

    To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

    by Dar Nirron on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 03:31:40 PM PDT

    •  adjunctification is a problem (7+ / 0-)

      That's why labor unions and collective bargaining are key for faculty members. This ought to be our retort every time someone says faculty unions aren't necessary.

    •  It's working very well. (0+ / 0-)

      We have a K-12 crisis in America, but our colleges and universities are top-notch.  People come from all over the world for our higher education, largely because of the good product provided by people like yourself.

      If you want higher wages, organize and strike (I'll support you). Or use your degree to find a private-sector job. You can even start a for-profit university.

      But I don't think you'll do that because you have a fun job that lets you use your brain and hang out with smart people all day.  Asking for a lot of money on top of that is a little greedy, imho.

      If you want to make the Big Bucks, come to Corporate America and get your soul crushed...but please stop whining.  You have it good.

      •  ManhattanMan, with all due respect, (7+ / 0-)

        you don't know what the hell you are talking about.

        To say my fate is not tied to your fate is like saying, "Your end of the boat is sinking."--Hugh Downs

        by Dar Nirron on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 04:57:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  He may not, but he has a point. n/t (0+ / 0-)

          Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

          by Rich in PA on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 05:25:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I would be interested... (0+ / 0-)

 a fact-based refutation of my comment.  

          For decades everybody has known that tenured professorships were scarce and academic salaries were low.  Yet these people got Ph.Ds anyway.  Now they wail that they can't find The Job They Want.

          To top it off, these guys have other skills.  They are not in danger of starving, like many blue-collar workers are.  They could do other work, but instead demand that we subsidize their lifestyle by raising the cost of an already overpriced product: Higher Education.

          •  if they chose other jobs, who would teach? (0+ / 0-)

            Do you just want idiots teaching your kids?

            •  They will not choose other jobs. (0+ / 0-)

              What other job offers the intellectual freedom and stimulation of academia?  The poster complains about low salaries, but forgets to mention that, in return for low money, he gets a fantastic work environment.

              So I challenge: If you don't like it, quit. And I challenge with confidence because I know that none of these guys would willinglg take a mind-numbing Corporate job for double or even triple the pay.

      •  You, sir, are a fool. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Virginia mom

        You're paying caviar prices for tuna helper.

        The price of a University degree has been accelerating far ahead of the general rate of inflation because of percieved scarcity and clever gaming of parental desperation by colleges.

        FYI, the number of foreign students heading to U.S. colleges has plummeted in the aftermath of 9/11; we were so crazy paranoid we made it hard for folks to come here, and now foreign students are heading to European colleges instead.

        •  Yes, the prices are high... (0+ / 0-)

 increasing the pay of professors should not be one of the options we consider.

          If they are going to strike and win more money, fine.  But those who have (what may be) the nicest work environment of any occupation should not get to whine their way to more cash. Show me a picket line first, at least.

          •  Dude, you are so misinformed. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            denise b

            Yes, there are a handful of emeritus professors in America earning cushy salaries with full bennies, retirement package and students to act as their eager gofers.

            For every one of these fossils, there are hundreds of terrified assistant professors desperate to get one of the few tenured slots, forced into vicious cut-throat competition with each other. "Academic freedom" no longer exists, because these sorry souls can't risk pissing off the department head, which would knock them off the ladder down to the next level discussed below. The "prize" nowadways tends be a salary somewhere around $50,000 with shabby high-deductible health insurance and a threadbare 401K, hardly the stuff dreams are made of.

            And for every one of the wannabe tenured profs, there are scores of indentured servants (also known as adjunct professors) earning minimum wage or less with zero benefits, who are teaching most of the actual undergraduate courses. They want to compete, but the University's 'sweat shop track' insures that they'll never break even, let alone make a career of it.

            The hundreds of billions flowing into Unversity coffers every don't end up in the pockets of professors.
            They pad the bottom line of University, Inc.

      •  no one in higher ed expects to get rich, just to (0+ / 0-)

        have health insurance for ourselves and our families and at least as much job security as K-12 teachers.

        We aren't getting that right now because the right has made a concerted attack on academia since the 70s starting with the Lewis Powell Memo and Ronald Reagan's attack on tenure in California that started the trend of using mostly adjuncts.

        •  Don't dare to compare yourself to K-12. (0+ / 0-)

          K-12 teachers have much tougher jobs. They put in longer hours, have less control over their work, and never get asked to do consulting on the side.  Also, as an adjunct, you have the upside possibility of getting a job at a Corporation, in administration, or tenure at another institution.

          K-12 teachers have no such upside, all they can look forward to is a 2% raise each year and a roomful of dumb kids throwing spitballs at them and bringing knives into the classroom.

          There are many Corporations that would love to have you in one of their cubicles doing spreadsheets or making sales calls. If academia is too rough for you, you can get such a job tomorrow.  The HR department doesn't see too many Ph.D's!

          But you won't.

  •  the problem is more than shared governance (6+ / 0-)

    Interesting diary, but I'd say the problem is more than just faulty governing or decisionmaking structures. My university--at least on paper--appears to have shared governance, but it's all a sham. Our funding situation is dismal.

    The problem is more systemic than universities themselves. State legislatures don't see higher education as a priority and have dictated that we need to do more with less, even when that isn't feasible.

  •  Once A Nation At Risk was published in the 80s, (9+ / 0-)

    public education reform movements loudly adopted the idea that k-12 schools would be better if they were run like businesses.  The No Child Left Behind legislation is one product of this belief system.

    Colleges and universities are another theater of the war.

    Teachers weave straw into gold and squeeze coal into diamonds.

    by algebrateacher on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 03:40:12 PM PDT

  •  Our schools are almost complete failures. (4+ / 0-)

    By and large our students learn in spite of their teachers.  The amount of time wasted is incredible.
    There are plenty of good school models all over the world but we keep thinking that since we see students come from abroad that our schools are the best.  Wrong. French students study in Germany for a year or so, then move on to Spain, and so on and so forth. German schools are exemplary, so are French and Swiss and in many other places.  Take language learning:  we have the worst performance rate in being able to teach our students foreign languages, even though we make it compulsary, than any other country in the world for the money and time spent on these subjects. I can go down the list of problem subjects, math, science, social studies, etc. etc. We've been plagued with these problems for decades but we refuse to study the solutions that are available all over the world.
    Our text books are garbage almost all of them and we charge our kids fortunes for them knowing full well that new editions of the same garbage will be out so that the garbage that the didn't even read has to be thrown out because the new editions have different page numbers. It the same old text book scam.  And talking of scams, there is the insurance scam, and there is the food vendor scam, and the contractor scam.  All in the name of education.

    Frankly I look forward when all the schools as we know them shut down. Good riddance, and we at first supplement them and soon replace then with a new era of internet collaborative education. Better education and certification for free for all who want it.

    With weak Democrats like these who needs warmongering Republicans.

    by weltshmertz on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 04:43:51 PM PDT

    •  K-12 is a mess because it's not like college (0+ / 0-)

      Instructors are over-regulated, parents and administrators and even the state are involved in textbook selection, and asinine right wing "reforms" like No Child Left Behind practically script every minute in the classroom, draining passion and creativity out of teaching.

      If we wanted better schools, we'd do a couple of simple things:

      smaller class size

      more teacher autonomy

      more support for and interaction among teachers (the opposite of merit pay)

      pay teachers more

      You can see how much the right wing hates education because they do the exact opposite of what they love:  what they love they deregulate and give money to, and what they hate they regulate to death and starve of  funds.

      So they love Wall St. crooks and hate education.

      •  Well, lets see... (0+ / 0-)

        My friend decided to get out of the corporate world and become a high school teacher. She went back to college for one year and got a job here in a local high.  Three years later she is now tenured and makes $60,000 a year, this includes payed vacations, every school holiday plus snow days.  She leaves for work at 8:00 a.m. and is home by 2:30.  She teaches three classes 3 times a week and 2 classes 2 times a week, and has one home room period each day.  Because she is a teacher she charges $30.00 an hour for tutoring.

        There is no way she's is going to get fired ever and she gets the best health insurance for herself and her family. Her salary will only go up and so will her benefits. Contrary to popular belief she does not bring any work home that she works on, she does all her work, grading papers etc., at school.

        She is not a great teacher and she is not a bad one either.

        Compared to other professionals who have to work 12 hour days 6 days a week, including holidays and those long three month summer vacations, and don't make as much in salary and who do not get any benefits at all I would say she is very well compensated.

        With weak Democrats like these who needs warmongering Republicans.

        by weltshmertz on Mon Jun 08, 2009 at 12:11:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  The 2nd poll choice is still not awesome (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't like the idea of faculty having full control over what they teach. I can all too easily imagine some creationist hiding behind that control with obvious results to the image and reputation of the rest of the place. Faculty having a say in how the macro-place is fine, asserting personal control over their micro-classroom is not.

    Besides, the issue of what is taught is a bit off the topic of the diary, so I won't go further into that here.

    •  the hiring process would filter the creationist (0+ / 0-)

      and we do have broad course outlines we have to follow, so if you're department chair saw that a prof put Noah's Ark on his syllabus for week three, that prof would have to answer some questions at the very least.

  •  There isn't any content here to debate. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl

    I'd love to participate in a discussion about this, because I know something about it, but there's nothing here.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 05:24:33 PM PDT

    •  Gee, sorry we're going to have to miss out. (0+ / 0-)

      With weak Democrats like these who needs warmongering Republicans.

      by weltshmertz on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 05:27:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  if you are an administrator, please enlighten us (0+ / 0-)

      I know admins have to do more with less, but they don't earn faculty trust by firing people, relying heavily on part time faculty, ignoring traditional shared governance and instead hiring pricey "management consultants" to cajole the faculty into pavlovian obedience, and of course giving themselves fat salaries and creating more management positions even as they are crying poverty and cutting essential functions of the school like CLASSES.

  •  Too late! (3+ / 0-)

    Universities have already prostituted themselves with "Industry-Academic partnerships". They've already embraced the sweatshop model by eliminating tenured positions and replacing them with part-time, no-benefits 'teaching assistants' and 'adjunct professors', while laughing all the way to the bank. Crappier education at higher cost, with most of the actual classroom instruction provided by overworked graduate students.

  •  Here's an idea- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    run colleges like institutions of learning. No huge salaries, even for football coaches(!), no selling out to business.

    Let tyrants fear.-Queen Elizabeth I

    by Virginia mom on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 05:43:40 PM PDT

  •  re: credit unions (0+ / 0-)

    For those who aren't familiar with credit unions, they are owned and run by their employees and customers, so they have a vested interest in seeing that employees are treated fairly, customers are well-taken care of, and of course that the credit union itself continues to be solvent.

    In '08, there were 30 bank failures and 12 CU failures.  Dollars to donuts says those 12 CU failures represent a bigger chunk of overall CU assets than those 30 bank failures are of overall bank assets. (even pulling Citi out of the equation)

    We are building a team that is continuously being built. - Sarah Palin

    by burrow owl on Sun Jun 07, 2009 at 06:07:24 PM PDT

    •  good point though since credit unions are smaller (0+ / 0-)

      that could account for some of those failures.

      They probably do significantly less international banking and money laundering, and are less likely to get the kid glove treatment banks get when they saved from failing.

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