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Education as such, is under attack on many fronts in America - by Republican politicians, by the current Depression, and by corporate vulture capitalists who want to gut the whole liberal arts and sciences edifice, fire serious educators, outsource  teaching (this mission is more than half accomplished already), and institute the usual "austerity measures" to make higher profits.

What's next? I assume  the new corporate-crony President and Boards of Trustees and Regents won't want to put any profits the U. realizes from these measures into facilities, books or teaching personnel. Of course they'll want to siphon off said profits by treating themselves to million-dollar bonuses à la Bain Capital. Bad news for higher education. That's how you run a University like a Fortune 500 company.

Just read this on HuffPost: UVA Teresa Sullivan Ouster Reveals Corporate Control Of Public Education.

Brief synopsis: UVA's President Sullivan, a serious and respected educational administrator, stepped down (i.e. was forced out) after two years in office because of  "philosophical differences" with the institution's governing Board of Visitors, all corporate crony appointees.

 (Summary of article below the squiggle)

Emails reveal said Board of Visitors wants to "institute austerity measures and re-engineer its academic offerings around inexpensive, online education"  Led by real estate developer Rector Helen Dragas, , the board "shared a guiding vision that the university could, and indeed should, be run like a Fortune 500 company."

The University of Virginia academic community is in open revolt  against the coup. Amid faculty and student calls for Sullivan's reinstatement, the Provost' has threatened to resign, and the board-appointed interim president from the business school (Carl Zeithaml) has stepped down.

But readthe whole article. How many of these things are happening, or have happened, where you teach or go (went) to college? My undergrad college in Colorado appointed  a corporate crony, a meat company's attorney, as president.


How have Corporate GOP Vultures trashed your College

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| 21 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I apologize for the lack of analysis. (3+ / 0-)

    I posted this in haste, as I am very busy today. Not much time to analyze what's going on at UVA. A task i have set meyself this summer is to write an article comparing colleges' trend of relegating more and more teaching to part-time and online instructors to corporate outsourcing. Your  thoughts or experiences regarding this topic would be most interesting to me!

    •  No apology needed. I don't have direct (4+ / 0-)

      experience with it but, since the 1980s, I've seen way more than enough of the conservative, corporate, and right wing religious idiots' attacks on colleges in this country to know what's up.  What's up is that corporations and banks see colleges as vehicles for great profit, as do many college "administrators", conservative (republican AND DEMOCRAT third way dumb asses) see them as vehicles for corrupt income for their supporters and themselves and as platforms for propaganda, and the religious idiots just  simply HATE them because they spread reason and enlightenment and make the fat little rednecks feel, well, stupid and silly.  That's about the name of the game.... and it's tragic.

      The real power in America is held by a fast-emerging new Oligarchy of pimps and preachers who see no need for Democracy or fairness or even trees, except maybe the ones in their own yards, and they don't mind admitting it. ~ Hunter S. Thompson

      by Saint Jimmy on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:14:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The poll (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, OldDragon, Munchkn

    As an graduate of UVA, I wasn't sure how I wanted to answer your poll.

    It's a tremendous mess down there, and I certainly hope they get it straightened out ASP.

    When I went there,  only women who were in grad school or attending the School of Nursing or the School or Education could attend, and in the latter two cases, had to live at home, in the county. So I was thrilled when Ms. Sullivan was appointed President, and delighted that she seemed to be doing such a good job. I was glad to get the University of Virginia magazine, for the first time in 50 years.

    Well -- hell.

    I'm waiting anxiously for the results of the meeting of the Board of Visitors. I hope it's not too much to ask that the Gov. of Virginia appoint someone else to take over for Ms. Dragas; someone with some idea of what a university is for. I think she's had her moment in the sun.

    Thanks for the write up.

  •  Have followed this from a distance... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, chancew, OldDragon, Munchkn

    but one thing that strikes me in this case and in a number of other cases out there is the mindless embrace of on-line education (which is part of the UVa story), which is really very distinct from on-line access to information and too many folks confuse the two.

    It seems as though many folks pushing online pathways haven't really come to grips what happens when someone learns material.  I'm sure we all have personal instances where we've glossed over new information, made a mental note of "yep, I understand this", only to be blown out of the water when we were tested on our understanding, had to explain the same information to someone else, or had the use that information in a real context.

    Learning is complicated, at times painful, and almost never accomplished as a passive let's read a bunch of stuff on an LCD screen. As it is, I'm even ignoring subjects which have a strong lab or field observation component, which is about any technical field you'd like to mention.

    Focusing on a corporate slant is a distraction here.  It's not only emerging from that direction.

    •  Most online courses do not and cannot (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chancew, OldDragon, fiercefilms, Munchkn

      maintain the academic standards fostered by regular classroom courses. Many are simply a joke. But part-time teachers are being forced to scrabble for all the cou5rses they can get to make a bare living. The people who think this is the wave of the future do not care about education.

      •  I'd say concede that the specific issues... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        revbludge, Munchkn, Focusmarker

        you mention can be addressed.  Let's say you can maintain high academic standards (say all exams administered in an MCAT like environment, material is at same level, grades at same level, and so on).  There are still massive gaps in an online based approach that can't be resolved online.

        Let me provide a specific example.  I work in R&D environment and it's possible we'll have fires.  Long ago, we used to train by fighting real staged fires.  Substantial ones (flames 8-15 ft high on an 8x10 or so ft area).  You learned the feel of the fire.  How it's unpredictable.  How an ill positioned fire extinguisher shot could cause it to flash back at you.  Some things need to be experienced in the flesh.

        That's been replaced by an online tech review (types of extinguishers) and a short dry run on something the size of a BBQ unit.  A lot of skills needed to deal with a real emergency simply cannot be felt or developed in that setting.  

        The same issues apply to education writ large.  Parts of the educational experience can be managed online, but large portions are simply not amenable to that approach.

    •  Agree: dangerous to frame this way.... (0+ / 0-)

      As a corporate take over of education....

      For example, somewhat famously Stanford offered an AI course both in classroom and online - 165,000 people signed up for it online, versus around 65 in a traditional classroom format.

      The first 400 students, ranked by academic performance, were online students, not classroom students.  

      Also, Stanford's engineering schools recently debated whether students had to spend ANY time in classrooms....They decided they had to spend some....

      The winds of change are a blowin'  and to frame this simply as a corporate take over is fraudulent and fraught with peril.

      •  Balto - I agree online has a place in higher ed (0+ / 0-)

        There is no doubt that even the elite colleges have to find ways to reduce the cost of a BA/BS degree. There are macro forces that remind me of the housing bubble. For a long time people were willing to accept the notion that at the current market price most people couldn't afford their homes, and that the median income in a community fell short of qualifying for the average home mortgage. All signs that a bubble was forming. We have the same situation in higher education. Students and their families can't afford to pay for college without taking on heavy debt. Many jobs out of college can't fund student loan repayments and an independent life away from parents. In an era where we have seen significant cost reductions, or substantially more value per dollar, higher education is ever more expensive almost oblivious to the world around it.

        Online learning is clearly part of the future. Maybe students live on campus only half the year and learn online from home the other six months. Classes that require labs, or other hands on or group effort are the classes taken the half year you are on campus. By "going to school" year round a BA/BS is earned in three years, instead of four. Online classes have lower tuition. Living at home half the year cuts room and board expenses. Three years to a degree means lower tuition, lodging and meals and starting a job a year earlier.

        "let's talk about that"

        by VClib on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:12:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not sure I agree... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Certainly in order to make college accessible to more people the cost issue HAS to be dealt with, and I agree that we are witnessing a bubble in college costs.  

          However, I am not sure that has anything to do with the proliferation of on-line education.   Or at least the two trends have not yet intersected to find an interesting solution.   I believe that for virtually any course an online component can be integrated with an in class  module.

          However, many (most) schools seem to have the mind set that  the buggy whip manufacturers probably had - those smelly, unreliable cars are never going to amount to anything...or at least nothing that will affect my world.

          Clayton Christianson from Harvard Business School has done seem really interesting work on innovation and I would recommend the recent New Yorker article on him  to anyone who is even mildly interested in the subject.

    •  You can do online education well. It requires a (0+ / 0-)

      professor and TAs to put a lot of effort into it: a lot of correspondence between teachers and students etc. And it can't really be used for lab courses. And if you have a huge class online, you lose the ability to interact with students. So in the end doing it right may not save all that much money. But they probably envision smth cheap and dirty.

  •  It's all tied together (6+ / 0-)

    Apparently the pressure to embrace on-line learning is coming from -- wait for it -- a Goldman Sachs trader who is a major donor to UVA. Turns out that one of the Goldman Sachs companies (Education Management Corporation) is into on-line learning. So the push was to jump right in to on-line classes, while President Sullivan said, "Let's take out time and look into it before we jump."


    There is layer after layer in this thing, and the deeper you dig, the worse it gets.

    I'm off to a meeting, but I'll be back and hope the  discussion continues until then.

  •  Thank you for posting this diary. Some of my (5+ / 0-)

    children graduated from UVA and I have watched the continuing mess created by the rector and vice rector with great alarm.  Belated statements by VA's governor have not helped the situation.  Clearly the Board of Visitors needs to have educational input; the current method of selecting members according to their political gifts to the governor is overwhelmingly detrimental to education.

  •  They sold off (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, Munchkn

    famous art work bought with money willed by an alum for the purchase of art to stay with the college. Before they took the art away, they locked the curator in the office so it couldn't be stopped.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:46:44 AM PDT

    •  Who did? Was this at UVA? (0+ / 0-)

      Any links, documents to this story?

      •  No. It was (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        a small private college in VA, though. I'd rather call out the tactic than the school itself, since there was so much rancor at the time.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 10:41:31 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL - at the school that sold the art (0+ / 0-)

          it was sell the art or go under. I think the decisions was made reluctantly, but from what I read it seemed justified.

          "let's talk about that"

          by VClib on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:13:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Tactics were rather (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            smarmy, though. And the language refocusing the college's mission was corporate gobbledygook. There were similar shenanigans of holding meetings when certain people would be unable to attend. And the people behind the reorganization tended to have Republican connections. Of course it's a private school and they can do what they want, but it's not the school I attended anymore.  

            "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

            by Lily O Lady on Mon Jun 25, 2012 at 03:01:36 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  My husband noted the corporate (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        gobbledegook language when the school was being reorganized. It just seemed ideologically driven.

        "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

        by Lily O Lady on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 10:43:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I laugh to keep from crying. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, Munchkn

    I teach in a museum: looking at real art. Not slides, not digitized images. The real things:

    After thirty plus years of teaching for colleges I now teach for myself and my students. My former academic bosses are still trying to find a way to put my syllabus online. Lotsa luck, suckers.

    WOID: a journal of visual language

    by WOIDgang on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 09:54:17 AM PDT

  •  University of Crony Capitalism (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, fiercefilms

    UVA is bringing this situation into light.  
    BRAVO to them!
    Time for the UVA students to contact other universities with the same corporate malignant growth and expose it.  That's step one in attacking this disease.
    Occupy University Boards.

    I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.

    by cobaltbay on Sun Jun 24, 2012 at 10:25:35 AM PDT

  •  What does "run like a Fortune 500 company" mean? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, VClib

    I mean this seriously, not as a snarky statement.

    I've worked as a contractor at a couple different F500 companies, & have a friend who worked at another, & there's no real common thread between them. Well, beyond the fact that working conditions vary widely from the ideal to something not even "Dilbert" the cartoon could parody. Oh, & that somehow, despite corporate politics, the company always manages to make a profit.

    As far as I can tell, this prhase is verbal persiflage thrown out to mean whatever the speaker wants it to mean.

    In this case, Dragas wants UVA to be something that it isn't -- probably something that isn't even an institution of higher learning. I'd be curious to know just how good of a real estate developer (aka salesperson who specializes in selling land & buildings) Dragas was. Just how many of her projects proved to be a lasting improvement with happy owners & lessors?

    •  In general, I think it means "run (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ahumbleopinion, Munchkn

      with no other end in view than profit." Institutions of higher learning, even private ones, have a set of values thatare incompatible with commercial/corporate values and goals. Higher education and its concomitant research is traditionally somewhat sheltered, and ought to be sheltered, against the demands of the marketplace because its aim is accomplishments and knowledge that may take many years to see fruition and are too valuable to the public to be subjected to the kind of immediate cost-benefit analysis that businesses use to determine whether or not to pursue some venture.

      As Siva Vaidhyanathan| noted in a Slate article on the UVA debacle, "Universities do not have 'business models.' They have complementary missions of teaching, research, and public service." It's not enough to have the money to do research. Corporate money funds a huge amount of research. You have to have an institution in which research can be done right even when big money doesn't like the results.

      •  Well if the goal is to make a profit (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        then that's what people like Dragas ought to admit she wants.

        Then again, not every Fortune 500 corporation makes a consistent profit. (Didn't the government need to bail out several of these just a few years ago? -- Now I'm being snarky.)

  •  WaPo has been covering this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    revbludge, Munchkn

    If you have problems w/ Huff Po, the Washington Post covered it very well last Sunday and on the 19th.  Chris Hayes had several segments about this issue on his Saturday show including a tremendous analysis by Siva Vaidhyanathan who is the Chair of the Media Studies Dept. @ UVA.  (Complete Up with Chris Hayes shows are available online.)

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