I'd build us a new hamster clinic.And put heat in my office.
I would fund an Institute for Studies in Humanities. I would fund scholarships for undergrads, fellowships for grad students, several new positions in Humanities (some obviously in my own discipline), a think tank to figure out how to publicize what we do and why it matters so much, and funded study leaves for faculty in Humanities. I might start a centre for studies in humanities, with a library and accommodation for visiting scholars on study leaves.All of this on an island in the Pacific, of course ... or maybe not.I frequently fantasize about what I'd do with lots of money. You may have guessed.
1. Endow a chair for my wife2. Endow a major scholarship in my field3. Secure in my position, start a union for us and include the adjuncts4. But myself a sweet computer and use it to play games all day 5. Office wet bar.
I'd give large donations to the peer institutions of every school that decided I was unworthy to remain a long-term colleague. Donations to my current department would be aimed at fixing holes left by retired-in-place silverbacks. Might try bribing a few of them into retirement....
Oh, and of course I'd quit, mostly to travel. I'd love to go to conferences without any responsibilities, visit museums without an agenda, go to shows, catch up on the music I like, spread the money around. There are lots of good folks out there who can do my job. I can do most of the fun stuff without holding a position.
Endow a tenure line or three that can only be filled by converting current non-TT faculty to tenure-line status. Plus a need-based scholarship or three that carry the proviso that the recipient may *not* work for pay during the semester (major-relevant internships or assistantships excepted).
Oh I like this one! The tenure lines that can ONLY be filled by converting non-TT faculty to tenure-line status I mean.
Oh -- and I don't want a tropical island, I want 5 acres or so in a temperate climate that backs to protected land with a towpath or rail-trail running through (don't know exactly why, but I have a thing for towpaths. Also gardening in climates that are temperate but still have four distinct seasons). Add a modest house well-adapted to the site, decent internet access, privileges at a good library, and enough yearly income to live on, and I'd pretty much bet set for life. If the health care bill gets shot down, I'd need a bit more to cover any unanticipated health expenses, and the cost of individual health insurance. But I haven't bought, and won't buy, a ticket. NPR just interviewed a statistician that says a person has a higher chance of dying of flesh-eating bacteria than of winning. Ah, well; I hope whoever does win needs the money, and is generous with his/her family, friends, and community, while still looking out for him/her self.
MA -- basically, I'd be funding one pilot project for the AAUP's current recommendation for improving the lot of contingent faculty.
My take on this is probably different than most given that I'm a grad student. I have a faculty mentor who should be paid for the thousands (seriously) of emails I have sent her. She has helped me to achieve things above and beyond anything I ever thought I was capable of, so within this academic realm, I would make her a millionaire. I also have a colleague who is an AB 540 student (what us Cali folks call undocumented students) that deserves to have citizenship. AB 540 students are often the best students in my opinion because they have the most to lose. Usually AB 540 students know no other country than America because their parents brought them here when they were young (usually before 5) yet they face the constant risk of deportation. My colleague is as good as me in every way (ability, grades, etc.), but his opportunities are extremely limited because he does not have citizenship-- he has never driven a car, he can't hang out with friends, he can't drink because he has no license, he can't get a job because he's in this country "illegally," and he cannot get financial aid despite having little money. I would therefore contact the CA government to say I'm willing to buy my colleague's citizenship, and even if the (broke) CA government said no, I'm sure it would stir the pot and that would be a good thing. On another note, I'm surprised College Misery hasn't talked about undocumented students more often, though I'm sure it could open a can of political worms.
My take on this is probably different than most given that I'm a grad student, but here it is... I have a faculty mentor who should be paid for the thousands (seriously) of emails I have sent her. She has helped me to achieve things above and beyond anything I ever thought I was capable of, so within this academic realm, I would make her a millionaire. I also have a colleague who is an AB 540 student (what us Cali folks call undocumented students) that deserves to have citizenship. AB 540 students are often the best students in my opinion because they have the most to lose. Usually AB 540 students know no other country than America because their parents brought them here when they were young (usually before 5). My colleague is as good as me in every way (ability, grades, etc.), but his opportunities are extremely limited because he does not have citizenship-- he has never driven a car, he can't hang out with friends, he can't drink because he has no license, he can't job because he's in this country "illegally," and he cannot get financial aid despite little money. I would therefore contact the CA government to say I'm willing to buy my colleague's citizenship, and even if the (broke) CA government said no, I'm sure it would stir the pot and that would be a good thing. On another note, I'm surprised College Misery hasn't talked about undocumented students more often, though I'm sure it could open a can of political worms.
God I would love you to post something about undocumented students. If I have any among my 210 students, I don't know about it. You should profile one of your colleagues and then extrapolate that experience as a lesson for what might be happening in our classrooms but we just don't know about it.
I don't really see myself handing over a ton of cash to my university. There's a lot of places I would put the money, but my university is probably not one of them.But if I really had 500 million, I'd start my own liberal arts university. I'd build it from the ground up, and it would be free, at least until the money ran out.
I would make an earmarked endowment specifically aimed at re-funding the swim team. Because the funding to the swim team got cut more because certain admin people didn't like it than because it was expensive. In other words, I would make a "BECAUSE FUCK YOU, THAT'S WHY" donation.
In other words, I would make a "BECAUSE FUCK YOU, THAT'S WHY" donation.Ah, I understand and empathize. But you would be feeding the system. They will have learned that all they have to do is cut funding for something and "presto," some concerned philanthropist will intervene and provide the money. Meanwhile, with the money they save, they can hire another Deputy Director of Student Learning Assessment and Customer Retention Enhancement Analysis in Charge of Marketing Leverage and Synergy.
I would set up two undergrad scholarships at both my undergrad and grad institutions.One would be need-based, with preference given to working students (outside employment, not work study or tutoring/TAing).The other would be merit-based, with the guidelines of "merit" defined by me. I would also fund my undergrad's student research program and hopefully provide incentive for more faculty to take part, especially those outside of the sciences.
At my current institution? Dunno. My department is humming along fairly well, all things considered. I'd do something meaningful and worthwhile for it, though. Maybe endow a few professorships and a bunch of research stipends so that we could hire more tenure-line profs and provide course releases on a regular basis. And I'd build a big-ass swimming pool. We don't have one right now, which is stupid.At the university where I got my MA and PhD? Again, dunno. Prob'ly endow a scholarship or twenty so folks in Hamster Fur Weaving studies could get at least partial rides. Ooooh! And I'd restrict the criteria so that Hamster Fur Gazing students would be ineligible, which would achieve my real goal: driving the professors in the H. F. Gazing half of the department, whose entire mission in life seems to be trying to undermine the H. F. Weaving division, insane with jealousy and maybe making their heads explode.For my undergrad institution? Buy back the surrounding land that the college sold off in lean years and endow the construction of the Horatio Q. "Bongmeister" Mindbender "Fuck the (insert identity-revealing name of rival fraternity)" Memorial Building.
I'd rewire our building so we could all turn the lights on in our offices without someone's computer blowing. And maybe shore up one side of our building so it didn't slide into a sinkhole. And then I'd demand that the part timers get paid the same as T-T people. And then I'd pay to have the silverbacks retire early. I'd pay the silverbacks to stay away. Maybe I'd buy an island for the silverbacks to live on just so the silverback would stay away.
I'd have pot brownies secretly delivered to everybody in my department. Every morning.
I'd endow my public school district. We are 2 years away from insolvency.
I get the point of the question - what positive change would we make if money were no object. Yaro posted the same question a ways back. But this one is hard to answer directly. There's something about disliking one's job or one's employer that makes it a bit unpalatable to think about dropping a half a billion dollars on them. The real issue for me is that the things I want to change are inside the heads of profs and adminflakes. Take the desire for "productivity metrics" that Merely Academic brought up earlier. As long as adminflakes keep thinking of scholars as labour and scholarship as "widgets" to be produced efficiently, no amount of money will change a @#@@!#$%#@ thing.I suppose if I did have the money and nothing else better to do with it (and wouldn't that be a beautiful world!). I'd do this. First I'd get the adminflakes to commit to a list of all the things they can't fix for lack of money. Things like letting in underqualified students just to get their tuition. "But we can't raise standards!" they say "where will we make up that reveune?" Second I'd say "OK, Here's your tea-partying money god damn it, and you can stick it where the sun don't shine and I hope it hurts! Now enforce some goddamned standards!" Third, I'd wait for them to blow the money on some stupid project for the greater glory of adminflakes, then turn around and bleat again that they can't afford to maintain standards. Or that they need to impose productivity metrics or whatever.(I mean come on - is there really any other possibility?)Finally, with the remaining money, I'd round them all up in a sturdy fishing net, and helicopter it over a large pool of sulphuric acid, and lower it slowly in, while playing evil sounding music on an organ.Fifth, I'd buy a large and expensive team of lawyers.
I'd buy majority stock in the corporation that owns the university and start a massive, comprehensive reform. Since the orientation would shift from shareholder profit to education and intellectual inquiry, stock value would plummet and I could easily buy up the rest. I would also have money left over for an endowment, further eroding the profit motive. The bean-counters would be out on their ass. People without advanced degrees in the fields they teach and manage would be given notice. I would appoint myself chair in my department for a three-year stint and retain temporary, commissar-like control of the university until a functioning faculty governance system had replaced the centralized, top-down, corporate command system now operating. I might let things hum along as they are now for another year while an interdisciplinary team developed a plan that would go into effect all at once at some set future date. Or it might shift gradually. Not sure. All contracts for people teaching and upper-level admin would be subject to review as part of the reform.It might crash and burn with all my hubris, but it would feel good to try.If I ran the numbers and found the money wouldn't be enough to try that plan, I would not do anything. It isn't my department that needs fixing, but the whole shebang. More money just for the department could only go for irrelevant bells and whistles.
I'd give the college mucho dinero, so we could get rid of open enrollment.
I didn't even think about having the influence to fire those people who spend their day playing solitaire. That's an excellent idea.Adjunct abuse is an important issue to me. I think I might use it to create leverage with my R1 University so we could create a national center for adjuncts. I'd use the money to hold people over while a national unionizing project went on. But I also think I would invest in revenue-creating projects that funded the grad program but under condition that the Dept be accountable for job training in addition to using grad students for RAs and TAs. That way even if my money ran out, there would be some things in place to keep the place afloat.Finally I would fund a committee to understand exactly where tuition money is going, why tuition is so much more today than it was 20 years ago, and how we can improve the situation. (I suspect it has something to do with all those solitaire-playing admins, but we'll see) But even then, it's just the tip of the iceberg. Oh well.
I'd quit. That's the VERY best thing I could do for my college -- I'm sure they'd think it invaluable.
Endow a chair in my department so long as I got to hold it until retirement. Donate towards a fund to hire more TT positions in my department and pay any adjuncts a decent wage.Give the library some money for more books and to give the librarians a raise.Donate enough money to give the cleaning staff/maintenance folks a raise.Heat the pool!Set up a scholarship for a deserving student from the poorer areas of the nearby city so long as they major in my department.And some of the local food banks, clothing banks and animal rescue groups in my area would get a nice check.Buy a bigger house so my books are not double and triple-shelved! Finally, hire a private detective to track down my first car, the one I stupidly sold in grad school, and, if it still exists, buy and restore it!
Endow my library to ensure sufficient staff and allow for decent collection development. Nothing I can do to relocate it out of Michigan, so I'd quit for sure and let some other [expletive deleted] enjoy my job.
I'm stunned at the institutional thinking here.If you have this much money, and you really want to spend it on an educational endeavor, then you start your own university from scratch.Clean slate. All the problems you're trying to patch with little band-aids go away. You run it the way you want, you staff it the way you want, you set the admissions policies you want.You get the educational priorities in place and your program functioning first...and if you really want accreditation, you worry about it later.
I think that's what my proposal amounts to, within the bounds of the assignment as originally posted. I would essentially re-do my university from scratch, but it would still be the same university. Many of the same people would still work there and most of the infrastructure would stay.
I would the equivalent of what they have done for me - nothing.
I would secretly build a giant Moon rocket launching pad under the school a la "Thunderbirds" mode and on the day where everybody is on campus I would put Froedrick and Bubbles in the capsule on the top, then mash the big red LAUNCH! button. A giant trapdoor would open on the quad, killing a number of tuneless guitar players and sleeping co-eds, then the rocket ("X-1 THE MOTHERFUCKEST" written on the side) would blast off, demolishing the school while the college library retracts into the ground and is saved. A Man and a Chimp make it to the Moon.A shitty college is destroyed.
@Strel: I hate to tell you, but in the long-running argument of humans versus machines in space, this is an argument against humans, since you could burn up the campus just as well with a robotic vehicle. I trust that "return him safely to the Earth" is part of the deal? Leave Bubbles out of this: after the experiments with the Grape Nehi, he's no longer flight qualified. Also, $500M, or $640M for the ticket that was sold in Maryland, won't get you very far in the space launch business.
"Also, $500M, or $640M for the ticket that was sold in Maryland, won't get you very far in the space launch business."Not if you don't use North Korean-style slave labor."I trust that "return him safely to the Earth" is part of the deal?" You're setting up a COLONY, son!
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