Thursday, August 18, 2016

A Big Thirsty From Prof. Poopiehead.

From the outside looking in, the U California, U Wisconsin, and SUNY systems looked like real jewels of public higher education - the vast majority of research groups and scientific journal articles I read hail from these systems (mind you, the papers I read are also dominated by a couple of unis in each system; UC Davis, UW Madison, SUNY Syracuse, etc).

For several years now I've read the occasional news article about funding cuts, sometimes drastic, that have befallen these systems (it is rare for this sort of topic to make it to the international front-page news, where I'd catch sight of it).

Q: So, can anyone on the inside update me on how are these uni systems doing? Particularly with tenure/tenure-track faculty numbers, research funding, and attracting and retaining top academics? If research is tanking in these systems, its a real blow to a number of research fields.


  1. Boy, have you come to the wrong place. This small and loose group of juco instructors aren't "real" professors with concerns like you are discussing. I know a great deal about the issues at hand, but can't be bothered to share them on a ridiculously flawed and harmful blog.

    1. Um, if no one reads the page, how can it do harm? Problems with basic logic like this make me wonder whether you're really college faculty, as does the eagerness to punch down to juco instructors. Hey, they educate many of my students, and for not much money, much less thanks: smeg off!

    2. I've never heard anyone ever use the term Juco in my entire academic life, except one not-very-honest commenter on this blog. I have also never run into anyone in higher education who denigrates community college professors, because I don't think I've ever run into an asshole as big as one lying professor who comments on this blog.

    3. Yes Prof Chiltepin, it is such a rarely used term that when I see it I have to think for a few moments to remember what it refers to.

  2. I have a student who just matriculated at the astronomy grad program at Wisconsin, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Wisconsin is lead institution in the WIYN consortium of Wisconsin-Indiana-Yale-NOAO, where NOAO is the National Optical Astronomy Observatories. They manage a large and very nice telescope on Kitt Peak, in Arizona, where the rest of the national observatory is, and they are in a bad way. Because its budget has been flat since 1984, NOAO is trying to give away its 2.1-m telescope on Kitt Peak to a university consortium, as it did give away its 0.9-m to the WIYN consortium. It horns me off, since I have projects I was wanting to do with that telescope. Since their budgets have become so constrained, though, they're having a tough time finding takers. U. of Arizona, which took over the 12-m millimeter-wave radio telescope, probably won't, since they had their budget slashed by their state legislature, too.

  3. As a staffer at UC Berkeley, I have some knowledge about this issue. The situation on the ground is that cuts are being distributed across the various campus units, with the choice of how to make those cuts being up to them. They could decide to eliminate faculty and close labs, but I doubt any of them will actually do that because the importance of research to the university's prestige is well-understood.

    The development/fundraising office is the only campus unit that will not be receiving cuts, because they are counting on us to improve the financial situation and get the university out of this mess. We set an institutional record last year raising almost half-a-billion dollars.

  4. I asked a friend of mine in the Wisconsisn system to comment, and he sent me this reply:

    "Things are getting worse here in the UW. There was a vote of no confidence in the Board and System President late last Spring that most/all campuses took part in. Progressively worse budgets. It hugely varies depending on what institution you are at and what kind of job you have, but everyone is impacted in one way or another (at least in my institution).

    Most of this person's blog covers the issues (though not the last post)

    Here's a second blog, written with a more formal tone and higher register, less fun but more formal:"

  5. Syracuse University is a private university unaffiliated with the SUNY system. SUNY ESF is housed on the Syracuse University campus, however. Is that the institution you were referring to?

  6. Judging from on-campus visits related to a job search at in my department this year, I'd say that I've seen some evidence that good people in at least one of the systems named (plus at least one other, unnamed one with similar problems) are trying to get out. But the position in question was more administrative/teaching than research oriented (though still with a strong research requirement for tenure), so that observation may nor many not be relevant to your question. Also, it's a very small sample (and we didn't actually hire any of the candidates, and I'm not sure whether other institutions did, or whether they stayed where they were -- an option all the candidates had as far as I could tell).


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