Wednesday, April 27, 2016

If I had a million dollars, I'd buy you a college (but not a real college, that's cruel).

Once again, a comment inspires me. TubaPlayingProf commented on the CM flashback post, "A recurrent fantasy is to win the first billion dollar lottery and start a new university, and all your job search ads begin with CM colleagues are encouraged to apply...."

That got me to thinking, what would I do if I could build a university from scratch? As luck would have it, I needed to take a break from grading anyway.

Top ten things to do when I start my own university

10. Implement a regressive tuition system that charges more to students with a lower GPA.

9. Pay coaches less than faculty members.

8. School motto: Facilius est collegium intrare quam graduatis.

7. A faculty council will charge $1000 to any university employee found guilty of lowering academic standards. Proceeds go to stock booze in the faculty dining hall.

6. No legacies, no sports scholarships, no exceptions.

5. All voting members of the Board of Trustees must have a terminal degree.

4. Allow beer at department meetings. Because they are held at a bar.

3. Count College Misery posts towards T&P.

2. Mandatory graduate school application essay topic: (Part 1) What is the outlook for full-time employment in your desired subject area? (Part 2) So, why are you still applying?

1. Hire adjunct administrators.

- Beaker Ben


  1. Number 10 is implementable with scholarships to those maintaining high GPA. Perverse consequence: snowflakes avoid the "hard" courses for fear of having to actually work for an A or B, and whine about how "the C you gave me" will ruin their scholarship.

    "Facilius collegium intrare quam graduatis est." Hoity-toity Latin has the verb at the end.

    A big yes to everything else. BIG BIG YES to #5.

    For #1, I offer this alternative: High-level administrators (provost, president, deans etc.) must hold at least the highest-level terminal degree required of the teaching faculty. Must also teach at least one full course a year, with enrollment being no less than the mean of the other 10 most enrolled courses.

    1. You know, I took a lot of Latin in high school (Gaul, as a whole is divided into three parts...). I should have noticed that.

      Your alternative for #1 would likely cause the university to function better but it would be less insulting to the administrators. It all depends on your priorities.

    2. I like the alternative version of #1, but you'd have to pair it with the teaching admins being responsible for actual learning outcomes. Otherwise you get the narcissist, er, extrovert, who loves being in the spotlight as they edu-tain a class of 200 students and then they go around telling everyone that there's nothing wrong with big classes because look what a great job they're doing at it.

    3. Ben and Frankie, you have both found major holes in my scheme. Here's how we fill them.

      A la Carrel & West (2010), the admin has to teach a course that is part one in a sequence. Along with the admin's student evals from part 1, the histogram of scores for students in part 2 are published for faculty consumption: the admin's former students are one plot, and the entire cohort is another.

      Live by the sword, die by the fucking sword.

      We could extend this. Each year, the lowest-scoring admin is up for a faculty vote to retain or not. I think thumbs up or thumbs down should follow some gladiatorial event in the football stadium.

    4. And what great training they're providing to the grad students who are doing the actual teaching and grading, even if they can't quite remember the names of this year's cohort (strangely, grad students don't seem to take advantage of the opportunity twice).

      But yes, more teaching administrators, with degrees in real fields and substantial and ongoing experience in the classroom, strike me as one way to begin unravelling the mess that has gradually been made over the past few decades.

    5. The above was meant to be a reply to Frankie (as well as OPH); OPH and I were writing at the same time).

  2. Dammit, now I've got "a nice Reliant automobile" and "like a llama or an emu" running through my head.

    1. Ruby from RichmondApril 27, 2016 at 1:20 PM

      Go lie in bed. Just like Brian Wilson did.

  3. Time to update the CV!

  4. I'd like to apply for one of those adjunct administrator positions. Specifically, Associate Vice-Dean of Implementation and Enforcement of Rule Seven. You don't even need to pay me, although an occasional invitation to the faculty dining hall would be appreciated.

    1. As of now, we only have five rules for the campus. If you want the job, you'll need to come up with rule 7 yourself. (That's the type of innovative spirit we encourage around here.) Don't worry about rule 6. We'll leave that for the poor shlub who gets that job.

    2. For a minute there, I thought you were going to be enforcing Rule 34. (No Exceptions!)

  5. Can I get an adjunct administrative position now?


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