What does a university do?

A quickie post full of links today.

What is a university?

…hired consultants who have publicly stated the fundamental view that academic research is not valuable and that tenured faculty could be replaced by lower-cost lecturers. These consultants propose a formula that excludes research in valuing faculty. They only want to look at any immediate financial value of research that can be proven on a current basis.

Professor X tells us more about university life in the US.  S/he works at two institutions and describes grading thus:

My colleges’ official stance is one of vehement opposition to grade inflation, and I believe they are sincere. Based on strict adherence to many other colleges’ grading criteria, my students would forever be doomed to dwell in the place of F’s and D’s. Occasionally, very occasionally, a student may stand on tiptoes and crane her neck and breathe the sweeter air of a C. I fail lots of students, more at the community college than at the small private institution.

S/he looks at the goals the university has for the students -to be prepared for formal research work at a university and/or for non-academic work – and at where most of the students do work:

the aspiring laboratory technician takes core courses in medical technology but also three years of prerequisite courses in the liberal arts and sciences — including English 101 and English 102. B.A. candidates in sociology with a specialty in criminology will be prepared, in the words of the catalogue, for “scholarly careers” in sociology, criminology, and social deviance, as well as jobs in victim counseling, corrections, and law enforcement. Virtually none of my students are headed for scholarly careers in social deviance or anything else. They will work — or are working — as bailiffs or federal marshals; in sheriff’s departments; as nurses of all kinds; in the billing or human resource divisions of large institutions; in county, state, or federal prisons; as court or correctional officers; or as caseworkers in the caverns of whatever social service agency will have them. Whether much of their college coursework will actually be of any use to them, other than qualifying them for the job, is questionable.

Many of my students see conversational English as a hurdle to be jumped and left behind rather than as a component of their future work.

I’m interested in reading Prof X’s book which comes out next month although it has attracted some criticism.

It’s not his fault that, as he describes in his book…, he is toiling away in a feminized academy where, he surmises, the influx of women professors has created rampant grade inflation. According to Professor X, feminine qualities have compromised the mental toughness and rigor once necessary to get through college and replaced these with a reliance on compassion and nurturing.



Somewhat related: Cosmic Variance discusses how to get tenure at a major research university and at other universities.

And Does/should School meet the Demands of the Job Market?


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