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We Are All the University of Virginia

[ 133 ] June 21, 2012 |

Daniel Willingham, Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, on the ouster of the school’s president and the behavior of the plutocrats behind the plan. A few tidbits, but you should read the whole thing.

Dear Ms. Dragas & Mr. Kington:

I’m writing to let you know your grade for the Digital Learning Project, as part of your larger grade as Rector and Vice Rector. I wish I brought better news.

On the bright side, let me complement you on your font choice and the formatting of your emails. Further, they feature some unusual words, and a spirit of verve throughout.

But I’m afraid these bright spots pale in comparison to the problems: an immature analysis brought on by terribly shallow research.

I’m not surprised you drew this conclusion, given the sources you cite. Wall Street Journal editorials and New York Times op-eds are not considered primary sources in this context, Ms. Dragas and Mr. Kington. These are non-experts pulling together the opinions of experts as best they can. That’s what you are supposed to do, rather than parrot the opinions of others, however highly regarded they may be.

Now, I can just hear your protests: “You can’t judge my views on this matter from a few emails! And they were not based solely on a few New York Times columns!”

In other words, the project submitted does not reflect your best thinking on the subject.

I hear that a lot from students.

But I can only grade you on what you submitted, not based on my best guess as to what you were thinking. And maybe that’s part of the problem. If you had let me know what you were thinking, I might have been able to help make this project better. I’m not entirely ignorant on the subject of learning myself.

You have earned a grade of F for this project.

From the Code of Virginia, language on courses the University of Virginia must offer:

The following branches of learning shall be taught at the University: the Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Anglo-Saxon languages; the different branches of mathematics, pure and physical; natural philosophy, chemistry, mineralogy, including geology; the principles of agriculture; botany, anatomy, surgery, and medicine; zoology, history, ideology, general grammar, ethics, rhetoric, and belles lettres; civil government, political economy, the law of nature and of nations and municipal law.

I don’t see anything here about “strategic management,” “proactive proactivity” or “leveraging strategic proactive proactivity management.” Which must suggest that neither Thomas Jefferson nor anyone else in the first 150 years of the University of Virginia knew what was important in higher education: maximizing profit in the pockets of the 1%.

Of course, such a vaguely worded statute is easy for modern corporate lawyers to get around–”We’ll offer 1 course of German and 1 course on Greek literature. But do we actually have to pay someone to teach it? They should pay us! It’s valuable experience for a Ph.D!”

Still, it’s worth keeping in mind.

Lest we think that UVA is an isolated case, here’s a couple reminders that the corportaization of both public K-12 and public universities is taking place at an increasingly rapid rate, with few questioning why capitalists should have any say at all over schools. North Carolina Republicans are pushing a plan funded by the heirs of Wal-Mart and Amway to send taxpayer money into private K-12 schools.

Meanwhile, the University of Missouri, which recently hired Tim Wolfe, a software executive with no experience in higher education as its president, has shut down its university press because it was costing the school $400,000 a year while at the same time paying its football coach $2.7 million a year. Wolfe may not have a Ph.D., but he is rich. For that matter, he doesn’t have a master’s degree either. Or a law degree. But he does have a B.A. in something called “personnel management” from the University of Missouri! And he’s rich! I can’t think of a better candidate to leverage some corporate strategizing in order to maximize potentialities! Starting with eliminating the university press.

Meanwhile, Wolfe’s starting salary is $450,000 a year
.

We are all the University of Virginia

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Comments (133)

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  1. Njorl says:

    Give me a strategy proactive enough and a paradigm on which to place it, and I shall leverage the world.

  2. howard says:

    i hate to say this, since his basic intent is so good, but daniel willingham should perhaps have had someone else proofread for him, given that he meant to say “compliment” in the first sentence of his second graf.

    i mean, if you are (accurately) going to call your nominal bosses idiots, you don’t wanna have a spelling error in your second paragraph!

  3. Tehanu says:

    Sorry I can’t remember the exact quote, but J.R.R. Tolkien summed up this kind of people pretty well when he said that they not only thought their ignorance and lack of curiosity were normal, they actually took pride in them. Jefferson’s rotation rate must be approaching infinity.

  4. WhatDragon says:

    Leave Gary Pinkel Aloooooone!

    The University of Missouri Athletic Department is profitable, in a large part because of the success of Gary Pinkel. His 2.7 mil a year is outweighed by what the money brought to the athletic department, and ultimately the rest of the school.

    • Craigo says:

      That’s a lot of money to serve as a punching bag for Texas and Oklahoma every season.

    • Furious Jorge says:

      I’m skeptical of the claim that much, if any, of that money ever makes its way to benefitting actual regular students at Mizzou.

      • Hogan says:

        Money is fungible. Moreover, FOOTBALL!!

      • Malaclypse says:

        Yes, but think of the indirect benefits, such as the shining ethical role models provided by the football leadership to the students over at Penn State. Only athletics can wipe out the moral stains that are the constant high-profile scandals surrounding academic publishing houses.

    • ironic irony says:

      Most collegiate athletic departments operate in the red. Don’t know if that’s true about Mizzou, though.

      But glad to see football is far more important than learning! ;)

      • WhatDragon says:

        At Mizzou, learning is important too! Especially for our football players.

        http://www.columbiatribune.com/weblogs/beyond-box-score/2012/jun/20/high-marks/

        • Erik Loomis says:

          Learning is so important at the University of Missouri that your president has a bachelor’s degree in personnel management!

          • Davis X. Machina says:

            Since the purpose of a university is to be other people’s distributed HR department, on the taxpayer’s dime (decreasing) or the student’s back (increasing, via debt), what other degree should he or she have?

          • WhatDragon says:

            Erik,

            Don’t get me wrong, the University of Missouri has a lot of problems.

            For one, it is in Missouri, which despite its past as a “swing” state, really is a red state, which means the university is first on the chopping block to keep state taxes retardedly low.

            The answer to how Wolfe got his job is probably in Missouri Ethics Commission financial contribution reports.

          • superking says:

            Yeah, man, what’s your beef with Mizzou? This is crazy.

            • Erik Loomis says:

              My beef with Missouri is exactly what is stated in the post–they hired someone to be its president that is completely unqualified and whose background in higher education is having a parent as a professor and who has nothing more than a B.A., but is evidently good enough because he’s rich. My beef with Mizzou is also that they cut their university press while paying their football coach $2.7 million.

              This is nothing personal. But it is beginning to sound like the ridiculous e-mails that sportswriters get when they say something less than glowing about someone’s favorite football team.

              • superking says:

                Erik, you ignorant slut. Wolfe is the president of the University of Missouri system which is responsible for four campuses, not just the University of Missouri-Columbia where Gary Pinkel is employed as the head football coach.

                I can’t conclude from Wolfe’s background that he is “completely unqualified” for the position, and it’s a bit silly for you to do the same. As much as we all hate corporate speak, people do actually work in businesses and that experience can be relevant. So, meh.

                As pointed out by WhatDragon above and by myself below, the football program is entirely self-funding. It does not take money from the state or from the academic mission of the school in any way. It is also, true, I believe, that the athletic department as a whole is self-funding. Also not taking any money from the academic programs.

                As a practical matter, a good football program brings more attention to a university than pretty much anything else. I have a love/hate relationship with Gary Pinkel, but the man did actually turn our program around and bring some national attention to our school. This is good for both athletics and academics. If he can improve the program, bring attention to the school, and his program actually makes money, what is wrong with his pay package?

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Someone with a B.A. only is not qualified to be the head of a workplace with dominated by Ph.Ds. He simply cannot understand his workers.

                  Moreover, what difference does it make at all if he is the head of the Columbia campus or the entire system? I don’t see how this is evidence for your point, which seems to be “I love the Mizzou Tigers so shut up!”

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  Or B.S., or whatever someone with a degree in something called “Personnel Management” has.

                • Superking says:

                  Well aren’t you a special flower, Erik? Perhaps I can’t understand your great insights since I don’t have a Ph.D. I’m sure to you, this just sounds like I’m saying, ” derrrrr. Duuuuhhh. Blerrrrr derrr.” Can’t you just see the slobber dripping out of my uneducated mouth? I wish I were smart enough to understand your genius and call you coworker.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  You aren’t really making a strong case here.

                • Hogan says:

                  a good football program brings more attention to a university than pretty much anything else.

                  Which is why no one has ever heard of Yale.

                • Pinko Punko says:

                  Chancellors or whomever is in charge of multiple campuses (not called this everywhere, but to compare with Virginia- perhaps the Rector) are more likely to be unqualified political appointees than U. presidents (except at Universities where the titles are reversed like UC and Illinois systems) who have a lot more to do that the person nominally in charge of multiple campuses.

                • superking says:

                  Hogan,

                  Yale had a great football team up until the Great Depression. And you know who has more national championships than any other school? Princeton.

                  But that’s not the point. I’m not saying, and never said, that football was the only way to make people aware of your school. My point is that today, schools have the ability to raise their profile through sports programs that bring national attention. This is a result of mass communication. Yale, Princeton, and Harvard have been around a long time, and were prominent before organized sports existed in any real fashion. It’s not like you have a strong counterexample that disproves my thesis.

                  The only reason you have ever heard of Notre Dame is because of football. It’s a good school, but gained prominence through sports. Boise State is following that same model. It’s academics aren’t there yet, but they are consciously using sports to make people aware of the school. And it’s working.

  5. Gone2Ground says:

    Don’t forget the state of Louisiana, which has recently passed a law allowing state funding for schoolkids to be funnelled directly to institutions of the parents’ choice. Up to an including schools that have great basketball teams, but no libraries. Or teach Creationism and Biblical mathematics, whatever that is.

    I hope Louisiana’s next generation is fully prepared for their new roles as the groundskeepers and housemaids of the 1%.

    • wengler says:

      The lawmakers went batshit ballistic when a Muslim school applied and was approved under this scheme. Apparently the people behind that school didn’t want to die though, so it was quickly withdrawn.

      These tea partiers just can’t keep themselves from ripping apart the establishment clause in the First Amendment.

      • Gone2Ground says:

        I heard about that. I can only imagine said legislators’ reactions when informed of the very existence of a Muslim school in Louisiana….

    • Craigo says:

      Bible mathematics is Pi=3, as explained in the First Book Kings.

    • somethingblue says:

      and Biblical mathematics, whatever that is

      I imagine it’s like regular mathematics, but using only 3, 7, 12 and 40.

      Also, all the word problems involve shekels and cubits.

      “An official compels two Samaritans and a woman with an issue of blood to go 4.36 miles …”

      • Hogan says:

        A train leaves Dan for Beersheba going at 30 leagues per hour at the same time a train leaves Beersheba for Dan at 25 leagues per hour. How far from the Temple Mount do the trains collide?

    • rea says:

      Biblical mathematics

      I Kings 7:23–

      And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and its height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

      In other words, pi = 3.

      • Craigo says:

        The rhetorical gymnastics that have been performed in defense of that verse over the centuries are as impressive as they are hilarious. It turns out that if you assume that the author of Kings intended something other than what he actually wrote, it totally comes out to 3.14159…

        • Manta1976 says:

          why do you need any rhetorical gymnastic? 3 seems a good enough approximation for pi. Or do you need the infinitely many digits to be satisfied?

          • Malaclypse says:

            3 seems a good enough approximation for pi.

            Spoken like a hell-bound heathen who does not understand that every word must be literally true. The soil of Palestine? Actually made of milk and honey. The Song of Solomon? Let’s not even go there.

          • Craigo says:

            Because if it were an approximation, then the vessel was not actually round. And if the vessel were round, then it’s dimensions could not be as specified.

            • Katya says:

              I’m thinking that instrument precision in those days was not what it is now. 3 as an approximation of pi doesn’t seem so bad, especially because the author of the verse probably rounded to whole numbers because it sounded better.

  6. JW Mason says:

    I certainly agree with the political sentiment behind “We are all the UNiversity of Virginia.”

    But!

    If we want to defend public universities and not just give up in despair, then it’s important to pay just as much attention to the places that are *not* the University of Virginia. We need to spend just as much energy understanding what’s gone right at places that have stayed (relatively) true to their core mission, as to denouncing (as they deserve!) Dragas and co.

    The only way we can preserve and extend what’s valuable in higher ed (and I think there is a lot that is really valuable) is by learning from what’s worked in the past. We on the left need to resist the temptation to wallow in our defeats.

    I think in particular there’s far too little discussion of the really great work that goes on in the lower tiers of the system — nonselective and two-year colleges.

  7. superking says:

    Erik,

    I am a Mizzou alum, so regarding Gary Pinkel’s salary, please go fuck yourself. Mizzou’s athletic department is completely self-funding. It neither receives any funds from the state nor does it take any money from academic programs. Our football program, which is actually run very well by Gary Pinkel, is entirely above board, honest, and actually benefits to the school by raising our national profile.

    • Corey says:

      Loomis isn’t about “facts”, he’s about maximizing professorial outrage. Once you read him from this perspective, his writing begins to make sense; otherwise it’s totally incoherent.

    • The football program . . . is entirely above board, honest

      Is that why they suck so much?

      Seriously though Mizzou’s athletic department website says it’s 2005 operating budget was $39 million of which 99.25% was self-generated, which leaves about $300,000 that it took from the school, which is preeeeeeetty close to the $400,000 they’re appropriating for new paradigms by closing the press.

      That’s just for one year and those numbers’ll obviously fluctuate around over time but that’s part of the point, idn’t it: the school prioritizes keeping the athletic show going over keeping the press so it needs to keep some money free to close a gap in any given year.

      . . . Blaine Gabbert was overrated even in college. Get a haircut son.

      • superking says:

        I agree about Blaine Gabbert. He always froze up under pressure. In the past five years, we had 48 wins and 3 top 25 finishes. We’re not the best team on the planet, but we don’t suck either. Where’d you go to school?

        • I went to a D-III school but grew up a Hawkeye fan. The amount of false bravado shitslinging and “we’re being insulted by having to play this worthless team” trash talk from Mizzou fans leading up to the 2010 Insight Bowl approached Ohio State and Michigan levels. I didn’t think that was possible. Then the bitching about the loopy interception return that won the game. Awful.

          When I interact with a Mizzou fan I still feel the need to needle them a bit. It’s not the most immature part of my personality, but it’s in the top 10.

      • Pinko Punko says:

        Trust me, the self-funded is illusory. For example, all the land where athletics facilities are located were not bought or rented by the athletic department, they are essentially donated by the university most likely. Parking lots are not likely rented for special athletic use. The “self-funding” also allows people to donate directly to the athletic department, which of course doesn’t do sh*t for the school, and of course the athletic departments are exploiting the labor of athletes

        • superking says:

          The land issue is a red herring since the land would not be put to use by the University for other purposes if there wasn’t an athletic program. You’re right that major donations go to the athletic department and the state funds some construction. The Mizzou Sports Arena–the basketball stadium built in 2004ish–was funded through private donations tied to matching state bonds. It got built, but the General Assembly nearly rejected it. So, there’s a point there, no doubt.

          I’m not sure what your point about the parking lots is, but Mizzou’s parking lots are rented for athletics. The football stadium has a fair amount of parking around it, and you have to pay to park and tailgate there. When not in use on game days, it operates as student parking for which students pay fees. Or at least we did when I was in school.

          If you’re wondering whether the athletic department pays rent to the university for the use of parking lots, I think you’re kind of missing the point again and engaging in a category mistake. As above the parking lots wouldn’t really exist but for the athletic program. It’s conceivable that the university would build large commuter lots without the stadiums, but those wouldn’t generate any money for any other purpose. Per above, the existing lots operate as student parking when there isn’t a game happening. So, having the commuter lots and also getting money for charging for their use on game day actually generates more money for the school than simply having parking lots would. As for the category mistake, you’re assuming that the athletic department is a thing separate and apart from the university itself. Rather it is part of the university and it therefore makes sense for the department to use the lots.

          I could repeat essentially the same point about donations: A lot of donations that go to the athletic department wouldn’t be made at all but for the athletic department. The reality is that sports help to keep alumni connected to the school.

          I don’t feel a need to address the issue about paying athletes since that is a national problem and not specific to Mizzou. It’s a bigger issue that needs to be examined and addressed in its entirety.

    • Greg says:

      As was mentioned above, it will be interesting to see how that dynamic changes with the move to the SEC, since ole Mizzou was middle of the pack in spending and revenue in the Big 12. The look to move to the back of the pack in the SEC, which indicates the revenue will dry up, as well, as the Tigers move from pretenders to dormats.

  8. Corey says:

    I agree with most of the stuff about UVA, but I don’t see why it’s a bad idea, in 2012, to close what amounts to a publishing company.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      That’s because you understand nothing about academia or what university presses do. And you are belligerent about your own ignorance time and time again so why even try to explain it to you.

      • Corey says:

        So, basically, your pet university function (publishing) should continue to be subsidized; other peoples’ pet university function (athletics) should not.

        Got it.

        • Craigo says:

          Academics are not a pet function of a university. They are its purpose.

          • Corey says:

            Publishing, strictly speaking, is not the same thing as academics. And while I agree that publishing access is important for academics whose work wouldn’t survive the commercial market, it’s still possible to have too many university presses.

            • rea says:

              Publishing, strictly speaking, is not the same thing as academics.

              Well, you are wrong there.
              Research is useless without publication.

            • DrDick says:

              You do realize that the work of scientists who have revolutionized the modern world would not “survive the commercial market” because technical academic markets are too small to be attractive to big corporations, don’t you? Of course you do not, because you are an ignorant and arrogant yahoo with no understanding of either academics or markets (especially the publishing market).

        • Walt says:

          Corey, dude, why do you need to come across as such a ginormous dick every single time you comment? Even when you have a point, you’re slather it in so much dickitude that it’s wasted. Maybe you really fucking hate Erik, but none of the rest of us give a shit about your personal feelings of hatred. Save it for your therapist.

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Because university presses are necessary for faculty to publish our research. If the world only had commercial presses, there would be no way to publish work in “obscure” fields like Classics, German, or Philosophy.

      University presses are also a very traditional function of universities. Asking why a university ought to have what amounts to a publishing company makes less sen than asking why a university ought to have what amount to sports franchises.

      • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

        sense*

      • Corey says:

        I don’t think either are a particularly good investment, but at least people outside a small class of professors are aware of the sports teams.

        • Craigo says:

          I bet more people have been inside the football stadium than the library. Obviously those books are just a waste of space and money.

        • djw says:

          Do you disagree with the proposition that a core function of universities is the production and dissemination of scholarly research? Because, for now at least, University presses remain a necessary part of that process in many fields.

          • Corey says:

            In the abstract, yes, university presses are important; but that’s not a defense of any particular university press. It’s entirely possible for presses in general to be important but for one in particular to be expendable, particularly if the dissemination of academic work is increasingly happening electronically.

            I mean, the existence of this blog should prove, to some degree, that professors aren’t exactly lacking for opportunities to make themselves, their work, and their opinions known.

            • DrDick says:

              Again revealing profound and appalling ignorance of academics or the real world.

              • Corey says:

                Do you seriously believe – despite academics’ easy access to digital publishing platforms, like this very blog – that we need the exact same number of academic presses we had before the internet?

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Do you seriously believe that this blog is comparable to a university press?

                  If so, would you support a proposal to subject your comments to peer review?

                • Corey says:

                  Malacylpse, at least in economics, peer review is declining in importance as a lot of new ideas are introduced via working papers.

                  I won’t claim to have similar knowledge of other fields but can imagine that proper peer-reviewed journals are a less-important venue for publication than they used to be.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  So, you won’t answer the first question?

                • Corey says:

                  A blog doesn’t need to be “comparable” to a university press in order for it to eat into the relative need for university presses.

                  Also, “digital distribution” does not equal “blog”. Lots of other ways to publish work on the internet without needing an intermediary.

                • Erik Loomis says:

                  You seem to not understand something (well, many things, but whatever).

                  Publishing=tenure and promotion. That publishing has to exist within a peer-review process. As of right now, virtually no departments I know of would accept on-line publishing in lieu of traditional print publishing. I could print my book online and it could be just as good as it will be in print, but it will not get me tenure. And the print book will get me tenure.

                  Eliminating university presses makes it more difficult for tenure-track faculty to receive tenure. That fact then gives administrations even more power to cut tenure-track faculty lines by replacing those people with adjuncts. And then they can move more $ into leveraging strategic strategizing.

                • DrDick says:

                  A blog doesn’t need to be “comparable” to a university press in order for it to eat into the relative need for university presses.

                  Let me know when a university accepts it for tenure review.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I’m sorry, I thought that when you wrote “digital publishing platforms, like this very blog” you meant that digital platforms were like this blog. I should have read what you were thinking, rather than what you actually wrote. My apologies.

            • Linnaeus says:

              particularly if the dissemination of academic work is increasingly happening electronically.

              Good point, although Rice University tried an all-digital press and ended up shutting that down just as it had shut down its paper-based press a few years prior. Electronic distribution has its own costs, of course, and there are still some functions of a university press, e.g., peer review, that digital distribution doesn’t remove.

        • You don’t seem to be clear on what the role of universities and colleges consists of. That’s not uncommon– most people reckon they exist to credential young people, or to warehouse them until they are old enough to be employed at some sort of productive work. Some people think they are for teaching young people, and that’s closer to correct but not quite there.

          Universities and colleges exist to advance study and learning. Academic presses exist to further that end. Sports? I like sports, but doesn’t it strike you funny that you have never heard of a European university’s sports program? As close as it gets is the Oxford-Cambridge crew regattas. The emphasis on sports in the American educational system is unique, and leads to distortions like those cited above.

          Also, Mizzou is going to be flattened in the SEC, but that’s to its credit.

          • Corey says:

            See my comments above on academic publishing.

            I think the NCAA is near-completely indefensible, and would prefer minor pro programs a la the CHL for the development of pro athletes, but collegiate athletics have been a feature of American higher learning for as long as we’ve had widespread higher learning. It’s not exactly a new phenomenon and I think lots of academics overstate the case for the pernicious influence of athletics.

          • Lee says:

            Speaking of this, is there any reason why American high schools and universities developed sports programs while the European gymnasiums, lyceums, and universities did not?

            • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

              Two (partial) answers:

              1) Sports have long been very important in English public (i.e. private) schools. Remember the saying that Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton. My guess is that the role of high school sports in this country has some relationship to their place in England.

              2) I’d also look at the difference in the structure of professional sports in continental Europe. The great soccer teams of Germany or Spain are but the tip of enormous athletic icebergs. Clubs like Real Madrid are academic empires that also include teams competing at other of pro and semi-pro soccer, teams competing in other sports (Real Madrid has a basketball team), and even academies to train young people in these sports. Our major league sports teams are pretty much stand-alone operations. A partial exception is baseball’s farm system (which has been partially mirrored in hockey and basketball), but even this is was a fairly late development (mid-20th century, I think). Earlier, minor league teams were independent of the big league squads.

            • ajay says:

              Speaking of this, is there any reason why American high schools and universities developed sports programs while the European gymnasiums, lyceums, and universities did not?

              European universities do have sports programmes. You can play any number of sports for your university against other universities. What they don’t have is effectively professional sports teams, and this is the main difference.

              Oxford University has a football team – they’ve just got back from the US after beating Yale and Columbia – but they don’t compete on the same level as, say, Chelsea and Manchester United. Oxford University Association Football Club is an amateur club and plays against other amateur clubs.

        • DrDick says:

          It is not just English and history that are affected by this. Most scientific research would never be published either. Then where would we be?

      • Malaclypse says:

        If the world only had commercial presses, there would be no way to publish work in “obscure” fields like Classics, German, or Philosophy.

        That’s because Classics professors do not know how to strategically leverage knowledge-based solutions, and thus cannot compete in the infallible global marketplace. Perhaps if they merge with the Marketing department, they may develop the needed synergies.

    • Manta1976 says:

      This is probably the stupidest comment I have read on this blog.

      Hint: google “elsevier boycott”, and then you will hopefully realize why.

  9. I don’t see anything here about “strategic management,” “proactive proactivity” or “leveraging strategic proactive proactivity management.”

    According to the craven crybaby crony capitalists on the BOV, that’s covered under “natural law”

  10. JW Mason says:

    I don’t understand why this argument about athletics being self-funded if supposed to be such a showstopper. Money is still fungible. Why shouldn’t athletics subsidize the rest of the school?

    • Corey says:

      It’s probably fair to say that, assuming that a university athletics department is truly self-sufficient, it’s providing all kinds of indirect subsidies to the rest of the school from a branding/marketing perspective.

      Virginia Commonwealth University, for instance, saw a spike in applications and a rise in average SAT scores after its NCAA basketball run a few years back (no idea if VCU basketball is self-sufficient, but I’m pretty sure marketing-related benefits to the rest of the school aren’t entered onto the balance sheet).

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        This is why Williams and Amherst are reduced to taking all comers, locked as they are in a Div III ghetto…..

      • DrDick says:

        The actual data suggest otherwise. Once again you are proven to be spouting fact free nonsense.

        • Corey says:

          “assuming that a university athletics department is truly self-sufficient”. Programs in debt are by definition not self-sufficient.

          Once again you are proven to be either terrible at reading comprehension or willfully obtuse.

          • DrDick says:

            You keep assuming that and it simply is not true and that is the problem.

          • Malaclypse says:

            Programs in debt are by definition not self-sufficient.

            And that is why Apple, with 48.4 billion in debt, is by definition not self-sufficient.

            Here’s a hint, Oh Commenter Who Knows All About Business – profitability and debt and different concepts.

            Oh, I know – you meant something other than what you wrote, just like above. You are not actually stupid, you just write stupid things, which people uncharitably take at face value.

            • Corey says:

              OK, genius, “programs whose debts exceed their liquid assets”. Happy now?

              • Malaclypse says:

                Says nothing about whether or not they are currently self-sufficient.

                Simple examples: my debt (mortgage) far exceeds my liquid assets, because your really foolish sentence would exclude my house. Now, you would not make a mistake this basic if you were using the concepts correctly, but you would if you were stuck at the buzzword phase of understanding.

                Now is perhaps the time you should remember the First Rule of Holes, Sparky.

                • bradp says:

                  I think when he says “in debt” he is talking about negative net cash flows.

                  A firm may have huge debt loads and still be self-sufficient if the revenue associated with the debt is greater than its interest and servicing costs.

                  If they are constantly accruing debt because outflows outpace inflows, then I think we can say that it is not self-sufficient.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  I think when he says “in debt” he is talking about negative net cash flows.

                  Emminently possible. But since he communicates in half-understood buzzwords, one cannot be sure.

                • bradp says:

                  But since he communicates in half-understood buzzwords, one cannot be sure.

                  Is there any other sort of political discourse?

      • JW Mason says:

        But Corey, you are undercutting your own argument. If there are lots of implicit, unrecorded subsidies from the athletics department to the rest of the university, and from the university to the athletics department (since surely the indirect benefits must run both ways) then it really doesn’t make any sense to say that the athletics department is or is not self-supporting. The more athletics is integrated into the rest of the university, the more sense it makes to just look at athletics expenses as one expense among others. In which case Erik’s original comparison is perfectly logical.

        • DrDick says:

          This would suggest that very few athletic programs ever give anything back to the university and that there are very few which are in any sense “self-supporting”. I am also skeptical about those claims, as the last detailed study of them I saw (several years ago), showed that they could only claim that by not counting a lot of basic operating costs (HVAC, building maintenance, some scholarships, etc.) directly incurred by the athletic department that would not otherwise be incurred.

          • mark f says:

            Oh, come on, DrDick! Just because that HVAC unit is servicing the gym and locker rooms doesn’t mean the school wouldn’t have otherwise used it, uh . . . on the quad. Or something.

  11. somethingblue says:

    Cambridge has had a university press since 1534, possibly because somebody at some point thought there might be a natural connection between universities and books.

    I believe the letters patent granted by Henry VIII make reference to “leverayging synergye.”

    It is a little-known fact that many universities also have libraries.

    • Erik Loomis says:

      Hello! That is very interesting!

    • Incontinentia Buttocks says:

      Though it’s worth remembering that Dragas was a Democratic appointment to the Board of Visitors and that hedge fund operator and Obama bundler Paul Tudor Jones also played a key role in Sullivan’s ouster. The Board’s motivations were ideological, but they weren’t partisan.

      • Davis X. Machina says:

        Tim Kaine is a Democrat the way Velveeta™ is cheese.

        • wengler says:

          Jon Stewart laughing at Kaine’s terrible messaging before the the 2010 election is worth a look. Instead of figuring out that ‘don’t give them the keys back to the car’ was stupid, Kaine got indignant and could barely hold back his anger at Stewart’s jibes.

        • Holden Pattern says:

          He was Obama’s pick for DNC chair from 2009 to 2011. He’s a Big-D Democrat. I mean, if we’re going to play the no-true-Scotsman game with who is and isn’t a Democrat, I really think we have to exclude from participation people who led the national party committee. Jeebus.

          • NonyNony says:

            Just because the Democrats are a single political party, that doesn’t mean that they all get along. Nor does it mean that there aren’t … what’s that fancy word I learned back in High School .. oh yeah “factions” in the party.

            Hell the most important fact I’ve ever discovered about Democrats is that they prefer to fight with (and sometimes eve hate) each other FAR FAR more than they like to fight with Republicans. It’s in the blood.

            • Holden Pattern says:

              yes, that’s all fine and good. but you don’t get to say that the head of the DNC just a year gone isn’t really a Democrat.

              • Tony Blair isn’t really a member of the Labour party

                Mark Penn isn’t really a Democratic strategist

                Norm Ornstein isn’t really a member of AEI

                Everyone knows what that means, and it’s correct. There are plenty of substantial reasons to play bash the silly progressive purist. Nitpicking a legitimate use of language isn’t necessary.

          • Davis X. Machina says:

            The FDA is fine with Velveeta™ being called ‘cheese’, by the way.

            Which doesn’t actually make it cheese.

  12. Bart says:

    It turns out that one of the referenced NYT op-eds was that of our own David Brooks!

  13. [...] That’s why I said earlier that we are all the University of Virginia. Because what’s happening there is happening at every public school I’ve ever been associated with–the University of Oregon, University of Tennessee, University of New Mexico, and University of Rhode Island. And virtually every other school as well. Capitalists can fight a war on public higher education on thousands of fronts at once so a loss in Charlottesville is only a small defeat in their perfidious campaign. [...]

  14. [...] This is all part of the corporate strategy to turn universities into corporations, with all the meaningless lingo, profit-hoarding at the top, and lack of respect for employees that entails. Boards don’t just not understand what universities do and how they are run, they don’t want to know. They are attempting to transform them into the same institutions that brought you The Great Recession, The Housing Bubble, Unsustainable Debt, and all your other favorite economic entertainments. [...]

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