My Blog Has Moved to a New Location!!

Thank you for subscribing to this blog over the last several years. As I mentioned in my prior blog post, I have now consolidated information on my writing, consulting and speaking activities into one new web site, and all future posts will emanate from there.

Please go to the new web site at victorbrown.net.  Tour the site and, if you wish to keep receiving my blog posts, please take moment to sign up again on the new site. It’s easy to do — as you read any individual blog, you will see a form on the right in which you can submit your email address.

You will then receive one email verifying that you do indeed want to sign up. Click that link and you will receive a final email, confirming that you are successfully subscribed.

I am quite pleased with the new web site, and I hope you will find it to your liking also.

 


Selecting Faculty in an Age of Adjuncts

How Should Colleges Select Faculty in the Age of Adjuncts? Differently than they do now! Read my thoughts on SeeThruEdu.

Also, this is probably my final post on this blog site. I will soon be launching my brand new personal web site, which comprises all of my writing and consulting services in one place.

When the new site launches, sometime later this week, I will make one final post here that will direct you to the new site.Unfortunately, to receive future posts in your email you will have to again sign up on the new site, but its easy to do.

Nothing changes except the venue! Thanks for reading.

Vic


How can a college speed up its decision making?

Times are changing, and college graduates are expected to excel in a dynamic environment, constantly updating their grasp of changing markets, technology developments and all manner of other things that will affect them in their every day lives.

Do colleges change just as rapidly, to keep up with the changes they expect their graduates to face? I don’t think they do. One solution is to require the full-time faculty to actually work full time – on campus.

Read my thoughts on the pages of SeeThruEdu.

 

 


Professional Excellence — Students take note, you need to learn this also!

Speaking as a former (and once again, for the time being) business executive and college faculty member, I always tried to communicate these principles to my students.

This stuff counts! You can read all about it in my latest commentary for the JW Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.


What is causing all of this campus anxiety?

Apparently, the number of students flocking to wellness centers for psychological counseling has increased substantially — up 50% over the last five years.

What is causing all of this stress? Were the weekly quizzes I gave in class too much to handle? Was I overly picky in the way I graded the case studies?

Somehow I doubt it, and you can read my thoughts here on the pages of SeeThruEdu.

 

 


Which college to attend? How about whether to attend?

That’s really the first question – should a student even attend college at all?

Many should not, as a startlingly high number of students fail to obtain a degree, racking up a lot of debt in the process.

Maybe students and parents need a reality check — which I offer in my latest commentary in the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. You can read it here.


Ursinus Twitter Uproar Misses the Point

This week’s uproar over Ursinus Board of Trustees President Michael Marcon’s tweets, and the subsequent resignation of board member David Bloom, has upset me — but not for the reason that one might assume.

Following a three-decade career with Philadelphia-based FMC Corporation, I had the opportunity to serve on the faculty and staff of Ursinus from 2002-2014. Coming from a corporate environment, I had the opportunity to compare both business and higher education from an insider’s vantage point, and I have written extensively about my experience, including occasional commentaries in The Inquirer.

Let me say at the outset that I don’t recall having met either Michael Marcon or David Bloom, unless it was in passing at a campus-wide function. Similarly, I have not met the current president of the college, as the president and a number of the administrators have turned over in the two years since I retired.

To me, the issue here is not Marcon’s tweets on yoga pants, an environmental slogan pasted on a janitorial bucket, or any of the other comments that many in the student community have apparently found so offensive and threatening. I’ll agree that the tweets were certainly careless, though, and showed a flippancy and lack of thought on the part of somebody who should know much better. My immediate advice to him would be to deactivate his Twitter account.

No, my real frustration is that such student energy and attention is not aimed at the much more important issues in higher education today.

Demographics are working against college admissions, as fewer students graduate from the nation’s high schools, and competition for them has become fierce. Small schools are finding it harder to survive, despite rapid increases in tuition, and school closures and consolidations are becoming more commonplace.

Student debt has climbed past $1.3 trillion, more than all personal credit card debt in this country. To make matters worse, over 40% of all entering college freshmen will fail to graduate in six years. Unfortunately for them, their student debts must still be repaid. I suspect that the concept of “free tuition” will amount to nothing more than a vapid campaign promise.

Even for those who do graduate, as I reported last year on the SeeThruEdu higher education web site, employers are not happy with what they are getting. As reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education, The Business Roundtable contends that a third of their members are unhappy with the qualifications of college graduates.

It is easy to understand the employer dissatisfaction. A recent survey of 32,000 students who took the Collegiate Learning Assessment Test (CLA+) showed that 63% of college freshmen failed to demonstrate proficiency in critical thinking and written communication skills. OK, you may say, they were freshmen at the time they took the test. You would think that three more years of education, at a cost of up to a couple of hundred thousand dollars, would rectify that. But you would think wrong.

A stunning 40% of seniors still failed to demonstrate proficiency in the assessment test.

So what do we have here? Tuition costs that have been rising out of control. Failure by almost half of all students to even graduate. Employers unhappy with a third of college graduates.

If I were a student today, I’d be toughening myself up and thinking about these issues – not whether somebody thinks women should wear yoga pants. Higher education is frightfully expensive, the college years absolutely fly by, and the world waiting for them is rugged indeed.

Students should demand the absolute best in return for their college investment, but they should also make sure they are demanding the things that really count.


Of Monuments, Elevators and Government

Readers of this blog know that I tend to embrace libertarian/conservative viewpoints generally, and especially when it comes to government intervention into areas that I consider to be the responsibility of the private sector.

Although there are legitimate areas of federal involvement (defense, for example), in general the private sector delivers goods and services much more efficiently.

Once in a while we get a good reminder. Take the Washington Monument, for example. In 2011, a rare east coast earthquake damaged the Monument’s external masonry, and it had to be shut down to visitors for 33 months, while it was repaired. Two days after the gala reopening of the Monument, the elevator system failed, stranding visitors at the top. Apparently, it was known that the aging elevators needed to be replaced, and the 33-month shutdown for masonry repairs would have been the absolutely best time to do this, but the National Park Service had inexplicably authorized only one repair, not two.

Fast forward until now, and you guessed it. Last week it was officially determined that the elevators need to be replaced, and the Monument will be closed to visitors for the next nine months. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.’s congressional representative, now says that not fixing the elevator during the masonry repair was a mistake. No kidding, Congresswoman.

I could have told them so, back then. In fact, I did – right here in this post from June 2014.

It boggles the mind. Maybe, instead of throwing high school insults at one another, our two presidential candidates could spend a little more time talking about how we can make the federal machinery operate with foresight and common sense. Of course, that will take Herculean efforts on the part of Congress — they will have to reform civil service rules so that the bureaucrats who make bone-headed decisions can be quickly replaced with clearer thinkers. Such fundamental changes will require 535 sensible members of Congress, though, in addition to one sensible president.

It’s a long way from here to there, but we need to keep at it.

 

 


This Media Disruption is Bugging Me!

This took me by surprise, but National Review is shutting down virtually all of their blogs, including Phi Beta Cons, the blog dedicated to higher education issues.

A year ago, I was asked to be a regular contributor to this blog, and have published some 48 commentary pieces during those twelve months, on a number of higher ed topics.

I found Phi Beta Cons to be timely, as it featured perspectives from writers more gifted than I, and I am sorry to see it go. Their farewell post can be read here, and all of my previous posts are archived here, in case you missed some of these gems.

The National Review focus will be on their home page (an attempt to drive magazine subscription sales, I am sure), but they have asked us to contribute somewhat longer form articles on higher education, which I plan to do.

My writing will certainly continue, at National Review as well as on the pages of The Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, SeeThruEdu, the Philadelphia Inquirer, my own personal blog (which you are reading now), and other journals whose defenses I have yet to breach (are you listening, Wall Street Journal? New York Tmes?).

So stay tuned as the work continues, even though the media channel changes. These are exciting times for publishers and writers alike, as technology reshapes the landscape. I am looking forward to continuing the journey.

 


Federal-State Partnership – or Extortion?

You may remember that I recently wrote about the Eastern College president trying to line up at the Hillary Clinton free tuition trough. Now the president of LSU has gone one better.

LSU already would qualify for the Clinton initiative — President F. King Alexander is more concerned with using federal tax dollars as a cudgel against states that would dare to reduce their funding for public higher education.

You can read about it here in National Review’s blog site Phi Beta Cons.

Unfortunately, this is the last time you can read my rumination on the National Review web site. Effective at the end of this week, they are shutting down almost all of their blogs, including Phi Beta Cons.

The crisis in publishing and media continues, with old models being discarded in search of new. Now, it seems that even some of the relatively new models are being discarded.

However, Vic Brown’s blog survives right here, and I will continue to offer my thoughts on business, education and policy on a regular basis. I also write for other media outlets, and will continue to provide links to my articles in this space.

If you have not already signed up to receive email alerts for each new blog post, it is easy to do. On my blog home page, using a desktop or tablet computer (no smart phones, for some reason), look for the small pop-up “follow” button in the lower right corner and sign up for new alerts. It’s absolutely free, and easy to do. Each new post will flow to your email inbox, no matter what device you use to access your mail.