A recent article in The Tennessean suggests it may be a good idea for those of us in higher education (along with other state workers) to look within our houses for waste before the governor does so. Here is the link: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110727/NEWS0201/307270092/Tennessee-state-employees-report-government-waste
The University of Memphis in Jackson
Most of you know by now, Lambuth will soon be a branch of The University of Memphis. We need to be thinking of what that means for UTM, I believe. Honestly, I do not know what it means entirely, but I suspect those above my pay level are thinking of it and hopefully have ideas on how we can continue to recruit well in the Jackson (and further south), parts of West Tennessee. Of course, this is not the first time the University of Memphis as had a presence in Jackson, but it may be the largest.
I find it curious, if not actually funny, when people suggest that when talking about the issues pertaining to higher education we are better to keep “politics” out of the discussion. I was thus intrigued by this Chronicle of Higher Education article, (http://chronicle.com/blogs/old-new/you-can%E2%80%99t-keep-the-politics-out-of-education/437 which seems to agree with my view and disagree with Stanley Fish and others who see anything other than talking from the authority of our academic training, as a violation. I know in my case, if I had to strictly rely on my graduate-school training to do my job as a Professor, I would soon be irrelevant to my students and to the profession; and much of the learning I have done since graduate school has been of a political, social, economic nature. I have kept my eyes and ears (and mouth too, I must admit) open, reading as widely as possible, and not only in my field. To me, that is the role of the Professor, to become, not an authority in all fields, but to become enough of a public intellectual to engage in the global conversation pertaining to values appropriate for the future of all sentient beings.
With all the discussion of getting students through in the most efficient manner imaginable, do all public universities not run the risk of becoming nothing more than diploma mills? Before, when Universities have sought to distinguish themselves as being of a little better quality than the “mills”, they have cited, among other things, how their students are encouraged to search their hearts to find what is truly the right field of study for them. Those days seem to be in the past, at least for public schools. Of course, the irony is, with decreased state funding for higher education comes increased scrutiny over how we manage our institutions. Only in America, huh? With that in mind, check out this article (http://chronicle.com/article/How-to-Save-the-Traditional/128373/ from the Chronicle on “saving higher ed” from the inside.
Finally, all types of students, undergraduate to graduate, are taking out more loans than ever, and this in the face of severe threats to the Pell Grant program. Heretofore, those with limited means to apply to higher education, were at least able to get grants, thus putting them in a slightly better position, in some cases; than those whose family’s had a little more money and could not get those grants. With the increased reliance on loans, we can pretty much be assured that students who graduate from UTM will toe the line in society and in the companies they work for, because those loans do not leave much room engaging in the public debate, volunteering, or other civic endeavors. Check out this article (http://chronicle.com/blogs/headcount/when-student-loan-payments-are-due-a-borrower-shares-his-experience/28473) on the experiences of one such student.