by AndrewMc | 10/09/2009 12:01:00 PM
This is a wonderful analysis of what a university finds important, and valuable. A nice follow-up to my piece from earlier in the week:

In 1990, Harvard had an endowment of about $4.7-billion. That was still a lot of money, about $7.7-billion in today's dollars. Only five other universities have that much money now. Over the next two decades the pile grew to colossal heights, $36.9-billion by mid-2008.

Harvard spent the money on many things. But not a dollar went to increasing the number of undergraduates it chose to bless with a Harvard education. In 1990 the university welcomed slightly more than 1,600 students to its freshman class. In 2008, $32-billion later, it enrolled slightly more than 1,600 freshmen.

One thing to note about this analysis. Harvard didn't exactly have the money "dumped into its lap." That is, Harvard didn't have $5 billion one day, and $37 billion the next. The money grew over time, and Harvard couldn't have known that the investment would grow in the way it did.

Still, it does say something about core university values. Harvard still has the chance to expand its student body, and, as the article notes, make a concerted effort to recruit more students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. But I'll not hold my breath.

Going on the job market was hard. I was lucky to have experienced the AHA for several years before "going out," so I was somewhat prepared. Still, it wasn't fun. Was my c.v. in good shape? Had I published well, or often? I've often said that since I've now sat on hiring committees, and therefore been on both sides of the table, I simultaneously can't believe I ever got a job, and also cannot believe I didn't get one sooner.

Then there's this to worry about:

Given that it seems to be common wisdom that publications are helpful, two anecdotes I heard in the past week or so scare me a little bit. Both anecdotes are about departments that were searching or are planning a search. Both departments see their department as mainly a teaching department, but they do have research requirements (I think 3/3 or 3/2 loads). Also, according to both anecdotes, these departments consider publications in top journals as counting against a candidate!

So, hang on a sec. Publish and perish, publish or perish? What to do, what to do?

Nicely said.

Coming out isn't easy at any age. I can't even imagine the hell these kids go through (free registration required).

Look for a new semi-regular feature to start up here at Progressive Historians in the near future.

A revised edition of On The Origin of Species is set to hit campuses. It's being promoted by a creationist group, and the "actor" Kirk Cameron is pimping up the volume. They have included a new frontspiece that attempts to "debunk" evolution because they seem to think that "science" blindly accepts Darwin as biblical revelation, so to speak.

Science debates Darwin and evolution all the time. These people live in a fantasy world.

The best part:

He said that universities need his edition of Origin of Species because professors today "are not allowed to mention God. If a professor believes in a creator, they are not allowed to mention it because it's religion." Asked if that was not an exaggeration, given that many professors of various faiths at a range of colleges and universities do talk about their belief in God, Comfort acknowledged that such discussion takes place, but said that it is banned as biology instruction.

The idea that God can't be mentioned in on-campus--even in biology--classes is utter fantasy. These people don't have the first idea of what goes on in a liberal arts institution. None.

But here's the real agenda:

The idea, according to the fund raising materials, is that top universities, which might not be thrilled at their students being given anti-evolution materials, will be unable to block the distribution of Darwin's writings. "Let's see if they try to ban Darwin's Origin of Species," it says.

There it is in a nutshell. They're looking for a university to ban their book so that they can shout "EEVUL LIBRULS!!!!!"

Did I mention that these people don't have the first idea of what goes on in a liberal arts institution?

Oh, also: It's On the Origin of Species. Getting the title correct gives you a bit more cred.

I had a student come up to me on the first day of class, a few weeks ago, who said "Now, it's not that I can't read, but . . .

Trust me, there isn't anything that comes after those first words that can make the first part of the statement any better.

Something's definitely rotten in California, and as usual Bob Herbert nails it:

Berkeley is caught in a full-blown budget crisis with nothing much in the way of upside in sight. The school is trying to cope with what the chancellor, Robert Birgeneau, described as a “severe and rapid loss in funding” from the state, which has shortchanged Berkeley’s budget nearly $150 million this year, and cut more than $800 million from the higher education system as a whole.

This is like waving goodbye to the futures of untold numbers of students. Chancellor Birgeneau denounced the state’s action as “a completely irresponsible disinvestment in the future of its public universities.”

(The chancellor was being kind. Anyone who has spent more than 10 minutes watching the chaos of California politicians trying to deal with fiscal and budgetary matters would consider “completely irresponsible” to be the mildest of possible characterizations.)

Along those lines, my state, like others, is undergoing massive budget cuts. There will be no raises for this year in our university--so we've been told many times by our president. Except for some of the higher-level administrators, natch, who scored some tens of thousands of dollars in raises. Oh, and the Athletic Director will get a raise that will make him the third-highest paid AD in our athletic conference. Plus he'll receive $25,000 per year for four years deposited into a tax-deferred retirement account. The athletics department is not self-supporting. And our football team is ranked about 118 our of 120 in the FBS, and has lost sixteen straight games.

There's priorities for ya. It'd be nice to see this where I live. But I'll not hold my breath.

The Illuminati are paying me. That's who. Try to stop it.

Astounding bravery:
Marek Edelman, a cardiologist who was the last surviving commander of the 1943 Warsaw ghetto uprising against the Germans, died Friday in Warsaw. He was 90.

Bravery, with grace.

It seems that more and more companies are deciding that responsible action on climate change means removing themselves from umbrella organizations like the Chamber of Commerce that lobby against reform.

And the beer of the week is: Carolina Brewing Company

These folks make really good beer, and they usually get good marks at Beer Advocate. OK, you're tired of hearing me say that, I know. I promise, I'll review a bad beer soon. But not this week.

I've previously reviewed a few of their beers for a class on the history of beer I was teaching. Those reviews include their Cottonwood Endo IPA, the Carolina Blonde, and the Low Down Brown Ale. I've yet to have a bad beer from the folks at Carolina.

The beer is not yet nationally available, as far as I can tell. But if you fly through the Charlotte airport, they have a pub at the end of Concourse D. Good stuff. The Carolina Blonde is epecially goood with nachos.

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Blogger Ahistoricality on 10/10/2009 11:57 AM:

I had a student who claims to be a history major tell me that "I need a book to be exciting." I had one of those "spirit of the staircase" moments: not until much later did I realize that my only effective response would be to help the poor child change majors.

Just after I read about the new Darwin edition, I saw a guy loitering at the gates to my institution with a couple of boxes of books: just the traditional plastic-covered Gospels, though, so I passed. I have one or two of those already.

On hiring and publishing: as my friend Orac says, anecdotes are not data. The only way that publications could count against a candidate at a teaching institution is if they aren't balanced by a record of effective teaching, and credible statements of interest in a balanced academic life. I've seen cover letters that failed that test, but it's not the prestige of the publications that matters at that point.

Everything about Harvard's money management is embarassing to anyone who's got any connection to the institution. The whole cookie-at-faculty-meetings thing is going to haunt everyone in academia for a decade or more.