Monthly Archives: May 2012

Shared governance

Today’s Dilbert strip reminded me of how the administration’s embrace of shared governance is like a two-year-old sharing toys.

Dilbert on shared leadership

I don’t believe that the administration intends to only share the broken toys–but they tend to start thinking about sharing when something breaks.

What UT Regents think students can afford

After bravely standing up against tuition increases UT Regents approved an athletic fee increase at UTSA to ensure that student can see their athletic program wade into Conference USA. UTSA students will now pay $20 per semester hour (up from $17) to ensure that their teams can afford to go to Marshall, East Carolina, and Central Florida.

Map of Conference USA Schools

Regents meet, Governor postures

According to a story in the Texas Tribune, (“As UT, A&M Regents Meet, Governor Eyes Tuition“), regents for UT and A&M met with Rick Perry looking over their shoulder. This probably contributed to the UT regents rejection of a tuition increase. That may have been a good idea. However, making the right decision for the wrong reason is of little comfort. One problem is that Perry shared his thinking on the matter than giving regents a couple of newspaper clippings. Perry did not share any of the numerous thoughtful books or articles on higher education reform.

Perry probably paid full-price for his college degree. He should make more use of it.

Is it the best of times or the worst of times?

For me, the end of the semester is a mixed bag.

On one hand, the semester winds down and “vacation” begins. Of course, for most of us “vacation” means that it’s time to catch up on all the research I did not have time to do during the rest of the year. Research and my other catching up we do during the summer is definitely work. However, the pace is slower and it’s a chance to revisit the research and writing that drew us into our field.

Summer is a good thing. A very good thing.

What’s the problem?

Here’s what makes the end of the semester a buzz kill despite the pending summer vacation.


So many hopes for the semester are unresolved.

Anyone else feel that way?

This just in: Students are not studying

The Washington Post has a story (“Is college too easy? As study time falls, debate rises“) that turns much of the debate in higher education on its head–if only briefly.

Usually we hear universities asked why more students are not graduating with the implication being that universities need to make graduation easier. The story’s headline asks the kind of questions found in Academically Adrift and other studies. The results reflect declining study time with tremendous variation across majors:

Number of hours spent studying by major

All the research tells us that students enter college poorly prepared and then don’t study. You have to wonder why politicians keep blaming universities when students don’t graduate in four years.

How students (and faculty) approach deadlines

Once again, Calvin and Hobbs sums up student behavior pretty well.

Calvin and Hobbs on deadlines

“Creative” writing

More Calvin and Hobbs. This one on creativity and why a little asking for it in limited doses might be a good idea.

Calvin and Hobbs on creativity in assignments

“Tuition critics want it both ways”

The Dallas Morning News has noticed that some of the state’s politicians are more interested in finding scapegoats than providing meaningful leadership on higher education (Editorial: Tuition critics want it both ways | Dallas Morning News Editorials“)

Graduation Rates at Texas universities

The Texas Tribune has updated  their interactive feature that compares graduation rates a Texas’ public universities. You can use the feature to generate charts that compare graduation rates of most of the state’s public universities.

It seems absurd to me that so many politicians and special interest groups talk about four-year graduation rates when they have done so much to make the cost of education so high that many students have to work full-time and go to school part-time. Anyone wanting students to graduate more quickly need to step up and offer to help.

Six-year graduation figures reflect some of the differences between schools. What the “leadership” of the state never talk about is what percentage of students should be graduating.  Most of the schools on the chart below are graduating more than half of their students. Obviously, these schools are not going to graduate everyone given the high number of at-risk students that are admitted every year.

Six Year Graduation Rates

You can also compare how much each school spends per student. Notice that all of the state’s current Southland Conference schools (it seemed as good as any pool for comparison) cluster together between $13,000 and $16,000 per student while UT and A&M cost much more.

Operating Expense Per Full  Time student

Note that spending at these schools has not risen nearly as much as tuition and fees (charted below). Of course, some politicians try to pin the rising cost on the schools when shrinking state support is a major part of the problem.

Average Tuition and Fees

For generations Texans were able to enjoy a quality education supported by the state. I was lucky enough to attend college when the state did much more to support the education of young Texans. Clearly, this generation will not enjoy the same level of support from the state.

A tool for predicting post-college fate…