Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Continuing education

And the Professor.

I met recently with a chair from the health sciences side of the university. His department is participating in budget hearings for the first time, and he wanted my advice since we had more experience with the process. Now this fellow is a friend of mine, and someone I considered possessing more common sense than some faculty I know. (We too often joke in continuing education that we work with faculty who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.) This chair doesn't dwell in an ivory tower, and he works in a field that prepares health care professionals to work in the real world. But he said something that made me rethink my lazy faculty stereotype.
Complaining about a dean who told him he was doing a poor job because he wasn't bringing in enough money, he said "I'm not good this. I don't like the financial parts of the job. If I wanted to worry about making money, I would open a clinic, make $150,000 a year, drink a bottle of scotch each night, and die when I'm 50." He got into higher education to teach; that;s his love, and that's what he's good at.
We also discussed an administrator we both were working with. He said he enjoyed working with this administrator so much because he stressed the educational aspects of the job and the importance of bringing everyone on board before action. "He makes me feel good and remember why I got into education," the chair told me. I shared that when I work with this same administrator, I get frustrated because he's moving too slow and is so unconcerned with the financial aspects of the project.

Different worlds; different values. We need to remember that when we deal with faculty. And--by the way--I've got a full, wet boot myself.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

No where

Or now here? Do you feel lucky, punk?

. . . lucky people usually are more laid-back and open to life's possibilities . . .while unlucky people are more uptight, nervous and closed off.

If you want to test yourself, take a quick look at this domain name sometimes used by stress researchers:

What do you see? For many people, the web site seems discouraging: opportunity is nowhere. But others see the exact opposite: opportunity is now here. When it comes to hidden messages, lucky people perceive more of the world around them. "It is not that they expect to find certain opportunities, but rather that they notice them when they come across them," [Richard] Wiseman writes in his book "The Luck Factor." This ability (or talent) "has a significant, and positive, effect on their lives."

Ben Sherwood NEWSWEEK

Monday, January 26, 2009

Just found out that Tennessee continuing educator and former TACHE President Barbara Belzer is battling cancer. Her family has set up a website with for friends and family to communicate with Barbara at You'll need to type in barbarabelzer (no space) to get to her site.

Barbara is the third Tennessee continuing educator I know in the past couple of years to be diagnosed with cancer. Intellectually, I know I'm growing older, my colleagues and friends are growing older, and cancer is a disease that strikes older folks--so it shouldn't be a surprise that cancer seems to be striking more and more of my friends. But it's still a shock, and it still breaks my heart.

Tennessee looking more closely

At for-profit colleges.

More than a quarter of private, for-profit schools operating in Tennessee could face disciplinary action from the state over low rates of helping their graduates find jobs.

About 73,000 Tennesseans attend for-profit schools — nearly as many as in the state's community colleges — which came under increased scrutiny last year after students filed complaints ranging from absent professors to grade disputes.

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission and state lawmakers created more stringent guidelines for the schools, including a requirement to publish graduation and job placement data online for the first time. Commission employees will audit the data in the coming months instead of relying on the schools' own reports as in the past.

In addition, school Web sites must link to those reports now, as well as provide students with a form disclosing that their credits may not transfer to other institutions.

By Colby Sledge • THE TENNESSEAN • January 25, 2009

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My score from the

We guess is written by a
man (57%), however it's quite gender neutral.

About GenderAnalyzer BETA
We created Genderanalyzer out of curiosity and fun. It uses Artificial Intelligence to determine if a homepage is written by a man or woman. Behind the scene, a text classifier hosted over at has been trained on blogs written by men and women. In our lab it seems to works pretty well, we want to see how it performs on the web! We hope you like it!

Gender neutral--that's me!

Day opposite is


When : Always January 24th

Opposite Day is a topsy, turvy day when everything you say, do, see, and hear are the opposite. If you say go left, you mean go right. If you say look up, it means look down. If you see your left it really your right?

Yesiree, Bob. Opposite Day can be a whole lot of fun. It can also be very, very confusing. This special day is celebrated primarily among school children. Sponge Bob Square Pants even got into the act, with an episode containing the whimsical nature of this day.

Thought for the Day: Opposites attract.

Friday, January 23, 2009

A small private turns

To adult and continuing education to survive.

Crichton College in Memphis goes to adult evening classes
MEMPHIS -- Changes at a private Christian college in Memphis are as great as night from day. Crichton College told students on Wednesday the school would switch most of its classes to evenings after May and aim them at adult education.

The Commercial Appeal quoted stunned pre-law student Monica Brewer saying she's 18 years old and doesn't want to go to school at night.Crichton administrators said Wednesday that traditional classes and all sports programs will end in the spring.The economic downturn has hurt donations to the college and administrators said adult students don't depend as much on scholarships and programs for them are less expensive to operate.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sue Fulmer

Is leaving continuing education after serving as director of ETSU's Bristol Center for over ten years. Sue also served as President of the Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education last year, passing the gavel to Teresa Duncan in November.

We'll miss Sue but wish her well in her new job at ETSU.

ACHE call for proposals

View the "2009 Call for Proposals" brochure.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Spent the weekend

Visiting Kyle and Cindy in Georgia. Had a couple drinks on the 73rd floor at the Westin Peachtree Plaza, reputably the tallest hotel in the Western Hemisphere. We got surprised by snow as we crossed the mountains at Sam's Gap.

It's a good idea

To act on this, even if you're not a member of AAACE...

An Urgent Request to All AAACE Members!

In the next two weeks, the House of Representatives and the Senate will be considering the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009. This package is the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jump start our economy, and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century, with $550 billion in targeted recovery projects, and $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts. Included in the recovery projects is a request for $500 million for adult training and employment programs. These funds are additional funding beyond the present $554,122,357 (FY 2008). This will provide increased services for an additional 175,000 disadvantaged adults.

An urgent request is being sent by all adult education associations to their membership to immediately contact your representative and senators, preferably by phone and email, asking them to support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill, emphasizing the request for $500 million for adult training and employment programs. The bill was introduced in the House this past Thursday, Jan. 15th, and it is projected that it will be reviewed and voted within the next two weeks.

Following are some guidelines to both contact and inform your representative and senators.

For the address of your senators and representative , go to (Senators), and (Representative)

Keep your message brief and to the point.

For an opening refer to the paragraph above as a basis for your message.

Put the request in your words to make it personal.

For further support of your request, you may want to refer to the following:

A federal study showed that nearly one in seven adults in the U.S. lack basic prose literacy skills. The study, released by the U.S. Education Department's National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL), revealed that many states have seen an increase in low-skilled adults since the last assessment in 1992. It estimates that an additional 3.6 million adults are now considered to have low literacy skills, bringing the total to almost 32 million adults in the U.S. More than 1 million people lost their jobs in 2008 and the new unemployment figures are the highest in 16 years. A large number of these unemployed are low-skilled individuals who struggle with everyday reading, writing and math tasks.

Include in your request your membership in the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) and the Association’s support of this legislation. Be sure to mention your role in AAACE if you have any leadership role in the Association, or a commission, committee, etc.
If you send an email, please send a copy (cc) to We would like to know and report on the response of this request.

To view the complete bill and report of the bill, go to

Your prompt response to this request will be greatly appreciated. AAACE is committed to taking an active role in all legislation impacting adult and continuing education. A standing (permanent) committee of the Association is the Federal Government Relations Committee, who is responsible for monitoring the policies, legislation, programs, and actions in adult and continuing education. If you would like to be considered for membership in this committee, please send an email to

Your AAACE Board of Directors

Friday, January 16, 2009

ACE's new report

Mapping New Directions: Higher Education for Older Adults is now available. For more background information on the project, view the first report. And here is the second report at

For More Information On Reinvesting in the Third Age Project:
Free additional copies of the reports are available. Email: or telephone (202) 375-7540


Multiple Choice Tests.

Like others, I thought multiple guess was not a recommended assessment strategy anymore. Perhaps, due to online testing and demands on faculty time, it's experiencing a renaissance. After all, I was once told in an eduction class that the only educational strategy that had stood the test of time and never revisited was unbolting the desks from the floors...
In the recent seminar, Developing Tools and Strategies to Assess Student Learning, Linda Suskie, vice president of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, dispelled some of the myths about multiple choice tests and provided strategies for mitigating the issues that have caused this type of testing to fall out of favor with some educators.

“The two precepts for writing good multiple choice items is to remove all barriers that will keep a knowledgeable student from getting the item right, and remove all clues that will help a less-than-knowledgeable student get the item right,” says Suskie.

10 Tips for Creating Good Multiple Choice Questions

1. Don’t make vocabulary unnecessarily difficult.
2. Make sure the “stem” (question) asks a complete question.
3. Don’t ask questions about trivia.
4. Avoid negative items.
5. Avoid grammatical clues to the right answer.
6. Avoid “none of the above” and “all of the above.”
7. Make all options roughly the same length.
8. Use common misconceptions or stereotypes as incorrect options.
9. Repeat keywords between the stem and the incorrect options.
10. Use interpretative exercises to get away from rote learning.

One of the advantages of multiple choice tests is that they provide a fast and easy way to not only measure student learning, but to identify problem areas as well. Once the test is graded, review the results and throw out any items that 50 percent or more of your students got wrong, says Suskie. It is likely there was something wrong with the question, or the way you taught the

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Today is really

Dr. Martin Luther King Junior's birthday.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an African American clergyman, activist and prominent leader in the American civil rights movement. His main legacy was to secure progress on civil rights in the United States and he is frequently referenced as a human rights icon today.

A Baptist minister, King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957, serving as its first president.

King's efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. There, he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history.

In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his work to end racial segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means. By the time of his death in 1968, he had refocused his efforts on ending poverty and opposing the Vietnam War, both from a religious perspective.

King was assassinated on April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tennessee. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977 and Congressional Gold Medal in 2004; Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a U.S. national holiday in 1986.

Kaplan video

You've probably seen this but it reflects what we've been saying in continuing education for some time. We weren't heard and now Kaplan is speaking for us...

Unpaid college tuition

Bills Rise, Survey Finds

I heard from colleagues at independent colleges that they were worried that students would go home at Christmas and find themselves unable to come up with the money to return in the spring. Or that students find greater priorities for their funds. I don't know if this is happening, but the news below isn't encouraging. We sometimes think that independents are more resistant to economic problems since their money doesn't come from the state, but they're vulnerable if students don't have tuition money. Spelman College is a longtime ACHE South member.

Colleges and universities are seeing more students unable to pay their second-semester bills and in danger of being forced to drop out, according to a survey by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers. More than 65 percent of the 43 college registrars who responded to an association-wide E-mail survey said that they had noticed an increase in unpaid bills this year. Most colleges don't let students register for a new semester until they have at least paid their bills for the previous semester.

For some schools, such as Spelman College in Atlanta, the unpaid bills are climbing to unprecedented levels. In a letter to alumni asking for donations late last year, Spelman President Beverly Tatum said a record-breaking 500 students—almost a quarter of the student body—were so far behind in their bills that they might not be able to register for second-semester classes. The average unpaid bill was about $3,000, she said.

Kim Clark at at

Here in the Tri-Cities

two of our cities are among the country's smokiest:

Smokiest Metro Areas..(Smoking Rate*)
1. Huntington, W.Va. (34.4 percent)
2. Kingsport-Bristol, Tenn. (30.5 percent)
3. Gulfport-Biloxi, Miss. (28.8 percent)
4. Greensboro, N.C. (28.3 percent)
5. Mobile, Ala. (26.9 percent)
6. Casper, Wyo. (26.8 percent)
7. Chattanooga, Tenn. (26.5 percent)
7. Wilmington, N.C. (26.5 percent)
9. Tulsa, Okla. (26.0 percent)
10. Hickory, N.C. (25.9 percent)

*Percentage of residents who are smokers

January 15

is national hat day.
No, really.
It's a real day. Honest.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

SACS now looking

more closely at noncredit?

It seems like in recent Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation reports and visits, noncredit continuing education has been an afterthought. Now, items 6 & 7 in our INSTITUTIONAL PROFILE FOR GENERAL INFORMATION AND ENROLLMENT DATA FALL 2008 asks for the following information:

Non-Credit (Include continuing education. Do not include non-credit courses taken by for-credit students as part of a for-credit program such as labs, chapels, student success courses, remedial courses,etc. Count these under for-credit.)

6. a. For each non-credit course offered in the 2008 fall term, multiply the total number of contact hours for the course (as determined by your institution) by the total number of students enrolled in the course. Add resulting figures for all non-credit courses
(See example below).

b. Divide combined total in 6a by 168 if your institution is on a semester or trimester system (12 hours/week x 14 weeks), or by 120 if your institution is on a quarter system (12 hours/week x 10 weeks). Round the quotient to the nearest whole number

Total For-Credit and Non-credit FTE

7. Total of lines 5 and 6b:

Example for calculating 6a above:

An institution has five non-credit courses. Course one has 17 students and 20 course contact hours; course two has 11 students and 15 contact hours; course three has 10 students and 15 contact hours; course four has 16 students and 5 contact hours; and course five has 14 students and 10 contact hours.

Calculation for Part 6a. Students Contact Hours
Course one: 17 x 20 = 340
Course two: 11 x 15 = 165
Course three: 10 x 15 = 150
Course four: 16 x 5 = 80
Course five: 14 x 10 = 140
Calculation Total for Part 6a. = 875

How will gas prices

affect spring enrollments?

In our weekly meeting today, I asked Jo Lobertini, CDS Chair, if our adult students had been telling our advisors that they could not return to school because of uncertainty over the economy. She said no. "We heard that much more," she said, "when gas prices were high. Now that gas prices are down, students seem more confident about the future." How important are gas prices right now? Our realtor told me that she had expected the real estate market to pick up when gas prices went down--and she was right. At least in the microcosm of the Osborn family where we bought a house and sold another.

We'll know more about enrollments in the next week as classes start at ETSU tomorrow and across the state at other TBR institutions. I worry that recent tuition increases, and projected increases for next year, will hurt adult students--many of whom will desperately
need higher education for retraining and job security.

TBR to vote

on furlough power today

January 13, 2009

The Tennessee Board of Regents will vote Wednesday to give Chancellor Charles Manning the authority to grant campus presidents wide-reaching personnel power over their employees to help meet budget cuts.

If approved, presidents at the system’s campuses could request approval to lower salaries for the rest of the fiscal year, mandate unpaid furloughs and reduce employee schedules. Higher education is facing a $181.6 million cut in next year’s budget.

“This is another tool that ought to be in a campus’ toolkit for dealing with the problems that we have,” Manning said.“It’s not a permanent solution. It could help you through the short-term to make budgets while you put in place a comprehensive long-term plan.”The power to issue furloughs would have a sunset date of June 30, 2012, and all requests would have to accompany a letter from the school’s faculty senate indicating its approval or disapproval.

To connect to the 3 p.m. conference call, dial 1-877-489-0088 and use access code 3113.

Students go to the Capitol

to protest higher tuition

Colby Sledge
January 14, 2009

About 250 students from Tennessee Board of Regents colleges and universities gathered at the doors of the state Capitol on Tuesday to protest tuition policy changes and higher education budget cuts.

Students primarily took issue with the Regents' decision last month to uncap tuition for full-time students taking more than 12 hours, or typically four classes. Students currently can take up to 18 hours at the same rate as 12 hours; under the new rules, starting in the fall students will be charged per credit hour after 12 hours. ...

About 40 percent of Board of Regents students take more than 12 hours, including 73 percent of students at Tennessee Tech University and 62 percent each at MTSU and Tennessee State University.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This is a special request

From Gregg Easterbrook in Tuesday Morning Quarterback at

Reporting that its medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta was being tapped as Surgeon General, CNN said Gupta had once been a "special adviser" to Bill Clinton. Not an adviser, a special adviser! And a special adviser differs from an adviser -- how, exactly? This mirrors the contemporary affectation of adding "special" where the word carries no meaning. Walk through Washington's Dulles Airport and you endlessly hear a computer voice saying, "This is a special security announcement …" Not an announcement, a special announcement. And a special announcement differs from an announcement -- how, exactly? Stores advertise "special offers," which differ from offers -- how, exactly? Readers are encouraged to keep their ears open for empty uses of the word "special," and report them, with specifics, to me at

Friday, January 9, 2009

Saw this job posted in the Chronicle

Position: Knowledge Manipulators (SME)
Salary: $110,000 to less than $120,000
e-TQM College
Location: Location undisclosed
Date posted: 1/7/2009

Application deadline: 6/30/2009

The e-TQM College, Dubai invites applications from SME's who will be responsible for the design, development and delivery of knowledge transfer portfolio of programs specific to your area(s) of expertise. Your role also will involve creating and managing content in your areas of expertise as well as working closely with other Knowledge Manipulators to translate clients' requirements into programs that meet learners' competency needs and improve organisational performance.

Specific responsibilities are: Managing course content for our various online and conventional courses, Coordinating and communicating with virtual SME and content providers, end user and clients, and internal partners on content-related matters, Managing and manipulating courses for content-management purposes, documenting knowledge development internal processes and content reports, Assisting in the overall supervision, deployment and management of virtual SMEs and faculty, Documenting knowledge development internal processes and content reports, Working closely with the Centre Managers to develop consultancy and advisory work proposals which meet clients' specifications, Supporting the management and delivery selected consultancy projects, Apply innovative and customised approaches to training design and delivery that enhance learners' knowledge acquisition and application, Growing programs portfolio in your areas of expertise through industry research, coordination with schools' faculty and use of e-library resources.
Bilinguals be given preference (Arabic/English)

Knowledge manipulators? First time I've heard that...

The new year
When you care enough to hit send

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Call for

ACHE South
2009 Spring Conference
April 27-29, 2009
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Building Bridges: Exploring the Past, Discovering the Future of Continuing Education
Presenters are requested to submit proposals for concurrent sessions for topics pertaining to adult and continuing higher education. Areas of focus include but are not limited to:

• Credit Programming: innovative programs, enrollment management, faculty enrichment, accreditation, accelerated degree programs, partnerships, military education, study abroad
• Non-credit Programming: workforce and professional development, personal enrichment, conferences and facilities, certificate programs, customized training, youth programs
• Marketing: market research, web marketing, promotional strategies, tracking, customer service, student surveys, email promotions
• eLearning/Distance Education/Nontraditional Delivery: alternate delivery methods, technology, evaluation, responsiveness to learner needs, faculty rewards, off-campus locations
• Leadership/Management: value of continuing education to institution, performance appraisal, restructuring, positioning for growth, incentives, project management, budgeting, “nuts and bolts”
• Engagement: civic engagement for continuing education units, getting credit for your activities, best practices of engaged institutions, positioning your unit for inclusion, programming for engagement, civic engagement definition/engagement basics
• Economic Development: business and industry partnerships, workforce development, community/regional development

Guidelines for Concurrent Session Proposals:
Concurrent sessions will be 50-minutes in length, with three session times on Tuesday, April 28, and one Wednesday, April 29, for a total of 12-15 different presentations. To propose a concurrent session, please provide the following items of information in the format below:
1. Name, Institution, Mailing Address, Telephone, Fax, E-mail for all presenters
2. Title of presentation
3. Recommendation for Novice, Intermediate, Experienced, of All Audiences (Indicate One)
4. Abstract of presentation (70-80 words)
5. Brief biography of presenter(s)
6. One page double-spaced Presentation Summary, including pertinence to conference theme and which conference track(s) presentation addresses
7. Special AV equipment needs: indicate if you will be using overhead transparencies, PowerPoint, or other presentation formats. Unless your presentation is on a flashdrive, you must provide your own laptop computer. A podium, microphone, and one flip chart with pad and pens will be available in each concurrent session meeting room.
Send proposals via email by January 12, 2009 as a Microsoft Word attachment to: Connie Roberson, University of Kentucky, at

Smoky auditorium Christmas

It was so warm here in Tennessee after Christmas that we decided to go to Dollywood for the Christmas shows even though the holiday had passed. (After all, as a gold season pass holder, I had gotten a Christmas card from Dolly. Seems only polite.)
We used to be Christmas regulars--In fact, I always used to say it wasn't really Christmas till the fat guy sang Go Tell it On the Mountain in the finale of the Smoky Mountain Christmas musical production. A few years ago, they changed the show, went all skinny with the singers, and reduced Go Tell it to an afterthought. Now they feature Hail Favored One (unsure of the actual title but that's the chorus) which features a duet with an angel and Mary. Smoke is supposed to billow at the angel's feet, but due the warm temperatures, the humidity, or God's sense of outrage at the lack of things told on mountains--in no time the angel was completely obscured by smoke. The show went on. The family in front of us got up and left, coughing and choking all the way. Since nearly a quarter of Tennessee's residents smoke, everyone else remained in their seats.

Still, I love the Christmas lights and shows at Dollywood It warms my redneck heart And, by the way, it was the largest crowd I've ever seen at Dollywood. We had to park at Dolly's Splash County and catch a bus to the entrance.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

New NCES survey on Distance Education

The description:

Distance Education at Degree-Granting Postsecondary Institutions: 2006-07

This report presents findings from "Distance Education at postsecondary Institutions: 2006-07", a survey that was designed to provide national estimates on distance education at 2-year and 4-year Title IV eligible, degree-granting institutions. Distance education was defined as a formal education process in which the student and instructor are not in the same place. Thus, instruction may be synchronous or asynchronous, and it may involve communication through the use of video, audio, or computer technologies, or by correspondence (which may include both written correspondence and the use of technology such as CD-ROM). The questionnaire instructed institutions to include distance education courses and programs that were formally designated as online, hybrid/blended online, and other distance education courses and programs. Hybrid/blended online courses were defined as a combination of online and in-class instruction with reduced
in-class seat time for students. The 2006-07 study on distance education collected information on the prevalence, types, delivery, policies, and acquisition or development of distance education courses and programs.

Findings indicate that during the 2006-07 academic year, two-thirds (66 percent) of 2-year and 4-year Title IV degree-granting postsecondary institutions reported offering online, hybrid/blended online, or other distance education courses for any level or audience. Sixty-five percent of the institutions reported college-level credit-granting distance education courses, and 23 percent of the institutions reported noncredit distance education courses. Sixty-one percent of 2-year and 4-year institutions reported offering online courses, 35 percent reported hybrid/blended courses, and 26 percent reported other types of college-level credit-granting distance education courses. Together, distance education courses accounted for an estimated 12.2 million enrollments (or registrations). Asynchronous (not simultaneous or real-time) Internet-based technologies were cited as the most widely used technology for the instructional delivery of distance education courses; they were used to a large extent in 75 percent and to a moderate extent in 17 percent of the institutions that offered college-level credit-granting distance education courses. The most common factors cited as affecting distance education decisions to a major extent were meeting student demand for flexible schedules, providing access to college for students who would otherwise not have access, making more courses available, and seeking to increase student enrollment.

An independent college in Illinois

Takes advantage of the recession. By moving forward with faculty hires, Augustana College finds a richer applicant pool. I'm familiar with the college from my time in Illinois, and at one time, during my early days as a student advisor in an external degree program, Western Illinois University housed its Quad Cities Center on the Augustana campus. Writing in, Augustana's Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College, JEFF ABERNATHY, writes about his college's success:

It's still early in our searches, but we have some evidence that our gamble is paying off: The chairs of several of our departments report that we're seeing much larger and stronger pools of job candidates than we could otherwise expect.

Hiring faculty members in Spanish, for instance, has been a considerable challenge for liberal-arts colleges in general for the past decade. This year we are conducting two searches to replace retiring faculty members, so we were particularly concerned. But we have seen a surge in both the quantity and the quality of applicants this year compared with previous searches. We are seeing strong candidates in both subfields, with a mixture of A.B.D.'s, recent Ph.D.'s, faculty members on term contracts at other colleges, and even a few tenured professors who are hoping to relocate.

We are also seeing success with our searches in the exceptionally difficult market of communication sciences and disorders. Many searches in that field fail nationally every year, considering its chronic shortage of Ph.D.'s. Given the fact that we are an undergraduate-only program in a discipline in which a master's degree is the entry-level degree required to practice, we held our collective breath when we had to run a search to fill a position because of a coming retirement.

We were relieved when we received a healthy number of applications, but we were thrilled when we evaluated those applications and saw the impressive quality of the applicants, the way that most of them fit so well with our needs, and the expressed desire that several applicants stated to work at a liberal-arts college.

In our searches in Japanese, mathematics, and religion, among other fields, the number of applicants is through the roof.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Preaching the importance

of professional organizations.
One of our challenges in 2009 will be to communicate the value of professional continuing education organizations to members and institutions. This is perhaps our key challenge. Timothy Schneider, blogging in Association News, is optimistic:

Indeed, in previous downturns, the association meetings market—especially the state and regional association meetings market—has remained incredibly strong in comparison with corporate meetings. That’s because in times of economic uncertainty, the value of association meetings and face-to-face interaction with peers from your profession or industry becomes even more important.

A recent article in the newsletter of the International Economic Development Council included the following suggestions for positioning your organization for success during these difficult times:

1. Given current economic circumstances, review your strategic plan for opportunities and challenges. What was relevant to your organization two to five years ago may not prepare you for today’s challenges. Do your homework, make adjustments and invest more where your efforts are going to make the biggest difference.

2. Work to solidify your organization’s value proposition. This is where a strong catalog of past successes and outcome measures prove their value. Craft a sharp message that builds on your efforts to date and provides a convincing argument for continuing them.

3. Meet with key supporters to secure your funding base. Now is the time to meet with those who provide your organization’s funding to convey the importance of maintaining—if not increasing—investment in your organization. It is important that the message you send in these meetings is one that is clear and confident. The key message should be: You can’t cut your way to prosperity!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Are you one of the Wikipedia


Ever wonder who makes the most edits on Wikipedia? Jimbo Wales, creator of Wikipedia, decided to find out:
Wales decided to run a simple study to find out: he counted who made the most edits to the site. "I expected to find something like an 80-20 rule: 80% of the work being done by 20% of the users, just because that seems to come up a lot. But it's actually much, much tighter than that: it turns out over 50% of all the edits are done by just .7% of the users ... 524 people. ... And in fact the most active 2%, which is 1400 people, have done 73.4% of all the edits." The remaining 25% of edits, he said, were from "people who [are] contributing ... a minor change of a fact or a minor spelling fix ... or something like that."
Aaron Swartz at

Friday, January 2, 2009

In case you were feeling happy lately

Happiness declines in a recession, according to Justin Wolfers:

Not only has happiness declined during this recession, it has declined through every U.S. recession for which we have data. Here’s a chart from a paper of mine (with Betsey Stevenson), documenting the clear correlation between the U.S. business and happiness cycles.

From Freakonomics at

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Get your presentation ready for Philly

2009 Call for Proposals
Oh Philadelphia freedom shine on me, I love you
Shine a light through the eyes of the ones left behind
Shine a light shine a light
Shine a light won't you shine a light
Philadelphia freedom I love you, yes I do
Philadelphia Freedom - Elton John

Holiday health myths

I was hoping that eating a poinsettia at midnight would prevent a hangover....

1. Sugar causes hyperactivity in children
2. Suicides increase over the holidays
3. Poinsettias are toxic
4. Hatless lose excess body heat
5. Nocturnal feasting makes you fat
6. You can cure a hangover

From: Christmas 2008: Seasonal Fayre
Festive medical myths
Rachel C Vreeman, assistant professor of paediatrics, faculty investigator
Aaron E Carroll, associate professor of paediatrics, director