Wednesday, September 30, 2009

More about Philadelphia, home of the the

2009 ACHE Annual Conference and Meeting, November 15-18. Annual Conference and Meeting. Its historic areas and attractions revamped, Philadelphia has become a capital of cool.

What to See
All over the city, the old has become new again, from the Philadelphia Museum of Art's recently renovated Perelman Building . . . to the Pantheon-like Ritz-Carlton, housed in the refitted century-old Girard Trust bank. America's past also gets a fresh approach at the National Constitution Center, a high-tech temple to the country's cornerstone legal document. . . .

Where to Buy
A few blocks from few blocks from the National Constitution Center, you'll find good shopping in the Old City, which the neighborhood's chamber of commerce has cheesily (if accurately) branded "hipstoric." This is where Benjamin Franklin used to live — his house was torn down long ago, but many 18th century townhomes survive. The area's mostly 19th century factories and warehouses have been transformed into cafés, galleries and shops such as Minima (, where the trove of gorgeous furniture includes Cappellini's must-have lacquered Uni cabinets and an elegant, eco-friendly credenza made from bamboo and cork by local designer Michael Iannone.

Where to Eat
There's good eating in town, too, beyond the famed cheesesteak (chopped grilled beef on a greasy roll, topped with melted cheese). One of the city's favorite new places is the year-old Supper (, where transplanted New Yorker Mitch Prensky offers up a menu featuring broccoli tastier than any kid could imagine (it's frittered with parmesan and bacon) and a luxurious financier pastry spiked with bourbon. The slow-roasted pork belly — served with spiced yams, pineapple mustard and greens — is a best seller. "Traditional, but re-imagined," Prensky says of the dish. "There are so many things happening — and it's awesome." That's a pretty good description of Philadelphia today.

Liberty Belle: What's on in Philadelphia

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Chronicle of Higher Education

has a nice piece on an adult student--in this case a maintenance supervisor studying to become an elementary teacher. We get to see this kind of thing every day in continuing higher education. Sometimes we're blessed.

Here's the wrap-up:

Mr. Nissen, who earned an associate degree last year, needs about 45 more credits for his bachelor's degree. That probably means three more years of classes. After that he must pass a state exam and find a job.

Until then Mr. Nissen plans to keep working. On a recent summer day, there is much to do at George Mason High School. This morning he cut his finger while using a table saw to trim a cedar board for a repair job.

Around 10 a.m., Gabriel Fernandez, one of the five employees Mr. Nissen oversees, stops to show him a small black box. It's a fan relay, which has apparently failed. Cold air in another part of the building will not stop blowing, Mr. Fernandez explains. Mr. Nissen inspects the device and tells him that he will look into it.

A while later, a peek into the basement reveals that one of the school's monstrous boilers—a 1951 Cyclotherm—is leaking. "This might need new valves," he says, moving a bucket over to catch the drips.

In Mr. Nissen's office, several e-mail messages await. Someone has requested big fans and extensions cords for an after-hours event. This afternoon he must complete a purchase order for a new trailer that will serve as a classroom. Outside his door, a brand-new condenser coil stands in a giant wooden crate; it's a replacement part for the air-conditioning unit up on the roof of the auditorium. He figures it will take two days to install.

His desk reveals the two careers he straddles. How to Talk So Kids Can Learn sits beside a catalog from Aireco, which sells heating and air-conditioning supplies, and a copy of School Planning & Management magazine.

Mr. Nissen always tries to leave by 3:30 p.m. On nights when he has classes, that's enough time to drive home and eat dinner beforehand. This fall he plans to take two courses back-to-back on Thursdays, which means he will finish at 10 p.m. He has considered taking a third class, but he's not sure he can manage the load.

So far his experience as a midlife student has left him with only one regret: that he did not start taking classes sooner. He might be 56 when he finally introduces himself for the first time as "Mr. Nissen" in his own classroom, most likely full of first-graders. Already he has decided how many years he wants to teach—12, long enough to see his first class graduate.

A Maintenance Man Crosses Over to the Classroom

Looking at the October issue

of Nontraditional Students Report. It features an article on ACHE member Emily Richardson's program at Widener University. "Philadelphia," the profile begins, "is home to more than 80,000 adults who've earned some college credit but not a degree. That's why Emily Richardson had made her unit's degree completion programs a priority."

The Widener program has around 450 students who are typically 33 years old, female, and working full time. Eighty to 100 students graduate each year.
Meet Emily and learn more about Widener at the Association for Continuing Higher Education Annual Conference and Meeting in Philadelphia, November 15-18. For more information, visit You can register at the conference registration page.

Monday, September 28, 2009

What your student body will look like in 10 years

What your student body will look like in 10 years

Two college films make

Rotten Tomatoes' list of the 100 worst films since 2000. I hadn't heard of either film: College (2008) and New Best Friend (2002). I think I mentioned earlier that my dissertation described how adult college students had been portrayed in American films, so I still have an interest in the genre. The worst of the worst of the worst include Witless Protection (2008), Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 (2004), One Missed Call (2008), and--wait for it--Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002).

Best quote on stimulus funding

And higher education.

"There are lots of arguments against the stimulus," Wallace said. "Some people say we should just be using it for road construction, things like that. Let me tell you: roads end, education doesn't. The education will roll on."

It's official

All Tennessee Board of Regents colleges and universities have enrollment increases. I guess the adage that people go to college in a poor economy can be considered no longer anecdotal. From the

TN college enrollments hit record highs

Board of Regents colleges and universities are experiencing the highest enrollment in history, reaching more than 200,000 students, Chancellor Charles Manning said.

Every university and community college in the system . . . is seeing increased enrollment for the fall semester.

Overall, Regents system enrollment has increased 9 percent since last fall. University enrollment grew 5 percent, while community college enrollment grew 15 percent. Projected enrollments for the technology centers indicate a significant increase, as well.

The Tennessee Board of Regents governs 45 post-secondary educational institutions. The system has six universities, 13 two-year colleges and 26 tech centers.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tough times in Illinois

I still get our hometown newspaper, courtesy of a long-standing Christmas gift from my Mother, and I was a bit surprised to read that Western Illinois University was down in enrollment. I have three degrees from WIU. Then I read where the President of Southern Illinois University calls this the most difficult time he has ever seen for higher education in his forty years in the field.

"I see this closing the door for better jobs and training if we don't get that money restored," Poshard said during an interview at The Quincy Herald-Whig.

Poshard said five major financial setbacks have hurt Illinois institutions of higher education:

* State funding in fiscal 2010 is $16 million less than was received in fiscal 2002.

* Fee and tuition increases have put added pressure on students.

* The recession has added to the difficulty of families paying for higher education.

* Seven percent of Illinois funding for higher education this year comes from federal stimulus dollars, which will be expended by June 30, with no prospects for other funding sources.

* The state's MAP funding has been cut in half.

More from the Today Show

How to train for a new job.

Kim Clark, U.S. News and World Report,

talks on the Today Show about adults finding the right educational option when returning to college.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Speaking of the ACHE Conference

Only 26 days are left at the Early Bird Registration rate!

You can register now at our conference registration page.

Our new ACHE Member Community makes registration for members and non-members a breeze. Early bird pricing is in effect until October 20. And once two members of an institution have paid the full or early bird registration fees, all others from the same school--even non-ACHE members--pay a flat $395.

Freeman Hrabowski

speaking about adult students on the Today Show. We may be able to get him to speak at the ACHE Annual Conference and Meeting in Philadelphia.

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

I tried blogging live yesterday with my new

iPhone app. I had no idea the pictures would come out so big! I attended the East Regional Meeting of the Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education yesterday at the Walters State Community College Sevier County Campus--just a few miles up the road from Dollywood. Ron Eslinger did a good job talking about combating stress. Anita Ricker and Joe Combs took us through a team building exercise in the afternoon where we had to use adult-sized tinker toys to build a bridge across an imaginary river. Also had a great lunch prepared by the center's culinary arts students.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Lumina Foundation's

latest issue of Focus just arrived in my office today. Titled "No More Kid Stuff," it highlights adult students and features some of their compelling stories. These are the stories that we, as continuing educators, must continue to tell.

You can download the issue at

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Abilene Christian

iPhone experiment. One university integrates mobile technology into the classroom and reports the results.

Last fall, Abilene Christian University gave out free iPhones or iPod Touches to its first-year undergraduates as part of an attempt by the Texas college to transform its campus into a 200-acre Petri dish for studying the intersection of mobile technology and higher education. Now, the reviews from the first year of the experiment are in — and they are glowing.

In the university’s 2008-2009 Mobile-Learning Report — a 24-page glossy prepared for the university’s board of trustees — Scott Perkins, a psychology professor and director of research for the mobile initiative, writes that “iPhones present a more attractive platform for learning” than current classroom tools, and “learning activities can be successfully transitioned to mobile-device platforms.” Furthermore, 89 percent of students and 87 percent of faculty polled called the program successful.

While the Web, wireless technology, and portable computers transformed the way students can access information, mobile devices can take those tools a step farther, said William Rankin, an associate professor of English and director of educational innovation at Abilene Christian. Rankin noted that he teaches a course about the range. “Where do I teach that class? In a classroom,” he says. “I always have to simulate things. Now I can go out into the field.” With mobile devices that are connected to the Web, he continued, students can leave the classroom without forfeiting their ability to take notes and photographs and look up information on the Web. And when he wants to make sure everyone is focusing, Rankin said, he can instruct students to pocket their handhelds — something that many professors wish they could do with laptops.

The Abilene Christian project has been viewed by some as a gimmick, similar to Duke University’s widely publicized 2004 decision to give each member of its incoming class an iPod -- a program it quickly changed to encompass only certain students, then changed again to a partially subsidized purchase opportunity. Rankin said he does not think that Duke was misguided in its experiment, just a little disorganized. “Duke gave out the devices like they were sowing seeds in a field,” Rankin said, “saying, ‘Let’s see who does something with them.’ ”
Abilene Christian’s approach is more active: Give students the mobile devices, then have professors integrate the machines and their tools into the way courses are taught, and measure the changes.

Chemistry instructor Cynthia Powell, for example, created a special section of 25 iPhone users to whom she delivered laboratory preparation and safety lectures via podcast, rather than giving them in the classroom. Then she tracked the performance of that section relative to her 109 other students in the five categories she uses to determine grades. While the higher scores of the mobile group were not outside the substantial margin of error, Perkins said the mere fact that there was no decrease in score was evidence that such instruction “can transition to a mobile platform with no loss in student mastery of content.”

Friday, September 18, 2009

And my wife thinks

I already listen too much to my iPhone.

Before long, I bet we'll have simple preference tools installed on our phones. These tools will track our social network - that's easy to do on a phone, since our network is stored in the contacts folder, thus bypassing the mess of Facebook - and then give us advice based on the feedback of our friends. I imagine one day we'll simply be able to walk into a mall and ask the phone where we should go. [emphasis mine] It will think for a second before suggesting a particular clothing store selling vintage shirts, or a quaint cafe serving a good tuna sandwich, or that poster store on the ground floor. It will be like word-of-mouth, only transmitted indirectly - the hearsay of an algorithm. Your preferences will be calculated as a function of your network, and not as an abstract human island, which strikes me as much closer to the social reality of preference formation.

In defense of online learning

I speak. Thomas H. Benton compares some critics of online learning to characters from Star Wars. I love it! It warms my nerdish little heart. I consider myself the Jabba the Hutt of continuing education.

Consider the views of Elayne Clift, in "I'll Never Do It Again," an essay she wrote for The Chronicle about online teaching. After receiving training of unspecified scope, Clift taught online once, had a negative experience, and blamed her difficulties on the medium: "Me? I'll stick to the virtues of live human interaction—in the classroom and elsewhere—in a world rapidly becoming, as some of my students might say, 'totally unreal!'"

That, of course, is a familiar rhetorical strategy of those who dismiss online teaching methods: They present themselves as engaged in some heroic, humane, but probably doomed struggle against the forces of soulless technology. She's the ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi urging Luke Skywalker to "use the Force" to destroy the Death Star, from which, one might assume, all online courses will eventually originate. It's a persuasive narrative, deeply conservative, and as old as the romantic assault on the enlightenment. I've used it myself to defend the traditional bookish culture of libraries.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

More exposure for

teaching naked. It's interesting how this is described--especially the hook: "Take technology out of the classroom." I suppose that's literally true. But it's technology, in the form of podcasting, that allows this model to succeed. The hybrid sounds promising except for those students who cannot meet in a traditional classroom.

The Idea: Take technology out of the classroom. José Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University in Texas, has done just that. He wants his faculty to "teach naked," meaning without the aid of any machines. "Just because you have a PowerPoint presentation doesn't mean you have a good lecture," he argues. Classroom time should be reserved for discussions with the professor, aimed at teaching students to think critically, argue, and raise new questions. In light of the grim economic climate at most universities, he says, shunning new technology is also a sound way to save money.

The Evidence: Bowen, who teaches music, delivers content via podcasts, which students must listen to on their own time. He then quizzes them on the material before every class to make sure they've done the work, and uses class time for discussions and research pegged to the recorded lessons. He's been teaching the same material for 25 years, but since he implemented the new regimen, he says, his students have been more engaged and scored better on exams. College students asked by researchers to list what motivates them have consistently emphasized teacher enthusiasm, organization, and rapport, while naming lack of active participation as a major disincentive. Last spring the British Educational Research Journal published a survey that found that 59 percent of students called at least half their lectures boring--particularly those involving PowerPoint.

Community colleges

and mission creep. An influx of federal dollars may create the desire to become more like a four-year institution. And community colleges could end up less nimble and able to serve its traditional student population.

Newsweek: New boom for community colleges?

Utah Technical College, built in Orem in 1977, shows how this can happen. In 1987, it became Utah Valley Community College. Only six years later, in 1993, it added four-year degrees and became Utah Valley State College. Last year it became Utah Valley University, grantor of master's degrees. The Division I men's basketball team plays in an 8,500-seat arena and enjoys a raft of corporate sponsors. Bachelor's degrees have grown to almost half of all degrees conferred. But the six-year graduation rate is only 15 percent. (Brad Plothow, a spokesman for Utah Valley University, attributes the rate to student demographics and disparities in their record keeping.)

Curtis Ivery, president of Wayne County Community College in Detroit—located not far from the site of Obama's speech—calls this kind of evolution "mission creep." "If we're not careful," says Ivery, "we're going to erode the link between community colleges and the low-income, minority, and disenfranchised students they've traditionally served."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Stonehenge, volcanoes,

exploding planets and more are featured in fall KACL classes.

Beginning Tuesday, Oct. 6, and running for six weeks, the Kingsport Alliance for Continued Learning (KACL) will offer classes on a variety of subjects presented by leading authorities in the fields of history, anthropology, philosophy, national issues, geology, astronomy and travel.

Morning classes on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays will run from 10 a.m. – noon, while afternoon classes are from 1:30–3:30 p.m. Classes are held on the campus of ETSU at Kingsport, 1501 University Blvd. (near Allandale Mansion) with the exception of the astronomy class to be held at Bays Mountain Planetarium.

KACL, in partnership with East Tennessee State University, has arranged a diverse series of courses with experts from many fields who welcome lively questions and comments from the “students.” There are no grades, homework or tests.

For a fee of $45, participants can take advantage of any or all the classes. And this year, in light of the economic situation, additional members of the immediate family can enroll for only $22 each. Also, any person who is interested in trying KACL courses may sample a single class free of charge.

For additional information or to be added to the mailing list for a registration form, call Gwen Bays of ETSU at Kingsport at (423) 392-8000.

The faculty senate sides

are lining up. The mix of supporters and opponents is interesting. Current score: 4-3.

Endorsing a measure opposed by school administrators, University of Memphis faculty senators voted unanimously Tuesday to support a proposal recommending that all four-year state universities be unified under a Nashville-based board.

The Association of Tennessee University Faculty Senates approved the position paper in August, said president John Nolt, and will present it to Gov. Phil Bredesen in October, pending approval from at least six of the 10 university faculty senates.

Each institution would have its own local advisory board. It recommends the universities create a common core curriculum, coordinate their academic calendars, pool library resources, have interconnected IT systems and centralize employee health benefits.

In an effort to appease faculty who agree with the paper's objectives but oppose some of its recommendations, U of M faculty senators voted to "endorse the objective outlined ... and support careful evaluation of the proposed recommendations."

U of M president Shirley Raines has consistently advocated the university have an independent governing board and has submitted several proposals to Bredesen.

"The issue is how to best get community support for a university, and that's the rationale of having our own board," Raines said. "If we had a board that is chaired by our community leaders, there would be more involvement of the Memphis community rather than sending the decision-making to Nashville."

Educators have become increasingly vocal about their wishes for Tennessee's higher education master plan since Bredesen announced he intends to re-engineer it.

Raines told faculty Tuesday that regardless of how Bredesen structures higher education, U of M will continue to have joint research projects and joint degree programs with other universities.

Austin Peay State University, Middle Tennessee State University and UT Chattanooga faculty support the proposal by the statewide faculty association.

Tennessee Tech University, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and UT Knoxville faculty are against it.

Juanita Cousins, Memphis Commercial Appeal

It's hard out there

For a woman continuing educator. The majority of college and university continuing education professional are women. Most senior continuing educators--deans and whatnot--are men. It's our job to make sure that those of us in leadership positions provide encouragement, training, and opportunities for women to advance in our field. And to include them in drinks after work. Mary Ann Mason writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education:

How the 'Snow-Woman Effect' Slows Women's Progress

As the only female dean at the University of California at Berkeley for several years, I sat in on countless meetings where men held the floor. One day a female colleague made a presentation to a meeting of the deans and received a cursory, bordering on rude, response. Afterward, she asked me how she could have been more effective.

"Speak low and slowly, but smile frequently," I replied. This advice (which did help her next presentation) was based on my observation that women must adhere to a narrow band of behavior in order to be effective in mostly male settings. Women who speak too fast, or in too shrill a tone, are overlooked. Women who act in a highly assertive manner, which might be acceptable for men, are attended to, but not invited back. Women must be friendly, but they cannot be too friendly or a sexual connotation may be inferred. After meetings, women are frequently marginalized when they are left out of job-related social networking.

A survey of women in corporate leadership positions by Catalyst, an organization that works toward the advancement of women, found that 41 percent of respondents cited "exclusion from informal networks" as a barrier to their overall advancement. Navigating that male-dominated world can be disorienting and stressful.

Duplication in

The Age of Obama. Most states have policies that prevent unnecessary course duplication and protect the "service areas" of schools. In Tennessee, we call it The 30 Mile Rule. Increasingly, these rules become moot with online program delivery. But we can still fight about them.

Educational Culture Clash

Morgan State University has objected to a proposal by the University of Maryland University College to create a doctoral program in community college administration. That program, the historically black Morgan State claimed, would be too similar to one it already offers.

It is certainly not the first objection Morgan State has raised to programs that could compete with it, but this time there's a wrinkle: While UMUC has a physical headquarters in Adelphi, Md., almost its entire curriculum is provided online. The proposed doctoral program in community college administration would include only nine classroom sessions over three years.

James E. Lyons, Sr., the state secretary of higher education and head of the Maryland Higher Education Commission, said that this is the first case he knows of where a duplication charge has been levied against an online degree program. “The Fordice case did not deal with online education,” Lyons said. “…Now we are talking about something quite different that could very well have an impact. I guess I see online education as sort of redoing many of the things we’ve come to know in higher

And the issues don't just involve historically black colleges. State higher education boards such as the Maryland Higher Education Commission are often tasked with avoiding “unnecessary duplication” of in-state higher-education programs -- whether or not a historically black institution is involved. Fordice gives historically black colleges more grounds to protest competing programs, but the issue of duplication is present everywhere these days, given the need to use state dollars wisely.

In all duplication discussions, online education stands to affect the conversation, possibly in a dramatic way. Web-based degree programs that serve borderless populations present a challenge to state regulators of higher education, who must decide what constitutes duplication in an era where certain universities are neighbors to everyone — and no one. In fact, UMUC (just like other public distance education institutions) offers many degrees that other institutions in the state offer as well.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Take the last train to Clarksville....

2009 Innovative Professor Conference

November 9 and 10, 2009

Austin Peay State University
Morgan University Center
Clarksville, Tennessee

Need more info?
Visit the conference Web site at

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Continuing Education Association of

New York's Annual Conference is next Month. The conference theme is Sowing Ideas and Harvesting Success in Difficult Times.


The CEANY's 46th Annual Conference will be held at the Gideon Putnam Resort in Saratoga Springs, NY.

Available Now! Conference Program (pdf)

Gideon Putnam Property Map (pdf)

About Gideon Putnam Resort
Renowned 2300-acre resort hotel in the Saratoga Spa State Park, is located 30 miles from Albany. Gideon Putnam boasts a full-service spa and fitness center, and many dining and entertainment options in nearby downtown Saratoga Springs.

The 58th Annual AAACE

Adult Education: Together We Can!
November 3 - 6, 2009
Renaissance Cleveland Hotel
Cleveland, Ohio

The hotel conference rate for single and double at the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel of $119 will end Friday, October 2nd. Beginning on Saturday, October 3rd the regular rate for single and double will be $179. For online reservations of single bed rooms click here, and for double bed rooms click here. Reservations can also be made by calling the hotel, 1-800-HOTELS-1 (1-800-468-3571). To reserve a single bed room please give the code ACEACEA, and for double bed rooms ACEACEB. These rates end October 2nd, so register early!

Conference Registration Rates End October 12th

The regular Conference registration fees will end on Monday, October 12th. Beginning on Tuesday, October 13th the Conference registration late fees will be in effect. Following are all the Conference fees:

Full Conference Registration (Nov. 3-6) Member, $275; Non-Member, $360 (Includes one year membership) until October 15th. After October 15th: Member, $400; Non-Member, $485.

Two-Day Registration (Nov. 3-4, or Nov. 5-6): Member, $205; Non-Member, $290 (Includes one year membership) until October 15th. After October 15th: Member, $330 Non-Member, $415.

Student Registration (Nov. 3-6), Member, $220; Non-Member, $280 (Includes one year membership) until October 15th. After October 15: Member, $320; Non-Member, $380.(Students majoring in adult education, continuing education and/or human resource development may receive reduced rates for the full conference.To receive these reduced rates you must be fully admitted to an adult and continuing education and/or human resource development degree program at an accredited university. Your major advisor’s email address must be provided on the registration form so she/he can be contacted for verification of your enrollment.)

UM experimenting with Dual Enrollment

For homeschoolers. It's interesting the number of homeschoolers in Tennessee, and I've never understood its appeal. Even in our family, with a doctorate and a certified teacher under the same roof, we wouldn't feel qualified to educate our kids--nor would we want them insulated from public education. But it is a growing market that continuing education might be able to tap. In our own dual enrollment classes, we have just a couple of home schooled students. UM has four more and gets publicity. Not that I'm bitter...

It's Wednesday afternoon, and John Keller, 16, is a few minutes early for his 2:20 p.m. algebra class, taught by a pharmacist at the University of Memphis Carrier Center in Collierville.

Within five minutes, the rest of the class of six arrives, backpacks over their shoulders and an air of earnestness about them.

"This is attractive to me because it's one semester. If it had been two, it would have conflicted with other things I have going on in the spring," said Keller.

"I like it that I'll get credit, and I won't have to take it again in college."

Secretly, his mother is cheering, he said, because it's a class she doesn't have to teach.

The University of Memphis is testing the water this fall with its first class for home-schooled students -- in this case, 16- and 17-year-olds who've taken Algebra I, Algebra II and geometry in classrooms set up around a kitchen table or family computer.

"It truly is a growth market for higher education," said Bill Akey, assistant vice provost for enrollment services at the university.

Jane Roberts. Memphis Commercial Appeal

Making do with less

Colleges Find Creative Ways to Cut Back

Friday, September 11, 2009

So selective colleges and universities

Have higher graduation rates. Hmmm. It's unsurprising that schools that admit high achieving students have more of them graduate than schools that admit a weaker mix of students. But I'm skeptical of the conclusion that students don't graduate because they are not challenged enough in those less-selective institutions. Seems facile. Of course, I haven't seen the study. They compared groups of students with similar academic qualifications, but I wonder what the trigger was that sent some to the selective institutions and some to other places? That trigger, whether it was sophisticated knowledge about selecting a college, study skills, adaptability, family finances, or whatnot, might be the key. On the other hand, playing with better basketball players made me a better player. So maybe that's the same effect. Or maybe not. The following is by Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY:

Graduation rates: Challenge, expectations may play a role

Researchers studying how to improve graduation rates at public colleges and universities have come up with a surprising and counter-intuitive finding: Many students may fail to complete a bachelor's degree not because the work is too hard — but because they're not challenged enough.

It's well known that colleges with the most selective admissions criteria tend to have the highest graduation rates. But even when researchers compared groups of students who had similar academic qualifications, they consistently found that those attending schools with the more demanding academic requirements were more likely to graduate.

"There is a net effect related to selectivity that is powerful," says Princeton University president emeritus William Bowen, lead author of Crossing the Finish Line: Completing College at America's Public Universities, out today. While everybody does better at stronger schools, "the difference in outcomes … is greater for minorities than for other people," he says.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Send us your huddled masses

But not the funds to serve them.

Tennessee colleges' enrollment grows, but budgets shrink

By next year, the Tennessee Board of Regents' universities, colleges and trade schools will be operating on state budgets that are 25 percent smaller than they were in 2007, regents learned at a Tuesday meeting of committee chairs.

The state already announced plans for a 6 percent cut on top of a previously announced reduction in the higher education budget, adding to the multimillion-dollar cutbacks since the economic downturn began last year.

"The challenges universities face will be pretty significant," said Dale Sims, a former state treasurer turned regents vice chancellor for business and finance.

At the same time, the 45 schools in the regents system are seeing dramatic year-over-year enrollment increases — around 20 percent at some community colleges.

Jennifer Brooks. The Tennessean.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I attended the JC Senior

Synergy opening session this morning. This is a consortium of educational organizations for seniors including the city's Seniors' Center, the ETSURA (ETSU Retirees Association) and ETSU ACL (Alliance for Continuing Learning). The ACL is a part of the School of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach.

I went up after the meeting to talk to the pianist, who told me she was an ETSU graduate. She had taught 38 years in the Johnson City School System, including stints at two black elementary schools when JC was segregated. She also taught music in the integrated high school. A delightful woman.

iPhone tips

for traveling oversees. I seem to recall having mentioned earlier that I love my iPhone. Ah, but what to do when traveling internationally? How to avoid sneaky charges overseas. This piece has some nice tips, including the most important, When Overseas, turn Data Roaming "off."

iPhone tips and tricks for budget travelers

Shared via AddThis

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Best college Web sites named

Best college Web sites named

No room

at the Body Farm. I've told Kathy I wouldn't mind her donating my carcass to the University of Tennessee's Body Farm so I could help train young forensic scientists and so forth and That way, I can continue my education career after passing on. Now it turns out, if the economy doesn't pick up, people like me could be out of luck. The Body Farm has stopped accepting bodies...

People who had next to nothing in life are facing even more hardship in death.

There are more unclaimed bodies at the Davidson County medical examiner's office this year, as families found themselves unable to cover the expense of a funeral and burial. So many bodies have been donated to science in Tennessee this year that the Vanderbilt School of Medicine and the University of Tennessee Body Farm have stopped accepting cadaver donations.

"We're seeing an increase in families who can't afford the expense of a funeral," Davidson County Chief Medical Examiner Bruce Levy said.

The percentage of people in poverty in the USA is climbing, said Gregory Acs, a senior fellow at The Urban Institute. When the recession started at the end of 2007, about 12.5 percent of the U.S. population was considered impoverished, up from 11.7 percent in 2001.

Cities across the U.S. are reporting morgues at capacity because families can't afford funerals. In Los Angeles, for example, the number of indigent deaths doubled from the last six months of 2008 to the first six months of 2009, forcing the county crematory to turn away bodies.


and Switch? Attracting Students With 'Juicy' Course Names

Boston College German studies professor Michael Resler went searching for a way to boost flagging interest in his “German Literature of the High Middle Ages’’ class a few years ago, and settled on the idea of simply giving the course a sexier name. The resulting “Knights, Castles, and Dragons’’ nearly tripled enrollment.

Resler then replaced his class on “The Songs of Walter von der Vogelweide,’’ a great German lyric poet, with “Passion, Politics, and Poetry in the Middle Ages.’’ Again, enrollment swelled. “I suppose the moral of the story is that we live in an age where everything has to be marketed in order to find a willing audience,’’ Resler mused.

As schools compete for students and faculty come under pressure to boost enrollment in their classes, colleges from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst to Wellesley are jazzing up course catalogs to entice a generation of students drawn to the dramatic. This year’s offerings include crowd-pleasing topics like massacres, superheroes, and sin

Friday, September 4, 2009

In a follow-up to his piece on the dangers

Facebook holds for academic careers, David D. Perlmutter shares his thoughts about using social media to improve your case for tenure in the latest

Facebooking for the Tenure Track

You have two options. Plan A is to tone down your blog or Facebook page, censoring yourself to avoid the overly personal. You must certainly not release comments ("My dean has onion breath") or pictures (of yourself or others in any state of dishabille or inebriation) that will cause the P&T committee to believe you are not a serious colleague.

Plan B is more drastic: Create an alter ego. A few years ago, while doing research for a book on political blogging, I guest-blogged under a nom de guerre at two sites. I learned quickly that I didn't enjoy the ferocity of the venue, but those academics who do can certainly find ways to hide their true identities. In fact, a number of well-known pseudonymous bloggers have "come out" after receiving tenure.

Cooking the books

For better ratings in the U.S. News & World Report college rankings? From

Everyone knows that adjuncts and graduate assistants do a lot of the teaching these days, right? Well, maybe not everyone.

The American Federation of Teachers on Wednesday posted a blog item asking how it is, given those well documented trends, that magazine rankings give parents the sense that most of the teaching at large universities is done by full-time faculty members. "The majority of top colleges report well over 80 percent of their faculty are full-time and a large number report that well over 90 percent of their faculty are full-time. University of Nebraska-Lincoln even reports that 100 percent of its faculty are full-time," the blog says of institutions in the U.S. News & World Report rankings, a small part of which are based on the percentage of faculty who are full time. "Amazing!"

Further, the blog goes on to note that AFT data suggest that at Nebraska, only 79 percent of the faculty members are full time. How could the university's claim (and many others universities' claims to be almost entirely full time in faculty members) be accurate? the AFT asked.

Inside Higher Ed posed the question to the University of Nebraska and to U.S. News and found that the two have very different interpretations of how to count faculty members -- and that the magazine will let stand Nebraska's decision to exclude all of its adjuncts and claim a faculty make-up it does not in fact have.

Kelly H. Bartling, a spokeswoman for the university, said Nebraska interpreted the U.S. News question on the percentage of full-time faculty to cover only those faculty who are tenured or on the tenure track, and not to include anyone else. She said that the university gave the magazine figures that were "exactly what they've been asking for," and that she believed other universities had similar interpretations, given their high percentages of full-time faculty members. (Given that most research universities don't have many part-time tenure-track or tenured slots, an interpretation like Nebraska's would produce many very high percentages, which is the case in the rankings.)

Today, a guest post

From Donna Scott, who writes for With non-traditional student enrollments increasing, at least at my institution, this is good advice to remember.

Tips for Striking a Balance between School, Work and Life for Non-Traditional Students

For those going back to school after already entering the working world, making time for all the things that matter in life can be a challenge and free time may feel like a thing of the past. It’s important, however, to strike a balance between the various areas of your life to ensure that you’re not burning the candle at both ends (or just throwing the whole thing in the fire) and making time for both the responsibilities and pleasures that life has to offer. Here are a few tips that learners of all ages can keep in mind when trying to maintain some balance between work, school and everything else.

Set priorities. What in your life really means the most to you? Figure out where you want to focus your attention and dole out your time accordingly. While this may not always be possible to do the way you’d like, you’ll at least know what you value and what you’re working so hard for in the first place.

Learn to say no. Whether someone at work is asking you to take on additional responsibilities or a friend wants you to join a club with them, if you don’t have time or energy to do it, learn how to say no. With so much going on in your life it may not be the right time to do extracurricular activities, so learn how to let people down easy.

Stay organized. One way that you can waste a lot of time is by having poor organization. You’ll spend previous time hunting around for what you need instead of actually getting things done. Make it easy for yourself to succeed and stay organized.

Set time aside for yourself. With so many people to please, sometimes trying to balance everything can be overwhelming. Make sure you’re making room in your life to take some time just for yourself as well so you can relax and kick back even if it’s only for a few hours a week.

Have a schedule. While it might seem cold to schedule in time for family and friends, the reality is that when you’re super busy it might be the only way to make sure you’re spending enough time with the people you care about. Creating a schedule of work, study, personal and fun time can help ensure things stay at least somewhat balanced in your life.

Don’t sweat imperfection. In an ideal world we’d be able to juggle everything and have it all be perfect. In the real world, this simply isn’t possible. Let little things slide and be ok with not always being perfect at everything. If you don’t, you’ll spend too much time on things that don’t really matter and not enough on things that do.

This post was contributed by Donna Scott, who writes about the online college. She welcomes your feedback at DonnaScott9929

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Answering yes to these 12 questions

could mean you are happy and productive at work. Gretchen Rubin writing on her blog The Happiness Project:

I just finished First, Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham and Curt Coffman. I’d heard about it for years, but I didn’t actually pick up a copy until a smart friend told me to read it.

The authors did a study with the Gallup Organization to find a way, among other things, to measure strong workplaces, ones that would attract and retain the most productive employees.

They came up with a list of twelve questions, where, if employees answered “yes” and were happier in their workplaces, they tended to work in business units with higher levels of productivity, profit, retention, and customer satisfaction – which shows that there is a link between how employees feel and how they perform.

This is a good list to use if you’re a manager who wants to create a happier and more productive work environment, or if you’re a job seeker/holder who wants criteria by which to judge a workplace.

Also, if you’re not happy at work, and you’re trying to Identify the problem, take a look at this list. It suggests strategies for improving your situation. Not everything is within your control, of course, but perhaps you could identify for your boss what you need to change #2 from “no” to “yes” or to shift responsibilities so you get #3. Or can you make an effort to gain #10?

1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel like my work is important?
9. Are my co-workers committed to doing quality work?
10. Do I have a best friend at work? [But don’t have an office affair!]
11. In the last six months, have I talked with someone about my progress?
12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

The first six questions have the strongest links to business outcomes (productivity, profitability, retention, and customer satisfaction).

I was also interested to see that the study suggested that people’s opinions of their workplaces are more determined by their immediate manager than by the overall company. It was their direct manager – not money, benefits, perks, or a charismatic leader at the top – that was the critical element for people.

Twelve Tips to Create a Happier (and More Productive) Workplace.

The Social Side of Obesity: You Are Who You Eat With

I've said this before. I need skinnier friends.

The Social Side of Obesity: You Are Who You Eat With

Five academic majors

on the rise.

1. Service science
2. Health informatics
3. Computational science
4. Sustainability
5. Public health

Read the whole article at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I may have mentioned something about my iPhone

Earlier. has lists the top ten iPhone business apps. Number Four sounds pretty slick. It makes your iPhone a presentation pointer.


Publisher: Haw-Yuan Yang
Price: $2.99
Presentation accessory

You can make your iPhone double as a PowerPoint presentation pointer during your next great pitch or slideshow. mbPointer works with Microsoft PowerPoint (2003/2007/Mac 2008) whether you’re on a Windows XP/Vista PC or on a Mac.

To use mbPointer with your computer, you need to install the free companion receiver application. Then mbPointer connects to your PC via Wi-Fi and acts as a remote control for your presentations. But this app is much more than just a PowerPoint remote — it also lets your iPhone serve as a regular touchpad for your PC, allowing you to perform mouse movements (including scrolling and middle-button clicking) with your finger on a virtual pad.

See the whole list at

Today is

VJ Day. Maybe.

August 14th - Japan surrenders

August 15th - Surrender announced to the world

September 2 - Ceremony and formal signing of surrender

VJ Day marks the end of WWII, and the cessation of fighting against Japan. It is called "Victory In Japan Day or "Victory Over Japan Day".

The confusion over three dates:

There is some confusion over what date is V-J Day. You can consider any (or all) of three dates as V-J Day. President Harry S. Truman caused some of this confusion........

On August 14, 1945, the Japanese government cabled to the U.S. their surrender. This is the date of most modern observances.

On August 15, 1945, news of the surrender was announced to the world. This sparked spontaneous celebrations over the final ending of World War II.

On September 2, 1945, a formal surrender ceremony was held in Tokyo Bay aboard the USS Missouri. At the time, President Truman declared September 2 to be VJ Day.

Lunch in Borchuck Plaza

Where ETSU and several local businesses welcome students back.

Faculty convocation

According to Dean Dad, writing in Confessions of a Community College Dean

(in the style of "The Word")

Faculty and distinguished colleagues,
(Slide: "And the undistinguished among you, too...")

welcome back from what I hope was a restful summer.
("You're gonna need it...")

As you know, we have record enrollments this year, combined with a severe funding cut
("Rhymes with flusterduck...")

But I'm sure we're up to the challenge.
("New program: Alchemy!")

This year brings some new challenges, like the swine flu
("No more parking shortage!")

and a difficult job market for our graduates.
("Great for retention!")

But some things never change.
("Gotta love the tenure system.")

All those new faces, shining with hope and promise
("and buried in their smartphones")

and the promise of new communities of learning.
("and papers to grade!")

Working together,
("except for the grading")

I'm sure we'll have a terrific year.
("except for the grading")

And that's the word.