Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ETSU honors its first African American students

A new fountain will recognize those five pioneers.  From The Johnson City Press.

Fountain to be constructed to honor first five black students at ETSC
When East Tennessee State College was desegregated in the 1950s there was no violence, no protests, no blocking of doors, nothing that made the news like at other Southern colleges and universities where black students were beginning to seek higher education.  
That lack of conflict is likely why there is little record of the enrollment of Eugene Caruthers in ETSC’s graduate school in January 1956, or the enrollments of undergraduates Elizabeth Watkins Crawford, Clarence McKinney, George L. Nichols and Mary Luellen Owens Wagner in August 1958.  
“None of that type of action was exhibited when Dr. Caruthers came and when those other students followed behind him in 1958,” said Angela Radford Lewis, associate dean for ETSU’s College of Education. “It was perfect history but got hid because it was not sensational history. And that’s one of the things that ETSU prides itself on, that, you know, these students were able to enroll without any violence or hostility.”  
There may not have been much of a record at the time, but soon there will be a permanent memorial to those five students. Preston Construction is building a water fountain at the plaza in front of the Charles C. Sherrod Library intended to commemorate the university’s desegregation. ETSC became a university in 1963.  
The fountain is scheduled to be completed in October. 

Beer 101

Men's Health lists the best college beer bars in America.  Knoxville is there, of course, as is Athens, Georgia.

Best College Beer Bars in America | Men's Health
Fort Sanders Yacht Club (Knoxville, TN)

This may not be Knoxville’s oldest or most-revered drinking establishment. But when you offer nearly 100 beers along with 25-cent arcade classics like Street Fighter, Ghost and Goblins, and Tetris, who cares? This place is just fun. Oh, and half those beers are $1 off during happy hour (which lasts from 2 to 9 p.m. every day). All beers are a dollar off on Sundays, and $2 on Tuesdays.

Monday, July 30, 2012

But here's why the tuition is too damn high

Some sanity over the price of higher education from Jordan Weissmann, writing in The Atlantic. And some perspective on the previous post this morning.

How in the World Did College Costs Rise 15% in Only 2 Years?

First off, when it comes to the price of higher education, all statistics are local. One of the biggest factors influencing tuition is the amount of government support college systems receive, and budget cuts have varied wildly from state to state over the past few years. So perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise that the most drastic price hikes have been concentrated in just a few places. Of the 100 schools which raised tuition most between the 2008-2009 and the 2010-2011 school years, 70 were located in five states -- Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, and Washington. Meanwhile, seven of the top twelve were in Puerto Rico (yes, they are included in this survey). Should it concern most American parents that the University of Puerto Rico -- Aguadilla raised its sticker price by 53 percent, or a little less than $1,000 dollars?  Probably not.
In short a relative minority of schools skewed the average upwards. The government included 649 four-year public colleges in its report. Only 234 actually saw a 15 percent hike or more. The median increase was 11 percent. And many of the colleges that were responsible for the biggest percent jumps, such as the Cal State system, were schools bringing up their tuition from bargain basement prices.  
But 11 percent in two years. That's still sounds pretty high. Again, medical costs, which everyone knows are supposed to be spiraling madly out of control, increased about 7 percent in the time frame we're talking about. 
That brings us to the second big issue that should give parents solace. Tuition sticker prices are a terrible way to judge the actual cost of college, especially from a consumer's perspective. Net prices, which include government and institutional grants, say much more about how college costs are changing. Unfortunately, the government's net-price data is a year behind. But at four-year public schools, the average net price edged up just 4.6 percent between 2007-2008 and 2009-2010. Private college tuition increase just 6.4 percent on average. That's not completely outrageous when you consider the various financial pressures these institutions have been facing. The Higher Education Price Index, which essentially tracks the costs of running a college, rose about 3 percent over the time period we're looking at. Overall state funding fell about 3 percent, and the number of students enrolled rose.

The tuition is too damn high

Time.com lists the fourteen public universities with the fastest growing tuition rates.  Georgia State and the University of Arizona are tied at number one.

Where Are College Costs Going Up? 14 Public Universities With the Fastest-Growing Tuition

Friday, July 27, 2012

THEC Adult Learner Webinar Series

The Tennessee Higher Education Commission is pleased to announce its Adult Learner Webinar Series, which will engage educators and student services professionals from across Tennessee with innovative steps being taken to improve adult degree attainment and meet the state’s workforce needs. The purpose of these webinars is to help facilitate dialogue about effective ways to serve adult learners. Please join us for this three-part webinar series. Presenters and their topics include:

Roane State’s H2O (Help to Opportunities) Program: Leading Adults in Transition to Success – Monday, July 30th from 10:00 to 11:00 am Central.

Denette Flynn, H20 Project Navigator
Roane State Community College

Dr. Kristi Roberson James, Director of Institutional Effectiveness and Research
Roane State Community College

Trevor Stokes,
WIN Learning

The presenters will discuss Roane State’s H20 Program, which seeks to connect adult learners with opportunities in both higher education and the workforce. The presenters will also lead a discussion about the importance of connecting workforce needs with learning among adult learners.

Please visit the following link to participate: https://stateoftennessee.adobeconnect.com/h20

A Framework for Adult Learning – Tuesday, July 31st from 9:00 to 10:00 am Central

Dr. Doyle Brinson, Director of the University School and Assistant Professor
East Tennessee State University

The presenter will lead a discussion with webinar participants on connecting instruction and student services focused on addressing the needs of adult learners.

Please visit the following link to participate: https://stateoftennessee.adobeconnect.com/framework/

Addressing Deficiencies in the Use of Technology among Adult Students:  A Foundation for Success – Thursday, August 2nd from 9:30 – 10:30 am Central.

Dr. Michele Wollert, Adult Student Services Counselor
Chattanooga State Community College

Carol Swayze, Director of Experiential Learning
Middle Tennessee State University

The presenters will discuss strategies to improve the technological proficiency of adult learners as a means to support retention and persistence of this student population. 

Please visit the following link to participate: https://stateoftennessee.adobeconnect.com/technology

Instructions for Dialing in to the Webinars 

1) Dial the US/CAN or Int’l Toll number depending upon your location.
•      US/CAN Toll Free: 1-888-757-2790•      Int'l Toll: 1-719-359-9722
2) Enter the participant passcode when prompted:     
Participant Passcode: 159883

This is why in Tennessee

We're thankful for states like Mississippi. We stay ahead of them in educational rankings. But it's really not funny; it's a tragedy.  From Time.

Mississippi Learning: Why the State's Students Start Behind — and Stay Behind
Thirty years after Mississippi established statewide kindergarten and made school attendance compulsory starting in first grade, classroom readiness remains a major obstacle to student success in this state, which has the highest rate of childhood poverty in the country and test scores that are consistently among the nation's worst. 
Although neighboring states have made great strides in early education, Mississippi remains the only state in the South — and just one of 11 in the country — that doesn't fund any pre-k programs. Researchers have found that high-quality pre-k programs can improve long-term outcomes for low-income children and help close an achievement gap for minorities that tends to worsen over time. Being able to stand in line, listen to directions or make eye contact with the teacher play in an important role when it comes time to try to teach kids how to read and write. And a lack of school readiness is evident the minute children walk in on the first day of kindergarten, says Kaye Sowell, who has taught for 30 years in Rankin County. "I've had to chase children into the street," she says. "I have kids who don't know their given name and can't recognize it in print. They can't go through the lunch line without holding it up. You can't fathom it unless you've lived it." 
Failure to prepare children for kindergarten or first grade costs the state a lot of money. One of every 14 kindergarteners and one of every 15 first-graders in Mississippi repeated the school year in 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available. From 1999 to 2008, the state spent $383 million on children who had to repeat kindergarten or first grade, according to the Southern Education Foundation. Children like Akeeleon start so far behind they may never catch up, and those who repeat one or more grades are much more likely than their classmates to drop out of school, decades of research have shown.

Troubled Nashville community education program still breathing

It's starting to build enrollments and generate revenue.  From The Tennessean.

Nashville Community Education classes make a comeback

Lovette Curry still meets people who think the Nashville Community Education Commission dissolved years ago. 
Instead, the commission executive director tells them enrollment is up and revenues are increasing. 
But Curry can’t deny that, for a while, it seemed the once-popular classes had gone away. 
Turmoil in 2010 threatened to end the program after more than 30 years of after-school, adult and senior classes ranging from couponing to conversational Spanish. A financial review exposed mismanagement, and the program split off from Metro Schools, chopping its budget by more than half. Three of four class locations closed. And layoffs cut a staff of eight down to one — just Curry. 
“With all that transition and losing staff the way that we did, and closing sites, a lot of people thought we were closed,” Curry said. “It was like, ‘Remember when Community Ed was a thing?’ There was no money for advertising, for professional development, for printing.” 
New leadership and Metro Council oversight overhauled the program, discontinued some classes and recommended that Community Education give up oversight of the Senior Renaissance Center, where dozens of seniors spend their mornings in West Nashville.
The changes also allowed Curry to broadcast a different message: “We’re still here.”

Funny, I recently had a similar idea to collect Tennessee songs

But I wanted to create a playlist.  Because that's how my iPhone rolls. I wonder what the criteria for inclusion on this website will be?  I was only going to include songs that had Tennessee in their title.  Rocky Top, for example, wouldn't make my playlist but Tennessee Stud would, even though it's about a horse and  Rocky Top is about Tennessee. Somehow, I suspect Rocky Top will make the website, however. By Tony Gonzalez, writing in The Tennessean.com.

Interactive website will immortalize songs about Tennessee
To the songwriters, Tennessee has always seemed worth singing about: a place to go “down South,” by night train or choo choo, to waltz with the belles and boogie in the blue hills. 
A state — no offense to the other 49 — with a pretty name. 
“It has a rhythm and a melody in it,” said Dale Cockrell, director of the Center for Popular Music at Middle Tennessee State University. 
Propelled by a small grant, MTSU archivists are gathering recordings, sheet music and songbooks to create an interactive website titled “ ‘My Homeland’: A Research Guide to Songs About Tennessee.” It will include the nation-leading eight — yes, eight — Tennessee state songs, and raps, religious songbooks, Yiddish ditties and at least one vinyl record version, pressed in Japan, of Patti Page’s take on “Tennessee Waltz.” 
Recordings and scans of the sheet music and album artwork will be available online and easy to sort, with a special section for teachers seeking music to use in classes. 
The music and printed materials will be organized by the recurring themes that project archivist John Fabke has found in the songwriting. 
In his research, Fabke said he found Tennessee described as a mythical “Shangri-La,” where everyone wants to go.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

I'm glad to have this list

Because I hear they're phasing out Walmart greeters.  And that was looking like my second career.  Fortunately, I already live in a college town.  From AARP.org.

College Town Jobs for Older Workers

Professional development for teachers

Is moving from bricks to clicks.  How do we recognize and document these new types of learning? From Education Week.

Providing Credit for Teacher Online PD Efforts
Educators seeking professional-development opportunities these days can choose from a vast menu of technology-related options that range from bite-size to entrĂ©e. But those who create and use this type of PD say they're still struggling with how to officially recognize teachers' efforts, particularly when it comes to the small-dose, on-demand versions available. 
Teachers often need to rack up professional-development credits toward recertification, or to fulfill job-evaluation requirements. But acknowledging the growing segment of professional development that can range from a webinar to a Twitter session raises difficulties. 
"This is a darn good question as we all struggle with the new technology and how it's being applied to professional development," says Segun C. Eubanks, the director of teacher quality for the 3.2 million-member National Education Association. "A wider variety of options makes this issue more important."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

From I Love Charts.

Grammar Girl explains degree spelling

I see this written incorrectly all the time.

Grammar Girl: "Bachelor's Degree" or "Bachelors Degree"?
A bachelor is not just a guy who eats out a lot, but also a person of either sex who has earned a type of degree from a university or college. Think of the degree as the property of the bachelor, with the apostrophe-s indicating possession: It is a bachelor's degree. 
The same is true for a master: He or she earns a master's degree.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Save the date

The Future of Accelerated Programs: Quality Standards, Technology and Innovation
August 2 - 4, 2012
Metropolitan State University of Denver  

Major themes  include:

Quality Standards for Accelerated Learning Programs: Research & Model for Good Practice  
Presented by:  Dr. Royce Ann Collins
Associate Professor/Adult Education Program Director
Kansas State University  

The Future University: Key Components to Success that are Relevant to Accelerated Programs 
Presented by: Dr. Mary Landon Darden
Dean, San Antonio Center
Concordia University Texas  

2012 Adult Student TALK Research  
Presented by: Dr. Brenda Harms
Associate Vice-President
Stamats, Inc.  

The fight goes on

But the Dark Side may be winning.  I like the 25 cent fine, though.  From WSJ.com.

Grammar, a Victim in the Office
When Caren Berg told colleagues at a recent staff meeting, "There's new people you should meet," her boss Don Silver broke in, says Ms. Berg, a senior vice president at a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., marketing and crisis-communications company. 
"I cringe every time I hear" people misuse "is" for "are," Mr. Silver says. The company's chief operations officer, Mr. Silver also hammers interns to stop peppering sentences with "like." For years, he imposed a 25-cent fine on new hires for each offense. "I am losing the battle," he says.
Managers are fighting an epidemic of grammar gaffes in the workplace. Many of them attribute slipping skills to the informality of email, texting and Twitter where slang and shortcuts are common. Such looseness with language can create bad impressions with clients, ruin marketing materials and cause communications errors, many managers say. 
There's no easy fix. Some bosses and co-workers step in to correct mistakes, while others consult business-grammar guides for help. In a survey conducted earlier this year, about 45% of 430 employers said they were increasing employee-training programs to improve employees' grammar and other skills, according to the Society for Human Resource Management and AARP.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Grow old along with me

In jobs like these we'll be.  Debra Auerbach, writing in Aol.com, lists 14 secure jobs with a high percentage of workers age 55 or over.  Here are the first ten.

Best Jobs If You're Over 55 - Careers Articles
1. Clinical, counseling and school psychologists*
Percent age 55 and over: 41.9
Median annual salary: $67,880**

2. Psychologists, all other (not listed separately)
Percent age 55 and over: 41.9
Median annual salary: $90,010

3. Chief executives
Percent age 55 and over: 35.5
Median annual salary: $166,910

4. Physicists
Percent age 55 and over: 33.8
Median annual salary: $106,360

5. Urban and regional planners
Percent age 55 and over: 33.8
Median annual salary: $64,100

6. Management analysts
Percent age 55 and over: 32.3
Median annual salary: $78,490

7. Education administrators, all other
Percent age 55 and over: 32.2
Median annual salary: $76,730

8. Education administrators, elementary and secondary school
Percent age 55 and over: 32.2
Median annual salary: $87,470

9. Education administrators, postsecondary
Percent age 55 and over: 32.2
Median annual salary: $84,280

10. Administrative services managers
Percent age 55 and over: 31.9
Median annual salary: $79,540

Do you say "pop"

Or soda?  I grew up with pop though my kids say soda.  Edwin Chen, in his blog, studied tweets to determine soft-drink terms common to areas in the U.S.  He finds the following.
  • The South is pretty Coke-heavy.
  • Soda belongs to the Northeast and far West.
  • Pop gets the mid-West, except for some interesting spots of blue around Wisconsin and the Illinois-Missouri border. 
Soda vs. Pop with Twitter

Friday, July 20, 2012

God help me, I do love top ten lists

And my iPad.  From MainStreet.

10 Awesomely Weird iPad Accessories

Pigskin economics

Football supporters at ETSU can put this in their pocket.  Of course, the key is winning games.  Losing games, probably not so much.  From Freakonomics.  

How Much Do Football Wins Pay Off for a College?
For FBS schools, winning football games increases alumni athletic donations, enhances a school’s academic reputation, increases the number of applicants and in-state students, reduces acceptance rates, and raises average incoming SAT scores. The estimates imply that large increases in team performance can have economically significant effects, particularly in the area of athletic donations.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Upcoming issue of Diverse

Will focus on lifelong learning.  Advertising deadline is July 26.


The need for lifelong learning is more important than ever due to rapid changes in employer needs in this fast-moving economy. Continuing education is the process of learning something new to further one’s skills and knowledge in a given area. Diverse will probe deeper into the following topics:
  • What are institutions doing to gain support from their communities in advancing continuing education initiatives?
  • How is mobile technology impacting the breadth and reach of continuing education?
  • What role are online programs and the Internet playing in shaping the direction of continuing education?
  • How is the changing economy affecting the direction of continuing education and dictating industry trends?
  • Which modes of continuing education delivery are finding success with the greatest number of people?
  • What are employer and business perceptions of credibility for degrees received from brick-and-mortar vs. online institutions? Does it make a difference?

iPad cool

Samsung tablet, not so much.  From iPhone Life.

It's official: Judge rules that Samsung tablet "not as cool" as iPad
Today, in the UK, Samsung had a bittersweet victory when a judge ruled that Samsung's Galaxy Tab hadn't violated Apple's patents because the Galaxy tablets "do not have the same understated and extreme simplicity which is possessed by the Apple design. They are not as cool.” You can read more in this report from Reuters. You are likely aware that there are ongoing patent disputes between Samsung and Apple. Steve Jobs thought that Android was a complete ripoff of the iPhone and iPad, and vowed to destroy it. CEO Tim Cook seems more inclined to settle, as the ongoing disputes wind their way through the court systems in various countries. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Save the date

22nd Annual Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference
October 8 -10, 2012

The early bird deadline for the Legal Issues in Higher Education Conference will soon be here! REGISTER NOW or before July 20th to SAVE $75 OFF the conference price. Additionally, this year's conference will be held at UVM's Davis Center— within walking distance to the Sheraton Burlington and Downtown Burlington. 

All out for retention

Could it really be as simple as this?  From The Hechinger Report.

In Montana, small changes spur nation’s biggest jump in college graduates
Inside the student union at Montana State University, freshmen and sophomores dig into pizza and espresso brownies and listen to motivational speeches while the marching band belts out the fight song (“We’ve got the vim, we’re here to win!”). 
It’s just what it looks and sounds like: a pep rally. But not the conventional kind. 
The students in this room are on academic probation, have poor grades or are struggling to adjust to college. All are at risk of dropping out. They’re being exhorted to keep trying, lured here by dinner, entertainment, prizes, even $50 apiece in cash, for coaching in time management, study skills and test-taking. 
Thanks to this event, along with a relentless barrage of free tutoring, “success advising” and other support, an estimated three-quarters of these potential dropouts will buck the odds and stay in school, up from barely half who once did.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

There ain't no way to hide your lyin' eyes

Turns out there is.  From Time's Healthland.

Is That a Bluff? Looking for Lies in People’s Shifty Eyes

The commonly held theory is that when a person looks up to their right, they’re lying. If they look up to their left, they’re said to be telling the truth. 
But in three separate experiments testing that theory, researchers from Edinburgh University and Hertfordshire University found no connection between eye movements and whether people were being truthful. “This is in line with findings from a considerable amount of previous work showing that facial clues (including eye movements) are poor indicators of deception,” wrote the authors of the study published in the journal PLoS ONE. 
The authors attribute the popular wisdom about “lying eyes” to claims made by practitioners of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). The therapy method, which attempts to improve people’s communication skills by teaching them about eye-movements and thought, says that when people look up to their right they are visualizing a “constructed” event, and when they look to the left, they’re visualizing an actual “remembered” memory. 
The notion that “constructed” means “lie” became popular, despite the fact that there’s little scientific evidence to back up the claim.

Yeah, why do I have to wear pants

At work? Conformity, it seems.  By Daniel Lametti, writing in Slate.

Pants, a history: How the horse is to blame for our excessively warm legwear.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the last 12 months have been the warmest in the U.S. since 1895—the year we started keeping temperature records. I believe it. My legs, which are wrapped in two pieces of denim from Monday to Saturday, have never been so sweaty. And they are only going to get hotter. How did this happen? Why do men wrap their thighs in pants instead of tunics or togas, kilts or kimonos? 
In a series of intriguing posts at the Social Evolution Forum, Peter Turchin, an ecologist and evolutionary biologist at the University of Connecticut, suggests that we can blame being hot on the horse. Take, for example, the Romans, who traditionally wore tunics. As Roman soldiers began to use cavalry in battle they started covering their legs to make riding more comfortable. Knights of the middle ages, who were often on horseback, continued this practice for the same reason. Because of this, “wearing pants,” Turchin writes, “became associated with high-status men, and gradually spread to other males.” 
Of course, this argument leaves a lingering question. The horse is no longer a common mode of transportation, so why do pants persist? In answer, Turchin tells of the ancient Chinese King Wuling, who feared that, despite the benefit to mounted battle, everyone would laugh at him for wearing trousers. Cultural norms, in other words, are hard to buck. These days men find themselves in an opposite situation to Wuling: Hot legs or not, even David Beckham wears pants under his skirts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

On the road again

To attend the initial meeting of the Tennessee Reverse Transfer Task Force in Nashville.  I am tempted to walk through the door backwards.  That would be entering in reverse, for my slower readers. Ba-doom Pshh.

Low hanging fruit

We used to routinely do this years ago to attract adults into our nontraditional degree programs.  And I mean years ago. Where's our award? It worked, but we sometimes didn't screen our contact list closely enough and ended up contacting students who had flunked out.  Never mind. From Kentucky.com.

Kentucky program helping college dropouts graduate wins national award
Then Reese heard about Project Graduate, a statewide program that finds students who have 80 credits but haven't graduated and streamlines the process for them to get a degree. Today, Reese is slowly finishing up the language requirements that had eluded him.
"I think the program is really beneficial because it gives those who are on the edge of getting that degree that step up to finish what they started," Reese said. 
Project Graduate was started by the Council on Postsecondary Education in 2008 and has graduated 605 students so far. It has an additional 651 enrolled at all eight of Kentucky's public universities.

Read more here: http://www.kentucky.com/2012/07/08/2252547/kentucky-program-helping-college.html#storylink=cpy

Friday, July 13, 2012

Race to the top

Tennessee's percentage of young adults with a college degree stays in the bottom ten, and dropping. From The Tennessean.

TN slips to 41st in young college grads
The percentage of young adults earning a college degree has increased slightly but still remains far below the level needed to reach the president’s goal of having the U.S. rank first worldwide in college graduates.
Tennessee’s percentage of degree holders stayed at about 33 percent from 2009 to 2010, but the state slipped a spot from 40th to 41st because other states added more. 
Data released Thursday by the Education Department tracked adults ages 25 to 34 who held an associate, bachelor’s or graduate degree in 2010 — 39.3 percent of Americans, up half a percentage point from 2009. 
Rising tuition is one of several reasons more young adults aren’t graduating from college.

TSU in the news again

If you work at Tennessee State University, there's never a dull moment.  From The Tennessean.com.

TSU leaders dispute grade changes
More than 100 Tennessee State University students initially marked “incomplete” in two fall courses saw those marks changed to letter grades, but university faculty and leaders disagree on who made those changes and whether they were ethical. 
Several university professors said university administrators made the changes without the instructors’ consent, but university and state officials insist they had approval after clearing up a miscommunication about course requirements. One of the instructors involved said he was disgusted his colleagues would spread lies about the university. 
The issue arose at a faculty senate meeting, said Jane Davis, an English professor and faculty senate president. She contacted the Tennessee Board of Regents and received a letter explaining the grade changes were part of a statewide overhaul of some college courses and were made with the instructors’ permission. 
The school’s provost also sent a letter to faculty Tuesday calling the allegations false and denying that any administrators changed grades. 
Before those explanations, Davis already had taken to a student blog to air her concerns, and other faculty senate members and members the school’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors remain skeptical. If all the professors did not approve of the changes, she said, the university committed a major ethical error.


Happy Friday the 13th.  David Emery, writing in About.com, gives some perspective to the mythology.

Friday the 13th - Origins, History, and Folklore
The sixth day of the week and the number 13 both have foreboding reputations said to date from ancient times. It seems their inevitable conjunction from one to three times a year (there will be three such occurrences in 2012, exactly 13 weeks apart) portends more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear. According to some sources it's the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date. 
How many Americans at the beginning of the 21st century suffer from this condition? According to Dr. Donald Dossey, a psychotherapist specializing in the treatment of phobias (and coiner of the term paraskevidekatriaphobia, also spelled paraskavedekatriaphobia), the figure may be as high as 21 million. If he's right, no fewer than eight percent of Americans remain in the grips of a very old superstition.  
Exactly how old is difficult to say, because determining the origins of superstitions is an inexact science, at best. In fact, it's mostly guesswork.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Snakes in a defense

One of higher education's lesser known traditions.  Snake fighting during your thesis or dissertation defense. From McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

FAQ: The “Snake Fight” Portion Of Your Thesis Defense.
Q: Why do I have to do this?
A: Snake fighting is one of the great traditions of higher education. It may seem somewhat antiquated and silly, like the robes we wear at graduation, but fighting a snake is an important part of the history and culture of every reputable university. Almost everyone with an advanced degree has gone through this process. Notable figures such as John Foster Dulles, Philip Roth, and Doris Kearns Goodwin (to name but a few) have all had to defeat at least one snake in single combat. 
Q: This whole snake thing is just a metaphor, right?
A: I assure you, the snakes are very real.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Tuesday's summit

The Tennessean notes that it excluded any Democrats. But it's good the governor is paying attention.  I hope something can be done to help working adults afford higher education in this high tuition environment.

Haslam summit examines ways to change TN's higher education system
Experts discussed rising college costs and ways to make degrees more valuable in a Tuesday forum at the governor’s mansion, kicking off efforts to revamp Tennessee’s higher education system. 
Three speakers from the academic and nonprofit worlds told Gov. Bill Haslam and other Tennessee officials that the nation is turning out too many college graduates with skills that do not match up to the needs of employers. They also said rising tuition is making it harder for families — especially the poor — to get post-secondary degrees and certificates at the same time employers are demanding them. 
The speakers also suggested a handful of programs that Tennessee might use to raise graduation rates without watering down the value of college degrees. 
“We’re talking about increasing the number of degrees and quality and relevance to the marketplace, but cost is underlying all those discussions,” Haslam said. 
Haslam has said that improving Tennessee’s higher education system will be one of his top priorities in the coming year, and the forum was to start officials toward drafting new plans for the state’s four-year universities, two-year community colleges and technology centers.

Getting to know you...

Inside Higher Education reports that the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) will require its members to track adult student graduation rates.  While I applaud the effort, the devil is in the details.  If it were easy, we would be already doing it.  I hope WASC gets all the bugs out before SACS follows suit.

Accreditor will require colleges to stop ignoring adult student retention
As a result, colleges are content to keep enrolling adult students, who enroll part-time and are cheaper to serve than the labor-intensive, high-touch business of teaching traditional-aged students on a residential campus, even if those adult students aren’t earning degrees. And institutions would collect more tuition revenue if a larger number of adult students stuck with it. But because accreditors and the federal government do not require them to collect graduation and retention rate data for part-time, adult students, there is little impetus for colleges to take the lead. 
It also doesn’t help that data on the segment are hard to collect, and generally compare unfavorably to completion rates for traditional students, said Barbara Karlin, provost at Golden Gate University. 
Many adult students arrive with credits, sometimes earned at multiple institutions or from prior-learning assessment – credit for college-level learning outside of the academic setting, such as for work experience or military training. 
“No one even understands them,” Karlin said. 
Adult students often “stop out” multiple times, and bounce around several institutions before earning a degree. Even a determined part-time, adult student can take eight years or more to earn a bachelor’s degree. As a result, an institution that serves a large number of adults would likely see its six-year graduation rate take a dip if it begins tracking and reporting numbers for adult students. That's because even a 35 percent six-year rate wouldn’t be bad for this population, at least compared to most institutions today. 
Quality Control 
The completion agenda may be helping end some of the indifference in higher education about the success of adult students. 
WASC has taken a substantial step in this direction with the recent release of a template for tracking undergraduate retention and completion rates, which also includes metrics for measuring adult student performance. A template for graduate programs is also in the works. 
The accreditor has begun a pilot program in which eight of its accredited institutions will use the template next fall, said Teri Cannon, executive vice president of WASC’s Senior College Commission. Over the next three years, however, WASC plans to require all of its four-year institutions to collect the information to maintain their accreditation. And that means graduation rates for all students, including adults, will be part of the mix.

Meanwhile, just over the mountains in North Carolina

A rally is planned for Women's Equality Day. And since we have a gender and diversity concentration in our MALS program, there is an academic connection . . . From The Asheville Citizen-Times.

Topless rally returning to downtown Asheville
The website Gotopless.org lists Asheville as one of nine American cities that will have a Go Topless rally on Aug. 26, which it notes is Women’s Equality Day. 
The times and exact location of the event differ on website and on the city of Asheville’s events permitting site. The city’s calendar says the event is permitted for 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Pritchard Park, while gotopless.org says the rally will be at 1 p.m. in Pack Square. 
Last August, organizers held a topless rally in Pack Square that drew dozens of breast-baring women, as well as an even larger crowd of raucous onlookers.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tales of the non-traditional

More news on adult and continuing education students.  From MLive.com.

53-year-old WMU student, who lost job in recession, graduates with honors
Western Michigan University graduating senior Jim Lightner, of Kalamazoo, figured 13 years of experience in the information technology industry would have made getting his bachelor’s degree easier. 
Lightner, 53, lost his job three years ago from Boise Inc., in Cascade. After countless job interviews, employers told him he was missing something on his resume that other applicants had: a degree. 
“It didn’t take too long to see that my only option to get back into the work force was to get my degree,” said Lightner, who is a husband, a father to two adult children and a grandfather. “I thought this should be easy for me, I’ve been doing IT for so long but in IT, things change rapidly. A lot of what I was learning was new stuff.” 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Study shows we're always connected

Ain't it the truth.  From Life Inc.

For smartphone users, work creeps into everything
It found that 50 percent of full-time workers with a smartphone are checking their work e-mail while their [sic] still in bed, and 69 percent won’t go to sleep without checking their work e-mail. 
More than half – 57 percent – said they are checking work e-mails while on family outings, and 38 percent said they check work e-mails at the dinner table.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Meanwhile, just over the mountains in North Carolina

The conclusion of a lengthy court battle between Al Corum and Appalachian State University, his employer.  From The High Country Press.

‘Fired With Enthusiasm’ – The Story of Al Corum and His Nine Year Legal Battle Against Appalachian State
On Saturday, June 30, professor emeritus Dr. Al Corum will hold a book signing at the Watauga County Public Library for his book “Fired With Enthusiasm,” which chronicles his lengthy legal battle against the Appalachian State University administration and the University of North Carolina system. 
In 1984, Corum was demoted from his position as Dean of Learning Resources at ASU after speaking out against plans to break up the Appalachian Collection – an on-campus artifacts museum and research center which was built on many decades of work and donations of artifacts, music, photos and books all related to the Appalachian Region.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

And I thought we were lean

But not as lean as San Francisco's City College.  It has some work ahead of it, and also some 'splainin' to do.  From Nanette Asimov, writing in The San Francisco Chronicle.

City College accreditation in jeopardy, report says
As California cut millions from community colleges in recent years, City College of San Francisco dipped deeply into reserve funds to keep itself afloat. 
It opened sparkling new buildings, but left little money for computers. It spent an unusually high portion of its budget on faculty, but pared leadership to skeletal levels, unlike other schools that won't "chop from the top," as students often demand.

Now City College is in trouble. . . . 
"The Accrediting Commission has issued an urgent call to action, which we take seriously," said City College spokesman Larry Kamer, a consultant hired to represent the school during a tumultuous period.

City College is the largest school in the state, yet employs just 39 administrators.

I may have mentioned something earlier about liking my iPhone

Has it really been five years?  Tempus fugit.  From Slate.

Five Years Ago, Everyone Was Worried That the iPhone’s Buttons Were Too Small

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Governor Haslam begins his higher education review

He hopes to have recommendations for the legislature's next session.  From The Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Governor launches Tennessee higher ed review next week
Gov. Bill Haslam will assemble business, legislative and higher education leaders for a meeting at the governor's residence next week that will kick off his review of the state's college and university systems. 
The July 10 meeting comes days after the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees and the Tennessee Board of Regents approved tuition and fee increases on the state's campuses ranging up to 8 percent for the 2012-13 school year that opens next month. 
After spending much of his first year-and-a-half in office on K-12 education, the governor said in May that he will focus on higher education for the rest of this year, with a goal of submitting at least a first round of recommendations to the state legislature when it reconvenes in January. 
But it's been unclear what form the review would take — whether it would operate through the current governing boards, for example, or involve creating a temporary commission to examine issues from the outside. An invitation sent from the governor's office to members of the UT Board, the Board of Regents and others sheds some light on at least the initial meeting.

Tennessee gets a grade of D

From the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education.  Below are the statewide categories.  The Chamber sees a burdensome approval process as negative; those of us working for public higher education see it as a positive.  On an interesting side note, The Memphis Commercial Appeal's coverage, Tennessee Colleges Get Mixed Review, notes that the University of Memphis "may have helped Tennessee get a B in online learning innovation," even though the report clearly highlights the Regents Online Campus Collaborative and does not break down data by institution.  But then, that's what a hometown newspaper is for....

Tennessee | Leaders & Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Public Postsecondary Education

Policy Environment 
Tennessee’s plan for higher education includes goals for student outcomes and system efficiency. The state also has one of the oldest outcomes-based funding programs in the country, based on a broad range of performance outcomes. Tennessee’s articulation policy spells out 60-credit blocks of general education classes that students can transfer, and the state is exploring common course numbering. 
The Regents Online Campus Collaborative is one of the more robust efforts to promote online learning in the country, resulting in an above average grade. The initiative provides a clear path for students to register at a “home campus” and then take online courses at four- and two-year institutions across the state. Regarding new providers, Tennessee has one of the more restrictive regulatory environments in the country, with an approval process that is among the most burdensome.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Some slang has been around forever

Like puke. As in William Shakespeare's The Seven Ages of a Man.
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,                      
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms;...
A slide show from The Atlantic. 

Bang, Legit, and Other Slang Words That Are Older Than You Might Think