Thursday, October 29, 2015

Research, y'all

Even though the only B I ever got in graduate school was in a linguistics course, articles like this still warm the cockles of my old English major heart. And there are a lot of Scoch-Irish around here, so the theory below seems to ring true. From Salon.

The secret history of “Y’all”: The murky origins of a legendary Southern slang word
In academic circles, many subscribe to Michael B. Montgomery’s suggestion that “y’all” descends from the Scots-Irish “ye aw” and not directly from “you all.” He cites a 1737 letter by a Scots-Irish immigrant in New York as an example: “Now I beg of ye aw to come our [over] here.” 
Montgomery’s argument relies on two observations about “y’all’s” unique place among English contractions. First, contractions in English place stress the first word and contract the second, such as in the case of “they’re,” where “they” is stressed while “are” has been shortened. But “y’all” does not conform to this pattern. Instead, it stresses the second word, “all,” and contracts the first, “you.” Secondly, there are no other contractions that involve “all” in English, whereas we have lots of contractions involving “will,” “not,” and “are.” These irregularities suggest a more complex origin, such as a cognate word, like “ye aw.”

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Newsletter marketing

Everything old is new again. We make extensive use of electronic newsletters. From AmericanExpress.com.

Why Newsletter Marketing Is Making a Comeback
Today, however, consumers are increasingly overwhelmed with online information overload. With so much content on social media, it’s difficult to know what's relevant. And, from a marketer's point of view, social media may be performing worse than ever as a marketing channel. Organic reach is declining as platforms pressure brands to pay to play and consumer attention is scarce. As a result, consumers and marketers alike are returning their focus to email. In fact, 63 percent of marketers now use newsletters as part of their email marketing strategy, according to Salesforce’s 2015 State of Marketing report.
A newsletter is a distinct type of email marketing. Rather than typical marketing emails that highlight a specific product or are the result of a transaction, newsletters are much more general and tend to be purely content-focused. It’s a “softer” form of marketing with links to both original and curated blog content or news that may or may not be related to the product or service the company is selling. Delivered on a regular cadence ranging from daily to monthly, the intent of a newsletter is to build thought leadership and directly deliver to consumers the best, most relevant content that meets their needs or piques their interest. For businesses looking to reach their audience directly, crafting a newsletter can offer a unique set of benefits. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Stuck in the middle...


The pain of having to implement policies you didn't have role in developing. From The Atlantic.

The Secret Suffering of the Middle Manager
When researchers try to determine the types of workers who are most prone to depression, the focus is usually on the misery of those at the bottom of a company’s hierarchy—the presumed stressors being the menial duties they're tasked with and their lack of say in defining the scope of their jobs. 
But it turns out that middle managers have it worse. In a new study from researchers at Columbia University, of nearly 22,000 full-time workers (from a dataset from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions), they saw that 18 percent of supervisors and managers reported symptoms of depression. For blue-collar workers, that figure was 12 percent, and for owners and executives, it was only 11 percent. 
The researchers had a hunch about the woes of middle management because it occupies what they call a “contradictory-class location”: Middle managers have higher wages and more autonomy than the workers they manage, but they earn less than their superiors and don’t get to make big decisions. Middle managers often have to enforce strategic policies from the top—ones they didn’t develop—on subordinates who might object to those new policies. Basically, middle managers have the stressful task of absorbing the discontent of both sides. 
“Employees in the middle have dual roles that embody aspects of ownership and front-line labor, without the full benefits of being one or the other—they get flak from above and below,” says Seth Prins, a doctoral student in Epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and the lead author of the study. “Unlike standard approaches, which would predict less depression and less anxiety for every rung up the income or education ladder, the idea of contradictory-class location led us to our hypothesis about more depression and anxiety in the middle,” says Prins.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Deadlines are guidelines

Or so they say, here in the South. I am often the first one at meetings because I hate, hate, hate to be late. From Forbes.

5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable
I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you. 
All joking aside, being late is unacceptable. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting – your punctuality says a lot about you. 
Being late bothers me so much that just thinking about it makes me queasy. My being late, which does occasionally happen, usually causes me to break out into a nervous sweat. The later I am, the more it looks like I’ve sprung a leak. Catch me more than 15 minutes late and it looks like I went swimming. 
On this issue, I find myself a member of a tiny minority. It seems like most people consider a meeting time or deadline to be merely a mild advisory of something that might happen. I’ve been called uptight and unreasonable, or variations prefaced with expletives. In a world that feels perpetually late, raising the issue of punctuality isn’t a way to win popularity contests and I’m ok with that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Most of these are English courses

Where we need to generate credit hours.  From Time. 

“Wasting Time on the Internet”
The University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, P.A.
Department: English 
No textbooks necessary, just laptops and WiFi. Creative writing students could only interact via social networks, chat rooms and listservs. As the professor Kenneth Goldsmith wrote in a New Yorker article, “We’re reading and writing more than we have in a generation, but we are reading and writing differently—skimming, parsing, grazing, bookmarking, forwarding, retweeting, reblogging, and spamming language—in ways that aren’t yet recognized as literary.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

It's good to be the flagship

Southern flagships are booming, according to Nick Anderson, writing in The Washington Post. He lists the top 50 flagships. I guess that would be all of them, right? The top four are SEC schools. The University of Tennessee is 44th. Even the University of South Dakota has grown 48%.  I once interviewed for a job at USD.  When we got to the location of the Sears catalog store, I was told that was the place where spouses usually start crying.  As I think about it, that was a bit sexist as well as discouraging.

One takeaway is that growth varies significantly even among elite schools. The University of Wisconsin-Madison grew 3 percent; the University of Virginia grew 17 percent. 
Another is that some schools are pursuing huge expansions, particularly southern flagships in Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and South Carolina, all with growth rates higher than 50 percent. ‘Bama was the fastest-growing, at 92 percent. Out-of-state enrollment is a big factor too: At each of the four fastest-growing schools, nearly or more than half of undergrads are from out of state. Of course, that appears to be a revenue strategy too: Tuition is far higher for out-of-state students than for state residents.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

UT President is interviewed by The Chronicle

Concerning the brouhaha over gender-neutral pronouns and diversity spending. From The Chronicle of Higher Education.

When Overseeing a University System Means Defusing Lawmaker Outrage
 Q. Some of the lawmakers asked how you are measuring diversity, and whether any amount will be deemed enough. What is your answer to such questions? 
A. If we could have a day where we could be guaranteed we would never have a hostile issue about somebody’s preference or views — whether it be sexual orientation, political views, First Amendment rights, religious rights — if we knew that we had gotten there, then our programs are probably adequate. 
But I don’t think that is anything but utopic in nature. We are spending what we can afford right now. I think it’s prudent to spend the amount we do. I remind everybody that the total, $5.5 million, is about 25 hundredths of a percent of our annual expenditures.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Financial aid for adults

Here's a nice little overview of the financial aid opportunities for adult students, from Mainstreet.com.  This goes beyond student loans and institutional scholarships, for a change.

The need for non-traditional students to be financially savvy is important, since there are many options that can make pursuing a degree affordable such as scholarships and grants, employer and veteran benefits and financial aid, said J.J. Montanaro, a certified financial planner at USAA, a San Antonio-based financial institution. Some scholarships are geared only for adult learners and not the traditional, younger counterparts. Check your state’s department of education website to see if there are grants or programs for non-traditional students because it “can pay big dividends,” he said. Students can check out scholarships through the U.S. Department of Labor.  
“Education can be a great quality of life multiplier at any point in your life,” Montanaro said. “However, getting it in a financially prudent way will help ensure that’s the case.”  
Students should determine if they qualify for federal financial aid, which is a combination of grants and loans, said Kristin Stuhr-Mootz, system director of educational funding at Herzing University, a Menomonee Falls, Wis.-based university with 11 campuses nationwide and an online division.  
“Apply early starting with the federal application at FAFSA.gov,” she said. “There can be many steps to applying for financial aid, so don’t wait. The sooner you apply, the sooner you will know what your options are.” 
Scholarships can also be found through Fastweb and the College Board, which both have extensive databases with a multitude of scholarships. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Tip to presidents

Avoid major renovations to your house during downsizing.  Reminds me of the red carpet fiasco a few years ago at the University of Tennessee. State regulations were put into place that punished the rest of us.  Perhaps they could have made an HGTV series out of it.  From Cleveland.com.

University of Akron president's home renovations cost $950,000, records show
Renovating and furnishing University of Akron President Scott Scarborough's home cost $950,000, which has angered employees, especially those who lost their jobs this week. 
It was not disputed that the university-owned home on Burning Tree Drive needed improvements. Little had been done during the 15 years former President Luis Proenza lived in it. 
But the cost of furnishings and the scope of the renovations, including expanding the master bedroom and creating a suite for Scarborough's in-laws, has upset employees. The university has said private donations were used to pay the companies that handled the renovations. 
Taylor Construction and Stathos Construction were paid a total of $375,000 for electrical, heating, plumbing and renovations including the conversion of two bedrooms into a master suite. 
Alan Garren Interiors was paid $141,142 for furnishings, including drapes and carpeting. 
However, the university paid about $435,000 more to companies and university employees working on the home, according to records obtained by Northeast Ohio Media Group. University painters, carpenters and electricians spent hundreds of hours at the home at a labor cost of more than $160,000. The university also spent tens of thousands of dollars on materials and items, including appliances, televisions and exercise equipment. 
"There is nothing wrong with improving a house," John Zipp, a sociology professor who is president of the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors, said Friday. "In 17 years it probably needed the work. The question is how much?" 
Zipp and other current and former employees said this week that rumors have circulated for months regarding the cost of the renovation, but little has been known. The rumors accelerated as 161 employees were notified on Monday and Tuesday that their jobs were among 213 positions abolished by the university to help eliminate a $60 million deficit.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I remember paying over $800 for textbooks

One semester when I had two kids in college at the same time. It's worse now, no doubt. One thing I admire about Western Governors University is their flat textbook fee that leverages electronic texts. I sometimes wonder if we could give students an unlimited Kindle subscription for textbooks.  From NBCnews.com.

College Textbook Prices Have Risen 1,041 Percent Since 1977
Students hitting the college bookstore this fall will get a stark lesson in economics before they've cracked open their first chapter. Textbook prices are soaring. Some experts say it's because they're sold like drugs. 
According to NBC's review of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase. 
"They've been able to keep raising prices because students are 'captive consumers.' They have to buy whatever books they're assigned," said Nicole Allen, a spokeswoman for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.
In some ways, this is similar to a pharmaceutical sales model where the publishers spend their time wooing the decision makers to adopt their product. In this case, it's professors instead of doctors. 
"Professors are not price-sensitive and they then assign and students have no say," said Ariel Diaz, CEO of Boundless, a free and low-cost textbook publisher. 
Unlike drugs, there's no "textbook insurance" to cover the out of pocket costs. 
Publishers and college bookstores disagree with this diagnosis.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Will drivers go the way of encyclopedia salesmen?

Some predictions on work, from Jeff Bleich, writing in Pacific Standard.

The Future of Work: Who Will Thrive, and Who Will Not
Predicting workforce trends in the United States is a hazardous business. Today, 40 percent of the GDP relies on business that did not exist 10 years ago. So, were I asked 11 years ago to predict the most important changes affecting work and workers, I would have missed many crucial ones. For example, I would not have predicted that fracking would revive traditional manufacturing (and simultaneously retard progress in clean-tech jobs); that the sharing economy would produce a new breed of part-time workers; or that there would be a generational shift in communications (with older professionals still stuck on email and phones while younger professionals migrate rapidly to SMS and social media). 
So, knowing what I don’t know, I will limit my predictions to the implications of technologies that already exist, and that are likely to fundamentally disrupt employment sectors and work-life. Based on these, I think U.S. workers of the future will not drive (and will exploit time and efficiencies from not driving), will perform fewer dull or dangerous activities, will develop more home industries, will find more jobs meeting emotional needs, and will have much longer work lives with new (and distinct) phases of their career.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Deadline approaching....

Tennessee Alliance for Continuing Higher Education 47th Annual Conference
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
November 11-13, 2015
For more information or to register for the conference, go here. 
Make your room reservations here. The conference room rate of $104 is available until October 11 and may be extended through the weekend on a space available basis.

Wednesday night opening reception at the Aquarium of the Smokies!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Always connected

Perhaps it's time to limit your emails to the work day. Stop pushing them.  From Time.

Here’s Why Email Puts You in a Nasty Mood
Marcus Butts, a professor at the University of Texas, Arlington, and his colleague, Wendy Boswell from Texas A & M University, released a study in June focusing on the emotional effect of emails received during non-work hours on Monday through Friday. 
“We looked at the tone of the email and the time it took you to respond to the email,” says Butts. “When it comes to emails that are negative in tone, it makes you angry. Being angry takes a lot of focus and our resources and it keeps us from being engaged with other things.” In other words, an email—particularly a negative one—has the power to destroy your evening. 
But there are two types of people in the world, Butts noted. There are segmentors, who keep their work and nonwork lives separate. They don’t answer emails after hours. And then there are integrators, people who mesh their work and personal lives by combining their work lives with their social lives and tend to answer emails at all hours. It’s the integrators who get more stressed when an email pops up. 
Regardless, the anxiety of email is “not good,” Butts says. “Email doesn’t let you pay attention or engage in non-work life.”