November 16, 2010

"This is not a university if you only have one non-English European language program left standing."

Outcry from a French professor after SUNY Albany, in a budget crunch, says you can no longer major in French, Italian, Russian, classics, and theater. 

When is a university not a university?

88 comments:

Scott M said...

Is it a university if you have only one conservative in your poly sci department? How about if you only have one AGW skeptic in your science department?

My son informed me when he was a freshman in high school that he was going to take two years of French. I'm a very flexible dad, for the most part, when it comes to them trying new things. I absolutely would not let him take French and made him sign up for Spanish. After all, he didn't have any reason for wanting French other than a girl told him it was the prettiest language they could learn and he had no intention to travel there, get a job involving French or surrender to anyone any time soon...except to me and my pro-Spanish agenda, of course.

shoutingthomas said...

SUNY has too many campuses.

Instead of the strategy the midwestern states follow, i.e., the huge Big Ten schools, SUNY opted for many small campuses scattered around the state.

One huge centralized campuses would produce huge savings, and the ability to support more departments.

sol said...

When you can afford the tuition.

Chase said...

The University of Phoenix is the largest University by enrollment in the U.S.

But lot of people claim it's not a real university.

The Drill SGT said...

I thought that the definition of a University versus a college was because of graduate programs.

After all nobody calls the service academies universities and they have robust language programs.

Chase said...

Also, 30 College Presidents made over $1 million last year.

YoungHegelian said...

While faculty know in their hearts that one university cannot be all things to all students, they also know that having a job helps to pay the rent. They're not exactly objective observers on university budget cuts.

I've got quite a few academics among my friends and family, and I've warned them for years that one day the higher-education bubble will burst. Blank stares all around.

Not a group that follows budgeting processes at any level, by and large.

The Crack Emcee said...

An outcry from a French professor is not an outcry Americans have to care about.

ricpic said...

So which European language program is left standing? The article doesn't say. My guess is Spanish given the political pressures that prevail.

traditionalguy said...

The point is that 5 teachers salaries being saved here at the expense of the students' education will all together pay a half of one Administrative Dean's bonanza of salary, bonuses and retirement at full salary.

Scott M said...

My guess is Spanish given the political pressures that prevail.

I would say the demographic pressure is greater, but then again, the realm of a college campus mostly exists inside bizarro space so anything is possible and usually the opposite of what you'd guess.

MadisonMan said...

SUNY has too many campuses.

This.

Even the UW has too many -- 13 4-year schools and 14 2-year schools! That's ridiculous. Why should there be similar programs at different campuses?

John Burgess said...

How many departments along the line of 'Women's Studies' or 'Ethnic Studies' or 'Jeeze, the Capitalists/Relgionists/Conservatives Are Bad' are they keeping instead of language programs?

Trooper York said...

There are too many universities now. Close them down and save the freakin money.

MadisonMan said...

So look at that map and tell me why Wisconsin should fund 3 4-year schools in Stout, Eau Claire and River Falls. Three 4-year schools withing 40 miles of each other. Crazy!

Trooper York said...

We need more trade schools. Or apprentice programs.

Defund these leeches.

TMink said...

It is no longer a university when it tells people what to think instead of how to think.

Trey

Scott M said...

We need more trade schools. Or apprentice programs.

We have a long road to hoe indeed getting to a point where we can convince enough people that becoming a machinist or welder is honest, necessary, and, frankly, well-paying work. I would start with pointing out the fact that you don't have to go into debt until your own kids go to college just to get your foot in the proverbial door.

Trooper York said...

I think we can lose 2 out of every 5 professor and nobody would miss them.

TMink said...

From the Academic guide at SUNY Albany.

Africana Studies.
East Asian Studies.
Judiac Studies.
Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.
Latin American, Carribbean, and US Latino Studies.
Social Welfare.
Women's Studies.


Lots of jobs in those programs. Heh.

Trey

chickelit said...

I had four years of undergraduate foreign languages (German and Italian) at the UW Madison in late 70s/early 80s. As I recall, only one course was taught by an actual professor.

The courses were first rate though because the UW had graduate school programs which attracted excellent grad student/TAs.

As for the difference between a college and a university, I concur with what Drill SGT said.

This is the dawning of the Age of Austerity.

Kurt said...

With regard to the comment by shoutingthomas: SUNY probably does have too many campuses, but the four main university centers (of which Albany is one), are already pretty large. Albany has 18,000 students, Binghamton has just under 15,000, Buffalo has 28,000, and Stony Brook has around 25,000. Some of the smaller campuses could probably be closed and those students could instead go to one of the four university centers (Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo and Stony Brook). When the SUNY system was being established, each of those four campuses was conceived as having a different strength: I'm not sure how well that still applies, but Binghamton has historically been considered more of a broad-based liberal arts university with a focus on undergraduates, whereas Stony Brook was originally conceived as a place that specialized in math, science, engineering and technology. One of the problems at Albany might be that its mission is not as clearly defined.

Emil said...

It's not not a University until we say it is!

Big Mike said...

More than a few decades ago I was a grad student, and I had to good fortune to hear one of the deans of the mega-state university I was attending eloquently defend the right of a student to study the humanities and fine arts if so-inclined. I have seldom heard anything more eloquent and impassioned as he tore down the notion that a university should focus primarily on training students in fields where there are jobs.

It was the Dean of the College of Engineering.

Kevin said...

"How many departments along the line of 'Women's Studies' or 'Ethnic Studies' or 'Jeeze, the Capitalists/Relgionists/Conservatives Are Bad' are they keeping instead of language programs?"

Well, it seems as if SUNY Albany is keeping "Women's Studies", "Puerto Rican Studies", "Globalization Studies", and "Africana Studies".

Priorities...

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

SUNY Albany = SUNYA = the Sanskrit word for 'zero.'

rocketeer67 said...

It was the Dean of the College of Engineering.

Which begs the question: who in the Art History department was he screwing at the time?

shoutingthomas said...

More than a few decades ago I was a grad student, and I had to good fortune to hear one of the deans of the mega-state university I was attending eloquently defend the right of a student to study the humanities and fine arts if so-inclined. I have seldom heard anything more eloquent and impassioned as he tore down the notion that a university should focus primarily on training students in fields where there are jobs.

It was the Dean of the College of Engineering.

I agree that the humanities and fine arts are very important. I have a BA from U of IL in one of those subject area. However, I earned my degree before 1970, and several very negative things have happened since then to devalue those areas of study:

1. They've been taken over by the left for political purposes. Most of those humanities and fine arts departments now function as recruiting wings of the Democratic Party.

2. The quota system determines the hiring structure. Try to get hired to a humanities faculty if you're a traditional married Christian with a family.

3. The quota system for students dumps thousands of unqualified students into the university. English departments have had to turn themselves into remedial reading and writing programs to try to bring people who shouldn't have graduated from high school up to a level where they can compete at a college.

4. Hard curriculum requirements were thrown out the window in response to 60s radicalism. Thus, I had to read the great books, and get a sound foundation in science, math and history. Today, that's not the case.

John said...

I was a German major at a public university am now in law school at a private one. Few students are under any illusions that they will be able to make a career out of a language major. However, thanks to my affordable language degree, which led to my living in Germany for a few years (although pretty unsustainably--I wouldnt have been able to build a financially sound life there) and acquiring fluency, I am now at an advantage in the kob hunt compared to some other students who do not have this skill. Plus, my professors were wonderful. I am sad that modern European language degrees are seen as being an inherent waste, an idyll endeavor that only the wealthy should be able to pursue. I understand budget constraints, but it's not like these languages are ancient Greek or something

The Drill SGT said...

Big Mike said...eloquently defend the right of a student to study the humanities and fine arts if so-inclined.

I would make a distinction between

the universities right not to create departments and degrees for every trendy "...Studies" program a

e.g setting standards

and, The ability for students to get into sections of classes based on interests, subject to elective requirements.

e.g. demand driven course catalogs

Daniel said...

I think we can lose 2 out of every 5 professor and nobody would miss them.

Just let's keep those English teachers!!

Sigivald said...

When it no longer does what the entitlement-soaked legacy faculty demand it do, naturally.

Then again, I think the best way to solve the non-problem of what to teach at universities is to let the universities decide.

And not give them a single cent of State money, nor pay for post-high-school education for anyone with State money.

Suddenly we'll find two things:

A) Prices will drop, as the spiral of subsidies collapses.

B) Dedicated liberal arts schools will be the minority, but also attract the dedicated liberal arts students, and get along on both the quality of their education (cf. Reed) and on donor funding and the like.

If universities want to be an industry, they're going to have to provide something students are actually willing to pay for without the State picking up the tab.

rhhardin said...

Un petit d'un petit
S'étonne aux Halles
Un petit d'un petit
Ah! degrés te fallent
Indolent qui ne sort cesse
Indolent qui ne se mène
Qu'importe un petit d'un petit
Tout Gai de Reguennes.

(pronounce in French, listen in English)

Trooper York said...

There are literally thousands upon thousands of kids who would love to be plumbers or electricians. More trade schools and open up the freakin union books.

Oh and fire those useless professors who teach anything other than Math, Science or English.

Joe said...

(The Crypto Jew)



http://mindingthecampus.com/originals/2010/11/defend_the_humanitiesa_slogan.html

This is a nice screed about “The Humanities” that sums up and expands upon some of the things written here, already. The author’s point is “we’re not destroying the humanities” we’re restoring them, they’ve ALREADY been destroyed by Post-Modernism and various Neo-Marxist philosophies.

shoutingthomas said...

SUNY doesn't have a decent football or basketball team either.

They really need to get their act together.

Trooper York said...

Especially those law professors.

There are way too many lawyers now anyway. Just sayn'

Lyle said...

"I will now read my children Ovid before they go to sleep, instead of Dr. Seuss".

Hahaha!!!

Alex said...

Africana Studies.
East Asian Studies.
Judiac Studies.
Languages, Literatures, and Cultures.
Latin American, Carribbean, and US Latino Studies.
Social Welfare.
Women's Studies.


Lots of jobs in those programs. Heh.


Under Obama's stimulus there will be plenty of jobs for those "degrees".

John Lynch said...

Sucks when you spend all the money on pensions and compensation.

Maybe younger people will finally get that they are being robbed.

I'm very, very supportive of the liberals arts. I'm not supportive of the agenda that's taken them over.

Unfortunately, the humanities have become so far too the left of the country that they are political liabilities. People who should be learning about the Enlightenment, the Renaissance, and Western Civ are instead learning about neocolonial oppression in Guatemala.

Not that we shouldn't study neocolonial oppression, but it really shouldn't be in 100 level intro courses.

Language programs don't have to be taught at big universities... honestly it's not that hard to find language instruction. They are really an excuse for school sponsored trips to Europe.

yashu said...

I understand that at present in the US, Spanish is arguably the most relevant language to learn to speak.

But when it comes to university-level humanities… IMO French is the more important language. No matter what role (or how diminished a role) France may play in the world today or in the future, when it comes to the most significant, seminal texts & works of early modern & modern intellectual history, literature, philosophy, politics, art, etc. (let's say, 16th--> mid-20th century), IMHO French is tied with English for the top spot. To understand modernity itself-- especially the intellectual & political transformation of the world that occurs in the 17th-18th centuries, e.g. all the complex currents what would make the idea & reality of the USA possible-- the study of France & England, French & English is equally fundamental.

So yeah, I am shocked that a "university"-- at least a university that claims to cover the humanities, liberal arts in general-- lacks a French department. (A university with a more exclusive focus on the sciences is a different matter.) Of course, I think German, Italian, Spanish, & the classics-- especially classics!-- are fundamental as well. I guess I still believe in & deeply value the idea(l) of the humanities, despite how decadent & corrupt the teaching of them has become (e.g., with the interpretive stranglehold of Marxist theory).

Ugh (it makes one weep): the fact that they're keeping Women's Studies and all the various Ethnic Studies over the departments of French, classics, etc. says it all.

AJ Lynch said...

Sol:

Good one!

chuckR said...

The local state U graduates several times more non-clinical psych majors than engineers or hard science majors. That's a result of demand-driven course offerings and low overhead costs of psych (and liberal arts offerings too) compared to the hard sciences. Doesn't explain math though, which I believe requires a sofa to daydream on and a whiteboard to scribble out an inspiration or two. But while math isn't an expensive to support hard science, it is just plain hard.

Juba Doobai! said...

When you have to toe some approved line to get a Ph.D. in Literature. I was gonna go for it and spoke to a friend in the CUNY program. He said to me that you have to deal with feminist, queer, and marxist theories, and other assorted crap unrelated to the text. Having slept in a bed with my sister as a kid, I didn't see Jane Austen doing the same as a sign of lesbianism. Therefore, I didn't bother to apply cuz I wanted to deal with the text and history qua text and history, and not the bs modern overlay of the theory du jour.

AJ Lynch said...

Don't you just love the smell of the 2nd American Revoution as it wafts over another facuilty lounge!

John Lynch said...

I doubt the financial utility of Spanish for any career other that teaching ESL or government service.

I don't know anyone other than teachers who make a lot more money for being bilingual in Spanish.

The problem is that the people in the US who only speak Spanish are almost always poor. They don't have money. So, if you are communicating with them for work it's either for some government service, or you are selling retail. Government pays well, retail does not.

My mom immigrated from Latin America but didn't teach me any Spanish at all, foolishly thinking that she'd moved to an English- speaking country. So far I haven't found it to be much of a handicap.

I'm sure there are exceptions, but most of the people I know who learned Spanish in High School and college aren't exactly making bank off of it.

Honestly, Chinese would be much more useful in the business world. They have money.

The Drill SGT said...

AJ Lynch said...
Don't you just love the smell of the 2nd American Revoution as it wafts over another facuilty lounge!


voided bowels??

Scott M said...

I doubt the financial utility of Spanish for any career other that teaching ESL or government service.

I am in logistics. I could probably double my revenue if I spoke fluent Spanish.

bagoh20 said...

I always thought "Uni-versity" was Latin for one-view. What do I win?

Scott M said...

voided bowels??

"Ju bowels. Ju know...ju ays, ju ees, ju eyes...ju bowels!"

Name that movie and star.

John Lynch said...

Scott M-

In my company it would be a $1 an hour raise and taking calls from all over the state. Not worth it.

If I lived in a more populated area it might be different.

chuckR said...

re:languages

My daughter benefits from the 6 years of middle and high school Latin she took. She is in a B.S. nursing degree program. The state U graduates only 25 nurses per year - nurse educators are hard to find and retain, and there is that darn overhead expense, too. How will Chairman Barry get his barefoot doctor core (nurses, NPs and PAs)this way?

AJ Lynch said...

Drill Sgt:
No - of course not!

Its the smell of fear in the professoriat who see their life of leisure and liberal arrogance flashing in front of their eyes.

AJ Lynch said...

Drill sgt:

Or as numbnuts C-ford might say "the thought of losing their sinecure"

Bob said...

Given that English is the universal business language and the center of the 21st century looks to be focused in Indian sub-continent and Asia this would seem to be a logical step. Especially as you can buy software to help teach a language.

However, given that is the SUNY system, it represents a moment of sanity not expected or often seen in NY state.

Bill said...

Hey, rocketeer67-- maybe if you'd had a better undergraduate education you'd know what "beg the question" means.

Proficiency in a foreign language should be a degree requirement for just about every undergraduate degree I can think of. It is shameful that SUNY is abandoning languages, and they are only able to do it because American exceptionalism means, inter alia, believing that nothing that anybody else has to say matters.

Quaestor said...

TMink wrote: It is no longer a university when it tells people what to think instead of how to think.

Thread winner. We haven't had a major university in this country in decades.

wv: kegnessu - a veldt herd animal that's also "on top o' da woild, ma!"

David said...

Just about when he said!

AJ Lynch said...

Let's guess who Bill really is? Jeremy, Ritmo, I.E. Lee?

Scott M said...

and they are only able to do it because American exceptionalism means, inter alia, believing that nothing that anybody else has to say matters.

Since you seem obnoxiously snobbish about your command of logic, please provide your proof of this premise. Show your work please.

Quaestor said...

Bill wrote: It is shameful that SUNY is abandoning languages, and they are only able to do it because American exceptionalism means, inter alia, believing that nothing that anybody else has to say matters.

And Bill accuses Rocketeer of fallacy. Ho-hum...

Quaestor said...

Bill's argument, such as it is, goes something like this (bear with me, this is like reconstructing a fragmentary creation myth written in ungrammatical cuneiform)

(1) American exceptionalism means believing no one who is non-American has anything of value to say.

(2) SUNY is an American university system and subscribes unreservedly to (1)

(3) SUNY is able to ban French, etc.

That's it. Boy, there hasn't been such an undistributed middle since Michael Moore tried on his SlimJeans.

bagoh20 said...

"...American exceptionalism means, inter alia, believing that nothing that anybody else has to say matters."

What purpose does the Latin serve here? Clarity, expanded understanding? No - maybe something else is the goal.

American Exceptionalism is a historic reality. Even if due to the relative mediocrity and despotism of the rest of the world for the last 200 years, the fact is that it means that what the rest of the world says has not mattered as much as it should have. That's not America's fault, it's just fact. Nobody learns Latin anymore for the same reason (although some still use it for their own purposes). The times they are changing and if China becomes exceptional, without killing a few hundred million more, then I'll learn Mandarin.

Roger J. said...

Drill: I have always understood the distinction between colleges and universities to be: universities create knowledge while colleges disseminate knowledge.

In either case, the trend to faux PC programs as enumerated above permits colleges and universities to expand their faculty diversity by hiring insuffieciently educated twits to meet their diversity goals

just my .02

Check out faculty diversity in hard science, engineering and mathematics--thanks gaia for Indians and Asians.

Quaestor said...

"Inter alia" is a Latin phrase Bill has recently acquired and he looks for opportunities to use it, kinda like the Readers Digest Word of the Month. For example (that's exempli gratia to you, Bill)...

Scene: Bill return home from the safeway.

Bill's Wife: What did you buy at the grocery store?

Bill: Eggs, milk, inter alia.

Big Mike said...

What Bob says is perfectly true. Pilots and air traffic controllers on all continents communicate in English, right down to using feet to measure altitude (even those countries that use the metric system, which is nearly everybody).

I assure you that international technical conferences are entirely in English, and even professors from German universities giving a presentation at Heidelberg or the University of Vienna give the presentation in English.

I think it's good that there is a universal language for communicating one's thoughts (other than mathematical symbology, that is) at least when the subject is technical. I'm less happy that English became the default, since our words as spelled differ so much from the same words as spoken.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

rhhardin: love it. For it to work, however, you have to know that the normal liaison is suspended in words beginning with 'H' even though the H is silent.

Having lived for many years in a French-speaking country, that was a lot of fun.

For the rest of you ... it's 'Humpty Dumpty' in a passable excuse for French appearing to be something else entirely.

Quaestor said...

RogerJ wrote: I have always understood the distinction between colleges and universities to be: universities create knowledge while colleges disseminate knowledge...

Well, not historically. Universities predate colleges and predate the whole idea of new knowledge. When the first universities were founded all things knowable to Man were to be found in the Bible or Aristotle, basic research was not even conceptualized. Originally a college was just a building. When a university grew beyond the bounds of its original structure a new building would be added and consecrated, as a rule to a saint -- hence Magdalene College, etc. It was only later that the idea arose of dedicating a college within a university to a unified course of study -- a college to teach theology, a college to teach maths, etc. This was mainly a mid-15th century development. Henry VI was notably responsible for this kind of collegiate organization in England.

The college as a standalone institution of higher learning is a comparatively new invention, and is mainly an American one. Higher education for the common man is a revolutionary concept and it took a revolutionary society to conceive it.

TMink said...

You are wrong about what American exceptionalism means. It is not nationalistic hubris. It is the recognition of and treasuring that our system of government allowed people to be free and have the opportunity to excell at their work with little interference.

American exceptionalism is not and never has been about Americans, it is about the rule of law and our Constitution. It is about how people can respond to freedom with responsibility and success.

Trey

Mary Beth said...

I heard this on the radio this morning and thought, they must love the DLI since it's all language, all the time.

I thought universities were collections of colleges.

Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) said...

Big Mike: One notable exception is IATA -- International Air Transport Association -- headquartered in both Montréal and Genève. They are officially bilingual.

One result is that my second son, a lead aviation software developper for IBM, and a native speaker of both French and English, became the youngest person ever on IATA's technical committee.

A person will never, ever, be badly served by fluent (or at least conversational) ability in English, French, Spanish or German.

When I'm visiting the Netherlands -- my mother-in-law's country -- I almost always opt to converse in either French or German because my Dutch isn't (yet) up to standard.

That way the Dutch-speaker and I are on an equal footing because we are each speaking an acquired language, rather than my native tongue. The Dutch BTW speak superb English as a rule, but you'd be astounded by the degree to which my willingness to communicate in another tongue shifts the dynamic of the relationship.

We Americans are terribly ill-served by our insularity, for it appears to others as arrogance.

That universities are abandoning languages is as tragic as it is short sighted.

Then again, I'm a Middlebury graduate -- a school of some 2000 students that nevertheless teaches

Arabic
Chinese
French
German
Hebrew
Italian
Japanese
Portuese
Russian, and
Spanish

Life doesn't come with subtitles, damn it.

Get an education, not merely a schooling. And if outfits like SUNY Albany run away from the concept ... push 'em out to sea and let the Navy use 'em for target practice.

Maudits tabernacles d'inutils! Comme des pis sur un taureau.

Quaestor said...

Mary Beth wrote: I thought universities were collections of colleges.

This is certainly what they evolved into, but it's not how they began.

wv: hymani - A collection of Hymans. Also a feared tribe of savage rabbinical students who ravaged the prostrate Roman Empire in the late 5th century AD

Calypso Facto said...

Nice of you to redistribute even MORE state tax dollars from West Central Wisconsin to Madison, MADISONman. Smaller, distributed colleges allow for lower enrollment, room and board, and transportation costs, and access to a broader range of statewide jobs making college (or university) attendance possible for thousands who couldn't otherwise attend if forced to go to Madison. And UWEC, Stout, and UWRF each have a distinct curriculum with many (mostly?) non-overlapping majors.

Besides, do you really want more of a crowd downtown on football Saturdays?

In the SUNY example, if you want to take French and Albany doesn't offer it, go to Syracuse. Not EVERY university has to offer EVERY course. Let the market work.

MadisonMan said...

Nice of you to redistribute even MORE state tax dollars from West Central Wisconsin to Madison, MADISONman. Smaller, distributed colleges allow for lower enrollment, room and board, and transportation costs, and access to a broader range of statewide jobs making college (or university) attendance possible for thousands who couldn't otherwise attend if forced to go to Madison. And UWEC, Stout, and UWRF each have a distinct curriculum with many (mostly?) non-overlapping majors.

I'm not saying close down all three -- but why not just have one larger school? I don't see why everything can't be coalesced into one campus -- I'd even let the people of NW WI decide which campus should be the campus. If someone can drive to Eau Claire for classes, they can certainly drive to Stout or to River Falls. And if there's just one rather than 3 schools, you don't need administrators at each of the three campuses overseeing the English Departments, the Math Departments, etc. That will save money.

Walter S. said...

Doesn't McDonald's have a university where you can only major in hamburgers? Bet you can't do that at SUNY.

Maguro said...

Seems kind of odd to blame a routine budget-cutting exercise on "American exceptionalism". Other departments are being cut too, and you can still learn French or Russian at SUNY-Albany. You just can't make it your major. Seems like a relatively small sacrifice, considering New York's state's very real financial troubles.

John Burgess said...

Quaestor: I think the word you were aiming for--but missed--is et cetera, 'and the like', not 'among other things'.

Ankur said...

It always saddens me a little bit when universities have to close down programs.

ROI calculations for degree programs is ridiculously complex, nay impossible. Majors that seem invaluable today might be useless 20 years down the line - and it depends on the vagaries of current socio-political situations.

When a large parts of Africa and South America and South East Asia were just being explored - even as late as the 60s and 70s, there was plenty of funding for anthropology, linguistics, etc. Now, funding in those disciplines are drying up.

One could say "Well, degrees in medicine, and law, and science and engineering will never be useless" and that is a valid point. But I think the world would be a lot less fun if everyone was trying to be an engineer or a lawyer or a doctor.

The core sciences, on the other hand, also often have to fight for funding as well as for the brithest students because they aren't always able to show a direct ROI - to society, and to the students themselves. There aren't too many jobs for a physicist - if you teach, its a struggle for tenure. If you go into industry - sometimes you do really well, gain a lot of respect from your peers, make a lot of money. But it is MUCH easier to get a similar level of financial success as an engineer.

My old classmate, Sandipan, one of the brightest guys I have ever met teaches and does research at a highly respected institution in Germany. This is a guy who is working on answering some of the deepest cosmological questions in the universe today. And yet I sold out, went into industry, moved over to the business side of things, kept moving - and now, using the SAME skills he and I learned at the SAME time, back in the early 90s, I am doing stuff that is far less consequential...yet far, FAR more lucrative at a personal level.

As glad as I am for the money/success I have received - I can't help but wonder - how can the hard sciences attract and keep talent without showing immediate short term ROI? Is the future of education only going to be about "marketable" degrees?

If so, then who is going to synthesize the next nanomaterial which could, some decades later, become the basis for a new kind of bulletproof material? Who is going to design the next bionic transister which can become the basis for a bioelectronic circuitry, in the same way that regular transistors became the basis of modern day electronics? You can't count on getting a nobel prize as your life-success-plan. I am sure Bardeen and Brattain didn't either. And I know from personal experience that AT&T Labs is not even close to what Bell Labs used to be.

Anyway - the huge digression above was just my way of lamenting the lack of fundamental research funding, as well as the lack of incentives for students to go into fundamental research. Today, its the French program at SUNY. Tomorrow, it might be the Physics program at Caltech.

dbp said...

Trooper York said...

Oh and fire those useless professors who teach anything other than Math, Science or English.

What about accounting? That's a good living isn't it?

Chip Ahoy said...

FINE!

Just don't come running to me the next time you need an explanation as to the meaning of those inscrutable hieroglyphics. Because I'll NOT BE HAVING IT!

Oh wait, that never happens, does it? Nevermind then.

Quaestor said...

@ John Burgess

No. "Eggs, milk, among other things"
is what I was aiming at and hit dead on since one can buy many unrelated things at the neighbor Safeway. Unless you were thinking Bill bought eggs, milk, ice cream, more eggs, more milk... and so forth

The Drill SGT said...

Big Mike said...
What Bob says is perfectly true. Pilots and air traffic controllers on all continents communicate in English, right down to using feet to measure altitude (even those countries that use the metric system, which is nearly everybody).


Reminds me of an ATC joke.

German pilot flying above Berlin responds to enroute control in German.

Enroute comes back, "Please repat your last transmission in English"

German Pilot. "I'm a German pilot, flying a German plane in German airspace, why do I need to speak Engish.

A Texas drawl comes across the air. "Cuz you lost the F'ing war, you Kraut"

YMMV :)

Calypso Facto said...

MadisonMan: UW Platteville, Whitwater, and Milwaukee are all as close or closer to Madison than EC is to River Falls. Start there, and we'll talk!

But don't forget to look at the tech college system too, where Cosmetology instructors in Milwaukee can make over $100,000 a year.

Bruce Hayden said...

SUNY does have too many campuses. Even I know that, living thousands of miles away. For example, look at how far apart Potsdam and Canton are. Apparently, some of the people in Canton do some of their shopping in Potsdam where they apparently have the Wal-Mart.

You can see though why that state is nearing utter collapse. Imagine the mere thought of closing even one SUNY campus.

Now, they probably could have kept the departments if they could have staffed them with adjunct professors. But my guess is that closing them was the only way to get rid of some high priced tenured staff. And, that if you have a real department at a real university, you need to have real professors - the kind who teach professionally, and mostly don't have real world experience, but do have tenure, in comparison to the adjuncts and lecturers who do.

Roger J. said...

Quaestor: thanks so much for enlightening me re distinction between colleges and universities! Very much appreciated .

dick said...

I wonder if they still have gender studies or ethnic studies majors in that university. If anything should be cut those courses should be first on the list.

MarkD said...

My daughter went to SUNY Fredonia and got a great education, in part because of the relatively small campus (~5,000 undergrads.) It didn't hurt that she was majoring in the sciences which are a relatively small part of Fredonia. This resulted in a lot more interaction with the faculty, some great recommendations, and her moving on to a PhD program at UKY.

While it may not be the cheapest way to educate students, consolidation into one, or a few large campuses have downsides as well.

It's rather difficult to predict what languages will be important. I took French and German in High School, and spent less than two weeks in Germany and one day in France forty years later. We pushed Spanish for the kids and they all dropped it as soon as possible, although my daughter interned at a hospital for a year and found some knowledge of Spanish useful.

Just attempting to learn the language while I was in Japan helped turn what many considered a hardship tour into the best years of my life. Japanese became hot for a while, then it faded with their economy. Now Mandarin and the Middle Eastern languages are ascendant, but who knows for how long? The real question for me remains, is a university major the best way to learn a language? I'm voting no.

howzerdo said...

This is a question I have been asking myself too. I graduated from two SUNY campuses - one small, one large - and have worked for SUNY since 1988, half that time as an administrator at the system HQ, and half that time as an adjunct faculty member at UA (we don't call it SUNYA any longer).

I am the first person in my family to get a college degree. My parents and aunts and uncles did not finish high school. If it wasn't for SUNY I would not have gone to college.

So you might say the system and its campuses are very dear to me.

SUNY is 64 campuses - about half are community colleges, and a few others are two-year technical colleges. There was always talk, even in better economic times, of closing the weaker campuses - which would never get through the state senate. The campuses are where they are, mainly in upstate NY, for economic and political reasons.

Yesterday I received an odd earthlink email in my university account from someone I don't know, upset about the humanities cuts, and asserting that UA's D1 athletics are not being similarly targeted. The other recipients were all at the presidential or vp level, with one associate professor, a newspaper reporter for a local business journal and lowly me...

Layoff notices are going out to employees in a few agencies before Gov. Paterson leaves office, so that Cuomo can avoid blame. I know a lot of adjuncts are being sent letters that they may not be renewed. (I have not received one, not sure if that should be "yet received," will be nervously watching the mail until the semester ends.) This has to be done before the semester is over under the terms of the contract, and then the actual lay off takes place in a year (class schedules are already out or in the works until Spring '12). In order to lay off tenured faculty, since they do not have "bumping" rights as other unionized state employees do, the entire program must be closed.

I have been around the Albany campus for 20 years and I have never seen students engage in this much advocacy.