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The Blog Beyond the Blue

Welcome to the Blog Beyond the Blue.  In the course of my work as President of Boise State University, and as an avid reader – especially to prepare for my weekly NPR program, Reader’s Corner – I come across all sorts of interesting articles and tidbits relating to higher education, books, public affairs, and – sometimes – just life in general.  I often send those off “FYI” to colleagues and friends, and it occurred to me that perhaps they might enjoy a broader audience if I shared them in a blog.  Thus, the birth of The Blog Beyond the Blue!

I welcome your comments, please feel free to contact me at

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Fixing College

There are lessons we here at Boise State can learn from this article.  I read columns like this one and realize halfway through it that I have been assuming it’s meant for someone else.  Then I see a reference to something that reminds me of a concern I have about our own programs.  What caused me to pause in this column is mention of the colleges and universities that have expanded research and graduate programs in an effort to join the exclusive club of research universities.

Although I think there is a research role for Boise State in the Northwest, I agree with the author that we cannot afford graduate programs that are not fully enrolled and academically robust in every way. Just last year, we had this conversation and dedicated ourselves to assuring that our graduate programs are indeed producing the students to justify the investment.

Click to read article: “Fixing College” by Jeff Selingo

Daphne Koller: What We’re Learning from Online Education

I mentioned this video in today’s State of the University address. I encourage you to take time to watch this video presentation featuring Daphne Koller. a professor at Stanford University and one of the founders of Coursera, an online education platform.

Click here to access video: “What We’re Learning from Online Education

A Classic Case of Public Higher Education up against the Changing Educational Marketplace

Here’s the latest example of a public university’s governing board struggling with how to offer educational programming that meets the needs of students in our 21st century cyber world.  Historically, the faculty have control of the curriculum, but it is becoming increasingly clear that new mechanisms of shared governance must be invented to assure that decisions are made in a timely fashion that respond to changing student demands and needs.  Apparently, the University of Virginia President spent too much time justifying the status quo decision-making apparatus of the University and the Board sought new leadership with an urgency about how the University responds to its environment.  Makes sense to me.

Click to read article: Public Universities See Familiar Fight at Virginia

The Private Sector Makes a Significant Move Into Doctoral Education

John E. Roueche

What makes this move so newsworthy is the fact that the reputable University of Texas at Austin is the victim of this “desertion.”  Here we have a veteran faculty member in the UT College of Education going over to the “dark side” with the usual and predictable mention of the inability of UT to respond to moves like this given the cutbacks in higher education budgets in Texas.  Could it be that the “dark side” is the “enlightened side”, unencumbered by traditions of faculty and department control of curriculum that has been known to slow things up when universities are responding to rapid changes in the marketplace and community of ideas? Can we always assume that all of the obstacles preventing a fine university like the University of Texas from competing with the private sector is about a declining state appropriation.
I doubt it.

Click to read article: To Train Community-College Leaders, a For-Profit University Hires a Leader in the Field

Another Report About The Lack Of College Rigor

The evidence is piling up and it’s not in students’ favor.  Here’s another report about students spending less time studying.  It’s difficult verifying the research methods at work on the studies cited recently to support this falloff in student studying, but given how often we are hearing about it, it is probably time for Boise State to take its own look at the quality and quantity of student preparation for classes.

Click to read article: College Students Spending Less Time Studying

Thomas Friedman–The Revolution Is Underway

Thomas L. Friedman

For those of us who read the daily bible of higher education-that would be the Chronicle of Higher Education–reports of reform and change in higher education are nothing new.  We have entered a new era of dramatic change and across the industry there is talk of throwing out the old business model and creating a new one.

What surprises me are the almost daily reports from the mainstream press about the revolution underway in higher education.  The article linked below is not the first one Thomas Friedman has written in recent months on this subject and I’m sure there will be more.  This is the guy who taught us how ” the world is flat” and his most influential columns on higher education reform will also have an impact on the conventional wisdom. (more…)

The Impact of Tuition on Student Debt

This New York Times article on rising student debt focuses on Ohio, but it could easily apply to any state’s colleges and universities.  Higher education officials must be more transparent in the way we characterize debt and its impact on life and career in future years. (more…)

Would You Believe Our Plight In Higher Education If An Honors College Dean Told You So?

When I decided to enter the blogosphere with my own commentary on the state of higher education, I did so with the intent of sharing with my colleagues across the campus some of the writings on innovation and reform of higher education.  Although a staunch advocate of higher education, I must admit that I have grown increasingly restive over the years of my presidency at Boise State with the inability, and in some cases unwillingness, of administration, faculty and staff across most of the higher education landscape to view our mission and role through the lens of the change and innovation required in these new and different times. (more…)

One Way To Control Costs In Higher Education

The New York Times reported this week that the “Battle of the Titans” in online learning is heating up as Harvard and MIT created a new partnership called edX, offering free online courses from both universities.  MIT had already announced its online learning project and offered its first course, Circuits and Electronics, to 120,000 students.  Not to be outdone, Stanford, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan also announced a new partnership to offer open online courses. (more…)

The New College of Business and Economics Building

Yesterday I visited our new COBE building.  During my tour, I actually witnessed the signing of the papers that officially transferred the building from the contractor, ESI, to Boise State.  ESI, a local firm who can count a number of its executive team members as graduates of our Construction Management program, did an outstanding job of pulling off this project on time and within budget.  There are still some finishing touches, but faculty will move in during July and it will be ready for fall classes in late August.  There are so many people who have made this possible, but it all started when Steve Appleton and his Micron team gave the first gift to make it happen.  The building will be named for Micron and the courtyard will be dedicated to Steve Appleton, one of COBE’s finest graduates.  As it should be!