The Blog Beyond the Blue
My colleagues and I were proud this last week to welcome Dr. David Adler to Boise State as the new Director of the Andrus Center for Public Policy. The report below from the Coeur d’Alene Press gives us just a glimpse of the rich and insightful contributions Dr. Adler will make to the State of Idaho as Boise State ramps up its efforts to fulfill the mission given to us by the State Board of Education as Idaho’s public affairs university.
Posted: Sunday, April 22, 2012 12:15 am – Coeur d’Alene Press
Constitutional scholar Dr. David Gray Adler, in his address to
citizens in Coeur d’Alene recently, put the onus of keeping our nation
great – no, making it even greater – on you. (more…)
One of my previous blogs reported the new study, Academically Adrift, finding a significant drop in writing assignments in college courses. Meanwhile, here at Boise State we are celebrating the 2012 President’s Writing Awards, a program and title that predated my presidency, but a program I enjoy attending every year so I can present the awards to the students.
Thanks to our English Department and the leadership of Carrie Seymour, the program invites faculty and students from across all disciplines to participate in various writing competitions and send a strong message about the importance of writing in the undergraduate experience. Congratulations to Carrie and her colleagues across the campus as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the program. Finally, congratulations to the student award winners for their courage to write and convey their sense of self and to understand and explain the world around them.
One of my previous posts expressed concern that we cannot judge the value of a college education solely by how quickly a graduate gets employment after graduation or to what extent the first job is necessarily the job the graduate had studied for and considers the life career. My first job after graduation, which was really an internship, was below minimum wage and far away from what I intended to achieve with my college degree. If that could happen to me in what were far better economic times than what our graduates are facing today, why should we be shocked today that students do not in this very difficult economy get the first job of their choice?
In the media’s near-hysterical coverage of the unemployment and underemployment of recent college graduates, the focus was simply on reporting the college degree as some kind of preprofessional credential. Professor Delbanco’s book forces us to examine a true college education, especially the value of a liberal arts education. He uses many sources to make his point, but the one that stayed with me was his quoting Matthew Arnold who described education as “getting to know the best which has been thought and said in the world.”
Just in case we don’t get to read Delbanco’s book cover to cover, Stanley Fish has summed it up in a column he wrote for the New York Times yesterday. I provided the link below.
Click to read article: Displaying Value: The Case for the Liberal Arts Yet Again
The Association of Governing Boards concluded its annual meeting in Washington D.C. today and I had an opportunity to attend and listen to one of the more interesting presentations on its agenda. Richard Arum, a professor of New York University, one of the co-authors of a new study entitled, Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses, presented his findings. In short, the results of his research show a serious decline in academic rigor. More than one-third of students showed no improvement in critical thinking skills after four years of college with 35% of students reporting studying five hours less per week and 50% said they didn’t have a single course that required 20 pages of writing in their previous semester.
This study cannot be ignored and should serve as a starting point for a discussion on academic rigor at Boise State. In the meantime, take a look at Arum’s book for a full account of the study.
Some time ago, higher education advocates lost the battle to define and justify a college education for anything other than the size of the paycheck when signing up for the first job. Forget the broadening and deepening of the mind, the ability to know and understand the world around you, the long-term benefits of communicating and computing in a technical world searching for meaning and relevancy beyond technology.
The posting below is one that I considered passing up. In my line of work, why remind anyone of the numbers reported in this news story about what happens to far too many of our graduates? But I report and comment on it because I do think we must remind ourselves that we cannot judge the utility of a college education in the first year or so after graduation. I’m afraid that is what this news report implies. (more…)
The challenges seem to be mounting for higher education these days and this morning’s opinion piece by David Brooks presents an excellent case for higher education determining what students truly learn in their undergraduate experience. Everyone is talking the talk, but few have figured out how to walk the walk!
Click to read article: Testing the Teachers
For the ninth straight time since I’ve been President of Boise State, I appeared before the State Board of Education to request a tuition increase, this time 5.7% over last year’s tuition of $5,566 per semester, which the Board approved. In the years I’ve appeared with my colleagues for the annual tuition-setting exercise, I cannot recall one university or college passing up the opportunity to request an increase. It seems there is always a good reason for a tuition increase.
In good times when the State was funding higher education, we argued it wasn’t enough. In bad times, we argued that we had to make up for the decline in state funding. And in both good and bad times when enrollments were growing, we pointed to new students as the reason for our increase.
As far as Idaho is concerned, we could always argue, as we did yesterday, that Idaho’s public universities and college have one of the lowest tuition rates across the West and probably the nation. So we’re playing catch up here in Idaho. In fact, Boise State can claim the lowest tuition of Idaho’s universities after yesterday’s action. (more…)
For the last few years, it has become clear to me that the current model of teaching and learning at Boise State, or any other public university for that matter, is simply not sustainable into the future. It’s easy to show how the declining state appropriation cannot, dollar for dollar, be replaced by our annual feat of increasing tuition unless we want to close our doors to large numbers of students from underrepresented groups. There is even some evidence that students from the vast middle class are making decisions to pass on a college education. This may be the dreaded “higher education bubble” some have been predicting.
The next question is how does higher education deal with the fiscal realities of our future by changing the delivery model. Although no expert on the use of technology, I have read enough from the trailblazers to know that we have work to do in Idaho and here at Boise State if we intend to remain a comprehensive university with a strong undergraduate program and a robust graduate and research enterprise as well. (more…)
How many times have we read about the arts and humanities losing in the race for funding in the priorities of university budgets? Well, here’s a Classics professor at the University of Nebraska who has figured out a way to win the race, at least the race to make his next class on time. So if it’s all about getting the attention of those who set the budget priorities, maybe we’ll see some of our faculty borrow their students’ skateboards and take a ride in the interest of building a larger following for the arts and humanities! Now in the interest of full disclosure, I should add that Professor Winter enjoyed earlier success as a champion rollerskater. Enjoy the report.
Click to Read Article: A New Take on the Arts and Humanities
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.