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Literature Review

Lots of interesting writing about Dartmouth-related topics and higher education in recent weeks:

The Times ran a column entitled, The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much, which defends states from the charge that the decline in their funding of education has led to an increase in tuition. Author Paul Campos, a University of Colorado, Boulder law professor, points his finger at the real culprit:

By contrast, a major factor driving increasing costs is the constant expansion of university administration. According to the Department of Education data, administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, which Bloomberg reported was 10 times the rate of growth of tenured faculty positions.

Even more strikingly, an analysis by a professor at California Polytechnic University, Pomona, found that, while the total number of full-time faculty members in the C.S.U. [Colorado State University] system grew from 11,614 to 12,019 between 1975 and 2008, the total number of administrators grew from 3,800 to 12,183 — a 221 percent increase.

Note: the figures in the latter quotation are not necessarily comparable to the ones in yesterday’s post; we referred to all of Dartmouth’s non-faculty staff. I have not had a chance to to see exactly which employees the above term “administrators” includes.

Dartblog perennial favorite, Economics Professor Danny Blanchflower, was in the news after he published a paper critical of the calculation of the U.S. unemployment rate. His article, Labor Market Slack and Monetary Policy, was summarized in Forbes in a column headlined, What If America’s Unemployment Rate Is Really Wrong? Danny argues the people who have part-time jobs but would like to work full time and people who have given up seeking work need to be included in the jobless figures.

Andrew Lohse ‘12, whose book we reviewed here, has returned to the campus to finish his degree. The estimable Alumni Magazine interviewed him in a piece published in the latest edition: Confessor Returns.

This space first wrote about the number of adjunct faculty members teaching Dartmouth undergraduates in 2010, and we ran another column in February. A New Yorker article from March 25 — O Adjunct My Adjunct — well describes the rise of part-time teachers in the academy:

There is a complicated culture of silence that surrounds adjuncting. Schools have no incentive to draw attention to how many adjuncts most institutions now rely on…

But then the students often don’t know to ask. If more of them learned how many of their classes are taught by poorly paid, unsupported teachers, even as their tuition rises, how would they react? Would they question the value of their education? Call for reform?

Of course, as this space likes to note, schools use adjuncts to save money — which they then spend on an ever-growing army of administrators.

The Wall Street Journal published a provocative piece by Bell Curve author Charles Murray: Why the SAT Isn’t a ‘Student Affluence Test. Murray’s assertion: the available data shows a far tighter correlation with maternal IQ than with family income (which itself is correlated with IQ). As if in response, Michele Hernandez ‘89 opined in a Times debate that colleges should abandon the use of the SAT/ACT aptitude tests in favor of subject tests.

A Weekly Standard article by Jonathan Last, The Campus Left Begins to Implode, brings attention to three articles, most importantly one from an anonymous graduating McGill University senior: Everything is problematic” My journey into the centre of a dark political world, and how I escaped. If you are looking for a well written primer on the intellectual pathologies afflicting radicals from both ends of the political spectrum, this article is enlightening.

And finally, after a police report concluded that the horrific event described by UVA student “Jackie” had no verifiable basis in fact, and following its own investigation headed up by Steve Coll, Dean of Columbia’s journalism school, Rolling Stone has retracted its story about an alleged gang rape at UVA. The Times notes:

The report, published by the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and commissioned by Rolling Stone, said the magazine failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice” to verify details of the ordeal that the magazine’s source, identified only as Jackie, described to the article’s author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely.

On Sunday, Ms. Erdely, in her first extensive comments since the article was cast into doubt, apologized to Rolling Stone’s readers, her colleagues and “any victims of sexual assault who may feel fearful as a result of my article.”

In an interview discussing Columbia’s findings, Jann S. Wenner, the publisher of Rolling Stone, acknowledged the piece’s flaws but said that it represented an isolated and unusual episode and that Ms. Erdely would continue to write for the magazine. The problems with the article started with its source, Mr. Wenner said. He described her as “a really expert fabulist storyteller” who managed to manipulate the magazine’s journalism process. When asked to clarify, he said that he was not trying to blame Jackie, “but obviously there is something here that is untruthful, and something sits at her doorstep.”…

Ms. Erdely, Mr. Wenner said, “was willing to go too far in her effort to try and protect a victim of apparently a horrible crime. She dropped her journalistic training, scruples and rules and convinced Sean to do the same. There is this series of falling dominoes.”

This space has noted that accusations of assault are often far more complicated than they appear in the press.

Addendum: A diligent follower of the College’s affairs offers a comment on the Alumni Magazine’s Andrew Lohse ‘12 interview cited above:

Was copied on an email making the rounds re the Alumni Magazine piece on Andrew Lohse. Seems people are wondering how it is possible that Andrew manages - in the space of a few paragraphs - to label Pulitzer Prize winner Joe Rago ‘05 an “absurd guy,” imply that the work of Chris Miller ‘63 is unreadable, claim critical thinking skills as the exclusive domain of English majors, lump all “rich white guys” together and imply that they are proponents of depravity, defend the veracity of his own book by citing the fact checking skills of Rolling Stone Magazine (now, of all times!), flirt with insulting Phil Hanlon, offer up Panarchy as a model of respectful decorum, and polish his nihilist bona fides with references to death threats and the possibility of his own assassination. Whew. Is he actively trying to provoke confrontation?

General consensus is that Andrew is a legend in his own mind - also that he is growing a little long in the tooth for this sort of overwrought nonsense. Hard to imagine what people at the Alumni Magazine were thinking when they decided to run this piece.

Of course, one might attribute a certain deviousness to the DAM’s editors: they gave Andrew lots of rope, and he obliged them.

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