What are you reading, watching, thinking about this week? As usual, hereâ€™s a few which have been on our mind. Let us know your thoughts on any/all of them. If you have items youâ€™d like us to consider for the top five, add them in the comments or send them to Tom or Mike.
1. No Christianity Please, We’re Academics: In Inside Higher Ed, Wheaton professor Timothy Larsen calls for universities and faculty to confront bias against Christians in higher education. Though there are some studies to back up his claims, he focuses on a couple of personal examples of bias and ignorance faced by himself and an undergraduate student.
[After getting a “F” for a paper defending traditional marriage,] John could never get better than a C for papers without any marked errors or corrections. When he asked for a reason why yet another grade was so poor he was told that it was inappropriate to quote C. S. Lewis in work for an English class because he was â€œa pastor.â€ (Lewis, of course, was actually an English professor at Cambridge University. Perhaps it was wrong to quote Lewis simply because he had said something recognizably Christian.) Eventually John complained to the department chair, who said curtly that he could do nothing until the course was over. John took this to mean that the chair would do nothing and just accepted the bad grade.
Larsen also cites some comments rejecting his proposal for a scholarly book of essays on T. S. Eliot’s Idea of a Christian Society, which largely focused on the truth/relevance of Christianity as a belief system, rather than the importance of Eliot’s book or the quality of the proposal.
As you might imagine, the comments on the article have gotten pretty heated.
2.Â How private will public higher education institutions become and how does that not only affect cost, but the vision for what receives attention on campus?Â Tom recently visited Penn State University — State College.Â He was once again impressed by the roar of this inspirational flagship campus, particularly in contrast to what is happening just to the north.
TWO things define the State University of New York. Itâ€™s huge. And compared to its public peers, itâ€™s weird.
[Response]:Â â€œMy belief is that to move an organization forward you have to have a common, comprehensive and ambitious agenda,â€ Dr. Zimpher said. â€œIt has to be aspirational. It has to move you. I think the full manifestation of SUNY is underexposed and underexploited. If people really knew and understood the difference these campuses make in their communities they would be amazed.â€ …
â€œThe strategic plan doesnâ€™t talk about educational missions, it doesnâ€™t talk about affordability or accessibility, thereâ€™s very little about undergraduate education and keeping it affordable and accessible,â€ said Phillip H. Smith, president of the powerful United University Professions union, which represents more than 34,000 academic and professional faculty members. â€œIt reflects an attempt to corporatize the university.â€ — The Accidental Giant of Higher Education (Peter Applebome. NY Times. 7/19/2010)
PS. For more on the Public Higher Education Empowerment and Innovation Act, read Stop Raiding the Ivory Tower — a 7/27/2010 NY Times Op-Ed by Peter D. Salins (a former provost of the State University of New York, is a professor of political science at the State University at Stony Brook).