Friday, December 12, 2008
December 10th was the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Prior to this document there were concepts of human rights, but any protections of them were confined to individual governments. This document created a standard and a universality that wasn't there before.
The first time I read this declaration was at the beginning of the law and ethics course in my Master's program. I could not think of a better way to start that class, but I was struck by the fact that I had never seen it before. As I read through it, I felt like it was one of those documents that I should have encountered in middle school as I was memorizing the preamble. If you have not had the opportunity to read this document, I submit that there is not better occasion than now. Celebrate the anniversary by taking a moment to read it again or for the first time.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
If you have access to students who need a catalyst for discussing their rights and responsibilities as humans, the UN has some additional resources that you might find useful.
Monday, December 01, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Every year the Chronicle surveys universities about their salaries. This year's survey was released last weekend. It is always an interesting set of information to look at. Last year they had a full pull out from the paper discussing executive compensation and some of the scandal that was exposed over the past couple years. I decided to do more research and discuss this topic further in a paper for my budgeting class. When I looked for the paper on my blog so I could link it to you, I realized that haven't posted it here, so I am including it in this post for those of you that are interested. Near the end of my paper I discuss what I saw as a major difference between CEOs and university presidents: altruism. I was happy to see that in these financial difficulties, when students are more worried than normal about how they'll pay for next semester, president's are giving back. I like seeing these presidents doing the right thing. Especially when we can't trust the CEOs will do as well.
(written November 2007)
During a 2006 presentation at
The cost for colleges and universities to provide education is increasing every year. The Collage Board attributes the increases above inflation to health benefits and rising utility costs. (Kelly) In addition to these growing costs, higher education has seen huge cuts in state funding in the past decade. “Higher education continues to receive fewer dollars than it has been getting as of the 2001-2 fiscal year.” (Schmidt) These strains have resulted in tuition continuing to increase at rates higher than inflation. These raises are even happening where the states is trying to keep costs of public schools down. For example, in
There are three major problems that immerge in the discussion of Executive compensation. The first is abuse of power. Benjamin Ladner resigned from his position as president of
A more recent example took place in
Between 1987 and 2002, the
The final problem that large pay for university presidents is more theoretical and less clear cut than the first two. This is the problem of the corporatization of education. The management, leadership, communication, organizational, and other skills required to be a successful president of a university are directly comparable to the CEO of any business. The problem with this correlation is that there is a certain amount of altruism to higher education, especially at public institutions. Leaders with these skills have always been capable of working in the private sector, but they have chosen education because of nonmonetary goals and values. Roger Bowen, a former university president in
Can we force the altruism of education to stay?
My opinions on this topic are difficult to nail down because I don’t find myself at either end of the spectrum. I believe that the abuse of power issues that are being uncovered at individual universities are strongly rooted in this executive compensation issue for two reasons. The first is a lack of trust. When looking at the compensation packages of presidents across the nation, something that struck me was the variety of ways that compensation was awarded. In my husband’s current position we consider his room and board part of his compensation, and in the positions we are looking at as we job hunt, we consider benefits packages as part of what we will be receiving, but the presidents’ packages seem much more elaborate. Few of them place value on the residence that they are expected to live in, or the vehicles that come with the position. They do however have regular bonuses, payments to trusts, insurance plans that pay out when they leave. When all of these things come out to the public and add up to much more than what is being claimed as salary, it seems sneaky. As more of these stories are uncovered, people become much more comfortable as skeptics. So, even if the administrator is only receiving what was part of the contract and taxes are being paid on all income, watching all these different sources of money pool together for a final number is disconcerting. It reminds people of the scandals that have recently been uncovered in the private sector, and it fuels an environment of distrust and accusations.
On the other side of the coin, I think that in many of these cases, we are over-compensating the presidents. I don’t mean this in a hindsight observation that since they are so unethical, they clearly did not deserve the amount they were being paid. Rather, I feel that working so hard to give them a great package can give them an inflated sense of importance. They feel more irreplaceable so they do not mind abusing their situation and do not expect much in consequences. I do not mean it quite as malicious as it sounds. I am not trying to accuse them of villainously plotting to extort money, but I think that there is a sense of security there that allows rules to be bent. Unfortunately, that sense of security is not necessarily unjustified. In appearances, boards are clamoring to get the talent of some of these leaders and the position they are filling may not have any or enough oversight of how funds are spent. It is easy to see how these abuses can happen.
I find the issue facing
Here is where my opinions on the last two problems start to blur together. What
Pursuing better government health care is a completely different topic, and I do recommend that universities fight that battle with the purpose of fixing executive compensation. I think that higher education should stop looking toward corporations to make changes and start looking toward non-profit organizations. Organizations like the Red Cross, Heifer International, The Salvation Army, and Sesame Workshop have the same leadership needs that we do. Their leaders deserve compensation for their skills just as much as ours do. The difference is their obligation to donors to make sure a minimum amount of each dollar given goes to supporting the organization. They probably have a lot they could teach us about creating a reasonable benefits package as well as recruiting talent that could be making a lot of money at for-profit corporations.
Dillon, S. (2004, November 15). Ivory Tower Executive Suite Gets C.E.O.-Level Salaries. Interesting-People. Retrieved November 2006, from http://www.interesting-people.org/archives/interesting-people/200411/msg00194.html
Fain, P. (2005, October). President of
Fain, P. (2006, November 24). Q&A: The
Gravois, J. (2007, October 3). 3 Former Professors Sue Oral Roberts U., Alleging Political and Ethical Misconduct at High Levels. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from http://chronicle.com/daily/2007/10/2007/100303n.htm
Green, L. (2005, October 26).
Huckabee, C. (2007, November 27). Businessman Promises $70-million to Oral Roberts U. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved November 27, 2007 from http://chronicle.com/news/article/3502/businessman-promises-70-million-to-oral-roberts-u
Kelly, R. (2005, October 18). College Costs Going Nowhere But Up. CNN Money.com. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from http://money.cnn.com/2005/10/17/pf/college/
Montoya, V. (2006, June 5). Getting Compensation Under Control. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from http://insidehighered.com/views/2006/06/05/montoya.
Schmidt, K. (2006, December 15). State Funds for Colleges Continue to Rebound. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i17/17a00101.htm.
Shuppy, A. (2006, November 24). Brain Drain in
Smith, L. (2007, October 5). Many Public Colleges Have Raised Tuition Despite Increases in State Support. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 15, 2007, from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v54/i06/06a02002.htm.
(2006, November 24). The Million-Dollar President, Soon to Be Commonplace? The Chronicle of Higher Education. Special Section: Executive Compensation Volume 53, Issue 14, PgB3.
Staff Reports (2007, October 23). ORU Founder Returns to Defend School.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
That said, last night was nothing if not stimulating. There are a lot of things worthy of discussion, and there are plenty of pundits, analysts, and professional bloggers to tell you about them. I want to talk about the technology CNN used in the coverage of this election. There were two extremely different uses of technology that really struck me.
First, the technology that they wanted to strike me. Early in the evening they spoke with a corespondent who was in Chicago by "beaming" her in and creating a hologram of her in the election center. Here is a video of that.
They want me to be struck by how exciting and new this is. A scifi staple is now reality for reporters on location. Instead, I was struck by how inappropriate the technology was for this use. They said it was great to have because they could now hear the reporter with out the crowds, and that was partially confirmed by the fact that the reporter in the crowd was inaudible. What they really needed was just a quite space to shoot from. This was technology to the point of distraction. When you ask everyone using the technology how it feels (to be "beamed" in) than the technology is the story. It was novel and exciting (to the point of cheesy) so it deserved to be the story. On principle though, I am disappointed in this poor use of technology and the pretenses that they were covering the election. I can't fault CNN too much though. It was early in the evening, the polls hadn't closed. Projections couldn't be made and there was nothing for the analysts to discuss. They needed a distraction.
What I did find remarkable was Mr. King and his SmartBoard. I didn't find any video of him, but here is some of the information that he was using it to share. The SmartBoard wasn't what excited me, it was Mr. King's flawless use of it and the incredible planning for the information they had available to him. There were constant updates of the votes coming in which he used to compare states and counties to both the primaries and previous elections. He outlined geographic regions that the candidates were specifically interested in. He zoomed in and out and drew on it, and did all the cool stuff that SmartBoards can do, yet there was never a nod to the technology. It was as natural as pulling out a road map to give directions. It was seamless, and that is why it was perfect. Technology is at its peak when it seems the obvious and only option. It is because he never said anything like "and look at what else I can do with this" that I was so impressed with it. As an educator, I was giddy to see those capabilities being shown off so effortlessly by someone who is not trying to sell me the product.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I have always been looking for Carmen Sandiago.
I have felt that some people just don't get it.
Macauly Culkin has always been Home Alone.
The Green Bay Packers had the same starting quarterback for as long as I've been watching. (And now he's come to New York so I can still see him play and cheer for the 'home team.')
I've seen Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
I remember the Rosanne Barr National Anthem, though I didn't care.
I saw the original The American Gladiators.
The only Iced Tea I had (before moving to Arkansas) was made by my grandmother and we called it Sun Tea.
How do you compare to the class of 2012?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
If inspiring creativity wasn't cool enough, I am stalking their events page because I want to be a part of some of their fund raisers. Now that I'm in the neighborhood, I don't plan on missing another game of Scrabble for Cheaters. 826 is in several large cities so keep your eyes open for Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. in Seattle or The Boring Store (for all you spy needs) while you're in Chicago.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
1. People -- Moving away meant leaving behind some incredible people. I have some great friends in Arkansas who don't compare to people that I have met anywhere else in the world. I regret that I didn't spend more time with them this past year, but imagine I'd have that regret no matter how much time we spent together.
I kind of want to make them their own number in this list, but they are people two so I suppose they belong here. I miss the triplets. It is a completely different kind of miss than the friends I left behind. I miss the adults, but I've moved a lot in my life, and experience has shown me that the important ones keep in touch. Friends don't have to disappear when they move away. In fact, last weekend I was in a wedding for a friend that I haven't lived near since high school. These kids are different though. I went to Branson and the zoo with them. We sat around the table and ate dinner together. I read them stories and tucked them in at night. I have a picture of them in my wallet because I talk about them so much I need the visual reference for people. I'm hooked on these kids, and I'm going to miss seeing them grow up. That is a lot harder than leaving a friend I talk to mostly over e-mail anyway.
2. Acquaintances -- This is less about specific people and more about friendships that my living situation allowed. There were people that I "lived with" on campus who I would only see once a month or so in passing. They are great people, and we probably would have been good friends, but we never really spent time together. Living on campus made that ok because we would still see each other and get the updates on one another's lives.
3. Conveniences -- I'll be the first to admit that I am living in a pretty convenient place. Restaurants open past nine, 24 hour pharmacies, cultural experiences at my fingertips, and public transportation to take me to all of it. There are some conveniences that you get only by living on campus. I'm going to miss working in the same building as the library. I am going to miss having the blood-mobile on the walk home every time I am eligible to donate. I am going to miss knowing what "restaurant" all of my friends are going to be eating at, and that I can catchup with them there sometime between 5 and 7. I am going to miss the posters and sidewalk drawings telling me what bands are nearby and who is doing the current food drive. I am going to miss having the ability to live, eat, work, and socialize all in the same place.
4. The Energy -- You could probably call it an aura, or personality, but I fed off of it like energy. Especially these past two years living in a freshman hall it was fantastic. August comes and the students are just bubbling over with the excitement of being there and the potential of the upcoming year. Finals come and the whole campus is calmer yet supportive. Living on a campus and being a student instantly creates a community where we all share stresses and deadlines. You may be working on a film and I may be finishing a research paper, but they all have to be done before the semester is over. We also all share the same new beginnings and renewed excitement. There is a distinct undulation to the amount and types of energy on campus that is fueled by the students and their shared experience. I already miss being a part of that as a student.
What do you love about where you live?