12.2.13

DEMORALIZING THE FACULTY.

Jane Shaw of the Pope Center wrote a column for The Wall Street Journal suggesting that diminished expectations in higher education diminish outcomes.
For many students, college is a smorgasbord of easy courses chosen for their lack of academic rigor. There is no serious "core curriculum." Students spend limited time studying. Faculty and administrators make matters worse by allowing students to fill up their time with courses like UNC-Chapel Hill's "Dogs and People: From Prehistory to the Urbanized Future" and "Music in Motion: American Popular Music and Dance." When students can get a minor in "Social and Economic Justice" without ever taking a course in the economics department, it's hardly surprising that businesses aren't lining up to hire them.
The column prompted a number of letters to the editor, now lost somewhere in cyberspace, but Ms Shaw's colleague George Leef chose to highlight one of them.
As the demographics change and most second- and third-tier universities compete for those students (and their dollars) we will see an acceleration of the race to the bottom. Universities will soon start selling themselves by that they can help someone earn that coveted engineering degrees in three years (and soon it will become two).

U.S. universities used to be uniquely superb but the quality is deteriorating rapidly. We must ask why and fix the problem before it it too late.
That's from an engineering professor at Alabama-Huntsville, an institution that ought to be able to exploit the proximity to the Redstone Arsenal to develop rocket scientists to do rocket science, rather than value derivative securities.  Instead, though, it appears as though Huntsville sees its future as the degree-grantor of last resort, never mind that by so doing, it might be enhancing social stratification rather than overturning it.

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