Monday, June 1, 2009

University of Clout

It's been a rough couple of weeks or so for the president of the flagship university of this state, B. Joseph White. First there was the business of the bonuses paid to staff who had worked on UIUC's less-than-stellar performing Global Campus, an online entity that was expected to attract thousands of eager students from all over the place. As it turns out, only a few hundred ever signed up. That is interesting in of itself, because there is a perception I think that online is the way to go to boost enrollment by reaching a wider audience at minimal cost to the institution because facilities are not required to house these additional students. At the COD, for example, there appears to be only one way forward. Online. The online course appears to be the educational analog of a community's opening a casino to raise revenues. It seems to be the first option regardless of whether or not it is the best option, or even a good option. Forget about the question of whether the quality of the educational "product" compares (presupposing that it can even be measured reliably) with the traditional delivery. The first question is whether or not students really want this approach. Aside from exceptions such as folks trudging around Afghanistan, I'm thinking that most do not.

More embarrassing for the president has been the pounding lately handed out by the Tribune in one article after another regarding special admissions deals for students with clout. With offspring currently at Illinois' jewel in the educational crown and maybe another on the way, I was more than a little interested in this story. Of course, why should we be surprised. I mentioned it to Alan and even he, a mere youth unsullied by the ravages of time, displayed alarming cynicism by responding that it probably happens everywhere. He is regrettably probably right, which of course does not make it right. Armed with mountains of documents detailing the admissions favors doled out on behalf of students with the right connections, the university could hardly deny it. However, the president made a revoltingly dissembling response to the revelations on Friday.

Dulcie observed in her usual acerbic fashion that it simply proves that the whole college experience is nothing more than joining a club so it can be added to the resume. Why would people who don't warrant it on merit, and who are unlikely to succeed academically, want to go there at all? Because the only thing that matters is that they can stamp their passport and later wave it in front of prospective employers. University should be a whole lot more than that.


Anonymous said...

I am in total agreement with Dulcie. And I would go even further by restating to you my opinion that the main goal of many, if not all, "institutions of higher learning" is in practice, if not in theory, the continuance of their own existence, with little or no serious regard for what the product of the "2- or 4-year experience" should be relative to the needs of individual students or of society, as a whole. Such places are more than happy to take the money up front and then let the student make whatever he/she can of it. What an enormous waste of time and money for some folks, including taxpayers.

Cynicism never in short supply,

Terry said...

Online is the only way forward deah boy (here we are after all!)

In the long run we're all wikipidiots.

Ahem, what's this about maybe another on the way?

Didn't see any tweets about that!