Budget suggestions: September 19, 2013
There should be a position created that checks the efficiency of different campus organizations and department expenditures. We should be actively preventing the embezzlement of campus funds.
At the college meeting of HFPA one of the topics discussed was increasing offerings for winter and summer sessions and alternative delivery of courses and blended courses. One of the chief constraints on university faculty is workload time constraints, whether they include completing online training and certification, finding time for research commitments, innovative curricular development, etc.
What about alternative scheduling? Teaching winter and summer sessions may be more feasible if faculty could split their regular workload between the fall and spring semesters and the winter and summer terms. Otherwise to teach fall, winter, spring, and summer leaves little time for reading the current research literature in one's field, planning changes to courses, one's own research, new course development, or learning and incorporating an effective online pedagogy. Is it possible to move in this direction as one strategy among others? It might result in more courses being offered in winter and summer sessions.
If the current policy to make those courses online continues, it would move a greater number of faculty toward having the time for developing an effective online pedagogy and developing innovative courses. The online courses might attract a wider geographic range of students and credit hours. I'm also wondering, however, about the decision to emphasize online and graduate courses when Slippery Rock has spent the last decades developing its infrastructure and so committed to undergraduate education.
The current downturn in enrollments was predicted several years ago, yet we continued in that direction. It makes me wonder why broadening our enrollment requirements was said to have been put off the table with general agreement. Who was consulted in this decision? I realize that we have spent the last decades raising requirements as part of moving into position as a premier regional, residential undergraduate university, but making some change in entrance requirements could be part of a mix of strategies. It seems at least as attractive as looking at various ways to accept credit for MOOCs or alternative credentialing for having passed courses without having attended regular f2f classes.
For all the rhetoric about the backwardness and inefficiency and resistance to change and costs of the traditional university, the Chronicle of Higher Education has reported mixed results in student satisfaction or learning online or in MOOCs to date. Online classes, alternative credit earning, MOOCs and flipped classrooms, the necessity of employing technology in learning, etc. comprise the latest wave of efforts to sell universities on distance learning and incorporation of technologies that have their own costs, which always should be weighed against the benefits carefully since they require costly upgrades and new technology development that is expensive.
It was interesting to read in the Chronicle some Silicon Valley families are sending their children to traditional (zero technology) schools because they worry about the cost of being always connected to the grid!
Finally, it is imperative that the people of Pennsylvania come to understand that the so-called escalation in the cost of public education has at its root the irresponsibility of citizens, legislators, the Board of Governors, and the Governor's office in defundingpublic education in the interest of privatization. The public bears its share of responsibility every time it resists tax increases, even for the rich, or buys into the either/or fallacy of the maker/taker rhetoric. Public education is a public good. Democracy is rule of, by, and for the people--all of the people. It has been accessible to the less well off as well as the rich as a public good for which we all must take responsibility. There are legitimateroles for government at the state and federal level. Democracy may be aboutindividual rights, but it is also about responsibility for the well being of all-- now and in future generations, as well as for the future of the environment. That is what taxes are for.
A government that serves the interests of the rich is a plutocracy. When a layer of lobbyists lies between the voter and the laws that get written, especially ones that defund public education, the public good is not well served.