Do college athletic departments make a profit?

In recent years, debate has surrounded college athletic departments. Legal challenges have questioned why students aren’t getting more financial reward and a share of the revenues. Faculty and staff question the value and amount of money spent in support of athletics in an environment of scarce resources. Astronomical coaches salaries, massive facilities, and the churn of conference realignment make even the biggest fan question the future of intercollegiate athletics. In spite of the media exposure and interest, I am consistently surprised at how little we know about basic questions related to athletics.  In today’s post, I want to address one of the most basic and misunderstood questions:  Do college athletic departments make a profit?

Photo credit: Matthew Henry Hall

Intellect for national service: Higher education and the military

Today, we celebrate Memorial Day, an opportunity to acknowledge and honor those who have given their lives for their country.  Higher education and the military have always had a long, complex, and interesting history. In honor of our fallen heroes, today’s post shares what I believe is one of the more interesting periods of cooperation between the armed forces, the federal government, and higher education.

Photo credit: SMU

World War I plunged higher education into serious crisis. As the nation economically ramped up for the war effort, resources available to public colleges and universities institutions became increasingly limited.  However, The challenge went far beyond finances as decreasing enrollment threatened the very survival of many institutions.  

How David Letterman inspired my teaching philosophy

David Letterman is a comic genius.  The ability to both innovate and survive for over thirty years is a testament to his ability.  I am too young to remember much from Dave’s time at NBC but watching him in the 90’s was a thing of beauty.  His nearly singular ability to be smart and stupid at the same time has always struck me.  I would say that we share the same sense of humor, but the reality is that Letterman shaped my sense of humor.  In recent years, I haven’t watched the Late Show as much as I did back in the day (thanks to the kids I can’t stay up that late).  With all of the celebration of Letterman in recent weeks, I’ve been reminded how much I loved watching him.  At the same time and with the benefit of hindsight, I now realize how David Letterman inspired my teaching philosophy.

Photo credit: CBS

Four qualities of a great research assistant

One of the greatest assets for a faculty member engaged in scholarship is a great research assistant.  Over the years, I have had great ones, so-so ones, and some that were down right terrible.  During the past two years, I’ve been blessed to have a great one.  She has helped push my work and made me more productive with my writing.  Molly graduated this past weekend with her M.Ed. and I’m thrilled she is staying on for her Ph.D. in the fall.  I’ve been thinking about what has made Molly such a good research assistant and in today’s post will share the qualities of a great research assistant.

I daresay that if you find a productive researcher then you will find an outstanding research assistant (or even assistants).

The past two years have been among the most productive for my scholarship in the last decade.  It is no coincidence that I’ve had a great research assistant during that time.

5 strategies to have a productive summer

I pulled into the university parking garage this morning and had plenty of options for where to park.  That can only mean one thing:  Summer is here!  For both faculty and administrators, summer presents a wonderful opportunity to catch up on work that we weren’t able to complete during the academic year.  However, fewer structured responsibilities can be a double-edged sword if we don’t prepare in advance.  We all want to be as productive as we can be in the summer.  In today’s post, I will share five specific strategies to help you have a productive summer.

Photo credit: Fulton Montgomery Community College

1.  Come up with a specific and doable plan.

The first step for setting yourself up for the summer is to develop a specific and doable plan.  I always get concerned when I hear someone who has goals for the summer that would reasonably take 12 months to complete.  Determine what specific tasks you can accomplish and how long it will take to finish them.  Then, map out when you will complete each assignment.  I argue that it is better to set a specific and doable plan than to set goals so high that you will inevitably be unable to complete them in the two months you have available.

2.  Prioritize your most important work.

When establishing your plan for the summer, be sure to prioritize your most important work.  For many faculty, this will be research and writing.  Others may have long-term projects or planning to make sure next academic year is a success.  Whatever your situation, your summer should be reserved for your most significant and important work.  Smaller and urgent tasks can easily fill our time during the regular academic year.  Don’t let them do the same in the summer!

3.  Set a daily schedule.

When thinking about your daily summer activities, I encourage you to establish a schedule.  Some people might prefer to go to the office for the morning or a coffee shop.  Others may get up early so they can work before doing activities with the kids.  It is less important what you do for your routine than the fact that you have one.  Working from a routine will help you stay on track and avoid letting the unstructured nature of the summer hurt your productivitiy.

4.  Limit busy work (yes, I’m talking about email too).

All of our jobs have a great deal of busy work.  There are forms to fill out, reports to prepare, and the never-ending stream of email.  I know some people who say they will take the summer to get ahead of all of this busy work so they won’t have to do it during the year.  The only problem with that plan is that busy work grows to fill the time available.  Instead, avoid doing this during the summer to as great an extent as possible.  Don’t send a bunch of emails (you’ll get a bunch of responses).  Reports and forms can wait.  Doing busy work isn’t where you make your highest contribution and you should use your summers for that purpose.

5.  Take a break.

Sometimes we don’t think of taking a break as productive, but it absolutely is a key component.  I always try to take off two weeks completely in the summer to recharge my batteries.  Summer is also a great time to take smaller breaks in the course of your day.  You can meet a friend for a long lunch or enjoy events with your kids.  I have made the mistake of working all summer in the past.  When August rolled around, I was exhausted which is not the way to start a new academic year.  If you want to maximize your productivity, take breaks during the summer.

A college campus is a great place to be in the summer.  I hope you take advantage of these five strategies to help you have a productive summer.  Enjoy it while it lasts… the students will be back before we know it!