Ten Years Since the Shooting at Virginia Tech

April 16, 2007 is one of those dates of national tragedy that seem to mark a point in time where we can say things will never be the same again. It has been ten years since that horrific day when a mentally troubled student at Virginia Tech shot and killed 32 and wounded 17 more. In today’s post, I want to remember the events of April 16th and reflect on where we’ve come in higher education since that time.

Ten Years Since the Shooting at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech Memorial – Photo Credit: Alan Levine

There was Columbine before and Sandy Hook after (and countless other tragedies throughout), but the shooting at Virginia Tech was an event that shocked the nation generally and higher education specifically.

I suspect all of us that were teaching during that time wondered what we would do if that had happened to one of our classes.

There was anger, frustration, and above all, sadness.

Scott Walker and Republicans try to increase faculty teaching

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin is joining Republicans in other states across the country in seeking to push professors to earn their salaries by teaching more. Walker cites raising college costs and a decrease in the among of time professors spend in the classroom. In today’s post, I am sharing a thoughtful piece by the Associated Press that looks at Walker’s proposal as well as similar efforts in other states. I provided background information and a quote to the story.

Scott Walker pushes faculty

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Republicans Press Professors to Spend More Time Teaching

By Todd Richmond

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin chemistry professor Robert Hamers has a jam-packed day ahead: an hourlong lecture, a conference call with colleagues about nanotechnology, meetings and plans to check on students in the lab.

The ability of the federal government to influence higher education

What ability does the federal government have to influence higher education? Specifically, what policy levers exist for the federal government to punish an individual college or university? While I will not make a habit on the blog of responding to every higher education related tweet that President Trump sends out, his tweet regarding the University of California – Berkeley opens up a nice opportunity to discuss the role of the federal government in higher education and the limits of federal power over post-secondary education.

Following a series of protests that started to become violent on the Berkeley campus, the university cancelled a planned talk by Milo Yiannopoulos, a senior editor at the far-right website Breitbart News. 

Higher education’s endangered values

I have often been critical of college presidents not standing up for political issues that directly impact our institutions. As waves of protests and condemnations of the executive order took hold over the weekend, another event occurred. College presidents seeing the order as a direct assault on the values of higher education started speaking up. One after another, they condemned the President’s action. Rather than sharing my thoughts, I want to take the opportunity to share the unanimous voices of higher education’s leaders standing up to an attack on the values we hold dear- both as higher education and as a country. The sheer number of responses shows just how united American higher education is in fighting this attack on our values.

Credit: Dallas Observer/Matthew Martinez

A response to legislators seeking to end tenure

Legislators in Missouri and Iowa have introduced bills to eliminate tenure at public colleges and universities in those states. It is too early to know if these proposals will receive support. However, following attacks on faculty and public institutions in Wisconsin, North Carolina, and other states, we must treat this legislation seriously. The Chronicle of Higher Education posted a Q&A with Representative Rick Brattin, the author of the Missouri legislation. Representative Brattin’s comments reveal the folly of his proposal and the lack of basic understanding of faculty. In today’s post, I want to republish the Q&A along with my response which is in brackets below.

A response to legislators seeking to end tenure