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.
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.
January 20th is a monumental day in the history of the United States. President-Elect Donald Trump will take the oath of office and assume the presidency from President Obama. Following the oath and inaugural address, Trump will have lunch in the Capital before the start of the Inaugural Parade. In various forms, the parade has occurred since George Washington’s inauguration. Representatives of the armed forces, community groups, and marching bands typically participate in the parade. With the unusual and acerbic nature of Trump’s campaign, colleges and universities that have agreed to participate in this year’s parade have faced controversy and backlash from campus constituencies. In today’s post, I want to share my thoughts on the controversy and why I believe the bands should participate in the parade.
I approach this issue from a different perspective than many. I have actually marched in a presidential inaugural parade.
Anyone who has worked at a college or university that plays high-level athletics knows the problems that come with athletics. One trend that has exploded in recent years is the dramatic growth in coaching salaries for head coaches and increasingly assistant coaches. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently released data on salaries derived from data submitted by institutional reporting to the internal revenue service. The Dallas Morning News wrote an nice article examining the issue and included my views on the problem.
For several years now, Wisconsin has been the focal point in the fight between conservative politicians and higher education. Governor Scott Walker has systematically attacked higher education in Wisconsin resulting in increased accountability, decreased autonomy, and drastic cuts in state appropriations. Of particular note, Governor Walker and the state legislature passed legislation dramatically curtailing the long-held protection of tenure and academic freedom in the state. The flagship campus in Madison has been hit particularly hard by the controversies with other institutions trying to steal faculty and a significant decline in research expenditures. While many may have thought the policy changes were over in Wisconsin, a recent policy change by the Board of Regents will change post-tenure review renewing the concerns of faculty and higher education supporters.