|WHY GO TO COLLEGE?|
Anne Matthews takes your questions on what really goes on within campus walls....
May 27, 1997
in this forum:
How will new technologies change educational opportunities? To what extent do social, moral and political biases of faculty and administrators direct a college's budget? What is the purpose of a core curriculum? Do the present cost differentials between private and state universities and community colleges perpetuate inequality ? Are there any substantial college reform proposals ? How does grade inflation effect the quality of education at prestigious universities? Additional comments....
May 1, 1997:
A discussion on the rising cost of higher education .
February 10, 1997
Experts discuss President Clinton's plans for college tuition assistance.
December 26, 1996
A NewsHour panel scrutinizes the Democrat's plans for the 105th Congress' education initiatives.
Financial aid links for higher education.
Donald L. Reed of San Jose, CA, asks:
As a research scientist and faculty member, each institution I've worked at promoted research often at the expense of high quality faculty teaching and student learning, especially at the undergraduate level.
Indeed, no members of the "research university," either fellow faculty or from the administration, assessed or inquired about the quality of my undergraduate teaching or student learning.
Clearly, research rules the faculty reward picture, why isn't innovative, high-quality instruction rewarded on the same level as research, particularly undergraduate teaching?
Anne Matthews responds:
I only wish it were. Faculty still get tenured on the basis of research, as you know, not their teaching skills; indeed, many deans admit that bad teaching almost never prevents a good researcher from being kept, but a wondrous lecturer who doesn't publish is usually doomed. College teaching is academe's most secretive aspect, even more than salaries and budgets; it is also one of the few human activities (claims former Harvard president Derek Bok) that does not get better from one generation to the next. An early Johns Hopkins president, asked why his campus had so vivid an intellectual life, knew the answer right away. We all go to one another's lectures, he said. But that fine custom died long ago.
On most American campuses, faculty may spend forty years together, and never once witness their closest colleagues dealing with live undergrads. Research brings in the grant money campuses need to survive; it gets you the reputation of running a hot, smart, cutting-edge school where big deals are made, and bigger discoveries, which make for great PR, which brings in more money, smart grad students as free labor, and your pick of faculty from other schools. Undergraduate education can thus easily become the dilapidated, overcrowded inner city of the campus world, the lucrative professional schools the shiny expensive suburbs.
To their credit, some faculty and administrators are indeed wrestling with the moral and practical consequences of making the undergrads an academic underclass. Suggestions include: letting young faculty choose a research or a teaching track, since finding someone who genuinely does both well is not that easy. Or let good teaching be a serious factor in tenure, as it was in the Forties and Fifties. At Carleton College in Minnesota, research publishing is less important than what your students say: a hundred letters from current and former undergrads must go into every tenure folder there.