Monday, January 21, 2013


Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has taken over as Purdue's new president, and his opening letter to the university is full of gutsy statements.  From January 21, 2013 Inside Higher Education:
  • "College costs too much and delivers too little. Students are leaving, when they graduate at all, with loads of debt but without evidence that they grew much in either knowledge or critical thinking."
  • "Administrative costs, splurging on 'resort' amenities, and an obsession with expensive capital projects have run up the cost to students without enhancing the value of the education they receive.”
  • "Rigor has weakened. Grade inflation has drained the meaning from grade point averages…."
  • "The mission of undergraduate instruction is increasingly subordinated to research and to work with graduate students."
  • "Too many professors are spending too much time 'writing papers for each other,' researching abstruse topics of no real utility and no real incremental contribution to human knowledge or understanding."
  • "Diversity is prized except in the most important realm of all, diversity of thought. The academies that, through the unique system of tenure, once enshrined freedom of opinion and inquiry now frequently are home to the narrowest sort of closed-mindedness and the worst repression of dissident ideas."
  • “Athletics, particularly in NCAA Division I, is out of control both financially and as a priority of university attention."

Even better: he came in at a lower salary than his predecessor.  There has been a lot of criticism from the faculty of administrative bloat:
The focus in the Daniels letter on cost-cutting and doing things in new ways comes after several months in which faculty members have captured press attention with concerns about "administrative bloat" at the university. Indeed a Bloomberg article in November made Purdue the prime example of that problem. "Purdue has a $313,000-a-year acting provost and six vice and associate vice provosts, including a $198,000 chief diversity officer. It employs 16 deans and 11 vice presidents, among them a $253,000 marketing officer and a $433,000 business school chief,"
 You don't have to be at a top level research university to find this administrative bloat problem, either.


  1. "Diversity is prized except in the most important realm of all, diversity of thought."

    Yep, M&M diversity; a rainbow of colors outside, same pernicious ideas inside. A whole bag/educational society full of different colored Harry Potter jellybeans, all vomit-flavored, to reference a scene between Harry and the headmaster of Hogwarts.

  2. UC San Diego has something like 3 times as many administrators as it did in 1982, while the faculty and student populations have increased by about 10%.

    Too many people go to college. A major problem is that outside of STEM fields, the real value of a college degree is signaling "I'm more than functionally literate and conscientious enough to complete something which takes at least 4 years." and not much else.

    Demonstrating functional literacy ought to be something that a high school diploma does, but schools with high minority populations boost their graduation rates by making the classes too easy to pass (because that's cheaper than actually working with slower students to make sure they understand *enough*).