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Is Higher Education in Crisis?
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Wednesday, 08 September 2010

At a time when the cost of a college education continues to escalate while administrators battle budget woes, the value of higher education is being questioned by many — including some prominent academics. One of the loudest voices is that of Andrew Hacker, who taught at Cornell for 16 years before moving to Queens College. His recent book Higher Education? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — And What We Can Do About It, co-authored by Claudia Dreifus, questions many of the most sacred principles of American universities, including the tenure system and the preference for research over teaching. In a recent New York Times review, this book was paired with Mark Taylor’s Crisis on Campus: A Bold Plan for Reforming Our Colleges and Universities, which the reviewer said "is more measured in tone but no less devastating in its assessment of our unsustainable 'education bubble.' "

Another critical view was expressed in the Schumpeter blog of The Economist, which compares today's U.S. universities with the car companies of 50 years ago, when General Motors was hailed as a paragon of industry. Also citing the Hacker and Dreifus book as evidence of the problem, the columnist writes: "America’s commitment to research is one of the glories of its higher-education system. But for how long? The supply of papers that apply gender theory to literary criticism remains ample. But there is evidence of diminishing returns in an area perhaps more vital to the country’s economic dynamism: science and technology." Asserting that American universities have "lost their way," he concludes that bold reforms are needed in their academic and economic models.

 
Financial Reality Print E-mail
Thursday, 26 August 2010

In his welcome-back message to the campus, President Skorton wrote: "As we implement the changes in organization and process we developed together last year, it’s clear that the worst of the immediate financial crisis is now behind us. By the end of the new academic year we will have a clear path to a balanced budget." That's good news — and many faculty, staff, and students are relieved that the rumors about massive layoffs and radical cuts seem to have abated.

Still, the full effect of the many budgetary changes that have been made, and are still being made, is just beginning to be seen. Some aspects of the changes have been given a positive spin, like the recent Cornell Chronicle story about the response of the Department of Theatre, Film, and Dance to a $1 million budget cut. Others have been less encouraging, like the Daily Sun's account of the impact of reductions in the math department faculty and an accompanying opinion piece that questions whether these cuts run counter to the goals of the recently adopted strategic plan. Arts college dean Peter Lepage immediately fired off a letter, taking strong exception to the Sun's conclusions. Two dozen math professors responded with another letter to the Sun, rebutting Page's assertions.

As the year continues, more will become clear — stay tuned.

 
Fall Semester 2010 Print E-mail
Thursday, 19 August 2010

Summer is ending in Ithaca. Hordes of Cornell students are descending on the bustling town. Or trying to — with the usual local planning wisdom, construction work is still continuing on routes 96 and 96B, causing traffic tie-ups.

But the students are back. You don't have to go to campus to see that. All you have to do is visit the parking lot at Wegmans. Soon the dorms will be filled and the new students will be contemplating electric sheep. Baaa!

 
Summer at Cornell Print E-mail
Friday, 25 June 2010

If your memories of Cornell feature blizzards and death-defying trips up ice-covered Buffalo Street, consider a summer visit. It's nice in Ithaca … really. The sun shines, the lake glistens, and there's lots to do on campus.

Sign up for a CAU program. Send your kids to a sports camp. Shop at the Cornell Store. Visit the Mark Twain exhibit in Kroch Library. Marvel at the art (and the views) in the Johnson Museum. Or just wander around campus, taking in the sights and watching new buildings go up. It's everything you loved about Cornell, without the final exams and frostbite.

 
DeLuca Succeeds Tambroni as Lax Coach Print E-mail
Friday, 18 June 2010

In a pair of moves as swift as the game itself, it was announced that lacrosse head coach Jeff Tambroni was leaving Cornell to take over as head coach at Penn State and Ben DeLuca would become the new head coach of the Big Red.

In his ten years as head coach, Tambroni compiled a record of 109-39. His teams won or shared eight consecutive Ivy League championships and went to the Final Four for three of the past four years. They came within seconds of winning the national title in 2009 before falling to Syracuse in overtime.

DeLuca '98 was a four-year letter winner as a defenseman and has served the team since 2002 as an assistant coach and associate head coach. He was named the Richard M. Moran Head Coach of Men's Lacrosse on Friday, June 18.

For more information, see the announcement at the Athletics site and the online story at Inside Lacrosse.

 
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