Tag Archive: Bill Harbaugh


Is the Pope, Jesuit?

Do bears fertilize Yellowstone?

“Most of the literature supports that argument, which is incredibly destructive because professors are dumbing down their classes for better evaluations.” -University of Oregon Professor Bill Harbaugh

“Professors to some extent can ‘buy’ good evaluations by giving high grades, so the evaluation process is probably a major factor in grade inflation.” – Richard Vedder, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Dumbing down classes?

Buying good evaluations?

Why do SEOI (Student Evaluation of Instruction) results hold a disproportionate impact on whether an assistant professor achieves tenure at major universities or small colleges?

Sure there are other contributors particularly august empirical research, but student evaluations are given so much weight that some professors may be prompted to go easy on their students.

Are these students ready for the reality of a boss? Have they become, the boss?

If tenure is the Holy Grail for academics, do college professors literally sell their collective souls to drink from the golden chalice?

Will professors avoid teaching difficult classes at unpopular times (e.g., communications research at 8 am) to protect tenure?

If they knew they had to bite into the forbidden apple by sweetening an undergraduate’s grade would they do so in order to earn tenure, making it nearly impossible to be terminated?

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to exit the academic world stage right in two months and one day (who is counting?), there are thoughts that keep coming back about how to improve higher education … if that is still possible.

My sentiments are not based upon cynicism, but a realistic acknowledgement about how difficult it is too meaningfully change the culture on our campuses, particularly when the adversaries are powerful professor unions and their CBAs (collective bargaining agreements).

What Is The Purpose of College, Anyway?

“Student evaluations can be useful when they are divorced from tenure, retention and promotion evaluations.” – Former Duke University Professor Stuart Rojstaczar

Walking along faculty office hallways, your author has been repeatedly stunned by assertions that the purpose of a university is to ensure that a student succeeds in her or his chosen … major.

Is the major an end in itself? Finis? Endo Musico?

If that is true the onus is not on whether a student is preparing for a career, but how a professor teaches courses and advises these fledglings in order to simply graduate.

Faculty über alles?

Almost DailyBrett has a differing view:

The mission of a college or university should be to prepare students to land positions with full benefits – not just jobs – in their respective fields of study. The results should be a happy and lucrative professional careers.

The curricula for a Department of Communication or a School of Journalism and Mass Communication should emphasize real-world courses, which lead to a recognized profession including: Digital Journalism, Film and Public Relations.

Are parents envisioning their child prodigy with tons of theory stuck in between the ears moving back home at 22-years-young?

How about reducing the tenure impact of the Student Evaluations of Instruction (SEOIs), and instead introducing a measurement that weighs how many of a professor’s students actually land positions in their respective fields of study and build meaningful careers?

Some are entitled to dismiss the musings of Almost DailyBrett, considering that your author is retiring after four years as a tenure-track assistant professor. This writer will NOT achieve tenure. Believe it or not, there are more ways than tenure to measure a meaningful career and life.

What is more exciting is how many of my students have moved onto the professional ranks and are thriving. As the airlines instruct us: “Put on your own mask before assisting others.” These newly minted professionals can buy low and sell high with their discretionary income because they have been prepared by professional schools.

Let’s see how they are doing in their fields? How can a university measure career accomplishment?

Every university has a “development” arm in the form of alumni associations. Similar to the IRS, alumni associations without fail will always find you.

You can run, but you can’t hide from … alumni associations. Rarely does a day go by without your author receiving a communication from his two alma maters: the University of Southern California and the University of Oregon.

Practicing evolution and not revolution, let’s retain … but lower the impact of student evaluations and academic research. Let’s add into the mix how well our students are doing in landing real positions and building happy careers.

As Sheryl Crow sings, “If it makes you happy, it can’t be that bad.”

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/09/17/professors-and-the-students-who-grade-them/student-evaluations-offer-bad-data-that-leads-to-the-wrong-answer

https://www.chronicle.com/blogs/innovations/student-evaluations-grade-inflationdeclining-student-effort/24926

https://www.dailyemerald.com/2017/07/18/uo-study-finds-correlation-grade-inflation-student-course-evaluations/

 

oregon

“It (Football in the State of Oregon) can come back if the schools take the right step and improve the facilities,” – OSU Heisman Trophy Winner Terry Baker, Sporting News, 1986

“On average, the faculty likes it when the football team does better. And we understand that it takes some resources to attract the best people. But obviously we’re jealous when we see the difference between their facilities and the facilities we have for teaching,” UO economics professor Bill Harbaugh, Eugene Register-Guard, 2012

Is anyone nostalgic for the University of Oregon alumni tent set up in a gravel parking lot at Autzen Stadium?

How about wondering if the UO Athletic Department could scrap enough shekels together to pay the $125,000 guarantee to the visiting team?

Want to revisit those serious discussions about Oregon and Oregon State becoming members of the Big Sky Conference (i.e., visits to scenic Missoula, Bozeman and Pocatello)?

As a practicing Duckologist, I have steadfastly saved a well-worn copy of 1986 The Sporting News college football yearbook. Included in the issue is an article by former Oregonian sports columnist Nick Bertram describing the dreadful state of affairs for football in the State of Oregon.

Besides scrambling to pay the minimum to the visiting school, Oregon was averaging only 23,000 at Autzen Stadium. In fact, there was talk of putting a dome on Autzen. The Ducks were 23 years and counting since their last (Sun) bowl game, and 29 years since their last Rose Bowl. Next year, we will commemorate the 30th anniversary (“celebrate” is the wrong word) of the last scoreless game in NCAA football history, the 1983, 0-0 “Toilet Bowl” between Oregon and Oregon State.

The root of Oregon’s historic difficulties in recruiting, competing and winning, comes down to one word: Geography.

The nation’s 9th largest state in land mass is also one of the country’s least populated (3.4 million), isolated in America’s cul-de-sac and one of the rainiest. All of these factors worked against previous Oregon coaching regimes, including the one I served as a student manager in 1975 (e.g., Don Read et al.). USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Arizona State and Washington do not face these same geographic obstacles.

The answers to unfavorable and unchangeable geography included targeting donor dollars to build the 101,000-square foot Casanova Center in 1991 to house the Athletic Department. They also consisted of finding recruiting diamonds in the rough by former Head Coaches Rich Brooks and Mike Bellotti; continuity of the coaching staff (five assistants with tenures exceeding two decades); and miraculously making the Rose Bowl in one special year in 1994. All of these accomplishments preceded the major involvement in the program by Uncle Phil.

If you do not know who is “Uncle Phil,” you should stop reading now.

Since that time, Oregon built the first indoor practice facility ($15 million) on the West Coast, directly addressing the rain issue, the 117,000 square-foot Moshofsky Center. Autzen was expanded to 54,000 and the stadium has been sold out for every game since 1999 with more than 60,000 being shoe-horned into the insane asylum by the Willamette. Back on campus, the university leased property at its main entrance to Phil Knight. In turn, he invested $41 million into an academic support center for student athletes and donated the John Jaqua Center back to the university.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This same out-of-the-box thinking: lease-build-donate plan is being used for the $68 million, 130,000-square foot football operations center, located adjacent to Autzen Stadium, the Moshofsky Center and the Casanova Center.

Oregon has come light years in the past 25 years, including winning the conference five more times since the 1994 Rose Bowl team. The Ducks are 34-6 in the last three years, including two visits to the Rose Bowl (winning this past January) and a trip to the BCS National Championship Game.

You would think everyone would be happy on campus by the success of the self-sufficient Athletic Department and “on average” that is the case, but jealousy still persists. Guess no good deed (or deeds) or achievement goes unpunished.

Some are now coming to the conclusion that college sports are big business. This point is evidenced by the debut this week of the Pac-12 network, which will provide $10 million in new revenue to each school’s athletic department. Some wonder if prime-time, college sports is inconsistent with the missions of great universities. They lament that an athletic arms race has ensued…and to some extent that is the case. It’s called competition.

There also has been an undeniable payoff that has benefitted academics as well. As a full-time instructor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, I marvel at the number of students who wear the school colors to class. Success on the field and the court contributes to greater morale on campus and in the classroom.

Obviously, I note the expenditures for athletics (e.g., the $227 million Matthew Knight Arena and PK Park for the Oregon baseball team), but I also walk by virtually every day the William W. Knight Law School and the Knight Library. Uncle Phil has not only benefitted students who happen to be athletes, but regular students who are not athletes.

Certainly, not every building on campus is state of the art, but nonetheless some are striking including the Lillis School of Business and soon the ($15 million for 15,000 new square feet of space) newly renovated Allen Hall for the School of Journalism and Communication. I am looking forward to teaching at the new Allen Hall starting in the winter term.

Is there a direct connection between the success and national stature of the Oregon Ducks and the dramatic increase in enrollment and donations to Oregon? Some may try to argue against this point, but I will go to the mat saying there has to be a correlation. Ten years ago, 19,000 attended Oregon. Today, there are 25,000 students. The average incoming freshman GPA was a record 3.59 last year. There are more students; they are smarter and their retention rate is higher. Something absolutely Ducky is happening.

Oregon is a state-assisted university with only single digit percent of its total costs being provided from Salem. The rest has to come from tuition, fees and donations. Winning builds pride and that in turns spurs check writing from alums and fans. With some governments around the nation coming to the realization that the spending orgy is over, more needs to come from those who can contribute to their favorite school.

I went to Oregon back in the 1970s, but earned my bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting Journalism from USC. This past March, I received my master’s degree in Communication and Society from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. And 23 years ago, I bought Oregon season seats at Autzen Stadium. I have been a witness to the Golden Age of Oregon football and an upgrade in academics as well. That’s what I call a job well done.

Yep, I was an Oregon fan before it was cool.

http://www2.registerguard.com/cms/index.php/duck-football/comments/lights-go-up-today-on-pac-12s-tv-network-era/

http://harbaugh.uoregon.edu/

http://www.registerguard.com/web/newslocalnews/28375820-41/center-football-athletics-university-knight.html.csp

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Baker

http://www.ehow.com/info_8144923_history-sports-scholarships.html

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