In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.
The Planet Money podcast from NPR has a running feature called "Today's Economic Indicator" (or something like that). It's a number plucked from wherever that's meant to be suggestive of something larger.
I've heard a number of good ones locally of late. My local economic indicators for Fall of 2009:
--usual utilization rate of work-study money on campus: 75-80%
--amount by which our work-study allocation increased this year: 50%
--this year's utilization rate for work-study money on campus: 100%
On the bright side, we're able to fill every work-study position on campus, including some long-neglected ones. (Every computer lab is staffed!) We've also vastly increased our work-study allocation for off-campus community service. On the down side, that's because we no longer compete with off-campus jobs. There aren't any. For most of our students, we're the only game in town.
--this Fall's total enrollment gain relative to last Fall: approx. 15%
--this Fall's tuition increase relative to last Fall: approx. 6%
--this Fall's increase in financial aid money relative to last Fall: slightly over 30%
The proportions tell a story.
--number of quarterly cuts we took in our public funding last year: 4
--number of quarterly cuts we've taken so far this year: 1 and counting
When you plan on a yearly cycle, and you sell a two-year degree if everything goes right, this cycle is devastating.
--proportion of our budget covered by state/local funding three years ago: half
--proportion projected by this July: one-third
Luckily, our students are wealthy, employed, and easily able to afford the difference. Oh, wait...