Reality Check

The Reality Check blog, from John V. Lombardi, follows the endlessly fascinating parade of criticism and defense of the higher education business.

May 27, 2008 - 4:29pm
A recent Inside HigherEd (May 27, 2008), and elsewhere in the media, reflects much excitement about the decision by various highly selective institutions to stop requiring the SAT or ACT for admission to their colleges or universities. This is surely an interesting phenomenon, but whether it is good news or not depends on your perspective.
April 29, 2008 - 12:54pm
One of the more interesting features of the current enthusiasm for discussing college costs and the elaborate mechanisms to discount tuition and fees for various classes of students at elite institutions is confusion about the process. Some approach this conversation as if it were about dramatic changes in the opportunities for poor but smart high school graduates to attend elite institutions, previously out of reach. Although this may end up as a result for some, the manipulations of the financial aid process are actually about how to buy student talent more competitively.
April 23, 2008 - 9:46am
If we are focused on improvement, we have to design a strategy for improvement. Although it is possible to have grand ideas and elaborate discussions about the importance of this or that within the university's portfolio of activities, the critical issue is to know what defines competitive achievement and what drives success in this competition.
April 21, 2008 - 11:35am
NOTE: This semester we’ve had an active conversation in a graduate course on Managing Universities here at LSU. This blog has suffered as my enthusiasm for arguing about university issues has been diverted to the class discussion list. The participants in this course have provoked some good discussion, and what follows is some of the traffic on my side of a conversation about how universities (and in this context we mean research universities) manage themselves to achieve improvement and enhance competitiveness.
February 5, 2008 - 4:44pm
In recent weeks we’ve seen flurries of enthusiasm about various interrelated topics, all about money. We hear of the concern about the relationship between the payout rate from college and university endowments and the rise in tuition and fees. We see confusion about the maneuvering of elite institutions to provide non-loan financial aid to desirable student populations with family incomes ranging above $100K. And we read about the increase in potential payments to division I-A student-athletes.
December 9, 2007 - 5:05pm
This is the time of endless speculation about which division I-A college football team is the best in America. We have polls, computer rankings, conference championships, and the high profile BCS (Bowl Championship Series) program. Our experts (which include just about everyone who follows college sports) argue with great passion about which scheme is the appropriate method for anointing the “best college football team in America.” This controversy lives and repeats itself because we can never get it right.
November 27, 2007 - 1:49pm
Over the past decade much discussion has focused on the growing percentage of college teaching done by contingent faculty. Variously seen as the exploitation of an academic proletariat, the consequence of hostility towards tenure, or a response to difficult economic circumstances, this issue manifests itself in many forms.
November 15, 2007 - 9:48am
OK, I’m following the conversation in Washington about putting universities and colleges on a watch list if they increase their tuition by a percentage deemed too high. What a wonderfully nonsensical notion.
November 2, 2007 - 1:50pm
Testing enthusiasm continues to grow among friends and critics of higher education. My own enthusiasm for the endless standardized testing schemes proposed tends to be limited. Nonetheless, even as some protest the effects of standardized entrance tests such as the SAT and the ACT, others extol the power of accountability based on standardized exit tests.
October 1, 2007 - 12:32pm
Since at least the early 20th century, it has been fashionable to attack college athletics as distorting the priorities of American colleges and universities, and there is often much evidence to support the attacks. The difficulty in taking these challenges seriously is that they are often unclear about the context within which college athletics functions and undervalue the significance of the constituencies that support this part of the American collegiate enterprise.


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