Post Academic

Follow-Ups (Yes, with another Zizek/SNL update)

Hope you are all enjoying your Memorial Day weekends!  We just wanted to follow up on a few stories we’ve covered here on the blog.

"UC logo" (Public Domain)

UC Budget Crisis: Earlier this month, we wrote about how the Governator was refusing to sign a state budget that did not include substantially more robust funding to the UCs, the Cal States, and community colleges, to the tune of replenishing $848 million of the $1.7 billion taken out the higher education systems.  The go-to blog on issues related to the UC budget crisis, Remaking the University, offers a skeptical take on Gov. Ahnold’s talk about funding increases to higher ed.  In particular, Michael Meranze points out that the tuition hikes for 2010-11 are still in place.

While we’re not exactly sure what’s happening on that front, the breaking news on the budget front from the UC–surprise, surprise–is all about further cuts and not about refilled coffers.  The latest involves a streamlining of the UC system to maximize efficiencies by centralizing certain operations like payroll and purchasing (that’s my best approximation of admin speak), rather than letting each UC campus do its own thing.  The LA Times has decided it likes this move, although Remaking the University that the news only obscures the fact that the “UC’s state funding remains destructively low”.

Middlesex U Philosophy: A lot has happened since we covered the impending shuttering of the Middlesex U Philosophy department.  Four Middlesex Philosophy students and three faculty members were suspended by the university for participating in “occupation” events.  This action has triggered a response from intellectuals from Europe and the U.S.–with Etienne Balibar first into the breach–rallying in support of their colleagues and decrying the decision of the Middlesex admin.  The suspensions have only intensified efforts to defend the Philosophy dept, leading to another set of protests this past Thursday.  For more info, check out the Save Middlesex Philosophy blog.

"Slavoj Zizek" by Mariusz Kubik (Creative Commons license)

The Slavoj Zizek/SNL Campaign: This wouldn’t be an end of the week follow up without an update on the Zizek/SNL Facebook campaign.  The member roll of the Facebook fanpage has swelled to 4,760 and the effort has yielded write-ups in Inside Higher Ed and even Huffington Post.  All the attention has swept up the campaign’s originator, Alexander Hanna, who sent an email to the Facebook fans urging them to spread the word to likeminded folks and  “actually make this happen”–so we’re doing out part!  Don’t know if 4,760 viewers would exactly constitute a ratings bonanza for SNL, since it took at least (more than?) 500,000 fans to get Betty White on SNL–though, hey, 4,760 fans is nothing to sneeze at, especially when the Post Academic Facebook fanpage has been stuck on 58 members for a while now!  Maybe a reality check is in order, but 4,760 fans could probably get Zizek on Carson Daly or something?

And get this: the man himself is speaking at UCI this coming Friday, June 4.  What if we got a little hat with a “Press” tag stuck in the band and asked Zizek whether he knows about the campaign?  That might make for a more memorable academic celeb sighting than the Homi Bhabha fiasco.

Broke-Ass Schools: Getting a little less broke-ass?

Posted in Broke-Ass Schools by postacademic on May 6, 2010
Tags: , , , ,

No, we’re not hosting some kind of GOP convention here at Post Academic today.  It’s just that when I hear “earmarks”, I think of John McCain, just like UC budget issues–usually woes–conjure up images of my namesake, the Governator.  Here’s some news about how broke-ass state universities are trying to become a little less broke-ass…

"John McCain Seattle" by Dan Bennett (Creative Commons)

1. This is bad news…for John McCain!: Last week, Inside Higher Ed reported on congressional appropriations earmarked for institutions of higher learning, which, by their estimate, came to $1,982,532,150.  Overall, that accounts for about 12% of the total amount of earmarks for 2010, around $16 bill.  Of course, let’s not be purity trolls about earmarks like John McCain, especially if they go to people and entities that need money: So long as these colleges aren’t researching ways to kill people (which they might be), earmarks can help financially strapped institutions conduct research and hire people, among other things.

Interestingly enough, guess where many of the schools which have the prime places at the pork barrel trough are from?  “Conservatively” fiscal red states, of course, like Mississippi and Louisiana, which thought about rejecting federal stimulus funds.  That isn’t to say they shouldn’t get the earmarks–more power to ’em!–but you gotta admit there’s at least a little bit of saying one thing and doing another by the politicians going on here.  On with the top 10:

1. University of Alabama–around $59 mill

2. Mississippi State–around $48 mill

3. Texas A&M–$40 mill

4. University of North Dakota–almost $40 mill

5. Ole Miss–$33 mill+

6. University of Hawaii–$33 mill+

7. UMass-Boston–$33 mill

8. Utah State–$27 mill

9. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology–$27 mill

10. Louisiana State–$26 mill+

See the rest of the list and analysis on education earmarks at the IHE story linked above.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger Vancouver 2010 torch relay" by Toby (Creative Commons)

2. “I’ll be back”–with more funding?  Maybe?: Last week, the Governator announced that he won’t be signing any state budget without significant provisions for funding to the UCs, the Cal States, and the state’s community colleges, with $848 million going back to the state’s university systems.  Also, any budget bill must include funding for the Cal Grant financial aid program.  $848 million is a huge number, of course, but the scary thing is that it’s only about half of the $1.7 billion budget cut the three systems have absorbed this year.  UC Prez Mark Yudof has described his boss’s decision to restore half the budget cuts as “visionary”, although I’m not sure whether that counts as an endorsement or a kiss of death to most UC followers.  (This story also gives us an excuse to link this NYTimes interview with Yudof, which never gets old!)  So maybe Ahnold isn’t going to be Mr. Education Budget Freeze any more, but it doesn’t seem like the UC is out of the furlough and tuition raise woods just quite yet, either.