It was announced that the “University” of Akron will eliminate 80 programs to make room for some enhanced majors, an esports program, and to save money. I propose that any institution of higher education that doesn’t offer its students degrees in philosophy, political science, sociology, history, most modern languages, mathematics, or physics not be allowed to call itself a university. If the bulk of your program offerings are professional programs then you aren’t a university. Akron isn’t the first regional “university” to slash academic departments/programs to focus on other issues. These sorts of cuts are only part of a growing trend (e.g. SUNY Albany, SUNY Stony Brook, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point). One that should come at a costs to the institutions . . . they need to hand in their “university” card. They might well be top-notch polytechnic or professional institutions but they’re not a university.
Choice teamed up with the Taylor and Francis Group to produce a white paper on the current landscape for institutional repositories (IR). While the report aims to survey the entire landscape, I should note that 93% of respondents were from academic institutions.
You can read the entire document HERE. Below, I’ve pulled some highlights from the report.
there are at least 600 IRs in an estimated 500 organizations in North America.
The Directory of Open Access Repositories (DOAR) indicates that DSpace and Digital Commons (bepress) are the most widely held in North America.
More than half the survey respondents had an instance of Digital Commons (58%), while more than a quarter had CONTENTdm (27%) and/or DSpace (26%).
Larger libraries with technical staff prefer to customize software while smaller libraries depend on a service model (such as Digital Commons) that provides IR and publishing capabilities with less impact on staff requirements. Recent growth among smaller institutions favors a service model.
Although half of institutions indicate that faculty and students make deposits, it is clear that the majority of content is mediated or deposited by library staff. Nearly half of the institutions have one or less than one equivalent staff working on the IR. The average staff for an IR is one or two people.
About 20% of university presses report to the library, and a larger number are developing partnerships with the library.
“Conservatives of all people should be appalled by the disdain shown for tradition, the life of the mind, and the past itself exhibited by Bevin and his fellow Kentucky Republicans. As I write this, among the many volumes forthcoming from the University of Kentucky Press is a 300-page collection of the letters of Russell Kirk, precisely the sort of project that would be ruinous for any mainstream publisher to undertake no matter how many units the latest Kardashian sisters cookbook shifts.”
The University of Chicago Press recently issued a two volume narrative history of the United States that is freely available online and reasonably priced ($30) in paperback.
As someone who’s responsible for my college’s history collection (and a former history teacher) I’m both impressed and excited for the future. These sorts of quality and reasonably priced offerings from scholarly presses (see also MIT Press) bode well for the future of scholarly publishing.
Check it out HERE.
The above image is a familiar one to folks who run an organizational/business Facebook Page. A page suggestion is when somebody (though, personally, I’m increasingly beginning to suspect Facebook itself for reasons that I’ll spell out below) suggests a change to your page’s hours, location, category, etc. Most recently someone suggested that my library’s Facebook page category be changed from “college & university” to “community college.” Over the last few weeks I’ve had suggestions (sometimes repeatedly) that, among other things, our phone number be changed, our hours be adjusted, etc. All of these suggestions have only two things in common. First, they are incorrect and second, Facebook will actually make the change unless we proactively respond. This is maddening. But don’t take my work for it. See this screenshot from Facebook’s “help center.”
So, why do I suspect that it’s actually Facebook making some of these suggestions? Well, here goes. First, because the nature of the changes are often partially correct. In the way that something scrapped from the web by an algorithm is often partially correct. For example, the suggested changes to the telephone number is a number that appears on our website but is not the number we want library users to call. Secondly, the changes seemed designed to get the page manager to interact with Facebook. Sites like Facebook are obsessed with getting users to “interact” with the site. One easy way to get Social Media Managers to “interact” is by simply threatening to wreck their page, unless they “engage” with the site. I once sent Facebook Business Help a direct message asking for assistance with a page issue. I received no assistance, but I did get an automated reply thanking me for my contribution and directing me to the Facebook Business Help Page. However, a few days later I began to receive suggestions to add more content and purchase add to “promote” my content.
So, I can’t prove it but I think that I’m being trolled by my own page.
Inside Higher Ed recently ran an in-depth profile on Jerry Falwell Jr. and his plans for the future of Liberty University.
Like most leaders, Falwell has a complex relationship with risk. He’s clearly not afraid of the big gambles, like investing in football or backing Trump. But when previous risks pay off, he can be conservative with the proceeds.
Liberty has invested a low percentage of its endowment into equities, between 20 percent and 30 percent, according to Falwell. It’s taking risks instead by pouring profits into its campus.
Construction on Liberty’s campus isn’t just limited to its athletic facilities. The university is in the midst of a $1 billion campus construction plan funded in large part by its online profits.
Projects include academic buildings, dormitories and a 275-foot-tall tower topped by a replica of the Liberty Bell. The tower, which will hold the university’s School of Divinity, sits on an academic lawn that tour guides say is larger than the lawn at the University of Virginia. It is named the Freedom Tower. Some students have referred to it as the Tower of Babel.
Read the rest here.
Image Credit: Murat Tanyel
I was recently privileged to spend an afternoon listening to papers and reflections on the life and work of Oswald Chambers, most well known as the writer of My Utmost for His Highest. Something that many of the presenters noted was Chambers’ insistence that “prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work. Yet we think of prayer as some commonsense exercise of our higher powers that simply prepares us for God’s work . . . prayer is the battle, and it makes no difference where you are.”
With this in mind, I came across a delightful op-ed by Rohan Maitzen in the LA Times. Maitzen argues that studying literature offers “the thrill of discovering what words can do, and of thinking hard about what they mean. Literature is not just a means to other ends. Like all art, it deserves attention for its own sake — and also for ours. Literature is the record of the many stories we have told about ourselves and our world, and of the many ways we have found to use language artfully and beautifully, but also cruelly and obtusely. It both reflects us and shapes us. We don’t need any excuses for taking it seriously . . . even if this isn’t a winning strategy, at least we would be advocating for our classes in a principled way, rather than trying to convince people that they should study George Eliot to practice their teamwork.” Read the rest here.
I’m certainly not equating praying with reading literature, although I believe that both are worth doing and can even push us toward the true and beautiful. Rather, I was struck by how our current cultural ethos attempts to ruthlessly instrumentalize things that are inherently worth doing.
I end my thoughts with a quote from C.S. Lewis in his important, but under-appreciated, book An Experiment in Criticism.
Literary experience heals the wound, without undermining the privilege, of individuality. There are mass emotions which heal the wound; but they destroy the privilege. In them our separate selves are pooled and we sink back into sub-individuality. But in reading great literature I become a thousand men and yet remain myself. Like a night sky in the Greek poem, I see with a myriad eyes, but it is still I who see. Here, as in worship, in love, in moral action, and in knowing, I transcend myself; and am never more myself than when I do.