Sunday, November 20, 2011

CSU Budget Woes Redux

From the Chancellor's Office:

Your tuition is going up again!

That's right. At the board meeting, held the week before Thanksgiving 2011, the CSU Board of Trustees approved a $498 per year undergraduate tuition increase, effective fall 2012.

Here's some of the other highlights from the CSUEB University Communique:
*The CSU Board of Trustees adopted the 2012-13 budget

*The CSU Board requests state lawmakers provide an additional $333 million in funding.

*Approximately $64 million in revenue would come from tuition fee revenues associated with enrollment growth of 5 percent (approx 20,000 students)

*Tuition for full time undergraduates would rise to $5,970 from $5472 in fall 2012.

*Approximately 45 percent of the CSU's undergraduates would not pay the tuition fee increase due to grants or aid. According to cappex.com 63 percent of CSUEB students receive financial aid.

*Households earning $70,000 or less qualify for financial aid.

It has been reported by Fox that "The increase will be on top of a 12 percent tuition hike that took effect this school year, and a 9 percent increase that was imposed in 2010."

It seems ridiculous for the Chancellor's office to pin its budget hopes on the magnanimity of state lawmakers to "provide an additional $333 million in funding." Since there is virtually no chance that California will give any more money to the CSU system, this sounds like the CSU Board of Trustees is passing the buck.

Is it really true that 45 percent of the CSU student body pays nothing in tuition, so they won't be impacted by the tuition increase? Well, then who will be impacted by the tuition hike? Obviously, parents and students who are paying their college tuition bill, along with the taxpayers. If you have a job, you are a taxpayer - look at your paycheck stub.

If you are one of the students who pay nothing, would you be willing to pay $25 per quarter? The CSU currently educates approximately 412,000 students and if 45 percent of them are on financial aid that would raise $4,635,000 per quarter (412,000 students X 45% X $25) or $13,905,000 annually (3 semesters). While this is a long way from budget gap of $333 million, it's a start.

How about a progressive tuition plan? Student tuition could be based on family earnings, people who earn more would pay more.

How will you be impacted by this next round of tuition increases? If you were in charge, how would you raise revenues and lower costs in the California State University system?

Saturday, November 19, 2011

RateMyProfessor.com Research Study

The Chronicle of Higher Ed published an article entitled, "Researchers RateMyProfessors, and Find It Useful, if not Chili-Pepper Hot." The research "suggests the popular service is a more useful barometer of instructor quality than you might think, at least in the aggregate. And the study, the latest of several indicating RateMyProfessors should not be dismissed, raises questions about how universities should deal with a site whose ratings have been factored into Forbes magazine's college rankings and apparently even into some universities' personnel evaluations."

Another study cited in the article, "concluded that the site's evaluations 'closely matched students' real-life concerns about the quality of instruction in the classroom. The paper added, 'While issues such as personality and appearance did enter into the postings, these were secondary motivators compared to more salient issues such as competence, knowledge, clarity, and helpfulness.'"

Professor Comments

Professors, like the one pictured at left, can get a bit squirrelly when it comes to criticism. Some cherry-picked examples from the Chronicle's article:

"The only way such anonymous online "evals" might actually earn some credibility is if we knew the grade and GPA of the student doing the posting . . . too much opportunity for payback against the prof." Huh? What only smart students will give valid evaluations? Hmmm . . . is that an oxymoron? (Use your dictionary app)!

Here's another: "The lemming response is also a strong biasing factor. A student's remarks about a professor will often be swayed by previous comments made by other students." Students are lemmings? (Use your dictionary app)! It's not a compliment.

And finally,
When discussing voluntary response samples and web polls in my stats class, I show RateMyProfessor on the projector screen, have the students pick a state, pick a school from that state, and pick a teacher from that school. I ask if anyone knows the teacher. Assuming my students are honest, I never use a teacher we know. Then I rate them as helpful, clear, hard and always hot. For the course I put in something like 'intro 101'.

The students laugh along until I click on "submit". Then a shocked silence fills the room as they realize that I really submitted the rating and it's now a permanent part of the web site.

It's a far more effective lesson on web poll validity than any lecture I could give (and it takes less time).
All I can say, I hope he never "picks" me.

The Weird Factors

Weird Factor No. 1. In this time of fiscal crisis, paid college researchers are spending our hard-earned money researching "RateMyProfessor"? Shouldn't they be researching things like, oh I don't know, which professions and what markets will be viable once students graduate?

Weird Factor No. 2. This is the FOURTH academic study of RateMyProfessor.com by an institution of higher learning. AYK? See Weird Factor No. 1.

Weird Factor No. 3. Professors? Chili-Pepper-Hot? Weird.

Weird Factor No. 4. According to The Chronicle's article (and professor comments) you would think that none of these professors ever deign to look at their rating. In the infamous words of Mel Brooks (look him up on Wikipedia), "C'mon you do it, you know you do it. Everybody does it! I just did it and I'm ready to do it again!"

Yes, I have to admit I just looked at my rating.

Do you use RateMyProfessor.com or some other website to make class choices? Do you think taxpayers should continue to fund studies like those mentioned?

Friday, November 18, 2011

CSU Budget Woes

Students at CSU don't have to be told that their dollar isn't going as far as it used to when it comes to obtaining a college education.


For a larger image click here.

According to this graphic, student tuition has risen 106 percent since 1998. Full-time faculty salaries are down 10 percent while administration pay is up 20 to 23 percent.

Full-time versus Part-time

Most would assume an institution of higher learning would be made up of full-time teachers, but according to the CSU, in 2010 only 35 percent of full-time employees are faculty. In raw numbers the CSU employs 11,227 full-time faculty (teachers) and 20,459 full-time executives/administrators, secretaries, paraprofessionals, skilled crafts persons, and maintenance workers.

But the CSU also employs 11,198 part-time employees and most of them are your teachers: in fact, 9,701. Just 1,497 part-timers make up the ranks of the administration and support staff.

In other words, part-time instructors make up 23 percent of the CSU work force, while only 4 percent of administrators, clerical, other professionals, etc. are part-time workers.

Compensation

According to a 2007 San Francisco Chronicle article, CSU Chancellor "Reed's annual salary of $362,500 would grow to $377,000 under his proposal. Since becoming chancellor in 1998, Reed also has been provided with a state-owned residence as well as a $30,000-a-year retirement supplement from the CSU Foundation." He got the raise and then promptly said the CSU could not afford to give any others.

Full-time lecturers averaged $59,253 in 2010. There are 1,710 employed throughout the CSU system.

Your teachers, part-time lecturers (9,120), averaged $48,706 in 2010. This figure is a full-time equivalent, so very few, if any, of your teachers earned this amount. Figures from the Office of the Chancellor.

Enough is Enough?

So what was the recent one day strike about? According to the California Faculty Association, "Twice Chancellor Reed has insisted that faculty not see a penny of the salary increases negotiated for 2008/09 and 2009/10. Two different neutral fact-finders . . . have recommended that faculty receive some of these increases. But Reed does not care. It has come as no surprise that the Chancellor is now insisting on take-backs."

Where does the money go?

According to the CSU, 84 percent of its budget is spent on salaries for 43,000 employees. Of that 30.4 percent is spent on the 20,928 campus instructors and 30.5 percent is given to the 21,956 administrators, secretaries, executives, plant, fiscal operations, etc.

Most of the budget is spent on people, but 25% of the budget is allocated to "institutional support (fundraising, general administration, fiscal operations, information technology, etc.), operation and management of plant (including energy costs), public service and applied research."

Cost savings and budget cuts

In order to save money, there were furloughs in 2009-2010 and cuts to student enrollment.

CSUEB saved money by investing in solar technology. "The university's solar electric system is estimated to generate 1.45 million kilowatt hours of electricity . . . During peak periods such as summer months the system provides 30 percent of the university's energy needs, saving about $200,000 a year in energy costs."

But when it comes to budget cuts, the CSU is keeping all its options open "including enrolling fewer students in the upcoming academic year and reducing administrative costs while placing a priority on direct instruction and faculty class offerings." But nothing is certain. "By June 1 the CSU will recommend budget options for public review and comment prior to adoption of a budget implementation plan."

This is our school. I have been furloughed and have seen class size double, but it's your education, where should money be spent? Where should funding be cut?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Top 5 Grammar and Spelling Mistakes that Make you Look DUMB

Every life has its bmups, errr, I mean bumps, but don't let these basic grammar and spelling mistakes be one of them.

One of these errors on a resume can cost you a job. Already have a job? Well, these blunders used often enough in emails or other interoffice communications will keep you on the bottom rung of the ladder.
Leslie Ayers at Free Republic offers seven grammar and spelling mistakes that will make you looks stupid.

Here is Leslie's top 4:

You're / Your
The apostrophe means it's a contraction of two words; "you're" is the short version of "you are" (the "a" is dropped), so if your sentence makes sense if you say "you are," then you're good to use you're. "Your" means it belongs to you, it's yours.

* You're = if you mean "you are" then use the apostrophe
* Your = belonging to you
Correct Example: You're going to love your new job!

It's / Its
This one is confusing, because generally, in addition to being used in contractions, an apostrophe indicates ownership, as in "Dad's new car." But, "it's" is actually the short version of "it is" or "it has." "Its" with no apostrophe means belonging to it.

* It's = it is
* Its = belonging to it
Correct Example: It's important to remember to bring your telephone and its extra battery.

They're / Their / There
"They're" is a contraction of "they are." "Their" means belonging to them. "There" refers to a place (notice that the word "here" is part of it, which is also a place – so if it says here and there, it's a place).

* There = a place
* They're = they are
* Their = belonging to them
Correct Example: They're going to miss their teachers when they leave there.

A lot / Alot / Allot
First the bad news: there is no such word as "alot."

* A lot = a place, like a lot of empty land OR * A lot= an abundant quantity
*Allot= to distribute or parcel out.
Correct Example: There is a lot of confusion about this one, so I'm going to allot ten minutes to review these rules of grammar.

For purposes of college usage avoid using "a lot" to mean abundant. Instead use abundant, plentiful, or large in number.

And number FIVE:

Choosing the incorrect word from Spell Checker.
You've written the sentence, "I am a very fsat typist" in a cover letter attached to your resume. Spell check pops up offering >fast, fat, first. In haste you choose, "fat" making your sentence read, "I am a very fat typist" - meaning large, not phat.

So while you have chosen a correctly spelled word, you've chosen the wrong one. To solve this problem, pay close attention and proofread EVERYTHING before you hit "send" or "print."

Three of these common grammar mistakes deal with contractions, so avoid using contractions and you will eliminate some basic errors.

Can you come up with your own correct examples using one or two of these five basic grammar and spelling errors?