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Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Faculty Critique of University Budget Cuts

Eva von Dassow, a professor of Classic and Near Eastern Studies, reacts to proposed budget cuts at the University of Minnesota: 

For more, see Inside Higher Ed.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2010/07/a-faculty-.html

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Comments

I took a look at her faculty bio. She understands Biblical Hebrew, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Greek, Latin and, the moderns, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew. I am gobsmacked. That amount of knowledge inside one person...what a treasure. I have no idea about the underlying issue, but she possesses a formidable mind and I give her the benefit of the doubt.

Posted by: guy in the veal calf office | Jul 29, 2010 12:15:48 PM

she uses a lot of big words and long sentences. her message is better suited for reading as opposed to listening.

Posted by: anon | Jul 29, 2010 4:00:14 PM

I found Prof. von Dassow pretty easy to listen to. She's articulate, as one might expect given her credentials. Looking at the video, it's interesting to note the device on the podium that signals how much time the speaker has left. This is commonplace in courts of appeal; but I was unaware the practice had spread to academia.

Posted by: Jake | Jul 29, 2010 5:01:32 PM

She claims that liberal arts students subsidize the more practical majors. That sounds accurate, but I wonder how long parents will continue to pay high tuition for liberal arts education.

The university's administration might be anticipating this trend and attempting either to cut its exposure to a downturn in liberal arts enrollment or to make room for a selective reduction in tuition for liberal arts.

Top-tier institutions will not face any pressure to change as long as they have a surplus of applicants, but I would expect some severe hardship in the low and middle tiers of higher education.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Jul 29, 2010 8:44:24 PM

"I took a look at her faculty bio. She understands Biblical Hebrew, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Aramaic, Greek, Latin and, the moderns, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew. I am gobsmacked. That amount of knowledge inside one person...what a treasure."

A little skeptical on this one. Some people are genius linguists. She may indeed know all of these in depth. It is more likely she needs to consult dictionaries for translation work.

Unfortunately, her mannerism at the podium comes off as somewhat "know it all" and entitled. I generally find people with those types of mannerisms are not nearly as smart as their mannerism project.

"She claims that liberal arts students subsidize the more practical majors. That sounds accurate, but I wonder how long parents will continue to pay high tuition for liberal arts education. "

She is probably correct. In my mind, however, the real questions are why are we trying to regiment liberal arts by giving formal degrees? Why should people pay thousands of dollars a year for info they can pull from the Internet and libraries and should be enjoying while studing? She complains about "factory line" degrees but the current graduation standards are all about placing *all* knowledge in little boxes.

I bet she wouldn't like this, but I'd say the best way to improve liberal arts is to take them out of the system we use to judge the practical knowledge training courses. (By the way, I have a BA from a highly ranked liberal arts college. I have since recovered and gained a skill or two that allows me to earn a living. ;) )

Posted by: Amy | Jul 31, 2010 4:56:32 PM