Good News For People Who Report Almost Exclusively On Bad News

Today in Slate, I could have torn the University of Akron a new one for threatening 55 programs, or written a diatribe about the new report proving that non-teaching employees at American universities have more than doubled in the past 25 years. And make no mistake, I mention those ignominious events. But I also got two pieces of news about universities (and states) doing it right (or, in Michigan’s case, SORT of right, as their diversity still blows, though the new emphasis on Pell Grants may help this considerably!). So I decided to focus on them.

A rare Schuman Good News column. And fitting, too, because I am about to leave for the doctor’s right now to get what may well be some very bad news. It’s been enjoyable (sort of) for the past week and a half to think that I might still be pregnant. But I must go in today prepared for, and in a sense expecting, the worst.

I’ve got on my pilliest sweater (sorry, Mom!), my hat-head has not even been TOUCHED today (went straight from bed to under-hat), and I am readying myself for another hour with the wand up my hoo-ha not knowing what’s happening, and then perhaps some very tough news.

I am prepared for anything at this point. I really, really am. If they tell me I have an Eraserhead-style worm in there I’ll be like, “Sure I do.” If they tell me I have phantom octuplets, I’ll be like, “So that’s why I’m so fat.” So, wish me the best if you feel like doing that kind of thing, but know that I’ve got the husband by my side and I’m ready as I’ll ever be.

11 thoughts on “Good News For People Who Report Almost Exclusively On Bad News

  1. Thanks for the good news, Rebecca! As a grad student at the University of Michigan I just wanted to mention three issues that currently have my colleagues and me up in arms in case you need more to write about: very very low minority enrollments, the centralization of administrative staff, and the building of a fancy new graduate dorm that nobody wants or can afford to live in. Best of luck at the doctor!


  2. Non-teaching employees are not necessarily bad. If a professor brings in a huge grant, and has two hire some lab techs or even a research assistant professor, isn’t that a point in the WIN column? I’d rather be on a soft-money research position than working at Panera, even if the black bean soup is hella-good.

    Also, good for Iowa State! But, is it good for the humanities, etc.? My old department (engineering) has, along with the rest of the college of engineering at good old Moo U, been hiring tenure-track folks regularly, perhaps at twice the rate of attrition. That’s good! But are the tenure lines at the cost of, say, German tenure lines? I don’t know. But I wish I knew. Perhaps Adjunct Nate Silver knows.

    I could write more, but I have to get back to a grant. I’m trying to get some money to hire a post-doc and get some data in and publications out….


    • The report shows that non-teaching employees are almost all of the “student services” variety, i.e. turning college into Club Med, and providing remedial assistance for over-recruited students who are not college-ready.


      • Fair enough.

        Perhaps a useful metric would be non-teaching employees hired using general or overhead funds (rock-climbing instructors), as separate from those hired on direct project funds (beamline operators).


  3. Yeah much as I love to see my institution get some good press, there’s a lot of f*cked up stuff happening at Michigan. Rick Snyder is no angel, and the regents push to centralize administrative services to the detriment of the staff we have and faculty/student time has been very demoralizing (especially since the “rationale” has been to reduce tuition increases and yet the once huge savings has melted (unlike polar vortex winter) into a paltry.2 million off the heads of long-time female support staff who earn maybe $40K). Not so rosy.


  4. Sadly, don’t get too excited about ISU: the props they are getting for this are not being taken as good news to be celebrated and pasted across advertising flyers by TPTB in the state of Iowa. The IA board of regents has just hired Toilet & Douche Consultants LLC to do an efficiency audit of all the public universities that will suggest more online classes and fewer full time faculty (and especially fewer TT faculty).


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