Sunday, August 31, 2014

* And what will we do with all those Divinity Schools, Mr. Bruni ?

 You mean,
It was all a  2000-year

"The question is this: Which comes first, the faith or the feeling of transcendence? Is the former really a rococo attempt to explain and romanticize the latter, rather than a bridge to it? Mightn’t religion be piggybacking on the pre-existing condition of spirituality, a lexicon grafted onto it, a narrative constructed to explain states of consciousness that have nothing to do with any covenant or creed?"

Between Godliness and Godlessness
Frank Bruni
NYT 8/31/14

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

* The future of bloated American colleges and universities, mine included.


Cayuga Lake
in the background
Ithaca College's

In 1960 there were about 1200 colleges  and universities in the United States; by 2013 there were 4500, of which approximately 1700 were two year schools, or 300%  increase.  Yearly expenses for my first college in 1964 were $2850.00.  Today they are more like $39,000 with $14,000 added to that for room and board. Total: $53,000.

This bloat cannot not survive.  Thousands of colleges (mostly private) will close in the next twenty years according to Glenn Reynolds, the instapundit blogger. 

Perhaps they will be converted to senior living and recreation centers; at least I hope that will be their fate rather than winding up as shopping malls.

The Ivy League, and the sub-Ivies like Middlebury, will again become “finishing schools for the elite” which Glenn Reynolds claims they were until 1960, when they began to metastasize into their present expensive state of self-inflation and bloat . 

The rest, like Southern New Hampshire University, will become competency based 'companies' which sell academic degrees based on successful completion of competency exams. SNHU has "no faculty and no classrooms." Credit is awarded on competency not on time spent in class.  In other words, exposure to great minds shaping ideas in a lecture hall is irrelevant.

That so-called  'university' in New Hampshire boasts that it was named  "Number 12 in the top 50 most innovative 'companies' " by some award-designating magazine, not even recognizing that such a mercantile boast by a university debases Academia itself.

Some like Yale  (M. Div. ’80),  have always been finishing schools for the elite and even offer campuses which look like medieval fortresses. Indeed, Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library has a replica of Windsor Castle on its roof. 

One view of the replica of Windsor Castle atop Yale's Sterling Memorial Library

Another view of the replica of Windsor Castle atop Yale's Sterling Memorial Library
The Yale Campus
But in 2014 “elite” has been redefined with need-blind admissions policies on the basis of brains and talent, rather than bank-accounts and Blue blood; Thus, Yale and the other need-blind Ivies can no longer be accused of shunning the poor or disadvantaged.
Intellectual and talent elite fill their 'classrooms' -- a dinosaur term at Southern New Hampshire U.

When I graduated from Ithaca College's spanking new campus   (B.A. ’68)  overlooking Cayuga Lake  with a better view than Cornell, ordinary run-of-the-mill American colleges were well on their way to becoming what they are now----- country clubs for Joe College and Betty Coed, with lavishly equipped gymnasiums and handsomely furnished student unions.

Kent State University Student Union Building

Kent State University  (M. Ed ’72)  completed a student union the year I left in 1973, a gargantuan building as large as a major airport terminal.

The Bread Loaf School of English, a graduate wing of Middlebury College  (M.A. ’97), has a plain clapboard barn-like campus in Ripton, Vermont, but it boasts an actual log cabin which Robert Frost lived and wrote in when he was on its faculty.

Robert Frost's cabin
on the
Bread Loaf School of English campus,
Middlebury College

Yale and Bread Loaf  will survive as  part of the elite; and Kent State is too tax-payer subsidized to go under.

Perhaps Ithaca, which already has a senior citizen's living component, may successfully avoid the thousand college closures predicted by Glenn Reynolds.  Perhaps it will metamorphosize into something new: a regular degree-awarding college and simultaneously a college for senior citizens who want not a college degree but intellectual stimulation (and a Cayuga Lake four-season vacation): a retreat for the senior intellectual elite.

 I wish her well in this transitional time, my dear,  and first, alma mater.

Each New Year Eve
 Ithaca College lights up its twin towers
with the New Year number,
a vision which dominates all of Ithaca
from atop South Hill.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

* PK Lookalikes (23)

Maryann Cord, Mark Twain's Cook
 (source for Aunt Rachel)

Mary Todd Lincoln, First Lady

* PK Lookalikes (22)

Prince Harry (no occupation)

Mark Twain (writer)