All posts by Frank Donoghue


The Struggle to Save the University of Missouri Press

When I last wrote about the proposed closure of the University of Missouri Press on June 4, the story had recently broken and I had little, and as it turns out incomplete, information. My central point in that post was simply that the closing of a flagship university’s press, were it actually to happen, would mark a paradigm shift in American universities. However skeptical one might be about academic scholarship as the best way of disseminating knowledge, that is our current system; most import…


Should Student Evaluations Be Anonymous?

The Gainesville Sun broke a story on July 19 that has potentially significant implications for postsecondary instructors across the country. The story concerned a lawsuit brought by Darnell Rhea, an adjunct instructor at Santa Fe College in Gainesville, Fla., who claimed that his contract was not renewed because a student filed a complaint against him. The e-mail “complains of Rhea’s classroom behavior, his humiliating remarks to students, and his unorthodox teaching methodologies.” Rhea simply …


The Penn State Scandal, Part 2

As promised, today’s post will follow up on my last by offering a brief context that explains the NCAA’s traditional jurisdiction and how it typically behaves. Before the NCAA handed down its sanctions against Penn State this week, college football fans and sportscasters alike were speculating that they would administer the “death penalty,” that is, cancel the team’s entire 2012 season of play. Let’s look at the most infamous time that phrase was invoked and that penalty was imposed by the NCA…


The Penn State Scandal Revisited

Well, it’s impossible to resist weighing in on the NCAA’s sanctions of Penn State’s football program, handed down on Monday. It was the lead story in today’s Chronicle and it’s the elephant in the room even for those academics who don’t care about intercollegiate sports. My verdict on the sanctions echoes my opinions of the Sandusky case, about which I wrote last month, but I’m even more surprised and outraged by what the NCAA decided to do. In short, they treated a football program as if …


Weighing Teaching and Research: a Longstanding Dilemma

I’m grateful to Bruce Henderson for writing a terrific article in the Chronicle on June 11, “Just Because We’re Not Publishing Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Working.” The article concludes with a nod to Ernest Boyer, who more than twenty years ago argued that teaching should be redefined as scholarship, an argument only to be met with positive lip service and no policy changes that enacted his recommendations. Year after year, administrators have praised Boyer and excellence in teaching in general, but…


Do Too Many Young People Go to College?

This is the most complex of the Wall Street Journal’s Special Reports of June 27: the question of whether too many young people are going to college. The debate involves four interlocutors: Richard Vedder, director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Sandy Baum, senior fellow at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Education and Human Development, James O’Neill, co-founder of the Theil Foundation’s 20 Under 20 Fellowship, and Vivek Wadhwa, a fellow at Sta…


Should More Student Aid Be Based on Need, Not Merit?

This is a tougher issue from the Wall Street Journal’s June 25 report than the “tenure vs. nontenure” debate. The opponents here were Mark Kantrowitz and Greg Forster. Kantrowitz is publisher of and, Web sites about scholarships and financial aid. He is a board member of the National Scholarship Providers Association and the Center for Excellence in Education, who favors need-based financial aid. Forster is a senior fellow at the Friedman Foundation for Educational Cho…


Tenure: Yes or No?

This time I have my friend Gregory Kaplan, an honorary research fellow at the University of Hong Kong, to thank for alerting me to a special report on higher education in the Wall Street Journal (and a massive power outage in Ohio for preventing me from getting to it sooner!). The special report focuses on three key issues, and each of them deserves its own post. I’ll deal first with the question “Should Tenure for College Professors be Abolished?” The discussions of all three issues are framed …


Ugly Anti-Union Tactics at Duquesne U.

I have my former student Kate Luce Angell to thank for calling my attention to an attempt to quash labor organizing efforts among adjuncts at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.

The story was reported in The Chronicle on June 19, but a more detailed article by Mark Oppenheimer in The New York Times on June 22 offers a broader context that puts the administration at Duquesne in a very embarrassing light.

The good news is that adjuncts seem, at least for the moment, to have won.  Here are the fact…


Some Thoughts on the Sandusky Case

The Jerry Sandusky sexual-abuse case is unfolding as one of the most disgusting and embarrassing chapters in American collegiate sports. One scarcely knows where to begin:  the duration of the alleged abuses, the sheer number of people who apparently chose to look the other way. Everyone is asking, at the very least, who knew what and when did they know it?

A recent NPR article sums up the basics: “Sandusky is on trial, accused of sexually abusing 10 boys over a 15-year period. Opening argumen…