All posts by Peter Wood


Galloping to Insolvency

The spiraling rise of component costs in higher education is helping to inflate the higher-education bubble. One of the reasons those costs are out of control is that colleges and universities see no merit in keeping track of some of the larger ones. You cannot exercise fiscal discipline if you have no idea what you’re spending. Higher education has at least two major cost drivers that it hides from rational oversight: diversity and sustainability. In Green Acres, I wrote about a new Solyndra-li…


Aiming at the Suburbs and Hitting Higher Ed

Stanley Kurtz’s new book, Spreading the Wealth: How Obama Is Robbing the Suburbs to Pay for the Cities, is not likely to be a campus bestseller. Some 88 percent of contributions from faculty members to candidates in the 2008 presidential election went to Obama and estimates of the percent of voting faculty members who voted for him range from 80 to 92 percent. Though some of the ardor for Obama has cooled, he remains far and away more popular on campus than Mitt Romney. Moreover, books arguing t…


Too Many College Students? Yes, Unfortunately

I appreciate President Rosenberg’s praise of my skill as a writer and return the compliment. I also share his hope that my predictions about the financial mess that lies ahead for American higher education prove mistaken. I don’t welcome “collapse,” though I do think it is a distinct possibility.

Dr. Rosenberg takes strongest exception to my statement that too many students are going to college. His exception, however, is grounded on a quiet emendation of what I said, and several of the comment …


Green Acres

How much does “diversity” cost a college or university? It must be a lot.

If you think of the number of diversity deans, provosts, and other administrators who owe their positions entirely to institutional pursuit of diversity, and count their salaries, benefits, overhead, and operating budgets;  add scholarships and financial aid earmarked to students whose enrollment increases “diversity;” mix in the expense of faculty positions created primarily for the purpose of enhancing diversity; an…


Helium, Part 2

The bubble-psychology of the consumer who holds fast to the belief that every bet is an investment; the mesmerizing allure of the prestige college that can dazzle parents to overlook the meretricious quality of the education it provides; the exigency-driven tuition hikes at public universities; the gamesmanship of college tuition—these are parts of the bubble as it currently exists (see Part 1), but they aren’t what drives its expansion. What is inflating the bubble still further is federal po…


Bubble Update: More Helium, Part 1

The bubble in American higher education is inflating rapidly. Ironically this is happening just at the moment when large numbers of Americans are noticing that there is indeed a higher-ed bubble—that colleges and universities are enrolling too many students at too high a price; that the market for college graduates is saturated and oversupplied; and that there is a serious disparity between the costs and the rewards of the typical college-degree program.

One might think that parents who have som…


The Regnerus Affair at UT Austin

Updated 3:30 pm 7/16/12.  Mark Regnerus, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin, is under attack.  In the July 2012 issue of Social Science Research, (Vol. 41, Is. 4) he published a peer-reviewed article, “How Different Are the Adult Children of Parents Who Have Same-Sex Relationships?  Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” No doubt had the study eventuated in the finding “no significant differences were found,” Regnerus would have received encou…


A Culture of Evasion

The dreadful scandal at Penn State reached another level on July 12, with the 250-page report of former FBI director Louis Freeh to the university’s board of trustees, culminating a seven-month independent investigation. The report makes clear the complicity of senior officials at the university in covering up convicted child molester and former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky’s sexual assaults on children. The officials include head football coach, the late Joe Paterno, university p…


Unfashionable Ideas

After 25 years in bucolic Princeton, the National Association of Scholars has packed up its stuff and moved to New York City. We brought our collection of yesteryear’s college catalogs, our backfiles of Academic Questions (Vol. 1, No. 1, Winter 1987 features Virginia Hyman on “Principles of Feminist Scholarship”), and our library of several thousand volumes. We left behind office furniture that was probably second-hand three or four owners past. The junk haulers rendered judgment by taking a…


What Were They Thinking?

The 2012 Report of the Platform Committee of the Texas Republican Party contains some strange declarations. On page 12 of the 22-page document comes this little paragraph:

Knowledge-Based Education – We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student…