Our Weekly Reader for the Week of Jan. 21, 2013

First week of the semester, and a combination of depressing news. If you see something from the week that I missed, tell me for next week. — Bruce

1. UIUC labor problems continue. The SEIU situation is heating up. Below are links to a story in the DI and to the SEIU Facebook page which contains up-to-date information on picketing:



2. Moody’s gave a negative outlook for higher education, from the corporate point of view. See


“Until universities demonstrate better ability to lower their cost of operations, perhaps through more intensive use of online classes and elimination or reduction of tenure, we expect government officials to produce bolder solutions in response to the public outcry against the cost of higher education,” the report said.

We can expect administrators who are ignorant of the values of the university community to use those suggestions against us.

But see:


3. Not necessarily depressing. E-mail spoofers beware: ace sleuth Patrick Fitzgerald is on the BOT! And dig what Nick Burbules says, because it is crucial to understand that the perception of integrity is always completely determined by its subject. (Lots of coverage in the E-news listings from 1/18..)


“As an institution that is committed to maintaining the highest levels of integrity in our own practice, Patrick Fitzgerald will be a strong advocate for those values,” said UI Professor Nicholas Burbules, chairman of the University Senates Conference, a governance group of faculty from all three campuses. Events like Category I and the falsification of law school data do not define the institution’s values, Burbules said. “We don’t need to restore our integrity. Our integrity as an institution is a given,” he said. Burbules said he sees the appointment of Fitzgerald “as an expression of our integrity as an institution, a reminder that these aberrations do not define who we are.”

4. Earlier this week, Ralph Martire gave an interesting pension reform proposal and Rich Miller, a non-partisan political blogger in Springfield who is widely read by insiders, gave it basically his seal of approval as a base. The essence is a refinancing of the amount due the funds.



Miller points out:

The Tribune and some big business groups will also hate it. Why? Because it causes no real pain for public employees and retirees. And that’s really what they want.

5. Short takes on (i) The leadership skills of Gov. Quinn, (ii) The Tea Party’s anti-labor agenda, (iii) Faculty participation in financial exigency, (iv) The dangers of MOOCs, (v)





6. And finally, rather than a blast from 2012 (see #3 if you are nostalgic), readers should know that an interest in societal change is not limited to faculty in the humanities and social sciences. At the Joint Mathematical Meetings in San Diego earlier this month, there was a special session on “Math and social justice”. A link to the materials from that session appeared on a mailing list I belong to, and with permission of the transmitter, Samuel Coskey, here it is:



From the UI Daily E-Summary http://www.uillinois.edu/our/news/summary.cfm  As a reminder: my sources are these, plus the News-Gazette (NG), Daily Illini (DI), New York Times (NYT), Chicago Tribune (Trib), a bunch of google-news, and the goodness of my readers, who send me things I might have missed.

1/14 — p.1 (NG) SEIU story linked last week
1/14 — p.2 (DI) “SEIU takes step closer toward striking”
1/14 — p.4 (NG) Scott Reeder’s reactionary op-ed on pensions from the Sunday paper
1/14 — p.6 (NG) Letter “Proposed reforms really benefit cuts”
1/14 — pp.10-13 (Indianapolis Star) “Six issues awaiting Mitch Daniels at Purdue”

1/15 — p.1 (Crain’s) “University of Illinois at Chicago among top schools for online bachelor’s”, UIUC not much, for our online graduate degrees
1/15 — pp.11-12 (InsideHigherEd) “AAUP calls for faculty participation in financial exigency declarations”, see above
1/15 — pp. 24-27 (NYT) “California to give web courses a big trial”, actually San Jose State.

1/16 — p.6 (Crain’s) “Here’s an actual honest-to-goodness pension fix”, see above.
1/16 — pp.14-15 (InsideHigherEd) “Universities spend more on athletics per athlete than on academics per student”
1/16 — pp.35-67 (Trib) The massive pay-walled four-part story on the bankruptcy of the Tribune Co. Note length!

1/17 — pp.1-2 (Trib) “No second term for U of I trustee appointed after scandal”. (Probably because he’s supposed to be independent, but voted in a D primary.)
1/17 — pp.5-6 (NG) “UI Finance chief optimistic despite Moody’s outlook on higher education”
1/17 — pp.9-10 (InsideHigherEd) “Moody’s report calls into question all traditional university revenue sources”
1/17 — p.14 (NG) “Possible strike looms for SEIU”
1/17 — pp.24-25 (NYT) “At many top public universities, intercollegiate sports come at an academic price”
1/17 — pp.26-35 (NYT) “Next made-in-China boom: college graduates” (Getting their degrees in China, not the US.)

1/18 — pp.1-7  (various) Coverage of Patrick Fitzgerald’s appointment to the BOT
1/18 — pp.10-11 (various) pension stuff
1/18 — pp.15-16 (NYT) “Measuring the success of online education” some skepticism