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May 10, 2011

Koch gave money to FSU in exchange for absolute control of their economics department

He has essentially turned the economics department at FSU into his personal think tank, providing research and studies that say whatever he wants them to say. So please note: Never, ever trust a study from FSU or from someone associated with FSU. ThinkProgress -- FSU Accepts Funds From Charles Koch In Return For Control Over Its Academic Freedom
The funds were marked to add multiple faculty positions in the economics department. But the money came with multiple strings attached, including a demand that Koch have the ability to directly approve who ultimately filled the positions. As the St. Petersburg Times reports, the agreement is now raising questions across the board about academic freedom and integrity at public colleges and universities: Under the agreement with the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, however, faculty only retain the illusion of control. The contract specifies that an advisory committee appointed by Koch decides which candidates should be considered. The foundation can also withdraw its funding if it’s not happy with the faculty’s choice or if the hires don’t meet “objectives” set by Koch during annual evaluations. Koch wasted little time in asserting his influence. In 2009, he denied 60 percent of the faculty’s suggestions to fill the positions in the new programs, called the Study of Political Economy and Free Enterprise (SPEFE) and Excellence in Economics Education (EEE). The hires that were made were agreed upon by Koch and the department’s faculty. But according to a memorandum about the agreement, obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat, the ability to pick and choose faculty members was hardly the only string attached. In addition, Koch wanted the ability to review work done by the economics faculty and much more: The three senior professors must come in with tenure, and FSU must continue to fund them for at least four years past the project period. The Advisory Board of SPSFC and EEE is allowed to review all publicly provided material submitted by applicants for the Professorship positions. The Advisory Board will determine which candidates qualify to receive funding. No funding for a professorship position or any other affiliated program or position will be released without the review and approval of the Advisory Board. An undergraduate program will be devised and funded for $30,000 per year for three years. The committee responsible for the program will report to the Advisory Board. Other strings spell out the right of the [Charles G. Koch] Foundation to annually review the work of funded professors, publications, publicity, etc., and to pick up their marbles and go home if not satisfied.

May 08, 2011

Graduate School is a Suicide Mission

50 percent of graduate students fail to find work in their field. Most that do are "contingent labor" -- non-tenured, forever. The highest-paid and only growing sectors of universities are the upper administration and the athletic departments. Graduate school is a suicide mission, and the next time my BS adviser asks me what MS I am considering I will forward this article. Faulty Towers: The Crisis in Higher Education | The Nation
If you’re tenured, of course, life is still quite good (at least until the new provost decides to shut down your entire department). In fact, the revolution in the structure of academic work has come about in large measure to protect the senior professoriate. The faculty have steadily grayed in recent decades; by 1998 more than half were 50 or older. Mandatory retirement was abolished in 1986, exacerbating the problem. Departments became “tenured in,” with a large bolus of highly compensated senior professors and room, increasingly squeezed in many cases, for just a few junior members—another reason jobs have been so hard to find. Contingent labor is desirable above all because it saves money for senior salaries (as well as relieving the tenure track of the disagreeable business of teaching low-level courses). By 2004, while pay for assistant and associate professors still stood more or less where it had in 1970, that for full professors was about 10 percent higher. What we have in academia, in other words, is a microcosm of the American economy as a whole: a self-enriching aristocracy, a swelling and increasingly immiserated proletariat, and a shrinking middle class. The same devil’s bargain stabilizes the system: the middle, or at least the upper middle, the tenured professoriate, is allowed to retain its prerogatives—its comfortable compensation packages, its workplace autonomy and its job security—in return for acquiescing to the exploitation of the bottom by the top, and indirectly, the betrayal of the future of the entire enterprise.