Monday, December 24, 2012

The rewards of being a successful brown-nose (He's a great fundraiser)

After all that crawling and glad-handing, I suppose he needs something to prop up his pathetic ego.  He's got the ethical sensitivity of a flea, however

Bloomberg News concludes its six-part series on public employee pay with an article featuring the president of Ohio State University, Gordon Gee:

"The Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee lives in a 9,630-square-foot Tudor Revival mansion that was renovated for him, featuring a great hall, pool, elevator and tennis court.

Gee made $1.9 million last year as the highest-paid public university president in the U.S. He also logged $1.7 million in expenses in fiscal 2011, including airfare for trips in private jets, country club dues and fundraising parties at his residence.

"He's overpaid," said CJ Jones, 19, a junior public affairs major at Ohio State, whose tuition has risen 9.7 percent during her 2 1/2 years at the university, based in Columbus, the state capital. "You should want that job for a sense of Buckeye pride. Why do you have to suck so many resources from our budget? I know kids graduating from OSU with $90,000 in debt, and it's a public university."...

Gee also enjoys perks not received by other public officials. He lives rent-free in a fully staffed house. He rides private jets, including a $7,191 flight covering the 107 miles (172 kilometers) from Columbus, Ohio, to Cincinnati, according to expense reports obtained by Bloomberg. He billed the university for everything from $2,427 for a cabin upgrade during a 2008 alumni cruise in the Baltics to vitamins. School officials said Gee's expenses are paid by endowments or other non-public discretionary funds, not by tuition or tax dollars. [The Bloomberg article could have noted here, but didn't, that the endowment benefits from being tax-exempt.]

The Bloomberg article doesn't get into it, but there's a pattern here. The Wall Street Journal reported in 2006: "Vanderbilt paid more than $6 million, never approved by the full board, to renovate and enlarge Braeburn, the Greek-revival university-owned mansion where Mr. Gee and his wife, Constance, live. The university pays for the Gees' frequent parties and personal chef there. The annual tab exceeds $700,000."

The Bloomberg article also fails to credit a Dayton Daily News investigation by Laura Bischoff published in September that turned up many of the details reported by Bloomberg. That article reported: "At Brown University, where he served as president from 1998 to 2000, he was criticized after the university spent $3 million renovating a home for Gee, including $400,000 that paid for a conservatory that was built in Great Britain and shipped to Providence."

At this point, the guy has done lavish presidential home renovations at three universities — Brown, Vanderbilt, and Ohio State.

[Update: See the comments below, pointing out it's actually four — "A 4,500-square-foot stucco mansion sprung up east of the Williams Village twin towers in Boulder in 1987, the first official president's residence at the University of Colorado in decades. The home, which cost $700,000 to build, was intended as a way for CU regents to recruit Gordon Gee as president by giving him and subsequent leaders a stately place for fund-raising events."]

I'd be in favor of a law — call it Gee's Law — that says if a college or university spends more than $1 million, indexed to inflation, renovating or building a residence for its president, the college or university gets an immediate 25% cut to its federal research and Pell Grant funding. If individual donors or tuition-paying parents want to fund this sort of thing, fine, but money is fungible, and there's just no reason to borrow money from China or future generations or raise taxes to pay for this sort of thing.


Montana Parents: Christmas Songs Performed at School Concert are a ‘Form of Bullying’

Parents in the Missoula County, Montana school district have taken bullying accusations to a whole new level. They’re claiming Christmas songs that refer to “our Lord” are “unfair, unconstitutional and [are] a form of bullying,” according to the Billings Gazette.

The parents say there are all sorts of faiths represented in the community and children singing the songs at a recent school concert “were uncomfortable.”

The school district responded by saying, “During the holidays we, as a school district, are very cognizant regarding our district policy pertaining to the holidays and the importance of separation of church and state,” Superintendent Alex Apostle said. “But at the same time, we as a school system, want our children to enjoy the holiday season. In the process, we are obviously respectful of the beliefs and cultures of all children and their families.”

Responding to an anonymous letter submitted by parents, Apostle said the concert was no different than last year.

The letter stated, “We have no problem with it being called a Christmas concert, it’s just the fact the material should be secular. Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. These are things that offend no one, but when the children are singing about their lord and savior, Jesus Christ ... public school is not the place,” according to the paper.

Like it or not, the Christmas holiday was based upon the birth of Jesus Christ and most Americans celebrate the holiday for that reason. It’s an ingrained part of our culture that the vast majority of citizens observe and support.

It’s certainly true that the rights of minorities must be respected. But do the traditions and customs of the vast majority have to be trampled on to accomplish that goal?

The separation of church and state says that government shall not designate an official state religion. There was no attempt by the Missoula County school board to designate an official state religion.

Case closed. Merry Christmas.


British Maths graduates get £20,000 lure to be teachers

 About 150 grants are to be offered to graduates with first–class or 2:1 degrees as part of a government drive to improve standards.

 The incentive is being offered by the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications (IMA) in collaboration with the London Mathematical Society and the Royal Statistical Society. Applicants will be required to show a strong mathematical background, an excellent understanding of mathematics and statistics at school level, and a commitment to education and teaching. The institutions will offer the graduates support in training and assist their careers.

 The scholarships are part of the Coalition's teacher training strategy, following similar schemes for physics, chemistry and computer science teachers.

 Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, said: "High–quality mathematics education is at the heart of improving our society and our economy. By working together, these institutions will help deliver a scholarship scheme to make sure we have excellent mathematics teachers in this country with deep subject knowledge.

 "It will help raise the status of the teaching profession and also make a huge difference in the lives of children."

 Following earlier reforms designed to improve teacher training, the Department for Education said 62 per cent of those entering training to teach maths had 2:1 degrees or better, compared with 51 per cent in 2010–11.

 Charlie Taylor, the chief executive of the Teaching Agency, the body that oversees training, said: "We want the brightest and best graduates with a strong mathematics background to join the profession. These scholarships will help us to do this." Nigel Steele, the honorary secretary for education at the IMA, said: "Mathematics, through its applications, already contributes massively to the economy. Research also shows that those who do well at mathematics at school are likely to earn more than their peers.

 "The scholarship scheme designed by the IMA, on behalf of its collaborating bodies, will attract highly–qualified graduates who might not otherwise have considered teaching as a career.

 "These scholars will help strengthen the mathematics teaching force in its capacity to inspire those who will determine the future."


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