Thursday, March 16, 2017

Black chancellor fails at U Mass Boston

He was an "inspiration".  Some inspiration!  Brown skin is not the key to wonderfulness.  Only racists would think so

Concerned about persistent financial problems at UMass Boston, the university board of trustees has significantly diluted chancellor J. Keith Motley's authority in the day-to-day running of the institution.

Trustees have allowed Motley's contract to expire and have hired former Bowdoin College president Barry Mills to oversee the nuts-and-bolts operation of the urban campus. On Monday, officials also named a new campus budget chief, replacing the longtime chief financial officer, who was fired in January.

The campus faces a deficit of up to $30 million, declining enrollment, overdue construction projects, and weakening fund-raising, according to UMass officials.

Adjunct professors have been laid off and research databases have been discontinued in an attempt to cut costs. In the history department, there's even a prohibition on photocopying, the department chairman informed professors last week.

Mills, who will earn $250,000, said the new arrangement will allow Motley to continue as the public face of the university while Mills addresses its challenges. Mills said he is not interested in becoming chancellor.

Barry Mills, formerly of Bowdoin College, will oversee some operations at UMass Boston. "I am there to run the university from the inside," Mills said in an interview with the Globe.

Victor Woolridge, a trustee who served as chairman until this year, acknowledged the need for an administrator like Mills to address pressing issues. He said his skills complement those of Motley, who was paid $422,213 last year.  "It's true, we did bring in Barry because we think there's some need for some help there, and we think he can bring some real strength to the organization," Woolridge said.

Motley was until recently the only African-American chancellor in the state university system, and many on the majority-minority campus, and in the city of Boston, look to him for inspiration.

In an interview with the Globe, Motley said UMass Boston is simply in a period of growth and transition, pointing to the many new construction projects underway. It is trying to juggle financial realities with the need to expand and update facilities in order to attract new students, he said. Motley said he welcomes Mills's help and does not plan to leave.

"I've never seen this as a crisis," Motley said. "This is not the first time that this campus has gone through some fiscal challenge."

The financial concerns at UMass Boston have escalated in the past year. University officials have known for at least three years that they needed to address a budget gap. This year trustees grew increasingly alarmed that the campus administration was not moving fast enough to deal with the fiscal problems, according to interviews with three board members.

Last month the board was told the campus's reserve in fiscal 2016 was less than half what it was in 2014, according to a copy of a report it received.

In addition, the operating margin at UMass Boston has grown from a $20 million surplus in fiscal 2010 to a deficit that could reach $30 million this year, according to a presentation campus officials gave last spring and new information from the central
UMass office.

Campus officials, meanwhile, believe they can shrink the deficit to below $15 million by the end of the fiscal year in June, according to a campus spokesman.   The latest in a series of budget cutting measures were announced Thursday in a memo from the provost that said the reductions are necessary because other planned cuts have not happened yet.

The memo from provost Winston Langley called for the elimination of nonessential travel and a reduction in the number of summer courses, among other cuts.

Mills's contract gives him the same powers as the chancellor. He reports to Motley but is in close contact with Meehan and the board. He has hired Robert Connolly, the former longtime UMass spokesman, to help him navigate the political landscape on campus.

"It's a compliment to Keith that he recognized that he needed someone to help him with some of the details and the complexities that the campus has," said Rob Manning, chairman of the trustees.

Mills's contract does not include other pay and perks that college presidents typically enjoy.

Motley's three-year contract expired in January and, in an unusual move by trustees, has not been renewed, according to the central UMass office. Typically, contract renewals are negotiated six months before the agreement expires.

The chancellor said UMass Boston is simply in a period of growth and transition. The campus is building its first-ever dormitory that will house 1,000 students starting in 2018.

"This allows for us to continue to work hard, but it also allows for me to have a partner internally to connect some of the dots that we need to connect that I can't do by myself," Motley said Thursday as he prepared for a fund-raising trip to Florida.

At Bowdoin, Mills is credited with increasing the school's endowment by $1 billion to $1.4 billion, replacing student loans with grants for all students on financial aid, doubling minority enrollment, and increasing campus sustainability.

Mills's skills could be welcome at the Boston campus, where the endowment is $74.4 million and fund-raising has declined in recent years, from $14.7 million raised in fiscal 2013 to $10.5 million last year. In May, the campus's chief fund-raising official, Gina Cappello, died in a car crash.

Enrollment at UMass Boston declined from 17,000 in the fall of 2015 to 16,800 last fall, and in the nursing program, a signature of the Boston campus, it dropped from 1,500 to 1,300, according to the school.

Motley and other trustees say one main reason for the enrollment decline is the major construction projects that have ripped up the campus and made it difficult to navigate, much less park. The projects are delayed and have cost more than expected.

The cuts have demoralized faculty as they try to pursue research and teaching. The library discontinued its subscription to many online databases, especially those used by the humanities department, according to professors in that department.

Recently, departments have been asked to return money they had already been allocated. History department chairman Tim Hacsi wrote to his staff on March 6 to say the administration had requested $6,000 be returned. He asked professors to refrain from making photocopies for class unless absolutely necessary.

Hacsi said he understands the school is facing hard times and needs to make cuts, but he would like it if administrators would communicate more clearly. "Any transparency would be a big plus," he said.


Principal forced to publicly apologize after students wear red, white, and blue

According to outraged liberal snowflakes in Iowa, it's blatantly racist to wear the colors of the American flag to an American high school basketball game:

Supporters of the Des Moines North High School basketball team, many of whose players are from refugee families, were offended when fans of Valley High School's basketball team wore red, white and blue last week, The College Fix reports.

"This is an example of BLATANT racism," said Ty Leggett, a Valley High School alum, on the Valley High School - WDMCS Facebook page. "ALL participating should have been pulled and banned from ALL VHS extracurricular events for the remainder of the year! As a parent, I'd be mortified that my son or daughter thought this way, acted in this fashion and refrained from taking a stand against this 21st century inexcusable behavior!"

Herein lies the issue: Valley High School's student body is predominantly white. So by wearing the colors of the American flag to a game against a more diverse school, "it strongly implies that the other team, the less white team, is less American."

Oh, boy.

As Valley High student Mallorie Paige Sander aptly pointed out:

This country is the United States of America and our country colors are red, white, and blue no matter what color of skin you have or what race you are. The intentions to offend anyone by wearing USA themed clothing was no where in the thoughts of any of our student body, why would it be?

Yes, we do all live in America - but the problem is that it's near impossible for liberals to separate race from identity. And according to the liberal mindset, any white American who displays any hint of nationalism must by default be a racist.


Education's 4C's do not exist without the 3R's

Jennifer Buckingham comments from Australia:

Almost every day, a new evangelist for so-called '21st Century' learning makes a heartfelt plea for schools to throw off the shackles of having to teach children to be proficient readers and fluent writers, competent in arithmetic, and knowledgeable about the world they live in.

Instead of the 3 'R's, which is code for old-fashioned and fusty, these visionaries argue schools should focus on the 4 'C's -- creativity, critical reflection, collaboration, and communication (what a stroke of luck they all start with the same letter!).

Apart from the obvious observation that the 4Cs came in quite handy prior to the current century, there are a couple of problems with this argument.

Foremost, the 4Cs depend upon the 3Rs. A person cannot think creatively or critically if they don't know anything to think creatively or critically about. Likewise, a child who cannot read will not easily acquire knowledge and a child who cannot write will struggle to effectively communicate what they know and think. Sadly, there are hundreds of thousands of Australian students who cannot read or write.

Furthermore, it is a serious but common misconception that the 4Cs are generic skills, whereas cognitive science research has shown they are domain specific. That is, thinking critically and creatively about physics is different to thinking critically and creatively about English literature. Sophisticated levels of communication require explicit knowledge of the subject matter in question.

The generic skills misconception derives from the constructivist theory of learning -- that children are naturally disposed to seek knowledge and understanding, and only require adults to facilitate their self-guided journey of discovery. This is the 'learning how to learn' trope that was invalidated by scientific research not long after Vatican II.

Nonetheless, constructivist theory continues to lead many schools to embrace inquiry-based learning pedagogies, even though there is copious evidence that they are much less effective than other methods for children learning new and difficult concepts and facts, especially when compared to explicit instruction.

And, despite the evidence, new multimillion dollar, architect-designed schools are being built specifically to encourage and accommodate inquiry-based learning pedagogies. (Meanwhile, high performing primary schools are putting the walls back into open classrooms because they know they don't work.)

It is easy to be seduced by the idea that children only need a wifi-connected tablet computer, a bean bag, and a caring adult nearby to gain all the complex knowledge the best brains in history labored over for centuries. But the reality is that children will always need the 3Rs, and expert teaching -- and by extension, expert teachers -- are still necessary.


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