Time to Defend Traditional Educational Values!

The world of higher education is still trying to assess the recent firing of University of Virginia President Teresa Sullivan because…well, no one really knows why.  The goobledygook spewed out by the University Board of Trustees is just that.  But here comes this nugget from the Washington Post’s extensive write-up of the situation: one reason the UVA Board, which is dominated and influenced by hedge fund and other financial wizards, wanted Sullivan out was that they felt “Sullivan lacked the mettle to trim or shut down programs that couldn’t sustain themselves  financially, such as obscure academic departments in classics and German.”

But…but…but…we’ve been told for years that it is the Left that is trying to destroy traditional learning.  It’s all those terrible postmodernists and Marxists and feminists, and that is why we need to purge the Academy of evil left-wing influences that want to undermine the traditional curriculum.  That’s what the National Association of Scholars says!  Lynne Cheney says we need to keep the traditional humanities curriculum as the way to save western civilization from horrid secular liberals!  I’m sure that their love for traditional humanities, like Latin, Greek, and German literature, will inspire them to rise up and defend President Sullivan.  I mean, that’s a no-brainer for self-styled defenders of traditional values, right?

I’m anxiously awaiting their criticisms of the multi-millionaire businesspeople who pushed Sullivan out.  Just any day now.  Just wait…

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.

66 thoughts on “Time to Defend Traditional Educational Values!”

  1. I’d be a lot more impressed if that part of the article were based on actual quotes, spanning perhaps even several whole sentences. Looking over a list of degree programs at U of VA, there seem to be better candidates for cutting, from a pinched right-wing perspective. Maybe all the ethnic studies departments, for starters; Not a lot of job openings in ethnic studies…

    1. Brett,
      There are not a lot of job openings in physics. Want to cut that, as well? No? Then your criterion for cutting is not “job openings.” What is it?

      1. Whether or not the people proposing to take the major are willing to pay for it? Seems like a pretty good criteria for a university with financial problems.

        Sure, there aren’t a lot of job openings in physics. (More than ethnic studies, majoring in which probably makes you LESS employable, but not a lot.) But you can’t graduate engineers without a physics department, and who ever heard of conservatives being opposed to people studying engineering?

        But, seriously, do you really think assertions like this belong in a news article, completely lacking in quotes substantiating them? Doesn’t the disinclination of the modern media to actually quote people, in complete sentences and paragraphs, instead of running paraphrases with a few of the words in quotes because the subject used them at one time, bother you any?

        I want actual words, strung together in the precise order they were uttered, and attributed to specific people, establishing that the board wanted the German department cut. I don’t want a general assertion that this was the case.

        1. Your reply is fair ’nuff.
          Although you’re a bit off on one point: “who ever heard of conservatives being opposed to people studying engineering?” Brett, I’m afraid you don’t know enough conservatives, especially those of a High Tory bent. You’ve got to get out more often. ;)>

          1. Your reply is fair ’nuff.

            Only in that it sets a standard of criticism he won’t be able to maintain. That is when an article whose slant he likes comes packaged without sizable paragraphs in quote marks, it will be okay then because the bias fits. But for now, lets let him enjoy his simple minded smugness, as he wears it so well.

          2. Yes, Brett’s reply is BS; it’s a rare thing indeed for Brett to back up his claims with actual facts.

          3. Uh, keep in mind that this is the same Brett Bellmore who recently mocked the Pew Center’s coverage of press bias concerning the presidential candidates because it restricted itself to the actual words used in actual, real news stories and didn’t take into account whether the writers of the articles were liberals or not.

            In other words, ignore him.

          4. In order to any less accurately describe my position, you’d have had to have gotten my name wrong. That IS, however, how you attacked it last time, so at least your errors are consistent.

            Perhaps you should read this on word frequency surveys and press bias. Here’s an exerpt:

            It is important to discuss what “bias” means in the CASS method and to describe how CASS effects should be interpreted. From a journalistic point of view, bias is any deviation from objective reporting. Determining whether the reports are objective is not part of the capabilities of the CASS approach. As a result, a zero value CASS bias measure is not necessarily the same thing as objective reporting. Instead, the value zero indicates that a source equally associates conservative and liberal terms with good and bad terms (i.e., no preferential concept association). There are some limitations of this approach. For example, objective reporting may properly discuss a series of scandals involving one political party. According to the rules of journalism, this would not indicate a reporting bias. However, the association of the political party with the negative concepts would lead CASS to reveal a bias against that political party. Thus, it is possible that CASS bias values different from zero can be derived from purely
            objective reporting.
            The problem of defining a no-bias point is exceedingly difficult and other approaches to media bias measurement have similar difficulties (Groseclose & Milyo, 2005).

            Or to put it differently, the Pew study you’re rely upon can’t demonstrate what you’re attributing to it. The results are entirely consistent with the theory that Obama gets hostile coverage because he’s a lousy President.

          5. Yes, Brett and they’re also entirely consistent with the notion that the reporting is biased. That’s what the study says.
            Which is why when you start bleating about the Liberal Press, I remember that the press is as liberal as the conservative companies that own them.
            You get repeatedly attacked for what you actually state, not for some under-the-bed monster.

          6. John, when your data are entirely consistent with the media being biased, and with the media being objective, why would you point to the data as support for the media being biased? Rather than just admit you haven’t got any data to prove your theory.

        2. People, like Brett, who think that education ought to be a for profit business simply don’t know what they are talking about. Such is modern “conservatism”. I might also note that criteria is the plural of criterion, so Brett’s “a criteria” is a wretched barbarism. Back to school with you, Master Bellmore.

          1. Yes, we ought not to elide over the fact that Brett did manage to type this glib bit about the University’s situation: Whether or not the people proposing to take the major are willing to pay for it?

            Ah yes, what people are will to pay for…

            And yet the “Media” you are carping about, is after all, what people are willing “to pay for”. Furthermore you want to live in a country where everyone, just like you, knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. Markets are your religion Brett. And Modern Media is a market. So put a stiff upper lip on it and get used to shoddy journalism. It is a natural result of your “philosophy of commerce”. The Media shit you smell is of your own insistence on dollar-making. It sells. So don’t get smug on us because you don’t like the look of your own squat. If you are going to worship the Market Gods, at least be toilet-trained about it.

            But then again, owning up to the products of one’s philosophy is probably asking too much of a “smug artist” sine qua non.

        3. THe funniest thing about this is that if the universities started offering only classes in what the students and their parents wanted to pay for, the results would be so far from the conservative position that the screams would be heard on the moon.

          But wait, why do the universities offer those classes that they do? Ohm yeah, because there’s demand. How very conservative of them.

        4. Brett, you pick a different theory. Or you examine other data points. Or any number of things. But of course, you know that.

      2. Eh, BB just wanted to kvetch about ethnic studies. Nothing new, move along.

        1. Welllllllll . . . probably not, you know, Western Literature et al., i.e. “white studies.” Just those other ones.

          1. Mr. Bellmore informed us a few threads ago that he has a 3-year-old child. Still waiting for him to order a copy of the child’s birth certificate from the state registrar (http://www.scdhec.gov/administration/vr/birth.htm) and post it here. I’m sure it will be a “long form” with original signatures in ink. Not.


  2. UVA is also involved in a defense of Professor Michael Mann’s e-mails with respect to climate change .. he worked there once upon a time, and it was an excuse for the ambitious Virginia A-G (called Ken Cuccinelli) to set off on an expensive fishing expedition on the grounds of state-funded research etc etc. The case has rumbled on for two years with Mann and UVA winning most of the points.

    Of couse, we know that passages from Mann e-mails would be selectively “leaked” to Fox and the Wall Street Journal in the hopes of whipping up a new faux-Climategate.

    Some suspected this was related to Sullian’s dismissal by the board, but there seems no grounds for that – yet.

    1. I am in complete agreement with this point of view. Cuccinelli wants his pound of flesh as he failed in his
      witch hunt and is now stealthily seeking the trophy he so desired by destroying the head of the University that so humiliated him publicly. He is, however, blind to the fact that this was totally self inflicted.

  3. Jonathan, that’s a great piece of sleuthing in the WP.

    There’s more in this article in Inside Higher E.

    It sounds like it may be a case of a handful of activists on the Board of Visitors and elsewhere (e.g., Kiernan at the business school) who want to radically transform the university — not just eliminating “obsolete” departments like Classics, but also moving to online courses (see Dragas’s statement that “Higher education is on the brink of a transformation now that online delivery has been legitimized by some of the elite institutions.”) and more generally remaking UVa along corporate lines.

    There’s a lot of corporate gobbledegook, e.g. this quote from a leaked private email by hedge-fund billionaire and business school board of trustees member Peter Kiernan (via Washington Monthly):

    “The decision of the Board of Visitors to move in another direction stems from their concern that the governance of the University was not sufficiently tuned to the dramatic changes we all face: funding, Internet, technology advances, the new economic model. These are matters for strategic dynamism rather than strategic planning.”

    Apparently, at 4 AM this morning (!) the board named a new interim president: Carl P. Zeithaml, dean of UVa’s McIntire School of Commerce.

    If anyone watching this is a dean or department chair at one of UVa’s peer institutions, this might be a good time to try recruiting among UVa’s better faculty.

  4. I have read a number of articles about this situation and remain mystified by what the Board of Visitors is thinking here. I have the following observations:

    (1) The Board is incapable of or unwilling to provide a coherent public explanation of the decisision to force the resignation of Sullivan.

    (2) The claim that rapid change is inherently preferable to slower, incremental change is inherently absurd. No rule fits every situation, and a rule which may be appropriate for corporate governance (at least in some companies) may not work in an educational institution.

    (3) The notion that online education has been “legitimized” at elite institutions is ridiculous. Several so-called “elite” institutions have started to experiment with online education, either directly or through licensing arrangements, but the jury is very much out as to what impact this will have on the reputation of the school and whether this is a successful expansion of the mission.

    (4) Even if the Board has a coherent vision for the future of the University and Sullivan was not the right person to implement it, this sudden removal of a very popular President, with no input from alumni, students or faculty, and with no transition of succession plan in place, reflects terrible management. At least in the short run, this is likely to make the University less competitive with respect to faculty and students, as well as administrators.

    (5) Based on the above, either the Board is ignorant of the likely effect of these actions or it is indifferent. I suspect the latter to be the case. The Board may well believe that faculty members, like students, are essentially fungible, that for every professor who gets successfully recruited by a competing school, there are 3 or 4 others willing to be hired and take their place, and that, with respect to students, the demand for acceptance to UVa is sufficiently great that they won’t have trouble filling the school. Strictly speaking, the Board would be correct in this view, but the hit to the school’s reputation and to the quality of the education there will be real.

    1. “The notion that online education has been “legitimized” at elite institutions is ridiculous. Several so-called “elite” institutions have started to experiment with online education, either directly or through licensing arrangements, but the jury is very much out as to what impact this will have on the reputation of the school and whether this is a successful expansion of the mission.”

      I assume this refers to Clayton Christensen (of _The innovator’s Dilemma_)’s very public musings on what the failure (or occasional success) of high-tech firms as technology changed has to teach higher education. His conclusion has been that the future belongs to institutions that embrace online learning and University of Phoenix style franchising.
      I’m no expert in these matters, but based on my limited experience, including what I saw in my college years, this strikes as detached from reality (in much the same way that economics is detached from reality — it’s based on h. Economicus, not h. Realitus). My experience was that the structured environment of college (you must go to lectures at these times) and interaction with friends (asking questions of each other, trying to understand what we had just learned) substantially helped the experience.

      Now, to be fair, I hung out with a crowd that wanted to learn and took it seriously. TV and movies certainly suggest that there is a whole other class of higher ed students, those that enroll at party schools and treat their four years as one long binge, and one could certainly imagine such students will do no worse, and quite possibly a whole lot better, away from the physical presence of their peers. I have zero idea of the extent to which this party-all-the-time attitude (and its partial equivalents chase-chicks-all-the-time and practice-my-sport-all-the-time) are real problems.

      Likewise I’m in two minds about interactions with peers to help learning. As someone who has participated in online discussions since dial-up bulletins boards and Usenet, I’m unwilling to accept blanket claims that these are inferior social mechanisms; I think the truth is more subtle. So, for example, there are things that text (ie typing) does better than voice, and vice versa. There are things that work better in groups of two or three, and things that work better in larger groups. I’d be more concerned that the mechanisms provided for students to interact consists of crappy technology than that the idea inherently sucks. And an optimist might say that students (at least those who have the slightest interest in learning) will abandon the crappy technologies the universities offer to cobble together something that works better for them based on blogs, and/or Facebook and/or Google Docs and/or Skype.

      So what would I conclude?
      At the low end (which is where this is kinda pitched right now) it may be a win. You lose some of the structure of college, but you also lose the malign influence of peers, and those who want to learn can more easily avoid those malign peers. Those who shouldn’t be in college will, perhaps, have fewer reasons to hang around and will drop out after a month rather than after two years.
      At the high end, the experience is probably a lot less rich — interacting with UC Berkeley via remote lectures and Skype is, I would guess, rather less than attending real lecture, interacting with real students, and all the serendipity that goes along with that.

      Whether this is a loss in this particular case thus depends on the extent to which UVa is a party school, something I know nothing about.
      (I do suspect however, that various different factions will collide at some point if this plan goes further, in a microcosm of the GOP hostility between plutocrats and tea-partiers. The logical end-point of this process is drastically diminished sports teams, and that’s not going to go down well, even with the very same people who, a few years earlier, were cheering the idea of saving taxes by shutting down campuses.)

      1. Online learning has the great disadvantage of making it impossible to get to know the faculty and t.a.s at a personal level–something that was very important to me as an undergraduate. Even at large state universities, those students interested in a particular subject have the opportunity to work in a research lab (if in science or engineering) or take small enrollment seminars.

        Given the importance of Germany in the economy of Europe, if UVa abolished the German Department, it would be a loss to its two business schools. A similar arguement can be made for retaining Classics.

        This all reminds me of Alfred Bester’s short story “Disappearing Act” (1953!) in which a future U.S. at war, that is made up of technical specialists, is stymied by trying to locate a poet.

        1. Online learning has the great advantage, however, of assisting in the 1%/winner-take-all restructuring of our society. In that the 1% will maintain a few dozen truly elite, in-person institutions for their own children and arrange things so that everyone else is forced into high-profit online “universities”.


          1. There are many good things about online learning. Many state universities and community colleges offer low fee accredited coursework online. There is a rapacious element to the Kaplan and other private pop-up colleges online, without a doubt.

      2. “The logical end-point of this process is drastically diminished sports teams…”

        Not at UVa. Ultimately, all that will be left in Charlottesville will be the yahoos, and the Wahoos.

      3. It is interesting that at a time when hi tech companies so value close proximity among their people that they build in places where their people can “just bump into another” and towns where they are located are absurdly overpriced in terms of physical amenities, the oligarchs, parasites, and assorted sociopaths who apparently dominate UVA are moving education in the opposite direction.

        Even party schools have serious students, and those students benefit immeasurably from their connections with professors, graduate students, and one another. Anyone who has ever taught at commuter schools as well as ones where many live close by knows the difference.

  5. It might be worth noting that UVa has not one, but two business schools: the Darden School of Business and the Macintire School of Commerce. The latter is apparently the JV version of the former, and is supplying the acting President.

    Hey, that’s not a bad motto: “University of Virginia: Two Business Schools are not Enough”.

    1. That seems to me like evidence of some very sloppy thinking. How can one uni possibly need two business schools? What could be the meaningful difference between business and commerce?

      And can one employ strategic dynamism – if that’s even a thing now — without first doing the strategic planning? As in, the time for planning is over, and now we’re going to be dynamic? Wouldn’t a student get graded down for using that kind of b.s. jargon in a presentation? (I can hope.)

      These people sound very confused.

      1. Examining Wikipedia, it would appear that in 1954 the UVa decided split up the McIntire School to eminent politician and former University President Colgate Darden, and give the MBA program to the new Darden-named School – the ultimate gold watch for Darden, I suppose. The McIntire School was founded three decades earlier with money from McIntire; if I’d been among McIntire’s heirs I’d have considered suing. The McIntire School offers three Masters degrees (including in IT) but not an MBA (the Wikipedia article indicates that at the time of its founding, but not today after the creation of the Darden School, the McIntire was titularly a school of Business Administration).

        Amusingly, the McIntire Wikipedia page summarizes some of its history but doesn’t mention the Darden School; the Darden Wikipedia page doesn’t actually have any of the school’s history, and doesn’t mention the McIntire School.

        1. Huh. I guess I’d say that, if the Board of Visitors really wants to streamline UVa and make it more “dynamic” and “lean” and “efficient”, they could start by eliminating one of the redundant business schools. Talk about waste!

        2. Wow. Total nutsville. Thanks for the info! This is a little off-topic, but as someone who pays attention to names and also to job listings, it is amazing to me the things you can tell about someone from the way they explain themselves. Some places you can tell are a total mess just from their job postings. And it’s the same with names. If people can’t come up with a decent hint about what their organization is trying to do, it’s a big clue that there are problems at the top.

    1. George Mason is a mixed bag. It’s a wingnut university, but I think that the standards are fairly high in the law school and the economics department. Its “centers”, however, are pathetically hackish.

      It’s not hard to find smart wingnut lawyers and economists. Some of them are even honest. It’s very hard to find any other smart honest wingnuts not named “James Q. Wilson.” And he’s dead.

      1. Interesting. As we all ought to know by now, brains aren’t everything. I would say honesty is even more important, for one.

      2. I don’t know much about GMU (what I know I don’t like, but that’s because GMU doesn’t really do much if anything in my field, and when I do notice GMU it’s often because the hackish, politically charged activities of some of its affiliates have attracted my attention), but I thought I remembered reading (during the Florida State debacle) that the Koch brothers had purchased the GMU Economics Department and had veto rights over the hiring there? Or was that just some think tank associated with GMU Economics? What I can find only offers support for the latter, but my memory would indicate that the Koch brothers had real power over the Economics Department itself.

      3. Here’s a worthwhile thing coming out of George Mason: http://stats.org/about.htm

        “Since its founding in 1994, the non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service – STATS – has become a much-valued resource on the use and abuse of science and statistics in the media. Our goals are to correct scientific misinformation in the media and in public policy resulting from bad science, politics, or a simple lack of information or knowledge; and to act as a resource for journalists and policy makers on major scientific issues and controversies.”

        (I know the director of research, and she wouldn’t associate with any “right-wing scamtank”.)

        1. I’m well aware that there are some fine scholars doing fine work at George Mason. Also that the right-wing scamtanks bask in their reflected glory, which they exploit to gain an aura of legitimacy. That’s the whole point. So, like it or not, all these scholars are indeed associated with said scamtanks because the university that supports their work has extended its imprimatur to the charlatans as well. The scholars’ complicity is of low degree, but is definitely non-zero. They shouldn’t be made comfortable with it, because they have a responsibility to do something about it.

          1. Like they say about Norm Ornstein’s affiliation with AEI: “the piano player in the whorehouse.” (To be fair, in the 1980’s, the AEI, although right-leaning, was no whorehouse. But this has changed.)

  6. The results are entirely consistent with the theory that Obama gets hostile coverage because he’s a lousy President.

    . . . A concept you’ll stick with until the precise moment you need to abandon it, which is the moment when you need to accuse TEH LIBERAL MEDIA of covering up what a crappy president ObamaHitler is. I’m placing the over/under at 3 days, and taking the under.

  7. (And before you take issue with “ObamaHitler,” you called him “Dictator-in-Chief” at Obsidian Wings not two days ago, so it’s close enough in spirit. Hilariously, nobody bit, so you slunk away like a sad puppy.

    1. Quite properly, too. He just implemented by executive order an immigration policy flatly contrary to the law, because Congress refused to enact it. He’s handing out work permits to people statutorily ineligible for them, because he doesn’t like the statute. If that can’t be described as dictatorial, what could be?

      1. “He’s handing out work permits to people statutorily ineligible for them”

        This is abysmally untrue, and frankly cringeworthy since it’s so easy to look up.

        Please see Title 8, Code of Federal Regulations (“8 CFR”) Section 274a.12(a)(10), 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(10), 8 CFR 274a.12 (c)(14), and 8 CFR 274a.12(c)(18).

          1. Mobius may have been referring to Brett’s infamous uncertainty about the authenticity of documents whose alleged existence would be inconvenient to his desire to exercise his prejudices.

        1. This is abysmally untrue, and frankly cringeworthy since it’s so easy to look up.

          I’ve seen Brett destroyed on threads many times. And really someone should keep track of the top ten takedowns. But I don’t recall ever seeing him three-times demolished on one thread. I suspect you won’t see him again. He usually vanishes after being vanquished, only to reappear as smug as ever, on a new post’s thread.

      2. He just implemented by executive order an immigration policy flatly contrary to the law

        He most certainly did not, but given that you get your news from the deepest of right-wing shitholes, I’d expect nothing less from you.

        1. Who am I to dispute the President’s own claim he couldn’t do this legally?

          “With respect to the notion that I can just suspend deportations through executive order — that’s just not the case. Because there are laws on the books, that Congress has passed — and I know that everybody here at Bell is studying hard so you know we’ve got three branches of government. Congress passes the laws. The Executive branch’s job is to enforce and implement the laws, and then the Judiciary has to interpret the laws. There are enough laws on the books by Congress that are very clear in terms of how we have to enforce our immigration system, that for me to simply through executive order ignore those congressional mandates would not conform with my appropriate role as president.”

          Couldn’t agree more.

          1. Please to be substantiating this claim:

            He’s handing out work permits to people statutorily ineligible for them

            Because that’s the claim you’re being called out on, and so far as I can tell it’s flat untrue:

            The policy does not grant legal-residency status, as the Dream Act would, but only defers deportation for a renewable two-year period.

            Sure, you can try to move to arguing some other point. Or maybe you can admit that you pulled the claim in question out of your nether regions – or, worse, out of the nether regions of the internet, regions no sane person would trust. Obama’s move may be somewhat questionable, but only because it is systematic; similar decisions in isolated cases wouldn’t even be controversial. The policy shift is not the slightest bit different from the discretion on Marijuana raids and prosecutions he is regularly denounced for not exercising. Obama’s order tells prosecutors to give these kids two years’ grace to continue their education, to regularize their immigration status, to do voluntary work, to join the army, or for that matter to sit on their keisters. Basically no other options are given to them, precisely because he doesn’t have the power to grant work permits in defiance of the law – if, that is, he were remotely interested in doing so. Ideally, and contra Rubio et al, during these two years a DREAM act of some sort would be passed.

          2. Burned Again!
            What is the Latin phrase for ‘the first this is not the same as the second this’

            What this has to to with UVa is unclear however.

          3. “What this has to to with UVa is unclear however.”

            Bellmore : this thread :: the mystery ‘trustees’ : UVa.

            And if you understood that, you’re probably the sort of academic weenie who values pointless esoteric languages like “German”, whatever that is. /snark

          4. well, no, he can’t suspend deportations through executive order, just like he can’t grant political asylum through executive order, or change grounds of inadmissibility through executive order, etc.

            what he CAN do, and what he’s done, is change the terms in which immigration trial attorneys can use prosecutorial discretion to find deportation cases worthy of suspension, along with the ancillary benefits (most importantly employment authorization) that come with such discretion. discretion is already built into the relevant sections of law, and, truth be told, Obama was already attempting to do this in some regions (notably Arizona, where local officials got major pressure from conservative bigwigs to drag their feet). FWIW, compared to the Bush administration’s creation of NSEERS, which had far less statutory authority, Obama’s direction to have prosecutorial discretion uniformly benefit the alien is positively timid.

  8. The chaos deepens! Vice-Rector Kington resigns, amid increasingly thunderous calls for Dragas and other board members to do the same.


    Computer science professor William A. Wulf said he’s among those leaving the university, effective immediately.

    “I want no part of this ongoing fiasco,” he said.

    Wulf and his wife, U.Va. computer science professor Anita Jones, hold the prestigious University Professor designation, which only a handful of U.Va. faculty members hold.

    A board “that so poorly understands U.Va., and academic culture more generally, is going to make a lot more dumb decisions, so the University is headed for disaster, and I don’t want to be any part of that,” Wulf said in a letter Tuesday.


    I look forward to Brett’s continued efforts to spin this fiasco into something less appalling than it is regarded as by virtually everyone else who is following it.

    1. something less appalling than it is regarded as by virtually everyone else who is following it.

      Apparently there is one person who is following it and has complete confidence in the decision of Rector Dragas: Dragas’s sister, who apparently lacks self-awareness, or tact:

      Knowing how thorough, detailed and patient Helen is, I know there is simply no way that she would have fired Terry Sullivan if she were an effective leader and visionary.

      (h/t a couple of commenters to this LGM post)

      One person who doesn’t share the confidence placed in Rector Dragas by her sister is her Vice-Rector, who has resigned. In embarrassment rather than in protest, sadly, but his resignation is something.

    2. Wulf’s full resignation letter is here. He and his wife – also a full professor – are exemplars of the real, as opposed to phony, engagement of scholarship with business and government.

  9. Yeah, that situation at University of Virginia seems strange.

    ANYWAY, there are five different theories of higher education, the humanities and the government.
    1. The Politically-Correct Approach- Society is best when people of at least moderate intelligence spend a few years learning about Creation as being filled with many Creatures different from them in many ways.
    2. The Libertarian Approach- Pay for your own higher education!
    3. The Traditionalist Approach- Higher education is an machine for piety. They should study the humanities but not in a politically-correct way. White Males: Their Greatest Hits etc. As with many forms of social conservatism, this is futher divided between (a) moderates, who like tradition and hierarchy as tools so that as many people as possible may use them as sources of wisdom and strength in a world that seems unforgiving and (b) radicals, who bellow about excellence and its supposed stifling by mediocrity, and understand tradition and hierarchy as ways of brutalizing people who are different from them as good for its own sake.
    4. The Futurist Approach- Higher education, or at least support for higher education by the government, should be in skills that are either directly marketable or closely lead to skills that are directly marketable. These include STEM as a modern quadrivium (replacing the sixth-century scholar Cassiodorus’ arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) and foreign languages, business, and I don’t know the fine arts (which is to say actually creating works of art instead of merely appreciating them in many syllables as is alleged to be taught in the humanities) as a modern trivium (replacing grammar, rhetoric and logic).
    5. The Realist Approach- (a) People should be literate and numerate, and expecting people of at least moderate intelligence to spend a few years in higher education is good because it gives talented people who may have been behind their peers because of negative influences while they were children or youths a chance to catch up so they are not short-sightedly neglected by employers or creditors etc. (b) Not only does higher education give people a chance to catch up, but judging people based on how fancy their higher education was is a “signal” that in all likelihood (too lazy to look up or link to any facts) has less problematic disparate impact on the basis of ethnicity, sex etc. than other criteria. (c) People must learn. Even if Business-Foreign Language-Fine arts-STEM are a priority, it is sort of important for people of at least moderate intelligence to spend some time learning about how there are Creatures in Creation that are different from them. If people do not want to study BFFSTEM then they might as well study what we now call, the liberal arts, maybe closer to the politically-correct approach than to the traditionalist approach.

    1. I’m not sure if that list is exhaustive. In particular, it doesn’t seem to include the British type of university; in the UK, almost all universities are charities (either registered or by statute).

      The primary charitable goals that British universities pursue are of course the advancement of higher education and science, but they generally also have several ancillary charitable goals, such as promotion of the arts or rectifying social ills. (Unlike a general non-profit or not-for-profit organization, which is basically just a business entity without the goal of making a profit, a charity is much more restricted in what it can do.) For example, the University of Manchester claims the following in its Statement of Public Benefit (without even a hint of apology):

      The third specific goal of the “Manchester 2015 Agenda” is to make the University a force for good, locally, nationally and internationally, by bringing knowledge to bear on the great issues facing the world in the 21st century, and by producing graduates prepared to exercise social leadership and environmental responsibility.

      Obviously, behind all the noble talk, there’s still the very real world of budget constraints and the nitty-gritty bureaucracy of any major organization. But there’s still a substantial difference between this kind of university and the grants factory that UVA apparently aspires to be.

  10. i knew when i saw this post with 65 comments attached to it that this would be filled with the bellmore.

    i did not know that i would be treated to no less than 4 scorched earth takedowns of his comments.

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