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The Weekly Blab 5.23

The Weekly Blab

Volume 5, Issue 23—February 15, 2011


Back Into the Rain

Hope everyone enjoyed last week’s “humorous world of academia” issue, ‘cause it’s back to the miasma this issue.  Even Chelsea only managed to tie Fulham, 0-0, and has to replay with Everton in the FA Cup Fourth Round due to another tie.  Drip… Drip… Drip…


Life’s Bad All Over…

The higher education news ain’t good, and it’s happening all over the country.  It used to be that most people thought of higher education and the state universities as a public good.  Now, there are all too many who only see them as a benefit for the individual, with no right to state support.  Here are some recent reports from the various states:


As I’ve mentioned before, my parents live in Nevada and I’m at least nominally interested in what goes on there.  After massive budget cuts over the past two years, the current governor, Brian Sandoval, has proposed cutting UNLV’s budget by another $48 million.  The provost of the university has announced to faculty there that if this budget goes through, for the first time in its 54-year history, UNLV might have to declare financial exigency in order to be able to eliminate educational programs and to lay off tenured faculty.  The university is “approaching a state of fiscal collapse”, UNLV’s president said.  Now truth be told, Nevada has never been a state that particularly valued higher education, and you don’t need a college degree to be a croupier at a casino.  So is Nevada just some outlier, and the rest of the nation would never act this way?   Drip… Drip… Drip…


In South Carolina (another state that I’m familiar with—I went to Grad School there), the state house of representatives’ budget panel has come up with a fine cost-saving idea: all faculty should teach at least nine credit hours per semester.  Now before everyone jumps and says we teach more than that, I’d like to point out that the standard teaching load in every university but three in South Carolina is 12 hours or higher.  The three exceptions:  The University of South Carolina—Columbia, Clemson, and the Medical University of South Carolina.  These are the three research universities in the state, where faculty teach less, research more, and are expected to bring in major grant funding if they want to keep their jobs.  “I think we need to have professors in the classroom and not on sabbatical and out researching and doing things to that effect,” Representative Murrell Smith said.   What happens to grad students in South Carolina if research disappears?  What happens to scientific advancement?  What happens to all the grant funding that comes into the state?  Representative Smith and the budget panel didn’t say.  Drip…Drip…Drip…


Further west in Missouri, Governor Jay Nixon ordered a review of “non-productive” degree programs in the Missouri system, which has resulted in plans to eliminate 116 degree programs.  175 more were flagged for review in three years.  Among programs to be eliminated, reports the Columbia Missourian, is the physics department at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, “which graduated one lone student each of the past three years. But the department keeps a heavy teaching load with classes that meet general education requirements, school leaders told the state. The school bolstered its case with letters of support from local businesses.


The state’s higher education commissioner, David Russell noted:  “Many fields that have been identified as crucial to the state's economic growth and global competitiveness were among the low-producing degree programs…Foreign languages, teacher education and the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — were prominent on the list of fields with few graduates. This is a concern that must be addressed across K-12 and higher education.


Governor Nixon thanked the schools for “responding to my call for action…This is an important initial step following through on my request for program review, and I am heartened by the institutions working to identify and carry out great efficiencies.”  The Kansas City Star added: “…don’t expect it to save much money”.  Drip… Drip… Drip…


Meanwhile, in New Jersey, the Kean University (a state university) administration has asked faculty to start filling in daily timesheets to ensure that they are putting in at least a 35-hour workweek.  As reported in Inside Higher Education, a spokesman for the university said that non-faculty full-time employees were already required to fill out time sheets. “Filling out time sheets has been the norm on campus for the vast majority of our staff and it’s not an onerous task. We have a responsibility to ensure that we are delivering services to those whom we ultimately serve—our students,” he said.  Not surprisingly, faculty who report working more than 35 hours per week will not receive any extra compensation.  [The most recent national survey has faculty putting in an average of 48 hours per week.]  Drip… Drip… Drip…


It’s International Year of Chemistry

…and none of you even sent me a card!


Last Week’s Trivia Challenge

Last week’s Trivia Challenge on Words that begin with a “Z” was won by Meg Dillon (Math) who knows her ztuff, getting all five right.


1.  What is the gizmo that cleans the ice in the middle of a hockey game called? Zamboni

2.  On The Patty Duke Show’s theme song, where had cousin Cathy been?  Most everywhere, from Zanzibar, to Barkley Square.

3.  What are the two elements that begin with a “Z”?  Zinc and Zirconium

4.  What is the name of the currency in Poland? Zloty

5.  What is the kind of treat that goes best with your Bosco at breakfast? Zwieback


And from allrecipes.com, here’s a recipe for zwieback cheesecake:



1 (4 ounce) package zwieback toast, 1/2 cup white sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1/2 cup margarine (melted), 3 1/4 cups dry small curd cottage cheese, 1 cup white sugar, 4 eggs, 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 pinch salt, 1 cup heavy cream, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crush zwieback into crumbs. In a medium bowl, combine zwieback crumbs, 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon and melted margarine. Mix well and press into the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan. 

In a large bowl, cream cottage cheese and 1 1/4 cup sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in the flour and salt. Mix in cream and vanilla.


Pour batter into crust and bake in preheated oven for 1 hour. Cool completely before removing from pan.


Mmm…I can taste it now!


This Week’s Trivia Contest

This week’s trivia contest focuses on English (that is, what the British call stuff).  No looking on the web now!


1.  What we call a French fry, the British call…

2.  What we call a potato chip, the British call…

3.  What we call a “buzzer” (like on an alarm clock), the British call…

4.  What we call “Oil of Olay”, the British call…

5.  What we call “having lots of energy”, the British call “being…


The best of British to you on the contest!