Category Archives: Blogosphere

Chris Creighton named football coach

Well, we didn’t see this one coming. To quote from the press release:

Chris Creighton, the head football coach at Drake University for the past six years, has been named the new head football coach at Eastern Michigan University, Vice President/Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Heather Lyke announced today, Dec. 11. Creighton will be formally introduced to the EMU community Thursday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m. with a press conference inside the atrium of the Convocation Center. The press conference will be streamed live at EMUEagles.com.

The 44-year old Creighton has built the Bulldogs into a consistent power in the Pioneer Football League, sharing the conference crown during the 2011 and 2012 campaigns. During his 17-year head coaching career, he has accumulated eight conference titles and an all-time record of 139-46 (.764 winning percentage). He departs Drake with the highest winning percentage in school history (.667) after also posting 63 wins as the head coach at Wabash College and 32 at Ottawa University.

So there you have it. The only thing I know is about Drake (because I grew up in Iowa), which is a so-so private university in Des Monies with about 4,000 students. I’ve of course never heard of the Pioneer Football League.

Reed murder: search warrants, investigations, and where are we “safe?”

This is kind of a “three-fer” post:  First, from mlive comes “Demarius Reed homicide: 14 search warrants executed, 42 pieces of evidence seized, 50 people interviewed.”  Read the article of course, but most of what you need to know is in the headline. There’s some interesting comments, including one claiming to be from one of Reed’s former neighbors at University Green.

Also from The Michigan Journal (“the weekly student publication at the University of Michigan-Dearborn”) comes “Are we safe?” It’s really about safety at UM-Dearborn, but I thought this was an interesting passage:

Within the past week, two students were found dead on college campuses: one at Wayne State University and one at Eastern Michigan University. With the recent reports of increased crime at metro Detroit schools, it’s understandable that University of Michigan-Dearborn students may be concerned about their safety on campus.

As UM-Dearborn students and staff probably are aware, our Campus Safety officers maintain a heavy presence around campus to deter crime. But unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely prevent all potential criminals from acting. I spoke to Officer Rick Gordon, Chief of Police, to find out if the campus police are taking any extra measures to increase our on-campus safety and security in the wake of these recent crimes.

Good news: UM-Dearborn students actually don’t have much to fear—our university is statistically the safest public university in the state.

Finally, there’s this: “WMU’s P.J. Fleck on Eastern Michigan shooting death: There are more important things than football” in mLive. It’s kind of an obvious but still well-stated sentiment.

An odd “Football Survey”

Before I get to the survey, let me first congratulate the Women’s soccer team for claiming the regular season championship.  Good for them!  I have no idea what that means next for them with the MAC tournament and (I assume?) the NCAA tournament prospects.

By the way, isn’t it getting a little chilly to be playing soccer?

As far as football goes: the Emus are 30 point underdogs to the Toledo Rockets playing in Toledo, so, to quote every character in Star Wars, I have a bad feeling about this. The real “game of the season” will be next weekend when we face equally shitty Western Michigan at home.

But what I really wanted to write about was this odd email I received last night– I assume lots of other people did too. It’s a survey from the EMU football team which kind of seems like something put together not by EMU marketing but by the athletics program or maybe even a group of interested alumni? I don’t know.

Here’s a link to the survey:

https://fbsstudy.turnkeysurveyor.com/se.ashx?s=33640D7D02B88CE6 

As far as I can tell, you can take the survey as many times as you want.  A few of the interesting features:

  • The logo that appears int he lower left-hand corner of the survey is for the “Ohio University Sports Administration,” which I think is the sports program at Ohio University. I can understand borrowing a survey from another university’s program, but how hard is it to change a logo?
  • The first question asks what “best describes your ticket-holder status” and it lists as one of the options “Suite owner.” Do we have “suites?” Oh, and on that first question, if you select the “I haven’t purchased tickets this season,” it throws you out of the survey entirely, which seems like a bad idea to me: seems to me that it would be valuable information for EMU football marketing to find out why people aren’t buying tickets.
  • A lot of the questions asking about why you don’t attend more games seem to do with stuff like parking, the comfort of the stadium, entertainment (besides the game), etc. I sure hope this isn’t some crazy survey designed to make an argument to throw even more money at the football team.

 

A little more about EMU’s “4th best” student center

Loyal readers will recall that we discussed  a while ago here about EMU’s fourth place finish on this list of the top 25 student centers/unions from a web site called Best College Reviews. While people were happy about the ranking (“yeah! we’re #4!), there was also a lot of reasonable questions about just what exactly was the basis for this ranking.

Well, I contacted Best College Reviews editor James Arney and, lo and behold, he wrote back. I asked if he could explain the ranking methodology a bit and here’s what he wrote back:

“We looked at hundreds of student unions to make this list, using publicly available information. There were many impressive student unions that we were unable to include due to limiting the list to 25. We wanted to highlight student unions that are luxurious and well suited to their campuses. Ideally, we wanted unions that pampered the student population and met as many of their recreation and entertainment needs as possible. Student unions that would be considered draws for prospective students were our ideal candidates.

“We also tried to consider things like architectural and historic notability. Our mission at BestCollegeReviews is to create guides to help prospective students find the right fit in their college searches, and we are strong believers that facilities play a large role in student satisfaction. This is especially important information with the recent nationwide campus building boom.”

Not exactly a scientific and quantitative series of measurements.  Then again, I’m not sure any other organization/ranking of “the best” student center or “the best” campus building can be a whole lot more scientific/quantitative than a ranking for “the best” flavor of ice cream (which, btw, is Jeni’s Salty Carmel).

EMU’s Student Center 4th “most amazing”

At least this is according to the web site “Best College Reviews” and their web article “The 25 Most Amazing Campus Student Unions.” I learned about this via Facebook this morning. Here’s what it says about the EMU Student Center:

Ever since it was first revealed in 2006, the EMU Student Center has become an incredible center to the campus life at Eastern Michigan University. The $40.5 million dollar union offers student services, several restaurant chain dining facilities, the athletic box office, the Admissions office, and a Chase Bank branch. It also became home for the first LAN Gaming Center, called the E-Zone, where students can participate in multiplayer games with their peers on Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation. The student center is also well known for its Kiva Room, a round 360-degree room designed after those in Native American cultures. Situated on the north side of the second floor, the Kiva Room is utilized for musical shows, conference spaces, and student group collaborations.

I guess that’s all true and I certainly like our student center, though I do think a lot of colleges and universities have pretty good places like our student center too. In any event, good for us!

The story of Margaret Mary Vojtko: of adjuncts, unions, safety nets, and more

A loyal reader sent me a link to a post from the often excellent blog Gin and Tacos, “Adjunctification,” which reflects on a story I had been meaning to post here, about the sad demise and death of Margaret Mary Vojtko at the age of 83. She had been an adjunct French instructor at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh up until her death; she worked there for 25 years and she died penniless and with cancer. A fellow adjunct and lawyer for the United Steeelworkers union (the union was trying to organize adjuncts at Duquesne, a move the Catholic university has strongly resisted) named Daniel Kovalik wrote this op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazetteand the story got into the higher education press, was the topic of other blog posts (here’s a good one from Phil Nels),  got picked up by NPR and many many more places.

This is a story with many many angles to it.

One angle is clearly about the problem of adjuncts– both to the exploited adjuncts themselves and the overuse of adjuncts in higher education. Most readers of EMUTalk.org already know this, but civilians outside of higher education don’t realize that somewhere between 50% and 75% of all college “professors” are actually part-timers who are making around minimum wage or less (depending on how you count the hours spent) with no or few benefits. So stories like Vojtko’s shock the general public especially since the mainstream media has come to believe that all college professors are pretty much the same and are living the easy life.

It’s also clearly a story about unionizing academic labor. Kovalik– the guy who wrote the op-ed piece that first brought attention to this story– has been accused by Duquesne and union opponents of exploiting Vojtko’s unfortunate end in the name of getting the adjunct union off the ground. On the other hand, Duquesne has been resisting unionization and considering it’s a Catholic university that I assume favors social justice and the like, this is a very VERY problematic position indeed.

As an aside, this is one thing that I think EMU does “more right” than most other colleges and universities in this country. We’re far from perfect, but I think our system of unionized lecturers and adjuncts means there is at least some protection and (especially for full-time lecturers) some version of a decent job. Of course, one of the current problems is EMU is working aggressively to limit the amount of teaching part-timers are doing to make sure that the stay part-time so EMU won’t have to give these full-time/part-timers health insurance.

But I also think another important angle on this story is about care for the elderly. The semi-anonymous “Ed” at Gin and Tacos (who is himself an academic) raises two important concerns:

First, the implication that the university should have continued to employ her is dubious. I can count on zero fingers the number of people who teach effectively at age 83 in my career. A small percentage of professors teach well into their late seventies and beyond, but they are outnumbered by the ones who should have hung up their spurs years ago. In Vojtko’s case I can’t imagine that an 80+ year old with cancer – a person who probably belongs in an assisted living facility – was effective in the classroom. I don’t know her. She may have been a good teacher. There is reason to be skeptical, though.

Second, where are Medicare and Social Security in this story? As far as I understand these programs, an 83 year old should have been more than a decade into her eligibility for both. Social Security certainly doesn’t provide for a luxurious lifestyle, but it’s enough to keep the power on. Medicare might not be the finest insurance plan on the planet, but certainly it should have given her access to hospital care and prescription drugs. How was this woman completely uninsured?

In other words, where is the “safety net” that I am assuming is protecting all 80-somethings from this sort of situation? I am well aware that there are many elderly people living in poverty in this country, but like Ed, I kind of assumed that the social security and medicare would have made situations unusual to say the least. Is that a naive assumption on my part?

Also, a lot has been made that Vojtko had been adjunct for 25 years before being “tossed aside” when Duquesne no longer wanted to employ her. But given that she was 83 years old when she died, that meant that she must have been doing something else for a good part of her adult life before becoming an adjunct. What was it? I’m not trying to accuse her of anything; I’m just wondering why or what happened for her to take up adjunct teaching work in her late 50s.

Finally, stories like this one always reminds me of a couple of other things I knew well before I had heard of Margaret Mary Vojtko and that I will continue to remember long after she is forgotten. First, being a part-time adjunct is a terrible way to try to make a living.  The sad reality is higher education is a “buyer’s market”– especially in the humanities– and the main reason why colleges pay and treat part-timers so poorly is because they can. Making matters worse are the number of people with advanced degrees in fields like French, Literature, Creative Writing, and so forth who are clamoring to take these low-paying adjunct positions.

My advice to anyone who asks me (and I do get grad students asking me this once in a while) is being a part-time adjunct for a few years is a great way to get some experience and stay active in academia while being employed doing something else and/or being in an economic/life position where you don’t need to worry about doing something else– e.g., a life partner who makes most of the money and has the benefits. Working long-term as a full-time part-timer (and the worse example of this is of adjuncts working part=time at multiple institutions) is not a sustainable life or career choice. Almost everyone who does that would be better off working full-time at almost any other job and teaching one class a semester on the side.

Second is a piece of wisdom that came from my father years ago: you can love your job, but your job will never love you. My dad spent most of his career as a manager-type at Deere and Company, which is about as far away from academia as you can get, but I think the rules that apply there apply in higher education, too. And that’s especially true for folks not on the tenure-track.

I think the headline tells most of this story

Though it is worth mentioning that this was not at EMU:

“Prof Who Shot Upskirt Videos of Students Blames Their Lack of Underwear” from Gawker.com.

Sign the petition for faculty inclusion on Obama’s higher ed plan

Over at Academe Blog, my friend and colleague Aaron Barlow posted “AAUP President Releases Statement on Obama Higher Ed Proposal, Sign the Petition for Faculty Inclusion!” And that’s pretty much what it’s about.  AAUP President Rudy Fitchenbaum is critical of Obama’s plans (of course).

There is also a link here to a  White House petition to ask the president to consult with faculty in putting together his reform plans. They need 100,000 signers to get a response from the White House, and as of this morning, there was just over 99,000. So go sign it!

“12 Top Colleges Where Students Get the Best Bang for Their Buck”

I don’t really know what policymic is and I don’t know exactly how this list was calculated, but here’s an article/list of the “12 Top Colleges Where Students Get the Best Bang For Their Buck.”  The list is interesting because it doesn’t include any private or “Ivy League” or US News and World Report “top 20″ universities, and it also includes the relatively local Western Michigan University.

Help solve a hit-n-run

Jeez, three posts in one day while I’m on vacation.  Sigh.

Anyway, local blogger Edward “Vacuum” Vielmetti emailed today and wanted me to pass along this news:

Hit and run in Ypsilanti – seeking driver of early 90s Chevy Corsica – Motorcycle accident Friday August 9, 2013 Downtown Ypsilanti (W. Forest Ave at N. Hamilton St. Ypsi)

A friend of mine was in a motorcycle accident in Ypsilanti on Friday, August 9, 2013. Here’s her posting to Craigslist about it – there is a reward offered for identification of the driver that caused the crash. Contact her through this email address: ttrfq-3993561879@comm.craigslist.org

 Motorcycle accident 08/09/13 Downtown Ypsilanti (W. Forest Ave at N. Hamilton St. Ypsi)

*Possible Reward, if vehicle driver identified*

My partner and I were involved in a motorcycle accident around 8:20pm at the corner of W. Forest Ave and N. Hamilton St, August 09, 2013. An early 1990′s, I believe a Chevrolet Corsica, tan/gold in color, made an illegal right turn from the far left lane in front of our motorcycle. The vehicle stopped briefly in the intersection after causing us to dump our bike, but quickly left after the Ypsi Fire Dept came on the scene.

I know that the first two pedestrians who spoke with us witnessed the accident, and appeared to be taking pictures/video of the scene. A third pedestrian, wearing a pink t-shirt, helped get our bike off of us and handed me my partners glasses. I’m sure he also witnessed the incident, and saw the vehicle leave the scene.

If you, or anyone you’ve spoke to had told you about this accident, or have pics/video if the incident, please contact me through this post. It can be done anonymously, we are looking for the driver of the vehicle who left the scene. Also, I’d like to thank the pedestrians, Ypsi firefighters, the fine paramedics of HVA, and Officer Thompson of Ypsi PD for all your help.

  • Location: W. Forest Ave at N. Hamilton St. Ypsi
  • it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Posting ID: 3993561879

Posted: 2013-08-10, 4:16PM EDT

So if you know anything….