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On ‘Country Club’ Campuses: A Public University Ex-President Shares His Second Thoughts

He brought a sushi to campus dining halls and revamped the dorms. Why one former university president wonders whether he did the right thing.

Harrison Hall at Miami University. Former Miami University President James Garland wonders whether he did the right thing in working to make the university more attractive to higher income students. (Wikimedia Commons)

James Garland was president of Miami University -- a public university in Ohio -- for a decade, retiring in 2006 after spearheading a number of changes aimed at raising the school’s profile and pulling in more out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition and are typically wealthier.

Garland oversaw extensive construction plans, facility upgrades, and a major change in the tuition model that raised in-state tuition to match the higher prices paid by out-of-state students. (That plan eventually fell by the wayside, but the same concept is still floated at some public universities -- including, most recently, by a planning group at the University of Virginia.)

Recently, Miami University was spotlighted in a Washington Monthly article documenting its heavy use of merit aid to attract out-of-state students. We’ve also reported on how public schools are using merit aid to boost their bottom lines.

We asked Garland about his time as president, his ambivalence about some of the decisions made during his tenure, and where he sees public higher education headed.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

James Garland (Photo courtesy of James Garland)You’ve said before that Miami University is “public in name only.” What did you mean by that?

We had somewhere between 30 to 40 percent of the entering class coming from out-of-state. It’s almost unheard of for public universities, but private universities often have that or more.

And then the campus physically sort of resembles a private campus. It just doesn’t have the feel of a public university. You walk around the campus and you would swear that you were at a tony private university. The buildings are all coordinated, red-brick architecture. The students are upper-middle class, well dressed, with high SAT scores.

It’s a school that has really benefited from being able to recruit students from outside Ohio who pay much higher tuition and fees, and is also able to recruit upper-income students just because the physical plant is so beautiful.

Did you feel that way about the mission too – that its mission was more like that of a private university?

I did. The fact that we did have selective admissions with high-ability students meant we were not burdened with the problems of having many poorly prepared students. That steered us more in the direction of the mission of a private university.

We were able to focus more on students who had a fairly narrow range of academic qualifications, and so that meant that we didn’t have to have remedial programs or have a lot of courses at different levels for students with different backgrounds or levels of preparation. That was much more private-like than public-like in terms of mission.

What was driving the decision to upgrade facilities and the campus?

I felt we were handicapped by our state affiliation because the state regulated our tuition charges. So even though we had the market strength and quality of offerings to have higher tuition charges, the state would simply not let us do it. At the same time, the state kept cutting our budget each year. We were hamstrung.

So we ended up trying to recruit more non-residents from outside of Ohio, and package ourselves as a selective, beautiful liberal arts college.

And so to do that, we took advantage of low interest rates for municipal bonds and invested in rehabilitating our residence halls and eating facilities and putting in more recreation -- workout rooms and lounges, and the kinds of accouterments that really dressed up a campus and made it a much more comfortable and familiar place for upper-middle class students. So those students started applying to us in droves. Application numbers went up, we became more selective, and the SAT scores of the entering class became higher.

And the university began to solve its financial problems. So in that sense, the decision to sort of market ourselves as a kind of elite public university paid off.

Looking back, are there lessons you draw from that experience?

As I think back, I didn’t realize it at the time, but in hindsight I worry about whether we did the right thing. As president, you to try to make campus attractive. You do things primarily to maintain financial stability.

I just think there’s a movement these days among universities that are able to do this, to turn themselves into country clubs. But inevitably that comes at expense of academic rigor and the quality of the academic program.

In my tenure we certainly contributed to this trend. And there’s a price you pay for that. For every dollar you put into building a student sports facility –- workout rooms and exercise rooms and squash courts and things of that sort -- every dollar you put into that is a dollar you’re not spending on improving classrooms or paying your professors a high enough wage that you can recruit from higher up in job pool.

So we were very successful at what we did, and we did manage to weather the financial downturn that followed a few years after I left. We weathered it quite well. All I’m saying is there is a downside.

What were other schools doing during this time? Did they see that you were doing this and try to keep up?

We were on the ground floor of this movement to enhance our facilities. But other schools began to do it too. They were not necessarily emulating what we were doing. It was more just that other schools that had selective admission and budget problems began to shop around for other options for raising revenues. And one of options on the table was almost always, "Let’s try to invest in things that will attract more non-resident students, because they meet our financial needs better than residents in the state."

You don’t have to explore very far to find opulent residence halls and all the various amenities. You’re seeing that at the flagship universities, the big research universities, schools that can afford to do it. Students these days want the kind of amenities that wealthier schools can provide.

The problematic thing is that it loads the universities up with debt and with everyone doing it, the competitive advantage of doing it is quickly lost. If everyone is trying to recruit from the same pool of students, then there are no winners. Everyone just spends a lot of money and gets the same number of students.

If everyone has a climbing wall and a new recreation center and serves sushi, then it doesn’t become a marketing advantage, it just becomes something you do to avoid falling behind everyone else. And I think that’s happening.

When did you begin to question those decisions, then?

After I got away from the university and looked at national trends a bit more and wrote a book on higher education, I began to see there was another side to the picture. I began to worry that academic standards throughout American higher education were slipping, and I began to wonder whether this investment that we had been making in providing a kind of upscale environment was contributing to that decline.

Would you do things differently if you went back?

It’s hard to know. I’ve asked myself that question. I don’t really know if I would have, because at the time we were so worried about our finances and trying to do everything we could to not degrade our academic programs. The state was just relentless in cutting our budget each year. And our costs kept going up.

I wish, though, that I had been more aware of what the long-term impact on academic rigor and academic standards was likely to be from this action. It wasn’t until later that I realized the cost.

How did you feel about the issue of access for low-income students while you were at Miami?

The problem that we had was we had this reputation as a tony, upper-middle class school. Part of the problem we had was the sense that there would be a kind of socio-cultural mismatch -- that low-income students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds would come and would feel uncomfortable because it was all upper-middle class kids from the suburbs. We spent a lot of money trying to make ourselves more hospitable for students from minority backgrounds or disadvantaged backgrounds. Our challenge was more of a cultural challenge than an economic challenge.

The other problem we had was that we had selective admissions. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds tended to have low SAT scores and come from second- and third-tier high schools and they lacked the rigorous high-school training. There was a general feeling that the really well qualified minority students or the disadvantaged students who had competitive academic credentials would basically get picked off by private universities that had more money to spend.

Where do you expect to see public higher education move going forward?

I think there’s a crisis in higher education. I think it’s a very severe crisis.

I see a large majority of public universities, the non-flagships, are sort of living hand-to-mouth right now. And they live off their meager state appropriations and their physical plants are getting run down and their faculty are discouraged. I don’t think they’re fulfilling the kind of opportunities that Americans expect from their colleges and universities.

At the other end of public spectrum, the selective publics are just getting more and more and more expensive. And they’re pricing out large segments of the American population.  

Tipping Point

Nov. 11, 2013, 2:42 p.m.

I would advise anyone to read University in Chains.  Our university system has been hijacked by the corporate and military-industrial complex and the political bureaucrats who perpetuate this dumbed-down system.  Our higher education has turned into a conformity-driven farm system for corporate stooges.  The days of universities being hotbeds of new ideas for progressive, humane development and what society should look like are over.  So are the liberal arts that teach people critical thought and freedom of expression.  Instead, we pump out conformity and ignorance in dumbed-down corporate driven degrees.

Says the man who obliterated nearly the entire liberal arts wing at Miami University, was one of the first universities to adopt the tenure buyout program for professors (where they would be forced to accept two year’s worth of salary and then move on), and pumped nearly all extraneous funds into sports, fraternities, and the business school.

He did make a mistake.  I went to a campus, just as beautiful, with all the bells and whistles for a fraction of the cost at the Ohio University; where there are students from all walks of life. I would have hated Miami U, as I had grown up as a part of the upper middle class white suburbs and wanted to get away from people intolerant of other views.  I thrived at Ohio University.

I just saw an ad for Miami U that said “Miami University- Ohio’s Ivy League college”.  So he did his job, I am just not sure he did it to benefit students in getting any more than they did from suburbia and very narrow/shallow view of the world. Only now these are young people equipped with a college degree.

I have reservations their grads will ever feel the need to contribute anything to the rest of the world, due to the sense of entitlement-unfortunately viewed by many of them as “accomplishment”. None of my former HS classmates who attended Miami seem to have lost that sense of entitlement.  Perhaps it may have been an eye opener if they had attended a college and got to know many students who were the first college grads in their families.

Bruce J Fernandes

Nov. 11, 2013, 4:14 p.m.

Its the same old story.  If government subsidizes anything you get more of it.  In this case the “more” we got was beyond any reasonable comprehension.

I went to college from 1976 to 1980; first JC then four year college and I thought the best thing that ever happened was when the college expanded the square footage for educational purposes.  Bigger library and study halls and private study booths…. but that was all related to getting an education which seems to be passé these days.

I go to Red Rock resort in Las Vegas when I want to do a stay-vacation; I don’t go there to get educated and I don’t think educational systems should be in the resort business.

I agree with the writer given the amounts of debt students are coming out of college with there will be no interest on their part to endow unless they generated enormous wealth and that will not be enough to cover a future where fewer students are going to college because it is just getting too expensive.

One of the other factors driving this expansion is the “cheap” money available through student loans.  I’m appalled at colleges and universities which complain about their finances, while greedily lining up at the trough to collect student loan proceeds.  Where is the accountability, or moral and ethical standards which these providers of higher education claim to espouse, when they encourage students/parents to take on debt?  Many of these graduates can’t find work with their degrees, yet have paid a princely sum for the privilege.The graduates/parents will have to struggle with payments for an education that failed to live up to its promise.  These colleges and universities need to divorce themselves from their traditions and instead focus on providing better quality education, to more students, at lower cost.

I’ve been taking my son around to colleges this year, four years ago, my daughter.  We just got back from a flagship state university in the Midwest, and it is as if there has been student facilities arms race over the last 4 years such that this public university had all the bells and whistles, if not more, than I had seen 4 years ago at private schools like Williams, Northwestern, Kenyon, and others.  For example, I kid you not, a 30-person hot tub and a water slide—and these extras were in the second of two student spas, I mean, rec centers on campus!  It is now as if everyone has to take their vacation at a 4 star resort and pay for it the rest of their lives —whether they like it or not.

I really don’t mind if this is what these colleges and universities want to do.  But if it is a public university using my tax dollars the kids in my state should get a break and should also have first dibs on admission.

Truthfully, from what I’ve seen in the work place, higher education just isn’t graduating a high caliber student in great numbers these days.  Maybe too much time in the hot tub.

I think Mr. Garland is being overly nice. It is actually worse than it looks or sounds.

Lot of universities are also living off of foreign students who are some of the brightest, and the ones who spend the most on education. Some of their parents are taking loans to send them to the US, which is going to put them in debt for life…for tuition and boarding fees that are eight times what local students pay. And many who graduate with Masters want to leave the US, or want to live in places where they feel safe, welcomed, respected, supported and promoted. The US is not doing that for them.

This is also going on at a time when an American degree’s worth is getting downgraded around the world (except for a Ph.D. or a technical degree in engineering, computer science, etc.).

We also have research institutions that have separated from teaching universities and trade colleges. And the disconnect is acute in the social sciences….where social research and social change are going in a tangential direction.

We have a generation of educated illiterates, overqualified unskilled workers….and some educated over overqualified, over worked under paid unhappy frustrated work force. None of this helps productivity, creativity, innovation, efficiency. And some young graduates don’t seem to care for ethics and integrity either.

And good sincere people at the top are retiring, over worked, limited in what they can do and at times are withdrawing. And talent from the bottom is not being promoted.

Miami has long been the most conservative of Ohio campuses. It has a nice setting in a college town that’s more quaint than others. It also long has cultivated a “public ivy” rep although it’s not known as a teaching campus (the faculty:student ratio is the same as other Ohio campuses and the school has an enrollment similar in size to at least half a dozen other campuses). It also lacks departments with high profiles in major research fields. I suspect that it’s basically like a lot of “safety schools”, which tend to have nice facilities, but not much else. I’ve known Miami grads and, as a group, they’re not particularly distinguished.

Ohio has another school, Ohio University, that’s about as old, but without the cultivated history or even the “good” academic rep. For many years it was the public campus most dependent on out of state student (about a third) and it had an ambitious plan to expand in the 60s and 70s. During the middle of that expansion, the state system greatly increased out of state tuition and enrollment plummeted, while it was modestly rising at other campuses. It took decades for the school to recover—the campus has character and the town is something of an Appalachian hippie haven, which makes it more funky than Oxford (Miami’s home), but it’s a good lesson in why losing your mission can be fatal.

Susan Hardwick

Nov. 11, 2013, 11:33 p.m.

This is sickening.  This person is a supreme elitist, probably more so than many that you find at the Harvards and Yales of the world.  And his comments about minority students, bordered on racist.  I am sorry I read this, it only makes me angry.

Here are two public state universities with astonishing reliance on out-of-state students:

University of New Hampshire—40%
University of Vermont - 66%

The University of New Hampshire is a public university in name only, as its support from the state is down to about 5% of its operating budget.

I’m reminded by The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the (fictional) entry on some company’s executives as “a bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.”

The revolution is poor kids who are going to pool their resources and use the Internet to build their tools and collaborate on projects.  Where are any of these private-money colleges going to be when kids and parents realize you can learn programming from programmers, journalism from journalists, science from scientists, without spending more than a few hundred dollars on a computer or equipment?

There’ll always be a role for a good school, especially in terms of motivating students through competition and deadlines and providing a network.  But as more and more schools choose to get out of that part of the business…

Rich - To suggest that Miami grads are not distinguished is laughable.

I know only one colleague that was or is a fan of Garland’s “leadership.” It’s interesting that the article doesn’t mention how his successor has gone him one better by recruiting heavily in China - international students pay $42k/yr tuition. There is also no discussion of the explosion in administrator salaries that began under his “leadership.”  While it may be true that borrowing money is cheap right now, it still has to be paid back.  MU’s bonded indebtedness has skyrocketed.  The amount of construction going on right now at MU is mind-boggling, and it’s luxury all the way….  except from the point of view of faculty compensation and morale.

As a former graduate student of Miami University, I think that President Garland understates his failure. The man gutted the Liberal Arts, as someone mentions above. Sorely underpaid the Graduate Student Teaching Assistants, to an extent that some were allegedly on welfare. He took away the Graduate Student apartment block to build an enormous dormitory near the gymnasium; ostensibly to house Graduate Students. He leased a near by apartment block to temporarily quarter the students. Subsequently, it turned out that the rent for this new luxurious Dorm-Spa was reportedly higher than most Teaching Assistant salaries. So, during my time, the leased apartments turned into semi-permanent Graduate residents.

Furthermore, he created some sort of a rapid ranking ascent scheme labelled “9 by 2009” or something on those lines. A man who was systematically starving research thought he could increase the quality of teaching and make it comparable to places like Harvey Mudd and Dartmouth.

A bunch of us transferred mid-way to higher ranked doctoral institutions. We gained professionally, perhaps, but the entire administrative set-up at Miami left a bitter taste. There are some genuinely great faculty members there whose departments and programs Garland destroyed through his myopic policies.

MU would still be recovering from the damage Garland did but we still follow that path. When he left he wrote a book called “Saving Alma Mater”. Should have been subtitled “Don’t Do What I Did At Miami”. Much fewer full time faculty, the staff are overworked and treated like crap. Faculty due to retire in the next five years face an additional five years or tak a 35% hit on pensions. Thanks Jim!!!!

A couple of points: Public universities started taking more out-of-state students for one simple reason: Their state funding has plunged over the last decade or so. The University of Virginia now gets only 8 percent of its budget from the state. Its state funding has been reduced by HALF over the last 20 years. Like all publics, it needs money and higher-paying out-of-staters are the way to get it. Virginia’s idiotic Republican governor tried to force UVA to take more in-state students, neglecting to mention how his administration reducing financing. If a state does not want to finance a university adequately, then the university must do what it can do remain vibrant.

I too lament the demise of the liberal arts and humanities but liberal arts degrees aren’t terribly marketable anymore—especially in a brutal job market—and students recognize this. Do we need to focus more on academics and less on sushi counters, yes, but there are a lot of things going on.

Liberal arts and humanities are dying because they don’t offer much value in the current environment. That’s not a Good Thing, but so what? The whining and lamentations in many of the comments would be hilarious were the writers not convinced that they had something to say. Her’e something - you live in a competitive world. It seems to make many of you uncomfortable. You talk of funding cuts despite studies that show no particular correlation between spending and outcomes. You speak of the wonders of diversity and the prison of narrowness withoput offering any evidence that said “freedom” offers advantage. You are, in other words, whiny liberals, victims, downtrodden by “them” - conservatives, adults, people who succeed - the oppressors who have apparently insisted that you remain children, or at least act like children. And here’s another college administrator “sorry for what he’s done.” Spare us your angst. It’s not in short supply, and it’s just a sign you weren’t up to the job you claimed to be able to do.

The current administration at Miami has righted the Garland ship with the addition of a new Winter term. No country club experiences with this new winter term, no sirreee, it’s high-quality academics all the way….

I would elaborate but I gotta get packing for MY winter term courses. Let’s see, I’m off to South America for my mountain-climbing HONORS course—4 weeks, 6 hours of (snicker, snicker) academic credit, definite A in the course.  From there, I’m off to Australia for a very (snicker, snicker) challenging Sports and Culture in Australia course—4 weeks of rugby, Australian beer, pubs, and women, another 6 hours credit….definite A in the course.  After such rigorous academic training (that costs north of $25,000), could I be better trained for a job in the real world? 

Miami under David Hodge is not “Love and Honor”, it’s ‘Pay to Play’.

As a recent Miami University graduate, I do not agree with many of these comments. Yes the school is physically beautiful, but to say that the academic quality of undergraduate learning has suffered is outright wrong. An astounding number of Miami professors are leaders in their fields and truly care about the quality of education that is provided to their students. The professors at Miami academically challenge their students and as a current law student, my education at Miami has prepared me far more than my peers who are graduates from other Ohio schools (specifically, Ohio State, Ohio University and University of Cincinnati). While these students may have had equivalent or higher GPAs than myself, its clear they were not academically or intellectually challenged in their undergraduate schools and are now suffering the consequences. Miami graduates are smart and well respected across the country and our strong academics are to thank for that.

Richard @ 8:12: 
You state:  “Public universities started taking more out-of-state students for ONE simple reason: Their state funding has plunged over the last decade or so.”

NOT true. Over the last 12 years at Miami state aid has declined from $80 million a year to $70 million, so this is one factor, but it is far from the major factor. Consider this:  over the last 12 years, Miami’s budget has doubled from $324 million per year to $644 million, despite the fact that student enrollment has remained relatively constant. The $10 million per year cut in state aid pales in comparison to the $324 million increase in SPENDING; it does not even begin to explain higher college costs. 

What are the real cost factors that are pushing state schools to take on out-of-state (and foreign) students like the Titanic took on water? There are three, but I’ll only mention two. 

One, over the past 15 years, these ‘Capt. Edward John Smith’ college presidents have engaged in an enormously expensive amenities “arms race” in a futile attempt to out-build, out-do and out-boast each other in claiming to have the latest, greatest facilities (mostly non-academic facilities)—new rec centers, student centers, Taj Mahal dorms, parking garages, climbing walls, more spending on extracurricular activities…and on and on.  The consequence of this arms race is that, nationwide, the outstanding debt at 224 universities rated by Moody’s has grown by $69 BILLION in real terms between 2000 and 2012, while interest payments on that debt has increased by 67 percent at public institutions. At Miami, outstanding debt has shot up 900 percent over the past decade, from $42 million in 2002, to $421 million today —again, with virtually no change in student enrollment. 

Two, is the exploding bureaucratic bloat that is smothering universities.  From 1993 to 2007, there was a 50 percent increase in the number of administrators per 100 students at Miami, compared with a 5.5 percent increase in faculty per 100 students. The “solution” to almost every issue and problem by every college president is to appoint yet another (high-salary) administrator to respond to it. And every administrator begets yet another administrator and a new staff which, in turn, has to generate new reports, require more reports, convene more meetings, attend more conferences, etc., in order to justify their existence.

The building arms race and administrators who breed like rabbits are the major factors driving college costs through the roof…....all enabled, I might add, by easy access to student loans.

I helped a guy trick his way into Miami.  He’s a local yocal with poor grades.  for a few thousand bucks, I wrote him a stellar entrance essay to his college and to the university.  I think Miami is sort of a local joke.  They pretend to be in the ranks of Xavier, Kenyon, Case Western and the University of Dayton.  They are actually just a state school, with a country club like setting….

And the music school is easy to get losers into… I know, I made it happen.

Rich @ 10:43
Excellent comment. I can’t help thinking as I read the Q&A that this guy sounds a lot like the guys who were running Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, etc.  “Gee, I guess we shouldn’t have borrowed so much darn money and then blown it on non-essential items/services”.  How did that work out?

Rich @ 10:43 p.m.

You make great points here and I appreciate them a great deal.

But Richard also has a point.  State support has declined dramatically.  Rich, your calculations do not account for inflation.  If you enter your budget figures (which are spot on) into an inflation calculator, you’ll see that the state’s $78M allocation in 2000 needed to be over $105 M today simply to keep pace with inflation.  Instead, it is under $70M.  This represents an remarkable decline of 33% in only a dozen years. 

Since 1955, state funding has declined from 70% to 10.8% of total expenditures at MU.  Of course, your point that percentages do not tell the whole story is a very good one.  A look at where expenditures now occur reveals that they have shifted away from instruction.  But declining state support, amid state mandates for enhanced services, is what made universities panic in the first place. 

That panic has now resulted in truly desperate gestures: recruiting Chinese students who cannot begin to succeed at the college level in the US; underpaying staff and faculty; dramatically reducing the number of full-time faculty; and other gimmicks.  It’s sad.

You all can prattle on about the spending and the costs at mu, but here is the bottom line. You send your children he for an education right well this is what happens when we attempt to do this. The employees at mu have NO freedom of speech, we are not allowed to speak of the good old days without severe penalties, we are not allowed to voice our opinions about the frivolous spending that goes on here, ie. the new eateries built in 2013 that charge ten dollar per hamburger. No pay increases but we see the upper crust making bonus at very turn for recruiting and sales. They are increasing insurance, now we have no say in our home life and what we do in private. Now let’s see what does this sound like to you? There is so much age discrimination going on there that if you are above the age of fifty you best get your skates on and get ready to be shoved out the door, you iono longer fit MU profile. If you look at the place that hires people on this campus that deal directly with the public you will find nothing but young folks present, older workers are kept up of public view. This is what you teach in your little ivory school!!!! Racism, discrimination, lying, no freedom of speech, and no morals, and a good healthy nose thumb against our constitution. Roll on MU, lets show our kids how its done!!!!!! Thanks to all of you presidents for paving the way to what we have become. There was a very wise man who said when you start running a university as a business you have stopped the learning.

How would American higher education pay its bills without large numbers of students from the People’s Republic of China who pay top dollar?  Maybe the PRC should ask for a seat on the various boards of trustees.

Kevin Blankinship

Nov. 18, 2013, 10:48 a.m.

There’s not the slightest pang of conscience from Garland as to putting Miami out of reach of kids from blue collar and low-income families, as well as most middle-class families.  Thomas Jefferson’s ideal for a state university was to give access to quality higher education to capable students.  What Garland has done was to give mediocre higher ed to mediocre rich kids, so as to help perpetuate their position in society.  Garland is an enemy of meritocracy and a minion of oligarchy.

I dunno; I have a feeling it would take a book - maybe multiple volumes - to explore where this whole situation came from. I think it originated with the newly returned “Greatest Generation” and the GI Bill, in tandem with our economic world dominance after WWII while the rest of the world struggled to get back on their feet.

My conjecture is that the Greatest Generation (and at least a couple generations thereafter) ascribed their quick achievements of personal success and financial comfort too much to the educational opportunities, and not enough to our once-and-future* economic competitors being taken out of the game.
*(wherein future=now)

Only a few Ohioans of a certain age (including Ohio ex-pats like me) are likely to remember the name Novice G. Fawcett,** the long-ago President of Ohio State University (1956-1972).  Mr. Fawcett (he never did finish his Ph.D. work) was a one-man dynamo of college/university expansion. Evidence for that is scattered and not too voluminous; some links are below.**

The reason why I remember Mr. Fawcett’s name is related to the smoldering anger and frustration of my long-departed professor and department chairman Brother J.J. Lucier (fwiw, a bit about me: U. Dayton, B.S. ‘78, Chemistry).  Bro. Lucier blamed Novice Fawcett for accrediting a chemistry Ph.D. program at Miami U. as his last act in a position of authority - I’m thinking as a member (or even Chancellor) of the Ohio Board of Regents; if not that, at least someone who could influence their decision.

Bro. Lucier’s contention was that the budget and educational infrastructure of the state could support the (then) three existing Ph.D. chemistry programs, at U. Cincinnati, Ohio State, and Case Western, but no more. Bringing any more on line was just creating departments that would inevitably be starved for good prospective students and financial support.  As an example, Bro. Lucier noted that Miami U. accepted a student that had been very publicly ejected from U. Dayton’s chemistry M.S. program for cheating.  My department chair also noted that his own U.D. faculty - former researchers all (and current, when time permitted) - would have loved to have had a Ph.D. program as well, but ultimately decided against stretching themselves too thin, instead sticking with their quality B.S. program (as well as the M.S. program, which was never very big when I was there).

Sour grapes aside, the decision by Bro. Lucier and the faculty and administration at U.D. made a wise decision, IMO, even in light of increased foreign student Ph.D. program enrollments in subsequent years. But to give Novice Fawcett his due, he very much represented the attitude of the time.  Had he not been an aggressive marketer of building more educational institutions, I have no doubt he would have been replaced rather quickly by someone willing to undertake that kind of expansion.  It was the widely accepted higher-ed “theology” of the time.

Eh, we may yet become a civilized species - if we don’t first kill ourselves in our attempts to “advance forward”.


**Novice Fawcett (yeah, not much here):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Novice_Gail_Fawcett

Example of his activities:
http://www.libraries.wright.edu/community/outofthebox/2013/05/31/50-years-ago-today-in-wsu-history-groundbreaking-ceremony/; photo close-up:
http://www.libraries.wright.edu/community/outofthebox/2013/05/31/50-years-ago-today-in-wsu-history-groundbreaking-ceremony/ddn_dayton-campus_01/

More on his role in the creation of Wright State U.:
http://kb.osu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/1811/29290/Fawcett Transcript April 9, 1984.pdf?sequence=1
(via http://kb.osu.edu/dspace/handle/1811/29290)

An acknowledgement of his legacy:
http://www.fawcettcenter.com/page/home

Kevin Blankinship

Nov. 20, 2013, 11:13 a.m.

I don’t buy it.  My experience with managers, executives, physicians, and professors these days is that they are an elite bent on taking care of themselves and to heck with the rest.  They are open to allowing new entrants to this elite from foreign countries, but don’t want to be taxed to educate those born here.

In reading my long comment from last night, one thing I was probably wrong about was the number of Ph.D. Chemistry programs in Ohio back in the mid-70s.  While I haven’t tried searching, I’m pretty sure there would have more than the programs at U.Cinn., OSU, and CWRU. I do remember the subject of ‘three chemistry Ph.D. programs in Ohio’ coming up in discussion with Bro. Lucier, but it was probably in the context that he thought that is all that we should have had, based on the size of the pool of potential students and budget limitations, and that (in his opinion) those universities had the strongest doctoral chemistry programs at the time.

Apologies for the (likely) error - in my defense, it was 35 years ago!

The immorality of college admissions:
Wealth is the overriding factor for college admissions, making a farce of institutions that boast of diversity.

.......by Sarah Kendzior

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/10/immorality-college-admissions-2013102945841711416.html

It is - of course - not just Miami U. of Ohio these days…

Barbara Rinto

Nov. 27, 2013, 4:33 p.m.

Miami is homogeneous and not real world. Mr. Garland talks about a “upper income” and “upper middle-class” which is code for white students. At the University of Cincinnati, walking our campus is like experiencing the world in all its diversity.

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