Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Advancing the Economy?

This comes courtesy of Mal Kline.

From Accuracy in Academia’s

Dominion Brain Drain
by: Malcolm A. Kline, March 22, 2005

The Democratic governor of Virginia and the top Republican in that state’s Senate recently agreed on a tax hike to prop up the Old Dominion’s colleges and universities that may turn out to be a multi-billion dollar mistake.

“It falls on colleges and universities to produce the type of individuals who will advance our economy,” John H. Chichester, the state Senate’s president pro-tem, recently said. The measures that Chichester and the state’s colleges and universities have taken to achieve that goal are questionable.

Chichester, for example, talked the administration at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, Va. into dropping Physics. Chichester’s logic in doing so made some sense from a consumer standpoint: Not many students were taking the course.

Applying the “economic advancement” argument Chichester relies on, though, might cause one to wonder why JMU should drop Physics but retain Women’s Studies and Africana Studies. As it happens, most of the colleges and universities in the state offer these courses of study.

The Africana Studies division at JMU will feature a lecture next month entitled “Playing Herself: Gender and Sexuality as Performed by Hip Hop’s Lil Kim.” The lecturer, Dr. Michelle Smith-Bermiss, will give her talk at the JMU Honors program Brown Bag lecture series.

A look at the institutions of higher learning in the state might make Virginia taxpayers wonder why they should reward college and university administrators with more money. To take just two examples, let’s look at Virginia State University (VSU), just south of Richmond, and George Mason University (GMU), near Fairfax and close to Washington, D. C. Shortly before Christmas, VSU fired acclaimed sociologist Jean Cobbs. The administration at VSU harassed the sociology professor for a decade after she rode on the Republican float in the school’s homecoming parade. Removed from the chairmanship of the department that she created and won accreditation for, the tenured professor spent the past ten years being passed over for bonuses. When she took unpaid leave in late 2003 to care for her dying husband, VSU administrators gave her an unsatisfactory notice for extended absences.

In stark contrast, Dr. Thomasina Borkman received no reprimand from GMU for her abuse of students in her sociology class there. She asked her students to draw up a list of privileges of being white. How exactly does this advance the economy or any other aspect of life in Virginia?

Accuracy in Academia has identified three solid Virginia colleges and/or universities; Patrick Henry College, Christendom College and Regent University. Unlike the other colleges and universities in the Old Dominion, this trio does not receive state funding.

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia and a resident of the state of Virginia.

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