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January 31, 2010

First, Do No Harm... To Your Bank Account?


From an editorial in the Boston Globe:

Ethics: Rules reveal doctors' priorities

When Partners HealthCare implemented strict new ethics rules last April, barring its doctors from giving paid speeches for pharmaceutical companies, some doctors complained about the loss of extra income. Some warned that the guidelines would stifle collaboration between doctors and researchers. But few predicted that a doctor would quit his post at one of the world's most prestigious medical schools so he could keep traveling and speaking on the drugmakers' dime. That's the choice Dr. Lawrence M. DuBuske has made: The allergy and asthma specialist will resign from Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School this month in order to stay on the payroll of six pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, which paid him nearly $100,000 to give 40 speeches during a three-month period last year.

Massachusetts implemented new guidelines last spring that ban gifts to doctors from pharmaceutical and medical device companies. The Partners teaching hospitals join others nationwide that have banned all participation in pharmaceutical companies' "speakers bureaus.'' These rules offer a vital counterbalance to the pharmaceutical industry's influence over treatments and prescriptions. They help to give consumers confidence that they're getting unbiased and untainted medical opinions, and may serve to curb an over reliance on costly name-brand drugs.

But one side effect of stringent ethics rules has now become clear. There will always be some doctors who decide that their top priority is to do no harm to their bank accoun

So how's that conflict of interest policy at the U medical school coming, Frank?

It's now going on three years...


January 28, 2010

TERI - and the beat goes on...

Another one of those crazy academics, an English prof at Emory, writes in the Chronicle:

Heteronormativity, White Racism, Etc. at Minnesota

By Mark Bauerlein

Last year, the University of Minnesota College of Education set about reviewing its curriculum, calling the project the Teacher Education Redesign Initiative. The College formed a set of "task groups" to address different aspects of the program, one of them being the "Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group." In July, the group issued its recommendations.

The first learning outcome the group identified was this: "Our future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression."

Another outcome is: "Future teachers will recognize & demonstrate understanding of white privilege."

Another one is: "Future teachers are able to explain how institutional racism works in schools."

And another one, this a schema of U.S. history in miniature:

"Our future teachers will be able to construct and articulate a sophisticated and nuanced critical analysis of this story of America, for what it illuminates and what it hides or distorts. In pursuing this analysis, students will make use of, among other concepts and theories, the following:

myth of meritocracy in the United States

historical connections between scientific racism, intelligence testing, and assumptions of fixed mental capacity

alternative explanations for mobility (and lack of it)

history of demands for assimilation to white, middle-class, Christian meanings and values

history of white racism, with special focus on current colorblind ideology."

You can find the document by typing into Google "Minnesota Race Culture Class Gender task group" and click on the pdf file labeled "Self."

Note that these controversial and difficult notions about race, history, and society are to be accepted and assimilated by students.
They don't allow students to defend meritocracy as a reality, not a myth. Students are not encouraged to explore "white privilege" as a supposition for which they compile evidence for and against its existence and impact in this or that community or school. These outcomes are assumptions that have the status of mandates.

There are a lot of interesting comments on the article at the Chronicle site. Whining that this is all a conservative plot by some right wing wackos is no longer going to fly. Neither Bauerline nor Soltan - of University Diaries - are exactly what you'd call right wingers...

Time to wake up in CEHD and Morrill?

January 24, 2010

How strategic planning is done...


[Any resemblance to any meetings in Morrill Hall is purely coincidental.]

January 23, 2010

More on Robert Parker

Kate Mattes writes in the Boston Globe:

January 23, 2010

ROBERT PARKER always said he would write until the day he died. As usual, he was as good as his word. He died this week while writing at his desk.

It was always fun to visit Bob in his office, where he worked six days a week, completing five pages of manuscript each day. Although he said he couldn't imagine doing anything else and never complained about it, writing was work. He edited while he wrote, constantly paring down the manuscript. Many critics compared his lean sparse writing to Hemingway and Faulkner. He was equally famous for his witty and engaging dialogue.

I first met Bob in New York at a book signing at the Mysterious Bookshop, where I worked. I came into the room where there were people dressed for cocktails - a lot of black and gold and wine glasses. Bob was seated at a big desk piled with books to sign, dressed in blue jeans and a work shirt. "My kind of guy,'' I thought.

I called him when I opened Kate's Mystery Books, and he stopped by with champagne and flowers. He stopped by many times after that - to sign books, host an event, visit with out-of -town authors, or help put up book shelves.

Bob did more than open creative doors, though. He wrote blurbs for young writers, helped them find editors and agents, and helped them navigate the tricky worlds of TV and film. As he became more prosperous, he and his wife, Joan, supported local arts and community groups with their many donations. Neither of them looked for attention for their generosity. They did what they could to help.

Bob was always a little bewildered by all the attention, thrilled he could provide for his family, and appreciative of the support and good will people gave him. Like Spenser, Bob was honorable, candid, and he had a strong sense of justice and a belief in how people should treat each other - all things he did his best to live by and write about. And he did this with wit and humor. He may be gone, but what a legacy he leaves us.

January 22, 2010

Why Cultural Sensitivity Training is a Good Idea


Unintended Consequences of Culural Sensitivity Training...


January 16, 2010

Some thoughts on Governor Pawlenty's Bonding Proposal


"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

I've put a post up on the Periodic Table:

Executive summary:

We've seen this all in the past.

The governor usually gets what he wants, at least while there are enough Republicans in the legislature to make an override of his veto unlikely. Zeller's comments make this seem virtually impossible.

So working on the assumption that the final figure will be in the area of $700 mil, the question is how to spend the money in the most intelligent way. I don't think the governor has done this.

The priorities for money being spent at the U of M are - as usual - out of whack. We will see how much President Bruininks is in favor of supporting our educational mission by whether he is willing to delay the nano building in favor of doing right by Folwell. It is hard for higher ed, under the circumstances, to claim that the governor has not done right by them, given their 30% cut of the funding.

I suggest that using some of the budget for nano planning and some for finally doing the right thing for Folwell - something that our president has avoided for the past three years.

Don't hold your breath. Leadership and the ability to adapt to reality have been in short supply in Morrill Hall since 2002.

January 15, 2010

Frankly Speaking - There will be many Nobel Prizes if all this comes true...

From today's Star-Tribune Editorial:

"Curing Alzheimer's, curing diabetes, making new hearts to replace diseased ones -- that's what this investment [new biomedical research buildings] will make possible," he [Cerra] said.

Oh, really?

Please let me know when this happens, Frank.

January 13, 2010

Advertisements for Myself

with apologies to Norman Mailer...

From: Faculty Consultative Committee
Thursday, December 17, 2009

"He [Provost Sullivan] has been working on a retrospective view of the first five years of strategic positioning. There has been a lot of work on it, both conceptually and in implementation, and it is time to take stock of what has been done and what the University is now facing. (A handout was provided to the Committee.) There has been significant academic progress and investment in the institution, colleges, and departments in the last five years and the aspirations, goal-setting, and momentum cannot be lost. It may be that the slope of the curve on investments and progress will need to be adjusted, but the process must continue in order to advance quality and the University' reputation."

"On the general budget discussions, the Provost said that there cannot be only cuts to the budget, but there must also be investments in the colleges and units. The University will have to make cuts, but it must also make investments, he emphasized. There must be an equal evaluation of appropriate cuts and investments, or the University will wallow in mediocrity."


I think we need a little discussion on the concept of investment, Provost Sullivan. Northrup auditorium renovation, MoreU Park, a new football stadium... Things like that come to mind.

Perhaps someone with an ubiased viewpoint might be asked to evaluate progress of your "ambitious aspirations to become one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic]"?

University Administration Admits COI Fandango is Fiasco

The Academic Health Center/Medical School has dragged feet on a new COI policy for going on three years. This has cost our reputation dearly.

After we had been assured by Dr. Cerra that he could see the light at the end of the tunnel, Central stepped in and requested a policy for the whole university rather than just the AHC/Med School. This ill-informed and ill-considered decision has been a nightmare.


Faculty Consultative Committee
Thursday, December 17, 2009

Provost Sullivan also said that given that there are pending COI decisions required in the Academic Health Center, it may be necessary to adopt an interim policy for it in order not to rush the development of permanent policies for the University as a whole. In terms of central approval, the process is under discussion.

For a little background on this truly disgraceful situation, please see:

"We're not violating a legal statute..."

In case you need cheering up:

January 12, 2010

An absolutely critical piece for the TERI folks to read...

From the Atlantic:

For years, the secrets to great teaching have seemed more like alchemy than science, a mix of motivational mumbo jumbo and misty-eyed tales of inspiration and dedication. But for more than a decade, one organization has been tracking hundreds of thousands of kids, and looking at why some teachers can move them three grade levels ahead in a year and others can't. Now, as the Obama administration offers states more than $4 billion to identify and cultivate effective teachers, Teach for America is ready to release its data.

What Makes a Great Teacher?

On August 25, 2008, two little boys walked into public elementary schools in Southeast Washington, D.C. Both boys were African American fifth-graders. The previous spring, both had tested below grade level in math. One walked into Kimball Elementary School and climbed the stairs to Mr. William Taylor's math classroom, a tidy, powder-blue space in which neither the clocks nor most of the electrical outlets worked.

The other walked into a very similar classroom a mile away at Plummer Elementary School. In both schools, more than 80 percent of the children received free or reduced-price lunches. At night, all the children went home to the same urban ecosystem, a zip code in which almost a quarter of the families lived below the poverty line and a police district in which somebody was murdered every week or so.

At the end of the school year, both little boys took the same standardized test given at all D.C. public schools--not a perfect test of their learning, to be sure, but a relatively objective one (and, it's worth noting, not a very hard one).

After a year in Mr. Taylor's class, the first little boy's scores went up--way up. He had started below grade level and finished above. On average, his classmates' scores rose about 13 points--which is almost 10 points more than fifth-graders with similar incoming test scores achieved in other low-income D.C. schools that year. On that first day of school, only 40 percent of Mr. Taylor's students were doing math at grade level. By the end of the year, 90 percent were at or above grade level.

As for the other boy? Well, he ended the year the same way he'd started it--below grade level. In fact, only a quarter of the fifth-graders at Plummer finished the year at grade level in math--despite having started off at about the same level as Mr. Taylor's class down the road.

This tale of two boys, and of the millions of kids just like them, embodies the most stunning finding to come out of education research in the past decade: more than any other variable in education--more than schools or curriculum--teachers matter. Put concretely, if Mr. Taylor's student continued to learn at the same level for a few more years, his test scores would be no different from those of his more affluent peers in Northwest D.C. And if these two boys were to keep their respective teachers for three years, their lives would likely diverge forever.

For anyone who truly cares about this problem, click the link above for the rest of the article.

It is time for the TERI folks to get down to brass tacks here. Cultural competence alone is not going to do it. Nor is further agonizing about new ways to do things. Some people have already identified methods that work.

Perhaps we should pursue them?

Dean Quam? Former Dean of Education Bruininks?

Academic Myths and the Presidents Who Perpetuate Them

Steven Bahls, president of Augustana College in Rock Island, has an interesting piece in the Chronicle. Unfortunately access is not public. Of course if you are a U of M person, you can log on through e-journals. I have put up selections from the piece on the Periodic Table:


New President at UVa - How the big boys do it...

University of Virginia names new president

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- The University of Virginia has named Teresa A. Sullivan as its new president, the first woman to fill that role.

More than 100 candidates were nominated for the job at one of the nation's top public institutions, founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson.

The 60-year-old Sullivan has served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at the University of Michigan since 2006, and spent 27 at the University of Texas at Austin. Both also are regarded as among the nation's best public universities.

The university has granted Sullivan a five-year contract with compensation package not to exceed $680,000 annually.

"This is the only presidency for which I applied," Sullivan said at a news conference after the meeting. "This is really one of the jewels of higher education in the United States."

Sullivan, who grew up in Little Rock, Ark., and Jackson, Miss., earned her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University. She earned her master's and doctorate degrees in sociology from the University of Chicago and is known as a leading scholar in labor-force demography. Before becoming Michigan's provost, Sullivan served in various administrative and teaching positions at Texas, with her most recent position there as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs from 2002-2006.

As provost, Sullivan also serves as the University of Michigan's chief budget officer.

Both Wynne and Sullivan praised Casteen, who wrote in a letter to his successor that he looks for opportunities to assist her as she prepares for her new job.

As president of U.Va. since 1990, Casteen advocated for increasing the number of female, nonwhite and low-income students at the school. Under his tenure, a full-need student financial-aid program was created. He also was a fundraising leader, and school officials say he will stay involved in the school's $3 billion campaign.

Any lessons here for a public institution aspiring to greatness?