Saturday, June 11, 2011

UWW is and will always be a second-rate university...or not?

This is a topic that came up quite early in the history of this blog, and now it rears its head again.  In the last post's comment thread, Anonymous writes,

"You can believe what you want to believe but you are dead wrong about UWW being set up to be a premier teaching institution. UWW is not the flag ship campus! This campus cannot even get its buildings repaired in a timely manner. The workloads are heavy and the pay is low....I am, as you stated, a member of the B team, but teaching to me, and to thousands of others, including school teacher, is a JOB and we want to get our fair share, even if we happen to teach at academically poor schools. We have to eat and want to get paid....Along with the other second rate universities in the UW System, UWW was established by members of the legislature in response to the voters pressuring them to open up the doors of Madison to their academically poor kids. Thus, it was structurally designed to be a second rate campus. I am ok with this but don't piss in my face and tell me that it is rain....With all the shit going on in this state, you should know by now that no one gives a flying fuck about the quality of education in Wisconsin. They are kicking teachers asses royally and you are still pushing that tired argument about awesome education. No child left behind bullshit. Dude, education is a trillion dollar business and everyone wants a piece of it, from DLK assholes to corrupt banks that provide unsecured credit cards and loans to naive students locking their asses into life long debt."

I don't think anyone can doubt that UWW is not resoundingly known for great teaching.  Maybe that means we are a second-rate institution, I don't know.  But the question is: does our current reality dictate our future reality?  In other words, must UWW stay a second-rate institution forever, or can something be done to elevate ourselves?

Where do your thoughts lie?


  1. I see action happening across campus; diversity efforts, undergraduate research, technology, and other really awesome changes happening around UWW. I think if this, now, dictated our future, then I can picture a better possibility at change, just very slowly.

    Organize and update. Perhaps the system needs to be rebooted.

  2. If no one could imagine change, no one could ever act for change, and certainly no one could ever see change.

    And those who cannot imagine change only bring down those who can.

  3. Ok, everyone is upset because I brought this issue to the table. I ducked yesterday because a helicopter flew close over my house. I thought it was the Navy Seals coming to take my ass out Bin Laden style.

    So I want to be positive and constructive. This is a very serious issue. Let me offer two simple recommendations that would dramatically enhance the image and quality of this campus. Now it is not going to change its second class status because that is more structural.

    First, establish real and meaningful admission standards. Stop admitting so many weak students. Parents and students need to know that it means something to attend the University of Wisconsin Whitewater.

    Second, and this follows from the first, begin to eliminate ALL remedial programs, including early warning systems. We are no longer in the post high school learning business. If you need help we will send your ass to UROCK to get it but we are no longer wasting our limited resources trying to teach you stuff you should have learned in high school.

    Now these are just two simple recommendations. A better student body will improve the overall quality of the classes. A rising tide lifts all boats!

  4. Oh that's the problem, Anon 11:40. The problem with Whitewater is the students. Of course, how stupid I've been. Better students will make me a better teacher and make my classes rock beyond comprehension.

    That sounds like scape-goating. How about you start the process of making your students better by improving your teaching. All profs need to do that.

    And who needs the education more than, oh I don't know, those who need the education!

  5. As someone just mentioned to me, maybe if we had better teachers, better students would come.

  6. This place isn't so bad. I am entering my 5th and last year here. I have had a pretty decent time and can't thank the Philosophy department enough for helping me write better and for the quality education I have recieved. I loved learning Philosophy from this institution. If anything it's only individual profs that make things bad , same for students. You can't group everyone in one boat.

    I do have to agree with one of Anon 11:40's points though. We do let everyone and their brother come here, and they drop out like flies after like a semester or year. It makes me wonder why we are so " Freshman Focused". If anything we should be giving more resources to upperclass students that can hack it.

    Prof. Chaos

  7. Xavier, settle down, read my comment closer. I know you want to get me. After all, I am a detriment to all that is good in the world.

    This is not scape goating. Scape goating would be if I said that students WERE responsible for the second class nature of the campus. They are not. The second class nature of this campus is structural. How many times do I have to repeat this?

    I simply offered recommendations for enhancement of the campus involving the future student applicant pool, not current students. So read my posts closely and don't simply respond because you want to GET me. Present your arguments! I already know that you think that good teaching can solve all the ills of the campus but there are good teachers here and elsewhere, even at very poor institutions.

    Actually better teachers and teaching do not attract better students. The single most important variable in attracting better students is the ranking and prestige of the institution, and rankings have nothing to do with teaching.

    For example, US News and World Report ranks Whitewater at the number 49 position among midwestern universities, while Creighton and Butler are ranked 1 and 2. Stevens point is number 46. Butler is ranked higher because it is private and has a much lower acceptance rate among other things.

    However, the application acceptance rate plays a huge role in these rankings. For example, Harvard accepts 7 percent of applications; Stanford accepts 9 percent, Madison on par with most state flag ship campuses accept around 50 percent, but the pool is a much different pool that the one Whitewater dips into, but just for comparison sake, Whitewater accepts around 79 percent of applications submitted.

    Another variable that attracts students to is the quality of the sports program. for example, after Madison won the Rose Bowl a few years ago, there was a spike in the number of freshmen applicants. Duke, North Caroline, and schools like Connecticut attract large number of applicants due to the prominence of their sports programs.

    Have you ever been to a final four basketball game, a bowl grame, or even a Badger game? They will trump good teaching any day of the week relative to the recruitment of students.

  8. So lets get another issue now. This one has been beat to death.

    I want to close this debate by quoting from one of my favorite writers, Harold Bloom, Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale.

    In his new book, The Anatomy of Influence, Literature as a Way of Life, he writes: "that fifty five years of teaching imaginative literature at Yale taught me better than I am capable of teaching others. That saddens me but I will go on teaching because it seems to be to be a three in one with reading and writing. one's 80th year it is difficult to separate learning from teaching, writing from reading."

    I share Bloom's perspective, that learning, teaching, and writing are three in one. We, like Bloom, may learn far more than we can teach others.

    So thanks comrades for a spirited debate.

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